« ПредишнаНапред »
that afflict the minds of men. I saw, with unspeakable pleasure, the whole species thus delivered from its sorrows; 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 vast multitude, who did not discover what he thought pleasures of life ; and won dered how the owners of them ever came to look
them as burdens and grievances.
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 to return to his habitation with any such other bundle as should be delivered to him.
Upon this, Fancy began again to bestir 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 expressed. 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 son 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 slave, who had thrown down his chains, took up the gout in their stead, but made such wry faces, that one might easily perceive he was no great gainer by the bargain. pleasant enough to see the several exchanges that were made, for sickness against poverty, hunger against 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 ; and another was making over a short waist for a pair of round shoulders ; and a third cheapening a bad face for a lost reputation : but on all these occasions, there was not one of them who did not think the new blemish, as soon as she had got it into her possession, much more disagreeable than the old one. I made the same observation on every other misfortune 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 befan us are in some measure suited and proportioned to our strength, or that every evil becomes more supportable by our being accustomed 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-shaped person with a stone in his bladder; nor the fine gentleman who had struck up this bargain with him, that limped through a whole assembly of ladies who used to admire him, with a pair of shoulders peeping over bis head.
I must not omit my own particular adventure. My friend with the long visage had no sooner taken upon
short face, but he made so grotesque a figure, that as I looked upon him I could not forbear laughing at myself, insomuch that I put my own face out of countenance. The poor gentleman was so sensible of the ridicule, that I found he was ashamed of what he had done : on the other side, 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 gentlemen by me, who were in the same ridiculous circumstances. 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 stilts, and was so lifted up into the air, above his ordinary height, that his head turned round with it ; while the other made so 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 in 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 most piteous sight, 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 compassion on the poor mortals, ordered them a second time to lay down their loads, with a design to give every one his own again. They discharged themselves with a great deal of pleaşure : after
which, the phantom who had led them into such gross delusions, was commanded to disappear. There was sent in her stead a goddess of a quite different figure : her motions were steady and composed, and her aspect serious but cheerful. She every now and then cast her eyes towards heaven, and fixed them upon Jupiter : her name was PATIENCE. She had no sooner placed herself by the mount of Sorrows, but what I thought very remarkable, the whole heap sunk to such a degree, that it did not appear a third part so big as it was before. She afterwards returned every man his own proper calamity, and, teaching him how to bear it in the most commodious manner, be marched off with it contentedly, being very well pleased that he had not been left to his own choice, as to the kind of evils which fell to his lot.
Besides the several pieces of morality to be drawn out of this vision, I learned from it never to repine at my own misfortunes, or to envy the happiness of another, since it is impossible for any man to form a right judgment of his neighbour's sufferings ; for which reason also, I bave determined never to think too lightly of another's complaints, but to regard the sorrows of my fellow-creatures with sentiments of humanity and compassion.
The Vision of Almet.
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose :
ALMET, the dervise who watched the sacred lamp in the sepulcbre of the prophet, as he one day rose up from the devotions of the morning, which he had performed at the gate of the temple, with his body turned towards the east, and his forehead on the earth, saw before him a man in splendid apparel, attended by a long retinue, who gazed steadfastly on bim, with a look of mournful complacency, and seemed desirous to speak, but unwilling to offend.
The dervise, after a short silence, advanced, and saluting him with the calm dignity which independence confers upon bumility, requested that he would reveal his purpose.
For this pur
Almet, ,' said the stranger, “ thou seest before thee a man whom the band of prosperity has overwhelmed with wretchedness. Whatever I once desired as the means of happiness, I now possess; but I am not yet happy, and therefore I despair. I regret the lapse of time, because it glides away without enjoyment ; and as I expect nothing in the future but the vanities of the past, I do not wish that the future should arrive. Yet I tremble lest it should be cut off ;
heart sinks, when I anticipate the moment, in which eternity shall close over the vacuity of my life, like the sea upon the path of a ship, and leave no traces of existence more durable than the furrow which remains after the waves have united. If in the treasures of thy wisdom, there is any precept to obtain felicity, vouchsafe it to me. pose, I am come : a purpose which yet I feared to reveal. lest, like all the former, it should be disappointed.” Almet listened with looks of astonishment and pity, to this complaint of a being, in whom reason was known to be a pledge of immortality : but the serenity of his countenance soon returned ; and stretching out his hands towards heaven,“ Stranger," said he, “ the knowledge which I have received from the prophet, I will communicate to thee.”
As I was sitting one evening at the porch of the temple, pensive and alone, my eye wandered among the multitude that was scattered before me; and while I remarked the weariness and solicitude which were visible in every countenance, I was sụddenly struck with a sense of their condition. Wretched mortals, said I, to what purpose are you busy? If to produce bappiness, by whom is it enjoyed ? Do the linens of Egypt and the silks of Persia, bestow.felicity on those who wear them, equal to the wretchedness of yonder slaves, whom I see leading the camels that bring them? Is the fineness of the texture, or the splendour of the tints, regarded with delight by those, to whom custom has rendered them familiar? or can the power of habit render others insensible of pain, who live only to traverse the desert; a scene of dreadful uniformity, where a barren level is bounded only by the horizon; where to change of prospect, or variety of images, relieves the traveller from a sense of toil and danger; of whirlwinds which in a moment may bury him in the sand, and of thirst which the wealthy have given half their possessions to allay ? Do those on whong hereditary diamonds sparkle with unregarded lustre, gain from the possession what is lost by the wretch who seeks
theni in the mine ; who lives excluded from the common bounties of nature ; to whom even the vicissitude of day and night is not known ; who sighs in perpetual darkness, and whose life is one mournful alternative of inseasibility and labour ? If those are not happy, who possess, in proportion as those are wretched who bestow, how vain a dream is the life of man! And if there is, indeed, such difference in the valụe 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 I became sensible if a sudden influence from above, The streets and the crowds of Mecca disappeared. I found myself sitting on the declivity of a mountain, and perceived at my right hand an angel, whom I knew to be Azoran, the minister 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 silent. “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 precipice of guilt ; but the book of nature thou hast read without understanding : it is again opened 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 shaded 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 trasparent 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 spot, I perceived a man stealing along 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 de