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a great degree destroyed. Who would not bluth to be called learned or humane, when he hears the most ignorant complimented on their knowledge, and the well-known humanity" of the most atrocious villain lavishly praised?
Men are, without doubt, more likely to become really virtuous in the bosom of rational Retirement, than amidst the corruptions of the world.
Virtue, for ever frail as fair below,
Virtue, indeed, of whatever description it may be, cannot be the produce of good example, for virtuous examples are very rarely seen in the world; but arises from a conviction, which filent reflection inspires, that goodness is superior to every other
poffeffion, and alone constitutes the true happiness. of life. The greater variety, therefore, of virtuous actions are generally performed in the filence of Solitude, and in the obscurity of Retreat.
The opportunity of doing public good, of performing actions of extensive utility or universal benevolence, is confined to a few characters. But how many private virtues are there which every man has it in his power to perform without quitting his chamber ! He who can contentedly employ himself at home, may continue there the
in every day of that year, may contribute to the felicity of other men: he may listen to their complaints, relieve their diftress, render services to those about him, and extend his benevolence in various ways, without being seen by the world, or known by those on whom his favours are conferred.
VIRTUOUS actions are certainly more easily and more freely performed in Solitude than in the world. In Solitude no man blushes at the fight of Virtue, nor fears to make her the beloved companion of his thoughts, and the sacred motive of his actions: but in the world she drags on an obscure existence, and, every where neglected, seems afraid to fhew her face. The world is a school of vice,
and its intercourse the most baneful species of education. Men possessed of the best inclinations are there surrounded by such a multitude of snares, and beset with such a variety of dangers, that error is daily unavoidable. Many men, who play high and conspicuous characters on the theatre of the world, are totally devoid of virtuous inclinations; others, with excellently good dispositions, are totally incapable of performing any thing great or praise-worthy. Before we engage in the hurrying
business of the day, we are perhaps kind, impartial, 'candid, and virtuous; for then the current of our
tempers has not been disturbed or contaminated; but it is impossible, even with the greatest vigilance, to continue through the day perfect masters of ourselves, oppressed as we are with incumbent cares and vexations, tortured by a variety of unavoidable distractions, and obliged to conform to a thousand disagreeable and disgustingcircumstances. The folly therefore of mystic minds was in forgetting that their souls were subjected to a body, and aiming, in consequence of that error, at the highest point of speculative virtue. The nature of the human character cannot be changed by living in a hermitage; but the exercise of virtue is certainly easier in those situations where it is expofed to the least danger, and then it loses all its merit. God created many hermits too weak to
save themselves when plunged into the abyss, bem cause he rendered them ftrong enough not to fall into it.
I SHALL here subjoin an excellent observation by a celebrated Scotch Philosopher : “ It is the “ peculiar effect of virtue to make a man's chief
happinefs arise from himself and his own con• “ duct. A bad man is wholly the creature of the w world: he hangs upon its favours; lives by its “ smiles; and is happy or miserable in proportion
to his success. But to a virtuous man, fuccess in « worldly matters is but a secondary object. To « discharge his own part with integrity and honour « is his chief aim: having done properly what " was incumbent on him to do, his mind is at reft, « and he leaves the event to Providence. His “ Witness is in heaven, and his recordis on high. « Satisfied with the approbation of God, and the “ testimony of a good conscience, he enjoys him. “ felf, and despises the triumphs of guilt. In pro“ portion as such manly principles rule your heart,
you will become independent of the world, « and will forbear complaining of its discourage« ments."
The first aim and only end of the Philosophy which may be found in this Treatise upon SOLI. TUDE, is to recommend this noble independence to
the attention of mankind. It is not my doctrine that men thould reside in deserts, or sleep likeowls in the hollow trunks of trees; but I am anxious to expel from their minds the excessive fear which they too frequently entertain of the opinion of the world. I would, as far as it is confiftent with their respective stations in life, render them independent: I wish them to break through the fetters of prejudice, to imbibe a just contempt for the vices of fociety, and to seek occasionally a rational Solitude, where they may so far enlarge their sphere of thought and action, as to be able to say, at least during a few hours in every day, “ We are free.” The true apostles of Solitude have said, “ It is « only by employing with propriety the hours of « a happy leisure, that we acquire a sufficient degree
of firmness to direct our thoughts and guide our actions to their proper objects. It is " then only that we can quietly reflect on the « transactions of life, upon the temptations to « which we are most exposed, upon those weak« er sides of the heart which we ought to guard « with the most unceasing care, and previously
arm ourselves against whatever is dangerous in
our commerce with mankind. Perhaps, though “ virtue may appear, at first sight, to contract the « bounds of enjoyment, you will find, upon re
flection, that, in truth, it enlarges them: if it “ restrain the excess of some pleasures, it favours.