Imágenes de páginas

any ad

shore of the Red Sea. When I cast my eye on me as a novice whom they had a right to cheat, the expanse of waters, my heart bounded like and who was to learn, at the usual expense, the that of a prisoner escaped. I felt an unextin- art of fraud. They exposed me to the theft of guishable curiosity kindle in my mind, and re- servants and the exaction of officers, and saw me solved to snatch this opportunity of seeing the plundered upon false pretences, without manners of other nations, and of learning sciences vantage to themselves, but that of rejoicing in unknown in Abyssinia.

the superiority of their own knowledge.”. “ I remembered that my father had obliged “Stop a moment,” said the Prince ; " is there me to the improvement of my stock, not by a such depravity in man, as that he should injure promise, which I ought not to violate, but by a another without benefit to himself? I can easily penalty, which I was at liberty to incur ; and conceive that all are pleased with superiority; therefore determined to gratify my predominant but your ignorance was merely accidental, desire, and, by drinking at the fountain of know. which, being neither your crime nor your folly, ledge, to quench the thirst of curiosity. could afford them no reason to applaud them

As I was supposed to trade without connec- selves; and the knowledge which they had, tion with my father, it was easy for me to be- and which you wanted, they might as effectualcome acquainted with the master of a ship, and ly have shewn by warning, as betraying you." procure a passage to some other country. I had “ Pride,” said Imlac, " is seldom delicate ; it no motives of choice to regulate my voyage. It will please itself with very mean advantages; was sufficient for me, that, wherever I wandered, and envy feels not its own happiness but when I should see a country which I had not seen be- it may be compared with the misery of others. fore. I therefore entered a ship bound for Surat, They were my enemies because they grieved to having left a letter for my father declaring my think me rich, and my oppressors because they intention.

delighted to find me weak.”

“ Proceed," said the Prince: “I doubt not of

the facts which you relate, but imagine that you CHAP. IX.

impute them to mistaken motives.

In this company,” said Imlac, “ I arrived The History of Imlac continued. at Agra, the capital of Indostan, the city in

which the Great Mogul commonly resides. I “ When I first entered upon the world of applied myself to the language of the country, waters, and lost sight of land, I looked round and in a few months was able to converse with about me in pleasing terror, and thinking my the learned men; some of whom I found mosoul enlarged by the boundless prospect, ima- rose and reserved, and others easy and commugined that I could gaze around for ever without nicative : some were unwilling to teach another satiety ; but, in a short time, I grew weary of what they had with difficulty learned themlooking on barren uniformity, where I could selves; and some shewed that the end of their only see again what I had already seen. I then studies was to gain the dignity of instructing. descended into the ship, and doubted for a while “ To the tutor of the young princes I recomwhether all my future pleasures would not end, mended myself so much, that I was presented like this, in gust and disappointment. Yet to the emperor as a man of uncommon knowledge. surely, said I, the ocean and the land are very The emperor asked me many questions condifferent; the only variety of water is rest and cerning my country and my travels; and though motion, but the earth has mountains and valleys, I cannot now recollect any thing that he utterdeserts and cities; it is inhabited by men of ed above the power of a common man, he disdifferent customs and contrary opinions, and I missed me astonished at his wisdom, and enamay hope to find variety in life, though I should moured of his goodness. miss it in nature.

“My credit was now so high, that the mer. “With this thought I quieted my mind; and chants with whom I had travelled applied to me amused myself during the voyage, sometimes by for recommendations to the ladies of the court. learning from the sailors the art of navigation, I was surprised at their confidence of solicitawhich I have never practised, and sometimes by tion, and gently reproached them with their forming schemes for my conduct in different si- practices on the road. They heard me with tuations, in not one of which I have been ever cold indifference, and shewed no tokens of shame placed.

“ I was almost weary of my naval amuse- “ They then urged their request with the ofments, when we safely landed at Surat. I secu- fer of a bribe : but what I would not do for red my money, and purchasing some commodi- kindness I would not do for money, and refused ties for show, joined myself to a caravan that them ; not because they had injured me, but was passing into the inland country. My com- because I would not enable them to injure panions, for some reason or other, conjecturing others; for I knew they would have made use that I was rich, and, by my inquiries and admi- of my credit to cheat those who should buy ration, finding that I was ignorant, considered

their wares.

or sorrow.

Having resided at Agra till there was no every thing with a new purpose; my sphere of more to be learned, I travelled into Persia, atiention was suddenly magnified; no kind of where I saw many remains of ancient magnific knowledge was to be overlooked. I ranged cence, and observed many new accomodations mountains and deserts for images and resemof life. T'he Persians are a nation eminenily blances, and pictured upon my mind every tree social, and their assemblies afforded me daily of the forest and flower of the valley. I obopportunities of remarking characters and mana served with equal care the crags of the rock and ners, and of tracing human nature through all the pinnacles of the palace. Sometimes I wanits variations.

dered along the mazes of the rivulet, and some“ From Persia I passed into Arabia, where I iimes watched the changes of the summer saw a nation pastoral and warlike ; who lived clouds. To a poet nothing can be useless. without any settled habitation, whose wealth is Whatever is beautiful, and whatever is dreadtheir flocks and herds, and who carried on, sil, must be familiar to his imagination ; he through ages, an hereditary war with mankind, must be conversant with all that is awfully vast, though they neither covet nor envy their pos- or elegantly little. The plants of the garden, sessions.

the animals of the wood, the minerals of the eartlı, and meteors of the sky, must all concur

to store his mind with inexhaustible variety; CHAP. X.

for every idea is useful for the enforcement or

decoration of moral or religious truth; and he Imlac's History continued. A Dissertation upon who knows most will have most power of diverPoetry.

sifying his scenes, and of gratifying his reader

with remote allusionsand unexpected instruction. “ WHEREVER I went, I found that poetry All the appearances of nature I was therewas considered as the highest learning, and re- fore careful to study; and every country which garded with a veneration somewhat approach. I have surveyed has contributed something to ing to that which man would pay to the angelic my poetical powers.” nature. And yet it fills me with wonder, that, in “In so wide a survey,” said the Prince, “you almost all countries, the most ancient poets are must surely have left much unobserved. I have considered as the best ; whether it be that every lived till now within the circuit of the mounother kind of knowledge is an acquisition gra- tains, and yet cannot walk abroad without the dually attained, and poetry is a gift conferred at sight of something which I had never beheld once; or that the first poetry of every nation before, or never heeded.” surprised them as a novelty, and retained the The business of a poet,” said Imlac, " is to credit by consent which it received by accident examine, not the individual, but the species; to at first; or whether, as the province of poetry remark general properties and large appearances : is to describe nature and passion, which are al. he does not number the streaks of the tulip, or ways the same, the first writers took possession describe the different shades of the verdure of of the most striking objects for description and the forest. He is to exhibit in his portraits of the most probable occurrences for fiction, and nature such prominent and striking features as left nothing to those that followed them but recal the original to every mind; and must netranscription of the same events, and new com- glect the minuter discriminations, which one may binations of the same images. Whatever be the have remarked, and another have neglected, for reason, it is commonly observed that the early those characteristics which are alike obvious to writers are in possession of nature, and their vigilance and carelessness. followers of art; that the first excel in strength “ But the knowledge of nature is only half and invention, and the latter in elegance and re- the task of a poet ; he must be acquainted likefinement.

wise with all the modes of life. His character “ I was desirous to add my name to this il. requires that he estimate the happiness and milustrious fraternity. I read all the poets of sery of every condition ; observe the power of all Persia and Arabia, and was able to repeat by the passions in all their combinations; and trace, memory the volumes that are suspended in the the changes of the human mind, as they are mosque of Mecca. But I soon found that no modified by various institutions and accidental man was ever great by imitation. My desire of influences of climate or custom, from the excellence impelled me to transfer my attention sprightliness of infancy to the despondence of to nature and to life. Nature was to be my decrepitude. He must divest himself of the subject, and men to be my auditors. I could prejudices of his age and country; he must never describe what I had not seen ; I could not consider right and wrong in their abstracted and hope to move those with delight or terror, invariable state; he must disregard present laws whose interests and opinions I did not under- and opinions, and rise to general and transcenstand.

dental truths, which will always be the same: “ Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw he must, therefore, content himself with the


slow progress of his name ; contemn the praise “When,” said the Prince with a sigh,“ shall of his own time, and commit his claims to the I be able to visit Palestine, and mingle with this justice of posterity. He must write as the in- mighty confluence of nations ! Till that happy terpreter of nature, and the legislator of man- moment shall arrive, let me fill up the time kind, and consider himself as presiding over the with such representations as thou canst give thoughts and manners of future generations, as I am not ignorant of the motive that asa being superior to time and place.

sembles such numbers in that place, and cannot “ His labour is not yet at an end: he must but consider it as the centre of wisdom and know many languages and many sciences; and, piety, to which the best and wisest men of every that his style may be worthy of his thoughts, land must be continually resorting.” must, by incessant practice, familiarise to him- “There are some nations,” said Imlac, “ that self every delicacy of speech and grace of har send few visitants to Palestine ; for many numony."

merous and learned sects in Europe concur to censure pilgrimage as superstitious, or deride it

as ridiculous.” CHAP. XI.

“ You know,” said the Prince, “ how little

my life has made me acquainted with diversity Imlac's Narrative continued. A Hint on Pil- of opinions : it will be too long to hear the are grimage.

guments on both sides ; you, that have consi

dered them, tell me the result.” ImLac now felt the enthusiastic fit, and was “ Pilgrimage,” said Imlac, “ like many other proceeding to aggrandize his own profession, acts of piety, may be reasonable or superstitious, when the Prince cried out,-“Enough! thou according to the principles upon which it is hast convinced me that no human being can performed. Long journeys in search of truth ever be a poet. Proceed with thy narration.” are not commanded. Truth, such as is neces

“ To be a poet,” said Imlac,“ is, indeed, sary to the regulation of life, is always found very difficult."

-“ So difficult,” returned the where it is honestly sought. Change of place is Prince, “that I will at present hear no more of no natural cause of the increase of piety, for it his labours. Tell me whither you went when inevitably produces dissipation of mind. Yet, you had seen Persia.”

since men go every day to view the fields where “ From Persia,” said the poet, “ I travelled great actions have been performed, and return through Syria, and for three years resided in with stronger impressions of the event, curiosity Palestine, where I conversed with great num- of the same kind may naturally dispose us to bers of the northern and western nations of view that country whence our religion had its Europe ; the nations which are now in posses- beginning ; and I believe no man surveys those sion of all power and all knowledge ; whose awful scenes without some confirmation of holy armies are irresistible, and whose feets com- resolutions. That the Supreme Being may be mand the remotest parts of the globe. When more easily propitiated in one place than in anI compared these men with the natives of our other, is the dream of idle superstition ; but that own kingdom and those that surround us, they some places may operate upon our own minds appeared almost another order of beings. În in an uncommon manner, is an opinion which their countries it is difficult to wish for any hourly experience will justify. He who supthing that may not be obtained : a thousand poses that his vices may be more successfully arts, of which we never heard, are continually combated in Palestine, will, perhaps, find himlabouring for their convenience and pleasure; self mistaken ; yet he may go thither without and whatever their own climate has denied folly: he who thinks they will be more freely them is supplied by their commerce.”

pardoned, dishonours at once his reason and re“By what means," said the Prince, " are the ligion.” Europeans thus powerful ? or why, since they These," said the Prince,“ are European can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or distinctions. I will consider them another time. conguest, cannot the Asiatics and Africans in- What have you found to be the effect of knowvade their coasts, plant colonies in their ports, ledge? Are those nations happier than we?" and give laws to their natural princes ? The “There is so much infelicity," said the poet, same wind that carries them back would bring " in the world, that scarce any man has leisure us thither.

from his own distresses to estimate the compa“ They are more powerful, sir, than we,” rative happiness of others. Knowledge is cer. answered Imlac, “ because they are wiser; tainly one of the means of pleasure, as is conknowledge will always prelominate over igno- fessed by the natural desire which every mnid rance, as man governs the other animals. But feels of increasing its ideas. Ignorance is mere why their knowledge is more than ours, I know privation, by which nothing can be produced ; not what reason can be given, but the unsearch- it is a vacuity in which the soul sits motionless able will of the Supreme Being."

and torpid for want of attraction ; and, without


[ocr errors]


knowing why, we always rejoice when we learn, I might repose, after my travels and fatigues, and grieve when we forget. I am therefore in- in the places where I had spent my earliest years, clined to conclude, that if nothing counteracts and gladden my old companions with the recital the natural consequences of learning, we grow of my adventures. Often did I figure to myself more happy as our minds take a wider range. those with whom I had sported away the gay

In enumerating the particular comforts of hours of dawning life, sitting round me in its life, we shall find many advantages on the side evening, wondering at my tales, and listening to of the Europeans. They cure wounds and dis- my counsels. eases, with which we languish and perish. We “ When this thought had taken possession of suffer inclemencies of weather, which they can my mind, I considered every moment as wasted obviate. They have engines for the dispatch of which did not bring me nearer to Abyssinia. I many laborious works, which we must perform hastened into Egypt, and, notwithstanding my by manual industry. There is such coinmunic impatience, was detained ten months in the concation between distant places, that one friend templation of its ancient magnificence, and in can hardly be said to be absent from another. inquiries after the remains of its ancient learnTheir policy removes all public inconveniences. ing. I found in Cairo a mixture of all nations ; They have roads cut through their mountains, some brought thither by the love of knowledge, and bridges laid upon their rivers. And, if we some by the hope of gain, many by the desire (lescend to the privacies of life, their habitations of living after their own manner without obserare more commodious, and their possessions are vation, and of lying hid in the obscurity of mulmore secure.”

titudes; for in a city populous as Cairo, it is “ They are surely happy,” said the Prince, possible to obtain at the same time the gratifi“ who have all these conveniences, of which I cations of society, and the secrecy of solitude. envy none so much as the facility with which “ From Cairo I travelled to Suez, and em-. separated friends interchange their thoughts.” barked on the Red Sea, passing along the coast

" The Europeans," answered Imlac, till I arrived at the port from which I had deless unhappy than we, but they are not happy. parted twenty years before. Here I joined myHuman life is every where a state in which much self to a caravan, and re-entered my native is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.” 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 CHAP. XII.

he had set upon riches, would own with glad

ness and pride a son who was able to add to the The Story of Imlac continued.

felicity and honour of the nation. But I was

soon convinced that my thoughts were vain. I am not willing,” said the Prince, “ to My father had been dead fourteen years, having suppose that happiness is so parsimoniously dis- divided his wealth among my brothers, who tributed to mortals ; nor can I believe, but that were removed to some other provinces. Of my if I had the choice of life, I should be able to companions, the greater part was in the grave; fill every day with pleasure. I would injure no of the rest, some could with difficulty remember man, and should provoke no resentments; I me, and some considered me as one corrupted would relieve every distress, and should enjoy by foreign manners. the benedictions of gratitude. I would choose A man used to vicissitudes is not easily demy friends among the wise, and my wife among jected. I forgot, after a time, my disappointthe virtuous; and therefore should be in no ment, and endeavoured to recommend myself to danger from treachery or unkindness. My chil- the nobles of the kingdom ; they admitted me dren should, by my care, be learned and pious, to their tables, heard my story, and dismissed and would repay to my age what their child- me. I opened a school, and was prohibited to hood had reeeived. What would dare to molest teach. I then resolved to sit down in the quiet him who might call on every side to thousands of domestic life, and addressed a lady that was enriched by his bounty, or assisted by his power? fond of my conversation, but rejected my suit And why should not life glide away in the soft because my father was a merchant. reciprocation of protection and reverence ? All “ Wearied at last with solicitation and rethis may be done without the help of European pulses, I resolved to hide myself for ever from refinements, which appear by their effects to be the world, and depend no longer on the opinion rather specious than useful. Let us leave them, or caprice of others. I waited for the time when and pursue our journey."

the gate of the Happy Valley should open, that I “ From Palestine," said Imlac, “ I passed might bid farewell to hope and fear; the day through many regions of Asia ; in the more ci- came; my perforinance was distinguished with vilized kingdoms as a trader, and among the favour, and I resigned myself with joy to per.barbarians of the mountains as a pilgrim. At petual confinement.” Last I began to long for my native country, that “ Hast thou here found happiness at last ?" said Rasselas. “ Tell me without reserve; art times overwhelmed by the waves of violence, thou content with thy condition? or dost thou and sometimes dashed against the rocks of trcawish to be again wandering and inquiring? All chery. Amidst wrongs and frauds, competitions the inhabitants of this valley celebrate their lot, and anxieties, you will wish a thousand times and, at the annual visit of the emperor, invite for these seats of quiet, and willingly quit hope others to partake of their felicity.”

to be free from fear.” “ Great Prince,” said Imlac, “ I shall speak “Do not seek to deter me from my purpose," the truth ; I know not one of all your attendants said the Prince : “ I am impatient to see what who does not lament the hour when he entered thou hast seen ; and since thou art thyself weary this retreat. I am less unhappy than the rest, of the valley, it is evident that thy former state because I have a mind replete with images, which was better than this. Whatever be the conseI can vary and combine at pleasure. I can amusequence of my experiment, I am resolved to my solitude by the renovation of the knowledge judge with mine own eyes of the various condiwhich begins to fade from my memory, and by tions of men, and then to make deliberately my recollection of the accidents of my past life. Yet choice of life.all this ends in the sorrowful consideration, that “I am afraid,” said Imlac, “ you are hindermy acquirements are now useless, and that none ed by stronger restraints than my persuasions ; of my pleasures can be again enjoyed. The rest, yet, if your determination is fixed, I do not counwhose minds have no impression but of the pre- sel you to despair. Few things are impossible sent moment, are either corroded by malignant to diligence and skill.” passions, or sit stupid in the gloom of perpetual vacancy." “What passions can infest those,” said the

CHAP. XIII. Prince, “who have no rivals? We are in a place where impotence precludes malice, and where Rassclas discovers the Means of Escape. all envy is repressed by community of enjoyments.

The Prince now dismissed his favourite to “ There may be community,” said Imlac,“ of rest, but the narrative of wonders and novelties material possessions, but there can never be com- filled his mind with perturbation. He revolved munity of love or of esteem. It must happen all that he had heard, and prepared innumerathat one will please more than another; he that ble questions for the morning. knows himself despised will always be envious; Much of his uneasiness was now removed. and still more envious and malevolent if he is He had a friend to whom he could impart his condemned to live in the presence of those who thoughts, and whose experience could assist him despise him. The invitations, by which they in his designs. His heart was no longer conallure others to a state which they feel to be demned to swell with silent vexation. He wretched, proceed from the natural malignity thought that even the Happy Valley might be enof hopeless misery. They are weary of them- dured with such a companion ; and that, if they selves, and of each other, and expect to find re- could range the world together, he should have lief in new companions. They envy the liberty nothing further to desire. which their folly has forfeited, and would gladly In a few days the water was discharged, and see all mankind imprisoned like themselves. the ground dried. The Prince and Imlac then

“From this crime, however, I am wholly free. walked out together, to converse without the noNo man can say that he is wretched by my per- tice of the rest. The Prince, whose thoughts suasion. I look with pity on the crowds who were always on the wing, as he passed by the are annually soliciting admission to captivity, gate, said, with a countenance of sorrow,“ Why and wish that it were lawful for me to warn art thou so strong, and why is man so weak?" them of their danger."

“ Man is not weak," answered his compa“My dear Imlac," said the Prince, “ I will nion. “ Knowledge is more than equivalent open to thee my whole heart. I have long me- to force. The master of mechanics laughs at ditated an escape from the Happy Valley. I have strength. I can burst the gate, but cannot do examined the mountain on every side, but find it secretly. Some other expedient must be tried.” myself insuperably barred. Teach me the way As they were walking on the side of the mounto break my prison; thou shalt be the compa- tain, they observed that the conies, which the nion of my flight, the guide of my rambles, the rain had driven from their burrows, had taken partner of my fortune, and my sole director in shelter among the bushes, and formed holes bethe choice of life.

hind them, tending upwards in an oblique line. “Sir,” answered the poet, your escape will “ It has been the opinion of antiquity,” said be difficult ; and, perhaps, you may soon repent Imlac, “that human reason borrowed many arts your curiosity. The world, which you figure to from the instinct of animals; let us, therefore, yourself smooth and quiet as the lake in the val. not think ourselves degraded by learning from ley, you will find a sea foaming with tempests, the cony. We may escape by piercing the mounand boiling with whirlpools: you will be some- tain in the same dircction. We will begin where

« AnteriorContinuar »