Page images
PDF
EPUB

each of them being the source of the best grounds for excluding either of them from and most grateful satisfactions that Hea- taking possession of our bosoms. yen has conferred on the sons of men.

They who insist that “ utility is the first But I should be glad to know what the and prevailing motive, which induces manreal value of this boalted exemption from kind to enter into particular friendships," care, which they promise their disciples, appear to me to divest the association of juily amounts to ? an exemption flatter- its most amiable and engaging principle. ing to felf-love, I confess; but which, upon For, to a mind rightly disposed, it is not so many occurrences in human life, should much the benefits received, as the affecbe rejected with the utmost disdain. For tionate zeal from which they flow, that Dothing, surely, can be more inconsistent gives them their best and most valuable with a well-poiled and manly spirit, than recommendation. It is so far indeed from to decline engaging in any laudable ac- being verified by fact, that a sense of our tion, or to be discouraged from persever- wants is the original cause of forming these ing in it, by an apprehension of the trouble amicable alliances; that, on the contrary, and solicitude with which it may probably it is observable, that none have been more be attended. Virtue herself, indeed, distinguished in their friendships than those ought to be totally renounced, if it be whose power and opulence, but, above all, right to avoid every poflible means that whose fuperior virtue (a much firmer fupmay be productive of uneasiness: for who, port) have raised them above every nethat is actuated by her principles, can ob- ceflity of having recourse to the alliitance ferve the conduct of an opposite character, of others. without being affected with some degree The true distinction, then, in this quesof secret dissatisfaction? Are not the just, tion is, that “ although friendship is certhe brave, and the good, necessarily ex- tainly productive of utility, yet utility is posed to the disagreeable emotions of dif- not the primary motive of friendship.” Like and aversion, when they respectively Those selfish fenfualists, therefore, who, meet with instances of fraud, of cowardice, lulled in the lap of luxury, presume to or of villainy? It is an essential pro- maintain the reverse, have surely no claim perty of every well-conftituted mind, to be to attention; as they are neither qualified by aticated with pain, or pleasure, according reflection, nor experience, to be competent to the nature of those moral appearances judges of the subject. that present themselves to observation. Good Gods! is there a man upon the

If sensibility, therefore, be not incom- face of the earth, who would deliberately patible with true wisdom (and it surely is accept of all the weath and all the afnot, unless we suppose that philosophy fuence this world can bestow, if offered to deadens every finer feeling of our nature) him upon the severe terms of his being what juit reason can be assigned, why the unconnected with a single mortal whom he sympathetic sufferings which may result could love, or by whom he should be befrom friendship, should be a sufficient in- loved? This would be to lead the wretchducement for banishing that generous af. ed life of a detested tyrant, who, amidit fection from the human breast? Extin- perpetual suspicions and alarms, passes his guth all emotions of the heart, and what miserable days a stranger to every tender difference will remain, I do not fay be sentiment, and utterly precluded from the tween man and brute, but between man heart-felt satisfactions of friendship. and a mere inanimate clod: Away then

Melmoth's Translation of Cicero's Lælius. with those austere philosophers, who represent virtue as hardening the foul against

§ 117. The Art of Happiness. all the softer impressions of humanity! The faa, certainly, is much otherwise : a Almost every object that attracts our truly good man is, upon many occasions, notice has its bright and its dark side. extremely susceptible of tender tentiments; He who habituates himself to look at the ad his heart expands with joy, or fhrinks displeasing fide, will four his disposition, sjih sorrow, as good or ill fortune accom- and conlequently impair his happiness; panies his friend. Upon the whole, then, while he, who constantly beholds it on the it may fairly be concluded, that, as in the bright side, insensibly meliorates his temcase of virtue, fo in that of friendship, per, and, in consequence of it, improves those painful sensations, which may some- his own happiness, and the happiness of Limes be produced by the one, as well as

all about him. by the other, are equally insufficient Arachne and Melissa are two friends,

They

They are, both of them, women in years, though it be on a heath or a common, and and alike in birth, fortune, education, and she will discover numberless beauties, unaccomplishments. They were originally observed before, in the hills, the dales, the alike in temper too; but, by different ma- brooms, brakes, and the variegated flowers nagement, are grown the reverse of each of weeds and poppies. She enjoys every other. Arachne has accustomed herself to change of weather and of season, as bringJook only on the dark side of every object. ing with it something of health or conveIf a new poem or play makes its appear- nience. In conversation, it is a rule with ance, with a thousand brilliancies, and but her, never to start a subject that leads to one or two blemishes, the flightly skims any thing gloomy or disagreeable. You over the passages that should give her plea- therefore never hear her repeating her fure, and dwells upon those only that fill own grievances, or those of her neighher with dislike.--If you thew her a very bours, or (what is worst of all) their faults excellent portrait, she looks at some part and imperfections. If any thing of the of the drapery which has been neglected, latter kind be mentioned in her hearing, or to a hand or finger which has been left she has the address to turn it into enterunfinished.--Her garden is a very beauti- tainment, by changing the most odious ful one, and kept with great neatness and railing into a pleasant raillery. Thus elegancy; but, if you take a walk with her Melissa, like the bee, gathers honey from in it, she talks to you of nothing but blights every weed; while Arachne, like the fpi. and storms, of fnails and caterpillars, and der, suck: poison from the faireft flowers, how impossible it is to keep it from the The consequence is, that, of two tempers litter of falling leaves and worm-casts. once very nearly allied, the one is ever If you sit down in one of her temples, to four and dissatisfied, the other always gay enjoy a delightful prospect, he observes and chearful; the one fpreads an unito you,

that there is too much wood, or too versal gloom, the other a continual funlittle water; that the day is too sunny, or shine. too gloomy; that it is fultry, or windy; There is nothing more worthy of our and finishes with a long harangue upon attention, than this art of happiness. In the wretchedness of our climate.--When conversation, as well as life, happiness very you return with her to the company, in often depends upon the flightest incidents. hope of a little chearful conversation, the The taking notice of the badness of the casts a gloom over all, by giving you the weather, a north-eaft-wind, the approach hiftory of her own bad health, or of some of winter, or any trifling circumstance of melancholy accident that has befallen one the disagreeable kind, shall insensibly rob of her daughter's children. Thus the in- a whole company of its good-humour, and fenfibly finks her own fpirits, and the spi- Aling every member of it into the vapours. rits of all around her; and, at last, dis- If, therefore, we would be happy in ourcovers, she knows not why, that her friends selves, and are desirous of communicating are grave.

that happiness to all about us, these mino. Melissa is the reverse of all this. By tiæ of onversation ought carefully to be constantly habituating herself to look only attended to. The brightness of the sky, on the bright side of objects, she preserves the lengthening of the day, the increasa perpetual chearfulness' in herself, which, ing verdure of the spring, the arrival of by a kind of happy contagion, she com- any little piece of good news, or whatever municates to all about her. If any mif- carries with it the most distant glimpse of fortune has befallen her, the confiders it joy, thall frequently be the parent of a might have been worse, and is thankful to social and happy conversation. Good. Providence for an escape. She rejoices manners exact from us this regard to our in solitude, as it gives her an opportunity company. The clown may repine at the of knowing herielf; and in society, be- sunshine that ripens the harveit, because cause she can communicate the happiness his turnips are burnt up by it; but the she enjoys. She opposes every man's vir- man of refinement will extract pleasure tues to his failings, and can find out some- from the thunder-storm to which he is exthing to cherith and applaud in the very posed, by remarking on the plenty and worit of her acquaintance. She opens refreshment which may be expected from every book with a desire to be entertained the succeeding shower. or instructed, and therefore seldom misies Thus does politeness, as well as good what the looks for. Walk with her, sense, direct us to look at every object on

the

manner:

[ocr errors]

the bright side ; and, by thus acting, we had helped with an artificial white and red cheriih and improve both. By this prac

and the endeavoured to appear more grace. tice it is that Melissa is become the wiseft ful than ordinary in her mien, by a and beft-bred woman living; and by this mixture of affectation in all her gestures: practice, may every person arrive at that She had a wonderful confidence and afagreeableness of temper, of which the furance in her looks, and all the variety of Datural and never-failing fruit is Happi- colours in her dress, that she thought were Dcís.

Harris. the molt proper to fnew her complexion to

advantage. She catt her eyes upon her118. Happiness is founded in Realitude felf, then turned them on those that were of Conduct.

prefent, to see kow they liked her, and All men pursue Good, and would be often looked on the figure the made in happy, if they knew how: not happy for her own shadow. Upon her nearer apsinutes, and miserable for hours; but proach to Hercules, the stepped before the happy, if posible, through every part of other lady, who came forward with a retheir exiltence. Either, therefore, there is gular, composed carriage, and running up a good of this steady, durable kind, or

io him, accosted him after the following there is none. If none, then all good must be tranfient and uncertain ; and if so, an

My dear Hercules,” says she, “ I cbject of the lowest value, which can litile find you are very much divided in your deferve either our attention or inquiry. thoughts upon the way of life that you But if there be a better good, such a good ought to chase; be my friend, and follow as we are seeking; like every other thing, me; I will lead you into the poffeffion of it must be derived from some cause; and pleasure, and out of the reach of pain, that cause must be either external, interna!, and remove you from all the noise and or mixed; in as much as, except these disquietude of business. The affairs of three, there is no other possible. Now a

either war or peace shall have no power iteady, durable good cannot be derived

to disturb you. Your whole employment from an external cause ; by reason, all de- shall be to make your life easy, and to rived from externals must huctuate as they entertain every tense with its proper grafluctuate. By the same rule, not from a

tifications. Sumptuous tables, beds of mixture of the two ; because the part roses, clouds of pertumes, concerts of which is external will proportionably de- music, crowds of beauties, are all in reaftroy its effence. What then remains but dineis to receive you. Come along with the cause internal; the very cause which me into this region of delights, this world we have supposed, when we place the So- of pleasure, and bid farewel for ever to Vereign Goud in Mind-in Rectitude of care, to pain, to bufiness.” Hercules Conduct?

Ibid. hearing the lady talk after this manner,

defired to know her name: to which the $119. The Choice of Hercules. answered, My friends, and those who When Hercules was in that part of his are well acquainted with me, call me youth, in which it was natural for him to Happiness; but my enemies, and those cor.fider what course of life he ought to

who would injure my reputation, have pursue, he one day retired into a desert, given me the name of Pleasure.” where the filence and solitude of the place

By this time the other lady was come very much favoured his meditations. As up, who addressed herself to the young he was musing on his present condition, hero in a very different manner :-" Herand very much perplexed in himself on the cules," says she, “ I offer myself to you, llate of life he should chuse, he saw two because I know you are descended from women, of a larger itature than ordinary, the Gods, and give proofs of that descent, approaching towards him. One of thein ' by your love to virtue, and application to h.d a very noble air, and graceful deport- the studies proper for your age. This ment; her beauty was natural and eaty, makes me hope you will gain, both for her person clean and unspotted, her eyes yourself and me, an immortal reputation. can towards the ground with an agreeable But before I invite you into my fociety Teleri, her motion and behaviour full of and friendihip, I will be open and sincere modery, and her raiment as white as snow, with you; and muit lay this down as an The other had a great deal of health and established truth, that there is nothing fordaeis in her countenanco, which the truly valuable, which can be purchased

without

[ocr errors]

without pains and labour. The Gods have set a price upon every real and noble

Letters on the Choice of Company. pleasure. If you would gain the favour of the Deity, you must be at the pains of

$ 120. LETTER I. worshipping him; if the friendship of good STR, men, you must study to oblige them; if As you are now no longer under the you would be honoured by your country, eye of either a parent, or a governor, but you must take care to serve it: in ihort, wholly at liberty to act according to your if you

would be eminent in war or peace, own inclinations; your friends cannot be you must become master of all the quali- without their fears, on your account; fications that can make you so. These they cannot but have some uneasy appreare the only terms and conditions upon hensions, lest the very bad men, with which I can propose happiness.”

whom you may converse, should be able The Goddess of Plealure here broke in to efface those principles, which so much upon her discourse : “ You see,” said the, care was taken at first to imprint, and has « Hercules, by her own confeffion, the way been since to preserve, in you. to her pleasures is long and difficult; The intimacy, in which I have, for whereas that which I propose is short and many years, lived with your family, sufeasy." “ Alas !” said the other lady, fers me not to be otherwise than a sharer whose visage glowed with passion, made of their concern, on this occasion; and ap of scorn and pity, “what are the plea- you will permit me, as such, to lay before sures you propole? To eat before you you those considerations, which, while they are hungry, drink before you are athirit, ihew you your danger, and excite your sleep before you are tired ; to gratify ap- caution, may not be without their use in petites before they are raised, and raise promoting your safety. such appetites as nature never planted. That it thould be the endeavour of our You never heard the most delicious music, parents, to give us just apprehensions of which is the praise of one's-felf; nor taw things, as soon as we are capable of rethe most beautiful object, which is the ceiving them; and, in our earlier years, work of one's own hands. Your votaries to stock our minds with useful truths-to pass away their youth in a dream of mis- accustom us to the use of our reason, the taken pleasures ; while they are hoarding restraint of our appetites, and the governup anguish, torment, and remorse, for old ment of our passions, is a point, on which, age.

I believe, all are agreed, whose opinions “ As for me, I am the friend of Gods, about it you would think of any conseand of good men; an agreeable com- quence. panion to the artizan ; an houshold guar- From a neglect in these particulars, you dian to the fathers of families; a patron see so many of one sex, as much Girls at and protector of servants ; an associate in Sixty, as they were at Sixteen-their folall true and generous friendships. The lies only varied-their pursuits, though banquets of my votaries are never coftly, differently, yet equally, trifting; and you .but always delicious ; for none eat or drink thence, likewise, find near as many of the at them, who are not invited by hunger other sex, Boys in their advanced years-as and thirit. Their slumbers are found, and fond of feathers and toys in their riper age, their wakings chearful. My young men

as they were in their childhood-living as have the pleasure of hearing themselves little to any of the purposes of Reaton, praised by those who are in years; and when it has gained its full itrength, as they those who are in years, of being honoured did when it was weakest. And, indeed, by those who are young. In a word, my from the same fource all those vices profollowers are favoured by the Gods, be- ceed, which most disturb and distress the loved by their acquaintance, esteemed by world. their country, and, after the clote of their When no pains are taken to correct our labours, honoured by poiterity."

bad inclinations, before they become conWe know, by the life of this memorable firmed and fixed in us; they acquire, at hero, to which of these two ladies he gave length, that power over us, from which up his heart; and, I believe, every one

we have the worit to fear-we give way to who reads this, will do him the juitice to them in the initances where we iee plainest, approve his choice. Tatier. how grievoully we must fuffer by our com

pliance

pliance-we know not how to resist them, certainly, form a very unfavorable opiEoru ithstanding the obvious ruin which nion of my capacity, or of my morals. If will be the consequence of our yielding to nature had given me a good understanding, dem.

and much of my time passed in reading : I don't say, that a right education will be were I to read nothing but what was trias beneficial, as a wrong one is hurtful: the fing, it would spoil that understanding, it very beit may be disappointed of its pro- would make me a Trifler: and though per effects.

formed with commendable dispositions, or Though the tree you set be put into an with none very blameable; yet if my faexcellent foil, and trained and pruned by .vourite authors were---such as encouraged the skiifullett hand; you are not, however, me to make the most of the present hour; fure of its thriving: vermin may deftroy not to look beyond it, to taste every pleaall your hopes from it.

fure that offered itself, to forego no adWhen the utmost care has been taken to vantage, that I could obtain--fuch as gave send a young man into the world well vice nothing to fear, nor virtue any thing principled, and fully apprised of the reason- to hope, in a future ftate; you would not, ableness of a religious and virtuous life; I am sure, pronounce otherwise of those . he is, yei, far from being temptation proof writers, than that they would hurt my nache eren then may fall, may fall into tural disposition, and carry me lengths of the worst both of principles and practices; guilt, which I should not have gone, with. and he is very likely to do so, in the place out this encouragement to it. where you are, if he will associate with Nor can it be allowed, that reading those who speak as freely as they act; and wrong things would thus affect me, but it who seem to think, that their underitand-, must be admitted, that hearing them would ing would be less advantageously Thewn, not do it less. Both fall under the head were they not to use it in defence of their of Conversation ; we fitly apply that term rices.

alike to both; and we may be said, with That we may be known by our compa- equal propriety, to converse with books, Dy, is a truth become proverbial. The and to converse with men. The impreserds we have to serve may, indeed, occa- fion, indeed, made on us by what we hon as to be often with the persons, whom hear, is, usually, much stronger than sve by no means resemble; or, the place, that received by us from what we read. in which we are settled, keeping us at a That which passes in our usual intergreat distance from others, if we will con- course is listened to, without fatiguig verse at all, it must be with some, whose us : each, then, taking his turn in ipealmanners we least approve. But when we ing, our attention is kept awake: we mind have our choice when no valuable interest throughout what is said, while we are at is promoted by associating with the cor- liberty to express our own sentiments of it, rapi-when, if we like the company of to confirm it, or to improve upon it, or to the wise and considerate, we may have it; object to it, or to hear any part of it remai we then court the one, and thun the peated, or to ask what questions we please other, leems as full a proof, as we can well concerning it. give, that, if we avoid vice, it is not from Discourse is an application to our eyes, me fense we have of the amiableness of as well as ears; and the one organ is here virtue

so far assistant to the other, that it greatly Had I a large collection of books, and increases the force of what is transmitted never looked into any that treated on to our minds by it. The air and action of grave and useful subjects, that would con- the speaker gives no small importance to tribute to make me wiser or better; but his words: the very tone of his voice adds took those frequently, and those only, into weight to his reafoning; and occafions that my hands, that would raise my laughter, to be attended to throughout, which, had or that would merely amuse me, or that it come to us from the pen or the press, would give me loose and impure ideas, or we should have been alleep, before we had that inculcated atheistical or sceptical no- read half of it. tions, or that were filled with scurrility and That bad companions will make us as invective, and therefore could only serve bad as themselves, I don't affirm. When to gratify my spleen and ill-nature; they, we are not kept from their vices by our sho knew this to be my practice, must, principles, we may be so by our constitu

H

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »