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thick at the entrance of the bridge, so that throngs of people no sooner broke through the cloud, but many of them fell into them. They grew thinner towards the

middle, but multiplied and lay closer together towards 5 the end of the arches that were entire.

There were indeed some persons, but their number was very small, that continued a kind of hobbling march on the broken arches, but fell through one after another, being quite tired and spent with so long a walk.

"I passed some time in the contemplation of this wonderful structure, and the great variety of objects which it presented. My heart was filled with a deep melancholy to see several dropping unexpectedly in the midst of mirth

and jollity, and catching at every thing that stood by 15 them to save themselves. Some were looking up towards

the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and in the midst of a speculation stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in the pursuit of bubbles that glittered

in their eyes and danced before them, but often when 20 they thought themselves within the reach of them, their

footing failed and down they sunk. In this confusion of objects, I observed some with scimitars in their hands, and others with urinals, who ran to and fro upon the

bridge, thrusting several persons on trap-doors which 25 did not seem to lie in their way, and which they might have escaped, had they not been thus forced upon them.

“The genius seeing me indulge myself in this melancholy prospect, told me I had dwelt long enough upon it:

'Take thine eyes off the bridge,' said he, “and tell me if 30 thou seest any thing thou dost not comprehend.' Upon

looking up, “What mean,' said I, 'those great flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge, and settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cormorants; and among many other

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feathered creatures several little winged boys, that perch in great numbers upon the middle arches.' These,' said the genius, ‘are envy, avarice, superstition, despair, love, with the like cares and passions that infest human life.'

“I here fetched a deep sigh; ‘Alas,' said I, 'man was 5 made in vain! how is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and swallowed up in death!' The genius, being moved with compassion towards me, bid me quit so uncomfortable a prospect. ‘Look no more,' said he, 'on man in the first stage of his existence, in his 10 setting out for eternity; but cast thine eye on that thick mist into which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall into it.' I directed my sight as I was ordered, and (whether or no the good genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or dissipated part 15 of the mist that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate) I saw the valley opening at the further end, and spreading forth into an immense ocean, that had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it, and dividing it into two equal parts. The clouds still rested 20 on one half of it, insomuch that I could discover nothing in it: but the other appeared to me a vast ocean planted with innumerable islands, that were covered with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them. I could see persons 25 dressed in glorious habits with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers; and could hear a confused harmony of singing birds, falling waters, human voices, and musical instruments. Gladness grew in me 30

, upon the discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats; but the genius told me there was no passage to them, except through the gates of death that I saw

opening every moment upon the bridge. 'The islands,' said he, 'that lie so fresh and green before thee, and with which the whole face of the ocean appears spotted as far

as thou canst see, are more in number than the sands 5 on the sea-shore; there are myriads of islands behind

those which thou here discoverest, reaching further than thine eye or even thine imagination can extend itself. These are the mansions of good men after death, who

according to the degree and kinds of virtue in which they 10 excelled, are distributed among these several islands, which

abound with pleasures of different kinds and degrees, suitable to the relishes and perfections of those who are settled in them; every island is a paradise accommodated

to its respective inhabitants. Are not these, O Mirzah, 15 habitations worth contending for? Does life appear mis

erable, that gives thee opportunities of earning such a reward? is death to be feared that will convey thee to so happy an existence? Think not man was made in vain, who has such an eternity reserved for him.'

I gazed 20 with inexpressible pleasure on these happy islands. At

length said I, ‘Show me now, I beseech thee, the secrets that lie hid under those dark clouds which cover the ocean on the other side of the rock of adamant.' The

genius making me no answer, I turned about to address 25 myself to him a second time, but I found that he had

I then turned again to the vision which I had been so long contemplating, but instead of the rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw

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nothing but the long hollow valley of Bagdat, with oxen, 30 sheep, and camels, grazing upon the sides of it."

left me;


The end of the first vision of Mirzah.




TUESDAY, Nov. 27, 1750.

Stulte, quid o frustra votis puerilibus optas

Quæ non ulla tulit, fertve, feretve dies.-OVID.

Why thinks the fool, with childish hope, to see
What neither is, nor was, nor e'er shall be ?




any of that compassion which you recommend to others, you will not disregard a case which I 10 have reason from observation to believe very common, and which I know by experience to be very miserable. And though the querulous are seldom received with great ardor of kindness, I hope to escape the mortification of finding that my lamentations spread the contagion of 15 impatience, and produce anger rather than tenderness. I write not merely to vent the swelling of my heart, but to inquire by what means I may recover my tranquillity;

* DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON (1709-1784), author of The Rambler, a short-lived periodical where this narrative sketch appeared under date of November 27, 1750, composed the first great English dictionary, was eminent in conversation and literary criticism, and has been made eternally famous by Boswell's great biography. See also pp. 22-26.

and shall endeavor at brevity in my narrative, having long known that complaint quickly tires, however elegant or however just.

I was born in a remote county, of a family that boasts 5 alliances with the greatest names in English history, and

extends its claims of affinity to the Tudors and Plantagenets. My ancestors by little and little wasted their patrimony, till my father had not enough left for the

support of a family, without descending to the cultiva10 tion of his own grounds, being condemned to pay three

sisters the fortunes allotted them by my grandfather, who is suspected to have made his will when he was incapable of adjusting properly the claims of his children,

and who, perhaps, without design, enriched his daughters 15 by beggaring his son. My aunts being, at the death of their

father, neither young nor beautiful, nor very eminent for softness of behavior, were suffered to live unsolicited, and by accumulating the interest of their portions, grew every

day richer and prouder. My father pleased himself with 20 foreseeing that the possessions of those ladies must revert

at last to the hereditary estate, and, that his family might lose none of its dignity, resolved to keep me untainted with a lucrative employment: whenever therefore I dis

covered any inclination to the improvement of my condi25 tion, my mother never failed to put me in mind of my

birth, and charged me to do nothing with which I might be reproached when I should come to my aunts' estate.

In all the perplexities or vexations which want of money brought upon us, it was our constant practice to 30 have recourse to futurity. If any of our neighbors sur

passed us in appearance, we went home and contrived an equipage, with which the death of my aunts was to supply us. If any purseproud upstart was deficient in respect, vengeance was referred to the time in which our

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