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to his infinite consolation---the talk quickened with the circulation of the wine, and many good things were uttered which we regret that we cannot commemorate without travelling out of the record, as our subject ceased with the dinner, being expressly confined to the “ Memoirs of a Haunch of Mutton."
WHAT LIFE TO CHOOSE.
“ Not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle; but to know
“When I look round upon the material world," says a Pagan writer, “and observe the ineffable beauty and harmony of all its arrangements, the magnificent machinery of the heavenly bodies, the unerring precision with which they perform their majestic evolutions, as well as the regular succession of seasons and interchange of elements, by which the earth is maintained in undiminished splendour and fertility, I recognise on all sides the power and the presence of a benignant Deity: but when I direct my observation towards the moral world, and reflect that the creation, the object, and the final conclusion of all this glorious pageant, have been hitherto unrevealed to us, and threaten to remain involved in impenetrable obscurity; when I observe the confusion of principles, with the
disorder, uncertainty, and darkness, that perpetually surround the destiny of man; when I see vice and irreligion triumphant and rewarded, piety and virtue oppressed and wretched, the mental and bodily anguish of innocent individuals, the perpetual struggle of nations to torment one another, with the general predominance of human and animal suffering in the endless alternations of destroyer and victim, I am lost in astonishment at the contrast of the physical and moral systems, and in spite of myself relapse into scepticism and doubt." Authority that he possessed not has removed part of the difficulty, by revealing to us that the present is but a probationary existence—the prelude to another, in which all the inconsistencies and imperfections of which he complained will be finally adjusted and atoned upon immutable principles of right; but it must be confessed, that enough remains unexplained to harass and perplex the prying spirit. The origin and existence of vice and pain, the unmerited sufferings of animals, for whom we are not warranted in admitting a future state of retribution,these, and many other insolvable points, which, like so many ignes fatui, are as sure to elude our grasp as to lead us into pitfalls and difficulties, will be altogether avoided by the wise man, who, fixing his attention upon the consolatory perfectness of the material world, and confiding in the benignity which pervades it, will patiently await the fulness of time when the same Spirit of goodness shall give a similar unity and completeness to the moral scheme of creation.
Down to the minutest divisions of human occupa
tion, it will be found that the men whose pursuits bring them in contact with inanimate nature, enjoy their avocations much more than those who are conversant with humanity, and all the modifications of the social and moral system. Champort observes, that the writers on physics, natural history, physiology, chemistry, have been generally men of a mild, even, and happy temperament; while, on the contrary, the writers on politics, legislation, and even morals, commonly exhibited a melancholy and fretful spirit. Nothing more simple: the former studied nature, the others society. One class contemplates the work of the great Being, the other fixes its observation upon the work of man: the results must be different. The Nymphs of Calypso, as they caressed and fondled the infant Cupid, became unconsciously penetrated with his flame; and if the power of love be thus subtle, that of hatred is, unfortunately, not less pervading. We cannot handle human passions, even to play with them, without imbibing some portion of their acrimony, any more than we can gather flowers amid the nettles without being stung. Into every thing human a spirit of party becomes insinuated, and self-love is perpetually forcing us to taste of its bitterness; but there is no rivalry with Nature; our pride does not revolt at her superiority —nay, we find and holy calm in contemplating her majesty, before which we bow down with mingled feelings of delight and reverence. Contrast this with the effects produced upon us by human grandeur and elevation. Hence the charm of solitude: it places
us in communion with things, whereas society fixes our regards upon man.
The age of Ascetics and Hermits is, however, passed away ;
intercourse with our kind is not to be interdicted, but regulated. “These things,
“ These things," as Milton says in his Areopagitica, “ will be, and must be ; but how they shall be least hurtful, how least enticing, herein consists the grave and governing wisdom. To sequester out of the world, into Atlantic and Eutopian politics, which never can be drawn into use, will not mend our condition, but to ordain wisely in this world of evil, in the midst whereof God has placed us unavoidably.” Love of the country, and even of a partial seclusion, is not by any means misanthropy. “I love not man the less, but Nature more," when I recommend all those who have the privilege of a choice, to fly from the fermenting passions of crowds and capitals, whose acrid influence gnaws into the heart, and to appeal to the peaceful balmy ministerings of rural life. Farming, the primitive natural business of man, is probably the most healthful, both for body and mind: it places us, as it were, in daily contact with the Deity by our unceasing experience of his superintending love, connects earth with heaven, and brings religion home to our business and bosoms. Cincinnatus felt this, when he made such haste to beat the Volscians that he might hurry back to his plough. I envy him the turning up of the first furrow; and I may say, in imitation of Alexander's speech to Diogenes, that if I were not a scribbler, I should wish to be a farmer!
Gardening, which exalts man into a species of creator, is another recreation fraught with all soothing and sweet delights; and it is pleasing to reflect, that some of the most eminent persons of antiquity are associated with its cultivation. Appius gave his name to a particular apple, Lucullus to a cherry, and Manlius to a pear. When Diocletian was pressed to resume the supreme authority, which he had abdicated, he exclaimed—“Ah ! if Maximian could see the plants which I have cultivated in my garden at Salona, he would speak to me no more of empire." Cicero, in his defence of Amerinus, alleges his rural pursuits as a proof that he could not be guilty of his father's murder. - Vita autem hæc rustica, quam tu agres. tem vocas, parsimoniæ, diligentiæ, justicia magistra est:" Fabius and Scipio might both have gained prizes at the Horticultural Society, had it fortunately been of earlier institution; and we are told of Mæcenas, that he might have realized a more aspiring des tiny, but that
“ Maluit umbrosum quercum, Nymphasque canoras,
Paucaque pomosi jugera culta soli,
Many of the arts elicit sensations not less pure and unalloyed. Sculpture is also a species of creation ; and one can hardly imagine any thing more delightful than the life of an ancient statuary, whose business it was, in the formation of his deities, to exalt the pleasure derived from contemplating the most rare and exquisite specimens of human symmetry into devo