ALMORAN AND HAMET: VOLUME SECOND.

ALMORAN AND HAMET: AN ORIENTAL TALE.

In TWO VOLUMES.

VOLUME SECOND.

LONDON: Printed for H. PAYNE, and W. CROPLEY, at Dryden's Head in Pater-noster Row.

MDCCLXI.

ALMORAN AND HAMET.

CHAP. XI.

ALMORAN had now reached the gallery; and when the mul­titude saw him, they shouted as in tri­umph, and demanded that he should surrender. HAMET, who also perceived him at a distance, and was unwilling that any violence should be offered to [Page 2] his person, pressed forward, and when he was come near, commanded silence. At this moment ALMORAN, with a loud voice, reproached them with im­piety and folly; and appealing to the power, whom in his person they had offended, the air suddenly grew dark, a flood of lightning descended from the sky, and a peal of thunder was ar­ticulated into these words:

Divided sway, the God who reigns alone
Abhors; and gives to ALMORAN the throne.

The multitude stood aghast at the prodigy; and hiding their faces with their hands, every one departed in si­lence and confusion, and HAMET and OMAR were left alone. OMAR was taken by some of the soldiers who had [Page 3] adhered to ALMORAN, but HAMET made his escape.

ALMORAN, whose wishes were thus far accomplished by the intervention of a power superior to his own, exulted in the anticipation of that happiness which he now supposed to be secured; and was fortified in his opinion, that he had been wretched only because he had been weak, and that to multiply and not to suppress his wishes was the way to acquire felicity.

As he was returning from the gallery, he was met by Osmyn and Caled, who had heard the supernatural declaration in his behalf, and learned its effects. ALMORAN, in that hasty flow of un­bounded but capricious favour, which, [Page 4] in contracted minds, is the effect only of unexpected good fortune, raised Osmyn from his feet to his bosom: 'As in the trial,' said he, ‘thou hast been faithful, I now invest thee with a superior trust. The toils of state shall from this moment devolve upon thee; and from this moment, the delights of empire unallayed shall be mine: I will recline at ease, re­mote from every eye but those that reflect my own felicity; the felicity that I shall taste in secret, surround­ed by the smiles of beauty, and the gaities of youth. Like heaven, I will reign unseen; and like heaven, though unseen, I will be adored.’ Osmyn received this delegation of power with a tumultuous pleasure, that was expressed only by silence and con­fusion. [Page 5] ALMORAN remarked it; and exulting in the pride of power, he sud­denly changed his aspect, and regard­ing Osmyn, who was yet blushing, and whose eyes were swimming in tears of gratitude, with a stern and ardent coun­tenance; 'Let me, however,' said he, ‘warn thee to be watchful in thy trust: beware, that no rude commotion vio­late my peace by thy fault; lest my anger sweep thee in a moment to de­struction.’ He then directed his eye to Caled: 'And thou too,' said he, ‘hast been faithful; be thou next in honour and in power to Osmyn. Guard both of you my paradise from dread and care; fulfill the duty that I have assigned you, and live.’

[Page 6] He was then informed by a messen­ger, that HAMET had escaped, and that OMAR was taken. As he now despised the power both of HAMET and OMAR, he expressed neither concern nor anger that HAMET had fled; but he ordered OMAR to be brought be­fore him.

When OMAR appeared bound and disarmed, he regarded him with a smile of insult and derision; and asked him, what he had now to hope. ‘I have, indeed,’ said OMAR, ‘much less to hope, than thou hast to fear.’ ‘Thy insolence,’ said ALMORAN, ‘is equal to thy folly: what power on earth is there, that I should fear?’ ‘Thy own,’ said OMAR. ‘I have not lei­sure now,’ replied ALMORAN, ‘to [Page 7] hear the paradoxes of thy philosophy explained: but to shew thee, that I fear not thy power, thou shalt live. I will leave thee to hopeless regret; to wiles that have been scorned and defeated; to the unheeded pe­tulance of dotage; to the fondness that is repayed with neglect; to rest­less wishes, to credulous hopes, and to derided command: to the slow and complicated torture of despised old age; and that, when thou shalt long have abhorred thy being, shall destroy it.’ 'The misery,' said OMAR, ‘which thou hast menaced, it is not in thy power to inflict. As thou hast taken from me all that I possessed by the bounty of thy father, it is true that I am poor; it is true also, that my knees are now feeble, and [Page 8] bend with the weight of years that is upon me. I am, as thou art, a man; and therefore I have erred: but I have still kept the narrow path in view with a faithful vigilance, and to that I have soon returned: the past, therefore, I do not regret; and the fu­ture I have no cause to fear. In Him who is most merciful, I have hope; and in that hope even now I rejoice before thee. My portion in the pre­sent hour, is adversity: but I receive it, not only with humility, but thank­fulness; for I know, that whatever is ordained is best.’

ALMORAN, in whose heart there were no traces of OMAR'S virtue, and therefore no foundation for his confi­dence; sustained himself against their [Page 9] force, by treating them as hypocrisy and affectation: 'I know,' says he, ‘that thou hast long learned to eccho the specious and pompous sounds, by which hypocrites conceal their wretch­edness, and excite the admiration of folly and the contempt of wisdom: yet thy walk in this place, shall be still unrestrained. Here the splendor of my felicity shall fill thy heart with envy, and cover thy face with con­fusion; and from thee shall the world be instructed, that the enemies of ALMORAN can move no passion in his breast but contempt, and that most to punish them is to permit them to live.’

OMAR, whose eye had till now been fixed upon the ground, regarded AL­MORAN [Page 10] with a calm but steady counte­nance: 'Here then,' said he, ‘will I follow thee, constant as thy shadow; tho’, as thy shadow, ‘unnoticed or ne­glected: here shall mine eye watch those evils, that were appointed from everlasting to attend upon guilt: and here shall my voice warn thee of their approach. From thy breast may they be averted by righteousness! for without this, though all the worlds that roll above thee should, to aid thee, unite all their power, that power can aid thee only to be wretched.’

ALMORAN, in all the pride of gra­tified ambition, invested with domi­nion that had no limits, and allied with powers that were more than mor­tal; [Page 11] was overawed by this address, and his countenance grew pale. But the next moment, disdaining to be thus controuled by the voice of a slave, his cheeks were suffused with the blushes of indignation: he turned from OMAR, in scorn, anger, and confusion, without reply; and OMAR departed with the calm dignity of a benevolent and supe­rior being, to whom the smiles and frowns of terrestrial tyranny were alike indifferent, and in whom abhorrence of the turpitude of vice was mingled with compassion for its folly.

CHAP. XII.

IN the mean time, ALMEIDA, who had been conveyed to an apart­ment in ALMORAN's seraglio, and de­livered to the care of those who attend­ed upon his women, suffered all that grief and terror could inflict upon a ge­nerous, a tender, and a delicate mind; yet in this complicated distress, her at­tention was principally fixed upon HAMET. The disappointment of his hope, and the violation of his right, were the chief objects of her regret and her fears, in all that had already happened, and in all that was still to come; every insult that might be of­fered [Page 13] to herself, she considered as an injury to him. Yet the thoughts of all that he might suffer in her person, gave way to her apprehensions of what might befall him in his own: in his si­tuation, every calamity that her imagi­nation could conceive, was possible; her thoughts were, therefore, bewil­dered amidst an endless variety of dreadful images, which started up be­fore them which way soever they were turned; and it was impossible that she could gain any certain intelligence of his fate, as the splendid prison in which she was now confined, was surrounded by mutes and eunuchs, of whom no­thing could be learned, or in whose re­port no confidence could be placed.

[Page 14] While her mind was in this state of agitation and distress, she perceived the door open, and the next mo­ment ALMORAN entered the apartment. When she saw him, she turned from him with a look of unutterable an­guish; and hiding her face in her veil, she burst into tears. The tyrant was moved with her distress; for unfeel­ing obduracy is the vice only of the old, whose sensibility has been worn away by the habitual perpetration of reiterated wrongs.

He approached her with looks of kindness, and his voice was involun­tarily modulated to pity; she was, however, too much absorbed in her own sorrows, to reply. He gazed upon her with tenderness and admira­tion; [Page 15] and taking her hand into his own, he pressed it ardently to his bo­som: his compassion soon kindled into desire, and from soothing her distress, he began to solicit her love. This in­stantly roused her attention, and re­sentment now suspended her grief: she turned from him with a firm and haughty step, and instead of answer­ing his professions, reproached him with her wrongs. ALMORAN, that he might at once address her virtue and her pas­sions, observed, that though he had lov­ed her from the first moment he had seen her, yet he had concealed his passion even from her, till it had received the sanction of an invisible and superior pow­er; that he came, therefore, the mes­senger of heaven; and that he offered her unrivalled empire and everlasting [Page 16] love. To this she answered only by an impatient and fond enquiry after HAMET. 'Think not of HAMET,' said ALMORAN; ‘for why should he who is rejected of Heaven, be still the fa­vourite of ALMEIDA?’ 'If thy hand,' said ALMEIDA, ‘could quench in everlasting darkness, that vital spark of intellectual fire, which the word of the Almighty has kindled in my breast to burn for ever, then might ALMEIDA cease to think of HAMET; but while that shall live, whatever form it shall inhabit, or in whatever world it shall reside, his image shall be for ever present, and to him shall my love be for ever true.’ This glowing declaration of her love for HA­MET, was immediately succeeded by a tender anxiety for his safety; and a sud­den [Page 17] reflection upon the probability of his death, and the danger of his situa­tion if alive, threw her again into tears.

ALMORAN, whom the ardour and impetuosity of her passions kept some­times silent, and sometimes threw into confusion, again attempted to sooth and comfort her: she often urged him to tell her what was become of his bro­ther, and he as often evaded the ques­tion. As she was about to renew her enquiry, and reflected that it had al­ready been often made, and had not yet been answered, she thought that AL­MORAN had already put him to death: this threw her into a new agony, of which he did not immediately discover the cause; but as he soon learned it from [Page 18] her reproaches and exclamations, he perceived that he could not hope to be heard, while she was in doubt about the safety of HAMET. In order, there­fore, to sooth her mind, and pre­vent its being longer possessed with an image that excluded every other; he assumed a look of concern and astonish­ment at the imputation of a crime, which was at once so horrid and so un­necessary. After a solemn deprecation of such enormous guilt, he observed, that as it was now impossible for HA­MET to succeed as his rival, either in empire or in love, without the breach of a command, which he knew his vir­tue would implicitly obey; he had no motive either to desire his death, or to restrain his liberty: 'His walk,' says he, ‘is still uncircumscribed in [Page 19] Persia; and except this chamber, there is no part of the palace to which he is not admitted.’

To this declaration ALMEIDA list­ened, as to the music of paradise; and it suspended for a-while every passion, but her love: the sudden ease of her mind made her regardless of all about her, and she had in this interval suffered ALMORAN to remove her veil, without reflecting upon what he was doing. The moment she recollected herself, she made a gentle effort to recover it, with some confusion, but without an­ger. The pleasure that was expressed in her eyes, the blush that glowed up­on her cheek, and the contest about the veil, which to an amorous imagina­tion had an air of dalliance, concurred [Page 20] to heighten the passion of ALMORAN almost to phrensy: she perceived her danger in his looks, and her spirits in­stantly took the alarm. He seized her hand, and gazing ardently upon her, he conjured her, with a tone and em­phasis that strongly expressed the tu­multuous vehemence of his wishes, that she would renounce the rites which had been forbidden above, and that she would receive him to whom by mi­racle she had been alloted.

ALMEIDA, whom the manner and voice of ALMORAN had terrified into silence, answered him at first only with a look that expressed aversion and dis­dain, over-awed by fear. ‘Wilt thou not,’ said ALMORAN, ‘fulfill the decrees of Heaven? I conjure thee, [Page 21] by Heaven, to answer.’ From this solemn reference to Heaven, ALMEI­DA derived new fortitude: she in­stantly recollected, that she stood in the presence of Him, by whose per­mission only every other power, whe­ther visible or invisible, can dispense evil or good: 'Urge no more,' said she, ‘as the decree of Heaven, that which is inconsistent with Divine per­fection. Can He, in whose hand my heart is, command me to wed the man whom he has not enabled me to love? Can the Pure, the Just, the Merciful, have ordained that I should suffer embraces which I loath, and violate vows which His laws per­mitted me to make? Can He have ordained a perfidious, a love­less, and a joyless prostitution? What [Page 22] if a thousand prodigies should con­cur to enforce it a thousand times, the deed itself would be a stronger proof that those prodigies were the works of darkness, than those prodi­gies that the deed was commanded by the Father of light.’

ALMORAN, whose hopes were now blasted to the root, who perceived that the virtue of ALMEIDA could neither be deceived nor overborne; that she at once contemned his power, and ab­horred his love; gave way to all the furies of his mind, which now slum­bered no more: his countenance ex­pressed at once anger, indignation, and despair; his gesture became furious, and his voice was lost in menaces and execrations. ALMEIDA beheld him [Page 23] with an earnest yet steady countenance, till he vowed to revenge the indignity he had suffered, upon HAMET. At the name of HAMET, her fortitude for­sook her; the pride of virtue gave way to the softness of love; her cheeks be­came pale, her lips trembled, and tak­ing hold of the robe of ALMORAN, she threw herself at his feet. His fury was at first suspended by hope and ex­pectation; but when from her words, which grief and terror had rendered scarce articulate, he could learn only that she was pleading for HAMET, he burst from her in an extasy of rage; and forcing his robe from her hand, with a violence that dragged her after it, he rushed out of the chamber, and left her prostrate upon the ground.

[Page 24] As he passed through the gallery with a hasty and disordered pace, he was seen by OMAR; who knowing that he was returned from an interview with ALMEIDA, and conjecturing from his appearance what had happened, judged that he ought not to neglect this opportunity to warn him once more of the delusive phantoms, which, under the appearance of pleasure, were lead­ing him to destruction: he, therefore, followed him unperceived, till he had reached the apartment in which he had been used to retire alone, and heard again the loud and tumultuous excla­mations, which were wrung from his heart by the anguish of disappoint­ment: 'What have I gained,' said he, ‘by absolute dominion! The slave who, secluded from the gales of life [Page 25] and from the light of heaven, toils without hope in the darkness of the mine, riots in the delights of para­dise compared with me. By the ca­price of one woman, I am robbed not only of enjoyment but of peace, and condemned for ever to the tor­ment of unsatisfied desire.’

OMAR, who was impatient to ap­prize him that he was not alone, and to prevent his disclosing sentiments which he wished to conceal, now threw himself upon the ground at his feet. 'Presumptuous slave!' said ALMO­RAN, ‘from whence, and wherefore art thou come?’ 'I am come,' ‘said OMAR, to tell thee that not the ca­price of a woman, but the wishes of ALMORAN, have made ALMORAN [Page 26] wretched.’ The king, stung with the reproach, drew back, and with a fu­rious look laid his hand upon his poig­nard; but was immediately restrained from drawing it, by his pride. ‘I am come,’ said OMAR, ‘to repeat that truth, upon which, great as thou art, thy fate is suspended. Thy power extends not to the mind of another; exert it, therefore, upon thy own: suppress the wishes, which thou canst not fulfill; and secure the happiness that is within thy reach.’

ALMORAN, who could bear no lon­ger to hear the precepts which he dis­dained to practise, sternly commanded OMAR to depart: 'Be gone,' said he, ‘lest I crush thee like a noisome rep­tile, which men cannot but abhor, [Page 27] though it is too contemptible to be feared.’ 'I go,' said OMAR, ‘that my warning voice may yet again re­call thee to the path of wisdom and of peace, if yet again I shall behold thee while it is to be found.’

CHAP. XIII.

ALMORAN was now left alone; and throwing himself upon a sofa, he sat some time motionless and silent, as if all his faculties had been suspended in the stupefaction of despair. He revolved in his mind the wishes that had been gratified, and the happi­ness of which he had been disappoint­ed: 'I desired,' said he, ‘the pomp and power of undivided dominion; and HAMET was driven from the throne which he shared with me, by a voice from heaven: I desired to break off his marriage with ALMEI­DA; and it was broken off by a pro­digy, [Page 29] when no human power could have accomplished my desire. It was my wish also to have the person of ALMEIDA in my power, and this wish also has been gratified; yet I am still wretched. But I am wretched, only because the means have not been ade­quate to the end: what I have hi­therto obtained, I have not desired for itself; and of that, for which I desired it, I am not possessed: I am, therefore, still wretched, because I am weak. With the soul of ALMO­RAN, I should have the form of HA­MET: then my wishes would indeed be filled; then would ALMEIDA bless me with consenting beauty, and the splendor of my power should distin­guish only the intervals of my love; my enjoyments would then be certain [Page 30] and permanent, neither blasted by disappointment, nor withered by sa­tiety.’ When he had uttered these reflections with the utmost vehemence and agitation, his face was again ob­scured by gloom and despair; his pos­ture was again fixed; and he was fall­ing back into his former state of silent abstraction, when he was suddenly roused by the appearance of the Ge­nius, the sincerity of whose friend­ship he began to distrust.

'ALMORAN,' said the Genius, ‘if thou art not yet happy, know that my powers are not yet exhausted: fear me not, but let thine ear be at­tentive to my voice.’ The Genius then stretched out his hand towards him, in which there was an emerald of [Page 31] great lustre, cut into a figure that had four and twenty sides, on each of which was engraven a different letter. ‘Thou seest,’ said he, ‘this talisman: on each side of it is engraven one of those mysterious characters, of which are formed all the words of all the languages that are spoken by angels, genii, and men. This shall enable thee to change thy figure: and what, under the form of ALMORAN, thou canst not accomplish; thou shalt still be able to effect, if it can be effected by thee, in the form of any other. Point only to the letters that com­pose the name of him whose appear­ance thou wouldst assume, and it is done. Remember only, that upon him, whose appearance thou shall as­sume, thine shall be imprest, till thou [Page 32] restorest his own. Hide the charm in thy bosom, and avail thyself of its power.’ ALMORAN received the ta­lisman in a transport of gratitude and joy, and the Genius immediately dis­appeared.

The use of this talisman was so ob­vious, that it was impossible to overlook it. ALMORAN instantly conceived the design with which it was given, and determined instantly to put it in exe­cution: 'I will now,' said he, ‘as­sume the figure of HAMET; and my love, in all its ardour, shall be return­ed by ALMEIDA.’ As his fancy kind­led at the anticipation of his happiness, he stood musing in a pleasing suspense, and indulged himself in the contem­plation of the several gradations, by [Page 33] which he should ascend to the summit of his wishes.

Just at this moment, Osmyn, whom he had commanded to attend him at this hour, approached his apartment: AL­MORAN was roused by the sound of his foot, and supposed it to be OMAR, who had again intruded upon his privacy; he was enraged at the interruption which had broken a series of imagina­tions so flattering and luxurious; he snatched out his poignard, and lifting up his arm for the stroke, hastily turn­ed round to have stabbed him; but seeing Osmyn, he discovered his mistake just in time to prevent the blow.

Osmyn, who was not conscious of any crime, nor indeed of any act that [Page 34] could have given occasion of offence; started back terrified and amazed, and stood trembling in suspense whe­ther to remain or to withdraw. ALMO­RAN, in the mean time, sheathed the instrument of death, and bid him fear nothing, for he should not be hurt. He then turned about; and putting his hand to his forehead, stood again silent in a musing posture: he recol­lected, that if he assumed the figure of HAMET, it was necessary he should give orders for HAMET to be admitted to ALMEIDA, as he would otherwise be excluded by the delegates of his own authority; turning, therefore, to Osmyn, 'Remember,' said he, ‘that whenever HAMET shall return, it is my command, that he be admitted to ALMEIDA.’

[Page 35] Osmyn, who was pleased with an opportunity of recommending himself to ALMORAN, by praising an act of ge­nerous virtue which he supposed him now to exert in favour of his brother, received the command with a look, that expressed not only approbation but joy: 'Let the sword of destruction,' said he, ‘be the guard of the tyrant; the strength of my lord shall be the bonds of love: those, who honour thee as ALMORAN, shall rejoice in thee as the friend of HAMET.’ To ALMORAN, who was conscious to no kindness for his brother, the praise of Osmyn was a reproach: he was offend­ed at the joy which he saw kindled in his countenance, by a command to shew favour to HAMET; and was fired [Page 36] with sudden rage at that condemnation of his real conduct, which was implied by an encomium on the generosity of which he assumed the appearance for a malevolent and perfidious purpose: his brow was contracted, his lip quivered, and the hilt of his dagger was again grasped in his hand. Osmyn was again overwhelmed with terror and confusion; he had again offended, but knew not his offence. In the mean time, ALMORAN recollecting that to express displeasure against Osmyn was to betray his own secret, endeavoured to suppress his an­ger; but his anger was succeeded by remorse, regret, and disappointment. The anguish of his mind broke out in imperfect murmurs: 'What I am, said he, ‘is, to this wretch, the object not only of hatred but of scorn; and [Page 37] he commends only what I am not, in what to him I would seem to be.’

These sounds, which, tho' not arti­culate, were yet uttered with great emotion, were still mistaken by Os­myn for the overflowings of capricious and causeless anger: 'My life,' says he to himself, ‘is even now suspend­ed in a doubtful balance. When­ever I approach this tyrant, I tread the borders of destruction: like a hood-winked wretch, who is left to wander near the brink of a precipice, I know my danger; but which way soever I turn, I know not whether I shall incur or avoid it.’

In these reflections, did the sove­reign and the slave pass those moments, [Page 38] in which the sovereign intended to ren­der the slave subservient to his pleasure or his security, and the slave intended to express a zeal which he really felt, and a homage which his heart had al­ready paid. Osmyn was at length, however, dismissed with an assurance, that all was well; and ALMORAN was again left to reflect with anguish upon the past, to regret the present, and to anticipate the future with solicitude, anxiety, and perturbation.

He was, however, determined to as­sume the figure of his brother, by the talisman which had been put into his power by the Genius: but just as he was about to form the spell, he re­collected, that by the same act he would impress his own likeness upon HAMET, [Page 39] who would consequently be invested with his power, and might use it to his destruction. This held him some time in suspense: but reflecting that HA­MET might not, perhaps, be apprized of his advantage, till it was too late to improve it; that he was now a fugi­tive, and probably alone, leaving Per­sia behind him with all the speed he could make; and that, at the worst, if he should be still near, if he should know the transformation as soon as it should be made, and should instantly take the most effectual measures to im­prove it; yet as he could dissolve the charm in a moment, whenever it should be necessary for his safety, no formi­dable danger could be incurred by the experiment, to which he, therefore, proceeded without delay.

CHAP. XIV.

IN the mean time, HAMET, to whom his own safety was of no importance but for the sake of ALMEIDA, resolved, if possible, to conceal himself near the city. Having, therefore, reached the confines of the desert, by which it was bounded on the east, he quitted his horse, and determined to remain there till the multitude was dispersed, and the darkness of the evening might con­ceal his return, when in less than an hour he could reach the palace.

He sat down at the foot of the mountain Kabessed, without consider­ing, [Page 41] that in this place he was most like­ly to be found, as those who travel the desert seldom fail to enter the cave that winds its way under the mountain, to drink of the water that issues there from a clear and copious spring.

He reviewed the scenes of the day that was now nearly passed, with a mixture of astonishment and distress, to which no description can be equal. The sudden and amazing change that a few hours had made in his situation, appeared like a wild and distressful dream, from which he almost doubted whether he should not wake to the power and the felicity that he had lost. He sat some time bewildered in the hurry and multiplicity of his thoughts, and at length burst out into passionate [Page 42] exclamations: 'What,' says he, ‘and where am I? Am I, indeed, HA­MET; that son of Solyman who di­vided the dominion of Persia with his brother, and who possessed the love of ALMEIDA alone? Dreadful vicissitude! I am now an outcast, friendless and forlorn; without an as­sociate, and without a dwelling: for me the cup of adversity overflows, and the last dregs of sorrow have been wrung out for my portion: the powers not only of the earth, but of the air, have combined against me; and how can I stand alone be­fore them? But is there no power that will interpose in my behalf? If He, who is supreme, is good, I shall not perish. But wherefore am I thus? Why should the desires of vice be [Page 43] accomplished by superior powers; and why should superior powers be permitted to disappoint the expecta­tions of virtue? Yet let me not rashly question the ways of Him, in whose balance the world is weighed: by Him, every evil is rendered sub­servient to good; and by His wisdom, the happiness of the whole is secured. Yet I am but a part only, and for a part only I can feel. To me, what is that goodness of which I do not partake? In my cup the gall is unmixed; and have I not, therefore, a right to complain? But what have I said? Let not the gloom that sur­rounds me, hide from me the pros­pect of immortality. Shall not eter­nity atone for time? Eternity, to which the duration of ages is but [Page 44] as an atom to a world! Shall I not, when this momentary separation is past, again meet ALMEIDA to part no more? and shall not a purer flame than burns upon the earth, unite us? Even at this moment, her mind, which not the frauds of sorcery can taint or alienate, is mine: that pleasure which she reserved for me, cannot be taken by force; it is in the consent alone that it subsists; and from the joy that she feels, and from that only, proceeds the joy she can bestow.’

With these reflections he soothed the anguish of his mind, till the dreadful moment arrived, in which the power of the talisman took place, and the fi­gure of ALMORAN was changed into [Page 45] that of HAMET, and the figure of HA­MET into that of ALMORAN.

At the moment of transformation, HAMET was seized with a sudden lan­guor, and his faculties were suspended as by the stroke of death. When he recovered, his limbs still trembled, and his lips were parched with thirst: he rose, therefore, and entering the ca­vern, at the mouth of which he had been sitting, he stooped over the well to drink; but glancing his eyes upon the water, he saw, with astonishment and horror, that it reflected, not his own countenance, but that of his bro­ther. He started back from the pro­digy; and supporting himself against the side of the rock, he stood some time like a statue, without the power [Page 46] of recollection: but at length the thought suddenly rushed into his mind, that the same sorcery which had sus­pended his marriage, and driven him from the throne, was still practised against him; and that the change of his figure to that of ALMORAN, was the effect of ALMORAN's having assum­ed his likeness, to obtain, in this dis­guise, whatever ALMEIDA could be­stow. This thought, like a whirlwind of the desert, totally subverted his mind; his fortitude was borne down, and his hopes were rooted up; no principles remained to regulate his con­duct, but all was phrensy, confusion, and despair. He rushed out of the cave with a furious and distracted look; and went in haste towards the city, without having formed any de­sign, [Page 47] or considered any consequence that might follow.

The shadows of the mountains were now lengthened by the declining sun; and the approach of evening had invited OMAR to meditate in a grove, that was adjacent to the gardens of the palace. From this place he was seen at some distance by HAMET, who came up to him with a hasty and disordered pace; and OMAR drew back with a cold and distant reverence, which the power and the character of ALMORAN concurred to excite. HAMET, not reflecting upon the cause of this behaviour, was of­fended, and reproached him with the want of that friendship he had so often professed: the vehemence of his ex­pression and demeanor, suited well with [Page 48] the appearance of ALMORAN; and OMAR, as the best proof of that friend­ship which had been impeached, took this opportunity to repeat his admoni­tions in the behalf of HAMET: ‘What ever evil,’ said he, ‘thou canst bring upon HAMET, will be doubled to thyself: to his virtues, the Power that fills infinitude is a friend, and he can be afflicted only till they are per­fect; but thy sufferings will be the punishment of vice, and as long as thou art vicious they must increase.’

HAMET, who instantly recollected for whom he was mistaken, and the anguish of whose mind was for a mo­ment suspended by this testimony of esteem and kindness, which could not possibly be feigned, and which was [Page 49] paid him at the risque of life, when it could not be known that he received it; ran forward to embrace the hoary sage, who had been the guide of his youth, and cried out, in a voice that was broken by contending passions,

'The face is the face of ALMORAN;
'but the heart is the heart of HAMET.'

OMAR was struck dumb with asto­nishment; and HAMET, who was impa­tient to be longer mistaken, related all the circumstances of his transforma­tion, and reminded him of some parti­culars which could be known only to themselves: ‘Canst thou not yet be­lieve,’ said he, ‘that I am HAMET? when thou hast this day seen me banished from my kingdom; when thou hast now met me a fugitive [Page 50] returning from the desert; and when I learnt from thee, since the sun was risen which is not yet set, that more than mortal powers were combined against me.’ ‘I now believe,’ said OMAR, ‘that thou, indeed, art HAMET.’ ‘Stay me not then, said HAMET;’ ‘but come with me to revenge.’ 'Beware,' said O­MAR, ‘lest thou endanger the loss of more than empire and ALMEIDA.’ 'If not to revenge,' said HAMET, ‘I may at least be permitted to punish.’ 'Thy mind,' says OMAR, ‘is now in such a state, that to punish the crimes by which thou hast been wronged, will dip thee in the guilt of blood. Why else are we forbidden to take vengeance for ourselves? and why is it reserved as the prerogative of the [Page 51] Most High? In Him, and in Him alone, it is goodness guided by wis­dom: He approves the means, only as necessary to the end; He wounds only to heal, and destroys only to save; He has complacence, not in the evil, but in the good only which it is appointed to produce. Remember, therefore, that he, to whom the punishment of another is sweet; though his act may be just with respect to others, with re­spect to himself it is a deed of darkness, and abhorred by the Al­mighty.’ HAMET, who had stood abstracted in the contemplation of the new injury he had suffered, while OMAR was persuading him not to revenge it, ‘started from his pos­ture in all the wildness of distrac­tion; [Page 52] and bursting away from OMAR, with an ardent and furious look hasted toward the palace, and was soon out of sight.’

CHAP. XV.

IN the mean time, ALMORAN, after having effected the transformation, was met, as he was going to the apart­ment of ALMEIDA, by Osmyn. Osmyn had already experienced the misery of de­pendent greatness, that kept him conti­nually under the eye of a capricious ty­rant, whose temper was various as the gales of summer, and whose anger was sudden as the bolt of heaven; whose purpose and passions were dark and im­petuous as the midnight storm, and at whose command death was inevita­ble as the approach of time. When [Page 54] he saw ALMORAN, therefore, in the likeness of HAMET, he felt a secret desire to apprize him of his situation, and offer him his friendship.

ALMORAN, who with the form as­sumed the manners of HAMET, ad­dressed Osmyn with a mild though mournful countenance: 'At length,' said he, ‘the will of ALMORAN alone is law; does it permit me to hold a private rank in this place, without molestation? It permits,’ said Osmyn, ‘yet more; he has commanded, that you should have admittance to AL­MEIDA.’ ALMORAN, whose vanity betrayed him to flatter his own pow­er in the person of HAMET, replied with a smile: ‘I know, that ALMO­RAN, who presides like a God in si­lent [Page 55] and distant state, reveals the se­crets of his will to thee; I know that thou art’—'I am,' said Osmyn, ‘of all thou seest, most wretch­ed.’ At this declaration, ALMORAN turned short, and fixed his eyes upon Osmyn with a look of surprize and an­ger: ‘Does not the favour of ALMO­RAN,’ said he, ‘whose smile is pow­er, and wealth, and honour, shine upon thee?’ 'My lord,' said Os­myn, ‘I know so well the severity of thy virtue, that if I should, even for thy sake, become perfidious to thy brother’—ALMORAN, who was unable to preserve the character of HAMET with propriety, interrupted him with a fierce and haughty tone: 'How!' said he, ‘perfidious to [Page 56] my brother! to ALMORAN perfidi­ous!’

Osmyn, who had now gone too far to recede, and who still saw before him the figure of HAMET, proceeded in his purpose: ‘'I knew,' said he, that in thy judgment I should be condemned; and yet, the preserva­tion of life is the strongest principle of nature, and the love of virtue is her proudest boast.’ ‘Explain thy­self,’ ‘said ALMORAN, for I cannot comprehend thee.’ ‘'I mean,' said Osmyn, that he, whose life depends upon the caprice of a tyrant, is like the wretch whose sentence is already pronounced; and who, if the wind does but rush by his dungeon, ima­gines that it is the bow-string and the [Page 57] mute.’ 'Fear not,' said ALMO­RAN, who now affected to be again calm; ‘be still faithful, and thou shalt still be safe.’ 'Alas!' said Os­myn, ‘there is no diligence, no toil, no faith, that can secure the slave from the sudden phrensy of passion, from the causeless rage either of drunkenness or lust. I am that slave; the slave of a tyrant whom I hate.’ The confusion of ALMORAN was now too great to be concealed, and he stood silent with rage, fear, and indignation. Osmyn, supposing that his wonder sus­pended his belief of what he had heard, confirmed his declaration by an oath.

Whoever thou art, to whose mind ALMORAN, the mighty and the proud, [Page 58] is present; before whom, the lord of absolute dominion stands trembling and rebuked; who seest the possessor of power by which nature is controuled, pale and silent with anguish and disap­pointment: if, in the fury of thy wrath, thou hast aggravated weakness into guilt; if thou hast chilled the glow of affection, when it flushed the cheek in thy presence, with the frown of displea­sure, or repressed the ardour of friend­ship with indifference or neglect; now, let thy heart smite thee: for, in thy folly, thou hast cast away that gem, which is the light of life; which power can never seize, and which gold can never buy!

The tyrant fell at once from his pride, like a star from Heaven; and [Page 59] Osmyn, still addressing him as HA­MET, at once increased his misery and his fears: 'O,' said he, ‘that the throne of Persia was thine! then should innocence enjoy her birth-right of peace, and hope should bid honest industry look upward. There is not one to whom ALMORAN has delegat­ed power, nor one on whom his transient favour has bestowed any gift, who does not already feel his heart throb with the pangs of boding terror. Nor is there one who, if he did not fear the displeasure of the in­visible power by whom the throne has been given to thy brother, would not immediately revolt to thee.’

ALMORAN, who had hitherto re­mained silent, now burst into a passio­nate [Page 60] exclamation of self pity: ‘What can I do?’ said he; ‘and whither can I turn?’ Osmyn, who mistook the cause of his distress, and supposed that he deplored only his want of power to avail himself of the general disposition in his favour, endeavour­ed to fortify his mind against despair: 'Your state,' said he, ‘in­deed is distressful, but not hopeless.’ The king who, though addressed as HAMET, was still betrayed by his con­fusion to answer as ALMORAN, smote his breast, and replied in an agony, 'It is hopeless!' Osmyn remarked his emotion and despair, with a con­cern and astonishment that ALMORAN observed, and at once recollected his situation. He endeavoured to retract such expressions of trouble and des­pondency, [Page 61] as did not suit the character he had assumed; and telling Osmyn, that he thanked him for his friendship, and would improve the advantages it offered him, he directed him to ac­quaint the eunuchs that they were to admit him to ALMEIDA. When he was left alone, his doubts and perplex­ity held him long in suspense; a thou­sand expedients occurred to his mind by turns, and by turns were rejected.

His first thought was to put Osmyn to death: but he considered, that by this he would gain no advantage, as he would be in equal danger from who­ever should succeed him: he consi­dered also, that against Osmyn he was upon his guard; and that he might at any time learn, from him, whatever [Page 62] design might be formed in favour of HAMET, by assuming HAMET's ap­pearance: that he would thus be the confident of every secret, in which his own safety was concerned; and might disconcert the best contrived project at the very moment of its execution, when it would be too late for other measures to be taken: he determined, therefore, to let Osmyn live; at least, till it became more necessary to cut him off. Having in some degree soothed and fortified his mind by these reflections, he entered the apart­ment of ALMEIDA.

His hope was not founded upon a design to marry her under the appear­ance of HAMET; for that would be im­possible, as the ceremony must have been performed by the priests who sup­posed [Page 63] the marriage with HAMET to have been forbidden by a divine com­mand; and who, therefore, would not have consented, even supposing they would otherwise have ventured, at the request of HAMET, to perform a cere­mony which they knew would be dis­pleasing to ALMORAN: but he hoped to take advantage of her tenderness for his brother, and the particular circum­stances of her situation, which made the solemnities of mariage impossible, to seduce her to gratify his desires, without the sanction which alone ren­dered the gratification of them lawful: if he succeeded in this design, he had reason to expect, either that his love would be extinguished by enjoyment; or that, if he should still desire to marry ALMEIDA, he might, by disclos­ing to her the artifice by which he had [Page 64] effected his purpose, prevail upon her to consent, as her connexion with HA­MET, the chief obstacle to her marriage with him, would then be broken for ever; and as she might, perhaps, wish to sanctify the pleasure which she might be not unwilling to repeat, or at least to make that lawful which it would not be in her power to prevent.

In this disposition, and with this de­sign, he was admitted to ALMEIDA; who, without suspicion of her danger, was exposed to the severest trial, in which every passion concurred to oppose her virtue: she was solicited by all the powers of subtilty and desire, under the appearance of a lover whose ten­derness and fidelity had been long tried, and whose passion she returned with [Page 65] equal constancy and ardour; and she was thus solicited, when the rites which alone could consecrate their union, were im­possible, and were rendered impossible by the guilty designs of a rival, in whose power she was, and from whom no other expedient offered her a deliver­ance. Thus deceived and betrayed, she received him with an excess of ten­derness and joy, which flattered all his hopes, and for a moment suspended his misery. She enquired, with a sond and gentle solicitude, by what means he had gained admittance, and how he had provided for his retreat. He received and returned her caresses with a vehemence, in which, to less partial eyes, desire would have been more ap­parent than love; and in the tumult of his passion, he almost neglected her [Page 66] enquiries: finding, however, that she would be answered, he told her, that being by the permission of ALMORAN admitted to every part of the palace, except that of the women, he had found means to bribe the eunuch who kept the door; who was not in danger of detection, because ALMORAN, wea­ried with the tumult and fatigue of the day, had retired to sleep, and given order to be called at a certain hour. She then complained of the so­licitations to which she was exposed, expressed her dread of the consequences she had reason to expect from some sud­den sally of the tyrant's rage, and re­lated with tears the brutal outrage she had suffered when he last left her: 'Though I abhorred him,' said she, ‘I yet kneeled before him for thee. [Page 67] Let me bend in reverence to that Power, at whose look the whirlwinds are silent, and the seas are calm, that his fury has hitherto been restrained from hurting thee!’

At these words, the face of ALMO­RAN was again covered with the blushes of confusion: to be still beloved only as HAMET, and as ALMORAN to be still hated; to be thus reproached with­out anger, and wounded by those who knew not that they struck him; was a species of misery peculiar to himself, and had been incurred only by the ac­quisition of new powers, which he had requested and received as necessary to obtain that felicity, which the parsi­mony of nature had placed beyond his reach. His emotions, however, as by [Page 68] ALMEIDA they were supposed to be the emotions of HAMET, she imputed to a different cause: 'As Heaven,' says she, ‘has preserved thee from death; so has it, for thy sake, pre­served me from violation.’ ALMO­RAN, whose passion had in this inter­val again surmounted his remorse, gazed eagerly upon her, and catching her to his bosom; 'Let us at least,' says he, ‘secure the happiness that is now of­fered; let not these inestimable mo­ments pass by us unimproved; but to shew that we deserve them, let them be devoted to love.’ ‘Let us then,’ said ALMEIDA, ‘escape toge­ther.’ 'To escape with thee,' said ALMORAN, ‘is impossible. I shall re­tire, and, like the shaft of Arabia, leave no mark behind me; but the [Page 69] flight of ALMEIDA will at once be traced to him by whom I was ad­mitted, and I shall thus retaliate his friendship with destruction.’ ‘Let him then,’ said ALMEIDA, ‘be the partner of our flight.’ ‘Urge it not now, said ALMORAN;’ ‘but trust to my prudence and my love, to select some hour that will be more favour­able to our purpose. And yet,’ said he, ‘even then, we shall, as now, sigh in vain for the completion of our wishes: by whom shall our hands be joined, when in the opinion of the priests it has been forbidden from above?’ 'Save thyself then,' said AL­MEIDA, 'and leave me to my fate.' 'Not so,' said ALMORAN. ‘What else,’ replied ALMEIDA, ‘is in our power?’ 'It is in our power,' said [Page 70] ALMORAN, ‘to seize that joy, to which a public form can give us no new claim; for the public form can only declare that right by which I claim it now.’

As they were now reclining upon a sofa, he threw his arm round her; but she suddenly sprung up, and burst from him: the tear started to her eye, and she gazed upon him with an earnest but yet tender look: 'Is it?' says she‘—No sure, it is not the voice of HAMET!’ 'O! yes,' said ALMORAN, ‘what other voice should call thee to cancel at once the wrongs of HAMET and ALMEIDA; to secure the treasures of thy love from the hand of the rob­ber; to hide the joys, which if now we lose we may lose for ever, in the [Page 71] sacred and inviolable stores of the past, and place them beyond the power not of ALMORAN only but of fate?’ With this wild effusion of desire, he caught her again to his breast, and finding no resistance his heart exulted in his success; but the next moment, to the total disappointment of his hopes, he perceived that she had fainted in his arms. When she recovered, she once more disengaged herself from him, and turning away her face, she burst into tears. When her voice could be heard, she covered herself with her veil, and turning again towards him, ‘All but this,’ said she, ‘I had learnt to bear; and how has this been deserved by AL­MEIDA of HAMET? You was my only solace in distress; and when the tears have stolen from my eyes in silence [Page 72] and in solitude, I thought on thee; I thought upon the chaste ardour of thy sacred friendship, which was softened, refined, and exalted into love. This was my hoarded treasure; and the thoughts of possessing this, soothed all my anguish with a miser's happiness, who, blest in the consci­ousness of hidden wealth, despises cold and hunger, and rejoices in the midst of all the miseries that make poverty dreadful: this was my last retreat; but I am now desolate and forlorn, and my soul looks round, with terror, for that refuge which it can never find.’ 'Find that refuge,' said ALMORAN, 'in me.' 'Alas!' said ALMEIDA, ‘can he afford me re­fuge from my sorrows, who, for the guilty pleasures of a transient mo­ment, [Page 73] would for ever sully the purity of my mind, and aggravate misfor­tune by the consciousness of guilt?’

As ALMORAN now perceived, that it was impossible, by any importunity, to induce her to violate her principles; he had nothing more to attempt, but to subvert them. 'When,' said he, ‘shall ALMEIDA awake, and these dreams of folly and superstition va­nish? That only is virtue, by which happiness is produced; and whatever produces happiness, is therefore vir­tue; and the forms, and words, and rites, which priests have pretended to be required by Heaven, are the fraudful arts only by which they go­vern mankind.’

[Page 74] ALMEIDA, by this impious insult, was roused from grief to indignation: 'As thou hast now dared,' said she, ‘to deride the laws, which thou wouldst first have broken; so hast thou broken for ever the tender bonds, by which my soul was united to thine. Such as I fondly believed thee, thou art not; and what thou art, I have never loved. I have loved a delusive phantom only, which, while I strove to grasp it, has va­nished from me.’ ALMORAN attempt­ed to reply; but on such a subject, neither her virtue nor her wisdom would permit debate. 'That prodigy,' said she, ‘which I thought was the sleight of cunning, or the work of sorcery, I now revere as the voice of Heaven; which, as it knew thy heart, [Page 75] has in mercy saved me from thy arms. To the will of Heaven shall my will be obedient; and my voice also shall pronounce, to ALMORAN ALMEIDA.’

ALMORAN, whose whole soul was now suspended in attention, conceived new hopes of success; and foresaw the cer­tain accomplishment of his purpose, though by an effect directly contrary to that which he had laboured to pro­duce. Thus to have incurred the ha­tred of ALMEIDA in the form of HA­MET, was more fortunate than to have taken advantage of her love; the path that led to his wishes was now clear and open; and his marriage with AL­MEIDA in his own person, waited only [...]ill he could resume it. He, therefore, [Page 76] instead of soothing, provoked her re­sentment: ‘If thou hast loved a phan­tom,’ said he, ‘which existed only in imagination; on such a phantom my love also has been fixed: thou hast, indeed, only the form of what I called ALMEIDA; my love thou hast rejected, because thou hast never loved; the object of thy passion was not HAMET, but a throne; and thou hast made the observance of rituals, in which folly only can suppose there is good or ill, a pretence to violate thy faith, that thou mayst still gra­tify thy ambition.’

To this injurious reproach, ALMEI­DA made no reply; and ALMORAN immediately quitted her apartment, that he might reassume his own figure, [Page 77] and take advantage of the disposition which, under the appearance of HA­MET, he had produced in favour of himself: But Osmyn, who supposing him to be HAMET, had intercepted and detained him as he was going to ALMEI­DA, now intercepted him a second time at his return, having placed himself near the door of the apartment for that purpose.

Osmyn was by no means satisfied with the issue of their last interview: he had perceived a perturbation in the mind of ALMORAN, for which, imagin­ing him to be HAMET, he could not ac­count; and which seemed more extra­ordinary upon a review, than when it happened; he, therefore, again entered into conversation with him, in which he [Page 78] farther disclosed his sentiments and de­signs. ALMORAN, notwithstanding the impatience natural to his temper and situation, was thus long detained listening to Osmyn, by the united in­fluence of his curiosity and his fears; his enquiries still alarmed him with new terrors, by discovering new objects of distrust, and new instances of disaffec­tion: still, however, he resolved, not yet to remove Osmyn from his post, that he might give no alarm by any appearance of suspicion, and conse­quently learn with more ease, and de­tect with more certainty, any project that might be formed against him.

CHAP. XVI.

ALMEIDA, as soon as she was left alone, began to review the scene that had just past; and was every moment affected with new wonder, grief, and resentment. She now de­plored her own misfortune; and now conceived a design to punish the au­thor of it, from whose face she sup­posed the hand of adversity had torn the mask under which he had deceived her: it appeared to her very easy, to take a severe revenge upon HAMET for the indignity which she supposed he had offered her, by complaining of it [Page 80] to ALMORAN; and telling him, that he had gained admittance to her by brib­ing the eunuch who kept the door. The thought of thus giving him up, was one moment rejected, as arising from a vindictive spirit; and the next indulged, as an act of justice to ALMORAN, and a punishment due to the hypocrisy of HAMET: to the first she inclined, when her grief, which was still mingled with a tender remembrance of the man she loved, was predominant; and to the last, when her grief gave way to indig­nation.

Thus are we inclined to consider the same action, either as a virtue, or a vice, by the influence of different pas­sions, which prompt us either to per­form or to avoid it. ALMEIDA, from de­liberating [Page 81] whether she should accuse HAMET to ALMORAN, or conceal his fault, was led to consider what punish­ment he would either incur or escape in consequence of her determination; and the images that rushed into her mind, the moment this became the ob­ject of her thoughts, at once deter­mined her to be silent: ‘Could I bear to see,’ said she, ‘that hand, which has so often trembled with delight when it enfolded mine, convulsed and black! those eyes, that as often as they gazed upon me were dissolv­ed in tears of tenderness and love, start from the sockets! and those lips that breathed the softest sighs of ele­gant desire, distorted and gasping in the convulsions of death!’

[Page 82] From this image, her mind recoiled in an agony of terror and pity; her heart sunk within her; her limbs trem­bled; she sunk down upon the sofa, and burst into tears.

By this time, HAMET, on whose form the likeness of ALMORAN was still impressed, had reached the palace. He went instantly towards the apart­ment of the women. Instead of that chearful alacrity, that mixture of zeal and reverence and affection, which his eye had been used to find where­ever it was turned, he now observed confusion, anxiety and terror; whoever he met, made haste to prostrate them­selves before him, and feared to look up till he was past. He went on, how­ever, with a hasty pace; and coming up [Page 83] to the eunuch's guard, he said with an impatient tone; 'TO ALMEIDA.' The slave immediately made way before him, and conducted him to the door of the apartment, which he would not otherwise have been able to find, and for which he could not directly en­quire.

When he entered, his countenance expressed all the passions that his situa­tion had roused in his mind. He first looked sternly round him, to see whe­ther ALMORAN was not present; and then fetching a deep sigh he turned his eyes, with a look of mournful tender­ness, upon ALMEIDA. His first view was to discover, whether ALMORAN had already supplanted him; and for this purpose he collected the whole strength [Page 84] of his mind: he considered that he ap­peared now, not as HAMET, but as ALMORAN; and that he was to ques­tion ALMEIDA concerning ALMORAN, while she had mistaken him for HA­MET; he was therefore to maintain the character, at whatever expence, till his doubts were resolved, and his fears either removed or confirmed: he was so firmly persuaded, that ALMO­RAN had been there before him, that he did not ask the question, but supposed the fact; he restrained alike both his tenderness and his fears; and looking earnestly upon ALMEIDA, who had risen up in his presence with blushes and confusion, 'To me,' says he, ‘is ALMEIDA still cold? and has she la­vished all her love upon HAMET?’

[Page 85] At the name of HAMET, the blushes and confusion of ALMEIDA increased: her mind was still full of the images, which had risen from the thought of what HAMET might suffer, if ALMO­RAN should know that he had been with her; and though she feared that their interview was discovered, yet she hoped it might be only suspected, and in that case the removal or confirma­tion of the suspicions, on which the fate of HAMET depended, would de­volve upon her.

In this situation, she, who had but a few moments before doubted, whe­ther she should not voluntarily give him up, when nothing more was ne­cessary for his safety than to be silent; now determined, with whatever reluc­tance, [Page 86] to secure him, though it could not be done without dissimulation, and though it was probable that in this dissimulation she would be detected. Instead, therefore, of answering the question, she repeated it: ‘On whom said my lord, on HAMET?’ HAMET, whose suspicions were increased by the evasion, replied with great emotion, ‘Aye, on HAMET; did he not this moment leave you?’ ‘Leave me this moment?’ said ALMEIDA, with yet greater confusion, and deeper blushes. HAMET, in the impatience of his jea­lousy, concluded, that the passions which he saw expressed in her counte­nance, and which arose from the strug­gle between her regard to truth and her tenderness for HAMET, proceeded [Page 87] from the consciousness of what he had most reason to dread, and she to con­ceal, a breach of virtue, to which she had been betrayed by his own ap­pearance united with the vices of his brother: he, therefore, drew back from her with a look of inexpressible an­guish, and stood some time silent. She observed, that in his countenance there was more expression of trouble, than rage; she, therefore, hoped to divert him from persuing his enquiries, by at once removing his jealousy; which she supposed would be at an end, as soon as she should disclose the resolution she had taken in his favour. Address­ing him, therefore, as ALMORAN, with a voice which though it was gentle and soothing, was yet mournful and tremu­lous; 'Do not turn from me,' said she, [Page 88] with those unfriendly and frowning looks; give me now that love which so lately you offered, and with all the future I will atone the past.’

Upon HAMET, whose heart involun­tarily answered to the voice of AL­MEIDA, these words had irresistible and instantaneous force; but recollecting, in a moment, whose from he bore, and to whom they were addressed, they struck him with new astonishment, and increased the torments of his mind. Supposing what he at first feared had happened, and that ALMORAN had se­duced her as HAMET; he could not ac­count for her now addressing him, as ALMORAN, with words of favour and compliance: he, therefore, renewed his enquiries concerning himself, with ap­prehensions [Page 89] of a different kind. She, who was still solicitous to put an end to the enquiry, as well for the sake of HAMET, as to prevent her own em­barrassment, replied with a sigh, ‘Let not thy peace be interrupted by one thought of HAMET; for of HAMET ALMEIDA shall think no more.’ HA­MET, who, though he had fortified himself against whatever might have happened to her person, could not bear the alienation of her mind, cried out, with looks of distraction and a voice scarcely human, ‘Not think of HAMET!’ ALMEIDA, whose astonish­ment was every moment increasing, re­plied, with a tender and interesting en­quiry, ‘IS ALMORAN then offended, that ALMEIDA should think of HA­MET no more?’ HAMET, being thus [Page 90] addressed by the name of his brother, again recollected his situation; and now first conceived the idea, that the alte­ration of ALMEIDA's sentiments with respect to himself, might be the effect of some violence offered her by ALMO­RAN in his likeness; he, therefore, re­curred to his first purpose, and deter­mined, by a direct enquiry, to disco­ver, whether she had seen him under that appearance. This enquiry he urged with the utmost solemnity and ardour, in terms suitable to his present appearance and situation: 'Tell me,' said he, ‘have these doors been open to HAMET? Has he obtained posses­sion of that treasure, which, by the voice of Heaven, has been allotted to me?’

[Page 91] To this double question, ALMEIDA answered by a single negative; and her answer, therefore, was both false and true: it was true that her person was still inviolate, and it was true also that HAMET had not been admitted to her; yet her denial of it was false, for she believed the contrary; ALMORAN only had been admitted, but she had re­ceived him as his brother. HAMET, however, was satisfied with the answer, and did not discover its fallacy. He looked up to Heaven, with an expres­sion of gratitude and joy; and then turning to ALMEIDA, 'Swear then,' said he, ‘that thou hast granted to HAMET, no pledge of thy love which should be reserved for me.’ ALMEI­DA, who now thought nothing more than the asseveration necessary to quiet [Page 92] his mind, immediately complied: ‘I swear,’ said she, ‘that to HAMET I have given nothing, which thou wouldst wish me to with-hold: the power that has devoted my person to thee, has disunited my heart from HAMET, whom I renounce in thy presence for ever.’

HAMET, whose fortitude and recol­lection were again overborne, was thrown into an agitation of mind, which discovered itself by looks and gestures very different from those which ALMEIDA had expected, and over­whelmed her with new confusion and disappointment: that he, who had so lately solicited her love with all the ve­hemence of a desire impatient to be gratified, should now receive a decla­ration [Page 93] that she was ready to comply, with marks of distress and anger, was a mystery which she could not solve. In the mean time, the struggle in his breast became every moment more violent: 'Where then,' said he, ‘is the con­stancy which you vowed to HAMET; and for what instance of his love is he now forsaken?’

ALMEIDA was now more embarras­sed than before; she felt all the force of the reproof, supposing it to have been given by ALMORAN; and she could be justified only by relating the particular, which at the expence of her sincerity she had determined to conceal. AL­MORAN was now exalted in her opi­nion, while his form was animated by the spirit of HAMET; as much as [Page 94] HAMET had been degraded, while his form was animated by the spirit of ALMORAN. In his resentment of her perfidy to his rival, though it favoured his fondest and most ardent wishes, there was an abhorrence of vice, and a ge­nerosity of mind, which she supposed to have been incompatible with his character. To his reproach, she could reply only by complaint; and could no otherwise evade his question, than by observing the inconsistency of his own behaviour: 'Your words,' said she, ‘are daggers to my heart. You condemn me for a compliance with your own wishes; and for obedience to that voice, which you supposed to have revealed the will of Heaven. Has the caprice of desire already wander­ed to a new object? and do you [Page 95] now seek a pretence to refuse, when it is freely offered, what so lately you would have taken by force?’

HAMET, who was now fired with re­sentment against ALMEIDA, whom yet he could not behold without desire; and who, at the same moment, was impatient to revenge his wrongs upon ALMORAN; was suddenly prompted to satisfy all his passions, by taking ad­vantage of the wiles of ALMORAN, and the perfidy of ALMEIDA, to defeat the one and to punish the other. It was now in his power instantly to con­summate his marriage, as a priest might be procured without a moment's delay, and as ALMEIDA's consent was already given; he would then obtain the pos­session of her person, by the very act [Page 96] in which she perfidiously resigned it to his rival; to whom he would then leave the beauties he had already possessed, and cast from him in disdain, as united with a mind that he could never love. As his imagination was fired with the first conception of this design, he caught her to his breast with a fury, in which all the passions in all their rage were at once concentered: ‘Let the priest,’ said he, ‘instantly unite us. Let us comprize, in one mo­ment, in this instant, NOW, our whole of being, and exclude alike the fu­ture and the past!’ Then grasping her still in his arms, he looked up to heaven: 'Ye powers,' said he, ‘in­visible but yet present, who mould my changing and unresisting form; prolong, but for one hour, that [Page 97] mysterious charm, that is now upon me, and I will be ever after subser­vient to your will!’

ALMEIDA, who was terrified at the furious ardor of this unintelligible ad­dress, shrunk from his embrace, pale and trembling, without power to re­ply. HAMET gazed tenderly upon her; and recollecting the purity and tenderness with which he had loved her, his virtues suddenly recovered their force; he dismissed her from his em­brace; and turning from her, he dropped in silence the tear that started to his eye, and expressed, in a low and faultering voice, the thoughts that rush­ed upon his mind: 'No,' said he; ‘HAMET shall still disdain the joy, which is at once sordid and transient: [Page 98] in the breast of HAMET, lust shall not be the pander of revenge. Shall I, who have languished for the pure delight which can arise only from the interchange of soul with soul, and is endeared by mutual confi­dence and complacency; shall I snatch under this disguise, which belies my features and degrades my virtue, a casual possession of faithless beauty, which I despise and hate? Let this be the portion of those, that hate me without a cause; but let this be far from me!’ At this thought, he felt a sudden elation of mind; and the conscious dignity of virtue, that in such a conflict was victorious, render­ed him, in this glorious moment, supe­rior to misfortune: his gesture became calm, and his countenance sedate; he [Page 99] considered the wrongs he suffered, not as a sufferer, but as a judge; and he determined at once to discover himself to ALMEIDA, and to reproach her with her crime. He remarked her confu­sion without pity, as the effect not of grief but of guilt; and fixing his eyes upon her, with the calm severity of a superior and offended being, 'Such,' said he, ‘is the benevolence of the Almighty to the children of the dust, that our misfortunes are, like poi­sons, antidotes to each other.’

ALMEIDA, whose faculties were now suspended by wonder and expectation, looked earnestly at him, but continued silent. 'Thy looks,' said HAMET, ‘are full of wonder; but as yet thy wonder has no cause, in comparison [Page 100] of that which shall be revealed. Thou knowest the prodigy, which so lately parted HAMET and ALMEIDA: I am that HAMET, thou art that ALMEI­DA.’ ALMEIDA would now have in­terrupted him; but HAMET raised his voice, and demanded to be heard: ‘At that moment,’ said he, ‘wretched as I am, the child of error and dis­obedience, my heart repined in secret at the destiny which had been written upon my head; for I then thought thee faithful and constant: but if our hands had been then united, I should have been more wretched than I am; for I now know that thou art fickle and false. To know thee, though it has pierced my soul with sorrow, has yet healed the wound which was inflicted when I lost thee: [Page 101] and though I am now compelled to wear the form of ALMORAN, whose vices are this moment disgracing mine, yet in the balance I shall be weighed as HAMET, and I shall suffer only as I am found wanting.’

ALMEIDA, whose mind was now in a tumult that bordered upon distrac­tion, bewildered in a labyrinth of doubt and wonder, and alike dreading the consequence of what she heard, whe­ther it was false or true, was yet impa­tient to confute or confirm it; and as soon as she had recovered her speech, urged him for some token of the pro­digy he asserted, which he might easily have given, by relating any of the in­cidents which themselves only could know. But just at this moment, AL­MORAN, [Page 102] having at last disengaged him­self from Osmyn, by whom he had been long detained, resumed his own figure: and while the eyes of ALMEI­DA were fixed upon HAMET, his powers were suddenly taken from him, and re­stored in an instant; and she beheld the features of ALMORAN vanish, and gazed with astonishment upon his own: 'Thy features change!' said she, ‘and thou indeed art HAMET.’ ‘The sud­den trance,’ said he, ‘has restored me to myself; and from my wrongs where shalt thou be hidden?’ This reproach was more than she could sus­tain; but he caught her as she was fal­ling, and supported her in his arms. This incident renewed in a moment all the tenderness of his love: while he beheld her distress, and pressed her by [Page 103] the embrace that sustained her to his bosom, he forgot every injury which he supposed she had done him; and per­ceived her recover with a pleasure, that for a moment suspended the sense of his misfortunes.

Her first reflection was upon the snare, in which she had been taken; and her first sensation was joy that she had escaped: she saw at once the whole complication of events that had de­ceived and distressed her; and nothing more was now necessary, than to ex­plain them to HAMET; which, how­ever, she could not do, without disco­vering the insincerity of her answers to the enquiries which he had made, while she mistook him for his brother: ‘If in my heart,’ says she, ‘thou hast [Page 104] found any virtue, let it incline thee to pity the vice that is mingled with it: by the vice I have been ensnared, but I have been delivered by the vir­tue. ALMORAN, for now I know that it was not thee, ALMORAN, when he possessed thy form, was with me: he prophaned thy love, by at­tempts to supplant my virtue; I re­sisted his importunity, and escaped perdition; but the guilt of ALMO­RAN drew my resentment upon HA­MET. I thought the vices which, under thy form, I discovered in his bosom, were thine; and in the an­guish of grief, indignation, and dis­appointment, my heart renounced thee: yet, as I could not give thee up to death, I could not discover to ALMORAN the attempt which I im­puted [Page 105] to thee; when you questioned me, therefore, as ALMORAN, I was betrayed to dissimulation, by the ten­derness which still melted my heart for HAMET.’ 'I believe thee,' said HAMET, catching her in a transport to his breast: ‘I love thee for thy vir­tue; and may the pure and exalted beings, who are superior to the pas­sions that now throb in my heart, forgive me, if I love thee also for thy fault. Yet, let the danger to which it betrayed thee, teach us still to walk in the strait path, and com­mit the keeping of our peace to the Almighty; for he that wanders in the maze of falsehood, shall pass by the good that he would meet, and shall meet the evil that he would shun. I also was tempted; but I was strength­ened [Page 106] to resist: if I had used the power, which I derived from the arts that have been practised against me, to return evil for evil; if I had not disdained a secret and unavowed re­venge, and the unhallowed pleasures of a brutal appetite; I might have possessed thee in the form of ALMO­RAN, and have wronged irreparably myself and thee: for how could I have been admitted, as HAMET, to the beauties which I had enjoyed as ALMORAN? and how couldst thou have given, to ALMORAN, what in reality had been appropriated by HAMET?’

CHAP. XVII.

BUT while ALMEIDA and HAMET were thus congratulating each o­ther upon the evils which they had escaped, they were threatened by o­thers, which, however obvious, they had overlooked.

ALMORAN, who was now exulting in the prospect of success that had ex­ceeded his hopes, and who supposed the possession of ALMEIDA before the end of the next hour, was as certain as that the next hour would arrive, suddenly entered the apartment; but upon discovering HAMET, he started [Page 108] back astonished and disappointed. HA­MET stood unmoved; and regarded him with a fixed and steady look, that at once reproached and confounded him. 'What treachery,' said ALMO­RAN, ‘has been practised against me? What has brought thee to this place; and how hast thou gained admit­tance?’ 'Against thy peace,' said HAMET, ‘no treachery has been prac­tised, but by thyself. By those arts in which thy vices have employed the powers of darkness, I have been brought hither; and by those arts I have gained admittance: thy form which they have imposed upon me, was my passport; and by the restora­tion of my own, I have detected and disappointed the fraud, which the double change was produced to exe­cute. [Page 109] ALMEIDA, whom, as HA­MET, thou couldst teach to hate thee, it is now impossible that, as ALMO­RAN, thou shouldst teach to love.’

ALMEIDA, who perceived the storm to be gathering which the next mo­ment would burst upon the head of HAMET, interposed between them, and addressed each of them by turns; urg­ing HAMET to be silent, and conjuring ALMORAN to be merciful. AL­MORAN, however, without regarding ALMEIDA, or making any reply to HAMET, struck the ground with his foot, and the messengers of death, to whom the signal was familiar, appeared at the door. ALMORAN then com­manded them to seize his brother, with a countenance pale and livid, and a [Page 110] voice that was broken by rage. HA­MET was still unmoved; but ALMEI­DA threw herself at the feet of ALMO­RAN, and embracing his knees was about to speak, but he broke from her with sudden fury: ‘If the world should sue,’ said he, ‘I would spurn it off. There is no pang that cunning can invent, which he shall not suffer: and when death at length shall disap­point my vengeance, his mangled limbs shall be cast out unburied, to feed the beasts of the desert and the fowls of heaven.’ During this me­nace, ALMEIDA sunk down without signs of life; and HAMET struggling in vain for liberty to raise her from the ground, she was carried off by some women who were called to her as­sistance.

[Page 111] In this awful crisis, HAMET, who felt his own fortitude give way, look­ed up; and though he conceived no words, a prayer ascended from his heart to heaven, and was accepted by Him, to whom our thoughts are known while they are yet afar off. For HAMET, the fountain of strength was opened from above; his eye sparkled with confidence, and his breast was di­lated by hope. He commanded the guard that were leading him away to stop, and they implicitly obeyed; he then stretched out his hand towards ALMORAN, whose spirit was rebuked before him: 'Hear me,' said he, ‘thou tyrant! for it is thy genius that speaks by my voice. What has been the fruit of all thy guilt, but accu­mulated misery? What joy hast thou [Page 112] derived from undivided empire? what joy from the prohibition of my mar­riage with ALMEIDA? what good from that power, which some evil daemon has added to thy own? what, at this moment, is thy portion, but rage and anguish, disappointment, and despair? Even I, whom thou seest the captive of thy power, whom thou hast wronged of empire, and yet more of love; even I am happy, in comparison of thee. I know that my sufferings, however multi­plied, are short; for they shall end with life, and no life is long: then shall the everlasting ages commence; and through everlasting ages thy suf­ferings shall increase. The moment is now near, when thou shalt tread that line which alone is the path to [Page 113] heaven, the narrow path that is stretched over the pit, which smokes for ever, and for ever! When thine aking eye shall look forward to the end that is far distant, and when be­hind thou shalt find no retreat; when thy steps shall faulter, and thou shalt tremble at the depth beneath, which thought itself is not able to fathom; then shall the angel of distribution lift his inexorable hand against thee: from the irremeable way shall thy feet be smitten; thou shalt plunge in the burning flood; and though thou shalt live for ever, thou shalt rise no more.’

As the words of HAMET struck AL­MORAN with terror, and over-awed him by an influence which he could not sur­mount; [Page 114] HAMET was forced from his presence, before any other orders had been given about him, than were im­plied in the menace that was addressed to ALMEIDA: no violence, therefore, was yet offered him; but he was se­cured, till the king's pleasure should be known, in a dungeon not far from the palace, to which he was conducted by a subterraneous passage; and the door being closed upon him, he was left in silence, darkness, and solitude, such as may be imagined before the voice of the Almighty produced light and life.

When ALMORAN was sufficiently re­collected to consider his situation, he despaired of prevailing upon ALMEIDA to gratify his wishes, till her attach­ment to HAMET was irreparably bro­ken; [Page 115] and he, therefore, resolved to put him to death. With this view, he re­peated the signal, which convened the ministers of death to his presence; but the sound was lost in a peal of thun­der that instantly followed it, and the Genius, from whom he received the talisman, again stood before him.

'ALMORAN,' said the Genius, ‘I am now compelled into thy presence by the command of a superior power; whom, if I should dare to disobey, the energy of his will might drive me, in a moment, beyond the limits of nature and the reach of thought, to spend eternity alone, without com­fort, and without hope.’ 'And what,' said ALMORAN, ‘is the will of this mighty and tremendous being?’ ‘His [Page 116] will,’ said the Genius, ‘I will reveal to thee. Hitherto, thou hast been enabled to lift the rod of adversity against thy brother, by powers which nature has not entrusted to man: as these powers, and these only, have put him into thy hand, thou art for­bidden to lift it against his life; if thou hadst prevailed against him by thy own power, thy own power would not have been restrained: to afflict him thou art still free; but thou art not permitted to destroy. At the mo­ment, in which thou shalt conceive a thought to cut him off by violence, the punishment of thy disobedience shall commence, and the pangs of death shall be upon thee.’ 'If then,' said ALMORAN, ‘this awful power is the friend of HAMET; what yet [Page 117] remains, in the stores of thy wisdom, for me?’ 'Till he dies, ‘I am at once precluded from peace, and safety, and enjoyment.’ ‘'Look up,' said the Genius, for the iron hand of de­spair is not yet upon thee. Thou canst be happy, only by his death; and his life thou art forbidden to take away: yet mayst thou still arm him against himself; and if he dies by his own hand, thy wishes will be full.’ 'O name,' said ALMORAN, ‘but the means, and it shall this moment be accomplished!’ 'Select,' said the Ge­nius, 'some friend—

At the name of friend, ALMORAN started and looked round in despair. He recollected the perfidy of Osmyn; and he suspected that, from the same [Page 118] cause, all were perfidious: ‘While HAMET has yet life,’ said he, ‘I fear the face of man, as of a savage that is prowling for his prey.’ ‘Re­linquish not yet thy hopes, said the Genius;’ ‘for one, in whom thou wilt joyfully confide, may be found. Let him secretly obtain admittance to HAMET, as if by stealth; let him profess an abhorrence of thy reign, and compassion for his misfortunes; let him pretend that the rack is even now preparing for him; that death is inevitable, but that torment may be avoided: let him then give him a poignard, as the instrument of de­liverance; and, perhaps, his own hand may strike the blow, that shall give thee peace.’ 'But who,' said ALMO­RAN, ‘shall go upon this important [Page 119] errand?’ 'Who,' replied the Genius, ‘but thyself? Hast thou not the power to assume the form of whomsoever thou wouldst have sent?’ ‘I would have sent Osmyn,’ said ALMORAN, ‘but that I know him to be a traitor.’ 'Let the form of Osmyn then,' said the Genius, ‘be thine. The shadows of the evening have now stretched themselves upon the earth: com­mand Osmyn to attend thee alone in the grove, where Solyman, thy fa­ther, was used to meditate by night; and when thy form shall be impressed upon him, I will there seal his eyes in sleep, till the charm shall be broken; so shall no evil be at­tempted against thee, and the trans­formation shall be known only to thyself.’

[Page 120] ALMORAN, whose breast was again illuminated by hope, was about to ex­press his gratitude and joy; but the Genius suddenly disappeared. He be­gan, therefore, immediately to follow the instructions that he had received: he commanded Osmyn to attend him in the grove, and forbad every other to approach; by the power of the ta­lisman he assumed his appearance, and saw him sink down in the supernatural slumber before him: he then quitted the place, and prepared to visit HAMET in the prison.

CHAP. XVIII.

THE officer who commanded the guard that kept the gate of the prison, was Caled. He was now next in trust and power to Osmyn: but as he had proposed a revolt to HAMET, in which Osmyn had refused to concur, he knew that his life was now in his power; he dreaded lest, for some slight offence, or in some fit of causeless displeasure, he should disclose the secret to ALMORAN, who would then certainly condemn him to death. To secure this fatal secret, and put an end to his inquietude, he resolved, [Page 122] from the moment that ALMORAN was established upon the throne, to find some opportunity secretly to destroy Osmyn: in this resolution, he was con­firmed by the enmity, which inferior minds never fail to conceive against that merit, which they cannot but en­vy without spirit to emulate, and by which they feel themselves disgraced without an effort to acquire equal ho­nour; it was confirmed also by the hope which Caled had conceived, that, upon the death of Osmyn, he should succeed to his post: his apprehensions likewise were increased, by the gloom which he remarked in the countenance of Osmyn; and which not knowing that it arose from fear, he imputed to jea­lousy and malevolence.

[Page 123] When ALMORAN, who had now as­sumed the appearance of Osmyn, had passed the subterranean avenue to the dungeon in which HAMET was confined, he was met by Caled; of whom he de­manded admittance to the prince, and produced his own signet, as a testimony that he came with the authority of the king. As it was Caled's interest to secure the favour of Osmyn till an op­portunity should offer to cut him off, he received him with every possible mark of respect and reverence; and when he was gone into the dungeon, he commanded a beverage to be pre­pared for him against he should return, in which such spices were infused, as might expel the malignity which, in that place, might be received with the breath of life; and taking himself the [Page 124] key of the prison, he waited at the door.

When ALMORAN entered the dun­geon, with a lamp which he had re­ceived from Caled, he found HAMET sitting upon the ground: his counte­nance was impressed with the charac­ters of grief; but it retained no marks either of anger or fear. When he looked up, and saw the features of Osmyn, he judged that the mutes were behind him; and, therefore, rose up, to prepare himself for death. ALMO­RAN beheld his calmness and fortitude with the involuntary praise of admira­tion; yet persisted in his purpose with­out remorse. 'I am come,' said he, ‘by the command of ALMORAN, to denounce that fate, the bitterness of [Page 125] which I will enable thee to avoid.’ And what is there,' said HAMET, ‘in my fortunes, that has prompted thee to the danger of this attempt?’ ‘The utmost that I can give thee,’ said ALMORAN, ‘I can give thee with­out danger to myself: but though I have been placed, by the hand of for­tune, near the person of the tyrant, yet has my heart in secret been thy friend. If I am the messenger of evil, impute it to him only by whom it is devised. The rack is now pre­paring to receive thee; and every art of ingenious cruelty will be ex­hausted to protract and to increase the agonies of death.’ 'And what,' said HAMET, ‘can thy friendship offer me?’ 'I can offer thee,' said ALMO­RAN, ‘that which will at once dismiss [Page 126] thee to those regions, where the wick­ed cease from troubling, and the weary rest for ever.’ He then pro­duced the poignard from his bosom; and presenting it to HAMET, ‘Take this, said he, 'and sleep in peace.'’

HAMET, whose heart was touched with sudden joy at the sight of so un­expected a remedy for every evil, did not immediately reflect, that he was not at liberty to apply it: he snatched it in a transport from the hand of AL­MORAN, and expressed his sense of the obligation by clasping him in his arms, and shedding the tears of gratitude in his breast. 'Be quick,' said ALMORAN: ‘this moment I must leave thee; and in the next, perhaps, the messengers of destruction may bind thee to the [Page 127] rack.’ 'I will be quick,' said HA­MET; ‘and the sigh that shall last linger upon my lips, shall bless thee.’ They then bid each other farewel: ALMORAN retired from the dungeon, and the door was again closed upon HAMET.

Caled, who waited at the door till the supposed Osmyn should return, presented him with the beverage which he had prepared, of which he recounted the virtues; and ALMORAN received it with pleasure, and having eagerly drank it off, returned to the palace. As soon as he was alone, he resumed his own figure, and sate, with a confident and impatient expectation, that in a short time a messenger would be dis­patched to acquaint him with the death [Page 128] of HAMET. HAMET, in the mean time, having grasped the dagger in his hand, and raised his arm for the blow, 'This,' said he, ‘is my passport to the realms of peace, the immediate and only object of my hope!’ But at these words, his mind instantly took the alarm: 'Let me reflect,' said he, ‘a moment: from what can I derive hope in death?—from that patient and persevering virtue, and from that alone, by which we fulfill the task that is assigned us upon the earth. Is it not our duty, to suffer, as well as to act? If my own hand consigns me to the grave, what can it do but perpetuate that misery, which, by disobedience, I would shun? what can it do, but cut off my life and hope together?’ With this reflec­tion [Page 129] he threw the dagger from him; and stretching himself again upon the ground, resigned himself to the dispo­sal of the Father of man, most Merci­ful and Almighty.

ALMORAN, who had now resolved to send for the intelligence which he long­ed to hear, was dispatching a messen­ger to the prison, when he was told that Caled desired admittance to his presence. At the name of Caled, he started up in an extasy of joy; and not doubting but that HAMET was dead, he ordered him to be instantly admitted. When he came in, ALMO­RAN made no enquiry about HAMET, because he would not appear to expect the event, which yet he supposed he had brought about; he, therefore, [Page 130] asked him only upon what business he came. 'I come, my lord,' said he, ‘to apprize thee of the treachery of Os­myn.’ 'I know,' said ALMORAN, ‘that Osmyn is a traitor; but of what dost thou accuse him?’ 'As I was but now,' said he, ‘changing the guard which is set upon HAMET, Osmyn came up to the door of the prison, and producing the royal sig­net demanded admittance. As the command which I received, when he was delivered to my custody, was ab­solute, that no foot should enter, I doubted whether the token had not been obtained, by fraud, for some other purpose; yet, as he required ad­mittance only, I complied: but that if any treachery had been contrived, I might detect it; and that no arti­fice [Page 131] might be practised to favour an escape; I waited myself at the door, and listening to their discourse I over-heard the treason that I suspected.’ 'What then,' said ALMORAN, ‘didst thou hear?’ A part of what was said,' replied Caled, ‘escaped me: but I heard Osmyn, like a perfidious and presumptuous slave, call ALMORAN a tyrant; I heard him profess an in­violable friendship for HAMET, and assure him of deliverance. What were the means, I know not; but he talked of speed, and supposed that the effect was certain.’

ALMORAN, though he was still im­patient to hear of HAMET; and disco­vered, that if he was dead, his death was unknown to Caled; was yet [Page 132] notwithstanding rejoiced at what he heard: and as he knew what Caled told him to be true, as the conversation he related had passed between himself and HAMET, he exulted in the pleas­ing confidence that he had yet a friend; the glooms of suspicion, which had in­volved his mind, were dissipated, and his countenance brightened with com­placency and joy. He had delayed to put Osmyn to death, only because he could appoint no man to succeed him, of whom his fears did not render him equally suspicious: but having now found, in Caled, a friend, whose fide­lity had been approved when there had been no intention to try it; and being impatient to reward his zeal, and to invest his fidelity with that power, which would render his services most [Page 133] important; he took a ring from his own finger, and putting it upon that of Caled, 'Take this,' said he, ‘as a pledge, that to-morrow Osmyn shall lose his head; and that, from this moment, thou art invested with his power.’

Caled having, in the conversation between ALMORAN and HAMET, dis­cerned indubitable treachery, which he imputed to Osmyn whose appearance AL­MORAN had then assumed, eagerly seized the opportunity to destroy him; he, therefore, not trusting to the event of his accusation, had mingled poison in the bowl which he presented to ALMO­RAN when he came out from HAMET: this, however, at first he had resolved to conceal.

[Page 134] In consequence of his accusation, he supposed Osmyn would be questioned upon the rack; he supposed also, that the accusation, as it was true, would be confirmed by his confession; that what ever he should then say to the preju­dice of his accuser, would be disbe­lieved; and that when after a few hours the poison should take effect, no inquisition would be made into the death of a criminal, whom the bow­string or the scimitar would otherwise have been employed to destroy. But he now hoped to derive new merit from an act of zeal, which ALMORAN had approved before it was known, by condemning his rival to die, whose death he had already insured: ‘May the wishes of my lord,’ said he, ‘be always anticipated; and may it be [Page 135] found, that whatever he ordains is already done: may he accept the zeal of his servant, whom he has delight­ed to honour; for, before the light of the morning shall return, the eyes of Osmyn shall close in everlasting darkness.’

At these words, the countenance of ALMORAN changed; his cheeks be­came pale, and his lips trembled: 'What then,' said he, ‘hast thou done?’ Caled, who was terrified and astonished, threw himself upon the ground, and was unable to reply. AL­MORAN, who now, by the utmost ef­fort of his mind, restrained his confu­sion and his fear, that he might learn the truth from Caled without dissimu­lation or disguise, raised him from the [Page 136] ground and repeated his enquiry. ‘If I have erred,’ said Caled, ‘impute it not: when I had detected the trea­chery of Osmyn, I was transported by my zeal for thee. For proof that he is guilty, I appeal now to himself; for he yet lives: but that he might not escape the hand of justice, I mingled, in the bowl I gave him, the drugs of death.’

At these words, ALMORAN, strik­ing his hands together, looked up­ward in an agony of despair and hor­ror, and fell back upon a sofa that was behind him. Caled, whose astonish­ment was equal to his disappointment and his fears, approached him with a trembling though hasty pace; but as he stooped to support him, ALMO­RAN [Page 137] suddenly drew his dagger and stabbed him to the heart; and repeat­ed the blow with reproaches and exe­crations, till his strength failed him.

In this dreadful moment, the Genius once more appeared before him; at the sight of whom he waved his hand, but was unable to speak. 'Nothing,' said the Genius, ‘that has happened to AL­MORAN, is hidden from me. Thy peace has been destroyed alike by the defection of Osmyn, and by the zeal of Caled: thy life may yet be preserved; but it can be preserved only by a charm, which HAMET must apply.’ ALMORAN, who had raised his eyes, and conceived some languid hope, when he heard that he might yet [Page 138] live; cast them again down in despair, when he heard that he could receive life only from HAMET. ‘From HA­MET,’ said he, ‘I have already taken the power to save me; I have, by thy counsel, given him the instru­ment of death, which, by thy coun­sel also, I urged him to use: he re­ceived it with joy, and he is now doubtless numbered with the dead.’ HAMET,' said the Genius, ‘is not dead; but from the fountain of vir­tue he drinks life and peace. If what I shall propose, he refuses to per­form, not all the powers of earth, and sea, and air, if they should com­bine, can give thee life: but if he complies, the death, that is now sus­pended over thee, shall fall upon his head; and thy life shall be again de­livered [Page 139] to the hand of time.’ ‘Make haste then,’ said ALMORAN, ‘and I will here wait the event.’ ‘The event,’ said the Genius, ‘is not dis­stant; and it is the last experiment which my power can make, either upon him or thee: when the star of the night, that is now near the ho­rizon, shall set, I will be with him.’

When ALMORAN was alone, he re­flected, that every act of supernatural power which the Genius had enabled him to perform, had brought upon him some new calamity, though it always promised him some new advantage. As he would not impute this disappoint­ment to the purposes for which he em­ployed the power that he had received, he indulged a suspicion, that it pro­ceeded [Page 140] from the perfidy of the Being by whom it was bestowed; in his mind, therefore, he thus reasoned with him­self: ‘The Genius, who has pretend­ed to be the friend of ALMORAN, has been secretly in confederacy with HAMET: why else do I yet sigh in vain for ALMEIDA? and why else did not HAMET perish, when his life was in my power? By his counsel, I per­suaded HAMET to destroy himself; and, in the very act, I was betrayed to drink the potion, by which I shall be destroyed: I have been led on, from misery to misery, by ineffectual expedients, and fallacious hopes. In this crisis of my fate, I will not trust, with implicit confidence, in another: I will be present at the interview of this powerful, but suspected Being, [Page 141] with HAMET; and who can tell, but that if I detect a fraud, I may be able to disappoint it: however pow­erful, he is not omniscient; I may, therefore, be present, unknown and unsuspected even by him, in a form that I can chuse by a thought, to which he cannot be conscious.’

CHAP. XIX.

IN consequence of this resolution, ALMORAN, having commanded one of the soldiers of the guard that attended upon HAMET into an inner room of the palace, he ordered him to wait there till his return: then mak­ing fast the door, he assumed his fi­gure, and went immediately to the dungeon; where producing his signet, he said, he had received orders from the king to remain with the prisoner, till the watch expired.

[Page 143] As he entered without speaking, and without a light, HAMET continued stretched upon the ground, with his face towards the earth; and ALMO­RAN, having silently retired to a re­mote corner of the place, waited for the appearance of the Genius.

The dawn of the morning now broke; and, in a few minutes, the prison shook, and the Genius appeared. He was visible by a lambent light that played around him; and HAMET start­ing from the ground, turned to the vi­sion with reverence and wonder: but as the Omnipotent was ever present to his mind, to whom all beings in all worlds are obedient, and on whom alone he relied for protection, he was neither confused nor afraid. 'HAMET,' said [Page 144] the Genius, ‘the crisis of thy fate is near.’ 'Who art thou,' said HAMET, ‘and for what purpose art thou come?’ 'I am,' replied the Genius, ‘an inha­bitant of the world above thee; and to the will of thy brother, my pow­ers have been obedient: upon him they have not conferred happiness, but they have brought evil upon thee. It was my voice, that forbad thy mar­riage with ALMEIDA; and my voice, that decreed the throne to ALMO­RAN: I gave him the power to as­sume thy form; and, by me, the hand of oppression is now heavy upon thee. Yet I have not decreed, that he should be happy, nor that thou shouldst be wretched: darkness as yet rests upon my purpose; but my heart in secret is thy friend.’ ‘If [Page 145] thou art, indeed my friend,’ said HAMET, ‘deliver me from this prison; and preserve HAMET for ALMEIDA.’ 'Thy deliverance,' said the Genius, ‘must depend upon thyself. There is a charm, of which the power is great; but it is by thy will only, that this power can be exerted.’

The Genius then held out towards him a scroll, on which the seal of se­ven powers was impressed. 'Take,' said he, ‘this scroll, in which the mys­terious name of Orosmades is writ­ten. Invoke the spirits, that reside westward from the rising of the sun; and northward, in the regions of cold and darkness: then stretch out thy hand, and a lamp of sulphur, self kindled, shall burn before thee. In the fire of this lamp, consume that [Page 146] which I now give thee; and as the smoke, into which it changes, shall mix with the air, a mighty charm shall be formed, which shall defend thee from all mischief: from that instant, no poison, however potent, can hurt thee; nor shall any pri­son confine: in one moment, thou shalt be restored to the throne, and to ALMEIDA; and the Angel of death, shall lay his hand upon thy brother; to whom, if I had confided this last best effort of my power, he would have se­cured the good to himself, and have transferred the evil to thee.’

ALMORAN, who had listened unseen to this address of the Genius to HA­MET, was now confirmed in his suspici­ons, that evil had been ultimately in­tended against him; and that he had [Page 147] been entangled in the toils of perfidy, while he believed himself to be assisted by the efforts of friendship: he was also convinced, that by the Genius he was not known to be present. HAMET, however, stood still doubtful, and AL­MORAN was kept silent by his fears. 'Whoever thou art,' said HAMET, ‘the condition of the advantages which thou hast offered me, is such as it is not lawful to fulfill: these horrid rites, and this commerce with unholy powers, are prohibited to mortals in the Law of life.’ 'See thou to that,' said the Genius: ‘Good and evil are before thee; that which I now offer thee, I will offer no more.’

HAMET, who had not fortitude to give up at once the possibility of se­curing [Page 148] the advantages that had been of­fered, and who was seduced by human frailty to deliberate at least upon the choice; stretched out his hand, and re­ceiving the scroll, the Genius instantly disappeared. That which had been proposed as a trial of his virtue, AL­MORAN believed indeed to be an offer of advantage; he had no hope, there­fore, but that HAMET would refuse the conditions, and that he should be able to obtain the talisman, and fulfill them himself: he judged that the mind of HAMET was in suspense, and was doubtful to which side it might finally incline; he, therefore, instantly assumed the voice and the person of OMAR, that by the influence of his council he might be able to turn the scale.

[Page 149] When the change was effected, he called HAMET by his name; and HA­MET, who knew the voice, answered him in a transport of joy and wonder: 'My friend,' said he, ‘my father! in this dreary solitude, in this hour of trial, thou art welcome to my soul as liberty and life! Guide me to thee by thy voice; and tell me, while I hold thee to my bosom, how and wherefore thou art come?’ ‘Do not now ask me,’ said ALMORAN: ‘it is enough that I am here; and that I am permitted to warn thee of the precipice, on which thou stand­est. It is enough, that concealed in this darkness, I have overheard the specious guile, which some evil de­mon has practised upon thee.’ ‘Is it then certain,’ said HAMET, ‘that [Page 150] this being is evil?’ ‘Is not that be­ing evil, said ALMORAN,’ ‘who pro­poses evil, as the condition of good?’ 'Shall I then,' said HAMET, ‘renounce my liberty and life? The rack is now ready; and, perhaps, the next mo­ment, its tortures will be inevitable.’ 'Let me ask thee then,' said ALMO­RAN, ‘to preserve thy life, wilt thou destroy thy soul?’ 'O! stay,' said HAMET‘—Let me not be tried too far! Let the strength of Him who is Almighty, be manifest in my weak­ness!’ HAMET then paused a few mo­ments; but he was no longer in doubt: and ALMORAN, who disbe­lieved and despised the arguments, by which he intended to persuade him to renounce what, upon the same condi­tion, he was impatient to secure for [Page 151] himself, conceived hopes that he should succeed; and those hopes were instantly confirmed.' 'Take then,' said HA­MET, ‘this unholy charm; and re­move it far from me, as the sands of Alai from the trees of Oman; lest, in some dreadful hour, my virtue may fail me, and thy counsel may be want­ing!’ Give it me then,' said ALMO­RAN; and feeling for the hands of each other, he snatched it from him in an extasy of joy, and instantly resuming his own voice and figure, he cried out, ‘At length I have prevailed: and life and love, dominion and revenge, are now at once in my hand!’

HAMET heard and knew the voice of his brother, with astonishment; but it was too late to wish that he had with­held [Page 152] the charm, which his virtue would not permit him to use. ‘Yet a few moments pass,’ said ALMORAN, ‘and thou art nothing.’ HAMET, who doubted not of the power of the ta­lisman, and knew that ALMORAN had no principles which would restrain him from using it to his destruction, resign­ed himself to death, with a sacred joy that he had escaped from guilt. AL­MORAN then, with an elation of mind that sparkled in his eyes, and glowed upon his cheek, stretched out his hand, in which he held the scroll; and a lamp of burning sulphur was immediately suspended in the air before him: he held the mysterious writing in the flame; and as it began to burn, the place shook with reiterated thunder, of which every peal was more terrible and more [Page 153] loud. HAMET, wrapping his robe round him, cried out, ‘In the Fountain of Life that flows for ever, let my life be mingled! Let me not be, as if I had never been; but still conscious of my being, let me still glorify Him from whom it is derived, and be still happy in his love!’

ALMORAN, who was absorbed in the anticipation of his own felicity, heard the thunder without dread, as the proclamation of his triumph: ‘Let thy hopes,’ said he, ‘be thy por­tion; and the pleasures that I have secured, shall be mine.’ As he pro­nounced these words, he started as at a sudden pang; his eyes became fixed, and his posture immoveable; yet his senses still remained, and he perceived [Page 154] the Genius once more to stand before him. 'ALMORAN,' said he, ‘to the last founds which thou shalt hear, let thine ear be attentive! Of the spirits that rejoice to fulfill the purpose of the Almighty, I am one. To HA­MET, and to ALMORAN, I have been commissioned from above: I have been appointed to perfect virtue, by adversity; and in the folly of her own projects, to entangle vice. The charm, which could be formed only by guilt, has power only to produce misery: of every good, which thou, ALMORAN, wouldst have secured by disobedience, the opposite evil is thy portion; and of every evil, which thou, HAMET, wast, by obedience, willing to incur, the opposite good is bestowed upon thee. To thee, HA­MET, [Page 155] are now given the throne of thy father, and ALMEIDA. And thou, ALMORAN, who, while I speak, art incorporating with the earth, shalt re­main, through all generations, a me­morial of the truths which thy life has taught!’

At the words of the Genius, the earth trembled beneath, and above the walls of the prison disappeared: the fi­gure of ALMORAN, which was har­dened into stone, expanded by degrees; and a rock, by which his form and at­titude are still rudely expressed, became at once a monument of his punishment and his guilt.

Such are the events recorded by AC­MET, the descendant of the Prophet, [Page 156] and the preacher of righteousness! for, to ACMET, that which passed in secret was revealed by the Angel of instruc­tion, that the world might know, that, to the wicked, increase of power is in­crease of wretchedness; and that those who condemn the folly of an attempt to defeat the purpose of a Genius, might no longer hope to elude the ap­pointment of the Most High.

FINIS.

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