Imágenes de páginas

Particular metals are valuable, because they are scarce; and they are scarce, because the inines that yield them are emptied in time. But the surface of the earth is more liberal than its caverns. The field, which is this autumn laid naked by the fickle will be covered, in the succeeding summer, by a new harvest; the grass, which the cattle are devouring, shoots up again when they have passed over it.

Agriculture, therefore, and Agriculture alone, can support us without the help of others, in certain plenty and genuine dignity. Whatever we buy from without, the sellers may refuse; whatever we fell, manufactured by art, the purchasers may reject ; but, while our ground is covered with corn and cattle, we can want nothing; and if imagination should grow fick of native plenty, and call for delicacies or embellishments from other countries, there is nothing which corn and cattle will not purchase.

Our country is, perhaps, beyond all others, productive of things necessary to life. The pine-apple thrives better between the tropicks, and better furs are found in the northern regions. But let us not envy these unnecessary privileges. Mankind cannot subfist upon the indulgencies of nature, but must be supported by her more common gifts. They must feed upon bread, and be cloathed with wool; and the nation that can furnish these universal commodities, may have her ships welcomed at a thoufand ports, or fit at home and receive the tribute of foreign countries, enjoy their arts, or treasure up their


It is well known to those who have examined the state of other countries, that the vineyards of France


are more than equivalent to the mines of America; and that one great use of Indian gold, and Peruvian filver, is to procure the wines of Champaigne and Burgundy. The advantage is indeed always rising on the side of France, who will certainly have wines, when Spain, by a thousand natural or accidental causes, may want silver. But surely the vallies of England have more certain stores of wealth. Wines are chosen by caprice; the products of France have not always been equally esteemed; but there never was any age, or people, that reckoned bread among superfluities, when once it was known. The price of wheat and barley fuffers not any variation, but what is caused by the uncertainty of seasons,

I am far from intending to persuade my countrymen to quit all other employments for that of manuring the ground. I mean only to prove, that we have, at home, all that we can want, and that therefore we need feel no great anxiety about the schemes of other nations for improving their arts, or extending their traffick. But there is no necessity to infer, that we should cease from commerce, before the revolution of things shall transfer it to some other regions! Such vicissitudes the world has often seen; and therefore such we have reason to expect. We hear many clamours of declining trade, which are not, in my opinion, always true; and many imputations of that decline to governors and ministers, which may be sometimes just, and sometimes calum. nious. But it is foolish to imagine, that any care or policy can keep commerce at a stand, which almost every nation has enjoyed and lost, and which we must expect to lose as we have long enjoyed it.


There is some danger, lest our neglect of Agriculture should hasten its departure. Our industry has for many ages been employed in destroying the woods which our ancestors have planted. It is well known that commerce is carried on by ships, and that ships are built out of trees; and therefore, when I travel over naked plains, to which tradition has preserved the name of forests, or see hills arising on either hand, barren and useless, I cannot forbear to wonder, how that commerce, of which we promise ourselves the perpetuity, shall be continued by our descendants; nor can restrain a figh, when I think on the time, a time' at no great distance, when our neighbours may deprive us of our naval influence, by refusing us their timber.

By Agriculture only can commerce be pepetuated ; and by Agriculture alone can we live in plenty without intercourse with other nations. This, therefore, is the great art, which every government ought to protect, every proprietor of lands to practise, and every inquirer into nature to improve.





CON of Perseverance, whoever thou art, whose O curiosity has led thee hither, read and be wise. He that now calls upon thee is Theodore, the Hermit of Teneriffe, who in the fifty-seventh year of his retreat left this instruction to mankind, left his solitary hours should be spent in vain.

I was once what thou art now, a groveller on the earth, and a gazer at the sky; I trafficked and heaped wealth together, I loved and was favoured, I wore the robe of honour and heard the musick of adulation; I was ambitious, and rose to greatness; I was unhappy, and retired. I sought for some time what I at length found here, a place where all real wants might be easily supplied, and where I might not be under the necessity of purchasing the assistance of men by the toleration of their follies. Here I saw fruits and herbs and water, and here determined to wait the hand of death, which I hope, when at last it comes, will fall lightly upon me.

Forty-eight years had I now passed in forgetfulness of all mortal cares, and without any inclination



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to wander farther than the necessity of procuring sustenance required; but as I stood one day beholding the rock that overhangs my cell, I found in myself a desire to climb it; and when I was on its top, was in the fame manner determined to scale the next, till by degrees I conceived a wish to view the fummit of the mountain, at the foot of which I had fo long resided. This motion of my thoughts I endeavoured to suppress, not because it appeared criminal, but because it was new; and all change, not evidently for the better, alarms a mind taught by experience to distrust itself. I was often afraid that my heart was deceiving me, that my impatience of confinement arose from some earthly passion, and that my ardour to survey the works of nature was only a hidden longing to mingle once again in the scenes of life. I therefore endeavoured to settle my thoughts into their former state, but found their diftraction every day greater. I was always reproaching myself with the want of happiness within iny reach, and at last began to question whether it was not laziness rather than caution that restrained me from climbing to the summit of Teneriffe.

I rose therefore before the day, and began my journey up the steep of the mountain ; but I had not advanced far, old as I was and burthened with provisions, when the day began to shine upon me; the declivities grew more precipitous, and the sand Nided from beneath my feet ; at last, fainting with labour, I arrived at a small plain almost inclosed by rocks, and open only to the east. I sat down to rest awhile, in full persuasion, that when I had recovered my itrength I should proceed on ny design ; but when


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »