« PředchozíPokračovat »
asked any thing of me for himself, though he is every day soliciting me for something, in behalf of one or other of my tenants, his parishioners. There has not been a lawsuit in the parish since he has lived among them. If any dispute arises, they apply themselves to him for the decision; if they do not acquiesce in his judgment, which I think never happened above once or twice at most, they appeal to me. At his first settling with me, I made him a present of all the good sermons which have been printed in English; and only begged of him that every Sunday he would pronounce one of them in the pulpit. Accordingly, he has digested them into such a series, that they follow one another naturally, and make a continued system of practical divinity.
As Sir Roger was going on in his story, the gentleman we were talking of came up to us; and, upon the knight's asking him who preached to-morrow (for it was Saturday night) told us the Bishop of St. Asaph, in the morning, and Dr. South in the afternoon. He then showed us his list of preachers for the whole year; where I saw, with a great deal of pleasure, Archbishop Tillotson, Bishop Saunderson, Dr. Barrow, Dr. Calamy, with several living authors, who have published discourses of practical divinity. I no sooner saw this venerable man in the pulpit, but I very much approved of my friend's insisting upon the qualifications of a good aspect, and a clear voice; for I was so charmed with the gracefulness of his figure and delivery, as well as with the discourses he pronounced, that I think I never passed any time more to my satisfaction. A sermon repeated after this manner, is like the composition of a poet, in the mouth of a graceful actor.
VI. The Folly of Inconsistent Expectations.
THIS world may be considered as a great mart of commerce, where fortune exposes to our view various commodities; riches, ease, tranquillity, fame, integrity, knowledge. Every thing is marked at a settled price. Our time, our labour, our ingenuity, is so much ready money, which we are to lay out to the best advantage. Examine, compare, choose, reject; but stand to your own judgment; and do not, like children, when you have purchased one thing, repine that you do not possess another, which you did not purchase. Such is the force of well regulated industry, that a steady and vigorous exertion of our faculties, directed to one end, will generally insure success. Would you, for in
stance, be rich? Do you think that single point worth the sacrificing every thing else too? You may then be rich. Thousands have become so from the lowest beginnings, by toil, and patient diligence, and attention to the minutest articles of expense and profit. But you must give up the pleasures of leisure, of a vacant mind, of a free unsuspicious temper. If you preserve your integrity, it must be a coarse spun and vulgar honesty. Those high and lofty notions of morals, which you brought with you from the schools, must be considerably lowered, and mixed with the baser alloy of a jealous and worldly minded prudence. You must learu to do hard, if not unjust things: and for the nice embarrassments of a delicate and ingenuous spirit, it is necessary for you to get rid of them as fast as possible. You must shut you heart againt the muses, and be content to feed your understanding with plain household truths. In short, you must not attempt to enlarge your ideas, or polish your taste, or refine your sentiments; but must keep on in one beaten track, without turning aside either to the right hand or to the left" But I cannot submit to drudgery like this -I feel a spirit above it." It is well-be above it then; only do not repine that you are not rich.
Is knowledge the pearl of price? That, too, may be purchased by steady application, and long solitary hours of study and reflection. Bestow these and you shall be learned. "But," says the man of letters, "what a hardship it is, that many an illiterate fellow, who cannot construe the motto of the arms of his coach, shall raise a fortune and make a figure, while I have little more than the common conveniencies of life!" Was it in order to raise a fortune, that you consumed the sprightly hours of youth in study and retirement? Was it to be rich, that you grew pale over the midnight lamp, and distilled the sweetness from the Greek and Roman spring? You have then mistaken your path, and ill employed your industry. "What reward have I then for all my labours?" What reward! a large comprehensive soul, well purged from vulgar fears, and perturbations, and prejudices, able to comprehend and interpret the works of man-of God. A rich, flourishing, cultivated mind, pregnant with inexhaustible stores of entertainment and reflection. A perpetual spring of fresh ideas, and the conscious dignity of superior intelligence.Good heaven! and what reward can you ask besides?
"But is it not some reproach upon the economy of Pro
vidence, that such a one, who is a mean dirty fellow, should have amassed wealth enough to buy half a nation?" Not in the least. He made himself a mean dirty fellow for that very end. He has paid his health, his conscience, his liberty, for it; and will you envy his bargain? Will you hang your head and blush in his presence, because he outshines you in equipage and show? Lift up your brow, with a noble confidence, and say to yourself, "I have not these things, it is true; but it is because I have not sought, because I have not desired them; it is because I possess something better: I have chosen my lot; I am content and satisfied."
You are a modest man-you love quiet and independence, and have a delicacy and reserve in your temper, which renders it impossible for you to elbow your way in the world, and be the herald of your own merits. Be content, then, with a modest retirement, with the esteem of your intimate friends, with the praises of a blameless heart, and a delicate ingenuous spirit; but resign the splendid distinctions of the world to those who can better scramble for them.
The man whose tender sensibility of conscience and strict regard to the rules of morality, makes him scrupulous and fearful of offending, is often heard to complain of the disadvantages he lies under in every path of honour and profit.
Could I but get over some nice points, and conform to the practice and opinion of those about me, I might stand as fair a chance as others for dignities and preferment." And why can you not? What hinders you from discarding this troublesome scrupulosity of yours which stands so grievously in your way? If it be a small thing to enjoy a healthful mind, sound at the very core, that does not shrink from the keenest inspection; inward freedom from remorse and perturbation, unsullied whiteness and simplicity of manners : a genuine integrity.
Pure in the last recesses of the mind:
If you think these advantages an inadequate recompense for what you resign, dismiss your scruples this instant, and be a slaye-merchant, a director-or what you please.
VII.--Description of the Vale of Keswick, in Cumberland.
THIS delightful vale is thus elegantly described by the late ingenious Dr. Brown, in a letter to a friend.
In my way to the north, from Hagley, I passed through Dovedale; and to say the truth, was disappointed in it.
When I came to Buxton, I visited another or two of their romantic scenes; but these are inferior to Dovedale. They are all but poor miniatures of Keswick, which exceeds them more in grandeur than you can imagine; and more, if possible, in beauty than in grandeur.
Instead of a narrow slip of valley, which is seen at Dovedale, you have at Keswick a vast amphitheatre, in circumference above twenty miles. Instead of a meagre rivulet, a noble living lake ten miles round, of an oblong form, adorned with a variety of wooded islands. The rocks indeed of Dovedale are finely wild, pointed, and irregular; but the hills are both little and unanimated; and the margin of the brook is poorly edged with weeds, morass, and brushwood. But at Keswick, you will, on one side of the lake, see a rich and beautiful landscape of cultivated fields, rising to the eye in fine inequalities, with noble groves of oak, happily dispersed, and climbing the adjacent hills, shade above shade, in the most various and picturesque forms. On the opposite shore, you will find rocks and cliffs of stupendous height, hanging broken over the lake in horrible grandeur, some of them a thousand feet high, the woods climbing up their steep and shaggy sides, where mortal foot never yet approached. On these dreadful heights the eagles build their nests; a variety of water-falls are seen pouring from their summits, and tumbling in vast sheets from rock to rock, in rude and terrible magnificence; while, on all sides of this immense amphitheatre, the lofty mountains rise round, piercing the clouds, in shapes as spiry and fantastic as the very rocks of Dovedale. To this I must add the frequent and bold projections of the cliffs into the lake, forming noble bays and promontories: In other parts they finely retire from it, and often open in abrupt chasms or clefts, through which, at hand, you see rich and uncultivated vales; and beyond these, at various distance, mountain rising over mountain; among which, new prospects present themselves in mist, till the eye is lost in an agreeable perplexity.
Where active fancy travels beyond sense,
Were I to analyze the two places into their constituent principles, I should tell you, that the full perfection of: Keswick consists in three circumstances; beauty, horror, and immensity, united; the second of which alone, is found in Dovedale. Of beauty it hath little, nature having left it almost a desert; neither its small extent nor the
diminutive and lifeless form of the hills, admits magnificence; but to give you a complete idea of these three perfections, as they are joined in Keswick, would require the united powers of Claude, Salvator, and Poussin. The first should throw his delicate sunshine over the cultivated vales, the. scattered cots, the groves, the lake, and wooded islands. The second should dash out the horror of the rugged cliffs, the steeps, the hanging woods, and foaming water-falls while the grand pencil of Poussin should crown the whole, with the majesty of the impending mountains.
So much for what I would call the permanent beauty of this astonishing scene. Were I not afraid of being tiresome, I could now dwell as long upon its varying or accidental beauties. I would sail round the lake, anchor in every bay, and land you on every promontory and island. I would point out the perpetual change of prospect; the woods, rocks, cliffs, and mountains, by turns, vanishing or rising into view; now gaining on the sight, hanging over our heads in their full dimensions, beautifully dreadful; and now, by a change of situation, assuming new romantic shapes; retiring and lessening on the eye, and insensibly losing themselves in an azure mist. I would remark the contrast of light and shade, produced by the morning and evening sun; the one gilding the western, the other the eastern side of this immense amphitheatre; while the vast shadow, projected by the mountains, buries the opposite part in a deep and purple gloom, which the eye can hardly penetrate. The natural variety of colouring which the several objects produce, is no less wonderful and pleasing; the ruling tints in the valley being those of azure, green, and gold; yet ever various, arising from an intermixture of the lake, the woods, the grass, and corn-fields; these are finely contrasted by the gray rocks and cliffs; and the whole heightened by the yellow streams of light, the purple hues, and misty azure of the mountains. Sometimes, a serene air and clear sky disclose the tops of the highest hills; at other times you see the clouds involving their summits, resting on their sides, or descending to their base, and rolling among the vallies, as in a vast furnace. When the winds are high, they roar among the cliffs and caverns, like peals of thunder; then, too, the clouds are seen in vast bodies, sweeping along the hills in gloomy greatness, while the lake' joins the tumult, and tosses like a sea. But in calm weather, the whole scene becomes new; the lake is a perfect mirror,