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Allegorical Essay on Happiness.
as he saw occasion, and joining to all an universal affability, he was admitted into a share of the government of the town, and rose from one post to another, till at length he was chosen chief magistrate. In this office he maintained a fair character, and continued to fill it with no small applause, both as governor and judge; till one day as he sat on the bench with some of his brethren, a criminal was brought before him, who was accused of murdering his master: the evidence came out full,-the jury brought in their verdict that the prisoner was guilty, and the whole assembly waited the sentence of the president of the court, (which he happened to be that day) with great suspense. Meanwhile he appeared to be in unusual disorder, and agitation of mind; his colour changed often; he at length arose from his seat, and coming down from the bench, placed himself just by the unfortunate man at the bar, to the no small astonishment of all present. "You see before you," said he, addressing himself to those who had sat on the bench with him, " a striking instance of the just awards of heaven, which this day after thirty years concealment, presents to you a greater criminal than the man now found guilty." Then he made an ample confession of his guilt, and of all its aggravations. "Nor can I feel," continued he, any relief from the agonies of an awakened conscience, but by requiring that justice be forthwith done against me in the most public and solemn manner.
We may easily suppose the amazement of all the assembly, and especially of his fellow judges. However, they proceeded on his confession to pass sentence upon him, and he died with all the symptoms of a penitent miud.
What lessons for all men to keep a conscience void of offence! D. Fordyce, in his Dialogues on Education, vol. ii. p. 401, declares the above relation to be true, and that it happened in a neighbouring state not many years ago.
ALLEGORICAL ESSAY ON HAPPINESS.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom.
Amongst the various scenes which occupy the attention of mankind, and to which the hours of life are more particularly devoted, happiness appears to be the sole object to which all their
Allegorical Essay on Happiness.
labours and exertions tend. There is something in the very name of happiness that acts with an irresistible impulse upon man, and puts his whole mental and bodily energies in motion to attain it.
It appears, however, in too many instances, that the calculations upon the means of attaining it are extremely erroneous; as it is generally supposed to consist in external appearances, rather than the more solid and lasting pleasures of the mind. It is upon this account that so many persons who, having succeeded in their pursuits beyond their most sanguine expectations, remain destitute of this grand object, which they had held up to themselves as being placed at the end of their labours, and as the reward with which they were to sit down and enjoy the remainder of their days.
I had been led to contemplate this subject from the complaints of a friend (who is surrounded with all the comforts of human life, but is a total stranger to the genuine sweets of it); and found, that it had so deep an impression on my mind, that it followed me in my slumbers; wherein I fancied myself as making one of a great multitude, who were travelling towards the Temple of Happiness. There was an earnestness imprinted on every countenance; and we pressed forward with an ardour which bespoke the importance and high estimation with which the object of our journey was regarded. Indeed the eagerness of some was so great, that even in the very outset they turned aside to several buildings which stood by the way, whose glittering appearance induced them to believe they were the object of their search. I found however that the greater part were soon convinced of their error, and again pursued the road from which they had deviated. In this ardent and persevering manner we continned our journey, till the road became more spacious, and branched out on the right hand into several paths, into a country, whose beautiful and romantic appearance rivetted the attention of all who beheld it. The eye was dazzled with the colours of the various flowers, that covered the face of the earth, which was intersected by numerous little streams, that wandered along in the most pleasant meanders; while the air resounded with the warbling of the different birds which sported in the groves, or spread their brilliant and variegated plumage to the sun.
This scene of cheerfulness and mirth was not confined merely to Nature, and the feathered race, but seemed to be universally
Allegorical Essay on Happiness.
spread amongst the inhabitants of the country. Groups of the youth of both sexes were to be seen in all parts dancing to the lively notes of the minstrel; others were gratifying their appetites with every luxury which the art of man has invented, and quenched their thirst with the most costly wines; whilst loud bursts of laughter seemed to signify that the very name and nature of sorrow were to them an utter stranger. On extending my views a little farther, I could perceive a most magnificent building, decorated with all the splendour of an eastern palace, to which the inhabitants were crowding in all directions, and from which soft notes of music came wafted on the breeze, and died away on our ears in the most melting and impressive strains. The desire of sharing these pleasures appeared to infuse fresh spirits into the multitude, and a great majority rushed into the different paths with the liveliest expectations of approaching happiness. I felt myself strongly inclined to follow them, and was upon the point of proceeding, when a person with great earnestness entreated me to desist, and to continue forward on the same road by which I had set out. There was something so very engaging in his manner, that I felt myself as it were irresistibly impelled to follow him; and I resolved to put myself under his guidance for the remainder of my journey. My conductor informed me, the place which had so captivated the senses of the multitude, and to the impulse of which I was upon the point of yielding, was the Region of Pleasure, whose universal gaiety and mirth had induced such numbers to mistake it for the object of their search; but that this scene of joy was of short duration only, and was succeeded by all the bitterness of thought and the inquietudes of reflection. Upon a closer examination I could plainly perceive, that the smiles which played on the countenance of many were merely masks, which gave concealment to features distorted by Envy, Revenge, and Despair. There were some who in the midst of their festivity drew weapons from their sides, and attacked each other with all the signs of inveterate enmity. I could not help expressing my astonishment to my conductor, who gave me to understand that the inhabitants of these regions were under the influence of Pride, (but here miscalled Honour); a deity whose dictates, though of the most unjust and arbitrary nature, were observed with the most scrupulous attention, and frequently produced these broils to which I had been a witness. I was heartily glad that I had escaped from the tyranny of such
Allegorical Essay on Happiness.
a being, and continued on my way with a secret satisfaction. The multitude was now very considerably diminished; and we proceeded in silence, which was considered by many as the harbingers of the pleasures of that mansion to which we were directing our steps.
After proceeding for some time, many who in their outward appearance bore evident marks of poverty and wretchedness, turned to a path on the left side of the road, and at parting could not forbear shewing signs of contempt and ridicule towards those who still kept forward, and experienced their full conviction that the path which they had chosen could alone conduct them to the object of their pursuit. My conductor informed me that this path led immediately to the Mansion of Avarice, the pillars of solid gold, and whose interior was covered with the richest diamonds, and with pearls of the most exquisite beauty: but that no person who had gone to the Temple of Happiness through that of Avarice had ever reached it; for Care who presided over this mansion so benumbed the faculties, and captivated the senses of those who entered, that they were unable to proceed, and were at last delivered over to his attendants. Anxiety, Suspicion, and a phantom who bore the resemblance of Want; under whose control they realized every misery which they had taken such pains to avoid.
I must confess I felt discouraged at seeing the number reduced to so few; and could not but hope that of so large a company who had branched out into so many different paths, many would escape from the difficulties which might impede their progress, and at last arrive at the place of their expectation. The congeniality of sentiment, however, and mutual benevolence which pervaded those who remained, rendered the way agreeable and pleasant. There was a cheerfulness in every countenance which differed very materially from any thing I had yet witnessed. It was neither raised to the extravagance of laughter on the one hand, nor depressed to the gloom of sorrow on the other; but lively and serene, like the early tints of the morn, when the solemn shades of night and the brilliant illuminations of the sun are equally distant.
Thus we proceeded, till we arrived in sight of the Temple of Happiness. It appeared to be a building of uniform and pleasing structure, but was deficient in all those external ornaments which decorated the Temple of Pleasure. We entered and
Allegorical Essay on Happiuess.
found the interior corresponded with its outward appearance. An elegant simplicity pervaded the whole. No glaring nor unnatural ornaments fatigued the eye; and the sounds which gently stole upon the ear filled each breast with the most exquisite delight. My conductor led me through several apartments leading to the court where the Genius of the Temple presided; and amongst the various objects which caught our attention was a group of females, whose names I found to be Charity, Religion, and Hope. There was an expression in each of their countenances at once so varied and interesting, that I knew not which most to admire. Charity was listening to the tale of an orphan, and at the same time stretching forth her hand to relieve his wants; whilst a tear, which sparkled in her eye, gave to features beautiful in themselves an additional interest. Religion was looking towards heaven with a tranquillity beaming in her countenance which imparted an indescribable pleasure to all who beheld her. The features of Hope were calm and serene; and an anchor, upon which she gently reclined, gave a degree of perfect rest and composure to her whole frame. I observed that Religion and Hope joined hands; and was told that the friendship subsisting between them was so strict, that they were inseparable.
We now entered the court, and were received by the Genius with an ineffable smile, which amply compensated for all the toils and fatigues of the journey. There was a penetration in his looks, which seemed to pierce into the most secret recesses of the heart, and to read every thought and spring of action in all around him. My condutor informed me the name of the Genius was Conscience, and that his power over all mankind was universal; but although his smiles excited sensations of the purest delight, yet on the other hand his marks of disapprobation planted a thorn in the bosom, whose wound was beyond the art of man to allay: for this reason his approach was never welcomed in the Temple of Pleasure, or in the Mansion of Avarice, as his presence cast a gloom over all their mirth, and filled each breast with the most fearful apprehensions.
Upon retiring from the court we entered the beautiful gardens which surrounded the Temple, and which were neither withered by the scorching beams of the sun, nor blasted by the chilling severities of winter, but enjoyed one continued scene of verdure and vegetation. I could now very distinctly perceive the Region of Pleasure; but whether from beholding it in a different