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The pernicious Influence


A total Seclufion from Society


The Mind and the Heart.



SOLITUDE, in its ftrict and literal accepta

tion, is equally unfriendly to the happiness and foreign to the nature of mankind. An inclination to exercise the faculty of speech,* to interchange the sentiments of the mind, to indulge




* ARISTOTLE fays, that as Nature does nothing in vain, and as man is the only animal whom she hath endued with the privilege of speech, he must have been formed for social delights: an opinion which the celebrated PuFFENDORFF has, in common with all writers upon natural law, adopted. "That man," fays he," was defigned by nature for a life of society, this "alone might be a fufficient argument, that he only, of all "living creatures, is endued with the power of expreffing his "mind to others by articulate founds; a faculty which, ab"stracting from the focial condition, we cannot conceive to be "of any ufe or advantage to mankind.”

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the affections of the heart, and to receive themfelves, while they beftow on others, a kind affiftance and fupport, drives men, by an ever active, and almoft irresistible impulse, from SoLITUDE to SOCIETY; and teaches them that the higheft temporal felicity they are capable of enjoying, must be fought for in a fuitable union of the fexes, and in a friendly intercourse with their fellow-creatures.* The profoundest deductions of reason, the highest flights of fancy, the finest fenfibilities of the heart, the happiest discoveries

*"Man," fays a profound philofopher," is an animal ex"tremely defirous of his own prefervation; of himself ex"pofed to many wants, unable to fecure his own safety " and maintenance without the affiftance of his fellows, and "capable of returning the kindness by the furtherance of "mutual good. But then he is often malicious, infolent, "eafily provoked, and as powerful in effecting mischief as he is "ready in defigning it. Now that fuch a creature may be pre-> "ferved and supported, and may enjoy the good things attend"ing his condition of life, it is neceffary that he should be "focial; that is, that he should unite himself to those of his "own fpecies, and in such a manner regulate his behaviour to"wards them, as they may have no fair reason to do him "harm; but rather incline to promote his intereft, and to "fecure his rights and concerns. It feems, therefore, to be a "fundamental law of nature, that every man ought, as far as

in him lies, to promote and preferve a peaceful fociableness with "others, agreeable to the main end and difpofition of the human "race: that is, fuch a difpofition of one man towards all others,

as fhall unite him to them by benevolence, by peace, by charity, and, as it were, by a filent and fecret obligation."

difcoveries of science, and the most valuable productions of art, are feebly felt, and imperfectly enjoyed, in the cold and cheerless region of Solitude. It is not to the fenfelefs rock, or to the paffing gale, that we can fatisfactorily communicate our pleasures and our pains.* The heavy fighs which inceffantly transpire from the vacant bofoms of the folitary hermit, and the furly misanthropist, indicate the absence of those high delights which ever accompany congenial fentiment and mutual affection.+ The foul finks under a fituation in which there are no kindred bofoms to participate its joys, and sympathize in its forrows; and feels, ftrongly feels, that the beneficent Creator has so framed and moulded the temper of our minds, that SoCIETY is the earlieft

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* CICERO, reafoning upon the principles of the Stoics, infifts that "no man would choose to live in absolute Solitude, al"though he might enjoy an infinity of pleasures."

"He who, difgufted, quits the focial scene,
"And trees and beafts prefer to courts and men,
In the remoteft glen, or lonelieft grot,
"Still meets the spectre of diftemper'd thought.
"His mind as dreary as the pathlefs woods;
"His breaft as turb'lent as defcending floods;

"His heart with strong and raging paffions torn;

"No fweet companion near, with whom to mourn :
"The echoing rocks return his fruitless fighs,
"And from himself th' unhappy HERMIT flies,

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lieft impulse and the most powerful inclination of

our hearts.

"Unhappy he! who from the first of joys,

"SOCIETY, cut off, is left alone

"Amid this world of death--"

Society, however, although it is thus pointed out to us, as it were, by the finger of the Almighty, as the means of reaching our highest poffible ftate of earthly felicity, is so pregnant with dangers, that it depends entirely on ourfelves, whether the indulgence of this inftinctive propensity shall be productive of happiness or mifery.


-all have cause to smile,

"But fuch as to themselves that cause deny.
"Our faults are at the bottom of our pains;
"Error, in acts or judgment, is the fource
"Of endless forrow-

The pleasures of Society, like pleasures of every other kind, muft, to be pure and permanent, be temperate and difcreet. While paffion animates, and fenfibility cherishes, reason muft direct, and virtue be the object of our courfe. Thofe who fearch for happiness in a vague, defultory, and indifcriminate intercourse with the world; who imagine the palace of Plea


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