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and descended from parents remarkable for nothing but the innocence and simplicity of their lives : that in the twenty-first year of his age, he was seized with à consumption, which put an end to his life.
Nothing, methinks, has more the power of awakening benevolence, than the consideration of genius thus depressed by situation, suffered to pine in obscurity, and sometimes, as in the case of this unfortunate young man, to perish, it may be, for want of those comforts and conveniences which might have fostered a delicacy of frame or of mind, ill calculated to bear the hardships which poverty lays on both. For my own part, I never pass the place (a little hamlet skirted with a circle of old ash trees, about three miles on this side of Kinross) where Michael Bruce resided : I never look on his dwelling, small thatched house distinguished from the cottages of the other inhabitants only by a sashed window at the end, instead of a lattice, fringed with a honey-suckle plant, which the poor youth had trained around it ;-I never find myself in that spot, but I stop my horse involuntarily ;- and looking on the window, which the honey-suckle has now almost covered, in the dream of the moment, I picture out a figure for the gentle tenant of the mansion ; I wish, and my heart swells while I do so, that he were alive, and that I were a great man to have the luxury of visiting him there, and bidding him be happy. I cannot carry my readers thither ; but, that they may share some of my feelings, I will present them with an extract from the last poem in the little volume before me, which from its subject, and the manner in which it is written, cannot fail of touching the heart of every one who reads it.
A young man of genius, in a deep consumption, at the age of twenty-one, feeling himself every moment going faster to decline, is an object sufficiently in
teresting ; but how much must every feeling on the occasion be heightened, when we know that this person possessed so much dignity and composure of mind as not only to contemplate his approaching fate, but even to write a poem on the subject !
In the French language there is a much admired poem of the Abbé de Chaulicu, written in expectation of his own death, to the Marquis la Farre, lamenting his approaching separation from his friend. Michael Bruce, who, it is probable, never heard of the Abbé de Chaulieu, has also written a poem on his own approaching death; with the latter part of which I shall conclude this paper.
Now spring returns; but not to me returns
The vernal joy my better years have known:
And all the joys of life with health are flown.
Meagre and pale, the ghost of what I was,
And count the silent moments as they pass
No art can stop, or in their course arrest ;
And lay me down in peace with them that rest.
And morning dreams, as poets tell, are true.
And bid the realms of light and life adieu!
I see the muddy wave, the dreary shore,
Which mortals visit, and return no more.
Enough for me the church-yard's lonely mound,
And the rank grass waves o'er che cheerless ground
There let me wander at the close of eve,
When sleep sits dewy on the labourer's eyes,
And talk with wisdom where my Daphnis lies.
When death shall shut these weary aching eyes,
Till the long night is gone, and the last morn arise.
N° 37. TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 1779.
TIBUL. The following essay I received some time ago from a Correspondent, to whom, if I may judge from the hand-writing, I was once before indebted for an in. genious communication.
The experience which every day affords, of the more tifying difference between those ideal pleasures which we conceive to flow from the possession of certain objects of our wishes, and the feelings consequent upon their actual attainment, has furnished to most moralists a text for declaiming on the vanity of hu. man pursuits, the folly of covetousness, the madness of ambition, and the only true wisdom of being humbly satisfied with the lot and station which Providence has assigned us.
It will not appear extraordinary, that those moralists have hitherto laboured in vain, when it is considered that their doctrine, taken in the latitude in
which they usually preach it, would cut off the greatest source of our happiness, overthrow every social establishment, and is nothing less than an attempt to alter the nature of man. It may be a truth, that the balance of happiness and misery is much the same in most conditions of life, and consequently that no change of circumstances will either greatly enlarge the one, or diminish the other. But, while we know that, to attain an object of our wishes, or to change our condition, is not to increase our happiness, we feel, at the same time, that the pursuit of this object, and the expectation of this change, can increase it in a very sensible degree. It is by hope that we truly exist; our only enjoyment is the expectation of something which we do not possess : the recollection of the past serves us but to direct and regulate those expectations; the present is employed in contemplating them : it is therefore only the future which we may be properly said to enjoy.
A philosopher who reasons in this manner, has a much more powerful incentive to cheerfulness and contentment of mind, than what is furnished by that doctrine which inculcates a perpetual warfare with ourselves, and a restraint upon the strongest feelings of our nature. For, while he feels that the possession of the object of his most earnest desires has given him far less pleasure than was promised by a distant view of it, he is consoled by reflecting that the expectation of this object has, perhaps, bright. ened many years of his life, enabled him to toil for its attainment with vigour and alacrity, to discharge, with honour, his part in society; in short, has given him in reality as substantial happiness as human nature is capable of enjoying.
Though several years younger than Euphanor, I have been long acquainted with him. He is now in his fifty-second year; an age when, with most men, the romantic spirit and enthusiasm of youth have long given place to the cool and steady maxims of business and the world. It is, however, a peculiarity of my friend's disposition, that the same sanguine temperament of mind which, from infancy, has attended him through life, still continues to actuate him as strongly as ever. As he discovered, very early, a fondness for classical learning, his father, at his own desire, advanced his patrimony for his edu. cation at the university. At the age of twenty he was left without a shilling, to make the best of his talents in any way he thought proper. Certain concurring circumstances, rather than choice, placed him as an under-clerk in a counting.house. His favourite studies were here totally useless ; but while he gave to business the most scrupulous attention, they still, at the intervals of relaxation, furnished his chief amusement. It would be equally tedious and foreign to my purpose to mark minutely the steps by which Euphanor, in the course of thirty years application to business, rose to be master of the moderate fortune of twenty thousand pounds. My friend always considered money not in the com. mon light, as merely the end of labour, but as the means of purchasing certain enjoyments which his fancy had pictured as constituting the supreme hap, piness of life.
In the beginning of last spring Į received from Euphanor the following letter ;
My dear Sir, • You, who are familiar with my disposition, will • not be surprized at a piece of information, which, • I doubt not, will occasion some wonder in the ge6 neral circle of my acquaintance. I have now fairly . begun to execute that resolution, of which you • have long heard me talk, of entirely withdrawing