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"Surely, among these favourites of nature, thus unacquainted with toil and danger, felicity must have fixed her residence; they must know only the changes of more vivid or more gentle joys; their life must always move either to the slow or sprightly melody of the lyre of gladness; they can never assemble but to pleasure, nor retire
but to peace.
Such would be the thoughts of every man who should hover at a distance round the world, and know it only by conjecture and speculation. But experience will soon discover how easily those are disgusted who have been made nice by plenty, and tender by indulgence. He will soon see to how many dangers power is exposed which has no other guard than youth and beauty, and how easily that tranquillity is molested which can only be soothed with the songs of flattery. It is impossible to supply wants as fast as an idle imagination may be able to form them, or to remove all inconveniencies by which elegance, refined into impatientce, may be offended. None are so hard to please as those whom satiety of pleasure makes weary of themselves; nor any so
readily provoked as those who have been always courted with an emulation of civility.”
In the midst of affluence and splendour, of pleasure and of praise, Lavinia still found that happiness was absent. The hour of solitude could not be endured without painful anxiety. Some. thing seemed to be wanting which the world, with all its complaisance, had not yet conferred. New expedients were therefore daily invented to tranquillize the mind, and no means left untried to regain her wonted vivacity. But, alas! the felicity of which Lavinia was in pursuit, still eluded her eager grasp. Every day witnessed new scenes of vexation and disappointment. The wakeful hours of night were spent in tracing the causes of miscarriage ; in contriving means by which to preclude a recurrence of the same, or similar impediments; and in planning schemes to ensure felicity on the morrow. Inauspicious was the morning in which the breast of Lavinia was not transported with the recollection of some new engagement to give delight, of something novel to be seen; with the hope of sparkling in the dance, of shining at the opera or the play
house, of making new conquests, and of receiv. ing fresh tokens of inviolable attachment and reverence.
The return of night, however, but renewed disgust. Every amusement was insipid: the charms of novelty were forgotten: emptiness and vanity were stamped on every enjoyment: for whether at the toilet, the ball, the theatre, or the masquerade, Conscience would be heard — Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,' was reiterated in every place, and in accents so distinct, that the meaning could not be mistaken. Fruitless, were all attempts to shun the admonitory intelligence, or to blunt the pain it frequently occasioned. Reflection produced remorse; the pleasures of the world, satiety and aversion; the retrospect of life, the keenest anguish, and the prospects of futurity, the horrours of despair.
The thoughtless and the gay may, perhaps, think that the views of Lavinia were enthusiastick or chimerical. But there is no ground for the conclusion. For what is the life of a vast majority of the great, but a scene of voluptuousness
and dissipation; of vanity and extravagance ? The affairs of another world, and the moral state of the human heart, are considerations that seldom obstruct their pursuits or interrupt their quiet. I ask, and appeal to the experience and the consciences of those whom Providence has elevated to opulence and splendour, whether, from the moment of introduction into publick life, the time allotted by Heaven for acts of bene. ficence and virtue, is not generally spent in conformity to the fashions of the day; in attendance at routs, and balls, and card tables; in frequenting the opera and the playhouse, or in ceremonious visits paid and received frequently, without pleasure and without friendship.
But are these pursuits worthy of an immortal mind? Is this a life on which a rational being can seriously reflect without the terrours of dismay?-yet this is the life of thousands--a life in which are to be found no traces of that purity and perfection once connatural to man; no evidence of compunction for the violation of divine precepts, nor yet of thankfulness for the means by which guilt is expiated, and the trembling
delinquent rescued from perdition. Nay, there are not only those who, like Gallio, care for none of these things, but some that openly discard them; who, though their sins bé as scarlet, cavil at the means by which they might be made white as snow; and though their iniquities have been multiplied without number, revile the hand which alone can blot them from the register of Heaven.' These are they that awake but to eat and to drink; to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. God is not in all their thoughts: his ways are always grievous ;, and through the pride of their countenance they will not seek after him.
Surely it is unworthy of a reasonable being to spend any of the little time allotted us, with out some tendency, either direct or oblique, to the end of our existence. And though every moment cannot be laid out on the formal and regular improvement of our knowledge, or in the stated practice of a moral or religious duty, yet none should be so spent as to exclude wisdom or virtue, or pass without possibility of qualifying us more or less for the better employment of those which are to come.