« PrejšnjaNaprej »
ON THE JUSTICE OF PROVIDENCE.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which thou canst not see;
All partial evil, universal good:
And spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
BOZALDAB, Caliph of Egypt, had dwelt securely for many years in the silken pavilions of pleasure, and had every morning anointed his head with the oil of gladnes, when his only son Aboram, for whom he had crowded his treasury with gold, extended his dominions with conquests, and secured them with impregnable fortresses, was suddenly wounded, as he was hunting, with an arrow from an unknown hand, and expird in the field.
Bozaldab, in the distraction of grief and despair, refused to return to his palace, and retired to the gloomiest grotto in the neighbouring mountains: He there rolled himself in the dust, tore away the hairs of his hoary head, and dashed the cup of consolation, that Fatience offered him to the ground. He suffered not his minstrels to approach his presence; but listered to the screams of the melancholy birds of midnight, that flit through the solitary vaults and echoing chambers of the pyramids. "Can that God be benevolent," he cried, "who thus wounds the soul, as from an ambush, with unexpected sorrows, and crushes his creatures in a moment with irremediable calamity? Ye lying Imans, prate to us no more of the justice, of the kindness of an all-directing and all-loving Providence! He, whom ye pretend reigns in heaven, is so far from protecting the miserable sons of men, that he perpetually delights to blast the sweetest flowerets in the garden of hope, and, like a malignant giant, to beat down in his anger, the strongest towers of happiness. If this Being possessed the
goodness and the power with which flattering priests have invested him, he would doubtless be inclined and enabled to banish those evils which render the world a dungeon of distress, a vale of vanity and woe -I will continue in it no longer!"
At this moment he furiously raised his hand, which Despair had armed with a dagger, to strike deep into his bosom ; when suddenly thick flashes of lightning shot through the cavern, and a being of more than human beauty and magnitude, arrayed in azure robes, crowned with amarinth, and waving a branch of palm in his right hand, arrested the arm of the trembling and astonished Caliph, and said, with a majestic smile, "Follow me to the top of this mountain."
"Look from hence," said the awful conductor : "I am Caloc, the angel of peace: look from hence into the valley."
Bozaldab opened his eyes, and beheld a barren, sultry, and solitary island, in the midst of which sat a pale, meagre, and ghastly figure: It was a merchant just perishing with famine, and lamenting that he could find neither wild berries nor a single spring in this forlorn, uninhabited desart; and begging the protection of heaven against the tigers that would now certainly destroy him, since he had consumed the last fuel he had collected to make nightly fires to af fright them. He then cast a cask of jewels on the sand, as trifles of no use; and crept feeble and trembling to an eminence, where he was accustomed to sit every evening, to watch the setting sun, and give a signal to any ship that might happily approach the island.
"Inhabitant of heaven," cried Bozaldab, "suffer not this wretch to perish by the fury of wild beasts." "Peace," said the angel, "and observe."
He looked again, and beheld a vessel arrive at the desolate isle. What words can paint the rapture of the starving merchant, when the captain offered to transport him to his native country, if he would reward him with half the jewels of his casket. No
sooner had this pitifulcommander received the stipulated sum, than he had a consultation with his crew, and they agreed to eize the remaining jewels, and leave the unhappy ile in the same helpless and lamentable condition in which they discovered him. He wept and trembled, intreated, and implored in vain.
"Will heaven permit such injustice to be practised?" exclaimedBozaldab. "Look again," said the angel, "and behold the very ship in which, shortsighted as thor art, thou wishedst the merchant might embark, dashed in pieces on a rock: Dost thou not hear the dies of the sinking sailors? Presume not to direct the Governor of the universe in the disposal of events. The man whom thou hast pitied shall be taken from this dreary solitude, but not by the method hou wouldest prescribe. His vice is avarice, by which he became not only abominable but wretched ; he fancied some mighty charm in wealth, which, like the wand of Abdiel, would gratify every wish, and obviate every fear. This wealth he has now been taught not only to despise but abhor: He cast his jewels upon the sand, and confessed them to be useless; he offered part of them to the mariners, and perceived them to be pernicious; he has now learned, that they are rendered useful or vain, good or evil, only by the situation and temper of the possessor. Happy is he whom distress has taught wisdom! But turn thine eyes to another and more interesting scene.' The caliph instantly beheld a magnificent palace, adorned with statues of his ancestors wrought in jasper; the ivory doors of which, turning on hinges of the gold of Golconda, discovered a throne of diamonds, surrounded by the rajahs of fifty nations, and with ambassadors in various habits, and of different complexions; on which sat Aboram, the much lamented son of Bozaldab, and by his side a fair prin
"Gracious Alla !-It is my son !" cried the caliph ; "O let me hold him to my heart!" "Thou canst not
grasp an unsubstantial vision," replied the angel: "I am now showing thee what would have been the destiny of thy son, had he continued long on the earth. "And why," returned Bozaldab, "why was he not suffered to be a witness of so much felicity and power?" "Consider the sequel," replied he that dwells in the fifth heaven. Bozaldab looked earnestly, and saw the countenance of his son, on which he had been used to behold the placid smile of simplicity, and the vivid blushes of health, now distorted with rage, and now fixed in the insensibility of drunkenness ; it was again animated with disdain, it became pale with apprehension, and appeared to be withered with intemperance his hands were stained with blood, and he trembled by turns with fury and terror. The palace, so lately shining with oriental pomp, changed suddenly into the cell of a dungeon, where his son lay stretched out on a cold pavement, gagged and bound, and his eyes put out. Soon after he perceived the favourite sultana, who before was seated by his side, enter with a bowl of poison, which she compelled Aboram to drink, and afterwards married the successor to his throne.
"Happy," said Caloc, "is he whom Providence has by the angel of death snatched from guilt; from whom that power is withheld, which, if he had possessed would have accumulated upon himself yet greater misery than it could upon others."
"It is enough," cried Bozaldab: "I adore the inscrutable schemes of Omniscience! From what dreadful evil has my son been rescued, by a death which I rashly bewailed as unfortunate and premature! a death of innocence and peace, which has blessed his memory on earth, and transmitted his spirit to the skies."
"Cast away the dagger," replied the heavenly messenger," which thou wast preparing to plunge inte thine own heart. Exchange complaints for silence, and doubt for adoration. Can a mortal look down, without giddiness and stupefaction, into the vast abyss of
Eternal Wisdom? Can a mind that sees not infinitely, perfectly comprehend any thing amongst an infinity of objects, naturally relative? Can the channels which thou commandest to be cut to receive the annual inundation of the Nile, contain the waters of the ocean? Remember, that perfect happiness cannot be conferred on a creature: for perfect happiness is an attribute as incommunicable as perfect power and eternity."
The angel, while he was thus speaking, stretched out his pinions to fly back to the empyreum, and the flutter of his wings was like the rushing of a cataract.
A REVIEW OF LIFE.
The elapsed periods of life acquire importance from the prospect of its continuance. The smallest thing becomes respectable when regarded as the commencement of what has advanced, or is advancing into magnificence. The first rude settlement of Romulus would have been an insignificant circumstance, and might justly have sunk into oblivion, if Rome had not at length commanded the world. The little rill, near the source of one of the great American rivers, is an interesting object to the traveller who is apprised, as he steps across it, or walks a few miles along its banks, that this is the stream which runs so far, and which gradually swells into so immense a flood. So, while I anticipate the endless progress of life, and wonder through what unknown scenes it is to take its course, its past years lose that character of vanity which would seem to belong to a train of fleeting, perishing moments, and I see them assuming the dignity of a commencing eternity. In them Ĩ have begun to be that conscious existence which I am to be through infinite duration; and I feel a strange emotion of curiosity about this little life in which I