« EelmineJätka »
tage of its errors; cherish its prejudices; applaud its fuperftition, and defend it vices. The fashionable circles may, perhaps, welcome fuch characters as their beft fupporters, and highest ornaments; but to them the calm and tranquil pleasures of retirement are dreary and disgusting.
To all thofe, indeed, whom VICE has betrayed into GUILT, and whose bosoms are stung by the adders of REMORSE, Solitude is doubly terrible; and they fly from its fhades to scenes of worldly pleasure, in the hope of being able to filence the keen reproaches of violated confcience in the tumult of Society.-Vain attempt!
"GUILT is the fource of SORROW! 'tis the fiend, "Th' avenging fiend, that follows them behind "With whips and ftings. The bleft know none of this, "But reft in everlasting peace of mind,
"And find the height of all their heaven is GoodNESS."
SOLITUDE, indeed, as well as RELIGION, has been represented in such difmal, disagreeable colours, by those who were incapable of tasting its fweets, and enjoying its advantages, that many dismiss it totally from all their schemes of happiness, and fly to it only to alleviate the bitterness of fome momentary paffion, or temporary adverfity, or to hide the blushes of approaching fhame. But there are advantages to be derived
from Solitude, even under fuch circumstances, by those who are otherwise incapable of enjoying them. Those who know the most delightful comforts, and fatisfactory enjoyments, of which a wellregulated Solitude is productive, like those who are acquainted with the folid benefits to be derived from RELIGION, will feek Retirement, in the hours of profperity and content, as the only means by which they can be enjoyed in true perfection. The tranquillity of its fhades will give richness to their joys; its interrupted unquietude will enable them to expatiate on the fulness of their felicity; and they will turn their eyes with soft compaffion on the miseries of the world when compared with the bleffings they enjoy.
Strongly, therefore, as the focial principle operates in our breafts; and necessary as it is, when properly regulated, to the improvement of our minds, the refinement of our manners, and the amelioration of our hearts; yet fome portion of our time ought to be devoted to rational retirement: and we must not conclude that those who occafionally abstain from the tumultuous pleasures and promiscuous enjoyments of the world, are morofe characters, or of peevifh difpofitions; nor ftigmatize those who appear to prefer the calm delights of Solitude to the tumultuous pleasures of the world, as unnatural and anti-focial.
"Whoever thinks, must see that man was made "To face the storm, not languish in the shade: "Action's his sphere, and for that sphere defign'd, "Eternal pleasures open on his mind.
"For this fair Hope leads on th' impaffion'd foul "Thro' life's wild lab'rinths to her diftant goal; "Paints in each dream, to fan the genial flame, "The pomp of riches, and the pride of fame; "Or fondly gives Reflection's cooler eye "In SOLITUDE, an image of a future sky."
the tumultuous joys of Society for the calm and temperate pleasures of Solitude are various and accidental; but whatever may be the final cause of fuch an exchange, it is generally founded on an inclination to escape from fome present or impending constraint; to shake off the shackles of the world; to taste the sweets of foft repose; to enjoy the free and undisturbed exertion of the intellectual faculties; or to perform, beyond the reach of ridicule, the important duties of religion. But the busy pursuits of worldly-minded men prevent the greater part of the fpecies from feeling these motives, and, of course, from tafting the sweets of unmolested existence. Their pleasures are pursued in paths which lead to very different goals: and the real, constant, unaffected lover of Retirement is a character fo rarely found, that it seems to prove the truth of LORD VERULAM'S* observation, that he who is really attached
* LORD BACON fays, "It would have been hard for him who spoke it, to put more truth and untruth together in as
attached to SOLITUDE, must be either more or less than man; and certain it is, that while the WISE and VIRTUOUS discover in Retirement an uncommon and tranfcending brightness of character, the VICIOUS and the IGNORANT are buried under its weight, and fink even beneath their ordinary level. Retirement gives additional firmness to the principles of those who seek it from a noble love of independence, but loosens
few words, than in that speech, Wboever is delighted in SOLITUDE, is either a wild beast or a god.' For it is most true, that a natural and fecret hatred and averfion toward fociety in any man hath fomewhat of the favage beaft: but it is moft untrue, that it fhould have any character at all of the Divine nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleafure in Solitude, but out of a love and defire to sequester a man's felf for a higher converfation; fuch as is found to have been falfely and feignedly in some of the heathens; as Epimenides, the Arcadian; Numa, the Roman; Empedocles, the Sicilian; and Appollonius, of Tyana; and truly and really in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the church. But little do men perceive what SOLITUDE is, and how far it extendeth for a crowd is not company; and faces are but gallery pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love. The Latin adage meeteth with it a little: Magna civitas, magna folitudo; because in a great town friends are scattered, fo that there is not that fellowship for the most part, which is in lefs neighbourhoods. But we may go farther, and affirm moft truly, that it is a mere and miferable Solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in this fenfe alfo of Solitude, whofoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity."