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He now resolved to do what yet remained in his power, to tread back the ground which he had passed, and try to find some issue where the wood might open into the plain. He prostrated himself on the ground, and recommended his life to the Lord of Nature. He rose with confidence and tranquillity, and pressed on with resolution. The beasts of the desert were in motion, and on every hand were heard the mingled howls of rage and fear, and ravage and expiration. All the horrors of darkness and solitude surrounded him: the winds roared in the woods; and the torrents tumbled from the hills.
Thus forlorn and distressed, he wandered through the wild, without knowing whither he was going, or whether he was every moment drawing nearer to safety, or to destruction. At length, not fear, but labour, began to overcome him; his breath grew short, and his knees trembled; and he was on the point of lying down in resignation to his fate, when he beheld, through the brambles, the glimmer of a taper. He advanced towards the light; and finding that it proceeded from the cottage of a hermit, he called humbly at the door, and obtained admission. The old man set before him such provisions as he had collected for himself, on which Obidah fed with eagerness and gratitude.
When the repast was over, "Tell me," said the hermit, "by what chance thou hast been brought hither? I have been now twenty years an inhabitant of the wilderness, in which I never saw a man before."
Obidah then related the occurrences of his journey, without any concealment or palliation.
"Son," said the hermit, "let the errors and follies, the dangers and escape of this day, sink deep into thy heart. Remember, my son, that human life is the journey of a day. We rise in the morning of youth, full of vigour and full of expectation; we set forward with spirit and hope, with gaiety and with diligence
and travel on a while in the direct road of piety to wards the mansions of rest. In a short time, we remit our fervour, and endeavour to find some mitigation of our duty, and some more easy means of obtaining the same end. We then relax our vigour, and resolve no longer to be terrified with crimes at a distance; but rely upon our own constancy, and venture to approach what we resolve never to touch. We thus enter the bowers of ease, and repose in the shades of security. Here the heart softens, and vigilance subsides; we are then willing to inquire whether another advance cannot be made, and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes upon the gardens of pleasure. We approach them with scruple and hesitation; we enter them, but enter timorous and trembling; and always hope to pass through them without losing the road of virtue, which, for a while, we keep in our sight, and to which we purpose to return. But temptation succeeds temptation, and one compliance prepares us for another; we in time lose the happiness of innocence, and solace our disquiet with sensual gratifications. By degrees, we let fall the remembrance of our original intention, and quit the only adequate object of rational desire. We entangle ourselves in business, immerge ourselves in luxury, and rove through the labyrinths of inconstancy; till the darkness of old age begins to invade us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way. We then look back upon our lives with horror, with sorrow, with repentance: and wish, but too often vainly wish, that we had not forsaken the ways of virtue. Happy are they, my son, who shall learn from thy example, not to despair; but shall remember, that, though the day is past, and their strength is wasted, there yet remains one effort to be made: that reformation is never hopeless, nor sincere endeavours ever unassisted; that the wanderer may at length return after all his errors; and that he who implores strength
and courage from above, shall find danger and difficulty give way before him. Go now, my son, to thy repose: commit thyself to the care of Omnipotence; and when the morning calls again to toil, begin anew thy journey and thy life."
John R Rogens Key Book
The importance of a good education.
CONSIDER a human soul, without education, like marble in the quarry; which shows none of its inherent beauties, until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein, that runs through the body of t. Education, after the same manner, when it works upon a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection, which, without such helps, are never able to make their appearance.
If my reader will give me leave to change the allusion so soon upon him, I shall make use of the same instance to illustrate the force of education, which Aristotle has brought to explain his doctrine of substantial forms, when he tells us, that a statue lies hid in a block of marble; and that the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter, and removes the rubbish. The figure is in the stone, and the sculptor only finds it. What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero, the wise, the good, or the great man, very often lies hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred, and have brought to light. I am therefore much delighted with reading the accounts of savage nations; and with contemplating those virtues which are wild and uncultivated to see courage exerting itself in fierceness, resolution in obstinacy, wisdom in cunning, patience in sullenness and despair..
Men's passions operate variously, and appear in different kinds of actions, according as they are more or less rectified and swayed by reason. When one hears of negroes, who, upon the death of their masters, or upon changing their service, hang themselves upon the next tree, as it sometimes happens in our American plantations, who can forbear admiring their fidelity, though it expresses itself in so dreadful a manner? What might not that savage greatness of soul, which appears in these poor wretches on many occasions, be raised to, were it rightly cultivated? And what colour of excuse can there be, for the contempt with which we treat this part of our species; that we should not put them upon the common foot of humanity; that we should only set an insignificant fine upon the man who murders them; nay, that we should, as much as in us lies, cut them off from the prospects of happiness in another world, as well as in this; and deny them that which we look upon as the proper means for attaining it?
It is therefore an unspeakable blessing, to be born in those parts of the world where wisdom and knowledge flourish; though it must be confessed, there are even in these parts, several poor uninstructed persons, who are but little above the inhabitants of those nations of which I have been here speaking; as those who have had the advantages of a more liberal education, rise above one another by several different degrees of perfection. For, to return to our statue of the block of marble, we see it sometimes only begun to be chipped, sometimes rough-hewn, and but just sketched into a human figure; sometimes, we see the man appearing distinctly in all his limbs and features; sometimes, we find the figure wrought up to great elegancy; but seldom meet with any to which the hand of a Phidias or a Praxiteles could not give several nice touches and finishings.