Obrazy na stronie

without thinking now of emperors, or kings, or their ministers, of Sully, or Mecænas, or Hephæstion, or Henry, or Auguftus, or Alexander the Great, turn your attention to yourselves, and look forward. It is not so vast a way, as you may' fancy, to that season of decline, when, supposing your condition favourable in many other respects; much of your relish for its pleasures will be over, and of your early companions, who by sharing them with you might have contri.. buted to exhilarate your fpirits, the most part will be gone to the land of forgeta fulness. But what a comfort, in that case, if you still possessed one or two welltried and well-principled Friends, who were able not only to amuse you by their good-humour and chearful conversation, but to revive the frequent languors of decrepitude, and to alleviate its unavoidable infirmities, by turning your views from a world, where you will have suffered many a painful breach and bitter disappointment,

i to the regions of unmingled joy and im mortal youth! By the timely aid of such communion, you may learn the art, understood by so few, of growing old with a good grace, and be prepared to sustain the weight of years, not with fubmiffion merely, but with dignity too.

Among the numerous classes of human misery, it is not perhaps easy to figure a being more : forlorn than the man who is funk in the vale of age without a Friend

without a Friend to console. him in the remembrance of past calamity, to supa port him under the pressure of growing frailty, to direct his hopes beyond the dreary scene that is closing round, him, to address him in that voice of affection which gives warmth and persuasion to the language of piety, to talk to him of the glorious things which are in store for the servants of God broken with the toils of life, to tell him of that Divine Redeemer, at whose fight, while yet an in

fant, the devout old Ifraelite could in a holy rapture wish to die. How mournful must it be for a person of sensibility, who has survived whatever he held dearest on earth, to see himself left alone, like some solitary shattered tree on a barren wild; to see the world, which perhaps he had long entertained and obliged, forgetting him because he can oblige and entertain it no longer, and those kind hands mouldering in the dust, which, had they Still lived, would have propped his tottering frame, when the gayer associates of his laughing days are either vanished in the grave, or withdrawn to more amusing fociety than he can now .furnish! What, not one worthy faithful Friend to bear him company, to nurse his weakness, to sooth his pains, to overlook his starts of

peevishness, to aflift him in beguiling the · tedious hours, in settling his last accounts,

in smoothing the passage to his long home! Merciful Creator, may we never know the misery of being abandoned to helpless

Tolitude in the midst of feeble age: teach us to cultivate, in the preceding stages of our journey, those sweet sympathies of the soul, which reason approves, and religion consecrates, which depend for their gratication but on a few fellow-travellers, and will continue to relieve us when wearied, and refresh us when worn out, with the length of the way. It is the unrivalled glory of virtuous Friendship, that when all other attachments, sprung from fancy, appetite, or interest, fall off and fade away, it remains, “ like a tree planted by the 66 rivers of water,” fresh and vigorous, the joint growth of invariable esteem, "affection, and principle.

But carry your thoughts a little farther : imagine yourself, Sir, about to lie down *upon your last bed : suppose, what I pray Heaven may be only a supposition, that you are but indifferently prepared for it: whom would you wish to visit and comfort you in so awful a situation? Any of thofe jovial companions who now endean vour to divert from your mind, as well as their own, all grave reflections ? Try then, if you will, the experiment: send for the most sensible you can fingle out from their whole number : inform him

that you look upon yourself as a dying "man, and desire his advice and assistance: what will he answer? Most probably, that you shall yet recover; that you are only low-spirited; or by no means fo ill as you apprehend; that you should keep a good heart, that you shall live to see many happy days, and so forth. At this easy

ftyle, you are disappointed. He that feels - himself sinking down under a load of insurmountable disease, is hurt by so flight an address. You will fignify to your visitant his miftake : you will affure him, the matter is become too serious for such fort of talk. What will he do next? It is likely, that altering his tone and countenance into an expression of more concern, and perhaps joining the tear of

« PoprzedniaDalej »