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attention, as to predominate in every thought, to darken gaiety, and perplex ratiocination. An habitual sadness seizes upon the soul, and the faculties are chained to a single object, which can never be contemplated but with hopeless uneasi
From this state of dejection it is very difficult to rise to cheerfulness and alacrity ; and therefore many who have laid down rules of intellectual health, think preservatives easier than remedies, and teach us not to trust ourselves with favourite enjoyments, not to indulge the luxury of fondness, but to keep our minds always suspended in such indifference, that we may change the objects about us without emotion.
An exact compliance with this rule might, perhaps, contribute to tranquillity, but surely it would never produce happiness. He that regards none so much as to be afraid of losing them, must live for ever without the gentle pleasures of sympathy and confidence ; he must feel no melting fondness, no warmth of benevolence, nor any of those honest joys which nature annexes to the power of pleasing. And as no man can justly claim more tenderness than he pays, he must forfeit his share in that officious and watchful kindness which love only can dictate, and those lenient endearments by which love only can soften life. He may justly be overlooked and neglected by such as have more warmth in their heart; for who would be the friend of him, whom, with whatever assiduity he may be courted, and with whatever services obliged, his principles will not suffer to make equal returns, and who, when you have exhausted all the instances of good-will, can only be prevailed on not to be an enemy?
An attempt to preserve life in a state of neutrality and indifference, is unreasonable and vain. If by excluding joy we could sħut out grief, the scheme would deserve very serious attention ; but since, however we may debar ourselves from happiness, misery will find its way at many inlets, and the assaults of pain will force our regard, though we may withhold it from the invitations of pleasure, we may surely endeavour to raise life above the middle point of apathy at one time, since it will necessarily sink below it at another.
But though it cannot be reasonable not to gain happiness for fear of losing it, yet it must be confessed, that in proportion to the pleasure of possession, will be for some time our sorrow for the loss ; it is therefore the province of the moralist to inquire whether such pains may not quickly give way to mitigation. Some have thought that the most certain way to clear the heart from its embarrassment is to drag it by force into scenes of merriment. Others imagine, that such a transition is too violent, and recommend rather to soothe it into tranquillity, by making it acquainted with miseries more dreadful and afflictive, and diverting to the calamities of others the regards which we are inclined to fix too closely upon our own misfortunes.
It may be doubted whether either of those remedies will be sufficiently powerful. The efficacy of mirth it is not always easy to try, and the
indulgence of melancholy may be suspected to be one of those medicines, which will destroy, if it happens not to cure.
The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employment. It is commonly observed, that among soldiers and seamen, though there is much kindness, there is little grief; they see their friend fall without any of that lamentation which is indulged in security and idleness, because they have no leisure to spare from the care of themselves ; and whoever shall keep his thoughts equally busy, will find himself equally unaffected with irretrievable losses.
Time is observed generally to wear out sorrow, and its effects might doubtless be accelerated by a ** quickening the succession, and enlarging the variety of objects.
Si tempore longo
Qui sapiet, sibi tempus erit.-GROTIUS.
1 “Sorrow (said Johnson) is not cured by reason, but by the incursion of present objects, which wear out the past." - Boswell's Johnson, v. 64.
2 Johnson quotes from memory from Grotius's Consolatoria ad Patrem (Grotii Poemata, ed. 1670, p. 316). The lines run in the original :
“Si tempore reddi Pax animo tranquilla potest, tu sperne morari : Qui sapiet, sibi tempus erit.
No. 48. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1,
Non est vivere, sed valere, vita.-Mart.1
MONG the innumerable follies, by which we lay up in our youth repentance and remorse for the succeeding part of our.
lives, there is scarce any against which warnings are of less efficacy, than the neglect of health. When the springs of motion are yet elastic, when the heart bounds with vigour, and the eye sparkles with spirit, it is with difficulty that we are taught to conceive the imbecility that every hour is bringing upon us, or to imagine that the nerves which are now braced with so much strength, and the limbs which play with so much activity, will lose all their power under the gripe of time, relax with numbness, and totter with debility.
To the arguments which have been used against complaints under the miseries of life, the philosophers have, I think, forgot to add the incredulity of those to whom we recount our sufferings. But if the purpose of lamentation be to excite pity, it is surely superfluous for age and weakness to tell their plaintive stories ; for pity presupposes sympathy and a little attention will shew them, that those who do not feel pain, seldom think that it is felt; and a short recollection will inform almost every man, that he is only repaid the insult which he has given, since he may remember how often he has mocked infirmity, laughed at its cautions, and censured its impatience.
1 Martial, vi. 70, 15.
The valetudinarian race have made the care of health ridiculous by suffering it to prevail over all other considerations, as the miser has brought frugality into contempt, by permitting the love of money not to share, but to engross his mind : they both err alike, by confounding the means with the end ; they grasp at health only to be well, and at money only to be rich ; and forget that every terrestrial advantage is chiefly valuable, as it furnishes abilities for the exercise of virtue.
Health is indeed so necessary to all the duties, as well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squandering it is equal to the folly; and he that for a short gratification brings weakness and diseases upon himself, and for the pleasure of a few years passed in the tumults of diversion, and clamours of merriment, condemns the maturer and
1 “Sir (said Johnson), he is a valetudinarian, one of those who are always mending themselves. I do not know a more disagreeable character than a valetudinarian, who thinks he may do anything that is for his ease, and indulges himself in the grossest freedoms. Sir, he brings himself to the state of a hog in a stye.”-Boswell's Johnson, iii. 152. “It is so very difficult (said Johnson) for a sick man not to be a scoundrel."-Piozzi's Anecdotes, p. 175. In his Life of Pope speaking of that poet, he says: “The indulgence and accommodation which his sickness required had taught him all the unpleasing and unsocial qualities of a valetudinary man.' --Johnson's Works, viii. 309.