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advantages or disadvantages arifing from Retirement, will always be proportionate to the degrees of VIRTUE and VICE which prevail in the character of the reclufe. It is certain that an occafional retreat from the business of the world, will greatly improve the virtues, and encrease the happiness, of him on whom nature has bestowed a found understanding and a fenfible heart; but when the heart is corrupt, the understanding weak, the imagination flighty, and the difpofition depraved, Solitude only tends to increase the evil, and to render the character more rank and vicious: for whatever be the culture, the produce will unavoidably partake of the quality
"do not leave us when we change our country: our paffions often follow us even into the cloifters and philofophic schools; and neither deferts, caves, hair fhirts, nor fafts, can difengage us from them. If a man do not first disengage both himself and his mind from the burthen with which he finds himself oppreffed, motion will but make it prefs the harder; as in a fhip the lading is of lefs incumbrance when it is well fettled. You do a fick man more harm than good in removing him from place to place; you confirm the disease by stirring him, as stakes fink deeper into the ground by being moved up and down. It is not, therefore, enough to be remote from the public; it is not enough to fhift the fituation; a man muft fly from the popular difpofitions that have taken poffeffion of his foul; he must lay himself afide, and come to himself again. The disease is in the mind, which must escape from itself. A perfon telling SOCRATES that fuch a one was not improved by his travels, "No wonder," faid SOCRATES;" for he travelled along with himself."
lity of the feeds and the nature of the foil; and Solitude, by allowing a weak and wicked mind leifure to brood over its own fuggeftions, re-creates and rears the mischief it was intended to prevent.
Where SOLITUDE, fad nurse of care, To fickly mufing gives the penfive mind, There madnefs enters; and the dim-ey'd fiend, Lorn Melancholy, night and day provokes Her own eternal wound. The fun grows pale; A mournful vifionary light o'erspreads The chearful face of nature: earth becomes A dreary defert; and the heavens frown above. Then various fhapes of curs'd illusion rife; Whate'er the wretched fear, creating fear Forms out of nothing; and with monsters teems Unknown in hell. The proftrate foul beneath A load of huge imagination heavès; And all the horrors that the GUILTY feel With anxious flutterings wake the guilty breast. From other cares abfolv'd, the busy mind Finds in itself a theme to pore upon; And finds it miferable, or makes it fo."
To enable the mind, however, to form an accurate judgment of the probable confequences of Solitude, it is, perhaps, neceffary to have feen inftances both of its advantageous and detrimental effects. The confequences vary with the fubject on which it operates; and the famé fpecies of Solitude which to one character would be injurious, will prove to another of the highest benefit
benefit and advantage. The fame perfon, indeed, may, at different periods, as his difpofition changes, experience, under fimilar circumstances of retirement, very different effects. Certain, however, it is, that an occafional retreat from the tumultuous intercourses of society, or a judicious and well arranged retirement, cannot be prejudicial. To have pointed out the train of VIRTUES it is capable of producing, and to have been filent upon the black catalogue of VICES that may refult from extreme feclufion, would have been the more pleafing task; but I have undertaken to draw the character of SOLITUDE impartially, and must therefore point out its poffible defects.
MAN, in a state of folitary indolence and inactivity, finks, by degrees, like ftagnant water, into impurity and corruption. The body fuffers with the mind's decay. It is more fatal than excess of action. It is a malady that renders every hope of recovery vain and visionary. To fink from action into reft, is only indulging the common course of nature; but to rise from longcontinued indolence to voluntary activity, is extremely difficult, and almost impracticable. A celebrated poet has finely described this class of unhappy beings in the following lines:
Then look'd, and faw a lazy lolling fort,
Of ever listless loiterers, that attend
No caufe, no truft, no duty, and no friend.
Thee too, my PARIDEL! fhe mark'd thee there,
To preserve the proper ftrength both of the body and the mind, labour must be regularly and seasonably mingled with reft. Each of them require their fuited exercises and relaxations. Philofophers who aim at the attainment of every fuperior excellency, do not indulge themselves in ease, and securely and indolently wait for the cruelties of fortune to attack them in their retirement,
"When I lately retired," fays old MONTAIGNE, "to my own house, with a resolution to avoid all manner of concerns in business as much as poffible, and to spend the small remainder of my life in privacy and peace, I fancied I could not give my mind more enjoyment than to leave it at full liberty to entertain reft, and compose itself; which I alfo hoped that it might do the more eafily thenceforwards, as being by time become more settled and improved; but found that, on the contrary, like a horse broke loofe, which runs away with greater speed than the rider would put him to, it gave birth to fo many chimeras and fantastic monsters one upon the neck of another, without order and defign, that, for the fake of furveying the folly and abfurdity of them, I began to draw a catalogue of them, hoping, in time, to make my mind ashamed of itself.
variam femper dant otia mentem.
E'en in the moft retir'd states
"A thousand thoughts an idle life creates."
tirement, but, for fear fhe fhould furprize them in the state of inexperienced and raw foldiers, undifciplined for the battle, they fally out to meet her, and put themselves into regular training, and even upon the proof of hardships. Those only who observe a proper interchange of exercise and rest, can expect to enjoy health of body or chearfulness of mind. It is the only means by which the economy of the human frame can be regularly preserved.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed ;
And lively cheer, of vigour born;
He, therefore, who does not poffefs fufficient activity to keep the body and mind in proper exercise, he who is unacquainted with the art of varying his amusements, of changing the fubjects of his contemplation, and of finding within himself all the materials of enjoyment, will foon feel Solitude not only burthenfome, but insupportable. To fuch a character, Solitude will not only be disagreeable, but dangerous; for the