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How unworthy of this bright example should we be, if, after having seen the severest sufferings sustained by a female in the earliest period of life, and of the weakest constitution, we permitted our minds to be dejected by misfortunes which courage might enable us to surmount! a female who, under the anguish of inexpressible torments, never permitted a sigh or complaint to escape from her lips; but submitted with silent resignation to the will of Heaven, in hope of meeting with reward hereafter. She was ever active, invariably mild, and always compassionate to the miseries of others. But
we, who have before our eyes the sublime instructions which a character thus virtuous and noble has here given us, we, who, like her, aspire to a seat in the mansions of the blessed, refuse the smallest sacrifice, make no endeavour to stem with courage the torrent of adversity, or to acquire that degree of patience and resignation, which a strict examination of our own hearts, and a silent communion with God, would certainly afford.
SENSIBLE and unfortunate beings! the Night misfortunes by which you are now oppressed, and driven to despair, (for light, indeed, they are, when compared with mine,) will ultimately raise your minds above the low considerations of the world, and give a strength to your power which you now
conceive to be impoffible.* You now think yourselves sunk into the deepest abyssofsuffering and forrow; but the time will soon arrive, when you will perceive yourselves in that happy state in which the mind verges from earth, and fixes its attention on heaven. You will then enjoy a calm repose, be susceptible of pleasures equally substantial and sublime, and possess, in lieu of tumultuous anxieties for life, the serene and comfortable hope of immortality. Blessed, supremely blessed, is he who knows the value of retirement and tranquillity, who is capable of enjoying the silence of the groves, and all the pleasures of rural Solitude. The soul then tastes celestial delight, even under the deepest impressions of sorrow and dejection; regains its strength, collects new courage, and acts with perfect freedom. The eye then looks with fortitude on the transient sufferings of disease ; the mind no longer feels a dread of being alone ; and we learn to cultivate, during the remainder of our lives, a bed of roses round even the tomb of death.
* “ Explorant adversa viros, perque aspera duro “ Nittitur ad laudem virtus interrita clivo."
“ But oft Adversity exalts the mind ;
THESE reflections upon the general Advantages resulting from rational Solitude and occafional Rea: tirement, bring me next to this important question, "Whether it is easier to live virtuously in Solitude ! or in the World?
CHAPTER THE FIFTH.
WHETHER IT IS EASIER TOLIVE VIRTUOUSLY
IN SOLITUDE, OR IN THE WORLD,
THE virtues, when they are pra&tised in society,
are practised merely from a sense of duty. The Clergy afford instruction to the ignorant and consolation to the afflicted. The Lawyers protect the innocent and vindicate the injured. The Phyficians visit the sick, and administer relief to their complaints, whether real or imaginary. But not, as they would infinuate, from charitable feelings, and for the sake of humanity. Instruction, consolation, protection, and health, are in such cases afforded not from any particular bias of the heart towards their respective objects, but from a sense of duty which the professors of Law, Divinity, and Physic, respectively entertain; aduty imposed upon them by their peculiar stations in society; and which it would be disgraceful in them not to perform. The words, your known humanity,” words which always hurt my feelings, when they introduce the subjects of the letters I daily receive, are nothing but words of ceremony, a common falsehood, introduced by flattery, and supported only by custom. Humanity is a high and im, portant virtue, founded on a nobleness of soul of the first species; and how is it to be known whether a man performs certain actions from this warm and generous motive, or from a cold sense of duty ? Good works certainly do not always proceed from motives completely virtuous. The bosom of a man whose mind is constantly immersed in the corrupted currents of the world, is generally shut
against every thing that is truly good: he may, : however, sometimes do good without being vir
tuous; for he may be great in his actions, though little in his heart. * Virtue is a quality much more rare than is generally imagined ; and therefore the words humanity, virtue, patriotism, and many others of similar kinds, should be used with greater
caution than they usually are in the intercourses -" of mankind. It is only upon particular occafions 3. that they ought to be called forth; for by making
them too familiar, their real import is weakened and the sense of those excellent qualities they expressin
“ Viri potestatibus sublimes,” says Lord Chancellor Bacon, ipfi tibi ignoti funt. Et dum negotiis diftrabuntur, tempore carent, " quò, fanitati aut corporis, aut animæ fuæ caufulant."