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2 Preceptive, Moral, &c. Pieces. Goldsmith. ~ ******q-qas caying Nature, and the consciousness of surviving every pleasure, would, at once induce him, with his own hand, to terminate the scene of misery: but, happily, s the contempt of death forsakes him at a time when it could only be prejudicial; and life acquires an imaginary value, in proportion as its real value is no more. Our attachment to every object around us increases, in general, from the length of our acquaintance with it. ‘I would not chuse,’ says a French philosopher, “to see an old post pulled up, with which I had been “long acquainted.’ A mind long habituated to a certain set of objects, insensibly becomes fond of seeing them; visits them from habit, and parts from them || with reluctance: from hence proceeds the avarice of the old in every kind of possession. They love the world, and all that it produces; they love life, and all its advantages; not because it gives them pleasure, but because they have known it long. Chinvang the Chaste ascending the throne of China, commanded A that all who were unjustly detained in prison, during the preceding reigns, should be set free. Among the number who came to thank their deliverer on this occasion, there appeared a majestic old man, who, falling at the emperor's feet, addressed him as follows. • Great father of China, behold a wretch now eighty“five years old, who was shut up in a dungeon at the ‘ age of twenty-one. I was imprisoned, though a ‘stranger to crime, or without being even confronted ‘ by my accusers. I have now lived in solitude and “ darkness for more than fifty years, and am grown “familiar with distress. As yet dazzled with the • splendor of that sun to which you have restored me, * I have been wandering the streets to find some • friend that would assist, or relieve, or remember me; but my friends, my family, and relations, are all To dead, and I am forgotten. Permit me then, O • Chinvang, to wear out the wretched remains of life “in my former prison; the walls of my dungeon are
Life end EAR ED BY AG E. 3. evo ask qo's 44
• to me more pleasing than the most splendid palace. * I have not long to live and shall be unhappy, except * I spend the rest of my days where my youth was • passed; in that prison from whence you were pleas• ed to release me.” The old man's passion for confinement is similar to that we all have for life. We are habituated to the prison; we look round with discontent, are displeased with the abode, and yet the length of our captivity only increases our fondness for the cell. The trees we have planted, the houses we have built, or the posterity we have begotten, all serve to bind us closer to the earth, and imbitter our parting. Life sues the young like a new acquaintance; the companion, as yet unexhausted, is at once instructive and amusing; its company pleases; yet for all this it is but little regarded. To us, who are declined in years, life appears like an old friend; its jests have
been anticipated in former conversation; it has no
new story to make us smile, no new improvement with which to surprise; yet still we love it; destitute
of every enjoyment, still we love it; husband the wast
ing treasure with increasing frugality, and feel all the poignancy of anguish in the fatal separation. Sir Philip Mordaunt was young, beautiful, sincere, brave, an Englishman. He had a complete fortune of his own, and the love of the king his master, which was equivalent to riches. Life opened all her treasures before him, and promised a long succession of future happiness. He came, tasted of the entertainment, but was disgusted even at the beginning. He professed an aversion to living; was tired of walking round the same circle; had tried every enjoyment, and found them all grow weaker at every repetition. “If life • be in youth so displeasing,’ cried he to himself, • what will it appear when age comes on P if it be at • present indifferent, sure it will then be execrable.” This thought embittered every reflection; till, at last, with all the serenity of perverted reason, he ended the
4 Preceptive, Moral, &c. Pietes.
debate with a pistol I Had this self-deluded man been
ATTACHMENT TO PLACES.
It is natural to retain a tender regard for the country
* —We entered arm in arm; it was the manner in which we usually walked; 't was emblematical of ! the union of our souls.
oN ENJOYMENTS OF EARLY TIMES, AND ON LIGHTLY PASSING OVER THE EVILS OF LIFE.
When I reflect on the unambitious retirement in which I passed the earlier part of my life in the country, I cannot avoid feeling some pain in thinking that those happy days are never to return. In that retreat, all nature seemed capable of affording pleasure. I then made no refinements on happiness, but could be pleased with the most awkward efforts of rustic mirth; thought cross-purposes the highest stretch of human wit, and questions and commands the most rational way of spending the evening. Happy, could so charming an illusion still continue ! I find that age and knowledge only contribute to sour our dispositions, My present enjoyments may be more refined, but they are infinitely less pleasing. The pleasure the best actor gives, can no way compare to that I have received from a country wag, who imitated a quaker's sermon. The music of the finest. singer is dissonance, to what I felt when our old dairy-maid sung me into tears with Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night, or the cruelty of Barbara Allen. "
Writers of every age have endeavoured to show that pleasure is in us, and not in the objects offered for our amusement. If the soul be happily disposed, every thing becomes capable of affording entertain. ment, and distress will almost want a name. Every. occurrence passes in review like the figures in a procession; some may be awkward, others ill-dressed; but none but a fool is for this entaged with the master of the ceremonies. I of thcomber to have once seen a slave in a fortification insistanders, who
2 Preceptive, Moral, &c. Pieces. Goldsmith. espes; 4** *** appeared no way touched with his situation. He was maimed, deformed, and chained; obliged to toil joher, from the appearance of day till night-fall, and con-optio demned to this for life : yet, with all these circum: Houg stances of apparent wretchedness, he sung, would ko di have danced, but that he wanted a leg, and appeared long the merriest, happiest man of all the garrison. Whitlo, a a practical philosopher was here ! an happy constitu. kron. tion supplied philosophy; and, though seemingly this destitute of wisdom, he was really wise. No read. Ionine ing or study had contributed to disenchant the fairy los) land around him. Every thing furnished him with Moon an opportunity of mirth; and though some thought * on him, from his insensibility, a fool, he was such an “med ideot, as philosophers should wish to imitate; for Io; m: all philosophy is only forcing the trade of happiness, when Nature seems to deny the means. They locom who, like our slave, can place themselves on that Jor; side of the world in which every thing appears in a \* to: pleasing light, will find something in every occur. (; the rence to excite their good humour. The most ca. 1" he lamitous events, either to themselves or others, can lodern bring no other affliction; the whole world is to them a theatre, on which comedies only are acted. All the bustle of heroism, or the rants of ambition, serve only to heighten the absurdity of the scene, and make the humour more poignant. They feel, in short, as little anguish at their own distress, or the complaints of others, as the undertaker though dres: ed in black, feels sorrow at a funeral. Of alli. the men I ever read of, the famous Cardinal de ofor Retz possessed this happiness of temper in the high omit, est degree. As he was a man of gallantry, and de; "tik, pised all that wore the pedantic appearance of phi streal Iosophy, wherever pleasure was to be sold, he was somit, generally foremost to raise the auction. Being an "still, universal admirer of the fair sex, when he found othin one lady cruel, he generally fell in love with an-so