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THERE is a chimney in an an-
cient house in this city (Philadel-
phia), in which a fire was kept
continually burning for upwards of
forty years. The old gentleman
who attended this mysterious flame
died a very few years ago, and
seems not to have succeeded in dis-
covering the grand secret of which
he was in search. Indeed he al-
ways attributed his ultimate failure
to the necessity of withdrawing his
attention from the momentous pro-
cess for a whole day, in consequence
of the confusion and panic occasion-
ed by the entry of the British army
into Philadelphia. He lived and
died what they called a violent tory
or anti-revolutionist. After this
event his hostile zeal was more ar-
dent than ever; for, says he, what
was it deprived the world and me
of this great discovery but the war?

Ingenious men have wasted their
whole lives, in innumerable cases,
in search of the art of making gold;
not, as we would naturally, at first,
imagine, for the sake of the plea-
sures or benefits accruing from rich-
es, but for the mere sake of the dis-
covery. The imagination of man is

capable of dressing out any object in
alluring colours; and it is the pro-
perty of human nature to become
attached to any pursuit on its own
account, though perhaps it was at
first embraced with views to remote
or collateral consequences. Thus
the miser contracts a passion for
money itself, though money was ori-
ginally sought by him merely for the
sake of what money would purchase.

With the secret of making gold
has always been connected, in our
fancy, the secret of eternal youth
and eternal life. The latter object
is far more venerable and desirable
than the former. Inexhaustible
wealth is of little consequence to
him who wants life or even health
to enjoy it; whereas he who lives
for ever, with his faculties of mind
and body sound and perfect, need
never despair of being sometime
rich. Having centuries before him
in which to lay and mature his plans
for bringing some of the gold already
in circulation into his coffers, he
need not trouble himself with extra-
ordinary and untried schemes.—
Even if he sit down in absolute in-
activity, and wait the gratuitous fa-

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vours of fortune, the richest of these
favour's will sometime light upon
him. As the particles of matter, of
which terrestrial bodies are compos-
ed, must assume all possible forrns
through the endless revolutions of
nature, so one of these particles or
members of which the social or poli-
tical body is composed, if it last a
few thousand years, must necessa-
rily pass through all the conditions
known in human society.

The following anedote, related by
Dr. Campbell, in his Hermippus
, has always been of great
weight with the votaries of alche-

In 1687, a stranger, naming him-
self signor Gualdi, profited of the
known ease and freedom of Venice,
to render himself much respected
and well received there. He spent
his money readily, but was never
observed to have connection with
any banker. He was perfectly well
bred, and remarkable for his saga-
city and powers of entertainment in
conversation. Enquiries were made
about his family, and whence he
came, but all terminated in obscu-
rity. One day a Venctian noble,
admiring the stranger's pictures,
which were exquisitely fine, and
fixing his eye on one of them, ex-
claimed, “How is this, sir! Here
is a portrait of yourself, drawn by
the hand of Titian ! yet that artist
has been dead one hundred and
thirty years, and you look not to be
more than fifty!” “Well, signor,”
replied the stranger, “there is, I
hope, no crime in resembling a por-
trait drawn by Titian.” The noble
visitant withdrew, perceiving that
he had touched upon a tender string,
and next morning the stranger, his
pictures, goods, and domestics had
quitted Venice.

The inference suggested by this
narrative is, no doubt, meant to be
that this stranger possessed the se-
cret of living for ever. This infe-
rence, indeed, is not a very obvious
one; for, as signor Gualdi observed,
there is nothing either criminal or
wonderful in resembling a portrait
of Titian.

Campbell refers to an Italian au-
thor as his authority for this story.
Godwin, in planning his St. Leon,
had the curiosity to refer to the ori-
ginal; but this original, said by
Campbell to be in the British Mu-
seum, was no where to be found, so
that this important fact, which has
plunged many a sober mind into
doubtful meditation, turns out to be
a mere modern invention.

The most judicious observations
on this imaginary art, and those who
study or pretend to teach it, are to
be found in Dr. Willich's celebrated
treatise on health and long life.


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