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comfort, enjoyment, and support of others. Of the pressure to which agriculturists have been subjected, he has cheerfully borne his portion: he is not rich, but he is virtuous, he is happy, and, above all, he is independent.
The holy vessel of the Athenians, during a course of seven hundred years, had been so often rebuilt, that some of their sophists maintained it was no longer the same ship, and frequently used it as an illustration in discussing the question of personal identity. I myself, both in body and mind, had undergone such a total replacement of feelings and ideas, in my little existence of threescore years, that I was inclined to think myself a different personage altogether from the short-sighted youth, who considered forty as a grave paternal age, and connected sixty with nothing but ideas of decrepitude and decay. I remember when I thought that the consciousness of getting old and approaching the edge of the dread abyss, must, at the former age, begin to dim the sunshine of existence, and at the latter be sufficient to overcloud and darken all its enjoyments. These spectres of fancy vanished as I came near them. At forty I set myself down for a young man: and finding myself at sixty hale, hearty, and happy, able to dig in my garden, enjoy literature and the arts, and cultivate the Muse with a keener relish of existence than ever, I settled in my own mind that this was the real meridian and zenith of human life. Children, when first they ride in a carriage, imagine that the trees and houses are moving on while they are stationary; and in like manner I could see plainly enough the ravages
of time upon my contemporaries, and observe that they were getting on, while I myself seemed to have been standing still, and at some loss to account for all my old friends running a-head of me. This is another illustration of that benignant provision of nature, which will not suffer even our self-love to be wounded, and equalises the happiness of life's various stages, by making even the foibles of age minister to its enjoyments. Whether or not this happy self-delusion retained its power at a more advanced period, will be seen as I proceed to that portion of my life which extends
FROM SIXTY TO SEVENTY.
The over-weening and somewhat triumphant estimate which I had formed of my three-score meridian was slightly checked, by my hearing one friend whis per to another at a dinner-party,-"Old W-begins to twaddle; he has told us that story half a dozen times lately."-Old W! that amen "stuck in my throat ;" it threatened my zenith, and savoured of the azimuth. Six times too! I protest it was but three, but that I confess was twice two much. My memory certainly had lost a portion of its tenacity, and unless I could retain impressions long enough to allow them to strike root, they quickly withered away; in which emergency I was, perhaps, too apt to trade upon my youthful capital of anecdotes. This defect I endeavoured to remedy by a common-place book; for if I forced myself to remember one thing, I not unfrequently forgot another. It appeared as if the chamber of the brain were full, and could only accommodate
new tenants by ejecting the old ones. reminded of my repetition of the same story to the same party, I instantly recalled the fact, which proves that my offence was a want of recollection rather than of memory, a distinction not always attended to.One, however, is often the precursor of the other. Considering that novelty has generally been deemed a necessary ingredient in the production of laughter, I have been sometimes astonished at the punctual burst with which my old bon-mots were invariably followed up by myself, even when others have observed a provoking gravity; and have been at a loss to decide whether it were habit, or sympathy with my first enjoyment of the joke awakening a kind of posthumous echo. At all events I set a good example; if others would not follow it, more shame for them.
My communion with nature in the beauty of her external forms, far from diminishing at this period, became every year more intense and exquisite, heightening by reflection my relish for the works of art; but I observed in the latter my eye derived its principal gratification from gracefulness of figure and outline, rather than from composition, colouring, or scientific display. Thus, I preferred statuary to painting, as it suffered my attention to feed without interruption upon the harmonious proportions and symmetry of the great goddess; and in the graphic art I found more delight in a single drawing of the divine Raphael, than in all the hues of Titian and the colourists, or all the patient elaboration of the Flemish and Dutch minia
turists. In my love of nature I felt jealous of the artist beyond mere fidelity of form (I speak principally of figures); and in engraving, where there is no colour to compensate for alienating the eye, I deemed that style the best which is confined to outline. Some of the commoner productions of this sort are generally lying on my table, and I find undiminished delight in the French Cupid and Psyche from the paintings of Raphael's pupils, Hope's Costumes of the Ancients, etchings of the Elgin Marbles, Retch's Faustus, and other similar productions. Generally speaking, artists and professors appear to me to acquire a false artificial taste, which, overlooking the simple and natural, makes difficulty of execution the test of excellence,— a mistake extending from painters and sculptors down to opera-dancers and musicians.
My mind is less excursive than it was; it requires less excitement, and is satisfied with less nutriment, preserving, in its mystic union with the body, a consentaneous adaptation; for, though I walk or ride out whenever the weather permits, I can no longer exercise limbs as I was wont. my A sunny seat in my garden begins to be preferred to my old grey mare. I sit there sometimes for a considerable time, and think that I am thinking, but I find that the hour has passed away in a dreamy indistinctness-a sort of half consciousness, sufficient for enjoyment, though incapable of definition. These waking dreams may be a resource of nature for recruiting the mind, as I have always found mine more vigorous and active after such indulgence.
There is one calamity to which age seems inevitably exposed-the dropping off into the grave of our early friends and associates, as we advance towards the final bourne and seem to have most need of their social offices. But nature, ever on the watch to provide substitutes for our deprivations, while she blunts our sympathies in this direction, quickens them in another, by raising up a new circle of friends in our children and grand-children, less subject to the invasion of death, and better qualified by attachment and gratitude to minister to the wants of the heart. These are the affections that garland it with the buds and blossoms of a second spring; these are the holy band whose miraculous touch can bid the thorn of mortality, like that of Glastonbury, break forth into flowers even in the Christmas of our days. This is the cup of joy that contains the sole aurum potabile, the genuine elixir vitæ that can renovate our youth and endow us with a perpetuity of pleasure.
In my former solitary wanderings and contemplations of nature, I had delighted to let my imagination embody forth the dreams of Grecian mythology and fable; to metamorphose the landscape that surrounded me to the mountains and dells of Arcadia and Thessaly; to people the woods and waters with nymphs, fauns, Dryads, Oreads, and Nereids; losing myself in classical recollections, and bidding them occasionally minister to the inspirations of the Muse. But the charms of rural scenery now kindled in my bosom a higher and holier sentiment. I looked out upon the beautiful earth, clothed in verdure and festooned with