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of them, employments suited to a reasonable nature, and bring great fatisfaction to the person who can bufy himself in them with difcretion.
THERE is another kind of virtue, that may find employment for those retired hours, in which we are altogether left to ourselves, and deftitute of company and converfation; I mean that intercourfe and communication, which every reasonable creature ought to maintain, with the great author of his being. The man who lives under an habitual fenfe of the Divine prefence, keeps up a perpetual chearfulness of temper; and enjoys, every moment, the fatisfaction of thinking himself in company with his deareft and best of friends. The time never lies heavy upon him it is impoffible for him to be alone. His thoughts and paffions are the most bufied, at fuch hours, when those of other men are the most unactive. He no fooner steps out of the world, than his heart burns with devotion, fwells with hope, and triumphs in the consciousness of that Prefence which every where furrounds him; or, on the contrary, pours out its fears, its forrows, its apprehenfions, to the great Supporter of its exiftence. But, because the mind cannot be always in this fervour, nor ftrained up to a pitch of virtue, it is neceffary to find out proper employments for it, in its relaxations.
THE next method, therefore, that I would propofe to fill up our time, fhould be useful and innocent diverfions. I must confefs, I think it is below reasonable creatures, to be altogether converfant in fuch diverfions as are merely innocent, and have nothing else to recommend them, but that there is no hurt in them. Whether any kind of gaming has even thus much to fay for itself, I fhall not determine but I think it is very wonderful, to fee peo
ple of the best sense, paffing away hours together, in fhuffling and dividing a pack of cards; with no converfation, but what is made up of a few gamephrases; and no other ideas, but thofe of black or red fpots, ranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh, to hear such persons complaining that life is fhort?
THE ftage might be made a perpetual fource of the most noble and useful entertainments, were it under proper regulations.
BUT the mind never unbends itself so agreeably, as in the converfation of a well-chofen friend. There is, indeed, no bleffing of life, that is any way comparable to the enjoyment of a difcreet and virtuous friend. It eafes and unloads the mind, clears and improves the understanding, engenders thoughts and knowledge, animates virtue and good refolution, fooths and allays the paffions, and finds employment for moft of the vacant hours of life.
NEXT to fuch an intimacy with a particular perfon, one would endeavour after a more general conversation, with such as are able to entertain and improve those with whom they converfe; which are qualifications that seldom go asunder.
THERE are many other useful amusements of life; which one would endeavour to multiply; that one might, on all occafions, have recourfe to fomething, rather than fuffer the mind to lie idle, or run adrift with any paffion that chances to rise in it.
IMPERTINENCE IN DISCOURSE.
HIS kind of impertinence, is a habit of talking much, without thinking.
A man who has this diftemper in his tongue, fhall entertain you, though he never faw you before, with a long story in praife of his own wife, give you the particulars of his last night's dream, or the defcription of a feaft he has been at, without letting a fingle difh escape him. When he is thus entered into conversation, he grows very wife; defcants upon the corruption of the times, and the degeneracy of the age we live in; from which, as his tranfitions are fomewhat fudden, he falls upon the price of corn, and the number of ftrangers that are in town. He undertakes to prove, that it is better putting to sea in fpring, than in winter; and that rain is neceffary to produce a good crop of corn: telling you, in the fame breath, that he intends to plough up fuch a part of his estate next year; that the times are hard, and that a man has much ado to get through the world. His whole difcourfe is nothing but hurry and incoherence. He acquaints you, that Demippus had the largest torch at the feaft of Ceres; afks you, if you remember how many pillars are in the mufic-theatre; tells you, that he took phyfic yesterday; and defires to know, what day of the month it is. If you have patience to hear him, he will inform you, what festivals are kept in August, what in October, and what in December.
WHEN you fee fuch a fellow as this coming towards you, run for your life. A man had much better be vifited by a fever; fo painful is it to be faftened upon by one of this make, who takes it for granted, that you have nothing else to do, but to give him a hearing.
LMOST that attracts our no
Atice, has its bright and its dark fide. He who
habituates himself to look at the difpleafing fide, will
ARACHNE and MELISSA are two friends. They
ed, or to a hand or finger which had been left unfinifhed. Her garden is a very beautiful one, and kept with great neatness and elegancy; but, if you take a walk with her in it, fhe talks to you of nothing but blights and ftorms, of fnails and caterpillars, and how impoffible it is to keep it from the litter of falling leaves and worm cafts. If you fit down in one of her temples, to enjoy a delightful profpect, she obferves to you, that there is too much wood, or too little water; that the day is too funny, or too gloomy; that it is fultry or windy; and finishes with a long harangue upon the wretchednefs of our climate. When you return with her to the company, in hope of a little cheerful converfation, fhe cafts a gloom over all, by giving you the history of her own bad health, or of fome melancholy accident that has befallen one of her daughter's children. Thus the infenfibly finks her own spirits, and the fpirits of all around her; and, at laft, discovers, fhe knows not why that her friends are grave.
MELISSA is the reverfe of all this. By conftantly habituating herself to look only on the bright fide of objects, fhe preferves a perpetual cheerfulnefs in herself, which by a kind of happy contagion, fhe communicates to all about her. If any misfortune has befallen her, fhe confiders it might have been worfe, and is thankful to Providence for an escape. She rejoices in folitude, as it gives an opportunity of knowing herfelf; and in fociety, because she can communicate the happiness fhe enjoys. She opposes every man's virtues, to his failings; and can find out fomething to cherish and applaud, in the very worft of her acquaintance. She opens evey book with a defire to be entertained or inftructed, and therefore feldom miffes what fhe looks for.