« PreviousContinue »
tonishment; for all objects' appeared to be equally near ; and it was not till after an infinite number of trials, that I learned to use my eye as a guide to my hand. As the hand gave me ideas totally different from the impressions I re. ceived by the eye, my sensations were contradictory; the judgments I formed were imperfect'; and my whole exis. tence was disorder and confusion.
Reflecting deeply on the nature of my being, the contradictions I had experienced filled me with humility: the more I meditated, my doubts and difficulties increased. Fatigued with so many uncertainties, and with anxious emotions which successively arose in my mind, my knees bended, and I soon found myself in a situation of repose. This state of tranquillity added fresh force to my senses. I was seated under the shade of a beautiful tree. Fruit of a vermilion hué hung down, in the form of grapes, within reach of my hand. These fruits I gently touched, and they instantly separated from the branch. In laying hold of one of them, I imagined I had made a great conquest; and I rejoiced in the faculty of containing in my hand an entire being which made no part of myself. Its weight, though trifling, seemed to be an animated resistance, which I had a pleasure in being able to conquer..
I held the fruit near my eyes: I examined its form and its colours. A delicious odour allured me to bring it near my lips, and I inhaled long draughts of its perfumes. When entirely occupied with the sweetness of its fragrance, my mouth opened, and I discovered that I had an internal sense of smelling, which was more delicate and refined than that conveyed by the nostrils. In fine, I tasted the fruit. The novelty of the sensation, and the exquisiteness of the savour, filled me with astonishment and transport. Till now I had only enjoyed pleasures; but taste gave me an idea of voluptuousness. The enjoyment was so congenial and intimate, that it conveyed to me the notion of possession or property. I thought that the substance of the fruit had become part of my own, and that I was endowed with the '. power of transforming bodies.
Charmed with this idea of power, and with the pleasures I felt, I continued to pull and to eat. But an agreeable languor gradually impaired my senses ; my limbs grew heavy; and my mind seemed to lose its natural activity. I perceived this inaction by the feebleness of my thoughts : the dulness of my sensations rounded all external objects,
and conveyed only weak and ill-defined ideas. At this in stant my eyes shut, and my head reclined upon the grass.
Every thing now disappeared : darkness and confusion reigned. The train of my ideas was interrupted; and I lost the consciousness of my existence. My sleep was profound ; but, having no mode of measuring time, I knew nothing of its duration. My awakening appeared to be a second birth: for I only perceived that I had ceased to exist. This temporary annihilation gave me the idea of fear, and made me conclude that my existence was not permanent."
Another perplexity arose : I suspected that sleep had robbed me of some part of my powers: I tried my different senses, and endeavoured to recognise all my former faculties. When surveying my body, in order to ascertain its identity, I was astonished to find at my side another form perfectly similar to my own! I conceived it to be another self ; and, instead of losing by sleep, I imagined myself to be doubled.:
I ventured to lay my hand upon this new being : with rapture and astonishment I perceived that it was not myself, but something much more glorious and desirable ; and I imagined that my existence was about to dissolve, and to be wholly transfused into this second part of my being : ! I perceived her to be animated by the touch of my hand: I saw her catch the expression in my eyes; and the lustre and vivacity of her own made a new source of life thrill in my veins.
At this instant the sun had finished his course; I perceived, with pain, that I lost the sense of seeing; and the present obscurity recalled in vain the idea of my former sleep.
The Highlands of Scotland are a picturesque, but in general. • a melancholy country. Long tracts of mountainous desert covered with dark heath, and often obscured by misty weather; narrow valleys, thinly inhabited, and bounded by precipices resounding with the fall of torrents ; a soil so rugged and a clime só dreary, as in many parts to admit neither the amusements of pasturage, nor the labours of
agriculture; the mournful dashing of waves along the friths and lakes that intersect the country; the portentous noises which every change of the wind, and every increase and diminution of the waters are apt to raise in a lonely region, full of echoes, and rocks, and caverns; the grotesque and ghastly appearance of such a landscape by the light of the moon ; objects like these diffuse a gloom over the fancy, which may be compatible enough with occasional and social merriment, but cannot fail to tincture the thoughts even of an ordinary native in the hour of silence and solitude. • What then would it be reasonable to expect from the fanciful tribe, from the musicians and poets, of such a region ? Strains, expressive of joy, tranquillity, or the softer passions ? No; their style must have been better suited to their circumstances. And so we find, in fact, that their musick is. The wildest irregularity appears in its composition : the expression is warlike and melancholy, and approaches even to the terrible. And that their poetry is almost uniformly mournful, and their views of nature dark and dreary, will be allowed by all who admit the authenticity of Ossian; and not doubted by any who believe those fragments of Highland poetry to be genuine, which many old people, now alive, of that country, remember to have heard in their youth, and were then taught to refer to a pretty high antiquity.
Some of the southern provinces of Scotland present a very different prospect. Smooth and lofty hills covered with verdure ; clear streams winding through long and beautiful valleys; trees produced without culture, here straggling or single, and there crowding into little groves and bowers ; with other circumstances peculiar to the districts alluded to, render them fit for pasturage, and favourable to romantick leisure and tender passion.
Several of the old Scotch songs take their names from the rivulets, villages, and bills adjoining to the Tweed near Mel. rose ; a region distinguished by many charming varieties of rural scenery, and which, whether we consider the face of the country or the genius of the people, may properly enough be termed the Arcadia of Scotland. And all their songs are sweetly and powerfully expressive of love and tenderness, and other emotions suited to the tranquillity of pastoral life.
. .... LESSON LXVI. Fortitude of the Indian Character.—Adair’s TRAVELS.
A PARTY of the Seneca Indians came to war against the Katawbas, bitter enemies to each other. In the woods the former discovered a sprightly warriour belonging to the latter, hunting in their usual light dress : on his perceiving them he sprung off for a hollow rock four or five miles distant, as they intercepted him from running homeward. He was so extremely swift and skilful with the gun, as to kill seven of them in the running fight before they were able to surround and take him. They carried him to their country in sad triumph ; but though he had filled them with uncommon grief and shame for the loss of so many of their kindred, yet the love of martial virtue induced them to treat him, during their long journey, with a great deal more civility than if he had acted the part of a coward. · The women and children, when they met him at their several towns, beat him and whipped him in as severe a manner as the occasion required, according to their law of justice; and at last he was formally condemned to die by the fiery torture. It might reasonably be imagined, that what he had for some time gone through, by being fed with a scanty hand, a tedious march, lying at night on the bare ground, exposed to the changes of the weather, with his arms and legs extended in a pair of rough stocks, and suffering such punishment on his entering into their hostile towns, as a prelude to those sharp torments to which he was destined, would have so impaired his health, and affected his imagination, as to have sent him to his long sleep, out of the way of any more sufferings.
Probably this would have been the case with the major part of white people under similar circumstances; but I never knew this with any of the Indians: and this cool-headed, brave warriour, did not deviate from their rough lessons of martial virtue, but acted his part so well as to surprise and sorely vex his numerous enemies :-for when they were taking him, unpinioned, in their wild parade, to the place of torture, which lay near to a river, he suddenly dashed down those who stood in his way, sprung off, and plunged into the water, swimming underneath like an otter, only rising to take breath, till he reached the opposite shore. .
He now ascended the steep bank, but, though he had good reason to be in a hurry, as many of the enemy were in the
water, and others running, like bloodhounds, in pursuit of him, and the bullets flying around him from the time he took to the river, yet his heart did not allow him to leave them abruptly. He chose to take leave in a formal manner, in return for the extraordinary favours they had done, and intended to do him. So, stopping a moment, to bid them defiance, in the genuine style of Indian gallantry, he put up the shrill war-whoop, as his last salute, till some more convenient opportunity offered, and darted off in the manner of a beast broke loose from its torturing enemies.
He continued his speed, so as to run by about midnight of the same day as far as his eager pursuers were two days in reaching. There he rested, till he happily discovered five of those Indians who had pursued him :-he lay hid a little way off their camp, till they were sound asleep. Every circumstance of his situation occurred to him, and inspired him with heroism. He was naked, torn, and hungry, and his enraged enemies were come up with him ; but there was now every thing to relieve his wants, and a fair opportunity to save his life, and get great honour and sweet revenge by cutting them off.-Resolution, a convenient spot, and sudden surprise, would effect the main object of all his wishes and hopes. He accordingly crept, took one of their tomahawks, and killed them all on the spot-clothed himself, and took a choice gun, and as much ammunition and provisions as he could well carry in a running march. He set off afresh with a light heart, and did not sleep for several successive nights, except when he reclined, as usual, a little before day, with his back to a tree.
As it were by instinct, when he found he was free from the pursuing enemy, he made directly to the very place where he had been taken prisoner and doomed to the fiery torture, after having killed seven of his enemies. The bodies of these he dug up, burnt them to ashes, and went home in safety with singular triumph.-Other pursuing enemies came, on the evening of the second day, to the camp of their dead people, when the sight gave them a : greater shock than they had ever known before. In their chilled war council they concluded, that as he had done such surprising things in his defence before he was captivated, and even after that, in his naked condition, he must surely be an enemy wizard; and that, as he was now well armed, he would destroy them all should they continue the pursuit :-they therefore very prudently returned home.