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tended by Providence as rewards for the using our faculties agreeably to the ends for which they were given us. Fantastical pleasures are those which, having no natural fitness to delight our minds, presuppose some particular whim or taste accidentally prevailing in a set of people, to which it is owing that they please
“ Now I take it, that the tranquillity and cheerfulness with wbich I have passed my life, are the effect of having, ever since I came to years of discretion, continued my inclinations to the former sort of pleasures. But as my experience can be a rule only to my own actions, it may probably be a stronger motive to induce others to the same scheme of life, if they would consider that we are prompted to natural pleasures by an instinct impressed on our minds by the Author of our nature, who best understands our frames, and consequently best knows what those pleasures are which will give us the least uneasiness in the pursuit, and the greatest satisfaction in the enjoyment of them. Hence it follows, that the object of our natural desires are cheap or easy to be obtained, it being a maxim, that holds throughout the whole system of created beings, that nothing is made in vain,' much less the instincts and appetites of animals, which the benevolence, as well as wisdom, of the Deity is concerned to provide for. Nor is the fruition of those objects less pleasing than the acquisition is easy; and the pleasure is heightened by the sense of having answered some natural end, and the consciousness of having acted in concert with the supreme Governor of the universe.
"Under natural pleasures I comprehend those which are universally suited, as well to the rational, as the sensual part of our nature. And of the pleasures which affect our senses, those only are to be esteemed natural that are contained within the rules of reason, which is allowed to be as necessary an ingredient of human nature as sense. And, indeed, excesses of any kind are hardly to be esteemed pleasures, much less natural pleasures.
" It is evident, that a desire terminating in money is fantastical, so is the desire of outward distinctions, which bring no delight of sense, nor recommend us as useful to mankind; and the desire of things, merely because tbey are new or foreign. Men who are indisposed to a due exertion of their higher parts are driven to such pursuits as these from the restlesness of the mind, and the sensitive appetites being easily satisfied. It is, in some sort, owing to the bounty of Providence, that, disdaining a cheap and regular happiness, they frame to themselves imaginary goods, in which there is nothing can raise desire, but the difficulty of obtaining them. Thus men become the contrivers of their own misery, as a punishment on themselves for departing from the measures of nature. Having, by an habitual reflection on these things, made them familiar, the effect is, that I, among a number of persons who have debauched their natural taste, see things in a peculiar light, which I have arrived at, not by any uncommon force of genius or acquired knowledge, but only by unlearning the false notions instilled by custom and education.
“ The various objects that compose the world, were by nature formed to delight our senses; and, as it is this alone that makes them desirable to an uncorrupted taste, a man may be said naturally to possess them, when he possesses those enjoyments which they are fitted by nature to yield, Hence it is usual with me to consider myself as having a natural property in every object that administers pleasure to me. When I am in the country, all the fine seats near the place of my residence, and to which I have access, I regard as mine. The same I think of the groves and fields, where ! walk, and muse on the silly landlord in London, who has the fantastical pleasure of draining dry rent into bis coffers, but is a stranger to the fresh air and rural enjoyments. By these principles I am possessed of half a dozen of the finest seats in England, which, in the eye of the law, belong to certain of my acquaintance, who, being men of business, choose to live near the court.
“In some great families, where I choose to pass my time, a stranger would be apt to rank me with the other domestics; but in my own thoughts, and natural judgment, I am master of the house, and he who goes by that name is my steward, who eases me of the care of providing for myself the conveniencies and pleasures of life.
“ When I walk the streets, I use the foregoing natural maxim, viz. “That he is the true possessor of a thing who enjoys it, and not be that owns it without the enjoyment of it, to convince myself that I have a property in the gay part of all the gilt chariots that I meet, which I regard as amusements designed to delight my eyes, and the imagination of those kind people who sit in them gaily attired only to please me. I have a real, and they only an imaginary pleasure from their exterior embellishments. Upon the same principle, I have discovered that I am the natural proprietor of all the diamond necklaces, the crosses, stars, brocades, and embroidered clothes which I see at a play or birth-night, as giving more natural delight to the spectator than to those that wear them. And I look on the beaus and ladies as so many parroquets in an aviary, or tulips in a garden, designed purely for my diversion. A gallery of pictures, a cabinet or library, that I have free access to, I think my own. In a word, all that I desire is, the use of things, let who will have the keeping of
them. By which maxim I am grown one of the richest men in Great Britain ; with this difference, that I am not a prey to my own cares, or the envy of others.
“ The same principle I find of great use in my private economy. As I cannot go to the price of history painting, I have purchased at easy rates several beautifully designed pieces ot landscape and perspective, which are much more pleasing to a natural taste than unknown faces or Dutch gambols, though done by the best masters; my couches, beds, and window curtains are of Irish stuff, which those of that nation work very fine, and with a delightful mixture of colours. There is nct a piece of china in my house; but I have glasses of all sorts, and some tinged with the finest colours, which are not the less pleasing, because they are domestic, and cheaper than foreign toys. Every thing is neat, entire, and clean, and fitted to the taste of one who would rather be happy than be thought rich.
“Every day, numberless innocent and natural gratifications occur to me, while I behold my fellow-creatures labouring in a toilsome and absurd pursuit of trifles; one, that he may be called by a particular appellation, another, that he may wear a particular ornament, which I regard as a bit of riband that has an agreeable etfect on my sight, but is so far from supplying the place of merit, where it is not, that it serves only to make the want of it more conspicuous. Fair weather is the joy of my soul; about noon I behold a blue sky with rapture, and receive great consolation from the rosy dashes of light which adorn the clouds of the morning and evening. When I am lost among the green trees, I do not envy a great man with a great crowd at his levee. And I often lay aside thoughts of going to an opera, that I may enjoy the silent pleasure of walking by moonlight, or viewing the stars sparkle in their azure ground; wbich I look upon as a part of my possessions, not without a secret indignation at the tastelessness of mortal men, who, in their race through life, overlook the real enjoyments of it.
" But the pleasure which naturally affects a human mind with the most lively and transporting touches, I take to be the sense that we act in the eye of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, that will crown our virtuous endeavours here with a happiness hereafter, large as our desires, and lasting as our immortal souls. This is a perpetual spring of gladness in the mind. This lessens our calamities, and doubles our joys. Without this, the highest state of life is insipid; and with it, the lowest is a paradise. What unnatural wretches then are those who can be so stupid as to imagine a merit in endeavouring to rob virtue of her support, and a man of his present, as well as future, bliss !"
THINGS OPPOSED TO THE PLEASURES OF HUMAN
As various as the moon
Is man's estate below:
Succeeds a night of woe.
Its darkness and its grief;
And brings our souls relief.
It never was my intention to assert that man has nothing but pleasure in the present life; it must be acknowledged that many evils fall to the lot of mankind. Our whole life is a bitter-sweet potion, a mixture of pleasure and pain, from which no man can hope to go free: but as this condition is common to all, no one man should be more disquieted than another.
He who desires but neighbour's fare
Will for no storm or tempest care. Affliction is, perhaps, necessary to the rectitude of our worldly state. An expert seaman is tried in a tempest, a runner in a race, a captain in a battle, a valiant man in adversity, and a Christian by temptation and misery. As thrashing separates the corn from the chaff, so does affliction purify virtue. Misery is necessary to the attainment of true happiness. Whatever is necessary (as Cicero asserts, on the authority of an ancient poet,) cannot be grievous. The evils that a man is born to endure, he ought to bear without repining; remembering, that fickleness is the characteristic of fortune, that sorrows surmounted sweeten life, and that the highest human attainment is a contented mind.
But, ah! how rare's the thankful breast,
With the rich feast that life presented! Bodily defects are considered as great evils, but they are generally counterbalanced by extraordinary perfections of mind. The single eye of Hannibal, and the total blindness of Timoleon, Teresius, Democritus, and Homer, were more than compensated by the divine rays which filled their minds. The bandylegged Æsop, the hairy and deformed Socrates, the emaciated Seneca, the blear-eyed Horace, the limping Loyola, the crooked-backed Galba, and the lubberly Ajax, outshone their contemporaries in art, in wisdom, in valour, and in greatness. Virtue is of no particular form or station : the finest outlines of the human frame are frequently filled up with the dullest wits. A little diamond, well polished, is always of greater value than a rocky mountain, whatever may be its size and extent.
Sickness and disease are deprecated as grievous evils ; but that which is painful to the body may be profitable to the soul. Sickness, the mother of mo desty, puts us in mind of our mortality; and while we drive on heedlessly in the full career of worldly pomp and jollity, kindly checks us, and brings us to a proper sense of our duty. Pliny calls it the foundation and corner-stone of true philosophy; and, indeed, if we were only to practise, in health, what we promise in sickness, we should in general be completely happy. It is the bright day of health that brings forth the adder of uneasiness; for what sick man was ever covetous, ambitious, envious, cruel, or malicious?
Lowness of birth sometimes affects a delicate and nicely feeling mind; but of all vanities and fopperies, the vanity of high birth is the greatest. True nobility is derived from virtue, not from birth. Titles, indeed, may be purchased, but virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid. Birth, in China, cannot con