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sertion of duty. Others readily allowed, that no information which my studies have enabled there was a time when the claims of the public me to afford. To live according to nature, is to were satisfied, and when a man might properly act always with due regard to the fitness arising sequester himself, to review his life, and purify from the relations and qualities of causes and his heart.
effects; to concur with the great and unchangeOne, who appeared more affected with the able scheme of universal felicity ; to co-operate narrative than the rest, thought it likely that with the general disposition and tendency of the the hermit would, in a few years, go back to his present system of things.” retreat, and perhaps, if shame did not restrain, The Prince soon found that this was one of or death intercept him, return once more from those sages whom he should understand less as he his retreat into the world. “ For the hope of heard him longer. He therefore bowed and was happiness,” said he," is so strongly impressed, silent; and the philosopher, supposing him sathat the longest experience is not able to efface tisfied, and the rest vanquished, rose up and deit. Of the present state, whatever it be, we parted, with the air of a man that had co-opefeel, and are forced to confess, the misery , yet, rated with the present system. when the same state is again at a distance, imagination paints it as desirable. But the time will surely come when desire will no longer be
CHAP. XXIII. our torment, and no man shall be wretched but by his own fault.”
The Prince and his Sister divide between them This,” said a philosopher, who had heard
the Work of Observation. him with tokens of great impatience, " is the present condition of a wise man. The time is Rasselas returned home full of reflections, already come when none are wretched but by doubting how to direct his future steps. Of the their own fault. Nothing is more idle than to way to happiness he found the learned and siminquire after happiness, which nature has kind- ple equally ignorant; but as he was yet young, ly placed within our reach. The way to be hap- he flattered himself that he had time remaining py, is to live according to nature, in obedience for more experiments and farther inquiries. He to that universal and unalterable law with which communicated to Imlac his observations and his every heart is originally impressed; which is doubts, but was answered by him with new not written on it by precept, but engraven by doubts and remarks that gave him no comfort. destiny; not instilled by education, but infused He therefore discoursed more frequently and at our nativity. He that lives according to na- freely with his sister, who had yet the same ture will suffer nothing from the delusions of hope with himself, and always assisted him to hope or importunities of desire ; he will receive give some reason why, though he had been hiand reject with equability of temper, and act or therto frustrated, he might succeed at last. suffer as the reason of things shall alternately “We have hitherto,” said she, “known but prescribe. Other men may amuse themselves little of the world; we have never yet been with subtle definitions, or intricate ratiocination. either greator mean. In our own country, though Let them learn to be wise by easier means ; let we had royalty, we had no power; and in this them observe the hind of the forest, and the we have not yet seen the private recesses of dolinnet of the grove; let them consider the life mestic peace. Imlac favours not our search, lest of animals, whose motions are regulated by in- we should in time find him mistaken. We will stinct; they obey their guide, and are happy. divide the task between us ; you shall try what Let us therefore, at length, cease to dispute, is to be found in the splendour of courts, and I and learn to live ; throw away the encumbrance will range the shades of humbler life. Perhaps of precepts, which they who utter them with so command and authority may be the supreme much pride and pomp do not understand, and blessings, as they afford the most opportunities carry with us this simple and intelligible max- of doing good ; 'or, perhaps, what this world im, " That deviation from nature is deviation can give may be found in the modest habitafrom happiness.
tions of middle fortune—too low for great deWhen he had spoken, he looked round him signs, and too high for penury and distress.” with a placid air, and enjoyed the consciousness of his own beneficence. “Sir," said the Prince, with great modesty, as I, like all the rest of
CHAP. XXIV. mankind, am desirous of felicity, my closest attention has been fixed upon your discourse ; I The Prince examines the Happiness of high doubt not the truth of a position which a man
Stations. so learned has so confidently advanced. Let me only know what it is to live according to na- Rasselas applauded the design, and appearture.”
ed next day with a splendid retinue at the court “When I find young men so humble and so of the Bassa. He was soon distinguished for his docile,” said the philosopher, “ I can deny them magnificence, and admitted as a prince whose curiosity had brought him from distant coun- could not be preserved pure, but were embittertries, to an intimacy with the great officers and ed by petty competitions and worthless emulafrequent conversation with the Bassa himself. tion. They were always jealous of the beauty
He was at first inclined to believe that the of each other; of a quality to which solicitude man must be pleased with his own condition, can add nothing, and from which detraction whom all approached with reverence, and heard can take nothing away. Many were in love with with obedience, and who had the power to ex- triflers like themselves, and many fancied that tend his edicts to a whole kingdom. “ There they were in love, when in truth they were only can be no pleasure,” said he, “ equal to that of idle. Their affection was not fixed on sense or feeling at once the joy of thousands all made virtue, and therefore seldom ended but in vexahappy by wise administration. Yet since, by tion. Their grief, however, like their joy, was the law of subordination, this sublime delight transient ; every thing floated in their mind uncan be in one nation but the lot of one, it is connected with the past or future, so that one surely reasonable to think that there is some sa- desire easily gave way to another, as a second tisfaction more popular and accessible, and that stone, cast into the water, effaces and confounds millions can hardly be subjected to the will of a the circles of the first. single man, only to fill his particular breast With these girls she played as with inoffenwith incommunicable content.
sive animals, and found them proud of her These thoughts were often in his mind, and countenance, and weary of her company. he found no solution of the difficulty. But as But her purpose was to examine more deeply, presents and civilities gained him more fami- and her affability easily persuaded the hearts siarity, he found that almost every man who that were swelling with sorrow to discharge stood high in employment hated all the rest, their secrets in her ear; and those whom hope and was hated by them, and that their lives flattered, or prosperity delighted, often courted were a continual succession of plots and detec- her to partake their pleasure. tions, stratagers and escapes, faction and treach- The Princess and her brother commonly met ery. Many of those who surrounded the Bas- in the evening in a private summer-house on sa were sent only to watch and report his con- the banks of the Nile, and related to each other duct : every tongue was muttering censure, and the occurrences of the day. As they were sitting every eye was searching for a fault.
together, the Princess cast her eyes upon the At last the letters of revocation arrived, the river that flowed before her. “ Answer,” said Bassa was carried in chains to Constantinople, she, “great Father of Waters, thou that rollest and his name was mentioned no more.
thy floods through eighty nations, to the invoca“ What are we now to think of the preroga- tions of the daughter of thy native king ; tell tives of power ?” said Rasselas to his sister : me if thou waterest, through all thy course, a “ Is it without any efficacy to good? or, is the single habitation from which thou dost not hear subordinate degree only dangerous, and the su- the murmurs of complaint!" preme safe and glorious ? Is the Sultan the only “ You are then,” said Rasselas, “ not more happy man in his dominions ? or, is the Sultan successful in private houses than I have been in himself subject to the torments of suspicion, and courts.”—“I have, since the last partition of the dread of enemies ?”
our provinces,” said the Princess, "enabled myIn a short time the second Bassa was depo- self to enter familiarly into many families, where sed. The Sultan that had advanced him was there was the fairest show of prosperity and murdered by the Janizaries, and his successor peace, and know not one house that is not haunthad other views, or different favourites. ed by some fury that destroys their quiet.
“'I did not seek ease among the poor, because
I concluded that there it could not be found. CHAP. XXV.
But I saw many poor whom I had supposed to
live in affluence. Poverty has, in large cities, The Princess pursues her Inquiry with more very different appearances; it is often concealed Diligence than Success.
in splendour, and often in extravagance. It is
the care of a very great part of mankind to conThe Princess, in the mean time, insinuated ceal their indigence from the rest ; they supherself into many families ; for there are few port themselves by temporary expedients, and doors through which liberality, joined with good- every day is lost in contriving for the morrow. humour, cannot find its way. The daughters of “ This, however, was an evil, which, though many houses were airy and cheerful, but Ne- frequent, I saw with less pain, because I could kayah had been too long accustomed to the con- relieve it. Yet some have refused my bounties, versation of Imlac and her brother, to be much more offended with my quickness to detect their pleased with childish levity, and prattle which wants, than pleased with my readiness to suchad no ineaning. She found their thoughts nar- cour them; and others, whose exigencies comrow, their wishes low, and their merriment often pelled them to admit my kindness, have never artificial. Their pleasures, poor as they were, been able to forgive their benefactress. Many, however, have been sincerely grateful without tender of all relations is thus impeded in its efthe ostentation of gratitude, or the hope of other fects by natural necessity.” favours.”
“ Domestic discord," answered she, " is not
inevitably and fatally necessary ; but yet it is CHAP. XXVI.
not easily avoided. We seldom see that a whole
family is virtuous: the good and the evil canThe Princess continues her Remarks upon prin not well agree; and the evil can yet less agree vate Life.
with one another: even the virtuous fall some
times to variance, when their virtues are of difNekayah, perceiving her brother's attention ferent kinds, and tending to extremes. In gefixed, proceeded in her narrative.
neral, those parents have most reverence who « In families where there is or is not poverty, most deserve it; for he that lives well cannot there is commonly discord ; if a kingdom be, as be despised. Imlac tells us, a great family, a family likewise “Many other evils infest private life. Some is a little kingdom, torn with factions and expo- are the slaves of servants, whom they have trustsed to revolutions. An unpractised observer ex- ed with their affairs. Some are kept in contipects the love of parents and children to be con- nual anxiety by the caprice of rich relations, stant and equal ; but this kindness seldom con- whom they cannot please, and dare not offend. tinues beyond the years of infancy ; in a short Some husbands are imperious, and some wives time the children become rivals to their parents. perverse: and, as it is always more easy to do Benefits are allayed by reproaches, and grati- evil than good, though the wisdom or virtue of tude debased by envy:
one can very rarely make many happy, the folly “ Parents and children seldom act in concert; or vice of one may make many miserable." each child endeavours to appropriate the esteem “ If such be the general effect of marriage,” or fondness of the parents; and the parents, said the Prince, “ I shall for the future think it with yet less temptation, betray each other to dangerous to connect my interest with that of their children ; thus some place their confidence another, lest I should be unhappy by my partin the father, and some in the mother, and by ner's fault.” degrees the house is filled with artifices and “ I have met," said the Princess, “ with feuds.
many who live single for that reason: but I “ The opinions of children and parents, of never found that their prudence ought to raise the
young and the old, are naturally opposite, envy. They dream away their time without by the contrary effects of hope and despondence, friendship, without fondness, and are driven to of expectation and experience, without crime or - rid themselves of the day, for which they have folly on either side. The colours of life in youth no use, by childish amusements, or vicious deand age appear different, as the face of nature lights. They act as beings under the constant in spring and winter. And how can children sense of some known inferiority, that fills their credit the assertions of parents, which their own minds with rancour, and their tongues with eyes show them to be false?
censure. They are peevish at home, and male“Few parents act in such a manner as much volent abroad; and, as the outlaws of human to enforce their maxims by the credit of their nature, make it their business and their plealives. The old man trusts wholly to slow con- sure to disturb that society which debars them trivance and gradual progression; the youth ex- from its privileges. To live without feeling or pects to force
his way by genius, vigour, and exciting sympathy, to be fortunate without addprecipitance. The old man pays regard to riches, ing to the felicity of others, or afflicted without and the youth reverences virtue. The old man tasting the balm of pity, is a state more gloomy deifies prudence; the youth commits himself to than solitude ; it is not retreat, but exclusion magnanimity and chance. The young man, from mankind. Marriage has many pains, but who intends no ill, believes that none is intend- celibacy has no pleasures. ed, and therefore acts with openness and can- *** What then is to be done?” said Rasselas; dour: but his father, having suffered the in- “the more we inquire, the less we can resolve. juries of fraud, is impelled to suspect, and too Surely he is most likely to please himself, that often allured to practise it. Age looks with has no other inclination to regard." anger on the temerity of youth, and youth with contempt on the scrupulosity of age. Thus parents and children, for the greatest part, live on
CHAP. XXVII. to love less and less; and, if those whom nature has thus closely united are the torments of
Disquisition upon Greatness. each other, where shall we look for tenderness and consolation ?”
The conversation had a short pause.
The “ Surely,” said the Prince, “ you must have Prince, having considered his sister's obserbeen unfortunate in your choice of acquaint- vation, told her, that she had surveyed life ance: I am unwilling to believe, that the most with prejudice, and supposed misery where she
itid not And it. “Your narrative,” says he, ed to deceive by hope or fear? Surely he has " throws yet a darker gloom upon the prospects nothing to do but to love and to be loved, to of futurity; the predictions of Imlac were but be virtuous and to be happy.” faint sketches of the evils painted by Nekayah. “ Whether perfect happiness would be proI have been lately convinced that quiet is not cured by perfect goodness," said Nekayah," this the daughter of grandeur, or of power: that world will never afford an opportunity of deciher presence is not to be bought by wealth, nor ding. But this, at least, may be maintained, anforced by conquest. It is evident, that as that we do not always find visible happiness in any man acts in a wider compass, he must be proportion to visible virtue. All natural, and more exposed to opposition from enmity, or almost all political evils, are incident alike to miscarriage from chance: whoever has many to the bad and good: they are confounded in the ploase or to govern, must use the ministry of misery of a famine, and not much distinguishmany agents, some of whom will be wicked, ed in the fury of a faction; they sink together and some ignorant; by some he will be misled, in a tempest, and are driven together from their and by others betrayed. If he gratifies one, he country by invaders. All that virtue can afford, will offend another: those that are not favour- is quietness of conscience, and a steady prospect ed will think themselves injured ; and, since of a happier state: this may enable us to enfavours can be conferred but upon few, the dure calamity with patience; but, remember greater number will be always discontented.” that patience must suppose pain.”
“ The discontent,” said the Princess, “ which is thus unreasonable, I hope that I shall always have spirit to despise, and you power to re
CHAP. XXVIII. press. Discontent,"
"answered Rasselas, “ will not Rasselas and Nekayah -continue their Conversaalways be without reason under the most just
tion. and vigilant administration of public affairs. None, however attentive, can always discover “ DEAR Princess,” said Rasselas, “ you fall that merit which indigence or faction may hap- into the common errors of exaggeratory declapen to obscure; and none, however powerful, mation, by producing, in a familiar disquisican always reward it. Yet, he that sees infe- tion, examples of national calamities, and scenes rior desert advanced above him, will naturally of extensive misery, which are found in books iinpute that preference to partiality or caprice; rather than in the world, and which, as they and, indeed, it can scarcely be hoped that any are horrid, are ordained to be rare. Let us not man, however magnanimous by nature, or ex- imagine evils which we do not feel, or injure alted by condition, will be able to persist for life by misrepresentations. I cannot bear that ever in fixed and inexorable justice of distribu- querulous eloquence which threatens every city tion: he will sometimes indulge his own affec- with a siege like that of Jerusalem, that makes tions, and sometimes those of his favourites ; he famine attend on every flight of locusts, and will permit some to please him who can never suspends pestilence on the wing of every blast serve him : he will discover in those whom he that issues from the south. loves qualities which in reality they do not pos- “On necessary and inevitable evils which sess ; and to those, from whom he receives plea- overwhelm kingdoms at once, all disputation is sure, he will in his turn endeavour to give it. vain: when they happen, they must be enduThus will recommendations sometimes prevail red. But it is evident, that these bursts of uniwhich were purchased by money, or by the more versal distress are more dreaded than felt: thoudestructive bribery of flattery and servility: sands and ten thousands flourish in youth, and
“ He that has much to do will do something wither in age, without the knowledge of any wrong, and of that wrong must suffer the con- other than domestic evils, and share the same sequences ; and if it were possible that he should pleasures and vexations, whether their kings always act rightly, yet when such numbers are are mild or cruel, whether the armies of their to judge of his conduct, the bad will censure country pursue their enemies, or retreat before and obstruct him by malevolence, and the good, them. While courts are disturbed with intestine sometimes, by mistake.
competitions, and ambassadors are negociating “ The highest stations cannot therefore hope in foreign countries, the smith still plies his to be the abodes of happiness, which I would anvil, and the husbandman drives his plough willingly believe to have fled from thrones and forward ; the necessaries of life are required and palaces, to seats of humble privacy and placid obtained, and the successive business of the seaobscurity. For what can hinder the satisfac- sons continues to make its wonted revolutions. tion, or intercept the expectations, of him whose “ Let us cease to consider what, perhaps, may abilities are adequate to his employments, who never happen, and what, when it shall happen, sees with his own eyes the whole circuit of his will laugh at human speculation. We will not influence, who chooses by his own knowledge endeavour to modify the motions of the elements, all whom lie trusts, and whom none are tempt- or to fix the destiny of kingdoms. It is our business to consider what beings like us may Heaven? The world must be peopled by marperform ; each labouring for his own happiness, riage, or peopled without it.” by promoting within his circle, however nar- * How the world is to be peopled,” returned row, the happiness of others.
Nekayah, “is not my care, and needs not be “Marriage is evidently the dictate of nature; yours. I see no danger that the present genemen and women were made to be the compa- ration should omit to leave successors behind nions of each other; and therefore I cannot be them: we are not now inquiring for the world, persuaded but that marriage is one of the means but for ourselves.” of happiness."
“I know not,” said the Princess, “ whether marriage be more than one of the innumerable
CHAP. XXIX. modes of human misery. When I see and reckon the various forms of connubial infelici- The Debate on Marriage continued. ty, the unexpected causes of lasting discord, the diversities of temper, the oppositions of opi- “ The good of the whole,” says Rasselas, nion, the rude collisions of contrary desire where “ is the same with the good of all its parts. If both are urged by violent impulses, the obsti- marriage be best for mankind, it must be evinate contest of disagreeing virtues where both dently best for individuals ; or a permanent and are supported by consciousness of good inten- necessary duty must be the cause of evil, and tion, I am sometimes disposed to think, with some must be inevitably sacrificed to the convethe severer casuists of most nations, that mar- nience of others. In the estimate which you riage is rather permitted than approved, and have made of the two states, it appears that the that none, but by the instigation of a passion incommodities of a single life are, in a great too much indulged, entangle themselves with measure, necessary and certain, but those of the indissoluble compacts."
conjugal state accidental and avoidable. I can“You seem to forget,” replied Rasselas, not forbear to flatter myself that prudence and “ that you have, even now, represented celi- benevolence will make marriage happy. The bacy as less happy than marriage. Both con- general folly of mankind is the cause of general ditions may be bad, but they cannot both be complaint. What can be expected but disapworst. Thus it happens when wrong opinions pointment and repentance from a choice made are entertained, that they mutually destroy each in the immaturity of youth, in the ardour of deother, and leave the mind open to truth. sire, without judgment, without foresight, with
“ I did not expect," answered the Princess, out inquiry after conformity of opinions, simi“to hear that imputed to falsehood, which is the larity of manners, rectitude of judgment, or puconsequence only of frailty. To the mind, as rity of sentiment to the eye, it is difficult to compare with exact- « Such is the common process of marriage. ness objects, vast in their extent, and various in A youth and maiden meeting by chance, or their parts. When we see or conceive the whole brought together by artifice, exchange glances, at once, we readily note the discriminations, and reciprocate civilities, go home and dream of one decide the preference: but of two systems, of another. Having little to divert attention, or which neither can be surveyed by any human diversify thought, they find themselves uneasy being in its full compass of magnitude and mul- when they are apart, and therefore conclude tiplicity of complication, where is the wonder, that they shall be happy together. They marry, that, judging of the whole by parts, I am al- and discover what nothing but voluntary blindternately affected by one and the other, as either ness before had concealed ; they wear out life presses on my memory or fancy? We differ in altercations, and charge nature with cruelty. from ourselves just as we differ from each other, .“ From those early marriages proceeds likewhen we see only part of the question, as in the wise the rivalry of parents and children : the multifarious relations of politics and morality: son is eager to enjoy the world before the father but when we perceive the whole at once, as in is willing to forsake it, and there is hardly room numerical computations, all agree in one judg- at once for two generations. The daughter bement, and none ever varies in his opinion.” gins to bloom before the mother can be content
“ Let us not add," said the Prince, “ to the to fade, and neither can forbear to wish for the other evils of life, the bitterness of controversy, absence of the other. nor endeavour to vie with each other in subtil- “Surely all these evils may be avoided by ties of argument. We are employed in a search that deliberation and delay which prudence preof which both are equally to enjoy the success, scribes to irrevocable choice. In the variety and or suffer by the miscarriage. It is therefore jollity of youthful pleasures, life may be well fit that we assist each other. You surely con- enough supported without the help of a partner, clude too hastily from the infelicity of marriage Longer time will increase experience, and wider against its institution; will not the misery of views will allow better opportunities of inquiry life prove equally that life cannot be the gift of and selection : one advantange at least will be