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service, yea the whole kingdom such good offices, his faithful Chancellor for twenty years together, his expert Embassador, his just Lord Chancellor, the very flower of his realm. Many things also do amplify and increase S■r Thomas More's immortal glory; first, in that to all the King's demands he had behaved himself so sincerely and impartially, opening his mind ingenuously; so that the King seemed still to like him, though his opinion were contrary to his liking. Secondly, that he had suffered .already the loss of his goods, being condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and only for silence. Thirdly, in that he took all crosses for the love of God most patiently. Fourthly, that he died for a controversy in religion, never before called in question by any precedent example. Finally, that he only of all the Council would not flatter the King, nor keep either goods, dignity, or life, with the danger of the loss of his soul. All which prove what a rare man, how admirable and virtuous a Christian, and how glorious a martyr he is."c
It is impossible to contemplate many of the great and many of the amiable traits which shone in the character of Sir Thomas More, without a swelling of the heart, that elevates our nature.
• Stapleton. Vit. Th. Mori, cap. 21. p. 369, 370.
July 13, 1815.
After an interval of two years, perhaps the Reader may not dislike a renewal of The Sylvan WanDerer's lucubrations. Does the calm of Solitude still delight; or does it cherish his cares; or appal him by its vacancy? Has the interruption of business forced upon him new lessons; or the still shifting masquerade of public life impressed him with new sentiments?
It is probable that while the mental faculties continue sound, extended experience will every day open new lights on life and manners to an attentive and acute observer. For my part, I confess that between the ages of fifty and fifty-two, I have learned much in this way; have had occasion to correct many erroneous notions; and doubt not, that after the recurrence of a similar period (if I live so long) I shall have been taught other lessons of correction equally extensive.
Whether my opinions of the virtues, or the talents, or the splendors of public life, have been exalted or debased, I am unwilling at this moment to explain. To speak with candid precision, to shift the hues as truth would direct, to throw the light where I had hitherto shaded the picture with dark tints, and to shade what had once seemed more brilliant, would require a steadier hand, and greater leisure than I yet possess.
Life, even amidst the more frequent recurrence of tremendous clouds, has at intervals lost, with me, no ray of its enchantment! The face of Nature shines with equal glory to my eye; and the human character, when elevated by virtue and intellect, or illumined by beauty, has been reft of none of my admiration! But, perhaps, added knowledge has still increased my desire for the retreat of the deepest woods!
I am not sure that my wounded spirits could long bear its uninterrupted stillness; which might invite those vultures of the human heart, Care and Sorrow, to a fiercer feast upon their prey! But how desirable are space and leisure, to muse upon the busy scenes and the busy actors, that have been hurrying cross the mind with a feverish indistinctness!
All those nice distinctions, all that exquisite taste, which are nursed in Solitude, are obliterated or suppressed in the hourly pressure of worldly intercourse. They revive again in the loneliness of groves and forests, where the wind jnst whispering among the houghs calls forth the train of long-buried ideas.
Would that, content with a sufficiency, the master of myself, and untorn with the anxieties and burdens of ambition, I had dedicated my life in innocent obscurity to the world of my own thoughts! The dawn of dav would then have opened my eyes to salute and enjoy its glories; and not to meet the thorns of contest, and insult, and disappointment, and disgust! To seize the pen with a palsied hand; to collect the ideas of an agitated head, and trembling heart; and thus to perform the task of literary composition, how hopeless is the success of the work, compared with the efforts of those who give to it their unbroken powers, in the virtuous calmness of a constant life amid woods and trees!
Still we may be reminded, how were principally passed the days of the most eloquent, the most enlightened, the most multifariously-endowed, and the wisest writer of modern times, Edmund Burke! Were they not principally spent in the noisy metropolis; in the heat of party-rage; in the turmoil of political squabbles?
But perhaps this difficulty is well illustrated in the beautiful and plaintively-moral lines of the late Major Mercer,' who having observed that
* Lyric Poems, by the late Jame9 Mercer, Esq. 3d edit. 1806, small octavo: edited by Lord Glenhervie.
"in the busy walks of life.
While we encounter noise and strife.
Th' unsettled mind no comfort knows;
And live in sweet repose;"
thus closes his poem:
"But you, my friend, deride my strain;
Life rolls in a tempestuous stream;
And rest, an idle dream."
If we court Solitude for the indulgence of idleness, it cannot be doubted, that it will grow wearisome, tasteless, and unhappy. Exercise and labour only give a zest to leisure and quiet: undisturbed Indolence is the nurse of all the most frightful diseases of the mind.