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but requisite to prepare the reader for what follows in the seventh book:
"I saw when at his word the formless mass,
In the following part of the speech he points out the earth with such circumstances, that the reader can scarce forbear fancying himself employed on the same distant view of it.
• Look downward on that globe, whose hither side With light from hence, though but reflected, shines; That place is earth, the seat of man, that light
I must not conclude
this third book of Paradise Lost, without taking notice of that celebrated complaint of Milton with which it opens, and which certainly deserves all the praises that have been given it; though, as I have before hinted it may rather be looked upon as an excrescence, than as an essential part of the poem. The same observation might be applied to that beautiful digression upon hypocrisy in the same book,
N° 316. MONDAY, MARCH 3, 1711-12.
Libertas; quæ sera tamen respexit inertem.
VIRG, Ecl. i. 28. Freedom, which came at length, though slow to come.
• If you ever read a letter which is sent with the more pleasure for the reality of its complaints, this
may have reason to hope for a favourable acceptance: and if time be the most irretrievable loss, the regrets which follow will be thought, I hope, the most justifiable. The regaining of my liberty from a long state of indolence and inactivity, and the desire of resisting the farther incroachments of idleness, make me apply to you; and the uneasiness with which I recollect the past years, and the apprehensions with which I expect the future, soon determined me to it. Idleness is so general a distemper, that I cannot but imagine a speculation on this subject will be of universal use. There is hardly any one person without some allay of it; and thousands besides myself spend more time in an idle uncertainty which to begin first of two affairs, than would have been sufficient to have ended them both. The occasion of this seems to be the want of some necessary employment, to put the spirits in motion, and awaken them out of their legthargy. If I had less leisure, I should have more; for I should then find my time distinguished into portions, some for business, and others for the indulging of pleasures; but now one face of indolence overspreads the whole, and I have no land-mark to
direct myself by. Were one's time a little straitened by business, like water enclosed in its banks, it would have some determined course; but unless it be put into some channel it has no current, but becomes a deluge without either use or motion.
When Scanderberg, prince of Epirus, was dead, the Turks, who had but too often felt the force of his arm in the battles he had won from them, imagined that by wearing a piece of his bones near their heart, they should be animated with a vigour and force like to that which inspired him when living. As I am like to be but of little use whilst I live, I am resolved to do what good I can after my decease; and have accordingly ordered my bones to be disposed of in this manner for the good of my countrymen, who are troubled with too exorbitant a degree of fire. All fox-hunters, upon wearing me, would in a short time be brought to endure their beds in a morning, and perhaps even quit them with regret at ten. Instead of hurrying away to tease a poor
animal, and run away from their own thoughts, a chair or a chariot would be thought the most desirable means of performing a remove from one place to another. I should be a cure for the unnatural desire of John Trot for dancing, and a specific to lessen the inclination Mrs. Fidget has to motion, and cause her always to give her approbation to the present place she is in. In fine, no Egyptian mummy was ever half so useful in physic, as I should be to these feverish constitutions, to repress the violent sallies of youth, and give each action its proper weight
• I can stifle any violent inclination, and oppose a torrent of anger, or the solicitations of revenge, with success.
Indolence is a stream which flows slowly on, but yet undermines the foundation of
every virtue. A vice of a more lively nature were a more desirable tyrant than this rust of the mind, which gives a tincture of its nature to every action of one's life. It were as little hazard to be lost in a storm, as to lie thus perpetually becalmed: and it is to no purpose to have within one the seeds of a thousand good qualities, if we want the vigour and resolution necessary
for the exerting them. Death brings all persons back to an equallity; and this image of it, this slumber of the mind, leaves no difference between the greatest genius and the meanest understanding. A faculty of doing things remarkably praise-worthy, thus concealed, is of no more use to the owner, than a heap of gold to the man who dares not use it.
• To- morrow is still ihe fatal time when all is to be rectified. To-morrow comes,
and still I please myself with the shadow, while I lose the reality; unmindful that the present time alone is ours, the future is yet unborn, and the past is dead, and can only live (as parents in their children) in the actions it has produced.
• The time we live ought not to be computed by the number of years, but by the use that has been made of it; thus, it is not the extent of ground, but the yearly rent, which gives the value to the estate. Wretched and thoughtless creatures, in the only place where covetousness were a virtue, we turn prodigals! Nothing lies upon our hands with such uneasiness, nor have there been so many devices for any one thing, as to make it slide away imperceptibly and to no purpose. A shilling shall be hoarded up with
care, whilst that which is above the price of an estate is flung away with disregard and contempt. There is nothing now-a-days so much. avoided, as a solicitous improvement of every part
of time: it is a report must be shunned as one tenders the name of a wit and a fine genius, and as one fears the dreadful character of a laborious plodder: but notwithstanding this, the greatest wits any age has produced thought far otherwise; for who can think either Socrates or Demosthenes lost any reputation, by their continual pains both in overcoming the defects and improving the gifts of nature ? All are acquainted with the labour and assiduity with which Tully acquired his eloquence. Seneca in his letters to Lucilius assure him, there was not a day in which he did not either write something, or read and epitomize some good author: and I remember Pliny in one of his letters, where he gives an account of the various methods he used to fill up every va. cancy of time, after several employments which he enumerates; “ sometimes," says he, “ I hunt: but even then I carry with me a pocket-book, that whilst my servants are busied in disposing of the nets and other matters, I may be employed in something that may be useful to me in my studies; and that if I miss of my game, I may at the least bring home some of my own thoughts with me, and not have the mortification of having caught nothing all day."
• Thus, sir, you see, how many examples I recal to mind, and what arguments I use with myself, to regain my liberty: but as I am afraid it is no ordinary persuasion that will be of service, I shall expect your thoughts on this subject with the greatest impatience, especially since the good will not be confined to me alone, but will be of universal use. For there is no hope of amendment where men are pleased with their ruin, and whilst they think laziness is a desirable character; whether it be that they like the state itself, or that they think it gives them a new lustre when they do exert themselves, seemingly to be able to do that without labour and appli