« ПредишнаНапред »
duller colours, that enliven the darkness of the present honr, and that derive a double light from the contrast of the surrounding shade, become capable of communicating a calm and mild delight. To the prisoner of unrelenting injustice, the visit of a friend is a festival; the acquisition of an entertaining page, a prosperous event! And he, whom despotic power bad forbidden, for many a lonely year, to see the face or hear the sound of friendship, has learned at length to find fellowship in the society, and amusement in the motions, of the minútest and meanest animal.
We are told of an unhappy creature, who, during long periods of time, is not only deprived of the pleasures of corporeal activity, but who is also a stranger to ease ;--who is condemned to pain, as well as to solitude. He whose sensations are all gay and pleasurable, whose heart in the fulness of health laughs and sings along with surrounding nature, and whose leaping pulses have never known what it is to languish, regards such a situation with an eye that cannot endure to rest so much as a moment upon it, and that represents it as utterly insupportable. Yet he who has long been in it, is not without his solace. Time has lulled his sense of pain, though it has not been able to lessen the degree of its infliction. Wbile the rigour of its severity, to his body, remains the same, it has so far relaxed its hold upon his mind, as to admit occasional intervals of ease, and of compliance with the call of objects that yield him pleasure.
We observe, passing along the street, a poor, hoary, bending dependent upon casual charity for the bread of the day; whose want of sight, and whose want of friends, is imperfectly supplied by the patient fidelity of a domestic animal, which serves at once for his companion and his guide: “Poor wretch!" is the immediate and involuntary exclamation of all the humane, that meet him in his melancholy walk. As he passes by us, all the pity we possess awakes within
We think of bis darkness with horror!
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose it...!
Surrounds him! The reflection is a natural one. He once made it bimself: but he makes it now no more. Midnight is become familiar to him. He has forgotten, that “the light is sweet, and that it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun." As he pursues his way through the midst of his fellow men, we take notice of the reception he meets with from them. He asks for alms :--the refusals are frequent; but that is a trifle. Perhaps, from scoffs and from spurns, his wretchedness cannot sometimes save him: perhaps, from violence and severity, his grey hairs cannot always protect him. Your pride feels for the honour of an insulted man; your compassion cannot contain the tear which his helplessness extorts : but he has long since let fall his last over human unkindness; the fire which indignity once kindled there, has long ago ceased to redden his face; and the humane spectator of the treatment he receives, feels it more than he.
Various are the situations in human life, which, to you who are surrounded with brighter circumstances, wear even a midnight gloom; but even these will assume in time a more lightsome aspect, and become the seats of sober, though not of animated happiness. To him, who, from a sunny situation, directs his eye to the openings of a thick wood, the sylvan cavities seem of a raven dye, and appear totally to exclude the day. Amidst the meridian blaze, they resemble so many caves of darkness; and he who, from the glare of noon, suddenly passes into a deep umbrage, feels a perfect night fall
' upon his path: but, in a few moments, the scene clears up-his eye recovers from the shock of the change,-he finds he has not entirely lost the day; that he has only exchanged its gayer and gaudier appearances for a more solemn light and a graver verdure. In the same manner, the heart that is suddenly removed from the luminous to the gloomy situations of hunian life, is at first oppressed by the
gloom, and perceives nothing but darkness: in a short time, the gloom grows less, the place looks lighter, and the night has brightened into genial day.
Another comforter of a large proportion of mankind, under the pressure of painful accidents, not always perhaps sufficiently noticed by us, is that perpetual employment which is necessary to their subsistence; and of the consolatory efficacy of which, the inactive have no conception. He who has leisure to lament his misfortunes, who has nothing to do but to recollect what he has lost, is much mistaken if he imagine that the busy sufferer of the same losses is a sufferer in the same degree. Occupation dries the eye with a hasty hand, and turns it away from the object that would draw its tears, by denying it time to drop them. The soldier, that sees his dearest friend fall in the battle, finds, in the business of the field, an irresistible diversion from the sorrow into which, in an inactive moment, he would have melted. He must reserve his tear for the hour of repose. His eye cannot fill, until his arm shall rest. Till then, as the soldier's dust must wait for a grave, his shade must want its tributary grief. And those lives which consist of a continual current of occupations, forcibly carry along with their stream the mental attention that otherwise would be devoted to despondency. They are shocked by the circumstance; for a moment they are miserable: but business calls—they must obey they have no time to droop, and have recovered their peace before their more indolent neighbours have ceased to recollect the circumstance with a sigh, and repeat the tale in expectation of a tear.
Oppress'd with grief, oppress'd with care,
I sit me down and sigh,
To wretches such as I!
What sick’ning scenes appear!
Too justly I may fear.
Happy, ye sons of busy life,
No other view regard!
They bring their own reward'!
Unfitted with an aim,
Forget each grief and pain;
Find every prospect vain.
The support and solace that are frequently to be derived, under the calamities of life, from social connections, are not always perceived at the time we are suffering under them. How sweet to the afflicted are the silent ear and the soothing tones of sympathy! None but they that have suffered, and been thus consoled, can estimate them. And where is the man that has wept, and found no one to weep with him? These social consolations are of a secret and silent nature: they make no noise, like the misfortunes which they remedy; they appear not, along with them, in the front and surface of the situation to which we look; they lie concealed in its recesses, and retire from our view. We hear of sickness, but we see not into the room that is the seat of it; we perceive not the affection that is attending there, whose tender office it is to enliven its languor, and smooth its bed, to "explore the thought, and explain the asking eye.” We are informed of ship-wrecked fortunes ;-—the crash resounds, and reaches every ear, but we follow not the ruined man in bis retirement from the world; we trace not his silent retreat to the hearts that stand open to receive him; our eyes go not after him in his secret entrance into that temple of friendship, which is his sanctuary from the pursuit of sorrow. We behold the virtuous victim of calumny, robbed of his good name; injured perhaps, if his life be public, in the public estimation; we regard him, if our judgment have 22.
escaped the general delusion, and go not with the voice of the multitude, with all the depression of pity, as an outcast from human love; but there is an affectionate circle, to which he can retire from the frown of the many, within which he sits in peace, and, cheered by its genial warmth, listens to the tempest of evil tongues with all the serenity of one, around whose house the wind howls and the rain drives, although it cannot penetrate to his pillow, or disturb his peaceful hearth.
A frequent cause of comparative insensibility to painful circumstances, arises from natural constitution. Misfortunes, of the same solidity, do not fall with equal weight upon all heads. They do not produce that impression upon some of those whom we pity, which they would probably make upon us. Some persons are possessed of a complexional philosophy, an animal and native fortitude, proceeding from the strength of their nerves and the sprightliness of their spirits, which enables them to endure, with scarcely a sigh, what would reduce others to despair. By unfortunate turns in traffic, the merchant, who was a prince, shall be hurled, in a moment, from the heights of opulence, and precipitated from the very pinnacle of prosperity to the depths of poverty. Another would feel his soul shattered and shivered to pieces hy so violent a fall. Your imagination paints him all bruised and broken in spirit, unable to lift bis head, or support the load of life; but his heart rises again unhurt from the ground, and returns to its pursuits with an undaunted industry, and an undiminished ardour of enterprise. Many would enter a prison with the despondency that rejects all consolation; but he beholds the door of it shut upon him with little diminution of bis vivacity. Valuable friends expire; beloved kindred close their eyes for ever; promising children are put into the grave: you would follow them in agonies; for many days, and many nights, tears would be your melancholy meat; but there are those who, though kind relatives and faithful friends, deficient in none of the relative duties, yet, from that spring within them, which cannot lie