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Where gay Content with healthy Temperance mects,
THE PASSIONS lose in Solitude a certain
portion of that regulating weight by which in Society they are guided and controlled. The counteracting effects produced by variety, the restraints imposed by the obligations of civility, and the checks which arise from the calls of humanity, occur much less frequently in Retirement than amidst the multifarious transactions of a busy world. The desires and sensibilities of the heart having no real objects on which their vibrations can pendulate, are stimulated and increased by the powers of imagination. All the propensities of the foul, indeed, experience a degree of restlessness and vehemence, greater than they ever feel while diverted by the pleasures, subdued by the surrounding distresses, and engaged by the business of active and social life.
The calm which seems to accompany the mind in its retreat, is deceitful; the passions are secretly at work within the heart; the imagination is continually heaping fuel on the latent fire, and at length the labouring defire burfts forth, and glows with volcanic heat and fury. The temporary inactivity and inertness which Retirement seems to impose, may check, but cannot subdue, the energies of spirit. The high pride and lofty ideas of great and independent minds, may be, for a while, lulled into repose ; but the moment the feelings of such a character are awakened by indignity or outrage, its anger springs like an elastic body drawn from its centre, and pierces with vigorous severity the object that provoked it. The perils of Solitude, indeed, always encrease in proportion as the sensibilities, imaginations, and passions, of its votaries are quick, excursive, and violent. The man may be the inmate of a cottage, but the same passions and inclinations ftill lodge within his heart: his mansion may be changed, but their residence is the same; and though they appear to be filent and undisturbed, they are secretly influencing all the propensities of his heart. Whatever be the cause of his retirement, whether it be a sense of undeserved misfortune, the ingratitude of supposed friends, the pangs of despised love, or the disappointments of ambition, memory prevents the wound from healing, and stings the foul with indignation and resentment, The image of departed pleasures haunts the mind, and robs it of its wished tranquillity. The ruling passion ftill
subsists; fubfifts; it fixes itself more strongly on the fancy; moves with greater agitation ; and becomes, in retirement, in proportion as it is inclined to Vice or VIRTUE, either a horrid and tormenting Spectre, inflicting apprehension and dismay, or a delightful and supporting angel, irradiating the countenance with smiles of joy, and filling the heart with peace and gladness.
Bleft is the man, as far as earth can bless,
Theextraordinary power which the Passions affume, and the improper channel in which they are apt to flow in retired situations, is conspicuous from the greater acrimony with which they are in general tainted in small villages than in large towns. It is true, indeed, that they do not always explode in such situations, with the open and daring violence which they exhibit in a metropolis ; but lie buried, as it were, and smouldering in the bosom, with a more malignant
and consuming fame. To those who only observe the listlessness and languor which distinguish the characters of those who reside in small provincial towns; the flow and uniform rotation of amusements which fills up the leisure of their lives; the confused wildness of their cares ; the poor subterfuges to which they are continually resorting, in order to avoid the clouds of discontent that impend, in angry darkness, over their heads; the lagging current of their drooping spirits ; the miserable poverty of their intellectual pow. ers; the eagerness with which they strive to raise a card party ; the transports they enjoy on the prospect of any new diversion or occafional exhibition ; the hafte with which they run towards any sudden, unexpected noise, that interrupts the deep silence of their situation ; and the patient industry with which, from day to day, they watch each others conduct, and circulate reports of every action of each others lives; will scarcely imagine that any virulence of pale. fion can disturb the bofoms of persons who live in fo quiet and seemingly composed a state. But the unoccupied time and barren minds of such characters cause the fainteft emotions, and most common defires, to act with all the violence of high and untamed paffions. The lowest diversions, a cockfighting, or a poney race, make the bofom of a country 'Squire beat with the highest rapture ;