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reign, gives the day to feftivity, and the night to peace. At length, Seged, reflect and be wife. What is the gift of conqueft but fafety? Why are riches collected but to pur-. chafe happiness ?"
Seged then ordered the house of pleasure, built in an ifland of the lake Dambea, to be prepared for his reception. "I will retire," fays he, "for ten days from tumult and care, from councils and decrees. Long quiet is not the lot of the governors of nations, but a ceffation of ten days cannot be denied me. This thort interval of happiness may furely be fecured from the interruption of fear or perplexi. ty, forrow or disappointment. I will exclude all trouble from my abode, and remove from my thoughts whatever may confuse the harmony of the concert, or abate the sweetnefs of the banquet. I will fill the whole capacity of my foul with enjoyment, and try what it is to live without a with unfatisfied."
In a few days the orders were performed, and Seged hated to the palace of Dambea, which stood in an island cultivated only for pleasure, planted with every flower that fpreads its colours to the fun, and every fhrub that sheds fragrance in the air. In one part of this extenfive garden were open walks for excurfions in the morning; in another, thick groves, and filent arbours, and bubbling fountains for repofe at noon. All that could folace the fense, or flatter the fancy; all that industry could extort from nature, or wealth furnish to art; all that conqueft could feize, or beneficence attract, was collected together, and every perception of delight was excited and gratified.
Into this delicious region Seged fummoned all the perfons of his court, who feemed eminently qualified to receive or communicate pleafure. His call was readily obeyed; the young, the fair, the vivacious, and the witty, were all in hafte to be fated with felicity. They failed jocund over the lake, which feemed to smooth its furface before them; their paffage was cheered with mufic, and their hearts dilated with expectation.
Seged landing here with his band of pleasure, determined from that hour to break off all acquaintance with dif content; to give his heart for ten days to eafe and jollity; and then to fall back to the common state of man, and fuffer his life to be diverfified, as before, with joy and forrow.
He immediately entered his chamber, to confider where he fhould begin his circle of happiness. He had all the ar
tifts of delight before him, but knew not whom to call, fince he could not enjoy one, but by delaying the performance of another; he chofe and rejected, he refolved and changed his refolution, till his faculties were haraffed, and his thoughts confufed; then returned to the apartment where his prefence was expected, with languid eyes, ard clouded countenance, and spread the infection of uneafinefs over the whole affembly. He obferved their depreffion, and was offended; for he found his vexation increased by those whom he expected to diffipate and relieve it. fe retired again to his private chamber, and fought for confolation in his own mind; one thought flowed in upon another; a long fucceffion of images feized his attention; the moments crept imperceptibly away through the gloom of penfiveness, till, having recovered his tranquillity, he lifted up his head, and faw the lake brightened by the setting fun. "Such," faid Seged, fighing, "is the longest day of human existence; before we have learned to use it, we find it at an end."
The regret which he felt for the lofs of fo great a part of his first day, took from him all difpofition to enjoy the evening; and, after having endeavoured, for the fake of his attendants, to force an air of gaiety, and excite that mirth which he could not fhare, he refolved to refer his hopes to the next morning; and lay down to partake with the flaves of labour and poverty the bleffings of fleep.
He rofe early the fecond morning, and refolved now to be happy. He therefore fixed upon the gate of the pal ace an edict, importing, that whoever, during nine days, fhould appear in the prefence of the king, with dejected countenance, or utter any expreffion of difcontent or forrow, fhould be driven forever from the palace of Dambea.
This edict was immediately made known in every cham. ber of the court, and bower of the gardens. Mirth was frighted away, and they who were before dancing in the lawns, or finging in the fhades, were at once engaged in the care of regulating their looks, that Seged might find his will punctually obeyed, and fee none among them liable to banishment.
Seged now met every face fettled in a fmile; but a fmile that betrayed folicitude, timidity and constraint. cofted his favourites with familiarity, and foftnefs; but they durft not speak without premeditation, left they should be convicted of difcontent or forrow. He propofed diver
fons, to which no objection was made, because objection would have implied uneafinefs; but they were regarded with indifference by the courtiers, who had no other defire than to fignalize themselves by clamorous exultation. He offered various topics of converfation, but obtained only forced jefts, and laborious laughter; and, after many attempts to animate his train to confidence and alacrity, was obliged to confefs to himself the impotence of command, and refign another day to grief and difappointment.
He at last relieved his companions from their terrors, and shut himself up in his chamber, to ascertain, by different measures, the felicity of the fucceeding days. At length he threw himself on the bed, and clofed his eyes; but imagined in his fleep, that his palace and gardens were overwhelmed by an inundation, and waked with all the terrors of a man struggling in the water. He composed himself again to reft, but was frighted by an imaginary irruption into his kingdom; and ftriving, as is ufual in dreams, without ability to move, fancied himself betrayed to his enemies, and again ftarted up with horror and indignation.
It was now day, and fear was fo ftrongly impreffed on his mind, that he could fleep no more. He rofe, but his thoughts were filled with the deluge and invasion; nor was he able to difengage his attention, or mingle with va cancy and ease in any amusement. At length his pertur bation gave way to reason, and he refolved no longer to be haraffed by vifionary miferies; but before this refolution could be completed, half the day had elapfed. He felt a new conviction of the uncertainty of human fchemes, and could not forbear to bewail the weakness of that being, whofe quiet was to be interrupted by vapours of the fancy. Having been first disturbed by a dream, he afterwards grieved that a dream could disturb him. He at lalt difcovered that his terrors and grief were equally vain; and that to lose the prefent in lamenting the past, was voluntarily to protract a melancholy vifion. The third day was now declining, and Seged again refolved to be happy on the morrow.
Hiftory of Seged continued.
On the fourth morning Seged rofe early, refreshed with fleep, vigorous with health, and eager with expectation. He
entered the garden, attended by the princes and ladies of his court; and seeing nothing about him but airy cheerfulnefs, began to fay to his heart, "This day fhall be a day of pleasure." The fun played upon the water, the birds warbled in the groves, and the gales quivered among the branches. He roved from walk to walk as chance directed him ; and fometimes liftened to the fongs, fometimes mingled with the dancers, fometimes let loofe his imagina tion in flights of merriment; and fometimes uttered grave reflections, and fententious maxims, and feafted on the admiration with which they were received.
Thus the day rolled on, without any accident of vexation, or intrufion of melancholy thoughts. All that beheld him caught gladnefs from his looks, and the fight of happiness conferred by himself, filled his heart with fatisfaction: but having paffed three hours in this pleafing luxury, he was alarmed on a fudden by a universal scream among the wo men; and turning back, faw the whole affembly flying in confufion. A young crocodile had rifen out of the lake, and was ranging the garden in wantonnefs or hunger. Seged beheld him with indignation, as a disturber of his felicity, and chafed him back into the lake; but could not perfuade his retinue to ftay, or free their hearts from the terror which had feized upon them. The princeffes enclofed themselves in the palace, and could yet fcarcely believe themselves in fafety. Every attention was fixed upon the late danger and efcape, and no mind was any longer at leifure for gay fallies, or careless prattle.
Seged had now no other employment, than to contemplate the innumerable casualties, which lie in ambush on every fide to intercept the happiness of man, and break in upon the hour of delight and tranquillity. He had, however, the confolation of thinking, that he had not been now disappointed by his own fault; and that the accident which had blafted the hopes of the day, might eafily be prevented by future caution.
That he might provide for the pleasure of the next morning, he refolved to repeal his penal edit, fince he had already found, that difcontent and melancholy were not to be frighted away by the threats of authority, and that pleasure would only refide where he was exempted from control. He therefore invited all the companions of his retreat to unbounded pleafantry, by propofing prizes for those who should, on the following day, diftinguifh them
felves by any festive performances; the tables of the antichamber were covered with gold and pearls; and robes and garlands decreed the rewards of thofe who could refine elegance, or heighten pleasure.
At this display of riches every eye immediately sparkled, and every tongue was bufied in celebrating the bounty and magnificence of the emperor But when Seged entered, in hopes of uncommon entertainment from univerfal emu lation, he found that any paffion too strongly agitated puts an end to that tranquillity which is neceffary to mirth; and that the mind that is to be moved by the gentle ventilations of gaiety, must be first smoothed by a total calm. Whatever we ardently with to gain, we muft, in the same degree, be afraid to lofe; and fear and pleasure cannot dwell together.
All was now care and folicitude. Nothing was done or fpoken, but with fo vifible an endeavour at perfection, as always failed to delight, though it fometimes forced admiration and Seged could not but observe with sorrow, that his prizes had more influence than himself. As the evening approached, the conteft grew more earneft; and those who were forced to allow themfelves excelled, began to difcover the malignity of defeat, firft by angry glances, and at laft by contemptuous murmurs. Seged likewife fhared the anxiety of the day; for confidering himself as obliged to diftribute, with exact jultice, the prizes which had been so zealously fought, he durft never remit his attention, but paffed his time upon the rack of doubt, in balancing different kinds of merit, and adjusting the claims of all the competitors. At laft, knowing that no exactnefs could fatisty those whofe hopes he should difappoint; and thirrking, that on a day fet apart for happiness, it would be cruel to opprefs any heart with forrow; he declared, that all had pleased him alike, and difmiffed all with prefents of equal value.
Seged foon faw that his caution had not been able to avoid offence They who had believed themselves fecure of the highest prizes, were not pleased to be levelled with the crowd; and though, by the liberality of the king, they received more than his promife had entitled them to expect, they departed unfatisfied, because they were honoured with no diftinction, and wanted an opportunity to triumph in the mortification of their opponents "Behold here," faid Seged, "the condition of him who places his happiness in