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And as a dawning perception of the truth came to him, as
Wanliu Admiration Network2023-12-05 06:01:51【music】2People have been watching
"But might not this very object, from whom you expected the purest happiness, have proved to you a source of the most cruel distress? She had returned poor and disinherited; all you could henceforth have partaken with her was your labour. Rendered more delicate by her education, and more courageous by her misfortunes, you might have beheld her every day sinking beneath her efforts to share and lighten your fatigues. Had she brought you children, they would only have served to increase her anxieties and your own, from the difficulty of sustaining at once your aged parents and your infant family.
"Very likely you will tell me that the governor would have helped you; but how do you know that in a colony where governors are so frequently changed, you would have had others like Monsieur de la Bourdonnais?-- that one might not have been sent destitute of good feeling and of morality?--that your young wife, in order, to procure some miserable pittance, might not have been obliged to seek his favour? Had she been weak you would have been to be pitied; and if she had remained virtuous, you would have continued poor: forced even to consider yourself fortunate if, on account of the beauty and virtue of your wife, you had not to endure persecution from those who had promised you protection.
"It would have remained to you, you may say, to have enjoyed a pleasure independent of fortune,--that of protecting a loved being, who, in proportion to her own helplessness, had more attached herself to you. You may fancy that your pains and sufferings would have served to endear you to each other, and that your passion would have gathered strength from your mutual misfortunes. Undoubtedly virtuous love does find consolation even in such melancholy retrospects. But Virginia is no more; yet those persons still live, whom, next to yourself, she held most dear; her mother, and your own: your inconsolable affliction is bringing them both to the grave. Place your happiness, as she did hers, in affording them succour. My son, beneficence is the happiness of the virtuous: there is no greater or more certain enjoyment on the earth. Schemes of pleasure, repose, luxuries, wealth, and glory are not suited to man, weak, wandering, and transitory as he is. See how rapidly one step towards the acquisition of fortune has precipitated us all to the lowest abyss of misery! You were opposed to it, it is true; but who would not have thought that Virginia's voyage would terminate in her happiness and your own? an invitation from a rich and aged relation, the advice of a wise governor, the approbation of the whole colony, and the well-advised authority of her confessor, decided the lot of Virginia. Thus do we run to our ruin, deceived even by the prudence of those who watch over us: it would be better, no doubt, not to believe them, nor even to listen to the voice or lean on the hopes of a deceitful world. But all men,--those you see occupied in these plains, those who go abroad to seek their fortunes, and those in Europe who enjoy repose from the labours of others, are liable to reverses! not one is secure from losing, at some period, all that he most values,--greatness, wealth, wife, children, and friends. Most of these would have their sorrow increased by the remembrance of their own imprudence. But you have nothing with which you can reproach yourself. You have been faithful in your love. In the bloom of youth, by not departing from the dictates of nature, you evinced the wisdom of a sage. Your views were just, because they were pure, simple, and disinterested. You had, besides, on Virginia, sacred claims which nothing could countervail. You have lost her: but it is neither your own imprudence, nor your avarice, nor your false wisdom which has occasioned this misfortune, but the will of God, who had employed the passions of others to snatch from you the object of your love; God, from whom you derive everything, who knows what is most fitting for you, and whose wisdom has not left you any cause for the repentance and despair which succeed the calamities that are brought upon us by ourselves.
"Vainly, in your misfortunes, do you say to yourself, 'I have not deserved them.' Is it then the calamity of Virginia--her death and her present condition that you deplore? She has undergone the fate allotted to all,--to high birth, to beauty, and even to empires themselves. The life of man, with all his projects, may be compared to a tower, at whose summit is death. When your Virginia was born, she was condemned to die; happily for herself, she is released from life before losing her mother, or yours, or you; saved, thus from undergoing pangs worse than those of death itself.
"Learn then, my son, that death is a benefit to all men: it is the night of that restless day we call by the name of life. The diseases, the griefs, the vexations, and the fears, which perpetually embitter our life as long as we possess it, molest us no more in the sleep of death. If you inquire into the history of those men who appear to have been the happiest, you will find that they have bought their apparent felicity very dear; public consideration, perhaps, by domestic evils; fortune, by the loss of health; the rare happiness of being loved, by continual sacrifices; and often, at the expiration of a life devoted to the good of others, they see themselves surrounded only by false friends, and ungrateful relations. But Virginia was happy to her very last moment. When with us, she was happy in partaking of the gifts of nature; when far from us, she found enjoyment in the practice of virtue; and even at the terrible moment in which we saw her perish, she still had cause for self-gratulation. For, whether she cast her eyes on the assembled colony, made miserable by her expected loss, or on you, my son, who, with so much intrepidity, were endeavouring to save her, she must have seen how dear she was to all. Her mind was fortified against the future by the remembrance of her innocent life; and at that moment she received the reward which Heaven reserves for virtue,--a courage superior to danger. She met death with a serene countenance.
"My son! God gives all the trials of life to virtue, in order to show that virtue alone can support them, and even find in them happiness and glory. When he designs for it an illustrious reputation, he exhibits it on a wide theatre, and contending with death. Then does the courage of virtue shine forth as an example, and the misfortunes to which it has been exposed receive for ever, from posterity, the tribute of their tears. This is the immortal monument reserved for virtue in a world where every thing else passes away, and where the names, even of the greater number of kings themselves, are soon buried in eternal oblivion.
"Meanwhile Virginia still exists. My son, you see that every thing changes on this earth, but that nothing is ever lost. No art of man can annihilate the smallest particle of matter; can, then, that which has possessed reason, sensibility, affection, virtue, and religion be supposed capable of destruction, when the very elements with which it is clothed are imperishable? Ah! however happy Virginia may have been with us, she is now much more so. There is a God, my son; it is unnecessary for me to prove it to you, for the voice of all nature loudly proclaims it. The wickedness of mankind leads them to deny the existence of a Being, whose justice they fear. But your mind is fully convinced of his existence, while his works are ever before your eyes. Do you then believe that he would leave Virginia without recompense? Do you think that the same Power which inclosed her noble soul in a form so beautiful,--so like an emanation from itself, could not have saved her from the waves?--that he who has ordained the happiness of man here, by laws unknown to you, cannot prepare a still higher degree of felicity for Virginia by other laws, of which you are equally ignorant? Before we were born into this world, could we, do you imagine, even if we were capable of thinking at all, have formed any idea of our existence here? And now that we are in the middle of this gloomy and transitory life, can we foresee what is beyond the tomb, or in what manner we shall be emancipated from it? Does God, like man, need this little globe, the earth, as a theatre for the display of his intelligence and his goodness?--and can he only dispose of human life in the territory of death? There is not, in the entire ocean, a single drop of water which is not peopled with living beings appertaining to man: and does there exist nothing for him in the heavens above his head? What! is there no supreme intelligence, no divine goodness, except on this little spot where we are placed? In those innumerable glowing fires,--in those infinite fields of light which surround them, and which neither storms nor darkness can extinguish, is there nothing but empty space and an eternal void? If we, weak and ignorant as we are, might dare to assign limits to that Power from whom we have received every thing, we might possibly imagine that we were placed on the very confines of his empire, where life is perpetually struggling with death, and innocence for ever in danger from the power of tyranny!
"Somewhere, then, without doubt, there is another world, where virtue will receive its reward. Virginia is now happy. Ah! if from the abode of angels she could hold communication with you, she would tell you, as she did when she bade you her last adieus,--'O, Paul! life is but a scene of trial. I have been obedient to the laws of nature, love, and virtue. I crossed the seas to obey the will of my relations; I sacrificed wealth in order to keep my faith; and I preferred the loss of life to disobeying the dictates of modesty. Heaven found that I had fulfilled my duties, and has snatched me for ever from all the miseries I might have endured myself, and all I might have felt for the miseries of others. I am placed far above the reach of all human evils, and you pity me! I am become pure and unchangeable as a particle of light, and you would recall me to the darkness of human life! O, Paul! O, my beloved friend! recollect those days of happiness, when in the morning we felt the delightful sensations excited by the unfolding beauties of nature; when we seemed to rise with the sun to the peaks of those rocks, and then to spread with his rays over the bosom of the forests. We experienced a delight, the cause of which we could not comprehend. In the innocence of our desires, we wished to be all sight, to enjoy the rich colours of the early dawn; all smell, to taste a thousand perfumes at once; all hearing, to listen to the singing of our birds; and all heart, to be capable of gratitude for those mingled blessings. Now, at the source of the beauty whence flows all that is delightful upon earth, my soul intuitively sees, hears, touches, what before she could only be made sensible of through the medium of our weak organs. Ah! what language can describe these shores of eternal bliss, which I inhabit for ever! All that infinite power and heavenly goodness could create to console the unhappy: all that the friendship of numberless beings, exulting in the same felicity can impart, we enjoy in unmixed perfection. Support, then, the trial which is now allotted to you, that you may heighten the happiness of your Virginia by love which will know no termination, --by a union which will be eternal. There I will calm your regrets, I will wipe away your tears. Oh, my beloved friend! my youthful husband! raise your thoughts towards the infinite, to enable you to support the evils of a moment.' "
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Indian family, who had come to trade in a canoe from Caylen,
was Veranilda’s desire; for on her ear the name of Rome
‘I would I could live in the same way,’ Basil exclaimed.
with the Goth, whom he invited to come with all speed into
He strove to peer about him, but the feeble ray of the
‘You are not a presbyter?’ she said in an undertone,
hands of the Imperial conquerors—property of his in Rome
a vow, may not come within the precincts of any dwelling.