Imagens das páginas


struction of time without doors. These, however, are so generally known, that it were superfluous to dwell upon them. In the morning the political lounger betakes himself to his coffee-house, the lite rary lounger to a bookseller's shop, the saunterer to the public walks, the dreamer to his usual occupation of counting the sign-posts. In the evening, clubs, cardparties, and public places, furnish a rendezvous for loungers of all denominations.

Besides these I have already mentioned, I could easily, Sir, communicate a variety of other approved schemes and ingenious devices; but I shall, for the present, content myself with barely hinting at one other expedient, though I am aware that its vulga rity will not permit it to be often employed by peo ple of taste and fashion. It must be acknowledged that the most effectual of all methods of killing time, is by serious business or occupation. This is the great secret by which many thousands of the vulgar herd jog on through life with much composure, nay, even seeming satisfaction, while those who constitute the polite world are put to a variety of shifts to compass what the others attain without seeking after. Now, as a capital painter may sometimes conceive a happy idea from the daubing of a sign-post, so the lounger, though he disdain to follow so mean an example as that of the plodding sons of industry, may, nevertheless, derive from it a very profitable lesson. When any piece of business necessarily obtrudes itself, let him consider, that it would be highly improvident to dispatch or execute inione hour, or in one day, what with a little prudent management, may easily furnish occupation for twenty. Thus, when a lounger begins to write a letter, it may very reasonably employ him for a month, the ranging of his library may give him a hurry of busimess for a year, and clearing accounts with his steward is the work of a life-time.


These, Sir, are a few of the materials for that great design above-mentioned, from which it is easy to form a judgment both of the copiousness and importance of the subject. As that scheme, however, is now laid aside, I take the liberty of sending you these imperfect hints, in hopes (as many modest. authors express themselves) that they may prompt an exertion of genius from some abler pen.

I am, SIR,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Your most obedient servant,

P. S. Your correspondent, in your fourteenth number, seems to possess many of the talents requisite for such an undertaking.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

I HAVE heard a story of an eminent philosopher who was invited to dine and spend the even-, ing with some of the most distinguished men for learning and genius of the age in which he lived. Dinner being over, the conversation took a light and easy turn. While a cheerful glass went round, the common topic of the time, the joke of the day, or the occasional pleasantry of the minute, filled up their discourse. The philosopher, whose mind was constantly occupied with abstract studies and enqui

ries, took little share in the conversation, and felt no pleasure in it. After having sat a considerable time, one of the company proposed that they should take a game at cards. Although they played for a trifle, the philosopher refused to join in the party, and it was made up without him. While they were thus engaged, he retired to a corner of the room, took out his pocket-book and pencil, and began to write. Upon being asked what he was writing? he answered, that he had conceived high expectations of the instruction and entertainment he was to receive from the conversation of so many eminent and distinguished men; that he had resolved, before he came among them, to take notes of what passed, lest he should forget it; and that this was now his occupation. The company, considering the manner in which they had been employed, felt the rebuke, and were made a little uneasy by it.

People may think differently of this story. I, for my part, think the philosopher to blame, and that the company were in no respect the objects of censure. I have long been of opinion, that one of the most important lessons to be learned in life, is that of being able to trifle upon occasion. No character can possibly be more contemptible than that of a talking, empty, giggling, fool, who is incapable of fixing his attention upon any thing that is important, and whose mind, like a microscope, sees only what is little, and takes in nothing that is great. But no 'character can be more respectable than that of a man of talents, whose thoughts are often employed upon the great and important objects of life, but who can nevertheless unbend his mind, and be amused with simple and easy recreations. A man, by taking false and improper views of life, may bring himself to think, that even those objects which are reckoned great and important, are, in reality, little the projects of ambition, the desire of fame,


even the pursuits of study, may sink before him; and, to such a man, the ordinary recreations of the world must appear too small to engage his attention. But, "twere to consider too curiously to consider "so." He who thinks rightly, and adapts his mind to the circumstances in which he is placed, will soon be convinced, that, as activity and employment were intended for us, so we ought to be interested by the different objects around us. The projects of an honest ambition, if not carried too far, the desire of being thought well of, if kept within proper bounds, and the search after knowledge, if it does not lead to arrogance and conceit, will appear suited to our nature, and objects upon which it is right that we should fix our attention. In the same manner, it will appear proper that the mind, when there is place for it, should unbend and allow itself to be amused by those other objects which, compa red with those of ambition, fame, or study, may appear little or trifling.

The mind is very apt to receive a strong cast from the manner in which it is employed. When a man is constantly engaged in something which requires great study and application, which figures as an important object, and which agitates and interests him, he is in danger of acquiring a hardness of temper which will make him disagreeable, or a tone of mind which will render him incapable of going through the common duties of life as a friend, a relation, or a parent. Nothing will prevent him from these bad consequences so much as his taking advantage of an idle hour, and allowing himself to be unbent with recreations of an easy, and in them. selves of a frivolous nature. This will not only afford him an agreeable relaxation, but will give his mind a gentleness and a sweetness which all the hardness of application, and all the agitation of his employments will not be able to destroy.

There is no anecdote in antiquity which I have read with greater pleasure than that of Scipio and Lælius, related by the eloquent pen of Cicero, and put into the mouth of Crassus: "Sæpe ex socero meo audivi (says Crassus in the Dialogue de Ora"tore) cum is diceret, socerum suum Lælium, "semper fere cum Scipione solitum rusticari, eosque "incredibiliter repuerascere esse solitos cum rus ex “urbe, tanquam e vinculis, evolavissent. Non audeo "dicere de talibus viris, sed tamen ita solet narrare "Scævola, conchas eos et umbilicos ad Caietam et "ad Laurentum legere consuêsse, et ad omnem "animi remissionem ludumque descendere. Sic "enim se res habet, ut quemadmodum volucres "videmus, procreationis atque utilitatis suæ causa "fingere et construere nidos; easdem autem, cum 66. aliquid effecerint levandi laboris sui causa, passim "ac libere solutas opere volitare; sic nostri animi "forensibus negotiis, atque urbano opere defessi "gestiunt, et volitare cupiunt, vacui cura atque la"bore."...." I remember to have heard my father"in-law mention," says Crassus, "that his kinsman "Lælius, and the great Scipio, were frequently "wont to fly from the hurry of business and the "bustle of the town, to a quiet retreat in the country,

and there to grow, as it were, boys again in their "amusements. Nay, (though I should hardly ven"ture to tell it of such men), we were assured by "Scævola, that at Caieta and Laurentum they used "to pass their time in gathering shells and pebbles, "unbending their minds, and amused with every "trifle; like birds, which, after the serious and "important business of preparing nests for their young, fly sportfully about, free and disengaged, "as if to relieve themselves from their toils."


Nothing can be more truly delightful than to picture out of the conqueror of Carthage, who had led to victory the triumphant armies of the Roman state,



« AnteriorContinuar »