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THE VISION OF MIRZA.-JOSEPH ADDISON.
On the fifth day of the moon, which, according to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep holy, after having washed myself and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdau, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As I was here refreshing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation of the vanity of human life; and passing from one thought to another, surely, said I, man is but a shadow, and life a dream. Whilst I was thus musing, I cast my eye towards the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one in the habit of a shepherd, but who was in reality a being of superior nature. I drew near with profound reverence, and fell down at his feet. The genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability, that familiarized him to my imagination, and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me from the ground, and taking me by the hand, “Mirza,” said he, “I have heard thee in thy soliloquies; follow me.”
He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock; and placing me on the top of it,“ Cast thine eyes eastward,” said he, “and tell me what thou seest.” “I see,” said I, “a huge valley, and a prodigious tide of water rolling through it.” “The valley that thou seest, said he," is the vale of misery; and the tide of water that thou seest, is part of the great tide of eternity.” “What is the reason," said I,“ that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other end ?” “What thou geest," said he,“ is that portion of eternity which is called time, measured out by the sun, and reaching from the beginning of the world to its consummation. Examine now,” said he, “this sea that is bounded with darkness at both ends, and tell me what thou discoverest in it.” “I see a bridge,” said 1,“ standing in the midst of the tide.” “The bridge thou seest," said he, “is human life; consider it attentively." Opon a more leisurely survey of it, I found that it consisted of threescore and ten entire arches, with several broken arches, which, added to those that were entire, made up the number about a hundred.
As I was counting the arches, the genius told me that this bridge consisted at first of a thousand; but that a great flood swept away the rest, and left the bridge in the ruinous condition I now beheld it. “But tell me further,” said he,
what thou discoverest on it.” “I see multitudes of people passing over it,” said I “and a black cloud hanging on each end of it.” As I looked more attentively, I saw several of the passengers dropping through the bridge into the great tide that flowed underneath it; and, upon further examination, perceived there were innumerable trap doors that lay concealed in the bridge, which the passengers no sooner trod upon, than they fell through them into the tide, and immediately disappeared. These hidden pitfalls were set very thick at the entrance of the bridge, so that throngs of people no sooner broke through the cloud than many fell into them. They grew thinner towards the middle, but multiplied and lay closer together towards the ends of the arches that were entire. There were indeed some persons, but their number was very small, that continued a kind of hobbling march on the broken arches, but fell through one after another, being quite tired and spent with so long a walk.
I passed some time in the contemplation of this wonderful structure, and the great variety of objects which it presented. My heart was filled with a deep melancholy, to see several dropping unexpectedly in the midst of mirth and jollity, and catching at everything that stood by them, to save themselves. Some were looking up toward the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and, in the midst of a speculation, stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in the pursuit of bubbles, that glittered in their eyes and danced before them; but often, when they thought themselves within the reach of them, their footing failed, and down they sank. In this confusion of objects, I observed some with scimitars in their hands, and others with weapons, who ran to and fro upon the bridge, thrusting several persons on trap-doors which did not seem to lie in their way, and which they might have escaped had tley not been thur forced upon them.
The genius seeing me indulge myself in this melancholy prospect, told me that I had dwelt long enough upon it. " Take thine eyes off the bridge,” said he, “and tell me if thou seest anything thou dost not comprehend." Upon looking up, “ What mean," said I, “those great flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge, and settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cormorants, and, among many other feathered creatures, several little winged boys that perch in great numbers upon the middle arches.” “These," said the genius, “are envy, avarice, superstition, despair, and love, with the like cares and passions that infest human life.”
I here fetched a deep sigh. “Alas,” said I, “ man was made in vain! how is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and swallowed up in death!” The genius, being moved with compassion towards me, bid me quit so uncomfortable a prospect. “Look no more,” said he,
on man in the first stage of his existence, in his setting out for eternity; but cast thine eye on that thick mist into which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall into it.” I directed my sight as I was ordered, and (whether or not the good genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or dissipated part of the mist that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate,) I saw the valley opening at the farther end, and spreading forth into an immense ocean, that had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it, and dividing it into two equal parts. The clouds still rested on one balf of it, insomuch that I could discover nothing in it; but the other appeared to me a vast ocean, planted with innumerable islands, that were covered with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them. I could see persons dressed in glorious habits, with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers.
Gladness grew in me at the discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats; but the genius told me there was no passage to them, except through the gates of death that I saw opening every moment upon the bridge. “The islands,” said he, “that lie so fresh and green before thee, and with which the whole face of the ocean appears dotted as far as thou canst see it, are more in number than the sands on the seashore. There are myriads of islands behind those which thou here discoverest, reaching farther than thine eyes, or even thine imagination can extend itself. These are the mansions of good men after death, who, according to the degrees and kinds of virtue in which they excelled, are distributed among these several islands, which abound with pleasure of different kinds and degrees, suit. able to the relishes and perfections of those who are settled in them; every island is a paradise accommodated to its respective inhabitants. Are not these, O Mirza, habitations worth contending for? Does life appear miserable, that gives the opportunities of earuing such a reward? Is death to be feared, that will convey thee to so happy an existence? Think not man was made in vain, who has such an eternity reserved for him." I gazed with inexpressible pleasure on these happy islands. At length, said I, “Show me now, I beseech thee, the secrets that lie hid under those dark clouds which cover the ocean on the other side of the rock of adamant." The genius making no answer, I turned about to address myself to him a second time, but I found that he had left me. I then turned again to the vision which I had been so long contemplating; but instead of the rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw nothing but the long, hollow valley of Bagdad, with oxen, sheep, and camels grazing upon the sides of it.
- The Spectator.
THE PERILS OF INVISIBILITY.-W. S. GILBERT.
Old Peter led a wretched life-
“I have three gifts—the first will give Unbounded riches while
live; The second, health where'er you be; The third, invisibility."
"O little fairy Picklekin,"