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N° 65. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1750.
The cheerful sage, when solemn dictates fail,
OBIDAH, the son of Abensina, left the caravansera early in the morning, and pursued his journey through the plains of Indostan. He was fresh and vigorous with rest ; he was animated with hope ; he was incited by desire ; he walked swiftly forward over the valleys, and saw the hills gradually rising before him. As he passed along, his ears were delighted with the morning song of the bird of paradise, he was fanned by the last Autters of the sinking breeze, and sprinkled with dew by groves of spices ; he sometimes contemplated the towering height of the oak, monarch of the hills ; and sometimes caught the gentle fragrance of the primrose, eldest daughter of the spring : all his senses were gratified, and all care was banished from his heart.
Thus he went on till the sun approached his meridian, and the increasing heat preyed upon his strength; he then looked round about him for some more commodious path. He saw on his right hand, a grove that seemed to wave its shades as a sign of invitation; he entered it, and found the coolness and verdure irresisitibly pleasant. He did not however, forget whither he was travel. ling, but found a narrow way bordered with flowers, which appeared to have the same direction with the main road, and was pleased that, by this happy experiment, he had found means to unite pleasure with business, and to gain the rewards of diligence, without suffering its fatigues. He, therefore, still continued to walk for a time, without the least remission of his ardour, except that he was sometimes tempted to stop by the musick of the birds, whom the heat had assembled in the shade ; and sometimes amused himself with plucking the flowers that covered the banks on either side, or the fruits that hung upon the branches. At last the green path began to decline from its first tendency, and to wind among hills and thickets cooled with fountains, and marmuring with waterfalls. Here Obidah paused for a time, and began to consider whether it were longer safe to forsake the known and common track ; but remembering that the heat was now in its greatest violence, and that the plain was dusty and uneven, he resolved to pursue the new path, which he supposed only to make a few meanders, in compliance with the varieties of the ground, and to end at last in the common road.
Having thus calmed his solicitude, he renewed his pace, though he suspected that he was not gaining ground. This uneasiness of his mind inclined him to lay hold on every new object, and give way to every sensation that might soothe or divert him. He listened to every echo, he mount.
every hill for a fresh prospect, he turned aside to every cascade, and pleased himself with tracing the course of a gentle river that rolled among the trees, and watered a large region with innumerable circumvolutions. In these amusements the hours passed away uncounted, his deviations had perplexed his memory, and he knew not towards what point to travel. He stood pensive and confused, afraid to go forward lest he should go wrong, yet conscious that the time of loitering was now past. While he was thus tortured with uncertainty, the sky was overspread with clouds, the day vanished from before him, and a sudden tempest gathered round his head. He was now roused by his danger to a quick and painful remembrance of his folly ; he now saw how happiness is lost when ease is consulted; he lamented the unmanly impatience that prompted him to seek shelter in the grove, and despised the petty curiosity that led him on from trifle to trifle. While he was thus reflecting, the air grew blacker, and a clap of thunder broke his meditation.
He now resolved to do what remained yet in his power, to tread back the ground which he had passed, and try to find some issue where the wood might open into the plain. He prostrated himself on the ground, and commended his life to the Lord of nature. He rose with confidence and tranquillity, and pressed on with his sabre in his hand; for the beasts of the desert were in motion, and on every hand were heard the mingled howls of rage and fear, and ravage and expiration ; all the horrors of darkness and solitude surrounded him; the winds roared in the woods, and the torrents tumbled from the hills,
χειμαρροι ποταμοι κατ’ ορεσφι ρευνες 'Ες μισγαγκειαν συμβαλλείον οβριμον ύδωρ, Τονδς τε τηλοσε δεπον εν
Thus forlorn and distresed, he wandered through the wild, without knowing whither he was going, or whether he was every moment drawing nearer to safety or to destruction. At length, not fear but labour began to overcome him; his breatlı grew short, and his knees trembled, and he was on the point of lying down in resignation to his fate, when he beheld through the brambles the glimmer of a taper. He advanced towards the light, and finding that it proceeded from the cottage of a hermit, he called humbly at the door, and obtained admission. The old man set before him such provisions as he had collected for himself, on which Obidah fed with eagerness and gratitude.
When the repast was over, “ Tell me," said the hermit, “ by what chance thou hast been brought “ hither ; 1 have been now twenty years an in« habitant of the wilderness, in which I never saw “ man before.” Ohidah then related the occurrences of his journey, without any concealment or palliation,
" Son,” said the hermit,“ let the errors and “ follies, the dangers and escapes of this day, sink “ deep into thy heart. Remember, my son, that
“ human life is the journey of a day. We rise " in the morning of youth, full of vigour and full " of expectation ; we set forward with spirit and “ hope, with gaiety and with diligence, and “ travel on a while in the straight road of piety « towards the mansions of rest. In a short time " we remit our fervour, and endeavour to find
some mitigation of our duty, and some more
easy means of obtaining the same end. We “then relax our vigour, and resolve no longer to “be terrified with crimes at a distance, but rely
upon our own constancy, and venture to ap“proach what we resolve never to touch.
We «ihus enter the bowers of case, and repose in the « shades of security. Here the heart softens, and
viligance subsides; we are then willing to in
quire whether another advance cannot be made, "and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes upon the gardens of pleasure. We approach "them with scruple and hesitation; we enter " them, but enter timorous and trembling, and "always hope to pass through them without losing the road of virtue, which we, for a while,
kept in our sight, and to which we propose to " return. But temptation succeeds temptation, "and one compliance prepares us for another;
we in time lose the happiness of innocence, and “ solace our disquiet with sensual gratifications. “ By degrees we let fall the remembrance of our original intention, and quit the only adequate
object of rational desire. We entangle ourselves “ in business, immerge ourselves in luxury, and “rove throug hthe labyrinths of inconstancy, till “ the darkness of old age begins to invade us, and