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from what we now inhabit. Coming SE RM.
XH. downwards through some generations, a no new face of things appears. Men begin to think, and act, in a different train ; and what we call refinement gradually opens. Arriving at our own times, we consider ourselves as having widely enlarged the sphere of knowledge on every fide, having formed just ideas on every subject; having attained the proper ftandard of manners and behaviour ; and wonder at the ignorance, the uncouthnefs, and rusticity of our forefathers. But, alas ! what appears to us so perfect shall in its turn pass away. The next race, while they fhove us off the stage, will introduce their favourite difcoveries and innovations; and what we now admire as the height of improvement, may in a few ages hence be confidered as altogether rude and imper- . fect. As one wave effaces the ridge which the former had made on the fand by the sea shore, so every succeeding age obliterates the opinions and modes of the age which had gone before it. The
SER M. fashion of the world is ever passing a
Let us only think of the changes which our own ideas and opinions undergo in the progress of life. One man differs not more from another, than the fame man varies from himself in different periods of his age, and in different situations of fortune. In youth, and in opulence, every thing appears smiling and gay. We fly as on the wings of fancy; and survey beauties wherever we cast our eye. But let some more years have passed over our heads, or let disappointments in the world have depressed our spirits ; and what a change takes place ? The pleasing illusions that once shone before us; the splendid fabrics that imagination had reared; the enchanting maze in which we once wandered with delight, all vanish and are forgotten. The world itself remains the fame. But its form, its appearance, and aspect is changed to our view ; its fashion, as to us, hath passed away:
II. While our opinions and ideas SER M. are thus changing within, the condition of all external things is, at the same time, ever changing without us, and around us. Wherever we cast our eyes over the face of nature, or the monuments of art, we discern the marks of alteration and vicissitude. We cannot travel far upon the earth, without being presented with many a striking memorial of the changes made by time. What was once a flourishing city, is now a neglected village. Where castles and palaces stood, fallen towers and ruined walls appear. Where the magnificence of the great shone, and the mirth of the gay resounded, there, as the prophet Ifaiah describes, the owl and the raven now dwell, thorns come up, and the nettle and the bramble grow in the courts.When we read the history of nations, what do we read but the history of inceffant revolution and change? We behold kingdoms alternately rising and falling ; peace and war taking place by turns; princes, heroes, and statesinen,
SERM. coming forth in succession on the stage,
attracting our attention for a little by the splendid figure they make, and then disappearing and forgotten. We see the fashion of the world affuming all its different forms, and in all of them, paffing away.
But to historical annals there is no occasion for our having recourse. Let any one, who has made fome progress in life, recollect only what he has beheld pafting before him, in his own time. We have seen our country rise triumphant among the nations, and we have feen it also humbled in its turn. We have seen in one hemisphere of the globe new dominions acquired, and in another hemisphere, our old dominions loft. At home, we have feen factions and parties thift through all their different forms ; and administrations, in succesfion, rise and fall. What were once the great themes of eager discussion, and political contest, are now forgotten. Fa. thers recount them to their children as the tales of other times. New actors
have come forth on the stage of the ser M. world. New objects have attracted the
the way attention, and new intrigues engaged the. passions of men. New members fill the seats of justice ; new ministers the temples of religion ; and a new world, in short, in the course of a few years, has gradually and insensibly risen around us.
When from the public scene we turn our eye to our own private connections, the changes which have taken place in the fashion of the world, must touch every reflecting mind with a more tender sensibility. For where are now, many of the companions of our early years; many of those with whom we first began the race of life ; and whose hopes and ; prospects were once the same with our own? In recollecting our old acquaintance and friends, what devastations have been made by the hand of time? On the ruins of our former connections, new ones have arisen ; new relations have been formed; and the circle of those among whom we live is altogether
VOL. IV. R changed