« ZurückWeiter »
which, though in the exercise it is chiefly an act of imagination, yet it has serious consequences in life, as it brings on real griefs and misfortunes. For as many as are offended by, and nobody loves, this sort of people; no one shows them more than the most common civility and respect, and scarcely that; and this frequently puts them out of humour, and draws them into disputes and contentions. If they aim at obtaining some advantage in rank or fortune, nobody wishes them success, or will stir a stef, or speak a word to favour their pretensions. If they incur public censure or disgrace, no one will defend or excuse, and many join to aggravate their misconduct, and render them completely odious. If these people will not change this bad habit, and condescend to be pleased with what is pleasing, without fretting themselves or others about the contrarieties, it is good for others to avoid an acquaintance with them, which is always disagreeable, and sometimes very inconvenient, especially when one finds one's self entangled in their quarrels.
An old philosophical friend of mine was grown, from experience, very cautious in this particular, and carefully avoided any intimacy with such people. He had, like other philosophers, a thermometer to show him the heat of the weather; and a barometer to mark when it was likely to prove gooa or bad; but there being no instrument invented to discover, at first sight, this unpleasing disposition in a person, he, for that purpose, made use of his legs : one of which was remarkably handsome; the other, by some accident, crooked and deformed. If a stranger, at first interview, regarded his ugly leg more than his handsome one, he doubted him. If he spoke of it, and took no notice of the handsome leg, that was sufficient to determine my philosopher to have no further acquaintance with him. Every body has not this two-legged instrument; but every one, with a little attention, may observe signs of that carping, fault-finding disposition, and take the same resolution of avoiding the acquaintance of those infected with it. I therefore advise those critical, querulous, dism contented, unhappy people, if they wish to be re.
spected and beloved by others, and happy in themBelves, they should leave ofi* looking at the ugly leg.
CONVERSATION OF A COMPANY OF
TO MADAME BRILLIANT
You may remember, my dear friend, that when we lately spent that happy day, in the delightful garden and sweet society of the Moulin Joly, I stopt a little in one of our walks, and staid some time behind the company. We had been shown numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly, called an Ephemeræ, whose successive generations, we were toid, were bred and expired within the day. I hap. pened to see a living company of them on a leaf, who appeared to be engaged in conversation. You know I understand all the inferior animal tongues; my too great application to the study of them is the best ex cuse I can give for the little progress I have made in your charming language. i listened through curiosi. ty to u , discourse of these little creatures; bul as they, in their national vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their conversation. I'found, however, by some broken expres sions that I heard now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of two foreign musicians, one a cousin, the other a muscheto ; in which dispute they spent their time, seeming as regardless of the shortness of their life as if they had been sure of living a month. Happy people, thought I, you live certainly under a wise, just, and mild government, since you have no public grievances to complain of, nor any qther subject of contention but the perfections or imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head from them to an old grey-headed one, who was single on Another leaf, and talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in writing, in hopes 'it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company and heavenly harmony.
“ It was,” says he, “the opinion of learned phi. losophers of our race, who lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the Moulin Joly could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours : and I think there was some foundation for that opi. nion; since, by the apparent motion of the great su. minary, that gives life to all nature, and which in my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end of the earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness, necessarily producing universal death and destruction. I have lived 7 of those hours; a great age, being no less than 420 minutes of time! How very few of us continue so long? I have seen generations born, flourish, and expire. My present friends are children and grand-children of the friends of my youth, who are now, alas, no more! And I must soon follow ihem ; for, by the common course of nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour, in amassing the honey-dew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy. What my political struggles I have been engaged in, for the good of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies, for the benefit of our race in general: for in politics (what can laws do with. out inorals?) our present race of ephemeræ will in a course of minutes became corrupt, like those of other and older bushes, and consequently as wretched ! And in philosophy how small our progress. Alas! art is long, and life is short! My friends would com fort me with the idea of a name, they say, I shall leave behind me; and they tell me I have lived long enough to nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an ephemeræ who no longer exists? and what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end, and be buried in an universal
To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain, but the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well, the sensible conversation of a few good lady ephemeræ, and now and then a kind smile and a tune from the ever amiable Brilliant.
MORALS OF CHESS.
PLATING at chess is the most ancient and univer. sal game known among men; for its original is be. yond the memory of history, and it has, for numberless ages, been the amusement of all the civilized nations of Asia, the Persians, the Indians, and the Chinese. Europe has had it above a thousand years; the Spaniards have spread it over their parts of America, and it begins to make its appearance in these States. It is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it; and thence it is never played for money. Those, there fore, who have leisure for such diversions, cannot find one that is more innocent; and the following piece, written with a view to correct (among a few young friends) some little improprieties in the practice of it, shows, at the same tiine, that it may in its effects on the mind, he not merely innocent, but advantageous, to the vanquished as well as the victor.
The game of chess is not merely an idle amuse ment. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions. For life is a kind of chess, in which we have points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effects of prudence or the want of it. By playing at chess then, we learn,
I. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, considers the consequences that may attend an ac tion : for it is contínually occurring to the plages alf I move this piece, what will be the advantag my new situation? What use can my adversa make of it to annoy me? What other moves can . make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks !"
II. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chessboard, or scene of action, the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respec. tively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may take this or that move, and attack this or the other piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.
II. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired by observing strictly the laws of the game, such as, “ If you touch a piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down you must let it stand :" and it is therefore best that these rules should be observed; as the game thereby becomes more the image of human life, and particularly of war; in which, if you have incautiously put yourself into a bad and dangerous position, you cannot obtain your enemy's leave to withdraw your troops, and place them more securely, Jut you must abide all the consequences of your rashness.
And, lastly, we learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favour. able change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of ex. tricating one's self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the con test to the last, in hope of victory by our own skill, or at least of giving a stale mate, by the negligence of our adversary. And whoever considers, what in chess he often sees instances of, that particular pieces of success are apt to produce presumption, and its consequent inattention, by which the loss inay be recovered, will learn not to be too much discouraged by