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“The current was invariable and insurmountable; but though it was impossible to sail against it, or to return to the place that was once passed, yet it was not so violent as to allow no opportunities for dexterity or courage, since, though none could retreat back from danger, yet they might often avoid it by oblique direction.
“ It was, however, not very common to steer with much care and prudence ; for, by some universal infatuation, every man appeared to think himself safe, though he saw his consorts every moment sinking round him ; and no sooner had the waves closed over them, than their fate and their misconduct were forgotten; the voyage was pursued with the same jocund confidence; every man congratulated himself upon the soundness of his vessel, and he believed himself able to stem the whirlpool in which his friend was swallowed, or glide over the rocks on which he was dashed; nor was it often observed that the sight of a wreck made any man change his course ; if he turned aside for a moment, he soon forgot the rudder, and left himself again to the disposal of chance.
“ This negligence did not proceed from indifference, or from weariness of their present condition ; for not one of those who thus rushed upon destruction failed, when he was sinking, to call loudly upon his associates for that help which could not now be given him; and many spent their last moments in cautioning others against the folly by which they were intercepted in the midst of their course. Their benevolence was sometimes praised, but their admonitions were unregarded.
" The vessels in which we had embarked, being confessedly unequal to the turbulence of the stream of life, were visibly impaired in the course of the voyage, so that every passenger was certain, that however long soever he might by favourable accidents, or by incessant vigilance, be preserved, he must sink at last.
"This necessity of perishing might have been expected to
sadden the gay, and intimidate the daring, at least to keep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, and hinder them from any enjoyment of the varieties and gratifications which nature offered them as the solace of their labours; yet in effect none seemed less to expect destruction than those to whom it was most dreadful ; they all had the art of concealing their danger from themselves; and those who knew their inability to bear the sight of the terrors that embarrassed their way took care never to look forward, but found some amusement in the present moment, and generally entertained themselves by playing with Hope, who was the constant associate of the voyage of Life.
" Yet all that Hope ventured to promise, even to those whom she favoured most, was, not that they should escape, but that they should sink last; and with this promise every one was satisfied, though he laughed at the rest for seeming to believe it. Hope, indeed, apparently mocked the credulity of her companions; for, in proportion as their vessels grew leaky, she redoubled her assurances of safety ; and none were more busy in making provisions for a long voyage, than they whom all but themselves saw likely to perish soon from irreparable decay.
“ In the midst of the current of Life was the gulph of Intemperance, a dreadful whirlpool, interspersed with rocks, of which the pointed crags were concealed under water, and the tops covered with herbage, on which Ease spread couches of repose ; and with shades where Pleasure warbled the song of invitation. Within sight of these rocks, all who sailed on the ocean of Life must necessarily pass. Reason, indeed, was always at hand to steer the passengers through a narrow outlet, by which they might escape ; but very few could, by her entreaties or remonstrances, be induced to put the rudder into her hand, without stipulating that she should approach so near unto the rocks of Pleasure, that they might solace themselves with a short enjoyment of that delicious region, after which they
always determined to pursue their course without any other deviation.
“ Reason was too often prevailed upon so far by these promises as to venture her charge within the eddy of the gulph of Intemperance, where, indeed, the circumvolution was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel, and drew it, by insensible rotations, towards the centre. She then repented her temerity, and with all her force endeavoured to retreat; but the draught of the gulph was generally too strong to be overcome ; and the passenger, having danced in circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, was at last overwhelmed and lost. Those few whom Reason was able to extricate generally suffered so many shocks
upon the points which shot out from the rocks of Pleasure, that they were unable to continue their course with the same strength and facility as before, but floated along timorously and feebly, endangered by every breeze, and shattered by every rustle of the water, till they sank, by slow degrees, after long struggles, and innumerable expedients, always repining at their own folly, and warning others against the first approach to the gulph of Intemperance.
“ There were artists who professed to repair the breaches and stop the leaks of the vessels which had been shattered on the rocks of Pleasure. Many appeared to have great confidence in their skill, and some, indeed, were preserved by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow ; but I remarked that few vessels lasted long which had been much repaired,
was it found that the artists themselves continued afloat longer than those who had the least of their assist
“The only advantage which, in the voyage of life, the cautious had above the negligent, was that they sank later and more suddenly ; for they passed forward till they had sometimes seen all those in whose company they had issued from the straits of infancy perish in the way, and at last were overset by a cross breeze, without the toil of resistance or the anguish
of expectation. But such as had often fallen against the rocks of Pleasure commonly subsided by sensible degrees, contended long with the encroaching waters, and harassed themselves by labours that scarce Hope herself could flatter with
“ As I was looking upon the various fate of the multitude about me, I was suddenly alarmed with an admonition from some unknown power, • Gaze not idly upon others when thou thyself art sinking. Whence is this thoughtless tranquillity, when thou and they are equally endangered ?' I looked, and seeing the gulph of Intemperance before me, started and awaked."
As separate parts make up but one harmony, and the most agreeable music has its discords, so should a prudent man cull and gather examples and precepts from the highways and byways as a guide for his own life.
LEARN WISDOM IN YOUTH—HAPPINESS BEGINS AT THE
DAWN OF UNDERSTANDING- —UNHAPPINESS IS CONSEQUENT ON THE NEGLECT OF EARLY IMPROVING THE MIND–Duty.
T is necessary, says Blair, " to habituate our minds in our younger years to some employment which may engage our thoughts, and fill the capacity of the soul at a riper age ; for however we may roam in youth
from folly to folly, yet the time will come when we shall outgrow the relish for childish amusements, and if we are not provided with a taste for manly satisfactions to succeed in their room, we must, of course, become miserable at an age more difficult to be pleased. While men, however unthinking and unemployed, enjoy an inexhaustible flow of vigorous spirits-a constant succession of gay ideas, which flutter and sport in the brain, makes them pleased with themselves and with every frolic as trifling as themselves; but when the ferment of their blood abates, and the freshness of their youth, like the morning dew, passes away, their spirits flag for want of entertainments more satisfactory in themselves, and more suited to a manly age; and the soul, from a sprightly impertinence, from quick sensations and florid desires, subsides into a dead calm and sinks into a flat stupidity. The fire of the imagination-a property of youth—may make folly look pleasing, and lend a beauty to objects which have none inherent in them, just as the sunbeams may tint a cloud and diversify it with beautiful stains of light, however dark and unsubstantiative in itself. Knowledge and virtue shine with undiminished lustre; they are ever bright; and in religion there