Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

night, and made her appear much better than she would have done in open daylight. Her whole art was to shew herself more beautiful and majestic than she really was. For which reason she had painted her face, and wore a cluster of false jewels upon her breast; but what I more particularly observed, was the breadth of her petticoat, which was made altogether in the fashion of a modern fardingale. This place was filled with hypocrites, pedants, free-thinkers, and prating politicians, with a rabble of those who have only titles to make them great men. Female votaries crowded the temple, choked up the avenues of it, and were more in number than the sand upon the sea-shore. I made it my business, in my return towards that part of the wood from whence I first set out, to observe the walks which led to this temple; for I met in it several who had begun their journey with the band of virtuous persons, and travelled some time in their company; but upon examination, I found that there were several paths which led out of the great road into the sides of the wood, and ran into so many crooked turns and windings, that those who travelled through them, often turned their backs upon the temple of Virtue, then crossed the straight road, and sometimes marched in it for a little pace, till the crooked path which they were engaged in again led them into the wood. The several alleys of those wanderers, had their particular ornaments: one of them I could not but take notice of, in the walk of the mischievous pretenders to politics, which had at every turn the figure of a person, whom, by the inscription, I found to be Machiavel, pointing out the way, with an extended finger,like a Mercury. Tatler.

§ 75. The Temple of Avarice. I was now returned in the same manner as before, with a design to observe carefully every thing that passed in the region of Avarice, and the occurrences in that assembly which was made up of persons of my own age. This body of travellers had not gone far in the third great road, before it led them insensibly into a deep valley, in which they journeyed several days with great toil and uneasiness, and without the necessary refreshments of food and sleep. The only relief they met with, was in a river that ran through the bottom of the valley on a bed of

golden sand: they often drank of this stream, which had such a particular quality in it, that though it refreshed them for a time, it rather inflamed than quenched their thirst. On each side of the river was a range of hills full of precious ore; for where the rains had washed off the earth, one might see in several parts of them long veins of gold, and rocks that looked like pure silver. We were told that the deity of the place had forbad any of his votaries to dig into the bowels of these hills, or convert the treasures they contained to any use, under pain of starving. At the end of the valley stood the temple of Avarice, made after the manner of a fortification, and surrounded with a thousand triple-headed dogs, that were placed there to keep off beggars. At our approach they all fell a barking, and would have much terrified us, had not an old woman, who had called herself by the forged name of Competency, offered herself for our guide. She carried under her garment a golden bow, which she no sooner held up in her hand, but the dogs lay down, and the gates flew open for our reception. We were led through an hundred iron doors before we entered the temple. At the upper end of it, sat the God of Avarice, with a long filthy beard, and a meagre starved countenance, inclosed with heaps of ingots and pyramids of money, but half naked and shivering with cold: on his right hand was a fiend called Rapine, and on his left a particular favourite, to whom he had given the title of Parsimony; the first was his collector, and the other his cashier. There were several long tables placed on each side of the temple, with respective officers attending behind them some of these I inquired into: at the first table was kept the office of Corruption. Seeing a solicitor extremely busy, and whispering every body that passed by, I kept my eye upon him very attentively, and saw him often going up to a person that had a pen in his hand, with a multiplication-table and an almanac before him, which, as I afterwards heard, was all the learning he was master of. The solicitor would often apply himself to his ear, and at the same time convey money into his hand, for which the other would give him out a piece of paper, or parchment, signed and sealed in form. The name of this dexterous and successful solicitor was Bribery.-At the next table was the of

fice of Extortion: behind it sat a person in a bob-wig, counting over a great sum of money he gave out little purses to several, who, after a short tour, brought him, in return, sacks full of the same kind of coin. I saw, at the same time, a person called Fraud, who sat behind the counter, with false scales, light weights, and scanty measures; by the skilful application of which instruments, she had got together an immense heap of wealth; it would be endless to name the several officers, or describe the votaries that attend in this temple; there were many old men, panting and breathless, reposing their heads on bags of money: nay, many of them actually dying, whose very pangs and convulsions (which rendered their purses useless to them) only made them them grasp the faster. There were some tearing with one hand all things, even to the garments and flesh of many miserable persons who stood before them; and with the other hand throwing away what they had seized, to harlots, flatterers, and panders, that stood behind them. On a sudden the whole assembly fell a trembling; and, upon inquiry, I found that the great room we were in was haunted with a spectre, that many times a day appeared to them, and terrified them to distraction. In the midst of their terror and amazement, the apparition entered, which I immediately knew to be Poverty. Whether it were by my acquaintance with this phantom, which had rendered the sight of her more familiar to me, or however it was, she did not make so indigent or frightful a figure in my eye, as the god of this loathsome temple. The miserable votaries of this place were, I found, of another mind: every one fancied himself threatened by the apparition as she stalked about the room, and began to lock their coffers, and tie their bags, with the utmost fear and trembling, I must confess, I look upon the passion which I saw in this unhappy people, to be of the same nature with those unaccountable antipathies which some persons are born with, or rather as a kind of frenzy, not unlike that which throws a man into terrors and agonies at the sight of so useful and innocent a thing as water. The whole assembly was surprised, when, instead of paying my devotions to the deity whom they all adored, they saw me address myself to the Phantom. "Oh! Poverty! (said I) my first petition to thee is, that thou wouldst never appear to me hereafter;

but if thou wilt not grant me this, that
thou wouldst not bear a form more terri-
ble than that in which thou appearest to
me at present. Let not thy threats or
menaces betray me to any thing that is
ungrateful or unjust. Let me not shut my
ears to the cries of the needy. Let me not
forget the person that has deserved well of
Let me not, from any fear of thee,
me.
desert my friend, my principles, or my
honour. If Wealth is to visit me, and
come with her usual attendants, Vanity and
Avarice, do thou, O Poverty! hasten to
my rescue; but bring along with thee
thy two sisters, in whose company thou art
always cheerful, Liberty and Innocence."

Tatler.

$76. The Balance of Happiness equal.

An extensive contemplation of human affairs, will lead us to this conclusion, that among the different conditions and ranks of men, the balance of happiness is preserved in a great measure equal; and that the high and the low, the rich and the poor, approach, in point of real enjoyment, much nearer to each other, than is commonly imagined. In the lot of man, mutual compensations, both of pleasure and of pain, universally take place. Providence never intended, that any state here should be either completely happy, or entirely miserable. If the feelings of pleasure are more numerous and more lively, in the higher departments of life, such also are those of pain. If greatness flatters our vanity, it multiplies our dangers. opulence increases our gratifications, it increases, in the same proportion, our desires and demands. If the poor are confined to a more narrow circle, yet within that circle lie most of those natural satisfactions which, after all the refinements of art, are found to be the most genuine and true.-In a state, therefore, where there is neither so much to be coveted on the one hand, nor to be dreaded on the other, as at first appears, how submissive ought we to be to the disposal of Providence! How temperate in our desires and pursuits! How much more attentive to preserve our virtue, and to improve our minds, than to gain the doubtful and equivocal advantages of Blair. worldly prosperity!

$77.

At cially,

If

At first selling out in Life, beware of seducing Appearances. your first setting out in life espewhen yet unacquainted with the

F

world and its snares, when every pleasure enchants with its smile, and every object shines with the gloss of novelty; beware of the seducing appearances which surround you, and recollect what others have suffered from the power of headstrong desire. If you allow any passion, even though it be esteemed innocent, to acquire an absolute ascendant, your inward peace will be impaired. But if any which has the taint of guilt, take early possession of your mind, you may date from that mo→ ment the ruin of your tranquillity.-Nor with the season of youth does the peril end. To the impetuosity of youthful desire, succeed the more sober, but no less dangerous attachments of advancing years; when the passions which are connected with interest and ambition begin their reign, and too frequently extend their malignant influence, even over those periods of life which ought to be most tranquil, From the first to the last of man's abode on earth, the discipline must never be relaxed, of guarding the heart from the dominion of passion. Eager passions, and violent desires, were not made for man. They exceed his sphere: they find no adequate objects on earth; and of course can be productive of nothing but misery. The certain consequences of indulging them is, that there shall come an evil day, when the anguish of disappointment shall drive us to acknowledge, that all which we enjoy availeth us nothing. Blair.

§ 78. Virtue, Man's true Interest.

of others, I seek an interest which is chimerical, and can never have existed.

How then must I determine? Have I no interest at all?—If I have not, I am a fool for staying here. 'Tis a smoky house; and the sooner out of it the better.-But why no interest?- Can I be contented with none, but one separate and detached? Is a social interest, joined with others, such an absurdity as not to be admitted ?--The bee, the beaver, and the tribes of herding animals are enough to convince me, that the thing is somewhere at least possible. How, then, am I assured that 'tis not equally true of man ?--Admit it; and what follows? If so, then honour and justice are my interest; then the whole train of moral virtues are my interest; without some portion of which, not even thieves can maintain society.

But, farther still-I stop not here-I pursue this social interest, as far as I can trace my several relations. I pass from my own stock, my own neighbourhood, my own nation, to the whole race of mankind, as dispersed throughout the earth. Am I not related to them all by the mu tual aids of commerce, by the general intercourse of arts and letters, by that common nature of which we all participate?

Again I must have food and clothing -Without a proper genial warmth, I instantly perish-Am I not related, in this view, to the very earth itself? to the distant sun, from whose beams I derive vigour ? to that stupendous course and order of the infinite host of heaven, by which the times and seasons ever uniformly pass on?— Were this order once confounded, I could not probably survive a moment; so absolutely do I depend on this common general welfare. What, then, have I to do, but to enlarge virtue into piety? Not only honour and justice, and what I owe to man, is my interest; but gratitude also, acquiescence, resignation, adoration, and all I owe to this great polity, and its greater Governor, our common parent. Harris.

[ocr errors]

I find myself existing upon a little spot, surrounded every way by an immense unknown expansion-Where am I? What sort of a place do I inhabit? Is it exactly accommodated, in every instance, to my convenience? Is there no excess of cold, none of heat, to offend me? Am I never annoyed by animals, either of my own kind, or a different? Is every thing subservient to me, as though I had ordered all myself?-No-nothing like it--the farthest from it possible. The world appears not, then, originally made for the private convenience of me alone?-It does not.But is it not possible so to accommodate it, by my own particular industry? If to It is accompanied with such inward accommodate man and beast, heaven and satisfaction, that the duty is sufficiently reearth, if this be beyond me, 'tis not possi- warded by the performance. It is not like ble-What consequence then follows? or the practice of many other virtues, difficult can there be any other than this-If I seek and painful, but attended with so much an interest of my own, detached from that pleasure, that were there no positive com

§ 79. On Gratitude.

There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind, than gratitude.

mand which enjoined it, nor any recompense laid up for it hereafter a generous mind would indulge in it, for the natural gratification that accompanies it.

fer

If gratitude is due from man to manhow much more from man to his Maker? -The Supreme Being does not only conupon us those bounties which proceed more immediately from his hand, but even those benefits which are conveyed to us by others. Every blessing we enjoy, by what means soever it may be derived upon us, is the gift of Him who is the great Author of good, and Father of mercies.

If gratitude, when exerted towards one another, naturally produces a very pleasing sensation in the mind of a grateful man; it exalts the soul into rapture, when it is employed on this great object of gratitude, on this beneficent Being, who has given us every thing we already possess, and from whom we expect every thing we yet hope for.

Most of the works of the Pagan poets were either direct hymns of their deities, or tended indirectly to the celebration of their respective attributes and perfections. Those who are acquainted with the works of the Greek and Latin poets which are still extant, will, upon reflection, find this observation so true, that I shall not enlarge upon it. One would wonder that more of our Christian poets have not turned their thoughts this way, especially if we consider, that our idea of the Supreme Being, is not only infinitely more great and noble than could possibly enter into the heart of a heathen, but filled with every thing that can raise the imagination, and give an opportunity of the sublimest thoughts and conceptions.

Plutarch tells us of a heathen who was singing an hymn to Diana, in which he celebrated her for her delight in human sacrifices, and other instances of cruelty and revenge; upon which a poet who was present at this piece of devotion, and seems to have had a truer idea of the divine nature, told the votary, by way of reproof, that in recompense for his hymn, he heartily wished he might have a daughter of the same temper with the goddess he celebrated. It was indeed impossible to write the praises of one of those false deities, according to the Pagan creed, without a mixture of impertinence and absurdity.

The Jews, who before the time of Christianity were the only people who had the

knowledge of the true God, have set the Christian world an example how they ought to employ this divine talent, of which I am speaking. As that nation produced men of great genius, without considering them as inspired writers, they have transmitted to us many hymns and divine odes, which excel those that are delivered down to us by the ancient Greeks and Romans, in the poetry as much as in the subject to which it is consecrated. This, I think, might be easily shewn, if there were occasion for it.

Spectator.

§ 80. Religion the Foundation of Content: an Allegory.

Omar, the hermit of the mountain Aubukabis, which rises on the east of Mecca, and overlooks the city, found one evening a man sitting pensive and alone, within a few paces of his cell. Omar regarded him with attention, and perceived that his looks were wild and haggard, and that his body was feeble and emaciated: the man also seemed to gaze steadfastly on Omar; but such was the abstraction of his mind, that his eye did not immediately take cognizance of its object. In the moment of recollection he started as from a dream, he covered his face in confusion, and bowed himself to the ground. "Son of affliction," said Omar, "who art thou, and what is thy distress?" "My name," replied the stranger, "is Hassan, and I am a native of this city: the Angel of Adversity has laid his hand upon me, and the wretch whom thine eye compassionates, thou canst not deliver."" To deliver thee,' said Omar, "belongs to Him only, from whom we should receive with humility both good and evil: yet hide not thy life from me; for the burthen which I cannot remove, I may at least enable thee to sustain." Hassan fixed his eyes upon the ground, and remained some time silent; then fetching a deep sigh, he looked up at the hermit, and thus complied with his request.

It is now six years since our mighty lord the Caliph Almalic, whose memory be blessed, first came privately to worship in the temple of the holy city. The blessing which he petitioned of the prophet, as the prophet's vicegerent, he was diligent to dispense: in the intervals of his devotion, therefore, he went about the city relieving distress and restraining oppression: the widow smiled under his protection, and

66

the weakness of age and infancy was sustained by his bounty. I, who dreaded no evil but sickness, and expected no good beyond the reward of my labour, was singing at my work, when Almalic entered my dwelling. He looked round with a smile of complacency; perceiving that though it was mean it was neat, and though I was poor I appeared to be content. As his habit was that of a pilgrim, I hastened to receive him with such hospitality as was in my power; and my cheerfulness was rather increased than restrained by his presence. After he had accepted some coffee, he asked me many questions; and though by my answers I always endeavoured to excite him to mirth, yet I perceived that he grew thoughtful, and eyed me with a placid but fixed attention. I suspected that he had some knowledge of me, and therefore inquired his country and his name. Hassan,' said he, “I have raised thy curiosity, and it shall be satisfied; he who now talks with thee, is Almalic, the sovereign of the faithful, whose seat is the throne of Medina, and whose commission is from above." These words struck me dumb with astonishment, though I had some doubt of their truth: but Almalic, throwing back his garment, discovered the peculiarity of his vest, and put the royal signet upon his finger. I then started up, and was about to prostrate myself before him, but he prevented me: "Hassan," said he, "forbear; thou art greater than I, and from thee I have at once derived humility and wisdom." I answered, "Mock not thy servant, who is but as a worm before thee; life and death are in thy hand, and happiness and misery are the daughters of thy will." "Hassan," he replied, "I can no otherwise give life or happiness, than by not taking them away: thou art thyself beyond the reach of my bounty, and possessed of felicity which I can neither communicate nor obtain. My influence over others, fills my bosom with perpetual solicitude and anxiety; and yet my influence over others extends only to their vices, whether I would reward or punish. By the bow-string, I can repress violence and fraud; and by the delegation of power, I can transfer the insatiable wishes of avarice and ambition from one object to another but with respect to virtue, I am impotent; if I could reward it, I would reward it in thee. Thou art content, and hast therefore neither avarice nor ambi

tlon: to exalt thee, would destroy the simplicity of thy life, and diminish that happiness which I have no power either to increase or to continue."

He then rose up, and commanding me not to disclose his secret, departed.

As soon as I recovered from the confusion and astonishment in which the Caliph left me, I began to regret that my behaviour had intercepted his bounty; and accused that cheerfulness of folly, which was the concomitant of poverty and labour. I now repined at the obscurity of my station, which my former insensibility had perpetuated: I neglected my labour, because I despised the reward; I spent the day in idleness, forming romantic projects to recover the advantages which I had lost: and at night, instead of losing myself in that sweet and refreshing sleep, from which I used to rise with new health, cheerfulness, and vigour, I dreamt of splendid habits and a numerous retinue, of gardens, palaces, eunuchs, and women, and waked only to regret the illusions that had vanished. My health was at length impaired by the inquietude of my mind; I sold all my moveables for subsistence; and reserved only a mattrass, upon which I sometimes lay from one night to another.

In the first moon of the following year, the Caliph came again to Mecca, with the same secrecy, and for the same purposes. He was willing once more to see the man, whom he considered as deriving felicity from himself. But he found me, not singing at my work, ruddy with health, vivid with cheerfulness; but pale and dejected, sitting on the ground, and chewing opium, which contributed to substitute the phantoms of imagination for the realities of greatness. He entered with a kind of joyful impatience in his countenance, which, the moment he beheld me, was changed to a mixture of wonder and pity. I had often wished for another opportunity to address the Caliph; yet I was confounded at his presence, and, throwing myself at his feet, I laid my hand upon my head, and was speechless. Hassan," said he," what canst thou have lost, whose wealth was the labour of thine own hand; and what can have made thee sad, the spring of whose joy was in thy own bosom? What evil hath befallen thee? Speak, and if I can remove it, thou art happy." I was now encouraged to look up, and I replied, "Let my Lord forgive the pre

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »