« PreviousContinue »
told me, that it was true she could not think of
parting with me; but as she was assured, that if she was dead it would be the first thing I would do; so, as it seemed to her that the thing was determined above, she would not be the only obstruction: for if I thought fit, and resolved to go — here she found me very intent upon her words, and that I looked very earnestly at her; so that it a little disordered her, and she stopped. I asked her why she did not go on, and say out what she was going to say? But I perceived her heart was too full, and some tears stood in her eyes : Speak out my dear, said I, are you willing I should go? No, says she, very affectionately, I am far from willing: but if you are resolved to go, says she, and rather than I will be the only hindrance, I will go with you; for though I think it a preposterous thing for one of your years, and in your condition, yet if it must be, said she again, weeping, I won't leave you; for if it be of heaven, you must do it ; there is no resisting it; and if heaven makes it your duty to go, he will also make it mine to go with you, or otherwise dispose of me, that I may not obstruct it. This affectionate behaviour of
wife brought me a little out of the vapours, and I began to consider what I was doing ; I corrected my wandering fancy, and began to argue with myself sedately, what business I had, after threescore years, and after such a life of tedious sufferings and disasters, and closed in so happy and easy a manner, I say, what business had I to rush into new hazards, and put myself upon adventures, fit only for youth and poverty to run into?
With those thoughts, I considered my new engage. ment; that I had a wife, one child born, and my wife then great with child of another; that I had all the world could give me, and had no need to feek hazards for gain ; that I was declining in years, and ought to think rather of leaving what I had gained, than of seeking to increase it; that as to what my wife had faid, of its being an impulse from heaven, and that it should be my duty to go, I had no notion of that; so after many of these cogitations, I strug. gled with the power of my imagination, reasoned myself out of it, as I believe people may always do in like cases, if they will; and, in a word, I conquered it; composed myself with such arguments as occurred to my thoughts, and which my present condition fur, nished me plentifully with; and particularly, as the most effectual method, I resolved to divert myself with other things, and to engage in some business that might effectually tie me up from any more excursions of this kind; for I found the thing return upon me chiefly when I was idle, had nothing to do, or any thing of moment immediately before me.
To this purpose I bought a little farm in the county of Bedford, and resolved to remove myself thither. I had a little convenient house upon it, and the land about it I found was capable of great improvement, and that it was many ways suited to my inclination, which delighted in cultivating, managing, planting and improving of land; and particularly, being an inland country, I was removed from conversing among ships, failors, and things relating to the remote part of the world,
In a word, I went down to my farm, settled my family, bought me ploughs, harrows, a cart, waggon, horses, cows, sheep; and setting seriously to work, became in one half year a meer country gentleman; my thoughts were entirely taken up in managing my servants, cultivating the ground, enclofing, planting, &c. and I lived, as I thought, the most agreeable life that nature was capable of directing, or that a man always bred to misfortunes was capable of being retreated to.
I farmed upon my own land, I had no rent to pay, was limited by no articles; I could pull up or cut down as I pleased: what I planted was for myself, and what I improved, was for my family; and having thus left off the thoughts of wandering, I had not the least discomfort in any part of my life, as to this world. Now I thought indeed, that I enjoyed the middle state of life which my father so earnestly recommended to me, a kind of heavenly life, some. thing like what is described by the poet upon the subject of a country life.
Free from vices, free from care,
Age has no pains, and youth no snare. But in the middle of all this felicity, one blow from unforeseen Providence unhinged me at once ; and not only made a breach upon me, inevitable and incurable, but drove me, by its consequence, upon a deep relapse into the wandering disposition; which,
I may say, being born in my very blood, soon recovered its hold of me, and, like the returns of a violent distemper, came on with an irresistible force upon me; so that nothing could make any more
impression upon me.
This blow was the loss of
It is not my business here to write an elegy upon my wife, to give a character of her particular virtues, and make my court to the sex by the flattery of a funeral sermon. She was, in a few words, the stay of all my affairs, the center of all my enterprizes, the engine that by her prudence reduced me to that happy compass I was in, from the most extravagant and ruinous project that fluttered in my head as above; and did more to guide my rambling genius, than a mother's tears, a father's instructions, a friend's counsel, or all my own reasoning powers could do. I was happy in listening to her tears, and in being moved by her entreaties, and to the last degree defolate and dislocated in the world by the loss of her.
When she was gone, the world looked aukwardly round
me; I was as much a stranger in it, in my thoughts, as I was in the Brafils when I went first on shore there; and as much alone, except as to the assistance of servants, as I was in my
island. I knew neither what to do, or what not to do. I saw the world busy round me, one part labouring for bread, and the other part squandring in vile excesses or empty pleasures, equally miserable, because the end they proposed still fled from them; for the men of pleasure every day surfeited of their vice, and heaped up
work for forrow and repentance; and the men of labour spent their strength in daily strugglings for breath to maintain the vital strength they laboured with, fo living in a daily circulation of sorrow, living but to work, and working but to live, as if daily
bread were the only end of a wearisome life, and a wearisome life the only occasion of daily bread.
This put me in mind of the life I lived in my kingdom, the island; where I suffered no more corn to grow, because I did not want it; and bred no more goats, because I had no more use for them : where the money lay in the drawer till it grew mildewed, and had scarce the favour to be looked upon in 20 years.
All these things, had I improved them as I ought to have done, and as reason and religion had dictated to me, would have taught me to search farther than human enjoyments for a full felicity, and that there was something which certainly was the reason and end of life, fuperior to all these things, and which was either to be possessed, or at least hoped for, on this side the
grave. But my sage counsellor was gone; I was like a ship without a pilot, that could only run before the wind: my thoughts run all away again into the old affair, my head was quite turned with the whimsies of foreign adventures; and all the pleasing innocent amusements of my farm, and my garden, my cattle, and my family, which before entirely poffest me, were nothing to me, had no relish, and were like mufic to one that has no ear, or food to one that has no taste: In a word, I resolved to leave off house-keeping, lett my farm, and return to London; and in a few months after I did fo.
When I came to London, I was still as uneasy as before ; I had no relish to the place, no employment in it, nothing to do but to faunter about like an idle person, of whom it may be faid, he is perfectly useless in God's creation and it is not one