« EdellinenJatka »
“ How blest the Solitary's lot,
" Within his humble cell,
“ Beside his crystal well;
“ By unfrequented stream,
“ His thoughts to heav'n on high,
“ He views the solemn sky."
IN me you behold the younger son of the eldest branch, of a very ancient and highly honourable family, who, through a long succession of ages, have proved themselves worthy of their name,
and of their country. I am descended from Scotch ancestry, and was born upon the family estate, which lies in the north-western Highlands. Although my parents were distinguished for the possession of every virtue that can adorn human nature, and
great and uncommon mental endowments, I shall not call your attention to the events of their lives, nor trouble
you history of their characters, because such a rela. tion could have no material connection with those peculiar circumstances of my life, which have concurred to drive me for ever from the so. ciety of my fellow-creatures ; and taught me how to derive happiness from an abode in the wildest recesses of nature, where I can contemplate the infinity of her God, uncontaminated by the vanities of man; and enjoy a train of lofty thoughts, inspired by the sublime objects with which I am every where surrounded, which my mind could never have attained amidst the tu. muit, the uproar, and the jostling of the vast mob of society.
The state of infancy seldom allows of extraordinary or even interesting events to an unconcerned fellow-being. My childhood was passed under the fostering care of a fondly beloved mother, and evinced no remarkable circumstances, unless I except the uncommon impetuosity of my passions; which, even in the earliest state of my infancy, refused all manner of controut; and as it was my fortune to be the favourite offspring of one of my parents, I had full opportunity of convincing all those within my own immediate circle, that I would never bow down to any authority but that which I conceiv. ed to be just. This unlimited power, which I have hitherto possessed, has had various effects upon my character, at different periods or stages of my life.
During childhood it made me mischievous, headstrong, petulent, authoritative, and very desperate in all my undertakings or adventures. At this period of my life, I despised, with equal contempt, the advice or the control of any human being
But as my days increased in number, and my years became more advanced, that reason which God has bountifully bestowed upon all the sons and daughters of men, began to dawn upon the darkness that 'till then had dwelt upon the uncuitivated garden of my mind, and like the morning star, that glimmering in the east, dispels the vaporous clouds of night, and with beaming lustre proclaims the glorious birth of day, sổ with equal radiance fired, the bright influence of reason, dispelled the darkness of
ignorance,' that 'till then had occupied my mind.
I now began to observe the effects of unbridled passions upon society. I found a necessity to control them, and render them amenable to the will and power that they might be properly regulated so to produce good instead of harm to those of my fellow-creatures with whom I was con. nected, or held an immediate commerce with.
Perceiving that almost all the evils, under which mankind laboured, originated from this cause, I immediately set about a reformation in my own character, and began to check the impetuosity of those passions which I had, hitherto, suffered to take their own course, to the great injury of my education; and by daily and determined efforts, I soon found myself capable of governing them, and directing them so as to produce great benefit to myself, instead of hurrying me into my former excesses; and I so far overcame my irrascia bility of temper, that I was soon considered to possess one of the best and most equal of dispositions
I mention this circumstance, (which some may deem insignificant) to shew that perseverance will finally accomplish the greatest apparent difficulties. I have many times (during that period of my life, when I was engaged amongst the public croud of society), heard persons declare that it is impossible to conquer irratibility of temper.
This assertion is ab. surd, and ill-founded. The most irritable dis. position can be rendered mild and placid by strength of mind, applied with all its force against the influence of those trifling and adventitious circumstances, that continually occur in life to vex and teaze mankind: I mean those painful realities of life, which relate to the means as well as the happiness of his existence, for surely no other circumstances are of sufficient influence to ruffle a man's temper.
If a man, possessing great natural abilities, who has unfortunately indulged the irratibility of his temper, until his peace of mind is perpetually disturbed by the most trifling circum. stances, will only exert that degree of mental power, which Nature has blessed him with, against every impression that can weaken it, he will find himself gradually rising above the in