« ZurückWeiter »
fore chose it for my final residence. I employed artificers to form it into chambers, and stored it with all that I was likely to want.
“For some time after my retreat, I rejoiced like a tempestbeaten sailor at his entrance into the harbour, being delighted with the sudden change of the noise and hurry of war to stillness and repose. When the pleasure of novelty went away, I employed my hours in examining the plants which grow in the valley, and the minerals which I collected from the rocks. But that inquiry is now grown tasteless and irksome. I have been for some time unsettled and distracted: my mind is disturbed with a thousand perplexities of doubt and vanities of imagination, which hourly prevail upon me, because I have no opportunities of relaxation or diversion. I am sometimes ashamed to think that I could not secure myself from vice, but by retiring from the exercise of virtue, and begin to suspect that I was rather impelled by resentment, than led by devotion, into solitude. My fancy riots in scenes of folly, and I lament that I have lost so much, and have gained so little. In solitude, if I escape the example of bad men, I want likewise the counsel and conversation of the good. I have been long comparing the evils with the advantages of society, and resolve to return into the world to-morrow. The life of a solitary man will be certainly miserable, but not certainly devout."
They heard his resolution with surprise, but, after a short pause, offered to conduct him to Cairo. He dug up a considerable treasure which he had hid among the rocks, and accompanied them to the city, on which, as he approached it, he gazed with rapture.
A DERVISE was journeying alone in a desert, when two merchants suddenly met him. “You have lost a camel," said he to the merchants. “Indeed we have,” they replied. “Was he not blind in his right eye, and lame in his left leg?" said the dervise. "He was," replied the merchants. 16 And was he not loaded with honey on one side, and wheat on the other?" “Most certainly he was," they replied; "and, as you have seen him so lately, and marked him so particularly, you can in all probability conduct us to him.” “My friends," said the dervise, “I have never seen your camel, nor ever heard of him, but from you." "A pretty story truly," said the merchants; “but where are the jewels which formed a part of his cargo?” “I have seen neither your camel nor your jewels,” repeated the dervise. On this, they seized his person, and forthwith hurried him before the cadi, where, on the strictest search, nothing could be found upon him, nor could any evidence whatever be adduced, to convict him either of falsehood or of theft. They were about to proceed against him as a sorcerer, when the dervise with great calmness thus addressed the court. "I have been much amused with your surprise, and own that there has been some ground for your suspicions; but I have lived long and alone, and I can find ample scope for observation even in a desert. I knew that I had crossed the track of a camel that had strayed from its owner, because I saw no mark of any human footstep on the same route;
I knew that the animal was blind of an eye, because it had cropped the herbage only on one side of its path, and that it was lame in one leg, from the faint impression which that particular foot had produced upon the sand; I concluded that the animal had lost one tooth, because, wherever it had grazed, a small tuft of herbage had been left uninjured in the centre of its bite. As to that which formed the burthen of the beast, the busy ants informed me, that it was corn on the one side, and the clustering flies, that it was honey on the other.
6.-THE HILL OF SCIENCE. In that season of the year, when the serenity of the sky, the various fruits which cover the ground, the discoloured foliage of the trees, and all the sweet but fading graces of inspiring autumn open
the mind to benevolence, and dispose it for contemplation, I was wandering in a beautiful and romantic country, till curiosity began to give way to weariness; and 1 sat me down on the fragment of a rock, overgrown with moss; where the rustling of the falling leaves, the dashing of waters, and the hum of the distant city, soothed my mind into the most perfect tranquillity, and sleep insensibly stole upon me, as I was indulging the agreeable reveries, which the objects around me naturally inspired.
I immediately found myself in a vast extended plain, in the middle of which arose a mountain, higher than I had before any conception of. It was covered with a multitude of people, chiefly youth ; many of whom pressed forwards with the liveliest expressions of ardour in their countenance, though the way was in many places steep and difficult. I observed, that those who had but just begun to climb the hill thought themselves not far from the top; but, as they proceeded, new hills were continually rising to their view, and the summit of the highest they could before discern seemed but the foot of another, till the mountain at length appeared to lose itself in the clouds. As I was gazing on these things with astonishment, my good genius suddenly appeared: The mountain before thee, said he, is the Hill of Science. On the top is the Temple of Truth, whose head is above the clouds, and a veil of pure light covers her face. Observe the progress of her votaries; be silent and attentive.
I saw that the only regular approach to the mountain was by a gate, called the Gate of Languages. It was kept by a woman of a pensive and thoughtful appearance, whose lips were continually moving, as though she repeated something to herself. Her name was Memory. On entering this first enclosure, I was stunned with a confused murmur of jarring voices and dissonant sounds, which increased upon me to such a degree, that I was utterly confounded, and could compare the noise to nothing but the confusion of tongues at Babel.
After contemplating these things, I turned my eyes towards the top of the mountain, where the air was always pure and exhilarating, the path shaded with laurels and other evergreens, and the effulgence which beamed from the face of the goddess seemed to shed a glory round her votaries. Happy, said I, are they who are permitted to ascend the mountain !—but while I was pronouncing this exclamation with uncommon ardour, I saw standing beside me a form of diviner features and a more benign radiance. Happier, said she, are those whom Virtue conducts to the mansions of Content! What, said I, does Virtue then reside in the vale ? I am found, said she, in the vale, and I illuminate the mountain : I cheer the cottager at his toil, and inspire the sage at his meditation. I mingle in the crowd of cities, and bless the hermit in his cell. I have a temple in every heart that owns my influence, and to him that wishes for me I am already present. Science may raise you to eminence, but I alone can guide to felicity! While the goddess was thus speaking, I stretched out my arms towards her with a vehemence which broke my slumbers. The chill dews were falling around me, and the shades of evening stretched over the landscape. I hastened homeward, and resigned the night to silence and meditation.
7.-PATIENCE RECOMMENDED. The darts of adverse fortune are always levelled at our heads. Some reach us, and some fly to wound our neighbours. Let us therefore impose an equal temper on our minds, and pay without murmuring the tribute which we owe to humanity. The winter brings cold, and we must freeze. The summer returns with heat, and we must melt. The inclemency of the air disorders our health, and we must be sick. Here we are exposed to wild beasts, and there to men more savage than the beasts; and if we escape the inconveniences and dangers of the air and the earth, there are perils by water, and perils by fire. This established course of things it is not in our power to change; but it is in our power to assume such a greatness of mind as becomes wise and virtuous men, as may enable us to encounter the accidents of life with fortitude, and to conform ourselves to the order of Nature, who governs her great kingdom, the world, by continual mutations. Let us submit to this order; let us be persuaded that whatever does happen
ought to happen, and never be so foolish as to expostulate with Nature. The best resolution we can take is to suffer what we cannot alter, and to pursue without repining the road which Providence, who directs every thing, has marked to us : for it is enough to follow; and he is but a bad soldier who sighs, and marches with reluctancy. We must receive the orders with spirit and cheerfulness, and not endeavour to slink out of the post which is assigned us in this beautiful disposition of things, whereof even sufferings make a necessary part. Let us address ourselves to God who governs all, as Cleanthes did in those admirable verses :
Parent of Nature! Master of the world!
Or take with guilt, what guiltless I might share! Thus let us speak, and thus let us act. Resignation to the will of God is true magnanimity. But the sure mark of a pusillanimous and base spirit, is to struggle against, to censure the order of Providence, and, instead of mending our own conduct, to set up for correcting that of our Maker.
8.-THE PLANETS AND HEAVENLY BODIES.
It is not for us to say, whether inspiration revealed to the Psalmist the wonders of the modern astronomy. But even though the mind be a perfect stranger to the science of these enlightened times, the heavens present a great and an elevating spectacle, -an immense concave reposing upon the circular boundary of the world, and the innumerable lights which are suspended from on high, moving with solemn regularity along its surface. It seems to have been at night that the piety of the Psalmist was awakened by this contemplation, when the moon and the stars were visible, and not when the sun had risen in his strength, and thrown a splendour around him,