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cess, and now to lodge the whole that her bounty had bestowed on all in one hand.
The deity could not grant the requests of all three; and her wavering disposition would not longer support any one of them. They brought into execution a thousand plans against each other, every one of which must have succeeded any where else; but when the enemy knows the nature of the attack, the defence is easy.
Success, at length, was departing from one side; but, in the latest moments, there are remedies which will detain the fleeting soul a little longer in its loved habitation. All these, and more than these, were tried; but all tried in vain: yet would not the dying hero give up the combat. At length, what Fortune could not execute became the work of resolution. The first thing sacrificed was the association. To whose share the bubble was now to fall, was the care of all. They forgot the instructions of the tutelar deity; they all snatched at the trembling prize together: it burst; the whole apparatus of colours sunk into a dirty drop of water; the very form was lost, and the letters melted into air, from whence they had been formed. The bond of union was now broken, and the faith, the friendship, and the virtues of the associates, vanished with it: the fences between right and wrong fell of their own accord; the locks flew open, and the treasure went as it had been obtained. The outrageous wind muttered more curses than the Jew of Venice
"He claims my life, who claims the means of life; he takes my house, who pulls away the pillar that supports it."
A thousand imprecations followed these starts of violence: the concluding words were-" Unreveng'd I will not fall, nor single!" The laws of nations were called in to his assistance, and in a story that could not be explained, no one knows what might have been the decision.
The deity who had at first raised, and who had now thrown them down, whose delight is in wonderful events, and whose character is capriciousness, now appeared once more in their favour. All that now appeared was-that nothing could appear! People were convinced that they were attacking pretences, under the semblance of realities; and it was plain to the eye of justice, whatever it might have been to that of law, that he who had no right to possession could not be plundered; and that the laws of nations ought to have no force in favour of the man who had eluded their sentence when passed upon him.
A MEDITATION ON THE SPRING,
VERY man is sufficiently discontented with some circumstances of his present state, to suffer his imagination to range more or less in quest of future happiness, and to fix upon some point of time, in which, by the removal of the inconvenience which now perplexes him, or acquisition of the advantage which he at pre wants, he shall find the condition of his life very much improved.
When this time, which is too often expected with great impatience, at last arrives, it generally comes without the blessing for which it was desired; but we solace ourselves with some new prospect, and press forward again with equal eagerness.
It is lucky for a man, in whom this temper prevails, when he turns his hopes upon things wholly out of his own power; since he forbears then to precipitate his affairs, for the sake of the great event that is to complete his felicity, and waits for the blissful hour
with less neglect of the measures necessary to be taken in the mean time.
I have long known a person of this temper, who indulged his dream of happiness with less hurt to himself than such chimerical wishes commonly produce, and adjusted his scheme with such address, that his hopes were in full bloom three parts of the year, and in the other part never wholly blasted. Many, perhaps, would be desirous of learning by what means he procured to himself such a cheap and lasting satisfaction. It was gained by a constant practice of referring the removal of all his uneasiness to the coming of the next spring; if his health was impaired, the spring would restore it; if what he wanted was at a high price, it would fall its value in the spring.
The spring indeed did often come without any of these effects, but he was always certain that the next would be more propitious; nor was ever convinced, that the present spring would fail him before the middle of summer; for he always talked of the spring as coming till it was past, and when it was once past every one agreed with him that it was coming.
By long converse with this man, I am, perhaps, brought to feel immoderate pleasure in the contemplation of this delightful season: but I have the satisfaction of finding many, whom it can be no shame to resemble, infected with the same enthusiasm; for there is, I believe, scarce any poet of eminence, who has not left some testimony of his fondness for the flowers, the zephyrs, and the warblers of the spring. Nor has the most luxuriant imagination been able to describe the serenity and happiness of the golden age, otherwise than by giving a perpetual spring, as the highest reward of uncorrupted innocence.
There is, indeed, something inexpressibly pleasing in the annual renovation of the world, and the new display of the treasures of nature. The cold and darkness of winter, with the naked deformity of every ob
ject on which we turn our eyes, make us rejoice at the succeeding season, as well for what we have escaped, as for what we may enjoy; and every budding flower, which a warm situation brings early to our view, is considered by us as a messenger to notify the approach of more joyous days.
The SPRING affords to a mind, so free from the disturbance of cares or passions as to be vacant to calm amusements, almost every thing that our present state makes us capable of enjoying. The variegated verdure of the fields and woods, the succession of grateful odours, the voice of pleasure pouring out its notes on every side, with the gladness apparently conceived by every animal, from the growth of his food, and the clemency of the weather, throw over the whole earth an air of gaiety, significantly expressed by the smile of
Yet there are men to whom these scenes are able to give no delight, and who hurry away from all the varieties of rural beauty, to lose their hours and divert their thoughts by cards, or assemblies, a tavern dinner, or the prattle of the day.
It may be laid down as a position which will seldom deceive, that when a man cannot bear his own company there is something wrong. He must fly from himself, either because he feels a tediousness in life from the equipoise of an empty mind, which, having no tendency to one motion more than another but as it is impelled by some external power, must always have recourse to foreign objects; or he must be afraid of the intrusion of some unpleasing ideas, and, perhaps, is struggling to escape from the remembrance of a loss, the fear of a calamity, or some other thought of greater horror.
Those whom sorrow incapacitates to enjoy the pleasures of contemplation, may properly apply to such diversions, provided they are innocent, as lay strong hold on the attention; and those, whom fear of any
future affiction chains down to misery, must endeavour to obviate the danger.
My considerations shall, on this occasion, be turned on such as are burdensome to themselves merely because they want subjects for reflection, and to whom the volume of nature is thrown open, without affording them pleasure or instruction, because they never learned to read the characters.
A French author has advanced this seeming paradox, that very few men know how to take a walk; and, indeed, it is true, that few know how to take a walk with a prospect of any other pleasure, than the same company would have afforded them at home.
There are animals that borrow their colour from the neighbouring body, and consequently vary their hue as they happen to change their place. In like manner, it ought to be the endeavour of every man to derive his reflections from the objects about him; for it is to no purpose that he alters his position, if his attention continues fixed to the same point. The mind should be kept open to the access of every new idea, and so far disengaged from the predominance of particular thoughts, as easily to accommodate itself to occasional entertainment.
A man that has formed this habit of turning every new object to his entertainment, finds in the productions of nature an inexhaustible stock of materials upon which he can employ himself, without any temptations to envy or malevolence; faults, perhaps, seldom totally avoided by those whose judgment is much exercised upon the works of art. He has always a certain prospect of discovering new reasons for adoring the sovereign Author of the universe, and probable hopes of making some discovery of benefit to others, or of profit to himself. There is no doubt but many vegetables and animals have qualities that might be of great use, to the knowledge of which there is not required much force of penetration or fatigue of study,