Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

BOOK II.

NARRATIVE PIECES.

CHAPTER I.

THE DERVISE.

A DERVISE, travelling through Tartary, being arrived at the town of Balk, went into the king's palace by mistake, as thinking it to be a public inn or caravansary. Ilaving looked about him for some time, he entered into a long gallery, where he laid down his wallet, and spread his carpet, in order to repose himself upon it after the manner of the Eastern nations. He had not been long in this posture, before he was discovered by some of the guards, who asked him what was his business in that place. The dervise told them that he intended to take up his night's lodging in that caravansary. The guards let him know, in a very angry manner, that the house he was in was not a caravansary, but the king's palace. It happened that the king himself passed through the gallery during this debate, and, smiling at the mistake of the dervise, asked him how he could possibly be so dull as not to distinguish a palace from a caravansary. Sir, says the dervise, give me leave to ask your majesty a question or two. Who were the persons that lodged in this house when it was first built? The king replied, his ancestors. And who, says the dervise, was the last person that lodged here? The king replied, his father. And who is it, says the dervise, that lodges here at present? The king told him, that it was he himself. And who, says the dervise, will be here after you? The king answered, the young prince his son. Ah, Sir! said the dervise, a house that changes its inhabitants so often, and receives such a perpetual succession of guests, is not a palace, but a caravansary.

SPECTATOR.

CHAPTER II.

A TURKISH TALE.

We are told that the Sultan Mahmoud, by his perpetual wars abroad, and his tyranny at home, had filled his dominions with ruin and desolation, and half unpeopled the Persian empire. The visier to this great sultan (whether a humourist or an enthusiast, we are not informed) pretended to have learned of a certain dervise to understand the language of birds, so that there was not a bird that could open his mouth, but the visier knew what it was he said. As he was one evening with the emperor, in their return from hunting, they saw a couple of owls upon a tree that grew near an old wall out of a heap of rubbish. I would fain know, says the sultan, what those two owls are saying to one another— listen to their discourse, and give me an account of it. The visier approached the tree, pretending to be very attentive to the two owls. Upon his return to the sultan, Sir, says he, I have heard part of their conversation, but dare not tell you what it is. . The sultan would not be satisfied with such an answer, but forced him to repeat, word for word, every thing the owls had said. You must know, then, said the visier, that one of these owls has a son, and the other a daughter, between whom they are now upon a treaty of marriage. The father of the son said to the father of the daughter, in my hearing, Brother, I consent to this marriage, provided you will settle upon your daughter fifty ruined villages for her portion. To which the father of the daughter replied, Instead of fifty I will give her five hundred, if you please. God grant a long life to Sultan Mahmoud ; while he reigns over us we shall never want ruined villages.

The story says, the sultan was so touched with the fable, that he rebuilt the towns and villages which had been destroyed, and from that time forward consulted the good of his people.

SPECTATOR.

CHAPTER III.

AVARICE AND LUXURY.

THERE were two very powerful tyrants engaged in a perpetual war against each other : the name of the first was Luxury, and of the second, Avarice. The aim of each of them was no less than universal monarchy over the hearts of mankind. Luxury had many generals under him, who did him great service, as Pleasure, Mirth, Pomp, and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care, and Watchfulness : he had likewise a privy counsellor, who was always at his elbow, and whispering something or other in his ear: the name of this privy counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice conducted himself by the counsels of Poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Plenty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, that concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of his sight. While these two great rivals were thus contending for empire, their conquests were very various. Luxury got possession of one heart, and Avarice of another. The father of a family would often range himself under the banners of Avarice, and the son under those of Luxury. The wife and husband would often declare themselves of the two different parties ; nay, the same person would very often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the other in his old age. Indeed, the wise men of the world stood neuter; but, alas! their numbers were not considerable.

At length, when these two potentates had wearied themselves with waging war upon one another, they agreed upon an interview, at which neither of their counsellors was to be present. It is said that Luxury began the parley, and after having represented the endless state of war in which they were engaged, told his enemy, with a frankness of heart which is natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good friends, were it not for the instigations of Poverty, that pernicious counsellor, who made an ill use of his ear, and filled him with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To this Avarice replied, that he looked

en

upon Plenty (the first minister of his antagonist) to be a much more destructive counsellor than Poverty, for that he was perpetually suggesting pleasures, banishing all the necessary cautions against want, and consequently undermining those principles, on which the government of Avarice was founded. At last, in order to an accommodation, they agreed upon this preliminary, that each of them should immediately dismiss his privy counsellor. When things were thus far adjusted towards a peace, all other differences were soon accommodated, insomuch that for the future they resolved to live as good friends and confederates, and to share between them whatever conquests were made on either side. For this reason we now find Luxury and Avarice taking possession of the same heart, and dividing the same person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the discarding of the counsellors above mentioned, Avarice supplies Luxury in the room of Plenty, as Luxury prompts Avarice in the place of Poverty.

SPECTATOR.

CHAPTER IV.

PLEASURE AND PAIN.

THERE were two families, which, from the beginning of the world, were as opposite to each other as light and darkness. The one of them lived in heaven, and the other in hell, The youngest descendant of the first family was Pleasure, who was the daughter of Happiness, who was the child of Virtue, who was the offspring of the Gods. These, as I said before, had their habitation in heaven. The youngest of the opposite family was Pain, who was the son of Misery, who was the child of Vice, who was the offspring of the Furies. The habitation of this race of beings was in hell.

The middle station of nature between these two opposite extremes was the earth, which was inhabited by creatures of a middle kind, neither so virtuous as the one, nor so vicious as the other, but partaking of the good and bad qualities of these two opposite families. Jupiter, considering that this species, commonly called man, was too virtuous to be miserable, and too vicious to be happy ; that he might make a distinction between the good and the bad, ordered the two youngest of the above mentioned families, Pleasure, who was the daughter of Happiness, and Pain, who was the son of Misery, to meet one another upon this part of nature which lay in the half-way between them ; having promised to settle it upon them both, provided they could agree upon the division of it, so as to share mankind between them.

Pleasure and Pain were no sooner met in their new habitation, but they immediately agreed upon this point, that Pleasure should take possession of the virtuous, and Pain of the vicious part of that species which was given up to them. But upon examining to which of them any individual they met with belonged, they found each of them had a right to him: for that, contrary to what they had seen in their old places of residence, there was no person so vicious who had not some good in him, nor any person so virtuous who had not in him some evil. The truth of it is, they generally found upon search, that in the most vicious man, Pleasure might lay claim to a hundredth part; and that in the most virtuous man, Pain might come in for at least two-thirds. This they saw would occasion endless disputes between them, unless they could come to some accom. modation. To this end there was a marriage proposed between them, and at length concluded : by this means it is that we find Pleasure and Pain are such constant yokefellows, and that they either make their visits together, or are never far asunder. If Pain comes into a heart, he is quickly followed by Pleasure ; and if Pleasure enters, you may

be sure Pain is not far off. But, notwithstanding this marriage was very convenient for the two parties, it did not seem to answer the intention of Jupiter in sending them among mankind. To remedy therefore this inconvenience, it was stipulated between them by article, and confirmed by the consent of each family, that, notwithstanding they have possessed the species indifferently, upon the death of every single person, if he was found to have in him a certain proportion of evil, he should be dispatched into the infernal regions by a passport from Pain, there to dwell with Misery, Vice,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »