Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

“ of felicity.” The youth still urging his request with more vehemence than ever, Democritus then began:

“ Since you press me so earnestly to instruct “ you in a mystery, that if observed will procure “you an original, equal to that representation,

you must be very cautious, when once you are “ initiated, not to deviate in the least from the “ divine institution, nor to divulge the secret; “ for the delinquent in such cases is always pu“nished with death, by the deity to whom the

temple of these rites are dedicated. The story " then, which is never told but to those who

are resolved to follow the great example is this. The young man you see there, was a native of

Cyprus, who being extremely addicted to “women, fell desperately in love with an ideal

beauty, the offspring of his own imagination. As he was sitting one day by the side of a “ fountain, sighing for the visionary object of his “ desires, he fell asleep, and dreamed that Diana “ descended to him from a cloud, and promised “ him the actual enjoyment of his wishes, pro“ vided he would retire immediately to Ephesus, “ and during the space of four years live in “chastity, and apply himself to the cultivation of “ his mind according to the precepts of pbiloso“phy. The vision seemed so strong to the

young lover, that he complied with the celestial

admonition, and banishing from his thoughts, " as soon as possible, all voluptuous desires, he

repaired to the place where the goddess con“ manded him to go.

" At the end of four years, when he had faith

fully compleied the probationary state, he was “ transported back in his sleep to the fountain “ where he first saw the deity, and awaking sud

denly, found to his no small surprise that beau“ tiful virgin, the reward of his labours, embrac"ing him in the manner described by the artist. This, my sou, became afterwards a religious

mystery, and is (since you are acquainted with “ its origin) the test which you must now inevi. “ tably undergo. Divest yourself therefore for while of the affections which

you

have hitberto " contracted, and vie with the resolute Cyprian, " that you may participate his bliss."

Euphemion could not help expressing some concern at so severe an injunction; however recollecting that he was only to curb his passion for the present, in order to give a greater loose to it afterwards, he resolved from that hour to begin the trial.

Accordingly at the age of seventeen, he retired from all objects that might in the least tend to divert his mind from philosophy. The first year

a

was spent in continual struggles between passion and reason, the second, made his solitary life somewhat more agreeable; the third afforded him real pleasure in the pursuit, exclusive of the object pursued; and the fourth completed the happy delusion, to render him by habitual stndy completely master of himself.

At the expiration of that time, he seemed very little solicitous about the original inducement; but recollecting sojne circumstance of the promised fair, he inquired of his father one day in a careless manner, when he should possess the nymph in reward for his labours.

To which Democritus replied, “ My son, the « account I gave you of the Cyprian, as you seem “ already to understand, was eutirely fabulous; “ the whole picture is an ingenious allegory. I “ used this device to lead you imperceptibly into o the path of true pleasure, and to make your life “an explanation of those two figures. The one is

supposed to be Happiness, the daughter of Virtue “ and Moderation; the other the emblem of hu“ man life courting her embrace, whom she pever « fails to caress with mutual affection when con“ ducted by her celestial parents. You expected “ only a fugitive joy as the recompence of your

perseverance; but are now in possession of a “permanent pleasure, one that will attend you si through life with unchangeable felicity."

ESSAY 57.

POLITE PHILOSOPHY.

(Dodsley's Fugitive Pieces.)

REASON, however antique we may thiuk it, is absolutely necessary in the composition of those who endeavour to acquire philosophical politeness; and let us receive it as a maxim, that without reasou no one can be a fine gentleman. At the same time reason, like a fop's under-waistcoat, may be worn out of sight, and provided it be but worn at all, I shall not quarrel with them, though vivacity, like a laced shirt, be put on to conceal it: for, to pursue the comparison, our miods suffer no less from indiscretion, than our bodies from the injuries of the weather.

Next to this another out-of-the-way qualification must be acquired; and that is, calmness. Let not the smarts of the university, the sparks of the side boxes, or the genteel flutterers of the drawing room, imagine that I will deprive them of those elevated enjoyments of drinking tea with a toast, gallanting with a fair, or roving like a butterfly, through a parterre of beauties. No, I am far from being the author of such severe institutions; but am on the contrary, willing to indulge them in these pleasures, as long as they preserve their senses. By which I would be understood to mean, while they act in character, and suffer not a fond inclination, an aspiring vanity, or a giddy freedom, to transport them unto the doing of any thing, which may forfeit present advantages, or entail upon them future pain.

The last disposition of the soul, which I shall mention as necessary to him who would become a proficient in this science, is good-nature; a quality, which, as Mr. Dryden said in a dedication to one of the best-patured men of his time, deserves the highest esteem, though from an unaccountable depravity both of taste and morals, it meets with the least. For, can there be

any thing more amiable in human nature, than to think, to speak, and to do whatever good lies in our power, to all? No man who looks upon the sun, and who feels that cheerfulness which his beams inspire, but would rather wish himself like so glorious a being, than to resemble the tiger, however formidable for its fierceness, or the serpent liated for his hissing, and dreaded for his sting. Good-nature may indeed be made almost

« AnteriorContinuar »