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bably have been tempted by the dæmon of property, if some legal difficulties had not been started against my title; a contest would have been vexatious, doubtful, and invidious; and the heir most gratefully subscribed an agreement, which rendered my lifepossession more perfect, and his future condition more advantageous. Yet I had often revolved the judicious lines in which Pope answers the objections of his long-sighted friend :
Pity to build without or child or wife;
Whether the name belong to Pope or Vernon ?" The certainty of my tenure has allowed me to lay out a considerable sum in improvements and alterations : they have beer. executed with skill and taste; and few men of letters, perhaps, in Europe, are so desirably lodged as myself. But í feel, and with the decline of years I shall more painfully feel, that I am alone in paradise. Among the circle of my acquaintance at Lausanne, I have gradually acquired the solid and tender friendship of a respectable family;* the four persons of whom it
composed are all endowed with the virtues best adapted to their age and situation; and I am encouraged to love the parents as a brother, and the children as a father. Every day we seek and find the opportunities of meeting: yet even this valuable connection cannot supply the loss of domestic society.
Within the last two or three years our tranquillity has been clouded by the disorders of France; many families at Lausanne were alarmed and affected by the terrors of an impending bankruptcy; but the revolu. tion, or rather the dissolution of the kingdom, has been heard and felt in the adjacent lands.
I beg leave to subscribe my assent to Mr Burke's creed on the revolution of France. I admire his eloquence, I approve his politics, I adore his chivalry,
* The family of de Severy.
and I can almost excuse his reverence for church establishments. I have sometimes thought of writing a dialogue of the dead, in which Lucian, Erasmus, and Voltaire, should mutually acknowledge the danger of exposing an old superstition to the contempt of the blind and fanatic multitude.
A swarm of emigrants of both sexes, who escaped from the public ruin, has been attracted by the vici. nity, the manners, and the language, of Lausanne ; and our narrow habitations in town and country are now occupied by the first names and titles of the departed monarchy. These noble fugitives are entitled to our pity; they may claim our esteem; but they cannot, in their present state of mind and fortune, much contribute to our ainusement. Instead of looking down as calm and idle spectators on the theatre of Europe, our domestic harmony is somewhat embittered by the infusion of party spirit : our ladies and gentlemen assume the character of self. taught politicians; and the sober dictates of wisdom and experience are silenced by the clamour of the triumphant democrates. The fanatic missionaries of sedition have scattered the seeds of discontent in our cities and villages, which have flourished above two hundred and fifty years without fearing the approach of war or feeling the weight of government. Many individuals, and some communities, appear to be infected with the Gallic phrenzy, the wild theories of equal and boundless freedom; but I trust that the body of the people will be faithful to their sovereign and to themselves; and I am satisfied that the failure or success of a revolt would equally terminate in the ruin of the country. While the aristocracy of Berne protects the happiness, it is superfluous to inquire whether it be founded in the rights, of man : the economy of the state is liberally supplied without the aid of taxes ; and the magistrates must reign with prudence and equity, since they are unarmed in the midst of an armed nation.
The revenue of Berne, excepting some small duties, is derived from church lands, tithes, feudal rights, and interest of money: The republic has nearly 500,0001. sterling in the English funds, and the amount of their treasure is unknown to the citizens themselves. For myself (may the omen be averted !) I can only declare, that the first stroke of a rebel drum would be the signal of my immediate depar. ture.
When I contemplate the common lot of mortality, I must acknowledge that I have drawn a high prize in the lottery of life. The far greater part of the globe is overspread with barbarism or slavery: in the civilized world the most numerous class is condemned to ignorance and poverty; and the double fortune of my birth in a free and enlightened country, in an honourable and wealthy family, is the lucky chance of an unit against millions. The general probability is about three to one, that a new-born infant will not live to complete his fiftieth year.* I have now passed that age, and may fairly estimate the present value of my existence in the threefold division of mind, body, and estate.
1. The first and indispensable requisite of happiness is a clear conscience, unsullied by the reproach or remembrance of an unworthy action :
Hic murus aheneus esto, Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa. I am endowed with a cheerful temper, a moderate sensibility, and a natural disposition to repose rather than to activity : some mischievous appetites and habits have perhaps been corrected by philosophy or time. The love of study, a passion which derives
* See Buffon, Supplément à l'Histoire Naturelle, tom. vii, page 158—164: of a given number of new-born infants, one-half, by the fault of nature or man, is extinguished before the age of puberty and reason. A melancholy eal. culation !
fresh vigour from enjoyment, supplies each day, each hour, with a perpetual source of independent and rational pleasure ; and I am not sensible of any decay of the mental faculties. The original soil has been highly improved by cultivation ; but it may be questioned whether some flowers of fancy, some grateful errors, have not been eradicated with the weeds of prejudice. 2. Since I have escaped from the long perils of my childhood, the serious advice of a physician has seldom been requisite. " The madness of superfluous health” I have never known, but my tender constitution has been fortified by time, and the inestimable gift of the sound and peaceful slumbers of infancy may be imputed both to the mind and body. 3. I have already described the merits of my society and situation, but these enjoyments would be tasteless or bitter, if their possession were not assured by an annual and adequate supply. According to the scale of Switzerland, I am a rich man; and I am indeed rich, since my income is superior to my expense, and my expense is equal to my wishes. My friend lord Sheffield has kindly relieved me from the cares to which my taste and temper are most adverse. Shall I add, that since the failure of my first wishes, I have never entertained any serious thoughts of a matrimonial connection?
I am disgusted with the affectation of men of letters, who complain that they have renounced a substance for a shadow, and that their fame (which sometimes is no insupportable weight) affords a poor compensation for envy, censure, and persecution.* My own experience, at least, has taught me a very different
* Mr d'Alembert relates, that as he was walking in the gardens of Sans Souci with the king of Prussia, Frederic said to him, “ Do you see that old woman, a poor weeder, asleep on that sunny bank ? She is probably a more happy being than either of us.” The king and the philosopher may speak for themselves; for my part I do not envy tha old woman.
lesson; twenty happy years have been animated by the labour of my History, and its success has given me a name, a rank, a character, in the world, to which I should not otherwise have been entitled. The freedom of my writings has indeed provoked an implacable tribe; but as I was safe from the stings, I was soon accustomed to the buzzing of the hornets : my nerves are not tremblingly alive, and my literary temper is so happily framed, that I am less sensible of pain than of pleasure. The rational pride of an author may be offended, rather than flattered, by vague indiscriminate praise ; but he cannot, he should not, be indifferent to the fair testimonies of private and public esteem. Even his moral sympathy may be gratified by the idea, that now, in the present hour, he is imparting some degree of amusement or knowledge to his friends in a distant land; that one day his mind will be familiar to the grandchildren of those who are yet unborn.* I cannot boast of the friendship or favour of princes; the patronage of English literature has long since been devolved on our booksellers, and the measure of their liberality is the least ambiguous test of our common success. Perhaps the golden mediocrity of my fortune has contributed to fortify my application,
* In the first of ancient or modern romances (Tom Jones) this proud sentiment, this feast of fancy, is enjoyed by the genius of Fielding :-" Come, bright love of fame, &c. fill my ravished fancy with the hopes of charming ages yet to come. Foretell me that some tender maid, whose grandmother is yet unborn, hereafter, when, under the fictitious name of Sophia, she reads the real worth which once existed in my Charlotte, shall from her sympathetic breast send forth the heaving sigh. Do thou teach me not only to foresee but to enjoy, nay even to feed on future praise. Comfort me by the solemn assurance, that when the little parlour in which I sit at this moment shall be reduced to a worse-furnished box, I shall be read with honour by those who never knew nor saw me, and whom I shall neither know nor see.” Book xiii. chap 1.