« PreviousContinue »
THE HERMIT OF THE MOUNTAINS.
AN EASTERN TALE.
THE sun had long since sunk behind the adjacent
mountains, and the sage Ibrahim was retiring to rest, when a knocking at the door of his hermitage drew him thither; he opened it, and there stood before him a youth, whose care-marked visage spoke him to be the child of grief: Sire,” said the youth,
permit a stranger to pass the night beneath your friendly roof, till the returning morn enables him to pursue his way with safety.” The hermit bid him welcome to his cot, and spread his homely board before him. Roots supplied the place of costly viands, and water from a neighbouring spring, the place of blood-inflaming wine. The sigh, the starting tear, and all the behaviour of his guest, filled the sage with emotions of compassion; and desiring, if possible, to alleviate the pains of the stranger, he thus addressed him :
“In a face so young, in a breast so untutored in this world's cares, it seems to me a wonder that sorrow is a guest; and might it not be thought a bold intrusion, I would ask the spring of these your cares; perhaps you mourn the pangs of disappointed love, the loss of some dear friend or earthly joy. Say, if your grief be of the common course, perchance my riper years may speak the wished-for comfort."-" Sire,” replied the youth, “ your kind intentions demand at once my thanks and my compliance.
My father was a merchant: in point of wealth, Bagdad had not his equal; early he left me to possess his fortunes; the loss of my father was soon forgot amidst the riches, flatterers, and friends, that now
surrounded me. But when reflection took place, happiness became my desire, and I vainly thought to be rich was to be happy. I enlarged my merchandise, I trafficked to all parts of the globe, and not a wind blew into port, but it brought an increase to my store; but yet I was not happy, my desires, increased with my possessions, and I was yet miserable. I then determined to apply to honour, and there seek the happiness riches would not afford me. I sold off my wares, and by dint of friends and wealth, I soon obtained a commission, and on several occasions gave proofs of my valour, till I was sent by the sovereign to oppose a rebellion that had broken out in a distant province. I went, was successful, and returned in triumph, laden with honours; and so much was the sultan possessed in my favour, that he offered me his daughter in marriage.
“ A while I thought myself happy; but the envy of some, and the artifice of others soon convinced me of my error. I now resolved to quit public life, and to seek in pleasure the happiness hitherto unknown. My palace now became the scene of continued delights; the richest viands were daily on my table, the most costly liquors 'sparkled in my bowl, and the beauties of all nations adorned my seraglio; in short, my life was a continued round of pleasure. But, alas! frequent debauchery impaired ny health, and the diversions of the night embittered the reflections of the morning.
" I now was determined to quit my home, and seek in solitude and retirement, that happiness I had hitherto sought in vain, and which I am at times inclined to believe, is no more than the object of creative fancy. For this purpose I consigned to the care of a friend, all my possessions, and was on the search after a proper place of retirement, when night overtook me, and I implored the shelter of your hospitable roof.” Here paused the youth, and thus the sage began :
“ The object of your pursuit, my son, indeed is good, and your not hitherto attaining it, arises not from its non-existence, but from your errors in the pursuit of it. Happiness, my son, has not its seat in honour, pleasure, or riches : to be happy is in the power of every individual ; to all, the great Supreme has given wisely; and those who receive what he gives with thankfulness and content, are the only happy.
* Return then, my son, to thy possessions, employ the power of doing good lent by thy Creator, and know that contentment is the substance, and happiness her shadow; those who have the one, possess the other.”
The words of the sage sunk deep in the breast of the stranger; he retired to rest in peace, and in the morn he returned again to his house, where he witnessed the truth of Ibrahim's advice; and embracing every method to do good, he lived in peace and tranquillity; and experienced that to be content is truly to be happy.
THE OLD MAN AND HIS DOG.
EING upon a visit to a friend near York, as I
was one day walking on the bridge in company with some ladies, a grey-haired old man came towards us; he supported himself with a stick ; appeared so lame, that he could scarcely walk, and was followed by a little terrier. On approaching us, he said, “Good ladies, will you buy my dog ?” The ladies answering that they did not want a dog : he came up to me, and said in a more pressing manner, and with a more supplicating tone of voice: “Sir, I beseech you buy niy dog!" On my answering likewise that I'did not want one, the old man remained a few minutes leaning on his stick; and looking at me with an air of disappointment, seemed to reproach me for declining his request, and then uttering a deep sigh continued
the old man,
As he walked on slowly, before he was out of sight Louisa, one of the young ladies, whispered me,
Pray Sir, go after him and buy his dog, for the poor man seems in distress.” I accordingly called the old man back, and asked him what was the price of the dog? “What you please,” he returned. " Here is a crown,” I replied; “ if that will satisfy you, take it, and leave me your dog.”—“The dog is yours," said
« and God bless you with it.”- But," said I, “ he will never follow me, how shall I prevent his escape?"
" True,” replied the old man, “he must be tied, or he will follow me.” He then untied his garter, called, “ Trim,” took him up in his arms, and placed him upon the parapet of the bridge ; while he was fastening the garter round his neck, I perceived the hands of the old man trembling, which I imputed to his age ; for his countenance did not change. Having fastened the knot, he inclined his head towards the dog, and fixing his mouth upon his body, remained for a few minutes in that posture motionless and without uttering a single word. I approached him, and said, “ Friend, what is the matter?"~" Nothing,” he answered, “but what will soon be forgotten;" and I observed his cheek wet with tears. “ You seem,” said I, “ to regret parting with your dog."-" Alas! it is truly so ; he is the only friend I have in the world; we have never been separated from each other He was my guard on the road when I was asleep; and whenever he saw me fatigued and suffering, the poor creature licked my face, and seemed to ease my pain with his caresses : he loves me my hands,
so much, that it is but natural I should love him in return. But all this is nothing to you, he is now yours :" and he offered me the garter which he had just fastened round his neck.
“ You must have a very bad opinion of me,” said I, “ if you think that I am capable of depriving you of a faithful friend, and the only friend you have in the world.” He seemed affected, and offered to return the crown; but I told him to keep the money and the dog too. Before I could prevent him, the old man threw himself upon his knees, and exclaimed, “ Good Sir, I owe you my life; hunger had reduced me to the most extreme necessity.”
These expressions urged my curiosity; and leading him from one question to another, I collected the following account : “ Thank heaven," he said, “I have lived fifty years by the labour of
yesterday, for the first time in my life, I asked charity. I am by trade a carpenter, and was settled at Catterick, till on chopping a piece of wood, I cut my leg with an axe, and have been since incapable of working. I am now going to Sheffield, where I have a son who is employed in the manufactures, and who will not let me want for any thing. But as the journey is long, and I can scarcely drag myself along on account of my wound, I have spent the little money which I had been able to save, and am obliged to beg for sustenance; though, as I do not look poor, I got but little; and being exhausted with hunger, I had nothing but my poor dog
Here his voice failed him; and his sobs prevented him from continuing. “At your age," I replied, “ and in this hot weather, and with a bad leg, I cannot suffer you to continue so long a journey on foot; you will inflame your wound, and render it incurable. Follow me; Providence here offers you an asylum, where you will find rest, assistance, and perhaps a cure." The old man said nothing, but untying his