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tion. He crept along with a slow and unremitting pace, his eyes fixed on the top of the mountain, patiently removing every stone that obstructed his way, till he saw most of those below him, who had at first derided his slow and toilsome progress. Indeed, there were few who ascended the hill with equal and uninterrupted steadiness; for, besides the difficulties of the way, they were continually solicited to turn aside, by a numerous crowd of appetites, passions, and pleasures, whose importunity, when once complied with, they became less and less able to resist; and though they often returned to the path, the asperities of the road were more severely felt, the hill appeared more steep and rugged, the fruits, which were wholesome and refreshing, seemed harsh and ill tasted, their sight grew dim, and their feet tripped at every little obstruction.
I saw, with some surprise, that the Muses, whose business was to cheer and encourage those who were toiling up the ascent, would often sing in the bowers of pleasure, and accompany those who were enticed away at the call of the passions. They accompanied them, however, but a little way, and always forsook them when they lost sight of the hill. The tyrants then doubled their chains upon the unhappy captives, and led them away without resistance, to the cells of Ignorance, or the mansions of Misery. Amongst the innumerable seducers, who were endeavoring to draw away the votaries of Truth from the path of Science, there was one so little formidable in her appearance, and so gentle and languid in her attempts, that I should. scarcely have taken notice of her, but for the numbers she had imperceptibly loaded with her chains. Indolence (for so she was called), far from proceeding to
open hostilities, did not attempt to turn their feet out of the path, but contented herself with retarding their progress; and the purpose she could not force them to abandon she persuaded them to delay. Her touch had a power like that of the torpedo, which withered the strength of those who came within its influence. Her unhappy captives all turned their faces towards the temple, and always hoped to arrive there; but the ground seemed to slide from beneath their feet, and they found themselves at the bottom, before they suspected they had changed their place. The placid serenity which at first appeared in their countenance, changed by degrees into a melancholy languor, which was tinged with deeper and deeper gloom, as they glided down the stream of Insignificance, a dark and sluggish water, which is curled by no breeze, and enlivened by no murmur, till it falls into a dead sea, where startled passengers are awakened by the shock, and the next moment buried in the gulf of Oblivion.
Of all the unhappy deserters from the paths of Science, none seemed less able to return than the followers of Indolence. The captives of appetite and passion would often seize the moment when their tyrants were languid or asleep, to escape from their enchantment; but the dominion of Indolence was constant and unremitted, and seldom resisted till resistance was in vain.
After contemplating these things, I turned my eyes towards the top of the mountain, where the air was always pure and exhilarating, the path shaded with laurels and evergreens, and the effulgence which beamed from the face of Science seemed to shed a glory round her votaries. Happy, said I, are they who are per
mitted to ascend the mountain! But while I was pronouncing this exclamation with uncommon ardor, I saw, standing beside me, a form of diviner features and a more benign radiance. Happier," said she, "are they whom Virtue conducts to the Mansions of Content!" "What," said I, "does Virtue then reside in the vale?" "I am found," said she, "in the vale, and I illuminate the mountain. I cheer the cottager at his toil, and inspire the sage at his meditation. I mingle in the crowd of cities, and bless the hermit in his cell. I have a temple in every heart that owns my influence, and to him that wishes for me I am already present. Science may raise thee to eminence, but I alone can guide thee to felicity!" While Virtue was thus speaking, I stretched out my arms towards her, with a vehemence which broke my slumber. The chill dews were falling around me, and the shades of evening stretched over the landscape. I hastened homeward, and resigned the night to silence and meditation.
1" Virtue alone is happiness below."
THE OAK AND THE BRIAR.1
BY EDMUND SPENSER.
THERE grewe an aged Tree on the greene,
Hard by his side grewe a bragging Brere,
1 [From "The Shepheards Calender," 1579-80. February.] tale of the Oake and the Brere he telleth as learned of Chaucer, but it is cleane in another kind, and rather like to Æsops fables. It is verie excellent for pleasant descriptions, being altogether a certain Icon of Hypotyposis of disdainfull younkers." Glosse. 2 once, formerly. 8 husbandman. 6 the air.
It was embellisht with blossomes fayre,
And snebbe the good Oake, for 5 he was old.
Why standst there (quoth he) thou brutish blocke? Nor for fruict nor for shadowe serves thy stocke; Seest how fresh my flowers bene spredde, Dyed in lilly white and cremsin redde, With leaves engrained in lusty greene; Colours meete to clothe a mayden Queene? Thy waste bignes but combers the grownd, And dirks the beauty of my blossomes rownd: The mouldie mosse, which thee accloieth,8 My sinamon smell too much annoieth: Wherefore soone I rede 9 thee hence remove, Least thou the price of my displeasure prove." So spake this bold brere with great disdaine: Little him aunswered the Oake againe, But yeelded, with shame and greefe adawed, That of a weede he was overcrawed.10
Yt chaunced after upon a day,
The husbandman selfe to come that way,
1 were wont.
8 become, grow.
4 snub, chide.