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repofe with comfort, is that which prefents to us the, care of Providence, whofe eye takes in the whole of things, and under whofe dire&tion all involuntary errors will terminate in happinefs.
T may have been obferved by ewery reader, that there are certain topicks which neverare exhaufted. Of fome images and fentiments the mind of man may be faid to be enamoured ; it meets them, however often they occur, with the fame ardour which a lover feels at the fight of his miftrefs, and parts from them with the fame regret when they can no longer be enjoyed. Of thiskind are many defcriptions which the poeta have tranfcribed from each other, and their fucceffors will probably copy to the end of time, which will continue to engage, or, as the Fremcb term it, to fiatter the imagination, as long as human nature
fhall remain the fame. When a poet mentions the fpring, we know that the zephyrs are about to whifper, that the groves are to recower their verdure, the 1innets to warble forth their notes of love, and the ßocks and herds "troubled with suspicions; arc you single? you "languish in solitude; children occasion toil, and "a childless lise is a state of destitution; the time "of youth is a time of folly, and gray hairs are "loaded with infirmity. This choice only, there*' fore, can be made* either never to receive being, "or immediately to lofe it."
Such and so gloomy is the prospect, which Pcsidippus has laid before us. But we are not to acquiesce too hastily in his determination against the value of existence: for Metrodcfus, a philofopher of Athens, has shewn, that lise has pleasures as well as pains; and having exhibited the present state of man in brighter colours, draws, with equal appearance of reason, a contrary conclusion.
"You may pass well through any of the paths of n lise. In publick assemblies are honours and trans*, actions of wisdom; in domestick privacy, is still"ness and quiet; in the country arc the beauties of '' nature; on the sea is the hope of gain; in a "foreign land, he that is rich is honoured, he that "is poor may keep his poverty secret; are you mar"ried? you have a cheersul house; are you single? "you are unincumbered; children are objects of *' afsection, to be without children is to be without ** care; the time of youth is the time,of vigour, and "gray hairs arc made venerable by piety. It will, "therefore, never be a wise man's choice, either not "to obuin existence, or to lose it; for every state '' of lise has its selicity."
In these epigrams are included most of the
questions which have engaged the speculations of
the enquirers after happiness ', and though they will
not much assist our determinations, they may, perhaps, equally promote our quiet, by shewing that no absolute determination ever can be formed.
Whether a publick station, or private lise be desirable, has always been debated. We see here both the allurements and discouragements of civil employments: on one fide there is trouble, on the other honour; the management of affairs is vexatious and difficult, but it is the only duty in which wisdom can be conspicuously displayed: it must then still be left to every man to choofe either ease or glory; nor can any general precept be given, since no man can be happy by the prescription of another.
Thus, what is faid of children by Posidippus, " that *' they are occasions of fatigue," and by Meirodorus, *' that they are objects of affection," is equally certain; but whether they will give most pain or pleasure, must depend on their future conduct and dispositions, on many causes over which the parent can have little influence: there is, therefore, room for all the caprices of imagination, and desire must be proportioned to the hope or sear that shall happen to predominate.
Such is the uncertainty in which we are always likely to remain with regard to questions, wherein we have most interest, and which every day affords us fresh opportunity to examine: we may examine, indeed, but we never can decide, because our faculties are unequal to the subject: we see a little, and form an opinion; we see more, and change it.
This inconstancy and unsteadiness, to which we ;tiust so often find ourselves liable, ought certainly. to teach us moderation and forbearance towards. H 3 thofe
those who cannot accommodate themselves to our sentiments: is they arc deceived, we have no right to attribute their mistake to obstinacy or negligence, because we likewise have been mistaken] we mas, perhaps, again change our own opinion 1 and what excuse shall we be able to find for aversion and malignity conceived jgjinst him, whom we shall then find to have committed no fault, and who offended us only by resusing to follow us into error?
It may likewise contribute to soften that resentment which pride naturally raises against opposition, is we consider, that he who differs from us, does not always contradict us; he has one view of an object, and we have another; cacli describes what he sees with equal fidelity, and each regulates his steps by his own eyes: one man, with Posidippus, looks on .celibacy as a state of gloomy solitude, without a partner in joy or a comforter in sorrow; the other considers it, with Mttrodarus, as a state free from incumbranecs, in which a man is at liberty to choofe his own gratifications, to remove from place to place in quest of pleasure, and to think of nothing but merriment and diversion: full of these notions one hastens to choose a wise, and the other laughs at his rashness, or pities his ignorance; yet it is possible that each is right, but that each is right only foe himself.
Lise is not the object of science: we see a litde, very little; and what is beyond we only can conjecture. If we enquire of thofe who have gone before us, we receive small fatisfaction % some have travelled life without observation, and some willingly mislead us. The only thought, therefore, on which we can 5 repose repofe with comfort, is that which presents to us the care of Providence, whofe eye takes in the whole of things, and under whofe direction all involuntary errors will terminate in happiness.
Numb. 108. Saturday, November 17, 1753.
h'cbis, eumjtmul occidit brevis lux,
Hex ejl perfttua una dormitnda. CiTULLU 5.
When once the short-liv'd mortal dies,
A night eternal seals his eyes. Addisoh.
IT may have been observed by every reader, that there are certain topicks which never are exhausted. Of some images and sentiments the mind ,of man may be faid to be enamoured; it meets them, however often they occur, with the fame ardour which a lover seels at the sight of his mistress, and parts frpm them with the fame regret when they can no longer be enjoyed,'
Of this kind are many descriptions which the poets have transcribed from each other, and their successors Will probably copy to the end of time; which will continue to engage, or, as the French term it, to flatter the imagination, as long as human nature shall remain the fame.
When a poet mentions the spring, we know that the zephyrs are about to whisper, that the groves are to recover their verdure, the linnets to warble forth their notes of love, and the flocks and herds