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and envi the savage that wanders in the desert, because he has no time vacant from the calls of nature, but is always chasing his prey, or sleeping in his den.
His discontent in time vitiated his constitution, and a slow disease seized upon him. He refused physic, neglected exercise, and lay down on his couch peevish and restless, rather afraid to die, than desirous to live. His domestics, for a time, redoubled their assiduities; but finding that no officiousness could oth nor exactness satisf they soon gave way to negligence and sloth; and he that once commanded nations, often languished in his chamber without an attendant.
In this melancholy state, he commanded messengers to recall his eldest son, Abouzaid, from the army. Abouzaid was alarmed at the account of his father's sickness; and hasted, by long journeys, to his place of residence. Morad was yet living, and felt his strength return at the embraces of his son; then commanding him to sit down at his bed-side,
Abouzaid," said he, "thy father has no more to hope or fear from the inhabitants of the earth; the cold hand of the angel of death is now upon him, and the voracious grave is howling for his prey. Hear therefore the precepts of ancient experience: let not my last instructions issue forth in vain. Thou hast seen me happy and calamitous: thou hast beheld my exaltation and my fall. My power is in the hands of my enemies ; my treasures have rewarded my accusers : but my inheritance the clemency of the emperor has spared; and my wisdom his anger could not take away. Cast thine eyes around thee whatever thou beholdest, will, in a few hours, be thine: apply thine ear to my dictates, and these possessions will promote thy happiness. Aspire not to public honours; enter not the palaces of kings: thy wealth will set thee above insult; let thy moderation keep thee below envy. Content thyself with private dignity; diffuse thy riches among thy friends; let every day extend thy beneficence; and suffer not thy heart to be at rest, till thou art loved by all to whom thou art known. In the height of my power, I said to defamation, Who will bear thee? and to artifice, What canst thou perform? But, my son, despise not thou the malice of the weakest: remember that venom supplies the want of strength; and that the lion may perish by the puncture of an asp.'
Morad expired in a few hours. Abouzaid, after the months of mourning, determined to regulate his conduct by.
his father's precepts; and cultivate the love of mankind by every art of kindness and endearment. He wisely considered that domestic happiness was first to be secured; and that none have so much power of doing good or hurt, as those who are present in the hour of negligence, hear the bursts of thoughtless merriment, and observe the starts of unguarded passion. He therefore augmented the pay of all his attendants; and requited every exertion of uncommon diligence by supernumerary gratuities. While he congratulated himself upon the fidelity and affection of his family, he was in the night alarmed with robbers; who being pursued and taken, declared, that they had been admitted by one of his servants. The servant immediately confessed, that he unbarred the door, because another, not more worthy of confidence, was entrusted with the keys.
Abouzaid was thus convinced, that a dependant could not easily be made a friend; and that while many were soliciting for the first rank of favour, all those would be alienated whom he disappointed. He therefore resolved to associate with a few equal companions selected from among the chief men of the province. With these he lived happily for a time, till familiarity set them free from restraint, and every man thought himself at liberty to indulge his own caprice, and advance his own opinions. They then disturbed each other with contrariety of inclinations, and difference of sentiments; and Abouzaid was necessitated to offend one party by concurrence, or both by indifference.
He afterwards determined to avoid a close union with beings so discordant in their nature, and to diffuse himself in a larger circle. He practised the smile of universal courtesy; and invited all to his table, but admitted none to his retirements. Many who had been rejected in his choice of friendship, now refused to accept his acquaintance: and of those whom plenty and magnificence drew to his table, every one pressed forward toward intimacy, thought himself overlooked in the crowd, and murmured, because he was not distinguished above the rest. By degrees, all made advances, and all resented repulse. The table was then covered with delicacies in vain; the music sounded in empty rooms; and Abouzaid was left to form, in solitude, some new scheme of pleasure or security.
Resolving now to try the force of gratitude, he inquired for men of science, whose merit was obscured by poverty. His house was soon crowded with poets, sculptors, painters,
and designers, who wantoned in unexperienced plenty; and employed their powers in celebrating their patron. But in a short time they forgot the distress from which they had been rescued; and began to consider their deliverer as a wretch of narrow capacity, who was growing great by works which he could not perform, and whom they overpaid by condescending to accept his bounties. Abouzaid heard their murmurs, and dismissed them; and from that hour continued blind to colours, and deaf to panegyric.
As the sons of art departed, muttering threats of perpetual infamy, Abouzaid, who stood at the gate called to him Hamet the poet. "Hamet," said he, "thy ingratitude has put an end to my hopes and experiments. I have now learned the vanity of those labours that wish to be rewarded by human benevolence. I shall henceforth do good, and avoid evil, without respect to the opinion of men; and resolve to solicit only the approbation of that Being, whom alone we are sure to please by endeavouring to please him."
The folly and misery of idleness
THE idle man lives not to himself, with any more advan tage than he lives to the world. It is indeed on a supposition entirely opposite, that persons of this character proceed. They imagine that, how deficient soever they may be in point of duty, they at least consult their own satisfaction. They leave to others the drudgery of life; and betake themselves, as they think, to the quarter of enjoyment and ease. Now, in contradiction to this, I assert, and hope to prove, that the idle man, first, shuts the door against all improvement; next, that he opens it wide to every destructive folly; and, lastly, that he excludes himself from the true enjoyment of pleasure.
First, He shuts the door against improvement of every kind, whether of mind, body, or fortune. The law of our nature, the condition under which we were placed from our birth, is, that nothing good or great is to be acquired, without toil and industry. A price is appointed by Providence to be paid for every thing; and the price of improvement, is labour. Industry may, indeed, be sometimes disappointed. The race may not always be to the swift, nor the battle to
the strong. But, at the same time, it is certain that, in the ordinary course of things, without strength, the battle cannot be gained; without swiftness, the race cannot be run with success. If we consult either the improvement of the mind, or the health of the body, it is well known that exercise is the great instrument of promoting both. Sloth enfeebles equally the bodily, and the mental powers. As in the animal system it engenders disease, so on the faculties of the soul it brings a fatal rust, which corrodes and wastes them; which, in a short time, reduces the brightest genius to the same level with the meanest understanding. The great differences which take place among men. are not owing to a distinction that nature has made in their original powers, so much as to the superior diligence with which some have improved these powers beyond others. To no purpose do we possess the seeds of many great abilities, if they are suffered to lie dormant within us. It is not the latent possession, but the active exertion of them, which gives them merit. Thousands whom indolence has sunk into contemptible obscurity, might have come forward to the highest distinction, if idleness had not frustrated the effect of all their powers.
Instead of going on to improvement, all things go to decline with the idle man. His character falls into contempt. His fortune is consumed. Disorder, confusion, and embarrassment, mark his whole situation. Observe in what lively colours the state of his affairs is described by Solomon. I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding. And lo! it was all grown over with thorns; nettles had covered the face thereof; and the stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well. I looked upon it, and received instruction.' Is it in this manner, that a man lives to himself? Are these the advantages, which were expected to be found in the lap of ease? The down may at first have appeared soft; but it will soon be found to cover thorns innumerable. This is, however, only a small part of the evils which persons of this description bring on themselves; for,
In the second place, while, in this manner they shut the door against every improvement, they open it wide to the most destructive vices and follies. The human mind cannot
remain always unemployed. Its passions must have some exercise. If we supply them not with proper employment, they are sure to run loose into riot and disorder. While
we are unoccupied by what is good, evil is continually at hand; and hence it is said in Scripture, that as soon as Satan"found the house empty," he took possession, and filled it “with evil spirits." Every man who recollects his conduct, may be satisfied, that his hours of idleness have always proved the hours most dangerous to virtue. It was then, that criminal desires arose; guilty pursuits were suggested; and designs were formed, which, in their issue, have disquieted and embittered his whole life. If seasons of idleness are dangerous, what must a continued habit of it prove? Habitual indolence, by a silent and secret progress, undermines every virtue in the soul. More violent passions run their course, and terminate. They are like rapid torrents, which foam, and swell, and bear down every thing before them. But after having overflowed their banks, their impetuosity subsides. They return, by degrees, into their natural channel; and the damage which they have done, can be repaired. Sloth is like the slowly-flowing,-putrid stream, which stagnates in the marsh, breeds venomous animals and poisonous plants; and infects with pestilential vapours the whole country round it. Having once tainted the soul, it leaves no part of it sound; and, at the same time, gives not those alarms to conscience, which the eruptions of bolder and fiercer emotions often occasion. The disease which it brings on, is creeping and insidious; and is, on that account, more certainly mortal.
One constant effect of idleness, is to nourish the passions, and, of course, to heighten our demands for gratification; while it unhappily withdraws from us the proper means of gratifying these demands. If the desires of the industrious man are set upon opulence or distinction, upon the conveniences, or the advantages of life, he can accomplish his desires, by methods which are fair and allowable. The idle man has the same desires with the industrious, but not the same resources for compassing his ends by honourable means. He must therefore turn himself to seek by fraud, or by violence, what he cannot submit to acquire by industry. Hence, the origin of those multiplied crimes to which idleness is daily giving birth in the world; and which contribute so much to violate the order, and to disturb the peace of society. In general, the children of idleness may be ranked under two denominations or classes of men. Either, incapable of any effort, they are such as sink into absolute meanness of character, and contentedly wallow