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or we cannot have any conceptions of thein at all: He allows we ought to reason from earth, that we do know, to heaven which we do not know; how can we do so but by that affinity which appears between one and the other!
In vain then does my Lord attempt to ridicule the warm but melancholy imagination of Mr. Wollaston in that fine soliloquy: “ Must I then bid my last farewel
to these walks when I close these lids, and yonder “ blue regions and all this scene darken upon me and “ go out? Must I then only serve to furnish dust to “ be mingled with the ashes of these herds and plants,
with this dirt under my feet? Have I been set so “ far above them in life, only to be levelled with them 16 in death *?" No thinking head, no heart, that has the least sensibility, but must have made the same reflection; or at least must feel, not the beauty alone, but the truth of it when he hears it from the mouth of another. Now what reply will Lord Bolingbroke make to these questions which are put to him, not only by Wollaston, but by all mankind? He will tell
that we, that is, the animals, vegetables, stones, and other clods of earth, are all connected in one immense design, that we are all Dramatis Persona, in different charac
* Religion of Nature delineated, sect. 9, p. 209, quarto.
ters, and that we were not made for ourselves, but for the action: that it is foolish, presumptuous, impious, and profane to murmur against the Almighty Author of this drama, when we feel ourselves unavoidably unhappy. On the contrary, we ought to rest our head on the soft pillow of resignation, on the immoveable rock of tranquillity; secure, that, if our pains and afflictions grow violent indeed, an immediate end will be put to our miserable being, and we shall be mingled with the dirt under our feet, a thing common to all the animal kind; and of which he who complains does not seem to have been set by his reason so far above them in life, as to deserve not to be mingled with them in death. Such is the consolation his philosophy gives us, and such the hope on which bis tranquillity was founded." *
* The reader, who would choose to see the argument, as Lord Bolingbroke puts it, will find it in the 4th volume of his Philosophical Works, sect. 40, 41. His ridicule on Wollaston is in the 50th section of the same volume.
MR. GRAY TO DR. WHARTON.
Sunday, April 9, 1758.
Am equally sensible of your affliction *, and of your kindness, that made you think of me at such a moment; would to God I could lessen the one, or requite the other with that consolation which I have often received from you when I most wanted it! but your grief is too just, and the cause of it too fresh, to admit of any such endeavour: What, indeed, is all human consolation? Can it efface every little amiable word or action of an object we loved, from our memory? Can it convince us, that all the hopes we had entertained, the plans of future satisfaction we had formed, were illgrounded and vain, only because we have lost them? The only comfort (I am afraid) that belongs to our condition, is to reflect (when time has given us leisure for reflection) that others have suffered worse; or that we ourselves might have suffered the same misfortune at times and in circunstances that would probably have aggravated our sorrow. You might have seen
* Occasioned by the death of his eldest (and at the time his only) son.
this poor child arrived at an age to fulfil all your hopes, to attach you more strongly to him by long habit, by esteem, as well as natural aflection, and that towards the decline of your life, when we most stand in need of support, and when he might chance to have been your only support; and then by some unforeseen and deplorable accident, or some painful lingering distemper, you might have lost him. Such has been the fate of many an unhappy father! I know there is a sort of tenderness which infancy and innocence alone produce; but I think you must own the other to be a stronger and a more overwhelming sorrow. then beseech you to try, by every method of avocation and amusement, whether you cannot, by degrees, get the better of that dejection of spirits, which inclines you to see every thing in the worst light possible, and throws a sort of voluntary gloom, not only over your present, but future days; as if even your situation now were not preferable to that of thousands round you; and as if your prospect hereafter might not open as much of happiness to you as to any person you know: the condition of our life perpetually instructs us to be rather slow to hope, as well as to despair; and (I know you will forgive me, if I tell you) you are often a little too basty in both, perhaps from constitution; it is sure we have great power over our own minds, when we
choose to exert it; and though it be difficult to resist the mechanic impulse and bias of our own temper, it is yet possible, and still more so to delay those resolutions it inclines us to take, which we almost always have cause to repent.
You tell me nothing of Mrs. Wharton's or your own state of health: I will not talk to you more upon
this subject till I hear you are both well; for that is the grand point, and without it we may as well not think at all. You flatter me in thinking that any thing I can do *, could at all alleviate the just concern your loss has given you; but I cannot flatter myself so far, and know how little qualified I am at prssent to give any satisfaction to myself on this head, and in this way, much less to you. I by no means pretend to inspiration; but yet I affirm, that the faculty, in question, is by no means voluntary; it is the result (I suppose) of a certain disposition of mind, which does not depend on one's self, and which I have not felt this long time. You that are a witness how seldom this spirit has moved me in my life, may easily give credit to what I
* His friend had requested him to write an Epitaph on the child,