페이지 이미지

approaches when he beholds his nerves shattered, and all the powers of his soul destroyed, has not the courage to make the delayed confeffion, “ I am tired of the world and all its idle follies !

The legions of fantastic fashions to which a man of pleasure is obliged to sacrifice his time, impair the rational faculties of his mind, and defroy the native energies of his soul. Forced continue ally to lend himself to the performance of a thoufand little trifles, a thousand mean absurdities, he becomes by habit frivolous and absurd. The face of things no longer wears its true and genuine aspect; and his depraved taste loses all relish for rational entertainment or substantial pleasure. The infatuation feizes on his brain, and his corrupted heart teems with idle fancies and vain imaginations.

The inevitable consequences of this ardent pursuit of entertainments and diversions are languor and dissatisfaction. He who has drained the cup of pleasure to the last drop, who is at length obliged to confess that all his hopes are fled, who finds disappointment and disgust mingled with every enjoyment, who feels astonished at his own insensibility, and who no longer possesses the magic of the enchantress Imagination to gild and decorate the scene, calls in vain to his affistance the P 2

daughters daughters of Sensuality and Intemperance: their caresses can no longer delight his dark and melancholy mind: the soft and syren song of Luxury no longer can dispel the cloud of discontent that hovers round his head.

Behold that debilitated weak old man running after pleasures he can no longer enjoy. The airs of gaiety which he affects render him ridiculous: his attempts to shine expose him to derision : his endeavours to display the wit and eloquence of youth betray him into the garrulity of old age. His conversation, filled with repetition and tiresome narrative, creates disguft, and only forces the smile of pity from the lips of his youthful rivals. To the eye of wisdom, however, who observed him through all the former periods of his life sparkling in the mazes of folly, and rioting in all the noisy circles of extravagance and vice, his character always appeared the same.

" A languid, leaden iteration reigns, “ And ever muft, o'er those whose joys are joys “ Of sight, smell, taste. The cuckow-seasons fing “ The fame dull note to such as nothing prize, “ But what those seasons, from the teeming earth, “ To doating sense indulge. But nobler minds, “ Which relish fruits unripened by the sun, “ Make their days various; various as the dyes « On the dove's neck, which wanton in his rays.

« On

« On minds of dove-like innocence poffest, On lighten'd minds, that balk in Virtue's beams, “Nothing hangs tedious

[ocr errors]

The wise man, in the midst of the most tumultuous pleasures, frequently retires within himself, and filently compares what he might do with what he is doing. Surrounded by, and even when accidentally engaged in, the excesses of intoxication, he associates only with those warm and generous souls whose highly elevated minds are drawn towards each other by the most virtuous inclinations and sublime sentiments. The filent retreat of the mind within itself, has more than once given birth to enterprizes of the greatest importance and utility; and it is not difficult to ima. gine that some of the most celebrated actions of mankind were first inspired among the sounds of music, or conceived amidst the mazes of the dance. Sensible and elevated minds never commune more closely with themselves than in those places of public resort in which the low and vulgar, surrendering themselves to illusion and caprice, become incapable of reflection, and blindly suffer themselves to be overwhelmed by the surrounding torrent of folly and distraction.

The unceasing pursuit of sensual enjoyment is merely a mean used by the votaries of worldly



pleasure of flying from themselves: they seize with avidity upon any object that promises to occupy the present hour agreeably, and provide entertainment for the day that is passing over their heads. To such characters the man who can invent hour after hour new schemes of pleasure, and open day after day fresh sources of amusement, is a valuable companion indeed: he is their best, their only friend. Are then these lazy and luxurious votaries of sensual pleasures destitute of those abilities which might prevent this facrifice of time, and, if properly exerted, afford them relief? Certainly not. But, having been continually led from object to object in the pursuit of pleasure, the assistance of others has habitually become the first want and greatest necessity of their lives : they have insensibly lost all power of acting for themselves, and depend, for every object they see, for every sensation they feel, for every sentiment they entertain, on those by whom they are attended. This is the reason why the rich, who are seldom acquainted with any other pleasures than those of sense, are, in general, the most miserable of mankind.

The Nobility and Courtiers of France think their enjoyments appear vain and ridiculous only to those who have not the opportunity of partaking in them; but I am of a different opinion. Returning


one Sunday from Trianon to Versailles, I perceived at a distance a number of people assembled upon the terrace of the castle; and, on a nearer approach, I beheld Louis the Fifteenth surrounded by his court at the windows of his palace. A man very richly dressed, with a large pair of branching antlers fastened on his head, whom they called the stag, was pursued by about a dozen others who composed the pack. The pursued and the pursuers leaped into the great canal, scrambled out again, and ran wildly round and round, amidst the acclamations of the assembly, who loudly clapped their hands to testify their delight, and to encourage the diverfion. “ What can « all this mean?” said I to a French gentleman who stood near me. “ Sir,” he replied, with a very serious countenance, it is for the elitertainment of the Court.” The most obscure and indigent individuals may certainly be much happier than these masters of mankind with their melancholy slaves and miserable entertainments.

" But all, alas! would into fame advance, From fancied merit in this idle dance : The tavern, park, assembly, mask, and play, “ Those dear destroyers of the tedious day, “ Are call'd by fops, who faunter round, the town,

Splendid diversions; and the pill goes down; " Where fools meet fools, and, ftoic-like, support, “ Without one ligh, the pleasures of a Court.

* But

P 4

« 이전계속 »