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Does life appear miserable, that gives the opportunities of earning 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 me no answer, I turned about to address 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.
parti-cle (par'ti-kl), a preposition
A man who has been brought up among books, and is able to talk of nothing else, is a very indifferent companion, and what we call a pedant. But, methinks, we should enlarge the title, and give it to every one that does not know how to think out of his profession and particular way of life.
What is a greater pedant than a mere man of the town? Bar him the playhouses, or a catalogue of the reigning beauties, and you strike him dumb. How many a pretty gentleman's knowledge lies all within the verge of the Court! He will tell you the names of the principal favorites, repeat the shrewd sayings of a man of quality, whisper some scandal; or, if the sphere of his observations is a little larger than ordinary, will perhaps enter into all the incidents, turns, and revolutions in a game of ombre. When he has gone thus far, he has shown you the whole circle of his accomplishments, his parts are drained, and he is disabled from any further conversation. What are these but rank pedants? And yet these are the men who value themselves most on their exemption from the pedantry of colleges.
I might here mention the military pedant, who always talks in a camp, and is storming towns, making lodgements, and fighting battles, from one end of the year to the other. Every thing he speaks smells of gunpowder : if you take away his artillery from him, he has not a word to say for himself.
I might likewise mention the law pedant, that is perpetually putting cases, repeating the transactions of Westminster Hall, wrangling with you upon the most indifferent circumstances of life, and not to be convinced of the distance of a place, or of the most trivial point in conversation, but by dint of argument.
The state pedant is wrapt up in news, and lost in politics. If you mention either of the kings of Spain or Poland, he talks very notably; but if you go out of the gazette, you drop him. In short, a mere courtier, a mere soldier, a mere scholar, a mere any thing, is an insipid pedantic character, and equally ridiculous.
Of all the species of pedants which I have mentioned, the book pedant is much the most supportable. He has, at least, an exercised understanding, and a head which is full, though confused : so that a man who converses with him may often receive from him hints of things that are worth knowing, and what he may possibly turn to his own advantage, though they are of little use to the owner. The worst kind of pedants among learned men are such as are naturally endued with a very small share of common sense, and have read a great number of books without taste or distinction.
The truth of it is, learning, like traveling, and all other methods of improvement, as it furnishes good sense, so it makes a silly man ten thousand times more insufferable, by supplying variety of matter to his impertinence, and giving him an opportunity of abounding in absurdities.
Shallow pedants cry up one another much more than men of solid and useful learning. To read the titles they give an editor, or collator of a manuscript, you would take him for the glory of the commonwealth of letters and the wonder of his age, when perhaps upon examination you would find that he has only rectified a Greek particle, or laid out a whole sentence in proper commas.
They are obliged, indeed, to be thus lavish of their praises, that they may keep one another in countenance, and it is no wonder if a great deal of knowledge which is 'not capable of making a man wise has a natural tendency to make him vain and arrogant.
THE LOVES OF HILPA.
an-te-di-lū'vi-an, before the deluge. reck'oned, accounted, thought. billet-doux (be-ya-doo), a love-letter.tufts, clumps.
HILPA was one of the hundred and fifty daughters of Zilpah, of the race of Cohu, by whom some of the learned think is meant Cain. She was exceedingly beautiful, and when she was but a girl of threescore and ten years of age, received the addresses of several who made love to her. Among these were two brothers, Harpath and Shalum. Harpath, being the first-born, was master of that fruitful region which lies at the foot of Mount Tirzah, in the southern parts of China. Shalum (which is to say, the planter, in the Chinese language) possessed all the neighboring hills, and that great range of mountains which goes under the name of Tirzah. Harpath was of a haughty, contemptuous spirit; Shalum was of a gentle disposition, beloved both by God and man.
It is said, that, among the antediluvian women, the daughters of Cohu had their minds wholly set upon riches; for which reason the beautiful Hilpa preferred Harpath to Shalum, because of his numerous flocks and herds that covered all the low country which runs along the foot of Mount Tirzah, and is watered by several fountains and streams breaking out of the sides of that mountain.
Harpath made so quick a dispatch of his courtship, that he married Hilpa in the hundredth year of her age; and, being of an insolent temper, laughed to scorn his
brother Shalum for having pretended to the beautiful Hilpa, when he was master of nothing but a long chain of rocks and mountains. This so much provoked Shalum, that he is said to have cursed his brother in the bitterness of his heart, and to have prayed that one of his mountains might fall upon his head if ever he came within the shadow of it.
From this time forward Harpath would never venture out of the valleys; but came to an untimely end in the two hundred and fiftieth year of his age, being drowned in a river as he attempted to cross it. This river is called to this day, from his name who perished in it, the river Harpath, and, what is very remarkable, issues out of one of those mountains which Shalum wished might fall upon his brother, when he cursed him in the bitterness of his heart.
Hilpa was in the one hundred and sixtieth year of her age at the death of her husband, having brought him but fifty children before he was snatched away, as has been already related. Many of the antediluvians made love to the young widow, though no one was thought so likely to succeed in her affections as her first lover Shalum, who renewed his court to her about ten years after the death of Harpath; for it was not thought decent in those days that a widow should be seen by a man within ten years after the decease of her husband.
Shalum falling into a deep melancholy, and resolving to take away that objection which had been raised against him when he made his first addresses to Hilpa, began, immediately after her marriage with Harpath, to plant all that mountainous region which fell to his lot