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philosophy is only forcing the trade of happiness, when Nature seems to deny the means.
They who, like our slave, can place themselves on that side of the world in which every thing appears in a pleasing light, will find something in every occurrence to excite their good humour. The most calamitous events, either to themselves or others, can bring no new affliction; the whole world is to them à theatre, on which comedies only are acted. All the bustle of heroism, or the rants of ambition, serve only to heighten the absurdity of the scene, and make the humour more poignant They feel, in short, as little anguish at their own distress or the complaints of others, as the undertaker, though dressed in black, feels sorrow at a funeral.
Of all the men I ever read of, the famous Cardinal de Retz possessed this happiness of temper in the highest degree. As he was a man of gallantry, and despised all that wore the pedantic appearance of philosophy, wherever pleasure was to be sold, he was generally foremost to raise the auction. Being an universal admirer of the fair sex, when he found one lady cruel, he generally fell in love with another, from whom he expected a more favourable reception : if she too rejected his addresses, he never thought of retiring into deserts, or pining in hopeless distress. He persuaded himself, that, instead of loving the lady, he only fancied that he had loved her, and so all was well again. When fortune wore her angriest look, he at last fell into the power of his most deadly enemy, Cardinal Mazarine, (being confined a close prisoner in the castle of Valenciennes), he never attempted to support his distress by wisdom or philosophy, for he pretended to neither. He only laughed at himself and his persecutor, and seemed infinitely pleased at his new situation. In this mansion of distress, though secluded from his friends, though denied all the amusements, and even the conveniences, of life, he still retained his
good-humour; laughed at all the little spite of his enemies; and carried the jest so far, as to be reyenged, by writing the life of his gaoler.
All that the wisdom of the proud can teach, is to be stubborn or sullen under misfortunes. The Cardinal's example will instruct us to be merry in circumstances of the highest affliction. It matters not whether our good-humour be construed by others into insensibility, or even ideotism; it is happiness to ourselves, and none but a fool would measure his satisfaction by what the world thinks of it: for my own part I never pass by one of our prisons for debt, that I do not envy that felicity which is still going forward among those people, who forget the cares of the world by being shut out from its ambition.
The happiest silly fellow I ever knew, was of the number of those good-natured creatures that are said to do no harm to any but themselves. Whenever he fell into any misery, he usually called it seeing life. If his head was broke by a chairman, or his pocket picked by a sharper, he comforted himself by imitating the Hibernian dialect of the one, or the more fashionable cant of the other. Nothing came amiss to him. His inattention to money-matters had incensed his father to such a degree, that all intercession of friends in his favour was fruitless. The old gentleman was on his death-bed. The whole family, and Dick among the number, gathered around him. “I leave my second son Andrew," said the expiring miser, my whole estate, and desire him to be frugal.” Andrew, in a sorrowful tone, as is usual on these occasions, prayed Heaven to prolong his life and health to enjoy it himself. “ I recommend Simon, my third son, to the care of his elder brother, and leave him beside four thousand pounds.” “Ah! father," cried Simon, (in great affliction to be sure), “ may Heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself.” At last, turning to poor Dick, "As for you, you have always
been a sad dog; you'll never come to good; you'll never be rich ; I'll leave you a shilling to buy an halter.” “ Ah! father," cries Dick, without any emotion, may Heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself.” This was all the trouble the loss of fortune gave this thoughtless imprudent creature. However, the tenderness of an uncle recompensed the neglect of a father; and my friend is now not only excessively good-humoured, but competently rich
Yes, let the world cry out at a bankrupt who appears at a ball; at an author who laughs at the public which pronounces him a dunce: at a general who smiles at the reproach of the vulgar, or the lady who keeps her good-humour in spite of scandal; but such is the wisest behaviour that any of us can possibly assume; it is certainly a better way to oppose calamity by dissipation, than to take up the arms of reason or resolution to oppose it: by the first method, we forget our miseries ; by the last, we only conceal them from others : by struggling with misfortunes, we are sure to receive some wounds in the conflict, but a sure method to come off victorious, is by running away.
THE BEAUTIES OF CREATION.
NHE earth is assigned us for a dwelling. The
skies are stretched over us like a magnificent canopy, dyed in the purest azure, and beautified now with pictures of floating silver, now with colourings of reflected crimson.—The grass is spread under us, as a spacious carpet, wove with silken threads of green, and damasked with flowers of every hue. The sun, like a golden lamp, is hung out in the ethereal vault; and pours his effulgence all the day to lighten our paths.-When night approaches, the moon takes up the friendly office, and the stars are kindled in twinkling myriads, to cheer the darkness with their milder lustre, not to disturb our repose by too intense a glare. -The clouds, besides the rich paintings they hang around the heavens, act the part of a shifting screen, and defend us, by their seasonable interposition, from the scorching beams of summer. May we not also regard them, as the great watering pots of the globe ? which, wafted on the wings of the wind, dispense their moisture evenly through the universal garden ; and fructify, with their showers, whatever our hand plants. The fields are our exhaustless granary.-The ocean is our vast reservoir.-The animals spend their strength, to dispatch our business, resign their clothing to replenish our wardrobe, and surrender their very lives to provide for our tables.--In short, every element is à store-house of conveniences; every season brings us the choicest productions; all nature is our caterer.And which is a most endearing recommendation of these favours, they are all as lovely as they are useful. You observe nothing mean or inelegant All is clad in beauty's fairest robe, and regulated by proportion's nicest rule. The whole scene exhibits a fund of pleasures to the imagination, at the same time, that it more than supplies all our wants.
VHE sun has almost finished his daily race, and
hastens to the goal. He descends lower and lower, till his chariot-wheels seem to hover on the utmost verge of the sky. What is somewhat remarkable, the orb of light, upon the point of setting, grows considerably broader. The shadows of objects, just before they become blended in undistinguishable darkIress, are exceedingly lengthened.— Like blessings, little prized, while possessed; but highly esteemed, the very instant they are preparing for their flight; bitterly regretted when once they are gone, and to be
seen no more.
The radiant globe is, now, half-immersed beneath the dusky earth. Or, as the ancient poets speak, is shooting into the ocean, and sinks in the western sea. And could I view the sea at this juncture, it would yield a most amusing and curious spectacle. The rays, striking horizontally on the liquid element, give it the appearance of floating glass; or reflected in many a different direction, form a beautiful multiplicity of colours.---A stranger, as he walks along the sandy beach, and, lost in pensive attention, listens to the murmurings of the restless flood, is agreeably alarmed by the gay decorations of its surface. With entertainment, and with wonder, he sees the curling waves here glistering with white, there glowing with purple ; in one place, wearing an azure tincture, in another, glancing a cast of undulating green; in the whole, exhibiting a piece of fluid scenery, that may vie with yonder pencil tapestries, though wrought in the loom, and tinged with the dyes of heaven.
APPEARANCE OF NATURE AFTER SUNSET.
THE great luminary is sunk beneath the horizon,
and totally disappears. The whole face of the ground is overspread with shades, or with, what one of the finest painters of nature calls, a dun obscurity.