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3. They recommend it also, in all connexions of this kind, to hold the bands of union extremely loose ; so as always to have it in one's power to straiten or relax them, as circumstances and situations shall render most expedient. They add, as a capital article of their doctrine, that,“to live exempt from cares, is an essential ingredient to constitute human happiness:butan ingredient,however, which he, who voluntarily distresses himself with cares, in which he has no necessary and personalinterest, must never hope to possess.”'
4. I have been told likewise, that there is another set of pretended philosophers, of the same country, whose tenets, concerning this subject, are of a still more illiberal and ungenerous cast. The proposition they attempt to establish, is, that " friendship is an affair of self-interest entirely; and that the proper motive for engaging in it, is, not in order to gratify the kind and benevolent affections, but for the benefit of that assistance and support which are to be derived from the connexion.”
5. Accordingly they assert, that those persons are most disposed to have recourse to auxiliary alliances of this kind, who are least qualified by nature, or fortune, to depend upon their own strength and powers: the weaker sex, for instance, being generally more inclined to engage in friendships, than the male part of our species; and those who are depressed by indigence, or labouring under misfortunes, than the wealthy and the prosperous.
6. Excellent and obliging sages, these, undoubtedly! To strike out the friendly affections from the moral world, would be like extinguishing the sun in the natural; each of them being the source of the best and most grateful satisfactions, that Heaven has conferred on the sons of men. But I should be glad to know, what the real value of this boasted exemption from care, which they promise their disciples, justly amounts to? a exemption flattering to self-lovu, I confess; but which, upon many occurrences in human life, should be rejected with the utmost disdain.
7. For nothing, surely, can be more inconsistent with a wellpoised and manly spirit, than to decline engaging in any laudable action, or to be discouraged from persevering in it, by an apprehension of the trouble and solicitude, with which it may probably be attended..
8.. Virtue herself, indeed, ought to be totally renounced, if it be right to avoid every possible means that may be productive of uneasiness: for who, that is actuated by her principles, can observe the conduct of an opposite character, without being affected with some degree of secret dissatisfaction ?
9. Are not the just, the brave, and the good, necessarily exposed to the disagreeable emotions of dislike and aversion, when they respectively meet with instances of fraud, of cowardice, or of villany? It is an essential property of every well-constituted mind, to be affected with pain, or pleasure, according to the nature of those moral appearances that present themselves to observation.
10. If sensibility, therefore, he not incompatible with true wisdom, (and it surely is not, unless we suppose that philosophy deadens every finer feeling of our nature,) what just reason can be assigned, why the sympathetick sufferings which may result from friendship, should be a sufficient inducement for banishing that generous affection from the human breast ?
11. Extinguish all emotions of the heart, and what difference will remain, I do not say between man and brute, but between man and a mere inanimate clod? Away then with those austere philosophers, who represent virtue as hardening the soul against all the softer impressions of humanity!
12. The fact, certainly, is much otherwise. A truly good man is, upon many occasions, extremely susceptible of tender sentiments; and his heart expands with joy, or shrinks with sorrow, as good or ill fortune accompanies his friend. Upon the whole, then, it may fairly be concluded, that, as in the case of virtue, so in that of friendship, those painful sensations, which may sometimes be produced by the one, as well as by the other, are equally insufficient grounds for excluding either of them from taking possession of our bosoms.
13. They who insist that " utility is the first and prevailing motive, which induces mankind to enter into particular friendships," appear to me to divest the association of its most amiable and engaging principle. For to a mind rightly disposed, it is not so much the benefits received, as the affectionate zeal from which they flow, that gives them their best and most valuable recommendation.
14. It is so far indeed from being verified by fact, that a sense of our wants is the original cause of forming these amicable alliances; that, on the contrary, it is observable, that none have been more distinguished in their friendships than those, whose power and opulence, but, above all, whose superiour virtue, (a much firm. er support,) have raised them above every necessity of having recourse to the assistance of others.
15. The true distinction then, in this question, is, that “although friendship is certainly productive of utility, yet utility is not the primary motive of friendship.” Those selfish sensualists, therefore, who, lulled in the lap of luxury, presume to maintain the reverse, have surely no claim to attention; as they are neither qualified by reflection, norexperience, to be competentjudges of the subject.
16. Is there a man upon the face of the earth, who would delibe. rately accept of all the wealth, and all the affluence this world can bestow, if offered to him upon the severe terms of his being unconnected with a single mortal whom he could love, or by whom he should be beloved? This would be to lead the wretched life of a detested tyrant, who, amidst perpetual suspicions and alarms, passes his miserable days a stranger to every tender sentiment; and utterly precluded from the heart-felt satisfactions of friend
Melmoth's translation of Cicero's Lælius.
On the immortality of the soul. 1. I was yesterday walking alone, in one of my friend's woods; and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I was running over, in my mind, the several arguments that establish this great point; which is the basis of morality, and the source of all the pleasing hopes, and secretjoys, that can arise in the heart of a reasonable creature.
2. I considered those several proofs drawn-First, from the nature of the soul itself, and particularly its immateriality; which, though not absolutely necessary to the eternity of its duration, has, I think, been evinced to almost a demonstration.
3. Secondly, from its passions and sentiments; as, particularly
from its love of existence; its horrour of annihilation; and its hopes of immortality ; with that secret satisfaction which it finds in the practice of virtue; and that uneasiness which follows upon the commission of vice.-Thirdly, from the nature of the Supreme Being, whose justice, goodness, wisdom, and veracity, are all concerned in this point.
4. But among these, and other excellent arguments for the immortality of the soul, there is one drawn from the perpetual progress of the soul to its perfection, without a possibility of ever arriving at it; which is a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved by others, who have written on this subject, though it seems to me to carry a very great weight with it,
5. How can it enter into the thoughts of man, that the soul, which is capable of immense perfections, and of receiving new improvements to all eternity, shall fall away into nothing, almost as soon as it is created ? Are such abilities made for no purpose ? A brute arrives at a point of perfection, that he can never pass : in a few years he has all the endowments he is capable of; and were he to live ten thousand more, would be the same thing he is at present.
6. Were a human soul thus at a stand in her accomplishments; were her faculties to be full blown, and incapable of farther enlargements; I could imagine she might fall away insensibly, and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of improvement, and tray. elling on from perfection to perfection, after having just looked abroad into the works of her Creator, and made a few discoveries of his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power, must perish at her first setting out, and in the very beginning of her inquiries ?
7. Man, considered only in his present state, seems sent into the world merely to propagate his kind. He provides himself with a successor; and immediately quits his post to make room for him, He does not seem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This is not surprising to consider in animals, which are formed for our use, and which can finish their business in a short life.
8. The silk-worm, after having spun her task, lays her eggs and dies. But a man cannot take in his full measure of knowledge, has not time to subdue his passions, establish his soul in virtue, and come up to the perfection of his nature, before he is hurried off the stage. Would an infinitely wise Being make such glorious creatures for so mean a purpose ? Can he delight in the production of such abortive intelligences, such short-lived reasonable beings? Would he give us talents that are not to be exerted ? capacities that are never to be gratified ?
9. How can we find that wisdom which shines through all his works, in the formation of man, without looking on this world as only a nursery for the next; and without believing that the several generations of rational creatures, which rise up and disappear in such quick successions, are only to receive their first rudiments of existence here, and afterwards to be transplanted into a more friendly climate, where they may spread and flourish to all eternity?
10. There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion, than this of the perpetual progress, which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength; to consider that she is to shine for ever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity. that she will be still aduing virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge;/carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition, which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation for ever beautifying in his eyes; and drawing nearer to him, by greater degrees of resemblance.
11. Methinks this single consideration, of the progress of a finite spirit to perfection, will be sufficient to extinguish all envy in inferiour natures, and all contempt in superiour. That cherub, which now appears as a god to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is: nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being ; but he knows that, how high soever the station is of which he stands possessed at present, the inferiour nature will, at length, mount up to it; and shine forth in the same degree of glory.
12. With what astonishment and veneration, may we look into our own souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection! We know not yet what we shall be ; nor will it ever enter into the heart of man, to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him. The soul, considered with its Creator, is like one of those mathematical lines, that may draw nearer to another for all eternity, without a possibility of touching it: and can there be a thought so transporting, as to consider ourselves in these perpetual anproaches to him, who is the standard not only of perfection, but of happiness?
The Seasons. · 1. AMONG the great blessings and wonders of the creation, may be classed the regularities of times and seasons. Immediately after the flood, the sacred promise was made to man, that seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, should continue to the very end of all things. Accordingly, in obedience to that promise, the rotation is constantly presenting us with some useful and agreeable alteration; and all the pleasing novelty of life arises from these natural changes: nor are we less indebted to them for many of its solid comforts.
2. It has been frequently the task of the moralist and poet, to mark, in polished periods, the particular charms and conveniences of every change; and, indeed, such discriminate observations upon natural variety,cannot be undelightful; since the blessing which every month brings along with it, is a fresh instance of the wisdom and bounty of that Providence, which regulates th
glories of the year. We glow as we contemplate ; we feel a propensity to adore, whilst we enjoy.
3. In the time of seed-sowing, it is the season of confidence : the grain which the husbandman trusts to the bosom of the earth, shall, haply, yield its seven-fold rewards. Spring presents us with a scene of lively expectation. That which was before sown, begins now to discover signs of successful vegetation. The labourer observes the change, and anticipates the harvest; he watches the progress of nature, and smiles at her influence: while the man of contemplation walks forth with the evening, amidst the fragrance of flowers, and promises of plenty ; nor returns to his cottage till darkness closes the scene upon his eye. Then cometh the harvest, when the large wish is satisfied, and the granaries of nature are loaded with the means of life, even to a luxury of abundance.
4. The powers of language are unequal to the description of this happy season. It is the carnival of nature: sun and shade, coolness and quietude, cheerfulness and melody, love and gratitude, unite to render every scene of summer delightful. The division of light and darkness is one of the kindest efforts of Omnipotent Wisdom. Day and night yield us contrary blessings; and, at the same time, assist each other, by giving fresh lustre to the delights of both. Amidst the glare of day, and bustle of life, how could we sleep? Amidst the gloom of darkness, how could we labour ?
5. How wise, how benignant, then, is the proper division! The hours of light are adapted to activity; and those of darkness, to rest. Ere the day is passed, exercise and nature prepare us for the pillow; and by the time that the morning returns, we are again able to meet it with a smile. Thus, every season has a charm peculiar to itself; and every moment affords some interesting innovation.
MELMOTH. SECTION II. The cataract of Niagara, in Canada, North America. 1. This amazing fall of water is made by the river St. Lawrence, in its passage from lake Erie into the lake Ontario. The St. Lawrence is one of the largest rivers in the world ; and yet the whole of its waters is discharged in this place, by a fall of a hundred and fifty feet perpendicular. It is not easy to bring the imagination to correspond to the greatness of the scene.
2. A river extremely deep and rapid, and that serves to drain the waters of almost all North America into the Atlantick Ocean, is here poured precipitately down a ledge of rocks, that rises, liké a wall, across the whole bed of its stream. The river, a little above, is near three quarters of a mile broad; and the rocks, where it grows narrower, are four hundred yards over.
3. Their direction is not straight across, but hollowing inwards like a horse-shoe : so that the cataract, which bends to the shape of the obstacle, rounding inwards, presents a kind of theatre the most tremendous in nature. Just in the middle of this circular wall of waters, a little island, that has braved the fury of the current, presents one of its points, and divides the stream at top into two parts; but they unite again long before they reach the bottom
4.The noise of the fall is heard at the distance of several leagues; and the fury of the waters, at the termination of their fall, in in