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“ have reason to arraign my conduct. Man has “ not a greater enemy than himself. I acted
against my taste and inclination. Alas! through " the whole course of our lives, wedo those things « which we ought not to have done, and leave
« undone what most we wish to do.” But Pee “ trarch might have told his friends, “ I was
willing to convince you how much a mind, " long exercised in Solitude, can perform when “ engaged in the businessof the world; how much
a previous retirement enables a man to transact « the affairs of public life with ease, firmness, “ dignity, and effect.”
courage which is necessary to combat the prejudices of the multitude, is only to be acquired by a contempt of the frivolous transactions of the world, and of course is seldom poffeffed, except by solitary men. Worldly pursuits, so far from adding strength to the mind, only weaken it; in like manner as any particular enjoyment too frequently
There Jove prolongs Spring's blithsome hours ;
Which tepid gales controul.
When Bacchus crowns the bowl.
These bleft abodes, these chosen bowers,
Here, when my days shall end,
Thy poet and thy friend.
repeated, dulls the edge of appetite for every pleasure. How often do the best contrived and moft excellent schemes fail, merely for want of fufficient courage to furmount the difficulties which attend their execution ! How many happy thoughts have been stilled in their birth, from an apprehension that they were too bold to be indulged! *
An idea has prevailed, that truth can only be freely and boldly spoken under a Republican form of government, but this idea is certainly without foundation. It is true, that in Aristocracies, as well as under a more open form of government, where a single demagogue unfortunately possesses the sovereign power, common sense is too frequently construed into a public offence. Where this absurdity exists, the mind must be timid, and the people, in consequence, deprived of their liberty. In a Monarchy every offence is punished by the sword of justice ; but in a Republic, punishments are inflicted by prejudices, passions, and state necessity. The first maxim, which, under a Republican form of government, parents endeavour to instil into the minds of their children, is, not to make enemies; and I remember, when I was very
* “ Our fears,” says Shakespeare, “ are traitors, and make us lose the thing we wish to gain by dread of the event.”
young, replying to this sage counsel, “ My dear “ mother, do you not know that he who has no ene“ mies is a poor man?” In a Republic the citizens are under the authority and jealous observation of a multitude of sovereigns; while in a Monarchy the reigning prince is the only man whom his subjects are bound to obey. The idea of living under the controul of a number of masters intimidates the mind; whereas love and confidence in one alone, raises the spirits, and renders the people happy.
But in all countries, and under every form of government, the rational man, who renounces the useless conversation of the world, who lives a retired life, and who, independently of all that he sees, of all that he hears, forms his notions in tranquillity by an intercourse with the heroes of Greece, of Rome, and of Great Britain, will acquire a steady and uniform character, obtain a noble style of thinking, and rise superior to every vulgar prejudice,
The fall of kings, “ The rage of nations, and the crush of states, “ Move not the man who, from the world escap’d, “ In still retreats and flowery solitudes “ To Nature's voice attends
These are the observations I had to make respecting the influence of occasional Solitude upon the Mind. They disclose my real sentiments on this subject : many of them, perhaps, undigested, and many more certainly not well expressed. But I shall console myself for these defects, if this Chapter affords only a glimpse of those advantages which I am persuaded a rational Solitude is capable of affording to the minds and manners of men; and if that which follows shall excite a lively sensation of the true, noble, and elevated pleasures Retirement is capable of producing by a tranquil and feeling contemplation of nature, and by an exquisite sensibility for every thing that is good