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CHAPTER

THE

THIRD.

THE INFLUENCE OF SOLITUDE

UPON THE HEART.

THE highest happiness which is capable of being enjoyed in this world consists in peace of mind. The wise mortal who renounces the tu. mults of the world, reftrains his desires and inclinations, resigns himself to the dispensation of his Creator, and looks with an eye of pity on the frailties of his fellow-creatures; whose greatest pleasure is to listen among the rocks to the soft murmurs of a cascade ; to inhale, as he walks along the plains, the refreshing breezes of the zephyrs; and to dwell in the surrounding woods, on the melodious accents of the aerial choristers ; may, by the simple feelings of his heart, obtain this invaluable blessing.

To taste the charms of Retirement, it is not necessary to divest the heart of its emotions. The world may be renounced without renouncing the enjoyment which the tear of sensibility is capable of affording. But to render the heart susceptible

of

of this felicity, the mind must be able to admire with equal pleasure Nature in her fublimest beauties, and in the modest flower that decks the vallies ; to enjoy at the fame time that harmonious combination of parts which expands the soul, and those detached portions of the whole which pres. fent the softest and most agreeable images to the mind. Nor are these enjoyments exclusively reserved for those strong and energetic bofoms whose sensations are as lively as they are delicate, and in which, for that reafon, the good and the bad make the same impresion; the purest happiness, the most enchanting tranquillity, are also granted tô men of colder feelings, and whose imaginations åre less bold and lively; but to such characters the portraits must not be so highly coloured, nor the tints fo fharp; for as the bad strikes them less, so also are they less susceptible of livelier impressions. *

THE

H 3

* M. Antoninus, speaking of the beauty of univerfal Nature, observes, that there is a pleasing and graceful aspect in every object we perceive, when once we perceive its connection with the general order of things. He instances many things which at first sight would be thought rather deformities, and then adds, " that a man “ who enjoys a sensibility of temper, with a just comprehension is of the universal order, will difcern many amiable things not a credible to every mind, but to those alone who have entered • into an honourable familiaritỳ with Nature and her works."

The high enjoyments which the heart feels in Solitude are derived from the imagination.* The touching aspect of delightful nature, the variegated verdure of the forests, the resounding echoes of an impetuous torrent, the soft agitation of the foliage, the melodious warblings of the tenants of the groves, the beautiful scenery of a rich and extensive country, and all those objects which compose an agreeable landscape, take such complete poffeffion of the soul, and so entirely absorb our faculties, that the sentiments of the mind are by the charms of the imagination instantly converted into sensations of the heart, and the softest emotions give birth to the most virtuous and worthy sentiments. But, to enable the imagination thus to render every object fascinating and delightful, it must act with freedom, and dwell amidst surrounding tranquillity. Oh! how easy it is to renounce noisy pleasures and tumultuous assemblies, for the enjoyment of that philosophic melancholy which Solitude inspires !

“ He comes! he comes! in every breeze the power Of philofophic Melancholy comes !

" His

* An account of the natural and moral advantages resulting from a sensible and well formed imagination, is finely given by Dr. Arbuthnot, in the Third Book of “ The Pleasures of the Imagination."

6. His near approach the sudden starting tear, “ The glowing cheek, the mild dejected air, “ The soften'd feature, and the beating heart, " Pierc'd deep with many a virtuous pang, declare. “'O'er all the soul his sacred influence breathes; " Inflames imagination; thro' the breast " Infufes every tendernefs; and far "Beyond dim earth exalts the swelling thought. “. Ten thousand thousand fleet ideas, such As never mingled with the vulgar dream, “ Croud fast into the mind's creative eye ; As fast the correspondent passions rise, :“ As varied and as high: Devotion rais'd “ To rapture, and divine astonishment; “ The loye of Nature unconfin'd, and chief Of human race; the large ambitious with “ To make them blest; the ligh for suffering worth, " Lost in obscurity; the noble scorn « Of tyrant pride ; the fearless great resolve ; « The wonder which the dying patriot draws, “ Inspiring glory thro' remotest time; “ Th’ awaken’d throb for virtue and for fame ; “ The sympathies of love, and friendship dear; " With all the social offspring of the heart.”

7. RELIGIOUS awe and rapturous delight are alter

nately excited by the deep gloom of forests, by the tremendous height of broken rocks, and by the multiplicity of majestic and sublime objects which are combined within the scite of a delightful and extensive prospect. The most painful sensations

H4 immediately immediately yield to the serious, foft, and folitary reveries to which the furrounding tranquillity invites the mind; while the vast and awful silence, of Nature exhibits the happy contrast between fimplicity and grandeur ; and as our feelings be.. come more exquisite, so our admiration becomes more intense, and our pleasures more complete.

I had been for many years familiar with all that Nature is capable of producing in her sublimest works, when I first saw a garden in the vicinity of Hanover, and another, upon a much larger scale, at Marienwerder, about three miles distant, cultivated in the English style of rural ornament. I was not then apprized of the extent of that art which sports with the most ungrateful foil, and, by a new species of creation, converts barren mountains into fertile fields and smiling landscapes. This magic art makes an astonishing impresfion on the mind, and captivates every heart, not insensibleto the delightful charms ofcultivated Nature. I cannot recollect, without shedding tears of gratitude and joy, a single day of this early part of my residence at Hanover, when, torn from the bosom of my country, from the embraces of my family, and from every thing that I held dear in life, my mind, on entering the little garden of my deceased friend M. de Hinuber, near Hanover, immediately revived, and forgot for the

moment

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