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than those artificial wants which luxury introduces; for, by creating a demand for the fashionable articles, they engage the attention and employ the hands of a multitude of manufacturers and artificers, who, if they were left in that restless indolence which the want of work creates, would certainly be unhappy themselves, and in all probability would be fomenting mischief in the minds of others.
2. To suspend, only for one week, the vast multitudes that are employed in the several mechanical trades and manufactories, would be to run the risk of involving the metropolis of a great, flourishing and powerful country in flames; for it would be converting the populace into an aptly disposed train of combustible matter, which, being kindled by the least spark of accidental enthusiasm, by the heat of political faction, or, indeed, by their own internal fermentation, would explode into the most flagrant enormities.
3. Nature, it is said, abhors a vacuum; and this old peripatetic principle may be properly applied to the intellect, which will embrace anything, however absurd or criminal, rather than be wholly without an object. The same author also observes, that every man may date the predominance of those desires that disturb his life, and contaminate his conscience, from some unhappy hour when too much leisure exposed him to their incursions; for that he has lived with little observation, either on himself or others, who does not know that to be idle is to be vicious.
4. "Many writers of eminence in physic," continues this eminent writer, whose works not only disclose his general acquaintance with life and manners, but a profound knowledge of human nature, "have laid out their diligence upon the consideration of those distempers to which men are exposed by particular states of life, and very learned treatises have been produced upon the maladies of the camp, the sea, and the mines."
5. There are, indeed, few employments which a man accustomed to academical inquiries and medical refinements would not find reason for declining, as dangerous to health, did not his learning or experience inform him that almost every occupation, however inconvenient or formidable, is happier and safer than a life of sloth.
6. The necessity of action is not only demonstrab'e from the fabric of the body, but evident from observation of the universal practice of mankind; who, for the preservation of health in those whose rank or wealth exempts them from the
necessity of lucrative labors, have invented sports and diver sions, though not of equal use to the world with manual trades, yet of equal fatigue to those who practise them, and differing only from the drudgery of the husbandman or manufacturer, as they are acts of choice, and therefore performed without the painful sense of compulsion.
7. The huntsman rises early, pursues his game through all the dangers and obstructions of the chase, swims rivers and scales precipices, till he returns home, no less harassed than the soldier, and has, perhaps, sometimes incurred as great hazard of wounds and death: yet he has no motive to excite his ardor: he is neither subject to the command of a general, nor dreads the penalties of neglect or disobedience; he has neither profits nor honors to expect from his perils and conquests; but acts without the hope of mural or civic garlands, and must content himself with the praise of his tenants and companions.
8. But such is the constitution of man, that labor is its own reward; nor will any external incitements be requisite, if it be considered how much happiness is gained, and how much misery escaped, by frequent and violent agitation of the body. Ease is the most that can be hoped from a sedentary and inactive habit; but ease is a mere neutral state, between pain and pleasure.
9. The dance of spirits, the bound of vigor, readiness of enterprise, and defiance of fatigue, are reserved for him that braces his nerves, and hardens hiş fibres; that keeps his limbs pliant with motion, and, by frequent exposure, fortifies his frame against the common accidents of cold and heat. With ease, however, if it could be secured, many would be content; but nothing terrestrial can be kept at a stand.
10. Ease, if it is not rising into pleasure, will be settling into pain; and whatever hopes the dreams of speculation may suggest, of observing the proportion between retirement and labor, and keeping the body in a healthy state by supplies exactly equal to its weight, we know that, in effect, the vital powers, unexcited by motion, grow gradually languid, decay, and die.
11. It is necessary to that perfection of which our present state is capable, that the mind and body should both be kept in action; that neither the faculties of the one nor the other should be suffered to grow lax or torpid for want of use; that neither health can be purchased by voluntary submission to ignorance, nor knowledge cultivated at the expense of that
health, which must enable it either to give pleasure to its possessor, or assistance to others.
12. It is too frequently the pride of students to despise those amusements which give to the rest of mankind strength of limbs and cheerfulness of heart. Solitude and contemplation are, indeed, seldom consistent with such skill in common exercises or sports as is necessary to make them practised with delight; and no man is willing to do that the necessity of which is not pressing, when he knows that his awkwardness but makes him ridiculous.
13. I have always admired the wisdom of those by whom our female education was instituted, for having contrived that every woman, of whatever condition, should be taught some arts of manufacture, by which the vacuities of recluse and domestic leisure may be filled up. These arts are more necessary, as the weakness of their sex, and the general system of life, debar ladies from many enjoyments, which, by diversifying the circumstances of men, preserve them from being cankered by the rust of their own thoughts.
14. I know not how much of the virtue and happiness of the world may be the consequence of this judicious regulation. Perhaps the most powerful fancy might be unable to figure the confusion and slaughter that would be produced by so many piercing eyes and vivid understandings, turned loose upon mankind, with no other business than to sparkle and intrigue, to perplex and destroy.
15. For my own part, whenever chance brings within my observation a knot of misses busy at their needles, I consider myself as in the school of Virtue; and, though I have no extraordinary skill in plain work, or embroidery, look upon their operations with as much satisfaction as their governess, because I regard them as providing a security against the most dangerous ensnarers of the soul, by enabling them to exclude Idleness from their solitary moments, and, with Idleness, her attendant train of passions, fancies, chimeras, fears, sorrows, and desires.
16. Ovid and Cervantes will inform them that Love has no power but on those whom he catches unemployed and Hector, in the Iliad, when he sees Andromache overwhelmed with tears, sends her for consolation to the loom and the distaff. Certain it is, that wild wishes and vain imaginations never
*This extract is from a work written in Switzerland, and this sentence alludes to the custom of that country. Would not some such provision be a wise addition to our own institutions?
take such firm possession of the mind as when it is found empty and unemployed.
17. Idleness, indeed, was the spreading root from which all the vices and crimes of the oriental nuns so luxuriantly branched. Few of them had any taste for science, or were enabled, by the habits either of reflection or industry, to charm away the tediousness of solitude, or to relieve that weariness which must necessarily accompany their abstracted situation.
18. The talents with which nature had endowed them were uncultivated; the glimmering lights of reason were obscured by a blind and headlong zeal; and their temper soured by the circumstances of their forlorn condition. Certain it is, that the only means of avoiding unhappiness and misery in solitude, and perhaps in society also, is to keep the mind continually engaged in, or occupied by, some laudable pursuit.
The Feudal System in England. - SCOTT.
[The Feudal System was a system by which the several portions of a country, with its castles and fortresses, were given by the sovereign to his principal followers, on the condition that they should render military services when required by him, and implicitly obey his orders.
These followers of the sovereign subdivided their respective portions among their own subordinate followers on the same conditions; and thus every state where the Feudal System was introduced was composed of different orders of men, each of which was subject to the one immediately above it, while all were bound to acknowledgethe sovereign of the country as their supreme feudal lord.
The Feudal System took its rise in Germany, but was graduall extended to most of the other countries of Europe. It was introduced into England by William the Conqueror, in the eleventh century of the Christian era. Considering the whole kingdom as his own by the rigat of conquest, he divided it among his Norman followers, who in like manner subdivided it among their dependents; thus introducing a system totally at variance with the spirit of all the institutions to which the Anglo-Saxons had been accustomed. The condition of England under this system is beautifully described by Sir Walter Scott, in "Ivanhoe," a tale which, although fictitious in most of its circumstances, gives to the reader a better knowledge of the peculiar manners and customs of the age than he can readily glean from any other source.]
1. In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended, in ancient times, a
large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at the noble seats of Wentworth, of Warncliffe Park and around Rotherham. Here haunted, of yore, the fabulous Dragon of Wantley; here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the civil wars of the Roses; and here also flourished, in ancient times, those bands of gallant outlaws, whose deeds have been rendered so popular in English song.
2. Such being our chief scene, the date of our story refers to a period towards the end of the reign of Richard I., when his return from his long captivity had become an event rather wished than hoped for by his despairing subjects, who were in the mean time subjected to every species of subordinate oppression.
3. The nobles, whose power had become exorbitant during the reign of Stephen, and whom the prudence of Henry the Second had scarce reduced into some degree of subjection to the crown, had now resumed their ancient license in its utmost extent; despising the feeble interference of the English council of state, fortifying their castles, increasing the number of their dependents, reducing all around them to a state of vassalage, and striving, by every means in their power, to place themselves each at the head of such forces as might enable him to make a figure in the national convulsions which appeared to be impending.
4. The situation of the inferior gentry, or Franklins, as they were called, who, by the law and spirit of the English constitution, were entitled to hold themselves independent of feudal tyranny, became now unusually precarious. If, as was most generally the case, they placed themselves under the protection of any of the petty kings in their vicinity, accepted of feudal offices in his household, or bound themselves, by mutual treaties of alliance and protection, to support him in his enter prises, they might indeed purchase temporary repose; but it must be with the sacrifice of that independence which was sc dear to every English bosom, and at the certain hazard of being involved as a party in whatever rash expedition the ambition of their protector might lead him to undertake.
5. On the other hand, such and so multiplied were the means of vexation and oppression possessed by the great barons, that they never wanted the pretext, and seldom the will, to harass and pursue, even to the very edge of destruction, any of their