Imágenes de página

upon me to depart from my course, to slacken my pace, or to hasten my flight, you will have some idea of my importance, and will be perhaps surprised that I have not been treated with more respect-perhaps sorry that the moment of my departure is at hand. . When I first entered upon my present office, I was hailed with shouts of congratulation, and flattered with promises of better usage than any of my predecessors had experienced; but I soon found that these promises were never intended to be performed, and learnt that they were the same which my family had invariably received on their first appearance, for many centuries. The debauchee had promised to become sober and virtuous; the miser to become generous; the spendthrift to become careful! and the idler to become active: but their vows were but wind, and they

ill continued to riot, to hoard, and to waste their money and their time in the same manner as before, except that their habits, by a longer continuance, acquired greater strength, and became more difficult to eradicate,

I allowed some time to elapse without any serious admonitions to these offenders, expecting that each day would produce a change, that they would shortly. awaken to a sense of their folly, and endeavour, by greater diligence, to make up for the time which they had lost. But I'have waited in vain ; their reformation is still unaccomplished; and when I lately gave them some serious reproofs on this subject, I was answered by some that it was now too late to begin; and by others, that they had attempted to improve, but had found it imposssible to persevere. They had the insolence and the folly, huwever, to express the most ardent wishes for the conclusion of my course, and the most earnest desire for the appearance of my successor, under whom they assured me that they meant to fulfil those vows which they had so repeatedly broken, and to bid adieu to those pursuits which they had so frequently and so falsely sworn to renounce. But what reliance can be placed on the promises of those who make a point of forfeiting their word? who can trust those who have so often deceived ? who can believe that they, whose whole life

has been spent in making vows which they have never yet performed, will suddenly become strict observers of good faith? It cannot be credited; and, after the charms of novelty are worn off, my successor will be treated with the same neglect as myself and my predecessors. Men will continue to be vicious and foolish ; they will continue to resolve, and fail to perform their resolutions; they will remain inactive till the moment of action is past, and will be overtaken by death in the midst of their preparations for life. .

But let these triflers remember, that every day must be accounted for before the tribunal, at which they must all shortly appear; where no false colouring can be given to their actions; and where it will be no justification of their conduct to say that they followed the example of others. Let them recollect, that the hours which they devote to the pursuit of fólly or of vice, would, if rightly made use of, secure them happiness here and hereafter; that those who wilfully neglect to employ, or employ only to pervert, the ta lent which has been granted to them, are guilty of one of the highest offences against their Creator-that of

gratitude for his blessings ; an offence which will infallibly be punished; which will entail misery and remorse on their latter days, those days which a different line of conduct would have crowned with happiness and honour; and that the knowledge of having neglected their duty in life, will embitter and disquiet the hour of death.

These are not new and fanciful doctrines; but words of soberness and truth: doctrines which I and my predecessors have constantly attempted to im. press upon the minds and hearts of mankind; but which (such is the perverseness and the folly of human beings!) have been almost universally rejected with contempt, or neglected for the attainment of some idle toy, which brought fear and anxiety in the pursuit, and disappointment and remorse in the possession. Nevertheless, not discouraged by inattention, noi repelled by disdain, we have continued to press our wholesome advice, at every possible opportunity, on the most negligent, as well as on the most attentive; and we have found that a severe fit of sickness,


or the death of a dear friend or relative, has almost inariably disposed a man to listen to 'our admonitions; on such occasions we have not failed to hint, that this may probably be the last time of our addressing him; and to remind him how ill he has treated us, and bow foolishly and wickedly he has despised or neglected our former counsels: this has been our uniform practice for many centuries; and it seldom fails of producing at least a temporary reformation in the person addressed; if, however, he bé incorrigible, and even these warnings are without effect, either ourselves or our descendants infallibly punisb him; and he wishes, under the lash of correction, that he had Jistened to our advice, and acted so as to avoid our sometimes slow, but always certain, retribution.

Perseverance is indeed the characteristic of our race; and I, who now address you, notwithstanding the perfidy and neglect which I have experienced, in common with my ancestors, am still anxious to leave behind me some testimonial of my regard, some token of my good intentions; ar:, as the words of the dying are sometimes listened to, where those of the living have failed to command attention, I vet flatter myself that this my last address, may be productive of some beneficial effect on the minds of those who have hitherto disregarded me; that it may occasion dissipation to relax in its headlong career, and levity to pause in its circle of folly.

I have now discharged the task which I had imposed upon myself, and hope that my efforts will not be without advantage. I have pointed out the road which leads to happiness and honour; I have given ample opportunity for its pursuit; and I will venture to predici, that he who, from a vain notion of his having yet s plenty of time,” neglects to employ the present moment to the benefit of himself and of his fellow creatures; who allows himself to continue yet a little longer in the pursuit of pleasure amidst the haunts of vice, and in the filthiness of debauchery, will learn too late bis fatal error, and will lament, with unavailing remorse, and useless regret, that he attended not to the counsels of


[ocr errors]


BY W. B. W,

“ False ambition, fatal fire!

Leads the heedless wretch astray;
Source of all the tempests dire,

That darken life's fair opening day."

· OMAR, styled the magnificent, reigned with glory

and success at Basra, a small empire in the east. He was beloved by his subjects and dreaded by his enemies.

The thoughts of Omar were wholly employed to render his people happy; he formed alliances with all the surrounding sovereigns, and never engaged in wars to satisfy his own private resentment, which be constantly sacrificed to the public good. Finding himself nearly worn out by age, and approaching fast to dissolution, he called his only son Hassan, who had just arrived at the age of manhood, to receive his dying instructions. “My dear Hassan," said the venerable sultan, “the angel of death will shortly summon me hence. I have made it my study to render my people happy. I have succeeded in my desires. I leave them the blessings of peace, which I charge thee, as thou valuest the prosperity of the empire, ever to preserve as much as possible, which will render thy people powerful and happy.” Hassan promised to obey the orders of his father, who shortly after expired. The grand vizier, and other state officers delivered the regalia to Hassan, and caused him to be proclaimed sultan, to the satisfaction of all the people who hoped to find in him a worthy représentative of his father.

Hassan had an enterprizing and ambitious disposition; he read with delight of the victories which his predecessors had obtained over their enemies; he accounted peace not as a blessing, but as a state of sloth and inactivity; and, disregarding the advice which his father had so lately given him, determined to indulge his military propensity. He wished to extend his territory, and make the river Ibrahim the bouudary of his dominions; but the king of Zedan occupied the intermediate space, and how to dispossess him of his kingdom was a matter of serious deliberation. For this purpose Hassan assembled the divan, and submitted to them the propriety of his intended expedition : and, that he might not seem wantonly to engage in the dispute, he urged that the kings of Zedan had formerly paid a yearly tribute to the sultans of Basra, and although, by the mildness of his father Omar, this tribute had been remitted, he thought a war should be undertaken to compel its continuance. To this the members of the divan agreed; for the folly of monarchs is usually flattered, and their vices, however odious, are frequently extolled as virtues.

Hassan knew the impolicy of demanding the tribute of Hamet, king of Zedan, lest, from his known pacific disposition, it should be complied with: his intentions were directed to a different object, the subjugation of the kingdom. To effect this, he assembled his whole forces, and placing himself at their head, marched to the devoted territory.

Hassan's army in numbers greatly exceeded that of Hamet, and with this advantage little hopes were entertained of repulsing the invaders. The event answered the expectation. The forces of Hamet were in every quarter routed, and himself was obliged to seek refuge in an armed fortress.

Hassan, judging his victory to be complete, caused tents to be raised on the spot, permitted his soldiers to plunder the inhabitants, and committed other acts equally cruel and unjust. In the mean time, the scattered troops of Hamet, hearing of his retreat hastened to him, and offered their assistance. . He stationed them in the fortress, and ordered them to ineet him with as many more troops as could be collected, as soon as it should be dark, near the spot where they had heen recently defeated, and at a certain signal, to begin an attack on the enemy. This appeared strange, but they all promised to obey him. Hamet considered that something decisive must be effected, and that the best opportunity presented it· self, when the army of Hassan, fatigued with the toils of the day, had retired to repose. Hamet disguịsed bimself as a herald, and near the time appointed,

« AnteriorContinuar »