ページの画像
PDF
ePub

PROSPECTIVE CONTRIVANCES.

25

pro

a

for the refraction of light to a focus, and perfect for its purpose, before a ray of light has had access to it; geometrically adapted to the properties and action of an element with which it has no communication. It is about indeed to enter into that communication: and this is precisely the thing which evidences intention. It is providing for the future in the closest sense which can be given to these terins; for it is viding for a future change; not for the then subsisting condition of the animal; not for any gradual progress or advance in that same condition; but for a new state, the consequence of a great and sudden alteration, which the animal has to undergo at its birth. Is it to be believed that the eye was formed, or, which is the same thing, that the series of causes was fixed by which the eye is formed, without a view to this change; without a prospect of that condition, in which its fabric, of no use at present, is about to be of the greatest ; without a consideration of the qualities of that element, hitherto entirely excluded, but with which it was hereafter to hold so intimate a relation? A young man makes a pair of spectacles for himself against he grows old; for which spectacles he has no want or use whatever at the time he makes them. Could this be done without knowing and considering the defect of vision to which advanced age is subject? Would not the precise suitableness of the instrument to its purpose, of the remedy to the defect, of the convex lens to the flattened eye, establish the certainty of the conclusion, that the case, afterwards to arise, had been considered beforehand, speculated upon, provided for all which are exclusively the acts of a reasoning mind. The eye formed in one state, for use only in another state, and in a different state, affords a proof no less clear of destination to a future purpose; and a proof proportionably stronger, as the machinery is more complicated, and the adaptation more exact.

VOL. IV.

The Diffusion of Happiness.

It is a happy world after all. The air, the earth, the water, teem with delighted existence. In a spring noon, or a summer evening, on whichever side I turn my eyes, myriads of happy beings crowd upon my view. “The insect youth are on the wing." Swarms of new born flies, are trying their pinions in the air. Their sportive motions, their wanton mazes, their gratuitous activity, their continual change of place without use or purpose, testify their joy, and the exultation which they feel in their lately discovered faculties. A bee amongst the flowers in spring, is one of the most cheerful objects that can be looked upon. Its life appears to be all enjoyment; so busy, and so pleased; yet it is only a specimen of insect life, with which, by reason of the animal being half domesticated, we happen to be better acquainted than we are with that of others. The whole winged insect tribe, it is probable, are equally intent upon their proper employments, and, under every variety of constitution, gratified, and perhaps equally gratified, by the offices which the Author of their nature has assigned to them. But the atmosphere is not the only scene of enjoyment for the insect

Plants are covered with aphides, greedily sucking their juices, and constantly, as it should seem, in the act of sucking. It cannot be doubted but that this is a state of gratification. What else should fix them so close to the operation, and so long? Other species are running about, with an alacrity in their motions which carries with it every mark of pleasure. Large patches of ground are sometimes half covered with these brisk and sprightly natures. If we look to what the waters produce, shoals of the fry of fish frequent the margins of rivers, of lakes, and of the sea itself. These are so happy, that they know not what to do with themselves. Their attitudes, their vivacity, their leaps out of the water, their frolics in it (which

race.

SHRIMPS MERRY-MAKING.

27

I have noticed a thousand times with equal attention and amusement), all conduce to shew their excess of spirits, and are simply the effects of that excess. Walking by the sea-side, in a calm evening, upon a sandy shore, and with an ebbing tide, I have frequently remarked the appearance of a dark cloud, or, rather, very thick mist, hanging over the edge of the water, to the height, perhaps, of half a yard, and of the breadth of two or three yards, stretching along the coast as far as the eye could reach, and always retiring with the water. When this cloud came to be examined, it proved to be nothing else than so much space, filled with young shrimps, in the act of bounding into the air from the shallow margin of the water, or from the wet sand. If

any

motion of a mute animal could express delight, it was this : if they had meant to make signs of their happiness, they could not have done it more intelligibly. Suppose then, what I have no doubt of, each individual of this number to be in a state of positive enjoyment; what a sum, collectively, of gratification and pleasure have we here before our view ? The

young of all animals appear to me to receive pleasure simply from the exercise of their limbs and bodily faculties, without reference to any end to be attained, or any use to be answered by the exertion. A child, without knowing anything of the use of language, is in a high degree delighted with being able to speak. Its incessant repetition of a few articulate sounds, or, perhaps, of the single word which it has learnt to pronounce, proves this point clearly. Nor is it less pleased with its first successful endeavours to walk, or rather to run (which precedes walking), although entirely ignorant of the importance of the attainment to its future life, and even without applying it to any present purpose. A child is delighted with speaking, without having anything to say, and with walking, without knowing where to go. And, prior to both these, I am disposed to believe, that the waking hours of infancy are agreeably taken up with the exercise of vision, or perhaps, more properly speaking, with learning to see.

But it is not for youth alone that the great Parent of creation hath provided. Happiness is found with the purring cat, no less than with the playful kitten; in the arm-chair of dozing age, as well as in either the sprightliness of the dance, or the animation of the chase. To novelty, to acuteness of sensation, to hope, to ardour of pursuit, succeeds, what is, in no inconsiderable degree, an equivalent for them all,“ perception of ease.” Herein is the exact difference between the young and the old. The young are not happy, but when enjoying pleasure; the old are happy, when free from pain. And this constitution suits with the degrees of animal power which they respectively possess. The vigour of youth was to be stimulated to action by impatience of rest; whilst to the imbecility of age, quietness and repose become positive gratifications. In one important respect the advantage is with the old. A state of ease is, generally speaking, more attainable than a state of pleasure. A constitution, therefore, which can enjoy ease, is preferable to that which can taste only pleasure. This same perception of ease oftentimes renders old age a condition of great comfort, especially when riding at its anchor after a busy or tempestuous life. It is well described by Rousseau, to be the interval of repose and enjoyment, between the hurry and the end of life. How far the same cause extends to other animal natures, cannot be judged of with certainty. The appearance of satisfaction, with which most animals, as their activity subsides, seek and enjoy rest, affords reason to believe, that this source of gratification is appointed to advanced life, under all, or most, of its various forms. In the species with which we are best acquainted, namely our own, I am far, even as an observer of human life, from thinking that youth is its happiest season, much less the only happy one: as a Christian, I am willing to believe that there is a great deal of truth in the

[blocks in formation]

following representation, given by a very pious writer, as well as excellent man: "To the intelligent and virtuous, old age presents a scene of tranquil enjoyments, of obedient appetite, of well-regulated affections, of maturity in knowledge, and of calm preparation for immortality. In this serene and dignified state, placed as it were on the confines of two worlds, the mind of a good man reviews what is past with the complacency of an approving conscience; and looks forward, with humble confidence in the mercy of God, and with devout aspirations towards His eternal and everlasting favour.”

6

The Uses of Pain. [The foregoing extract, as well as the following, is taken from the chapter “Of the Goodness of the Deity." Like most of the work, it was interrupted by paroxysms of a painful disorder, which eventually proved fatal. Paley's physician, Dr Clark, “often expressed his admiration at the fortitude with which he bore the most painful attacks, and at the readiness, and even cheerfulness, with which, on the first respite from pain, he resumed his literary labours. When Dr Paley speaks of the power which pain has of shedding satisfaction over intervals of ease, which few enjoyments exceed;' and assures us that 'a man resting from severe pain is, for the time, in possession of feelings which undisturbed health cannot impart, the sentiment flowed from his own feelings. He was himself that man; and it is consolatory, amidst the nu

l merous diseases to which the human frame is liable, to find how compatible they are with a certain degree of comfort, and even enjoyment. Something may, indeed, be attributed in Dr Paley, to a vigour of intellect which is allowed to very few; but it cannot be doubted that resignation in suffering is less the gift of great intellectual powers, than of well-regulated religious feelings." *

* Meadley's Memoirs of Paley, p. 205.

a

« 前へ次へ »