« PreviousContinue »
minion, is so averse to all manner of violence, as totally to throw it aside, to slip into the more natural facility of her own progress; 'tis the nursing-mother of all humane pleasures, who, in rend'ring them just, renders them also pure and per manent; in moderating them, keeps them in breath and
appe: tite ; in interdicting those which she herself refuses, whets our desires to those that she allows; and, like a kind and liberal mother, abundantly allows all that nature requires, even to satiety, if not to lassitude; unless we will declaim, that the regimen of health, which stops the toper's hand before he has drank himself drunk, or the glutton's before he hath eaten to a surfeit, is an enemy to pleasure. If the ordinary fortune fail, and that she meet with an indocile disposition, she passes that disciple by, and takes another not so fickle and unsteady as the other, which she forms wholly her own. She can be rich, be potent, and wise, and knows how to lie upon soft down, and perfumed quilts too : she loves life, beauty, glory, and health ; but her proper and peculiar office is to know regularly how to make use of all these good things, and how to part with them without concern; an office much more noble than troublesome, and without which the whole course of life is unnatural, turbulent, and deformed; and there it is, indeed, that men may justly represent those monsters upon rocks and precipices. If this pupil shall happen to be of so cross and contrary a disposition, that he had rather hear a tale of a tub, than the true narrative of some noble expedition, or some wise and learned discourse, who, at the beat of drum, that excites the youthful ardour of his companions, leaves that, to follow another that calls to a morricedance or the bears, and who would not wish, and find it more delightful, and more pleasing, to return all dust and sweat victorious from a battel, than from tennis or from a ball, with the prize of those exercises ; I see no other remedy, but that he be bound apprentice in some good town to learn to make some good mince pyes, though he were the son of a duke; according to Plato's precept, That children are to be plac'd out, and dispos’d of, not according to the wealth, qualities, or condition of the father, but according to the faculties and the capacity of their own soul.””
I cannot omit to introduce in this place Miss Car ter's Ode to Wisdom :
The solitary bird of night
And quits the time-shook tow'r,
Beneath his ivy bow'r
With joy I hear the solemn sound,
And sighing gales repeat;
At Wisdom's awful seat.
Beneath the lunar ray;
As in the glare of day.
Blest source of purer joys,
With pleasure and surprise :
That breathes no wild desires ;
To nobler views aspires.
Be objects of my pray’r;
The dull rewards of care.
By studious thought refin'd;
An empire o'er my mind.
And wither in the tomb,
In undecaying bloom.
Of ignorance and spite;
Alike contemn the leaden fool,
Of undiscerning wit.
In thy retreat I rest;
In all thy graces drest.
Of perfect, fair, and good;
In awful silence stood.
And felt its just control;
O'er all their senses stole
The hero's gen'rous strife;
Of still, domestic life.
My thoughts direct their flight;
Of intellectual light:
Thro' life's perplexing road;
To happiness and good!
Of folly's painted show;
Is vanity and woe. 10.
When a person of independent fortune, instead of leading a life of indolence, dissipation, or vice, employs himself in studying the marks of infinite wisdom and goodness which are manifested in every part of the visible creation, we know, not which we ought most to congratulate, the public or the individual. Self-taught naturalists are often found to make no little progress in Knowledge, and to strike out many new lights by the mere aid of original genius and patient application. But the man who has possessed the advantage of a liberal education, engages in these pursuits with peculiar advantage. He takes more comprehensive views, is able to consult a greater variety of authors, and, from the early habits of his mind, is more accurate and more methodical in all his investigations. The world at large, therefore, cannot fail to be benefited by his labours; and the value of the enjoyments which, at the same time, he secures to hińself
, is beyond all calculation. No tedious vacant hour ever makes him wish for he knows not what, complain he knows not why. Never does a restless impatience at having nothing to do, compel him to seek a momentary stimulus to his dormant powers in the tumultuous pleasures of the intoxicating cup, or the agitating suspense of the game of chance. Whether he be at home or abroad, in every different clime, and in every season of the year, universal nature is before him, and invites him to a banquet richly replenished with whatever can invigorate his understanding or gratify his mental taste. The earth on which he treads, the air in which he moves, the sea along whose margin he walks, all teem with objects which keep his attention perpetually awake, excite him to healthful activity, and charm him with an ever-varying succession of the beautiful, the wonderful, the useful, and the new.
And if, in conformity with the direct tendency of such occupations, he rise from the creature to the Creator, and consider the duties which naturally result from his own situation and rank in this vast system of being, he will derive as much satisfaction from the anticipation of the future as from the
experience of the present, and the recollection of the past.
The mind of the pious naturalist is always cheerful, always animated with the noblest and most benign feelings. Every repeated observation, every unexpected discovery, directs his thoughts to the great Source of all order and all good, and harmonizes all his faculties with the general voice of nature.
men Whom nature's 'works' cani charm, with God himself Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
With bis conceptions, act upon his plan, Those only who seek Knowledge with a view to their moral improvement, will experience its genuine pleasures. In this view, Knowledge will prevent' innumerable errors in conduct, for it has a powerful influence in forming the mind to habits of humility, modesty, charity, and piety. Ignorance is the fruitful parent of pride, arrogance, uncharitableness, and impiety. The man of true Knowledge pays little regard to the distinctions of sect and party, he knows that mankind are usually divided about words rather than things, and sounds rather than sense.
To sects and parties his'large soul
Disdains to be confin'd;
And prays for all mankind. It is the man of little Knowledge only who is vain, bigoted, confident, and censorious; his are not the pleasures of Knowledge, but of ignorance.
A little learning is a dang’rous thing ;