Page images

willow and the ephemeral rofe; they erect maufolea; compose funeral dirges; and render the very emblems of death the means of confolation. Their hearts are continually occupied by the idea of those whom their eyes deplore; and they exist, under the fenfations of the trueft and moft fincere forrow, in a kind of middle ftate, between earth and heaven. This fpecies of forrow is of the happiest kind. Far be it from me to fuppofe it in the least degree affected. But I call fuch characters happy mourners; because, from the very frame and texture of their conftitutions, grief does not deftroy the energy of their minds, but permits them to find confolation in those things which, to minds differently constructed, would create averfion. They feel a heavenly joy in pursuing employments which preserve the memory of those who are the fubjects of their forrow.

SOLITUDE will enable the heart to vanquish the moft painful fenfe of adverfity, provided the mind will generously lend its aid, and fix its attention to a different object. If men think there is any misfortune from which they have no other refource than despair or death, they deceive themfelves; for despair is no refource. Let fuch men retire to their ftudies, and there seriously trace out a series of important and fettled truths, and their

their tears will no longer fall; but the weight of their misfortunes will grow light, and forrow fly from their breafts.

SOLITUDE, by encouraging the enjoyments of the heart, by promoting domeftic felicity, and by creating a tafte for rural scenery, fubdues impatience, and drives away ill-humour. Impatience is a ftifled anger, which men filently manifeft by looks and geftures, and weak minds ordinarily reveal by a fhower of complaints. A grumbler is never farther from his proper sphere than when he is in company: Solitude is his only asylum. Ill-humour is an uneafy and infupportable condition, which the foul frequently falls into when foured by a number of those petty vexations which we daily experience in every step of our progress through life; but we need only to shut the door against improper and disagreeable intrusions to avoid this scourge of happiness.

VEXATIONS, indeed, of every kind, are much fooner quieted in the filence of retirement than in the noise of the world. A cheerful difpofition, a placid temper, and well-regulated paffions, will prevent worldly vexations from interrupting our happiness. By thefe attainments, the deepest melancholy, and most settled uneafiness of life, have been frequently banished from the heart. It is true,

true, that the progress in this case is much more rapid in women than in men. The mind of a lively female flies immediately to happiness, while that of a melancholy man ftill creeps on with pain: the yielding bofoms of the fair are easily elevated or depreffed. These effects, it is true, may be produced by means less abstracted than Solitude; by any thing that ftrikes the fenfes, and penetrates the heart. Men, on the contrary, augment the disease, and fix it more firmly in the bofom, by brooding over its caufe and confequences, and are obliged to apply the moft efficacious remedies, with unshaken conftancy, to effect a cure; for feeble prescriptions are, in such cases, of no avail. The only chance, indeed, of fuccefs, is by exerting every endeavour to place the body under the regimen of the mind. Vigorous minds frequently banish the most inveterate evils, or form a powerful shield against all the darts of fate, and, by braving every danger, drive away those feelings by which others are irritated and deftroyed: they boldly turn their eyes from what things are, to what they ought to be; and with determined resolution support the bodies they are defigned to animate; while weak minds furrender every thing committed to their care.

THE foul, however, always follows what is moft agreeable to its ruling paffion. Worldly men generally delight in gaming, feafting, and debau


chery; while those who are fond of Solitude feel, from a consciousness of its advantages, no enjoyments equal to thofe its peaceful shades afford.

I NOW Conclude my reflections upon the advantages of Solitude to the heart. May they give greater currency to useful fentiments, to confolatory truths, and contribute in fome degree to diffuse the enjoyment of a happiness which is fo much within our reach!





RETIREMENT engages the affections of men whenever it holds up a picture of tranquillity to their view.

THE doleful and monotonous found of the clock of a fequeftered monaftry, the filence of nature in a ftill night, the pure air on the fummit of a high mountain, the thick darkness of an aged forest, the fight of a temple fallen into ruins, infpire the foul with a soft melancholy, and banish all recollection of the world and its concerns.

THE man who cannot hold a friendly correspondence with his own heart, who derives no comfort from the reflections of his mind, who dreads the idea of meditation, and is fearful of paffing a fingle moment with himself, looks with equal dread on Solitude and on Death. He endeavours to enjoy all the voluptuoufnefs which the world affords; drains the pernicious cup of pleafure to its dregs; and until the dreadful moment approaches

« EelmineJätka »