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Whom yet my fruitless search could never find.
When, strict enquiring, from herself he found
“ And art thou then Acasto's dear remains ? She, whom my restless gratitude has sought, So long in vain? O heavens! the very same, The softened image of my noble friend, Alive his ev'ry look, his ev'ry feature, More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than spring! Thou sole surviving blossom from the root That nourish'd up my fortune! Say, ah! where, In what sequester’d desert, hast thou drawn The kindest aspect of delighted HEAVEN! Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair; Though poverty's cold wind, and crushing rain, Beat keen, and heavy on thy tender years? Oh, let me now, into a richer soil, Transplant thee safe! where vernal suns and showers, Diffuse their warmest, largest influence : And of my garden be the pride, and joy! Ill it befits thee, oh, it ill befits ACASTO's daughter, his whose open stores, Though vast, were little to his ampler heart, The father of a country, thus to pick The very refuse of those harvest-fields, Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy. Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand, But ill apply'd to such a rugged task ; The fields, ihe master, all, my fair, are thine, If to the various blessings which thy house Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss, That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee!"
Here ceas'd the youth ; yet still his speaking eye Express'd the sacred triumph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
ON THE VANITY OF RICHES.
Riches make themselves wings and flee away.—Prov. xxiii. 5.
we are too prone to imagine the condition of others preferable to our own: we change, it may be, our situation, but therein find not the happiness we expected, and yet remain unconvinced of our folly. We pursue, vainly pursue, the fleeting, phantoms which enfeebled hope raises in the distempered imagination, although disappointment attends every step, and mocks every endeavour. We either find the objects of our wishes recede in proportion to our advances, or, if possessed, that they prove inadequate to our sanguine expectations.
One of the most deceitful bubbles that ever danced before the eye of human vanity, is wealth. It glitters at a distance, and appears replete with every requisite essential to terrestrial felicity. It attracts the attention of numbers from every other object, and kindles, in the breasts of its candidates, an inextinguishable ardour to acquire it. By weak minds it is considered as the highest sublunary good; and therefore to attain it, is to exclude every want, and to possess every satisfaction.
But, alas ! wealth often flies the pursuer, and in the end, leaves him tired, languid, and disappointed with the fruitless chace. To some indeed, she grants her favours with peculiar liberality, and adınits them to rifle her golden treasury. But are these in " a spot to real happiness confined ?". No surely; they find, by unprofitable experience, that the possession of riches falls far short of their fond expectations.
Riches are not able to confer that felicity they promise, or to avert those evils which they are supposed capable of preventing. They are unable to limit the licentiousness of desire, to fill the grasp of avarice, to guard the avenues through which afflictions enter, or to afford that happiness which is expected from them. The possession of wealth introduces wants not less numerous, not less importunate, than those we complain of in a state of poverty. They are, indeed, different in kind, but not less destructive of that felicity we vainly seek after in this imperfect state. We are very apt to conclude, that those are exempt from unhappiness, on whom prosperity beams her radiance, and whose dwellings are circumfused with affluence. In the erring estimation of short-sighted mortals, “ their lines are cast in pleasant places;" but a little reflection will convince us, that they are “encompassed with many sorrows."
View the men who have free access to the temple of riches, and you will not find them happier than others : they have still numerous wants, which increase with their acquisitions ; and still more numerous fears, arising from their very possessions, to which those in humbler stations, are ulter strangers. Some find their desires strengthened by the increase of their wealth, and the more they inherit, the more unbounded is their grasp. Were it possible for such to accumulate all the treasures of the earth, they would still be unsatisfied ; and, like Alexander, weep because there was no other world within their reach to plunder. Others, whose desires are more circumscribed, and who appear contented with their present possessions, are not less unhappy. Men cannot essentially possess more than they enjoy; the rest, like a cipher on the left hand of a figure, is of no value: unprofitable as to any useful purpose, it is only a barren splendour, which, like the glare of a comet, although it shines at a distance, yet affords no warmth to invigorate him who gazes on it: he may contemplate it with barren admiration, but cannot render it subservient to any of the most valuable purposes of life.
Such, therefore, as possess more wealth than is sufficient to furnish the reasonable wants of humanity, are generally employed in a laborious search after pleasures yet untasted, in which they hope to find unmixed happiness. There is, indeed, one source of pleasure, which the enjoyment of wealth opens to a rational mind, but few there are who find it. The extension of help to the helpless, of relief to the miserable, and of comfort to those who dwell in the regions of adversity, are employments attended with the purest satisfaction. To awaken joy in countenances overspread with the gloom of sorrow, is attended with sensations of the most refined delight, and tunes the soul to the sweetest harmony. This is the noblest use to which wealth can be applied ; the essential end for which Heaven has dispensed it. But, alas ! how few are there amongst the great and opulent who exercise themselves in such benevolent, such godlike actions ! how few, whose minds are refined enough to relish the satisfaction arising from such a beneficent and praise-worthy conduct !
The generality of the rich and affluent spend their time and substance in a course of falsely-estimated pleasure, which, while it affords a momentary gratification to some desires, creates others more difficult to be satisfied. Every indulgence of the passions, beyond the boundaries of reason and temperance, either increases the appetite for more extensive enjoyment, or cloys with a languid satiety. These are effects equally destructive of true happiness. In this dilemma the mind is perpetually tossed, like a vessel without a rudder on the boisterous ocean. It is still hurried on by the gales of passion in pursuit of something yet untried, which is supposed more capable of conferring happiness : but this, when obtained, leaves us equally unsatisfied, and at an equal distance from the object of our wishes.
AN EXTRAORDINARY INSTANCE OF AVARICE,
MONSIEUR FOSCUE, one of the farmers-general of the province of Languedoc, in France, who had amassed considerable wealth by grinding the faces of the poor within his province, by which he rendered himself universally hated, was one day ordered by the government to raise a considerable sum ; upon which, as an excuse for not complying with the demand, he pleaded extreme poverty; but, fearing lest some of the inhabitants of Languedoc should give information to the contrary, and his house should be searched, he resolved on hiding his treasure in such a manner, as to escape the most strict examination.
He dug a kind of cave in his wine cellar, which he made so large and deep that he used to go down to it with a ladder; at the entrance was a door with a spring lock on it, which on shutting would fasten of itself. Very lately, Monsieur Foscue was missing, diligent search was made after him in every place; the ponds were drawn, and every method, which huinan imagination could suggest, was taken for finding him, but all in vain.
In a short time after, his house was sold, and the purchaser beginning either to rebuild it, or make some alterations in it, he workmen discovered a door in the cellar, with a key in the lock, which he ordered to be opened, and on going dow", they found Monsieur Foscue lying dead on the ground, with a candlestick near him, but no candle in it
, which he bad eat; and on searching farther, they found the vast wealth that he had amassed. It is supposed, that, when Monsieur Foscue went into his cave, the door by some accident shut after him, and being out of the call of any person, he perished for want of food. He bad gnawed the flesh off both his arms, as is supposed, for subsistence. Thus did this miser die in the midst of his treasure, to the scandal of himself, and to the prejudice of the state.
ON THE BENEFITS OF ADVERSITY.
“ Good when he gives, supremely good,
Nor less wben be denies;
THE sacred writings, in almost every page, warn mankind against the insolence of prosperity, and afford the most striking pictures of men, who, having been raised from nothing to greatness, became insensible to every past office of friendship, and sinned against that very zeal or favour, to which they principally owed their elevation. On the other hand, Adversity is described in the holy volume as the salutary chastisement of an all-wise and affectionate parent, who wishes to reclaim his child, and to call back the prodigal to his Father's home.
Prosperity frequently inflates the mind, as particular diseases enlarge the circumference of the body, a change