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riment; and sometimes uttered grave reflections, and sententious maxims, and feasted on the admiration with which they were received.
Thus the day rolled on, without any accident of vexation, or intrusion of melancholy thoughts. All that beheld him caught gladness from his looks, and the sight of happiness, conferred by himself, filled his heart with satisfaction: but having passed three hours in this pleasing luxury, he was alarmed on a sudden by a universal scream among the women; and turning back, saw the whole assembly flying in confusion. A young crocodile had risen out of the lake, and was ranging the garden in wantonness or hunger. Seged beheld him with indignation, as a disturber of his felicity, and chased him back into the lake; but could not persuade his retinue to stay, or free their hearts from the terror which had seized upon them. The princesses enclosed themselves in the palace, and could yet scarcely believe themselves in safety. Every attention was fixed upon the late danger and escape, and no mind was any longer at leisure for gay sallies, or careless prattle.
Seged had now no other employment, than to contemplate the innumerable casualties, which lie in ambush on every side to intercept the happiness of man, and break in upon the hour of delight and tranquillity. He had, however, the consolation of thinking, that he had not been now disappointed by his own fault; and that the accident which had blasted the hopes of the day, might easily be prevented by future
That he might provide for the pleasure of the next morning, he resolved to repeal his penal edict, since he had already found, that discontent and melancholy were not to be frightened away by the threats of authority, and that pleasure would only reside where she was exempted from control. He therefore invited all the companions of his retreat to unbounded pleasantry, by proposing prizes for those who should, on the following day, distinguish themselves by any festive performances; the tables of the anti-chamber were covered with gold and pearls, and robes and garlands decreed the rewards of those who could refine elegance, or heighten pleasure.
At this display of riches, every eye immediately sparkled, and every tongue was busied in celebrating the bounty and magnificence of the emperor. But when Seged entered, in hopes of uncommon entertainment from universal emula
tion, he found that any passion too strongly agitated, puts an end to that tranquillity which is necessary to mirth; and that the mind that is to be moved by the gentle ventilations of gaiety, must be first smoothed by a total calm. Whatever we ardently wish to gain, we must, in the same degree, be afraid to lose; and fear and pleasure cannot dwell together.
All was now care and solicitude. Nothing was done ar spoken, but with so visible an endeavour at perfection, as always failed to delight, though it sometimes forced admiration and Seged could not but observe with sorrow, that his prizes had more influence than himself. As the evening approached, the contest grew more earnest; and those who were forced to allow themselves excelled, began to discover the malignity of defeat, first by angry glances, and at last by contemptuous murmurs. Seged likewise shared the anxiety of the day; for, considering himself as obliged to distribute, with exact justice, the prizes which had been so zealously sought, he durst never remit his attention, but passed his time upon the rack of doubt, in balancing different kinds of merit, and adjusting the claims of all the competitors.-At last, knowing that no exactness could satisfy those whose hopes he should disappoint; and thinking, that on a day set apart for happiness, it would be cruel to oppress any heart with sorrow; he declared, that all had pleased him alike, and dismissed all with presents of equal value.
Seged soon saw that his caution had not been able to avoid offence. They who had believed themselves secure of the highest prizes, were not pleased to be levelled with the crowd; and though by the liberality of the king, they received more than his promise had entitled them to expect, they departed unsatisfied, because they were honoured with no distinction, and wanted an opportunity to triumph in the mortification of their opponents. "Behold here," said Seged, "the condition of him who places his happiness in the happiness of others." He then retired to meditate; and while the courtiers were repining at his distributions, saw the fifth sun go down in discontent.
The next dawn renewed his resolution to be happy. But having learned how little he could effect by settled schemes, or preparatory measures, he thought it best to give up one day entirely to chance, and left every one to please and be pleased in his own way.
This relaxation of regularity diffused a general com
plaisance through the whole court; and the emperor imagined, that he had at last found the secret of obtaining an interval of felicity. But as he was roving in this careless assembly with equal carelessness, he overheard one of his courtiers in a close arbour murmuring alone: "What merit has Seged above us, that we should thus fear and obey him? a inan, whom, whatever he may have formerly performed, his luxury now shows to have the same weakness with ourselves." This charge affected him the more, as it was uttered by one whom he had always observed among the most abject of his flatterers. At first his indignation prompted him to severity; but reflecting, that what was spoken without intention to be heard, was to be considered as only thought, and was perhaps but the sudden burst of casual and temporary vexation, he invented some decent pretence to send him away, that his retreat might not be tainted with the breath of envy; and after the struggle of deliberation was past, and all desire of revenge utterly suppressed, passed the evening not only with tranquillity, but triumph, though none but himself was conscious of the victory.
The remembrance of this clemency cheered the begin ning of the seventh day; and nothing happened to disturb the pleasure of Seged, till looking on the tree that shaded him, he recollected, that under a tree of the same kind he had passed the night after his defeat in the kingdom of Geiama. The reflection on his loss, his dishonour, and the miseries which his subjects suffered from the invader, filled him with sadness. At last he shook off the weight of sorrow, and began to solace himself with his usual pleasures, when his tranquillity was again disturbed by jealousies which the late contest for the prizes had produced, and which, having tried to pacify them by persuasion, he was forced to silence by command.
On the eighth morning, Seged was awakened early by an unusual hurry in the apartments; and inquiring the cause, he was told that the Princess Balkis was seized with sickness. He rose, and calling the physicians, found that they had little hope of her recovery. Here was an end of jollity: all his thoughts were now upon his daughter; whose eyes he closed on the tenth day.
Such were the days which Seged of Ethiopia had appropriated to a short respiration from the fatigues of war, and the cares of government. This narrative he has bequeathed N 2
to future generations, that no man hereafter may presume to say, "This day shall be a day of happiness."
The Vision of Theodore, the hermit of Teneriffe, found in his cell.*
SON of perseverance, whoever thou art, whose curiosity has led thee hither, read and be wise. He that now calls upon thee is Theodore, the hermit of Teneriffe, who, in the fifty-seventh year of his retreat, left this instruction to mankind, lest his solitary hours should be spent in vain.
I was once what thou art now, a groveller on the earth, and a gazer at the sky; I trafficked and heaped wealth together, I loved and was favoured, I wore the robe of honour, and heard the music of adulation; I was ambitious, and rose to greatness; I was unhappy, and retired. I sought for some time what I at length found here, a place where all real wants might be easily supplied; and where I might not be under the necessity of purchasing the assistance of men, by the toleration of their follies. Here I saw fruits, and herbs, and water; and here determined to wait the hand of death, which I hope, when at last it comes, will fall lightly upon me.
Forty-eight years had I now passed in forgetfulness of all mortal cares, and without any inclination to wander farther than the necessity of procuring sustenance required: but as I stood one day beholding the rock that overhangs my cell, I found in myself a desire to climb it; and when I was on its top, was in the same manner determined to scale the next, till by degrees I conceived a wish to view the summit of the mountain, at the foot of which I had so long resided. This motion of my thoughts I endeavoured to suppress, not because it appeared criminal, but because it was new; and all change, not evidently for the better, alarms a mind taught by experience to distrust itself. I was often afraid that my heart was deceiving me; that my impatience of confinement rose from some earthly passion; and that my ardour to sur
* Dr. Anderson, in his judicious and well written life of Dr. Johnson, says, "This is a most beautiful allegory of human life, under the figure of ascending the Mountain of Existence. Johnson thought it the best of his writings."
vey the works of nature, was only a hidden longing to mingle once again in the scenes of life. I therefore endeavoured to settle my thoughts into their former state; but found their distraction every day greater. I was always reproaching myself with the want of happiness within my reach; and at last began to question whether it was not laziness, rather than caution, that restrained me from climbing to the summit of Teneriffe.
I rose therefore before the day, and began my journey up the steep of the mountain; but I had not advanced far, old as I was, and burdened with provisions, when the day began to shine upon me; the declivities grew more precipitous, and the sand slided from beneath my feet at last, fainting with labour, I arrived at a small plain almost enclosed by rocks, and open only to the east. I sat down to rest a while, in full persuasion that when I had recovered my strength, I should proceed on my design: but when once I had tasted ease, I found many reasons against disturbing it. The branches spread a shade over my head, and the gales of spring wafted odours to my bosom.
As I sat thus, forming alternately excuses for delay, and resolutions to go forward, an irresistible heaviness suddenly surprised me. I laid my head upon the bank, and resigned myself to sleep; when methought I heard the sound as of the flight of eagles, and a being of more than human dignity stood before me. While I was deliberating how to address him, he took me by the hand with an air of kindness, and asked me solemnly, but without severity, "Theodore, whither art thou going?" I am climbing, answered 1, to the top of the mountain, to enjoy a more extensive prospect of the works of nature. "Attend first," said he, "to the prospect which this place affords, and what thou dost not understand I will explain. I am one of the benevolent beings who watch over the children of the dust, to preserve them from those evils which will not ultimately terminate in good, and which they do not, by their own faults, bring upon themselves. Look round therefore without fear: observe, contemplate, and be instructed."
Encouraged by this assurance, I looked and beheld a mountain higher than Teneriffe, to the summit of which the human eye could never reach. When I had tired myself with gazing upon its height, I turned my eyes toward its foot, which I could easily discover, but was amazed to find at without foundation, and placed inconceivably in emptiness