« AnteriorContinuar »
cess. Habit, insolent with her power, would often presume to parley with Reason, and offer to loose fome of her chains if the rest might remain. To this Reason, who was never certain of victory, frequently consented, but always found her concession destructive, and saw the captive led away by Habit to his former slavery. Religion never submitted to treaty, but held out her hand with certainty of conquest; and if the captive to whom she gave it did not quit his hold, always led him away in triumph, and placed him in the direct path to the temple of Happiness, where Reason never failed to congratulate his deliverance, and encourage his adherence to that power to whose timely succour he was indebted for it.
When the traveller was again placed in the road of Happiness, I saw Habit again gliding before him, but reduced to the stature of a dwarf, without strength and without activity; but when the Passions or Appetites, which had before seduced him, made their approach, Habit would on a sudden start into fize, and with unexpected violence push him towards them. The wretch, thus impelled on one side, and allured on the other, too frequently quitted the road of Happiness, to which, after his second deviation from it, he rarely returned: but, by a timely call upon Religion, the force of Habit was eluded, her attacks grew fainter, and at last her correlpondence with the enemy was intirely destroyed. She then began to employ those sestless faculties in compliance with the power which
the could not overcome; and as she grew again in stature and in strength, cleared away the asperities of the road to Happiness.
From this road I could not easily withdraw my attention, because all who travelled it appeared cheerful and satisfied ; and the farther they proceeded, the greater appeared their alacrity, and the stronger their conviction of the wisdom of their guide, Some, who had never deviated but by short excurfions, had Habit in the middle of their passage vigorously supporting them, and driving off their Appetites and Passions which attempted to interrupt their progress. Others, who had entered this road late, or had long forsaken it, were toiling on without her help at least, and commonly against her endeavours. But I observed, when they approached to the barren top, that few were able to proceed without some support from Habit : and that they, whose Habits were strong, advanced towards the mists with little emotion, and entered them at last with calmness and confidence; after which, they were seen only by the eye of Religion; and though Reason looked after them with the most earnest curiosity, the could only obtain a faint glimpse, when her mistress, to enlarge her prospect, raised her from the ground. Reason, however, discerned that they were safe, but Religion saw that they were happy.
“ Now, Theodore,” said my protector, “ withdraw “ thy view from the regions of obscurity, and see “ the fate of those who, when they were dismissed " by Education, would admit no direction but
" that of Reason. Survey their wanderings, and be or wise.”
I looked then upon the Road of Reason, which was indeed, so far as it reached, the same with that of Religion, nor had Reason discovered it but by her instruction. Yet when she had once been taught it, the clearly saw that it was right; and Pride had sometimes incited her to declare that she discovered it herself, and persuaded her to offer herself as a guide to Religion: whom after many vain experiments fhe found it her highest privilege to follow. Reason was however at last well instructed in part of the way, and appeared to teach it with some success, when her precepts were not miireprelented by Paffion, or her influence overborne by Appetite, But neither of these enemies was she able to resist. When Passion seized upon her votaries, she feldom attempted opposition : she seemed indeed to contend with more vigour against Appetite, but was generally overwearied in the contest; and if either of her opponents had confederated with Habit, her authority was wholly at an end. When Habit endeavoured to captivate the votaries of Religion, the grew by flow degrees, and gave time to escape; but in seizing the unhappy followers of Reason, the proceeded as one that had nothing to fear, and enlarged her size, and doubled her chains without intermission, and without reserve.
Of those who forsook the directions of Reason, fome were led aside by the whispers of Ambition, who was perpeiuaily pointing to stately palaces,
fituated on eminences on either side, recounting the delights of affluence, and boasting the security of power. They were easily persuaded to follow her, and Habit quickly threw her chains upon them; they were foon convinced of the folly of their choice, but few of them attempted to return. Ambition led them forward from precipice to pre. cipice, where many fell and were seen no more. Those that escaped were, after a long series of hazards, generally delivered over to Avarice, and enlisted by her in the service of Tyranny, where they continued to heap up gold till their patrons or their heirs pushed them headlong at last into the caverns of Despair.
Others were inticed by Intemperance to ramble in search of those fruits that hung over the rocks, and filled the air with their fragrance. I observed, that the Habits which hovered about these foon grew to an enormous size, nor were there any who less attempted to return to Reason, or sooner funk into the gulfs that lay before them. When these first quitted the road, Reason looked after them with a frown of contempt, but had little expectations of being able to reclaim them; for the bowl of intoxication was of such qualities as to make them lose all regard but for the present moment; neither Hope nor Fear could enter their retreats; and Habit had so absolute a power, that even Conscience, if Religion had employed her in their favour, would not have been able to force an entrance.
There were others whose crime it was rather to neglect Reason than to disobey her; and who re
treated from the heat and tumult of the way, not to the bowers of Intemperance, but to the maze of Indolence. They had this peculiarity in their condition, that they were always in sight of the road of Reason, always wishing for her presence, and always resolving to return to-morrow. In these was most eminently conspicuous the subtlety of Habit, who hung imperceptible shackles upon them, and was every moment leading them farther from the road, which they always imagined that they had the power of reaching. They wandered on froin one double of the labyrinth to another with the chains of Habit hanging fecretly upon them, till, as they advanced, the flowers grew paler, and the scents fainter; they proceeded in their dreary march without pleasure in their progress, yet without power to return; and had this aggravation above all others, that they were criminal but not delighted. The drunkard for a time laughed over his wine; the ambitious man triumphed in the miscarriage of his rival; but the captives of Indolence had neither superiority nor merriment. Discontent lowered in their looks, and Sadness hovered round their Thades; yet they crawled on reluctant and gloomy till they arrived at the depth of the recess, varied only with poppies and nightshade, where the dominion of Indolence terminates, and the hopeless wanderer is delivered up to Melancholy: the chains of Habit are rivetted for ever; and Melancholy, having tortured her prisoner for a time, consigns him at Jast to the cruelty of Despair.
While I was musing on this miserable scene, my protector called out to me, “ Remember, Theodore,