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and found the coolness and verdure irresistibly pleasant. 20 He did not, however, forget whither he was travelling, 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 25 the rewards of diligence, without suffering its fatigues. He, therefore, still continued to walk for a time, without the least remission of his ardor, except that he was sometimes tempted to stop by the music of the birds, which the heat had assembled in the shade; and sometimes 30 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 murmuring with water-falls. 35 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 40 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 45 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 mounted every hill for a fresh prospect; he turned aside to every cascade, and pleased 50 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 per
plexed his memory, and he knew not towards what 55 point to travel. He stood pensive and confused, afraid
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 60 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 65 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, 70 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 resolution. The beasts of the desert were in mo- 75 tion, 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.
80 Worked into sudden rage by wintry showers, Down the steep hill the roaring torrent pours !
The mountain shepherd hears the distant noise. Thus forlorn and distressed, he wandered through the wild, without knowing whither he was going, — whether 85 he was every moment drawing nearer to safety or to destruction. At length, not fear, but labor, began to overcome him; his breath 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 90 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 95 Obidah fed with eagerness and gratitude.
When the repast was over, “Tell me,” said the hermit, “ by what chance thou hast been brought hither. I have been now twenty years an inhabitant of the wilderness, in which I never saw a man before.” Obi- 100 dah then related the occurrences of his journey, without any concealment or palliation.
“Son," said the hermit,“ let the errors and follies, the danger and escape of this day, sink deep into thy heart. Remember, my son,
that human life is the jour- 105 ney of a day. We rise in the morning of youth, full of vigor and full of expectation; we set forward with spirit and hope, with gayety 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 110 fervor, and endeavor to find some mitigation of our duty, and some more easy means of obtaining the same end. We then relax our vigor, and resolve no longer to be terrified with crimes at a distance, but rely upon our own constancy, and venture to approach what we 115 resolve never to touch. We thus enter the bowers of
repose in the shades of security. Here the heart softens, and vigilance subsides; we are then willing to inquire whether another advance cannot be made, and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes 120 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, keep in our sight, and to which we 125 purpose 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 130 quit the only adequate object of rational desire. We entangle ourselves in business, immerge ourselves in luxury, and rove through the labyrinths of inconstancy, till the darkness of old age begins to invade us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way. We then look 135 back upon our lives with horror, with sorrow, with repentance; and wish, but too often vainly wish, that we had not forsaken the ways of virtue.
“ Happy are they, my son, who shall learn from thy example not to despair, but shall remember, that, though 140 the day is past, and their strength is wasted, there yet remains one effort to be made; that reformation is never hopeless, nor sincere endeavors ever unassisted; that the wanderer may at length return, after all his errors; and that he who implores strength and courage 145 from above, shall find danger and difficulty give way before him. Go now, my son, to thy repose; commit thyself to the care of Omnipotence; and, when the morning calls again to toil, begin anew thy journey and thy life.”
Night Scene in an American Forest.-CHATEAUBRIAND
I had wandered one evening in a vast forest, at some distance from the cataract of Niagara. I soon beheld the day gradually extinguished around me, and enjoyed, in all its solitude, the beauteous prospect of
night amid the deserts of the New World. An hour 5 after sunset, the moon appeared above the trees in the opposite horizon. A balmy breeze, which the queen of night brought with her from the east, seemed to precede her in the forests, like her perfumed breath. The lonely luminary slowly ascended in the heavens, now peace- 10 fully pursuing her azure course, and now reposing on groups of clouds, which resembled the summits of lofty, snow-covered mountains. These clouds, folding or expanding their veils, rolled themselves out into transparent zones of white satin, dispersed into light flakes of 15 foam, or formed in the heavens bright beds of down, so lovely to the eye, that you would have imagined you felt their softness and their elasticity.
The scenery on the earth was not less enchanting. The soft and bluish beams of the moon darted through 20 the intervals between the trees, and threw streams of light into the obscurity of the most profound darkness. The river that glided at my feet, was now lost in the woods, and now re-appeared, glistening with the constellations of night, which were reflected on its bosom. In 25 a vast plain beyond this stream, the radiance of the moon reposed without motion on the verdure. Birch trees, scattered here and there in the savanna, and agitated by the breeze, formed islands of floating shadows on a motionless sea of light. Near to me all was silence 30 and repose, save the fall of some leaf, the transient rustling of a sudden breath of wind, or the rare and interrupted hootings of the owl; but at a distance was heard, at intervals, the solemn roar of the falls of Niagara, which, amid the calm of night, was prolonged 35 from desert to desert, and died away among the solitary forests. The grandeur, the astonishing sublimity of this scene, human language is inadequate to express; nor can the most delightful nights in Europe afford any idea