« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
placed by fortune among a class of men to whoni my ideas would have been nonsense. I had meant that the book should have lain by me, in the fond hope, that some time or other, even after I was no more, my thoughts would fall into the hands of somebody capable of appreciating their value. It sets off thus:
Observations, Hints, Songs, Scraps of Poetry, &c. by R. B.-a man who had little art in making money, and still less in keeping it; but was, however, a man of some sense, a great deal of honesty, and unbounded good will to every creature, rational and irrational. As he was but little indebted to scholastic education, and bred at a plough-tail, his performances must be strongly tinctured with his unpolished, rustic way of life; but as I believe they are really his own, it may be some entertainment to a curious observer of human nature to see how a ploughman thinks and feels, under the pressure of love, ambition, anxiety, grief, with the like cares and passions, which, however diversified by the modes and manners of life, operate pretty much alike, I believe, on all the species.
There are numbers in the world, who do "not want sense to make a figure, so much as
an opinion of their own abilities, to put them upon recording their observations, and allowing them the same importance which they do to those which appear in print." Shenstone.
Pleasing, when youth is long expired, to trace "The forms our pencil or our pen design'd! "Such was our youthful air, and shape, and face, Such the soft image of our youthful mind."
Notwithstanding all that has been said against love, respecting the folly and weakness it leads a young inexperienced mind into; still I think it in a great measure deserves the highest encomiums that have been passed on it. If any thing on earth deserves the name of rapture or transport, it is the feelings of green eighteen, in the company of the mistress of his heart, when repays him with an equal return of affection.
There is certainly some connexion between love, and music, and poetry; and therefore, I have always thought a fine touch of nature, that passage in a modern love composition,
"As toward her cot he jogg'd along
"Her name was frequent in his song."
For my own part, I never had the least thought or inclination of turning Poet; till I got once heartily in love; and then rhyme and song were, in a manner, the spontaneous language of my heart.
I entirely agree with that judicious philosopher, Mr. Smith, in his excellent Theory of Moral Sentiments, that remorse is the most painful sentiment that can embitter the human bosom. Any ordinary pitch of fortitude may bear up tolerably well under those calamities, in the procurement of which, we ourselves have had no hand; but when our own follies, or crimes, have made us miserable and wretched, to bear up with manly firmness, and at the same time have a proper penitential sense of our misconduct-is a glorious effort of self-command.
Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace,
That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish,
That to our folly, or our guilt we owe.
In every other circumstance, the mind
Lives there a man so firm, who, while his heart
Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime,
Can reason down its agonizing throbs ;
And after proper purpose of amendment,
O glorious magnanimity of soul!
I have often observed, in the course of my experience of human life, that every man, even the worst, has something good about him; though very often nothing else than a happy temperament of constitution, inclining him to this or that virtue. For this reason no man can say in what degree any other person, besides himself, can be, with strict justice, called wicked. Let any of the strictest character for regularity of conduct among us, examine impartially how many vices he has never been guilty of, not from any care or vigilance, but for want of opportunity, or some accidental circumstance in tervening; how many of the weaknesses of mankind he has escaped, because he was out of the line of such temptation: and what often, if not always, weighs more than all the rest; how much he is indebted to the world's good opinion, because the world does not know all; I say any man who can thus think, will scan the failings, nay, the faults and crimes, of mankind around him, with a brother's eye.
I have often courted the acquaintance of that part of mankind, commonly known by the ordinary phrase of blackguards; sometimes farther than was consistent with the safety of my character: those who by thoughtless prodigality, or headstrong passions, have been driven to ruin.— Though disgraced by follies, nay sometimes "stained with guilt,
I have yet found among them, in not a few instances, some of the noblest virtues, magnanimity, generosity, disinterested friendship, and even modesty.
As I am what the men of the world, if they knew such a man, would call a whimsical mortal; I have various sources of pleasure and enjoyment which are, in a manner, peculiar to myself; or some here and there, such other outof-the-way person. Such is the peculiar pleasure I take in the season of winter, more than the rest of the year. This, I believe, may be partly owing to my misfortunes giving my mind a melancholy cast; but there is something even in the
Mighty tempest, and the hoary waste
Abrupt and deep, stretch'd o'er the buried earth"
which raises the mind to a serious sublimity, favourable to every thing great and noble.