Слике страница

but when the ferment of their blood abates, and the freshness of their youth, like the morning dew, passes away, their spirits flag for want of entertainments more satisfactory in themselves, and more suited to a manly age; and the soul, from a sprightly impertinence, from quick sensations, and florid desires, subsides into a dead calm, and sinks into a flat stupidity. The fire of a glowing imagination (the property of youth) may make folly look pleasing, and lend a beauty to objects, which have none inherent in them; just as the sun-beams may paint a cloud, and diversify it with beautiful stains of light, however dark, unsubstantial, and empty in itself. But nothing can shine with undiminished lustre, but religion and knowledge, which are essentially and intrinsically bright. Take it therefore for granted, which you will find by experience, that nothing can be long entertaining, but what is in some measure beneficial; because nothing else will bear a calm and sedate review.

You may be fancied for a while, upon the account of good-nature, the inseparable attendant upon a flush of sanguine health, and a fulness of youthful spirits: but you will find, in process of time, that among the wise and good, useless goodnature is the object of pity, ill-nature of hatred; but nature, beautified and improved by an assemblage of moral and intellectual endowments, is the only object of a solid and lasting esteem.



DILIGENCE, industry, and proper improvement of time, are material duties of the young. To no purpose are they endowed with the best abilities, if they want activity for exerting them. Unavailing, in this case, will be every direction that can be given them, either for their temporal or spiritual welfare. In youth, the habits of industry are most easily acquired: in youth, the incentives to it are strongest, from ambition and from duty, from emulation and hope, from all the prospects which the beginning of life affords. If, dead to these calls, you already languish in slothful inaction, what will be able to quicken the more sluggish current of advancing years? Industry is not only the instrument of improvement, but the foundation of pleasure. Nothing is so opposite to the true enjoyment of life, as the relaxed and feeble state of an indolent mind. He who is a stranger to industry, may possess, but he cannot enjoy. For it is labour only which gives the relish to pleasure. It is the appointed vehicle of every good man. It is the indispensable condition of our possessing a sound mind in a sound body. Sloth is so inconsistent with both, that it is hard to determine, whether it be a greater foe to virtue, or to health and happiness. Inactive as it is in itself, its effects are fatally powerful. Though it appear a slowly flowing stream, yet it undermines all that is stable and flourishing. It not only saps the foundation of every virtue, but pours upon you a deluge of crimes and evils. It is like water which first putrefies by stagnation, and then sends up

noxious vapours, and fills the atmosphere with death. Fly, therefore, from idleness, as the cer ́tain parent both of guilt and of ruin. And under idleness I include, not mere inaction only, but all that circle of trifling occupations, in which too many saunter away their youth; perpetually engaged-in frivolous society, or public amusements; in the labours of dress, or the ostentation of their persons. Is this the foundation which you lay for future usefulness and esteem? By such accomplishments do you hope to recommend yourselves to the thinking part of the world, and to answer the expectations of your friends and your country? Amusements youth requires: it were vain, it were cruel, to prohibit them. But, though allowable as the relaxation, they are most culpable as the business, of the young. For they then become the gulf of time, and the poison of the mind. They foment bad passions. They weaken the manly powers. They sink the native vigour of youth into contemptible effeminacy. Blair.

[ocr errors]


In the early ages of the world, mankind was happy in the enjoyment of continual pleasure and constant plenty under the protection of Rest, a gentle divinity, who required of her worshippers neither altars nor sacrifices; and whose rites were only performed by prostrations upon turfs of flowers in shades of jasmine and myrtle, or by dances on the banks of rivers flowing with milk and nectar.

Under this easy government the first genera

tions breathed the fragrance of perpetual spring, ate the fruits which without culture fell into their hands, and slept under bowers arched by nature, with the birds singing over their heads, and the beasts sporting about them.

But by degrees each, though there was more than enough for all, was desirous of appropriating part to himself. Then entered Violence, and Fraud, and Theft, and Rapine. Soon after Pride and Envy broke into the world, and brought with them a new standard of wealth; for men, who till then thought themselves rich when they wanted nothing, now rated their demands, not by the calls of nature, but by the plenty of others; and began to consider themselves as poor, when they beheld their own possessions exceeded by those of their neighbours.

Amidst the prevalence of this corruption, the state of the Earth was changed; the year was divided into seasons; part of the ground became barren, and the rest yielded only berries, acorns, and herbs. The summer indeed furnished a coarse and inelegant sufficiency, but winter was without any relief; famine, with a thousand diseases, which the inclemency of the air invited into the upper regions, made havoc among men, and there appeared to be danger lest they should be destroyed before they were reformed.

To oppose the devastations of Famine, who scattered the ground every where with carcases, Labour came down upon the Earth. Labour was the son of Necessity, the nursling of Hope, and the pupil of Art; he had the strength of his mother, the spirit of his nurse, and the dexterity of

[blocks in formation]


his governess. His face was wrinkled with the wind, and swarthy with the Sun; he had implements of husbandry in one hand, with which he turned up the earth; in the other he had the tools of architecture, and raised walls and towers at his pleasure. He called out with a rough voice, Mortals! see here the power to whom you are consigned, and from whom you are to hope for all your pleasures, and all your safety. You have long languished under the dominion of Rest, an impotent and deceitful goddess, who can neither protect nor relieve, but resigns you to the first attacks of either Famine or Disease, and suffers her shades to be invaded by every enemy, and destroyed by every accident. Wake, therefore, to the call of Labour. I will teach you to remedy the sterility of the earth, and the severity of the sky; I will compel summer to find provisions for the winter. I will force the waters to give you their fish, the air its fowls, and the forests its beasts. I will teach you to pierce the bowels of the earth; and bring out from the caverns of the mountains, metals which shall give strength to your hands, and security to your bodies, by which you may be covered from the assaults of the fiercest beasts, and with which you shall fell the oak, and divide rocks, and subject all nature to your use and pleasure.'

Encouraged by this magnificent invitation, the inhabitants of the globe considered Labour as their only friend, and hastened to his command. He led them out to the fields and mountains, and showed them how to open mines, to level hills, to drain marshes, and change the course of rivers.

« ПретходнаНастави »