« VorigeDoorgaan »
ment. Plants are covered with little insects, greedily sucking their juices, and constantly, as it should seem, in the act of sucking. It cannot be doubted but that this is a state of gratification. What else should fix them so closely to the operation, and so long ? Other species are running about, with an alacrity in their motions, which carries with it every mark of pleasure. Large patches of ground are sometimes half covered with these brisk and sprightly natures.
If we look to what the waters produce, shoals of the fry of fish frequent the margins of rivers, of lakes, and of the sea itself.
These are so happy, that they know not what to do with themselves. Their aititudes, their vivacity, their leaps out of the water, their frolics in it, all conduce to show their excess of spirits, and are simply the effects of that excess.
Walking by the seaside, in a calm evening, upon a sandy shore, and with an ebbing tide, I have frequently remarked the appearance of a dark cloud, or rather, very thick mist, hanging over the edge of the water, to the height, perhaps, of half a yard, and of the breadth of two or three yards, stretching along the coast as far as the eye could reach, and always retiring with the water.
When this cloud came to be examined, it proved to be so much space, filled with young shrimps, in the act of bounding into the air, from the shallow margin of the water, or from the wet sand. If any motion of a mute animal could express delight, it was this: if they had meant to make signs of their happiness, they could not have done it more intelligibly. Suppose, then, what there is no reason to doubt, each individual of this number to be in a state of positive enjoyment; what a sum, collectively, of gratification and pleasure have we here before our view!
The young of all animals appear to receive pleasure simply from the exercise of their limbs and bodily faculties, without reference to any end to be attained, or any use to be answered by the exertion. A child, without knowing any thing of the use of language, is in a high degree delighted with being able to speak. Its incessant repetition of a few articulate sounds, or, perhaps, of a single word which it has learned to pronounce, proves this point clearly. Nor is it less pleased with its first successful endeavors to walk, or rather, to run, (which precedes walking,) although entirely ignorant of the importance of the attainment to its future life, and even without applying it to any present purpose. A child is delighted with speaking, without having
any thing to say; and with walking, without knowing whither to go. And, previously to both these, it is reasonable to believe, that the waking hours of infancy are agreeably taken up with the exercise of vision, or perhaps, more properly speaking, with learning to see.
But it is not for youth alone that the great Pārent of creation has provided. Happiness is found with the purring cat, no less than with the playful kitten: in the arm-chair of dozing age, as well as in either the sprightliness of the dance, or the animation of the chace. To novelty, to acuteness of sensation, to hope, to ardor of pursuit, succeeds, what is, in no inconsiderable degree, an equivalent for them all, “preception of ease.” Herein is the exact difference between the young and the old. The young are not happy, but when enjoying pleasure; the old are happy, when free from pain. And this constitution suits with the degrees of animal power which they respectively possess. The vigor of youth was to be stimulated to action by impatience of rest; whilst to the imbecility of age, quietness and repose become positive gratifications. In one important respect the advantage is with the old. A state of ease is, generally speaking, more attainable then a state of pleasure. A constitution, therefore, which can enjoy ease, is preferable to that which can taste only pleasure.
This same perception of ease oftentimes renders old age a condition of great comfort; especially when riding at its anchor, after a busy or tempestuous life. It is well described by Rousseau, to be the interval of repose and enjoy, ment, between the hurry and the end of life. How far the same cause extends to other animal natures, cannot be judg. ed of with certainty. The appearance of satisfaction, with which most animals, as their activity subsides, seek and enjoy rest, affords reason to believe, that this source of gratification is appointed to advanced life, under all, or most, of its various forms.
There is a great deal of truth in the following representation given by Dr. Percival, a very pious writer, as well as excellent man: "To the intelligent and virtuous, old age presents a scene of tranquil enjoyments, of obedient appetites, of well regulated affections, of maturity in knowledge, and of calm preparation for immortality. In this serene and dignified state, placed, as it were, on the confines of two worlds, the mind of a good man reviews what is past with the complacency of an approving conscience; and looks forward, with humble confidence in the mercy of God; and with devout aspirations towards his eternal and ever-increasing favor."
Real virtue can love nothing but virtue.-FENELON.
DIONYSIUS, PYTHIAS, AND DAMON.
Ye gods! what do I see ? 'Tis Pythias arriving here! -'Tis Pythias himself ! -I never could have thought it. Hah! it is he: he is come to die, and to redeem his friend.
Pythias. Yes; it is I. I went away for no other end but to pay to the gods what I had vowed them; to settle my family affairs according to the rules of justice; and to bid adieu to my children, in order to die the more peaceably.
Diony. But what makes you come back? How now! hast thou no fear of death? Comest thou to seek it like a desperado, a madman?
Pyth. I come to suffer it, though I have not deserved it; I cannot find it in my heart to let my friend die in my stead.
Diony. Thou lovest him better than thyself then?
Pyth. No: I love him as myself; but I think I ought to die rather than he, since it was I thou didst intend to put to death: it were not just that he should suffer, to deliver me from death, the punishment thou preparedst for me. .
Diony. But thou pretendest to deserve death no more than he.
Pyth. It is true, we are both equally innocent; and it is no juster to put me to death than him.
Diony. Why sayest thou, then, that it were not just he should die instead of thee?
Pyth. It is equally unjust in thee to put Damon or me to death: but Pythias were unjust did he let Damon suffer a death that the tyrant prepared only for Pythias.
Diony. Thou comest then, on the day appointed, with no other view than to save the life of a friend, by losing thy
Pyth. I come with regard to thee, to suffer an act of in
justice, which is common with tyrants; and with respect to Damon, to do a piece of justice, by rescuing him from a danger which he incurred out of generosity to me.
Diony. And thou, Damon, wert thou not really afraid that Pythias would never come back, and that thou shouldst have to pay for him ?
Damon. I knew but too well that Pythias would return sunctually, and that he would be much more afraid to break his word, than to lose his life; would to the gods that his relations and friends had forcitly detained him; so he would now be the comfort of good men, and I should have that of dying for him.
Diony. What! does life displease thee?
Diony. Well, thou shalt see him no more: I'll have thee put to death immediately.
Pyth. Pardon the transports of a man who regrets his dying friend. But remember, that it was I only thou devotedst to death : I come to suffer it, in order to redeem my friend: refuse me not this consolation in my last hour.
Diony. I cannot bear two men who despise their lives and my power.
Damon. Then thou canst not bear virtue.
Diony. No: I cannot bear that proud disdainful virtue, which contemns life, which dreads no punishment, which is not sensible to riches and pleasures.
Damon. However, thou seest that it is not insensible to honor, justice, and friendship.
Diony. Guards! take Pythias away to execution: we shall see whether Damon will continue to despise my power.
Damon. Pythias, by returning to submit himself to thy pleasure has merited his life at thy hand; and I, by giving myself up to thy indignation for him, have enraged thee: be content, and put me to death.
Pyth. No, no, Dionysius, remember that it was I alone who displeased thee: Damon could not
Diony. Alas! what do I see? Where am I ? How unhappy am I, and how worthy to be so! No, I have hitherto known nothing: I have spent my days in darkness and error: all my power avails me nothing towards making myself beloved : I cannot boast of having acquired, in above thirty years of týranny, one single friend upon earth : these two men, in a private condition, love each other tenderly, unreservedly confide in each other, are happy in a mutual love, and content to die for each other.
Pyth. How should you have friends, you who never loved any body? Had
men, they would love you; you have feared them: they fear you, they detest you.
Diony. Damon! Pythias ! vouchsafe to admit me between you, to be the third friend of so perfect a society; I give you your lives, and will load you with riches.
Damon. We have no occasion for thy riches; and as for thy friendship, we cannot accept of it until thou be good and just; till that time thou canst have only trembling slaves, and base flatterers. Thou must be virtuous, beneficent, sociable, susceptible of friendship, ready to hear the truth, and must know how to live in a sort of equality with real friends, in order to be beloved by free men.
The Rainbow.-BALDWIN'S LOND. MAGAZINE.
The evening was glorious, and light through the trees