« PreviousContinue »
not die till their time comes. How scan. dalously do these men misunderstand Solomon and abuse truth! How would it startle us to hear our friends say, “ that let them sleep and play, as they please, they shall not be beggars till their time comes.''
Solomon does indeed say, that “ the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong ;' but he must be no better than a madman, who thence infers, that it is not generally so. For the invariable and eternal experience of mankind demonstrates, that ninety-nine times in an hundred, the race is to the swift, and the battle to the strong, bread to the industrious, and health to the temperate.
But it is a matter of fact, and not to be denied, that, though temperance has the divine efficacy to secure us from violent disease and unnatural death,yet it is not to be supposed to make a man immortal. It is impossible but that time, which effaces all things, should likewise destroy that most curious workmanship of God, the human body: but it is man's privilege to end his days by a natural death, that is, without pain and agony, as they will see me, when the heat and strength of nature is quite exhausted. But I promise myself, that day is a pretty comfortable distance off yet, and I fancy I am not mistaken, because I am still healthy and brisk, relish all I eat, sleep quietly, and find no defect in
senses. Be fides, all the faculties of
mind are in the highest perfection ; my understanding clear and bright as ever ; my judg. ment found ; my memory tenacious ; my spirits good; and my voice, the first thing that fails others, still so strong and sonorous, that every morning and evening, with my dear grand-children around me, I can address my prayers and chant the praises of the Almighty. O, how
glorious this life of mine is like to be, replete with all the félicities which man can enjoy on this side of the grave; and exempt from that sensual brutality which age has enabled my better reason to banish, and therewith all its bitter fruits, the extravagant passions and distressful perturbations of mind.
Nor yet can the fears of death find room in
mind as I have no licensed fins, to cherish such gloomy thoughts : neither can the death of relations and friends give me any o. ther grief than that of the first move, ment of nature, which cannot be avoid. ed, but is of no long continuance. Still less am I liable to be cast down by the lofs of wordly goods. I look on these things as the property of heaven; I can thank him for the loan of so many comforts, and when his wisdom fees fit to withdraw them, I can look on their departure without murmuring.--This is the happiness of thofe only, who
old in the ways of temperance and virtue; a happiness which feldom attends the most flourishing youth who live in vice. Such are all subject to a thousand disorders, both of body and mind, from which I am entirely free : on the contrary, I enjoy a thousand pleasures, which are as pure as they are calm.
The first of these is to do service to my country. O! what a glorious amusement, in which I find infinite delight, in shewing my countrymen how to fortify this our dear city of Venice, in fo excellent a manner, as to make her a famous republic, a rich and matchless city. Another amusement of mine is, that of shewing this maid and queen of cities, in what manner she may always abound with provisions, by manuring untilled lands, draining marshes, and laying under water, and thereby fattening fields, which had all along been barren for want of moisture. My third
amusement is in shewing my native city, how, though already strong, she may be rendered much stronger ; and, tho' extremely beautiful, may still increase in beauty; though rich, may acquire more wealth, and may be made to enjoy better air, though her air is excellent. These three amusements, all arising from the idea of public utility, I enjoy in the highest degree. Another very great comfort I enjoy is, that having been defrauded when young, of a considerable estate, I have made ample amends for that loss, by dint of thought and industry, and without the least wrong done to any person, have doubled my income, so that I am able not only to provide for my dear grand-children, but to educate and aslift many poor youth to begin the world.
And I cannot help saying, I reflect with more pleasure on what I lay out in that way, than in