« ПредишнаНапред »
I found, upon his near approach, that it was only a natural hump, which he disposed of, with great joy of heart, among this collection of human miseries. There were likewise distem. pers of all forts; though I could not but observe, that there were many more imaginary than real. One little packet I could not but take notice of, which was a complication of all the diseases incident to human nature, and was in the hand of a great many fine people: this was called the Spleen. But what moft of all surprised me, was a remark I made, that there was not a single vice or folly' thrown into the whole heap ; at which I was very much : aftonished, having concluded within myself, that every one would take this opportunity of getting rid of his pas.. fions, prejudices, and frailties.
I took notice in particular of a very profligate fellow, who I did not question came loaded with his crimes : but upon searching into his bundle, I found that, instead of throwing his guilt from him, he had only laid down his memory.
He was followed by another worthless rogue, who flung away his modesty instead of his ignorance.
When the whole race of mankind had thus cast their burdens, the phantom which had been so busy on this occasion, seeing me an idle spectator of what had passed, approached towards me. I grew uneasy at her presence, when of a fudden she held her magnifying glass full before my eyes. I no sooner saw my face in it, but I was startled at the thortness of it, which now appeared to me in its utmost aggravation. The immoderate breadth of the features made me very much out of humour with my own countenance ; upon which I threw it from me like a mask. It happened very luckily, that one who stood by me had just before thrown down his visage, which it seems was too long for him. It was indeed extended to a shameful length; I believe the very chin was, modestly speaking, as long as my whole face. We had both of us an opportunity of mending ourselves ; and all the contributions being now brought in, every man was at liberty to exchange his misfortunes for those of another person. But as there arose many new incidents in the sequel of my vision, I shall reserve them for the subject of my next paper.
The same subje& continued. In my laft paper; I gave my reader a fight of that mountain of miseries, which was made up of those feveral
calamities that afflict the minds of men. I faw, with unspeakable pleasure, the whole species thus delivered from its forrows; though at the same time, as we stood round the heap, and surveyed the several materials of which it was composed, there was scarcely a mortal, in this vaft multitude, who did not discover what he thought pleasures of life ; and wondered how the owners of them ever came to look upon them as burdens and grievances i..
As we were regarding very attentively this confusion of miseries, this chaos of calamity, Jupiter issued out a second proclamation, that every one was now at liberty to exchange his affliction, and return to his habitation with any such other bundle as should be delivered to him.
Upon this, Fancy began again to beftir herself, and, parcelling out the whole heap with incredible activity, recommended to every one his particular packet. The hurry and confusion at this time were not to be expreffed. Some observations which I made upon this occasion I shall communicate to the public. A venerable gray headed man, who had laid down the colic, and who I found wanted an heir to his estate, snatched up an undutiful son, that had been thrown into the heap by an angry father. The graceless youth, in less than a quarter of an hour, pulled the old gentleman by the beard, and had like to have knocked his brains out; so that meeting the true father, who came towards him with a fit of the gripes, he begged him to take his fon again, and give him back his colic; but they were incapable either of them to recede from the choice they had made. A poor galley flave, who had thrown down his chains, took up the gout in their itead, but made fuch wry faces, that one might ealily perceive be was no great gainer by the bargain. It was pleasant enough to see the several exchanges that were made, for fickness against poverty, hunger againit want of appetite, and care against pain.
The female world were very busy among themselves in bartering for features : one was trucking a lock of gray hairs for a carbuncle; another was making over a short waist for a pair of round shoulders ; and a third cheapening a bad face for a loft reputation : but on all these occa.. fions, there was not one of them who did not think the new blemish, as soon as she had got it into her poffeffion, much more disagreeable than the old one. I made the same ob. servation on every other misfortunę or calamity, which
every one in the assembly brought upon himself, in lieu of what he had parted with ; whether it be that all the evils which befal us are in fome nieasure suited and proportion. ed to our strength, or that every evil becomes more lupportable by our being accuitomed to it, I shall not determine.
I could not for my heart forbear pitying the poor humpbacked gentleman, mentioned in the former paper, who went off a very well-fhaped person with a stone in his blad. der ; nor the fine gentleman who had Itruck up this bar gain with him, that limped through a whole assembly of ladies who used to admire him, with a pair of shoulders peeping over his head.
I must not omit my own particular adventure. My friend with the long visage had no sooner taken upon him my short face, but
he made so grotesque a figure, that as I looked upon him I could not forbuar iaughing at myself, infomuch that I put my own face out of countenance. The poor gentleman was fo fenfible of the ridicule, that I found he was ashamed of what he had done : on the other fide, I found that I myself had no great reason to triumph, for as I went to touch my forehead, I missed the place, and clapped my finger upon my upper lip. Besides, as my nose was exceedingly prominent, I gave it two or three unlucky knocks as I was playing my hand about my face, and aiming at some other part of it. I saw two other gen. tlemen by me, who were in the fame ridiculous circumftances These had made a foolish exchange between a couple of thick bandy legs, and two long trap-sticks that had no calves to them One of these looked like a man walking upon Ailts, and was so lifted up into the air, above his ordinary height, that his head turned round with it ; while the other made fo awkward circles, as he attempted to walk, that he scarcely knew how to move forward upon his new supporters. Observing him to be a pleasant kind of fellow, I stuck my cane into the ground, and told him I would lay him a bottle of wine, that he did not march up to it, on a line that I drew for him, in a quarter of an hour.
The heap was at last distributed among the two sexes, who made a molt piteous fight, as they wandered up and down under the pressure of their several burdens. The whole plain was filled with murmurs and complaints, groans and lamentations. Jupiter, at length, taking com-, ment may bury him in the land, and of thirst which the wealthy have given half their poffeffions to allay? Do those on whom hereditary diamonds sparkle with unregard. ed lustre, gain from the poffeffion what is loft by the wretch who seeks them in the mine ; who lives excluded from the common bounties of nature ; to whom even the vicillitude of day and night is not known; who fighs in perpetual darkness, and whose life is one mournful alterna. tive of insensibility and labour? If those are not happy who possess in proportion as those are wretched who be
stow, how vain a dream is the life of man ! And if there is, indeed, such difference in the value of existence, how shall we acquit of partiality the hand by which this difference has been made ?
While my thoughts thus multiplied, and my heart burned within me, I became sensible of a sudden influence from above. The Atreets and the crowds of Mecca disappeared. I found myself fitting on the declivity of a mountain, and perceived at my right hand an angel, whom I knew to be Azoran, the minilter of reproof. When I saw him, I was afraid I cast my eyes upon the ground, and was about to deprecate his anger, when he commanded me to be filent. Almet," said he, “thou hast devoted thy life to meditation, that thy counsel might deliver ignorance from the mazes of error, and deter presumption from the preci. pice of guilt ; but the book of nature thou hast read without understanding : It is again open before thee : look up, consider it, and be wise."
I looked up, and beheld an enclosure, beautiful as the gardens of paradise, but of a small extent. Through the middle there was a green walk; at the end a wild desert; and beyond, impenetrable darkness. The walk was shad. ed with trees of every kind, that were covered at once with blossoms and fruit ; innumerable birds were singing in the branches; the grass was intermingled with flowers, which impregnated the breeze with fragrance, and painted the path with beauty. On the one side flowed a gentle transparent stream, which was just heard to murmur over the golden sands that sparkled at the bottom; and on the other were walks and bowers, fountains, grottos and cascades, which diversified the scene with endless variety, but did not conceal the bounds,
While I was gazing in a transport of delight and wonder on this enchanting fpot, I perceived a man stealing a.
loog the walk with a thoughtful and deliberate pace. His eyes were fixed upon the earth, and his arms crossed on his bosom ; he sometimes started as if a sudden pang had seized him; his countenance expressed solicitude and terror ; he looked round with a sigh, and having gazed a moment on the desert that lay before him, he seemed as if he wished to stop, but was impelled forward by some invisible power. His features, however, foon settled again into a calm melancholy; his eyes were again fixed on the ground, and he went on as before, with apparent reluctance, but without emotion. I was ftruck with this appearance; and turning haltily to the angel, was about to inquire, what could produce such infelicity in a being, furrounded with every object that could gratify every sense ; but he prevented my request ; " The book of nature,” said he, “is before thee; look up, consider it, and be wise." I looked, and beheld a valley between two mountains that were craggy and barren. On the path there was no ver, dure, and the mountains afforded no shade ; the sun burned in the zenith, and every spring was dried up: but the valley terminated in a country that was pleasant and fertile, shaded with woods, and adorned with buildings. At a second view, I discovered a man in this valley, meagre indeed and naked, but his countenance was cheerful, and his deportment active. He kept his eye
fixed upon the country before him, and looked as if he would have run, but that he was restrained, as the other had been impelled, by some secret influence. Sometimes, indeed I perceived a fudden expression of pain, and sometimes he stepped short as if his foot was pierced by the afperities of the way ; but the sprightliness of his countenance instantly returned, and he prefled forward without appearance of repining or complaint.
I turned again towards the angel, impatient to inquire from what secret source happiness was derived, in a litua: tion so different from that in which it might have been expected ; but he again prevented my request : "Almet," Taid he,“ remember what thou hast seen, and let this mem. orial be written upon the tablets of thy heart. Remember, Almet, that the world in which thou art placed, is but ile road to another; and that happiness depends not upon the path, but the end. The value of this period of thy exiltence is fixed by hope and fear. The wretch who wished to linger in the garden, who looked round upon its limits