[Page]
[Page]
A Perspective View of Grand Cairo
[Page]

HISTORY OF RASSELAS, PRINCE OF ABISSINIA. AN ASIATIC TALE. THE TWO VOLUMES COMPLETE IN ONE.

VOLUME THE FIRST.

The Labour or Exercise of the Body, freeth Men from Pains of the Mind; and 'tis this that constitutes the Happiness of the Poor: For if a Man don't find Ease or Content in himself, and his Rational Employments, and Connections, 'tis in vain to seek it Elsewhere.Duke De La Roche Foucault.

AMERICA: PRINTED FOR EVERY PURCHASER. MDCCLXVIII.

[Page]

PRINCE OF ABISSINIA. Extracted from DODSLEY's View of Literature.

THE instruction which is found in most works of this kind, when they convey [...] instruction at all, is not the predominant [...]rt, but arises accidentally in the c [...]se of a [...]tory planned only to please. But in this novel the moral is the principal object, and the [...]ry is a mere▪ vehicle to convey the [...].

Perhaps no book ever incul [...] [...] and sounder morality; no book [...] a more just estimate of human life, it's pursuits, and its enjoyments. The descriptions are rich and luxuriant, and shew a poetic imagination n [...] inferior to our best writers in verse. The [...]le, which is peculiar and characteristical of the author, is lively, correct and harmonious.

Though the author has not put his name [...] this work, there is [...] doubt that he is [...] same who has before done so much for the im­provement of our taste and our morals, and em­ployed a great part of his life in an astonishing work s [...] the fixing the language of this nation; while all admire his works and profit by them; the editor thinks it almost unnecessary to name

SAMUEL JOHNSON, L. L. D. Author of the Rambler, The Dictionary of the English Tongue.
[Page]

CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

  • CHAP. I. DESCRIPTION of a palace in a valley 7
  • CHAP. II. The discontent of Rasselas in the happy valley 11
  • CHAP. III. The wants of him that wants nothing 15
  • CHAP. IV. The prince continues to grieve and muse 18
  • CHAP. V. The prince meditates his escape 23
  • CHAP. VI. A dissertation on the art of flying 25
  • CHAP. VII. The prince finds a man of learning 30
  • CHAP. VIII. The history of Imlac 32
  • CHAP. IX. The history of Imlac continued 38
  • CHAP. X. Imlac's history continued. A dis­sertation upon poetry 42
  • CHAP. XI. Imlac's narrative continued. A hint on pilgrimage 46
  • CHAP. XII. The story of Imlac con­tinued 51
  • CHAP. XIII. Rasselas discovers the means of escape 57
  • [Page 4] CHAP. XIV. Rasselas and Imlac receive an unexpected visit. 61
  • CHAP. XV. The prince and princess leave the valley and see many wonders 63
  • CHAP. XVI. They enter Grand Cairo, and find every man happy 66
  • CHAP. XVII. The prince associates with young men of spirit and gaiety 71
  • CHAP. XVIII. The prince finds a wise and happy man 73
  • CHAP. XIX. A glimpse of a pastoral life 78
  • CHAP. XX. The danger of prosperity 79
  • CHAP. XXI. The happiness of solitude. The hermit's history 81
  • CHAP. XXII. The happiness of a life led according to nature 85
  • CHAP. XXIII. The prince and his sister divide between them the work of observation. 89
  • CHAP. XXIV. The prince examines the happiness of high stations 90
  • CHAP. XXV. The princess pursues her enquiry with more diligence than success 92
[Page]

CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.

  • CHAP. XXVI. THE princess continues her remarks upon private life 97
  • CHAP. XXVII. Disquisition upon great­ness 101
  • CHAP. XXVIII. Rasselas and Nekayah continue their conversation. A Discoúrse on marriage 104
  • CHAP. XXIX. The debate on marriage continued 108
  • CHAP. XXX. Imlac enters, and changes the conversation 114
  • CHAP. XXXI. They visit the pyramids 118
  • CHAP. XXXII. They enter the pyramids 121
  • CHAP. XXXIII. The princess meets with an unexpected misfortune 123
  • CHAP. XXXIV. They return to Cairo with­out Pekuah 125
  • CHAP. XXXV. The princess continues to lament Pekuah 129
  • CHAP. XXXVI. Pekuah is still remem­bered by the princess 134
  • CHAP. XXXVII. The princess hears news of Pekuah 135
  • [Page 6] CHAP. XXXVIII. The adventures of the lady Pekuah 138
  • CHAP. XXXIX. The adventures of Pe­kuah continued 143
  • CHAP. XL. The history of a man of learn­ing 151
  • CHAP. XLI. The astronomer discovers the cause of his uneasiness. 154
  • CHAP. XLII. The astronomer justifies his account of himself 156
  • CHAP. XLIII. The astronomer leaves Imlac his directions 158
  • CHAP. XLIV. The dangerous prevalence of imagination 160
  • CHAP. XLV. They discourse with an old man 164
  • CHAP. XLVI. The princess and Pekuah visit the astronomer 168
  • CHAP. XLVII. The prince enters, and brings a new topick 176
  • CHAP. XLVIII. Imlac discourses on the nature of the soul 180
  • CHAP. XLIX. The conclusion, in which they agree to return to the land of Abissinia 186
  • To this Edition is added the Voyage of Life. 189
[Page]

THE HISTORY OF RASSELAS, PRINCE OF ABISSINIA.

CHAP. I. Description of a palace in a valley.

YE who listen with credulity to the whis­pers of fancy, and pursue with eager­ness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of Rasselas prince of Abissinia.

Rasselas was the fourth son of the mighty emperor, in whose dominions the Father of waters begins his course; whose bounty pours down the streams of plenty, and scatters over half the world the harvests of Egypt.

[Page 8] According to the custom which has de­scended from age to age among the monarchs of the torrid zone, he was confined in a private palace, with the other sons and daughters of Abissinian royalty, till the order of succession should call him to the throne.

The place, which the wisdom or policy of antiquity had destined for the residence of the Abssinian princes, was a spacious valley in the kingdom of Amh [...]ra, surrounded on every side by mountains, of which the summits overhang the middle part. The only pas­sage, by which it could be entered, was a cavern that passed under a rock, of which it has long been disputed whether it was the work of nature or of human industry. The outlet of the cavern was concealed by a thick wood, and the mouth which opened into the valley was closed with gates of iron, forged by the the artificers of ancient days, so massy that no man could, without the help of engines, open or shut them.

From the mountains on every side, rivulets descended that filled all the valley with verdure and fertility, and formed a lake in the middle inhabited by fish of every species, and frequent­ed by every fowl whom nature has taught to dip the wing in water. This lake discharged its superfluities by a stream which entered a [Page 9] dark cleft of the mountain on the northern side, and fell with dreadful noise from precipice to precipice till it was heard no more.

The sides of the mountains were covered with trees, the banks of the brooks were di­versified with flowers; every blast shook spices from the rocks, and every month dropped fruits upon the ground. All Animals that bite the grass, or brouse the shrub, whether wild or tame, wandered in this extensive cir­cuit, secured from beasts of prey by the mountains which confined them. On one part were flocks and herds feeding in the pastures, on another all the beasts of chace frisking in the lawns; the sprightly kid was bounding on rocks, the subtle monkey fro­licking in the trees, and the solemn elephant reposing in the shade. All the diversities of the world were brought together, the blessings of nature were collected, and its evils extrac­ted and excluded.

The valley, wide and fruitful, supplied its inhabitants with the necessaries of life, and all delights and superfluities were added at the annual visit which the emperor paid his chil­dren, when the iron gate was opened to the sound of musick; and during eight days every one that resided in the valley was required to propose whatever might contribute to make [Page 10] seclusion pleasant, to fill up the vacancies of attention, and lessen the tediousness of time. Every desire was immediately granted. All the artificers of pleasure were called to glad­den the festivity; the musicians exerted the power of harmony, and the dancers shewed their activity before the princess, in hope that they should pass their lives in this blissful captivity, to which these only were admitted whose performance was thought able to add novelty to luxury. Such was the appearance of security and delight which this retirement afforded, that they to whom it was new always desired that it might be perpetual; and as those on whom the iron gate had once closed were never suffer'd to return, the effect of longer experience could not be known. Thus every year produced new schemes of delight, and new competitors for imprisonment.

The palace stood on an eminence, raised about thirty paces above the surface of the lake. It was divided into many squares or courts, built with greater or less magnificence, according to the rank of those for whom they were designed. The roofs were turned into arches of massy stone, joined with a cement that grew harder by time, and the building stood from century to century, deriding the [...] rains and equinoctial hurricanes, with­out need of reparation.

[Page 11] This house, which was so large as to be fully known to none but some ancient officers, who successively inherited the secrets of the place, was built as if suspicion herself had dictated the plan. To every room there was an open and secret passage, every square had a communication with the rest, either from the upper stories by private galleries, or by subterranean passages from the lower apart­ments. Many of the columns had unsuspected cavities, In which successive monarchs repo­sited their treasures. They then closed up the opening with marble, which was never to be removed but in the utmost exigencies of the kingdom; and recorded their accumu­lations in a book which was itself concealed in a tower not entered but by the emperor, attended by the prince who stood next in succession.

CHAP. II. The discontent of Rasselas in the happy valley.

HERE the sons and daughters of Abissinia lived only to know the soft vicissitudes of pleasure and repose, attended by all that were skilful to delight and gratified with what­ever the senses can enjoy. They wandered in gardens of fragrance, and slept in the fortresses [Page 12] of security. Every art was practised to make them pleased with their own condition. The sages who instructed them, told them of noth­ing but the miseries of publick life, and des­cribed all beyond the mountains as regions of calamity, where discord was always raging, and where man preyed upon man.

To heighten their opinion of their own feli­city, they were daily entertained with songs, the subject of which was the happy valley. Their appetites were excited by frequent enumera­tions of different enjoyments, and revelry and merriment was the business of every hour from the dawn of morning to the close of evening.

These methods were generally successful; few of the princes had ever wished to enlarge their bounds, but passed their lives in full conviction that they had all within their reach that art or nature could bestow, and pitied those whom fate had excluded from this seat of tranquillity, as the sport of chance, and the slaves of misery.

Thus they rose in the morning, and lay down at night, pleased with each other and with themselves, all but Rasselas, who, in the twenty-sixth year of his age, began to withdraw himself from their pastimes and [Page 13] assemblies, and to delight in solitary walks and silent meditation. He often sat before tables covered with luxury, and forgot to taste the dainties that were placed before him: he rose abruptly, in the midst of the song and hastily retired beyond the sound of musick. His attendants observed the change, and endea­voured to renew his love of pleasure: he neglected their endeavours, repulsed their in­vitations, and spent day after day on the banks of rivulets sheltered with trees, where he sometimes listened to the birds in the branches, sometimes observed the fish playing in the stream, and anon cast his eyes upon the pastures and mountains filled with animals, of which some were biting the herbage, and some sleeping among the bushes.

This singularity of his humour made him much observed. One of the sages, in whose conversation he had formerly delighted, fol­lowed him secretly, in hope of discovering the cause of his disquiet. Rasselas, who knew not that any one was near him, having for some time fixed his eyes upon the goats that were brousing among the rocks, began to compare their condition with his own.

"What," said he, "makes the difference between man and all the rest of the animal creation? Every beast that strays beside me has [Page 14] the same corporeal necessities with myself; he is hungry and crops the grass, he is thirsty and drinks the stream, his thirst and hunger are appeased, he is satisfied and sleeps; he rises again and is hungry, he is again fed and is at rest. I am hungry and thirsty like him, but when thirst and hunger cease I am not at rest; I am like him pained with want, but am not, like him, satisfied with fulness.

The intermediate hours are tedious and gloomy; I long again to be hungry that I may again quicken my attention. The birds peck the berries or the corn, and fly away to the groves where they sit in seeming happiness on the branches, and waste their lives in tuning one unvaried series of sounds. I likewise can call the lutanist and the singer, but the sounds that pleased me yesterday weary me to­day, and will grow yet more wearisome to­morrow. I can discover within me no power of perception which is not glutted with its proper pleasure, yet I do not feel myself de­lighted. Man has surely some latent sense for which this place affords no gratification, or he has some desires distinct from sense, which must be satisfied before he can be happy."

After this he lifted up his head, and seeing the moon rising, walked towards the palace. As he passed through the fields, and saw the animals around him, "Ye, said he, are hap­py, [Page 15] and need not envy me that walk thus among you, burthened with myself; nor do I, ye gentle beings, envy your felicity; for it is not the felicity of man. I have many distresses from which ye are free; I fear pain when I do not feel it; I sometimes shrink at evils recol­lected, and sometimes start at evils anticipated: surely the equity of providence has ballanced peculiar sufferings with peculiar enjoyments."

With observations like these the prince amused himself as he returned, uttering them with a plaintive voice, yet with a look that discovered him to feel some complacence in his own perspicacity, and to receive some solace of the miseries of life, from consciousness of the delicacy with which he felt, and the elo­quence with which he bewailed them. He mingled chearfully in the diversions of the evening, and all rejoiced to find that his heart was lightened.

CHAP. III. The wants of him that wants nothing.

ON the next day his old instructor, ima­gining that he had now made himself acquainted with his disease of mind, was in hope of curing it by counsel, and officiously sought an opportunity of a conference, which [Page 16] the prince was not very willing to afford, hav­ing long considered him as one whose intellects were exhausted: "Why, said he, does this man thus intrude upon me; shall I be never suffered to forget those lectures which pleased only while they were new, and to become new again must be forgotten;" He then walked into the wood, and composed himself to his usual meditations; when before his thoughts had taken any settled form, he per­ceived his pursuer at his side, and was at first prompted by his impatience to go hastily away; but, being unwilling to offend a man whom he had once reverenced and still loved, he invited him to sit down with him on the bank.

The old man, thus encouraged, began to lament the change which had been lately ob­served in the prince, and to enquir [...] why he so often retired from the pleasures of the pa­lace, to loneliness and silence. "I fly from pleasure, said the prince because pleasure has ceased to please; I am lonely because I am miserable, and am unwilling to cloud with my presence the happiness of others. "You, Sir, said the sage, are the first who, has complained of misery in the happy valley. I hope to convince you that your complaints have no real cause. You are here in full pos­session of all that the emperor of Abissinia can [Page 17] bestow; here is neither labour to be endured, nor danger to be dreaded, yet here is all that labour or danger can procure. Look round and tell me which of your wants is without supply: if you want nothing, how are you un­happy?"

"That I want nothing, said the prince, or that I know not what I want, is the cause of my complaint; if I had any known want, I should have a certain wish; that wish would excite endeavour, and I should not then repine to see the sun move so slowly towards the west­ern mountain, or lament when the day breaks and sleep will no longer hide me from my­self. When I see the kids and the lambs chasing one another, I fancy that I should be happy if I had something to pursue. But, possessing all that I can want, I find one day and one hour exactly like another, except that the latter is still more tedious than the former. Let your experience inform me how the day may now seem as short as in my childhood, while nature was yet fresh, and every moment shewed me what I never had observed before. I have already enjoyed too much; give me something to desire."

The old man was surprised at this new species of affliction, and knew not what to reply, yet was unwilling to be silent, "Sir, sa [...] he, [Page 18] if you had seen the miseries of the world, you would know how to value your present state." "Now said the prince, you have given me something to desire; I shall long to see the miseries of the world, since the sight of them is necessary to happiness."

CHAP. IV. The prince continues to grieve and muse.

AT this time the sound of musick pro­claimed the hour of repast, and the conversation was concluded. The old man went away sufficiently discontented to find that his reasonings had produced the only conclusion which they were intended to prevent. But in the decline of life, shame and grief are of short duration; whether it be that we bear easily what we have borne long, or that, finding our­selves in age less regarded, we less regard others; or, that we look with slight regard upon afflictions, to which we know that the hand of death is about to put an end.

The prince, whose views were extended to a wider space, could not speedily quiet his emotions. He had been before terrified at the length of life which nature promised him, because he considered that in a long time much must be endured; he now rejoiced in his youth, because in many years much might be done.

[Page 19] This first beam of hope, that had been ever darted into his mind, rekindled youth in his cheeks, and doubled the lustre of his eyes. He was fired with the desire of doing some­thing, tho' he knew not yet with distinctness, either end or means.

He was now no longer gloomy and unsocial; but, considering himself as master of a secret stock of happiness, which he could enjoy only by concealing it, he affected to be busy in all schemes of diversion, and endeavoured to make others pleased with the state of which he him­self was weary. But pleasures never can be so multiplied or continued, as not to leave much of life unemployed; there were many hours, both of the night and day, which he could spend without suspicion in solitary thought. The load of life was much light­ened: he went eagerly into the assemblies, because he supposed the frequency of his pre­sence necessary to the success of his purposes; he retired gladly to privacy, because he had now a subject of thought.

His chief amusement was to picture to him­self that world which he had never seen; to place himself in various conditions; to be entangled in imaginary difficulties, and to be engaged in wild adventures: but his bene­volence always terminated his projects in the [Page 20] relief of distress, the detection of fraud, the defeat of oppression, and the diffusion of happiness.

Thus passed twenty months of the life of Rasselas. He busied himself so intensely in visionary bustle, that he forgot his real soli­tude; and, amidst hourly preparations for the various incidents of human affairs, neglected to consider by what means he should mingle with mankind.

One day as he was sitting on a bank, he feigned to himself an orphan virgin robbed of her little portion by a treacherous lover, and crying after him for restitution and re­dress. So strongly was the image impressed upon his mind, that he started up in the maid's defence, and ran forwards to seize the plun­derer with all the eagerness of real pursuit. Fear naturally quickens the flight of guilt. Rasselas could not catch the fugitive with his utmost efforts; but resolving to weary, by perseverance, him whom he could not surpass in speed, he pressed on till the foot of the mountain stopped his course.

Here he recollected himself, and smiled at his own useless impetuosity. Then raising his eyes to the mountain, "This, said he, is the fatal obstacle that hinders at once the [Page 21] enjoyment of pleasure, and the exercise of virtue. How long is it that my hopes and wishes have flown beyond this boundary of my life, which yet I never have attempted to surmount!"

Struck with this reflection he sat down to muse, and remembered, that since he first resol­ved to escape from his confinement, the sun had passed twice over him in his annual course. He now felt a degree, of regret with which he had never before been acquainted. He considered how much might have been done in the time which had passed and left nothing real be­hind it. He compaired twenty months with the life of man. "In life, said he, is not to be counted the ignorance of infancy, or imbecillity of age. We are long before we are able to think, and we soon cease from the power of acting. The true period of human existence may be reasonably estimated at forty years, of which I have mused away the four and twentieth part. What I have lost was certain, for I have certainly possessed it; but of twenty months to come who can assure me?"

The consciousness of his own folly pierced him deeply, and he was long before he could be reconciled to himself. "The rest of my time, said he, has been lost by the crime or [Page 22] folly of my ancestors, and the absurd institu­tions of my country; I remember it with disgust, but without remorse: but the months that have passed since new light darted into my soul, since I formed a scheme of reasonable felicity, have been squandered by my own fault. I have lost that which can never be restored. I have seen the sun rise and set for twenty months an idle gazer on the light of heaven: In this time the birds have left the nest of their mother, and committed themselves to the woods and to the skies: the kid has forsaken the teat, and learned by degrees to climb the rocks in quest of independant sus­tenance. I only have made no advances, but am still helpless and ignorant. The moon, by more than twenty changes, admonished me of the flux of life; the stream that rolled be­fore my feet upbraided my inactivity. I sat feasting on intellectual luxury, regardless alike of the examples of the earth, and the instruc­tions of the planets. Twenty months are past, who shall restore them!"

These sorrowful meditations fastened upon his mind; he past four months in resolving to lose no more time in idle resolves, and was awakened to more vigorous exertion by hear­ing a maid, who had broken a porcelain cup, remark, that what cannot be repaired is not to be regretted.

[Page 23] This was obvious; and Rasselas reproached himself that he had not discovered it, having not known, or not considered, how many use­ful hints are obtained by chance, and how of­ten the mind, hurried by her own ardour to distant views, neglects the truths that lie open before her. He, for a few hours, regretted his regret, and from that time bent his whole mind upon the means of escaping from the valley of happiness.

CHAP. V. The prince meditates his escape.

HE now found that it would be very dif­ficult to effect that which it was very easy to suppose effected. When he looked round about him, he saw himself confined by the bars of nature which had never yet been broken, and by the gate, through which none that once had passed, were ever able to return. He was now impatient as an eagle in a grate. He passed week after week in clambering the the mountains, to see if there was any aper­ture which the bushes might conceal, but found all the summits inaccessible by their promi­nence. The iron gate he despaired to open; for it was not only secured with all the power of art, but was always watched by successive [...]tinels, and was by its position exposed [Page 24] to the perpetual observation of all the inhabi­tants.

He then examined the cavern through which the waters of the lake were discharged; and looking down at a time when the sun shone strongly upon its mouth, he discover'd it to be full of broken rocks, which, though they permitted the stream to flow through many narrow passages, would stop any body of solid bulk. He returned discouraged and dejected; but, having now known the blessing of hope resolved never to despair.

In these fruitless researches he spent ten months. The time, however, passed chearfully away: in the morning he rose with new hope, in the evening applauded his own diligence, and in the night slept sound after his fatigue. He met a thousand amusements which beguiled his labour, and diversified his thoughts. He dis­cerned the various instincts of animals, and properties of plants, and found the place re­plete with wonders, of which he purposed to solace himself with the contemplation, if he should never be able to accomplish his flight; rejoicing that his endeavours, though yet un­successful, had supplied him with a source of inexhaustible enquiry.

But his original curiosity was not yet abated, [Page 25] he resolved to obtain some knowledge of the ways of men. His wish still continued, but his hope grew less. He ceased to survey any longer the walls of his prison, and spared to search by new toils for interstices which he knew could not be found, yet determined to keep his design always in view, and lay hold on any expedient that time should offer.

CHAP. VI. A dissertation on the art of flying.

AMONG the artists that had been allured into the happy valley, to labour for the accomodation and pleasure of its in­habitants, was a man, eminent for his know­ledge of the mechanick powers, who had con­trived many engines both of use and recrea­tion. By a wheel, which the stream turned, he forced the water into a tower, whence it was distributed to all the apartments of the palace. He erected a pavillion in the garden, around which he kept the air always cool by artificial showers. One of the groves, appropriated to the ladies, was ventilated by fans, to which the rivulet that ran through it, gave a con­stant motion; and instruments of soft musick were placed at proper distances, of which some played by the impulse of the wind, and some by the power of the stream.

[Page 26] This artist was sometimes visited by Rasselas, who was pleased with every kind of knowledge, imagining that the time would come, when all his accquisitions should be of use to him in the open world. He came one day to amuse himself in his usual manner, and found the master busy in building a sailing chariot: he saw that the design was practicable upon a level surface, and with expressions of great esteem solicited its completion. The workman was pleased to find himself so much regarded by the prince, and resolving to gain yet higher honours. "Sir, said he, you have seen but a small part of what the mechanick sciences can perform. I have been long of opinion, that instead of the tardy conveyance of ships and chariots, man might use the swifter migration of wings; that the fields of air are open to knowledge, and that only ignorance and idle­ness need crawl upon the ground."

This hint rekindled the prince's desire of passing the mountains; and having seen what the mechanist had already performed, he was willing to fancy that he could do more; yet resolved to enquire further before he suffered hope to afflict him by disappointment. "I am afraid said he to the artist, that your ima­gination prevails over your skill, and that [Page 27] you now tell me rather what you wish than what you know. Every animal has his element as­signed him; the birds have the air, and men and beasts the earth." "So, replied the me­chanist, fishes have the water, in which yet beasts can swim by nature, and men by art. He that can swim needs not despair to fly: to swim is to fly in a grosser fluid, and to fly is to swim in a subtiler. We are only to pro­portion our power of resistance to the different density of the matter through which we are to pass. You will be necessarily upborne by the air, if you can renew any impulse upon it, faster than the air can recede from the pres­sure."

"But the exercise of swimming, said the prince, is very laborious, the strongest limbs are soon wearied; I am afraid the act of fly­ing will be yet more violent, and wings will be of no great use, unless we can fly further than we can swim."

"The labour of rising from the ground, said the artist will be great, as we see it in the heavier domestick fowls; but, as we mount higher the earth's attraction, and the body's gravity will be gradually diminished, till we shall arrive at a region where the man will float in the air without any tendency to fall: no care will then be necessary, but to move forwards, which [Page 28] the gentlest impulse will effect. You, Sir, whose curiosity is so extensive, will easily con­ceive with what pleasure a philospher, furnished with wings and hovering in the sky, would see the earth, and all its inhabitants rolling be­neath him, and presenting to him successively by its diurnal motion, all the countries within the same parallel. How must it amuse the pendent spectator to see the moving scene of land and ocean, cities and desarts! to survey with equal security the marts of trade, and the fields of battle, mountains infested by barbarians, and fruitful regions gladdened by plenty, and lulled by peace! How easily shall we then trace the Nile through all his passage; pass over to distant regions, and examine the face of nature from one extremity of the earth to the other!"

"All this, said the prince, is much to be desired, but I am afraid that no man will be able to breath in these regions of speculation and tranquillity. I have been told that re­spiration is difficult upon lofty mountains, yet from these precipices, though so high as to produce great tenuity of the air, it is very easy to fall; and I suspect, that from any height, where life can be supported, there may be dan­ger of too quick descent."

"Nothing, replied the artist, will ever be [Page 29] attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome. If you will favour my project, I will try the first [...]light at my own hazard. I have considered the structure of all volant animals, and find the folding continuity of the bat's wings most easily accommodated to the hu­man form. Upon this model I shall begin my task to morrow, and in a year expect to tower into the air beyond the malice or pur­suit of man. But I will work only on this condition, that the art shall not be divulged, and that you shall not require me to make wings for any but ourselves."

"Why, said Rasselas, should you envy others so great an advantage? All skill ought to be exerted for universal good; every man has owed much to others, and ought to repay the kindness that he has received."

"If men were all virtuous, returned the artist, I should with great alacrity teach them all to fly. But what would be the security of the good, if the bad could at pleasure in­vade them from the sky? against an army sailing through the clouds neither walls, nor mountains, nor seas could afford any security. A flight of northern savages might hover in the wind, and light at once with irresistible vio­lence upon the capital of a fruitful region that was rolling under them. Even this valley, [Page 30] the retreat of princes, the abode of happiness, might be violated by the sudden descent of some of the naked nations, that swarm on the coast of the southern sea."

The prince promised secrecy, and waited for the performance, not wholly hopeless of suc­cess. He visited the work from time to time, observed its progress, and remarked the inge­nious contrivances to facilitate motion, and unite levity with strength. The artist was every day more certain, that he should leave vultures and eagles behind him, and the contagion of his confidence seized upon the prince.

In a year the wings were finished, and, on a morning appointed, the maker appeared furnished for flight on a little promontory: he waved his pinions a while to gather air, then leaped from his stand, and in an instant dropped into the lake. His wings which were of no use in the air, sustained him in the water, and the prince drew him to land, half dead with-terror and vexation.

CHAP. VII. The prince finds a man of learning.

THE prince was not much afflicted by this disaster, having suffered himself to [Page 31] hope for a happier event, only because he had no other means of escape in view. He still persisted in his design to leave the happy valley by the first opportunity.

His imagination was now at a stand; he had no prospect of entering into the world; and notwithstanding all his endeavours to support himself, discontent by degrees preyed upon him, and he began again to lose his thoughts in sadness when the rainy season, which in these countries in periodical, made it inconvenient to wander in the woods.

The rain continued longer and with more violence than had been ever known: the clouds broke on the surrounding mountains, and the torrents streamed into the plain on every side, till the cavern was too narrow to discharge the water. The lake overflowed its banks, and all the level of the valley was covered with the inundation. The eminence on which the palace was built, and some other spots of rising ground, were all that the eye could now discover. The herds and flocks left the pas­tures, and both the wild beasts and the tame retreated to the mountains.

This inundation confined all the princes to domestick amusements, and the attention of Rasselas was particularly seized by a poem, [Page 32] which Imlac recited, upon the various conditi­ons of humanity. He commanded the poet to attend him in his apartment, and recite his verses a second time; then entering into fami­liar talk, he thought himself happy in having found a man who knew the world so well, and co [...] so skilfully paint the scenes of life. He asked a thousand questions about things, to which, though common to all other mortals, his confinement from childhood had kept him a stranger. The poet pitied his ignorance, and loved his curiosity, and entertained him from day to day with novelty and instruction, so that the prince regretted the necessity of sleep, and longed till the morning should re­new his pleasure.

As they were sitting together, the prince commanded Imlac to relate his history, and to tell by what accident he was forced, or by what motive induced, to close his life in the happy valley. As he was going to begin his narrative, Rasselas was called to a concert, and obliged to restrain his curiosity till the evening.

CHAP. VIII. The history of Imlac.

THE close of the day is, in the regions of the torrid zone, the only season of [Page 33] diversion and entertainment, and it was there­fore mid-night before the musick ceased, and the princesses retired. Rasselas then called for his companion and required him to begin the story of his life.

"Sir, said Imlac, my history will not be long: the life that is devoted to knowledge passes silently away, and is very little diversi­fied by events. To talk in public, to think in solitude, to read and to hear, to enquire, and answer inquires, is the business of a scholar. He wanders about the world without pomp or terror, and is neither known nor valued but by men like himself.

"I was born in the kingdom of Goiama, at no great distance from the fountain of the Nile. My father was a wealthy merchant, and traded between the inland countries of Africk and the ports of the Red Sea. He was honest, frugal, and diligent, but of mean sentiments, and narrow comprehension: he desired only to be rich, and to conceal his riches, lest he should be spoiled by the governors of the pro­vince."

"Surely, said the prince, my father must be negligent of his charge, if any man in his dominions dares take that which belongs to another. Does he not know that kings are [Page 34] accountable for injustice permitted as well as done? If I were emperor not the meanest of my subjects should be oppressed with impunity. My blood boils when I am told that a mer­chant durst not enjoy his honest gains, for fear of losing by the rapacity of power. Name the governor who robbed the people, that I may declare his crimes to the emperor."

"Sir, said Imlac, your ardour is the na­tural effect of virtue animated by youth: the time will come when you will acquit your father, and perhaps hear with less impatience of the governor. Oppression is, in the Abis­sinian dominions, neither frequent nor tolera­ted; but no form of government has been yet discovered, by which cruelty can be wholly prevented. Subordination supposes power on one part and subjection on the other; and if power be in the hands of men, it will some­times be abused. The vigilance of the su­preme magistrate may do much, but much will still remain undone. He can never know all the crimes that are committed, and can seldom punish all that he knows."

"This, said the prince, I do not understand, but I had rather hear thee than dispute. Con­tinue thy narration."

"My father, proceeded Imlac, origi­nally [Page 35] intended that I should have no other education, than such as might qualify me for commerce; and discovering in me great strength of memory, and quickness of appre­hension, often declared his hope, that I should be some time the richest man in Abissinia."

"Why said the prince, did thy father desire the increase of his wealth, when it was already greater than he durst discover or enjoy? I am unwilling to doubt thy veracity, yet inconsist­encies cannot both be true."

"Inconsistencies, answered Imlac, cannot both be right, but, imputed to man, they may both be true. Yet diversity is not incon­sistency. My father might expect a time of greater security. However, some desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he, whose real wants are supplied, must admit those of fancy."

"This, said the prince, I can in some measure conceive. I repent that I interrupted thee."

"With this hope, proceeded Imlac, he sent me to school; but when I had once found the delight of knowledge, and felt the pleasure of intelligence and the pride of invention, I be­gan silently to despise riches, and determined [Page 36] to disappoint the purpose of my father, whose grossness of conception raised my pity. I was twenty years old before his tenderness would expose me to the fatigue of travel, in which time I had been instructed, by successive masters, in all the literature of my native country. As every hour taught me something new, I lived in a continual course of gratifications; but, as I advanced towards manhood, I lost much of the reverence with which I had been used to look on my instructors; because, when the lesson was ended, I did not find them wiser or better than common men.

"At length my father resolved to initiate me in commerce, and, opening one of his subterranean treasuries, counted out ten thou­sand pieces of gold. This, young man, said he, is the stock with which you must nego­ciate. I began with less than the fifth part, and you see how diligence and parsimony have increased it. This is your own to waste or to improve. If you squander it by negli­gence or caprice, you must wait for my death before you will be rich: if, in four years, you double your stock, we will thence forward let subordination cease, and live together as friends and partners; for he shall always be equal with me, who is equally skilled in the art of growing rich.

[Page 37] "We laid our money upon camels, con­cealed in bales of cheap goods, and travel­led to the shore of the Red Sea. When I cast my eye on the expanse of waters, my heart bounded like that of a prisoner escaped. I felt an unextinguishable curiosity kindle in my mind, and resolved to snatch this opportunity of seeing the manners of other nations, and of learning sciences unknown in Abissinia.

"I remembered that my father had obliged me to the improvment of my stock, not by a promise which I ought not to violate, but by a penalty which I was at liberty to incur, and therefore determined to gratify my pre­dominant desire, and by drinking at the foun­tains of knowledge, to quench the thirst of curiosity.

"As I was supposed to trade without con­nexion with my father, it was easy for me to become acquainted with the master of a ship, and procure a passage [...] some other country. I had no motives of choice to regulate my voyage; it was sufficient for me that, where­ever I wandered, I should see a country which I had not seen before. I therefore entered a ship bound for Surat, having left a letter for my father declaring my intention.

[Page 38]

CHAP. IX. The History of Imlac continued.

WHEN I first entered upon the world of waters, and lost sight of land, I looked round about me with pleasing terror, and thinking my soul enlarged by the bound­less prospect, imagined that I could gaze round forever without satiety; but, in a short time, I grew weary of looking on barren uniformity, where I could only see again what I had al­ready seen. I then descended into the ship, and doubted for a while whether all my fu­ture pleasures, would not end like this in dis­gust and disappointment. Yet, surely, said I, the ocean and the land are very different; the only variety of water is [...]est and motion, but the earth has mountains and vallies, desarts and cities: it is inhabited by men of different customs and contrary opinions; and I may hope to find variety in life, though I should miss it in nature.

"With this hope I quieted my mind, and amused myself during the voyage; sometimes by learning from the sailors the art of naviga­tion, which I have never practised, and some­times by forming schemes for my conduct in different situations, in not one of which I have been ever placed.

[Page 39] "I was almost weary of my naval amusements when we landed safely at Surat. I secured my money, and purchasing some commodities for show, joined myself to a caravan that was passing into the inland country. My com­panions, for some reason or other, conjecturing that I was rich, and by my inquiries and admiration, finding that I was ignorant, considered me as a novice whom they had a right to cheat, and who was to learn at the usual expence the art of fraud. They ex­posed me to the theft of servants, and exaction of officers, and saw me plundered upon false pretences, without any advantage to themselves, but that of rejoicing in the superiority of their own knowledge."

"Stop a moment, said the prince, is there such depravity in man, as that he should injure another without benefit to himself? I can easily conceive that all are pleased with superiority: but your ignorance was meerly accidental, which, being neither your crime nor your folly, could afford them no reason to applaud them­selves; and the knowledge which they had, and which you wanted, they might as effect­ually have shewn by warning you, as betraying you."

"Pride, said Imlac, is seldom delicate, it will please itself with very mean advantages; [Page 40] and envy feels not its own happiness, but when it may be compared with the misery of others. They were my enemies because they thought me rich, and my oppressors, because they de­lighted to find me weak."

"Proceed, said the prince: I doubt not of the facts which you relate, but imagine that you impute them to mistaken motives."

"In this company, said Imlac, I arrived at Agra, the capital of Indostan, the city in which the great Mogul commonly resides. I applied myself to the language of the country, and in a few months was able to converse with the learned men; some of whom I found morose and reserved, and others easy and communica­tive; some were unwilling to teach another, what they had with difficulty learned them­selves; and some shewed that the end of their studies was to gain the dignity of instructing.

"To the tutor of the young princes I re­commended myself so much, that I was pre­sented to the emperor as a man of uncommon knowledge. The emperor asked me many questions concerning my country and my tra­vels; and though I cannot now recollect any thing that he uttered above the power of a common man, he dismissed me, astonished at his wisdom, and enamoured of his gooodness.

[Page 41] "My credit was now so high, that the mer­chants with whom I had travelled, applied to me for recommendations to the ladies of the court. I was surprised at their confidence of solicitation, and gently reproached them with their practices on the road. They heard me with cold indifference, and shewed no tokens of shame or sorrow.

"They then urged their request with the offer of a bribe; but what I would not do for kindness I would not do for money; and re­fused them, not because they had injured me, but because I would not enable them to injure others; for I knew they would have made use of my credit to cheat those who should buy their wares.

"Having resided at Agra, till there was no more to be learned, I travelled into Persia, where I saw many remains of ancient magnifi­cence, and observed many new accommodati­ons of life. The Persians are a nation emi­nently social, and their assemblies afforded me daily opportunities of remarking characters and manners, and of tracing human nature through all its variations.

"From Persia I passed into Arabia, where I saw a nation at once pastoral and warli [...], who live without any settled habitation; whose [Page 42] only wealth is their flocks and herds; and who have yet carried on, through all ages, an he­reditary war with all mankind, though they neither covet nor envy their possessions.

CHAP. X. Imlac's history continued. A dissertation upon poetry.

WHEREVER I went, I found that Poetry was considered as the highest learning, and regarded with a veneration some­what approaching to that which man would pay to the Angelick Nature. And it yet fills me with wonder, that, in almost all countries, the most ancient poets are considered as the best: whether it be that every other kind of knowledge is an acquisition gradually attained, and poetry is a gift conferred at once; or that the first poetry of every nation surprised them as a novelty, and retained the credit by con­sent which it received by accident at first: or whether the province of poetry is to describe Nature and Passion, which are always the same, and the first writers took possession of the most striking objects for description, and the most probable occurrences for fiction, and left no­thing, to those that followed them, but tran­scription of the same events, and new combi­nations of the same images. Whatever be the [Page 43] reason, it is commonly observed that the early writers are in possession of nature, and their fol­lowers of art: that the first excel in strength and invention, and the latter in elegance and refinement.

"I was desirous to add my name to this illustrious fraternity. I read all the poets of Persia and Arabia, and was able to repeat by memory the volumes that are suspended in the mosque of Mecca. But I soon found that no man was ever great by imitation. My desire of excellence impelled me to transfer my at­tention to nature and to life. Nature was to be my subject, and men to be my auditors: I could never describe what I had not seen: I could not hope to move those with delight or terror, whose interests and opinions I did not understand.

Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw every thing with a new purpose; my sphere of atten­tion was suddenly magnified: no kind of know­ledge was to be overlooked. I ranged moun­tains and deserts for images and resemblances, and pictured upon my mind every tree of the forest and flower of the valley. I observed with equal care the crags of the rock and the pinnacles of the palace. Sometimes I wan­dered along the mazes of the rivulet, and some­times watched the changes of the summer clouds. To a poet nothing can be useless. [Page 44] Whatever is beautiful, and whatever is dread­ful, must be familiar to his imagination: he must be conversant with all that is awfully vast, or elegantly little. The plants of the garden, the animals of the wood, the minerals of the earth, and meteors of the sky, must all concur to store his mind with inexhaustible variety: for every idea is useful for the inforcement or deco­ration of moral or religious truth; and he, who knows most, will have most power of diversify­ing his scenes and of gratifying his reader with remote allusions and unexpected instruction.

"All the appearances of nature I was there­fore careful to study, and every country which I have surveyed has contributed something to my poetical powers."

"In so wide a survey, said the prince, you must surely have left much unobserved. I have lived, till now, within the circuit of these mountains, and yet cannot walk abroad with­out the sight of something which I had never beheld before, or never heeded."

"The business of a poet, said Imlac, is to examine, not the individual, but the species; to remark general properties and large appear­ances: he does not number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different shades in the verdure of the forest He is to exhibit in his [Page 45] portraits of nature such prominent and strik­ing features, as recal the original to every mind; and must neglect the minuter discrimi­nations which one may have remarked, and another have neglected, for those characteris­tics which are alike obvious to vigilance and carelessness.

"But the knowledge of nature is only half the task of a poet; he must be acquainted likewise with all the modes of life. His cha­racter requires that he estimate the happiness and misery of every condition; observe the power of all the passions in all their combina­tions, and trace the changes of the human mind as they are modified by various instituti­ons and accidental influences of climate or cu­stom, from the sprightliness of infancy to the despondence of decrepitude. He must divest himself of the prejudices of his age or coun­try; he must consider right and wrong in their abstracted and invariable state; he must disre­gard present laws and opinions, and rise to ge­neral and transcendental truths, which will al­ways be the same: he must therefore content himself with the slow progress of his name; and contemn the applause of his own time, and commit his claims to the justice of poste­rity. He must write as the interpreter of na­ture, and the legislature of mankind, and con­sider himself as presiding over the thoughts and [Page 46] manners of successive generations; as a being superior to time and place. His labour is not yet at an end: he must know many languages and many sciences; and, that his stile may be worthy of his thoughts, must, by incessant practice, familiarize to himself every delicacy of speech and grace of harmony."

CHAP. XI. Imlac's narrative continued. A hint on pilgrimage.

IMLAC now felt the enthusiastic fit, and was proceeding to aggrandize his own pro­fession, when the prince cried out, "Enough! Thou hast convinced me, that no human be­ing can ever be a poet. Proceed now with thy narration."

"To be a poet, said Imlac, is indeed very difficult." "So difficult, returned the prince, that I will at present hear no more of his la­bours. Tell me whither you went when you had seen Arabia."

"From Arabia, said the poet, I travelled through Syria, and for three years resided in Palestine, where I conversed with great numbers of the northern and western nations of Europe; the nations which are now in pos­session [Page 47] of all power and all knowledge; whose armies are irresistible, and whose fleets com­mand the remotest parts of the globe. When I compared these men with the natives of our own kingdom, and those that surround us, they appeared almost another order of beings. In their countries it is difficult to wish for any thing that may not be obtained: a thousand arts, of which we never heard, are continually labouring for their convenience and pleasure; and whatever their own climate has denied them, is supplied by their commerce."

"By what means, said the prince, are the Europeans thus powerful? or why, since they can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or conquest, cannot the Asiaticks and Africans in­vade their coasts, plant colonies in their ports, and give laws to their natural princes? The same wind that carries them back would bring us thither."

"They are more powerful, Sir, than we, answered Imlac, because they are wiser; knowledge will always predominate over ig­norance, as man governs the other animals. But why their knowledge is more than ours, I know not what reason can be given, but the un [...]chable will of the Supreme Being."

"When, said the prince with a sigh, shall [Page 48] I be able to visit Palestine, and mingle with this mighty confluence of nations? Till that happy moment shall arrive, let me fill up the time with such representations as thou canst give me. I am not ignorant of the motive that assembles such numbers in that place, and cannot but consider it as the center of wisdom and piety, to which the best and wisest men of every land must be continually resorting."

"There are some nations, said Imlac, that send few visitants to Palestine; for many numerous and learned sects in Europe, concur to censure pilgrimage as superstitious, or deride it as ridiculous."

"You know, said the prince, how little my life has made me acquainted with diversity of opinions: it will be too long to hear the arguments on both sides; you, that have con­sidered them, tell me the result."

Pilgrimage, said Imlac, like many other acts of piety, may be reasonable or superstitious, according to the principles upon which it is performed. Long journeys in search of truth are not commanded. Truth, such as is neces­sary to the regulation of life, is always found where it is honestly sought. Change of place is no natural cause of the increase of piety, for [Page 49] it inevitably produces dissipation of mind. Yet, since men go every day to view the places where great actions have been performed, and return with stronger impressions of the event, curiosity of the same kind may naturally dispose us to view that country whence our religion had its beginning; and I believe no man surveys those awful scenes without some confirmation of holy resolutions. That the Supreme Being may be more easily propitiated in one place than in another, is the dream of idle superstiti­on; but that some places may operate upon our own minds in an uncommon manner, is an opinion which hourly experience will justify. He who supposes that his vices may be more successfully combated in Palestine, will, per­haps, find himself mistaken, yet he may go thither without folly: he who thinks they will be more freely pardoned, dishonours at once his reason and religion."

"These, said the prince, are European dis­tinctions. I will consider them another time. What have you found to be the effect of know­ledge? are those nations happier than we?"

"There is so much infelicity, said the poet, in the world, that scarce any man has leisure from his own distresses to estimate the compar­ [...] happiness of others. Knowledge is cer­tainly one of the means of pleasure, as is con­fessed [Page 50] by the natural desire which every mind feels of increasing its ideas. Ignorance is meer privation, by which nothing can be produced: it is a vacuity in which the soul sits motionless and torpid for want of attraction; and, with­out knowing why, we always rejoice when we learn, and grieve when we forget. I am there­fore inclined to conclude, that, if nothing counteracts the natural consequence of learning, we grow more happy as our minds take a wider range.

"In enumerating the particular comforts of life we will find many advantages on the side of the Europeans. They cure wounds and diseases with which we languish and perish. We suffer inclemencies of weather which they can obviate. They have engines for the dispatch of many laborious works, which we must perform by manual industry. There is such communica­tion between distant places that one friend can hardly be said to be absent from another. Their policy removes all publick inconveni­encies: they have roads [...]ut through their mountains, and bridges laid upon their rivers. And, if we descend to the privacies of life, their habitations are more commodious, and their possessions are more secure."

"They are surely happy, said the prince, who have all these conveniencies, of which [...] [Page 51] envy none so much as the facility with which separated friends interchange their thoughts."

"The Europeans, answered Imlac, are less unhappy than we, but they are not happy. Human life is every where a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed."

CHAP. XII. The story of Imlac continued.

"I AM not yet willing, said the prince, to suppose that happiness is so parsimoni­ously distributed to mortals; nor can believe but that, if I had the choice of life, I should be able to fill every day with pleasure. I would injure no man, and should provoke no resent­ment: I would relieve every distress, and should enjoy the benedictions of gratitude. I would choose my friends among the wise, and my wife among the virtuous; and therefore should be in no danger from treachery, or unkindness. My children should, by my care, be learned and pious, and would repay to my age what their childhood had received. What would dare [...] to molest him who might call on every side to thousands enriched by his bounty, or assisted by his power? And why should not life glide quietly away in the soft reciprocation [Page 52] of protection and reverence? All this may be done without the help of European refinements, which appear by their effects to be rather specious than useful. Let us leave them and pursue our journey."

"From Palestine, said Imlac, I passed through many regions of Asia; in the more civilized kingdoms as a trader, and among the Barbarians of the mountains as a pilgrim. At last I began to long for my native country, that I might repose after my travels, and fa­tigues, in the places where I had spent my earliest years, and gladden my old companions with the recital of my adventures. Often did I figure to myself those, with whom I had sported away the gay hours of dawning life, sitting round me in its evening, wondering at my tales, and listening to my counsels.

"When this thought had taken possession of my mind, I considered every moment as wasted which did not bring me nearer to Abissinia. I hastened into Egypt, and, not­withstanding my impatience, was detained ten months in the contemplation of its ancient mag­nificence, and in enquiries after the remains of its ancient learning. I found in Cairo a mixture of all nations; some brought thither by the love of knowledge, some by the hope of gain, and many by the desire of living [Page 53] after their own manner without observation, and of lying hid in the obscurity of multitudes: for, in a city, populous as Cairo, it is possible to obtain at the same time the gratifications of society, and the secrecy of solitude.

"From Cairo I travelled to Suez and embarked on the red sea passing along the coast till I arrived at the port from which I had departed twenty years before. Here I joined myself to a caravan and re-entered my native country.

"I now expected the caresses of my kins­men, and the congratulations of my friends, and was not without hope that my father, whatever value he had set upon riches, would own with gladness and pride, a son who was able to add to the felicity and honour of the nation. But I was soon convinced that my thoughts were vain. My father had been dead fourteen years, having divided his wealth among my brothers, who were removed to some other provinces. Of my companions the greater part was in the grave, of the rest some could with difficulty remember me, and some considered me as one corrupted by foreign manners.

"A man used to vicissitudes is not easily de­jected. I forgot, after a time, my disappoint­ment, [Page 54] and endeavoured to recommend myself to the nobles of the kingdom: they admitted me to their tables, heard my story, and dismissed me. I opened a school, and was prohibited to teach. I then resolved to sit down in the quiet of domestick life and addressed a lady that was fond of my conversation, but rejected my suit, because my father was a merchant.

"Wearied at last with solicitation and re­pulses, I resolved to hide my self for ever from the world, and depend no longer on the opinion or caprice of others. I waited for the time when the gate of the happy valley should open, that I might bid farewell to hope and fear: the day came; my performance was distinguished with favour, and I resigned myself with joy to perpetual confinement."

"Hast thou here found happiness at last? said Rasselas. Tell me without reserve; art thou content with thy condition? or, dost thou wish to be again wandering and enquiring? All the Inhabitants of this valley celebrate their lot, and, at the annual visit of the emperor, invite others to partake of their felicity."

"Great prince, said Imlac, I shall speak the truth: I know not one of all your attendants who does not lament the hour when he entered this retreat. I am less unhappy than the rest, because I have a mind replete with Images, [Page 55] which I can vary and combine at pleasure. I can amuse my solitude by the renovation of the knowledge which begins to fade from my memory, and with the recollection of ac­cidents of my past life. Yet all this ends in the sorrowful consideration, that my accquir­ments are now useless, and that none of my pleasures can be again enjoyed. The rest, whose minds have no impression but of the pre­sent moment, are either corroded by malignant passions, or sit stupid in the gloom of perpetual vacancy."

"What passions can infest those, said the prince, who have no rivals? We are in a place where impotence precludes malice, and where all envy is repressed by community of enjoy­ments."

"There may be community, said Imlac, of material possessions, but there can never be community of love or of esteem. It must hap­pen that one will please more than another; he that knows himself despised will always be envious; and still more envious and ma­levolent, if he is condemned to live in the presence of those who despise him. The invitations, by which they allure others to a state which they feel to be wretched, pro­ceed from the natural malignity of hopeless misery▪ They are weary of themselves, and of each other, and expect to find relief in [Page 56] new companions. They envy the liberty which their folly has forfeited, and would gladly see all mankind imprisoned like themselves.

"From this crime, however, I am wholly free. No man can say that he is wretched by my persuasion. I look with pity on the crowds who are annually soliciting admission to capti­vity, and wish that it were lawful for me to warn them of their danger."

"My dear Imlac, said the prince, I will open to thee my whole heart, that I have long meditated an escape from the happy valley. I have examined the mountains on every side, but find myself insuperably barred: teach me the way to break my prison; thou shalt be the companion of my flight, the guide of my ram­bles, the partner of my fortune, and my sole director in the choice of life."

"Sir, answered the poet, your escape will be difficult, and perhaps, you may soon repent your curiosity. The world, which you figure to yourself smooth and quiet as the lake in the valley, you will find a sea foaming with tem­pests, and boiling with whirlpools: you will be sometimes overwhelmed by the waves of vio­lence, and sometimes dashed against the rocks of treachery. Amidst wrongs and frauds, com­petitions and anxieties, you will wish a thou­sand [Page 57] times for these seats of quiet, and willingly quit hope to be free from fear."

"Do not seek to deter me from my pur­pose, said the prince. I am impatient to see what thou hast seen; and, since thou art thy­self weary of the valley, it is evident, that thy former state was better than this. Whatever be the consequence of my experiment, I am resolved to judge with my own eyes of the various conditions of men, and then to make deliberately my choice of life.

"I am afraid said Imlac, you are hindered by stronger restraints than by persuasions; yet, if your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill."

CHAP. XIII. Rasselas discovers the means of Escape.

THE prince now dismissed his favourite to rest, but the narrative of wonders and novelties filled his mind with perturbation. He revolved all that he had heard, and pre­pared innumerable questions for the morning.

Much of his uneasiness was now removed. He had a friend to whom he could impart his [Page 58] thoughts, and whose experience could assist him in his designs. His heart was no longer con­demned to swell with silent vexation. He thought that even the happy valley might be endured with such a companion, and that, if they could range the world together, he should have nothing further to desire.

In a few days the water was discharged, and the ground dried. The prince and Imlac then walked out together to converse without the notice of the rest. The prince, whose thoughts were always on the wing, as he passed by the gate, said, with a countenance of sorrow, "Why art thou so strong, and why is man so weak;"

"Man is not weak, answered his com­panion; knowledge is more than equivalent to force. The master of mechanicks laughs at strength. I can burst the gate, but cannot do it secretly. some other expedient must be tried."

As they were walking on the side of the mountain, they observed that the conies, which the rain had driven from their burrows, had taken shelter among the bushes, and formed holes behind them, tending upwards in an oblique line. "It has been the opinion of antiquity, said Imlac, that human reason bor­rowed [Page 59] many arts from the instinct of animals; let us, therefore, not think ourselves degraded by learning from the coney. We may escape by piercing the mountain in the same direction. We will begin where the summit hangs over the middle part, and labour upward till we shall issue out beyond the prominence."

The eyes of the prince, when he heard this proposal, sparkled with joy. The execution was easy, and the success certain.

No time was now lost. They hastened early in the morning to chuse a place proper for their mine. They clambered with great fatigue among crags and brambles, and return­ed without having discovered any part that favoured their design. The second and the third day were spent in the same manner, and with the same frustration. But, on the fourth, they found a small cavern, concealed by a thicket, where they resolved to make their experiment.

Imlac, procured instruments proper to hew stone and remove earth, and they fell to their work on the next day with more eagerness than vigour. They were presently exhausted by their efforts, and sat down to pant upon the gr [...]ss. The prince for a moment, appear▪ to be discouraged. "Sir, said his companion [Page 60] practice will enable us to continue our labour for a longer time; and mark, however, how far we have advanced, and you will find that our toil will some time have an end. Great works are performed, not by strength, but perseverance: yonder [...]lace was raised by single stones, yet you see its height and spaci­ousness. He that shall walk with vigour three hours a day, will pass in seven years a space equal to the circumference of the globe."

They returned to their labour day after day, and, in a short time found a fissure in the rock, which enabled them to pass far with very little obstruction. This Rasselas considered as a good omen. "Do not disturb your mind, said Imlac, with other hopes or fears than reason may suggest; if you are pleased with prognosticks of good, you will be terrified likewise with tokens of evil, and your whole life will be a prey to superstition. Whatever facilitates our work is more than an omen, it is a cause of success. This is one of those pleasing surprises which often happen to active resolution. Many things difficult to design prove easy to performance."

[Page 61]

CHAP. XIV. Rasselas and Imlac receive an unexpected visit.

THEY had now wrought their way to the middle, and solaced their labour with the approach of liberty, when the prince coming down to refresh himself with air, found his sister Nekayah standing before the mouth of the cavity. He started and stood confused, afraid to tell his design, and yet hopeless to conceal it. A few moments determined him to repose on her fidelity, and secure her secrecy by a declaration without reserve.

"Do not imagine, said the princess, that I came hither as a spy: I had often observed from my window that you and Imlac directed your walk every day towards the same point, but I did not suppose that you had any better reason for the preference than a cooler shade, or more fragrant bank; nor followed you with any other design than to partake of your con­versation. Since then not suspicion but fond­ness has detected you, let me not lose the advantage of my discovery. I am equally weary of confinement with yourself, and not less desirous of knowing what is done or suf­fered in the world. Permit me to fly with you from this tasteless tranquillity, which will yet grow more loathsome when you have left me. [Page 62] You may deny me to accompany you, but cannot hinder me from following."

The prince, who loved Nekayah above his other sisters, had no inclination to refuse her request, and grieved that he had lost an oppor­tunity of shewing his confidence by a volun­tary communication. It was therefore agreed that she should leave the valley with them; and that, in the mean time, she should watch, least any other straggler should, by chance or curiosity, follow them to the mountain.

At length their labour was at an end; they saw light beyond the prominence, and, issuing to the top of the mountain, beheld the Nile, yet a narrow current, wandering beneath them.

The prince looked round with rapture, an­ticipated all the pleasures of travel, and in thought was already transported beyond his fathers dominions. Imlac, though very joyful at his escape, had less expectation of pleasure in the world, which he had before tried, and of which he had been weary.

Rasselas was so much delighted with a wider horizon, that he could not soon be persuaded to return into the valley. He informed his sister that the way was open, and that nothing now remained but to prepare for their departure.

[Page 63]

CHAP. XV The prince and princess leave the valley, and see many wonders.

THE prince and princess had jewels suf­ficient to make them rich whenever they came into a place of commerce, which, by Im­lac's direction, they hid in their cloaths, and, on the night of the next full moon, all left the valley. The princess was followed only by a single favourite, who did not know whither she was going.

They clambered through the cavity, and began to go down on the other side. The princess and her maid turned their eyes towards every part, and, seeing nothing to bound their prospect, considered themselves as in danger of being lost in a dreary vacuity. They stopped and trembled. "I am almost afraid, said the princess, to begin a journey of which I cannot perceive an end, and to venture into this im­mense plain where I may be approached on every side by men whom I never saw." The prince felt nearly the same motions, though he thought it more manly to conceal them.

Imlac smiled at their terrors, and encouraged them to proceed; but the princess continued [Page 64] irresolute, till she had been imperceptibly drawn forward too far to return.

In the morning they found some shepherds in the field, who set milk and fruits before them. The princess wondered that she did not see a palace ready for her reception, and a table spread with delicacies; but, being faint and hungry, she drank the milk and eat the fruits, and thought them of a higher flavour than the products of the valley.

They travelled forward by easy journeys, be­ing all unaccustomed to toil or difficulty, and knowing, that though they might be missed, they could not be pursued. In a few days they came into a more populous region, where Imlac was diverted with the admiration which his companions expressed at the diversity of manners, stations; and employments.

Their dress was such as might not bring up­on them the suspicion of having any thing to conceal, yet the prince, wherever he came, ex­pected to be obeyed, and the princess was fright­ed, because those that came into her presence did not prostrate themselves before her. Imlac was forced to observe them with great vigi­lance, lest they should betray their rank by their unusual behaviour, and detained them several weeks in the first village to accustom them to the [...]ght of common mortals [...]punc;

[Page 65] By degrees the royal wanderers were taught to understand that they had for a time laid aside their dignity, and were to expect only such regard as liberality and courtesy could procure. And Imlac, having, by many admonitions, prepared them to endure the tumults of a port, and the ruggedness of the commercial race, brought them down to the sea-coast.

The prince and his sister, to whom every thing was new, were gratified equally at all places, and therefore remained for some months at the port without any inclination to pass fur­ther. Imlac was content with their stay, be­cause he did not think it safe to expose them, unpractised in the world, to the hazards of a foreign country.

At last he began to fear lest they should be discovered, and proposed to fix a day of their departure. They had no pretensions to judge for themselves, and referred the whole scheme to his direction. He therefore took passage in a ship to Suez; and, when the time came, with great difficulty prevailed on the princess to en­ter the vessel. They had a quick and prosper­ous voyage, and from Suez travelled by land to Cairo.

[Page 66]

CHAP. XVI. They enter Cairo, and find every man happy.

AS they approached the city, which filled the strangers with astonishment, "This, said Imlac to the prince, is the place where travellers and merchants assemble from all the corners of the earth. You will here find men of every character, and every occupation. Commerce is here honourable: I will act as a merchant, and you shall live as strangers, who have no other end of travel than curiosity; it will soon be observed that we are rich; our reputation will procure us access to all whom we shall desire to know; you will see all the conditions of humanity, and enable yourself at leisure to make your choice of life."

They now entered the town, stunned by the noise, and offended by the crowds. Instruction had not yet so prevailed over habit, but that they wondered to see themselves pass undistin­guished along the street, and met by the lowest of the people without reverence or notice. The princess could not at first bear the thought of being levelled with the vulgar, and, for some days, continued in her chamber, where she was served by her favourite as in the palace of the valley.

[Page 67] Imlac, who understood traffick, sold part of the jewels the next day, and hire [...] a house, which he adorned with such magnificence, that he was immediately consider'd as a merchant of great wealth. His politeness attracted many acquaintance, and his generosity made him courted by many dependants. His table was crowded by men of every nation, who all admired his knowledge and solicited his favour. His companions, not being able to mix in the conversation, could make no discovery of their ignorance or surprise, and were gradually initi­ated in the world, as they gained knowledge of the language.

The prince had, by frequent lectures, been taught the use and nature of money; but the ladies could not, for a long time comprehend what the merchants did with small pieces of gold and silver, or why things of so little use should be received as equivalent to the neces­saries of life.

They studied the language two years, while Imlac was preparing to set before them the various ranks and conditions of mankind. He grew acquainted with all who had any thing uncommon in their fortune or conduct. He frequented the voluptuous and the frugal, the idle and the busy, the merchants and the men of learning.

[Page 68] The prince, being now able to converse with fluency, and having learned the caution neces­sary to be observed in his intercourse with strangers, began to accompany Imlac to places of resort, and to enter into all assemblies, that he might make his choice of life.

For some time he thought choice needless, because all appeared to him equally happy. Wherever he went he met gaiety and kindness, and heard the song of joy, or the laugh of carelessness. He began to believe that the world overflowed with universal plenty, and that nothing was with-held either from want or merit; that every hand showered liberality, and every heart melted with benevolence: "And who then, says he, will be suffered to be wretched?"

Imlac permitted the pleasing delusion, and was unwilling to crush the hope of inexperience, till one day, having sat a while silent, "I know not, said the prince, what can be the reason that I am more unhappy than any of our friends. I see them perpetually and unaltera­bly chearful, but feel my own mind restless and uneasy. I am unsatisfied with those plea­sures which I seem most to court; I live in the crowds of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself; and am only loud and merry to conceal my sadness."

[Page 69] "Every man, said Imlac, may, by ex­amining his own mind, guess what passes in the minds of others: when you feel that your own gaiety is counterfeit, it may justly lead you to suspect that of your companions not to be sincere. Envy is commonly reciprocal. We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each be­lieves it possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself. In the assembly, where you passed the last night, there appeared such sprightliness of air, and volatility of fancy, as might have suited beings of an higher order, formed to inhabit serener regions inaccessible to care or sorrow: yet, believe me, prince, there was not one who did not dread the moment when solitude should deliver him to the tyranny of reflection."

"This said the prince, may be true of others since it is true of me; yet, whatever be the general infelicity of man, one condition is more happy than another, and wisdom surely directs us to take the least evil in the choice of life."

"The causes of good and evil, answered Imlac, are so various and uncertain, so often entangled with each other, so diversified by various relations, and so much subject to ac­cidents which cannot be foreseen, that he who [Page 70] would six his condition upon incontestable rea­sons of preference, must live and die enquiring and deliberating."

"But surely, said Rasselas, the wise men, to whom we listen with reverence and wonder, chose that mode of life for themselves which they thought most likely to make them happy."

"Very few, said the poet, live by choice. Every man is placed in his present condition by causes which acted without his foresight, and with which he did not always willingly co-operate; and therefore you will rarely meet one who does not think the lot of his neighbour better than his own."

"I am pleased to think, said the prince, that my birth has given me at least one advantage over others, by enabling me to determine for my self. I have here the world before me; I will review it at leasure: surely happiness is somewhere to be found."

[Page 71]

CHAP. XVII. The prince associates with young men of spirit and gaiety.

RASSELAS rose next day, and resolv­ed to begin his experiments upon life. "Youth, cried he, is the time of gladness: I will join myself to the young men, whose only business is to gratify their desires, and whose time is all spent in a succession of enjoyments."

To such societies he was readily admitted, but a few days brought him back weary and disgusted. Their mirth was without images, their laughter without motive; their pleasures were gross and sensual, in which the mind had no part; their conduct was at once wild and mean; they laughed at order and at law, but the frown of power dejected, and the eye of wisdom abashed them.

The prince soon concluded, that he should never be happy in a course of life of which he was ashamed. He thought it unsuitable to a reasonable being to act without a plan, and to be sad or chearful only by chance. "Happi­ness, said he, must be something solid and per­manent, without fear and without uncertainty."

[Page 72] But his young companions had gained so much of his regard by their frankness and courtesy, that he could not leave them with­out warning and remonstrance. "My friends, said he, I have seriously considered our man­ners and our prospects, and find that we have mistaken our own interest. The first years of man must make provision for the last. He that never thinks never can be wise. Perpe­tual levity must end in ignorance; and intem­perance, though it may fire the spirits for an hour, will make life short or miserable. Let us consider that youth is of no long duration, and that in maturer age, when the enchant­ments of fancy shall cease, and phantoms of delight dance no more about us, we shall have no comforts but the esteem of wise men, and the means of doing good. Let us, therefore, stop, while to stop is in our power: let us live as men who are some time to grow old, and to whom it will be the most dreadful of all evils not to count their past years but by their follies, and to be reminded of their former luxuriance of health only by the maladies which riot has produced."

They stared awhile in silence one upon ano­ther, and, at last, drove him away by a gene­ral chorus of continued laughter.

The consciousness that his sentiments were [Page 73] just, and his intentions kind, was scarcely suf­ficient to support him against the horror of de­rision. But he recovered his tranquillity, and pursued his search.

CHAP. XVIII. The prince finds a wise and happy man.

AS he was one day walking in the street, he saw a spacious building, which all were, by the open doors, invited to enter: he followed the stream of people, and found it a hall or school of declamation; in which profes­sors read lectures to their auditory. He fixed his eye upon a sage raised above the rest, who discoursed with great energy on the govern­ment of the passions. His look was venera­ble, his action graceful, his pronunciation clear, and his diction elegant. He shewed, with great strength of sentiment, and variety of il­lustration, that human nature is degraded and debased, when the lower faculties predominate over the higher; that when fancy, the parent of passion, usurps the dominion of the mind, nothing ensues but the natural effect of unlaw­ful government, perturbation and confusion; that she betrays the fortresses of the intellect to rebels, and excites her children to sedition against reason, their lawful sovereign. He compared reason to the sun, of which the light [Page 74] is constant, uniform and lasting; and fancy to a meteor, of bright but transitory lustre, irregular in its motion, and delusive in its direction.

He then communicated the various pre­cepts given from time to time for the conquest of passion, and displayed the happiness of those who had obtained the important victory, after which man is no longer the slave of fear, nor fool of hope; is no more emaciated by envy, inflamed by anger, emasculated by tenderness, or depressed by grief; but walks on calmly through the tumults or the privacies of life, as the sun pursues alike his course through the calm or the stormy sky.

He enumerated many examples of heroes in moveable by pain or pleasure, who looked with indifference on those modes or acci­dents to which the vulgar give the names of good and evil. He exhorted his hearers to lay aside their prejudices, and arm themselves against the shafts of malice or misfortune, by invulnerable patience; concluding, that this state only was happiness, and that this happi­ness was in every one's power.

Rasselas listened to him with the veneration due to the instructions of a superior being, and waiting for him at the door, humbly im­plored [Page 75] the liberty of visiting so great a master of true wisdom. The lecturer hesitated a mo­ment, when Rasselas put a purse of gold into his hand, which he received with a mixture of joy and wonder.

"I have found, said the prince, at his re­turn to Imlac, a man who can teach all that is necessary to be known, who, from the un­shaken throne of rational fortitude, looks down on the scenes of life changing beneath him. He speaks, and attention watches his lips. He reasons, and conviction closes his periods. This man shall be my future guide: I will learn his doctrines, and imitate his life."

"Be not too hasty, said Imlac, to trust, or to admire, the teachers of morality: they dis­course like angels, but they live like men."

Rasselas, who could not conceive how any man could reason so forcibly without feeling the cogency of his own arguments, paid his visit in a few days, and was denied admission. He had now learned the power of money, and made his way by a piece of gold to the inner apartment, where he found the philosopher in a room half darkned, with his eyes misty, and his face pale. "Sir, said he, you are come at a time when all human friendship is useless; what I suffer cannot be remedied, what I have [Page 76] lost cannot be supplied. My daughter, my only daughter, from whose tenderness I ex­pected all the comforts of my age, died last night of a fever. My views, my purposes, my hopes are at an end: I am now a lonely being disunited from society."

Sir, said the prince, mortality is an event by which a wise man can never be surprised: we know that death is always near, and it should therefore always be expected. "Young man, answered the philosopher, you speak like one that has never felt the pangs of separati­on." "Have you then forgot the pre­cepts, said Rasselas, which you so powerfully enforced? Has wisdom no strength to arm the heart against calamity? Consider, that ex­ternal things are naturally variable, but truth and reason are always the same." "What comfort said the mourner, can truth and rea­son afford me? of what effect are they now, but to tell me, that my daughter will not be restored?"

The prince, whose humanity would not suf­fer him to insult misery with reproof, went away convinced of the emptiness of rhetorical sound, and the inefficacy of polished periods and studied sentences.

[Page 77]

CHAP. XIX. A glimpse of pastoral life.

HE was still eager upon the same enquiry; and, having heard of a hermit, that lived near the lowest cataract of the Nile, and filled the whole country with the fame of his sanctity, resolved to visit his retreat, and en­quire whether that felicity, which publick life could not afford, was to be found in solitude; and whether a man, whose age and virtue made him venerable, could teach any peculiar art of shunning evils, or enduring them.

Imlac and the princess agreed to accompany him, and, after the necessary preparations, they began their journey. Their way lay through fields where shepherds tended their flocks, and the lambs were playing upon the pasture." "This said the poet, is the life which has been often celebrated for its innocence and quiet: let us pass the heat of the day among the shepherds tents, and know whether all our searches are not to terminate in pastoral simplicity."

The proposal pleased them, and they in­duced the shepherds, by small presents and familiar questions, to tell their opinion of their [Page 78] own state: they were so rude and ignorant, so little able to compare the good with the evil of the occupation, and so indistinct in their narratives and descriptions, that very lit­tle could be learned from them. But it was evident that their hearts were cankered with discontent; that they considered themselves as condemned to labour for the luxury of the rich, and looked up with stupid malevolence toward those that were placed above them.

The princess pronounced with vehemence, that she would never suffer these envious sa­vages to be her companions, and that she should not soon be desirous of seeing any more specimens of rustick happiness; but could not believe that all the accounts of primeval plea­sures were fabulous, and was yet in doubt whether life had any thing in it that could be justly preferred to the placid gratifications of fields and woods. She hoped that the time would come, when, with a few virtuous and elegant companions, she should gather flowers planted by her own hand, fondle the lambs of her own ewes, and listen, without care, among brooks and breezes, to one of her maidens reading in the shade.

[Page 79]

CHAP. XX. The danger of prosperity.

ON the next day they continued their journey, till the heat compelled them to look round for shelter. At a small distance they saw a thick wood, which they no sooner entered than they perceived that they were approaching the habitations of men. The shrubs were diligently cut away to open walks where the shades were darkest; the boughs of opposite trees were artificially interwoven; seats of flowery turf were raised in vacant spaces, and a rivulet, that wantoned along the side of a winding path, had its banks sometimes opened into small basons, and its stream some­times obstructed by little mounds of stone heaped together to increase its murmurs.

They passed slowly through the wood, de­lighted with such unexpected accommodations, and entertained each other with conjecturing what, or who, he could be, that, in those rude and unfrequented regions, had leisure and art for such harmless luxury.

As they advanced, they heard the sound of musick, and saw youths and virgins dancing in the grove; and, going still further, beheld [Page 80] a stately palace built upon a hill surrounded with woods. The laws of eastern hospitality allowed them to enter, and the master wel­comed them like a man liberal and wealthy.

He was skilful enough in appearances soon to discern that they were no common guests, and spread his table with magnificence. The eloquence of Imlac caught his attention, and the lofty courtesy of the princess excited his respect. When they offered to depart, he en­treated their stay, and was the next day still more unwilling to dismiss them than before▪ they were easily persuaded to stop, and civility grew up in time to freedom and confidence.

The prince now saw all the domesticks chearful, and all the face of nature smiling round the place, [...] could not forbear to hope that he should find here what he was seeking; but when he was congratulating the master upon his possessions, he answered with a sigh, "My condition has indeed the ap­pearance of happiness, but appearances are delusive. My prosperity puts my life in dan­ger; the Bassa of Egypt is my enemy, incensed only by my wealth and popularity. I have been hitherto protected against him by the princes of the country; but, as the favour, [...] the great is uncertain, I know not how soon my defenders may be persuaded to share the [Page 81] plunder with the Bassa. I have sent my trea­sures into a distant country, and, upon the first alarm, am prepared to follow them. Then will my enemies riot in my mansion, and enjoy the gardens which I have planted."

They all joined in lamenting his danger, and deprecating his exile; and the princess was so much disturbed with the tumult of grief and indignation, that she retired to her apartment. They continued with their kind inviter a few days longer, and then went for­ward to find the hermit.

CHAP. XXI. The happiness of solitude. The hermit's history.

THEY came on the third day, by the direction of the peasants, to the hermit's cell: it was a cavern in the side of a mountain, over-shadow'd with palm-trees; at such a dis­tance from the cataract, that nothing more was heard than a gentle uniform murmur, such as composed the mind to pensive meditation, especially when it was assisted by the wind whistling among the branches. The first rude essay of nature had been so much improved [...] human labour, that the cave contained several apartments, appropriated to different [Page 82] uses, and often afforded lodging to travellers, whom darkness or tempests happened to overtake.

The hermit sat on a bench at the door, to enjoy the coolness of the evening. On one side lay a book with pens and papers, on the other mechanical instruments of various kinds. As they approached him unregarded, the princess observed that he had not the countenance of a man that had found, or could teach, the way to happiness.

They saluted him with great respect, which he repaid like a man not unaccustomed to the forms of courts. "My children said he, if you have [...]ost your way, you shall be willingly supplied with such conveniencies for the night as this cavern will afford. I have all that nature requires, [...] you will not expect delica­cies in a hermit's [...].

They thanked him and entering, were pleased with the neatness and regularity of the place. The hermit set flesh and wine before them, though he fed only upon fruits and water. His discourse was chearful without levity, and pious without enthusiasm. He soon gained the esteem of his guests and the princess repented of her hasty censure.

[Page 83] At last Imlac began thus: "I do not now wonder that your reputation is so far extended; we have heard at Cairo of your wisdom, and came hither to implore your direction for this young man and maiden in the choice of life."

"To him that lives well, answered the hermit, every form of life is good; nor can I give any other rule for choice, than to re­move from all apparent evil."

"He will remove most certainly from evil, said the prince, who shall devote himself to that solitude which you have recommended by your example."

"I have indeed lived fifteen years in soli­tude, said the hermit but have no desire that my example should gain any imitators. In my youth I professed arms, and was [...]ed by de­grees to the highest military rank. I have traversed wide countries at the head of my troops, and seen many battles and sieges. At last, being disgusted by the preferment of a younger officer, and finding my vigour be­ginning to decay, I resolved to close my life in peace, having found the world full of snares, discord, and misery. I had once escaped from the pursuit of the enemy by the shelter of this cavern, and therefore chose it for my final [Page 84] residence. I employed artificers to form it into chambers, and stored it with all that I was likely to want."

"For some time after my retreat, I rejoiced like a tempest-beaten sailor at his entrance into the harbour, being delighted with the sud­den change of the noise, and hurry of war, to stillness and repose. When the pleasure of novelty went away, I employed my hours in examining the plants which grow in the valley, and the minerals which I collected from the rocks. But that enquiry is now grown tasteless and irksome. I have been for some time un­settled and distracted: my mind is disturbed with a thousand perplexities of doubt, and vanities of imagination, which hourly prevail upon me, because I have no opportunities of relaxation or diversion. I am sometimes a­shamed to think that I could not secure myself from vice, but by retiring from the practice of virtue, and begin to suspect that I was ra­ther impelled by resentment, than led by devo­tion, into solitude. My fancy riots in scenes of folly, and I lament that I have lost so much, and have gained so little. In solitude, if I escape the example of bad men, I want like wise the counsel and conversation of the good. I have been long comparing the evils with the advantages of society, and resolve to return into the world to-morrow. The life of a soli­tary [Page 85] man will be certainly miserable, but not certainly devout."

They heard his resolution with surprise, but after a short pause, offered to conduct him to Cairo. He dug up a considerable treasure which he had hid among the rocks, and ac­companied them to the city, on which, as he approached it, he gazed with rapture.

CHAP. XXII. The happiness of a life led according to nature.

RASSELAS went often to an assembly of learned men, who met at stated times to unbend their minds, and compare their opini­ons. Their manners were somewhat coarse, but their conversation was instructive, and their disputations acute, though sometimes too violent, and often continued till neither con­trovertist remembered upon what question they began. Some faults were almost general among them: every one was desirous to dictate to the rest [...] and every one was pleased to hear the genius of [...]ledge of another depreciated.

[...] assembly Rasselas was relating his interv [...] with the hermit, and the wonder with [...] he heard him censure a course of life which he had so deliberately chosen, and [Page 86] so laudably followed. The sentiments of the hearers were various. Some were of opinion, that the folly of his choice had been justly punished by condemnation to perpetual perse­verance. One of the youngest among them, with great vehemence, pronounced him an hypocrite. Some talked of the right of society to the labour of individuals, and considered retirement as a desertion of duty. Others readily allowed, that there was a time when the claims of the publick were satisfied, and when a man might properly sequester himself, to review his life, and purify his heart.

One, who appeared more affected with the narrative than the rest, thought it likely, that the hermit would, in a few years, go back to his retreat, and, perhaps, if shame did not re­strain, or death intercept him, return once more from his retreat into the world: "For the hope of happiness, says he, is so strongly impressed, that the longest experience is not able to efface it. Of the present state, what­ever it be, we feel, and are forced to confess, the misery, yet, when the same state is again at a distance, imagination paints it as desirable. But the time will surely come, when desire will be no longer our torment, and no man shall be wretched but by his own fault."

"This, said a philosopher, who had heard [Page 87] him with tokens of great impatience, is the present condition of a wise man. The time is already come, when none are wretched but by their own fault. Nothing is more idle, than to enquire after happiness, which nature, has kindly placed within our reach. The way to be happy is to live according to na­ture, in obedience to that universal and un­alterable law with which every heart is ori­ginally impressed; which is not written on it by precept, but engraven by destiny, not in­stilled by education, but infused at our nativity. He that lives according to nature, will suffer nothing from the delusions of hope, or impor­tunities of desire: He will receive and reject with equability of temper; and act or suffer as the reason of things shall alternately pre­scribe. Other men may amuse themselves with subtle definitions, or intricate ratiocina­tion. Let them learn to be wise by easier means: let them observe the hind of the forest, and the linnet of the grove: let them consider the life of animals, whose motions are regulated by instinct; they obey their guide and are hap­py. Let us therefore at length, cease to dis­pute, and learn to live; throw away the in­cumbrance of precepts, which they who utter them with so much pride and pomp do not understand, and carry with us this simple and intelligible maxim, That deviation from nature is deviation from happiness."

[Page 88] When he had spoken, he looked round him with a placid air, and enjoyed the consciousness of his own beneficence. "Sir, said the prince, with great modesty, as I, like all the rest of mankind, am desirous of felicity, my closest attention has been fixed upon your discourse: I doubt not the truth of a position which a man so learned has so confidently advanced. Let me only know what it is to live according to nature."

"When I find young men so humble and so docile, said the philosopher, I can deny them no information which my studies have enabled me to afford. To live according to nature, is to act always with due regard to the fitness arising from the relations and qualities of causes and effects; to concur with the great and un­changeable scheme of universal felicity; to co-operate with the general disposition and ten­dency of the present system of things."

The prince soon [...]ound that this was one of the sages whom he should understand less as he heard him longer. He therefore bowed and was silent, and the philosopher, supposing him satisfied, and the rest vanquished, rose up and departed with the air of a man that had co-operated with the present system.

[Page 89]

CHAP. XXIII. The prince and his sister divide between them the work of observation.

RASSELAS returned home full of re­flections, doubtful how to direct his fu­ture steps. Of the way to happiness he found the learned and simple equally ignorant; but, as he was yet young, he flattered him­self that he had time remaining for more expe­riments, and further enquiries. He commu­nicated to Imlac his observations and his doubts, but was answered by him with new doubts, and remarks that gave him no com­fort. He therefore discoursed more frequently and freely with his sister, who had yet the same hope with himself, and always assisted him to give some reason why, though he had been hitherto frustrated, he might succeed at last.

"We have hitherto, said she, known but little of the world: we have never yet been either great or mean. In our own country, though we had royalty, we had no power, and in this we have not seen the private reces­ses of domestick peace. Imlac favours not our search, lest we should in time find him mistaken. We will divide the task between us: you shall try what is to be found in the splendor of courts, and I will range the shades of humbler life. Perhaps command and au­thority may be the supreme blessings, as they [Page 90] afford most opportunities of doing good: or, perhaps, what this world can give may be found in the modest habitations of middle for­tune; too low for great designs, and too high for penury and distress.

CHAP. XXIV. The prince examines the happiness of high stations.

RASSELAS applauded the design, and appeared next day with a splendid retinue at the court of the Bassa. He was soon dis­tinguished for his magnificence, and admitted, as a prince whose curiosity had brought him from distant countries, to an intimacy with the great officers, and frequent conversation with the Bassa himself.

He was first inclined to believe, that the man must be pleased with his own condition, whom all approached with reverence, and heard with obedience, and who had the power to extend his edicts to a whole kingdom. "There can be no pleasure, said he, equal to that of feeling at once the joy of thousands all made happy by wise administration, Yet, since, by the law of subordination, this sublime delight can be in one nation but the lot of one, it is surely rea­sonable to think there is some satisfaction more popular and accessible, and that millions can hardly be subjected to the will of a single man, [Page 91] only to fill his particular breast with incom­municable content."

These thoughts were often in his mind, and he found no solution of the difficulty. But as presents and civilities gained him more fami­liarity, he found that almost every man that stood high in employment hated all the rest, and was hated by them, and that their lives were a continual succession of plots and detec­tions, stratagems and escapes, faction and treachery. Many of those, who surrounded the Bassa, were sent only to watch and report his conduct; every tongue was muttering cen­sure, and every eye was searching for a fault.

At last the letters of revocation arrived, the Bassa was carried in chains to Constantinople, and his name was mentioned no more.

"What are we now to think of the prero­gatives of power, said Rasselas to his sister; is it without any efficacy to good? or, is the subordinate degree only dangerous, and the supreme safe and glorious? Is the Sultan the only happy man in his dominions? or, is the Sultan himself subject to the torments of sus­picion, and the dread of enemies?"

In a short time the second Bassa was deposed. The Sultan, that had advanced him, was mur­dered by the Janisaries, and his successor had other views and different favourites.

[Page 92]

CHAP. XXV. The princess pursues her enquiry with more diligence than success.

THE princess in the mean time, insinuated herself into many families; for there are few doors, through which liberality, joined with good humour, cannot find its way. The daughters of many houses were airy and chear­ful, but Nekayah had been too long accus­tomed to the conversation of Imlac, and her brother, to be much pleased with childish levity and prattle which had no meaning. She found their thoughts narrow, their wishes low, and their merriment often artificial. Their plea­sures, poor as they were, could not be pre­served pure, but were embittered by petty com­petitions and worthless emulation. They were always jealous of the beauty of each other; of a quality to which solicitude can add nothing, and from which detraction can take nothing away. Many were in love with triflers like themselves, and many fancied that they were in love when in truth they were only idle. Their affection was seldom fixed on sense or virtue, and therefore seldom ended but in vexa­tion. Their grief, however, like their joy, was transient; every thing floated in their mind unconnected with the past or future, so that one desire easily gave way to another, as a second stone cast into the water effaces and confounds the circles of the first.

[Page 93] With these girls she played as with inoffen­sive animals, and found them proud of her countenance, and weary of her company.

But her purpose was to examine more deeply, and her affability easily persuaded the hearts that were swelling with sorrow to discharge their secrets in her ear: and those whom hope flattered, or prosperity delighted, often courted her to partake of their pleasures.

The princess and her brother commonly met in the evening in a private summer-house on the bank of the Nile, and related to each other the occurrences of the day. As they were sitting together, the princess cast her eyes upon the river that flowed before her. "An­swer, said she, great father of waters, thou that rollest thy floods through eighty nations, to the invocations of the daughter of thy native king. Tell me if thou waterest, through all thy course, a single habitation from which thou dost not hear the murmurs of complaint?"

"You are then, said Rasselas, not more successful in private houses than I have been in courts." "I have, since the last partition of our provinces, said the princess, enabled my­self to enter familiarly into many families, where there was the fairest show of prosperity and peace, and know not one house that is not haunted by some fiend that destroys its quiet.

[Page 94] "I did not seek ease among the poor, be­cause I concluded that there it could not be found. But I saw many poor whom I had supposed to live in affluence. Poverty has, in large cities, very different appearances: it is often concealed in splendor, and often in ex­travagance. It is the care of a very great part of mankind to conceal their indigence from the rest: they support themselves by temporary expedients, and every day is lost in contriving for the morrow.

"This, however, was an evil, which, though frequent, I saw with less pain, because I could relieve it. Yet some have refused my bounties; more offended with my quickness to detect their wants, than pleased with my readiness to succour them: and others, whose exigencies compelled them to admit my kind­ness, have never been able to forgive their benefactress. Many however, have been sin­cerely grateful without the ostentation of gra­titude, or the hope of other favours."

THE END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
THE HISTORY OF RASSE …
[Page]

THE HISTORY OF RASSELAS, PRINCE OF ABISSINIA. AN ASIATIC TALE. THE TWO VOLUMES COMPLETE IN ONE.

VOLUME THE SECOND.

The Labour or Exercise of the Body, freeth Men from Pains of the Mind; and 'tis this that constitutes the Happiness of the Poor: For if a Man don't find Ease or Content in himself, and his Rational Employments, and Connections, 'tis in vain to seek it Elsewhere.Duke De La Roche Foucault.

AMERICA: PRINTED FOR EVERY PURCHASER. MDCCLXVIII.

[Page]

THE HISTORY OF RASSELAS, PRINCE OF ABISSINIA.

CHAP. XXVI. The princess continues her remarks upon private life.

NEKAYAH perceiving her brother's attention fixed, proceeded in her narrative.

"In families, where there is or is not po­verty, there is commonly discord: if a kingdom be, as Imlac tells us, a great family, a family likewise is a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions. An unpractised observer expects the love of parents and child­ren to to be constant and equal; but this kind­ness seldom continues beyond the years of in­fancy: in a short time the children become rivals to their parents. Benefits are allayed by reproaches, and gratitude debased by envy.

[Page 98] "Parents and children seldom act in con [...]: each child endeavours to appropriate the esteem or fondness of the parents, and the par­ents, with yet less temptation, betray each other to their children; thus some place their confidence in the father, and some in the mother, and, by degrees, the house is filled with artifices and feuds.

"The opinions of children and parents, of the young and the old, are naturally opposite, by the contrary effects of hope and despon­dence, of expectation and experience, without crime or folly on either side. The colours of life in youth and age appear different, as the face of nature in spring and winter. And how can children credit the assertions of parents, which their own eyes show them to be false?

"Few parents act in such a manner as much to enforce their maxims by the credit of their lives. The old man trusts wholly to slow contrivance and gradual progression: the youth expects to force his way by genius, vig­our, and precipitance. The old man pays regard to riches, and the youth reverences vir­tue. The old man deifies prudence: the youth commits himself to magnanimity and chance. The young man, who intends no ill, believes that none is intended, and therefore acts with openness and candour: but his [...], [Page 99] having suffered the injuries of fraud, is impel­led to suspect, and too often allured to prac­tice it. Age looks with anger on the temerity of youth, and youth with contempt on the scru­pulosity of age. Thus parents and children, for the greatest part, live on to love less and less: and, if those whom nature has thus closely uni­ted are the torments of each other, where shall we look for tenderness and consolation?"

"Surely, said the prince, you must have been unfortunate in your choice of acquain­tance: I am unwilling to believe, that the most tender of all relations is thus impeded in its effects by natural necessity."

"Domestick discord answered she, is not inevitably and fatally necessary; but yet is not easily avoided. We seldom see that a whole family is virtuous: the good and evil cannot well agree; and the evil can yet less agree with one another: even the virtuous fall some­times to variance, when their virtues are of different kinds, and tending to extremes. In general those parents have most reverence who most deserve it: for he that lives well cannot be despised.

Many other evils infest private life. Some are the slaves of servants whom they have trusted with their affairs. Some are kept in [Page 100] continual anxiety to the caprice of rich re­lations, whom they cannot please, and dare not offend. Some husbands are imperious, and some wives perverse: and, as it is always more easy to do evil than good, though the wisdom or virtue of one can very rarely make many happy, the folly or vice of one may often make many miserable."

"If such be the general effect of marriage, said the prince, I shall for the future, think it dangerous to connect my interest with that of another, lest I should be unhappy by my partner's fault."

"I have met, said the princess, with many who live single for that reason; but I never found that their prudence ought to raise envy. They dream away their time without friendship, without fondness, and are driven to rid them­selves of the day, for which they have no use, by childish amusements, or vicious delights. They act as beings under the constant sense of some known inferiority, that fills their minds with rancour, and their tongues with censure. They are peevish at home, and ma­levolent abroad; and, as the out-laws of hu­man nature, make it their business and their pleasure to disturb that society which debars them from its privileges. To live without feeling or exciting sympathy, to be fortunate [Page 101] without adding to the felicity of others, or afflicted without tasting the balm of pity, is a state more gloomy than solitude: it is not re­treat but exclusion from mankind. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no plea­sures."

"What then is to be done? said Rasselas; the more we enquire, the less we can resolve. Surely he is most likely to please himself that has no other inclination to regard."

CHAP. XXVII. Disquisition upon greatness.

THE conversation had a short pause. The prince, having considered his sister's ob­servations, told her, that she had surveyed life with prejudice, and supposed misery where she did not find it "Your narrative, says he, throws yet a darker gloom upon the prospects of futurity: the predictions of Imlac were but faint sketches of the evils painted by Nekayah. I have been lately convinced that quiet is not the daughter of grandeur, or of power: that her presence is not to be bought by wealth, nor enforced by conquest. It is evident, that as any man acts in a wider compass, he must be more exposed to opposition from enmity or miscarriage from chance; whoever has many [Page 102] to please or to govern, must use the ministry of many agents, some of whom will be wicked, and some ignorant; by some he will be misled, and by others betrayed. If he gratifies one he will offend another: those that are not favoured will think themselves injured; and, since fa­vours can be conferred but upon few, the greater number will be always discontented."

"The discontents said the princess, which is thus unreasonable, I hope that I shall always have spirit to despise, and you power to repress."

"Discontent, answered Rasselas, will not always be without reason under the most just or vigilant administration of public affairs. None, however attentive, can always discover that merit which indigence or faction may happen to obscure; and none however power­ful, can always reward it. Yet, he that sees inferior desert advanced above him, will natu­rally impute that preference to partiality or caprice; and, indeed, it can scarcely be hoped that any man, however magnanimous by nature, or exalted by condition, will be able to persist for ever in fixed and inexorable justice of dis­tribution: he will sometimes indulge his own affections, and sometimes those of his favour­rites; he will permit some to please him who can never serve him; he will discover in those [Page 103] whom he loves, qualities which in reality they do not possess; and to those, from whom he receives pleasure, he will in his turn endea­vour to give it. Thus will recommendations sometimes prevail which were purchased by money, or by the more destructive bribery of flattery and servility."

"He that has much to do will do something wrong, and of that wrong must suffer the con­sequences; and, if it were possible that he should always act rightly, yet when such num­bers are to judge of his conduct, the bad will censure and obstruct him by malevolence, and the good sometimes by mistake.

"The highest stations cannot therefore hope to be the abodes of happiness, which I would willingly believe to have fled from thrones and palaces to seats of humble privacy and placid obscurity. For what can hinder the satisfacti­on, or intercept the expectations, of him whose abilities are adequate to his employments, who sees with his own eyes the whole circuit of his influence, who chooses by his own know­ledge all whom he trusts, and whom none are tempted to deceive by hope or fear? Surely he has nothing to do but to love and to be loved, to be virtuous and to be happy."

"Whether perfect happiness would be pro­cured [Page 104] by perfect goodness, said Nekayah, this world will never afford an opportunity of de­ciding. But this, at least, may be maintained, that we do not always find visible happiness in proportion to visible virtue. All natural and al­most all political evils are incident alike to the bad and good: they are confounded in the misery of a famine, and not much distinguished in the fury of a faction; they sink together in a tempest, and are driven together from their country by invaders. All that virtue can afford is quietness of conscience, a steady pro­spect of a happier state; this may enable us to endure calamity with patience; but remember that patience must suppose pain."

CHAP. XXVIII. Rasselas and Nekayah continue their Conversation.

"DEAR princess, said Rasselas, you fall into the common errors of exaggera­tory declamation, by producing, in a familiar disquisition, examples of national calamities, and scenes of extensive misery, which are found in books rather than in the world, and which, as they are horrid, are ordained to be rare. Let us not imagine evils, which we do not feel, nor injure life by misrepresentations. I cannot bear that querulous eloquence which [Page 105] threatens every city with a siege like that of Jerusalem, that makes famine attend on every flight of locusts, and suspends pestilence on the wings of every blast that issues from the south.

"On necessary and inevitable evils, which overwhelm kingdoms at once, all disputation is vain: when they happen they must be en­dured. But it is evident, that these bursts of universal distress are more dreaded than felt: thousands and ten thousands, flourish in youth, and wither in age, without the knowledge of any other than domestick evils, and share the same pleasures and vexations whether their kings are mild or cruel, whether the armies of their country pursue their enemies, or retreat before them. While courts are disturbed with intestine competitions, and embassadors are negotiating in foreign countries, the smith still plies his anvil, and the husbandman drives his plow forward; the necessaries of life are required and obtained, and the successive busi­ness of the seasons continues to make its wonted revolutions."

"Let us cease to consider what, perhaps, may never happen, and what, when it shall happen, will laugh at human speculation. We will not endeavour to modify the motions of the elements, or to fix the destiny of kingdoms. It is our business to consider what beings like [Page 106] us may perform; each labouring for his own happiness, by promoting within his circle, however narrow, the happiness of others.

"Marriage is evidently the dictate of na­ture; men and women were made to be com­panions of each other, and therefore I cannot be persuaded but that marriage is one of the means of happiness."

"I know not, said the princess, whether marriage be more than one of the innumera­ble modes of human misery. When I see and reckon the various forms of connubial infeli­city, the unexpected cause of lasting discord, the diversities of temper, the oppositions of opinion, the rude collisions of contrary desire where both are urged by violent impulses, the obstinate contests of disagreeing virtues, where both are supported by consciousness of good intention, I am sometimes disposed to think with the severer casuist of most nations, that marriage is rather permitted than approved, and that none, but by the instigation of a pas­sion too much indulged, entangle themselves with indissoluble compacts."

"You seem to forget, replied Rasselas, that you have, even now, represen [...]ed celibacy as less happy than marriage. Both conditions may be bad, but they cannot both be worst. Thus [Page 107] it happens when wrong opinions are entertain­ed, that they mutually destroy each other, and leave the mind open to truth."

"I did not expect, answered the princess to hear that imputed to falsehood which is the consequence only of frailty. To the mind, as to the eye, it is difficult to compare with ex­actness objects vast in their extent, and various in their parts. Where we see or conceive the whole at once we readily note the discriminati­ons and decide the preference: but of two systems, of which neither can be surveyed by any human being in its full compass of magni­tude and multiplicity of complication, where is the wonder, that judging of the whole by parts, I am affected by one or the other as either presses on my memory or fancy? We differ from ourselves just as we differ from each other, when we see only part of the question, as in the multifarious relations of politicks and morality: but when we perceive the whole at once, as in numerical computations, all agree in one judgement, and none ever varles his opinion."

"Let us not add, said the prince, to the other evils of life, the bitterness of controversy, nor endeavour to vie with each other in subtil­ties of arguments. We are employed in a search, of which both are equally to enjoy the [Page 108] success, or suffer by the miscarriage. It is there­fore fit that we assist each other. You surely conclude too hastily from the infelicity of mar­riage against its institution. Will not the misery of life prove equally that life cannot be the gift of heaven? The world must be peo­pled by marriage, or peopled without it."

"How the world is to be peopled, returned Nekayah, is not my care, and needs not be yours. I see no danger that the present gene­ration should omit to leave successors behind them: we are not now enquiring for the world, but for ourselves."

CHAP. XXIX. The debate on marriage continued.

"THE good of the whole says Rasselas, is the same with the good of all its parts. If marriage be best for mankind it must be evidently best for individuals, or a permanent and necessary duty must be the cause of evil, and some must be inevitably sacrificed to the convenience of others. In the estimate which you have made of the two states, it ap­pears that the incommodities of a single life are, in a great measure, necessary and, certain, but those of the conjugal state accidental and avoidable.

[Page 109] "I cannot forbear to flatter myself that prudence and benevolence will make marriage happy. The general folly of mankind is the cause of general complaint. What can be expected but disappointment and repentance from a choice made in the immaturity of youth, in the ardour of desire, without judgment, without foresight, without enquiry after con­formity of opinions, similarity of manners, rectitude of judgment, or purity of sentiment.

"Such is the common process of marriage. A youth and maiden meeting by chance, or brought together by artifice, exchange glances, reciprocate civilities, go home, and dream of one another. Having little to divert attention, or diversity of thought, they find themselves uneasy when they are apart, and therefore con­clude that they shall be happy together. They marry, and discover what nothing but voluntary blindness had before concealed; they wear out life in altercations, and charge nature with cruelty.

"From those early marriages proceeds likewise the rivalry of parents and children: the son is eager to enjoy the world before the father is willing to forsake it, and there is hardly room at once for two generations. The daughters begins to bloom before the mother [Page 110] can be content to fade, and neither can forbear to wish for the absence of the other.

"Surely all these evils may be avoided by that deliberation and delay which prudence prescribes to irrevocable choice. In the variety and jollity of youthful pleasures, life may be well enough supported without the help of a partner. Longer time will encrease experience, and wider views will allow better opportunities of enquiry and selection: one advantage, at least, will be certain; the parents will be visibly older than their children."

"What reason cannot collect, said Nekayah, and what experiment has not yet taught, can be known only from the report of others. I have been told that late marriages are not emi­nently happy. This is a question too impor­tant to be neglected, and I have often pro­posed it to those, whose accuracy of remark, and comprehensiveness of knowledge, made their suffrages worthy of regard. They have generally determined, that it is dangerous for a man and woman to suspend their fate upon each other, at a time when opinions are fixed, and habits are established; when friendships have been contracted on both sides, when life has been planned into method, and the mind has long enjoyed the contemplation of its own prospects.

[Page 111] "It is scarcely possible that two travelling through the world under the conduct of chance, should have been both directed to the same path, and it will not often happen that either will quit the track which custom has made pleasing. When the desultory levity of youth has settled into regularity, it is soon succeeded by pride ashamed to yield, or obsti­nacy delighting to contend. And even though mutual esteem produces mutual desires to please, time itself as it modifies unchangeably the external mien, determines likewise the direction of the passions, and gives an inflexible rigidity to the manners. Long customs are not easily broken: he that attempts to change the course of his own life, very often labours in vain; and how shall we do that for others, which we are seldom able to do for ourselves."

"But surely, interposed the prince, you suppose the chief motive of choice forgotten or neglected. Whenever I shall seek a wife, it shall be my first question, whether she be will­ing to be led by reason."

"Thus it is, said Nekayah, that philoso­phers are deceived. There are a thousand familiar disputes which reason never can de­cide; questions that elude investigation, and make logick ridiculous; cases where something must be done, and where little can be said. [Page 112] Consider the state of mankind, and enquire how few can be supposed to act upon any occasion whether small or great, with all the reasons of action present to their minds. Wretched would be the pair above all names of wretchedness, who should be doomed to adjust by reason every morning all the minute detail of a domestick day.

"Those who marry at an advanced age, will probably escape the encroachments of their children; but, in diminution of this advantage, they will be likely to leave them, ignorant and helpless, to a guardian's mercy: or, if that should not happen, they must at least go out of the world before they see those whom they love best either wise or great.

"From their children, if they have less to fear, they have less also to hope, and they lose, without equivalent, the joys of early love, and the convenience of uniting with manners pliant, and minds susceptible of new impressions, which might wear away their dissimilitudes by long cohabitation, as soft bodies, by continual attrition, conform their surfaces to each other.

"I believe it will be found that those who marry late are best pleased with their children, and those who marry early with their partners."

[Page 113] "The union of these two affections, said Rasselas, would produce all that could be wished. Perhaps there is a time when marriage might unite them, a time neither too early for the father, nor too late for the husband."

"Every hour, answered the princess, con­firms my prejudice in favour of the position so often uttered by the mouth of Imlac, 'That nature sets her gifts on the right hand and on the left." Those conditions, which flatter hope and attract desire, are so constituted, that, as we approach one, we recede from another. There are goods so opposed that we cannot seize both, but, by too much prudence, may pass between them at too great a distance to reach either. This is often the fate of long consideration; he does nothing who endea­vours to do more than is allowed to humanity. Flatter not yourself with contrarieties of plea­sure. Of the blessings set before you make your choice, and be content. No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delight­ing his scent with the flowers of the spring: no man can, at the same time, fill his cup from the source, and from the mouth of the Nile."

[Page 114]

CHAP. XXX. Imlac enters, and changes the conversation.

HERE Imlac entered, and interrupted them. His look was clouded with thought. "Imlac, said Rasselas, I have been hearing from the princess the dismal history of private life, and am almost discouraged from further search."

"It seems to me, said Imlac, that while you are making the choice of life, you ne­glect to live. You wander about a single city, which, however large and diversified, can now afford few novelties, and forget that you are in a country, famous among the earliest monarchies for the power and wisdom of its inhabitants: a country where the sciences first dawned that illuminate the world, and beyond which the arts cannot be traced of civil society or domestick life.

"The old Egyptians have left behind them monuments of Industry and power before which all European magnificence is confessed to fade away. The ruins of their architecture are the schools of modern builders, and from the won­ders which time has spared we may conjecture, though uncertainly, what it has destroyed."

[Page 115] "My curiosity, said Rasselas, does not very strongly lead me to survey piles of stone, or mounds of earth; my business is with man. I came hither not to measure fragments of temples, or trace choaked aqueducts, but to look upon the various scenes of the present world."

"The things that are now before us, said the princess, necessarily require attention, and sufficiently deserve it. What have I to do with the heroes or the monuments of ancient times? with times wich [...]ver can return, and her [...] whose form of life was different from all [...] the present condition of mankind requires, [...] allows."

"To know any thing, returned the poet, we must know its effects; to see men we must see their works, that we may learn what reason has dictated, or passion has incited, and find what are the most powerful motives of action. To judge rightly of the present we must oppose it to the past; for all judgement is compara­tive, and of the future nothing can be known. The truth is, that no mind is much employed upon the present: recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments. Our passions are joy and grief, love and hatred, hope and fear. Of joy and grief the past is the object and the future of hope and fear; even love and [Page 116] hatred respect the past, for the cause must have been before the effect.

"The present state of things is the conse­quence of the former, and it is natural to in­quire what were the sources of the good that we enjoy, or of the evil that we suffer. If we act only for ourselves, to neglect the study of history, is not prudent: if we are entrusted with the cares of others, it is not just. Igno­rance, when it is voluntary, is criminal; and he may properly be charged with evil, who refused to learn how he might prevent it.

"There is no part of history so generally useful as that which relates the progress of the human mind, the gradual improvement of rea­son, the successive advances of science, the vi­cissitudes of learning and ignorance, which are the light and darkness of thinking beings, the extinction and resuscitation of arts, and all the revolutions of the intellectual world. If ac­counts of battles and invasions are peculiarly the business of princes, the useful or elegant arts, are not to be neglected; those who have kingdoms to govern, have understandings to cultivate.

"Example is always more efficacious than pr [...]c [...]ept. A soldier is formed in war, and a painter must copy pictures. In this, contem­plative [Page 117] life has the advantage: great actions are seldom seen, but the labours of art are al­ways at hand, for those who desire to know what art has been able to perform.

"When the eye or the imagination is struck with any uncommon work the next transition of an active mind is to the means by which it was performed. Here begins the true use of such contemplation; we enlarge our compre­hension by new ideas, and perhaps recover some art lost to mankind, or learn what is less perfectly known in our own country. At least we compare our own with former times, and either rejoce at our improvements, or, what is the first motion towards good, discover our defects.

"I am willing said the prince, to see all that can deserve my search." And I, said the princess, shall rejoice to learn something of the manners of antiquity."

"The most pompous monument of Egyp­tian greatness, and one of the most bulky works of manual industry, said Imlac, are the pyramids; fabricks raised before the time of history, and of which the earliest narratives afford us only uncertain traditions. Of these the greatest is still standing, very little injured by time.

[Page 118] "Let us visit them to-morrow, said Ne­kayah. I have often heard of the Pyramids, and shall not rest till I have seen them within and without with my own eyes."

CHAP. XXXI. They visit the Pyramids.

THE resolution being thus taken, they set out the next day. They laid tents upon their camels, being resolved to stay among the pyramids till their curiosity was fully satisfied. They travelled gently, turned aside to every thing remarkable, stopped from time to time and conversed with the inhabitants, and observed the various appearances of towns ruined and inhabited, of wild and cultivated nature.

"When they came to the great pyramid they were astonished at the extent of the base, and the height of the top. Imlac explained to them the principles upon which the pyramidi­cal form was chosen for a fabrick intended to co-extend its duration with that of the world: he showed that its gradual diminution gave it such stability, as defeated all the common at­tacks of the elements, and could scarcely [...] overthrown by earthquakes themselves, the east resistible of natural violence. A concussion [Page 119] that should shatter the Pyramid, would threaten the dissolution of the continent.

They measured all its dimensions, and pitch­ed their tents at its foot. Next day they pre­pared to enter its interior apartments, and having hired the common guides climbed up to the first passage, when the favourite of the princess, looking into the cavity, stepped back and trembled. "Pekuah, said the princess, of what art thou afraid?" "Of the narrow entrance, answered the lady, and of the dread­ful gloom. I dare not enter a place which must surely be inhabited by unquiet souls. The original possessors of these dreadful vaults will start up before us, and, perhaps, shut us up for ever. She spoke and threw, her arms round the neck of her mistress.

"If all your fear be of apparitions, said the prince, I will promise you safety: there is no danger from the dead: he that is once buried will be seen no more."

"That the dead are seen no more, said Imlac, I will not undertake to maintain against the concurrent and unvaried testimony of all ages and nations. There is no people, rude [...], learned, among whom apparitions of the dead are not related and believed. This opinion [...] which perhaps, prevails as far as hu­man [Page 120] nature is diffussed, could become universal only by its truth: those, that never heard of one another, would not have agreed in a tale which nothing but experience can make credi­ble. That it is doubted by single cavillers can very little weaken the general evidence; and some who deny it with their tongues confess it by their fears.

"Yet I do not mean to add new terrors to those which have already seized upon Pekuah. There can be no reason why spectres should haunt the pyramid more than other places, or why they should have power or will to hurt innocence and purity. Our entrance is no violation of their privileges; we can take no­thing from them, how then can we offend them."

"My dear Pekuah, said the princess, I will always go before you, and Imlac shall follow you. Remember that you are the companion of the princess of Abissinia."

"If the princess is pleased that her servant should die, returned the lady, let her com­mand some death less dreadful than enclosure in this horrid cavern. You know I dare not disobey you: I must go if you command me, but if I once enter I never shall come back."

[Page 121] "The princess saw that her fear was too strong for expostulation or reproof, and em­bracing her, told her that she should stay in the tent till their return. Pekuah was yet not satisfied, but entreated the princess not to pur­sue so dreadful a purpose as that of entering the recesses of the pyramid. "Though I cannot teach courage, said, Nekayah, I must not learn cowardice; nor leave at last undone what I came hither only to do."

CHAP. XXXII. They enter the Pyramid.

PEKUAH descended to the tents, and the rest entered the pyramid: they passed through the galleries, surveyed the vaults of marble, and examined the chest in which the body of the founder is supposed to have been reposited. They then sat down in one of the most spacious chambers to rest a while before they attempted to return.

"We have now, said Imlac, gratified our minds with an exact view of the greatest work of man, except the wall of China.

Of the wall it is very easy to assign the mo [...]. It secured a wealthy and timorous nation from the incursions of Barbarians, whose un­skilfulness [Page 122] in arts, made it easier for them to supply their wants by rapine than by industry, and who from time to time poured in upon the habitations of peaceful commerce, as vul­tures descend upon domestic fowl. Their ce­lerity and fierceness made the wall necessary, and their ignorance made it efficacious.

"But for the pyramids no reason has ever been given adequate to the cost and labour of the work. The narrowness of the chambers proves that it could afford no retreat from ene­mies, and treasures might have been reposited at far less expence, with equal security. It seems to have been erected only in compliance with that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always ap­peased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy, must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use, till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity, and extend his plan to the utmost power of human performance, that he may not be soon reduced to form another wish.

"I consider this mighty structure as a mo­nument of the insufficiency of human enjoy­ments. A king whose power is unlimited, and whose treasures surmount all real and [...] wants, is compelled to solace, [...] the erection of a pyramid, the satiety of dominion [Page 123] and tastelesness of pleasures, and to amuse the tediousness of declining life, by seeing thousands labouring without end, and one stone, for no purpose, laid upon another. Whoever thou art, that, not content with a moderate con­dition, imaginest happiness in royal magnifi­cence, and dreamest that command or riches can feed the appetite of novelty with successive gratifications, survey the pyramids, and confess thy folly!"

CHAP. XXXIII. The princess meets with an unexpected misfortune.

THEY rose up, and returned through the cavity at which they had entered, and the princess prepared for her favourite a long narrative of dark labyrinths, and costly rooms, and of the different impressions which the varieties of the way had made upon her. But, when they came to their train, they found every one silent and dejected: the men discovered shame and fear in their countenances, and the women were weeping in the tents.

What had happened they did not try to conjecture, but immediately enquired. "You had scarcely entered into the pyramid, said one of the attendants, when a troop of Arabs rushed upon us: we were too few to resist [Page 124] them, and too slow to escape. They were about to search the tents, set us on our camels, and drive us along before them, when the ap­proach of some Turkish horsemen put them to flight; but they seized the lady Pekuah with her two maids, and carried them away: the Turks are now pursuing them by our insti­gation, but I fear they will not be able to overtake them."

"The princess was overpowered with sur­prise and grief. Rasselas in the first heat of his resentment, ordered his servants to follow him and prepared to pursue the robbers with his sa­bre in his hand. "Sir, said Imlac, what can you hope from violence or valour? the Arabs are mounted on horses trained to battle and retreat; we have only beasts of burthen. By leaving our present station we may lose the princess, but cannot hope to regain Pekuah."

In a short time the Turks returned, having not been able to reach the enemy. The princess burst out into new lamentations, and Rasselas could scarcely forbear to reproach them with cowardice; but Imlac was of opinion, that the escape of the Arabs was no addition to their misfortune, for perhaps, they would have killed their captives rather than have re­signed them.

[Page 125]

CHAP. XXXIV. They return to Cairo without Pekuah.

THERE was nothing to be hoped from longer stay. They returned to Cairo repenting of their curiosity, censuring the negligence of the government, lamenting their own rashness which had neglected to procure a guard, imagining many expedients, by which the loss of Pekuah might have been prevented, and resolving to do something for her recovery, though none could find any thing proper to be done.

Nekayah retired to her chamber where her women attempted to comfort her, by telling her that all had their troubles, and that lady Pekuah had enjoyed much happiness in the world for a long time, and might reasonably expect a change of fortune. They hoped that some good would befal her wheresoever she was, and that their mistress would find another friend who might supply her place.

The princess made them no answer, and they continued the form of condolance, not much grieved in their hearts that the favourite was lost.

[Page 126] Next day the prince presented to the Bassa a memorial of the wrong which he had suffered, and a petition for redress. The Bassa threatened to punish the robbers, but did not attempt to catch them, nor, indeed, could any account or description to given by which he might di­rect the pursuit.

It soon appeared that nothing would be done by authority. Governors, being ac­customed to hear of more crimes than they can punish, and more wrongs than they can redress, set themselves at ease by indiscrimi­nate negligence, and presently forget the request where they lose sight of the petitioner.

Imlac then endeavoured to gain some in­telligence by private agents. He found many who pretended to an exact knowledge of all the haunts of the Arabs, and to regular corres­pondence with their chiefs, and who readily undertook the recovery of Pekuah. Of these, some were furnished with money for their journey, and came back no more; some were liberally paid for accounts which a few days discovered to be false. But the princess would not suffer any means however, improbable to be left untried. While she was doing some­thing she kept her hope alive as one expedi­ent failed, another was suggested; when one messenger returned unsuccessful, another was dispatched to a different quarter.

[Page 127] Two months had now passed, and of Pe­kuah nothing had been heard; the hopes which they had endeavoured to raise in each other grew more languid, and the princess when she saw nothing more to be tried, sunk down inconsolable in hopeless dejection. A thousand times she reproached herself with the easy com­pliance by which she permitted her favourite to stay behind her. "Had not my fondness, said she, lessened my authority, Pekuah had not dared to talk of her terrors. She ought to have feared me more than spectres. A severe look would have overpowered her; a peremptory command would have compelled obedience. Why did foolish indulgence pre­vail upon me? Why did I not speak and refuse to hear?"

"Great princess, said Imlac, do not re­proach yourself for your virtue, or consider that as blameable by which evil has acciden­tally been caused. Your tenderness for the timidity of Pekuah was generous and kind. When we act according to our duty, we com­mit the event to him by whose laws our actions are governed, and who will suffer none to be finally punished for obedience. When, in prospect of some good, whether natural or [...] we break the rules prescribed us, we [...] from the direction of superior wis­dom, and take all consequences upon our­selves. [Page 128] Man cannot so far know the connection of causes and events, as that he may venture to do wrong in order to do right. When we pursue our end by lawful means, we may always console our miscarriage by the hope of future recompence. When we consult only our own policy, and attempt to find a nearer way to good, by overleaping the settled boun­daries of right and wrong, we cannot be hap­py even by success, because we cannot escape the consciousness of our fault; but if we mis­carry, the disappointment is irremediably em­bittered. How comfortless is the sorrow of him, who feels at once the pangs of guilt, and the vexation of calamity which guilt has brought upon him?

"Consider, princess, what would have been your condition, if the lady Pekuah had in­treated to accompany you, and being compel­led to stay in the tents, had been carried away; or how would you have borne the thought, if you had forced her into the pyramid, and she had died before you in agonies of terror."

"Had either happened, said Nekayah, I could not have endured life till now: I should have been tortured to madness by the remem­brance of such cruelty, or must have [...] away in abhorence of myself."

[Page 129] "This at least, said Imlac, is the present reward of virtuous conduct, that no unlucky consequence can oblige us to repent it."

CHAP. XXXV. The princess continues to lament Pekuah.

NEKAYAH, being thus reconciled to herself, found that no evil is insup­portable but that which is accompanied with consciousness of wrong. She was, from that time, delivered from the violence of tempes­tuous sorrow, and sunk into silent pensiveness and gloomy tranquillity. She sat from morn­ing to evening recollecting all that had been done or said by her Pekuah, treasured up with care every trifle on which Pekuah had set an accidental value, and which might re­call to mind any little incident or careless conversation. The sentiments of her, whom she now expected to see no more, were treasured up in her memory as rules of life, and she deliberated to no other end than to conjecture on any occasion, what would have been the opinion and counsel of Pekuah.

The women by whom she was attended, knew nothing of her real condition, and there­ [...] she could not talk to them but with cauti­on and reserve. She began to remit her curiosity, [Page 130] having no great care to collect notions which she had no convenience of uttering. Rasselas endeavoured first to comfort and afterwards to divert her; he hired musicians, to whom she seemed to listen, but did not hear them, and procured masters to instruct her in various arts, whose lectures, when they visited her again, were again to be repeated. She had lost her taste of pleasure and her ambition of excellence. And her mind, though forced into short excursions, always recurred to the image of her friend.

Imlac was every morning earnestly enjoined to renew his enquiries, and was asked every night whether he had yet heard of Pekuah, till not being able to return the princess the answer that she desired, he was less and less willing to come into her presence. She ob­served his backwardness, and commanded him to attend her. "You are not, said she, to confound impatience with resentment, or to suppose that I charge you with negligence, because I repine at your unsuccessfulness. I do not much wonder at your absence; I know that the unhappy are never pleasing, and that all naturally avoid the contagion of misery. To hear complaints is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy; for who would cloud by adventitious grief the short gleams of gaiety which life allows us? or who, that is [Page 131] struggling under his own evils, will add to them the miseries of another?

"The time is at hand, when none shall be disturbed any longer by the sighs of Nekayah: my search after happiness is now at an end. I am resolved to retire from the world with all its flatteries and deceits, and will hide myself [...]in solitude, without any other care than to compose my thoughts, and regulate my hours by a constant succession of innocent occupations, till with a mind purified from all earthly desires, I shall enter into that state, to which all are hastening, and in which I hope again to enjoy the friendship of Pekuah."

"Do not entangle your mind said Imlac, by irrevocable determinations, nor increase the burden of life by a voluntary accumulation of misery; the weariness of retirement will con­tinue or increase when the loss of Pekuah is forgotten. That you have been deprived of one pleasure is no very good reason for re­jection of the rest."

"Since Pekuah was taken from me, said the princess, I have no pleasure to reject or to retain. She that, has no one to love or trust has little to hope. She wants the radical principle of happiness. We may per­haps, allow that what satisfaction this world [Page 132] can afford, must arise from the conjunction of wealth, knowledge and goodness: wealth is nothing but as it is bestowed, and knowledge nothing but as it is communicated. Goodness affords the only comfort which can be en­joyed without a partner, and goodness may be practised in retirement."

"How far solitude may admit goodness, or advance it, I shall not, replied Imlac, dispute at present. Remember the confession of the pious hermit. You will wish to return into the world when the image of your companion has left your thoughts." "That time said Nekayah, will never come. The generous frankness, the modest obsequiousness, and the faithful secrecy of my dear Pekuah, will always be more missed as I shall live longer to see vice and folly."

"The state of a mind oppressed with a sud­den calamity, said Imlac, is like that of the fabulous inhabitants of the new created earth, who, when the first night came upon them, supposed that the day never would return. When the clouds of sorrow gather over us, we see nothing beyond them, nor can imagine how they will be dispelled: yet a new day succeeded to the night, and sorrow is never long without a dawn of ease. But they who [Page 133] restrain themselves from receiving comfort, do as the savages would have done, had they put out their eyes when it was dark. Our minds, like our bodies, are in continual flux; something is hourly lost, and something ac­quired. To lose much at once is inconvenient to either, but while the vital powers remain uninjured, nature will find the means of re­paration. Distance has the same effect o [...] the mind as on the eye, and while we glide along the stream of time, whatever we leave be­hind us is always lessening, and that which we approach increasing in magnitude. Do not suffer life to stagnate; it will grow mud­dy for want of motion: commit yourself again to the current of the world; The remem­brance of Pekuah will vanish by degrees; you will meet in your way some other favourite, or learn to diffuse yourself in general conver­sation."

"At least, said the prince, do not despair before all remedies have been tried: the enquiry after the unfortunate lady is still con­tinued, and shall be carried on with yet greater diligence, on condition that you will promise to wait a year for the event, without any un­alterable resolution."

Nekayah thought this a reasonable demand, and made the promise to her brother, who had been advised by Imlac, to require [...] [Page 134] Imlac had indeed, no great hope of regaining Pekuah, but he supposed, that if he could secure the interval of a year, the princess would be then in no danger of a cloister.

CHAP. XXXVI. Pekuah is still remembered by the princess.

NEKAYAH, seeing that nothing was omitted for the recovery of her favourite, and having by her promise, set her intention of retirement at a distance began impercepti­bly to return to common cares and common pleasures. She rejoiced without her own con­sent at the suspension of her sorrows, and sometimes caught herself with indignation in the act of turning away her mind from the remembrance of her, whom yet she resolved never to forget.

She then appointed a certain hour of the day for meditation on the merits and fondness of Pekuah, and for some weeks retired con­stantly at the time fixed, and returned with her eyes swollen and her countenance clouded. By degrees she grew less scrupulous, and suf­fered any important and pressing avocation to delay the tribute of daily tears. She then yielded to less occasions; sometimes forgot what she was indeed afraid to remember, and [Page 135] at last, wholly released herself from the duty of periodical affliction.

Her real love of Pekuah was yet not di­minished. A thousand occurrences brought her back to memory, and a thousand wants, which nothing but the confidence of friendship can supply, made her frequently regretted. She, therefore, solicited Imlac never to de­sist from inquiry, and to leave no art of in­telligence untried, that at least, she might have the comfort of knowing, that she did not suf­fer by negligence or sluggishness. "Yet what, said she, is to be expected from our pursuit of happiness, when we find the state of life to be such, that happiness itself is the cause of misery? Why should we endeavour to at­tain that, of which the possession cannot be secured? I shall hence forward fear to yield my heart to excellence, however bright, or to fondness, however tender, lest I should lose again what I have lost in Pekuah.

CHAP. XXXVII. The princess hears news of Pekuah.

IN seven months, one of the messengers, who had been sent away upon the day when the promise was drawn from the princess, returned, after many unsuccessful rambles, from the [Page 136] borders of Nubia, with an account that Pekuah was in the hands of an Arab chief, who pos­sessed a castle or fortress on the extremity of Egypt. The Arab, whose revenue was plun­der, was willing to restore her, with her two attendants, for two hundred ounces of gold.

The price was no subject of debate. The princess was in extasies when she heard that her favourite was alive, and might so cheaply be ransomed. She could not think of delaying for a moment Pekuah's happiness or her own, but entreated her brother to send back the messenger with the sum required. Imlac, being consulted, was not very confident of the veracity of the relator, and was still more doubtful of the Arab's faith, who might, if he were too liberally trusted, detain at once the money and the captives. He thought it dangerous to put themselves in the power of the Arab, by going into his district, and could not expect that the Arab would so much expose himself as to come into the lower coun­try, where he might be seized by the forces of the Bassa.

It is difficult to negotiate where neither will trust. But Imlac, after some deliberation, directed the messenger to propose that Pekuah should be conducted by ten horsemen to the [Page 137] monastery of St. Antony, which is situated in the deserts of Upper-Egypt, where she should be met by the same number, and her ransome should be paid.

That no time might be lost, as they expected that the proposal would not be refused, they immediately began their journey to the monastery; and, when they arrived, Imlac went forward with the former messenger to the Arab's fortress. Rasselas was desirous to go with them, but neither his sister nor Imlac would consent. The Arab, according to the custom of his nation, observed the laws of hospitality with great exactness to those who put themselves into his power, and, in a few days, brought Pekuah with her maids, by easy journeys, to their place appointed, where he received the stipulated price, and, with great respect, restored her to liberty and her friends, and undertook to conduct them back towards Cairo beyond all danger of robbery or violence.

The princess and her favourite [...] each other with transport too violent to be expressed, and went out together to pour the tears of tenderness in secret, and exchange professions of kindness and gratitude. After a few hours they returned into the refectory of the convent, where, in the presence of the prior and his brethren, the prince required of Pekuah the history of her adventures.

[Page 138]

CHAP. XXXVIII. The adventures of the lady Pekuah.

"AT what time, and in what manner, I was forced away said Pekuah, your servants have told you. The suddenness of the event struck me with surprise, and I was at first rather stupified than agitated with any passion of either fear or sorrow. My confu­sion was increased by the speed and tumult of our flight while we were followed by the Turks, who as it seemed, soon despaired to overtake us, or were afraid of those whom they made a shew of menacing.

"When the Arabs saw themselves out of danger they slackened their course, and, as I was less harrassed by external violence, I be­gan to feel more uneasiness in my mind. After some time we stopped near a spring shaded with trees in a pleasant meadow, where we were [...]t upon the ground, and offered such re­freshments as our masters were partaking. I was suffered to sit with my maids apart from the rest, and none attempted to comfort or insult us. Here I first began to feel the full weight of my misery. The girls sat weeping in silence, and from time to time looked up to me for succour. I knew not to what condition [Page 139] we were doomed, nor could conjecture where would be the place of our captivity, or whence to draw any hope of deliverance. I was in the hands of robbers and savages, and had no reason to suppose that their pity was more than their justice, or that they would for­bear the gratification of any ardour of desire, or caprice of cruelty. I, however, kissed my maids, and endeavoured to pacify them by remarking, that we were yet treated with de­cency, and that, since we were now carried be­yond pursuit, there was no danger of violence to our lives.

"When we were to be set again on horse­back, my maids clung round me, and refused to be parted, but I commanded them not to irritate those who had us in their power. We travelled the remaining part of the day through an unfrequented and pathless country, and came by moonlight to the side of a hill, where the rest of the troop was stationed. Their tents were pitched, and their fires kindled, and our chief was welcomed as a man much beloved by his dependants.

"We were received into a large tent, where we found women who had attended their hus­bands in the expedition. They set before us the supper which they had provided, and I eat it rather to encourage my maids, than to com­ply [Page 140] with any appetite of my own. When the meat was taken away they spread the carpets for repose. I was weary, and hoped to find in sleep that remission of distress which nature seldom denies. Ordering myself there­fore to be undressed, I observed that the wo­men looked very earnestly upon me, not ex­pecting, I supposed, to see me so submissively attended. When my upper vest was taken off, they were apparently struck with the splendor of my cloaths, and one of them timorously laid her hand upon the embroidery. She then went out, and, in a short time, came back with another woman, who seemed to be of higher rank, and greater authority. She did, at her entrance, the usual act of reverence, and, taking me by the hand, placed me in a smaller tent, spread with finer carp [...]ts, where I spent the night quietly with my maids.

"In the morning, as I was sitting on the grass, the chief of the troop came towards me: I rose up to receive him, and he bowed with great respect. "Illustrious lady, said he, my fortune is better than I had presumed to hope; I am told by my women, that I have a princess in my camp." Sir, answered I, your women have deceived themselves and you; I am not a princess, but an unhappy stranger who intended soon to have lest this country, in which I am now to be imprisoned for ever. [Page 141] Whoever, or whencesoever, you are, returned the Arab, your dress, and that of your servants, shew your rank to be high, and your wealth to be great. Why should you, who can so easily procure your ransome, think yourself in danger of perpetual captivity? The purpose of my incursions is to encrease my riches, or more properly to gather tribute. The sons of Ishmael are the natural and hereditary lords of this part of the continent, which is usurped by late invaders, and low-born tyrants, from whom we are compelled to take by the sword what is denied to justice. The violence of war admits no distinction; the lance that is lifted at guilt and power, will sometimes fall on innocence and gentleness."

"How little, said I, did I expect that yester­day it should have fallen upon me."

"Misfortunes, answered the Arab, should always be expected. If the eye of hostility could have learned to spare, excellence like yours had been exempt from injury. But [...] angels of affliction spread their tolls alike for the virtuous and the wicked, for the mighty and the mean. Do not be disconsolate; I am not one of the lawless and cruel rovers of the desert; I know the rules of civil life; I will fix your ransome, give a passport to your mes­senger, and perform my stipulation with nice punctuality.

[Page 142] "You will easily believe that I was pleased with his courtesy; and finding that his predo­minant passion was desire of money, I began now to think my danger less, for I knew that no sum would be thought too great for the release of Pekuah. I told him that he should have no reason to charge me with ingratitude, if I was used with kindness, and that any ran­some, which could be expected for a maid of common rank, would be paid, but that he must not persist to rate me as a princess. He said, he would consider what he should de­mand, and then, smiling, bowed and retired.

"Soon after the women came about me, each contending to be more officious than the other, and my maids themselves were served with reverence. We travelled onward by short journeys. On the fourth day the chief told me, that my ransome must be two hundred ounces of gold, which I not only promised him, but told him, that I would add fifty more, if I and my maids were honourably treated.

"I never knew the power of gold before. From that time I was the leader of the troop. The march of every day was longer or shorter as I commanded, and the tents were pitched where I chose to rest. We now had camels and other conveniencies for travel, my own women [Page 143] were always at my side, and I amused myself with observing the manners of the vagrant nati­ons, and with viewing remains of ancient edi­fices with which these deserted countries ap­pear to have been, in some distant age, lavishly embellished.

"The chief of the band was a man far from illiterate: he was able to travel by the stars or the compass, and had marked in his erratick expeditions such places as are most worthy the notice of a passenger. He observed to me, that buildings are always best preserved in places little frequented, and difficult of ac­cess: for when once a country declines from its primitive splendor, the more inhabitants are left, the quicker ruin will be made. Walls supply stones more easily than quarries, and palaces and temples will be demolished to make stables of granate, and cottages of porphyry.

CHAP. XXXIX. The adventures of Pekuah continued.

WE wandered about in this manner for some weeks, whether, as our chief pretended, for my gratification, or, as I ra­ther suspected, for some convenience of his own. I endeavoured to appear contented [Page 144] where sullenness and resentment would have been of no use, and that endeavour conduced much to the calmness of my mind; but my heart was always with Nekayah, and the trou­bles of the night much over-balanced the amusements of the day. My women, who threw all their cares upon their mistress, set their minds at ease from the time when they saw me treated with respect, and gave them­selves up to the incidental alleviations of our fatigue without solicitude or sorrow. I was pleased with their pleasure, and animated with their confidence. My condition had lost much of its terror, since I found that the Arab ranged the country merely to get riches. Avarice is an uniform and tractable vice: other intellectual distempers are different in different constitutions of mind; that which sooths the pride of one will offend the pride of another; but to the favour of the covetuous there is a ready way, bring money and nothing is denied.

"At last we came to the dwelling of our chief, a strong and spacious house built with stone in an island of the Nile, which lies, as I was told, under the tropick. "La [...]y, said the Arab, you shall rest a few weeks after your journey in thi [...] place, where you are to consider yourself as sovereign My occupation is war: I have therefore chosen this obscure residence, from which I can issue unexpected, [Page 145] and to which I can retire unpursued. You may now repose in security: here are few pleasures, but here is no danger." He then led me into the inner apartments, and seating me in the place of honour bowed to the ground. His women, who considered me as a rival, looked on me with malignity; but be­ing soon informed that I was a great lady de­tained only for my ransome, they began to vie with each other in obsequiousness and re­verence.

"Being again comforted with new assurances, of speedy liberty, I was for some days diverted from impatience by the novelty of the place. The turrets overlooked the country to a great distance, and afforded a view of many windings of the stream. In the day I wandered from one place to another, as the course of the sun varied the splendor of the prospect, and saw many things which I had never seen before. The crocodiles and river-horses were common in this unpeopled region, and I often looked upon them with terror, though I knew that they could not hurt me. For some time I expected to see merma [...]ds and tritons, which, as Imlac has told me, the European travellers have stationed in the Nile, but no such beings ever appeared, and the Arab, when I en­quired after them, laughed at my credulity.

[Page 146] "At night the Arab always attended me to a tower set apart for celestial observations, where he endeavoured to teach me the names and courses of the stars. I had no great in­clination to this study, but an appearance of attention was necessary to please my instructor, who valued himself for his skill, and in a little while, I found some employment requisite to beguile the tediousness of time, which was to be passed always amidst the same objects. I was weary of looking in the morning on things from which I had turned away weary in the evening: I therefore was at last willing to ob­serve the stars rather than do nothing, but could not always compose my thoughts, and was very often thinking on Nekayah when others imagined me contemplating the sky. Soon after the Arab went upon another ex­pedition, and then my only pleasure was to talk with my maids about the accident by which▪ we were carried away, and the happiness that we should all enjoy at the end of our captivity.

"There were women in your Arab's fortress, said the princess, why did you not make them your companions, enjoy their conversation, and partake their diversions? In a place where they found business or amusement, why should you alone sit co [...]ro [...]ed with idle melancholy? or why could not you bear for a few months, [Page 147] that condition to which they were condemned for life?"

"The diversions of the women, answered Pekuah, were only childish play, by which the mind accustomed to stronger operations could not be kept busy. I could do all which they delighted in doing by powers merely sen­sitive, while my intellectual faculties were flown to Cairo. They ran from room to room as a bird hops from wire to wire in his cage. They danced for the sake of motion, as lambs frisk in a meadow. One sometimes pretended to be hurt that the rest might be alarmed, or hid herself that another might seek her. Part of their time passed in watching the progress of light bodies that floated on the river, and part in marking the various forms into which clouds broke in the sky.

"Their business was only n [...]e-work, in which I and my maids sometimes helped them; but you know that the mind will easily straggle from the fingers, nor will you suspect that the captivity and absence from [...] could be much solaced by silken flowers.

"Nor was much satisfaction to be hoped from their conversation: for of what could they be expected to talk? They had seen nothing; [Page 148] for they had lived from early youth in that narrow spot: of what they had not seen they could have no knowledge, for they could not read. They had no ideas but of the few things that were within their view, and had hardly names for any thing but their cloaths and their food. As I bore a superior character, I was often called to terminate their quarrels, which I decided as equitably as I could. If it could have amused me to hear the complaints of each against the rest, I might have been often detained by long stories, but the motives of their animosity were so small, that I could not listen long without intercepting the tale."

"How, said Rasselas, can the Arab, whom you represented as a man of more than com­mon accomplishments, take any pleasure in his seraglio, when it is filled only with women like these. Are they exquisitely beautiful?"

"They do not, said Pekuah, want that unaffecting and ignoble beauty which may subsist without spriteliness or sublimity, with­out energy of thought or dignity of virtue. But to a man like the Arab such beauty was only a flower casually plucked and carelessly thrown away. Whatever pleasures he might find among them, they were not those of friendship or society. When they were play­ing [Page 149] about him he looked on them with inat­tentive superiority: when they vied for his regard he sometimes turned away disgusted. As they had no knowledge, their talk could take nothing from the tediousness of life: as they had no choice, their fondness, or appearance of fondness, excited in him neither pride nor gratitude; he was not exalted in his own, esteem by the smiles of a woman who saw no other man, nor was much obliged by that re­gard, of which he could never know the sin­cerity, and which he might often perceive to be exerted not so much to delight him as to pain a rival. That which he gave, and they received, as love, was only a careless distribu­tion of superfluous time, such love as man can bestow upon that which he despises, such as has neither hope nor fear, neither joy nor sorrow."

"You have reason lady, to think yourself happy, said Imlac, that you have been thus easily dismissed. How could a mind, hungry for knowledge, be willing, in an intellectual famine, to lose such a banquet as Pekuah's conversation?

"I am inclined to believe, answered Pekuah, that he was for some time in suspense; for, [Page 150] notwithstanding his promise whenever I pro­posed to dispatch a messenger to Cairo, he found some excuse for delay. While I was detained in his house he made many incursions into the neighbouring countries, and, perhaps, he would have refused to discharge me, had his plunder been equal to his wishes. He returned always courteous, related his adven­tures, delighted to hear my observations, and endeavoured to advance my accquaintance with the stars. When I importuned him to send away my letters, he soothed me with profes­sions of honour and sincerity; and when I could be no longer decently denied, put his troop again in motion, and left me to govern in his absence. I was much afflicted by this studied procrastination, and was sometimes afraid that I should be forgotten; that you would leave Cairo, and I must end my days in an island of the Nile.

"I grew at last hopeless and dejected, and cared so little to entertain him, that he for a while more frequently talked with my maids. That he should fall in love with them, or with me, might have been equally fatal, and I was not much pleased with the growing friendship. My anxiety was not long; for, as I recovered some degree of chearfulness, he returned to me, and I could not forbear to despise my former uneasiness.

[Page 151] "He still delayed to send for my ransome, and would, perhaps, never have determined, had not your agent found his way to him. The gold, which he would not fetch, he could not reject when it was offered. He hastened to prepare for our journey hither, like a man delivered from the pain of an intestine conflict. I took leave of my companions in the house, who dismissed me with cold indifference."

Nekayah, having heard her favourite's rela­tion, rose and embraced her, and Rasselas gave her an hundred ounces of gold, which she presented to the Arab for the fifty that were promised.

CHAP. XL. The history of a man of learning.

THEY returned to Cairo, and were so well pleased at finding themselves together, that none of them went much abroad. The prince began to love learning, and one day de­clared to Imlac, that he intended to devote him­self to science, and pass the rest of his days in literary solitude.

"Before you make your final choice, an­swered Imlac, you ought to examine its ha­zards, and converse with some of those who are [Page 152] grown old in the company of themselves. I have just left the observatory of one of the most learned astronomers in the world, who has spent forty years in unwearied attention to the motions and the appearances of the celestial bodies, and has drawn out his soul in endless calculations. He admits a few friends once a month to hear his deductions and enjoy his discoveries. I was introduced as a man of knowledge worthy of his notice. Men of various ideas and fluent conversation are commonly welcome to those whose thoughts have been long fixed upon a single point, and who find the images of other things steal­ing away. I delighted him with my remarks, he smiled at the narrative of my travels, and was glad to forget the constellations, and de­scend for a moment into the lower world.

"On the next day of vacation I renewed my visit, and was so fortunate as to please him again. He relaxed from that time the severity of his rule, and permitted me to enter at my own choice. I found him always busy, and always glad to be relieved. As each knew much which the other was de­sirous of learning, we exchanged our notions with great delight. I perceived that I had every day more of his confidence, and always found new cause of admiration in the pro­fundity of his mind. His comprehension [Page 153] is vast, his memory capacious and retentive, his discourse is methodical, and his expression clear.

"His integrity and benevolence are equal to his learning. His deepest researches and most favourite studies are willingly interrupted for any opportunity of doing good by his counsel or his riches. To his closest retreat, at his most busy moments, all are admitted that want his assistance: "For tho' I exclude idleness and pleasure, I will never, says he, bar my doors against charity. To man is permitted the contemplation of the skies, but the practice of virtue is commanded."

"Surely, said the princess, this man is happy."

"I visited him, said Imlac, with more and more frequency, and was every time more enamoured of his conversation: he was sub­lime without haughtiness, courteous without formality, and communicative without osten­tation. I was at first, Madam, of your opi­ion, thought him the happiest of mankind, and often congratulated him on the blessing that he enjoyed. He seemed to hear nothing with indifference but the praises of his con­dition, to which he always returned a general answer, and diverted the conversation to some other topick.

[Page 154] "Amidst this willingness to be pleased, and labour to please, I had always reason to imagine that some painful sentiments pressed upon his mind. He often looked up earnestly towards the sun, and let his voice fall in the midst of his discourse. He would sometimes, when we were alone, gaze upon me in silence with the air of a man who longed to speak what he was yet resolved to suppress. He would sometimes send for me with vehement injunctions of haste, though, when I came to him, he had no­thing extraordinary to say. And sometimes, when I was leaving him would call me back, pause a few moments and then dismiss me.

CHAP. XLI. The astronomer discovers the cause of his uneasiness.

AT last the time came when the secret burst his reserve. We were sitting together last night in the turret of his house, watching the emersion of a satellite of Jupiter. A sud­den tempest clouded the sky, and disappointed our observation. We sat a while silent in the dark, and then he addressed himself to me in these words: "Imlac, I have long considered thy friendship as the greatest blessing of my life. Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is [Page 155] dangerous and dreadful. I have found in thee all the qualities requisite for trust, benevolence, experience, and fortitude. I have long dis­charged an office which I must soon quit at the call of nature, and shall rejoice in the hour of imbecillity and pain to devolve it upon thee."

"I thought myself honoured by this tes­timony, and protested that whatever could conduce to his happiness would add likewise to mine."

"Hear, Imlac, what thou wilt not without difficulty credit. I have possessed for five years the regulation of weather, and the dis­tribution of the seasons: the sun has listened to my dictates and passed from tropick to tropick by my direction; the clouds, at my call, have poured their waters, and the Nile has overflowed at my command; I have restrained the rage of the dog-star, and mitigated the fervours of the crab. The winds alone, of all the elemental powers, have hitherto refused my authority, and multitudes have perished by equinoctial tempests wihch I found myself unable to prohibit or restrain. I have ad­ministered this great office with exact justice, and made to the different nations of the earth an impartial dividend of rain and sunshine. What must have been the misery of half the [Page 156] globe, if I had limited the clouds to particular regions or confined the sun to either side of the equator?"

CHAP. XLII. The astronomer justifies his account of himself.

"I Suppose he discovered in me, through the obsurity of the room, some tokens of amazement and doubt, for, after a short pause, he proceeded thus:"

"Not to be easily credited will neither surprise nor offend me; for I am, probably, the first of human beings to whom this trust has been imparted. Nor do I know whether to deem this distinction a reward or punish­ment; since I have possessed it I have been far less happy than before, and nothing but the consciousness of good intention, could have enabled me to support the wear [...]ness of unre­mitted vigilance."

"How long, Sir, said I, has this great office been in your hands?"

"About ten years ago, said he, my daily observations of the changes of the sky led me to consider whether, if I had the power of the seasons, I could confer greater plenty upon the [Page 157] inhabitants of the earth. This contemplation fastened on my mind, and I sat days and nights in imaginary dominion, pouring upon this country and that the showers of fertility, and seconding every fall of rain with a due pro­portion of sunshine. I had yet only the will to do good, and did not imagine that I should ever have the power.

"One day as I was looking on the fields withering with heat, I felt in my mind a sud­den wish that I could send rain on the southern mountains, and raise the Nile to an inundati­on. In the hurry of my imagination I com­manded rain to fall, and, by comparing the time of my command, with that of the inun­dation, I found that the clouds had listened to my lips."

"Might not some other cause, said I, pro­duce this concurrence? the Nile does not al­ways rise on the same day."

"Do not believe, said he with impatience, that such objections could escape me: I reasoned long against my own conviction, and laboured against truth with the utmost obstinacy. I sometimes suspected myself of madness, and should not have dared to impart this secret but to a man like you, capable of distinguishing the wonderful from the impossible, and the incredible from the false."

[Page 158] "Why, Sir, said I, do you call that incre­dible, which you know, or think you know, to be true?"

Because, said he, I cannot prove it by any external evidence; and I know too well the laws of demonstration to think that my con­viction ought to influence another, who can­not, like me, be conscious of its force. I, therefore, shall not attempt to gain credit by disputation. It is sufficient that I feel this power, that I have long possessed, and every day exerted it. But the life of man is short, the infirmities of age increase upon me, and the time will soon come when the regulator of the year must mingle with the dust. The care of appointing a successor has long disturbed me; the night and the day have been spent in comparisons of all the characters which have come to my knowledge, and I have yet found none so worthy as thyself.

CHAP. XLIII. The astronomer leaves Imlac his directions.

"HEAR therefore, what I shall impart, with attention, such as the welfare of a world requires. If the task of a king be considered as difficult, who has the care only of a few millions, to whom he cannot do much [Page 159] good or harm, what must be the anxiety of him, on whom depend the action of the ele­ments, and the great gifts of light and heat!—Hear me therefore with attention.

"I have diligently considered the position of the earth and sun, and formed innumerable schemes in which I changed their situation. I have sometimes turned aside the axis of the earth, and sometimes varied the ecliptick of the sun: but I have found it impossible to make a disposition by which the world may be ad­vantaged: what one region gains, another loses by any imaginable alteration, even with­out considering the distant parts of the solar sy­stem with which we are unacquainted. Do not, therefore, in thy administration of the year, indulge thy pride by innovation; do not please thyself with thinking that thou canst make thyself renowned to all future ages, by disordering the seasons. The memory of mis­chief is no desirable fame. Much less will it become thee to let kindness or interest prevail. Never rob other countries of rain to pour it on thine own. For us the Nile is sufficient."

"I promised that when I possessed the power, I would use it with inflexible integrity, and he dismissed me, pressing my hand." "My heart, said he, will be now at rest, and my be­nevolence will no more destroy my quiet: I [Page 160] have found a man of wisdom and virtue to whom I can chearfully bequeath the inheritance of the sun."

The prince heard this narration with very serious regard, but the princess smiled, and Pekuah convulsed herself with laughter. Ladies said Imlac, to mock the heaviest of human afflictions is neither charitable nor wise. Few can attain this man's knowledge, and few prac­tise his virtues, but all may suffer his calamity. Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and and alarming is the uncer­tain continuance of reason."

The princess was recollected, and the fa­vourite was abashed. Rasselas, more deeply affected, enquired of Imlac, whether he thought such maladies of the mind frequent, and how they were contracted.

CHAP. XLIV. The dangerous prevalence of imagination.

"DISORDERS of intellect, answered Imlac, happen much more often than superficial observers will easily believe. Per­haps, if we speak with rigorous exactness, no human mind is in its right state. There is no man whose imagination does not some­times predominate over his reason, who can [Page 161] regulate his attention wholly by his will, and whose ideas will come and go at his command. No man will be found in whose mind airy no­tions do not sometimes tyrannise, and force him to hope or fear beyond the limits of so­ber probability. All power of fancy over rea­son is a degree of insanity but while this power is such as we can control and repress, it is not visible to others, nor considered as any depra­vation of the mental faculties: it is not pro­nounced madness but when it becomes ungo­vernable, and apparently influences speech or action.

"To indulge the power of fiction, and send imagination out upon the wing, is often the sport of those who delight too much in silent speculation. When we are alone we are not always busy; the labour of excogitation is too violent to last long; the ardour of enquiry will sometimes give way to idleness or satiety. He who has nothing external that can divert him, must find pleasure in his own thoughts, and must conceive himself what he is not; for who is pleased with what he is? He then expatiates in boundless futurity, and culls from all imaginable conditions that which for the present moment he should most desire, amuses his desires with impossible en­joyments, and confers upon his pride unattain­able dominion. The mind dances from scene [Page 162] to scene, unites all pleasures in all combinati­ons, and riots in delights which nature and fortune, with all their bounty, cannot bestow.

"In time some particular train of ideas fixes the attention, all other intellectual gra­tifications are rejected, the mind, in weariness or leisure, recurs constantly to the favourite conception, and feasts on the luscious falsehood, whenever she is offended with the bitterness of truth. by degrees the reign of fancy is con­firmed; she grows first imperious, and in time despotick. Then fictions begin to operate as realities, false opinions fasten upon the mind and life passes in dreams of rapture or of anguish.

"This, Sir, is one of the dangers of soli­tude, which the hermit has confessed not always to promote goodness, and the astronomer's misery has proved to be not always propitious to wisdom."

"I will no more, said the favourite, ima­gine myself the queen of Abissinia. I have often spent the hours, which the princess gave to my own disposal, in adjusting ceremonies and regulating the court; I have repressed the pride of the powerful, and granted the petitions of the poor; I have built new palaces in more happy situations, planted groves upon [Page 163] the tops of mountains, and have exulted in the beneficence of royalty, till, when the princess entered, I had almost forgotten to bow down before her."

"And I, said the princess, will not allow myself any more to play the shepherdess in my waking dreams. I have often soothed my thoughts with the quiet and innocence of pas­toral employments, till I have in my cham­ber heard the wind whistle, and the sheep bleat; sometimes freed the lamb entangled in the thicket, and sometimes with my crook encoun­tered the wolf. I have a dress like that of the village maids, which I put on to help my imagination, and a pipe on which I play softly, and suppose myself followed by my flocks."

"I will confess said the prince, an indul­gence of fantastick delight more dangerous than yours. I have frequently endeavoured to image the possibility of a perfect govern­ment, by which all wrong should be restrained, all vice reformed, and all the subjects preserved in tranquillity and innocence. This thought produced innumerable schemes of reformation, and dictated many useful regulations and salu­tary edicts. This has been the sport and sometimes the labour of my solitude; and I start, when I think with how little anguish I once supposed the death of my father and my brothers."

[Page 164] "Such, said Imlac, are the effects of visio­nary schemes: when we first form them, we know them to be absurd, bu [...] familiarise them by degrees, and in time lose sight of their folly."

CHAP. XLV. They discourse with an old man.

THE evening was now far past, and they rose to return home. As they walked along the bank of the Nile, delighted with the beams of the moon quivering on the water, they saw at a small distance an old man, whom, the prince had often heard in the assembly of the sages. "Yonder, said he, is one whose years have calmed his passions, but not clouded his reason: let us close the disquisitions of the night, by enquiring what are his sentiments of his own state, that we may know whether youth alone is to struggle with vexation, and whether any better hope remains for the lat­ter part of life."

Here the sage approached and saluted them. They invited him to join their walk, and prat­tled a while as acquaintance that had unexpec­tedly me another. The old man was chear­ful and talkative, and the way seemed short in his company. He was pleased to find him­self [Page 165] not disregarded, accompanied them to their house, and, at the prince's request, entered with them. They placed him in the seat of honour, and set wine and conserves before him.

"Sir, said the princess, an evening walk must give to a man of learning, like you, plea­sures which ignorance and youth can hardly conceive. You know the qualities and the causes of all that you behold, the laws by which the river flows, the periods in which the planets perform their revolutions. Every thing must supply you with contemplation, and renew the consciousness of your own dignity."

"Lady answered he, let the gay and the vigorous expect pleasure in their excursions, it is enough that age can obtain ease. To me the world has lost its novelty: I look round, and see what I remember to have seen in happier days. I rest against a tree, and consider, that in the same shade, I once disputed upon the annual overflow of the Nile, with a friend who is now silent in the grave. I cast my eyes upwards, fix them on the changing moon, and think with pain on the vicissitudes of life. I have ceased to take much delight in physical truth; for what have I to do with those things which I am soon to leave?"

[Page 166] "You may at least recreate yourself, said Imlac, with the recollection of an honourable and useful life, and enjoy the praise which all agree to give you."

"Praise, said the sage with a sigh, is to an old man an empty sound. I have neither mo­ther to be delighted with the reputation of her son, nor wife to partake the honours of her husband. I have outlived my friends and my rivals. Nothing is now of much importance; for I cannot extend my interest beyond my­self. Youth is delighted with applause, because it is considered as the earnest of some future good, and because the prospect of life is far extended: But to me, who am now declining to decrepitude, there is little to be feared from the malevolence of men, and yet less to be hoped from their affection or esteem. Some­thing they may yet take away, but they can give me nothing. Riches would now be useless, and high employment would be pain. My retrospect of life recalls to my view many op­portunities of good neglected, much time squandered upon trifles, and more lost in idle­ness and vacancy. I leave many great designs unattempted, and many great attempts un­finished. My mind is burthened with no hea­vy crime, and therefore I compose myself to tranquillity; endeavour to abstract my thoughts from hopes and cares, which, though [Page 167] reason knows them to be vain, still try to keep their old possession of the heart; expect, with serene humility, that hour which nature can­not long delay; and hope to possess in a bet­ter state that happiness which here I could not find, and that virtue which here I have not attained."

He rose and went away, leaving his au­dience not much elated with the hope of long life. The prince consoled himself with re­marking, that it was not reasonable to be dis­appointed by this account; for age had never been considered as the season of felicity, and, if it was possible to be easy in decline and weakness, it was likely that the days of vigour and alacrity might be happy; that the noon of life might be bright, if the evening could be calm.

The princess suspected that age was que­rulous and maligant, and delighted to repress the expectations of those who had newly entered the world. She had seen the pos­sessors of estates look with envy on their heirs, and known many who enjoy pleasure no longer than they can confine it to them­selves.

Pekuah conjectured, that the man was older than he appeared, and was willing to [Page 168] impute his complaints to delirious dejection; or else supposed that he had been unfortunate, and was therefore discontented: "For no­thing, said she, is more common than to call our own condition, the condition of life.

Imlac, who had no desire to see them depressed, smiled at the comforts which they could so readily procure to themselves, and remembered, that at the same a [...]e, he was equally confident of unmingled prosperity, and equally fertile of consolatory expedients. He forbore to force upon them unwelcome know­ledge, which time itself would too soon im­press. The princess and her lady retired; the madness of the astronomer hung upon their minds, and they desired Imlac to enter upon his office, and delay next morning the rising of the sun.

CHAP. XLVI. The princess and Pekuah visit the astronomer.

THE princess and Pekuah having talked in private of Imlac's astronomer, thought his character at once so amiable and so strange, that they could not be satisfied without a nearer knowledge, and Imlac was requested to find the means of bringing them together.

[Page 169] This was somewhat difficult; the philosopher had never received any visits from women, though he lived in a city that had in it many Europeans, who followed the manners of their own countries, and many from other parts of the world that lived their with European liberty. The ladies would not be refused, and several schemes were proposed for the accomplishment of their design. It was proposed to introduce them as strangers in distress, to whom the sage was always accessible; but, after some deliberation, it appeared, that by this artifice, no acquaintance could be formed, for their conversation would be short, and they could not decently importune him often. "This, said Rasselas, is true; but I have yet a stronger objection against the misrepresentation of your state. I have always considered it as treason against the great republick of human nature, to make any man's virtues the means of deceiving him, whether on great or little oc­casions. All imposture weakens confidence and chills benevolence. When the sage finds that you are not what you seemed, he will feel the resentment natural to a man who, conscious of great abilities, discovers that he has been tricked by understandings meaner than his own, and, perhaps, the distrust, which he can never afterwards wholly lay aside, may stop the voice of counsel, and close the hand of charity; and where will you find the power [Page 170] of restoring his benefactions to mankind, or his peace to himself?"

To this no reply was attempted, and Imlac began to hope that their curiosity would sub­side; but, next day, Pekuah told him, she had now found an honest pretence for a visit to the astronomer, for she would solicite permission to continue under him the studies in which she had been initiated by the Arab, and the princess might go with her either as a fellow-student, or because a woman could not de­cently come alone. "I am afraid, said Imlac, that he will be soon weary of your company: men advanced far in knowledge do not love to repeat the elements of their art, and I am not certain, that even of the elements, as he will deliver them connected with inferences, and mingled with reflections, you are a very capable auditress." "That, said Pekuah, must be my care: I ask of you only to take me thither. My knowledge is, perhaps, more than you imagine it, and by concurring al­ways with his opinions I shall make him think it greater than it is."

The astronomer, in pursuance of this reso­lution, was told, that a foreign lady travelling in search of knowledge, had heard of his repu­tation, and was desirous to become his scholar. The uncommonness of the proposal raised at once his surprise and curiosity, and when, after [Page 171] a short deliberation, he consented to admit her, he could not stay without impatience till the next day.

The ladies dressed themselves magnificently, and were attended by Imlac to the astronomer, who was pleased to see himself approached with respect by persons of so splendid an appearance▪ in the exchange of the first civilities he was timorous and bashful; but, when the talk be­came regular, he recollected his powers, and justified the character which Imlac had given. Enquiring of Pekuah what could have turned her inclination towards astronomy, he received from her a history of her adventure at the py­ramid, and of the time passed in the Arab's Island. She told her tale with ease and elegance, and her conversation took possession of his heart. The discourse was then turned to astronomy: Pekuah displayed what she knew: he looked upon her as a prodigy of genius, and entreated her not to desist from a study which she had so happily begun.

They came again and again, and were every time more welcome than before. The sage endeavoured to amuse them, that they might prolong their visits, for he found his thoughts grow brighter in their company; the clouds of solicitude vanished by degrees, as he forced himself to entertain them, and he grieved [Page 172] when he was left at their departure to his old employment of regulating the seasons.

The princess and her favourite had now watched his lips for several months, and could not catch a single word from which they could judge whether he continued, or not, in the opinion of his preternatural commission. They often contrived to bring him to an open decla­ration, but he easily eluded all their attacks, and on which side soever they pressed him escaped from them to some other topick.

As their familiarity increased, they invited him often to the house of Imlac, where they distinguished him by extraordinary respect. He began gradually to delight in sublunary pleasures. He came early and departed late; laboured to recommend himself by assiduity and compliance; excited their curiosity af­ter new arts, that they might still want his assistance; and when they made any excursion of pleasure or enquiry, entreated to attend them.

By long experience of his integrity and wis­dom, the prince and his sister were convinced that he might be trusted without danger; and, lest he should draw any false hopes from the civilities which he received, discovered to him their condition, with the motives of their [Page 173] journ [...] and required his opinion on the choice of life.

"Of the various conditions which the world spreads before you, which you shall prefer, said the sage, I am not able to instruct you. I can only tell that I have chosen wrong. I have passed my time in study without experi­ence; in the attainments of sciences which can, for the most part, be but remotely useful to mankind. I have purchased knowledge at the expence of all the common comforts of life: I have missed the endearing elegance of female friendship, and the happy commerce of domestick tenderness. If I have obtained any prerogatives above other students, they have been accompanied with fear, disquiet, and scrupulosity; but even of these prerogatives, whatever they were, I have, since my thoughts have been diversified by more intercourse with the world begun to question the reality. When I have been for a few days lost in pleasing dissipation, I am always tempted to think that my enquiries have ended in error, and that I have suffered much, and suffered it in vain.

Imlac was delighted to find that the sage's understanding was breaking through its mists, and resolved to detain him from the planets till he should forget his task of ruling them, and reason should recover its original influence.

[Page 174] From this time the astronomer was received into familiar friendship, and partook of all their projects and pleasures: his respect kept him attentive and the activity of Rasselas did not leave much time unengaged. Something was always to be done; the day was spent in making observations which furnished talk for the evening, and the evening was closed with a scheme for the morrow.

The sage confessed to Imlac, that since he had mingled in the gay tumults of life, and divided his hours by a succession of amuse­ments, he found the conviction of his authority over the skies fade gradually from his mind, and began to trust less to an opinion which he never could prove to others, and which he now found subject to variation from causes in which reason had no part. "If I am acciden­tally left alone for a few hours, said he, my inveterate persuasion rushes upon my soul, and my thoughts are chained down by some irresistible violence, but they are soon disen­tangled by the prince's conversation, and in­stantaneously released at the entrance of Pe­kuah. I am like a man habitually afraid of spectres, who is set at ease by a lamp, and wonders at the dread which harrassed him in the dark; yet, if his lamp be extinguished, feels again the terrors which he knows that when it is light he shall feel no more. But I [Page 175] am sometimes afraid lest I indulge my quiet by criminal negligence, and voluntarily forget the great charge with which I am intrusted. If I favour myself in a known error, or am determined by my own ease in a doubtful question of this importance, how dreadful is my crime!"

"No disease of the imagination, answered Imlac, is so difficult of cure, as that which is complicated with the dread of guilt: fancy and conscience then act interchangeably upon us, and so often shift their places, that the illusions of one are not distinguished from the dictates of the other. If fancy presents images not moral or religious, the mind drives them away when they give it pain, but when me­lancholick notions take the form of duty, they lay hold on the faculties without oppositi­on, because we are afraid to exclude or banish them. For this reason the superstitious are often melancholy, and the melancholy almost always superstitious.

"But do not let the suggestions of timidity overpower your better reason: the danger of neglect can be but as the probability of the obligation, which when you consider it with freedom, you find very little, and that little growing every day less. Open your heart to the influence of the light, which, from time [Page 176] to time, breaks in upon you: when scru­ples importune you, which you in your lucid moments know to be vain, do not stand to parley, but fly to business or to Pe­kuah, and keep this thought always prevalent, that you are only one atom of the mass of hu­manity, and have neither such virtue nor vice, as that you should be singled out for superna­tural favours or▪ afflictions."

CHAP. XLVII. The prince enters and brings a new topick.

"ALL this said the astronomer, I have often thought, but my reason has been so long subjugated by an uncontroulable and overwhelming idea, that it durst not con­ [...] its own decisions. I now see how fa­tally I betrayed my quiet, by suffering chime­ras to prey upon me in secret; but melancholy skrinks from communication, and I never found a man before, to whom I could impart my troubles, though I had been certain of relief. I rejoice to find my own sentiments confirmed by yours, who are not easily deceived, and can have no motive or purpose to deceive. I hope that time and variety will dissipate the gloom that has so long surrounded me, and the lat­ter part of my days will be spent in peace."

[Page 177] "Your learning and virtue, said Imlac, may justly give you hopes."

Rasselas then entered with the princess and Pekuah, and enquired whether they had con­trived any new diversion for the next day. "Such, said Nekayah, is the state of life, that none are happy but by the anticipation of change: the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again. The world is not yet exhausted; let me see something to-morrow which I never saw before.

"Variety, said Rasselas, is so necessary to content, that even the happy valley disgusted me by the recurrence of its luxuries; yet I could not forbear to reproach myself with im­patience, when I saw the monks of St. An­thony support without complaint, a life, not of uniform delight, but uniform hardship."

"Those men, answered Imlac, are less wretched in their silent convent than [...] Abis­sinian princes in their prison of pleasure. What­ever is done by the monks is incited by an adequate and reasonable motive. Their la­bour supplies them with necessaries; it there­fore cannot be omitted, and is certainly re­warded. Their devotion prepares them for another state, and reminds them of its ap­proach, [Page 178] while it fits them for it. Their time is regularly distributed; one duty succeds ano­ther, so that they are not left open to the dis­traction of unguided choice, nor lost in the shades of listless inactivity. There is a certain task to be performed at an appropriated hour; and their toils are chearful, because they consi­der them [...] as acts of piety, by which they are always advancing towards endless felicity."

"Do you think, said Nekayah, that the monastick rule is a more holy and less imperfect state than any other? May not he equally hope for future happiness who converses openly with mankind, who succours the distressed by his charity, instructs the ignorant by his learning, and contributes by his industry to the general system of life; even though he should omit some of the mortifications which are practised in the cloister, and allow himself such harm­less delights as his condition may place within his reach?"

"This, said Imlac, is a question which has long divided the wise, and perplexed the good. I am afraid to decide on either part. He that lives well in the world, is better than he that lives well in a monastery. But, perhaps, every one is not able to stem the temptations of publick life; and, if he cannot conquer, he may properly retreat. Some have little [Page 179] power to do good, and have likewise little strength to resist evil. Many are weary of their conflicts with adversity, and are willing to eject those passions which have long busied them in vain. And many are dismissed by age and diseases from the more laborious duties of society. In monasteries the weak and timor­ous may be happily sheltered, the weary may repose, and the penitent may meditate. Those retreats of prayer and contemplation have something so congenial to the mind of man, that, perhaps, there is scarcely one that does not purpose to close his life in pious abstraction with a few associates serious as himself."

"Such, said Pekuah, has often been my wish, and I have heard the princess declare, that she would not willingly die in a croud."

"The liberty of using harmless pleasures, proceeded Imlac, will not be disputed; but it is still to be examined what pleasures are harm­less. The evil of any pleasure that Nekayah can image is not in the act itself, but in its consequences. Pleasure, in itself harmless, may become mischievous, by endearing to us a state which we know to be transient and pro­batory, and withdrawing our thoughts from that, of which every hour brings us nearer to the beginning, and of which no length of time will bring us to the end. Mortification is not vir­tuous [Page 180] in itself, nor has any other use, but that it disengages us from the allurements of sense. In the state of future perfection, to which we all aspire, there will be pleasure without dan­ger, and security without restraint."

The princess was silent, and Rasselas, turn­ing to the astronomer, asked him, whether he could not delay her retreat, by shewing her something which she had not seen before.

"Your curiosity, said the sage, has been so general, and your pursuit of knowledge so vi­gorous, that novelties are not now very easily to be found: but what you can no longer pro­cure from the living may be given by the dead. Among the wonders of this country are the catacombs, or the ancient repositories, in which the bodies of the earliest generations were lodged, and where, by the virtue of the gums which embalmed them, they yet remain without corruption.

"I know not, said Rasselas, what pleasure the sight of the catacombs can afford; but, since nothing else is offered, I am resolved to view them, and shall place this with many other things which I have done, because I would do something."

They hired a guard of horsemen, and the [Page 181] next day visited the catacombs. When they were about to descend into the supulchral caves, "Pekuah, said the princess, we are now again invading the habitations of the dead; I know that you will stay behind; let me find you safe when I return." No, I will not be left, an­swered Pekuah; I will go down between you and the prince."

They then all descended, and roved with wonder through the labyrinth of subterraneous passages, where the bodies were laid in rows on either side.

CHAP. XLVIII. Imlac discourses on the nature of the soul.

"WHAT reason, said the prince, can be given, why the Egyptians should thus expensively preserve those carcasses which some nations consume with fire, others lay to mingle with the earth, and all agree to remove from their sight as soon as decent rites can be performed?

"The original of ancient customs, said Imlac, is commonly unknown; for the prac­tice often continues when the cause has ceased; and concerning superstitious ceremonies it is vain to conjecture; for what reason did not dictate reason cannot explain. I have long [Page 182] believed that the practice of embalming, arose only from tenderness to the remains of rela­tions or friends, and to th [...]s opinion I am more inclined, because it seems impossible that this care should have been general: had all the dead been embalmed, their repositories must in time have been more spacious than the dwellings of the living. I suppose only the rich or honourable were secured from corrup­tion, and the rest left to the course of nature.

"But it is commonly supposed that the Egyptians believed the soul to live as long as the body continued undissolved, and there­fore tried this method of eluding death."

"Could the wise Egyptians, said Nekayah, think so grosly of the soul? If the soul could once survive its separation, what could it after­wards receive or suffer from the body?

"The Egyptians would doubtless think er [...]oneously, said the astronomer, in the dark­ness of heathenism, and the first dawn of philosophy. The nature of the soul is still disputed amidst all our opportunities of clearer knowledge: some yet say, that it may be material who nevertheless, believe it to be immortal."

"Some, answered Imlac, have indeed said [Page 183] that the soul is material, but I can scarcely believe that any man has thought it, who knew how to think; for all the conclusions of reason enforce the immateriality of the mind, and all the notices of sense and investigations of science concur to prove the unconsciousness of matter.

"It was never supposed that cogitation is inherent in matter, or that every particle is a thinking being. Yet, if any part of matter be devoid of thought, what part can we sup­pose to think? Matter can differ from matter only in form, density, bulk, motion, and direction of motion: to which of these, however varied or combined, can consciousness be annex­ed? to be round or square, to be solid or fluid, to be great o [...] little, to be moved slowly or swiftly one way or another, are modes of material existence, all equally alien from the nature of cogitation. If matter be once without thought, it can only be made to think by some new modification, but all the modifications which it can admit are equally unconnected wi [...]h cogitative p [...]wers."

"But the materialists, said the astronomer, urge that matter may have qualities with which we are unacquainted."

"He who will determine, returned Imlac, against that which he knows, because there [Page 184] may be something which he knows not; he that can set hypothetical possibility against acknowledged certainty, is not to be admit­ted among reasonable beings. All that we know of matter is, that matter is inert, sense­less and lifeless; and if this conviction cannot be opposed but by referring us to something that we know not, we have all the evidence that human intellect can admit. If that which is known may be over-ruled by that which is unknown, no being, not omniscient, can ar­rive at certainty."

"Yet let us not, said the astronomer, too arrogantly limit the Creators power."

"It is no limitation of omnipotence, replied the poet; to suppose that one thing is not consistent with another, that the same propo­sition cannot be at once true and false, that the same number cannot be even and odd, that cogitation cannot be conferred on that which is created incapable of cogitation."

"I know not, said Nekayah, any great use of this question. Does that immateriality, which, in my opinion, you have sufficiently proved, necessarily include eternal duration?"

"Of immateriality, said Imlac, our ideas are negative, and therefore obscure. Imma­teriality, [Page 185] seems to imply a natural power of perpetual duration as a consequence of exempti­on from all causes of decay: whatever perishes, is destroyed by the solution of its contexture, and separation of its parts; nor can we con­ceive how that which has no parts, and there­fore admits no solution, can be naturally cor­rupted or impaired."

"I know not said Rasselas, how to conceive any thing without extension: what is extended must have parts, and you allow, that what­ever has parts may be destroyed."

"Consider your own conceptions, replied Imlac, and the difficulty will be less. You will find substance without extension. An ideal form is no less real than material bulk: yet, an ideal form has no extension. It is no less certain, when you think on a pyramid that your mind possesses the idea of a pyramid, than that the pyramid itself is standing. What space does the idea of a pyramid occupy, more than the idea of a grain of corn? or how can either idea suffer laceration? As is the effect such is the cause: as the thought is, such is the power that thinks; a power impassive and indiscerpible.

"But the Being said Nekayah, whom I fear to name, the Being which made the soul, can destroy it."

[Page 186] "He, surely can destoy it, answered, Imlac, since, however unperishable in itself, it re­ceives from a higher nature its power of duration. That it will not perish by any in­herent cause or trouble or corruption, may be collected from philosophy; but philo­sophy can tell no more. That it will not be annihilated by him that made it, we must humbly learn from higher authority."

The whole assembly stood a while silent and collected. "Let us return, said Rasselas, from this scene of mortality. How gloomy would be these mansions of the dead to him who did not know that he should never die; that what now acts shall continue its agency, and what now thinks shall think on for ever. Those that lie here stretched before us, the wise and the powerful of ancient times, warn us to re­member the shortness of our present state: they were, perhaps, snatched away while they were busy, like us, in the choice of life."

"To me said the princess, the choice of life is become less important; I hope hereafter to think only on the choice of eternity."

They then hastened out of the caverns, and under the protection of their guard, returned to Cairo.

[Page 187]

CHAP. XLIX. The conclusion, in which they agree to return to the land of Abissinia.

IT was now the time of the inundation of the Nile: a few days after their visit to the catacombs, the river began to rise.

They were confined to their house. The whole region being under water gave them no invitation to any excursions, and, being well supplied with materials for talk, they diverted themselves with comparisons of the different forms of life which they had observed, and with various schemes of happiness which each of them had formed.

Pekuah was never so much charmed with any place as the convent of St. Anthony, where the Arab restored her to the princess, and wished only to fill it with pious maidens, and to be made prioress of the order: she was weary of expectation and disgust, and would gladly be fixed in some unvariable state.

The princess thought, that of all sublunary things, knowledge was the best: She desired first to learn all sciences, and then purposed to found a college of learned women, in which [Page 188] she would preside, that, by conversing with the old, and educating the young, she might divide her time between the acquisition and communication of wisdom, and raise up for the next age models of prudence, and patterns of piety.

The prince desired a little kingdom, in which he might administer justice in his own person, and see all the parts of government with his own eyes; but he could never fix the limits of his dominion, and was always adding to the number of his subjects.

Imlac and the astronomer were contented to be driven along the stream of life, without directing their course to any particular port.

Of these wishes that they formed they well knew that none could be obtained. They deliberated a while what was to be done, and resolved, when the inundation should cease, to return to the land of in Abissinia.

END OF THE SECOND AND LAST VOLUME.
[Page]

THE VOYAGE OF LIFE.

With constant motion as the moments glide,
Behold in running life the rolling tide!
For none can stem by art, or stop by pow'r,
The flowing ocean, or the fleeting hour;
But wave by wave pursu'd arrives on shore,
And each impell'd behind impels before:
So time on time revolving we descry;
So minutes follow, and so minutes fly.
OVID, by ELPHINSTON.

"LIFE," says Seneca, ‘is a voyage, in the progress of which, we are perpetually changing our scenes; we first leave child­hood behind us, then youth, then the years of ripened manhood, then the more pleasing part of old age.’ The perusal of this pas­sage, having excited in me a train of reflections on the state of man, the incessant fluctuation of his wishes, the gradual change of his dis­position to all external objects, and the thoughtlessness with which he floats along the stream of time, I sunk into a slumber amidst my me­ditations, and, on a sudden, found my ears filled with the tumult of labour, the shouts of alacrity, the shrieks of alarm, the whistle of winds, and the dash of waters.

MY astonishment for a time repressed my curiosity; but soon reco­vering myself so far as to enquire whither we were going, and what was the cause of such clamour and confusion, I was told that we were launching out into the ocean of life; that we had already passed the streights of infancy, in which multitudes had perished, some by the weakness and fragility of their vessels, and more by the folly, per­verseness, or negligence of those who undertook to steer them; and [Page 190] that we were now on the main sea, abandoned to the winds and bil­lows, without any other means of security, than the care of the pi­lot, whom it was always in our power to choose among great num­bers that offered their direction and assistance.

I THEN looked round [...]ith anxious eagerness; and first turning my eyes behind me, saw a stream flowing through flowery Islands, which every one that failed along seemed to behold with pleasure; but no sooner touched, than the current, which, though not [...] or turbulent, was yet irresistible, bore him away. Beyond these islands all was darkness, nor could any of the passengers describe the shore at which he first embarked.

BEFORE me, and on each side, was an expanse of waters vio­lently agitated, and covered with so thick a raist, that the most per­spicacious eye could see but a little way. It appeared to be full of rocks and whirlpools, for many sunk unexpectedly while they were courting the gale with full sails, and insulting those whom they had left behind. So numerous, indeed, were the dangers, and so thick the darkness, that no caution could confer security. Yet there were many, who, by false intelligence, betrayed their followers into whirlpools, or by violence pushed those whom they found in their way against the rocks.

THE current was invariable and insurmountable; but though it was impossible to [...]ail against it, or to return to the place that was once passed, yet it was not so violent as to allow no opportunities for dexterity on courage, since, though none could retreat back from danger, yet they might often avoid it by oblique direction.

IT was, however, not very common to steer with much care or prudence; for; by some universal infatuation, every man appeared to think himself safe, though he saw his consorts every moment sinking round him; and no sooner had the waves closed over them, than their fate and their misconduct were forgotten; the voyage was pur­sued with the same jocund confidence; every man congratulated him­self upon the soundness of his vessel, and believed himself able to stem the whirlpool in which his friend was swallowed, or glide over the rock on which he was dashed: nor was it often observed that the [...]ight of a wreck made any man change his course; if he turned aside for a moment, he soon forgot the rudder, and left himself again to the disposal of chance.

THIS negligence did not proceed from indifference, or from wea­riness of their present condition; for not one of those, who thus rushed upon destruction, failed, when he was sinking, to call loudly upon his associates for that help which could not now be given him; and many spent their last moments in cautioning others against the [Page 191] folly, by which they were intercepted in the midst of their course. Their benevolence was sometimes praised, but their admonitions were unreg [...]rded.

THE vessels, in which we had embarked, being confessedly une­qual to to the turbulence of the stream of life, were visibly impaired in the course of the voyage; so that every passenger was certain, that how long soever he might, by favourable accidents, or by incessant vigilance, be preserved, he must sink at last.

THIS necessity of perishing might have been expected to s [...]dden the gay, and intimidate the daring, at least to keep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, and hinder them from any enjoy­ment of the varieties and gratifications which nature offered them as the solace of their labours; yet in effect none seemed less to expect destruction than those to whom it was most dreadful; they all had the art of concealing their danger from themselves; and those who knew their inability to bear the sig [...]t of the terrors that embarrassed their way, took care never to look forward, but found some amuse­ment for the present moment, and generally entertained themselves by playing with HOPE, who was the constant associate of the voyage of life.

YET all that HOPE ventured to promise, even to those whom she favoured most, was, not that they should escape, but that they should sink among the last; and with this promise every one was satisfied, though he laughed at the rest or s [...]eming to believe it. HOPE, indeed, apparently mocked the credulity of her companions, for, inproportion as their vessels grew leaky, she redoubled her assurances of safety; and none were more busy in making provision for a long voyage, than they, whom all but themselves saw likely to perish soon by irreparable decay.

IN the midst of the current of life was the g [...]ph of INTEMPE­RANCE, a dreadful whirlpool, in [...]erspersed with rocks, of which the pointed crags were concealed under water, and the tops covered with herbage, on which EASE spread couches of repose, and with shades, where PLEASURE warbled the song of invitation. Within sight of these rocks all who sailed on the ocean of life must necessa­rily pass. REASON, indeed; was always at hand to steer the passen­gers through a narrow outlet by which they might escape; but very few could, by her entreaties or remonstrances, be induced to put the rudder into her hand, without stipulating that she should approach so near unto the rocks of PL [...]ASURE, that they might solace them­selves with a short enjoyment of that delicious region, after which they always determined to pursue their course without any other deviation.

[Page 192] REASON was too often prevailed upon so far by these promises, as to venture her charge within the eddy of the gulph of INTEM­PERANCE, where, indeed, the circumvolution was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel, and drew it by insensible rotations, towards the centre. She then repented her temerity, and with all her force endeavoured to r [...]treat; but the draught of the gulph was generally too strong to be overcome; and the passenger, having danced in circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, was at last overwhelmed and lost. Those sew whom REASON was able to extricate, generally suffered so many shocks upon the points which shot out from the rocks of PLEASURE,, that they were unable to continue their course with the same strength and facility as before, bu [...] floated along timorously and feeb [...]y, endangered by every breeze, and shattered by every [...]uffle of the water, till they sunk, by slow degrees, after long struggles, and innumerable expedients, always repining at their own folly, and warning others against the first-approach to the gulph of INTEMPERANCE.

THERE were artists who professed to repair the breach [...]s and stop the leaks of the vessels which had been shattered on the rocks of PLEA­SURE. Many appeared to have great confidence in their skill, and some, indeed, were preserved by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow; but I remarked▪ that few vesse [...]s lasted long which had been much repaired, nor was it found that the artists themselves continued afloat longer than those who had least of their assistance.

THE only advantage, which in the voyage of life, the cautious had above the negligent, was, that they sunk later, and more suddenly; for they passed forward till they had sometimes seen all those in who [...]e company they had issued from the streights of infancy, perish in the way, and at last were overset by a cross breeze, without the toil of resistance, or the anguish of expectation. But such as had often fallen against the rocks of PLEASURE, commonly sub­sided by sensible degrees, contended long with the encroaching waters, and harassed themselves by labours that scarce HOPE herself could flatter with success.

AS I was looking upon the various fate of the multitude about me, I was suddenly alarmed with an admonition from some unknown Power, ‘Gaze not idly upon others when thou thyself art [...]inking. Whence is this thoughtless tranquillity, when thou and they are equally endangered?’ I looked, and seeing the gulph of INTEM­PERANCE before me, started and awaked.

THE END OF THE VOYAGE OF LIFE.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.