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were the idle musings of another mind, and, on awaking, looks at the tranquillity and happiness around him, with a sort of gladness that his dream was only a dream. It is when the wish of worldly power and splendour is not the emotion of a single minute, but the exclusive, or almost exclusive, wish of the heart,—when it allows, indeed, other desires occasionally to intervene, but recurs still with additional force, as if to occupy again what is its own possession, and to feed on new wishes of advancement, or new projects of obtaining what it wished before ;—it is then, when the desire is vivid and permanent, that we term it a passion, and look, perhaps, with pity on him who is its victim.
After these remarks, which, I fatter myself, have pointed out to you some distinctions which it may be of importance for us to remember in our subsequent discussions, I proceed to the consideration of our desires in the order stated by me.
The first of these is our desire of our own continued existence. Strong and permanent as our wishes of delight may be, it is not happiness only which we desire, nor misery only which we dread; we have a wish to exist, even without regard, at the moment of the wish, to the happiness which might seem all that could render existence valuable ;—and annihilation itself, which implies the impossibility of uneasiness of any kind, is to our conception almost like a species of misery. Nor is it only when life presents to us the appearance of pleasure, wherever we look, and when our beart has an alacrity of enjoying it, wherever it is to be found, that the desire of a continuation of this earthly existence remains. It remains, and, in many instances, is perhaps still stronger in those years, when death might seem to afford only the prospect of a ready passage to a better world.
6 Da spatium vitæ; multos da, Jupiter, annos.
60, my coevals !"-says the author of the Night Thoughts, at a time when he was himself advanced in age,
"O, my coevals ! remnants of yourselves,
* Juvenal, Sat. X. v. 188, 189.
Shall we,-shall aged men, like aged trees,
To explain the apparent inconsistency of the increased love of life, that is so frequently observed in old age, when the means of enjoyment are diminished, --we must remember, that, by the influence of the suggesting principle, life, as a mere object of conception to the old, retains still many charms, which in reality it does not possess. The life, of which they think, is the life of which they have often thought; and that life was a life full of hopes and enjoyments. The feelings, therefore, which were before associated with the n on of the loss of life, are those which still occur, on the contemplation of its possible loss, with the addition of all those enjoyments which a longer series of years must have added to the complex conception, and the loss of which, as one great whole, seems to be involved in the very notion of the loss of that life, of which the enjoyments formed a part. It must be remembered, too, that if life be regarded as in any degree a blessing, the mere circumstance of the increased probability of its speedy termination, must confer on it no slight accession of interest. This is only one of many instances of the operation of a very general principle of our nature ;—the likelihood of loss being itself almost a species of endearment, or at least producing, in every case, a tenderness that is soon diffused over the object which we contemplate, that seems thus to be more lovely in itself, merely because, from its precariousness, we love it more.
Absurd, however, as the desire may seem, in such cases, it is, as a general feeling of our nature, a most striking proof of the kindness of that Being, who, in giving to man duties which he has to continue for many years to discharge in a world which is preparatory to the nobler world that is afterwards to receive him, has not left him to feel the place in which he is to perform the duties allotted to him, as a place of barren and dreary exile. has given us passions which throw a sort of enchantment on every thing which can reflect them to our heart, which add to the delight that is felt by us in the exercise of our duties--a delight, that arises from the scene itself on which they are exercised,
* Book IV. 5. 109-113.
from the society of those who inhabit it with us,—from the offices which we have performed, and continue to perform.
While these earthly mitigations of our temporary exile,-if I may venture to speak of exile in relation to a world which we have not yet reached,-are thus bounteously granted to us, there may, indeed, be a fear of death more than perhaps is necessary for this benevolent purpose, in the breasts of those who are too abject in their sensual or sordid wishes, to think of heaven, or too conscious of guilt to think of it with tranquillity. But to minds of nobler hopes, which, even in loving life and all which life presents, have not forgotten how small a part it is of that existence which it only opens to them, what objects are presented,–will not say, to reconcile them merely to the simple transition in which death consists, but to make this very transition a change which, but for the tears of other eyes, and the griefs of other hearts, they may smile tranquilly, or almost exult, to see approaching! There are minds, indeed, which may truly exult at this parting moment, which can look back on the conflicts of this fading scene, like the victor of some well-fought field, who closes his eye in the hour of some triumph, that has been the triumph of Freedom more than of War, amid the blessings of nations,—and who, in the very praises and blessings that are the last sounds of life to his ear, hears rather the happiness which he has produced, than the glory which he has won :
" Death is victory :
How admirable is that goodness which knows so well how to
* And feel !, then, no joy from thought of thee ! ORIG.
adapt to each other feelings that are opposite,-which gives to man a love of life enough to reconcile him, without an effort, to the earth which is to be the scene of his exertions; and which, at the same time, gives those purer and more glorious wishes which makes him ready to part with the very life which he loved.
END OF VOL. II,