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ration due to the instructions of a superior being, and, waiting for him at the door, humbly implored the liberty of visiting so great a master of true wisdom. The lecturer hesitated a moment, when Rasselas put a purse of gold into his hand; which he received with a mixture of joy and wonder.
« I have found, said the prince , at his » return to Imlac , a man who can teach » all that is necessary to be known, who » from the unshaken throne of rational
fortitude, looks down on the scenes of » life changing beneath him. He speaks , v and attention watches his lips. He rea» sons, and conviction closes his periods. » This man shall be my future guide : I » will learn his doctrines, and imitate his
» Be not too hasty, said Imlac , to trust, » or to admire, the teachers of morality :
they discourse like angels, but they live » like men. »
Rasselas, who could not conceive how any man could reason so forcibly without feeling the cogency of his own arguments, paid his visit in a few days, and was denied admission. He had now learned the power of money, and made his way by a piece of
gold to the inner apartment, where he found the philosopher in a room half darkened, with his eyes misty , and his face pale.
Sir, said he , you are come at a time » when all human friendship is useless ; » what I suffer cannot be remedied, what » I have lost cannot be supplied. My daugh» ter, from whose tenderness I expected >> all the comforts of my age, died last night » of a fever. My views, my purposes, my
hopes are at an end: I am now a lonely » being disunited from society. »
« Sir, said the prince, mortality is an » event by which a wise man can never be » surprised : we know that death is al ways » near : and it should therefore always be
expected. Young man, answered the phi» losopher , you speak like one that has » never felt the pangs of separation. Have » you then forgot the precepts, said Rasse» las , which you so powerfully enforced ? » Has wisdoin no strength to arm the heart » against calamity ? Consider, that external » things are naturally variable , but truth » and reason are always the same. What » comfort, said the mourner, can truth and « reason afford me? of what effect are they
but to tell me, that my daughter » will not be restored ? »
The prince, whose humanity would not suffer him to insult misery with reproof, went away convinced of the emptiness of rhetorical sound, and the inefficacy of poli shed periods and studied sentences.
THE H ER MI T.
HEY came on the third day, by the di-rection of the peasants, to the hermil's cell : it was a cavern in the side of a mountain , over-shadowed with palm-trees, at such a distance from the cataract , thai nothing more was heard than a gentle uniform murmur , such as composed the mind to pensive meditation , especially when it was assisted by the wind whistling among the branches. The first rude essay of nature had been so much improved by human labour that the cave contained several apartments appropriated to different uses, and often afforded lodging to travellers whom darkness or tempest happened to overtake.
The hermit sat on a bench at the door , to enjoy the coolness of the evening. On one side lay a book with pens and paper, on the other mechanical instruments of various kinds. As they approached him unregarded , the princess observed that he had not the cerintenance of a man that had found, or could teach the way to bappiness.
They saluted him with great respect , which he repaid like a man not unaccustomed to the forms of courts. « My chil» dren said he , if you have lost your » way, you shall be willingly supplied
with such conveniences for the night as in this cavern will afford. I have all that » nature requires , and you will not expect » delicacies in a hermit's cell. »
They thanked him, and , entering , were pleased with the neatness and regularity of the place. The hermit set flesh and wine before them, though he fed only upon fruits and water. His discourse was cheerful without levity, and pious without enthusiasm. He soon gained the esteem of his guests, and the princess repented of her hasty censure.
At last Imlac began thus : « I do not » now wonder that your reputation is so far
» extended ; we have heard at Cairo of » your wisdom, and came hither to im
plore your direction for this young man » and maiden in the choice of life.
» To him that lives well , answered the » hermit, every form of life is good ; nor » can I give any other rule of choice, than » to remove from all apparent evil.
» He will remove most certainly from » evil, said the prince, who shall devote » himself to that solitude which
you » recommended by your example.
» I have indeed lived fifteen years » litude, said the hermit, but have no » desire that my example should gain any » imitators. In my youth I professed arms, » and was raised by degrees to the highest
military rank. I have traversed wide » countries at the head of my troops, and
seen many battles and sieges. At last,
being disgusted by the preferments of a » younger officer, and feeling that my vi» gour was beginning to decay, I resolved » to close my life in peace , having found » the world full of snares, discord and mi» sery. I had once escaped from the pursuit » of the enemy by the shelter of this cavern, , » and therefore chose it for my final resi