Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

inany are preserved in their health and in their property by this devoted animal's services. The mid. niglit robber is kept at a distance, the insidious thief is oftea detected; the healthful chase repairs many a wora constitution : and the poor man finds in his dog a willing assistant, eager to lessen his toil, and content with the smallest retribution.

• A dog,' says one of the English poets, is an ho. sest creature, and I am a friend to dogs.' Of all the beasts that graze the lawo, or hunt the forest, & dog is the only animal that, leaving his fellows, attempts to cultivate the friendship of man : 10 man he looks, in all his necessities, with speaking tye for assistance; exerts for him all the little ter. vice in his power with cheerfulness and pleasure ; for him bears famine and fatigue with patience and resignation; vo injuries cau abate his fidelity, no distress induce him to forsake his benefactor; studious to please, and fearing to offend, he is still an humble, stedfast dependent ; and in him alone fawning is not flattery. How upkind then to tor. ture this faithful creature, who has left the forest to claim the protection of man! How ungrateful a return to the trusty animal for all its services!

ON THE INCREASED LOVE OF LIFE WITH

AGE.

AC

GE, that lessens the enjoyment of life, increases

our desire of living. Those dangers, which, in the vigour of youth, we had learned to despise, as. suase new terrors as we grow old. Our caution increasing as our years increase, fear becomes at Tast the prevailing passion of the mind; and the small remainder of life is taken up in useless efforts

to keep off our end, or provide for a continued existence.

Strange contradiction in our nature, and to which even the wise are liable! If I should judge of that part of life which lies before me hy that which I have already seen, the prospect is hideous. Experience tells me, that my past enjoyments have brought no real felicity; and sensation assures me, that those I have felt are stronger than those which are yet to coine. Yet experience and sensation in vain persuade ; hope, more powerful than either, dresses out the distant prospect in faucied beauty; some happiness, iu long perspective, still beckons me to pursue; and, like a losing gamester, every new disappointment, increases my ardour to continue the game.

Whence then is this increased love of life, which grows upon us with our years! Whence comes it, that we thus make greater efforts to preserve our existence, at a period when it becomes scarce worth the keeping? Is it that nature, attentive to the preservation of mankind, ipertases our wishes to live; while she lessens our enjoyments; and, as she robs the senses of every pleasure, equips imagina. tion in the spoil ! Life would be insupportable 10 an old man, who, loaded with infirmities, feared death no more than when in the vigour of manlood; the numberless calamities of decaying wa. ture, and the consciousness of surviving every plea. sure, would at once induce him, with his own hand, to terminate the scene of misery: but happily, the contempt of death forsakes him at a time when it could only be prejudicial; and life acquires an imaginary value in proportion as its real value is.

no more.

Our attachment to every object around us in. ereases in general, from the length of our acquaintance with it. I would not choose,' says a French philosopher, to see an old post pulled up with which I had been long acquainted.' A mind long habituated to a certain set of objects, insensibly becomes fond of seeing them; visits them from babit, and parts from them with relactance : from hence proceeds the avariee of the old in every kind of possession ; they love the world and all that it produces; they love life and all its advantages g not because it gives them pleasure, but because they have known it long.

Chiovang the Chaste, ascending the throne of China, commanded that all who were unjustly detained in prison, during the preceding reigns, should be set free. Among the number who came to thank their deliverer on this occasion, there appeared a majestic old man, who, falling at the em. peror's feet, 'addressed him as follows: Great father of China, behold a wretch, now eighty-five years old, who was shut up in a dungeon at the age of twenty-two. I was imprisoned, though a stranger to critne, or without being even confronted by my accusers. I have now lived in solitude and darkness for more than sixty years, and am grown familiar with distress. As yet dazzled with the splendor of that sun to which you have restored me, I have been wandering the streets to find out some friend that would assist, or relieve, or remember' me; but my friends, my family, and relations, are all dead, and I am forgotten. Permit me then, O Chinvang, to wear out the wretched remains of life in my former prison; the walls of my dungeon are to me more pleasing than the most splendid palace : I have not long to live, and shall be unhappy except I spend the rest of my days where my youth was passed, in that prisoa from whence you were pleased to release me.'

The old man's passion for confinement is similar to that we all have for life. We are habituated to the prison; we look round with discontent, are displeased with the abode, and yet the length of our captivity only increases our fondness for the cell. The trees we have planted, the houses we have built, or the posterity we have begotten, all serve to bind us closer to earth, and imbitter our parting. Life sues the young like a new acquaintance; the companion, as yet unexhausted, is at once instructive and amusing; its company pleases; yet, for all this, it is but little regarded. To us, who are de elined in years, life appears like an old friend; its jests have been anticipated in former conversation; it has no new story to make us smile, no new im. provement with which to surprise; yet still we love it; destitute of every enjoyment, still we love it ; husband the wasting treasure with increasing fru. gality, and feel all the poignancy of anguish in the fatal separation.

Sir Philip Mordaunt was young, beautiful, sin. cere, brave-an Englishman. He had a complete fortune of his own, and the love of the king his master, which was equivalent to riches. Life opened all her treasures before him, and promised a long succession of future happiness. lle came, tasted of the entertainment, but was disgusted even at the beginuing. He professed an aversion to living; was tired of walking round the same circle ; bad tried every enjoyment, and found them all grow weaker at every repetition. If life be, in youth, so displeasing,' cried he to himself, what will it appear when age comes on?

If it be at present indifferent, sure it will then be execrable.' This thought imbittered every reflection; till, at last, with all the serenity of perverted reason, he ended the debate with a pistol! Had this self-deluded man been apprised, that existence grows more de. sirable to us the longer we exist, he would then have faced old age without shrinking; he would have boldly dared to live ; and served that society, by his future assiduity, which he basely injured by his desertion.

ON THE LADIES' PASSION FOR LEVELLING

ALL DISTINCTION OF DRESS.

FOREIGNERS observe that there are no ladies

in the world more beautiful, or more ill-dressed, than those of England. Our country.women have been compared to those pictures, where the face is the work of a Raphael, but the draperies thrown out by some empty pretender, destitute of taste, and entirely unacquainted with design.

If I were a poet, I might observe, on this occa. sion, that so much beauty, set off with all the ad, vantages of dress, would be too powerful an anta. gouist for the opposite sex ; and therefore it was wisely ordered, that our ladies should want taste, Jest their admirers should entirely want reason.

But to confess a truth, I do not find they have a greater aversion to fine clothes than the women of any other country whatsoever. I cannot fancy that a shopkeeper's wife in Cheapside has a greater ten. derness for the fortune of her husband, than a eitizen's wife in Paris ; or that miss in a boarding. school is more an economist in dress than mademoiselle in a nunnery.

Although Paris may be accounted the soil in which almost every fashion takes its rise, its influence is never so general there As with us. They study there the happy method of uniting grace and fashion, and never excuse a woman for being awk. wardly dressed, by saying her clothes are in the mode. A French woman is a perfect architect in dress ; she never, with Gothic ignorance, mixes the orders ; she never tricks out a squabby Doric shape with Corinthian finery; or, to speak without metapbor, she conforms to general fashion only

« PoprzedniaDalej »