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ducted to its deepest groves, remote from every rude sound, and from every vagrant foot. In a word, I thought the most profound Solitude the best. But I have now changed my mind. Those solemn and incessant energies of imagination, which naturally take place in such a state, are fatal to the health and spirits, and tend to make us more and more unfit for the business of life: the soul deprived of those ventilations of passion, which arise from social intercourse, is reduced to a state of stagnation, and, if she is not of a very firm consistence indeed, will be apt to breed within herself “ many monstrous, and many prodigious things," of which she will find it no easy matter to rid herself, even when she has become sensible of their noxious nature.”
But in a letter of older date to Lord Kames, dated from Denton, in Northumberland, in 1766, Mrs. Montagu again enforces the advantages of Solitude:
“Perhaps,” says she, “ there is not any thing more delightful than the escaping from the bustle of society to the quiet of Solitude. If I was assured your lordship would not draw an inference from it to my disadvantage, I would own to you, that the transitions from the town to the country, and from the country to the town, are inexpressibly delightful to me. Different powers of the mind are exercised in different situations ; so pray do not entirely impute this taste in me to levity. - - : - - - - -
“The inherent dignity of the soul makes it sometimes disdain the petty occupations of social life, and love to retire into the proud state of meditation. There it enters into the operations of Omnipotence, and the views of Infinite Wisdom; looks with delight through the infinite gradations of Beings, and with amazement round the boundless system of creation: it exults at feeling itself an intelligent spectator of such a majestic scene; and in the arrogance of its reasoning, and the pride of its reveries, wonders how it could ever condescend to the low commerce of ordinary life, and says to itself, it will in future dream
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“In a sweet retirement, I imagine the mind keeps pace to the music of the spheres ; its movements are not affected by prejudices, or bad examples, but keep even and true measure with reason, and its appointed duties. In the bustle of the world we are often impelled to what is wrong, diverted from what is right, and carried about in the whirl of fashion and predominant opinions."
It must be admitted, that when a few leading 31 15 images have seized too powerfully on the inind, Soli
tude does but increase the malady. It feeds, and
“To the sorrowful sorrow seems to dwell every where :"
But it most dwells in retirement. There
“Grief fills the room up of departed friends ;
Lies in their beds, and walks with us like them;
There is nothing to give a new impulse to the train of ideas, and force them out of the melancholy course they have taken. Thus the phantoms of the brain grow more hideous and gigantic by indulgence; and get a despotic rule over the unhappy patient, which the bustle of society and the diversity of new objects, too obtrusive to escape notice, can alone weaken.
Domestic afflictions and losses had thus rendered Solitude insupportable to Beattie. His wife deranged, and his too children sunk into an early grave, haunted his very morbid, and too tender fancy; and he dreaded the silence and loneliness which fed contemplations so associated with sorrow and despair.
Magnanimity of mind was not among the prime traits of this amiable and genuine poet, who somewhat mistook the nature of his extraordinary endowments, and sunk into a philosopher, when he ought to have been nothing less than a MINSTREL.
August 4, 1813. SOMETIMES when I read the lives of men great in intellect and genius, who have been above the ordinary ambitions of the world, and been content to pass their days in humble retirement, or even much of what are called the comforts of a gentilitial station, I sigh, while I admire them, and feel poignant regret and self-abasement at the more ignoble desires, which have by fits stimulated me through a life of difficulty and sorrow.
How much greater was Cowper, in his little cot-3 tage at Olney, or at Weston, than Thurlow, his early friend and companion, even when elevated to the woolsack! Who now would remember Thurlow, were it not for his accomplished and noble-minded nephew, and representative? The lawyer was a man, whose talents and whose duties could easily be supplied. The poet survives for ever with lustre uneclipsed and undiminished! While they lived, did the anxieties of the court or council-board, the intrigues of patronage,
k or the thwarting interests of rival partizans, permit 15 him whom fortune had lifted into the highest seat of
judicature, and the most dignified and powerful office of state, to feel the same pure and sincere enjoyments as the simple bard in the obscurity of the most scanty competence, wandering out on foot, year after year, with the only faithful companion of his adversity; and with no pleasures at his command, but those which the unbought charms of nature afforded?
---...“ The shepherd's homely curds,
Contemplate the gentle author of “ The Task” at his beautiful work! Think of the amiable and refined sentiments, and the enchanting array of images which lighted up his mind!
“O blest seclusion from a jarring world,