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clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain; for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art, perhaps, like me, for a season, and thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds, careless of the voice of the morning. Exult then, 0 Sun, in the strength of thy youth! Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon, when it shines through broken clouds; the blast of the north is on the plain, and the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey.'-G.
No 14. SATURDAY, MARCH 13, 1779.
THERE are some weaknesses, which, as they do not strike us with the malignity of crimes, and produce their effects by imperceptible progress, we are apt to consider as venial, and make
little scruple of indulging. But the habit which apologizes for these, is a mischief of their own creation, which it behoves us early to resist. We give way to it at first, because it may be conquered at any time:; and, at last, excuse ourselves from the contest, because it bas grown too strong to be overcome.
Of this nature is indolence, a failing, I had almost said a vice, of all others the least alarming, yet, perhaps, the most fatal. Dissipation and intemperance are often the transient effects of youthful heat, which time allays, and experience overcomes; but indo
lence 'grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength,' till it has weakened every exertion of public and private duty; yet so seducing, that its evils are unfelt, and its errors unrepented of.
It is a circumstance of peculiar regret, that this should often be the propensity of delicate and amiable minds. Men unfeeling and unsusceptible, commonly beat the beaten track with activity and resolution; the occupations they pursue, and the enjoyments they feel, seldom much disappoint the expectations they have formed; but persons endowed with that nice perception of pleasure and pain which is annexed to sensibility, feel so much undescribable uneasiness in their pursuits, and frequently so little satisfaction in their attainments, that they are too often induced to sit still, without attempting the one or desiring the other.
The complaints which such persons make of their want of that success which attends men of inferior abilities, are as unjust as unavailing. It is from the use, not the possession of talents, that we get on in life : the exertion of
moderate parts outweighs the indecision of the brightest. Men possessed of the first, do things tolerably, and are satisfied; of the last, forbear doing things well, because they have ideas beyond them.
When I first resolved to publish this paper, I applied to several literary friends for their aid in carrying it on. From one gentleman in London, I had, in particular, very sanguine expectations of assistance. His genius and abilities I had early opportunities of knowing, and he is now in a situation most favourable to such productions, as he lives amidst the great and the busy world, without being much occupied either by ambition or business. His compositions at college, when I first became acquainted with him, were remarkable for elegance and inge
nuity; and, as I knew he still spent much of his time in reading the best writers, ancient and modern, I made no doubt of his having attained such farther improvement of style, and extension of knowledge, as would render him a very valuable contributor to the Mirror.
A few days ago, more than four months after I had sent him my letter, I received the following answer to it.
• London, 1st March, 1779. • MY DEAR FRIEND, 'I am ashamed to look on the date of this letter, and to recollect that of yours. I will not, however, add, the sin of hypocrisy to my other failings, by informing you, as is often done in such cases, that hurry of business, or want of health, has prevented me from answering your letter. I will frankly confess, that I have had abundance of leisure, and been perfectly well since I received it; I can add, though, perhaps, you may not so easily believe me, that I have had as much inclination as opportunity ; but the truth is (you know my weakness that way), I have wished, resolved, and re-resolved to write, as I do by many other things, without the power of accomplishing it. That disease of indolence, which you and my other companions used to laugh at, grows stronger and stronger upon me; my symptoms, indeed, are mortal; for I begin now to lose the power of struggling against the malady, sometimes to shut my ears against self-admonition, and admit of it as a lawful indulgence.
Your letter, acquainting me of the design of publishing a periodical paper, and asking my assistance in carrying it on, found me in one of the paroxysms of
disorder. The fit seemed to give way to the call of friendship. I got up from my easy
chair, walked two or three turns through the room, read your letter again, looked at the Spectators, which stood, neatly bound and gilt, in the front of my book-press, called for pen, ink, and paper, and sat down, in the fervour of imagination, ready to combat vice, to encourage virtue, to form the manners, and to regulate the taste of millions of
fellow-subjects. A field fruitful and unbounded lay before me; I began to speculate on the prevailing vices and reigning follies of the times, the thousand topics which might arise from declamation, satire, ridicule, and humour; the picture of manners, the shades of character, the delicacies of sentiment. I was bewildered amidst this multitude and variety of subjects, and sat dreaming over the redundancy of matter and the ease of writing, till the morning was spent, and my servant announced dinner.
I arose, satisfied with having thought much on subjects proper for your paper. I dined, if you will allow me the expression, in company with those thoughts, and drank half a bottle of wine after dinner to our better acquaintance. When my man took away, I returned to my study, sat down at my writing-table, folded my paper into proper margins, wrote the word Mirror a-top, and filling my pen again, drew up the curtain, and prepared to delineate. the scene before me. But I found things not quite in the situation I had left them: the groups were more confused, the figures less striking, the colours less vivid, than I had seen them before dinner. I continued, however, to look on them-I know not how long; for I was waked from a very sound
nap, at half an hour past six, by Peter asking me, if I chose to drink coffee.
"I was ashamed and vexed at the situation in which he found me. I drank my first dish rather out of humour with myself; but, during the second,
I began to account for it from natural causes; and, before the third was finished, had resolved that study was improper after repletion, and concluded the evening with the adventures of one of the three Callendars, out of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
? For all this arrear, I drew, resolutely, on tomorrow, and after breakfast prepared myself accordingly. I had actually gone so far as to write three introductory sentences, all of which I burnt, and was just blacking the letter T. for the beginning of a fourth, when Peter opened the door, and announced a gentleman, an old acquaintance, whom I had not seen for a considerable time. After he had sat with me for more than an hour, he rose to go away; I pulled out my watch, and I will fairly own I was not sorry to find it within a few minutes of one; so I gave up the morning for lost, and invited myself to accompany my friend in some visits he proposed making. Our tour concluded in a dinner at a tavern, whence we repaired to the play, and did not part till midnight. I went to bed without much self-reproach, by considering that intercourse with the world fits a man for reforming it.
• I need not go through every day of the subsequent month, during which I remained in town, though there seldom passed one that did not remind me of what I owed to your friendship. It is enough to tell you, that during the first fortnight, I always found some apology for delaying the execution of my purpose; and, during the last, contented myself with the prospect of the leisure I should soon enjoy in the country, to which I was invited by a relation to spend some time with him previous to his coming to town for the winter. I arrived at his house about the middle of December. I looked on his fields, his walks, and his woods, which the extreme mildness of the season had still left in the garb of Thomson's