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tage, where there is neatness, and competence, and peace, and a book, and a virtuous friend, of a cultivated mind, to meet one, is only a variety, and not a diminution, of the day's pleasure. The sacred charm of innocence, instead of leaving the sting of regret in the recollection of the past, adds, on reflection, to the poignancy of the enjoyment; and the corporeal frame, healthy from its own habits, and untouched by mental uneasiness, becomes attuned to sensations of happiness, such as almost lift it above humanity!
I am as sure, as I am of any human truth, that grandeur and ambition, at the very moment of attaining their utmost wishes, never felt pleasures, which, even in a worldly point of view, could bear a comparison with these cheap and innocent occupations! Occupations, in the power of thousands, and tens of thousands, who desert them for the paths of bitterness, disappointment, disgrace, crime, and eternal misery!
But, alas! the rarest of all earthly attainments is content! It seems to be one of the most radical defects of our frail nature. We cannot bear to see our neighbours mounted over our heads; we cannot bear to see bloated Greatness look down upon us with neglect and scorn; when we ought to consider the robe of office that covers the insignificant, and the coronet which encircles the brows of the weak, as nothing more than the fool's cloak and cap, which. point him out more distinctly to the contempt of the world. It must be confessed, indeed, that there are times, when the best regulated minds cannot entirely restrain their indignation on this subject.
Never perhaps did the period exist in this country, when these abuses were carried so far, as they have lately been. Upstarts of the most offensive sort have been obtruded into too many high offices, and decked out with too many unmerited distinctions, which have enabled them to insult men, their superiors as well in all the gifts of nature, as in all those artificial claims which have hitherto been recognized by the wisdom of human institutions. These men, even where they have been blessed with native genius, have uniformly been inebriated with the fumes of sudden prosperity, and belied the honourable expectations, which they had raised. In truth, they are so engrossed with themselves, that they have no conception of any pretensions but their own. But these circumstances, though they may palliate, can by no means justify, the disturbance of that peace of mind, which becomes true wisdom, and true virtue!
There is, however, a species of celebrity, which it is not unbecoming a well-attempered disposition to seek. I mean the fame, which is merited by eminence in literature; more especially by the sublime efforts of poetry. This pursuit is not inconsistent with that station and those habits which Martial describes as affording the best probability of happiness here; but, on the contrary, would be most cherished by them. Anxieties never cease to embitter the pillow of Greatness; a large retinue, a crowd of dependents, surround it with intrigues and troubles; calumny, envy, and malice are constantly at work; luxury enfeebles the constitution; idleness weakens the mind; and while all in this world ap
pears but the vanity of vanities, the hopes of the next grow fainter and fainter, for the sake of delu. sions, from which the unhappy victim is yet too feeble to extricate himself.
O how I sigh for the enviable state, so beautifully delineated by the poet; and in the first place
"Lis nunquam, toga rara, mens quieta;"
that toga, from which I turn with such unfeigned abhorrence; which covers a heart, so restless, so feverish, so artificial; and is surmounted by a head so full of quips, and quirks, and sophistry; and so occupied in grovelling labours, when it might aspire to speculations which would exalt it in the ranks of intellectual existence! To behold a crowd of lawyers, in a narrow and heated court, breathing pestilence and poison, with wan looks, sallow cheeks, and distracted countenances, insisting with artificial energy on some technical nonsense, subversive of wisdom, justice, and equity, is a spectacle, from which I early fled with unconquerable disgust. What wise man would for a moment exchange for it the lot of the poor and uncultivated ploughman, whom I have heard, in the exuberance of his heart-felt joy, make the echoes rebound with his voice, as I have seen him, in a cold drizzling morning of December, striking his furrow in distant fields, far amid solitary woodlands, and remote from all that is deemed the gaiety of life!
The heart, that has lost its zest for the scenery of Nature, that is untouched by the simplest pleasures, however harsh the designation may seem, is depraved! A walk, a ride, in the open air, at a distance from towns, and a return to the most un
ostentatious cottage, where only competence, and cleanliness, and peace preside, offers to a virtuous bosom the utmost gratification, of which we are capable, except what may arise from the retrospect of a duty performed, or a benefit conferred.
If these sentiments are faintly, or imperfectly expressed, the reader is entreated to notice, that they have been dictated from the couch of debility and sickness.
Feb. 9, 1807.
N°. V. Literature the only permanent vehicle of Fame.
Feb. 14, 1807.
I HAVE often been struck at the ference and ignorance of men, who appear to be acting a conspicuous part in the world, in every thing except that which concerns their own immediate line of action. Men, of whom better things might have been expected, have been so engrossed with their own peculiar views of private ambition, that they have been found totally uninformed in matters, which it behoves every liberal mind to be in some degree acquainted with.
The late Mr. Pitt, whose exalted character I contemplate with due reverence, had defects of which his various splendid qualities ought not to obliterate the disapprobation. He seems to have imagined that the temper of the public mind might be, not only best, but exclusively, influenced through the channel of parliamentary pratory. A more narrow
and dangerous mistake has seldom been entertained. With all proper respect for the powers of oral eloquence, it is impossible to contemplate its deficiencies, compared with written compositions, (more especially as conveyed to the public by means of hired reporters of debates,) without astonishment at the error of such an opinion entertained by a strong understanding!
Alas! his own fame is now suffering through the consequences of this mistake! He did not know the value of literature; and he never drew its masters around him. His reputation therefore begins to be eclipsed, in the eye of the nation, by that of the great rival, who soon followed him to the grave; and who, having adorned his brilliant talents with this kind of cultivation, now enjoys the effect of it in the adulation paid to his memory.
In truth, in what other way can the credit now given to Mr. Fox, for superiority in certain points, as a statesman, to which he has no fair pretension, be accounted for? The panegyrists of that illustrious senator seem to take for granted, that because the measures of Mr. Pitt failed to rescue the Continent of Europe from the grasp of France, the opinions and predictions of his opponent have been verified by time, and would have produced both the preservation of the nations which have fallen, and the peace and security and prosperity of Great Britain! An illegitimate inference, which were the friends of the departed premier as zealous and as active in the fair means of regulating the public sentiment,
* A sensible pamphlet on this subject was published about ten years ago by " A NEAR OBSERVER.”