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fpair!" But to perform fuch offices as thefe, it is indifpenfably neceffary that we should have recommended ourselves to the confidence, and have gained the affections of thofe we intend to ferve. This great and neceffary property, however, those who live fecluded lives very seldom pofsess: but, much as they may, in general, disdain to practise this high virtue, it is necessary that they should know that it tends more to ennoble the fentiments of the mind, and to raise the feelings of the heart, than their most successful refearches to discover fomething before unheard of in the regions of science, and which they purfue with as much avidity as if TRUTH were liable to decay, unless sustained by the aid of novelty.
It is justly and beautifully faid by one of the apocryphal writers, that A faithful friend is the medicine of life. A variety of occafions happen, when, to pour forth the heart to one whom we love and truft, is the chief comfort, perhaps the only relief, we can enjoy. Miferable is he who, fhut up within the narrow inclosure of selfish intereft, has no perfon to whom he can at all times, with full confidence, expand his foul. But he who can only feel an affection for fuch as liften continually to the fuggeftions of vanity, as applaud indifcriminately the imaginary prodigies of his wit, or never contradict the egotism of his opinions,
opinions, is totally unfit for friendship, and utterly unworthy of respect. It is men of learning and of retired habits who are most likely to adopt this difengaging difpofition. There are, I am forry to say it, many men, distinguished in the paths of science, who affect to poffefs the most refined fenfibility, and whofe tongues are continually proclaiming the virtues of benevolence, but who, when they are called upon to practise those virtues in behalf of fome diftreffed companion, turn a deaf ear to the appeal, form fome poor excuse for not interfering, and, if preffed to come forward with fome promised affistance, deny to afford it, because the unhappy fufferer has neglected to approve of fome extravagant conjecture, or to adopt all the vifionary notions, and Utopian fyftems, they may have framed. He who neglects to perform the common charities of life, because his idle vanity may have been offended by the neglect or indifference of his companions, will never find, and cannot become, a real friend. There are also an infe rior order of fops in literature, (if any order can be inferior to that which I have laft defcribed,) who carry with them, wherever they go, a collection of their latest compofitions, and, by importunately reading them to every one they meet, and expecting an unreferved approbation of their merits, render themselves fo unpleasantly troublesome
troublesome on all occafions, that, instead of conciliating the leaft regard or esteem, their very approach is dreaded as much as a peftilence or a famine. Every man of real genius will shun this false ambition of gratifying vanity by forced applause, because he will immediately perceive, that, instead of gaining the hearts of his auditors, he only expofes himself to their ridicule, and lofes all chance of their efteem.
The difadvantages, however, which studious characters have been defcribed to experience from habits of folitary feclufion, and by neglecting the manners of society, muft not be indiscriminately applied. It is the morofe and furly pedant, who fits filently in his folitary study, and endeavours to enforce a character for genius in oppofition to nature, who adopts the mean and unworthy arts of jealousy, fufpicion, and dishoneft praife. Far different the calm, happy and honourable life of him, who, devoted to the cultivation of a strong understanding, and the improvement of a feeling heart, is enabled, by his application and genius, to direct the tafte of the age by his liberality of spirit, to look on his equals without jealousy, and his fuperiors with admiration; and, by his benevolence, to feel for the multitude he inftructs indulgence and affection; who, relying on the real greatness of his character, makes no attempt
attempt to increase his importance by low raillery or unfounded fatire; whofe firm temper never finks into fupine indolence, or grovelling melancholy; who only confiders his profeffion as the means of ameliorating mankind; who perfeveres in the cause of truth with chearful rectitude and virtuous dignity; whose intellectual refources fatisfactorily fupply the abfence of fociety; whose capacious mind enables him to encrease his ftores of useful knowledge; whose difcriminating powers enable him to elucidate the fubject he explores; who feels as great a delight in promoting the beneficial discoveries of others as in executing his own; and who regards his profeffional contemporaries, not as jealous rivals, but as generous friends, striving to emulate each other in the noble pursuits of science, and in the laudable task of endeavouring to improve the morals of mankind,
Characters of this description, equally venerable and happy, are numerous in Europe, both within and without the fhades of academic bowers, and afford examples which, notwithstanding the tribe of errors and abfurdities Solitude occafionally engenders, should induce men of worldly pleasures to reprefs the antipathies they are in general inclined to feel against persons of ftudious and retired lives.
THE INFLUENCE OF SOLITUDE, &c. 137
CHAPTER THE FOURTH.
THE INFLUENCE OF SOLITUDE ON THE
THE powers of imagination are great; and
the effects produced by them, under certain circumftances, upon the minds of men of warm and fenfible tempers, extraordinary and furprizing. Multitudes have been induced, by perturbed imaginations, to abandon the gay and chearful haunts of men, and to feek in dreary defolation comfort and repose. To fuch extremes has this faculty, when diftorted, hurried its unhappy fubjects, that they have endured the fevereft mortification, denied themselves the common benefits of nature, exposed themselves to the keenest edge of winter's cold, and the most scorching rays of fummer's heat, and indulged their diftempered fancies in the wildeft chimeras. These dreadful effects appear, on a first view, to be owing to fome fupernatural caufe, and they agitate our fenfes, and confuse the understanding, as phenomena beyond the comprehenfion of reason: but the wonder vanishes when the cause is coolly and carefully explored; and the extravagancies are traced up to their real fource, the natural orga