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unsettled-had recourse to the Letters between Pope, Swift, Bolingbroke, Gay, &c.—walked into the Park—the softness of the season, and glad beauty of the hemisphere called to my mind several elegant passages in poetry-went home in the evening, and read Addison's Pleasures of Imagination.
Saturday. Walked in the fields early in the morning-turned over Dodsley's collectionbreakfasted at the coffee-house-over-heard a debate between two politicians-went home and read Swift's Dissertations in Athens and Rome -went to the Opera-best singers had sore throats-tired-went to Drury-Lane Play-house, to see Mr. Garrick and Mrs. Cibber in the last act of Tancred and Sigismunda.
Sunday. Brown against Shaftesbury againread one of the Bishop of London's Sermonsdined with two men of genius-went home at six o'clock, and read the Tragedy of Catoconcluded the evening with Pope's Essay on Man.
GRAY'S-INN JOURNAL, No. 80.
In the essay from which I have taken the translation of the motto from Cicero are some excellent observations on the pleasure and consolation to he derived from letters, with part of which I shall favour my readers.
"Solitude invites to reading; and amid the great variety of books, some one may always be found in unison with our own
temper. In the retirements of our library, no insolent intruder can upbraid us for disinclination or incapacity to taste convivial enjoyment. There we find balsam for every wound of the mind, and a lenient medicine for every disease.
"When the prospects which present themselves in the common road of life are dark and dreary, the man of taste can step aside into the elysium of poesy, and tread the flowery paths, and view the gilded scenes which fancy raises with the magic of enchantment. The ingenious biographer of the poet Gray has informed us, that the most approved productions of his friend were brought forth soon after the death of one whom the poet loved. Sorrow led him to seek for solace of the muse. That the muse smiled on her votary, every reader of taste has already acknowledged. Sacred history has acquainted us with the power of music over the passions, and there is little doubt but the verse as well as the lyre of David, can soothe the troubled spirits to repose.
"It is difficult to be attached to the common objects of human pursuit without feeling the sordid or the troublesome passions. But in the pursuits of learning, all is liberal, noble, generous. They require and promote that comprehensive mode of thinking which overlooks the little and mean occupations of the vulgar mind. To the man of philosophical observation, the world appears as a theatre, in which the busy actors toil and weary themselves for his amusement. He sees the emptiness of many objects which are ardently pursued; he is acquainted with the false glitter that surrounds him; he knows how short and unsubstantial are the good and evil that excite all the ardour of pursuit and abhorrence; and can therefore derive a degree of delight from reflection, of which they who are deeply, and even successfully interested in them, can never participate. Notwithstanding the charms of opulence, Socrates and Epictetus have attracted more admirers, and probably enjoyed more tranquillity of mind, than the richest publican of Athens and Rome.
"It is true, that learning should be pursued as a qualifica→ tion for the several professions of civil life; but excluding
the motives of interest and ambition, it is to be cultivated for its own sake, by those who understand and wish to enjoy, under every circumstance, the utmost attainable happiness. Next to religion, it is the best and sweetest source of comfort in those hours of dejection which every mortal must sometimes experience. It constitutes one of the most solid pillars to support the tottering fabric of human felicity, and commonly contributes as much to virtue as to calm and rational enjoy. ment."
ESSAYS MORAL and Literary, 14th ed. No. 51.
Is it no pleasure, when prevailing frost
Has harden'd earth's dank surface, and the foot
To mark the wonders of the frozen world?
What limit owns thy beauty, when thy works
If to the spot invisible we strain
Our aching sight, and with microptic tube
MANKIND are more distressed by dangers and accidents than any of the lower ranks of the creation; not because they are exposed to more, but from the superior sense and apprehension of them. Our lives, though longer than those of almost any other species, pass in more continued alarm and terror than any, because we are conscious of their period; and have also a sense of the extent of time, which represents that period as short and inconsiderable.
What an imperfect view might paint to us in this as matter of complaint and disgust, a betteṛ
acquaintance with our nature shews us in the contrary light, as an object of triumph and congratulation. The same faculties which aların us with a sense of dangers before they arrive, assist us with the means of obviating them; and that knowledge which shews us the short period of our residence here points out also an immortality behind it. To us who have a more interesting state in view, even the unavoidable distresses and miseries that present themselves in vain in their approach, serve to the excellent purpose of taking off our thoughts from a scene, the allurements of which might otherwise influence us to a fatal neglect of all farther considerations: and the consciousness of an inevitable and approaching dissolution, forces upon us the reflection on what is to happen afterward. What appears to us a severe decree is, therefore, an act of indulgence; and the prescience which is the source of immediate pain to us is our road also to the supremest pleasure.
With the rest of the animated world it is otherwise a sense of dangers which they could not avoid would have been a source of unnecessary anguish; and a consciousness that their frame must be destroyed would have had the tenfold horror and no one advantage. It is best