Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the County of Kent;
By His Lordship's
Most Humble and
Within three or four days afterwards, by proper endeavours, I brought the greatest part of those sheets to a condition of being read; when, from the beginning, which had received most damage, I here- and-there picked out what was sufficient to inform me, that it had been the writing of an English Priest of the Order of St. Benedict, as long ago as the year 1614. who was then expelled, among the rest of the Romish missionaries, out of the island of Japan: And himself had the fortune to embark in a ship bound for Panama on the west coast of America, which foundered within sight of an unknown country, in latitude 39 degrees, l5 minutes North, and about l76 degrees West longitude from London; where they all got safe ashore, by help of their boat, and a rafter made out of their masts and yards.
It will easily be imagined how much my surprize was increased upon this discovery. The hand- writing bespoke itself to be a work of the above-mentioned date, so that the writer himself had been, questionless, dead many years before. But by what ways and means this manuscript had travelled hither from a region so remote, to be found, in so odd a manner, above one hundred years afterwards; this seemed altogether unaccountable.
The sum of what followed was a revelation of what befell the author in this distant country; which, so far as it was perfectly legible, regarded chiefly the person, whose name I have inserted in the title-page. The country he called Soteria, whose inhabitants were found to be, not only a civilized white people, but a nation of Christians: And such Christians, as, according to his description, are not to be paralleled by any particular Church at this time in the known world, if a steady adherence to the apostolical doctrine and discipline in their original purity, and a strict conformity of practice and profession, may be allowed to be the glory of a Church. The rest, therefore, I shall deliver in his own words, abating a few obsolete expressions, which here-and-there occurred; and I hope the judicious reader will think his labour as well bestowed in the perusal of it, as I myself did in preparing it, as well as I could, for the press.
From our first arrival in this remote country, which was now about three months ago, the loss of our ship (as I before observed) had deprived us of all visible hopes of ever returning again to our respective homes. But the excessive generosity and good nature; with which we were always treated by our new acquaintance, the perfect agreeableness of their society, the unlooked-for elegance, of our entertainment, the exceeding delightfulness of the country, and the uninterrupted health we continually enjoyed in it; all these, put together, (so far as it was in the power of earthly enjoyments) could hardly miss of diverting us from every ungrateful remembrance, and rendering our lives easy and comfortable. Those, indeed, of our ship's company, who had wives or children to take care for, had, doubtless, frequent relentings, in the midst of all these blessings, from the dread they conceived for the loss or misery, which this remediless separation might occasion. But they had the most sovereign antidote in the world, to break off the violence of all such swelling resentments, from those religious exercises, which they were daily provoked to, by the devout example of the people among whom providence had now happily placed them. This convinced them of the error and folly of all such desponding thoughts, and shewed them, that God had placed the well-being of none of his creatures in an absolute dependence upon the good or bad fortune of another; but when himself thought fit, that one of his instruments should fail in any respect, he had always provided another in readiness, to supply the deficiency: Tho' the event proved, that they had no other ground for anxiety about their return, than what the dangers of the seas, and the remoteness of their respective abodes from hence, had rendered unavoidable; for, as soon as our designs were made known to the governor of the port, to which we were now removed, he assured us, that two of his best ships should be fitted out for our purpose; which could not detain us much above two months longer.
It will easily be judged how acceptable this kind offer was to our company, and how thankfully it was embraced; so deeply rooted is the love and esteem which most men have for their native country, how poorly soever they have lived in it. The sailors unanimously offered their assistance to hasten the finishing of the work; and, had that been permitted, as it was not, we should have been ready for sailing much sooner.
The time, therefore, of our continuance here being likely to be but short, in comparison to what we at first expected, myself, with five of my fellow-missionaries, resolved to spend the remainder of it in gaining the most perfect information we could, concerning the history and original of this, till now, unheard-of Country; and by what means they had received the Christian faith: But, above all, we were desirous to be acquainted with the reason how it came to pass, that the language of this people should be pure Greek. This, as has been already remarked, was all along a matter of the greatest wonder to us, and beyond our comprehension to account for.
The civil government here was before said to be monarchical, and of so happy a constitution, that justice, equity, and good order, seemed to have fled from all other parts of the world, to take up their residence in this remote corner. And this felicity seemed to be entirely owing to the excellent pattern which it always had before its eyes, from the government ecclesiastical; though these two powers, as such, in their several provinces, had not the least dependence upon one another. The Church utterly disclaimed all intermeddling with secular affairs, and the state was as far from concerning itself with such authority as was purely spiritual. Each of these authorities was acknowledged to be divine in its original, but designed for quite different ends: the secular government, to secure mens well-being in this world; and the spiritual, to prepare them for the next. And, therefore, it was here thought absolutely necessary, to keep these two streams of such contrary qualities, always moving, each in its proper channel, that they might the more strongly shed their kindly influences; which, by an unnatural mixture, would be entirely broken and destroyed.
The whole country, as I frequently saw it laid down in their maps, was a kind of peninsula of a square-like form, about half the bigness of the Kingdom of England; but generally much more populous. One side of this square lies, in a manner parallel to the equinoctial; the west, or rather Southwest corner of which was the place of our first landing, about ten miles weft from the city appointed by the government for our residence. On the north-east it was separated from a boundless continent by a ridge of lofty mountains, whose heights, the inhabitants told us, were, for the most part, quite inaccessible; and nothing beyond these had ever yet been discovered, but an uninhabited desert, scarce any-where capable of culture.
The kingdom was divided into twenty districts, each of which was again subdivided into ten or twelve dioceses, under so many Bishops. And in every district the eldest Bishop had always the preference in the synod of that district, which was constantly held four times in the year, in that Bishop's cathedral, which was at the most convenient distance for all. The whole number of Bishops, therefore, in the nation were above two hundred, all of them subject to one Patriarch or Metropolitan, who, once a year, held a Council or Convocation, at which two Bishops, at least, out of every district, were obliged to be present.
Each of these Bishops had not fewer than thirty Priests or Presbyters belonging to his cathedral; one half of whom were always present with him, and the other half sent alternately out, according to the number of Parish-Churches within his diocese, one to supply the duty of every parish. To every cathedral belonged also seven deacons, out of whom the presbyters were always chosen, as out of them the Bishop: And it was remarkable, that, in all their Churches, a particular apartment was built for the women, in such fort, that they were not visible to any but themselves, during the whole time of divine service; and it must be confessed, that the manner of their public worship had a very near resemblance to that of the pretendedly Reformed Church of England, before the liturgy of that Church was changed for the worse, in compliance with Peter Martyr, Bucer, and the rest of their followers.
The only fixed residence of the clergy was in a kind of cloister or college, with their Bishop, near the main entrance of the cathedral. Here they, in every diocese, had all their maintenance in common, every one indiscriminately, as his real need required, out of the revenues of the Church: the principal part of which being reserved for the maintenance, of the poor and necessitous, the education of their youth, and the wants and repairs of their several Churches, colleges; and hospitals. On one side of each cathedral stood the hospital of the poor for the whole diocese, divided according to their different sexes; all, who were able, being kept in some sort of useful employ. And the same order was observed in the hospital for the sick and diseased, whose necessity obliged them to depend upon the public charge; which was situated on that end of the cathedral opposite to the college of the clergy; but the largest of all these buildings, next to the Cathedral itself, was the college for the education of the youth of the diocese, of both sexes, on the contrary side to the hospital for the poor. This differed from the rest, in that it was common to rich, as well as poor, with this difference only, that the former were obliged to pay for the maintenance and education of their children; while the latter received all gratis, in as ample a manner, without respect of persons, and with this addition, that the public was obliged to put them to some suitable employ at a proper time. And this payment of the rich was a part of the public revenue of the Church, to which no particular person had a private right, any more than to the rest; the education of the boys, being the proper charge chiefly of the clergy under the Bishop, during their absence from their respective parishes; and the other sex were entrusted, in a separate apartment, to the care of a sufficient number of pious women, called Deaconesses, who, out of love to a religious life, had sequestred themselves from the world for that purpose; no religious person of either sex being allowed to take the least reward to themselves for their trouble in that respect, any more than for the performance of any other religious act, under pain of being suspended, if not quite degraded from their office; and when they heard of what we in England call surplice-dues to the clergy for marriages, burials, and Churchings, they looked upon it as no better than downright sacrilege, and the most intolerable abuse of the poor.
In short, all possible occasions were here taken away for tempting persons to enter among the number of the clergy; out of any worldly view. They had, indeed, an ample sufficiency for them in their way of life; but in this, 'bating the somewhat more leisure they had for devotion and study, they were not one jot above the poorest person in the kingdom: And the superiority of their office in the Church gave them only this advantage above their brethren, that they were attended with a greater load of care. Every ecclesiastic, from the highest to the lowest, was obliged to live under the same rule of discipline; and the distinction of superior and inferior among them, being altogether spiritual, was not allowed to depend upon any secular advantage. The lowest was allowed to have a right to a competent supply for his natural necessities, and if the highest should plead, that he merited more, it was looked upon as the most certain sign of his want of merit, and that he was highly unworthy of the superiority he had attained. Nor could the care of their family, or children, if they had any, be here an excuse for such solicitations; for the public had made the same competent provision for them, as for the children of other poor persons; and, if they before had sufficient estates of their own, they were provided for already. So that money was a thing, which every ecclesiastic in this country was anticipated from the least personal occasion for, in any respect: And therefore, upon his best ordination to his office, he was obliged, for ever after, to renounce all use of it. And the fame order and oconomy, was observed in every diocese through the kingdom. Only I cannot here forbear remarking an instance of the prudent frugality, as well as piety, of this people, in those public buildings; which seemed to me a just reproach to our European Christians. The structure and ornaments of their Churches every-where, the cathedrals especially, appeared as much superior to every other edifice, as the esteem and regard, which a pious mind will think it becoming to have for places and things dedicated to the service of God, above any thing designed for his own private use: And yet all their other public buildings, for the clergy, as well as laity, were managed after a quite different design; for these latter were, indeed, decent, but far from sumptuous, affording nothing to the eye, which could be thought any-way superfluous; nothing but what was judged most convenient for the end to which they were designed; that nothing should be wanting, which was necessary to render life comfortable, nor yet any thing be found, which might administer to luxury.
But what most enhanced my veneration and esteem for the clergy of this Nation, was their ardent zeal, and never-enough-to-be-commended diligence, for the good education of their youth. This work they always looked upon to be the principal intent of their institution by God himself: And, whatever else failed, they were sure to omit nothing, which might contribute to the effectual performance of this; being always mindful of that observation of the wise king, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Without this good foundation first laid, they expected little benefit to arise from all their preaching; and whatever vicious habit any grown person afterwards fell into, it was generally examined with the utmost strictness, whether it might not be charged upon some defect in this. And if it could be proved so, they needed no severer judges to pass sentence upon them, than themselves. So well were they acquainted with the wretched frailty of human nature; so highly sensible, how much more susceptible that is of bad impressions than good; and of how much consequence it is, to bend young minds into the paths of virtue, before they become too rigid and inflexible. Nor would these divines stick, upon all occasions to affirm, that the principal cause, why vice at any time got such footing in the world, was owing to a bad education of youth.
For this reason they were so far from thinking it below them to spend their time in the instruction of young children, that they chose to have them committed to their care, as soon as ever they could speak and walk; always esteeming the first part of their time the most precious. Language was, indeed, a part of their school education, but that ever esteemed the least part. Their greatest labour was, to train up their young pupils in the Christian exercise of self-denial, and enure them to an habit of bringing their unruly passions and inclinations in subjection to right reason. This was the basis, upon which their whole superstructure was to rest; and they often inculcated it, not only as the necessary foundation of all religion, but of human prudence itself. They endeavoured, therefore, first of all, to eradicate out of these tender minds, every malignant root of self-love, impatience, anger, and cruelty; of levity, vanity, falsehood, and inordinate desire; of sullenness, impudence, stubbornness, and pride: And laboured to plant, in the room of them, the contrary virtues of benevolence, patience, meekness, and compassion; of stayedness, gravity, sincerity, and moderation; of complacence, modesty, submissiveness, and humility. They neglected no pains to teach them true notions of justice, honour, fidelity, and gratitude; and, in sum, to make them sensible of every branch of their duty to God, their fellow- creatures, and themselves; and, for language, they knew none besides their mother-tongue, but the Hebrew, which was only studied by the learned.
Nor did these instructors think it any advantage given to teachers of infidelity, when they readily acknowledged, that the most prevailing means they made use of, for the attainment of all these good ends, had itself no other original, than what was received from divine revelation. They allowed, that, without the powerful arguments of an endless life of happiness or misery, to befall us hereafter, according to the quality of our actions here, all their labour must, in a great measure, prove fruitless. So hard they confessed it to be, to reduce the stream of the human inclinations into the channel of virtue. And it moved them not, to hear those enemies of goodness triumphing over this concession, as if it imported no less than an entire yielding up of the cause of religion; when, by this means, as they thought, they could so easily resolve the whole of it into a matter of mere human invention, which only owed its support to the prejudices of education; for these clergymen surprised me with a method of confuting such unbelievers, which, I must confess, till then, I had never heard of; by continuing, both to grant, and demonstrate to them, that not only the knowledge peculiar to Christianity, but even all that, which is necessary to distinguish men outwardly from mere brutes in human shape, was wholly owing to education. And when, from these premises obtained, they forced their adversaries to acknowledge, that such education could not be brought into the world by any means merely human; unless we can be so absurd, as to suppose a thing capable to give that to another, which it never had in its own power; they fairly made it appear, that such education could have no other first original, than from a capacity much superior to the most perfect of men; and that after the fame extrinsic and adventitious manner, as one man receives his education from another. Thus did these divines prove the necessity of divine revelation, from the existence of human education; in the same manner, a posteriori, as the necessity of a divine creation and providence is proved from their visible effects. A way of arguing, which, to my thoughts, was much more adapted to common capacities, than what discourses of the same kind generally are with us. And I had afterwards an opportunity of having this argument set in the clearest light, by an instance of the highest evidence from plain matter of fact; which I shall refer to its proper place.
But notwithstanding all the caution here made use of for the disciplining of youth, so averse is the corrupt state of man from goodness, that the utmost diligence proved oftentimes abortive. And, even in this kingdom itself, there wanted not frequent instances of wretches, who could not be kept within the bounds of their duty, by the most wholesome laws. Though the greatest punishment here inflicted, except for murder, which scarce happened once in an age, was confinement for life. And for lesser offenses, where the delinquent appeared irreclaimable, they had a small colony, about four days sail eastward, upon the coast of the desert already mentioned; to which such were transported, in one of the king's ships for that purpose; their children, if they had any during their banishment; being always taken from them in their infancy, as not fit to be left in the trust of such parents.
What contributed, at this time, more than usual to enlarge the number of these enemies to the well-being of civil society, was the encouragement which infidelity had met with, from the over-great lenity of the late reign. This was always known to be the refuge, to which dissolute persons fled, to find some colour for their crimes; and, by the easiness, or rather negligence, of that prince, in putting his own laws in execution, this worst of all vices at length found admittance into his own privy-council, and, before his death, became so rampant, as to plead authority for its defence: But, upon the accession of his illustrious son to the throne, the present reigning Monarch, the Laws were again roused out of their long sleep, which obliged this monster to hide its head, and skulk in corners; though it could not be expected, that a disease, which had got to so great a head, and so long had preyed upon the vitals of the body politic, could be speedily cured.
That young Prince had long, with grief, observed this growth of irreligion, while it was not in his power to prevent it. The swarms of sycophants of this stamp had got such a predominance over his father's weakness, that they well-nigh excluded him from all admittance into his presence. And he was too well acquainted with the poison spread by these serpents, not to dread the fatal consequences. The first regal act, therefore, which he did as soon as the sceptre fell into his hand, was, to banish these persons from his court, and deprive them of all authority; after which, he summoned all the Bishops in the kingdom to meet at his capital, and consult the best method to suppress this growing evil. When these reverend fathers met together, they returned their hearty thanks to his majesty for the prudent steps he had taken, and his zealous concern for the glory of God, and the true happiness of his people. They told him, that all they requested further, was, to discountenance that aversion, which too many persons, infested with infidel principles, had shown, of late, for having their children subjected to the method of education, which the Church had prepared for them: And that he would be pleased to restore that antient law in its full force, which made it penal for any person to endeavour publicly to gain proselytes to their infidelity. For they could easily demonstrate, that the neglect, which had been shown in these respects, was the principal reason, why the prisons were at that time more crowded with malefactors, and more delinquents sent into banishment, than ever had been known heretofore. And they humbly conceived, that the laws of a Christian country ought to have some regard to the honour of God and religion, as well as only what immediately regarded the benefit of civil society; especially since the latter so plainly appeared to have a dependence upon the former. But as these laws were things quite out of their province, so they humbly requested to be excused from having any further to do with them, than barely to be permitted to give their advice, so far as they respected religion: Which was this, that all compulsion upon peoples consciences should be laid aside. Such as were open and audacious blasphemers of God and Christ, they thought, did not deserve to go unpunished. But such, whose enmity against Christianity was carried on more secretly, they begged, might have no further disturbance from the government, than not to be encouraged in their wickedness; leaving the rest to God himself, who has declared, that there must be heresies among Christians; for this reason, that they, which are approved, may be made manifest, i.e. that Christians in deed may be distinguished from them, who are such only in show. Nor were they anxious for any hurt, which such persons could do to Christianity, further than what barely regarded their own souls; for as long as the ministers of Christ kept faithfully up to the instructions, which their great master had left them, they had not the least distrust, that he would fail in his promise, of being with them to the end of the world; to defend his religion against the attempts of all such opposers: And they were infallibly certain, that all the impious arguments, made use of by such wicked instruments, could have no effect upon any of their people, but those, whole hearts were not right before, and from whom scarce any good could be expected.
This, as we were informed by the clergy themselves, was the main of what was advised by their Bishops, at that grand council. And we could not forbear admiring the truly Christian temper of those venerable sages; for we had much reason to suspect, that, had the same occasion and opportunity been given to their brethren of the Church of Rome, the matter would scarce have been put an end to, under the expense of whole seas of blood; and fire and faggot would have been lighted up in every corner of the Nation. But these pastor were better acquainted with the spirit of Christianity, than ever to imagine, that such barbarous cruelty could be reconciled with the love, forbearance, gentleness, and humility, of the Gospel. Their doctrine was, that, as no person was to be enticed into the communion of the Church, out of the least hope of a temporal reward; no more was any to be attempted to be retained within the same, out of the least dread of any punishment in the power of man to inflict; for they looked upon every person, who was a Christian upon no other motive than by being bribed to it, or out of a fear of being exposed to suffer from men, either in his body or goods, not to be such a disciple as Christ seeks: And what we told them of the practice of that Church, which boasted itself to be the only true Church in the world, upon such occasions; they could not forbear expressing the utmost horror and amazement; and told us, that that Church must certainly be in the most degenerate state, which could think, that the kingdom of Christ stood in need of being supported by such diabolical means. My fellow-missionaries and self spent now the greatest part of our time in the College of the Bishop of this city, who never failed to entertain us with all the humanity and good-nature becoming his character. And one Morning, when he had invited us into his own apartment, I took the opportunity of craving, that he would favour us with some information of the original of their nation, thus separated from the rest of the world; which he courteously gave us, as follows:
Their nation, he told us, were descendants from the people we called Chinese, whose forefathers inhabited that corner of the province of Xantung, which lies opposite to the Southwest part of Corea. It was there, that they received the Christian faith by the preaching of Theodosius, Christopherus, and Eubulus, three disciples of the beloved apostle St. John. Those three holy persons, for the sake of preaching the Gospel, had transported themselves from Arabia to the Island of Taprobane, and were there met by several merchants, who traded with silk from that part of China; with whom they were prevailed upon to sail, upon their return home. From the labours of these apostolic men, and some few other Greek Christians, who soon after followed to the same place, Christianity in a short time got considerable footing. But the enemy of mankind would not suffer them to continue long in peace; for the idolatrous Priests, beginning to fear, that this new doctrine (as they termed it) would bring their false worship into discredit, immediately raised a most violent persecution; in which many hundreds of both sexes suffered death by the most cruel and unheard-of tortures; and thus received the glorious crown of martyrdom, sealing their faith with their blood. At length the government, being quite wearied out with the continual cries and complaints of these diabolical men against the Christians, resolved to make an end of all at once. A mandate, therefore, was sent down, for all Christians to quit the kingdom within a limited time, under pain of death, if any should be so daring as to stay beyond it. Upon this, a worthy Christian mandarin, whose name was Hiaa, procured a sufficient number of ships to transport his fellow-exiles; who, by the violence of the persecution, were now reduced to no greater number, than about three hundred families, with two aged Bishops, three Presbyters, and one Deacon; and every one of these ecclesiastics carried in their bodies most shocking marks of their sufferings for the sake of Christ. The number of souls were near fifteen hundred, who were disposed of in twenty ships, being their own pilots and navigators, and were allowed two months provision for their sustenance.
When they set Sail, they had thoughts of removing into Japan; but, before they reached that island, they had information, that no reception was for them there: And, in short, they found that all the countries and islands on every side had received information of them, and were determined to be as bitter enemies to them, as their own countrymen. But their almighty protector, in whom they trusted, gave them more favour from the winds and seas. And when they saw themselves thus rejected by all mankind, they cheerfully committed themselves to the mercy of those inconstant elements, steering right before the wind, on the south side of Japan to the eastward; which course, after about six weeks sailing, from their first embarking, brought them all in Safety to this Place.
Here they found no appearance of mankind to molest them, nor scarce any sort of animals, but deer, goats, and fowls of all kinds necessary for food. Their first landing-place was in the mouth of the most considerable river in the country, on the west-side; which afforded them a safe and convenient harbour for their ships. On the north side of this river they built their first city, which has ever since been the metropolis of the kingdom, giving it the name of Soteria, for the safety it afforded them from all their troubles. And this afterwards became also the name of the whole country. The government was principally lodged in the hands of Hiaa or Elychus, and afterwards established in his family, whose descendants have always enjoyed it, without any sensible alteration. And the Greek language being in a great measure understood by most of them, before their banishment, for the sake of constantly reading the Gospels, the writings of the apostles and their first followers, with the Septuagint Translation, this, at length, prevailed so far, as quite to thrust out their native tongue: Insomuch, as, he said, that the least remembrance of it was not then remaining among them: Nor had scarce any of their nation ever since showed the least inclination of leaving their peaceable and happy asylum, for the sake of visiting foreign countries, of which they had in general entertained the most horrid ideas: And our arrival, he told us, who were the first strangers they had ever heard to land upon their coasts, served only to confirm them in those notions concerning the rest of the world; for, we are well assured, continued the grave old Father, that you, who have received the light of the Gospel, and, upon that account, ought much to excel the rest of mankind in all goodness; yet, by what we have learned from your own mouths, as you order your Christianity, it must have a necessary tendency to render the greatest part of your people more superlatively wicked. Nor can we entertain any better notions concerning those European Churches you call Protestants, concerning whom I myself have had the most favourable representations from several of your ship's company, who, it seems, are no otherwise of your own Church, than as forced through fear; for, as far as I can learn, though they have happily reformed some of your grosser errors, yet they have substituted others, near as bad, in their room; which, with the utter neglect of discipline among them, makes that as little good can be expected from them. But your Church, it seems, surpasses all bounds, both of modesty and charity, while the head of it, whom you call Pope, with his Cardinals, not only lord it, like so many temporal princes, but challenge a dominion over all the world besides; and, after you have damned all other Christians that dissent from you, you persecute them to death, whenever they come within your power.
This latter part of the Bishop's discourse, I must confess, I could not well relish; and I observed the countenances of my companions to come and go, which sufficiently showed their inward emotions: but we were seasonably relieved in the critical juncture, by the approach of a servant, who came to acquaint the Bishop, that a nobleman, named Automathes, desired to speak with him at the door. Upon this, the Bishop left us, and, after one or two minutes tarrying, returned with that honourable stranger along with him; whose graceful appearance seemed to command esteem, and bespeak something extraordinary to lie concealed under it.
At his entrance, we were presently made to understand, that the occasion of his coming to the Bishop's College, at that time, was solely upon our account. He had just before been at the lodgings of the captain of our ship, who, with two or three others of the principal of our company, he had engaged to take a voyage with him the next day to his father's seat, upon the banks of the river, at the distance of about six hours sailing farther up the country: But this, he said, could not answer the end for which it was designed, unless he could prevail with us to accompany them; since he was sensible, that we were the only persons, who understood so much of their language, as to make it capable for us to converse with one another.
He, therefore, told us the hour of their setting out the next morning, and promised he would send his servants to conduct us to his barge at the same time, if we would grant his request.
It will easily be imagined, that we (who had little else to do, but to satisfy our curiosity, during our continuance in this strange country) were ready enough to embrace this opportunity; which when we had signified, with all due respect, to the worthy person, who had given us this courteous invitation; other occasions calling him away, he took his leave in the mean while, and left us with the Bishop.
As soon as our honourable inviter was gone, the Bishop gave us the following surprising account of his life, and the manner of his education. The approach, says he, of this noble lord, who is at present both the wonder and the darling of his country, broke me off from a discourse, which I suspected, by your countenances, was no-way grateful to you. I only beg leave to observe something with relation to the same subject, and which his appearance has suggested to me. The corrupt state of Christianity in your country, I conceive to be wholly owing to the default of your ecclesiastical government and discipline, which you have made to have too great a dependence upon things secular. We here look upon the whole capacity, which man has, of acting agreeable to his rational character, to be originally the effect of Divine Revelation; and this, as it is handed down from one generation to another, is known by the name of human education. The first ray of this divine emanation was that, which was communicated by our first Parents, after their expulsion out of Paradise. And, had it not been for the corrupt Nature, which they communicated along with it, after their wretched Fall, this had, doubtless, continued always in its original purity. But such were the consequences of man's lapsed state, that this celestial light, so far as it was intended to direct him in the way of his duty, was continually upon the impair. So that God, in pity to our unhappiness, was often pleased afterwards to give mankind fresh supplies of it, from the mouths of his servants the prophets in several places of the world; and, by the frequent captivities and dispersions of his chosen people the Jews, into the most distant countries: And at last, to complete all, when the fulness of time was come, the eternal Son of God himself condescended to take our nature upon him, and give us the fullest instructions, in his own person, how to act agreeably to our relation to him, and to one another. For this purpose he chose a distinct society of men, out of the rest of the world, to succeed him in the same office, at all times, and in all places, wheresoever his name should be known. If, therefore, the Christian clergy view themselves in this light, they can have no clearer evidence to convince them, that, as a society, they are required to be a standing pattern for every other society to copy after; and they are entrusted with a charge of no less importance, than the good education of mankind; consequently, that the governors of this society were to have nothing to do with worldly honours and emoluments, those usual temptations, which make governors forget their duty.
Thus we conclude, that not only all that knowledge which is peculiar to Christianity, but even that which is necessary, to make us act as men, is equally the effect of a supernatural revelation; and wheresoever men have been known to have the least opportunity of this, there they have always been found to make the nearest approach to brutality; for a proof of which, we have had several unhappy instances in our colonies, where such wretched parents, as have been sent there for their crimes, have rather chosen to expose their innocent infants in the woods, than deliver them to be brought up from them, according to our laws. Several of these have been taken up at ten, twenty and even thirty years of age; but all of them we found as void of reason as the brutes their companions, only with this difference, that the older they were, still the more incapable of being brought to reason afterwards.
The only exception, that has ever been known of this kind, is the person who just now left us; though his case, it must be acknowledged, was widely different: For he had the best education he was capable of receiving, for the first two years of his age, which, doubtless, considering his natural inquisitive temper, and the greatness of his capacity, had a vast influence over him his whole life after; whereas the others were rent from human society in the very first dawn of life, without ever receiving the least impulse of that sort, to excite their observation of things without them, and, as it were, set the wheels of their rational faculties in motion. But neither was this all; for the many secret notices and intimations, which he frequently felt upon his mind, he is often heard to declare, are a sufficient indication to him, that they were either the immediate effect of God himself, or of some inferior benevolent spirit, by his permission or appointment. The consequence of all which was, that, after about nineteen years continuance in this solitary state, when he was brought into human society, by well near as miraculous a providence, as that which had all the while preserved him in his separation from it, he was found, in all respects, abating the use of speech, to be more like a philosopher, than a savage. The truth of this, I make no doubt, from the knowledge I have of his courteous disposition, you will be made acquainted with, from his own mouth, if requested; and that in so much more advantageous a manner, that I shall be loth to anticipate any more of his history. And this was the sum of our conference that day with the good old Bishop.
The next Morning we prepared for our intended voyage, and were sent for, according to promise, by our generous inviter, whom we found waiting for us in his barge. He seated us with himself under an awning, and presently the barge-men began to ply their oars, carrying us up the stream with a gentle motion; and with the greater ease to themselves by the help of wheels erected above the banks for that purpose.
It was now the season of the year in this place, when all things appeared in their utmost gaiety, which, with the exceeding sereneness of the sky, seemed to invite us to solace ourselves with the delights of a rural prospect. On each side we were all along presented with a pleasing scene of the works of Nature, which afforded us infinitely more satisfaction, than the most finished performances of art. The river, for many leagues, ran winding through a spacious vale, and abounded with vast shoals of fishes, which every now-and-then leaped out of their element to catch the nimble flies, as they hovered over the stream. On each hand lay extended a range of lofty mountains, well replenished with flocks and herds, from whose heights the brooks and rivulets, in their descent, formed many agreeable cascades. And, to complete the delightfulness of the prospect, nothing was seen to cover the surface of the ground, but a perfect verdure, intermixed with a beautiful variety of sweet-smelling flowers, and here-and-there a grove of stately trees, which resounded with the cheerful melody of the winged choir, and wafted to us the most grateful odours.
After we had some time contemplated these delightful appearances, which gave us no small pleasure, Automathes began to acquaint us with the occasion of our invitation. My father's name, says he, is Eugenius, the chief of one of the most antient families in this kingdom. He has often heard of your arrival here, and been acquainted with many things, which our people have heard from you concerning the religion and customs of the several foreign countries, from whence you come. Ever since, he has had a passionate desire of seeing you; but, by reason of his advanced age, and unfitness for travel, he excused himself from taking so great a journey, in hopes that it would be full as acceptable to you, to make the visit to him.
We thanked him for the honour he had done us, and expressed our joy at the opportunity he had given us, before our departure, of conversing with a person of his father's great worth and experience, whose history together with his own, we were informed to be so singular. What you have heard of that, returned Automathes, is so far true, that I imagine few persons have undergone an equal share of the sufferings of life with my father. And after all, thanks to a kind providence, he is likely to carry his grey hairs to the grave in peace, and be buried in the same sepulchre with his ancestors, if his mind be not, in the mean while, otherwise determined. The circumstances of his life, proceeded he, so far as it is interwoven with my own, are indeed wonderful; and the least return I can make; for the favour of your company along with me, shall be, (if you think it acceptable) to give you a brief relation of the same. This we could none of us forbear from expressing an eager desire to hear, and signified to him, that nothing, at that time, could have a greater command over our attention. Upon which he went on as follows:
My father, says he, at thirty-five years of age, was joined in marriage to a young lady named Sophia, of birth and quality nothing inferior to himself. This couple lived together in all the felicity of a married state, for seven full years, before they had any issue; about the end of this time came I into the world; but, such is the uncertainty of all earthly happiness, my birth seemed to give birth to their sorrows; for they afterwards enjoyed together few days of satisfaction in their native country.
About the fame time, which happened in the late reign, a rebellion was reported to be hatching by certain discontented lords in this neighbourhood; which, by the timely care, and prudent management of the prince, (our excellent king) was suppressed, even as soon as attempted. Among several, who were taken into custody, as supposed encouragers of this intended insurrection, my father had the hard fortune to be one, to the great surprize of all who knew him. This fell out thro' the underhand dealings of some ill-designing persons, who could not brook the high esteem he was in with his sovereign, and therefore sought all occasions to work his overthrow: And so effectually did they bring their ends about, by the advantage which this opportunity gave them, that, by a decree of the senate, he was sentenced to banishment, and had all his estate condemned as a forfeiture to the Crown, against whatever the king himself could do to prevent it; who was all this while fully persuaded of his innocence.
Thus we see upon what a deceitful foundation all human grandeur is fixed. They, who attain to the most exalted stations, are continually pushed at by them beneath, and the higher men climb, still the greater danger is in their fall; whereas they, who can fit contentedly in the lower stations of life, are not so subject to the changes and caprices of fortune, nor have they the like temptations to render their lives uneasy. As they are intirely free from the troublesome passion of envy, in their own breasts, at the good fortune of any above them; so have they infinitely less occasion of fear from the envy of any below them. And these I account to be the only persons, whom health and liberty can make capable of tasting all the sweets of life, without any of the bitters of it.
Upon this unjust sentence, my father, accompanied with his faithful consort, who was resolved to live and die with him, was in a short time constrained to embark, and, with heavy hearts, bid adieu to their native country; their only attendants being a servant of each sex. The chief treasure they were permitted to carry with them, was myself, who, at that time had scarce reached twelve months old; and was nourished at my mother's breast, contrary to what, I am informed, is the custom of people of distinction in your countries: For that mother, with us, be her rank ever so high, who should think it beneath her to nurse her own child, would be thought highly unworthy of the name of a mother, and be looked upon as little better than a monster in Nature; this duty being never excused here, but upon occasions of the most apparent necessity, or when the life of the mother or child is endangered by it. And this was the first taste of our approaching sufferings: A sad prelude to a much sadder conclusion!
Our voyage proved very successful, till we were just preparing to turn in for our port. At which time, about noon, as I have often heard the melancholy story from my father, the wind chopped suddenly about to the north-west, so that they could not keep in with the land; and shortly it blew so violent a tempest, that the sailors could by no means work their ship, but were forced to let her scud before the wind, which she did at a prodigious rate. This continued, without intermission, till the fourth day in the morning, the wind continuing all along near the same point, when the sailors discovered an unknown coast right ahead. This put them all into no small consternation, concluding that, except the wind should speedily either slacken or change, or they should fortunately fall in with some bay or river, we must all inevitably perish: But the wind was so far from abating, that it rather increased, and in a short time they perceived the ship strike fast upon the ground. Upon this, the sailors, having their boat in readiness, immediately got all hands into her, with every person else in the ship, (my Father, Mother, and Self only excepted) expecting every moment, that the vessel would stave in Pieces. Yet, notwithstanding all this, my father judged it safest to stay by the ship, as the event proved it was; for the tide of food, coming strongly in, presently set her again afloat, without receiving much damage, and a few rolling waves drove her upon a soft beach, a little distance from the shore. And in the mean while he had the sad view of beholding all the rest of his company buried, with their boat, in the sea, a great distance from him. After which; as if the raging elements had now done their worst, there came on a flat calm, so that in an hour or twos time the ebb left the ship dry upon the beach, and gave us an opportunity of escaping safe to land.
But small seemed to be the comfort, which this unfortunate couple could promise themselves from such a deliverance; for the place, on which they were cast, was found to be an uninhabited island; so that my father was forced to make up a slight booth of twigs for us to lodge in the first evening, in the most convenient place he could find; in which he was much assisted by several things from the ship: And indeed the ship proved of singular use to us, in both furnishing us with food for the present, and enabling him to provide for the future, though with no small fatigue to himself: For his whole work, for several days after our first landing, was [i]n bringing from thence whatever he thought might be any-way serviceable to us. And, among other things, I must not forget taking notice of a little dog, which was preserved along with us, and became afterwards a principal means of my future preservation.
When they grew better acquainted with the place, upon which a wonderful providence had now cast them, they discovered it to abound with multitudes of deer, goats, and fowls of various kinds; so that, by help of his bow, my Father was enabled to procure us plenty of provisions; and, as long as we had his assistance, there seemed to be no danger of suffering by want. Nor had we any thing to fear from noxious animals, in a place, where no such were to be found. Here was no venomous creature, to deter us from resting at our pleasure securely upon the ground; nor the least appearance of bird or beast of prey. The young fawn and the kid grazed here, without fear from the lion and the wolf, and the little birds chanted forth their notes, without any molestation from the hawk or the kite. So that, in this respect, we seemed to inhabit the paradise of our first parents, an universal peace reigning through the whole animal creation. The only necessary of life now wanting was some small cottage, to protect us from the heats of the sun, and inclemencies of the weather; but this my Father shortly completed for us in the middle of a delicious grove of trees, upon the ascent of a hill, within view of the sea near where we first landed; for he still had hopes, that, one time or other, it would be our good fortune to discover some ship passing that way, which might receive us on board, and be a means of bringing us again into the society of mankind: But, alas! vain were these hopes; for we were too far transported out of any course, which we could ever expect to be used by any Ships belonging to our own country, unless by some miraculous providence. And, for the ships of any other country to visit us, this was what we could not entertain the least notion of; since we were now removed so vast a distance farther from that which we ever had conceived to be the nearest habitable part of the world, next to this remote place of our nativity. So that nothing now seemed remaining for us to expect, but that the longest survivor, after he had buried the rest of us, should have his own corps left to rot aboveground, without burial.
After this manner lived this lonesome pair in their new habitation. Their food chiefly consisted of herbs and roots, and their drink was limpid water, with which they were plentifully supplied from a small brook, which glided by the door of their cottage: But it can hardly be expected, that persons, who had been accustomed to their way of living, could presently be reconciled to so surprising a change. It will be easy to guess, how hard a thing it is for people, who have known nothing all their life-time, but an uninterrupted state of ease and tranquillity, to be thus suddenly bereft of all the former support of their worldly happiness. The remembrance of their former condition returns every now-and-then upon them, and the soft pleasures and delicacies, to which they have heretofore been always accustomed, only serve to render their present hardships more intolerable. And all this happens, because such-like are seldom truly sensible of their dependent state, and the obligations they lie under to the hand that sustains them. They receive all things, without once seriously considering, that they do receive them, or are ever liable to be bereft of them; and are thus, as it were, lulled asleep by the false pleasures and allurements, which daily surround them, from whence scarce anything is able to rouze them, but the smart of adversity ; the loss of the blessings they once enjoyed, being the only way to make them sensible of their intrinsic value, and the double obligations they lay them under to the bountiful giver. And happy it is, when men are thus brought to a due sense of their duty, by the chastisements of heaven, whatever it may cost them in this life.
Thus it happened with my parent: Till now they had never rightly experienced the exceeding vanity and emptiness of all worldly enjoyments, nor, till now, had ever been truly serious in the great business of preparing themselves for the enjoyment of Heaven; and this, my Father often says, was the first time he ever attained a perfect knowledge of the inestimable value of his Bible; where they now found a sovereign remedy for every distemper of the soul, and a safe asylum to flee to in all their troubles and anxieties. This, therefore, among all those blessings of life, which providence had graciously supplied them with, in their solitude, they ever esteemed the greatest.
Here they were fully convinced, what false steps they had all along hitherto taken in their pursuit after happiness. It showed them, that true felicity can only be had, by placing their affections upon objects of the same duration with their immortal souls; and, no such being to be found among the things of this world, they were, therefore, only to be fixed upon the things of another. It taught them, that religion was to be preferred before every thing else in life, and convinced them, how highly they had been to blame, for the wretched coldness and indifference they had formerly shown for the worship of God, while they had the happy opportunities of receiving all those celestial benefits, which Christ has promised to a regular obedience of his own ordinances. The remembrance of all their gross negligence in these respects, for some time, drew tears from their Eyes; and they thought it a just judgment of God upon them, that they should, in this manner, be deprived of those blessings, which they had heretofore so wantonly and so ungratefully abused. And these bitter reflections drove them to that sure refuge of every true penitent heart; which was, to pour forth their souls, before their offended God, in devout and diligent prayer; bewailing and detesting their former misspent lives, and begging, for the sake, and through the merits, of their redeemer, that, whatever he should think fit to inflict upon them in this life, he would not refuse them the necessary assistances of his holy Spirit, to prepare them for the next.
By a constant performance of these religious exercises, they found their souls, in a short time, as it were, quite moulded into another frame. The consequence of which was, a perfect reconciliation of mind with their present condition, without the least ungrateful remembrance of their past misfortunes. They now looked upon themselves to be as sufficiently supplied with all the real necessaries of life, as ever, though not in so splendid a manner. Their homely fare went down with as good a relish, as when they were entertained with more costly dishes; and their sleep was as sweet upon their beds of moss, as what they formerly enjoyed upon those of down: The reason was, because they now eat and slept only to satisfy nature, and not luxury. It is true, they had not now the same advantages of society, which their former life afforded; but this was balanced to them, when they considered, that they had so much less of vanity and impertinence. In fine, they began to look upon this change as so far from being an evil, that they blessed God for using such a means to bring them to a true knowledge of themselves; and were, in the highest degree, thankful for the many conveniences providence had furnished them with in this desolate place, the want of anyone of which would have rendered their condition much worse.
Thus were they beginning to relish a more true and solid felicity than what their former condition had ever afforded them: And, to add to their satisfaction, I now began to divert them with such innocent little actions, as are common to children of my age. But Heaven had yet in reserve a far more weighty affliction for my Father, than any he had hitherto felt; for, within seven months after our shipwreck he was bereft of the better half of his soul, his dear Sophia; who, not being able long to endure this severe change in her manner of living, took sickness, and died; thereby leaving a new care upon his hands to provide for me, who, till now, had been wholly nourished at her breasts. I want words to express the grief he conceived at this new calamity, which as far exceeded all others, as the weight of a mountain exceeds that of a mole-hill. He, for some time made the senseless woods and hills resound to his piteous lamentations; and now thought all room for future comfort intirely taken from him. But at length, after the first sallies of his passion were over, reason and religion took place; and, when he came to serious reflection, he carried himself with more moderation. Thus the religious man has something within, to support him under every inconvenience which can befal him from without: For, whatever calamity befals him in this life, he opposes it to the joys he has in prospect in the other; and by this means has a ballast to keep his mind steady through all the tempests of this lower world, which every other person wants. My father could not, indeed, but be deeply sensible of the greatness of the loss he sustained by this affliction, which lay the more heavy on him by reason of his present circumstances; but this was much alleviated when he considered, that her's was the gain, looking upon her as only gone a little before to a place where he expected shortly after to follow, and again enjoy her fellowship infinitely more to the satisfaction of both.
Having partly calmed his mind with these reflections, he prepared to reposite her corps in the ground with as much decency as his circumstances would permit; and so, like the widowed turtle, was left alone to look about for the maintenance of his babe. And herein the hand of providence appeared very signally for his assistance; for, some time before this melancholy incident, having found a lame hind followed by her fawn, he brought both to his habitation; and, killing the fawn, made an inclosure around his cottage for the old one, which yielded us a comfortable supply from its milk; but, above all, was serviceable to me after my mother's death; and, as if Nature had endowed me with more than common means of providing for my own sustenance, in prospect of what was afterwards to come to pass. My father, at his return from shooting, would frequently find me either sucking at the dugs of this brute animal, or scratching up certain roots to eat, with which the island abounded. The former of which actions I suppose was learned from the fawn, which I had seen kept two or three days with its mother; and the latter from my companion the dog, who fetched most of his subsistence thus out of the ground. And it was not long, before I had need of all this knowledge how to provide for myself.
The loss of his beloved consort (as I before observed) put a stop to my father's growing felicity, and, in spite of all his fortitude, for some time, reduced him to a state more disconsolate than ever. The thoughts of her sweet fellowship came ever-and- anon into his mind; and, as often as he looked upon me, my innocent smilings, as ignorant of my own loss, drew showers of tears from his eyes. One day, laden with these sad reflections, as he was looking out to sea, he imagined he discovered land not far from the island we now resided upon, which, upon strict examination, he found to be real: And so far was he out of love with his solitude, that he studied how he might get himself transported thither with me, at all adventures; in hopes of finding some of his own species to converse with, which now seemed to be the sole aim of all his wishes. While he was big with these thoughts, recollecting the ship's boat, which lay still upon the beach, he went to examine, whether she was capable of carrying such a voyage or not; and, perceiving her still sound and entire, with a great deal of toil, he got her launched into the flood-mark, and waited the coming of the tide, that he might draw her up into an adjacent creek; being resolved to put his purpose in execution, as soon as he saw the weather more settled, which, at that time, was not very promising.
Thus do we foolishly neglect the real enjoyments, which are in our power, in a continued pursuit after such supposed ones, as are not so; and the desire of disengaging ourselves out of a lesser evil, frequently throws us into a greater. For this unfortunate undertaking proved only a further addition to our calamity, by causing our separation, and so bereaving us of those helps we might afterwards have received from one another, by continuing together; for, no sooner had he got into the boat, and thrust her a little from the Shore, by the assistance of one of her oars; but the ebb, coming on, insensibly sucked him into a current, which hurried him into the main ocean, in spite of all his attempts to the contrary; and, before evening came on, the boat was stranded on another small island, which lay about five leagues distant from the former, on the opposite side to the land he first discovered. This island was, indeed, plainly discernible from the island where I was left; but, either through the fogginess of the air, or his neglect in observing towards that quarter, it had hitherto escaped his notice.
Anyone may easily imagine what consternation my father was in at this unlooked-for accident; and the though of his own perishing in the deep, than which he expected nothing less, was not half so afflicting to him, as the concern he had for me. But when, contrary to these expectations, he so soon got his foot once more upon firm land, he was not without hopes of returning to me again by the advantage of a contrary tide. To which purpose he made the boat fast to a tree, and, night coming on, retired up the island; where, finding a large hollow oak, it served him for a lodging place till the morrow. But no rest could he take for reflecting upon the miseries, which I should undergo in his absence. And his troubles were increased, when he perceived it, about midnight, to blow a violent tempest, which he saw, to his sorrow, must detain him from me, till I should be in danger of perishing for want of his relief.
But, if this was so grievous to him, what agonies might he be expected to be driven to on the morrow, when he beheld the boat, wherein lay all his hopes washed away with the sea? At the sight of this he stood for some time with his eyes and hands lift up to Heaven like a statue; and then, recovering himself, cried out, in the most piteous manner, O my Infant, my Infant! at the same time wringing his hands and beating his breast, with all the tokens of a deep despair: And so far had he now forgotten all bounds of moderation, that he even cursed the hour of his birth, which had brought him into such a world of misfortunes.
Then did he run along the Shore in search after the Boat, hoping he might happily find it somewhere thrown up by the tide: And, when he perceived this in vain, he sat down to weep like a child, and give vent to his grief; always blameing and condemning himself for this last foolish undertaking, which had thrown him, as he conceived, into the lowest depth of misery. And thus was my father, after all his other calamities, wrested from the last resort of comfort he had remaining in the world, giving up his child now also for loft, after the most miserable manner. By all which he well saw, that a man's afflictions can never be so great, but they are still capable of being greater.
For some days after this unhappy chance, he continued wandering about, without either meat or sleep, till, through grief and abstinence, he found his strength so far decayed, that he thought it not possible for him long to survive: And the near prospect of death, which was now the only thing desirable to him, was the only abatement of his anguish.
In the height of this extremity, as he once lay along the ground, he was overtaken with a profound sleep, when his troubled mind represented to him the idea of his beloved Sophia, who, looking upon him with an air of the utmost tenderness, he thought, reproached him in these words: "Is it thus, Eugenius, that you bear the momentary sufferings of this life? I thought you had arrived to greater proficiency in the school of affliction, and your faith, by this time, had been proof against any thing which could befall you in your present state. Consider the many thousand souls in the world, whore sufferings are vastly greater than yours, and whose crimes it may be, are, in the sight of Heaven, much less. It is true, you are confined, as well as they, but surely in a confinement much more tolerable. They lie chained at the oar, or, perhaps, are shut up in loathsome dungeons, whose stench is enough to stop the breath of their charitable visitors; being quite debarred from the comfortable sight of the sun: You walk at liberty, having nothing to annoy you, but your own disturbed thoughts. They scarce obtain food sufficient to support Nature: You have of the best of the fruits of the earth to taste at pleasure. They are as destitute as you of all hopes of future deliverance; and, perhaps, have this more to afflict them, that they are in daily expectation of finishing a wretched life by a shameful and painful death. If you say, that your present grief arises not from your own misfortune, but from the misfortunes of another, through your default; let this satisfy you, It was by the direction of Heaven, that it should be so, who will bring all to an happy issue, when he sees fit." After she had finished these words, she seemed to vanish away in the air, leaving him to reflect upon what he had seen and heard.
When he awoke out of this dream, he found himself very much refreshed, and restored to his former serenity of mind; with the pleasing appearance he lately beheld; and, looking upon me now as certainly dead, he began to prepare for his residence in this place; which, as he had none else to take care for, was equal to him with the other. But herein I proved much better than he expected; for though I had not yet arrived to full two years old, I made a shift for myself after the manner you have already heard.
The island, upon which my father was now cast, was much like the former, and abounded with the same sort of inhabitants. But these could not be of the same advantage to him now, since he was bereft of his bow and arrows, and all sorts of instruments to provide them; so that his food now consisted wholly of herbs and roots, without any more nourishing diet: Only his Bible he carried still along with him, and by that means enjoyed one comfort, which he had otherwise wanted. And so much now did he converse with this, especially in the Psalms of David, and the Books of the New Testament, that he could repeat all these mostly by heart; and so carried always along with him, both the truest director, and most effectual comforter, for any incident and trial, which might befall.
In this Condition lived my father and I for near nineteen years, he in one island, and I in the other. But, in the end, Heaven found out a means for our deliverance, and my Father saw himself put into a capacity of once more visiting his native country; and, what was least of all expected, obtained another sight of me.
The accident fell out thus: one of he king's transport-ships, being driven by a storm quite out of the knowledge of all her directors, fortunately came up with these islands, which were three in number, and put ashore in the island where my Father resided: And, notwithstanding his ragged disguise, he was known to most of the officers, who could scarce tell how to express the joy they conceived at so unlooked- for an accident, by which means fortune had put it in their power to do service to one, for whom they had so high an esteem.
After they had tarried some hours on this island, they returned with my father on board, treating him according to his dignity, and cloathing him with the best apparel they had on board; but, before they pursued their voyage homewards, the captain, in compliance with my father's request, accompanied him into the other island, that he might once more visit the tomb of his beloved consort, before he took his final adieu of the place; and interr also the remains of his child, if they were to be found.
But here my father, to his surprize, found so great an alteration in and about his former cottage, that he could scarce discern it to be the place it was. A proof to him, that it must since have been occupied by some later inhabitant; and of this they were all sufficiently convinced, when, to their great astonishment, they beheld a naked youth come undauntedly among them out of the woods, as desirous of their acquaintance; but all the while silent. My father was presently sensible, that this must be his son, who, by some extraordinary means, had been thus preserved; and my near resemblance of him bespoke no less to the whole company. It will be easy to imagine, how much he was transported at this unexpected sight. He ran towards me, clasped me in his arms, and was some time not able to speak, for the overflowings of his joy: Myself, in the mean while, shewing no less tokens of affection, after my mute and unpolished manner; as if secretly acquainted with the nearness of our relation. After these mutual endearments were over, my father, taking his last farewel[l] of my mother's tomb, beckoned to me to follow him with the rest of the company to the ship; which I readily and joyfully obeyed, like one unwilling by any means to be separated afterwards from him.
After all things were in readiness, we set sail for Soteria, where, in a short time we safely arrived, to the wonder of every one who saw us. The general notion had been, that we were cast away in our transportation to banishment; which was no small affliction to the king, and most of his subjects: My father's innocence of what he was falsely and maliciously accused, being soon after made clear to the world.
The surprising news of his return was most joyfully received by his Majesty; who forthwith determined to make him all possible amends for his past sufferings; in consequence of which, all his estates, with the profits of them ever since his banishment, were faithfully restored, and the highest court-preferments were offered him. But these last he modestly refused, as being quite out of love with a life of splendor and noise, and chose rather to pass the remainder of his days in privacy and retirement.
He retired to the seat we are now going to, where he has ever since remained; so disposing his temporal estate, as he thinks may best secure his eternal one. His chief employment, beside his devotion to his creator, is in works of benefaction and charity to his fellow-creatures; delighting most to imitate God in that most amiable attribute of his goodness. His house is a peaceable asylum for the distressed and miserable, and he is always a zealous defender of such as have been wronged and oppressed. The principal thing, which can recommend any man to his favour, is honesty and integrity; and where these are found, he looks over smaller errors, and gives the most charitable allowance for greater. What time he sets apart for company, is spent with a few select friends; and his meals rather favour of frugality, than profuseness.
And thus, after all his afflictions, he is often heard to apply that testimony concerning Job to himself. That his latter-end is better than his beginning; since he is now happily free from all those trials and vexations, to which his former state of prosperity exposed him. Only the death of my mother, whose beloved idea can never be erased out of his mind, that he esteems as a calamity never to be retrieved to him, while he remains on this side the grave.
As for myself, my father could not, indeed, but lament the ignorant condition in which he found me, being as destitute of all language, as the brute beasts my companions; but the exceeding tractableness of my disposition gave him great hopes, that due care might happily retrieve the loss I had sustained in my education, which happened in the principal time of life for acquiring it.
But in this I much surpassed his expectation; for when I became capable of expressing my thoughts to my tutors, to their great amazement, they found me more like a polished Christian, than an ignorant Savage; having attained as just a notion of many important truths, as if I had learned them from the mouth of one of the wisest sages. I seemed to them to have convinced myself of the manner of my own original, from that of other creatures; and, from the works of the creation, to have inferred the being of the creator. The utter incapacity of thought in matter, as such, seemed to have instructed me in the independence of these one upon another; and from hence I appeared to have gathered the natural incorruptibility of the thinking principle. I was discovered to have learned a sort of arithmetic peculiar to myself and my necessities had also taught me to perform several problems in geometry.
Thus you have heard a short relation of my father's troubles, together with the manner of my own preservation: An instance, perhaps, of as surprising a providence, as can any-where be met with in history; which, among other uses, may serve to show the kindness usually meant us by the chastisement of Heaven; and thereby excite our gratitude under every cross accident, which may befal us. The ways of providence are not to be fathomed by our finite comprehensions; and we usually look upon the evil of every disappointment of our hopes or designs, without considering at all the immensely greater good it may possibly bring along with it, which alone can render it an evil indeed. He who views my father's circumstances, in their worst situation, as bereft of all human comforts, and left in a desolate island to shift for himself, may, perhaps, be apt to judge his case very miserable; but he will not continue long to think so, when he attends to the issue: For, the good he has thereby attained does infinitely surpass all the evils he suffered.
And, with respect to myself, I look upon my banishment from human society, as so far from being an evil, that I account it one of the greatest blessings which could have befallen me. It may, perhaps, be thought, that I have, by this means, lost many valuable opportunities of improving my knowledge; yet, when I compare this inconvenience with the benefit attending it, I cannot but look upon my gain, as much superior to my loss; for, if I had not the advantage of good examples, I was at the same time freed from all danger of receiving hurt from ill ones. The mind, we know, like a tender plant during its immature state, is capable of putting on any form, but much more susceptible of bad impressions, than good; the affections being generally engaged, before the judgment is able to discern the consequence. But in me it was just the reverse: My first conversation with mankind had some resemblance to Adam's appearance in the world, immediately after his creation; my mind being in the best capacity to examine what was offered, before it gave its assent to either side of a question: So that, in this respect, my ready compliance with the principal truths of revealed religion is one of the most strong arguments against those stale cavils, which are brought by unbelievers from prejudice and education.
But all this while, I would have you take good notice, that I attribute not these improvements in knowledge, which I was discovered to have made in this solitary state, to the strength of my own natural faculties. For I am fully assured, that if I had had no advantage from human education, nor any other helps from without, I should have been found as destitute of all appearance of reason, as the brutes: But my condition was vastly different from this; for, doubtless, the education I received from my parents, how little soever it may seem, was some advantage, in setting my thoughts on work, and awaking my attention to whatever was about me. But what I lay the main stress upon, is, the secret hints and intimations, which I then frequently perceived upon my mind, quite different from any thing I have ever experienced, since my acquaintance with human society, when the occasions for them seemed to cease. These I can attribute to nothing, but the communications of some separate intelligent being; by means of which my very dreams were often an uninterrupted chain of the exactest reasoning concerning the subject I was employed about, when awake. And this invisible instructor, I have good cause to believe, was generally, if not always, the spirit of my deceased mother; the Almighty seeming to have given her the power and permission of performing that for her child after death, which she could not do, when alive. One great reason for which belief is, the near agreement between the idea, which I had frequently represented to me in such dreams, and the several pictures designed for her in her life-time; which I have since seen.
Here Automathes broke off his story, which had all the while been attentively listened to by the whole company. The hard fate of his father and mother drew tears from the eyes of most of us. We could not forbear relenting at so melancholy a tale, and showed the utmost tokens of a deep compassion. The unparallelled fortitude also of this afflicted pair, through the course of their misfortunes, was, for some time, the subject of our discourse: And we could not but admire, with what resignation and constancy they bore the burden, which Heaven had thought fit to lay upon them.
But the strangest part of this relation was what regarded Automathes himself. The manner of his preservation in the island, and his way of living during his solitude, was what we had all a desire to know: And the means, by which he acquired the knowledge he spoke of, did vastly raise our curiosity. We, therefore, unanimously requested, since the time and opportunity permitted, that he would favour us with a history, which seemed to abound with such a series of wonders, and promised us so much satisfaction in the hearing. In compliance with which he courteously proceeded, as follows:
When I run over the transactions of my own life, as far as my utmost remembrance can carry me, my sight seems to terminate in the point, when I first, as it were, found myself in being, in or about my father's cottage: beyond which I am intirely in the dark, as to my original; having not the least remembrance of any of my own species, before the arrival of the king's ship with my father; unless some faint ideas, which now-and-then presented themselves to me like the remembrance of a dream. Nor do I remember any thing of the hind, by which I imagine I was for some time suckled; my whole living consisting of the before-mentioned roots, with the fruits of the trees in their season, which I became acquainted with from the example of the fowls of the air. About this place was the formed part of my life intirely spent; and I can well call to mind the branch of an adjacent tree, under which I could once have walked upright; but, immediately before my transportation hither, would scarce reach the height of my navel. From hence would I often take my little journeys, and sometimes wandered so far, that I could not possibly have found the way back, had it not been for my companion the dog, who, whenever he missed me, failed not to search through every grove and thicket, keeping a continual barking, till he found me, at which he would show no little joy.
During this part of my life, my rational faculty, to any remembrance, seems as if it had lain quite dormant. I never made the least reflection upon my condition, nor turned my thoughts to the contemplation of any thing about me; unless it was now-and-then, for my diversion, to view the beauty of the flowers of the field, and the shining colours of certain insects, which I found creeping among the grass. I would also gaze at the brightness of the sun, the moon, and the stars; but all this, without the least consideration of their original or use. Every object, which came within the reach of my senses, could not but impress its idea upon my mind; but, as these impressions came without any act of my own, so lay they neglected without further Notice, till some accident renewed the impression.
And this, if not worse, as I observed to you before, must always have been my case, had it not been for the advantages I have already mentioned; for I ever hold this to be a most certain Truth, "That in the state that mankind is at present, without the education of others, no man could ever arrive to so high a degree of knowledge above brutes, as is found among the most degenerate savages of the human species, through the known World". And, for a proof of this, I need only appeal to the sense and experience of every reasonable person, if he will be so honest, as to allow of such conviction.
If we confider man with respect to that knowledge only, which is necessary for his animal life, we cannot but own a vast difference between him and the rest of the visible animal creation. Other animals do in general show a knowledge in themselves how to apply all the abilities, which Nature endows them with, to the proper ends for which they were designed, without the least instruction from others. In every distinct species of them, each individual appears to act perfectly with the same design and intention; which we, therefore, infer to be none of their own. And this innate principle in them we call by the name of Instinct, to distinguish it from that self-consciousness and power we have over our actions, without which no action we do, can properly be called our own.
Thus the young bull needs none to discover to him the use of his horns; the colt naturally annoys his adversary with his heels; and the boar with his tusks. This instinct admonishes the bee and the ant to provide their winter's sustenance in summer, and teaches them to prepare suitable receptacles both for that and their young. It is this which instructs the mole to avoid its adversary, by burying itself in the earth; the swan, by flying to the waters; and the pheasant, to the woods. Thus the young linnet, when stolen from his Dam, is no sooner fledged, but he shews how sensible he is, that his wings were given him for flight. And if we confine the little animal a sufficient time longer, we shall hear him as distinctly warbling out the harmony peculiar to his kind, as if he had been carefully taught each note by his absent sire; but, what is more surprising, if he be thus brought up, with a female consort under the same confinement, and both be accommodated with proper convenience, and suitable materials, we shall behold them, with one consent, to undertake the building of a nest of so near a resemblance to that, out of which they were taken, that, if it were possible for both to be compared together under the same advantages, it would be hard to distinguish the one from the other.
But how different is man from this? If any knowlegc were innate or natural to him, one would think it should be that of distinguishing his proper food; a knowledge, which seems common to the whole brute creation, who need none to instruct them how to reek after and embrace the good, and reject the bad. Yet, in this itself, we cannot but be sensible, that, (even when our Food is ready provided for us) were it not for the frequent cautions we receive from such as know better than ourselves, we should be as likely to eat our destruction, as our nourishment. What a subsistence, then, could such creatures as we be supposed to make for ourselves, if left wholly destitute of such provision made by others for us.
Again, when we confider the structure of the human body, we are apt to conclude, that Nature has designed man for walking in an erect posture, and no other. But experience shews, that, though we have the daily example of others for our imitation in this; yet, after we have arrived to sufficient strength, and generally to some degree of reason too; the utmost care is often found little enough, before we can be perfectly reconciled to it: From whence we have all the reason in the world to conclude, that, if Nature were left solely to herself, she would leave the human species without this lowest distinction of the man from the brute, how natural soever it may at first sight appear to him. And it can scarce be imagined, that he would any otherwise make use of an erect posture of body, than as is seen by those ridiculous quadrupeds, which approach nearest to the resemblance of mankind.
In like manner, it is usually urged, that mankind is by nature designed for society: And doubtless he is, for both that and Religion. But then it must be in a way suited to his rational nature, and as he is an accountable creature. For which purpose all the acquirements necessary to these principal ends of his life, do seem left, as much as possible, to be actions of his own reason and choice; and when they cannot be so to him, he must, of consequence, be destitute of them.
Thus, though the faculty of speech be the aptest and most complete means we can imagine, for one man to communicate his thoughts to another; and consequently, as such, is a most necessary qualification for society; yet, we see, that this, again, is no otherwise to be had, than by the help of society. The conversation with our fellows is both the end of language, and the only natural means for attaining it; and, after what manner soever we are bereft of the opportunity of conversing with our fellows, we must be equally bereft of this faculty. A person born without the sense of hearing, and he who by any other means is removed from the opportunity of ever hearing speech, are both alike in this respect: And as the natural defect in the former is always experienced to be attended with a want of Speech, though the person have no defect in the organs of speech; so must the accidental defect in the latter: as witness my own case.
By like reason we may conclude, that a total want of all opportunities of conversation with our fellows, will necessarily be attended with as total an ignorance in all those actions and observances, which are peculiar to society. What is it that could suggest to such a person the necessity of superiors and inferiors, of government and obedience? Where must he learn the knowledge of what is comely, and what is not so; of what is reputable, and what is base? And what notions could he frame to himself of human laws, compacts, engagements, and the like?
But, some of these things may, perhaps, seem to be said gratis. Therefore, we may again have recourse to undeniable matter-of-fact; from whence any man of common sense may easily convince himself, what despicable creatures mankind would certainly be, under such circumstances. It cannot surely be denied, that how much soever any man, or nation of Men, are bereft of the means of education, so much the nearer still do they approach to a brutish ignorance; and, to show us, to what a low pitch mankind may degenerate, through the want of this, we have several instances, according to your information, from the wild inhabitants of several remote parts of the World; yet, you are sensible, that the most brutish of these People are not without the peculiar education of their country, handed down to them: And, bad as it is, if they were deprived of that, they would be in a much more depraved state than they are.
What then, can be said concerning that opinion of mankind's capacity, by the mere strength of reason alone, to attain to the knowledge of a God, and a sufficient sense of their duty to him, and to one another? It is certain, there can be no religion without some previous knowledge of a God. But God, for wise and good reasons, appears to have made the knowledge of himself scarce any otherwise attainable by us, than that of the existence of other beings absent to sense; which we always receive from the information of others. It is, indeed, as natural for the human mind to give its assent to all truths, which come within the reach of its comprehension, when duly offered, as it is for the eye to see its way in a clear light; and, consequently, the notion of the existence of God may be called natural in that respect. But it is no more natural for the mind, by its own force, to come to the knowledge of absent beings, without the information of others; than it is for the eye to see what is before it, without a beam of light to direct it. It is true, that the divine goodness is continually shedding his influences upon every one of us, and the wisdom of God appears in all his works. But if that infinite wisdom and goodness had not vouchsafed to make other manifestations of himself to mankind, besides these most general ones; we would just about as soon have been led by them to the notion of a God, as a person born without the capacity, either of seeing or hearing, would be brought to a notion of the sun by the perception he sometimes might have of the warmth of its rays: And our notion of God in the former case would be as effectual to create in us a sense of religion, as the blind and deaf man's notion of the heavenly bodies in the latter, would be effectual to suggest to him the science of astronomy.
After all, if any other proof be requisite, to show how vastly short human knowledge must be, without education, in comparison to what it now is, with it, even in its lowest degree; I would only desire every man to search diligently and impartially within himself, and examine what acquirements he can find, deserving the name of knowledge, which have not proceeded, either directly or by consequence, from the information of others. Sure I am, that ('bating the knowledge he has received from sensation concerning the bare existence of sensible things) he will not be able to produce one single instance, which, as I said, can deserve the name of knowledge. All that Nature has done for man in this respect, is only the endowing him with a capacity of receiving instruction. It is, indeed, not to be doubted, but that, without instruction, he would form several complex notions of external things; as a thinking being he could do no otherwise. But then there could be drawn from such things only, as occurred to his bodily senses; our first notions of which, we know, are always confused, and generally erroneous, till afterwards corrected by education. And to expect Nature to do this of herself, is all one as to expect, that a garden should spontaneously eject every thing disagreeable to the senses; and dispose itself into delightful walks and artificial parterres, without ever a hand to cultivate it; for, as a garden without cultivation can afford no more order nor pleasure to the sight, than a neglected wilderness; so a mind, altogether without education, can make no visible distinction between the man and the brute.
And now I suppose it will be natural to ask, how it then came to pass, that I myself should be found so well qualified, who had so little a share of the education I am now speaking of. To this you have already heard an answer, by which it appears, that all the improvements I made, were as truly owing to the education of others, as if I had been brought up from my infancy in one of the colleges of this kingdom. The difference chiefly lay in the quality of my instructors. And, had it not been for such assistance, I had, doubtless, still continued as such an infant in knowledge, as has been reported of others under the same solitary circumstances; but, by this means, to me the want of human conversation was, in some degree, compensated by my society with brutes; and the instruction I received from their silent language, served instead of a politer education.
The first time I remember myself to be brought to serious reflection, though, doubtless, I had reflected upon many things before, happened on this manner: One remarkably hot day, I had wandered something farther than common from my cottage; and, going to a lake to quench my thirst, I was surprised with the appearance of a creature, as I thought, in the lake, of a shape very different from any thing I ever yet had seen ; which, when I stooped to the water, seemed to leap upwards at me, as if in a design to pull me down to it. Terrified at the supposed danger, I started backwards, and fled with all possible haste to a neighbouring wood for shelter, where I skulked for some time, before I durst look out again, to see whether or no I was pursued: At length, my thirst returning, and perceiving no farther appearance of harm, I took courage to visit another part of the lake, where I hoped to drink with less disturbance. But no sooner did I stoop down to the water again, than I was feared back with a like spectacle, as before. And this second disappointment made the place become dreadful to me, that I thought my greatest safety was, in being at the farthest remove from it.
It may, perhaps, be thought strange, that I should all this while be so afraid of nothing but my own shadow. But this, I suppose, was the first time I ever had beheld it in the water, or, at least, had taken notice of it; all the other fountains and rivulets I had hitherto seen, though sufficiently clear and transparent, having been either too shallow, or too rapid, to cast a reflection deep enough to fall under my observation: But, not long after, I grew better acquainted with such appearances.
I cannot, though, forget the deep impression, which this affright left upon me; an impression so strong, that, for several weeks after, I durst hardly look out of my cottage, always imagining, that this terrible phantom was in search of me; and my sleep was, for some time afterwards, disturbed with fearful starts and dreams. But time wore this off, and the continual sight of no danger emboldened me to walk about, as usual: Only the lake was a long while after frightful to me, whenever I came near it.
This accident seemed, as it were, to rouse me out of my hitherto stupid condition into a sense of myself; which first broke forth in such inward expostulations as these: What am I? How came I here? Upon which I would every now-and-then run over in my mind all the transactions which occurred, of my past life, to the present time. And so intent was I on these contemplations, that I became heedless of every thing else; and as I walked along would often stumble and fall over whatever came in my way. But my Mind was taken off from this thoughtfulness concerning herself, as her curiosity prevailed towards other things; which now began to drive me abroad more than usual, to take notice of every object falling in my way. And this, I conjecture, might happen about the ninth or tenth year of my age.
In one of my perambulations towards the south part of the island, I chanced upon a delicious vale, surrounded on every side, in form of an oblong square, with several hills of a considerable height, whose verdant ascents, being here-and-there bestrewed with many delightful arbours, afforded one of the most entertaining prospects I had ever seen. This vale was watered with a crystal brook, which took its rife from the fore-mentioned lake, and, forming many sportive meanders, was lost a few miles below in the sea.
Here, coming to a place where the water ran smooth and deep, I could not but with some astonishment observe another sky, as I thought, at the bottom;
or rather here seemed to be no bottom at all, but another world presented itself to view, which had all things answering in an inverted order to this above. While I stood musing at this Sight, which, for some time, filled me with a kind of pleasing horror, anon the dog's shadow also showed itself, as he coursed along the river's brink; and, upon my nearer approach, the bottom appearing, discovered all to be nothing but the natural reflection of the water: An appearance which I had hitherto been intirely unacquainted with. Then, immediately recalling to mind what had heretofore so much affrighted me, I concluded it to have been nothing else but mine own image and reflectance; and, venturing nearer the water, though not without some diffidence, I was agreeably taken to find it so indeed.
This, as it were, surprised me into a notion of other creatures of my own species, which, till now, had scarce ever entered into my head; for, when I took notice of myself and the dog, as two solitary animals different from all others, without any thing to be seen anywhere like us, and recollected what I had already seen concerning the general method by which all other living creatures propagate their likes, with observing the conformity between us and them in many respects; I concluded that our coming into the World must have been after a like manner. I was certain, on my own part, that I had not been here always; and I could not but make the same inference concerning the dog. The cause, therefore, of our being alone I conjectured as follows:
I had often had a fair view of the island where my father all this while resided; and, having experienced the appearance of objects to decrease as their distances increased, I supposed the main ocean to be nothing but a great lake, encompassed with land, of which that island was a Part, the rest lying beyond the reach of my sight. That land, I imagined, was inhabited with multitudes of creatures of my own species, from whence I supposed myself and the dog, by some means, to have been transported from the rest of our fellows to the place we now were in; which I conceived to be the same in the middle of the sea with those hillocks or islands I had often taken notice of in the afore-mentioned lake. Such were my first conjectures concerning my original: And what served to confirm me in this opinion, was the structure of the cottage where I slept, which, when I compared with the regular apartments of a kind of beavers inhabiting along the lake, I guessed must have been built by some of my own predecessors for a like use.
But, the greatest proof of being originally a foreigner to this place, was, the several instruments and utensils found in my lodgings, together with the remains of the boat; which last, as I before remarked, after my father's unfortunate voyage with it into the other island, was driven back again by the storm, and left upon the beach. This I suspected to be, as it really was, a vessel contrived on purpose for such transportations over the Sea. And when I considered the difference of the materials in my cottage, not only in shape, but, for the most part, in consistence too, from every thing else in the island, so that they appeared as so many anomalies in Nature; I doubted not but it was the very same in which they had been conveyed, together with myself and the dog, into this desolate part of the World. And, it being not impossible, but the same, which happened to me, might also happen to others; this put me in expectation, that, one time or other, I might, probably, see some other human creature make a like voyage to the same place.
Such were some of the first essays of reason in me: How just the conclusions were, must be referred to the judgments of others. My first notions of things seemed to be intirely casual, and the inferences, I drew from thence, proceeded no farther than my necessities prompted. And though the method of my instruction had been said to be supernatural, yet the book, out of which I was taught, was no other, than the book of Nature.
But what is the beginning of reason, but the beginning of sorrow, to creatures whose reason can only serve to discover their wants and imperfections to them? These reflections bereaved me of that undisturbed tranquillity, which I had enjoyed during my less thoughtful condition. While I knew no want, I had no uneasiness about any. But now my mind continually ran upon the thoughts of human society. Without this, I imagined, there could be no happiness in life, and I therefore envied the blessing in every other species of creatures. And, had the boat been in sufficient repair, I cannot tell but this passionate desire might have ended in the fame imprudent undertaking, which occasioned my father's separation from me. So strong an inclination has Nature implanted in us, for the conversation of our fellow- creatures, in order to communicate our joys and griefs, and sympathize under one another's sufferings.
But I was effectually diverted from these ungrateful thoughts, when I came to apply more closely to the study of Nature, which every-where presented me with fresh scenes of wonder; and the more I observed, still the more was my curiosity increased. The first thing which drew my attention, was, how the ground brought forth its fruits, by which all living creatures were nourished, and seemed to receive their whole essence. I observed the manner the trees, the grass, and the flowers grew; each yielding its proper seed for new cloathing to their Mother Earth on their decay. The beautiful contexture, also, which appeared in each individual, gave me no small delight. And, in time, I learned how these successive renewals of Nature exactly corresponded with the motions of the sun, at whose annual approach the woods and meadows put on a smiling green, and the flowers shot forth their heads; and at his removal to the more southern climates, all things seemed to fade and droop, as if they only lived in hopes of his return, which never failed at the fixed time. I marked the agreement between the moon and tide, and the revolutions of the lesser heavenly luminaries were the subject of my nocturnal contemplations. I also employed some time in considering the figure, situation, and beautiful variety of the colours in the rainbow. I discovered the necessity of rain and the solar heat, to ripen the fruits of the earth; and the use of morning and evening dews, to supply the absence of the former, was likewise known to me. I considered the admirable structure of the bodies of every species of animals within my observation; how appositely they were framed to serve their several purposes and ways of living, and what surprising art and foresight they showed for the preservation of themselves and their young. In fine, I beheld the marks of wisdom where- ever I cast my Eyes. An universal harmony and alternate dependence appeared through all the parts of the creation, the most neglected things, when duly examined, being not without their manifest use. In short, I was everywhere surprised with an apparently wise design, where the least design of all was expected.
Thus, from the works of Nature and Providence, I was naturally led, by my invisible monitor, to the knowledge of the first mover. For beauty and fitness are, as it were, the signatures of reason impressed upon matter; and, where-ever these are brought to our observation, we are as necessarily constrained to acknowledge them for the work of some intelligent agent, as, from the sight of a shadow, to conclude the substance from whence it is projected. Nor are all the seeming defects in the structure and oconomy of the universe, in any comparison, so strong an argument for ascribing it to the effect of chance; as the least visible imperfection, in the most accomplished human performance is to prove the same concerning it. Yet, strange perverseness of man! there is no person who does not readily grant, nay, would be ashamed not to grant, the strokes of the artist's hand in the latter; while some would pretend an utter insensibility of the infinitely more flagrant tokens of skill in the former, how evidently soever they are pointed out to them. They think it a disparagement of their reason, not to perceive the workmanship of man; and yet affect it as an argument or the sublimest reason, to be blind to the finger of God.
And with the same reason, as these marks of wisdom in the operations of Nature infer the intelligence of the primary cause, do the perfect dependence and connexion, which appear through the whole performance, imply both that and his unity. For, whenever the mind attends to this stupendous complication of movements, among which she cannot but look upon herself as a part of the whole, and is brought to observe the entire dependence each has upon another, she is necessarily cast upon one first mover, and forced to trace all from the same power: Which power, when she reflects upon all the different powers perceived within herself, she must needs conclude to be the original fountain, from whence they also proceed; and consequently, that this must be the centre of all possible perfection. And, as I was certain there was a time, when myself in particular was not, so I was forced to conclude, that there must have been a time when this whole creation in general was not, at least in the manner I now beheld it; and that the first cause alone must exist prior to every thing caused by it.
After I was brought thus far in so mysterious a subject; it will be easy for you to guess, to how many perplexities I was driven, in contemplating the nature of this infinite being. The works of Nature alone are a subject, which must for ever excite the admiration of the most perfect finite intelligence; what then can be said of the contemplation of the author of Nature himself? The utmost that mortals can know of this adorable being is only, that He is, and that every thing else depends upon him for all that they are or have? And all that is required from us, is only to act like beings sensible of this dependence. And so far my benevolent instructor seemed to take the utmost care I should not be deceived. The result was, I now began to view all things in a quite different light from what I had hitherto done. I did not now only look upon things as they respected one another, but as they also stood in relation to God. Whenever I cast my eyes upon beings inanimate, they served as a speculum, wherein I contemplated the admirable wisdom and power of that adorable being, who thus ordered and upheld them. And when I carried my meditations farther, and considered moreover, how all those, by his direction, conspired to the well-being of the animal creation, and of myself in particular; my resentments were wholly turned upon that more moving attribute of his goodness. I now found something which did more than barely engage my admiration, by also kindling my love, and exciting in me the deepest sense of gratitude. I could not but with pleasure reflect upon that inexhaustible stock of beneficence, which thus freely shed itself upon a world of intelligent beings, who had their whole dependence of happiness from thence.
Here I must note, that, all along, I supposed every living animal to have also the same consciousness and power over their actions, which I had. I looked upon them as rational creatures, as well as myself, and accordingly was all my behaviour toward them. And, whenever I attended to the harmonious chantings of the feathered tribes, or delighted myself with beholding the innocent sportings of the nimble-footed deer, I esteemed all as the several ways of expressing their gratitude to the invisible author of their being: All things seemed to conspire together, in singing forth the praises of the great creator of Heaven and Earth. But of all methods of expressing the resentments of the mind, I ever esteemed that of the voice as most natural; by which the animal seemed to pour forth his thoughts with his breath. This, therefore, I conceived, was most likely to be the method used among men to communicate their minds, in conversing one with another.
The first time I had these pleasing thoughts, I perceived a secret joy to dart into my Soul, the impressions of which were so strong upon me, that the tears ran plentifully down my cheeks. Of such force are the tokens of the divine beneficence, from what men call the mere light of Nature alone, to excite our adoration and gratitude. But how much stronger motives has every faithful Christian to provoke these acknowlegements, from the joint consideration of those surprising instances of kindness and condescension, whereby the second and third persons of the ever-blessed Trinity have farther engaged wretched Men? And thus you have heard, how the first rudiments of religion began to appear in me from the consideration of the goodness of God to his creatures, by exciting me to those angelical returns of praise and thanksgiving.
To the best of my remembrance it was about this time of my life, when, one evening, having been very much taken up with contemplating the beautiful colours of the rainbow; awhile after the sun went down, I was also diverted with the sight of an ignis fatuus in a piece of low meadow- ground, not far from my cottage. I observed how swiftly this appearance flew from place to place, sometimes seeming as if quite extinguished, when anon it appeared more glaring than ever, dancing on the opposite side. This was the first time I had ever beheld an luminous body, besides those in the heavens. And, supposing it to be something of the same nature with them, my curiosity was highly raised to have a nearer view of it; but I found myself very much disappointed in the attempt; for still, as I drew near, it fled from me; and all my endeavours could not bring me within the reach of it: So that, after I had sufficiently tired myself, I gave over my fruitless pursuit. But, as if this time had been determined for so desirable a discovery, in my return home, my eyes were also drawn aside with a spot of ground in my way, which seemed to be all bespangled with little stars; which being lights neither so large, nor of so unsteady and volatile a nature, as the former, and wholly confined to one place, I secured one or two of them in a hole in the ground, which I covered warily with a stone, purposing the next morning to satisfy my curiosity with a more perfect view of them. But, when the morning came, I found I had imprisoned a couple of worms, of the same sort with which I discovered many creeping about the same place; though I could perceive none of them to have now any more lustre than the grass, among which they crawled. I therefore released my prisoners from their confinement, not without some self-condemnation for the injury I had done to creatures, which I supposed, like all other animals, to be endowed with the same resentments as myself, despairing now ever to discover more of the nature of those glorious lights, which adorned the heavens. And, spending the whole following day in and about the same place, as the darkness of the evening came on, I perceived how all these little animals recovered their former brightness; though I now observed, that they emitted a much fainter light, than what I had observed in the before-mentioned wandering flame.
I must here remark, that though I had several times seen lightning from Heaven, yet this I took to be only gleams of Light, proceeding from some invisible cause, which I always imagined had nothing in them common with the cause itself; for I judged light and darkness to be nothing else but different modifications of the air; the former being occasioned by the action of the luminous body upon that, much the same way as the undulations of the water, occasioned by the throwing a stone into it. And the same notion I had of the production of sound. But an accident afterwards fell out, which gave me a more perfect knowledge of the nature of light and fire, than I could have wished; tho' the order of my story requires, that I relate other occurrences first.
I remarked before, that I was found quite destitute of speech; but let this be understood only of such speech, as could be of use for conversation with mankind. I had, doubtless, learned from my parents to pronounce several of our own country words, after such a broken and imperfect manner, as was peculiar to children of my age; but the remembrance of all those words, which I had thus acquired in my conversation with them, naturally ceased, when the occasions for using them ceased, upon their removal from me. But though I was so soon deprived of the conversation of my parents, yet I had the enjoyment of that of my companion the dog, to such a ripeness of years, that the words I made use of upon those occasions, could never be erased out of my mind. And, upon serious reflection, I would often wonder, by what means these had occurred to me; till, in the end, I satisfied myself, that I must have learned them from some of my fellows.
In one of my journeys again to the before- mentioned vale, having lost the sight of my dog, and calling out pretty loudly to him, after my accustomed manner, I was strangely startled to hear the fame words distinctly repeated five or six times, on each side of me; one still continuing to answer the other, till they were quite out of hearing. Upon this, I concluded for certain within myself, that there must be the voices of so many of my own species; but wondered, that none of them were within sight; since the mountains on each side of this part of the vale were quite open, without ever a tree or shrub sufficient to cover them. I then ran up to the top of the mountain, from whence the nearest voice seemed to proceed, where I had a view of the whole country to a large distance on every side. But when I could not perceive the least appearance of what I expected, I descended again to the former place; and, calling the second time in the same words, I was answered directly as before. But what now increased my surprize, the dog coming barking up to me, I perceived was successively answered from the hills the same way. This made me suspect, whether or no the proper habitations of such creatures as myself and the dog, were not in the bellies of those mountains, from whence we had issued by some unknown subterraneous passage; But I was presently checked from making so irrational a conclusion, when I reflected upon the absurdity of it. And when I had afterwards discovered the like repeated answers made in this and the like places, not only to the voices of other animals, but also to whatever other noises I could make with sticks or stones at pleasure, I inferred it to be nothing but what was natural to such situations of the ground, reflecting the sound, as a rock does a stone thrown against it. Whence I learned also to make no more wonder at the echo of a voice, than at the shadow of a body.
About this time, I have cause to remember, how I was taken with a very grievous indisposition, which, I believe, held me for some weeks; and though it hindered me not from going abroad, yet I was so debilitated by it, that I could scarce drag along my sickly carcase: While this continued, I would often lie all along upon the Ground, basking myself in the sun, and my disordered imagination now and then represented the clouds flying over me in various shapes. Sometimes I would imagine I saw the head of a bird, a deer, a goat, or a man, and sometimes I would conceive, that I saw one or more of the same creatures in it full proportion. And thus would I amuse myself with these aerial figures, till, perhaps, I fell into a slumber; which, when it happened, gave me no small refreshment. In one of these slumbers, between sleeping and waking, methought I once heard a noise, which I can compare to nothing nearer, than the sudden beating together of two soft pillows, as regular as the beatings of the pulse. When I first took notice of it, I supposed it to be at a vast distance, growing still louder and louder, as it approached; and all the while I had not the least power to move so much as a finger, to rescue myself from the supposed danger; my eyes being still wide open. At length I thought it came just upon me, at which time the noise grew so great, that it quite took away all sense of hearing from me; and, to add to the terror I was put into, I now fansied myself bestrid by a monstrous goat, which immediately pressed down upon me with a weight not to be expressed. I continued for some time in this agony, not being able to stir one joint in my body, till my supposed tormentor left me of his own accord; and I found my body afterwards all over as wet with sweat, as if I had been drenched in the sea, even bedewing all the grass beneath me. I think I was two or three times afterwards visited in my rest with the same troublesome guest; which, I have since learned from our physicians, was nothing but so many fits of the distemper, which they call all Ephialtes, or the night-mare, occasioned by such a pressure of the bulk of the brain upon the cerebellum, as hinders the animal spirits from having their due influence upon the nerves, by a total obstruction of the passages; which renders the lungs incapable to perform their office. And this, they say, generally happens in the night-time, when the body lies in a supine posture; though the first time it came upon me in the day.
But providence seemed to procure me a cure for this distemper, in the following manner: I had one day wandered from my cottage to the east part of the island, to the bottom of an opening, which faced the opposite shore. Here, being quite tired with walking, I lay down upon the ground, as usual, amusing myself, as I mentioned before, with gazing upon the clouds, which floated in the sky. I had not continued long in this situation, ere I perceived the sky to be quite overcast; and, at the distance of about sixteen furlongs up the valley, to the south- west, I saw a part of the clouds, above the hill, forming itself into the shape of an inverted cone; which suddenly shot forth to so great a length, as to extend from the sky to the ground. While I wondered what should be the meaning of this uncommon appearance, I was strangely terrified with a roaring noise approaching nearer and nearer to me from the same quarter; and, before I could get upon my feet, I found myself encompassed with a sea of water running down from the hills on every side, which presently raised me off my feet, with a current so strong, that I must certainly have been buried in it, if I had not had the presence of mind to bear up myself along the stream, with the same motion of my arms and legs, which I had often observed, after the fright of my shadow, in the legs of the dog, while he swam after me through such brooks
and rivulets, as were out of his depth. In this condition I made towards a little cave, caused by this inundation, in the side of an ascent below me, as the nearest land I could reach; but, before I could strike the ground, I was overtaken by a fresh gully of water, which threw me with such force against the bank, that, my foot slipping, in recovering myself, I fell with my face upon the ground where I landed; and the blood gullied out of my nose so plentifully, through the violence of the fall, that it made even a stream into the water from the place, where I seated myself, after this deliverance.
In this place I sat not long ruminating upon what had happened, ere I perceived the waters again to abate, as suddenly as they arose, and all things again put on their former appearance; which made me rightly conjecture, that this was some sudden eruption of water from the clouds; which, as I have since learned, is a thing that frequently happens at sea, and seldom upon land, but near the sea coasts. And I was heartily thankful, that it fell out so far from my cottage, which otherwise might have been of much worse consequence to me, in destroying that to the ground.
But this proved so far from being hurtful to me, that I have since much reason to believe, it was at that time of singular service; for, the large discharge of blood which this occasioned, was, doubtless, a great help to Nature, in throwing off my indisposition, as I afterwards found it; and I cannot but think, that this accidental bathing in the water, contributed not a little. However, this latter was so far serviceable, that it emboldened me to frequent use of the water hereafter; which the most approved judges with us generally maintain to be a sovereign preventive of many distempers; for, this taught me the practice of swimming, one of the most delightful exercises, especially in the hot seasons, which I ever made use of. And this I experienced to be the most advantageous to me in the sea; after which times, especially, I always found myself refreshed with new life and vigour. By the same means, also, I obtained a new subject to employ my admiration, concerning the wonders of the creation; and, consequently, new matter to excite my adoration of the great creator. This brought me to the knowledge of a new species of creatures, whose proper element was the water: though, during the whole time of my continuance upon the island, I never discovered by what means they were fed; nor did I ever see a fish otherwise out of the water, than as they leaped of themselves out of it at a great distance from me; which I judged was done only for their diversion, and must be the same in effect to them, as diving under water was to me.
About this time of my life, to the best of my remembrance, was also my first hearing of thunder. I took notice before, that I had frequently seen flashes of lightning; but never, till now, that I could recollect, had heard the least crack attending them. The weather being excessively sultry and hot, I betook myself to the water, after my accustomed manner upon such occasions. Here I was strangely alarmed with a rumbling noise, as I thought, at the south end of the island. I immediately made what haste I could out of the water, to go to the place from whence this proceeded, and learn what should be the occasion of it; but before I could reach the shore, my ears were saluted with six or seven peals of the same dreadful music, every succeeding one seeming to approach nearer than the foregoing one. I at first thought, that it was the fall of a very high precipice, which I had often viewed with terror in the same place. But the approach of the noise soon convinced me, that it was made in the sky. And, within an hour's time, I had it directly over my head, with such a loud rattling, as I had never before heard. Then, night coming on, the sky seemed all over in a flame, the rain every now-and-then pouring down in such floods, that the surface of the ground appeared quite covered with streams of water. Anyone may readily guess into what amazement I was driven in this dreadful situation. I could not tell what to think, nor where to turn me. To go to my cottage, in this extremity, I thought was to no purpose; and therefore I chose to tarry abroad, and see the event, let come what would. To hear such loud reports on every side, and yet not see any thing which I thought could occasion them, was to me quite unaccountable; and therefore I concluded all to be the immediate handy-work of God himself. The vast floods of rain sometimes put me in fear, lest they should again come in such quantities, as to carry me away with them; like what I told you before had happened. And tho' this always proved contrary to my expectation, yet I could not but think, that Nature was about to undergo some surprising change. In short, this tumult in the sky continued for the greatest part of that night; and in the end went gradually off, in the same manner as it came on. After which I observed the sky again to clear up, and presented me with a fine star-light and serene morning. And, upon the approach of the sun, to my inexpressible joy, I found the fields and woods affording a much more charming prospect, than I had ever before known; the little birds chanting forth their notes, as if rejoicing at their late deliverance.
Many were my thoughts about this last phenomenon of Nature; but it was always above my capacity to give any satisfactory account for it. And therefore I shall trouble you about it no further, than only to inform you, that in that place, I think I scarce heard thunder above three times afterwards; but never, in my remembrance, to such a degree as at that time.
Some time afterwards, as I was rambling along the banks of the sea, the winds began to rise in so violent a manner, that presently the face of the water appeared all over in a white foam; the waves rolling mountain-high; and it was with the utmost difficulty that I could stand upright upon my feet. In this extremity I made what haste I could home to my cottage, as the fittest place of shelter: But all the way was with the utmost danger of my life, from the fall of several large trees, which were blown up by the roots close by me, while I could do little else but crawl upon all four.
At length, with much hardship, I reached my habitation, a while before sunset; which, being pretty well defended by its situation from the storm, I found all things in the same condition as I left them; only a little shelf, close behind where the door had formerly hung, was blown down, with two small beautiful stone bottles upon it, one of which was broken. These had always stood here unobserved by me, containing a most delicious and heady sort of wine, which my father had saved, among other things, out of the wreck; and, belike, deposited it in this place to have recourse to, upon occasion, as a cordial. Being very much fatigued, I took no notice of any thing that evening, but went to my rest as usual, where I was quickly hushed asleep by the whistling of the wind among the trees, and continued so till morning. When I arose, I beheld the sky perfectly clear and serene, without the least breeze of wind to be felt; and by the vast quantities of water, which I saw pouring down the hills at a distance, and filling the rivulets all around, I could perceive what a heavy weight of rain had fallen in the night. But I was a while at a stand, to know whence the agreeable scent proceeded, which perfumed my cottage, till I traced it from the remains of the broken bottle.
This tempted me to take some of the liquor, which still remained in one of the fragments; and, being transported with the delightful relish of the bewitching juice, I found a way to open the other bottle, of which I quaffed so largely, that I perceived the effects of it in my brain, before I was aware. At first I wondered what should be the matter with me, being in such a condition as I had never before experienced. The Ground on which I stood seemed to rock from side to side, and every thing around appeared in a swimming motion, so that I could scarce land upon my feet. And, fearing that my cottage should overset with me, I made what haste I could out of it, but could find no place more stable to fix my feet on, till I fell into a profound sleep by chance, among some bushes of rosemary, into which I had thrust myself in this disorder. I awoke no more till the next day, when I found myself in a most piteous condition. I was scarce able to bear the intolerable pains I felt in my head, and the nauseous reliques of the wine, which every now-and-then kept belching up upon me, made me as much out of love with the liquor, as I before had admired it: And, to add to these torments, my body was all over sore and stiff with the several bruises I had got by my repeated falls. In short, it was some weeks before I threw off the disorder this brought upon me. And out of vexation for the injuries I had received, I threw the remainder of this baneful liquor, bottle and all, into the sea.
During the time of this indisposition, I had a heaviness upon my spirits, which inclined me to sleep more than usual in the day; and, by that means, being driven from my accustomed rest in the night, I spent a great part of that time in walking abroad, from place to place; while every other animal lay hush and still, without any thing to interrupt their sweet repose, but from the unwelcome disturbances, which I sometimes gave them. And, by means of these nocturnal perambulations, I made several other discoveries, which I before was ignorant of. Among the rest, I often had the opportunity to see the seeming shooting of the stars from place to place; and sometimes they appeared as if falling to the ground, where I once or twice found a white jelly- like matter among the grass, which I imagined to be distilled from them; and hence foolishly conjectured, that the stars themselves must certainly consist of a like substance.
One of these nights the moon being in the full, and the sky serene and free from clouds, I had the first observation of that luminary in an eclipse. I was surprised to see it all on a sudden grow dark and dismal, at a time when I rather expected the light should increase by the addition of the twilight. And looking up into the sky, to my exceeding amazement, I beheld a great part of the moon turned red as blood, and presently her whole body was of the same colour, with a little spot or dent in the middle, which appeared perfectly black. I stood wondering a long time at this uncommon appearance, not knowing what to make of it; till anon I observed the redness by degrees to go off on the opposite side; and, before the sun was up, I was not little delighted to behold the moon again resume her former splendor.
Not long after, I had also the sight of an eclipse of the sun, which I presently concluded to be occasioned by the interposition of the body of the moon. But this of the moon I could never assign any proper cause for, till I became acquainted with the derivation of her light from the sun, and considered the necessary projection of the Earth's shadow into the boundless expanse of the heavens.
On another of these nights, before this disorder left me, the moon having not yet lost much of her full brightness, I was startled with an appearance of a different nature; by which, whether I was more frighted or pleased, from my unexpected coming upon it, I cannot tell. As I was thoughtlesly turning about the corner of a hill, I beheld one in human shape placed directly in the way, a little distance before me: A sight which made my heart flutter within me, and immediately brought to mind all those pleasing notions I had formed to myself concerning the society of my fellows, which I now thought I should certainly have the enjoyment of; but wondered how this person came hither, or, if he always resided in the island, that I should never see him before. All the while I beheld the object continue in the same posture, without seeming to take the least notice of my approach: But, as I drew nearer, I was not a-little disappointed to see all my Hopes vanish; when I discovered it to be nothing else but the stock of a decayed tree, which, by its situation to me, and the reflection of the moon, assisted with the strength of my own imagination, was thus represented. The time was not yet come for me to enjoy the conversation of mankind; but I was still to content myself with the fellowship of my little dog, and such other brutes as were natives of the island; some of which afforded an excellent pattern of prudence and industry, for the imitation of men.
The beavers I before spoke of, were creatures with whom I always kept a particular familiarity, as being the most sociable of all animals. I remarked with what true policy every distinct community was governed under its peculiar monarch; in what amity these several little nations lived with one another; how prudently they dispersed themselves into new colonies, as their numbers increased above what could be conveniently managed under the same government; what wisdom they showed in chusing out an agreeable situation for their new settlements; and how exceeding skilful and dexterous they were in erecting houses and fortifications, when they had found out a place suitable to their desires.
I would often visit these newly begun towns, attended with my dog; and took a great deal of pleasure to view the laborious inhabitants carrying on their Works. I observed their method in building and repairing their dams, and admired their singular industry and providence in laying in fresh stocks of green wood for sustenance, while the proper season for that sort of labour continued. But what most delighted me was, their manner of gnawing down the bodies of huge trees with their teeth, and their surprising dexterity in conveying them down to the lake, and applying them to the uses for which they were designed. In all which works I particularly ingratiated myself into the favour of these Creatures, by my readiness, upon every occasion; to lend them what assistance I was able.
From the example of these creatures I afterwards learned to make several improvements, within and about my own habitation, especially in the rivulet, which ran before my door. And about forty paces below my cottage, the situation of the place being convenient for my purpose, I employed my time for some weeks in making a pond for myself; in which I used to bathe every morning, as soon as I arose from my bed.
Now my mind began to turn from the survey of things about her, to the contemplation of herself. And here I referred all sorts of being to two classes, viz. active and passive, or mind and matter. The former I looked upon as the principle of all action, upon, which depended every motion and variation of the latter. And as the motions and variations of matter in general, in the works of Nature and Providence, were constantly admonitors of the one supreme invisible agent, on which they necessarily depended; so the seemingly free and voluntary motions of those portions of matter in particular, which constituted the body of every animal, were like tokens to me of as many inferior invisible agents, on which they had their dependence. Every one of these inferior agents, as I before took notice, from the resemblance of their effects, I concluded to be of the same intelligent nature with what I felt within myself. And as I perceived in the structure of my own body an innumerable variety of motions, all as independent of any power of my own, and as much above my comprehension, as the motions of the heavenly bodies, or any other most distant part of the creation, so I supposed the same of all animals in general. The mind therefore, or that inward principle by which I thought and acted, I inferred was what could be only and properly myself; the body being no other to her, than as the house to the inhabitant; or, rather, as the present instrument, by which she conversed with the rest of the material world, and received all her intelligence of things without.
But when I came to make a more close examination into the nature of the soul, a new scene presented itself to my meditation. I here discovered a world within, which seemed an exact transcript of the world without. I observed the astonishing nature, and unlimited capacity, of this store-house of the mind; which, according to the degree of her attention upon any thing, did always receive and retain a stronger or weaker impression from it; and yet had always room for the reception of as many more. I reflected upon the unlimited power with which I was endowed, of calling or dismissing, augmenting or diminishing, compounding or dividing my ideas at pleasure; by means whereof I seemed to enjoy a sort of divinity within, and resembled the same in this imaginary world, which God himself is in the real. Here in my own person I could do all things without labour, and had every thing at my own disposal, without resistance or limitation. I could in a moment volt from one corner of the heavens to another, and dart the greatest distance with the same facility and speed as the least. I could in the twinkling of an eye command a world of beings out of nothing, and in as little time remand them again into their primitive state. I also took notice of the perfect dependence and connexion which my ideas had one upon another, as well according to the order of their first admission into the mind, as their near affinity or similitude one to another; so that by attending to any one idea, this usually presented to the memory many more along with it, which had either been received at the same time, or were in some sort related to it.
I likewise considered the soul, while the senses were locked up with sleep, and she seemed as if banished for a season from her seat of empire; in which I experienced a twofold state: Either, first, when she was quite bereft, for the time, both of all sensation of things without, and likewise of any perception of their images impressed within: Or, secondly, when she was only deprived totally of her outward sensation, but still retained the inward perception of her ideas, among which she seemed to float at random; and this last is what we call a state of dreaming.
While I was employed with these contemplations, I used frequently to visit the beavers: Among whom I observed a new colony very busy in gnawing down trees for their dam, after the manner already related. It was a pleasant diversion to me to behold these: large bodies come tumbling of their own accord down from the ascent, where they grew, into the lake below. But this pastime concluded in one of the most melancholy disasters I had ever met with. As the dog was coursing up and down the hill, one of these Trees, in its descent, unfortunately pitched upon him, and killed him upon the spot. Affrighted at the accident, I ran, without any regard to my own safety, and catching him up in my arms carried him a little distance off, and laid him upon the grass. Here, examining what mischief he had received, I could perceive no visible breach in his body, save a little Skin rubbed from one of his knees; but I guessed at the greatness of his hurt, by supposing the like to have befallen myself.
After I had continued some time looking on, I grew impatient to see him rise again upon his feet, and sawn upon me as usual. For I had never yet seen the dead body of any animal, no, not to my remembrance of the smallest insect. And his motionless condition made me at first conclude him to be only asleep. But after I found all endeavours in vain to bring him to himself, my confusion increased; and I began to suspect, that the body was, not only bereft of sense and motion for the present, but was also rendered incapable of performing the functions of fife ever after. For I considered, from my own experience, that every degree of violence impressed upon me was usually followed with a proportionable degree of pain, which was an utter enemy of sleep.
I reasoned moreover with myself, that a greater Force with the same Instrument, or the same force with a different instrument, might have been capable to separate every member of the body from its fellow; or at least to have reduced it into a state as unlike what it was, and as incapable of recovering its former condition, as I had seen a flower, or blade of grass, after I had bruised it between my fingers. And in the end I became thoroughly convinced, that this must be the case of my companion, whom I was now to expect no more conversation with; but in a short time must behold his body mingled with the earth, like what I constantly saw happen to every thing, which received its growth from thence. But when I came to apply these melancholy reflections to myself: it is not in my power to make you sensible of the uncommon emotions, which arose within my breast: And, when I suspected that my ceasing to live might be no other than a ceasing for ever to exist, which seemed to be the case of the dog now before me; this struck me with such a horror and amazement, that, for some time, I seemed as if driven into the very condition I so much dreaded.
When I was partly recovered out of this consternation, the day drawing to an end, I left the carcase upon the grass, and retired to my cottage, with a mind sufficiently disordered: and the dreadful apprehensions always running in my head, of what was to befal me hereafter, would suffer me to take no rest the greatest part of that night.
I now considered the exceeding uncertainty of life, and the change I was assuredly to expect, sooner or later, to a different condition. I plainly perceived, and wondered at my dulness in not considering it before, that such creatures as I were nor framed for an endless continuance; but were every moment liable to be deprived of the life we enjoyed, by innumerable casualties, from almost every thing about us. And should we, by a singular providence, be secured from all these, yet I was sensible we carried the seeds of death also within us; while I observed it to be the unalterable law of all living things, after they arrived to certain degrees of perfection, to fade and die away of their own accord. So, whichever way I looked, I saw a time must come, when the body I now carried about with me should cease from all its motions, and be reduced to the earth from whence it proceeded.
And this return of the body to its first principles suggested a like return of the soul, upon this dissolution, to God the fountain of all intelligence and power. The soul, as I before observed, I took to be only and properly myself: This therefore I conceived could no more lose its existence, than the body, which, however dispersed and mingled with other matter, must be still in being, somewhere or other, tho' in a different form. But whatever change might happen to the soul, upon this separation, I conceived it could not be thus dissolved into Parts, because I could not apprehend any integral parts of which it consisted. And to suppose it dispersed into more places than one, seemed to argue a capacity in me of being divided into more I's or selfs than one; or that I might exist at the same time in many places; which was a conclusion too shocking for me to admit.
I then began to look as far backwards as I could upon my original, to try if I could remember myself in any other condition, before I was confined to this bodily vehicle; supposing it very probable, that I might again be reduced to the same condition, whenever I came to be separated from it. But here I presently perceived myself loft in eternal night, and left to grope out my way in the unfathomable abyss of supposed forgetfulness. And such a state appeared no way pleasing to me, because whatever existence I might then have, if I was at the same time not conscious of it, which I suspected might be the cafe; this I conceived was no better than annihilation itself. Then it occurred, that the not remembering my existence in another state, could be no more an argument, that therefore I had at that time no existence, or, which is all one, no consciousness of it, than any former transaction of life, which had slipped out of my memory, could be an argument to prove the same concerning it. But whatever existence I might have, before I was confined to the body, since I perceived the soul to enjoy always the greatest freedom in being most free from sensual objects; I concluded that therefore her total release from all such, which could only happen by her separation from the body, must be a state of the most perfect liberty: And when I looked upon this, as her return again to God, I could not but judge it also a state of the completest felicity.
By these conclusions, the change, which lately appeared so dreadful to me, began to look with a much milder aspect. I considered this dissolution of the body, whenever it came, as a welcome deliverance of the soul from all those burdens and miseries, to which I saw her continually exposed in her present condition; when I should intirely be abstracted from matter, become free as the air in which I moved, and, what was above all, be translated to the most intimate conversation with, and fruition of, my maker; by means whereof I should obtain the most perfect: apprehension of many desirable truths, of which I had now very little or no perception. And my heart being thus eased of the load, which oppressed it, I fell into an agreeable slumber, which continued till morning.
The next day, pretty early, I went again to visit the corpse of my companion: And, when I came within sight of the place, I was surprised to see a whole herd of beavers gathered about him; and, as I drew near, I discovered these animals, some of them bury in digging a hole in the ground, while others were preparing to put the dead Body into it; which by this time was grown offensive to the smell. At first I did not well approve of this piece of kindness to my attendant; but, after some deliberation, perceiving the necessity of it, and recollecting how I had heretofore seen something like it, performed by those beavers to some of their own Species, I conceived it must have been upon a like occasion.
As soon as the funeral was over, the company dispersing, every one to his proper employ, left me alone to ruminate upon what had passed. And for some time, notwithstanding all my philosophy, the object before me, and the reflection of the like befalling myself, made my flesh tremble upon the bone, and my hair stand upright; so abhorrent to human nature are the thoughts of her dissolution.
Thus was I deprived of my most familiar companion,. having no other animal now left to converse with, but either when I visited the works of my acquaintance the beavers, or was diverted with the more gamesome frolicks of the young fawns and kids. And so sensible was I of the loss, that, for a long while after, I could not recover my former briskness and gaiety.
I amused myself now with a more close review of the furniture and utensils, which I found in my cottage. These, as I before observed, were the most sensible convictions to me, that the place had been heretofore occupied by others of my own species, however I came to be left alone. I had here a daily prospect of the relicts of the workmanship of some unknown animal, which were not only different in form, but even in consistence, from every thing else to be seen through the whole island. And as the admirable skill which appeared in most of these, argued them to be effects of a design much beyond the reach of any animal upon the island; so the ends and uses, which I afterwards discovered in some of them, were irrefragable evidences that that design was human.
I had for a long time taken notice of two or three knives and forks, and an hatchet, all disposed upon a shelf whose sharpness I found an use for from the like use which I beheld the beavers make of their teeth. With these were laid an hammer, and a bag of large nails, of the same sort with others, which I beheld here-and-there struck into the sides of the Cottage; on which were hung several of my father's necessaries, now grown over with rust and filth; viz. a sword, a bow, a large copper skillet, and a silver tankard, with some spoons in it of the same metal. But all these, except the hammer and nails, I never was so ingenious as to assign any proper use for. The matter also, of which they consisted, I was an utter stranger to; and ere long the scabbard of the sword, the skillet, and one of the spoons, were made sacrifices to my curiosity, to the great prejudice of my hatchet, and one of the knives: By which experiments I thoroughly learned the colour and malleability of these several metals. And as by these means I spoiled them of the forms in which I found them, so I concluded they must by some like operation have been first brought into the same. But the sword being of the finest steel afforded another new appearance, by its plentiful effusion of sparks upon every stroke it received; some of which, darting against my face and hands, gave me a different idea from what I had formerly received from the ignis fatuus and glow-worms before- mentioned. And I would afterwards often divert myself with striking this weapon against the hatchet, or any stone which came in my way.
I examined also the contrivance of my sleeping apartment, which was situated in a corner least exposed to the door, and covered with a sail, all but a place cut out for my entrance, in form of a tent, within my cottage. My bed consisted chiefly of the ragged remains of three or four pair of sheets, a couple of quilts, and the same number of pillows, all raised a foot or two from the ground, with a heap of moss, encompassed within four pieces of strong plank to prevent its spreading abroad. The linnen had doubtless been formerly disposed in order, and kept clean and sweet; but during all the time of my remembrance, it had lain mostly rolled up in an heap, in a corner of the bed; and I slept bare upon the moss, as other creatures did upon the ground. When I came to view these rotten bedcloaths and the sail, I judged them, from their contexture, to consist of certain fibres, of some fort of wood or grass, thus artfully woven together, in imitation of a spider's web.
While I was thus taking a survey of my houshold furniture, I cast my eye also upon a great chest, and a couple of boxes, hitherto wholly neglected by me;
which my father and mother had made the repositories of their apparel. These with little difficulty I found the way into, where I perceived still new objects to feed my curiosity. I pulled out apparel of all sorts, for both sexes, which had been so well-disposed, as in all this time to receive little or no damage; but as it was then impossible for me to guess at their use, I returned them again into their places. But I was more fortunate in opening a till in the end of the chest, in which were deposited some books and white paper, a few black- lead pencils, pens, and an ink-standish; a pocket magnifying-glass, a seaman's scale, and a case of mathematical instruments; a curious fan, a small looking-glass, a golden watch, and a snuff-box of the same metal.
The first of these things which drew my attention were the transparent bodies; I mean the glasses and crystal of the watch. And I was filled with no small admiration to find my touch thus stubbornly resisted, by bodies so nearly resembling unstable water; which I had ever experienced to be no more able to bear against the lightest pressure, than it was to stop the penetration of the rays of the sun. Tho' I concluded the mirror to be a different substance from the others, till, ignorantly trying how it would bear the stroke of my hammer, I broke it into a hundred Pieces; by which means, much to my dissatisfaction, I discovered it to be the same sort of substance; only the bright consistence behind I perceived was the occasion of its reflection of shadow. And my too rough manner of handling the crystal of the watch brought it also to the same face; which made me more careful for the future of trying experiments upon any thing else. And thus my magnifier escaped a like disaster, whose property of magnifying objects to the sight I presently observed, and could attribute that effect to nothing but the convexity of its sides; while the same things appeared without alteration, when beheld through the equally thick fragments of the other two.
But above all I was delighted with the sight of the fan, which perhaps was one of the completest pieces of painting in miniature soteria could afford. This little machine might be said to bring the absent world to my presence, and in a great degree anticipated my coming into it. It is not in my power to make you sensible of the agreeable surprize with which I was seized; when, as soon as I took it into my hand, it fell open, and displayed the landskip of a delightful country, abounding with many strange appearances, and unknown creatures; such as I had never seen before. But I was most affected with the sight of several in my own shape; among whom I had the fullest prospect of two, from their seeming nearer situation than the rest. This comely pair, whose minds seemed wholly taken up with the contemplation of each other, were seated under the umbrage of a spreading beech; and close by their feet a crystal fountain appeared to bubble out of the ground, which sent forth its streams into a neighbouring river. But both these, like all the rest, I observed had their whole bodies, save their faces and hands, hid from the sight; under much the same sort of coverings which I had before found in the chest and boxes. And not long after I was sufficiently curious in comparing them together, even going so far as to try them upon my own back; tho' I could never endure myself to wear them. One of these painted figures, by his rougher and more majestic mien, I guessed to be the male; and he seemed to have his habit. Suited for more robust and hardy exercises. The other, whom therefore I took for the female, appeared of a much delicater composition; her apparel, which was also more gay, reaching down to her feet and a couple of babes were standing at her knee. I cannot omit taking notice, that the exquisite beauty, and agreeable sweetness, which I observed in the countenance of this lovely female, made me gaze upon her with more than common delight; and I concluded, that the sex to which she belonged must be a master-piece of Nature's workmanship. This part of the painter's device, which was the principal design of the piece, I since learned, was intended for a shepherd and shepherdess solacing themselves with their children, a little distance from their bower, which appeared in a grove of trees. And close by them were laid their crooks, with a dog stretched all along upon the grass; and their flocks were likewise grazing within view, upon a neighbouring hill. The whole prospect behind was a pleasant variety of verdant hills and dales, interspersed with many inclosures of corn, and shady woods; among which might be seen, here-and-there, the figure of a man, or a woman, painted mostly in pairs. And several cows and horses appeared also feeding upon the Heights, which, with the sheep, were three species of animals wholly unknown to me. All along the river, which ran winding thro' the middle of the country, I observed several kinds of water-fowl, seeming to swim to and again, and wantonly flutter and duck into the water, as if eager to surfeit themselves in the grateful element. But here I had a more engaging object from the sight of a barge rowing up the stream, which immediately brought to mind the remains of my father's boat, still lying upon the Beach, which I had ever considered as a vehicle built for the same purpose; and the rowers in it were fairly disposed to view. At a place more remote, I had likewise the prospect of a stately edifice near the river surrounded with many pompous walks and gardens; which, when afterwards beheld through the magnifier, afforded a vast treasure for my speculation. For, by that means, the minuter strokes of the pencil, being sufficiently magnified, gave me a more distant view of the whole, and every where unfolded new designs, which were hid from the naked eye.
All the while I first beheld this curious piece, my mind was so swallowed up with the contemplation of every object, that every figure seemed to be in reality what it only represented; and my whole existence appeared as if translated into the picture I was viewing. And after I had satisfied myself enough with gazing, laying the fan out of my hand, I was like one newly risen out of a dream, or a trance; and it was some time before I could persuade myself, that I was really awake. So deeply was I affected with these delightful appearances.
The only remaining things worth notice, among, my furniture, were the books, mathematical instruments, paper, and pencils; the uses of which I became also in some degree acquainted with, tho' this perhaps may be judged quite above my capacity. The books were three in number, (all which I still carefully preserve) viz. a treatise of divinity, a piece of history, and a large system of the mathematics.
When I first opened there, it cannot be imagined, that I should have any more knowledge for what use they were intended, then of what matter they were composed. I turned over the leaves; but it was all one which end of the book was towards me, which from me; or whether I, turned to the right hand, or to the left; and I could hardly satisfy myself, whether the characters imprinted on the leaves were the effects of Nature or Art: And had it not been for the cuts interspersed here-and-there, especially in the history, and the geometrical schemes, which abounded in the mathematical book, I believe I should have for ever laid them aside, without farther examination. But these, being more intelligible than the letters, convinced me of their design, and were afterwards a direction for me to hold the book. And the mathematical volume became of great use to instruct me in the principles of that science, though without the least knowledge of a letter contained in it. This taught me the use of the ruler, compasses, and brass semicircle, from their exact resemblances upon the paper with various ocular applications of them: By which means I presently learned several manual operations; such as to measure a right line by equal parts, to describe a circle, to bisect a right line, erect and let fall a perpendicular, to inscribe a regular polygon of any proposed number of sides in a circle, and to measure the angles or openings of two intersecting right lines by the equal divisions of an arch.
I had also a frequent sight of the nine digits or figures, both in the book and upon the instruments; and, observing the same figures always to denote the same numbers, I became at length perfectly acquainted with their use; and likewise discovered how these alone, with the character called a cypher, were adapted to express all numbers imaginable, by the variation of their places: A contrivance, the exceeding ingenuity of which, did not a little please me.
But tho' I had this success with the figures, yet it was impossible for me to have the like with the letters of the alphabet, which were put to signify things I had not the least notion of: Yet I proceeded so far as to attribute to them the the [sic] same design of communicating the thoughts with the other; which was the utmost I could ever make of them. And I presently found out a way, by help of the black-lead pencils, to impress several marks of my skill in geometry upon the unwritten paper, in which I made continual improvements.
After these discoveries made in my houshold furniture, which I suppose might fall out about my fifteenth or sixteenth year, I began to undertake some alterations and amendments in my house. I repaired my roof, and filled every breach I could find in the walls with clay, levelling my floor with the same matter. I cleared out all the fulsome rags and moss I had heretofore slept upon, and supplied their place with such as was fresh and sweet; which I frequently renewed upon occasion afterwards. I made me new shutters of wicker-work for the door and window, by a pattern of that which had been formerly made by my father for the like purpose.
But, among all these alterations, my principal aim was to make the ground about my cottage have some resemblance of the gardens, which I beheld represented upon the fan. And in this my father's work had already prevented much of my labour, by the inclosure he formerly made for the hind. My habitation, you must understand, was seated in the centre of a little circular plain, of about sixty paces diameter; which Nature had formed in such sort, within the bosom of an hill that no direct ingress was left for the winds, but through an aperture of about thirty paces, which gave me a full prospect of the sea to the southward, fronting my door: This aperture my father had strongly paled in, with materials taken out of the ship, leaving only a passage in the middle for egress; from whence I had an easy descent to the shore of the bay, where we first landed. And what added much to the beauty of my situation, from each end of the pales, Nature had also planted a delightful range of mulberry-trees around the top of the hill; the vacancies between every two of which being also paled in, to complete my inclosure: All which laborious work my father had performed, out of an apprehension of danger from some hurtful animals, which might abound in the island unknown to him.
My first attempt was to repair all the breaches and decays, which length of time had made in my fence; hanging up a new door of wicker-work at the entrance, to prevent as much as possible the encroachments of the beasts of the field. I then proceeded to dress the ground within my circumference, and disincumber it of every thing which was unsightly or unpleasant. I grubbed up all the unnecessary bushes and shrubs, and lopped off impending boughs of the larger trees, so far as they came within my reach. I cut away the long and withered grass, and made all around appear with a smiling verdure. I also laid open the three sloping ascents of the hill, which encompassed my bower; the regularity of which above one another was the greatest ornament to my situation. The height of each of these ascents was nearly the same with my cottage, and each had a walking-space above, of the same breadth; the highest being bounded with the range of mulberries: And, at the foot of the lowest to the eastward, the fountain took its rise, which formed the rivulet by my door; whose banks were all along enamelled with variety of sweet-smelling flowers, after the same manner as the ascents of the hill: The rich fragrancy of which, together with the orange- trees, abounding more here than in any other part of the island, invited multitudes of bees into my confines; which made their nests, some in the hollows of the trees, and others in the declivities of the hill; by which means I had all opportunity of becoming perfectly acquainted with the life oconomy of these winged insects.
Upon the highest part of the hill, directly behind my cottage, a little mount reared up its head, in form of the lower frustrum of a cone, overlooking the whole country around, whose summit made an horizontal plain, of not more than ten paces in circumference. This I took the pains to cover with a smooth cap of clay, erecting a stile near the centre of about a yard in height; which was my contrivance to trace out the points of shadow, according to the different times of the day, and seasons of the year, that I might attain a more perfect knowledge of the motions of the sun; But here I had many experiments, before I could answer my design; till at last I found out a way to make my stile out of a piece of the copper skillet, drilling an hole through the top to admit the rays of the sun; by which invention I both obtained a more certain perpendicular to my plain, and a truer method of marking the points of shadow from a lucid point, without any perceptible penumbra.
This daily practice of marking out the points of shadow, presently suggested to me a meridian line from the foot of the stile, in which I saw every day's shortest (or mid-day) shadow constantly to fall. And I observed, that all lines drawn from the same centre, making equal angles on both sides the meridian, must every day co-incide with the shadow of the stile, the same spaces of time before and after noon; and that the length of the midday shadow alone was sufficient to mark out the annual access and regress of the sun. I made me therefore a circle from the foot of the stile as a centre, to as great a circumference as my plain, would admit; the northern limb of which I divided into five equal arches, of twenty degrees a-piece, on both sides the meridian, with lines drawn from the centre to each: And thus I had the angles of shadow marked out for an hundred degrees, on each side the meridian. But I presently perceived the insufficiency of this to measure time, which was the end I aimed at by it, from the greater or lesser disproportion between these angles, and the like arches of the sun's course, according as they were more or less distant from the meridian. And this I had no remedy for, till after much study I invented a time-teller out of one of my boxes.
I chose out the compacter of these, which, after I had emptied of what it contained into the chest, I endeavoured to make as tight as possible to contain water; and, when I had brought it to my mind, I made a hole in the bottom; fitting it with a stopple. Afterwards I proceeded, with all the care and exactness I was master of, to make another horizontal plain, close by the fountain; drawing a circle, and erecting a perpendicular stile in the center, both of the same dimensions with that on the mount. And having found the meridian line, I placed my box in a right horizontal position across the outlet of the fountain, filling it with water. Then waiting till the sun came upon the meridian, I immediately let out the water; and, as soon as the box was empty, marked down the shadow upon the circle, filling it again out of the fountain, and placing it in the same Situation: All which was done with such expedition, that the box was scarce empty before it was full again, and the orifice was kept continually running. This I kept repeating till the setting of the sun, still marking down the points of shadow, at the end of every box-full thus run out, and laying the fame extent with my compasses upon the circle to the eastward, which the shadow made to the westward. And by that means obtained a pretty exact dial within my inclosure, for almost ninety degrees on both sides the meridian, or from near six in the morning to six in the evening; which I afterwards increased at my leisure, as the days grew longer.
When I had brought this to as great a perfection as I was able, I expunged all my lines of shadow, save the meridian, upon the mount, and laid down the same with these in their places; having there a more commodious situation for my intended observations of the heavenly bodies. Out of the lid of the water-box I formed a quadrant of about two foot radius, graduated as I had seen in the Book; which, upon occasion, I applied perpendicularly along the meridian (with the limb towards the stile, and the centre upon the extremity of the lucid ray) to measure the different altitudes of the sun in its mid- day situation. The same also served me to take the meridian altitudes of the moon, which I performed by leaning along the side of the mount, where I made a place to fix my feet, and drawing the centre to my eye fixed against the north edge of the Plain. And I was so intent upon these two great luminaries, that I seldom carried my observations of this sort to the stars, perceiving none of them, except four or five, but what always kept the same situation one to another; so that whenever I obtained the true altitude of one, I could refer all the rest to it in their order.
By this frequent practice I learned the gradual increase and decrease of day and night, according to the access and regress of the sun; as also the number, nearly, of diurnal revolutions, which he took up in finishing his annual course. I determined the menstrual periods of the moon, and from the exact conformity I beheld between the changes of her face, and her distances from the suns, I could, at any time, compute her age, by a circle contrived for that purpose. And from the frequent experience of eclipses, both of the sun and moon I also arrived to true a notion, of their causes, being perfectly instructed in the borrowed light of the latter from the former. So far proceeded my astronomy.
And these constant exercises in the description of lines, circles, and angles, brought me likewise to an acquaintance with several truths in speculative geometry; for which purpose, after my paper was spent, I expunged the lines out of my dial by the fountain, and drew all my schemes upon that, inserting and blotting out at pleasure. I perceived the proportionality of the homologous sides of similar figures, and the equality between all the alternate (as well as between all the opposite) angles made by the intersection of the same right line with any number of parallels. I learned the equality of the angles in a triangle to a semi- circle, and, of any outward angle in the same to the two inward opposite ones. I found out the subduple proportion which any angle, at the circumference of a circle, bears to one at the centre, standing upon the same basis. I discovered the equality of the areas of all parallelograms upon the same basis between the same parallels; which put me also upon studying the proportions between other dissimilar surfaces; and I likewise attained to the knowledge of Pythagoras's theorem of the equality between the square of the longest side in a right-angled triangle, and the sum of the squares of the two shortest. And as lines led me to consider the surfaces of which they were the limits, so did these surfaces bring me to an acquaintance with the solids bounded by them; for the right understanding of which, I found great helps from the actual formation of several regular bodies out of clay: Tho' the draughts themselves, which I found of these in the book, were adapted in the best manner to assist the imagination; as being delineated according to the exactest rules of perspective, and every-where skilfully shaded. I observed the duplicate proportion, which similar surfaces and the triplicate proportions, which similar solids, had of their altitudes, or homologous sides: And as I naturally pitched upon the square for the mensuration of the former, so did I apply the cube for the standard of these latter. I learned the chief properties of the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder; and became intimately conversant with the five regular bodies, I formed an ellipsis from the oblique season of a cylinder, and had some notion of the other Apollonial curves, from the actual sections of a cone.
I made also some progress in the more abstract theory of numbers, as well as in the more sensible speculation of magnitude. I was necessarily led to that prime distinction of number, into integer and fracted, according as the quantities they were brought to express were discontinued, or continued; and I considered them likewise in respect of their composition as even and odd, prime and composite; and compared them also together, as commensurate and incommensurate. I deduced the principal truths, which belong to the doctrine of proportions, and arrived to some skill in progressions, both arithmetical and geometrical. But yet I would have you take notice, that I attribute all those high acquirements in numbers as well as magnitudes, rather to the assistance of the book, than my own invention alone: For when I had attained to the knowledge of the numeral figures; as you have already heard, I seldom failed, through the whole work, to fish out the author's intentions by them, tho' I understood not the meaning of a word he wrote.
The next remarkable accident which occurred to me, during my stay in the island, was that which gave me the experience of fire. One evening, as I was cutting down the reliques of an old rotten tree within my inclosure, whose situation did not please me, accidentally missing my aim, I struck the hatchet against a stone, which occasioned sparks to fly forth in abundance. After I had removed this without my pales, in my return I beheld some of the chips; lying close by the remaining stump, to send up a vapour, something like what had been arise in the morning from the dewy savannahs, but far more gross and dense, as well as more quick in its ascent: And, as I approached nigher, I perceived the flame, which immediately brought to mind the ignis fatuus and glow-worms heretofore; but when I came to handle this, as I had done the worms, the pain it gave made me draw in my fingers with a great deal more speed than I put them forth; and by-and-by the flame, catching hold of the stump of the tree, began to burn with some vehemence. I stood wondering how this strange thing came here, which I took at first to be a living animal, from its creeping along the ground and seeming to catch at and consume every thing in its way. And I was well nigh confirmed in this belief, by the fall of some drops of rain, at every one of which, as at the receipt of so many blows, it appeared to recoil back, and send forth its complaints, as if from a sense of the injury I received: But I changed this opinion, when I behind the sparks flying from it, and observed the sudden increase made from the smallest of these, where-ever it met with proper materials; which brought to mind the sparks struck from the hatchet, from whence I immediately concluded all this to proceed.
I spent some time in making experiments upon this wonderful phenomenon: I observed its emission of light and heat, like the sun and stars; from which resemblance of its effects I concluded the resemblance of their Natures. I took notice also, how apt several sorts of matter were to be destroyed. by it, while others it affected no otherwise, than as it heated them for the present, or discoloured them with its smoak; but water it seemed always to abhor. And I pleased myself one while with supplying it with fewel, and anon quenching it again with water from the brook; till at last, by pouring on too much, I quite extinguished it.
My thoughts were mostly that night employed upon this new discovery; and on the morrow I took the hatchet and sword, to try farther experience upon the tree, now lying without the Southwest side of my inclosure: Where, at the first trial with my instruments one against another, I got fire, which presently set the tree all in a blaze. I pleased myself awhile with the sight; but this was soon over, and my heart began to quake, when I beheld it out of my power to extinguish it: And, catching hold of a large coppice of trees, which stretched along to the sea at north-west, it in a moment sent up such huge pillars of fire and smoak, that it threatened to lay the whole island in ashes. And doubtless the mischief would have been vastly more, had not the wind at that time chanced to blow from the land, and by that means preserved my inclosure and cottage; which must otherwise have inevitably fallen with the first in this dreadful ruin.
I was in the utmost consternation to see the devastation I had caused, my ears being quite stunned with the incessant roaring of the flames, and crackling of the large trees; mixed with the loud yells of the beasts and fowls; all endeavouring to escape as far as possible from a sight so terrible: And so great was the combustion, that it was fairly visible to my father in the other island: But when I came to think of the injuries this indiscreet piece of curiosity must bring upon my fellow creatures, and imagined I heard the cries of several helpless animals perishing in the Flames; O Heavens! with what horror was I seized! I ran round the flames in the most distracted manner, without the least regard to my own safety; still pouring forth the most bitter lamentations, till at last through very anguish of spirit, I fell all along upon the ground, and could bear up no longer; my resentments being all the same, as if I had occasioned the destruction of so many of my own species.
The fire continued burning that whole day, and the greatest part of the night following; during all which time I could not keep my eyes from it, continually shewing the utmost tokens of rage and despair, for having been author of so much mischief. At length, when it had destroyed all before it to the shore, for near a mile distance, it began to abate for want of proper matter to supply it; and a great quantity of rain falling next morning quite extinguished it.
But tho' the fire was extinguished so was not my trouble. This accident raised a tumult in my bosom, as much beyond my own power to appease, as it was beyond my power to quench the flames which occasioned it. For it gave me the first sad experience of the severe lashes of a self- condemning conscience: A trouble, to which all my other griefs were comparatively as nothing. I had hitherto experienced no afflictions, but such only as proceeded from things without; things upon which the soul had no real, at least, no lasting dependence; so that whenever she obtained a better knowledge of her own state, it would not fail either to show her the vanity of them at present, or however give her the comfortable hopes (if not the assurance) of their removal hereafter. But this was a wound given to the soul herself; and consequently a more perfect knowledge of herself was the way to add to her misery, by making her more sensible of the great evil of the loss of innocence; a loss which could never be retrieved by any ability in her self, and which must needs proportionally deprive her of the favour of God. And when ever I reflected upon the wretched havock, which by this fact I had made in the workmanship of God's hand, and considered the intolerable injuries I had done to so many of my fellow-creatures; I could not but tremble to think how justly I had provoked our common creator.
It is true, I could not condemn myself in this fact for having the least intention of harm; yet this would not acquit me, when I considered the sufficient warning I had from my former experience of the danger in what I was meddling with; which convicted me of the most imprudent rashness in making such an attempt, without first duly weighing its consequences. And the faultiness of this Action put me also upon a careful review of whatever I had acted heretofore; which brought to my remembrance a multitude of other failures and irregularities; so that this stood no longer alone to accuse me.
Thus, while I only contemplated the workmanship of my maker, every thing conspired to yield me all the satisfaction I could wish; but now, when I began to turn my thoughts upon my own actions, nothing appeared but what struck me with an inward sense of guilt and shame, and served to abase me in my own esteem. I perceived how all those actions, which regarded the government of myself, had been rather from the impulse of blind Passion, than the result of steady reason; and I could not but stand self-condemned for acting thus below my Dignity, if there had been no other aggravation to convince me of my own exceeding vileness and unworthiness.
It may perhaps be objected, as incredible, that one in my condition should entertain such bitter resentments from a conscience of any misdemeanour, which I could be capable of committing; since I had not the same opportunities, either of knowing or transgressing my duty, with other mortals of my own Kind. But this objection, in a great measure, carries its answer along with it: For as to the knowledge of my duty, tho' this perhaps might not be extensive; yet it was certainly as quick and sensible as in most persons. The resentments of conscience in the soul I take to be perfectly analogous to the sense of feeling in the body; and as the feeling loses its native tenderness by frequent blows and bruises, so, after every succeeding commission of the same sin, the conscience becomes less and less afraid to repeat it, till in the end the man grows hardened in wickedness: And the examples of others, alone contribute not a little to abate these inward reluctances. And therefore, as I had not the same opportunity to wound the conscience, so I had not the same opportunity to render it hard and insensible; and consequently was more deeply affected with every divergence I suspected myself to have made out of the steady paths of right reason. But I return to my story.
My only comfort now was from a resolution to amend all past miscarriages, by greater care hereafter, and so endeavour to make my former experience my future cure. But alas soon found, that I reckoned without my host; and the knowledge I had of other things only served to show how little I yet knew of myself. I discovered, to my sorrow, the natural depravity and perverseness of my whole temper, in which I felt not only a miserable slowness of understanding to know what was good for me, but even an opposition in my very will to do it, and a reluctance against receiving caution to shun an evil, tho' never so sensible of its fatal consequences: so that, when I beheld how suitably every animal about me acted to its nature, I seemed to stand alone, as an exception to the whole creation: And that superior gift of reason, with which I was endued, appeared only as a reproach to me, while I perceived myself upon all occasions so prone to contradict it.
But let it still be remembered, that I had not here. the least prospect of that cruelty acted by one brute animal upon another, in most, if not all, other places in the world; which must either be attributed to the peaceful nature of the creatures themselves, consisting chiefly of such as lived upon the fruits of the ground, or else to a particular providence in keeping me from the sight of their frays; tho' I am rather inclined to believe the former: And I a not apt to think, that had I been conversant among creatures more savage and ravenous I should have participated more of the savageness of their nature; and consequently (as I before observed) would no more have been capable to make that progress in knowledge to which I arrived, than to have preserved that exceeding tenderness, of which I am now speaking, towards all creatures endowed with life. For I apprehend, that this extraordinary harmony and regularity in the behaviour of every dumb animal about me, according to the several stations in which their maker had disposed them, was a principal cause, which made my own irregularities appear so superlatively odious and detestable to me; and I seemed to myself as a foil to the whole animal creation.
I then reflected from whence this great disorder of the soul should proceed; whether it might be particular to myself alone, or it extended to the whole species in general, from whence I received it by descent. But when I considered the deep root it had in my nature, so that it seemed as if interwoven in my very constitution, I no longer doubted the latter to be the case, and that it was the peculiar foible of the whole human race. And this vastly abated that strong desire, which I had so long retained for the society of my fellows, making me now justly suspect, whether I was not much more happy in my solitary state, than I should be in the company of a multitude of beings, whose irregular inclinations could promise so little regularity in their actions.
I considered the many disappointments and vexations, which their repeated follies and imprudences must necessarily bring upon them: And I concluded the frequent animosities and quarrels they must have one with another, from that readiness to do injuries, and impatience to suffer them, to which their inordinate self-love would naturally lead. Neither could I entertain any hope of a better performance of their duty to their creator, from affections thus wholly bound up in the creatures; or that they should have any true relish of the pleasures of the mind, whore cares were so intent upon the gratification of their senses. In short, I took the inhabited world to be nothing else but a black scene of all that wickedness and impiety, which might sadly be expected from beings so depraved: And I afterwards found the truth of this conjecture, rather to be lamented than disputed.
But when I came to meditate upon the divine attributes, I was at a loss how to reconcile this seemingly severe dispensation with them. I thought it impossible, that the infinitely good, wise, and just God, should ever create a multitude of reasonable beings, and leave them under a necessity of acting contrary to that reason, and consequently of being miserable. I could not therefore but conclude, that he had provided some remedy for this disorder, which I was ignorant of.
Then it occurred to me, that since the whole of our duty, both to God and ourselves, is founded in the due sense of our sole dependence upon him; and since we can hardly be otherwise made sensible of our dependence upon him for any thing, than as we are constantly reminded of the great inconveniences which must redound to us from the want of that thing; it was therefore highly probable, that God had purposely left these wants in the most sensible part of us, to oblige us to have continual recourse to him for their supply, and so keep up in us the tenderest sense of our dependence upon him. In all which God could be said to deal no otherways with us, than as a wife and tender Father does with his children, who at once studies both how to preserve them in the constant practice of their duty towards him, and in the best condition for themselves; by keeping them in a continual dependence upon him for those good things, which, if once committed to their own free disposal, he knew they would not only be afterwards apt to forget their obligations to him for, but would infallibly abuse to their own destruction. And when I considered how wretchedly prone we are, upon all occasions, to be forgetful of benefits received, and how ridiculously subject to value ourselves upon every excellence, which we suppose ourselves in the possession of, as if we had not received it; I could no longer doubt but God made use of some such method as this, to keep us in that constant remembrance of our infinite obligations to him, and make us truly sensible of our own vileness and unworthiness: So that the infinite goodness, wisdom and justice of God were most of all justified, in that very Act, which seemed most of all to contradict them.
Hence I argued thus: since God, for wise and good reasons, has left man, by nature, in an indigent and imperfect state; and since this appeared to me to be one of his reasons for so doing, that he might keep up in us a due sense of our dependance upon him, by obliging us always to have immediate recourse to him for the completion of our happiness; it followed, if this be the case, that he must have condescended by some supernatural means to make it known to mankind to be his will, and have given them all necessary instructions about it; since otherwise they could not be supposed to have any comfort or advantage from it. And these supernatural revelations, I supposed, had been made to men immediately after their first creation, and ever since been transmitted from father to son: consequently I, who had been always thus separated from the conversation of man, must needs be altogether unacquainted with them. But in regard that my own welfare was of as much value to me, as that of all the rest of mankind was to them, and since others might perhaps be in the same or little better circumstances than I was; I therefore persuaded myself, that the gracious God would make no man's misfortune his fault, but would take the same account of our best endeavours, as if we had enjoyed better advantages.
This put me the first time upon that other act of religious worship, which is the consequent of our needy state: I mean that of prayer and supplication to the divine majesty for pardon of all past miscarriages, and his gracious assistance to enable us to do better hereafter; without which assistance I was highly sensible all my own endeavours would be vain and fruitless. And, as an answer to my earnest and humble petitions, I felt my former comforts dart in upon me with more advantage than ever: And, by thus frequently applying to the only fountain of calm delight, I found all that inward peace and satisfaction, which God has promised to such as make him their whole stay and refuge.
But alas! It never yet entered into my thoughts, that there were men in the world, to whom all those kindnesses of Heaven should be insufficient to overcome their wretched ingratitude and perverseness. And I heartily wish, for their sakes, that I had never yet had the conviction of so sad a truth. It is true, as I before observed, I was perfectly sensible of the proneness of human nature to every thing which is evil; so that, if men were left to themselves, I could easily judge the miserableness of the consequence. But when I considered the wise reasons of this dispensation, and the ample provisions which God had made to prevent what might follow, if men were not wanting to themselves; I never suspected, that anyone could be so unaccountably blind, as wilfully to neglect (much less to despise and contemn) the means prescribed by his maker for his happiness. I supposed every man's sense of these things to be the same with my own, and that he had no occasion for other incentives to his duty, besides the happiness or misery, which must naturally accrue to him from the performance or neglect of it. But when afterwards I came to see how men really behaved, and perceived their inward corruptions, by the force of custom and example, so much more inflamed, and consequently so much harder to admit of a cure, than I expected: I was soon convinced of the necessity of those divine promises and threatenings of future rewards and punishments; as well to engage men closer to their duty, as to rectify all the present irregularities in the world, which might proceed from the injurious behaviour of some towards others. And by so doing God has left all such incorrigible offenders without the least shadow of excuse.
About this time I had a very narrow escape from being drowned in the lake, which had certain]y been my fate, if the friendly beavers had not come fortunately to my relief. You must note, that the Lake, which I have so often mentioned, was the only one in the island, and had, in all likelihood, been intirely formed by the industry of these creatures, out of a few small rivulets descending from the hills above; after the same manner as is frequently done by them in this country. And, as a proof of this, there are still the remains of many dams or ramparts sunk under water; and generally the lake consists of a great number of ponds or pools, one emptying itself into another by a fall of about two feet in height; and the outside ramparts are in many places not less than twenty feet in depth: an evident token, that they have been erected successively, as the numbers of these little nations increased. Here, in my diversion of swimming, I unluckily chanced to entangle one of my legs in the large branch of a tree, which the stream had some time driven down upon one of those sunk ramparts; from whence, with all my struggling, I could no way disengage myself: and had I nor got my body turned so as to support my head awhile above water, by resting my hands alternately upon the rampart, I had, without doubt, perished at once. But by this means I preserved my life, till a company of beavers within view came up; who, being made sensible of my distress, by waving one hand to them as well as I was able, and shouting after may way, swam all with one accord to my assistance, and in a little time set me at liberty, by gnawing asunder with their teeth the twigs which involved my leg: tho' I was well nigh spent with bearing so long upon my arms before they came up to me. After so singular a deliverance, I spent some time in returning my grateful acknowlegements to Heaven; and, having rested awhile upon the rampart, by-and-by I recovered strength to swim again to the shore. And tho' I ever had a much greater esteem for the beavers, than for any other species of animals residing upon the island, yet this last good office I received from them kindled that esteem into a tender and affectionate love; especially to that particular cast or family, from whence I received it. And, shortly after, an uncommon accident furnished me with an opportunity of making-them a grateful return.
The beavers of this island, being in no fear of annoyance from the land, have generally their huts or cabins built intirely out of the water, close upon the edge of the lake; contrary to what is (for the most part, if not always) done by them elsewhere. Taking therefore another journey to the lake, which was my usual exercise in the hot seasons, for the benefit of bathing in the water; I wondered to see all the beavers, belonging to that society, gathered about their apartments in a seemingly great huddle and disorder. And, as I drew near, I perceived the poor creatures in the utmost consternation at a fire, which by some accident had catched hold of their architecture, now become exceeding combustible, through a long season of dry weather. When I beheld my faithful friends in this distress, who seemed wholly ignorant to make the least opposition against the ruin, which this dreadful and unknown devourer was bringing upon them, I ran back, with all the speed I had, to my cottage for one of the before- mentioned boxes, with which I returned in a few minutes, tho' the distance was considerable. Then immediately plunging it into the water, I threw a load among the flames, continuing so doing till the burning began sensibly to abate. In the mean while, it was pleasant to see how the beavers, as soon as they took the hint, ran unanimously to the water, and everyone, filling his mouth, discharged in a manner all at once upon the Fire; by which means we conjunctly got it quickly distinguished, after it had damaged about six or seven of their little apartments. But by what accident this fire happened, I could never learn. It is plain it was a thing as much unknown to these creatures as it had formerly been to myself: And, had I not come to their assistance in the critical juncture, their whole fabric had doubtless been burnt to the Ground, without the least notion in themselves how to prevent it by any means in their own power. But this was a sufficient instruction to them how to ward off a like danger, should they at any time hereafter be threatened with it. And the damage they now received I saw perfectly repaired by their industry, within a few days afterwards.
The next remarkable accident that occurred to me, was a fresh discovery among the furniture of my cottage; which added not a little to my future delight. You may remember I told you of a till, in one end of a great chest, which furnished me with several curiosities of human art. This, reaching not within a foot and an half of the bottom, left a wide space of the chest not yet taken notice of by me; where I found a large drawer, extending the whole breadth of the chest, and near two feet further towards the opposite end, in which was deposited the most beautiful box, as I supposed it, which I ever yet had seen. This I took out, and set upon the lid of the chest, upon its four feet; and, turning it from side to side, I observed it all around most curiously embossed with a great variety or odd figures, of the most glorious colours, all upon a ground of shining azure. But all the while I could find no entrance into the inside of it; only on one side, about the middle, there stuck our a kind of handle, or winch of brass. This I attempted to draw out, with the utmost precaution, for fear I should bring the whole machine into the same condition with the before-mentioned mirrour and crystal of the watch; and I found it would no way yield to my force, but by turning it round in one direction. I therefore gave the handle this motion smoothly and leisurely, hoping that by such means I might find the opening which I desired. But this struck me with a new surprize, when my ears were saluted with the most ravishing harmony I ever had heard. My first thought of this strange occurrence was, that a number of some sort of living creatures were confined within this inclosure, who thus joined their musical voices together in concert, in obedience to the motion of my hand. But upon more consideration I concluded the whole to be nothing but some human performance, contrived on purpose to delight the ear; as I had already seen several inventions, whose sole end could be only to entertain or deceive the sight. Nor was I herein mistaken; for this supposed box, as I afterwards learned, was an hand organ, set to a solemn air; and had formerly belonged to some of those unfortunate persons, who were cast away in the boat upon our first arrival in the island. And it always afterwards served me for the same use, to which, it seems, it had been put by its pious owner; which was to heighten my religious ardors, and assist me in expressing the joy I conceived at the infinite obligations I stood in to my great creator.
By this time I seemed to have received all the supernatural assistance in my attainment of knowledge, which my invisible instructor judged necessary to give me in this solitary state. So that I might henceforwards, in that respect, be compared to a child newly entrusted to walk alone, without the help of his go-cart or leaders. I cannot say, that I ever after this had the same perceptible hints and discoveries made to me from without, which I frequently experienced before. I have told you how I had great reason to believe, that the spirit of my deceased mother was the chief, if not the only instrument, which Heaven had all along employed in this kind office to me. And how careful she had been in this respect, you may judge from what you have already heard; which shews as if she carried no less maternal tenderness and concern for me with her into her separate state, than what she had while living upon Earth. The strongest argument for this belief was now at last a sensible manifestation of herself, as if upon her final adieu to me in this life; when she had, as it were, executed her commission, and was about to return into the mansion of rest, prepared for her among other blessed spirits, till the general resurrection.
One Morning, after I had been diverting myself with the organ, I went up to the highest terrace behind my bower; and there walked for some time to and fro, repeating the tune in my mind to which that instrument was set. While I mused thus within myself, I heard a melody at a great distance, as I thought, up in the air directly over my head; which, for sweetness and solemnity, as much exceeded the music of my organ, as I esteemed that above the mere whistling of the wind among the trees. I looked wishfully upwards to see what might be the occasion of this wonderful harmony, which gave me a sensible delight, beyond any thing I ever had felt; but, after all my earnest gazing, I could fee nothing but the blue sky over me, from whence I imagined it to proceed. I was entertained with this ravishing music, from the same place; for more than an hour, which seemed to me to consist of a number of human voices, divided into a higher and more distant chorus, answering each other alternately, by a continual variation into still new modulations. At length these two choruses seemed to meet and unite all their voices together, descending much nearer to me with a melody much louder, and, if it was possible, much more harmonious; but, for the greatest part, in very different tones. Beside the vox humana, in all its different notes, was now added to this heavenly concert, at proper periods, the softness of the harp, the viol, and flute, with the majesty of the trumpet the clarion, and deep-toned cymbal; but all to infinitely greater perfection than any thing I ever afterwards heard from the same instruments in the hands of man. At the hearing of this last, I was quite transported out of myself with ecstatical raptures; and I seemed as if nailed to the ground where I stood; till I perceived the harmony move off towards the middle parts of the island, and in a little time it went quite out of my hearing.
When I was recovered out of these transports, I cast my eyes the way which this heavenly melody seemed to lead: and at a place, just beyond my cottage, where I knew the ground formed an easy descent for a considerable distance beyond, my eyes were presented with the figure of a rainbow, whose colours were far more lively, and strongly reflected than any thing I ever before had seen of like sort; and yet I observed it to be situated quite contrary to nature, with its southern foot pointing towards the sun. From whence, and from the total absence of clouds from every part of the sky, I concluded that this could not be occasioned by any reflexion of the solar rays, as I knew the rainbows were. But what was most wonderful, was a transparent cone, of a shining yellow, enamelled all over in the fashion of marbled paper, after the most curious manner, with all sorts of beautiful colours; which arose from the ground to the height of a tall tree, in the centre of the rainbow, on the brow of the descent directly before me; the whole affording now as much pleasure to the sight, as the former occurrence had given to my hearing.
I walked easily forwards, with my eyes fixed upon the glorious appearance before me, wondering every now-and-then within myself to what all these supernatural occurrences should tend. And all the way as I walked, I observed the rainbow, and its inclosed cone, to keep still the same distance from me, and the same situation to one another, till I came to the edge of the descent; at which time all vanished out of sight in the twinkling of an eye, and discovered right under the cone an appearance far more grateful than any of the rest. O Heavens! What emotions did I now feel, to see one actually before my eyes in the shape of one of my own species! And tho' I was convinced within myself, that this must be only an ‘rial form, like what I had seen just before; yet I could not but conclude it to be the vehicle of some intelligent being, from all the preceding circumstances. In short, it was the exact image of my mother, as she is represented by a piece of painting, which I hope in a little time to have the pleasure of shewing you, only in a different posture. At the first sight she appeared seated upon a grassy hillock, beneath a spreading bay-tree, with her head reclined upon her left hand, supporting her elbow upon a stone on the same side. Her cloathing was a gown of sky coloured blue, here-and-there besprinkled with little stars, and her hair was tied up with a scarlet ribbon behind; in all respects agreeable with the drapery of her picture, and the perfect idea under which she had many times represented herself to me before in my sleep. As soon as she seemed to cast her eyes upon me, with a pleasing aspect, she beckoned with her right hand for me to come nigher; and, rising up from her seat, called out three times distinctly, Automathes, Automathes, Automathes, These words, you may be sure, sunk deep into my mind, tho' I then understood nothing of their meaning; they being the first, to my remembrrance [sic]; that ever I had heard from others, and were pronounced with such an air of tenderness and pity. But I had a better apprehension of the design of her beckoning: therefore, in obedience to that, I moved slowly towards her; my legs trembling under me all the way as I went, and the tears running plentifully down my cheeks, thro' excess of joy. And, when I came within reach of her, she laid her hand upon my head, which I cannot tell whether I felt or no; after which she also immediately vanished into air, leaving me to wonder at the strangest occurrence I ever yet had met with.
Some hours passed, after all this scene was over, before I could persuade myself that I was really awake; and that the whole was any thing but the illusion of some pleasing dream. And I cannot tell, that I should, at this time, be able to persuade myself otherwise, if it were nor for two circumstances of this apparition of my mother. The first was that of her calling me by what I afterwards found to be my Christian name. The second was the circumstance of the place where she thus appeared to me, which was no other than over the very grave where my father had reposited her corps; the green hillock and tombstone having been raised there as a mark by himself; and the bay-tree, by what I can understand, grew in the same place, of its own accord, since her interrment. And wheresoever a miraculous appearance is attended with the like tokens of its reality, I think it a piece of vastly greater indiscretion in him who sees it, to distrust his own senses, than to run the risque of being ridiculed for suffering himself to be imposed upon by mere creatures of the imagination. The case is, indeed, different, when we hear such relations from others at second hand. Here, beside a clear rational conviction, which the relater is required to make appear within himself, that he is not deceived, or imposed upon, by others; to make his relation credible, we must be also thoroughly satisfied with his own sincerity and veracity. And when we hear a number of witnesses, thus qualified, attesting the same thing, then, and not before, does such fact become an object of true faith; and to refute our assent, in such case, is not only an act of rudeness to the relaters, but an argument of great insincerity and perversness of temper in ourselves. Nor can it well be expected, that persons, of this disposition, have ever had any true faith in matters of religion; who thus think it below their discretion to give the least heed to a relation thus strongly attested. For the matters of fact, by which any divine revelation has, at any time, been introduced into the world, do no otherwise externally require our assent to the truth of them, than as they come to us, supported by the same kind of evidence; and the facts themselves, we know, are equally, if not vastly more, out of the common course of Nature. But yet, in some countries of Europe, where Christianity itself is said to be the only religion professed, we are informed by your company, that it is always esteemed a mark of the utmost weakness for a person to give the least credit to any thing, which looks like a miracle; tho' he be never so rationally convinced within himself of the reality of it, by all his senses. And if he go about to attest the truth of what he had seen and heard, tho' with never such strong circumstances to gain the credit of others, he cannot take a more effectual Course to lose his own; let his veracity and discretion, in all other respects, heretofore, have been never so indisputable. Nay, so zealous, it seems, are many, to gain a reputation for their wisdom and prudence, in detecting all such idle tales, as they are pleased to call every thing of this kind, without exception; that they stick not to use as such falshood, and unfair dealing, in order to discredit a true relation, as has ever been used to bring credit to a false one. And, if this be so, I cannot but think it a much surer sign of the wretched blindness of this present self-conceited generation, than all that superstitious ignorance and credulity, with which they superciliously reproach their wiser ancestors.
At length the time drew near, when I was to be received into the conversation of my fellows; an happiness which I had all along panted after. But when I came to attain what I so long and so earnestly desired, setting aside the advantages I acquired from my Christianity, I can hardly tell whether it contributed more to my happiness or misery. So it is with all earthly enjoyments. They promise mountains to the expectation, but are only shadows in the possession: which should teach us, that the soul can have no true happiness, but by placing her affections upon what is of the same duration with herself.
One day, as I was reclined upon the bank of the fountain within my inclosure, I resolved, for a moment, to unbend my mind from all cares, and pensive thoughts, and employ myself in contemplating the delights of the prospect which surrounded me. One while I diverted myself with viewing the sportive boundings of the young fawns and kids upon the opposite hills; whose dams grazing beneath, by their repeated calls, and watchful looks, expressed the tenderest concern for their respective young. Anon I drew in my eyes to less distant objects, remarking the little journeyings of the painted insects among the grass, to whom, methought, each blade resembled so many lofty trees: and the curious structure of these minute animals, to me, was a notorious instance of the infinite wisdom of their great creator. Then did I listen to the shrill music of the morning larks, to which the soft murmurs of the purling stream, joined with the gentle hummings of the laborious bees, made an agreeable bass.
This delightful melody, by degrees, lulled me into a profound sleep; when, methought, I saw myself in company with several of my own kind; one of whom engaged my attention above the rest from something in his countenance and air, which at once possessed me with the utmost veneration and tenderness for his person. With these I thought I was carried into a distant country, inhabited chiefly with their fellows. The place at first appeared no way desirable to me, it being so full of frightful gulphs, and dangerous precipices, that it was with the utmost difficulty I sought out my way. But in the end these incumbrances were all removed, and I came into a region, where I had the prospect of nothing, but what was pleasant and agreeable. And all the while, methought, I was accompanied with the awful and amiable person, whom I had noted so much at first.
After I awoke out of this dream, I took a walk, as usual, up the hill, behind my cottage, to observe how the day spent by my dial; and, looking toward the sea, I was greatly surprised to see an huge body, of a very odd form, some distance from the land, which seemed like an hill floating upon the water. I went immediately towards the shore, to have a more perfect view of this new appearance; yet, with such caution, as to keep myself unseen by it, if it should prove a living animal, as I at first suspected it.
When I came to the water side, I lay down among some shrubs, to observe the issue; where I was presently more surprised than ever, to see a smaller body moving from the first towards the land, of directly the same structure with the vessel, whose remains lay still upon the beach, and which I had seen painted upon the Fan. And as it approached nearer, I fairly beheld the passengers it carried, several of whom were presently disembarked upon the shore, at less than a stone's cast from where I lay; the rest staying by the boat.
You may easily guess into what transport I was driven at this agreeable sight; when I thought I should be no longer deceived in the actual enjoyment of that, which I had so long wished for. As soon as the new comers were landed, the first thing they cast their eyes upon were the remains of the boat, which lay just by them. Here they stood a while viewing the situation of the country, and holding a consultation together (I supposed) which way they should direct their course: during all which time I contemplated their appearance and demeanour with the utmost attention and delight myself continuing still unseen by them. And what gave me the greatest pleasure, was the articulate sound of their voices, alternately answering one another; which was a plain indication to me, that this was the manner of communicating their thoughts to one another, concerning each new object which occurred to their observation.
By-and-by observing the greatest part of them begin to move up the country, directly in the way which led to my cottage, and not doubting but that was what they had in view; I watched their motions as warily as possible, still skulking behind the trees, to prevent my being discovered, till I should voluntarily present myself to them; which I was fully resolved to do, before they again left the island.
But another view of the actions of some of the company went a great way to make me lay aside this resolution ; and gave me so disagreeable an idea of mankind, that I was in suspense whether I should not chuse rather to continue always in my solitude, than seek to associate myself with such creatures; tho' apparently of my own kind. I observed three persons, each armed with a bow and sheaf of arrows, to separate themselves from the rest farther up the country; where they had a large herd of deer in view. These poor creatures seemed to be filled with no less wonder than myself, at a sight so wholly strange to them. They stood gazing upon their enemies, without the least suspicion of harm, till they were within reach of the arrows; at which time those fatal shafts were let fly so speedily among them, that, before they had the sense to escape by flight, I beheld about fourteen of them wallowing in their gore. I, who had never seen such barbarous cruelty before, was filled with horror, not to be expressed, at so dreadful a spectacle; and I could scarce bear the sight, when I heard these bloody destroyers hallowing for some of their fellows in the Boat to come and assist them in carrying off their prey.
While this was doing, I observed the rest of the company on shore by this time come to my bower, where they seemed as if struck with surprize at what they saw, proceeding successively to examine all my rude contrivances with the utmost attention; but what appeared to employ them longest was my dial upon the mount. And now, being got so near as to have a more perfect prospect of their faces and habits, I was sensibly struck, when I found them, for the most part, to be the very same persons, whose exact resemblances I had just before seen in my dream: and he, whom I then marked above the rest, was no other than my own father.
I am not ignorant how averse many persons are from giving any heed to dreams; which indeed, for the greatest part, are nothing but the result of our waking thoughts. They are a confused assemblage of those ideas which we have heretofore received through the senses; and, in general, men dream of nothing, but what, in its component parts at least, they have some time either actually seen or heard. But the before-mentioned dream, as well as the idea I received of my mother, can by no means be reckoned among this class. For certainly the perfect ideas of those persons, in their respective habits, could no more have been then impressed upon my mind without design, than their exact pictures could be supposed, by the same means, to be delineated upon paper. And whatever person has, at any time, had such visions of things, which were never seen by him, I presume he may rest assured, that they proceeded from the impulse of some intelligence without him.
The manner of my presenting myself to my father, and my return home with him, you have already heard. To which I shall add no more, but only give you a little further account of my great uneasiness at the sight of the murdered deer. I went with my father to the boat of my own accord; but the remembrance of the miserable fate of these Creatures, being always in my head, quite soured the pleasure, which I should otherwise have conceived from the thoughts of this new change. I knew not what they could propose to themselves in such cruelty towards creatures, which had done them no harm. And when I came to see the heaps made of their carcases, in the bottom of the boat, the horror was so great, which I conceived again at the sight, that had it not been for the fearful apprehensions of undergoing the same fate, from their too swift arrows, I should certainly have broke again from them, and made my escape into the woods. My father soon discovering the cause of my disorder, acquainted the captain of the ship, who was along with him, who commanded the boatmen to remove all these obstacles again to land out of my sight: and after the boat was cleansed of the blood, I went into it with less diffidence. But as soon as they had got me safe in the cabin of the ship, the sailors, unwilling to lose so valuable a prize, returned for them again. The practice of killing animals for food was what I had not the least notion of. And I have always, to this day, such a strong antipathy against eating their flesh, that I can never be brought to taste it, what way soever it be cooked up, in order to deceive me; my whole food consisting of nothing, but what comes of milk and the fruits of the earth.
But my ill opinion of mankind was yet much increased, when I became acquainted with the many murders and bloodsheds, which they committed upon one another, since the beginning of the world. This I thought was the highest instance of the exceeding degeneracy of human nature, and put men below the most savage brutes. And when I came afterwards to read the many dreadful judgments of God upon mankind, especially in that of drowning the old world, in the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, and in the extirpation of the seven nations by the sword of the children of Israel; I could not but look upon all these, as no less signal instances of the divine compassion towards their miserable state, than of justice upon them for their wickedness. For to have continued such monsters of iniquity longer upon Earth, I concluded would only have been giving them an opportunity to heighten their crimes; and, consequently, both to increase their own misery, and bring infinite numbers after them into the same wretched circumstances.
And thus I have given you a brief history of my life, and the manner of my attainment of knowledge from my infancy, till the time of my entrance into human society; which happened towards the end of my twenty-first year, after I had continued in the island about 19 years and 10 months; and it is now near 11 years since. Through all which, I would have it well observed, that I attribute those acquirements no more to the effect of my own capacity alone, than if I had the most complete education which the world could afford. For I have all the reason in the world to believe, that if I had been left entirely to myself, after my father's departure from me, I should have been little better than my dumb companions. From whence I cannot but conclude, that man, by nature, depends as much after his birth upon the care and instruction of others, to bring him to act agreeably to his rational character, as he before depended upon the action of others to give him his birth. And, if so, I think it may easily be made appear, that all nations of men, how distantly soever placed from each other, do actually derive their education from a supernatural original; and that ever since their first appearance in the world. Which I take to be as dear a proof of the certainty of divine revelation as can be required, when it is demonstrated, that not only the knowledge which is peculiar to Christianity, but even that which is necessary to distinguish men outwardly from mere brutes in human shape, could possibly be derived no other way, that originally from God himself, in a manner equally extrinsic to pure nature. This being truth, the proof of which has so near an affinity to my history, I therefore beg leave to conclude with shewing the arguments upon which it is grounded.
Observe then, if you please, that by education I all along here principally mean, that by which men are enabled to act suitably to the great ends of religion and society. From this we hold every other kind of human education to take its rise, whether good or bad. And notwithstanding the proneness of human nature to mistake its greatest good, I affirm, that there is still so much of the good effects of this remaining amongst the most barbarous nations, as, when joined to the light of natural conscience, is sufficient to make the savage Indian an infinitely more polite, and better educated man, than the most accomplished immoral European.
Again let it be observed, that by mankind I here understand man only in the state he is at present; and accordingly by his first appearance in the world, I mean his first appearance in this state. For what he was before, is quite out of the question. If his nature was once more perfect than it is now, as we have great reason to believe it was, then those first men were no more the men that we are, than angels can be accounted men; but whatever instructions we, of the next fallen generations, have received from them; is all one as if it had been communicated to us by an angel from Heaven; and, consequently, is as much a supernatural revelation in quality, as any of those divine exhibitions recorded in scripture; which God was afterwards pleased to make, in compassion to our degenerate state. On the other hand, if mankind was, at any time, more imperfect than what it now is, then this new improvement of our nature will import no less than a new creation; which yet, as appears from what has been said, is quite insufficient to render us capable of acting up to our rational character, without the education of others. Since, therefore, under such a supposition, we could not, at that time, have this education from ourselves, it follows, that, if we had it at all, we must have it from some intelligent being superior to ourselves; and consequently, it must again be supernatural in its original.
There is no other way, therefore, left for us to derive the education of mankind, any otherwise than from a supernatural original, but by supposing it attained gradually by a long experience; each succeeding generation still building upon the improvements made by the foregoing one, till it arrived to its present height. The falseness of which supposition will appear in the three following respects. For I affirm, first, that it is quite above the ability of human nature in itself to make such an advance. Secondly, it is contrary to the universal agreement, which is still found in the education of all mankind. Thirdly, it is contrary to the perfections of God.
First, I say, it is above the ability of human nature to make such an advance. I think I have already proved sufficiently that, without the helps and instructions of others, it is scarce possible to conceive how we should preserve our bare subsistence in life. But grant that we had the capacity of doing this; it must be a life of beasts, and not of men; and that always without any possibility of amendment from ourselves. When we reflect upon the exceeding depravity of our nature; which is such, that, even in the best dispositions, the bodily appetites and passions have an absolute predominance over the reason, without the constant checks of discipline; it can never be imagined, that wretches, left thus intirely at their own discretion, should apply their rational faculty to any thing, but what regarded mere self-preservation, and the gratification of their corrupt inclinations. And the older such persons grew, in the worse condition they would always be; and the less fit for discipline, should they, at any time, have the opportunity of it afterwards. For the lusts and passions, being by this means left without all manner of restraint, would every day grow stronger and stronger;
and the reason (with regard to the government of these, which is the principal office of reason in this life) would always continue in its infant state; unless we can be so vain as to imagine, that weakness, as such, can be an overmatch for strength. And how unlikely it is, that persons of this complexion should ever be able to form themselves into Societies, how much soever their condition might require it? For society can never be preserved, but under some form of government; which implies a restraint upon the passions, to keep them so far within the bounds of right reason, that every individual member may have his actions directed to the good, at least not the hurt, of the whole. But such is the untractable stubbornness of human nature, that it is often found difficult enough to keep it in subjection to the most necessary laws of society, even in the best ordered government in the world. How then should these persons come to have so much regard for the welfare of one another (as such a combination must necessarily imply) who could never know any good, but that of gratifying their sensual appetites; nor any evil, but that which tended to their disappointment in this? As soon might we expect to see the whole multitude of ravenous beasts betake themselves voluntarily to feed upon grass, or the fowls of the air confine themselves from the use of their wings. And if mankind, in this Situation, can never be conceived capable of any kind of voluntary submission, which contradicts the bent of their inclinations, it is certain, that they cannot, in the same condition, be supposed capable of improvement from any opportunities of education. Experience shews, that how much soever education is lost or neglected, so much the nearer still does mankind approach to the condition of brutes. And every day may convince us, how prone men are by nature, upon all occasions to avoid the yoke of discipline, when left wholly to their own option; and how liable to fall away from that education, which they have once received. From whence again it appears, that should we even grant an unbeliever, that human education was actually received this way, he would find some difficulty to account how it comes to pass that no nations of those primitive brutes in human shape have ever been heard of running wild in the woods, speechless, and upon all four. For since it is by education alone that we are otherwise, and since human nature, when left to itself, is so abhorrent from all government and discipline; is it not something strange, that none, in any part of the world should be found to continue in their native state, or fall back again into it? And indeed, as it is, the Christian himself has sufficient cause to wonder, that no such nations of men are at this day to be met with. But then he applies this to its true and proper cause; which is no other than the watchful providence of God for the good of mankind: for, doubtless, a merciful providence it is, considering the wretched corruptness of human nature, that so much of this education is still remaining, even among the most ignorant nations; whose conditions must otherwise have been inexpressibly worse than it is. And we, who live under the happy influences, and shining light, of the Gospel, have the utmost reason to return our grateful acknowlegements to Heaven, for the great advantages which we, by that means receive above our fellows. For us therefore to be so stupidly arrogant, and detestably perverse, as to attribute to ourselves, not only that common grace, which God has thought fit to make all men more immediately dependent upon himself for, but also the advantages in this respect, which he has vouchsafed to us beyond the rest of mankind, is certainly a crime of the blackest dye, and can only serve to show how ill we deserve any thing. But,
Secondly, this supposition of mens acquiring their education from their own natural abilities, is, again, contrary to that universal agreement, which is discovered in it among all mankind. Every custom, or acquirement, received from education, is purely arbitrary; and generally involves in it so many accidental circumstances, that it would be the greatest odds for any two persons, unknown to each other, much more many, to fall upon the same thing. Suppose, in our travels, we meet with any two nations, agreeing in anyone particular point of their education; though they be never so distant from each other, we are apt to suspect, that such particular must have occurred to both from the same instructor. And the more agreement we discover of this sort between these nations, the more still are we confirmed in this belief. But when we see this agreement reach to the most familiar parts, and first principles of education, such as are received from the nurse, and appear in the most common actions of human life; we can scarce forbear to conclude with ourselves, that those distant nations are assuredly branches of the same stock, and derive not only their education, but their very life and being, from the same original fountain. And such an agreement appears still to be remaining between all nations of men in the known world; who are found to have no greater difference in their education, than what may reasonably be supposed inevitable, in so long a discontinuance of intercourse and communication with each other, as must needs have happened since their first separation. How comes it else, that no people have been discovered at any time, but what are trained up to walk always in an erect posture only; none but what have some remains of government and religion; and some notions of a God, and a future state? For I think it beyond all contradiction, that none of these particulars could be the effect of mere Nature alone. Again, what reason can be assigned for the universal concurrence of all mankind, in attempting to express their thoughts by no other means than that of speech, by articulate sounds of the voice, made by the motion of the lips and tongue? By what Means could it happen, that the tongue, at least, should have any share at all in this; when the same thing may be demonstrated to be capable of being as fully performed, and more easily taught, by the bare tuning or modulating the voice; which is said to be experimented in China? Whence comes it, moreover, that there is no greater difference in a thing of so arbitrary a nature, between the most distant People, than what must necessarily follow from the inevitable change, which a few years are always found to make in the language of the same people? What Account can be given, why it should happen, that very often the same things do still continue to be expressed in nearly the same terms, by nations which are at the farthest remove from a suspicion of having ever had the least knowledge of, or correspondence with, each other? Besides, is it not something wonderful, that those people, whose knowledge seems to rank them in the lowest degree above brutes, should yet, in their language discover a penetration so much beyond their depth? For when the speech of the most barbarous people comes to be nicely examined, there is always found more of art and design in it, than can possibly be expected from persons of such tender abilities: so that, whoever were the first inventors of it, we may rest assured, that they were of better capacities than themselves. Again, how it happens, that, in most countries upon Earth, the inhabitants have traditions still continuing among them, by which they are informed, that their ancestors came originally from other places; and all in general agree, that the whole race of mankind were derived from the same parents? And, if we will believe the most inquisitive of your travellers, and such as have had the best opportunities of conversing with them; the remotest Americans, before they had the least acquaintance with you of Europe, were not without obscure remembrances of the fall of mankind, and the universal deluge. I shall only mention one instance more of this agreement; and that shall be in a thing of the most arbitrary nature imaginable: What was it then that first introduced the practice of religious sacrifices? A practice which, before the great sacrifice of the eternal son of God for the sins of mankind, appears to have been as universal in every age and place of the world, as religious worship itself; and still continues so in most, if not all countries, where the name of Christ has not been heard, Other instances of this agreement between men might be produced; but these, I conceive, are sufficient to prove, that all mankind do actually derive their education, not only from the same common teacher, but the same common parent; who, doubtless, at their first creation, received it immediately from God; and that in a way as different from the common course of Nature, as the manner of receiving their being.
Thirdly, the supposition of mens acquiring their education of themselves, was also said to be contrary to the perfections of God: for this supposes, that some time at least must have passed, after the creation of mankind, before they could have attained even to the lowest pitch of the most ignorant savages; and proportionably longer time yet must be required, to bring them to higher advancements: A supposition, not only contradictory to what has been already said, but also quite irreconcileable with the infinite wisdom and goodness of God. For what an horrid scene of misery and confusion does this supposition present us with, for several of the first ages of the world? To be compared to nothing but a dismal howling wilderness, the habitation only of beasts, and noxious animals, where the most fierce and ravenous creatures were always preying upon the more mild and gentle: And among all these Brutes, those in human shape were the most defenceless and contemptible, and exposed to the rage of every assault. So that, in a natural way, nothing but their immense numbers, to glut the appetites of all their devourers, could be conceived sufficient to preserve the whole species from being, in a little time, quite extirpated from the face of the Earth. And yet the offspring of1 (1) these despicable animals, as the event proves, are now arrived to be lords over all the rest; and that too, by their own sagacity and wisdom, the seeds of which were always to them from the beginning: as if mankind were capable of themselves to advance their condition to so much a higher pitch of excellency, than what their Maker thought fit to place them in at their first creation. But neither, according to this opinion, have they wrought so great an improvement only upon themselves; but the face of the whole Earth, by their means, is transformed well-nigh as much from what it was, when they first inhabited it, as Heaven is from Hell. What a fine picture have we here drawn of our sage forefathers, and what a glorious instance of the strength and abilities of human reason? Or rather, in the whole, what a blasphemous reflection upon the divine majesty? As if wisdom and goodness itself should create a race of beings, endowed with a capacity of perfection and happiness; at the same time leaving them quite destitute of those helps and assistances, which alone could render that capacity of the least service to them; and afterwards, to amend the matter, those helps are vouchsafed to their more deserving progeny; who show their gratitude, in always scornfully spurning at the hand from whence they receive them, and proudly ascribing every excellency to themselves, as the effect of their own powers and abilities.
From all which, I presume, the necessity of a supernatural revelation is abundantly manifest; when it is proved, that not only the knowledge peculiar to Christianity, but even that which distinguishes men from mere brutes in human shape, could no otherwise have been attained. Consequently, the consideration of the infinite goodness, wisdom, and justice of God, leaves it beyond all dispute, that such supernatural revelation was divine; the sound of which was sent forth, at man's first creation, and is still heard in all lands, and will ever continue to be so till the end of the World. And from the consideration of the same infinite goodness, wisdom, and justice, compared with our exceeding proneness to fall away from the good education we have once received, it is so far from being contradictory, that it becomes even necessary for divine revelations to be now-and-then afterwards repeated, to recover the dying flame; till at last life and immortality was brought more fully to light through the Gospel. And tho' designing wicked men may have sometimes taken opportunity, from the weakness of human nature, to impose upon their fellows in this, as in many other respects; yet God has never left himself without a witness, but has always given sufficient tokens, whereby the sincere intelligent inquirer may distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.
And now let us see how easily this naked truth disarms the unbeliever of all his weapons, and turns them upon himself. His main strength lies in his so much boasted arguments, or rather senseless jargon, drawn, as he pretends, from the eternal reasons and nature of things. These words he makes use of like a kind of charm, to bewitch his unwary readers out of their senses; or, as other juglers do, to divert the eyes of their spectators from a discovery of their sleight. To prove how agreeable this dispensation is to the reasons of things; nothing more, I presume, can be required, than to show its necessity for the ends of man's rational life, as an accountable creature; accountable to himself, to his fellow-creatures, and, above all, to God.
Man has naturally but two ways, by which he can come to the knowledge of the existence of things without him; the former by his own bodily senses, and the latter by the information of others. If he be deceived, in this respect, by all his senses, he has seldom, or never, any power to correct the error. But, if he be deceived by the information of others, he is so far blameworthy, as he has neglected the abilities he had to avoid the deception: such as a consideration of the possibility of the thing; a due examination into the credit and sincerity of the persons informing him; the views such persons may have in their information; the possibility of being deceived themselves; the circumstances they bring to strengthen their evidence; their punctual concurrence in the same thing; and the like. It appears then, that if man acknowledge thing of this kind as knowledge, but what he actually receives in at these two doors, he can be accountable for no error in belief which he can fall into, but what comes from the information of others. But in the inferences, which may be drawn from these things, and indeed in the quest after all other kinds of knowledge, since every man cannot but be sensible how liable he is to be deceived; if, therefore, he think a truth to be of any concern to him, he will be sincere and diligent in using all the means in his power to avoid deception. And the only means provided for him, to supply his own defects, is the information, education, or instruction of others.
It appears then, that this dependence of mankind upon one another, for the cultivation of their minds, is the only occasion given for the exercise of their sincerity in the search after truth, the strongest tie to hold them together in society, and the most powerful engagement to a mutual love and gratitude. And the same obligation of the whole species of mankind to God, in thus graciously condescending to be himself their first instructor, ought doubtless to be of no less availment to excite the same affections in them towards him. And, if it fail of having a proportionable effect upon us, we are, of all creatures, the most unworthy.
Again, by the same means, we have the strongest curb to refrain the insufferable pride of our nature; by which were always apt to think more highly of ourselves that we ought to think. For, if any argument can, this true prospect of the exceeding poverty and despicableness of our state by Nature must needs be of force sufficient to persuade us to such an humble and lowly opinion of ourselves, as is becoming. And such an evident conviction of the pillar upon which we stand, and the fountain from whence we derive this and every other benefit, should make us for ever renounce all self-sufficiency, and place our entire dependence upon its true foundation, which is no other than God himself.
In like manner, this dispensation gives the only opportunity of discovering the sincerity of our obedience. Religion, we know, consists in nothing else, but the expressions of our obedience to God, as rational creatures. But, as rational creatures, no action can be said to be performed by us, in perfect obedience to another, which is not the result of the most perfect conviction and choice; that is, we must have the fullest satisfaction of the reasonableness of what is required from us; and, being left wholly at our liberty, must do it with the purest intention, for the sake of him by whom it is required. It is true, that no man living can come up to such a perfection of obedience, in either of these respects.
But yet no human action can further be called an act of obedience, than as it agrees with both. There must be a knowledge within ourselves of the motives why we pay our obedience, or it is no obedience in us; and it must also be an act of our own free choice, directed to the party to whom it is said, or it can be no obedience to him. And if either of these qualifications be wanting, tho' the other be in its utmost perfection, that can be no true act of obedience. For tho' a man act never so freely, in obedience to another, yet if he knew no reason why he acts so, his obedience is not the obedience of a rational being. Again, tho' he act never so knowingly, yet if what he does be wholly for the sake of some private advantage, or merely for the gratification of his own inclinations, this is not an act of obedience to the party requiring it, but a pure serving of himself. These are the measures by which men value every act of obedience, which is performed to them. He is always more or less acceptable to them, according to the satisfaction and aim with which it is directed in the party that pays it; as it is the effect of a real love and esteem for the, and an ingenuous trust and confidence reposed in them. No act of human obedience can so fully come up to this charade as that which a truly humble and grateful mind in distress pays to his more knowing patron and director. For then we look upon such an one, not barely as our instructor, but as our protector and benefactor; and obey not only out of a sense of esteem, but of gratitude and love. And our gladness to resign up our weightiest concerns to the direction of such a person, is the fullest token we can give of our entire confidence in his wisdom, goodness, fidelity, and power: motives, which every man is most desirous should be the foundation of the obedience he receives; because they show him valuable to others for those qualifications, which are most valuable to himself. But it is plain, were it not for this dependence, which one man is obliged to have upon another, and all of us upon God, there could be no opportunity of paying such obedience, even to God himself; so as to discover whether we dare put more confidence in him than in man. To him alone, in strictness of speech, can such obedience be due; because he alone is endowed with a sufficiency of those qualifications, and alone is capable to know, whether it proceeds from such an inward este0em for, and affiance in him, as is suitable for creatures to pay to their creator. The best mark, which can possibly be given of our real esteem for any person, is when we are ready, upon all occasions, to resign ourselves up intirely to his guidance,
and are never more satisfied than when we have his word to confide in. Till this be tried, it can never be known to men, whether the obedience, which is paid to them, be not mixed with some degree of compulsion, or design, in the party that pays it. Men can never be equal judges of this; since they are unable to discern any difference between the effects of the vilest hypocrisy, where it is artfully carried on, and the most upright sincerity. But this cannot happen to the great seer of hearts; therefore no such obedience can pass with him.
In the state therefore men are, it seems impossible for them any otherwise to manifest the sincerity of their obedience to God, than upon the principles of faith; and the end of all divine revelation, especially that most perfect one made by our saviour, is to cultivate this among men. It is the revelation, which God has been graciously pleased to make of his will to mankind, which gives the only opportunity of trial, whether we have that high regard for him, and lowly opinion of ourselves, which is requisite. And accordingly as we show a greater degree of chearfulness and headiness in the performance of those actions, to which we are thus influenced; so much the stronger evidence still it is of our high love and veneration for, and our stedfast reliance upon, our infinitely wise and gracious instructor; which is the sum and substance of every religious duty. He who thus obeys God, like the holy psalmist, has a respect unto all his commandments. He will not spare the most beloved lust, much less hypocritically indulge himself in any darling sin, in hopes of atoning for it by a stricter performance of some duties, where he has not the like temptations to divert him. He acts like a person, who is truly sensible, that he is under the continual inspection of him, from whom no secrets can be hid; and who is infinitely both able and just to render to every man according to his deeds. And therefore he esteems his favour better than life itself, and dreads his displeasure more than any thing he can suffer in this world.
Again, this obedience of faith is the highest trial, whether we are consistent with ourselves. In earthly affairs we often find it necessary to yield up our own understanding to the guidance of others; and we willingly submit ourselves to many restraints and self-denials, for the sake of our temporal welfare. And he is condemned as highly imprudent and unreasonable, who thinks this any disparagement to him. If therefore the provision for the convenience of our passage through this world have so much influence over our actions, where we are but to continue for a short time, no more to return again for ever; how much more strongly ought we to be affected in makeing the necessary preparations for the world to come, upon which no less than our everlasting happiness or misery depends? These are such awful thoughts, as one would think could not but excite us to put forth all our endeavours, if they took the least hold upon our minds.
If we think it reasonable to proportion our cares, according to the just value of things, we ought to be as much more hearty and solicitous for the welfare of the soul, than of the body, as we know the one to be of more importance to us than the other. And, that we may not plead ignorance in this weighty affair, God himself has graciously condescended to be our instructor, who cannot err; and has given the fullest evidence to convince us, that such instructions come from him. It is, no doubt, our duty to examine diligently, whether any truth comes thus attested. But, when once we have sufficient evidence of this, to make the least demur, is impiety; and, to dispute, the most presumptuous blasphemy. If, as St. John says, we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. If, in so many instances, we suffer ourselves willingly to be guided by the testimony of fallible men, how much more by the testimony of the infallible God? In this case it is our greatest prudence, to show the most perfect resignation to his direction, and lay down our reason and understanding at his feet. And whenever we find ourselves involved in doubts and uncertainties about our spiritual affairs, this obedience of faith will teach us to cast off all vain reliance upon our own wisdom; and, in the lowest submission of soul, apply to him, who is the fountain of all knowledge; and who, for our encouragement, has graciously promised, that, if we thus ask, we can certainly receive.
We see then what temper of mind is necessary to render a man a fit disciple of the blessed Jesus, and a fruitful hearer of his word. A temper which no man can want, but through his own default; for it consists in nothing else but a true sense of the exceeding insufficiency, which he every day experiences in himself; a sincere and hearty desire to have that insufficiency supplied; and a perfect resignation to the directions of his gracious instructor. It is that honest and good heart, as our Lord himself calls it, in which, as in good ground, there is a sufficiency of kindly soil and moisture for the seed of the word to take root and spring up: it is that humble and teachable disposition, which every man brings along with him, who is desirous to arrive at a proficiency in any kind of human knowledge; and if he show but the same candour and regard for the things of another world, which he thus does for the things of this, it will not fail to advance him to a sufficient progress in the knowledge of things divine.
But tho' right reason do sufficiently discover the reasonableness of this behaviour in the weighty concern of the soul, yet a sad experience shews how very rarely it is put in practice: Men seldom show themselves thus suitably disposed, when they should seek after a cure for their spiritual blindness and ignorance, tho' God has liberally provided them with proper and sufficient remedies, if they be not wanting to themselves. In our pursuit after worldly knowledge, we usually act like men who have a true sense of our need of such knowledge, and take all prudent methods not to be deceived: but in our quest after that knowledge, which tends most to our real happiness, the understanding is rarely so quick in apprehending our defects, or the will so hearty and sincere in endeavouring after their removal; which is the reason why so few arrive at any degree of proficiency in this divine learning. And the great cause of this wretched indisposition is generally a vicious education; by which mens affections are pre-engaged, and their relish so depraved, that they can have no taste for these heavenly doctrines. They have no notion of any happiness, but such as they have framed to themselves in the ways of sin and death. They are slaves to their sensuality, their vainglory, their covetousness, their ambition, or pride; and because they are not of God, they cannot hear God's words.
And now, from all that has been said upon this subject, we may observe, that (besides the outward dependence, which all creatures must necessarily have upon God, as the first cause of their being, and their continual preserver in that being) mankind has another outward dependence upon his maker peculiar to himself; by which he seems to be distinguished from the whole visible creation: I mean this dependence of education; a dependence, which altogether regards our rational nature; and from its being derived to us by means intirely extrinsic and adventicious, as necessarily implies a divine revelation imparted to all men in common, as the former implies our creation. And both these are alike arguments of God's watchful providence over his creatures. My endeavour hitherto, you see has been to prove, that all the instructions, which relate to the government of ourselves, are as much derived from God, independent to mere Nature, as the instruction of any one particular person in the same way derived from another. The manner of communicating both has the same similitude and analogy to one another, with the ends for which they are designed. And as the latter obligation is the most effectual cement to hold men together in the bonds of society, so the whole strength of that cement is owing to the former, in uniting us all to God by religion.
In like Manner we may observe, that not only the Christian, but every man living, does actually stand by faith, in a more extensive sense of the word. They stand by faith as men, with regard to that teachable disposition of mind in their childhood, which rendered them capable of receiving the first principles of divine instruction, to polish them out of their native rudeness, and in any degree enable them to act suitably to their human character. And by reason of that poisonous contagion, which these seeds of good education are always found to be more or less infected with, from the corruption of our fallen nature, it becomes absolutely necessary, that we be restored again, as little children, from all those wicked prejudices, and inveterate ill habits, by such means contracted, before we can be said to stand by faith, as Christians. But, because it is impossible for so great a change to be effected by any ability in ourselves; therefore the second person of the adorable trinity, by the most astonishing instance of the divine condescension and love to wretched men, has procured us a new and sufficient supply of supernatural aid, which is always to be had upon our sincere application to him for it: and thus we see through the whole work of our creation, preservation, and redemption; how our heavenly father deals no otherwise with us than as his children, and partakers of the divine nature: which is by keeping us always to have the most sensible dependence upon him for all that we either are or have; and by such means drawing us to himself, and to one another, by the cords of a man, and the bands of love.
And this may again suggest to us the unpardonable ingratitude of those persons, who profess themselves to be such enemies to faith in religion; tho' without faith, it is plain, there can be no such thing as religion, nor any means by which a man can otherwise sufficiently express his obedience to God. It as by faith, that they themselves have the least notion what religion is; and they depend as much upon divine revelation, for all their knowledge of that kind, as the Christian himself; tho' they have not the same honesty to own it: so that, tho' the faith of such persons may be said to be divine in its foundation, yet it is altogether diabolical in the super-structure: they believe in the same manner as the Devils themselves; and may the merciful God, whom they thus presumptuously blaspheme, open their eyes before it be too late, that they may not tremble with them too!
By this time being come within view of the house, where we were to be the night entertained, Automathes broke off his discourse, and we returned him our hearty thanks for the pleasure he had given us in this wonderful narration of his life upon the island in such lively descriptions, and for the many ingenious and instructive reflections, with which he had all along so artfully mixed it. Above all, we assured him, that we could never sufficiently discharge the obligations he had laid upon us for those judicious inferences, to which he had improved it in the conclusion. These gave us the most ample demonstration of the unparalleled strength of his genius, the extensiveness of his capacity, and the clearness of his conceptions: and we expressed no small satisfaction in this evident proof, which he had favoured us with, of the absolute necessity of divine revelation from a consideration, which had scarce ever before entered into our thoughts.
We landed at a wharf on the south side of the river, from whence a fine gravel walk, of about a furlong in length, proceeded directly up to the main gates of a spacious court before the house, having all along a forest of stately cedars on each hand. The house itself was seated upon the summit of an easy ascent, and was beautifyed with a magnificent cupola upon the roof, which commanded a large prospect to the eastward of the finest country I ever beheld. The gardens were delicious, and kept in the most elegant order, being enriched with several delightful springs, which were improved into the most curious water-works.
As soon as we were conducted into the House, the aged Eugenius, being acquainted with our arrival, came and bid us welcome; and, shewing us into a stately room, gave us the kindest entertainment. Here we spent the evening with discourses upon various subjects; but what delighted our courteous entertainers most, was the information we gave concerning the religion, government, customs, and some of the most memorable transactions of the several kingdoms and states in Europe: and afterwards we were each conducted to a separate apartment to take our repose. The next morning, Automathes entertained us with the sight of his mother's picture, which he had before mentioned; and showed us most of the furniture, and things found by him in his cottage, such as the great chest, magnifying-glass, mathematical book and instruments; the fan, watch, and organ: all which they brought away at their return; as also a draught of his dial upon the mount. And now we solicited a like relation of the manner how Eugenius had spent his life in his solitude; but Automathes informed us, that his father had all the while so wholly given up himself to the exercises of religion, and divine contemplation, that he scarce took the leaft notice of any outward accident, which befel him during that whole time; so that there could be nothing in such a relation to entertain our curiosity. Here, therefore, we were disappointed; but we were, in some measure, compensated by what we met with afterwards, before we returned again to the rest of our company.
The aged Duke expressed no small satisfaction with his new guests; and, on purpose to detain us, he asked, if we had heard any thing since our arrival concerning the amphitheatre? We answered him, No; we never imagined that they of that country would put themselves to the expense of such buildings; nor could we devise for what purpose they should erect one so far from their capital city, since we had heard of no such thing there. He, smiling, at our ignorance, told us, that it was no building he meant, but a work of Nature; and such a work, he supposed, as we had never met with in all our travels. We asked him then, how far this wonder was from his own habitation? He told us, about four hours ride over the water to the north; and, if we would consent to tarry out the week with him afterwards, be promised that his son Automathes should be our guide, with one or two of his companions. This courteous offer we could not refute, when he further assured us, that he would send one of his servants to acquaint our company, upon what account we were detained.
The next morning, betimes, Automathes, with two other young gentlemen of his acquaintance, set out with us; each of us being provided with a very good horse, upon which we mounted, when we had crossed the river: and as soon as we had ascended the top of the hill on the other side, which reached to a considerable height, Automathes showed us at a distance the amphitheatre, which his father had spoken of, without giving any further description of it, to make our surprize the more agreeable. What he called an amphitheatre, then seemed to be nothing but a long high mountain, about twenty miles before us; which appeared through a spy-glass to be mostly covered with trees; and the country for some distance around it, being nearly level, afforded a spacious show from the eminence we now stood upon, of many delightful villages, and gentlemens seats. When we came to the foot of the mountain, we ascended above a mile by a plain beaten road; and then dismounting our horses at a shepherd's cottage, we had a boy of his for our guide, proceeding the remaining part of the way, with each his horse in his hand, by a nearer cut through the woods. After we had climbed thus, for about half an hour, the mountain above was all open ground, without so much as a shrub of wood to be seen growing upon it; and within a few minutes more we reached the height.
But how agreeably were we surprised at the sight, which now presented itself! Here we stood some time contemplating upon what we saw. The mountain appeared in the form of a circular verdant bank, or terrace, of exactly the same height, making the same regular bending descent inwards, with the ground upon which we stood; in such sort, that a green trench, or valley, just below us, of about forty perches over, extended itself like an inner border quite round the whole circuit; and the interior limb of this valley was all along edged with a kind of rampart, or bulwark, of solid rock of a crimson colour, which reached above the height of a man on horseback. But what mixed this delightful scene with a kind of pleasing horror was an amazing precipice, which showed itself on the opposite side, falling down directly below the rocky rampart, to such a depth as made the head turn giddy. And what made this awful and uncommon prospect have more effect upon us, was, because its regular tendency on each side towards us, and the artful congruity of the whole, made us rightly conclude, that the like dreadful descent extended quite round; and, consequently, was the same on the other side of the rocky wall just below us.
This Precipice was, doubtless, the most stupendous work of Nature, which could be found upon the face of the whole Earth; and, had it not been, that each part of it was of a size too monstrously enormous, and beyond all possibility of being any way conceived manageable by human art, we must necessarily have concluded the whole to be the effect of that. The rocky bulwark I spoke of, jutted out in the form of a balcony faced with balustrades of black upon a crimson-coloured ground, for the height of many fathoms all along the top of the precipice; and this was supported by a cornice of fret work of due proportion in the same colours; the bottom of all seeming to rest upon a surface answerable; the face of which was curiously checquered all around with a sort of green, yellow, and red: but, still, the most astonishing thing was the intermediate space between the cornice and surface; the ground of which was of a light blue, and could not but be much higher than the Dome of St. Peter's church at Rome. Upon this, as a field, there seemed carved an innumerable multitude of grotesque figures in basso relievo, all in their natural colours, which made one of the most magnificent appearances I ever saw.
This prodigious wall inclosed a circular space of ground perfectly level, of about four miles diameter, upon which grew nothing but grass; affording a most delightful verdure; and our new acquaintance, dismissing the shepherd's boy with a reward for his trouble, soon found us a way into it, after the following manner: We remounted our horses, and, after we had rode some distance along the trench, we came to the mouth of a large cave, in which ten men might ride abreast, and seemed to be cut out of the rock. Here we descended gradually for above a mile under ground upon a fine gravelly road, having always sufficient light thro' the crevices of the precipice on our left-hand, which served as so many windows. When we came to the bottom, we spent a considerable time in riding about, and viewing the monstrous figures, which appeared on every side of the shocking precipice which surrounded us: but we had the best prospect from the centre; the whole group seeming chiefly to consist of trees, woods, and houses, with beasts, serpents, and fowls of the strangest shapes, and here-and-there an huge giant in armour.
When we were sufficiently tired with gazing, we returned out of this place, the same way we came; and, when we had reached again the top of the mountain, we spent some time longer in viewing the country to the north, where we had a fair prospect of a large hilly country, over all which we could distinctly behold the lofty ridge of inaccessible mountains before-mentioned, which separated the whole kingdom from the desert.
And now we took a different route down the mountain for our return, in a road less frequented; but, before we were descended half-way, we found ourselves stopped by the fall of a great number of tall trees, occasioned by a furious hurricane, which had happened there some days before. This obliged us to seek our way through the unfrequented woods; where, after we had travelled some distance, we were surprised with the loud shrieks and cries, as we thought, of a woman suffering some violence pretty near, so the thickest part of the wood: this made us all immediately quit our horses, leaving them with three of our company; our three guides, with their drawn swords, followed by myself and the rest, making our way through the thickets, as directed by the voice, with what expedition we could, to rescue the person whom we supposed in distress. The cry still continuing, we presently came to a little opening, in which we discovered a kind of tent, or pavilion, from whence it seemed to proceed. Into this we rushed, and, to our great surprize, found a young lady sitting upon a couch, to which she was fast tied with cords from the middle downwards; but we could perceive never a soul near her, At this piteous spectacle one of Automathes's young companions, named Eustathes, immediately knowing who she was, dropped his sword, and ran to her assistance, embracing her with the utmost tokens of tenderness and deep affliction: And, as soon as she discovered her deliverer, she cried out, O! my Eustathes! and swooned away in his arms, being quite overcome with the sudden torrent of joy, which broke in upon her. We quickly cut asunder the rude cords by which this fair-one was confined, and used our utmost endeavours to bring her to herself; which, in a short time, we had the pleasure to see effected. In the mean time, we especially, who were strangers, wondered among ourselves to what this odd adventure would tend; but our wonder was much increased, when we came to understand, that this young lady was no other than Eustathes's espoused wife; whose marriage together, according to the custom of the country, was, within a few days, designed to be consummated. Her name was Dorothea, the only daughter of a widow lady, who lived about one quarter of the distance between this place and the house of Eugenius, some miles out of the road. Her affections, it seemed, had been placed upon Eustathes, even from her childhood, and were not to be removed by all the efforts, which were afterwards made by another young cavalier, named Phlegon, who loved her even to distraction, and, consequently, bore all the hatred to Eustathes, which is too common in like cases against an over-powerful rival: And they were not without violent suspicions, that all this was done by some villainous contrivance of Phlegon, since they were not unacquainted with the wickedness of his disposition, and knew this secret recess to stand upon his ground, at scarce half an hour's ride from his house: But, by what means he had got the young lady thus transported hither, this was beyond their comprehension. She herself could give no other account of it than this: that, the day before, her mother was gone to visit an aunt of her's, who was lying dangerously sick, and had left her at home with her governess; who, in the evening, went with her into a summer-house in the garden, where she fell asleep upon the very couch, upon which we found her bound: that it was not much above an hour since she first waked out of that sleep, in the utmost fright to find herself alone, thus confined in a strange place: that with violent struggling she had got herself so far released as to be able to sit upright: and that, presently after, hearing our horses feet at a distance, she set up that cry in hopes it might bring some to her rescue, as it happily did.
At the hearing of this strange relation, we could not but lift up our eyes to Heaven, and bless God for the wonderful interposition of his providence in thus preventing the mischiefs, which we had no reason to doubt were that day designed against this young couple. We looked upon the motion, which Eugenius made of our visiting the amphitheatre that day, as the first spring of this happy accident; and the different route we took, upon our return, with the barricado of trees, which blocked up the way before us, we esteemed as so many kind directions of Heaven to guide us to this place in so critical a juncture.
And in the very moment, while Eustathes and Dorothea were expressing their gratitude for the signal instance of the divine care over them, they had so full a confirmation how nearly they were escaped from the very brink of ruin, as made their hearts to tremble; for Automathes, casting his eyes through the trees, observed Phlegon himself at some distance, making towards us on foot all alone; which we doubted not was to take possession of his innocent prey, and perpetrate his villainous designs upon her. This we all fairly beheld, and waited with silence, till we should have him within our reach; but before this could happen, either through some discovery he made of us, or our companions with the horses, he thought fit to make his escape, with the utmost precipitancy, thro' the woods; where we thought it not worth our time to pursue him.
Satisfied with the discovery we had made, we conveyed the rescued captive to our horses, where after we had placed her behind Eustathes, we all remounted, and began our return by the way of her house with what expedition we could. It will be easy to conceive with what transports the young lady was received by her mother, who had not been long hurried from her sick relation's with this dreadful news of the loss of her daughter in so strange a manner. The house was in the utmost confusion, and people had been sent in vain into all parts in search of her: it appeared, that she had not been missed till the morning, at which time all the servants were at home, as it seemed, without the least suspicion of harm. They wondered that neither she, nor her governess, appeared as usual; and, going up to their chambers found both fast locked; nor could all their calling make any to hear. Upon this, one of the maids, recollecting that she had seen them pretty late together in the summer-house in the garden, ran thither, and finds the door open, with the governess fast asleep upon a couch, but no lady: she then jogs the governess, but, in short, neither she, nor any in the house, could make her wake by all the endeavours they could use. This put the family into the greatest fright, concluding for certain, that both, by some treacherous means, had been cast into that sleep, by advantage of which their young lady was stolen, and, perhaps, ravished; and they were confirmed in this belief when they observed the horses feet all along upon the gravelly walks of the garden to the gate, and missed another couch in the summer-house, upon which they supposed the young lady to have been laid: but they were put beyond all doubt that this was the case, when, upon breaking open the door of Dorothea's chamber, she was not to be found there. Upon this, the servants alarmed the whole neighbourhood, sending messengers to acquaint Eustathes, and her mother, with the dire catastrophe; and dispersed some to one place, and some to another, in quest of her, all round the country.
This account of the behaviour and condition of the servants, especially of the governess, (who, it seemed, could nor yet be awaked out of her sleep) made us not know what to think; for we all along had a shrewd suspicion, that she must have been an accomplice with Phlegon in this hellish stratagem; nor could we be persuaded, but some other of the servants had also an hand in it: however, no notice was then taken to the old lady of the discovery made of Phlegon.
The evening now drawing on, we took our leave of Eustathes, and his other companion, who thought it proper to take up their abode that night there; and Automathes proceeded homewards with us. A little before sun-set we returned again to our lodgings, where we surprised Eugenius with an account of the strange adventure we had met with in our journey. And the day following Eustathes sent us a dismal account of the discovery of the whole plot, which was as follows:
Phlegon, it seems, being mad with disappointment, after the espousals of Eustathes and Dorothea, was resolved to satisfy his brutish desires at any rate. To this purpose he some time before had engaged one of his own servants, with all privacy, to erect the before- mentioned pavilion, and furnish it with such necessaries as he required; at the same time not letting him know, that it was designed for any other use, than to be a place of retirement, when he was inclined, as he pretended, to sequester himself from the noise of the world. This recess he afterwards found an opportunity to discover to a man-servant belonging to Dorothea's mother, when he had sufficiently prepared him, and her treacherous governess, by large presents, to go any lengths with him. His nefarious aim was to have Dorothea secretly transported thither, before the consummation of her marriage with Eustathes; which he said he could easily instruct then how to accomplish, without the least fear of discovery afterwards to themselves. And this was the result of his diabolical instructions, wherein he was not a little assisted by the politic governess.
The Evening before we took our journey, this wicked governess, taking the opportunity of the old lady's absence, found means to inveigle Dorothea into the summer-house; and give her such sleeping potion, as she thought would answer her design, from what she had experimented upon the innocent young lady before. And she, with her accomplice, had so managed, as to get a sufficient quantity of the like conveyed into the drink of the whole family for that night: by which stratagem all the servants, except those two partners in wickedness, were no sooner gone to rest, than all their senses were buried in a profound sleep. In confidence therefore of having thus made sure of all their fellow-servants, till the morning at leaft; in the dead of night they go about their black design. And, while he makes two horses ready with a litter, she ties Dorothea down with cords upon the couch, where she lay. Then having, by their joint strength, got her laid upon the litter, they transported her, as a dead corpse, to the place where she was found. And, this being effected, they returned home with all expedition, restoring the horses and litter to their former places; after which he slunk to his bed, without the leaft discovery. But the governess's part being to be acted in the summer- house, where she knew her Lady was last seen, she retired thither: And, to prevent all suspicion of her having had the least hand in this flagitious act, took a like dose of the same narcotic she had given her lady, and laid herself upon another couch in the same posture, in which she was found the next morning. And thus was the young lady, left all alone by these caitifs, without the least possibility of defending herself; to fall a victim to the burning lust of an abandoned monster, whose intent they knew was to ravish, if not afterwards murder her, for his own security. For they took it for certain that the baneful drug would not cease operating till late the next day.
Before morning came, those soporific potions, being taken by the rest of the family in smaller proportions, had spent all their force; so that they were not hindered from rising at the usual time. And, among the rest, he, who had been a principal actor in carrying on this villainy, seemed as much surprised as the most innocent, at the misfortune which had befallen his mistress, and was as eager to go in quest of her. But, in this last pretence he had a farther reach than the bare concealment of his guilt. For it was part of the crafty governess's policy, that by such means he should more effectually conceal all, and establish Phlegon in the full possession of his capture. He therefore, having at that time the most command in the family, makes sure of another, in the first place, to do the errand of acquainting the old lady with the disaster, which had happened in her absence; while, with piteous lamentations, he raises the neighbourhood, and sends them every way but the right one, reserving that for himself, who it could not be doubted would be less diligent than the most zealous.
After he had made a feint for some hours in ranging this unfrequented wood, he returns slily by a gentleman's house, where he knew Phlegon was to dine; on purpose to let him understand, by the same token, how far their accursed business had succeeded. Here he sat on horseback before the gates, and, as if he knew nothing of Phlegon's being there, called out, with all the signs of a man in raging despair, acquainting the family with the sad catastrophe which had happened; not without letting fall some bitter expressions, as if he suspected it to be all a villainous contrivance of Phlegon: and so rode furiously off. But neither had Phlegon been wanting on his own part to stave off all suspicion of his foul fact, as much as possible, from himself. For, being conscious, that this must happen of consequence, he therefore rode the day before to a town above half a days journey from Dorothea's habitation: and took care to have sufficient evidence of his lodging there all night, as also of his return to the house where he dined. All therefore he had now to do, was to make what expedition he fairly could after dinner, to take possession of his prize.
And now one would think, that a plot, thus deeply laid, and successfully carried on, could no way have miscarried, without a miracle to prevent it: but how it did miscarry, you have already heard. Nor had any hours passed afterward, before all its dark scenes were laid open to the world; notwithstanding the art and subtilty that had been used, to keep it concealed.
A little after departure from Eustathes and Dorothea, the same. Evening the watch which was set over the governess, while she slept, observed her to move; but, when they expected her to awake, they beheld her seized with the pangs of death, and presently heard her breathe her last. This new accident struck the family with fresh surprize; which, within an hour after, was much increased by the news of the dead body of Phlegon found in the river by his own house; but whether his death came by himself, or by accident, was not known. And now that which seemed to take away all hopes of ever having the actors of this villainy detected, proved to be the only means of having the whole mystery of iniquity unveiled. For the report of these dire events, coming so suddenly one upon the neck of another, struck such an horror upon the conscience of the surviving accomplice, that the swelling secret could no longer be confined within his bosom; but he discovered the whole, as above related. And so deep was the sense of his crime, that he begged with tears to be delivered up to justice; esteeming all he could suffer in this life as too little to atone for the foulness of his guilt.
The visible judgments of Heaven, executed upon these two offenders, were indeed dreadful: and the lasting infamy, which the survivor had brought upon himself, with the convincing tokens of his sincere repentance, were judged, by the civil magistrate, a sufficient punishment for a crime only in the intention. There was great reason to suspect, that Phlegon, when he saw himself so unexpectedly frustrated of his design, concluding himself also discovered, had been his own executioner, to avoid the shame he must undergo. And the general opinion was, that the potion taken by the governess, was too powerful for one of her gross corpulency; so that the very thing proved her destruction, which had been the principal instrument in carrying on her treachery.
Thus far, and no farther, could I make any sense of what was contained in this manuscript: Here therefore, I am forced to conclude, without being able to give any other account of it, than what you have already heard concerning the strange means, by which it fell into my hands. If the publication of so much as I could pick out, may be of any service to the cause of religion and virtue, as I am not without hopes in some measure it may, I am satisfied.
Cicero: Fuit quondam tempus, cum in agris passim homines bestiarum more vagabantur; & sibi victu ferino vitam propagabant. De Invent. I.
And again, Tusc. Lib. V. O vitæ philosophia dux! ---; tu urbes peperifti: tu dissipatos homines in societatem vitæ convocâsti: tu eos inter se primo domiciliis, deinde conjugiis, tum literarum & vocum communione junxisti: tu inventrix legum, tu magistra morum & disciplineæ fuisti.
Thus Lucretius, Lib. V.
So Horace, Lib. I. Sat. 3.
Arma antiqua, manus, ungues, dentesquesuerunt,
Et lapides, & item sylvarum fragmina rami.
Posteriùs ferri vis est ærisque reperta;
Et prior æris erat, quam ferri cognitus usus,
Quae facilis magis est natura, & copia major.
Proinde putare aliquem tum nomina distribuisse
Rebus, & inde homines didicisse vocabula prima,
Desipere est: nam cur hic posfet cuncta notare
Vocibus, & varios sonitus emittere lingu‘,
Tempore eodem alii facere id non quisse putentur?
Postremo quid in hac mirabile tantopere est re,
Si genus humanum, cui vox & lingua vigetur,
Pro vario sensu varias res voce notaret;
Cùm pecudes mut‘, c—m denique sect ferarum
Dissimiles soleant vaces variasque ciere,
Cùm metus aut dolor, & cùm jam gaudia gliscunt?
Quum prorepserunt primis animalia terries,And Juvenal, Sat. XV.
Mutum & turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
Unguibus & pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ita porro
Pugnabant armis, qu‘ post fabricaverat usus:
Donec verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent,
Nominaqae inventêre. Dehinc absistere bello,
Oppida coperunt munire, & ponere leges;
Ne quis fur effet, neu latro, neu quis adulter.
Nam suit ante Helenam cunnus teterrima belli
Causa: sed ignotis perierunt Mortibus illi,
Quos venerem incertam rapienteis, more ferarum
Viribus editior cædebat, ut in grege taurus.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mundi
Principia indulsit communis conditor illis
Tautùm animas, nobis animum quoque, mutuus ut nos
Affectus petere auxilium, & præstare juberet,
Disperfos trahere in populum, migrare vetusto
De nemore, & proavis habitatas linquere sylvas,
&Aelig;dificare domos, laribus conjungere nostris
Tectum aliud, tutos vicino limine somnos
Ut collata daret fiducia; protegere armis
Lapsum, aut ingenti nutamem vulnere civem,
Communi dare signa tubâ, defendier iisdem
Turribus, atque unâ portarum clave teneri.
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