« 上一頁繼續 »
Omar and Hassan. 1. OMAR, the son of Hassan, had passed seventy-five years in honour and prosperity. The favour of three successive califfs had filled his house with riches, and whenever he appeared, the benediction of the people proclaimed his approach.
2. Terrestrial happiness is of short continuance. The brightness of the flame is wasting its fuel, and the fragrant flower passing away in its own odours. The vigour of Omar began to fail, the curls of beauty fell from his head, strength departed from his hands, and agility from his feet. He gave back to the califf the keys of trust, and the seals of secrecy; and sought no other pleasure for the remainder of his days, than the converse of the wise, and the gratitude of the poor whom he relieved.
3. The powers of his mind were yet unimpaired. His cham. ber was filled by visitants, eager to catch the dictates of experi. ence, and officious to pay the tribute of admiration. Calid, the son of the viceroy of Egypt, entered every day early, and retired late ; he was beautiful and eloquent; Omar admired his wit, and loved his docility. Tell me,' said Calid, thou to whose voice nations have listened with admiration, and whose wisdom is known to the extremities of Asia, tell me how I may resemble Omar the prudent. The arts by which thou hast gained power, and preserved it, are no longer necessary or
useful to thee; impart to me, therefore, the secret of thy 1 conduct, and teach me the plan on which thy wisdom has built thy fame.'
4. · Young man,' said Omar, it is of little use to form plans of life. When I took my first survey of the world, in my twentieth year, having considered the various conditions of mankind, in an hour of solitude, I said thus to myself, leaning against a tree, which spread its branches over my head, seventy years are allowed to man; I have yet fifty remaining ; ten years I will allot to the attainment of knowledge, and ten I will pass in foreign countries.
5. •I shall be learned, and, consequently, honoured ; every city will shout at my arrival, and every student will solicit my acquaintance. Twenty years thus passed, will store my mind with images, which will be employment for me through the rest of my life in combining and comparing. I shall revel in fresh accumulations of intellectual wealth. I shall find new pleasures for every moment, and shall never more be weary of myself.
6. 'I will, however, not deviate too far from the beaten
track of common life, but will try what can be found in female conversation. I will marry a wife as beautiful as the Houries, and as wise as Zobida. With her I will live twenty years, within the suburbs of Bagdad, in every pleasure that wealth can purchase, and fancy can invent. I will then retire to a rural dwelling, and pass my last days in obscurity and contemplation, and lie silently down on the bed of death. Through my life it shall be my settled resolution never to depend on the smiles, nor stand exposed to the artifices of courts ; I will never pant for public honours, nor disturb my quiet with affairs of state. Such was my scheme of life in my younger days. .
7. The first part of my ensuing time was to be spent in search of knowledge, and I know not how I was diverted from my design. I had no visible impediments without, nor suffered any ungovernable passions within. I regarded knowledge as my highest honour, and most engaging pleasure : yet day stole on day, and month glided after month, till I found that seven years of the first ten bad vanished, and left nothing behind them.
8. I now postponed my purpose of travelling'; for why should I go abroad, while so much remained to be learned at home? I therefore immured myself at home for four years, and studied the laws of the empire. The fame of my knowledge reached even the judges. I was found able to speak upon doubtful questions, and was commanded to stand at the
footstool of the supreme califf. I was heard with attention ; I } was consulted with confidence, and the love of praise fastened on my heart.
9. I still wished to see distant countries, listened with rapture to the relations of travellers, and resolved to ask my dismission, that I might feast my soul with novelty ; but my presence was always necessary, and the stream of business hurried me along. Sometimes I was afraid lest I should be charged with ingratitude ; but I proposed to travel, and therefore would not confine myself by marriage.
10. •In my fiftieth year, I began to suspect that the time of my travelling was past, and thought it best to lay hold on the felicity yet in iny power, and indulge myself in domestic pleasures. But at fifty no man finds a woman beautiful as the Houries, and wise as Zobida. I inquired and rejected, consulted and deliberated, till the sixty-second year made me ashamed of gazing upon the fair. I had now nothing left but retirement, and for retirement I never found a time, till disease forced me from public employment.
| 11. · Such was my scheme, and such have been its consequences. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I trifled away the years of improvement; with a restless desire of seeing different countries, I have always resided in the same city : with the highest expectation of connubial felicity, I have lived unmarried, and with unalterable resolutions of contemplative retirement, I am going to die within the walls of Bagdad.'
The Supreme Ruler of the World. 1. Many kingdoms and countries full of people, and islands and large continents, and different climes, make up this whole world: God governs it. The people swarm upon the face of it like ants upon a hillock. Some are black with the hot sun; some cover themselves with furs against the sharp cold ; some drink of the fruit of the vine ; some the pleasant milk of the cocoa-nut; and others quench their thirst with the running stream. All are God's family : he knows every one of them, as a shepherd knows his flock. They pray to him in different languages, but he understands them all ; he hears them all; be takes care of all : none are so great, that he cannot punish them; none are so mean, that he will not protect them.
2. Negro woman, who sittest pining in captivity, and weepest over thy sick child ; though no one sees thee, God sees thee : though no one pities thee, God pities thee. Raise thy voice, forlorn and abandoned one; call upon him from amidst thy bonds ; for assuredly he will hear thee. Monarch, that rulest over a hundred states ; whose frown is terrible as death, and whose armies cover the land, boast not thyself as though there were none above thee. God is above thee; his powerful arm is always over thee ; and if thou doest ill, assuredly he will punish thee. .
3. Nations of the earth, fear the Lord; families of men, call upon the name of your God. Is there any one whom he hath not blessed ? Let him not praise him.
Abraham and Lot. 1. DOMESTIC altercations began to perplex families in the very childhood of time; the blood even of a brother was shed at an early period. But with how much tenderness and good sense does Abraham prevent the disagreement which had nearly arisen, as is but too frequently the case, from the quarrels of servants! He said, unto Lot, I pray thee let there be no strife betwixt me and thee, nor between my herdmen and
thine.' "And why ? For the tenderest reason that can be : because we are brethren.'
2, The very image of the patriarch in the attitude of entreaiy, the fraternal tear just starting from his eye, is this moment before me; and thus, methinks, I catch instruction from the lip of the venerable man, as he addresses Lot. Away, my dear brother, away with strife : we were born to be the servants ot God, and the companions of each other : as we sprang from the same parent, so we naturally partake of the same affections. We are brethren, sons of the same father ; we are friends : for eurely kindredship should be the most exalted friendship. Let us not, then, disagree, because our herdmen have disagreed; since that were to encourage every idle pique, and senseless animosity. Great, indeed has been our success since our mis gration into this fair country : we have much substance, and much cattle.
3. •But what! shall brothers quarrel, because it has pleased heaven to prosper them ?' This would be ingratitude, impiety! But if, notwithstanding these persuasives, thy spirit is still troubled, let us separate : rather than contend with a brother, I would, hard as it is, even part with him for a time. Perhaps the occasion of dispute (which I have already
forgotten) will soon be no more remembered by thee. Is E not the whole land before thee? Take then my blessing and
my embrace, and separate thyself from me. To thee is submitted the advantages of choice. If thou wilt take the left hand, then, that I may not appear to thwart thee unbrotherly, I will take the right; or, if thou art more inclined to the country,
which lies upon the right, then will I go the left. Be it as thou * wilt, and whithersoever thou goest, happy mayest thou be ?
4. Lot listened to his brother, and departed. He cast his eyes on the well watered plains of Jordan. When he separated, it appears to have been with the hope of increasing his wealth ; whilst Abraham, actuated by the kindest motives, often, no doubt, pressed his brother's hand, and often bade him adieu ; and even followed him to repeat his farewell wish before he could suffer him to depart.
A Persecuting Spirit Reproved. - 1. ARAm was sitting at the door of his tent, under the shade of his fig-tree, when it came to pass, that, a man, advanced in years, bearing a staff in his hand, journeyed that way. And it was noonday. And Aram said unto the stranger, · Pass not by, I pray thee, but come in and wash thy feet, and tarry here
until the evening, for thou art gray with years, and the heat overcometh thee.' And the stranger left his staff at the door, and entered into the tent of Aram. And he rested himself: and Aram set before him bread and cakes of fine meal baked upon the hearth. And Aram blessed the bread, calling upon the name of the Lord. But the stranger did eat, and refused to pray unto the Most High, saying, “Thy Lord is not the God of my fathers; why, therefore, should I present my vows unto him ? And Aram's wrath was kindled ; and he called his servants, and they beat the stranger, and drove him into the Wilderness.
2. Now, in the evening, Aram lifted up his voice unto the Lord, and prayed unto him. And the Lord said, “Aram, where is the stranger that sojourned this day with thee? And Aram answered, and said, · Behold, O Lord! he eat of thy bread, and would not offer unto thee, his prayers and thanksgivings. Therefore, did I chastise him, and drive him from before me into the wilderness.' And the Lord said unto Aram, · Who hath made thee a judge between me and him? Have not I borne with thine iniquities, and winked at thy backslidings ? and shalt thou be severe with thy brother, to mark his errours, and to punish his perverseness ? Arise, and follow the stranger, and carry with thee, oil and wine, and anoint his bruises, and speak kindly unto him. For I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, and judgment belongeth only unto me. Vain is thine oblation of thanksgiving without a lowly heart.
As a bulrush, thou mayest bow down thy head, and lift up thy voice like a trumpet ; but thou obeyest not the ordinance of thy God, if thy worship be for strife and debate. Behold the sacrifice that I have chosen ; is it not to undo the heavy burdens ; to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke ; to deal thy Wead to the hungry, and to bring the poor, that are cast out, to thy house ? And Aram trembled before the presence of God. And he arose, and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the wilderness, to do as the Lord bad commanded.
Sisterly Unity and Love. 1. OBSERVE those two hounds that are coupled together,' said Euphronius to Lucia and Emylia, who were looking through the window, · How they torment each other by a disagreement in their pursuits ! One is for moving slowly, and the other vainly urges onward. The larger dog now sees some object that tempts him on this side ; and mark how be drags his compar