« ZurückWeiter »
ON THE QUESTION ;
HOPE OR FRUITION?
or fruition imparts the greatest pleasure to the human breast? To this quettion we can all speak from our own experience. None of us can have lived, even a few years in this world, without having often indulged hopes, which have sometimes been disappointed, and sometimes answered by events.
Whenever our expectations have been realized, we can judge whether the pleasure which we then rece ved, was equal to that which we enjoyed in the prof. pect. Inexperienced youth may confidently affirm, ihat participation affords a greater pleasure than expectation ; but if we refer ourselves to the decision of persons advanced in years, I fear we shall, almost always find them to be of a different opinion.
This is a question on which every one must form an opinion for himself, and on which opinions may be as various as the circumstances and dispositions of men. Some have been far more fortunate than others, and fome might be happy in the same situations in which others would be wretched. Can it then be expected that all thould return the same answer to the proposal of our question ? For my own part, I am confidently persuaded, that enjoyment feldoms answers expectation.
Some few instances may, perhaps, be adduced as exceptions. It may be said that we receive greater
pleasure from meeting with absent friends, than from the expectation of seeing them. This I shall not controvert. But how many other instances might be mentioned, in which it would be folly to deny, that the pleasure confifted chiefly in expectation? When one situation in life, is exchanged for another, which it is thought will be more agreeable; how seldom is it found that the change is what we expected? The acquisition of wealth, fame, honour, or authority, will very rarely answer the expectation which they had excited. To their votaries we may safely appeal for the truth of this assertion. Were not mankind constituted so, as to de. fire those things, they would have little or nothing, as to the present state of existence, to stimulate them to exertion. When they have obtained their defires, ftill they are dissatisfied, and proceed to some other pursuits. To be continually devising new schemes of happiness, and perpetually disappointed in expectation, is the deftined lot of humanity. Were we destitute of 'hope, how small á fhare of happiness would arise from enjoy: ment! Where is the man to be found, who is satisfied with what he possesses ?-Who does not look forward to something from which he expects to have his happiness increased ? In expectation, delight is often experienced ; but when our desires are obtained, how small is the gratification! Thus we find it by experience; and are never so happy as when we are full of animating profpects. We are then active and enterprising-not easily deterred by the difficulties which are before us. When we have succeeded in our projects, we find how little we have gained. Is not this agreeable to the ordinary experience of mankind? Can it be said that men in general, receive as much pleasure from the success of their schemes, as they do from looking forward to their completion ? If this question be answered in the affirmative, the answer can only be referred to his own future experience. By thať teft he will, perhaps, be convinced that our pleasure in this life, confifts, prin
cipally, in expectation; and be led to adopt the fentiment of Burns, the famous Scotch Poet:
Happy ye sons of busy life,
No other view regard ;
They bring their own reward." It was wisely appointed by the Author of our Being, that all our enjoyments in the present state of existence, should be transient and unsatisfactory. Our desires do not meet with full gratification, because it was not intended that we should continue here forever. Did every thing succeed according to our wishes, and our enjoyments prove equal to our expectations, we should think a future state no part of our concern. We could not reflect without the greatest reluctance, on leaving this world for one which is unknown; and the thought that death is inevitable, would be attended with pun
But now, when the mind has been convinced by experience, that all things below are frail, uncertain, and delulive; when it is assured that a state of happiness remains, in the expectation of which it will not be dir. appointed, it can look forward without regret, to the period when it must take a final leave of scenes to which it lias always been accustomed, and which, at last, have ceared to be desirable. The only remaining obstacle is parting with friends, whom we have valued and elteemed. But this is removed by the consideration, that they, as well as we, thall again exist in a happicr ftate; and that we shall never again be separated.
The insufficiency of all our acquisitions to afford compiete and lasting satisfaction, is likewise considered as à forcible argument, that we are designed for a higher sphere of action and enjoyment, than that in which we at present exist. Our desires are never fully
fatisfied, nor our faculties improved to the degree of which they are capable. If death terminates our exiftence for ever, man appeurs to have been made in vain. Dr. Young has some beautiful lines on this subject, with which I shall conclude. Speaking of man, he threwdly remarks:
“ His immortality alone can solve
And He who made him bent him to the right.
(From a View of the Russian Empire, by William
Tooke, F. R. S.] SHE sea-bear appears in troops in the eastern ocean, principally between the
the Aleutan islands. The largest of these animals are ninety Englith inches in length, and weigh eighteen or twenty pood. They resemble no land-animal more than the bear, excepring only the feet, and the hinder part of the body, which terminates in a grotesque figure.. What is more singular in the structure of these animals is their finny feet, having not only joints and toes, by which they are enabled to go on thore, to fit on their breech like the dog, and to use their paws in various ways, but likewife, by means of the web between their toes, to swim with equal ease. The manners of these animals are so peculiar and extraordinary, that the account of them would be deemed a fiction, were it not accredited by the teftimony of a sagacious and learned observer. The affection of the mother for her young is exceedingly great ; and they, in return, endeavour to divert her by various kinds of frolicrome play. On seeing these gambols, it seems as if they were exercising feats of wrestling; one striving to give the other a fall; and if the father comes up growling, he drives the wrestlers afunder, coaxes the conqueror, and even tries himself to throw him to the ground: the greater the resistance shown by the latter, the more he gains the love of the parents, to whom, on the other hand, their flothful or timid children appear to give but little joy. Though polygamy prevails among the sea-bears, and some of zhein have as many as fifty wives, yet every one watches over his offspring with uncommon jealousy, and is excefsively furious if a stranger come too near to them. Even when they lie by thousands on the beach, they are always divided family-wise into companies, and in like manner they swim together in the ocean.
The aged, who no longer have any wives, live solitary, and are, of all, the most grim : these frequently pass a whole month on the shore in feep, without taking any food; but whatever apprcaches them, whether man or beast, they fall upon with the most outrageous fury. The sea. bears, at times, wage bloody wars together, the usual ground of hoftility being either the females or a good couching place. When two are contending against one, others come up to assist the weaker party, and during the combat, the swimming (pectators raise their heads above the water, and calmly look on for a length of time, till they also find a motive for mingling in the fight. Sometimes these conflicting armies cover a tract on the shore of two or three versts, and all the air re