Page images


« The amiable creature leemed amicted my own features, and at that moment I at my fickness; and she appeared to have said to myself, Are not these my children? so much concern and care for me, as raised The tears came into my eyes, and I was in me a great inclination and tenderness for about to run and embrace them; but conher. She came every day into my chamber ftraining myself with pain, I asked whose to inquire after my health; I asked who the picture it was? The maid, perceiving was, and I was answered, that she was niece that I could not speak without tears, fell a to the counters of Venofki.

weeping. Her tears absolutely confirmed I verily believe that the constant fight me in my opinion; and falling upon her of this charming maid, and the pleature I neck, “Ah, my dear child,' said I, yes, I reccived from her careful attendance, con- am your father! I could say no more. tributed more to my recovery than all the The youth seized my hands at the same medicines the physicians gave me. In thort, time, and kissing, bathed them with his my fever left me, and I had the satisfaction tears. Throughout my life, I never felt a to fee the lovely creature overjoyed at my joy equal to this; and it must be owned, recovery. She came to see me oftener as I that nature inspires more lively emotions grew better; and I already felt a stronger and pleasing tenderness than the passions and more tender affection for her, than I

can possibly excite." Spectator. ever bore to any woman in my life: when I began to perceive that her constant care

$ 12. Remarks on the Swiftness of Time. of me was only a blind, to give her an op- The natural advantages which arife portunity of seeing a young Pole whom I from the position of the earth which we took to be her lover. He seemed to be inhabit, with respect to the other planets, much about her age, of a brown complex- afford much employment to mathematical ion, very tall, but finely shaped. Every speculation, by which it has been discovered, time she came to tee me, the young gentle- that no other conformation of the syitem man came to find her out; and they usually could have given such commodious diitriburetired to a corner of the chamber, where tions of light and heat, or imparted fertithey seemed to converse with great earnest- lity and pleasure to so great a part of a neis. The aspect of the youth pieafed me revolving sphere. wonderfully; and if I had not suspected It

may be perhaps observed by the mothat he was my rival, I thould have taken ralist, with equal reason, that our globe delight in his person and friendship. seems particularly fitted for the residence

“ They both of them often asked me if I of a Being, placed here only for a short were in reality a German? which when I time, whole task is to advance himself continued to affirm, they seemed very much to a higher and happier state of existence, troubled. One day I took notice that the by unremitted vigilance of caution, and young lady and gentleman, having retired activity of virtue. to a window, were very intent upon a pic- The duties required of man are such ture; and that every now and then they as human nature does not willingly percast their eyes upon me, as if they had form, and such as those are inclined to defound some resemblance betwixt that and lay who yet intend some time to fulfil my features. I could not forbear to ask them. It was therefore necessary that this the meaning of it; upon which the lady an- universal reluctance should be counteracted, swered that if I had been a Frenchman, and the drowsiness of hesitation wakened the mould have imagined that I was the into resolve; that the danger of procrarperson for whom the picture was drawn, be- tination should be always in view, and the cause it exactly resembled me. I desired fallacies of security be hourly detected. to see it. But how great was my surprise, To this end all the appearances of nawhen I found it to be the very painting ture uniformly confpire. Whatever we which I had sent to the queen five years be- fee on every side, reminds us of the lapse fore, and which the commanded me to get of time and the flux of life. The day and drawn to be given to my children! After night succeed each other, the rotation of I had viewed the piece, I cast my eyes seafons diversifies the year, the sun rises, upon the young lady, and then upon the attains the meridian, declines and fets; gentleman I had thought to be her lover. and the moon every night changes its hv heart beat, and I felt a secret emotion form. which filled me with worder. I thought I The day has been considered as traccü in the iwo young persons some of image of the year, and a year as the repre



sentation of life. The morning answers ourselves to treat them as men. The o the spring, and the spring to childhood traveller visits in age those countries and youth; the noon correlponds to the through which he rambled in his youth, finamer, and the summer to the strength and hopes for merriment at the old place. of manhood. The evening is an emblem. The man of business, wearied with unsatilof autumn, and autumn of declining life. factory prosperity, retires to the town of his The night with its filence and darkness nativity, and expects to play away the last thews the winter, in which all the powers years with the companions of his childof vegetation are benumbed; and the hood, and recover youth in the fields where sister points out the time when life shall he once was young. cease, with its hopes and pleasures.

From this inattention, fo general and He that is carried forward, however so mischievous, let it be every man's ftudy ssifiy, by a motion equable and easy, per- to exempt himself. Let him that defire's ceives not the change of place but by the to see others happy, make hafte to give variation of objects. If the wheel of life, while his gift can be enjoyed, and rememstich rolls thus filently along, passed on ber, that every moment of delay takes trough undistinguishable uniformity, we away something from the value of his beinoală never mark its approaches to the nefaction. And let him who proposes his erd of the course. If one hour were like own happiness, reflect, that while he forms another; if the passage of the sun did not his purpose the day ro!ls on, and the hew that the day is wasting; if the change night cometh, when no man can work.' of seasons did not impress upon us the

Idler. flight of the year; quantities of duration equal to days and years would glide unob

§ 13. The Folly of mif-Spending Time. seried. If the parts of time were not va. rioally coloured, we should never discern An ancient poet, unreasonably discontheir departure or succeflion, but should tented at the present state of things, which lire thoughtless of the past, and careless of his system of opinions obliged him to rethz fature, without will, and perhaps with- present in its worst form, has observed of cet power to compute the periods of life, the earth, “ That its greater part is coC to compare the time which is already vered by the uninhabitable ocean; that of lost with that which may probably re- the rest, some is encumbered with naked main.

mountains, and some loft under barren But the course of time is so visibly lands; some scorched with unintermitted marked, that it is even observed by the heat, and some petrified with perpetual Folge, and by nations who have raised froit; fo that only a few regions remain tveir minds very little above animal in- for the production of fruits, the patture of fönd: there are human beings, whose cattle, and the accommodation of man.” Izeguage does not supply them with words The fame oblervation may be transby which they can number five, but I have ferred to the time allotted us in our preind of none that have not names for Day sent state. When we have deducted all and Sight, for Summer and Winter. that is absorbed in sleep, all that is in

Yet it is certain that these admonitions evitably appropriated to the demands of of nature, however forcible, however im- nature, or irresiltibly engrofled by the ty-portunate, are too often vain; and that ranny of custom; all that paiies in regumany who mark with such accuracy the lating the superficial decorations of lite, courie of time, appear to have little sea- or is given up in the reciprocations of ciAbility of the decline of life. Every man vility to the disposal of others; all that is has fonething to do which he neglects; torn from us by the violence of disease, or every man has faults to conquer which he stolen imperceptibly away by laffitude and dars to combat.

languor; we shall find that


du. so lit:le do we accustom ourselves to ration very small of which we can truly conder the effects of time, that things ne- call ourselves maiters, or which we can cztary and certain often surprise us like spend wholly at our own choice. Many of berpected contingencies. We leave the our hours are loit in a rotation of petry berty in her bloom, and, after an absence cares, in a constant recurrence of the fame of twenty years, wonder, at our return, to employments; many of our provisions for End her faded. We meet those whom we ease or happiness are always exhausted by eft children, and can scarcely persuade the present day; and a grcat part of our

C 2


of our

[ocr errors]

existence serves no other purpose, than that look upon themselves as required to of enabling us to enjoy the rest.

change the general course of their conOf the few moments which are left in duct, to dismiis their business, and exclude our disposal, it may reasonably be ex- pleasure, and to devote their days or pected, that we should be fo frugal, as to nights to a particular attention. But all let none of them slip from us without some common degrees of excellence are attainequivalent; and perhaps it might be found, able at a lower price; he that should steathat as the earth, however itraitened by dily and resolutely align to any science or jock and waters, is capable of producing language thcfe interstitial vacancies which more than all its inhabitants are able to intervene in the most crowded variety of consume, our lives, tho' much contracted by diversion or employment, would find every incidental distracion, would yet afford us day new irradiations of knowledge, and a large space vacant to the exercise of rea- diicorer how much more is to be hoped fon and virtue; that we want not time, from frequency and perseverance, than, but diligence, for great performances; from violent efforts and sudden desires; and that we squander much of our allow- efforts which are foon remitted when they ance, even while we think it sparing and encounter dificulty, and delires which, if insufficient.

they are indulged too often, will shake off This natural and necessary comminution the authority of reason, and range capriof our lives, perhaps, often makes us in- ciously from one object to another. fensible of the negligence with which we The difpofition to defer every iinportant faffer them to slide away. We never con- design to a time of leisure, and a itate of fider ourselves as poifelted at once of time fettled uniformity, proceeds generally from fufficient for any great design, and there- a falle estimate of the human powers. If fore indulge ourselves in fortuitous amuse- we except those gigantic and ftupendous ments. We think it unnecessary to take intelligences who are said to grasp a fyran account of a few fupernumerary mo- tem by intuition, and bound forward from ments, which, however employed, could one series of conclufions to another, withhave produced little advantage, and which out regular steps through intermediate prowere exposed to a thousand chances of dif- positions, the most succetsful students. turbance and interruption.

make their advances ia knowledge by It is observable, that, either by nature fort flights, between each of which the or by habit, our faculties are fitted to mind may lie at reft. For every single act images of a certain extent, to which we of progresion a short time is sufficient; adjust great things by division, and little and it is only neceitary, that whenever that things by accumulation. Of extensive time is afforded, it be well employed. surfaces we can only take a survey, as the Few minds will be long confined to parts succeed one another; and atoms we severe and laborious meditation; and when. cannot perceive, till they are united into a successful attack on knov ledge has been masses. Thus we break the vuit periods made, the ftudent recreates himself with of time into centuries and years; and the contemplation of his conqueit, and thus, if we would know the amount of forbears another incursion till the new-acmoments, we must agglomerate thein into quired truth has become familiar, and his days and weeks.

curiosity calls upon him for fresh gratificaThe proverbial oracles of our parsi- tions. Whether the time of interinision is monious ancestors have informed us, that spent in company, or in folitude, in necefthe fatal waste of fortune is by fmall ex- sary bufmess, or in voluntary levities, the pences, by the profusion of sums too little understanding is equally abilracted from fingly to alarm our caution, and which the object of enquiry; bat, perhaps, if it we never fuffer ourselves to consider toge- be detained by occupations lefs pleasing, it ther. Of the same kind is the prodiga- returns again to study with greater alacrity lity of life: he that hopes to look back than when it is glutted with ideal pleasures, hereafter with satisfaction upon pait years, and surfeited with intemperance of applimult learn to know the present value of cation. He that will not suffer himself to single minutes, and endeavour to let to be discouraged by fancied imposibilities, particle of time fall uteless to the may sometimes sind his abilities invignground.

rated by the neceflity of exerting them in It is usual for those who are advised to short intervals, as the force of a current is the attainment of any new qualificacions, to encreased by the contraction of its channel.

From From some cause like this, it has pro- ourselves in this particular by all those vabably proceeded, that among those who rious turns of expreífion and thought which have contributed to the advancement of are peculiar in his writings. karning, many have risen to eminence, in I often consider mankind as wholly inopposition to all the obitacles which exter- confiltent with itself, in a point that bears nal circumstances could place in their way, some affinity to the former. Though we arid:t the tumult of business, the distrestes seem grieved at the shortness of life, in geof porerty, or the dissipations of a wander- neral, we are wishing every period of it at ing and unsettled ftate. A great part of an end. The minor longs to be at age, the life of Erasınus was one continual pere- then to be a man of business, then to make grisation : ill fupplied with the gifts of up an estate, then to arrive at honours, then fortune, and led from city to city, and from to retire. Thus, although the whole of kingdom to kingdom, by the hopes of pa- life is allowed by every one to be short, the trors and preferment, hopes which always several divisions of it appear long and tefattered and always deceived him; he yet dious. We are for lengthening our span found means, by unshaken constancy, and a in general, but would fain contract the figilant improvement of those hours, which, parts of which it is composed. The usurer in the midlt of the most restless activity, will would be very well fatisfied to have all the remain unengaged, to write more than time annihilated that lies between the preanother in the same condition would have sent moment and the next quarter-day. hoped to read. Compelled by want to at- The politician would be contented to tendance and solicitation, and so much lose three years in his life, could he place versed in common life, that he has trans- things in the potture which he fancies they mitted to as the most perfect delineation of will stand in after such a revolution of the manners of his age, he joined to his time. The lover would be glad to strike kacwiedge of the world such application to out of his existence all the moments that books, that he will stand for ever in the are to pass away before the happy meeting. frt rank of literary heroes. How this Thus, as fast as our time runs, we should be prosciency was obtained, he fufficiently dif- very glad, in molt parts of our lives, that corers, by informing us, that the Praise of it ran much faiter than it does. Several Foly, one of his most celebrated perform- hours of the day hang upon our hands; zaces, was composed by him on the road to nay, we wish away whole years, and travel Italy; n2 tetum illud tempus quo equo fuit through time, as through a country filled itaendam, illiteratis fabulis iereretur, left with many wild and empty waites which the hours which we was obliged to spend on we would fain lurry over, that we may arhorieback should be tattled away without rive at those feve-al little fettlements or regard to literature,

imaginary points of rest which are difAn Italian philosopher expressed in his perfed up and down in it. motto, that time was his ejtate; an estate If we divide the life of most men into indeed, which will produce nothing without twenty parts, we fall find that at least cultivation, but will always abundantly re- nineteen of them are mere gaps and chasms, pay the labours of industry, and satisfy the which are neither filled with pleasure nor mit extenlive desires, if no part of it be business. I do not however include in this fazered to lie waste by negligence, to be calculation the life of those men who are in Gier-run with noxious plants, or laid out a perpetual hurry of affairs, but of those for thew rather than for use. Rambler. only who are not always engaged in scenes $14. The Importance of Time, and the of action; and I hope I ihall not do an

unacceptable piece of service to these perproper Me:bods of jpending it.

fons, if I point out to them certain meWe all of us complain of the shortness thods for the filling up their empty spaces of time, faith Seneca, and yet have much of life. The methods I shall propose to more than we know what to do with. Our them are as follow: Eres, says he, are spent either in doing The first is the exercise of virtue, in the nothing at all, or doing nothing to the pur- moft general acceptation of the word. płe, or in doing nothing that we ought to That particular scheme which compredo. We are always complaining our days hends the social virtues, may give employare few, and acting as though there would ment to the most industrious temper, and be no end of them. That noble philofo- find a man business more than the most acpher has described our inconsistency with tive station of life. To advite the ignorant,



relieve the needy, comfort the afflicted, are propose to fill up our time, should be useduties that fall in our way almost every day ful and innocent diversions. I must conof our lives. A man has frequent oppora fess I think it is below reasonable creatures tunities of mitigating the fierceness of a to be altogether conversant in such diverparty; of doing justice to the character of fions as are merely innocent, and have noa deserving man; of softening the envious, thing else to recommend them, but that quieting the angry, and rectifying the pre- there is no hurt in them. Whether any judiced; which are all of them employ- kind of gaming has even thus much to say ments suitable to a reasonable nature, and for itfelf, I shall not determine ; but I think bring great fatisfaction to the person who it is very wonderful to see persons of the can buiy himself in them with discretion. best sense pailing away a dozen hours toge

There is another kind of virtue that ther in Mutting and dividing a pack of may find employment for those retired cards, with no other conversation but what hours in which we are altogether left to is made up of a few game phrases, and no ourselves, and destitute of company and other ideas but those of black or red spots conversation; I mean that intercourse and ranged together in different figures. Would communication which every reasonable not a man laugh to hear any one of this creature ought to maintain with the great species complaining that life is short? Author of his being. The man who lives The stage might be made a perpetual under an habitual sense of the divine pre- source of the most noble and useful enterfence, keeps up a perpetual chearfulnels of tainments, were it under proper regutemper, and enjoys every moment the fa- lations. tisfaction of thinking himself in company But the mind never unbends itself so with his deareft and beit of friends. The agreeably as in the conversation of a welltime never lies heavy upon him: it is im- chosen friend. There is indeed no blessing possible for him to be alone. His thoughts of life that is any way comparable to the and passions are the most buried at luch enjoyment of a discreet and virtuous friend. hours when those of other men are the most It eases and unloads the mind, clears and unactive. He no sooner steps out of the improves the understanding, engenders world but his heart burns with devotion, thought and knowledge, animates virtue swells with hope, and triumphs in the con- and good resolution, foothes and allays the sciousness of that presence which every passions, and finds employment for most of where surrounds him; or, on the contrary, the vacant hours of life. pours out its fears, its sorrows, its appre- Next to such an intimacy with a partihentions, to the great Supporter of its ex- cular person, one would endeavour after a istence.

more general conversation with such as are I have here only considered the neceflity capable of edifying and entertaining those of a man's being virtuous, that he may have with whom they converse, which are quasomething to do; but if we confider fur- lities that feldom

go asunder. ther, that the exercise of virtue is not only There are many other useful amusean amusement for the time it lasts, but that ments of life, which one would endeavour its influence extends to those parts of our to multiply, that one might, on all occaexistence which lie beyond the grave, and sions, have recourse to something rather that our whole eternity is to take its colour than fuffer the mind to lie idle, or run a. from those hours which we here employ drift with any passion that chances to rise in virtue or in vice, the argument redou- in it. bles upon us, for putting in practice this A man that has a taste in music, paintmethod of pafling away our time.

ing, or architecture, is like one that has When a man has but a little stock to another sense, when compared with such improve, and has opportunities of turning as have no relith of those arts. The floit all to good account, what shall we think rist, the planter, the gardener, the husbandof him if he suffers nineteen parts of it to man, when they are only as accomplishlic dead, and perhaps employs even the ments to the man of fortune, are great retwentieth to his ruin or disadvantage ?- liefs to a country life, and many ways useBut becaute the mind cannot be always in ful to those who are possessed of them. its fervouss, nor strained up to a pitch of

Spectator. virtue, it is neceflary to find out proper employments for it, in its relaxations. § 15. Mil-Spent Time, bow punished. The next muihod therefore that I would I was yesterday comparing the industry


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »