« 上一頁繼續 »
to appear among the rest of his creatures; that to have seen one of my own species would have seemed to me a raising me from death to life, and the greatest blessing that Heaven itself, next to the supreme blessing of salvation, could bestow; I say, that I should now tremble at the very apprehensions of seeing a man, and was ready to sink into the ground, at but the shadow, or silent appearance of a man's having set his foot on the island!
Such is the uneven state of human life; and it afforded me a great many curious speculations afterwards, when I had a little recovered my first surprise. I considered that this was the station of life the infinitely wise and good providence of God had determined for me; that as I could not foresee what the ends of divine wisdom might be in all this, so I was not to dispute his sovereignty, who, as I was his creature, had an undoubted right by creation to govern and dispose of me absolutely as he thought fit; and who, as I was a creature who had offended him, had likewise a judicial right to condemn me to what punishment he thought fit; and that it was my part to submit to bear his indignation, because I had sinned against him.
I then reflected, that God, who was not only righteous, but omnipotent, as he had thought fit thus to punish and afflict me, so he was able to deliver me; that if he did not think fit to do it, it was my unquestioned duty to resign myself absolutely and entirely to his will: and, on the other hand, it was my duty also to hope in him, pray to him, and quietly to attend the dictates and directions of his daily providence.
These thoughts took me up many hours, days, nay, I may say, weeks and months; and one particular effect of my cogitations on this occasion I cannot omit; viz., one morning early, lying in my bed, and filled with thoughts about my danger from the appearance of savages, I found it discomposed me very much; upon which those words of the Scripture came into my thoughts, Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Upon this, rising cheerfully out of my bed, my heart was not only comforted, but I was guided and encouraged to pray earnestly to God for deliverance. When I had done praying, I took up my Bible, and, opening it to read, the first words that presented to me, were, Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: Wait, I say, on the Lord. It is impossible to express the comfort this gave me; and in return, I thankfully laid down the book, and was no more sad, at least, not on that occasion.
In the middle of these cogitations, apprehensions, and reflections, it came into my thoughts one day, that all this might be a mere chimera of my own, and that this foot might be the print of my own foot, when I came on shore from my boat: this cheered me up a little too, and I began to persuade myself it was all a delusion; that it was nothing else but my own foot; and why might not I come that way from the boat, as well as I was going that way to the boat? Again, I considered also, that I could by no means tell for certain where I had trod, and where I had not; and that if at last this was only the print of my own foot, I had played the part of those fools, who strive to make stories of spectres and apparitions, and then are themselves frighted at them more than anybody else.
Now I began to take courage, and to peep abroad again; for I had not stirred out of my castle for three days and nights, so that I began to starve for provision; for I had little or nothing within doors, but some barley-cakes and water. Then I knew that my goats wanted to be milked too, which usually was my evening diversion; and the poor creatures were in great pain and inconvenience for want of it; and indeed it almost spoiled some of them, and almost dried up their milk.
Heartening myself, therefore, with the belief, that this was nothing but the print of one of my own feet, (and so I might be truly said to start at my own shadow,) I began to go abroad again, and went to my country-house to milk my flock ; but to see with what fear I went forward, how often I looked behind me, how I was ready, every now and then, to lay down my basket, and run for my life; it would have made any one have thought I was haunted with an evil conscience, or that I had been lately most terribly frighted; and so indeed I had.
However, as I went down thus two or three days, and having seen nothing, I began to be a little bolder, and to think there was really nothing in it but my own imagination. But I could not persuade myself fully of this, till I should go down to the shore again, and see this print of a foot, and measure it by my own, and see if there was any similitude or fitness, that I might be assured it was my own foot. But when I came to the place first, it appeared evidently to me, that when I laid up my boat, I could not possibly be on shore anywhere thereabouts. Secondly, when I came to measure the mark with my own foot, I found my foot not so large by a great deal. Both these things filled my head with new imaginations, and gave me the vapors again to the highest degree; so that I shook with cold, like one in an ague; and I went home again, filled with the belief, that some man or men had been on shore there; or, in short, that the island was inhabited, and 1 might be surprised before I was aware; and what course to take for my security, I knew not. O what ridiculous resolutions men take, when possessed with fear! It deprives them of the use of those means which reason offers for their relief.
JOHN GAY. 1688—1732.
Jons Gat, descended from a respectable family in Devonshire, was born in 1688, the year of the "glorious Revolution." WLen young he was put apprentice to a silk-mercer in London; but having imbibed a taste for poetry and classical literature, hi* indentures were cheerfully cancelled by his master, and a poem, entitled " Rural Sports," which he soon published and dedicated to Pope, obtained the sincere and lasting friendship of that poet By him Gay was introduced to that brilliant circle of wits, of which Pope was the centre, and of it he ever continued the favorite. In 1712 he was appointed secretary to the Duchess of Monmouth, which situation left him at full liberty to indulge his taste for elegant literature. Soon after, he published his "Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London," "a fine specimen," says Dr. Drake, "of that species of burlesque, in which elevated language is employed in the detail of trifling, mean, or ludicrous circumstances." He then entered the walks of dramatic literature, but without any success, until, in 1727, he published his "Beggar's Opera," designed to ridicule the Italian opera, and to satirize tlie court. He offered it to Rich, the manager of DruryLane Theatre, and such was its great popularity, that it was humorously remarked that this opera had made Gay rich, and Rich gay.
But the most finished productions of our poet, and those to which he will owe his reputation with posterity, are his "Fables,"—the finest in the language. They are written with great spirit and vivacity; the versification is generally smooth and flowing; the descriptions happy and appropriate, and the moral designed to be conveyed is, for the most part, impressive and instructive. Besides these, he was the author of the "Fan," a mythological fiction; of "Dione," a pastoral drama; of "Achilles," an opera, and many songs and ballads. The publication of these various works placed him in easy circumstances as to fortune; but no sooner was he released from pecuniary anxiety, than his health began to decline; and he was at length seized with an inflammatory disease, which carried him off in three days, and he expired on the 4th of December, 1732, in the forty-fourth year of his age. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a handsome monument was erected to his memory, for which Pope wrote an inscription.
Few men were more beloved by those who intimately knew him than Gay. His moral character was excellent, his temper peculiarly sweet and engaging, but he possessed a simplicity of manner and character which, though it endeared him to his friends, rendered him very unfit for the general business of life. The two first lines of the epitaph of Pope most truthfully character ize him:—
"Or manners gentle, of affections mad;
THE BULL AND THE MASTIFF.
Seek you to train your favorite boy?
As on a time, in peaceful reign,
A Mastiff pass'd; inflamed with ire,
His eyeballs shot indignant fire.
He foam'd, he raged with thirst of blood.
Spurning the ground, the monarch stood,
The surly Mastiff thus returns:
"Cursed Dog," the Bull replied, " no more
THE HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.
Friendship, like love, is but a name,
A Hare, who, in a civil way,
As forth she went at early dawn,
What transport in her bosom grew,
"Let me," says she, "your back ascend,
The horse replied, "Poor honest Puss,
She next the stately Bull implored;
The Goat remark'd, " her pulse was high,
The sheep was feeble, and complain'd
She now the trotting calf address'd,
"Shall I," says he, "of tender age,
Gay wrote but little prose, except letters. He was too lazy to be a voluminous correspondent, but his style is easy, natural, and amusing. He had accompanied Pope to the scat of Lord Hareourt in Oxfordshire; and during his visit a violent thunder-storm occurred, the fatal effects of which upon two persons he gives in the following beautiful and affecting letter:—
THE VILLAGE LOVERS.
Stanton Hareourt Aug. 19, 1718. The only news that you can expect to have from me here is news from heaven, for I am quite out of the world; and there is scarce any thing can reach me except the voice of thunder, which undoubtedly you have heard too. We have read in old authors of high towers levelled by it to the ground, while the humbler valleys have escaped: the only thing that is proof against it is the laurel