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piercing eyes, and vivid underftandings, turned loose upon mankind, with no other bufiness than to sparkle and intrigue, to perplex and to destroy. For my own part, whenever chance brings within my observation, a knot of misses busy at their needles, I consider myself as in THE SCHOOL OF VIRTUE; and though I have no extraordinary skill in plain-work or embroidery, look upon their operations with as much fatisfaci tion as their governess, becaufe I regard them as providing a security against the most dangerous 'ensnarers of the foul, by enabling them to exclude Idleness" from their folitary moments, and with Idleness, her attendant train of passions, fancies, chimeras, fears, forrows, and desires, - OVID and CERVANTES will inform them that Love has no power but on those whom he catches un employed : and HECTOR, in the Iliad, when he fees ANDROMACHE overwhelmed with tears, fends her for consolation to the loom and the diftaff.*" Certain it is, that wild wilhes, and
* ANDROMACHE! my soul's far better part,
ain imaginations, never take fuch firm poffeflion f the mind, as when it is found empty and unmployedbis apie - 15:2
1 “х у 208 Idleness, indeed, was the spreading root com which all the vices and crimes of the orintal nuns so luxuriantly, branched. Few of hem had any taste for science, or were enabled, y the habits either of reflection or industry, to harm away the tediousness of SOLITUDE, or to elieve that weariness which must necessarily ac, ompany their abstracted situation. The talents ith which nature had endowed them were unultivated; the glimmering lights of reason were bscured by a blind and headlong zeal ; and their empers foured by the circumstances of their fororn condition.
Certain it is, that the only beans of avoiding unhappiness and misery in Folitude, and perhaps in Society also, is to keep the mind continually engaged in, or occupied by, some laudable pursuit. The earliest profesfors of a life of Solitude, although they removed themselves far from the haunts of men, among
the No more-but hasten to thy talk at home; There guide the fpindle, and direct the loom : Me Glory summons to the martial scene ; The field of combat is the sphere of men : Where heroes war, the foremost place I claim :x The first in danger, as the first in fame, Thus having said, the glorious chief refumes , in His tow'ry helmet, black with shading plumes, His princess parts with a prophetic fighi Unwilling parts, and oft reverts her eye, That stream'd at every look; then moving flow, Sought her own palace, and indulg'd her woe.
caverns deep,” and “ deserts idle,” where Nature denied her fons the moft common of her blessings, employed themselves in endeavouring to cultivate the rude and barren foil, during those intervals in which they were not occupied in the ordinary labours of religion ; and even those whose extraordinary sanctity confined them the whole day to their cells, found the necessity of filling up their leisure, by exercising the ma. nual arts for which they were respectively suited. The rules, indeed, which were originally established in most of the convents, ordained that the time and attention of a monk should never be for a moment vacant or unemployed ; but this excellent precept was soon rendered obsolete ; and the sad consequences which resulted from its nonobfervance, we have already, in fome degree, described.
THE anxiety with which I have endeavoured
to describe THE ADVANTAGES and THE DISADVANTAGES, which, under particular cir cumstances, and in particular fituations, are likely to be experienced by those who devote themselves to folitary retirement, may, perhaps, occafion me to be viewed by some as its romantic panegyrift, and by others as its uncandid cenfor. I shall, therefore, endeavour, in this concluding chapter, to prevent a misconstruction of my opinion, by explicitly declaring the inferences which ought in fairness to be drawn from what I have faid.
The advocates for a life of uninterrupted Society will, in all probability, accuse me of being a morose and gloomy philosopher ; an inveterate enemy to social intercourse; who, by recommending a melancholy and fullen seclufion, and interdicting mankind from enjoying the pleafures of life, would four their tempers, subdue
their affections, annihilate the best feelings of "the heart, pervert the noble faculty of reason, VOL. II. X
and thereby once more plunge the world into that dark abyss of barbarism, from which it has been so happily rescued by the establishment and civilization of society.
The advocates for a life of continual SOLI TUDE will most probably, on the other hand, accuse me of a design to deprive the species of one of the most pleasing and fatisfactory delights,* by exciting an unjuft antipathy, raising an unfounded alarm, depreciating the uses, and aggravating the abuses, of SOLITUDE ; and by these
* But the right of indulging this delight, even tfupposing it to exist, is denied by a very able philosopher, " Some of those sages," says he, “ that have exercised their abilities in the enquiry after the supreme good, have been of opinion, that the highest degree of earthly happiness is quiet ; a calm repofc both of mind and body, undisturbed by the sight of folly, or the noise of business, the tumults of public commotion, or the agitations of private interests: a state in which the mind has no other employment, but to obferve and 'regulate her own motions, to trace thought from thought, combine one image with anos ther, raise systems of science, and form theories of virtue. To the scheme of those solitary speculatifts it has been
as been juftly, obc jected, that if they are happy, they are happy only by being useless : that mankind is one vaft republic, where every indivi: dual receives many benefits from the labours of others, which, by labouring in his turn for others, he is obliged to repay; and that, where the united efforts of all are not able to exempt all from misery, none have a right to withdraw from their talk of vigilance, or to be indulged in idle wisdom, or solitary pleasures."