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solidity. He cannot fail of gaining the respect of his fellow-men, and as a consequence be elevated in his own estimation and increase the sum of his own happiness. For self-esteem, when founded on a good understanding, and indulged in rationally, is a powerful incentive to virtue, and to be virtuous is to be contented.
Thus far I have endeavored to show the importance of cultivating the understanding, the happy effect it produces on the character, and the influence it has, to create means to promote the comfort of old age. It is not however the sole means; there is another which is equally necessary, and which requires early culture to render it one of the blessings of life, and form one of the ingredients of good character. I mean the Imagination. This is a power of the mind by which may be created images of scenes which have no real existence, and which may not be like any of the objects that surround us. This power is in us for the seeming purpose of quickening the reasoning faculties, for we see in real life that without it the mind becomes heavy, and makes no onward progress in acquiring new perceptions. When the scenes thus created are founded on nature, we say the person who conceives them has a well-regulated imagi. nation; on the other hand, when they greatly depart from nature, we say he has a disordered imagination. If the departure from nature be slight, we say the image is colored; but when it is at total variance and the process is continued long and steadfastly, the person loses control over his thoughts and becomes what we call deranged, which means that his intellect has become disordered by an improper use of it; and when this irregular application of the intellect is directed toward any of the passions by which any one of them is called into action in a strong degree, the person's case is desperate.
The power of the imagination is very great, and increases in strength the more it is exercised; it will therefore at once be perceived, that unless we begin early to give it a proper direction, and keep it within the bounds of reality and virtue, we are raising against ourselves a force that must overwhelm us, even before age, if left to itself, could accomplish the work. A more dismal spectacle cannot be exhibited than that of an old man with an imagination beyond his control; who habitually suffers his thoughts so to wander and dwell on improper objects as no longer to have the power of regulating them. He has ceased to be a creature of reason, at the moment when of all others the realities of life should be present to his mind. I incline to the opinion that the imagination never leaves us ; that it is strong even in advanced life, when the passions are supposed to be weak, but being directed to objects where the passions are but little brought into play, and being unaccompanied by enthusiasm, it is not so apparent as it is in youth.
The liability of the mind to mixed emotions is a cause why the imagination may be made the source of pleasure, and also the fountain whence may spring much pain. If the understanding has been strengthened by proper culture, it may in most cases check its wanderings and form with it an alliance which will have a wholesome influence on the character. The understanding, like a sober matron, may give wise counsels when leading in the strait path of life, while her more lively follower may enliven the journey by a sprightly tale. The one will pursue her onward course with a firm step, while the other will occasionally go astray to gather flowers by the wayside. The imagination left to its own guidance soon misleads its votary. It elevates him at first by high expectations, which proving false, he flies to the other extreme, and is kept in dread of evils which may never befal him.
• Une imagination forte produit l'evenement mème,' says Montaigne. But there is a permitted range to the imagination, which is productive of real pleasure, and gives a stimulus to the functions of life, by exciting sensibilities and tastes which form the elements of high moral feeling. While the purest moral thoughts may be debased by the power the imaginative propensities possess of bringing them into alliance with animal sensations, it must yet be observed, by way of counterbalance, that objects of sense merely may be ennobled by ideas of beauty and order. If the imaginative tastes have been disciplined, the old have a medium of enjoyment, and may be said to live a second time the life they have passed. Memory is the first of the mental powers which gives sign of the decay of our vital energies; the imagination in some degree supplies its place by giving new action to the thinking faculties, and thus filling up the vacuum which might exist in the mind.
It is innocent, and a fit subject to engage the mind with, the imagining how we should act under untried circumstances; it may serve to prepare us to perform our duty, should the circumstances we paint to ourselves ever occur. We may safely indulge the pleasing vision which represents us as doing praiseworthy actions, for it may excite us, when under the influence of sober reason, to put into practice the virtue we only thought of. And the imagination is in the exercise of its legitimate functions when it presents to us subjects worthy of imitation, which harmonize with truth, and are adapted to our condition. We may figure to ourselves the new enjoyments we should experience by an improvement of our worldly state, and may imagine modes by which these enjoyments may be heightened. While the old, by the decay of memory, are prevented from drawing a full measure of pleasure from recollections of the past, and the realities of life may cease to produce their accustomed excitement; the exercise of the imagination offers a resource against weariness, and awakens the thoughts to new hopes of the future. The old may be permitted a wider scope for their visions, there being less danger to the intellect than if they were in the full use of all their vital functions.
In contemplating the objects of domestic life which surround them, the old may indulge freely in the pleasing anticipations of the future welfare of their near relatives or offspring, and thus derive a merited reward for the care they have bestowed upon the objects of their affection. A person with a cultivated understanding, as I have supposed one to be, and who has been an observer, cannot be wanting in the power of creating other sources of mental enjoy
ment, such as those derived from impressions made on the mind by the works of art or the beauties of nature. Objects of taste, the experiments of art and the improvements of science, may by rapid combinations of the imaginative powers be made subservient to the purpose of self-gratification, and occupy the thoughts with delightful recreation. The state of mind thus produced will influence the disposition to cultivate the social feelings and open the heart to the strongest impulses of natural affection. And what purer source of satisfaction can a sensible and warm-hearted person possess than in contributing to the comfort of others by his sympathy in their joys and sorrows; and, by showing them the tranquil pleasures he has acquired, teach them how to be old.
You have no doubt already perceived, dear Ahmaad, that my friend has mounted one of his hobbies. I think it advisable to stop him here, that you may not become wearied by the ride, intending hereafter to tax your patience by listening to much more that he said on the same subject.
New-York, seventh day of the Moon ?
Zoo'lckadeh : Hegira, 1260.
*I7 all our hopes and all our fears
Were prisoned in life's n'irrow boundo;
Wes no better world beyond;
What earthly this could pleasure give?
Oh, who would venture then to live ?' BOWERINO
What shall the end be? to sleep in dull silence,
Forever beneath the lone valley's cold sod ?
And never to look on the face of a God?
And was it for this, our miracle-birth?
Forever must lie on the cold lap of earth!
But no! the heart sickens at such a sad picture,
And revolts at the Infidel's boasted belief;
Where Jesus vouchsafed to the crucified thief,
Should sing a new song, and repeat the glad story
The spirit immortal, and wast it to glory.
THOUGHTS ON MEDIOCRIT Y.
BY 'THE DOCTOR.'
The blessing of mediocrity, that middle state, neither rich nor poor; neither famous nor insignificant ; neither ugly nor handsome; neither tall nor short ; neither fat nor lean; on a level; a fair sample of what man can be ; enjoying what man can enjoy ; not dying in one's youth, nor living down to the 'slippered pantaloon ;' is supposed very wise and pious to wish for, but practically very poor to have. With your leave, kind reader, we will endeavor, according to our poor ability, to show the true happiness of a state you are probably trying to avoid.
The unhappiness of wealth lies in this, that it disappoints the hopes. The rich man is disappointed. Not that wealth has it not in its power to do much good and compass noble ends ; not that it has not great privileges. But it is not every thing. If man ex. panded in heart as his purse swelled ; if his intellect grew with his pocket; if his moral views extended with his domains; if man were not man, but an angel, wealth would bring untold blessings, and I would pray for it as I pray now for a contented mind. But what is the case ? The boy, yes, the man, sees what he might do with it; he pines for it; works for it; drudges for it; and bas it. Where is he now himself ? He has contracted habits of mind and body in his acquisitions which he cannot throw off; he has outraged nature. He did not grow in benevolence as he increased in money. He occupies an elevation, to be sure. He is on a high mountain, and is chilled by the thin air. He is a wonder to his neighbors; an object of envy to many; but wealth does not bring him peace necessarily. He thought it would. It clogs him; it is weighty. The dollars sunk the sailor who jumped overboard to swim to land from a sinking ship with his pockets full of specie. We say, wealth acquired disappoints the hopes; and hope is necessary to happiness; hope for some great end. This the man of moderate fortune always may have. He is constantly bettering his condition, getting nearer and nearer to his object. His interest is awake; life is full of excitement to him. There is a curtain soon to be raised which shall display a magnificent scene. He is like the boy sitting in the theatre, before the curtain rises. The noise and din of life is the music of the orchestra to him ; soon, very soon—next year, perhaps — his hopes will be fulfilled! We hope not, for human happiness. For then he will be like the same boy going home at twelve o'clock at night from his stolen pleasure, to find himself locked out. He has come to the end of the play, and is in the cold street without rest.
But look at genius. It is an excrescence; unnatural, even if beautiful. Too large fruit breaks the branches of the tree. Our