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of pleasure. Large patches of ground are sometimes half covered with these brisk and sprightly natures. If we look to what the waters produce, shoals of the fry of fish frequent the margins of rivers, of lakes, and of the sea itself. These are so happy that they know not what to do with themselves. Their attitudes, their vivacity, their leaps out of the water, their frolics in it (which I have noticed a thousand times, with equal attention and amusement), all conduce to show their excess of spirits, and are simply the effects of that excess.
Walking by the sea-side in a calm evening upon a sandy shore, and with an ebbing tide, I have frequently remarked the appearance of a dark cloud, or rather very thick mist, hanging over the edge of the water, to the height perhaps of half a yard, and of the breadth of two or three yards, stretching along the coast as far as the eye could reach, and always retiring with the water. When this cloud came to be examined, it proved to be nothing else than so much space filled with young shrimps in the act of bounding into the air from the shallow margin of the water, or from the wet sand. If any motion of a mute animal could express delight, it was this; if they had meant to make signs of their happiness, they could not have done it more intelligibly. Suppose, then, what I have no doubt of, each individual of this number to be in a state of positive enjoyment; what a sum, collectively, of gratification and pleasure have we here before our view !
The young of all animals appear to me to receive pleasure simply from the exercise of their limbs and bodily faculties, without reference to any end to be
attained, or any use to be answered by the exertion. A child, without knowing anything of the use of language, is in a high degree delighted with being able to speak. Iis incessant repetition of a few articulate sounds, or pernaps of the single word which it has learned to pronounce, proves this point clearly. Nor is it less pleased with its first successful endeavours to walk, or rather to run (which precedes walking), although entirely ignorant of the importance of the attainment to its future life, and even without applying it to any present purpose. A child is delighted with speaking, without having anything to say; and with walking, without knowing where to go. And, prior to both these, I am disposed to believe that the waking hours of infancy are agreeably taken up with the exercise of vision, or perhaps, more properly speaking, learning to see.
But it is not for youth alone that the great Parent of creation hath provided. Happiness is found with the purring cat no less than with the playful kitten; in the arm-chair of dozing age, as well as in either the sprightliness of the dance, or the animation of the chase. To novelty, to acuteness of sensation, to hope, to ardour of pursuit, succeeds what is, in no inconsiderable degree, an equivalent for them all, “ perception of ease.” Herein is the exact difference between the young and the old. The young are not happy but when enjoying pleasure ; the old are happy when free from pain. And this constitution suits with the degrees of animal power which they respectively possess. The vigour of youth was to be stimulated to action by impatience of rest; whilst to the imbe. cility of age, quietness and repose become positive gratifications. In one important step the advantage is with the old. A state of ease, is, generally speaking, more attainable than a state of pleasure. A constitution therefore which can enjoy ease, is preferable to that which can taste only pleasure. This same perception of ease oftentimes renders old age a condition of great comfort, especially when riding at its anchor after a busy or tempestuous life. It is well described by Rousseau to be the interval of repose and enjoyment between the hurry and the end of life. How far the same cause extends to other animal natures, cannot be judged of with certainty. The appearance of satisfaction with which most animals, as their activity subsides, seek and enjoy rest, affords reason to believe that this source of gratification is appointed to advanced life under all or most of its various forms. In the species with which we are best acquainted, namely, our own, I am far, even as an observer of human life, from thinking that youth is its happiest season, much less the only happy WILBER FORCE.
On the Effects of Religion. When the pulse beats high, and we are flushed with youth, and health, and vigour; when all goes on prosperously, and success seems almost to anticipate our wishes, then we feel not the want of the consolations of religion: but when fortune frowns, or friends forsake us; when sorrow, or sickness, or old age comes upon us, then it is that the superiority of the pleasures of religion is established over those of dissipation and vanity, which are ever apt to fly from us when we are most in want of their aid. There is scarcely a more melancholy sight to a considerate mind, than that of an old man who is a stranger to those only true sources of satisfaction. How affecting, and at the same time how disgusting, to see such a one awkwardly catching at the pleasures of his younger years, which are now beyond his reach: or feebly attempting to retain them, while they mock his endeavours and elude his grasp! To such a one gloomily, indeed, does the evening of life set in! All is sour and cheerless. He can neither look backward with complacency, nor forward with hope; while the aged Christian, relying on the assured mercy of his Redeemer, can calmly reflect that his dismission is at hand ; that his redemp
tion draweth nigh. While his strength declines, and his faculties decay, he can quietly repose himself on the fidelity of God; and at the very entrance of the valley of the shadow of death, he can lift up an eye dim perhaps and feeble, yet occasionally sparkling with hope, and confidently looking foward to the near possession of his heavenly inheritance, “ to those joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.” What striking lessons have we had of the precarious tenure of all sublunary possessions ! Wealth, and power, and prosperity, how peculiarly transitory and uncertain! But religion dispenses her choicest cordials in the seasons of exigence, in poverty, in exile, in sickness, and in death. The essential superiority of that support which is derived from religion is less felt, at least it is less apparent, when the Christian is in full possession of riches and splendour, and rank, and all the gifts of nature and fortune. But when all these are swept away by the rude hand of time or the rough blasts of adversity, the true Christian stands, like the glory of the forest, erect and vigorous; stripped, indeed, of his summer foliage, but more than ever discovering to the observing eye the solid strength of his substantial texture.