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that even Jupiter would not dare to pretend to. Thus it is, that the four lovers disperse, and leave the old gentleman more embarrassed than ever, and his daughters perfectly enchanted to enjoy their whimsical reveries, and die old maids.


We possess, among our own native treasures, two treatises on this subject, composed with no ordinary talent, and not their least value consists in one being an apology for solitude, while the other combats that prevailing passion of the studious. Zimmerman's popular work is overloaded with common-place; the garrulity of eloquence, which has been found very agreeable to the great mass of readers. The two treatises now noticed may be compared to the highly-finished gems, whose figure may be more finely designed, and whose strokes may be more delicate in the smaller space they occupy, than the ponderous block of marble hewed out by the German chiseler.

Sir George Mackenzie, a polite writer and a most eloquent pleader, published in 1665 a moral essay, preferring Solitude to public employment. The eloquence of his style was well suited to the dignity of his subject; the advocates for solitude have always prevailed over those for active life, because there is something sublime in those feel. ings which would retire from the circle of indolent triflers, or depraved geniuses; who, like a certain species of insects, are born, and can only live, in corruption. The tract of Mackenzie was ingeniously answered by the elegant taste of John Evelyn, in 1667; of this last tract, the editor of “ Censura Literaria," in his first volume, has given an analysis ; but that ingenious and fervent compiler has not noticed the superior composition of the Scotch writer. Mackenzie, though he wrote in favour of solitude, passed a very active life, first as a pleader, and afterwards as a judge; that he was an eloquent writer, and an excellent critic, and a wit, we have the authority of Dryden, who says, that till he was acquainted with that noble wit of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzie, he had not known the beautiful turn of words and thoughts in poetry, which Sir George had explained and exemplified to him in conversation. As a judge, and king's advocate, will not the barbarous customs of the age defend his name? he is most hideously painted forth by the dark pencil of a poetical Spagnoletti-Mr. Grahame, in his poem on

56 The Birds of Scotland." Sir George lived in the age of rebellion--and used torture; we must entirely put aside his political, to attend to his literary character. Blair has quoted his pleadings as a model of eloquence, and Mr. Grahame is unjust to the fame of Mackenzie, when he alludes to his “half-forgotten name." In 1689, he retired to Oxford, to indulge the luxuries of study in the Bodleian Library, and to practise that solitude which so delighted him in theory; but three years afterwards he fixed himself in London. Evelyn, who wrote in favour of public employment being preferable to solitude, passed his days in the tranquillity of his studies, and wrote against the habits which he himself most loved. By this it may appear, that, that of which we have the least experience ourselves, will ever be what appears most delightful! Alas! every thing in life seems to have in it the nature of a bubble of air, and, when touched, we find nothing but emptiness in our hand. It is certain that the most eloquent writers in favour of solitude have left behind them too many memorials of their unhappy feelings, when they indulged this passion to excéss; and some ancient has justly said, that none but a God, or a savage, can suffer this exile from human nature.

The following extracts from Sir George Mackenzie's tract on Solitude are eloquent and impressive, and merit to be rescued from that oblivion which surrounds many writers, whose genius has not been effaced, but concealed, by the transient crowd of their posterity.

“ I have admired to see persons of virtue and humour long much to be in the city, where, when they come they found uor sought for no other divertisement than to visit one another; and there to do nothing else than to make legs, view others habit, talk of the weather, or some such pitiful subject, and it may be, if they made a farther inroad upon any other affair, they did so pick one another, that it afforded them matter of eternal quarrel; for what was at first but an indifferent subject, is by interest adopted into the number of our quarrels.

-What pleasure can be received by talking of new fashions, buying and selling of lands, advancement or ruin of farourites, victories or defeats of strange princes, which is the ordinary subject of ordinary conversation ? --Most desire to frequent their superiors, and these men must either suffer their raillery, or must not be suffered to continue in their society; if we converse with them who speak with more address than ourselves, then we repine equally at our own dulness, and envy the acuteness that 'accomplishes the speaker ; or, if converse with duller animals than ourselves, then we are weary to draw the yoke alone, and fret at our being in ill company; but if chance blows us in ainongst our equals, then we are so at guard to catch all advantages, and so interested in point d'honneur, that it rather cruciates than recreates us.

How many make themselves


cheap by these occasions, whom we had valued highly if they had frequented us less! And how many frequent persons who laugh at that simplicity which the addresser admires in himself as wit, and yet both recreate themselves with double laughters !"

In solitude (he addresses his friend)“ My dear Celador enter into your own breast, and there survey

the several operations of your own soul, the progress of your passions, the strugglings of your appetite, the wanderings of your fancy, and ye will find, I assure you, more variety in that one piece, than there is to be learned in all the courts of Christendom. Represent to yourself the last age, all the actions and interests in it, how much this person was infatuate with zeal, that person with lust; how much one pursued honour, and another riches; and in the next thought draw that scene, and represent them all turned to dust and ashes !"

I cannot close this subject without the addition of some anecdotes, which may be useful. A man of letters finds solitude necessary, and for him solitude has its pleasures and its conveniences; but we shall find that it also has a hundred things to be dreaded.

Solitude is indispensable for literary pursuits. No considerable work has yet been composed, but its author, like an ancient magician, retired first to the grove or the closet, to invocate his spirits. Every production of genius must be the

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