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defects, and a continual resuscitation of desires which he feels himself unable to gratify.
So certainly is weariness and vexation the concomitant of our undertakings, that every man, in whatever he is engaged, consoles himself with the hope of change. He that has made his way by assiduity and vigilance to public employment, talks among his friends of nothing but the delight of retirement: he whom the necessity of solitary application secludes from the world, listens with a beating heart to its distant noises, longs to mingle with living beings, and resolves, when he can regulate his hours by his own choice, to take his fill of merriment and diversions, or to display his abilities on the universal theatre, and enjoy the pleasures of distinction and applause.
Every desire, however innocent or natural, grows dangerous, as by long indulgence it becomes ascendant in the mind. When we have been much accustomed to consider any thing as capable of giving happiness, it is not easy to restrain our ardour, or to forbear some precipitation in our advances and irregularity in our pursuits. He that has long cultivated the tree, watched the swelling bud, and opening blossom, and pleased himself with computing how much every sun and shower added to its growth, scarcely stays till the fruit has obtained its maturity, but defeats his own cares by eagerness to reward them. When we have diligently laboured for any purpose, we are willing to believe that we have attained it, and, because we have already done much, too suddenly conclude that no more is to be done.
All attraction is increased by the approach of the attracting body. We never find ourselves so desirous to finish, as in the latter part of our work, or so impatient of delay, as when we know that delay cannot be long. Part of this unseasonable importunity of discontent may be justly imputed to languor and weariness, which must always oppress us more as our toil has been longer continued; but the greater part usually proceeds from frequent contemplation of that ease which we now consider as near and certain, and which, when it has once flattered our hopes, we cannot suffer to be longer withheld. Rambler
19.-The Funeral of Mr Betterton.
HAVING received notice, that the famous actor Mr Betterton was to be interred this evening in the cloisters near Westminster Abbey, I was resolved to walk thither, and see the last office done to a man whom I had always very much admired, and from whose action I had received more strong impressions of what is great and noble in human nature, than from the arguments of the most solid philosophers, or the description of the most charming poets I had ever read. As the rude and untaught multitude are no way wrought upon more effectually than by seeing public punishments and executions; so men of letters and education feel their humanity most forcibly exercised, when they attend the obsequies of men who had arrived at any perfection in liberal accomplishments. Theatrical action is to be esteemed as such, except it be objected, that we cannot call that an art which cannot be attained by art. Voice, stature, motion, and other gifts, must be very bountifully bestowed by nature, or labour and industry will but push the unhappy endeavourer, in that way, the farther off his wishes.
Such an actor as Mr Betterton ought to be recorded with the same respect as Roscius among the Romans. The greatest orator has thought fit to quote his judg ment and celebrate his life. Roscius was the example to all that would form themselves into proper and winning behaviour. His action was so well adapted to the sentiments he expressed, that the youth of Rome thought they wanted only to be virtuous to be as graceful in their appearance as Roscius; and they who never thought of setting up for the art of imitation, became themselves inimitable characters.
There are no human inventions so aptly calculated for the forming of a free-born people as that of a theatre. Tully reports, that the celebrated player of whom I am speaking used frequently to say, The perfection of an actor is only to become what he is doing. Young men, who are too inattentive to receive lectures, are irresistibly taken with performances. Hence it is, that I extremely
lament the little relish the gentry of this nation have at present for the just and noble representations in some of our tragedies. The operas, which are of late introduced, can leave no trace behind them that can be of service beyond the present moment. To sing and dance are accomplishments very few have any thoughts of prac tising; but to speak justly and move gracefully, is what every man thinks he does perform, or wishes he did.
I have hardly a notion, that any performer of antiquity could surpass the action of Mr Betterton in any of the occasions in which he has appeared on our stage. The wonderful agony which he appeared in, when he examined the circumstance of the handkerchief in Othello; the mixture of love that intruded upon his mind upon the innocent answers Desdemona makes, betrayed in his ges ture such a variety and vicissitude of passions, as would admonish a man to be afraid of his own heart, and` perfectly convince him that it is to stab it, to admit that worst of daggers, jealousy. Whoever reads in his closet this admirable scene, will find that he cannot, except he has as warm an imagination as Shakespeare himself, find any but dry, incoherent and broken sentences: but a reader that has seen Betterton act it, observes, there could not be a word added; that longer speeches had been unnatural, nay impossible, in Othello's circumstances. The charming passage in the same tragedy, where he tells the manner of winning the affection of his mistress, was urged with so moving and graceful an energy, that while I walked in the cloisters, I thought of him with the same concern as if I waited for the remains of a person who had in real life done all that I had seen him represent. The gloom of the place, and faint lights before the ceremony appeared, contributed to the melancholy disposition I was in; and I began to be extremely afflicted, that Brutus and Cassius had any difference; that Hotspur's gallantry was so unfortunate; and the mirth and good humour of Falstaff could not exempt him from the grave. Nay, this occasion in me, who look upon the distinctions amongst men to be merely scenical, raised reflections upon the emptiness of all human perfection and greatness in general; and
I could not but regret, that the sacred heads which lie buried in the neighbourhood of this little portion of earth in which my poor old friend is deposited, are returned to dust as well as he, and that there is no difference in the grave between the imaginary and the real monarch. This made me say of human life itself with Macbeth:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
20.-The Folly of mispending Time.
An ancient poet, unreasonably discontented at the present' state of things, which his system of opinions obliged him to represent in its worst form, has observed of the earth', "That its greatest' part is covered by the uninhabitable ocean'; that of the rest', some is encumbered with naked mountains', and some lost under barren sands'; some scorched with unintermitted heat', and some petrified with perpetual frost'; so that only a few regions remain for the production of fruits', the pasture of cattle', and the accommodation of man'."
The same observation may be transferred to the time' allotted us in our present state. When we have deducted all that is absorbed in sleep', all that is inevitably appropriated to the demands of nature', or irresistibly engrossed by the tyranny of custom'; all that passes in regulating the superficial decorations of life', or is given up in the reciprocations of civility to the disposal of others'; all that is torn from us by the violence of disease', or stolen imperceptibly away by lassitude and languor'; we shall find that' part of our duration very small of which we can truly call ourselves masters', or
which we can spend wholly at our own choice'. Many of our hours are lost in a rotation of petty cares', in a constant recurrence of the same employments'; many of our provisions for ease or happiness' are always exhausted by the present day; and a great part of our existence serves no other purpose, than that of enabling us to enjoy the rest`.
Of the few moments which are left' in our disposal, it may reasonably be expected', that we should be so frugal', as to let none of them slip from us without some equivalent; and perhaps it might be found, that as the earth, however straitened by rocks and waters, is capable of producing more than all its inhabitants are able to consume', our lives', though much contracted by incidental distraction', would yet afford us a large space vacant to the exercise of reason' and virtue`; that we want not time', but diligence', for great performances; and that we squander' much of our allowance, even while we think it sparing and insufficient`.
An Italian philosopher expressed in his motto', that time was his estate; an estate' indeed, which will produce nothing without cultivation', but will always abundantly repay the labours of industry, and satisfy the most extensive' desires, if no part of it be suffered to lie waste by negligence, to be overrun with noxious plants', or laid out for show' rather than for use`. Rambler.
21.-The Vision of Sir Isaac Bickerstaff.
I WAS last week taking a solitary walk in the garden of Lincoln's Inn, (a favour that is indulged me by several of the Benchers who are my intimate friends, and grown old with me in this neighbourhood), when, according to the nature of men in years, who have made but little progress in the advancement of their fortune or their fame, I was repining at the sudden rise of many persons who are my juniors, and indeed at the unequal distribution of wealth, honour, and all other blessings of life, I was lost in this thought, when the night came upon me, and drew my mind into a far more agreeable contemplation. The heaven above me appeared in all its