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amusement. To connect one plan of gaiety with another is their whole study; till, in a very short time, nothing remains but to tread the fame beaten round, to enjoy what they have already enjoyed, and to see what they have often seen. Pleasures thus drawn to the dregs become vapid and tasteless. What might have pleased long, if enjoyed with temperance, and mingled with RETIREMENT, being devoured with such eager haste, speedily surfeits and disgusts. Hence these are the persons who, after having run through a rapid course of pleasure, after having glittered for a few years in the foremost line of public amusements, are the most apt to fly at last to a melancholy retreat : not led by RELIGION or reason, but driven by disappointed hopes, and exhaufted spirits, to the penfive conclufion, that « all is vanity.” If uninterrupted intercourse with the world wears out the man of pleasure, it no less oppresses the man of business and ambition. The strongest spirits must at length sink under it. The happiest tempes must be soured by incessant returns of the opposition, the inconstancy, and the treachery of men : for he who lives always in the bustle of the world, lives in a perpetual warfare. Here an enemy encounters; there a rival supplants him : the ingratitude of a friend stings him this hour, and the pride of a superior wounds him the next. In vain he fies for relief
to trifling amusements. These may afford a temporary opiate to care, but they communicate no strength to the mind; on the contrary, they leave it more soft and defenceless, when molestatation and injuries renew their attack. Let him who wishes for an effectual cure to all the wounds which the world can inflict, retire from intercourse with men to intercourse with God. When he enters into his closet, and shuts the door, let him shut out at the fame time all intrusion of worldly care, and dwell among objects divine and immortal. Those fair prospects of order and peace shall there open to his view, which form the moft perfect contrast to the confufion and mifery of this earth. The celestial inhabitants quarrel not; among them is neither in gratitude, nor envy, nor tumult. Men may harrafs one another ; but in the kingdom of God, concord and tranquillity reign for ever.
From fuch objects there beams upon the mind of the pious man a pure and enlivening light; there is diffused over his heart a holy calm. His agitated fpirit reassumes its firmness, and regains its peace. The world sinks in its importance; and the load of mortality and misery loses almost all its weight. The green pastures open and the still waters flow around him; besides which the Shepherd of Israel guides his flock. The disturbances and alarms so formidable to those who are
engaged engaged in the tumults of the world, seem to him only like thunder rolling afar off; like the noife of distant waters, whose found he hears, whose course he traces, but whose waveś touch him not: and as RELIGIOUS RETIREMENT is thus evidently conducive to our happiness in this life, so it is absolutely necessary in order to prepare us for the life to come.”
The disposition to SOLITUDE, however, of whatever kind or complexion it may be, is greatly influenced by the temper and conftitution of the body, as well as by the frame and turn of the mind. The action of those causes proceeds, perhaps, by now and insensible degrees, and varies in its form and manner in each individual; but though gradual or multiform, it at length reaches its point, and confirms the subject of it in habits of rational Retreat or unnatural Solitude.
The motives which conduce to a love of Solitude might, without doubt, be assigned to other causes; but a discussion of all the refined operations to which the mind may be exposed, and its bent and inclination determined, by the two great powers of SENSATION and REFLECTION, would be more curious than useful. Relinquishing all enquiry into the primary or remote causes of human action, to those who are fond of the useless subtilties of metaphysics, and confining our researches to those final or immediate causes which produce this disposition to enjoy the benefits of RATIONAL RETIREMENT, or encounter the mischiefs of IRRATIONAL SOLITUDE, we shall proceed to shew the mischiefs which may result from the one, in order that they may be contrasted with the advantages which, in our former Volume, we have already shewed may be derived from the other,
THE DISADVANTAGES OF SOLITUDE. 107
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF SOLITUDE.
'HE Retirement which is not the result of
cool and deliberate reason, so far from improving the feelings of the heart, or strengthening the powers of the mind, generally renders men less able to discharge the duties and endure the burthens of life. The wisest and best formed system of Retirement is, indeed, surrounded with a variety of dangers, which are not, without the greatest care and caution, easily avoided. But in every species of total Solitude, the surrounding perils are not only innumerable, but almost irresistible. It would, however, be erroneous to impute all the defects which may characterize such a reclufe merely to the loneliness of his situation. There are original defects implanted by the hand of nature in every constitution, which no species of retirement or discipline can totally eradicate ; there are certain vices, the feeds of which are so inherent, that no care, however great, can totally destroy. * The
* " Ambition, avarice, irresolution, fear, and inordinate desires,” says MONTAIGNE, in his excellent Essay on Solie