Age, that lessens the enjoyment of life,
increases our desire of living. Those dangers which, in the vigor of
youth, we had learned to despise, assume new terrors as we grow old.
Our caution increasing as our years increase, fear becomes at last the
prevailing passion of the mind, and the small remainder of life is taken
up in useless efforts to keep off our end, or provide existence.
Whence, then, is this increased love of
life, which grows upon us with our years? Whence comes it that we
thus make greater efforts to preserve our existence at a period when it
becomes scarce worth the keeping?
Is it that nature, attentive to the
preservation of mankind, increases our wishes to live, while she lessens
our enjoyments; and, as she robs the senses of every pleasure, equips
imagination in the spoil?
Life would be insupportable to an old man,
who loaded with infirmities, feared death no more than when in the vigor
of manhood: the numberless calamities of decaying Nature, and the
consciousness of surviving every pleasure would at once induce him with
his own hand to terminate the scene of misery; but happily the contempt of
death forsakes him at a time when it could only be prejudicial, and life
acquires an imaginary value in proportion as its real value is no more.