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where the resolution to retire has been rashly taken. Where this is so, far from being contented in what has been called the tomb of a man not properly cured of ambition, or a lover of the world, but only retiring in a pet at some particular vexation, he will be like Plato's ghosts,

Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres,
Lingering and sitting by a new-made grave,

As loth to leave the body that it loved.' Such a man will never prosper in retreat, but will either return to the world, or hang himself.”

But now the old clock again struck, and Mordaunt concluded by saying, “We are reminded, however, that we have prosed long enough for one day, and must not forget that one of the most wholesome rules of a retired life is, early to bed;' so, if you have no objection, the descendant of the Ap Griffiths shall light you to your chamber."

With this proposal, my journey alone would have inclined me to a compliance, while the tumult I had undergone from my visit prepared me the more for repose, by no means the less from the day having been, on every account, one of the most interesting and exciting, as well as the most agreeable, I had ever passed.

No. XVI.

THE EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT DISPOSITIONS UPON

OLD AGE.

“Great lords ! wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss,
But cheerly seek how to redress their harms."

SHAKSPEARE: 1 Hen. VI.

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It was said by David Hume of himself, that he was “ever more disposed to see the favourable, than the unfavourable side of things; a turn of mind,” he adds," which it is more happy to possess, than to be born to an estate of ten thousand pounds a year.

This influence of the disposition we are born with is more powerful, and therefore of more consequence, than all the gifts of fortune, and even all the acquisitions of education. Insomuch, that if we were in the days of the fairies, and on the birth of a child I were offered the gift which I thought would most conduce to his happiness, it would be Hume's disposition to the favourable side of things. This I would prefer to riches, to honours, to fame, to talents, or to beauty, and I had almost said to health itself. The reason is plain. None of the above advantages, with the exception perhaps of the last, constitute happiness in themselves, but only the means of it.

It would swell into a work of no mean consequence, to contemplate the numerous failures, and the causes

а

* Own Life.

of them, which have attended the gifts above mentioned, in the production of the object proposed ; and it would be proportionably interesting to examine by what common though valuable means (the means of good-humour, hope, and contentedness) the possession of this happiness hangs. It is simply what we have named, the disposition to view things with a cheerful vision. A man of this character always remembers the sunshine, and forgets the gloom of his life. When he thinks of his early (say his school) days, he remembers only his play fields and forest walks, and the first impressions of Virgil; and quite passes over the little mortifications of his boyhood, never even recollecting such a thing as a master's frown, or a rainy day.

Yet, by how many individuals is this sort of vision repudiated, and the contrary pursued! How many see every thing in the blackest colours, set themselves against the belief of all good motives, question all merit, deny all usefulness, and never open their mouths except to depreciate, defame, and condemn! That such persons should never reach the goal of happiness, but pass their lives like bats, uncheered by the light of day, can neither surprise nor afflict us. But there are others of a far better nature (indeed devoid of all malignity), who are quite as unfortunate; and, from the want of nerve, or too great delicacy of feelings, seem to possess as little of the sun of cheerfulness, and, as age presses on, are any thing but happy. To such dispositions a dream of past pleasure is misery, because pleasure no

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longer; the future has nothing in prospect, and the memory of the past is depressed with complaints of lost happiness. Of this class, a statesman who has survived his power, but not his wish for it; a woman who has survived her beauty, but not her love of admiration ; an author his reputation; or a sensualist his faculties, are mournful examples.

The radical cause of this, exclusive of the unfortunate disposition from nature which has been glanced at, is weakness of character; and it is the more deplorable, because, being too late for improvement, recovery is impossible. Hence the misery of old people of this temperament, often even those of fine minds and the best education. But where they have not these to fall back upon, when their regrets, though loud, deep, and incessant, are undignified and petulant (proceeding, in fact, more from the loss of sensual than any thing like refined or liberal gratifi. cations), desolate indeed is the lot of age. Under sensual gratifications, I include the companionship of those who have contributed to our convenience, and have been so far necessary to us.

I include even many arts and amusements which, from the decay of our faculties, we can no longer enjoy; such are music and the drama. I also include our sensibility to the power of beauty, female grace and elegance, which, for the same reason, must naturally wear out. When this shipwreck of our means of enjoyment has been suffered, unless a vivid memory and imagination can supply their places, or (what is most important of all) religious aspirations elevate us above this life, I know not where the superannuated old man can fly for relief. Hence the value of that sunshine we set out with praising; a disposition to the favourable side of things, which will not abandon us to our dying day. It is in this decline of years, fully as much if not even more than in the energies of youth, that the buoyancy praised by Hume is found to be of most advantage. Reposed in his chair, or even on his bed, but still more, if able to recline in shade and meditation, breathe the incense of flowers and worship the sun, to think over the days that are gone, so far from extinguishing, revives the enjoyment of the cheerful man. Memory is to him a treat, not a distress : and the scenes of exertion he has gone through; the friendships he has achieved ; the good he has been able to do; the services, public or private, to perform; and even the excitements that have attended the career of his ambition, or his pleasures, far from saddening his recollection, live there still as if in a vivid dream. To be sure, from this dream he must awaken, and be conscious that it is unreal. But will this prevent its impression while it lasts, or its renewal at a future time? If so, what becomes of the whole range of the pleasures of illusion ; in other

; words, of imagination ? If so, where will the most romantic youth look for the delight of his love tales; or find that elasticity of mind which conducts him, as if it were real, through the fields of Shrewsbury or Agincourt, the pageants of Kenilworth, or the fascinations of Di Vernon?

All this sunshine belongs to age as well as to youth;

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