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repofe with comfort, is that which prefents to us the care of Providence, whose eye takes in the whole of things, and under whofe direction all involuntary errors will terminate in happiness.
T may have been obferved by every reader, that
to never are exhaufted.
Of fome images and fentiments the mind of man may be faid to be enamoured; it meets them, however often they occur, with the fame ardour which a lover feels at the fight of his miftrefs, and parts from them with the fame regret when they can no longer be enjoyed,
Of this kind are many defcriptions which the poets have tranfcribed from each other, and their fucceffors will probably copy to the end of time; which will continue to engage, or, as the French term it, to flatter the imagination, as long as human nature fhall remain the fame.
When a poet mentions the fpring, we know that the zephyrs are about to whisper, that the groves are to recover their verdure, the linnets to warble forth their notes of love, and the flocks and herds
"troubled with fufpicion languish in folitude; cl *CC a childlefs life is a ftate "of youth is a time of "loaded with infirmity. "fore, can be made, eith "or immediately to lose i
Such and fo gloomy is dippus has laid before us. quiefce too hastily in his value of exiftence: for M Athens, has fhewn, that li pains; and having exhibit in brighter colours, draw reafon, a contrary conclu
"You may pass well t life. In publick affem "actions of wisdom; in
"nefs and quiet; in the "nature; on the fea i foreign land, he that i "is poor may keep his p "ried? you have a chee: "you are unincumbere "affection, to be witho "care; the time of your gray hairs are made v "therefore, never be a v " to obtain existence, o "of life has its felicity.'
In thefe epigrams a queftions which have e the enquirers after happi
een obferved by every reader, that in topicks which never are exhaufted, ; and fentiments the mind of man e enamoured; it meets them, howoccur, with the fame ardour which the fight of his mistress, and parts the fame regret when they can no
are many descriptions which the poets 1 from each other, and their fucceffors copy to the end of time; which will gage, or, as the French term it, to gination, as long as human nature e fame.
et mentions the spring, we know that
re about to whisper, that the groves
r their verdure, the linnets to warble
tes of love, and the flocks and herds
troubled with fufpicions; are you fingle? you "languifh in folitude; children occafion toil, and "a childless life is a ftate of deftitution; the time "of youth is a time of folly, and gray hairs are "loaded with infirmity. This choice only, therefore, can be made, either never to receive being, "or immediately to lofe it."
Such and fo gloomy is the profpect, which Posidippus has laid before us. But we are not to acquiefce too hastily in his determination against the value of existence: for Metrodorus, a philofopher of Athens, has fhewn, that life has pleasures as well as pains; and having exhibited the present state of man in brighter colours, draws, with equal appearance of reafon, a contrary conclufion.
"You may pafs well through any of the paths of « life. In publick affemblies are honours and tranf"actions of wifdom; in domeftick privacy, is ftill"nefs and quiet; in the country are the beauties of "nature; on the fea is the hope of gain; in a foreign land, he that is rich is honoured, he that "is poor may keep his poverty fecret; are you mar"ried? you have a cheerful houfe; are you fingle?
you are unincumbered; children are objects of "affection, to be without children is to be without care; the time of youth is the time of vigour, and gray hairs are made venerable by piety. It will therefore, never be a wife man's choice, either not to obtain existence, or to lofe it; for every ftate "of life has its felicity."
In thefe epigrams are included moft of the queftions which have engaged the fpeculations of the enquirers after happinefs; and though they will
not much affift our determinations, they may, perhaps, equally promote our quiet, by fhewing that no abfolute determination ever can be formed.
Whether a publick ftation, or private life be defirable, has always been debated. We fee here both the allurements and difcouragements of civil employments on one fide there is trouble, on the other honour; the management of affairs is vexatious and difficult, but it is the only duty in which wisdom can be confpicuously displayed: it must then fill be left to every man to choose either eafe or glory; nor can any general precept be given, fince no man can be happy by the prefcription of another.
Thus, what is faid of children by Pofidippus, " that "they are occafions of fatigue," and by Metrodorus, "that they are objects of affection," is equally certain; but whether they will give most pain or pleasure, muft depend on their future conduct and difpofitions, on many caufes over which the parent can have little influence: there is, therefore, room for all the caprices of imagination, and defire must be proportioned to the hope or fear that fhall happen to predominate.
Such is the uncertainty in which we are always likely to remain with regard to questions, wherein we have moft intereft, and which every day affords us fresh opportunity to examine: we may examine, indeed, but we never can decide, becaufe our faculties are unequal to the fubject: we fee a little, and form an opinion; we fee more, and change it.
This inconftancy and unsteadinefs, to which we muft so often find ourselves liable, ought certainly. to teach us moderation and forbearance towards