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"by the apparent motion of the great luminary, "that gives life to all nature, and which in my "time has evidently declined considerably to"wards the ocean, at the end of our earth, it "must then finish its course, be extinguished in "the waters that surround us, and leave the "world in cold and darkness, necessarily pro"ducing universal death and destruction.
"I have lived seven of those hours; a great age, "being no less than 420 minutes of time. 66 very few of us continue so long? I have seen ge"nerations born, flourish, and expire. My present "friends are the children and grand children of "the friends of my youth, who are now alas! no 66 more. And I must soon follow them; for by "the course of nature, though still in health, I "cannot expect to live above seven or eight mi"nutes longer. What now avails all my toil " and labour, in amassing honey dew on this leaf, "which I cannot live to enjoy! What the political "struggles I have been engaged in, for the good "of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or "my philosophical studies, for the benefit of our
race in general! For in politics (what can laws "do without morals?) our present race of ephemeræ will in the course of a few minutes be"come corrupt like those of other and older "bushes, and consequently as wretched.
"And in philosophy how small our progress! "Alas, art is long and life is short! My friends "would comfort me with the idea of a name, they say I shall leave behind me; and they "tell me I have lived long enough to nature and "to glory. But what will fame be to an ephe
mera who no longer exists? and what will be"come of all history in the eighteenth hour, "when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end, and be buried in "universal ruin?
"To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid "pleasures now remain; but the reflection of a
long life spent in meaning well, the sensible "conversation of a few good lady ephemeræ, "and now and then a kind smile and a tune " from the ever amiable Brilliant."
AMONG the various kinds of error into which human nature is liable to fall, there are some which people of a true understanding are sensible of in themselves; yet either wanting a strength of resolution to break through what by long custom is become habitual, or being of too indolent a temper to endeavour an alteration, still persist to act in contradiction to the dictates even of their own judgment.
What we call prejudice or prepossession, is certainly that which stands foremost in the rank of frailties. It is the great ringleader of almost all the mistakes whether in the sentiments of our hearts, or the conduct of our actions.
As milk is the first aliment of the body, so prejudice is the first thing given to the mind to feed upon. No sooner does the thinking faculty
begin to unfold itself than prejudice mingles with it, and spoils its operations. Whatever we are then either taught, or happen to like or dislike, we, for the most part, continue to like or dislike to our life's end; so difficult is it to eradicate in age that tendency we have imbibed in youth.
It is this fatal propensity which binds as it were our reason in chains, and will not suffer it to look abroad, or exert any of its powers. Hence are our conceptions bounded; our notions meanly narrow; our ideas for the most part unjust; and our judgment shamefully led astray.
The brightest rays of truth in vain shine out upon us, when prejudice has shut our eyes against it. We are rendered by it wholly incapable of examining any thing, and take all upon trust that it presents to us. This not only makes us liable to be guilty of injustice, ill nature and ill manners to others, but also insensible of what is owing to ourselves; we run with all our might from a real and substantial good, and court a phantom, a name, a nothing. We mistake infamy for renown, and ruin for advantage; in fine, wherever a strong prejudice prevails, all is sure to go amiss.
Parents who are strongly imbued with any opinion, are sure to instil it into the minds of
their children, and so render prejudice hereditary. Whereas if young minds are left to themselves, reason would operate, we should examine before we judge, and not condemn or applaud, but as the cause deserves. Whoever is intrusted with the care of youth, as parents are by nature, and governors, tutors, and preceptors, by commission from them, should methinks endeavour rather to calm than to excite any violent emotions in their pupils. They should convince them that nothing but virtue is truly worthy of an ardent love or ambition, and that vice alone ought to be held in abhorrence.
This would be a laudable prejudice, if it should be deemed a prejudice; a prejudice which 'would go hand in hand with reason, and secure to us that peace and happiness which all other prejudices are sure to destroy.
What sad effects have not many kingdoms experienced by the hereditary prejudice between two powerful families, who hated each other merely because their forefathers did so as for example, the Guelfs and Ghibelius of Italy; the Marii and Metelli of Rome, and the Barons' Wars of England.
National prejudices are yet more dangerous, and indeed much more ridiculous. What can be a greater absurdity than for one whole people to hate another only for being born in a