Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Pride, who generally betrayed her confidence, and employ. ed all her skill to support Passion; and if ever she did her duty, was found unable to prevail, if Habit had interposed.

I soon found that the great danger to the followers of Re. ligion, was only from Habit; every other power was easily resisted, nor did they find any difficulty when they inadvertently quitted her, to find her again by the direction of Conscience, unless they had given time to Habit to draw her chain behind them, and bar up the way by which they had wandered. Of some of those, the condition was justly to be pitied, who turned at every call of Conscience, and tried, but without effect, to burst the chains of habit : saw religion walking forward at a distance, saw her with reverence, and longed to join her ; but were, whenever they approached her, withheld by habit, and languished in sordid bondage, which they could not escape, though they scorned and hated it.

It was evident that the Habits were so far from growing weaker by these repeated contests, that if they were not totally overcome, every struggle enlarged their bulk, and increased their strength; and a Habít, opposed and victorious, was more than twice as strong, as before the contest. The manner in which those who were weary of their tyranny endeavoured to escape from them, appeared by the event to be generally wrong ; they tried to loose their chains one by one, and to retreat by the same degrees as they advanced; but before the deliverance was completed, Habit always threw new chains upon her fugitive. Nor did any escape her but those who, by an effort sudden and violent, burst their shackles at once, and left her at a distance; and ever of these, many, rushing too precipitately forward, and hindered by their terrors from stopping where they were safe, were fatigued with their own vehemence, and resigned themselves again to that power from whom an escape must be so dearly bought, and whose tyranny was little felt, except when it was resisted.

Some however there always were, who, when they found Habit prevailing over them, called upon Reason or Religion for assistance : each of them willingly came to the succour of her suppliant; but neither with the same strength, nor the same success. Habit, insolent with her power, would often presume to parley with Reason, and offer to loose some of her chains if the rest might remain. To this, Reason, who was never certain of victory, frequently consented, but al:

o

Hards, generally delivered over to Avarice, and enlisted by her in the service of Tyranny, where they continued to heap up gold, till their patrons or their heirs pushed them head long at last into the caverns of Despair.

Others were enticed by Intemperance to ramble in search of those fruits that hung over the rocks, and filled the air with their fragrance. I observed that the Habits which bovéred about these soon grew to an enormous size, nor were there

any who less attempted to return to Reason, or sooner sunk into the gulfs that lay before them. When these first quitted the road, Reason looked after them with a frown of contempt, but had little expectation of being able to reclaim them ; for the bowl of intoxication was of such qualities as to make them lose all regard but for the present moment. Neither Hope nor Fear could enter the retreats ; and Habit had so absolute a power, that even Conscience, if Religion had employed her in their favour, would not have been able to force an entrance.

There were others whose crime it was rather to neglect Reason than to disobey her; and who retreated from the heat and tumult of the way, not to the bowers of Intemperance, but to the maze of indolence. They had this peculiarity in their condition, that they were always in sight of the road of reason, always wishing for her presence, and always resolving to return to-morrow. In these, was most eminently conspicuous the subtlety of Habit, who hung imperceptible shackles upon them, and was every moment leading them farther from the road, which they always imagined that they had the power of reaching. They wandered on, from one double of the labyrinth to another, with the chains of Habit hanging secretly upon them, till, as they advanced, the flowers grew paler, and the scents fainter: they proceeded in their dreary march without pleasure in their progress, yet without power to return; and had this aggravation above all others, that they were criminal but not delighted. The drunkard for a time laughed over his wine; the ambitious man triumphed in the miscarriage of his rival; but the captives of Indolence had neither superiority nor merriment. Discontent lowered in their looks, and Sadness hovered round their shades ; yet they crawled on reluctant and gloomy, till they arrived at the depth of the recess, varied only with poppies and nightshade, where the dominion of Indolence terminates, and the hopeless wanderer is delivered up to Melancholy: the chains of Habit are rivetted for ever;

1

and Melancholy, having tortured her prisoner for a time, consigns him at last to the cruelty of Despair.

While I was musing on this miserable scene, my protector called out to me, “ Remember, Theodore, and be wise, and let not Habit prevail against thee.” I started, and beheld myself surrounded by the rocks of Teneriffe ; the birds of light were singing in the trees, and the glances of the morning darted upon me.

DR. JOHNSON

02

PÁRT II.

PIECES IN POETRY.

CHAPTER I.

NARRATIVE PIECES.

SECTION 1.

The chameleon ; or pertinacity exposed OFT has it been my lot to mark A proud, conceited, talking spark, With eyes that hardly serv'd at most To guard their master 'gainst a post; Yet round the world the blade has been, To see whatever could be seen : Returning from his finish'd tour, Grown ten times perter than before ; Whatever word you chance to drop, The travell’d fool your mouth will stop : “ But, if my judgment you'll allow I've seen—and sure I ought to know": So begs you'd pay a due submission, And acquiesce in his decision.

Two travellers of such a cast, As o’er Arabia's wilds they pass'd, And on their way, in friendly chat, Now talk'd of this, and then of that, Discours'd a while, 'mongst other matter, Of the chameleon's form and nature, A stranger animal,” cries one, « Sure never liv'd beneath the sun ! A lizard's body, lean and long, A fish's head, a serpent's tongue, Its foot with triple claw disjoin'd; And what a length of tail behind ! How slow its pace! and then its hueWhoever saw so fine a blue ?"

[ocr errors]

Hold there," the other quick replies,
“ 'Tis green-I saw it with these eyes,
As late with open mouth it lay,
And warm'd it in the sunny ray ;
Stretch'd at its ease the beast I view'd,
And saw it eat the air for food.”

“I've seen it, friend, as well as you
And must again affirm it blue.
At leisure I the beast survey'd,
Extended in the cooling shade."

“ 'Tis green, 'tis green, I can assure ye." “Green !" cries the other in a fury

Why, do you think I've lost my eyes ?”
“ 'Twere no great loss,” the friend replies,
“ For if they always serve you thus,
You'll find them but of little use."

So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows :
When luckily came by a third
To bim the question they referr'd;
And begg'd he'd tell 'em, if he knew,
Whether the thing was green or blue.

“Come," cries the umpire, “cease your pother,
The creature's neither one nor t'other:
I caught the animal last night,
And view'd it o'er by candle light :
I mark'd it well—'twas black as jet-
You stare—but I have got it yet,
And can produce it." Pray then do:
For I am sure the thing is blue."
“And I'll engage that when you've seen
The reptile, you'll pronounce him green."

“ Well then, at once to ease the doubt,"
Replies the man, “ I'll turn him out :
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him."

He said ; then full before their sight
Produc'd the beast, and lo- 'twas white !
Both stard : the man look'd wondrous wise-
My children," the chameleon cries,
(Then first the creature found a tongue,
di You all are right, and all are wrong:
When next you talk of what you view,
Think others see as well as you :

« AnteriorContinuar »