Imatges de pÓgina
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pleasure, equips Imagination in the spoils? Life would be insupportable to an old man, who, loaded with infirmities, feared death no more than when in the vigour of manhood; the numberless calamities of decaying 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 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 choose," 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 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-two. 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 splendour of that sun to which you have restored me, I have been wandering the streets to find out some friend that would assist, or relieve, or remember me; but my friends, my family, and relations, are all 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 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

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that prison from whence you were pleased 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 embitter 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 wasting 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 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? 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 debate with a pistol! Had this self-deluded man been apprized, that existence grows more desirable to us the longer we exist, he would then have faced old age without shrinking; he would have boldly dared to live; and served that society by his future assiduity, which he basely injured by his desertion. Goldsmith.

§ 11. The Canal and the Brook.
A Reverie.

A delightfully pleasant evening succeeding a sultry summer day, invited me to take a solitary walk; and leaving the dust

of the highway, I fell into a path which led along a pleasant little valley watered by a small meandering brook. The meadow ground on its banks had been lately mown, and the new grass was springing up with a lively verdure. The brook was hid in several places by the shrubs that grew on each side, and intermingled their branches. The sides of the valley were roughened by small irregular thicksets; and the whole scene had an air of solitude and retirement, uncommon in the neighbourhood of a populous town. The Duke of Bridgewater's canal crossed the valley, high raised on a mound of earth, which preserved a level with the elevated ground on each side. An arched road was carried under it, beneath which the brook that ran along the valley was conveyed by a subterraneous passage. I threw my self upon a green bank, shaded by a leafy thicket, and resting my head upon my hand, after a welcome indolence had overcome my senses, I saw, with the of fancy, the following scene.

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The firm built side of the aqueduct suddenly opened, and a gigantic form is sued forth, which I soon discovered to be the Genius of the Canal. He was clad in a close garment of russet hue. A mural crown, indented with battlements, surrounded his brow. His naked feet were discoloured with clay. On his left shoulder he bore a huge pick-axe; and in his right hand he held certain instruments, used in surveying and levelling. His looks were thoughtful, and his features harsh. The breach through which he proceeded instantly closed, and with a heavy tread he advanced into the valley. As he approached the brook, the Deity of the stream arose to meet him. He was habited in a light green mantle, and the clear drops fell from his dark hair, which was encircled with a wreath of water-lily interwoven with sweet-scented flag; an angling rod supported his steps. The Genius of the Canal eyed him with a contemptuous look, and in a hoarse voice thus began:

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Hence, ignoble rill, with thy scanty tribute to thy lord the Mersey; nor thus waste thy almost exhausted urn in linger. ing windings along the vale. Feeble as thine aid is, it will not be unacceptable to that master stream himself; for, as I lately crossed his channel, I perceived his sands loaded with stranded vessels. I saw and pitied him, for undertaking a

task to which he is unequal. But thou, whose languid current is obscured by weeds, and interrupted by mis-shapen pebbles; who losest thyself in endless mazes, remote from any sound but thy own idle gurgling; how canst thou support an existence so contemptible and useless? For me, the noblest child of Art, who hold my unremitting course from hill to hill, over vales and rivers; who pierce the solid rock for my passage, and connect unknown lands with distant seas; wherever I appear I am viewed with astonishment, and exulting Commerce hails my waves. Behold my channel thronged with capacious vessels for the conveyance of merchandise, and splendid barges for the use and pleasure of travellers; my banks crowned with airy bridges and huge warehouses, and echoing with the busy sounds of industry! Pay then the homage due from Sloth and Obscurity to Grandeur and Utility."

"I readily acknowledge," replied the Deity of the Brook, in a modest accent, "the superior magnificence and more extensive utility of which you so proudly boast; yet, in my humble walk, I am not void of a praise less shining, but not less solid than yours. The nymph of this peaceful valley, rendered more fertile and beautiful by my stream; the neighbouring sylvan deities, to whose pleasure I contribute; will pay a grateful testimony to my merit. The windings of my course, which you so much blame, serve to diffuse over a greater extent of ground the refreshment of my waters; and the lovers of Nature and the Muses, who are fond of straying on my banks, are better pleased that the line of beauty marks my way, than if, like yours, it were directed in a straight unvaried line. They prize the irregular wildness with which I am decked, as the charms of beauteous simplicity. What you call the weeds which darken and obscure my waves, afford to the botanist a pleasing speculation of the works of nature; and the poet and painter think the lustre of my stream greatly improved by glittering through them. The pebbles which diversify my bottom and make these ripplings in my current, are pleasing objects to the eye of taste; and my simple murmurs are more melodious to the learned ear than all the rude noises of your banks, or even the music that resounds from your stately barges.

If the unfeeling sons of Wealth and Commerce judge of me by the mere standard of usefulness, I may claim no undistinguished rank. While your waters, confined in deep channels, or lifted above the valleys, roll on, a useless burden to the fields, and only subservient to the drudgery of bearing temporary merchandises, my stream will bestow unvarying fertility on the meadows, during the summers of future ages. Yet I scorn to submit my honours to the decision of those whose hearts are shut up to taste and sentiment: let me appeal to nobler judges. The philosopher and poet, by whose labours the human mind is elevated and refined, and opened to pleasures beyond the conception of vulgar souls, will acknowledge that the elegant deities who preside over simple and natural beauty, have inspired them with their charming and instructive ideas. The sweetest and most majestic bard that ever sung, has taken a pride in owning his affection to woods and streams: and while the stupendous monuments of Roman grandeur, the columns which pierced the skies, and the aqueducts which poured their waves over mountains and valleys, are sunk in oblivion, the gently winding Mincius still retains his tranquil honours. And when thy glories, proud Genius! are lost and forgotten; when the flood of commerce, which now supplies thy urn, is turned into another course, and has left thy channel dry and desolate; the softly flowing Avon shall still murmur in song, and his banks receive the homage of all who are beloved by Phoebus and the Muses." Aikin's Miscel.

§ 12. The Story of a disabled Sailor. No observation is more common, and at the same time more true, than, That one half of the world are ignorant how the other half lives. The misfortunes of the great are held up to engage our attention; are enlarged upon in tones of declamation; and the world is called upon to gaze at the noble sufferers: the great, under the pressure of calamity, are conscious of several others sympathizing with their distress; and have, at once, the comfort of admiration and pity.

There is nothing magnanimous in bearing misfortunes with fortitude, when the whole world is looking on: men in such circumstances will act bravely, even from motives of vanity; but he who, in

the vale of obscurity, can brave adversity; who, without friends to encourage, acquaintances to pity, or even without hope to alleviate his misfortunes, can behave with tranquillity and indifference, is truly great: whether peasant or courtier, he deserves admiration, and should be held up for our imitation and respect.

While the slightest inconveniences of the great are magnified into calamities; while tragedy mouths out their sufferings in all the strains of eloquence; the miseries of the poor are entirely disregarded and yet some of the lower ranks of people undergo more real hardships in one day, than those of a more exalted station suffer in their whole lives. It is inconceivable what difficulties the meanest of our common sailors and soldiers endure without murmuring or regret; without passionately declaiming against Providence, or calling their fellows to be gazers on their intrepidity. Every day is to them a day of misery, and yet they entertain their hard fate without repining,

With what indignation do I hear an Ovid, a Cicero, or a Rabutin, complain of their misfortunes and hardships, whose greatest calamity was that of being unable to visit a certain spot of earth, to which they had foolishly attached an idea of happiness! Their distresses were pleasures compared to what many of the adventuring poor every day endure without murmuring. They ate, drank, and slept; they had slaves to attend them; and were sure of subsistence for life: while many of their fellow-creatures are obliged to wander without a friend to comfort or assist them, and even without shelter from the severity of the season.

I have been led into these reflections from accidentally meeting, some days ago, a poor fellow, whom I knew when a boy, dressed in a sailor's jacket, and begging at one of the outlets of the town with a wooden leg. I knew him to have been honest and industrious when in the country, and was curious to learn what had reduced him to his present situation. Wherefore, after having given him what I thought proper, I desired to know the history of his life and misfortunes, and the manner in which he was reduced to his present distress. The disabled soldier, for such he was, though dressed in a sailor's habit, scratching his head, and leaning on his crutch, put himself in an atti

tude to comply with my request, and gave me his history as follows:

"As for my misfortunes, master, I can't pretend to have gone through any more than other folks; for, except the loss of my limb, and my being obliged to beg, I don't know any reason, thank Heaven, that I have to complain: there is Bill Tibbs, of our regiment, he has lost both his legs, and an eye to boot; but, thank Heaven, it is not so bad with me yet.

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I was born in Shropshire; my father was a labourer, and died when I was five years old; so I was put upon the parish. As he had been a wandering sort of a man, the parishioners were not able to tell to what parish I belonged, or where I was born, so they sent me to another parish, and that parish sent me to a third. I thought in my heart, they kept sending me about so long, that they would not let me be born in any parish at all; but at last, however, they fixed me. I had some disposition to be a scholar, and was resolved, at least, to know my letters; but the master of the workhouse put me to business as soon as I was able to handle a mallet; and here I lived an easy kind of life for five years. I only wrought ten hours in the day, and had my meat and drink provided for my labour. It is true, I was not suffered to stir out of the house, for fear, as they said, I should run away; but what of that? I had the liberty of the whole house, and the yard before the door, and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, where I was up both early and late; but I ate and drank well, and liked my business well enough, till he died, when I was obliged to provide for myself; so I was resolved to go seek my fortune.

"In this manner I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and starved when I could get none: when happening one day to go through a field belonging to a justice of peace, I spied a hare crossing the path just before me, and I believe the devil put it in my head to fling my stick at it :---well, what will you have on't? I killed the hare, and was bringing it away, when the justice himself met me; he called me a poacher and a villain; and, collaring me, desired I would give an account of myself. I fell on my knees, begged his worship's pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of my breed,

seed, and generation; but, though I gave a very true account, the justice said I could give no account; so I was indicted at sessions, found guilty of being poor, and sent up to London to Newgate in order to be transported as a vagabond.

"People may say this and that of being in jail, but, for my part, I found Newgate as agreeable a place as ever I was in in all my life. I had my belly full to eat and drink, and did no work at all. This kind of life was too good to last for ever; so I was taken out of prison, after five months, put on board a ship, and sent off, with two hundred more, to the plantations. We had but an indifferent passage, for, being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of sweet air; and those that remained were sickly enough, God knows. When we came ashore, we were sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more. As I was no scholar, for I did not know my letters, I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I served out my time, as in duty bound to do.

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When my time was expired, I worked my passage home, and glad I was to see Old England again, because I loved my country. I was afraid, however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more, so I did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs when I could get them.

"I was very happy in this manner for some time, till one evening coming home from work, two men knocked me down, and then desired me to stand. They be longed to a press-gang: I was carried before the justice, and, as I could give no account of myself, I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man of war, or list for a soldier: I chose the latter; and, in this post of a gentleman, I served two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy, and received but one wound, through the breast here; but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again.

"When the peace came on I was dis charged; and, as I could not work, be cause my wound was sometimes troublesome, I listed for a landman in the East India company's service. I have fought the French in six pitched battles; and I verily believe that, if I could read or write, our captain would have made me

& corporal. But it was not my good fortune to have any promotion, for I soon fell sick, and so got leave to return home again with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the present war, and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spending my money but the government wanted men, and so I was pressed for a sailor before ever I could set foot on shore.

"The boatswain found me, as he said, an obstinate fellow he swore he knew that I understood my business well, but that I shammed Abraham, to be idle; but, God knows, I knew nothing of seabusiness, and he beat me without considering what he was about. I had still, however, my forty pounds, and that was some comfort to me under every beating; and the money I might have had to this day, but that our ship was taken by the French, and so I lost my money.

"Our crew was carried into Brest, and many of them died, because they were not used to live in a jail; but, for my part, it was nothing to me, for I was seasoned. One night as I was asleep on the bed of boards, with a warm blanket about me, for I always loved to lie well, I was awakened by the boatswain, who had a dark lantern in his hand; Jack,' says he to me, will you knock out the French sentries' brains?' I don't care,' says I, striving to keep myself awake, if I lend a hand.' Then follow me,' says he, and I hope we shall do some business.' So up I got, and tied my blanket, which was all the clothes I had, about my middle, and went with him to fight the Frenchmen. I hate the French, because they are all slaves, and wear wooden shoes.

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Though we had no arms, one Englishman is able to beat five French at any time; so we went down to the door, where both the sentries were posted, and rushing upon them, seized their arms in a moment, and knocked them down. From thence nine of us ran together to the quay, and seizing the first boat we met, got out of the harbour, and put to sea. We had not been here three days before we were taken up by the Dorset Privateer, who were glad of so many good hands, and we consented to run our chance. However, we had not as much luck as we expected. In three days we fell in with the Pompadour privateer, of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three; so to it

we went, yard-arm and yard-arm. The fight lasted for three hours, and I verily believe we should have taken the Frenchman, had we but had some more men left behind; but, unfortunately, we lost all our men just as we were going to get the victory.

"I was once more in the power of the French, and I believe it would have gone hard with me had I been brought back to Brest; but, by good fortune, we were re-taken by the Viper. I had almost forgot to tell you that, in that engagement, I was wounded in two places: I lost four fingers off the left hand, and my leg was shot off. If I had had the good fortune to have lost my leg and use of my hand on board a king's ship, and not on board a privateer, I should have been entitled to clothing and maintenance during the rest of my life; but that was not my chance: one man is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and another with a wooden ladle. However, blessed be God, I enjoy good health, and will for ever love liberty and Old England. Liberty, property, and Old England for ever, huzza!"

Thus saying, he limped off, leaving me in admiration at his intrepidity and content; nor could I avoid acknowledging, that an habitual acquaintance with misery serves better than philosophy to teach us Goldsmith. to despise it.

§ 13. A Dialogue between ULYSSES and CIRCE, in CIRCE's Island.

Circe. You will go then, Ulysses; but why will you go? I desire you to speak the thoughts of your heart. Speak without reserve--- What carries you from me?

Ulysses. Pardon, goddess, the weakness of human nature. My heart will sigh for my country. It is a tenderness which all my attachment to you cannot overcome.

Circe. This is not all. I perceive you are afraid to declare your whole mind: but what do you fear? my terrors are gone. The proudest goddess on earth, when she has favoured a mortal as I have favoured you, has laid her divinity and power at his feet.

Ulysses. It may be so, while there still remains in her heart the fondness of love, or in her mind the fear of shame. But you, Circe, are above those vulgar sensations.

Circe. I understand your caution, it

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