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Their benevolence was sometimes praised, but their admonitions were unregarded.
The vessels in which we had embarked being confessedly unequalto the turbulence of the stream of life, were visibly impaired in the course of the voyage ; so that every passenger was certain, that how long soever he might, by favourable accidents, or by incessant vigilance, be preserved, he must sink at last.
This necessity of perishing might have been expected to sadden the gay, and intimidate the daring, at least to keep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, and hinder them from any enjoyment of the varieties and gratifications which nature offered them as the solace of their labours ; yet in effect none seemed less to expect destruction than those to whom it was most dreadful; they all had the art of concealing their danger from themselves; and those who knew their inability to bear the sight or terrors that embarrased their way, took care never to look forward, but found some amusement for the present moment, and generally entertained themselves by playing with Hope, who was the constant associate of the
voyage of life.
Yet all that Hope ventured to promise, even to those whom she favoured most, was, not that they should escape, but that they should sink last; and with this promise every one was satisfied, though he laughed at the rest for seeming to believe it. Hope, indeed, apparently mocked the credulity of her companions ; for in proportion as their vessels grew leaky, she redoubled her assurances of safety ; and none were more busy in
making provisions for a long voyage, than they whom all but themselves saw likely to perish soon by irreparable decay.
In the midst of the current of life was the gulf of INTEMPERANCE, a dreadful whirlpool, interspersed with rocks, of which the pointed crags were concealed under water, and the tops covered with herbage, on which Ease spread couches of repose, and with shades where PLEASURE warbled the song of invitation. Within sight of these rocks all who sailed on the ocean of life must necessarily pass. Reason, indeed, was always at hand to steer the passengers through a narrow outlet by which they might escape; but very few could, by her intreaties or remonstrances, be induced to put the rudder into her hand, without stipulating that she should approach so near unto the rocks of PLEASURE, that they might solace themselves with a short enjoyment of that delicious region, after which they always determined to pursue their course without any other deviation.
Reason was too often prevailed upon so far by these promises, as to venture her charge within the eddy of the gulf of INTEMPERANCE, where, indeed, the circumvolution was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel, and drew it, by insensible rotations, towards the centre. She then repented her temerity, and with all her force endeavoured to retreat ; but the draught of the gulph was generally too strong to be overcome ; and the passenger, having danced in circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, was at last overwhelmed and lost. Those few whom REASON was able to extricate, generally suffered so many shocks upon the
points which shot out from the rocks of PLEASURE, that they were unable to continue their course with the same strength and facility as before, but floated along timorously and feebly, endangered by every breeze, and shattered by every ruffle of the water, till they sunk, by slow degrees, after long struggles, and innumerable expedients, always repining at their own folly, and warning others against the first approach of the gulf of INTEMPERANCI.
There were artists who professed to repair the breaches and stop the leaks of the vessels which had been shattered on the rocks of PLEASURE. Many appeared to have great confidence in their skill, and some, indeed, were preserved by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow ; but I remarked that few vessels lasted long which had been much repaired, nor was it found that the artists themselves continued afloat longer than those who had least of their assistance.
The only advantage which, in the voyage of life, the cautious had above the negligent, was, that they sunk later, and more suddenly; for they passed forward till they had sometimes seen all those in whose company they had issued from the streights of infancy, perish in the way and at last were overset by a cross breeze, without the toil of resistance, or the anguish of expectation. But such as had often fallen against the rocks of PLEASURE, commonly subsided by sensible degrees,contended long with the encroaching waters, and harassed them. selves by labours that scarce Hope herself could Aatter with success.
As I was looking upon the various fate of the multitude about me, I was suddenly alarmed with
an admonition from some unknown Power, “ Gaze “ not idly upon others, when thou thyself art “ sinking. Whence is this thoughtless tranquil. “ lity, when thou and they are equally endanger. « ed?” I looked, and seeing the gulph of IxTEMPERANCE before me, started and awaked.*
No 103. TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 1751.
Scire volunt secreta demus, atque inde timeri,
They search the secrets of the house, and so
CURIOSITY is one of the permanent and certain charactersticks of a vigorous intellect. Every advance into knowledge opens new prospects, and produces new incitements to further progress. All the attainments possible in our present state are evidently inadequate to our capacities of enjoyment ; conquest serves no purpose but that of kindling ambition, discovery has no effect but of raising expectation; the gratification of one desire encourages' another ; and after all our labours, studies, and inquiries, we are continually at the same distance from the completion of our schemes,
have still some wishimportunate to be satisfied, and some faculty restless and turbulent for want of its' enjoyment.
The desire of knowledge, though often animated by extrinsick and adventitious motives, seems on many occasions to operate without subordination to any other principle ; we are eager to see and hear, without intention of referring our observations to a farther end ; we climb a mountain for a prospect of the plain ; we run to the strand in a storm, that we may contemplate the agitation of the water ; we range from city to city, though we profess neither architecture nor fortification ; we cross seas only to view nature in nakedness, or magnificence in ruins ; we are equally allured by novelty of every kind, by a desert or a palace, a cataract or a cavern, by every thing rude and every thing polished, every thing great and every thing little ; we do not see a thicket but with some temptation to enter it, nor remark an insect flying before us but with an inclination to pursue it.
This passion is, perhaps regularly heightened in proportion as the powers of the mind are elevated and enlarged. Lucan therefore introduces Cæsar speaking with dignity suitable to the grandeur of his designs and the extent of his capacity, when he declares to the high-priest of Egypt, that he has no desire equally powerful with that of finding the origin of the Nile, and that he would quit all the projects of the civil war for a sight of those fountains which had been so long concealed. And Homer, when he would furnish the Sirens with a temptation, to which his hero, renowned for wisdom, might yield with disgrace, makes them Vol. II.