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XI. Baretti hangs next, by his frowns you may know him, He has lately been reading some new-published poem; He finds the poor author a blockhead, a beast, A fool without sentiment, judgment, or taste. Ever thus let our critic his insolence fling, Like the hornet in Homer, impatient to sting. Let him rally his friends for their frailties before 'em, And scorn the dull praise of that dull thing, decorum : While tenderness, temper, and truth he despises, And only the triumph of victory prizes. Yet let us be candid, and where shall we find So active, so able, so ardent a mind ? To your children more soft, more polite with your servant, More firm in distress, or in friendship more fervent. Thus Ætna enraged her artillery pours, And tumbles down palaces, princes, and towers; While the fortunate peasantry fixed at its foot, Can make it a hot-house to ripen their fruit.
See Burke's bright intelligence beams from his face,
Let us list to the learning that tongue can display,
Gigantic in knowledge, in virtue, in strength,
* Till he got his pension, Burke was always poor; and the wonder is how he managed to make both ends meet at all.
ARABIAN tales, all Oriental tales indeed, are full of imagination, void of common sense. The lady who recounts can scarcely fail to amuse. She is herself so handsome and so charming, the story must please, be it what it will; but they must be listeners like Sir James Fellowes who can feel interest in an old man's narration, and hear attentively the Rabbinical story concerning A Search after Asheri.
Four young men, then, stood round their father's death-bed. “I cannot speak what I wish you to hear," whispered the dying parent; “but there is a Genius residing in the neighboring wood, who pretends to direct mortals to Asheri. Meanwhile, accept my house and lands; they are not large, but will afford an elegant sufficiency. – Farewell.”
Three of the brothers set out instantly for the wood. The fourth staid at home; and, having performed the last filial duties to a father he revered, began to cultivate his farm, and court his neighbor's daughter to share it with him. She was virtuous, kind, and amiable. We will leave them, and follow the adventurers, who soon arrived at the obscure habitation of the reputed sage, bosomed in trees, and his hut darkened with ivy. Scarce could the ambiguous mandates be heard ; still less could the speaker (Imagination) be discerned through the gloom. “ What is this Asheri we are to look out for?” said one brother. “O, when once seen, no eye can be mistaken,” replied a voice from within the grot. “ Three beautiful forms uniting under one radiant head, compose the sighed-for object.” “ I am a passionate admirer of beauty,” interrupted the youth. “ Shall I not find the lovely creature at Grand Cairo ?” “ Seek your desire there,” was the reply; “ the soil will be congenial to your nature.” He set off without studying for an answer.
When the next brother made application : “I wonder," said he, “ how this renowned Asheri should ever be found without obtaing court-favor, and permission to proceed in the search.” “ At Ispahan, Sir, you may procure both. Here are letters for the young Sophy of Persia, scarce thirteen years old, and her mother the Sultana Valadi.” A respectful bow constituted this youth's adieu, and he put himself immediately on progress.:
The third, who till now had been employed in laughing at and mimicking his companions, remained a moment with the Genius of the wood ; and “ Well, Sir,” said he,“ which way shall I take towards finding this fabulous being, this faultless wonder, this nonexistent chimera, Asheri ?” “0, you are a wit: make your début at Delhi ; 't is the only mart for talents.” Aboul, willing to try his fortune, soon set out; and after fifteen years — for so long my tale lasts — he was observed by two mendicants of ragged and wretched appearance ; who, fainting with hunger, and exhausted by disease, addressed him as he sat upon a stone by the wayside leading to Kouristan, 400 miles from Delhi. “I have no money, my honest friends," said he; “ but you shall share my dinner of brown bread and goat's milk. You have scarcely strength, I see, to reach the cottage : I will run home and fetch two wooden bowls full.” He did so, and they were refreshed, and recognized each other. It was now who should tell his hapless history; but Aboul was ablest and gave the following account:
“You left me,” said he, “ with that rascally conjuror, Imagination by name, whose delight it is to dress up a phantom for poor afflicted mortals to follow, and he calls it Asheri. My destiny led me to seek in Delhi the bright reward of superior talents ; but it was never my intention to claim applause till I had deserved it; so my lamp went not out at night till I had composed a book of tales for publication, — short ones, but well-varied, for novels were the mode at Delhi. In a week's time the book was in every hand that could hold one. The reviews criticised, but the ladies bought it, and the criticisms did me more good than harm. An ill-spent note called me to the toilette of a great lady; invitations then crowded round me, suppers without end, and dinners undesired. At first this was not unpleasant, and I began to
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think Asheri not far distant. I wrote elaborate poems in praise of my protectress, entered into none of her intrigues; but against all the people she hated there were store of lampoons and choice of epigrams ready, composed by the fashionable author, your hapless brother Aboul. Favored by one society, therefore, persecuted by another; adored by one set of ignorant females, tormented by another set; stared at by a neutral class as if I had been a monster; everything I said repeated, and wrong repeated; everything I did related, and wrong related; I gained information that my patroness was on the eve of losing her friend the vizier’s confidence, which a younger beauty (a woman she despised) was stealing away. My business was to satirize the vizier, who could not read; but soon understanding from others that it was done with acrimony of which Aboul only was capable, my Fatima was threatened; and to save herself, promised to give me up; but, in the clothes I exchanged instantly for those of a grateful slave, my escape was perfected, and you will not suspect me of seeking this invisible Asheri in the mean character of a village pedagogue, — for such you find me, after fifteen years' separation, — though, really, explaining to babies the rudiments of literature is at least a far less offensive employment than that of trying to instruct self-sufficient fools who take up their teachers out of vanity and discard them out of pride. I have been long enough a wit and an author. Now tell me your adventures."
“ Mine," said the passionate admirer of beauty, “are soon told. I dashed at Cairo into the full tide of what the world calls pleasure, till dissipation was no more a name. Five of the fifteen years were spent in ruining myself and others. The ten remaining proved too few for my repentance, too many for my endurance. My frame exhausted, my very mind enfeebled, life is to me only a lengthening calamity. What was your course, Mesrou ?”
“My course was wretched,” replied Mesrou ; “but my aim was well taken, and the goal I aimed at grand. Resolving to subdue all meaner passions, and dedicate myself to ambitious pursuits, I entered Ispahan with hope swelling in my heart, and presented my credentials to Sultana Valadi. She was old and ugly, amorous and vindictive. No matter; she guided the helm of state for her young son, whose honor she conceived would still