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Forest; and an old man and woman, his tenants, were the only persons with whom he could hold any converse. Here he fell ill; and as he would have no assistance, and had not even a servant, he lay unattended, and almost forgotten for nearly a fortnight. He now determined to make his will, which he did shortly afterwards in London, leaving the whole of his unentailed property to his sons, George Elwes, then living at Marcham, and John Elwes,“ late a lieutenant in his Majesty's second troop of horse-guards,” then residing at Stoke. The property thus disposed of was judged to amount to about 500,0001. Mr. George Elwes, being now married, was naturally desirous that, in the assiduities of his wife, his father might at length find a comfortable home. The old man was induced to agree to the proposal, being offered a gratuitous conveyance.
Mr. Elwes carried with him into Berkshire five guineas and a half, and half-a-crown, which he had carefully wrapped up in various folds of paper. Mr. George Elwes and his wife, whose good temper might well be expected to charm away the irritations of avarice and age, did everything they could to make the country a scene of quiet to him. But he had that within which baffled
effort of the kind. Of his heart it might be said that “there was no peace in Israel.” His mind, cast away on the vast and troubled ocean of his property, extended beyond the bounds of calculation, returned to amuse itself with fetching and carrying about a few guineas! The first symptom of more immediate decay was his inability to enjoy his rest at night. Frequently would he be heard at midnight as if struggling with some one in his chamber, and crying out, “I will keep my money, I will; nobody shall rob me of my property.”
Mr. Partis, the gentleman who on this occasion took him down gratuitously into Berkshire, and was staying awhile in the house, was waked one morning about two o'clock by the noise of a naked foot, seemingly walking about his bedchamber with great caution. Somewhat alarmed, he naturally asked, “Who is there?” on which a person, coming up towards the bed, said with great civility, “Sir, my name is Elwes; I have been unfortunate enough to be robbed in this house, which I believe is mine, of all the money I have in the world
of five guineas and a half, and half-a-crown. The unfortunate money was found a few days after in a corner behind the window shutter. For some weeks previous to his death he had got a custom of going to rest in his clothes. He was one morning found fast asleep betwixt the
sheets, with his shoes on his feet, his stick in his hand, and an old torn hat upon his head. · On the 18th of November, 1789, he discovered signs of that utter and total weakness which in eight days carried him to the grave. On the evening of the first day he was conveyed to bed, from which he rose no more. His appetite was gone; he had but a faint recollection of anything about him; and his last coherent words were addressed to his son, Mr. John Elwes, in hoping " he had left him what he wished.” On the morning of the 26th of November, he expired without a sigh, with the ease with which an infant goes to sleep on the breast of its mother, worn out with the rattles and the toys" of a long day.
We cannot better conclude this notice of Mr. Elwes than with the following extract from Mr. Topham's summary of his character. “In one word,” he says, “his public conduct lives after him, pure and without a stain. In private life he was chiefly an enemy to himself. To others he lent much; to himself he denied everything. But in the pursuit of his property, or in the recovery of it, I have not in my remembrance one unkind thing that ever was done by him."
131.-HAPPINESS IN SOLITUDE.
J. J. RoUssEAU. [Who can attempt, in a few lines, to give the least adequate notion of the character of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the watch-maker's son of Geneva, who, during the last thirty years of an unsettled, and, to all ordinary perceptions, an unhappy life, poured forth a stream of thought which, sometimes fertilizing and sometimes destructive, produced greater changes in the European mind than the published opinions of any other man of his age ? Jean Jacques may be neglected, but he can never be forgotten. His follies, his meannesses, his insane vanity, his causeless jealousies, disqualify him for the respect of the generations who have succeeded him; but these very circumstances perhaps add to the interest which we take in the individual man, and are utterly forgotten when we are under the enchantment of his impassioned eloquence. Jean Jacques was born in 1712; he died in 1778. The following description of his happiness in solitude, which we have translated from a letter addressed by him in 1762 to the President de
Malesherbes, forms one of four letters in which he undertakes to present a true picture of his character, and the real motives of all his conduct.]
I can hardly tell you, sir, how concerned I have been to see that you consider me the most miserable of men. The world, no doubt, thinks as you do, and that also distresses me. Oh! why is not the existence I have enjoyed known to the whole universe ! every one would wish to procure for himself a similar lot, peace would reign upon the earth, man would no longer think of injuring his fellows, and the wicked would no longer be found, for none would have an interest in being wicked. But what then did I enjoy when I was alone? Myself; the entire universe; all that is; all that can be; all that is beautiful in the world of sense; all that is imaginable in the world of intellect. I gathered around me all that could delight my heart; my desires were the limit of my pleasures. No, never have the most voluptuous known such enjoyments; and I have derived a hundred times more happiness from my chimeras than they from realities.
When my sufferings make me measure sadly the length of the night, and the agitation of fever prevents me from enjoying a single instant of sleep, I often divert my mind from my present state, in thinking of the various events of my life; and repentance, sweet recollections, regrets, emotions, help to make me for some moments forget my sufferings. What period do you think, sir, I recall most frequently and most willingly in my dreams ? Not the pleasures of my youth, they were too rare, too much mingled with bitterness, and are now too distant. I recall the period of my seclusion, of my solitary walks, of the fleeting but delicious days that I have passed entirely by myself, with my good and simple housekeeper, with my beloved dog, my old cat, with the birds of the field, the hinds of the forest, with all nature, and her inconceivable Author. In getting up before the sun to contemplate its rising from my garden, when a beautiful day was commencing, my first wish was that no letters or visits might come to disturb the charm. After having devoted the morning to various duties that I fulfilled with pleasure, because I could have put them off to another time, I hastened to dine, that I might escape from importunate people, and ensure a longer afternoon. Before one o'clock, even on the hottest days, I started in the heat of the sun with my
Achates, hastening my steps in the fear that some one would take possession of me before I could escape; but when once I could turn a certain corner, with what a beating heart, with what a flutter of joy, I began to breathe, as I felt that I was safe; and I said, Here now am I my own master for the rest of the day! I went on then at a more tranquil pace to seek some wild spot in the forest, some desert place, where nothing indicating the hand of man announced slavery and power-some refuge to which I could believe I was the first to penetrate, and where no wearying third could step in to interpose between Nature and me. It was there that she seemed to display before my eyes an ever new magnificence. The gold of the broom, and the purple of the heath, struck my sight with a splendour that touched my heart. The majesty of the trees that covered me
with their shadow, the delicacy of the shrubs that flourished around me, the astonishing variety of the herbs and flowers that I crushed beneath my feet, kept my mind in a continued alternation of observing and of admiring. This assemblage of so many interesting objects contending for my attention, attracting me incessantly from one to the other, fostered my dreamy and idle humour, and often made me repeat to myself, No, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
The spot thus adorned could not long remain a desert to my imagination. I soon peopled it with beings after my own heart; and dismissing opinion, prejudice, and all factitious passions, I brought to these sanctuaries of nature men worthy of inhabiting them. I formed with these a charming society of which I did not feel myself unworthy. I made a golden age according to my fancy, and filling up these bright days with all the scenes of my life that had left the tenderest recollections, and with all that my heart still longed for, I affected myself to tears over the true pleasures of humanity; pleasures so delicious—50 pure and yet so far from men! Oh, if in these moments any ideas of Paris, of the age, and of my little author-vanity, disturbed my reveries, with what contempt I drove them instantly away, to give myself up entirely to the exquisite sentiments with which my soul was filled. Yet, in the midst of all this, I confess the nothingness of my chimeras would sometimes appear, and saddened me in a moment.
If all my dreams had turned to reality, they would not have sufficed--I should still have imagined, dreamed, desired. I discovered in myself an inexplicable void that nothing could have filled-a certain yearning of my heart towards another kind of happiness, of which I had no definite idea, but of which I felt the want. Ah, sir, this even was an enjoyment, for I was filled with a lively sense of what it was, and with a delightful sadness of which I should not have wished to be deprived.
From the surface of the earth 1 soon raised my thoughts to all the beings of Nature, to the universal system of things, to the incomprehensible Being who enters into all. Then, as my mind was lost in this immensity, I did not think, I did not reason, I did not philosophize. I felt, with a kind of voluptuousness, as if bowed down by the weight of this universe; I gave myself up with rapture to this cúnfusion of grand ideas. I delighted in imagination to lose myself in space; my heart, confined within the limits of the mortal, found not room : I was stifled in the universe ; I would have sprung into the infinite. I think that, could I have unveiled all the mysteries of nature, my sensations would have been less delicious than was this bewildering ecstasy, to which my mind abandoned itself without control, and which, in the excitement of my transports, made me sometimes exclaim, “Oh, Great Being! oh, Great Being !" without being able to say or think more.
Thus glided on in a continued rapture the most charming days that ever human creature passed; and when the setting sun made me think of returning, astonished at the flight of time, I thought I had not taken sufficient advantage of my day; I fancied I might have enjoyed it more; and, to regain the lost time, I said I will come back tomorrow.
I returned slowly home, my head a little fatigued, but my heart content. I reposed agreeably on my return, abandoning myself to the impression of objects, but without thinking, without imagining, without doing anything beyond feeling the calm and the happiness of my situation. I found the cloth laid upon the terrace; I supped with a good appetite, amidst my little household. No feeling of servitude or dependence disturbed the good will that united us all. My dog himself was my friend, not my slave. We had always the same wish; but he never obeyed me. My gaiety during the whole evening testified to my having been alone the whole day. I was very different when I had seen company. Then I was rarely contented with others, and never with myself. In the evening I was cross and taciturn. This remark was made by my housekeeper; and since she has told me