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the feeble confiftency of those who only feek it from novelty and caprice.
To render Solitude ferviceable, the powers of the mind, and the fenfibilities of the heart, muft be co-equal, and reciprocally regulate each other : weakness of intellect, when joined with quick feelings, hurries its poffeffor into all the tumult of worldly pleasure; and when mingled with torpid infenfibility, impels him to the cloifter. Extremes both in Solitude and in Society are equally baneful.
A ftrong fenfe of fhame, the keen compunctions of conscience, a deep regret for paft follies, the mortification arifing from disappointed hopes, and the dejection which accompanies difordered health, fometimes so affect the spirits, and destroy the energies of the mind, that the foul shrinks back upon itself at the very approach of company, and withdraws to the shades of Solitude, only to bleed and languifh in obfcurity. The inclination to retire, in cafes of this description, arifes from a fear of meeting the reproaches or difregard of an unpitying and reflecting world, and not from that erect fpirit which difposes the mind to self-enjoyment.*
*"It may be laid down (says a celebrated writer) as a pofition *which will feldom deceive, that, when a man cannot bear his
The difguft arifing from fatiety of worldly pleasures frequently induces a temporary defire for Solitude. The dark and gloomy nature, indeed, of this difpofition is fuch, as neither the fplendors of a throne, nor the light of philofophy, are able to irradiate and difpel. The auftere and petulant HERACLITUS * abandoned all the
own company, there is fomething wrong. He must fly from himself, either because he feels a tediousness in life from the equipoife of an empty mind, which, having no tendency to one notion more than another, but as it is impelled by fome external power, must always have recourse to foreign objects; or he must be afraid of the intrufion of fome unpleafing ideas, and perhaps is ftruggling to escape from the remembrance of a lofs, the fear of a calamity, or fome other thought of greater horrors. Thofe whom forrow incapacitates to enjoy the pleasures of contemplation, may properly apply to fuch diverfions, provided they are innocent, as lay ftrong hold on the attention: and those whom fear of any future affliction chain down to mifery, muft endeavour to obviate the danger. But there are those who are burthenfome to themselves merely because they want fubjects for reflection, and to whom the volume of nature is thrown open, without offering them pleasure or inftruction, because they never learned to read the characters.
* HERACLITUS, the celebrated Grecian philofopher, was a native of Ephefus, and flourished about five hundred years before the Christian æra. His melancholy and dejected mind forced him inceffantly to lament, and frequently to weep over, the miferies and depravity of human nature. This difpofition, which he indulged to a ridiculous excefs, joined to an enigmatical manner of expreffing himself, procured him the appellation, of
the pleasures and comforts of society, in the vain hope of being able to gratify his discontented mind,
of The obfcure and crying Philofopher. "What is man?" he exclaimed: "What his boasted reafon? His knowledge is mere ignorance; his grandeur, littleness; his ftrength, weakness; and his joy, grief." But, notwithstanding this opinion, he maintained that life was the gift of the Great Creator; that it ought to be preserved with the greatest anxiety and care; that it cannot be difpofed of at the caprice of its owner; and that man muft wait, and patiently endure all the ills that flesh is heir to, until it shall please the Almighty to call him to the great account for all his actions. HERACLITUS compofed many excellent works, particularly a Treatife upon the ELEMENTS OF NATURE. Of this work EURIPIDES fent a copy to SoCRATES, who, on returning it, observed, that those parts which he was capable of comprehending were excellent, and that he had no doubt that those which were above his comprehenfion were equally good. DARIUS, the king of Perfia, on perufing this production, wrote a highly complimentary letter to the author, and preffed him in the warmest manner to visit the Perfian court, where his merits and abilities would be better understood and received than they had been in Greece; but the fullen and auftere philofopher furlily rejected all the elegant and polite overtures of the monarch. It is faid that the acerbity of his temper was increased to fuch a degree by his occafional intercourses with mankind, that he at length conceived an unalterable antipathy to the fpecies, and retired to a cheerless and inhofpitable mountain, where he lived for many years, in common with the beafts of the field, upon the fcanty herbage of the earth. Having, however, by this mode of living, contracted a dropfy, he once more defcended into the neighbouring cities, and confulted the faculty, in his enigmatical way, respecting the cure of his diftemper, by enquiring whether their art enabled them
mind, by indulging an antipathy against his fellow creatures: flying from their presence, he retired, like his predeceffor TIMON, to a high mountain, where he lived for many years among the beasts of the defart, on the rude produce of the earth, regardless of all the comforts civilized fociety is capable of bestowing. Such a temper of mind proceeds from a fickened intellect and difordered fenfibility, and indicates the lofs of that fine, but firm, sense of pleasure, from which alone all real enjoyment must spring. He who, having tasted all that can delight the fenfes, warm the heart, and fatisfy the mind, fecretly fighs over the vanity of his enjoyments, and beholds all the cheering objects of life with indifference,
them to dry up a deluge; but the physician not satisfying his queftion, he inclosed himself in a dunghill, under an idea that its artificial heat would difpel the fuperabundant moisture which had caufed his complaint. After repeated experiments, he quitted, with regret, at the age of fixty, the world he had fo much affected to defpife. The Ephefians expressed their astonishment when they firft beheld this great man playing at marbles with children: "I had rather," said he, "amuse myself thus than have the management of your affairs." He used to say, that " quarrels ought to be stifled like fires the moment they break out ;" that "it is more excufable for a people to fight for the prefervation of their laws than their lives; and that the nature of the human foul is infcrutable." Some fragments of the works of this extraordinary man ftill remain; they were published, together with thofe of DEMOCRITUS and TIMON, by Henry Stephens, in octavo, in the year 1573, under the title Poëfis Philofophica.
indifference, is, indeed, a melancholy example of the fad effects which refult from an intemperate pursuit of worldly pleasures. Such a man may perhaps abandon fociety, for it is no longer capable of affording him delight: but he will be debarred from all rational Solitude, because he is incapable of enjoying it; and a refuge with the brute creation seems his only refource. I have, indeed, observed even noblemen and princes, in the midst of abundance, and furrounded by all the splendour that fuccessful ambition, high state, vaft riches, and varying pleasures can confer, finking the fad victims of fatiety; disgusted with their glories; and diffatisfied with all thofe enjoyments which are supposed to give a higher relish to the foul: but they had happily enriched their minds with notions far fuperior to all thofe which flow from the corrupted scenes of vitiated pleasure ; and they found in Solitude a foft and tranquil pillow, which invited their perturbed minds, and at length lulled their feelings into calm repose. These characters were betrayed for a time by the circumstances which furrounded their exalted ftations into an excefs of enjoyment; but they were able to relish the fimple occupations, and to enjoy the tranquil amusements of Retirement, with as much fatisfaction as they had formerly pursued the political intrigues of the cabinet, the hoftile glories of the field, or the fofter indulgencies of peaceful