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seemed to us important, each in its time, and retain so slight an impression, that we have now nothing to tell about what once excited our utmost emotion. As to my own mind, I perceive that it is becoming uncertain of the exact nature of many feelings of considerable interest, even of later years; of course, the remembrance of what was felt in early life is exceedingly faint. I have just been observing several children of eight or ten years old, in all the active vivacity which enjoys the plenitude of the moment without "looking before or after;" and while observing, I attempted, but without success, to recollect what I was at that age. I can indeed remember the principal events of the period, and the actions and projects to which my feelings impelled me; but the feelings themselves, in their own pure juvenility, cannot be revived, so as to be described and placed in compar-, ison with those of maturity. What is become of allthose vernal fancies (which had so much power to touch the heart? What a number of sentiments have lived and revelled in the soul that are now irrevocably gone. They died, like the singing birds of that time, which now sing no more.
The life that we then had, now seems almost as if it could not have been our own. When we go back to it in thought, and endeavor to recall the interests which animated it, they will not come. We are like a man returning, after the absence of many years, to visit the embowered cottage where he passed the morning of his life, and finding only a relic of its ru-ins.
View of Life-continued.
We may regard our past life as a continued, though irregular course of education; and the discipline has consisted of instruction, companionship, reading, and the diversified influences of the world. The young mind eagerly came forward to meet the operation of some of these modes of dicipline, though
without the possibility of a thought concerning the important process under which it was beginning to pass. In some certain degree we have been influenced by each of these parts of the great system of education; it will be worth while to inquire how far, and in what manner.
Few persons can look back to the early period when they were peculiarly the subjects of instruction, without a regret for themselves, (which may be extended to the human race,) that the result of instruction, excepting that which leads to evil, bears so small a proportion to its compass and repetition. Yet some good consequence will follow the diligent inculcation of truth and precept on the youthful mind; and our consciousness of possessing certain advantages derived from it will be a partial consolation in the review that will comprise so many proofs of its com-parative inefficacy. You can recollect perhaps the instructions to which you feel yourself permanently 'the most indebted, and some of those which produced the greatest effect on your mind at the time, those: which surprised, delighted, or mortified you. You can remember the facility or difficulty of understanding, the facility or difficulty of believing, and the practical inferences which you drew from principles, on the strength of your own reason, and some-times in variance with those made by your instructors. You can remember what views of truth and duty were most frequently and cogently presented, what passions were appealed to, what arguments were employed, and which had the greatest influence. Perhaps your present idea of the most convincing and persuasive mode of instruction may be derived from your early experience of the manner of those persons, with whose opinions you felt it the most easy and delightful to harmonize, who gave you the most agreeable consciousness of your faculties expanding to the light, like morning flowers, and who, assuming the least of dictation, exerted the greatest degree of power. You can recollect the submissiveness with which
your mind yielded to instructions as from an oracle, or the hardihood with which you dared to examine and oppose them. You can remember how far they became, as to your own conduct, an internal authority of reason and conscience, when you were not under the inspection of those who inculcated them; and what classes of persons or things around you they induced you to dislike or approve.. And you can perhaps imperfectly trace the manner and the particulars in which they sometimes aided, or sometimes counteracted, those other influences which have a far stronger efficacy on the character than instruction can boast.
Most persons, I presume, can recollect some few sentences or conversations which made so deep an impression, perhaps in some instances they can scarely tell why, that they have been thousands of times recalled, while all the rest have been forgotten; or they can advert to some striking incident, coming in aid of instruction, or being of itself a forcible instruction, which they seem even now to see as clearly as when it happened, and of which they will retain a perfect idea to the end of life. In some instances, to recollect the instructions of a former. period will be to recollect too the excellence, the affection, and the death, of the persons who gave them. Amidst the sadness of such a remembrance, it will be a consolation that they are not entirely lost to us. Wise monitions, when they return on us with this melancholy charm, have more pathetic cogency than when they were first uttered by the voice of a living friend who is now silent. It will be an interesting occupation of the pensive hour, to recount the advantages which we have received from beings who have left the world, and to reinforce our virtues from the dust of those who first taught them.
In our review, we shall find that the companions of our childhood, and of each succeeding period, have had a great influence on our characters. A creature so conformable as man, and at the same time so
capable of being moulded into partial dissimilarity by social antipathies, cannot have conversed with his fellow beings thousands of hours, walked with them thousands of miles, undertaken with them numberless enterprises smaller and greater, and had every passion by turns awakened in their company, without being immensely affected by all this association. A large share indeed of the social interest may have been of so common a kind, and with persons of so common an order, that the effect on the character has been too little peculiar to be strikingly perceptible during the progress. We were not sensible of it, till we came to some of those circumstances and changes in life, which make us aware of the state of our minds by the manner in which new objects are accep→ table or repulsive to them. On removing into a new circle of society, for instance, we could perceive, by the number of things in which we found ourselves uncongenial with the new acquaintance, the modification which our sentiments had received in the prece-ding social intercourse. But in some instances we have been sensible, in a very short time, of a powerful force operating on our opinions, tastes, and hab its, and throwing them into a new order. This effect is inevitable, if a young susceptible mind hap-pens to become familiarly acquainted with a person in whom a strongly individual cast of character is sustained and dignified by uncommon mental resources; and it may be found that, generally, the greatest measure of effect has been produced by the influence of a very small number of persons; often of one only, whose extended and interesting mind had more power to surround and assimilate a young ingenious being, than the collective influence of a multitude of the persons, whose characters were moulded in the manufactory of custom, and sent forth like images of clay of kindred shape and varnish from a pottery.
Learn then to look back with great interest on the world of circumstances through which life has been drawn. Consider what thousands of situations, ap
pearances, incidents, persons, you have been present to, each in its moment. The review will present to you something like a chaos, with all the moral, and all other elements, confounded together; and you may reflect till you begin almost to wonder how an individual retains even the same essence through all the diversities, vicissitudes, and counteractions of influence, that operate on it during its progress through the confusion. But though its essence is the same, and might defy an universe to extinguish, absorb, or change it; its modification, its condition, and habits, will shew where it has been, and what it has undergone. You may descry on it the marks and colours of many of the things by which, in passing, it has been touched or arrested.
Consider the number of meetings with acquaintance, friends, or strangers; the number of conversations you have held or heard; the number of exhibitions of good or evil, virtue or vice; the number of occasions on which you have been disgusted or pleased, moved to admiration or to abhorrence; the number of times that you have contemplated the town, the rural cottage, or verdant fields; the number of volumes that you have read; the times that you have looked over the present state of the world, or gone by means of history into past ages; the number of comparisons of yourself with other persons, alive or dead, and comparisons of them with one another, the number of solitary musings, of solemn contemplations of night, of the successive subjects of thought, and of animated sentiments that have been kindled and entinguished. Add all the hours and causes of sorrow that you have known. Through this lengthened, and, if the number could be told, stupendous, multiplicity of things, you have advanced, while all their heterogeneous myriads have darted influences upon you, each one of them having some definable tendency. A traveller round the globe would not meet a greater variety of seasons, prospects, and winds, than you might have recorded