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MIS CEL L.A. in e o us writers. Drt sAMUEL Johnson.
This department of our literature was unusually rich at the present period, as it included nearly all the great names that shone in poetry, fiction, politics, philosophy, and criticism. First, as exercising a more commanding influence than any other of his contemporaries, may be mentioned DR Johnson, already distinguished as a moral poet and essayist. In 1755 Johnson published his Dictionary of the English Language, which had occupied the greater part of his time for seven years. In 1765 appeared his edition of Shakspeare, containing little that is valuable in the way of annotation, but introduced by a powerful and masterly preface. In 1770 and 1771 he wrote two political pamphlets in support of the measures of government, The False Alarm, and Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting the Falkland Islands. Though often harsh, contemptuous, and intolerant, these pamphlets are admirable pieces of composition—full of nerve and controversial zeal. In 1775 appeared his Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland; and in 1781 his Lives of the Poets. It was the felicity of Johnson, as of Dryden, to improve as an author as he advanced in years, and to write best after he had passed that period of life when many men are almost incapable of intellectual exertion. In reviewing the above works, little other language need be employed than that of eulogy. The Dictionary is a valuable practical work, not remarkable for philological research, but for its happy and luminous definitions, the result of great sagacity, precision of understanding, and clearness of expression. A few of the definitions betray the personal feelings and peculiarities of the author, and have been much ridiculed. For example, ‘Excise, which (as a Tory hating Walpole and the Whig excise act) he defines, ‘A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged, not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.’ A pension is defined to be “an allowance made to any one without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a statehireling for treason to his country.” After such a definition, it is scarcely to be wondered that Johnson paused, and felt some ‘compunctious visitings' before he accepted a pension himself! Oats he defines, “A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.’ This gave mortal offence to the natives of Scotland, and is hardly yet forgiven; but the best reply was the happy observation of Lord Elibank, ‘Yes, and where will you find such horses and such men o' The “Journey to the Western Isles' makes no pretension to scientific discovery, but it is an entertaining and finely written work. In the Highlands, the poetical imagination of Johnson expanded with the new scenery and forms of life presented to his contemplation. His love of feudalism, of clanship, and of ancient Jacobite families, found full scope; and as he was always a close observer, his descriptions convey much pleasing and original information. His complaints of the want of woods in Scotland, though dwelt upon with a ludicrous perseverance and querulousness, had the effect of setting the landlords to plant their bleak moors and mountains, and improve the aspect of the country. The “Lives of the Poets' have a freedom of style, a vigour of thought, and happiness of illustration, rarely attained even by their author. The plan of the work was defective, as the lives begin only with Cowley, excluding all the previous poets from Chaucer downwards. Some feeble and worthless rhymesters also obtained niches in Johnson's gallery; but the most serious defect of
the whole is the injustice done to some of our greatest masters of song, in consequence of the political or personal prejudices of the author. To Milton he is strikingly unjust, though his criticism on Paradise Lost is able and profound. Gray is treated with a coarseness and insensibility derogatory only to the critic; and in general, as we have before had occasion to remark, the higher order of imaginative poetry suffers under the ponderous hand of Johnson. Its beauties were too airy and ethereal for his grasp-too subtle for his feeling or understanding. A few extracts are subjoined, to illustrate his peculiar but impressive and animated style.
pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths through which learning and genius press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Everyother author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few. I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, attempted a dictionary of the English language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected; suffered to spread, under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance; resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion; and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices of innovation. No book was ever turned from one language into another without imparting something of its natiye idiom ; this is the most mischievous and comprehensive innovation ; single words may enter by thousands, and the fabric of the tongue continue the same; but new phraseology changes much at once ; it alters not the single stones of the building, but the order of the columns. If an academy should be established for the cultivation of our style—which I, who can never wish to see dependence multiplied, hope the spirit of English liberty will hinder or destroy—let them, instead of compiling grammars and dictionaries, endeavour, with all their influence, to stop the license of translators, whose idleness and ignorance, if it be suffered to proceed, will reduce us to babble a dialect of France. If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, what remains but to acquiesce with silence, as in the other insurmountable distresses of humanity. It remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated; tongues, like governments, have a natural tendency to degeneration; we have long preserved our constitution, let us make some struggles for our language. In hope of giving longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted this book, the labour of years, to the honour of my country, that we may no longer yield the palm of philology, without a contest, to the nations of the continent. The chief glory of every people arises from its authors: whether I shall add anything by my own writings to the reputation of English literature, must be left to time; much of my life has been | lost under the pressures of disease; much has been
trifled away; and much has always been spent in provision for the day that was passing over me; but I shall not think my employment useless or ignoble, if, by my assistance, foreign nations and distant ages gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and understand the teachers of truth; if my labours afford Iight to the repositories of science, and add celebrity to Bacon, to Hooker, to Milton, and to Boyle. When I am animated by this wish, I look with pleasure on my book, however defective, and deliver it to the world with the spirit of a man that has endeavoured well. That it will immediately become §. I have not promised to myself; a few wild lunders and risible absurdities, from which no work of such multiplicity was ever free, may for a time furnish folly with laughter, and harden ignorance into contempt; but useful diligence will at last prevail, and there never can be wanting some who distinguish desert, who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since, while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient; that he whose design includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not understand; that a writer will sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the end, and sometimes faint with weariness under a task which Scaliger compares to the labours of the anvil
and the mine; that what is obvious is not always
known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprise vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow. In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed; and though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns, yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it, that the English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amid inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that if our language is
not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an at
tempt which no human powers have hitherto comleted. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed, and comprised in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and delusive; if the aggregated knowledge and co-operating diligence of the Italian academicians did not secure them from the censure of Beni; if the embodied critics of France, when fifty years had been spent upon their work, were obliged to change its economy, and give their second edition another form, I may surely be contented without the praise of perfection, which, if I could obtain in this gloom of solitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds. 1 therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.
[Reflections on Landing at Iona.] [From the ‘Journey to the Western Isles."]
We were now treading that illustrious island which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions,
Pope professed to have learned his poetry from
Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was presented, he praised through his whole life with unvaried liberality; and perhaps his character may receive some illustration, if he be compared with his Imaster. Integrity of understanding and nicety of discernment were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden than to Pope. The rectitude of Dryden's mind was sufficiently shown by the dismission of his poetical prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and F. to write, merely for the people ; and when e pleased others he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers; he never attempted to make that better which was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little consideration; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind ; for when he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude. Pope was not content to satisfy: he desired to excel, and therefore always endeavoured to do his best: he did not court the candour, but dared the judgment of his reader, and expecting no indulgence from others, he showed none to himself. He examined lines and words with minute and punctilious observation, and retouched every part with indefatigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven. For this reason he kept his pieces very long in his hands, while he considered and reconsidered them. The only poems which can be supposed to have been written with such regard to the times as might hasten their publication, were the two satires of “Thirtyeight, of which Dodsley told me that they were brought to him by the author that they might be fairly copied. “Almost every line,” he said, “was then written twice over; I gave him a clean transcript, which he sent sometime afterwards to me for the press, with almost every line written twice over a second time. His declaration, that his care for his works ceased at their publication, was not strictly true. His parental attention never abandoned them; what The found amiss in the first edition, he silently corrected in those that followed. He appears to have revised the “Iliad,' and freed it from some of its imperfections; and the “Essay on Criticism' received many improvements after its first appearance. It will seldom be found that he altered without adding clearness, elegance, or vigour. Pope had perhaps the judgment of Dryden, but Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope.
In acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of in| formation. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more extensive circumference of science. Dryden knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation, and those of Pope by minute attention. There is more dignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope. Foti, was not the sole praise of either ; for both excelled likewise in prose; but Pope did not borrow his prose from his predecessor. The style of Dryden is capricious and varied, that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind, Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid, Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation, Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller. Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet, that quality without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert, that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates, the superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred that of this poetical vigour Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more; for every other writer since Milton must give place to ..". and even of Dryden it must be said, that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. Dry| den’s performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestic necessity; he composed without consideration, and | published without correction. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought, and all that he gave. The dilatory caution of Pope enabled him to condense his sentiments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce or chance might supply. If the flights of Dryden, therefore, are higher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden's fire the blaze is brighter, of Pope's the heat is more regular and constant. den often surpasses expectation, and Pope never falls below it. Dryden is read with frequent astonishment, and Pope with perpetual delight. This parallel will, I hope, when it is well considered, be found just ; and if the reader should suspect me, as I suspect myself, of some partial fondness for the memory of Dryden, let him not too hastily condemn me, for meditation and inquiry may, perhaps, show him the reasonableness of my determiItation.
[Picture of the Miseries of War.] [From the “Thoughts on the Falkland Islands.")
It is wonderful with what coolness and indifference the greater part of mankind see war commenced. Those that hear of it at a distance or read of it in books, but have never presented its evils to their minds, consider it as little more than a splendid game, a proclamation, an army, a battle, and a triumph. Some, indeed, must perish in the successful field, but they die upon the bed of honour, resign their lives amidst the joys of conquest, and, filled with England's glory, smile in death !
The life of a modern soldier is ill represented by heroic fiction. War has means of destruction more formidable than the cannon and the sword. Of the thousands and ten thousands that perished in
our late contests with France and Spain, a very small part ever felt the stroke of an enemy; the rest languished in tents and ships, amidst damps and putrefaction; pale, torpid,F. and helpless; gasping and groaning, unpitied among men, made obdurate by long continuance of hopeless misery; and were at last whelmed in pits, or heaved into the ocean, without notice and without remembrance. By incommo
dious encampments and unwholesome stations, where
courage is useless and enterprise impracticable, fleets are silently dispeopled, and armies sluggishly melted away. Thus is a people gradually exhausted, for the most part, with little effect. The wars of civilised nations make very slow changes in the system of empire. The public perceives scarcely any alteration but an increase of debt; and the few individuals who are benefited are not supposed to have the clearest right to their advantages. If he that shared the danger enjoyed the profit, and after bleeding in the battle, grew rich by the victory, he might show his gains without envy. But at the conclusion of a ten years' war, how are we recompensed for the death of multitudes and the expense of millions, but by contemplating the sudden glories of paymasters and agents, contractors and commissaries, whose equipages shine like meteors, and whose palaces rise like exhalations?
oliver golds Mith.
The “Citizen of the World, by GoldsMITH, was published in a collected shape in 1762, and his ‘Essays' about the same time. As a light critic, a sportive yet tender and insinuating moralist, and observer of men and manners, we have no hesitation in placing Goldsmith far above Johnson. His chaste humour, poetical fancy, and admirable style, render these essays (for the Citizen of the World consists of detached pieces) a mine of lively and profound thought, happy imagery, and pure English. The story of the Old Soldier, Beau Tibbs, the Reverie at the Boar's Head Tavern, and the Strolling Player, are in the finest vein of story-telling; while the Eastern Apologue, Asem, an Eastern Tale, and Alcander and Septimius, are tinged with the light of true poetry and imagination. Where the author speaks of actual life, and the “fashion of our estate,' we see the workings of experience and a finely meditative mind. “The History of Animated Nature,” not published till after his death, is imbued with the same graces of composition. Goldsmith was no naturalist, strictly speaking, but his descriptions are often vivid and beautiful, and his history is well calculated to awaken a love of nature and a study of its various phenomena.
[Scenery of the Alps.] [From the ‘History of the Earth and Animated Nature."]
Nothing can be finer or more exact than Mr Pope's description of a traveller straining up the Alps. Every mountain he comes to he thinks will be the last: he finds, however, an unexpected hill rise before him; and that being scaled, he finds the highest summit almost at as great a distance as before. Upon uitting the plain, he might have left a green and }. soil, and a climate warm and pleasing. As he ascends, the ground assumes a more russet colour, the grass becomes more mossy, and the weather more moderate. When he is still higher, the weather becomes more cold, and the earth more barren. In this dreary passage he is often entertained with a little valley of surprising verdure, caused by the reflected heat of the sun collected into a narrow spot on the surrounding heights. But it much more frequently happens that he sees only frightful precipices beneath, and lakes of amazing depth, from whence rivers are formed, and fountains derive their original. On those places next the highest summits vegetation is scarcely carried on: here and there a few plants of the most hardy kind appear. The air is intolerably cold— either continually refrigerated with frosts, or disturbed with tempests. All the ground here wears an eternal covering of ice and snow, that seem continually accumulating. Upon emerging from this war of the elements, he ascends into a purer and serener region, where vegetation is entirely ceased— where the precipices, composed entirely of rocks, rise rpendicularly above him; while he views beneath im all the combat of the elements, clouds at his feet, and thunders darting upwards from their bosoms below. A thousand meteors, which are never seen on the plain, present themselves. Circular rainbows, mock suns, the shadow of the mountain projected upon the body of the air, and the traveller's own image reflected as in a looking-glass upon the opposite cloud.
[A Sketch of the Universe.] [From the same.]
The world may be considered as one vast mansion, where man has been admitted to enjoy, to admire, and to be grateful. The first desires of savage nature are merely to gratify the importunities of sensual appetite, and to neglect the contemplation of things, barely satisfied with their enjoyment; the beauties of nature, and all the wonders of creation, have but little charms for a being taken up in obviating the wants of the day, and anxious for precarious subsistence. Our philosophers, therefore, who have testified such surprise at the want of curiosity in the ignorant, seem not to consider that they are usually employed in making provisions of a more important nature—in providing rather for the necessities than the amusements of life. It is not till our more pressing wants are sufficiently supplied, that we can attend to the calls of curiosity; so that in every age scientific refinement has been the latest effort of human industry. But human curiosity, though at first slowly excited, being at last possessed of leisure for indulging its proensity, becomes one of the greatest amusements of #. and gives higher satisfactions than what even the senses can afford. A man of this disposition turns all nature into a magnificent theatre, replete with objects of wonder and surprise, and fitted up chiefly for his happiness and entertainment; he industriously examines all things, from the minutest insect to the most finished animal, and when his limited organs can no longer make the disquisition, he sends out his imagination upon new ol. Nothing, therefore, can be more august and striking than the idea which his reason, aided by his imagination, furnishes of the universe around him. Astronomers tell us that this earth which we inhabit forms but a very minute part in that great assemblage of bodies of which the world is composed. It is a million of times less than the sun, by which it is enlightened. The planets, also, which, like it, are subordinate to the sun's influence, exceed the earth one thousand times in magnitude. These, which were at first supposed to wander in the heavens without any fixed path, and that took their name from their apparent deviations, have long been found to perform their circuits with great exactness and strict regularity. They have been discovered as forming with our earth a system of bodies circulating round the sun, all obedient to one law, and impelled by one common influence. Modern philosophy has taught us to believe, that when the great Author of nature began the work of creation, he chose to operate by second causes; and
that, suspending the constant exertion of his power, he endued matter with a quality by which the universal economy of nature might be continued, without his immediate assistance. This quality is called attraction, a sort of approximating influence, which all bodies, whether terrestrial or celestial, are found to possess; and which, in all, increases as the quantity of matter in each increases. The sun, by far the greatest body in our system, is, of consequence, possessed of much the greatest share of this attracting power; and all the planets, of which our earth is one, are, of course, entirely subject to its superior influence. Were this power, therefore, left uncontrolled by any other, the sun must quickly have attracted all the bodies of our celestial system to itself; but it is equally counteracted by another power of equal efficacy; namely, a progressive force which each planet received when it was impelled forward ". the divine architect upon its first formation. The heavenly bodies of our system being thus acted upon by two opposing powers; namely, by that of attraction, which draws them towards the sun, and that of impulsion, which drives them straight forward into the great void of space, they pursue a track between these contrary directions; and each, like a stone whirled about in a sling, obeying two opposite forces, circulates round its great centre of heat and motion. In this manner, therefore, is the harmony of our planetary system preserved. The sun, in the midst, gives heat and light and circular motion to the planets which surround it : Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, perform their constant circuits at different distances, each taking up a time to complete its revolutions, proportioned to the greatness of the circle which it is to describe. The lesser planets, also, which are attendants upon some of the greater, are subject to the same laws; they circulate with the same exactness, and are in the same manner influenced by their respective centres of motion. i Besides those bodies which make a part of our peculiar system, and which may be said to reside within its great circumference, there are others that frequently come among us from the most distant tracts of space, and that seem like dangerous intruders upon the beautiful simplicity of nature. These are comets, whose appearance was once so terrible to mankind, and the theory of which is so little understood at present; all we know is, that their number is much greater than that of the planets, and that, like these, they roll in orbits, in some measure obedient to solar influence. Astronomers have endeavoured to calculate the returning periods of many of them; but experience has not, as yet, confirmed the veracity of their investigations. Indeed, who can tell, when those wanderers have made their excursions into other worlds and distant systems, what obstacles may be found to oppose their progress, to accelerate their motions, or retard their return ? But what we have hitherto attempted to sketch is but a small part of that great fabric in which the Deity has thought proper to manifest his wisdom and omnipotence. There are multitudes of other bodies dispersed over the face of the heavens, that lie too remote for examination ; these have no motion such as is the planets are found to possess, and are therefore |
called fixed stars; and from their extreme brilliancy and their immense distance, philosophers have been induced to suppose them to be suns resembling that which enlivens our system. As the imagination, also, once excited, is seldom content to stop, it has furnished each with an attendant system of planets be longing to itself, and has even induced some to deplore the fate of those systems whose imagined suns, which sometimes happens, have become no longer
MISCELLANEOUS writers. ENGLISH
OLIVER, GoLios Mith.
But conjectures of this kind, which no reasoning can ascertain nor experiment reach, are rather amusing than useful. Though we see the greatness and wisdom of the Deity in all the seeming worlds that surround us, it is our chief concern to trace him in that which we inhabit. The examination of the earth, the wonders of its contrivance, the history of its advantages, or of the seeming defects in its formation, are the proper business of the natural historian. A description of this earth, its animals, vegetables, and minerals, is the most delightful entertainment the mind can be furnished with, as it is the most interesting and useful. I would beg leave, therefore, to conclude these commonplace speculations with an observation which, I hope, is not entirely so.
A use, hitherto not much insisted upon, that may result from the contemplation of celestial magnificence, is, that it will teach us to make an allowance for the apparent irregularities we find below. Whenever we can examine the works of the Deity at a proper point of distance, so as to take in the whole of his design, we see nothing but uniformity, beauty, and precision. The heavens present us with a plan which, though inexpressibly magnificent, is yet regular beyond the power of invention. Whenever, therefore, we find any apparent defects in the earth, instead of attempting to reason ourselves into an opinion that they are beautiful, it will be wiser to say that we do not behold them at the proper point of distance, and that our eye is laid too close to the objects to take in the regularity of their connection. In short, we may conclude that God, who is regular in his great productions, acts with equal uniformity in the little.
spectator. The crow and the chough avoid those frightful precipices; they choose smaller heights, where they are less exposed to the tempest; it is the cormorant, the gannet, the tarrock, and the terne, that venture to these dreadful retreats, and claim an undisturbed possession. To the spectator from above, those birds, though some of them are above the size of an eagle, seem scarce as large as a swallow, and their loudest screaming is scarcely perceptible. But the generality of our shores are not so formidable. Though they may rise two hundred fathom above the surface, yet it often happens that the water forsakes the shore at the departure of the tide, and leaves a noble and delightful walk for curiosity on the beach. Not to mention the variety of shells with which the sand is strewed, the lofty rocks that hang over the spectator's head, and that seem but just kept from falling, produce in him no unpleasing gloom. If to this be added the fluttering, the screaming, and the pursuits of myriads of water-birds, all either intent on the duties of incubation, or roused at the presence of a stranger, nothing can compose a scene of more peculiar solemnity. To walk along the shore when the tide is departed, or to sit in the hollow of a rock when it is come in, attentive to the various sounds that gather on every side, above and below, may raise the mind to its highest and noblest exertions. The solemn roar of the waves swelling into and subsiding from the vast caverns beneath, the piercing note of the gull, the frequent chatter of the illemot, the loud note of the auk, the scream of the eron, and the hoarse deep periodical croaking of the cormorant, all unite to furnish out the grandeur of the scene, and turn the mind to Him who is the essence of all sublimity.
[on the Increased Love of Life with Age.] [From Goldsmith's Essays.]
Age, that lessens the enjoyment of life, increases our desire of living. Those dangers which, in the vigour of youth, we had learned to despise, assume new terrors as we grow old. Our caution increasing as our years increase, fear becomes at last 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 by 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 come. Yet experience and sensation in vain persuade; hope, more powerful than either, dresses out the distant prospect in fancied beauty; some happiness, in 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, increases our wishes to live, while she lessens our enjoyments; and, as she robs the senses of every pleasure, equips imagination in the spoil? Life would be insupportable to an old man who, loaded with infirmities, feared death no more than when in the vigour of manhood; the numberless calamities of decaying nature, and the consciousness of surviving every pleasure, 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