Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

no voracious or destructive animals, which only prey on the other parts of the creation.” “Your tenderness for inferior animals is, I find, remarkable,” said the genius, smiling. “But with regard to meaner creatures, this world exactly resembles the other; and, indeed, for obvious reasons: for the earth can support a more considerable number of animals, by their thus becoming food for each other, than if they lived entirely on her vegetable productions. So that animals of different natures thus formed, instead of lessening their multitude, subsist in the greatest number possible. But let us hasten on to the inhabited country before us, and see what that offers for instruction.”

They soon gained the utmost verge of the forest, and entered the country inhabited by men without vice; and Asem anticipated in idea the rational delight he hoped to experience in such an innocent society. But they had scarce left the confines of the wood, when they beheld one of the inhabitants flying with hasty steps, and terror in his countenance, from an army of squirrels that closely pursued him. “Heavens!", cried Asem, “why does he fly? What can he fear from animals so contemptible ?" He had scarce spoken, when he perceived two dogs pursuing another of the human species, who, with equal terror and haste, attempted to avoid them. “This,” cried Asem to his guide, “is truly surprising; nor can I conceive the reason for so strange an action.” * Every species of animals,” replied the genius,“ has of late grown very powerful in this country; for the inhabitants, at first, thinking it unjust to use either fraud or force in destroying them, they have insensibly increased, and now frequently ravage their harmless frontiers.” But they should have been destroyed,” cried Asem; ‘ you see the consequence of such neglect.” Where is then that tenderness you so lately expressed for subordinate animals p" replied the genius, smiling : “you seem to have forgot that branch of justice." “I must acknowledge my mistake,” returned Asem “I am now convinced, that we must be guilty of tyranny and injustice to the brute creation, if we would enjoy the world our. selves. But let us no longer observe the duty of man to these irrational creatures, but survey their connexions with one another."

As they walked further up the country, the more he was sur. prised to see no vestiges of handsome houses, no cities, nor any mark of elegant design. His conductor, perceiving his surprise, observed, " That the inhabitants of this new world were perfectly content with their ancient simplicity ; each had a house, which, though homely, was sufficient to lodge his little family; they were too good to build houses, which could only increase their own pride, and the envy of the spectator; what they built was for conveniency, and not for show.” “At least, then,” said Asem, “they have neither architects, painters, nor statuaries in their society ; but these are idle arts, and may be spared. However, before I spend much more time here, you shall have my thanks for introducing me into the society of some of their wisest men: there is scarce any pleasure to me equal to a refined conversation; there is nothing of which I am so enamoured as wisdom.” “Wisdom!"

66

66

66

66

replied his instructor, “how ridiculous! We have no wisdom here, for we have no occasion for it; true wisdom is only a knowledge of our own duty, and the duty of others to us; but of what use is wisdom here? each intuitively performs what is right in himself, and expects the same from others. If by wisdom you should mean vain curiosity, and empty speculation, as such plea-, sures have their origin in vanity, luxury, or avarice, we are too good to pursue them.” “All this may be right,” says Asem; “but methinks I observe a solitary disposition prevail among the people; each family keeps separately within its own precincts, without society, or without intercourse.” That indeed is true," replied the other; "here is no established society ; nor should there be any: all societies are made either through fear or friendship; the people we are among are too good to fear each other, and there are no motives to private friendship, where all are equally meritorious. Well then,” said the sceptic, “ as I am to spend my time here, if I am to have neither the polite arts, nor wisdom, nor friendship in such a world, I should be glad, at least, of an easy companion, who may tell me his thoughts, and to whom I may communicate mine." And to what purpose should either do this P” says the genius : "flattery or curiosity are vicious motives, and never allowed of here: and wisdom is out of the question.”

Still, however,” said Asem, “the inhabitants must be happy; each is contented with his own possessions, nor avariciously endeavours to heap up more than is necessary for his own subsistence : each has therefore leisure for pitying those that stand in need of his compassion." He had scarce spoken when his ears were assailed with the lamentations of a wretch who sat by the way-side, and, in the most deplorable distress, seemed gently to murmur at his own misery. Asem immediately ran to his relief, and found him in the last stage of a consumption. "Strange, cried the son of Adam, “ that men who are free from vice should thus suffer so much misery without relief!”. “Be not surprised," said the wretch, who was dying; "would it not be the utmost injustice for beings, who have only just sufficient to support themselves, and are content with a bare subsistence, to take it from their own mouths to put into mine? They never are possessed of a single meal more than is necessary; and what is barely necessary cannot be dispensed with.' They should have been supplied with more than is necessary,” cried Asem ; "and yet I contradict my own opinion but a moment before : all is doubt, perplexity, and confusion. Even the want of ingratitude is no virtue here, since they never receive a favour. They have, however, another excellency yet behind; the love of their country is still, I hope, one of their darling virtues.” “ Peace, Asem," replied the guardian, with a countenance not less severe than beautiful, “ nor forfeit all thy pretensions to wisdom; the same selfish motives by which we prefer our own interest to that of others, induce us to regard our country preferably to that of another. Nothing less than universal benevolence is free from vice, and that you see is practised here." “Strange!” cries the disappointed pilgrim, in an agony of distress ;

66

O my

“what sort of a world am I now introduced to ? There is scarce a single virtue, but that of temperance, which they practise ; and in that they are no way superior to the very brute creation. There is scarcely an amusement which they enjoy : fortitude, liberality, friendship, wisdom, conversation, and love of country, all are virtues entirely unknown here ; thus it seems_that to be un. acquainted with vice is not to know virtue. Take me, genius, back to that very world which I have despised ; a world which has Alla for its contriver, is much more wisely formed than that which has been projected by Mahomet. Ingratitude, con, tempt, and hatred I can now suffer, for perhaps I have deserved them. When I arraigned the wisdom of Providence, I only showed my own ignorance; henceforth let me keep from vice myself, and pity it in others."

He had scarce ended, when the genius, assuming an air of terrible complacency, called all his thunders around him, and vanished in a whirlwind. Asem, astonished at the terror of the scene, looked for his imaginary world; when casting his eyes around he perceived himself in the very situation, and in the very place, where he first began to repine and despair; his right foot had been just advanced to take the fatal plunge, nor had it been yet withdrawn; so instantly did Providence strike the series of truths just imprinted on his soul. He now departed from the water-side in tranquillity, and, leaving his horrid mansion, travelled to Segestan, his native city ; where he diligently applied himself to commerce, and put in practice that wisdom he had learned in his solitude. The frugality of a few years soon produced opulence; the number of his domestics increased; his friends came to him from every part of the city ; nor did he receive them with disdain ; and a youth of misery was concluded with an old age of elegance

and ease.

Summer Evening. WRITTEN IN WILFORD CHURCHYARD, ON RECOVERY FROM

SICKNESS.

KIRKE WHITE.
HERE would I wish to sleep.-- This is the spot
Which I have long mark'd out to lay my bones in ;
Tired out and wearied with the riotous world,
Beneath this yew I would be sepulchred.
It is a lovely spot! the sultry sun
From his meridian height, endeavours vainly
To pierce the shadowy foliage, while the zephyr
Comes wafting gently o'er the rippling Trent,
And plays about my wan cheek. 'Tis a nook
Most pleasant; such a one perchance

did Gray

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

Frequent, as with a vagrant muse he wanton'd.
Come, I will sit me down and meditate,
For I am wearied with my summer's walk;
And here I may repose in silent ease;
And thus, perchance, when life's sad journey's o'er,
My harass'd soul, in this same spot, may find
The haven of its rest-beneath this sod
Perchance may sleep it sweetly, sound as death.
I would not have my corse cemented down
With brick and stone, defrauding the poor earth-worm
Of its predestined dues; no, I would lie
Beneath a little hillock, grass-o'ergrown,
Swathed down with osiers, just as sleep the cotters.
Yet may not undistinguish'd be my grave;
But there at eve may some congenial soul
Duly resort, and shed a pious tear,
The good man's benison-no more I ask.
And oh! (if heavenly beings may look down.
From where, with cherubim inspired, they sit,
Upon this little dim-discover'd spot,
The earth), then will I cast a glance below,
On him who thus my ashes shall embalm;
And I will weep, too, and will bless the wanderer,
Wishing he may not long be doom'd to pine
In this low-thoughted world of darkling woe,
But that, ere long, he reach his kindred skies.

Yet 'twas a silly thought; as if the body,
Mouldering beneath the surface of the earth,
Could taste the sweets of summer scenery,
And feel the freshness of the balmy breeze!
Yet nature speaks within the human bosom,
And, spite of reason, bids it look beyond
Its narrow verge of being, and provide
A decent residence for its clayey shell,
Endear'd to it by time. And who would lay
His body in the city burial-place,
To be thrown up again by some rude sexton,
And yield its narrow house another tenant,
Ere the moist flesh had mingled with the dust,
Ere the tenacious hair had left the scalp,
Exposed to insult lewd and wantonness?
No, I will lay me in the village ground;
There are the dead respected. The poor hind,
Unletter'd as he is, would scorn t’invade
The silent resting-place of death. I've seen
The labourer, returning from his toil,
Here stay his steps, and call his children round,
And slowly spell the rudely-sculptured rhymes,
And, in his rustic manner, moralize.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »