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look back on the precious time thus lost, with hesitation, regret, and a mixture even of awe and tre. pidation! For what are our faculties given us ? Are they to end in their employment here, or in the worldly reputation they procure? These are questions which more than startle me at periods of serious thought!
I look upon the great mass of mankind, and imagine that I see them employed still more unprofitably than I am. Their amusements are more sensual; and are productive of at least as little benefit to their fellow-creatures. If it be pleaded that their habits are less solitary, they still may be more selfish. The productions of the study are capable of a wider communication, than the exertions of conversation; and surely are in general of a more refined and improving nature. These thoughts intermix some rays of comfort at such hours of gloom!
But, alas! the clouds close together again; and at moments I seem involved in impenetrable darkness. The acquisition of all I had sought for, books, knowledge, fame, I feel, like Solomon, to be mere vanity! The objects of my earthly idolatry, the great meteors of human genius, fade before my sight. They appear insignificant, and vapid, like myself; their talents wasted; and the monument of their works unworthy of the labour which it cost.
Does this proceed from the disease of my mind; or from a just sense of the misapplication of its powers? Does it not whisper views of fame, and reward, beyond this world? and employments directed to effects of a higher kind, as the means ?
When the utmost purpose resulting from the em
ployment of those mental faculties with which Providence has endowed us, is a barren exercise of the understanding or the fancy of others, how far short do they fall of their capabilities? They might at the same time instruct, refine, and exalt; direct the head; and elevate the heart!
Had I, instead of wasting my life in idle inquiries on trifling subjects, and idle excursions of the imagination, bent my humble talents to acquire and convey solid knowledge, and delineate the visions of a better order of existence, perhaps even I might have secured a renown, which, while it never ceased to gratify me here, might have soothed my spirit hereafter!
It is past : the flight of Time is irrevocable; books lose their zest; the charms of learning have vanished; and fame, could I grasp it, is not worth the embrace ! Such at least is the present unhappy state of my mind. Can you give me peace, Mr. Ruminator? Can you dissipate these clouds ? And are you subject to no similar dejections? You seem to pursue your course without interruption through fair weather and foul! But perhaps I know not your difficulties. Like me, you may feel languor, disgust, despondence! O, Sir, how much luckier than I, are you then, who do not stop as I have done!
“ Tu ne cede malis; sed contra audentior ito!"
I am, SIR,
Your constant reader,
August 8, 1808.
To a mind in the state of my Correspondent's, it would be presumption in me to enlarge on the obvious and only topics of consolation. I leave it to the accomplished and eloquent divine, to delineate in their full force the comforts of religion; to point out the views, which never lose their lustre, and the wreath of which the flowers never fade. These and these alone will be powerful enough to counteract the disease, which the present letter so pathetically delineates; and which I myself, alas ! have felt too deeply to be insensible to the sufferings of my Correspondent. Aug. 11, 1808.
The following poetical fragments, found among the papers
of an eminent literary person, lately deceased, may for once be allowed in combination to form a paper of the Ruminator.
I will not venture to say that they have never been printed before, though I do not recollect to have met with them. “ Thoughts occasioned by the Funeral of the Earl
and Countess of Sutherland, 1766, at the Abbey of Holy-rood-House. By the late Sir Gilbert Elliot, Bart.
“ See where the Forth, by many a winding shore, Still undiminish'd, holds his way, and see
Yon mountain hoar, a stranger to decay,
Where, mix'd with kings, they lic, yon mountain hoar,
6 The Ballad of Shinkin, with a Latin and Greek
• Of a noble race was Shinkin,
Of the line of Owen Tudor ;
Since cruel love pursued hur.
And lily-breasts alluring,
Have wounded past all curing.
At stool-ball and at cricket;
Gods splut, how hur could kick it!
All pale and wan hur cheeks too;
Hur herrings and hur leeks too.
Be drank at good Montgomery;
Adieu, cream cheese and flummery!"