[ocr errors]

in I

my sentiments on this important subject; your own judgment, improved by: observing others, must direct

in the more minute particulars.

031! I am, &c.

To a young Lady, on Fortitude.
THERE is no virtue I wish

you to possess higher degree than that of Fortitude; that collected determination of the soul, which rests wholly on itself, and which enables us to discover the nearest road to happiness, and to pursue it with determined resolution. I would have you, in all things, shew.a steadiness of action : this is not incompatible with the delicacy of your sex; on the contrary, it gives a degree of spirit to a mild, timid nature, which otherwise often wears the

appearance of insipidity. Fortitude gives, hunian nature its true dignity, while a giddy, wavering manner degrades it. In order to obtain this great virtue, it will be necessary to keep all our passions in such subjection, that they shall not exceed those bounds which reason and the nature of things prescribe to them. I do not regard fortitude merely as a redium between fear and rashness; but as the rule by which all the passions, which arise from a sense of danger, ought to be governed: by it we should defend ourselves from all those disquiețing impressions which outward evils are apt to make on the mind. In this sense, Fortitude comprehends not only sufference, contentment, and meekness, but courage and exertion.

Nothing can be 'more ridiculous than to hear a passionate man pretend to this virtuc, while he has no more title to it than the most irascible animal; for as to rational courage, which consists in a firm composedness of mind in the midst of disasters,


these blusterers are the veriest cowards in nature. True fortitude consists in being armed against calamities from rational principles; and in being so guarded, that no accident from without, however melancholy, can disturb the tranquillity within. It is, in short, having such a steady power over our wayward wills, as not to be terrified in danger, impatient in suffering, angry at contempt, or revengeful under injuries; and our happiness will be proportioned to the degree in which we possess this firmness of temper.

In this world we must expect to meet with disappointments; but, if we are armed with fortitude, all the accidents of life will not be able to give us any lasting disquietude. When we uncover our minds to the perplexities which befal us, we lay ourselves open to a tempest by being moved to passion. Miserable is the condition of that man who is destitute of fortitude : for, by not keeping his passions under the command of his reason, he will recessarily become a prey to every little unlucky accident which crosses him. He will be like a ship without a pilct in the midst of a tempestuous ocean, the sport of every change of weather.

By the doctrines of christianity we are strictly enjoined to practise this necessary virtue, which

consists in the due regulation of the irascible affections ; such as moderating anger and impatience, suppressing envy, and conquering hatred and revenge. St. Paul expressly' says, “ Be strengthened, with all might, unto all patieuce and long-suffering.” And it is observable, that all the virtues which are comprehended in this one of fortitude, are reckoned among the fruits of that blessed spirit by which we are to be guided. " But the fruit of the spirit is peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness ;" Gal. ver. 22. 'allwhich are but fortitude, exerting itself on our base aflections,



[ocr errors]

and directing them to those rules which reason prescribes, and setting such limits to them as are necessary to our peace

our peace and happiness. If you follow this advice, your mind will be elevated above the reach of injury, and you will experience that pure and uninterrupted satisfaction which is the sincere and ardent wish of

Your's, &c.

[ocr errors]

On the Advantages of a Taste for the Beauties of

Nature. DEAR THAT cultivated and improved sensibility to beauty, which we term taste, is diffused universally through the human species; and it is most uniform respecting those objects which, by being placed out of our power, are not liable to variation from accident, caprice, or fashion.' The verdant lawn, the shady grove, the variegated landscape, the boundless ocean, and the starry firmament, are all contemplated with pleasure by every attentive beholder : but the emotions of different spectators, though similar in kind, are widely different in degree ; and to relish, with full delight, the enchanting scenes of nature, the mind must be uncorrupted by base 'mộtives, quick in her sensibilities, elevated in her sentiments, and devout in her affections. He who possesses such'exalted powers of perception and enjoyment, may, in defiance of every change of fortune, revel in the possession of the most refined of all earthly enjoyinents; for they will qualify and prompt him to the practice of every virtue. Perhaps such ardent enthusiasm may not be compatiable with the necessary toils and active offices which Provi.


dence has assigned to the generality of men ; but there are none to whom some portion of it may not prove advantageous : and if every individual cherished it, in a degree consistent with the duties of his station, the felicity of human life would be considerably augmented. From this source the refined pleasures of the imagination are almost entirely derived ; and the elegant arts owe their choicest beauties to a taste for the contemplation of nature. Painting and sculpture are express imitations of visible objects; and poetry would be divested of her principal power to please, were she stripped of the imagery and embellishments she borrows from rural scenes. Painters, statuaries, and poets are always proud to acknowledge themselves the pupils of nature; and, as their skill encreases, they grow more and more delighted with every view of the animal and vegetable world.

Natural and moral beauty bear so intimate a relation to each other, that they may be considered as different gradations in ascending to excellence; and the knowledge and relish of the former is to be deemed only as a step to the nobler and more permanent enjoyments of the latter.

The conteinplation of rural scenes, contributes powerfully to inspire that serenity, which is necessary to enjoy and heighten their beauties.

By a sweet contagion the soul catches the harmony which she contemplates, and the frame within assimilates itself to that which is without. In this state of sweet composure, we become susceptible of virtuous impressions from almost every surrounding object. The patient ox is viewed with generous complacency; the guileless sheep, with pity; and the playful lamb raises emotions of tenderness and love. We rejoice with the horse, in his liberty and exemption from toil, while he ranges at large through enamelled pastures; and the fro



lies of the colt afford delight, which are alloyed only by the bondage he is soon to undergo. We are charmed with the songs of birds, soothed with the buz of insects, and pleased with the sportive motions of the fishes, because these are expressions of enjoyment; and we exult in the felicity of the whole animated creation. Thus an equal and extensive benevolence is called into exertion ; and, having felt a common interest in the gratifications of inferior beings, we shall not be indifferent to their sufferings, nor wantonly instrumental in producing them.

It seems to be the intention of Providence, that the lower orders of animals should be subservient to the comfort, convenience, and sustenance of Inan. But his right of dominion extends no farther; and if this right be exercised with mildness, humanity, and justice, the subjects of his power will be as much benefitted as himself: for various species of living creatures are annually multiplied by buman art, improved in their perceptive powers by human culture, and plentifully fed by human industry. Thus the relation is reciprocal, between such animals ar.d man; and he may supply his own 'wants by the use of their labour, the produce of their bodies, and even the sacrifice of their lives; while he is himself an instrument, in the hands of all-gracious heaven, for promoting happiness, the great end of existence.

Though it be true, with respect to different or. ders of sensitive beings, that partial evil is universal good; and that it is a wise and benevolent institution of nature to make destruction itself, within certain limitations, the cause of an increase of life and enjoyment; yet a generous person will extend his compassionate regard to every individual that suffers for his sake; and he will naturally be solicitous to mitigate pain, both in duration and de


« ElőzőTovább »