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CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.
THE ADVANTAGES OF SOLITUDE IN OLD AGE;
THE BED OF DEATH.
THE decline of life, and particularly the condition of old age, derive from Solitude the pureft fources of uninterrupted enjoyment. Old age, when confidered as a period of comparative quietude and repofe, as a serious and contemplative interval between a tranfitory existence and an approaching immortality, is, perhaps, the most agreeable condition of human life: a condition to which Solitude affords a secure harbour against those shattering tempefts to which the frail bark of man is continually exposed in a short, but dangerous, voyage of the world; a harbour from whence he may securely view the rocks and quickfands which threatened his destruction, and which he has so happily escaped.
MEN are by nature difpofed to inveftigate the various properties of distant objects before they think of contemplating their own characters; like modern travellers, who vifit foreign countries before they
they are acquainted with their own. But prudence will exhort the young, and experience teach the aged, to conduct themselves on very different principles; and both the one and the other will find that Solitude and felf-examination are the beginning and the end of true wisdom.
O! loft to Virtue, lost to manly thought,
THE levity of youth, by this communion large and high, will be repreffed, and the depreffion which sometimes accompanies old age entirely removed. An unceafing fucceffion of gay hopes, fond defires, ardent wishes, high delights, and unfounded fancies, form the character of our early years; but those which follow are marked with melancholy and increasing forrows. A mind, however, that is invigorated by obfervation and experience, remains dauntlefs and unmoved amidst both the profperities and adverfities of life. He who is no longer forced to exert his powers, and who, at an early period of his life, has well ftudied the manners of men, will complain very little of the
ingratitude with which his favours and anxieties have been requited. All he asks is, that the world will let him alone; and having a thorough knowledge, not only of his own character, but of mankind, he is enabled to enjoy the comforts of repofe.*
It is finely remarked by a celebrated German, that there are political as well as religious Carthufians, and that both orders are sometimes composed of most excellent and pious characters. "It is," U 2 fays
Worldly hopes expire in old age; and if he who has attained that period has not provided himself with another hope, a man of years and a man of misery mean the fame thing. Therefore the fame fteps are to be taken, whether we would sweeten the remaining dregs of life, or provide a triumph for eternity. There is a noble abfence from earth while we are yet on it. There is a noble intimacy with heaven while we are yet beneath it. And can it be hard for us to lay afide this world, fince they that have fared beft in it have only the fewest objections against it? The worldly wishes which an old man sends out are like Noah's doves; they cannot find whereon to light, and must return to his own heart again for reft. Out of pure decency to the dignity of human nature, of which the decays and imperfections should not be exposed, men in years should, by Retirement, fling a veil over them, and be, with respect to the world, at least a little buried before they are interred. An old man's too great familiarity with the public is an indignity to the buman and a neglect of the divine nature. His fancying himself to be still properly one of this world, and on a common footing with the rest of mankind, is as if a man getting drunk in the morning, after a long nap, lifting his drowfy eyelids at fun-fet, should take it for break of day.
Dr. Young's Letters,
fays this admirable writer," in the deepest and "moft fequeftered recesses of forests that we meet "with the peaceful fage, the calm observer, the "friend of truth, and the lover of his country,
"who renders himself beloved by his wisdom, re"yered for his knowledge, refpected for his vera<c city, and adored for his benevolence; whofe "confidence and friendship every one is anxious "to gain; and who excites admiration by the elocc quence of his converfation, and efteem by the "virtue of his actions, while he raises wonder by "the obfcurity of his name, and the mode of his "exiftence. The giddy multitude folicit him to "relinquifh his folitude, and feat himself on the "throne; but they perceive infcribed on his fore"head, beaming with facred fire, " Odi profanum "vulgus et arceo; and, instead of being his fedu"cers, become his difciples." But, alas! this extraordinary character, whom I faw fome years ago in Weteravia, who inspired me with filial reverence and affection, and whofe animated coun123% wstadz tenance announced the fuperior wisdom and happy tranquillity of his mind, is now no more. There did not perhaps at that time exift in any court a PIONE PENSIONE more profound ftatefman: he was intimately acquainted with all,and correfponded perfonally with wadi touch 91199 24 ye fome of the most celebrated Sovereigns of Europe.
I never met with an obferver who penetrated with 'fuch ɔdi limo do as died to myast
fuch quick and accurate fagacity into the minds and characters of men, who formed fuch true opinions of the world, or criticifed with fuch difcerning accuracy the actions of thofe who were playing important parts on its various theatres. There never was a mind more free, more enlarged, more powerful, or more engaging; or an eye more lively and inquifitive. He was the man, of all others, in whofe company I could have lived with the highest pleasure, and died with the greateft comfort. The rural habitation in which he lived was fimple in its ftructure, and modeft in its attire; the furrounding grounds and gardens laid out in the happy fimplicity of nature; and his fare healthy and frugal. I never felt a charm more powerful than that which filled my bofom while I contemplated the happy Solitude of the venerable Baron de Schautenbach at Weteravia.
ROUSSEAU, feeling his end approach, also paffed the few remaining years of an uneafy life in Solitude. It was during old age that he compofed the beft and greater part of his admirable works; but, although he employed his time with judicious activity, his feelings had been too deeply wounded by the perfecutions of the world, to enable him to
find complete tranquillity in the bowers of retirement. Unhappily he continued ignorant of the danger of his fituation, until the vexations of his