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those which are yet to come. Yet experience and fenfation in vain perfuade; hope more powerful than either, dreffes out the diftant profpect in fancied beauty; fome happiness in long perspective still beckens me to pursue; and, like a lofing gamefter, every new difappointment increases my ardour to continue the game.
Whence, my friend, this increafed love of life, which grows upon us with our years; whence comes it, that we thus make greater efforts to preserve our existence, at a period when it becomes fcarce worth the keeping? Is it that nature, attentive to the prefervation of mankind, increases our wishes to live, while fhe leffens our enjoy. ments; and, as she robs the fenfes of every pleasure, equips imagination in the spoil? life would be infupportable to an old man, who, loaded with infirmities, feared death no more than when in the vigour of manhood; the numberlefs calamities of decaying nature, and the consciousness of furviving every pleasure, would at once induce him, with his own hand, to terminate the fcene of mifery; but happily the contempt of death forfakes him at a time when it could only be prejudicial; and life acquires an imaginary value, in proportion as its real value is no more.
Our attachment to every object around us increases, in general, from the length of our acquaintance with it. I would not chufe, fays a French philofopher, to fee an old poft pulled up with which I have been long acquainted. A mind long habituated to a certain set of objects, infenfibly becomes fond of feeing them, vifits them from habit, and parts from them with reluctance; from hence proceed the avarice of the old in every kind of poffeffion, They love the world and all that it produces, they love.
life and all its advantages, not because it gives them pleafure, but because they have known it long.
Chinvang, the Chaste, ascending the throne of Chi. na commanded that all who were unjustly detained in prifon during the preceding reigns, fhould be fet free. Among the number who came to thank their deliverer on this occafion, there appeared a majestic old man, who falling at the Emperor's feet, addreffed him as follows: "Great father of China, behold a wretch, now eightyfive years old, who was shut up in a dungeon at the age of twenty-two. I was imprisoned, though a stranger to crime, or without being even confronted by my accufers. I have now lived in folitude and darkness for more than fifty years, and am grown familiar with distress. As yet dazzled with the splendor of that fun to which you have restored me, I have been wandering the ftreets to find fome friend that would affift, or relieve, or remember me; but my friends, my family, and relations, are all dead, and I am forgotten. Permit me then, O Chinvang, to wear out the wretched remains of life in my former prison; the walls of my dungeon are, to me, more pleasing than the most splendid palace; I have not long to live, and shall be unhappy except I spend the rest of my days where my youth was paffed; in that prifon from whence you were pleafed to release
The old man's paffion for confinement is fimilar to that we all have for life. We are habituated to the prifon, we look round with discontent, are displeased with the abode, and yet the length of our captivity only increases our fondnefs for the cell. The trees we have planted, the houses we have built, or the pofterity we
have begotten, all ferve to bind us closer to earth, and imbitter our parting. Life fues the young like a new acquaintance; the companion, as yet unexhausted, is at once inftructive and amufing; it is company pleafes, yet for all this it is but little regarded. To us who are declined in years, life appears like an old friend; its jefts have been anticipated in former converfation; it has no new flory to make us fmile, no new improvement with which to furprize, yet ftill we love it; deftitute of every agreement, ftill we love it; hufband the wafting treasure with increafed frugality, and feel all the poignancy of anguish in the fatal feparation.
Sir Phillip Mordaunt was young, beautiful, fincere, brave, an Englishman. He had a compleat fortune of his own, and the love of the king, his master, which was equivalent to riches. Life opened all her treafure before him, and promised a long fucceffion of future happinefs. He came, tafted of the entertainment, but was difgufted even in the beginning. He profeffed an averfion to living, was tired of walking round the same circle; had tried every enjoyment, and found them all grow weaker at every repetition. "If life be in youth fo displeasing, (cried he to himself,) what will it appear when age comes on; if it be at prefent indifferent, fure it will then be execrable." This thought imbittered every reflection; till at last, with all the ferenity of perverted reason, he ended the debate with a piftol! Had this felf-deluded man been apprized, that existence grows more defirable to us the longer we exift, he would have then faced old age without fhrinking, he would have boldly dared to live, and ferved that fociety, by his future affiduity, which he bafely injured by his defertion. Adieu.
FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, TO FUM HOAM, FIRST
IN reading the newspapers here, I have reckoned up
not less than twenty-five great men, seventeen very great men, and nine very extraordinary men, in less than the compass of half a year. These, say the gazettes, are the men that pofterity are to gaze at with admiration; these names that fame will be employed in holding up for the aftonishment of fucceeding ages. Let me fee-forty-fix great men in half a year amounts just to ninty-two in a year. I wonder how pofterity will be able to remember them all, or whether the people in future times, will have any other business to mind, but that of getting the catalogue by heart.
Does the mayor of a corporation make a speech, he is inftantly fet down for a great man. Does a pedant digeft his common-place book into a folio, he quickly becomes great. Does a poet ftring up trite fentiments in rhyme, he also becomes the great man of the hour. How diminutive foever the object of admiration, each is followed by a crowd of ftill more diminutive admirers. The fhout begins in his train, onward he marches towards immortality, looks back at the pursuing crowd with felf fatisfaction; catching all the oddities, the whimsies, the abfurdities, and the littlenesses of conscious greatness by the way.
I was yesterday invited by a gentleman to dinner, who promised that our entertainment should confift of a haunch of venifon, a turtle, and a great man. I came according to appointment. The venifon was fine, the turtle good, but the great man infupportable. The moment I ventured to fpeak, I was at once contradicted with a snap. I attempted, by a fecond and a third affault, to retrieve my loft reputation, but was ftill beat back with confufion. I was refolved to attack him once more from entrenchment, and turned the converfation upon the government of China: but even here he afferted, fnapped, and contradicted as before. Heavens, thought I, this man pretends to know China even better than myself! I looked round to fee who was on my fide, but every eye was fixed in admiration on the great man; I therefore at last thought proper to fit filent, and act the pretty gentleman during the enfuing converfation.
When a man has once fecured a circle of admirers, he may be as ridiculous here as he thinks proper; and it all passes for elevation of sentiment, or learned abfence. If he tranfgreffes the common forms of breeding, mistakes even a tea-pot for a tobacco-box, it is faid, that his thoughts are fixed on more important objects; to speak and act like the reft of mankind, is to be no greater than they. There is fomething of oddity in the very idea of greatness, for we are seldom astonished at a thing very much resembling ourselves.
When the Tartars make a Lama, their first care is to place him in a dark corner of the temple; here he is to fit half concealed from view, to regulate the motion of his hands, lips, and eyes; but, above all, he is enjoined gravity and filence. This, however, is but the pre