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amufement. To connect one plan of gaiety with another is their whole ftudy; 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 fuch eager hafte, speedily furfeits and difgufts. 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 laft to a melancholy retreat: not led by RELIGION or reason, but driven by disappointed hopes, and exhausted spirits, to the penfive conclufion that "all is vanity.". If uninterrupted intercourse with the world wears out the man of pleasure, it no less oppreffes the man of business and ambition. The strongest spirits must at length fink under it. The happiest temper must be foured by inceffant returns of the oppofition, 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 fupplants him; the ingratitude of a friend ftings him this hour, and the pride of a fuperior wounds him the next. In vain he flies 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 foft and defencelefs when moleftation 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 intercourfe with God. When he enters into his closet, and fhuts the door, let him fhut out at the fame time all intrusion of worldly care, and dwell among objects divine and immortal. Those fair prospects of order and peace fhall there open to his view, which form the most perfect contraft to the confufion and mifery of this earth. The celeftial inhabitants quarrel not; among them is neither ingratitude, 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 spirit reaffumes its firmnefs, and regains its peace. The world finks in its importance; and the load of mortality and mifery loses almost all its weight. The green pastures open and the ftill waters flow around him; befides which the Shepherd of Ifrael guides his flock. The disturbances and alarms fo formidable to those who are engaged
engaged in the tumults of the world, seem to him only like thunder rolling afar off, like the noise of diftant waters, whofe found he hears, whose course he traces, but whofe waves 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 difpofition to SOLITUDE, however, of whatever kind or complexion it may be, is greatly influenced by the temper and constitution of the body, as well as by the frame and turn of the mind. The action of those caufes proceeds, perhaps, by flow and infenfible 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 affigned to other causes; but a difcuffion of all the refined operations to which the mind may be expofed, and its bent and inclination determined, by the two great powers of SENSATION and REFLECTION, would be more curious than useful. Relinquifhing all enquiry into the primary or remote causes of human action to those who are fond of the useless
useless subtilties of metaphyfics, and confining our researches to those final or immediate causes which produce this difpofition to enjoy the benefits of RATIONAL RETIREMENT, or encounter the mischiefs of IRRATIONAL SOLITUDE, we fhall proceed to fhew the mifchiefs which may refult from the one, in order that they may be contrafted with the advantages which, in our former Volume, we have already fhewed may be derived from the other.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF SOLITUDE. 107
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF SOLITUDE.
HE Retirement which is not the refult of cool and deliberate reason, so far from improving the feelings of the heart, or ftrengthening the powers of the mind, generally renders men lefs able to discharge the duties and endure the burthens of life. The wifeft and beft formed fyftem of Retirement is, indeed, furrounded with a variety of dangers, which are not, without the greatest care and caution, cafily avoided. But in every species of total Solitude the furrounding 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 fituation. There are original defects implanted by the hand of nature in every conftitution, which no fpecies of retirement or discipline can totally eradicate: there are certain vices, the feeds of which are fo inherent, that no care, however great, can totally destroy.* The advantages
* "Ambition, avarice, irrefolution, fear, and inordinate defires," fays MONTAIGNE, in his excellent Essay on SOLITUDE,