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SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE BIO
it were, in triumph beneath the yoke GRAPHIA LITERARIA" OF S. T. COLE- of misery or happiness. The soul RIDGE, ESQ.-1517.
WHEN a man looks back on his past existence, and endeavours to recall the incidents, events, thoughts, feelings, and passions of which it was composed, he sees something like a glimmering land of dreams, peopled with phantasms and realities undistinguishably confused and intermingled-here illuminated with dazzling splendour, there dim with melancholy mists, or it may be, shrouded in impenetrable darkness. To bring, visibly and distinctly before our memory, on the one hand, all our hours of mirth and joy, and hope and exultation, and, on the other, all our perplexities, and fears and sorrows, and despair and agony,-(and who has been so uniformly wretched as not to have been often blest?—who so uniformly blest as not to have been often wretched?) -would be as impossible as to awaken, into separate remembrance, all the changes and varieties which the seasons brought over the material world, -every gleam of sunshine that beautified the Spring,-every cloud and tempest that deformed the Winter. In truth, were this power and domination over the past given unto us, and were we able to read the history of our lives all faithfully and perspicuously recorded on the tablets of the inner spirit, those beings, whose existence had been most filled with important events and with energetic passions, would be the most averse to such overwhelming survey-would recoil from trains of thought which formerly agitated and disturbed, and led them, as
may be repelled from the contemplation of the past as much by the brightness and magnificence of scenes that shifted across the glorious drama of youth, as by the storms that scattered the fair array into disfigured fragments; and the melancholy that breathes from vanished delight is, perhaps, in its utmost intensity, as unendurable as the wretchedness left by the visitation of calamity. There are spots of sunshine sleeping on the fields of past existence too beautiful, as there are caves among its precipices too darksome, to be looked on by the eyes of memory; and to carry on an image borrowed from the analogy between the moral and physical world, the soul may turn away in sickness from the untroubled silence of a resplendent Lake, no less than from the haunted gloom of the thundering Cataract. It is from such thoughts, and dreams, and reveries, as these, that all men feel how terrible it would be to live over again their agonies and their transports; that the happiest would fear to do so as much as the most miserable; and that to look back to our cradle seems scarcely less awful than to look forward to the grave.
But if this unwillingness to bring before our souls, in distinct array, the more solemn and important events of our lives, be a natural and perhaps a wise feeling, how much more averse must every reflecting man be to the ransacking of his inmost spirit for all its hidden emotions and passions, to the tearing away that shroud which oblivion may have kindly flung over his vices and his follies, or that fine