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“ Having resided at Agra till there was no, every thing with a new purpose ; my sphere of more to be learned, I travelled into Persia, attention was suddenly magnified; no kind of where I saw many remains of ancient magnific knowledge was to be overlooked. I ranged cence, and observed many new accommodations mountains and deserts for images and resemof life. The Persians are a nation eminently blances, and pictured upon my mind every tree social, and their assemblies afforded me daily of the forest and flower of the valley. I obopportunities of remarking characters and man- served with equal care the crags of the rock and ners, and of tracing human nature through all the pinnacles of the palace. Sometimes I wanits variations.
dered along the mazes of the rivulet, and some“ From Persia I passed into Arabia, where I times watched the changes of the summer saw a nation pastoral and warlike ; who lived clouds. To a poet nothing can be useless. without any settled habitation, whose wealth is Whatever is beautiful, and whatever is dreadtheir flocks and herds, and who carried on, ful, must be familiar to his imagination ; he through ages, an hereditary war with mankind, must be conversant with all that is awfully vast, though they neither covet nor envy their pos- or elegantly little. The plants of the garden, sessions.
the animals of the wood, the minerals of the earth, and meteors of the sky, must all concur
to store his mind with inexhaustible variety; CHAP. X.
every idea is useful for the enforcement or
decoration of moral or religious truth; and he Imlac's History continued. A Dissertation upon who knows most will have most power of diverPoetry
sifying his scenes, and of gratifying his reader
with remote allusions and unexpected instruction. “ WHEREVER I went, I found that poetry “ All the appearances of nature I was therewas considered as the highest learning, and re- fore careful to study; and every country which garded with a veneration somewhat approach. I have surveyed has contributed something to ing to that which man would pay to the angelic my poetical powers." nature. And yet it fills me with wonder, that, in “In so wide a survey,” said the Prince, “you almost all countries, the most ancient poets are must surely have left much unobserved. I have considered as the best ; whether it be that every lived till now within the circuit of the mounother kind of knowledge is an acquisition gra- tains, and yet cannot walk abroad without the dually attained, and poetry is a gift conferred at sight of something which I had never beheld once; or that the first poetry of every nation before, or never heeded.” surprised them as a novelty, and retained the “ The business of a poet,” said Imlac, " is to credit by consent which it received by accident examine, not the individual, but the species ; to at first, or whether, as the province of poetry remark general properties and large appearances : is to describe nature and passion, which are als he does not number the streaks of the tulip, or ways the same, the first writers took possession describe the different shades of the verdure of of the most striking objects for description and the forest. He is to exhibit in his portraits of the most probable occurrences for fiction, and nature such prominent and striking features as left nothing to those that followed them but recal the original to every mind; and must netranscription of the same events, and new com- glect the minuter discriminations, which one may binations of the same images. Whatever be the have remarked, and another have neglected, for reason, it is commonly observed that the early those characteristics which are alike obvious to writers are in possession of nature, and their vigilance and carelessness. followers of art; that the first excel in strength But the knowledge of nature is only half and invention, and the latter in elegance and re- the task of a poet ; he must be acquainted likcfinement.
wise with all the modes of life. His character “I was desirous to add my name to this ile requires that he estimate the happiness and milustrious fraternity. I read all the poets of sery of every condition ; observe the power of all Persia and Arabia, and was able to repeat by the passions in all their combinations; and trace memory the volumes that are suspended in the the changes of the human mind, as they are mosque of Mecca. But I soon found that no modified by various institutions and accidental man was ever great by imitation. My desire of influences of climate or custom, from the excellence impelled me to transfer my attention sprightliness of infancy to the despondence of to nature and to life. Nature was to be my decrepitude. He must divest himself of the subject, and men to be my auditors. I could prejudices of his age and country; he must never describe what I had not seen ; I could not consider right and wrong in their abstracted and hope to move those with delight or terror, invariable state; he must disregard present laws whose interests and opinions I did not under- and opinions, and rise to general and transcenstand.
dental truths, which will always be the same : “ Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw he must, therefore, content himself with the
slow progress of his name; contemn the praise When," said the Prince with a sigh,“ shall of his own time, and commit his claims to the J be able to visit Palestine, and mingle with this justice of posterity. He must write as the in- mighty confluence of nations ! Till that happy terpreter of nature, and the legislator of man- moment shall arrive, let me fill up the time kind, and consider himself as presiding over the with such representations as thou canst give thoughts and manners of future generations, as I am not ignorant of the motive that asa being superior to time and place.
sembles such numbers in that place, and cannot
merous and learned sects in Europe concur to
“You know," said the Prince, “ how little
my life has made me acquainted with diversity Imlac's Narrative continued. A Hint on Pil- of opinions : it will be too long to hear the are grimage.
guments on both sides ; you, that have consi
dered them, tell me the result.” Im Lac now felt the enthusiastic fit, and was “ Pilgrimage,” said Imlac, “ like many other proceeding to aggrandize his own profession, acts of piety, may be reasonable or superstitious, when the Prince cried out,-“ Enough! thou according to the principles upon which it is hast convinced me that no human being can performed. Long journeys in search of truth ever be a poet. Proceed with thy narration.” are not commanded. Truth, such as is neces
“ To be a poet,” said Imlac,“ is, indeed, sary to the regulation of life, is always found very difficult.
—“ So, difficult,” returned the where it is honestly sought. Change of place is Prince, " that I will at present hear no more of no natural cause of the increase of piety, for it his labours. Tell me whither you went when inevitably produces dissipation of mind. Yet, you had seen Persia."
since men go every day to view the fields where “ From Persia," said the poet, “ I travelled great actions have been performed, and return through Syria, and for three years resided in with stronger impressions of the event, curiosity Palestine, where I conversed with great num- of the same kind may naturally dispose us to bers of the northern and western nations of view that country whence our religion had its Europe ; the nations which are now in posses- beginning; and I believe no man surveys those sion of all power and all knowledge ; whose awful scenes without some confirmation of holy armies are irresistible, and whose fleets com- resolutions. That the Supreme Being may be mand the remotest parts of the globe. When more easily propitiated in one place than in anI compared these men with the natives of our other, is the dream of idle superstition ; but that own kingdom and those that surround us, they some places may operate upon our own minds appeared almost another order of beings. In in an uncommon manner, is an opinion which their countries it is difficult to wish for any hourly experience will justify. He who supthing that may not be obtained : a thousand poses that his vices may be more successfully arts, of which we never heard, are continually combated in Palestine, will, perhaps, find himlabouring for their convenience and pleasure; self mistaken ; yet he may go thither without and whatever their own climate has denied folly: he who thinks they will be more freely them is supplied by their commerce.”
pardoned, dishonours at once his reason and re“By what means," said the Prince," are the ligion.” Europeans thus powerful ? or why, since they “ These," said the Prince, " are European can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or distinctions. I will consider them another time. conquest, cannot the Asiatics and Africans in- What have you found to be the effect of knowvade their coasts, plant colonies in their ports, ledge? Are those nations happier than we?" and give laws to their natural princes? The * There is so much infelicity," said the poet, same wind that carries them back would bring " in the world, that scarce any man has leisure us thither.”
from his own distresses to estimate the compa“ They are more powerful, sir, than we," rative happiness of others. Knowledge is ceranswered Imlac, “ because they are wiser; tainly one of the means of pleasure, as is conknowledge will always predominate over igno- fessed by the natural desire which every mnid rance, as man governs the other animals. But feels of increasing its ideas. Ignorance is mere why their knowledge is more than ours, I know privation, by which nothing can be produced ; not what reason can be given, but the unsearch, it is a vacuity in which the soul sits motionless able will of the Supreme Being.”
and torpid for want of attraction ; and, without
knowing why, we always rejoice when we learn, I might repose, after my travels and fatigues, and grieve when we forget. I am therefore in- in the places where I had spent my earliest years, clined to conclude, that if nothing counteracts and gladden my old companions with the recital the natural consequences of learning, we grow of my adventures. Often did I figure to myself more happy as our minds take a wider range. those with whom I had sported away the gay
“ In enumerating the particular comforts of hours of dawning life, sitting round me in its life, we shall find many advantages on the side evening, wondering at my tales, and listening to of the Europeans. They cure wounds and dis my counsels. eases, with which we languish and perish. We “When this thought had taken possession of suffer inclemencies of weather, which they can my mind, I considered every moment as wasted obviate. They have engines for the dispatch of which did not bring me nearer to Abyssinia. I many laborious works, which we must perform hastened into Egypt, and, notwithstanding my by manual industry. There is such communic impatience, was detained ten months in the concation between distant places, that one friend templation of its ancient magnificence, and in can hardly be said to be absent from another. inquiries after the remains of its ancient learnTheir policy removes all public inconveniences. ing. I found in Cairo a mixture of all nations ; They have roads cut through their mountains, some brought thither by the love of knowledge, and bridges laid upon their rivers. And, if we some by the hope of gain, many by the desire descend to the privacies of life, their habitations of living after their own manner without obserare more commodious, and their possessions are vation, and of lying hid in the obscurity of mul
titudes; for in a city populous as Cairo, it is “ They are surely happy,” said the Prince, possible to obtain at the same time the gratifi“ who have all these conveniences, of which í cations of society, and the secrecy of solitude. envy none so much as the facility with which “ From Cairo I travelled to Suez, and emseparated friends interchange their thoughts.” barked on the Red Sea, passing along the coast
“ The Europeans," answered Imlac, till I arrived at the port from which I had deless unhappy than we, but they are not happy parted twenty years before. Here I joined myHuman life is every where a state in which much self to a caravan, and re-entered my native is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.” country.
“I now expected the caresses of my kinsmen, and the congratulations of my friends; and was not without
hope that my father, whatever value CHAP. XII.
he had set upon riches, would own with glad
ness and pride a son who was able to add to the The Story of Imlac continued.
felicity and honour of the nation. But I was
soon convinced that my thoughts were vain. “ I am not willing," said the Prince, “ to My father had been dead fourteen years, having suppose that happiness is so parsimoniously dis- divided his wealth among my brothers, who tributed to mortals ; nor can I believe, but that were removed to some other provinces. Of my if I had the choice of life, I should be able to companions, the greater part was in the grave; fill every day with pleasure. I would injure no of the rest, some could with difficulty remember man, and should provoke no resentments; I me, and some considered me as one corrupted would relieve every distress, and should enjoy by foreign manners. the benedictions of gratitude. I would choose “A man used to vicissitudes is not easily demy friends among the wise, and my wife among jected. I forgot, after a time, my disappointthe virtuous; and therefore should be in no ment, and endeavoured to recommend myself to danger from treachery or unkindness. My chil- the nobles of the kingdom ; they admitted me dren should, by my care, be learned and pious, to their tables, heard my story, and dismissed and would repay to my age what their child- I opened a school, and was prohibited to hood had received. What would dare to molest teach. I then resolved to sit down in the quiet him who might call on every side to thousands of domestic life, and addressed a lady that was enriched by his bounty, or assisted by his power? fond of my conversation, but rejected my suit And why should not life glide away in the soft because my father was a merchant. reciprocation of protection and reverence ? All “ Wearied at last with solicitation and rethis may be done without the help of European pulses, I resolved to hide myself for ever from refinements, which appear by their effects to be the world, and depend no longer on the opinion rather specious than useful. Let us leave them, or caprice of others. I waited for the time when and pursue our journey.”
the gate of the Happy Valley should open, that I “ From Palestine," said Imlac, “ I passed might bid farewell to hope and fear; the day through many regions of Asia ; in the more ci- came; my performance was distinguished with vilized kingdoms as a trader, and among the favour, and I resigned myself with joy to perbarbarians of the mountains as a pilgrim. At petual confinement.” ast I began to long for my native country, that “ Hast thou here found happiness at last ?"
said Rasselas. « Tell me without reserve ; art times overwhelmed by the waves of violence, thou content with thy condition ? or dost thou and sometimes dashed against the rocks of treawish to be again wandering and inquiring? All chery. Amidst wrongs and frauds, competitions the inhabitants of this valley celebrate their lot, and anxieties, you will wish a thousand times and, at the annual visit of the emperor, invite for these seats of quiet, and willingly quit hope others to partake of their felicity."
to be free from fear.” “ Great Prince,” said Imlac, “ I shall speak “Do not seek to deter me from my purpose,” the truth ; I know not one of all your attendants said the Prince: “ I am impatient to see what who does not lament the hour when he entered thou hast seen ; and since thou art thyself weary this retreat. I am less unhappy than the rest, of the valley, it is evident that thy former state because I have a mind replete with images, which was better than this. Whatever be the conseI can vary and combine at pleasure. I can amuse quence of my experiment, I am resolved to my solitude by the renovation of the knowledge judge with mine own eyes of the various condiwhich begins to fade from my memory, and by tions of men, and then to make deliberately my recollection of the accidents of my past life. Yet choice of life.” all this ends in the sorrowful consideration, that “ I am afraid,” said Imlac, “ you are hinder. my acquirements are now useless, and that none ed by stronger restraints than my persuasions ; of my pleasures can be again enjoyed. The rest, yet, if your determination is fixed, I do not counwhose minds have no impression but of the pre- sel you to despair. Few things are impossible sent moment, are either corroded by malignant to diligence and skill." passions, or sit stupid in the gloom of perpetual vacancy." “What passions can infest those," said the
CHAP. XIII. Prince, who have no rivals? We are in a place where impotence precludes malice, and where Rasselas discovers the Means of Escape. all envy is repressed by community of enjoyments."
The Prince now dismissed his favourite to “ There may be community,” said Imlac,“ of rest, but the narrative of wonders and novelties material possessions, but there can never be com- filled his mind with perturbation. He revolved munity of love or of esteem. It must happen all that he had heard, and prepared innumerathat one will please more than another ; he that ble questions for the morning. knows himself despised will always be envious; Much of his uneasiness was now removed. and still more envious and malevolent if he is He had a friend to whom he could impart his condemned to live in the presence of those who thoughts, and whose experience could assist him despise him. The invitations, by which they in his designs. His heart was no longer conallure others to a state which they feel to be demned to swell with silent vexation. He wretched, proceed from the natural malignity thought that even the Happy Valley might be enof hopeless misery. They are weary of them- dured with such a companion; and that, if they selves, and of each other, and expect to find re- could range the world together, he should have lief in new companions. They envy the liberty nothing further to desire. which their folly has forfeited, and would gladly In a few days the water was discharged, and see all mankind imprisoned like themselves. the ground dried. The Prince and Imlac then
“From this crime, however, I am wholly free. walked out together, to converse without the noNo man can say that he is wretched by my per- tice of the rest. The Prince, whose thoughts suasion. I look with pity on the crowds who were always on the wing, as he passed by the are annually soliciting admission to captivity, gate, said, with a countenance of sorrow,“Why and wish that it were lawful for me to warn art thou so strong, and why is man so weak?" them of their danger.”
“ Man is not weak," answered his compa“ My dear Imlac,” said the Prince, “I will nion. “ Knowledge is more than equivalent open to thee my whole heart. I have long me- to force. The master of mechanics laughs at ditated an escape from the Happy Valley, I have strength. I can burst the gate, but cannot do examined the mountain on every side, but find it secretly. Some other expedient must be tried.” myself insuperably barred. Teach me the way As they were walking on the side of the mounto break my prison; thou shalt be the compa- tain, they observed that the conies, which the nion of my flight, the guide of my rambles, the rain had driven from their burrows, had taken partner of my fortune, and my sole director in shelter among the bushes, and formed holes bethe choice of life.'
hind them, tending upwards in an oblique line. “Sir,” answered the poet, “your escape will “ It has been the opinion of antiquity," said be difficult; and, perhaps, you may soon repent Imlac, “ that human reason borrowed many arts your curiosity. The world, which you figure to from the instinct of animals; let us, therefore, yourself smooth and quiet as the lake in the val- not think ourselves degraded by learning from ley, you will find a sea foaming with tempests, the cony. We may escape by piercing the mounand boiling with whirlpools: you will be some- tain in the same direction. We will begin where
the summit hangs over the middle part, and la- “ Do not imagine," said the Princess, “ that bour upward till we shall issue out beyond the I came hither as a spy: I had long observed prominence.”
from my window, that you and Imlac directed The eyes of the Prince, when he heard this your walk every day towards the same point, proposal, sparkled with joy. The execution was but I did not suppose you had any better reaeasy, and the success certain.
son for the preference than a cooler shade, or No time was now lost. They hastened early more fragrant bank, nor followed you with any in the morning to choose a place proper for their other design than to partake of your conversamine. They clambered with great fatigue among tion. Since, then, not suspicion but fondness crags and brambles, and returned without ha- has detected you, let me not lose the advantage ving discovered any part that favoured their de- of my discovery. I am equally weary of consign. The second and the third day were spent finement with yourself, and not less desirous of in the same manner, and with the same frustra- knowing what is done or suffered in the world. tion. But on the fourth, they found a small ca. Permit me to fly with you from this tasteless vern, concealed by a thicket, where they resol- tranquillity, which will yet grow more loathved to make their experiment.
some when you have left me. You may deny Imlac procured instruments proper to hew me to accompany you, but cannot hinder me stone and remove earth, and they fell to their from following.” work on the next day with more eagerness than The Prince, who loved Nekayah above his vigour. They were presently exhausted by their other sisters, had no inclination to refuse her efforts, and sat down to pant upon the grass. request, and grieved that he had lost an opporThe Prince, for a moment, appeared to be dis- tunity of showing his confidence by a voluntary couraged. Sir," said his companion," prac- communication. It was therefore agreed that tice will enable us to continue our labour for a she should leave the valley with them; and longer time. Mark, however, how far we have that, in the mean time, she should watch lest advanced, and you will find that our toil will any other straggler should, by chance or curisome time have an end. Great works are per- osity, follow them to the mountain. formed not by strength, but perseverance. Yon- At length their labour was at an end : They der palace was raised by single stones, yet you saw light
beyond the prominence, and, issuing see its height and spaciousness. He that shall to the top of the mountain, beheld the Nile, walk with vigour three hours a day, will pass in yet a narrow current, wandering beneath them. seven years a space equal to the circumference of The Prince looked round with rapture, anthe globe."
ticipating all the pleasures of travel, and in They returned to their work day after day; thought was already transported beyond his faand, in a short time, found a fissure in the rock, ther's dominions. Ímlac, though very joyful at which enabled them to pass far with very little his escape, had less expectation of pleasure in obstruction. This Rasselas considered as a good the world, which he had before tried, and of omen. “ Do not disturb your mind,” said Im- which he had been weary. lac, “with other hopes or fears than reason may Rasselas was so much delighted with a wider suggest. If you are pleased with prognostics of horizon, that he could not soon be persuaded to good, you will be terrified likewise with tokens return into the valley. He informed his sister of evil, and your whole life will be a prey to su- that the way was now open, and that nothing perstition. Whatever facilitates our work is more now remained but to prepare for their departure. than an omen ; it is a cause of success. This is one of those pleasing surprises which often happen to active resolution. Many things difficult
CHAP. XV. to design, prove easy to performance."
The Prince and Princess leave the Valley, and
see many Wonders. CHAP. XIV.
The Prince and Princess had jewels sufficient Rasselas and Imlac receive an unexpected Visit. to make them rich whenever they came into a
place of commerce, which, by Imlac's direction, They had now wrought their way to the mid- they hid in their clothes, and, on the night of dle, and solaced their toil with the approach of the next full moon, all left the valley. The liberty, when the Prince, coming down to re- Princess was followed only by a single favourite, fresh himself with air, found his sister Nekayah who did not know whither she was going. standing at the mouth of the cavity. He started They clambered through the cavity, and beand stood confused, afraid to tell his design, and gan to go down on the other side. The Princess yet hopeless to conceal it. A few moments de- and her maid turned their eyes towards every termined him to repose on her fidelity, and se- part, and seeing nothing to bound their prospect, cure her secresy by a declaration without re- considered themselves in danger of being lost in serve.
a dreary vacuity. They stopped and trembled.