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I like better the repartee of Antipater the Cyrenaic, when

women were condoling with him for his blindness : “What !” says he, “ do you think there are no pleasures in the dark ?”

“Nothing can be more destructive," says Fontenelle, “to ambition, and the passion for conquest, than the true system of astronomy. What a poor thing is even the whole globe in comparison of the infinite extent of Nature ?” This consideration is evidently too distant ever to have any effect. Or, if it had any, would it not destroy patriotism as well as ambition? The same gallant author adds, with some reason, that the bright eyes of the ladies are the only objects which lose nothing of their luster or value from the most extensive views of astronomy, but stand proof against every system. Would philosophers advise us to limit our affections to them?

“Exile," says Plutarch to a friend in banishment, “is no evil: mathematicians tell us that the whole earth is but a point, compared to the heavens. To change one's country, then, is little more than to remove from one street to another. Man is not a plant, rooted in a certain spot of earth : all soils and all climates are like suited to him." These topics are admirable, could they fall only into the hands of banished persons. But what if they come also to the knowledge of those who are employed in public affairs, and destroy all their attachment to their native country? Or will they operate like the quack's medicine, which is equally good for a diabetes and a dropsy?

It is certain, were a superior being thrust into a human body, that the whole of life would to him appear so mean, contemptible, and puerile, that he never could be induced to take part in anything, and would scarcely give attention to what passes around him. To engage him to such a condescension as to play even the part of a Philip with zeal and alacrity, would be much more difficult than to constrain the same Philip, after having been a king and a conqueror during fifty years, to mend old shoes with proper care and attention ; the occupation which Lucian assigns him in the infernal regions. Now all the same topics of disdain towards human affairs, which could operate on this supposed being, occur also to a philosopher; but being, in some measure, disproportioned to human capacity, and not being fortified by the experience of anything better, they make not a full impression on him. He sees, but he feels not sufficiently their truth: and is always a


sublime philosopher, when he needs not; that is, as long as nothing disturbs him, or rouses his affections. While others play, he wonders at their keenness and ardor; but he no sooner puts in his own stake than he is commonly transported with the same passions that he had so much condemned while he remained a simple spectator.

I shall conclude this subject with observing that, though virtue be undoubtedly the best choice, when it is attainable; yet such is the disorder and confusion of human affairs that no perfect or regular distribution of happiness and misery is ever, in this life, to be expected. Not only the goods of fortune, and the endowments of the body (both of which are important), not only these advantages, I say, are unequally divided between the virtuous and vicious, but even the mind itself partakes, in some degree, of this disorder; and the most worthy character, by the very constitution of the passions, enjoys not always the highest felicity.

It is observable that though every bodily pain proceeds from some disorder in the part or organ, yet the pain is not always proportioned to the disorder, but is greater or less, according to the greater or less sensibility of the part upon which the noxious humors exert their influence. A toothache produces more violent convulsions of pain than a phthisis or a.dropsy. In like manner, with regard to the economy of the mind, we may observe that all vice is indeed pernicious; yet the disturbance or pain is not measured out by nature with exact proportion to the degrees of vice; nor is the man of highest virtue, even abstracting from external accidents, always the most happy. A gloomy and melancholy disposition is certainly, to our sentimer a vice or imperfection ; but as it may be accompanied with great sense of honor and great integrity, it may be found in very worthy characters, though it is sufficient alone to imbitter life, and render the person affected with it completely miserable. On the other hand, a selfish villain may possess a spring and alacrity of temper, a certain gayety of heart, which is indeed a good quality, but which is rewarded much beyond its merit, and when attended with good fortune will compensate for the uneasiness and remorse arising from all the other vices.

I shall add, as an observation to the same purpose, that, if a man be liable to a vice or imperfection, it may often happen that a good quality, which he possesses along with it, will

VOL. XVII. - 10

render him more miserable than if he were completely vicious. A person of such imbecility of temper as to be easily broken by affliction is more unhappy for being endowed with a generous and friendly disposition, which gives him a lively concern for others, and exposes him the more to fortune and accidents. A sense of shame, in an imperfect character, is certainly a virtue ; but produces great uneasiness and remorse, from which the abandoned villain is entirely free. A very amorous complexion, with a heart incapable of friendship, is happier than the same excess in love, with a generosity of temper, which transports a man beyond himself, and renders him a total slave to the object of his passion.

In a word, human life is more governed by fortune than by reason : is to be regarded more as a dull pastime than a serious occupation; and is more influenced by particular humor than by general principles. Shall we engage ourselves in it with passion and anxiety? It is not worthy of so much concern. Shall we be indifferent about what happens ? We lose all the pleasure of the game by our phlegm and carelessness. While we are reasoning concerning life, life is gone ; and death, though perhaps they receive him differently, yet treats alike the fool and the philosopher. To reduce life to exact rule and method is commonly a painful, oft a fruitless, occupation : and is it not also a proof that we overvalue the prize for which we contend ?



(ROBERT BLAIR was born probably in Edinburgh about 1700, educated at the University, traveled on the Continent, became a clergyman in 1731, and spent the rest of his life — till 1746 — in one pastorate. Of his poems, only this is remembered : it was illustrated by William Blake.]

DULL grave — thou spoil'st the dance of youthful blood,
Strik'st out the dimple from the cheek of mirth,
And ev'ry smirking feature from the face;
Branding our laughter with the name of madness.
Where are the jesters now ? the men of health
Complexionally pleasant? Where the droll,
Whose ev'ry look and gesture was a joke

To clapping theaters and shouting crowds,
And made ev'n thick-lipped musing melancholy
To gather up her face into a smile
Before she was aware ? Ah: sullen now,
And dumb as the green turf that covers them.

Where are the mighty thunderbolts of war?
The Roman Cæsars, and the Grecian chiefs,
The boast of story? where the hot-brained youth
Who the tiara at his pleasure tore
From kings of all the then discovered globe;
And cried, forsooth, because his arm was hampered
And had not room enough to do its work ?
Alas! how slim, dishonorably slim,
And crammed into a space we blush to name!
Proud royalty! how altered in thy looks!
How blank thy features, and how wan thy hue!
Son of the morning! whither art thou gone !
Where hast thou hid thy many-spangled head,
And the majestic menace of thine eyes
Felt from afar? Pliant and powerless now
Like new-born infant wound up in swathes,
Or victim tumbled flat upon his back,
That throbs beneath the sacrificer's knife.
Mute, must thou bear the strife of little tongues,
And coward insults of the base-born crowd;
That grudge a privilege thou never hadst,
But only hoped for in the peaceful grave,
Of being unmolested and alone.
Arabia's gums and odoriferous drugs,
And honors by the herald duly paid
In mode and form, ev'n to the very scruple;
Oh cruel irony! These come too late;
And only mock, whom they were meant to honor,
Surely there's not a dungeon-slave that's burie
In the highway, unshrouded and uncoffined,
But lies as soft, and sleeps as sound as he.
Sorry preëminence of high descent,
Above the baser born, to rot in state.

Death's shafts fly thick:- Here falls the village-swain, And there his pampered lord. - The cup goes round:

And who so artful as to put it by! 'Tis long since death had the majority; Yet strange! the living lay it not to heart. See yonder maker of the dead man's bed, The Sexton, hoary-headed chronicle,

Of hard unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole
A gentle tear; with mattock in his hand
Digs through whole rows of kindred and acquaintance,
By far his juniors. — Scarce a skull's cast up,
But well he knew its owner, and can tell
Some passage of his life. — Thus hand in hand
The sot has walked with death twice twenty years;
And yet ne'er yonker on the green laughs louder,
Or clubs a smuttier tale: - when drunkards meet,
None sings a merrier catch, or lends a hand
More willing to his cup. - Poor wretch! he minds not,
That soon some trusty brother of the trade
Shall do for him what he has done for thousands.

On this side, and on that, men see their friends
Drop off, like leaves in autumn; yet launch out
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
In the world's hale and undegen'rate days
Could scarce have leisure for. — Fools that we are,
Never to think of death and of ourselves
At the same time: as if to learn to die
Were no concern of ours. — Oh! more than sottish,
For creatures of a day in gamesome mood,
To frolic on eternity's dread brink
Unapprehensive; when for aught we know,
The very first swol'n surge

Think we, or think we not, time hurries on
With a resistless unremitting stream;
Yet treads more soft than e'er did midnight-thief,
That slides his hand under the miser's pillow,
And carries off his prize. What is this world ?
What? but a spacious burial-field unwalled,
Strewed with death's spoils, the spoils of animals
Savage and tame, and full of dead men's bones.
The very turf on which we tread once lived ;
And we that live must lend our carcasses
To cover our own offspring : In their turns
They too must cover theirs. — 'Tis here all meet,
The shiv'ring Icelander, and sunburned Moor;
Men of all climes, that never met before;
And of all creeds, the Jew, the Turk, the Christian.
Here the proud prince, and favorite yet prouder,
His sov'reign's keeper, and the people's scourge,
Are huddled out of sight. — Here lie abashed
The great negotiators of the earth,
And celebrated masters of the balance,

sweep us in.

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