« ElőzőTovább »
Evening, an Ode. To Stella
To the same
To a Friend
Stella in mourning
Verses written at the request of a Gentleman to whom a
Lady had given a sprig of myrtle
To Lady Firebrace, at Bury allizes
E who listen with credulity to the whispers of
fancy, and persue with eagerness the phantoms of hope ; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of Raffelas prince of Abissinia.
Raffelas was the fourth son of the mighty emperour, in whose dominions the Father of Waters begins his course; whose bounty pours down the streams of plenty, and scatters over half the world the harvests of Egypt.
According to the custom which has descended from age to age among the monarchs of the torrid zone, Rasselas was confined in a private palace, with the other sons and daughters of Abissinian royalty, till the order of succession should call him to the throne.
The place, which the wisdom or policy of antiquity had destined for the residence of the AbiffiVol. XI. B
nian princes, was a spacious valley in the kingdom of Amhara, surrounded on every side by mountains, of which the funnits overhang the middle part. The only paffage, by which it could be entered, was a cavern that pailed under a rock, of which it has long been disputed whether it was the work of nature or of human industry. The outlet of the cavern was concealed by a thick wood, and the mouth wliich opened into the valley was closed with
gates of iron, forged by the artificers of ancient days, so maffy that no man could without the help of engines open or shut then.
From the mountains on every side, rivulets defcended that filled all the valley with verdure and fertility, and formed a lake in the middle inhabited by tisa of every species, and frequented by every fowl whom nature has taught to dip the wing in water. This lake discharged its fuperfluities by a Arcaal which enrered a dark deft of the mountain on ile northern side, and fall with dreadful noise from precipice to pracipice till it was heard no more.
The fides of the mountains were covered witli trees, the banks of the brooks were diversified with Powers; every blaft shook fpices from the rocks, and every month dropped fruits upon the ground. All animals that bite the grass, or brouse the thruh, whetier wild or tame, wandered in this extensive circuit, fecured from beasts of prey by the mountains which confined them. On one part were flocks and herds feeding in the pastures, on another all the beasts of chase frikking in the lawns; the sprightly kid was bounding on the rocks, the subtle monkey fiolicking in the trees, and the solemn elephant reposing in the shade. All the diversities of the world were brought together, the blessings of nature were collected, and its evils extracted and excluded.
The valley, wide and fruitful, supplied its inhabitants with the necessaries of life, and all delights and superfuities were added at the annual visit which the emperour paid his children, when the iron gate was opened to the sound of musick; and during eight days every one that resided in the valley was required to propose whatever might concribute to make feclusion pleasant, to fill up the vacancies of attention, and lessen the tediousness of time. Every desire was immediately granted. All the artificers of pleasure were called to gladden the festivity; the musicians exerted the power of harmony, and the dancers shewed their activity before the princes, in hope that they should pass their lives in this blissful captivity, to which those only were admitted whose performance was thought able to add novelty to luxury. Such was the appearance of security and delight which this retirement afforded, that they, to whom it was new, always desired that it might be perpetual ; and as those, on whom the iron gate had once closed, were never suffered to return, the effect of longer experience could not be known. Thus every year produced new schemes of delight, and new competitors for imprisonment.
The palace stood on an eminence raised about thirty paces above the surface of the lake. It was divided into many squares or courts, built with greater or less magnificence, according to the rank