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" Why, said Rasselas, should you envy others so great an advantage? All skill ought to be exerted for universal good; every man has owed much to others, and ought to repay the kindness that he has received."
“ If men were all virtuous, returned the artist, I should with great alacrity teach them all to fly. But what would be the security of the good, if the bad could at pleasure invade them from the sky? Against an army failing through the clouds, neither walls, nor mountains, nor seas, couid afford any security. A Aight of northern savages might hover in the wind, and light at once with irresistible violence upon the capital of a fruitful region that was rolling under thein. Even this valley, the retreat of princes, the abode of happiness, might be violated by the sudden descent of some of the naked nations that swarm on the coast of the southern sea.”
The prince promised secrecy, and waited for the performance, not wholly hopeless of success. He visited the work from time to time, observed its progress, and remarked many ingenious contrivances to facilitate motion, and unite levity with strength. The artist was every day more certain that he hould leave vultures and eagles behind him, and the contagion of his confidence leized upon the prince.
In a year the wings were finished, and, on a morning appointed, the maker appeared furnished for flight on a little promontory: he waved his pinions a while to gather air, then leaped from his stand, and in an instant dropped into the lake. His wings, which were of no use in the air, sustained him
in the water, and the prince drew him to land, half dead with terror and vexation.
THE PRINCE TINDS A MAN OF LEARNING.
T The prince was not much aflicted by this
disaster, having fuffered himself to hope for a happier event, only because he had no other means of escape in view. He still persisted in his design to leave the happy valley by the first opportunity.
His imagination was now at a stand; he had no prospect of entering into the world; and, notwithstanding all his endeavours to support himself, discontent by degrees preyed upon him, and he began again to lose his thoughts in sadness, when the rainy season, which in there countries is periodical, made it inconvenient to wander in the woods.
The rain continued longer and with more violence than had been ever known: the clouds broke on the surrounding mountains, and the torrents streamed into the plain on every side, till the caVen was too narrow to discharge the water. The lake overflowed its bank, and all the level of the valley was covered with the inundation. The emirence, on which the palace was built, and fome other spots of rifing ground, were all that the eye could now discover. The herds and flocks left the pastures, and both the wild beasts and the tame retreated to the mountains.
This inundation confined all the princes to do mestick amusements, and the attention of Raflelas
was particularly seized by a poem, which Imlac rehearsed, upon the various conditions of humanity, He commanded the poet to attend him in his apartment, and recite his verses a second time; then entering into familiar talk, he thought himself happy in having found a man who knew the world so well, and could so skilfully paint the scenes of life. He asked a thousand questions about things, to which, though common to all other mortals, his confinement from childhood had kept him a ftranger. The poet pitied his ignorance, and loved his curiosity, and entertained him from day to day with novelty and instruction, so that the prince regretted the necessity of Neep, and longed till the morning should renew his pleasure.
As they were ficting together, the prince commanded Imlac to relate his hiftory, and to tell by what accident he was forced, or by what motive induced, to close his life in the happy valley. As he was going to begin his narrative, Raffelas was called to a concert, and obliged to restrain his curiolity till the evening.
THE HISTORY OF IMLAC,
The close of the day is, in the regions. of the
torrid zone, the only season of diversion and entertainment, and it was therefore midnight before the musick ceased, and the princesses retired. Rafselas then called for his companion, and required bim to begin the story of his life. C3
“ Sir, said Imlac, my history will not be long: the life that is devoted to knowledge passes filently away, and is very little diversified by events. To talk in publick, to think in solitude, to read and to hear, to enquire, and answer enquiries, is the business of a scholar. He wanders about the world without pomp or terrour, and is neither known nor valued but by men like himself.
“ I was born in the kingdom of Goiama, at no great distance from the fountain of the Nile. My father was a wealthy merchant, who traded between the inland countries of Africk and the ports of the Red Sea. He was honest, frugal, and diligent, but of mean sentiments, and narrow compree hension: he desired only to be rich, and to conceal his riches, left he thould be spoiled by the governours of the province.”
“ Surely, fuid the prince, my father must be nezligent of his charge, if any man in his dominions dares take that which belongs to another. Does he not know that kings are accountable for in. justice permitted as well as done? If I were emperour, not the meanet of my subjects should be oppreffu with impurity. My blood boils when I am told that a merchant durft not enjoy his honest gains for fear of losing them by the rapacity of Pwer. Name the governour who robbed the j'co;le, that I may declare his crimes to the enI crour."
" Sir, faid Imlac, your ardour is the natural effict of virtue aniinated by youth: the time will cone when you will acquit your father, and perhaps hear with less impatience of the governour.
Oppression is, in the Abisinian dominions, neither frequent nor tolerated; but no form of governinent has been yet discovered, by which cruelty can be wholly prevented. Subordination supposes power on one part, and subjection on the other; and if power be in the hands of men, it will sometimes be abuied. The vigilance of the supreme magistrate may do much, but much will still remaini undone. He can never know all the crimes that are committed, and can seldom punish all that he knows.”
“ This, said the prince, I do not understand, but I had rather hear thee than dispute. Continue thy narration.”
My father, proceeded Imlac, originally intended that I would have no other education, than such as might qualify me for commerce; and discovering in me great strength of memory, and quickness of apprehension, often declared his hope that I should be some tiine the richest man in Abiffinia.”
Why, said the prince, did thy father desire the increase of his wealth, when it was already greater than he durst discover or enjoy? I am unwilling to doubt thy veracity, yet inconsistencies car not both be true."
“ Inconsistencies, answered Imlac, cannot both be right, but, imputed to man, they may both be true. Yet diversity is not inconsistency. My father might expect a time of greater security. However, foine desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he, whose real wants are supplied, must admit those of fancy.”