« PředchozíPokračovat »
many questions which he asked thein at several times, was in substance as follows:
The visionary, whose name was Marraton, after having travelled for a long space under a hollow mountain, arrived at length on the confines of this world of spirits, but could not enter it by reason of a thick forest made up of bushes, brambles, and pointed thorns, so perplexed and interwoven with one another that it was impossible to find a passage through it. Whilst he was looking about for some track or path-way that might be worn in any part of it, he saw a huge lion couched under the side of it, who
eye upon him in the same posture as when he watches for his prey.
The Indian immediately started back, whilst the lion rose with a spring, and Jeaped towards him. Being wholly destitute of all other weapons, he stooped down to take up a huge stone in his hand; but, to his infinite surprise, grasped nothing, and found the supposed stone to be only the apparition of one. If he was disappointed on this side, he was as much pleased on the other, when he found the lion, which had seized on his left shoulder, had no power to hurt him, and was only the ghost of that ravenous creature which it appeared to be. He no sooner got rid of his impotent enemy, but he marched up to the wood, and, after having surveyed it for some time, endeavoured to press into one part of it that was a little thinner than the rest ; when again, to his great surprise, he found the bushes made no resistance, but that he walked through briers and brambles with the same ease as through the open air; and, in short, that the whole wood was nothing else but a wood of shades. He immediately concluded that this huge thicket of thorns and brakes was de
signed as a kind of fence or quickset hedge to the ghosts it inclosed; and that probably their soft substances might be torn by these subtle points and prickles, which were too weak to make any impressions in flesh and blood. With this thought he resolved to travel through this intricate wood; when, by degrees, he felt a gale of perfumes breathing upon him, that grew stronger and sweeter in proportion as he advanced. He had not proceeded much further, when he observed the thorns and briers to end, and give place to a thousand beautiful green trees, covered with blossoms of the finest scents and colours, that formed a wilderness of sweets, and were a kind of lining to those rugged scenes which he had before passed through. As he was coming out of this delightful part of the wood, and entering upon the plains it inclosed, he saw sevesal horsemen rushing by him, and a little while after heard the cry of a pack of dogs. He had not listened long before he saw the apparition of a milk-white steed, with a young man on the back of it, advancing upon full stretch after the souls of about a hundred beagles that were hunting down the ghost of a hare, which ran away before them with an unspeakable swiftness. As the man on the milk-white steed came by him, he looked upon him very attentively, and found him to be the young prince Nicharagua, who died about half a year before, and, by reason of his great virtues, was at that time lamented over all the western parts of America.
He had no sooner got out of the wood, but he was entertained with such a landscape of flowery plains, green meadows, running streams, sunny hills, and shady vales, as were not to be represented by his own expressions, nor, as he said, by the conceptions of others. This happy region was peopled with innumerable swarms of spirits, who applied themselves to exercises and diversions according as their fancies led them. Some of them were tossing the figure of a coit; others were pitching the shadow of a bar; others were breaking the apparition of a horse; and multitudes employing themselves upon ingenious handicrafts with the souls of departed utensils--for that is the name which, in the Indian language, they give their tools when they are burnt or broken. As he travelled through this delightful scene, he was very often tempted to pluck the flowers that rose every where about him in the greatest variety and profusion, having never seen several of them in his own country: but he quickly found, that though they were objects of his sight, they were not liable to his touch. He at length came to the side of a great river, and, being a good fisherman himself, stood upon the banks of it some time to look upon an angler that had taken a greas many shapes of fishes, which lay flcuncing up and down by him.
I should have told my reader, that this Indian had been formerly married to one of the greatest beauties of his country, by whom he had several children. This couple were so famous for their love and constancy to one another, that the Indians to this day, when they give a married man joy of his wife, wish they may live together like Marraton and Yaratilda. Marraton had not stood long by the fisherman, when he saw the shadow of his beloved Yaratilda, who had for some time fixed her eye upon him, before he discovered her. Her arms were stretched out towards him ; floods of tears ran down her eyes; her looks, her hands, her roice called him over to her; and, at
the saine time, seemed to tell him that the river was unpräsable. Who can describe the passion, made up of joy, sorrow, love, desire, astonishment, that sose in the Indian upon the sight of his dear Yaratilla? He could express it by nothing but his tears, which ran like a river down his checks as he looked upon her. lle bad not stood in this posture long, before he plunged into the streain that lay before him; and, finding it to be nothing but the phantom of a river, stalked on the bottom of it till he arose on the other side. At his approach Yaratilda flow into his arms, whilst Marraton wished himself disencumbered of that body which kept her from his embraces. After many questions and endearments on both sides, she conducted bim to a bower which she had dressed with all the ornaments that could be met with in those blooming regions. She had made it gay beyond imagination, and was every day adding something new to it. As Marraton stood astonished at the unspeakable beauty of her habitation, and ravished with the fragrancy that came froin every part of it, Yaratilda told him that she was preparing this bower for his reception, as well knowing that his piety to his God, and his faithful dealing towards men, would certainly bring him to that happy place whenever his life should be at an end. She then brought two of her children to him, who died some years before, and resided with her in the same delightful bower; advising him to breed up those others which were still with bim, in such a manner that they might hereafter all of them meet together in this happy place.
The tradition tells us further, that he had afterwards a sight of those dismal habitations which are the portion of ill men after death; and mentions several
molten seas of gold, in which were plunged the souls of barbarous Europeans, who put to the sword so many thousands of poor Indians for the sake of that precious metal. But having already touched upon the chief points of this tradition, and exceeded the measure of my Paper, I shall not give any further account of it.
Nothing is so much admired, and so little understood, as wit. No author that I know of has written professedly upon it; and as for those who make any mention of it, they only treat on the subject as it has accidentally fallen in their way, and that too in little short reflections, or in general exclamatory flourishes, without entering into the bottom of the matter. I hope therefore I shall perforin an acceptable work to my countrymen, if I treat at large upon this subject; which I shall endeavour to do in a manner suitable to it, that I may not incur the censure which a famous critic bestows upon one who had written a treatise on the Sublime, in a low grovelling style. I intend to lay aside a whole week for this undertaking, that the scheme of my thoughts may not be broken and interrupted; and I dare promise myself, if my readers will give me a week's attention, that this great city will be very much changed for the better by next Saturday night.
In this, and one or two following Papers, I shall trace out the history of false wit, and distinguish the several kinds of it, as they have prevailed in different