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spiracious eye could see but a little way. It appeared to be full of rocks and whirlpools; for many sunk unexpectedly while they were courting the gale with full sails, and insulting those whom they had left behind.
So numerous, indeed, were the dangers, and so thick the darkness, that no cantion could confer security. Yet there were many, who, by false intelligence, betrayed their followers into whirlpools, or by violence pushed those whom they found in their way against the rocks.
The current was invariable and insurmountable; but though it was impossible to sail against it, or to return to the place that was once passed, yet it was not so violent as to allow no opportunity for dexterity or courage, since, though none could retreat back from danger, yet they might often avoid it by oblique direction.
It was, however, not very common to steer with much care or prudence; for, by some universal infatuation, every man appeared to think himself safe, though he saw his consorts every moment sinking round him; and no sooner had the waves closed over them, ihan their fate and their misconduct were forgotten; the voyage was pursued with the same jocund confidence; every man congratulated himself upon the soundness of his vessel, and believed himself able to stem the whirlpool in which his friend was swallowed, or glide over the rocks on which he was dashed : nor was it often observed that the sight of a wreck made any man change his course ; if he turned aside for a moinent, he soon forgot his rudder, and left himself again to the disposal of chance.
This negligence did not proceed from indifference, or from weariness of their present condition : for not one of those who thus rushed upon destruction, failed, when he was sinking, to call loudly upon his associates for that help which could not now be given him; and many spent their last moments in cautioning others against the folly by which they were intercepted in the midst of their course. Their benevolence was sometimes praised, but their admonitions were unregarded.
The vessels in which they embarked, being confessedly unequal to the turbulence of the stream of life, were visibly impaired in the course of the voyage; so that every passenger was certain that how long soever he might, hy favourable accidents, or by incessant vigilance be preserved, he must sink at last.
This vecessity of perishing might have been expected to sadden the gay, and intimidate the daring; at least to keep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, and hinder them from any enjoyment of the varieties and gratifications which nature offered them as the solace of their labours ; y
in effect none seemed less to expect destruction than those to whom it was most dreadful; they all had the art of concealing their danger from themselves; and those who knew their inability to bear the sight of the terrors that embarrassed theirway, took care never to look forward, but found some amusement of the present moment, and generally entertained themselves by playing with hope, who was the constant associate of the voyage of life. Yet all that hope ventured to promise, even to those, she favoured most, was, not that they should escape, but that they should sink at last; and with this promise every one was satisfied, though he laughed at the rest for seeming to believe it. Hope, indeed, apparently mocked the credulity of
. her companions; for, in proportion as their vessels grew leaky, she redoubled her assurance of safety; and none were more busy in making provision for a long voyage, than they whom all but themselves saw likely to perish soon by irreparable decay.
In the midst of the current of life was the gulph of intemperance, a dreadful whirlpool interspersed with rocks, of which the pointed crags were concealed under water; and the tops covered with herbage, on which ease spread couches of repose; and with shades, where pleasure warbled the song of invitation. Within the sight of these rocks, all who sailed on the ocean of life must necessarily pass. Reason indeed was always at hand to steer the passengers through a narrow outlet, by which they might escape; but very few could by her remonstrances, be in
, duced to put the rudder into her hand, without stipulating that she should approach so near unto the rocks of pleasure, that they might solace themselves with a short enjoyment of that delicious region, after which they always determined to pursue their course without any other deviation.
Reason was too often prevailed upon so far by these promises, as to venture her charge within the eddy of the gulph of intemperance, where, indeed, the circumvolution was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel, and drew it, by insensible rotations, towards the centre. She then repented her temerity, and with all her force endeavoured to retreat; but the draught of the gulph was generally too strong to be overcome; and the passenger, having danced his circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, was at last overwhelmed and lost. Those few whom reason was able to extricate, generally suffered so many shocks upon the points which shot out from the rocks of pleasure, that they were unable to continue their course with the same strength and facility as before ; but floated along timorously and feebly, endangered by every breeze, and shattered by every rufile of the water, till they sunk, by slow legrees, after long struggles and innumerable expedients; al
ways repining at their own folly, and warning otisers against the first approach of the gulph of intemperance.
There were artists who professed to repair the breaches, and stop the leaks of the vessels which had been shattered on the rocks of pleasure. Many appeared to bave great confidence in their skill, and some, indeed, were preserved by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow ; but I reinarked that few vessels lasted long which had been much repaired, nor was it found that the artists themselves continued afloat longer than those who had least of their assistance.
The only advantage which, in the voyage of life, the cautious had above the negligent, was, that they sunk later, and more suddenly ; for they passed forward till they had sometimes seen all those in whose company they bad issued from the streights of infancy, perish in the way and at last were overset by a cross breeze, without the toil of resistance, or the anguish of expectation. But such as bad often fallen against the rocks of pleasure, commonly subsided by sensible degrees, contended long with the encroaching waters, and harassed themselves by labours that scarce hope herself could flatter with success.
As I was looking upon the various fates of the multitude abo:it me, I was suddenly alarmed with an admonitivn from some unknown power, “ Gaze not idly upon others, when thou thyselt art sinking! Whence is this thoughtless tranquillity, when thou and they are equally endangered?” I looked, and seeing the gulph of intemperance before me, I started and awoke.
MARRATON AND YARATILDA.
AN INDIAN TRADITION. In account of the ideas which are entertained by the American
Indians respecting the souls of all tangible objects. The Americans believe that all creatures have souls, not only men and women, but brutes, vegetables, nay, even the most inanimate things, as stocks and stones. They believe the same of all the works of art, as of knives, boats, looking-glasses : and that as any of those things perish, their souls go into another world, which is inhabited by the ghosts of men and women.
For this reason they always place by the corpes of their dead friend, a bow and arrows, that he may make use of the souls of them in the other world, as he did of their wooden bodies in this. How absurd soever such an opinion as this may appear, our European pliilosophers have maintained several notions altogether as improbable. Some of Plato's followers in pa,
ticular, when they talk of the world of ideas, entertain us with substance and beings no less extravagant and chimerical.
Many Aristotelians have likewise spoken as unintelligibly of their substantial forms. I shall only instance Albertus Magnus, who in his dissertation upon the load-stone, observing that fire will destroy its magnetic virtues, tells us that he took particular notice of one as it lay glowing amidst a beap of burning coals, and that be perceived a certain blue vapour to arise from it, which he believed might be the substantial form, that is, in our West Indian phrase, the soul of the load-stone.
There is a tradition among the Americans, that one of their countrymen descended in a vision to the great repository of souls, or as we call it here, to the other world; and that, upon his return, he gave his friends a distinct account of every thing he saw among those regions of the dead. A friend of mine, whom I have formerly mentioned, prevailed upon one of the Interpreters of the Indian kings, to enquire of them, what traditions they have among them of this matter; which, as well as he could learn by those many questions which he asked them at several times, was in substance as follows.
The visionary, whose name was Marraton, after having travelled for a long space under a hollow mountain, arrived at
a length on the confines of this world of spirits, but could not cnter it by reason of a thick forest made up of bushes, brambles, and pointed thorns so perplexed and interwoven with one another, that it was impossible to find a passage through it.
Whilst he was looking about for some track or path-way that might be worn in any part of it, he saw a huge lion couched under the side of it who kept his eye upon him in the same posture as when he watches for his prey. The Indian immediately started back, whilst the lion rose with a spring, and leaped towards him. Being wholly destitute of all other weapons, he stooped down to take up a huge stone in his hands; but to his infinite surprise, grasped nothing, and found the supposed stone to be only the apparition of one. If he was disappointed on this side, he was as much pleased on the other, when he found the lion, which had seized cn his left shoulder had no power to hurt him, and was only the ghost of that ravenous creature which it appeared to be. He no soover got rid of this impotent enemy, but he marched up to the wood, and after having surveyed it for some time, endeavoured to press into one part of it that was a little thinner than the rest; when again to his great surprise, he found the bushes made no resistance, but that he walked through briers and brambles with the same ease as through the open air; and in short, that the whole wood was othing else but a wood of shades. He immediately concluded,
that this huge thicket of thorns and brakes was designed as a kind of fence or quick-set hedge to the ghosts it enclosed; and that probably their soft substances might be these subtle points and prickles, which were too weak to make any impression on flesh and blood. With this thought he resolved to travel through this intricate wood: when by degrees he felt a gale of perfumes breathing upon him, that grew stronger and sweeter in proportion as he advanced. He had not proceeded much further, when he observed the thorns and briers to end, and give place to a thousand beautiful green trees covered with blossoms of the finest scents and colours, that formed a wilderness of sweets, and were a kind of lining to those ragged scenes which he had before passed through. As he was coming out of this delightful part of the wood, and entering upon the plains it enclosed, he saw several borsemen rushing by him, and a little while after beard the cry of a pack of dogs. He had not listened long before he saw the apparition of a milk-white steed, with a young man on the back of it, advancing upon full stretch after the souls of about a hundred beagles, that were hunting down the
a ghost of a hare, which ran away before them with unspeakable swiftness. As the man on the milk-white steed came by him, he looked upon him very attentively, and found him to be the young prince Nichargua, who died about half a year before, and by reason of his great virtues was at that time lamented over all the western parts of America.
He bad no sooner got out of the wood, but he was entertained with such a landscape of flowery plains, green meadows, running streams, sunny hills, and shady vales, as were not to be represented by his own expression, nor, as he said, by the conceptions of others. This happy region was peopled with innumerable swarms of spirits, who applied themselves to exercises and diversions according as their fancies led them. Some of them were tossing the figure of a coit; others were pitching the shadow of a bar; others were breaking the apparition of a horse; and multitudes employing themselves upon ingenious handicrafts with the souls of departed utensils, for that is the name wbich in the Indian language they give their tools when they are burnt or broken. As he travelled through this delightful scene, he was very often tempted to pluck the flowers that rose every where about him in the greatest variety and profusion, having never seen several of them in his own country: but he quickly found that though they were objects of his sight, they were vot liable to his touch. He at length came to the side of a great river, and being a good fisherman linself, stood upon the banks of it for sometime to look upon an angler that