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“ I am almost afraid," said the Princess, “ to begin a journey, of which I cannot perceive an end, and to venture into this immense plain,
CHAP. XVI. where I may be approached on every side by men whom I never saw.” The Prince felt ncar- They enter Cairo, and find every Man happy. ly the same emotions, though he thought it more manly to conceal them.
As they approached the city, which filled the Imlac smiled at their terrors, and encouraged strangers with astonishment, “ This,” said Imthem to proceed; but the Princess continued. lac to the Prince, “is the place where travellers irresolute till she had been imperceptibly drawn and merchants assemble from all corners of the forward too far to return.
earth. You will here find men of every characIn the morning they found some shepherds ter, and every occupation. Commerce is here in the field, who set some milk and fruits before honourable ; I will act as a merchant, and you them. The Princess wondered that she did not shall live as strangers, who have no other end see a palace ready for her reception, and a table of travel than curiosity; it will soon be observed spread with delicacies ; but, being faint and that we are rich ; our reputation will procure hungry, she drank the milk and ate the fruits, us access to all whom we shall desire to know; and thought them of a higher flavour than the you will see all the conditions of humanity, and products of the valley.
enable yourselves at leisure to make your choice They travelled forward by easy joumeys, be- of life.' ing all unaccustomed to toil and difficulty, and They now entered the town, stunned by the knowing that, though they might be missed, noise, and offended by the crowds. Instruction they could not be pursued.' In a few days they had not yet so prevailed over habit, but that came into a more populous region, where Imlac they wondered to see themselves pass undistinwas diverted with the admiration which his guished along the streets, and met by the lowest companions expressed at the diversity of man- of the people without reverence or notice. The ners, stations, and employments. Their dress Princess could not at first bear the thought of was such as might not bring upon them the being levelled with the vulgar, and for some suspicion of having any thing to conceal; yet time continued in her chamber, where she was the Prince, wherever he came, expected to be served by her favourite, Pekuah, as in the paobeyed, and the Princess was frighted, because lace of the valley. those who came into her presence did not pro- Imlac, who understood traffic, sold part of the strate themselves. Imlac was forced to observe jewels the next day, and hired a house, which them with great vigilance, lest they should be- he adorned with such magnificence, that he was tray their rank by their unusual behaviour ; and immediately considered as a merchant of great detained them several weeks in the first vile wealth. His politeness attracted many acquaintlage, to accustom them to the sight of common ance, and his generosity made him courted by mortals.
many dependants. His companions, not being By degrees the royal wanderers were taught able to mix in the conversation, could make no to understand that they had for a time laid aside discovery of their ignorance or surprise, and their dignity, and were to expect only such re- were gradually initiated in the world as they gard as liberality and courtesy could procure. gained knowledge of the language. And Imlac, having, by many admonitions, pre- The Prince had, by frequent lectures, been pared them to endure the tumults of a port, and taught the use and nature of money; but the the ruggedness of the commercial race, brought ladies could not, for a long time, comprehend them down to the sea-coast.
what the merchants did with small pieces of gold The Prince and his sister, to whom every thing and silver, or why things of so little use should was new, were gratified equally at all places, be received as an equivalent to the necessaries of and therefore remained for some months at the life. port without any inclination to pass further. They studied the language two years, while Imlac was content with their stay, because he Imlac was preparing to set before them the vadid not think it safe to expose them, unpractised rious ranks and conditions of mankind. He grew in the world, to the hazards of a foreign country. acquainted with all who had any thing uncom
At last he began to fear lest they should be mon in their fortune or conduct. He frequented discovered, and proposed to fix a day for their the voluptuous and the frugal, the idle and the departure. They had no pretensions to judge busy, the merchants and the men of learning. for themselves, and referred the whole scheme The Prince, being now able to converse with to his direction. He therefore took passage in a fluency, and having learned the caution necesship to Suez, and when the time came, with sary to be observed in his intercourse with strangreat difficulty prevailed on the Princess to en- gers, began to accompany Imlac to places of reter the vessel. They had a quick and prosper, sort, and to enter into all assemblies, that he ous voyage ; and from Suez travelled by land might make his choice of life. to Cairo.
For some time he thought choice needless, be
cause all appeared to him really happy. Wher- does not think the lot of his neighbour better ever he went he met gaiety and kindness, and than his own." heard the song of joy or the laugh of careless- “ I am pleased to think,” said the Prince, ness. He began to believe that the world over- “that my birth has given me at least one adflowed with universal plenty, and that nothing vantage over others, by enabling me to deterwas withheld either from want or merit; that mine for myself. I have here the world before every hand showered liberality, and every heart me; I will review it at leisure ; surely happimelted with benevolence: “and who then,” says ness is somewhere to be found." he, “will be suffered to be wretched ?”
Imlac permitted the pleasing delusion, and was unwilling to crush the hope of inexperience:
CHAP. XVII. till one day, having sat a while silent, " I know not,” said the Prince, “what can be the reason that I am more unhappy than any of our friends. The Prince associates with young Men of Spirit I see them perpetually and unalterably cheerful,
and Gaiety. but feel my own mind restless and uneasy. I am unsatisfied with those pleasures which I see RASSELAS rose next day, and resolved to bemost to court. I live in the crowds of jollity, gin his experiments upon life. “ Youth,” cried not so much to enjoy company as to shun my- he, " is the time of gladness : I will join myself self, and am only loud and merry to conceal my to the young men, whose only business is to grasadness.”
tify their desires, and whose time is all spent in “Every man," said Imlac, “may, by exami- a succession of enjoyments." ning his own mind, guess what passes in the To such societies he was readily admitted ; but minds of others : when you feel that your own a few days brought him back weary and disgustgaiety is counterfeit, it may justly lead you to ed. Their mirth was without images, their laughsuspect that of your companions not to be sin- ter without motive; their pleasures were gross cere. Envy is commonly reciprocal. We are and sensual, in which the mind had no part; long before we are convinced that happiness is their conduct was at once wild and mean : they never to be found, and each believes it possess- laughed at order and at law, but the frown of ed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining power dejected, and the eye of wisdom abashed it for himself. In the assembly, where you pass- them. ed the last night, there appeared such spright- The Prince soon concluded, that he should neliness of air, and volatility of fancy, as might ver be happy in a course of life of which he was have suited beings of a higher order, formed to ashamed. He thought it unsuitable to a reainhabit serener regions, inaccessible to care or sonable being to act without a plan, and to be sorrow: yet, believe me, Prince, there was not sad or cheerful only by chance.“ Happiness," one who did not dread the moment when soli. said he, “must be something solid and permatude should deliver him to the tyranny of re- nent, without fear and without uncertainty.”. flection."
But his young companions had gained so much “ This,” said the Prince, “may be true of of his regard by their frankness and courtesy, others, since it is true of me; yet, whatever be that he could not leave them without warning the general infelicity of man, one condition is and remonstrance. “My friends,” said he," I more happy than another, and wisdom surely have seriously considered our manners and our directs us to take the least evil in the choice of prospects, and find that we have mistaken our life."
own interest. The first years of man must make “ The causes of good and evil,” answered Im- provision for the last. I He that never thinks, nelac," are so various and uncertain, so often en- ver can be wise.f Perpetual levity must end in tangled with each other, so diversified by vari- ignorance ; and intemperance, though it may fire ous relations, and so much subject to accidents the spirits for an hour, will make life short or which cannot be foreseen, that he who would miserable. Let us consider that youth is of no fix his condition upon incontestable reasons of long'duration, and that in mature age, when the preference, must live and die inquiring and de- enchantments of fancy shall cease, and phantoms liberating.'
of delight dance no more about us, we shall have “But surely,” said Rasselas," the wise men, no comforts but the esteem of wise men, and the to whom we listen with reverence and wonder, means of doing good. Let us, therefore, stop, chose that mode of life for themselves which they while to stop is in our power: let us live as men thought most likely to make them happy." who are some time to grow old, and to whom it
“ Very few,” said the poet, “ live by choice. will be the most dreadful of all evils to count Every man is placed in his present condition by their past years by follies, and to be reminded causes which acted without his foresight, and of their former luxuriance of health only by the with which he did not always willingly co-ope- maladies which riot has produced.” rate; and therefore you will rarely meet one who They stared a while in silence one upon ano
ther, and, at last, drove him away by a general Rasselas put a purse of gold into his hand, which chorus of continued laughter.
he received with a mixture of joy and wonder. The consciousness that his sentiments were “I have found," said the Prince, at his rejust, and his intention kind, was scarcely suffi- turn to Imlac, “a man who can teach all that cient to support him against the horror of deri- is necessary to be known; who, from the unsion. But he recovered his tranquillity, and pure shaken throne of rational fortitude, looks down sued his search.
on the scenes of life changing beneath him. He speaks, and attention watches his lips. He rea
sons, and conviction closes his periods. This CHAP. XVIII.
man shall be my future guide; I will learn his
doctrines, and imitate his life.' The Prince finds a wise and happy Man. “Be not too hasty," said Imlac,“ to trust, or
to admire, the teachers of morality; they disAs he was one day walking in the street, he course like angels, but they live like men.” saw a spacious building, which all were, by the Rasselas, who could not conceive how any open doors, invited to enter ; he followed the man could reason so forcibly without feeling the stream of people, and found it a hall or school cogency of his own arguments, paid his visit in of declamation, in which professors read lectures a few days, and was denied admission. He had to their auditory. He fixed his eye upon a sage now learned the power of money, and made his raised above the rest, who discoursed with great way by a piece of gold to the inner apartment, energy on the government of the passions. His where he found the philosopher in a room half look was venerable, his action graceful, his pro- darkened, with his eyes misty, and his face pale. nunciation clear, and his diction' elegant. 'He “Sir,” said he, "you are come at a time when showed, with great strength of sentiment, and all human friendship is useless ; what I suffer variety of illustration, that human nature is de- cannot be remedied, what I have lost cannot be graded and debased, when the lower faculties supplied. My daughter, my only daughter, from predominate over the higher ; that when fancy, whose tenderness I expected all the comforts of the parent of passion, usurps the dominion of by age, died last night of a fever. My views, the mind, nothing ensues but the natural effect my purposes, my hopes, are at an end. I am of unlawful government, perturbation and con- now a lonely being, disunited from society.” fusion ; that she betrays the fortresses of the “Sir," said the Prince, “mortality is an event intellect to rebels, and excites her children to by which a wise man can never be surprised; sedition against their lawful sovereign. He com- we know that death is always near, and it should pared reason to the sun, of which the light is therefore always be expected.”—“Young man,” constant, uniform, and lasting; and fancy to a answered the philosopher, “you speak like one meteor, of bright but transitory lustre, irre- that has never felt the pangs of separation.”gular in its motion, and delusive in its direc- “ Have you then forgot the precepts,” said Rastion.
selas, “which you so powerfully enforced? Has He then communicated the various precepts wisdom no strength to arm the heart against cagiven from time to time for the conquest of pas- lamity ? Consider that external things are natusion, and displayed the happiness of those who rally variable, but truth and reason are always the had obtained the important victory, after which same.”_"What comfort,” said the mourner, man is no longer the slave of fear, nor the foolis can truth and reason afford me?-of what of hope ; is no more emaciated by envy, in- effect are they now, but to tell me, that my daughflamed by anger, emasculated by tenderness, or ter will not be restored ?" depressed by grief ; but walks on calmly through The Prince, whose humanity would not suffer the tumults or privacies of life, as the sun pur- him to insult misery with reproof, went away, sues alike his course through the calm or the convinced of the emptiness of rhetorical sounds, stormy sky.
and the inefficacy of polished periods and stuHe enumerated many examples of heroes im- died sentences. moveable by pain or pleasure, who looked with indifference on those modes or accidents to which the vulgar give the names of good and evil. He
CHAP. XIX. exhorted his hearers to lay aside their prejudices, and arm themselves against the shafts of
A Glimpse of Pastoral Life. malice or misfortune, by invulnerable patience; concluding, that this state only was happiness, He was still eager upon the same inquiry; and that this happiness was in every one's power. and having heard of a hermit, that lived near the
Rasselas listened to him with the veneration lowest cataract of the Nile, and filled the whole due to the instructions of a superior being, and, country with the fame of his sanctity, resolved waiting for him at the door, humbly implored to visit his retreat, and inquire whether that fethe liberty of visiting so great a master of true licity, which public life could not afford, was to wisdom. The lecturer hesitated a moment, when be found in solitude ; and whether a man, whose
age and virtue made him venerable, could teach lighted with such unexpected accommodations, any peculiar art of shunning evils, or enduring and entertained each other with conjecturing them.
what, or who, he could be, that in those rude Imlac and the Princess agreed to accompany and unfrequented regions had leisure and art
and, after the necessary preparations, they for such harmless luxury. began their journey. Their way lay through As they advanced they heard the sound of the fields, where shepherds tended their flocks, music, and saw youths and virgins dancing in and the lambs were playing upon the pasture. the grove; and, going still farther, beheld a “ This,” said the poet,“ is the life which has stately palace built upon a hill, surrounded with been often celebrated for its innocence and quiet; woods. The laws of eastern hospitality allowed let us pass the heat of the day among the shep- them to enter, and the master welcomed them herds' tents, and know whether all our searches like a man liberal and wealthy. are not to terminate in pastoral simplicity.” He was skilful enough in appearances soon
The proposal pleased them, and they induced to discern that they were no common guests, the shepherds, by small presents and familiar and spread his table with magnificence. The questions, to tell their opinion of their own state: eloquence of Imlac caught his attention, and they were so rude and ignorant, so little able to the lofty courtesy of the Princess excited his recompare the good with the evil of their occupa- spect. When they offered to depart he entreated tion, and so indistinct in their narratives and de- their stay, and was the next day more unwillscriptions, that very little could be learned from ing to dismiss them than before. They were them. But it was evident that their hearts were easily persuaded to stop, and civility grew up cankered with discontent; and they considered in time to freedom and confidence. themselves as condemned to labour for the luxury The Prince now saw all the domestics cheerof the rich, and looked up with stupid malevo ful, and all the face of nature smiling round the lence toward those that were placed above them, place, and could not forbear to hope that he
The Princess pronounced with vehemences should find here what he was seeking ; but that she would never suffer these envious sa- when he was congratulating the master upon vages to be her companions, and that she should his possessions, he answered with a sigh, -"My not soon be desirous of seeing any more specin condition has, indeed, the appearance of happimens of rustic happiness; but could not believe ness, but appearances are delusive. My prospethat all the accounts of primeval pleasures were rity puts my life in danger; the Bassa of Egypt fabulous, and was in doubt whether life had any is my enemy, incensed only by my wealth and thing that could be justly preferred to the placid popularity. I have been hitherto protected gratification of fields and woods. She hoped that against him by the princes of the country ; but the time would come, when, with a few virtu- as the favour of the great is uncertain, I know ous and elegant companions, she should gather not how soon my defenders may be persuaded flowers planted by her own hands, fondle the to share the plunder with the Bassa. I have lambs of her own ewe, and listen without care, sent my treasures into a distant country, and, among brooks and breezes, to one of her maid- upon the first alarm, am prepared to follow ens reading in the shade.
them. Then will my enemies riot in my mansion, and enjoy the gardens which I have plante
ed.” CHAP. XX.
They all joined in lamenting his danger, and
deprecating his exile ; and the Princess was so The Danger of Prosperity.
much disturbed with the tumult of grief and
indignation, that she retired to her apartment. On the next day they continued their jour. They continued with their kind inviter a few ney, till the heat compelled them to look round days longer, and then went to find the hermit. for shelter. At a small distance they saw a thick wood, which they no sooner entered than they perceived that they were approaching the
CHAP. XXI. habitations of men. The shrubs were diligently cut away to open walks where the shades were The Happiness of Solitude. The Hermit's darkest; the boughs of opposite trees were ar
History. tificially interwoven, seats of flowery turf were raised in vacant spaces, and a rivulet, that wan- They came on the third day, by the directoned along the side of a winding path, had its tion of the peasants, to the hermit's cell: It was banks sometimes opened into small basins, and a cavern in the side of a mountain, overshadowits stream sometimes obstructed by little mounds ed with palm trees: at such a distance from the of stone, heaped together to increase its mur- cataract, that nothing more was heard than a murs.
gentle uniform murmur, such as composes the They passed slowly through the wood, de mind to pensive meditation, especially when it
was assisted by the wind whistling among the the harbour, being delighted with the sudden branches. The first rude essay of nature had change of the noise and hurry of war to stillness been so much improved by human labour, that and repose. When the pleasure of novelty went the cave contained several apartments appropri- away, I employed my hours in examining the ated to different uses, and often afforded lodging plants which grow in the valley, and the mineto travellers, whom darkness or tempests hap- rals which I collected from the rocks. But that pened to overtake.
inquiry is now grown tasteless and irksome. I The hermit sat on a bench at the door, to en- have been for some time unsettled and distractjoy the coolness of the evening. On one side ed; my mind is disturbed with a thousand perlay a book with pens and paper, on the other plexities of doubt, and vanities of imagination, mechanical instruments of various kinds. As, which hourly prevail upon me, because I have they approached him unregarded, the Princess' no opportunities of relaxation or diversion. I observed that he had not the countenance of a am sometimes ashamed to think that I could not man that had found, or could teach, the
secure myself from vice but by retiring from the happiness.
exercise of virtue, and begin to suspect that I They saluted him with great respect, which was rather impelled by resentment than led by he repaid like a man not unaccustomed to the devotion into solitude. My fancy riots in scenes forms of courts. “My children,” said he, “if of folly, and I lament that I have lost so much, you have lost your way, you shall be willingly and have gained so little. In solitude, if I essupplied with such conveniences for the night cape the example of bad men, I want likewise as this cavern will afford. I have all that na- the counsel and conversation of the good. I have ture requires, and you will not expect delicacies been long comparing the evils with the advanin a hermit's cell."
tages of society, and resolve to return into the They thanked him; and, entering, were plea- world to-morrow. The life of a solitary man sed with the neatness and regularity of the place. will be certainly miserable, but not certainly The hermit set flesh and wine before them, devout.” though he fed only upon fruits and water. His They heard his resolution with surprise, but, discourse was cheerful without levity, and pious after a short pause, offered to conduct him to without enthusiasm. He soon gained the esteem Cairo. He dug up a considerable treasure which of his guests, and the Princess repented her hasty he had hid among the rocks, and accompanied
them to the city, on which, as he approached it, At last Imlac began thus: “I do not now he gazed with rapture. wonder that your reputation is so far extended; we have heard at Cairo of your wisdom, and came hither to implore your direction for this
CHAP. XXII. young man and maiden in the choice of life.”
“ To him that lives well," answered the her- The Happiness of a Life led according to mit, " every form of life is good ; nor can I give
Nature. any other rule for choice than to remove all aprarent evil.”
Rasselas went often to an assembly of learn“He will most certainly remove from evil,” ed men, who met at stated times to unbend their said the Prince, “who shall devote himself to minds, and compare their opinions. Their manthat solitude which you have recommended by ners were somewhat coarse, but their conversayour example.”
tion was instructive, and their disputations acute, “I have indeed lived fifteen years in solitude,” though sometimes too violent, and often contisaid the hermit, “but have no desire that my nued till neither controvertist remembered upon example should gain any imitators. In my youth what question they began. Some faults were I professed arms, and was raised by degrees to almost general among them: every one was the highest military rank. I have traversed wide pleased to hear the genius or knowledge of ancountries at the head of my troops, and seen other depreciated. many battles and sieges. At last, being disgust- In this assembly Rasselas was relating his ined by the preferment of a younger officer, and terview with the hermit, and the wonder with feeling that my vigour was beginning to decay, which he heard him censure a course of life I resolved to close my life in peace, having found which he had so deliberately chosen, and so the world full of snares, discord, and misery. I laudably followed. The sentiments of the hearhad once escaped from the pursuit of the enemyers were various. Some were of opinion, that by the shelter of this cavern, and therefore chose the folly of his choice had been justly punished it for iny final residence. I employed artificers to by condemnation to perpetual perseverance. One form it into chambers, and stored it with all of the youngest among them, with great vehethat I was likely to want.
mence, pronounced him an hypocrite. Some “ For some time after my retreat, I rejoiced talked of the right of society to the labour of like a tempest-beaten sailor at his entrance into individuals, and considered retirement as a de