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OMAR'S WAY OF LIFE.
OMAR, the son of Hussan, had passed seventy-five years in honour and prosperity. The favour of three successive Califs had filled his house with gold and silver; and whenever he appeared, the benedictions of the people proclaimed his passage.
Terrestrial happiness is of short continuance. The brightness of the flame is wasting its fuel; the fragrant flower is passing away in its own odours. The vigour of Omar began to fail, the curls of beauty fell from his head, strength departed from his hands, and agility from his feet. He gave back to the Calif the keys of trust and the seals of secrecy; and sought no other pleasure for the remains of life than the converse of the wise, and the gratitude of the good.
The powers of his mind were yet unimpaired. His chamber was filled by visitants, eager to catch the dictates of experience, and officious to pay the tribute of admiration. Caled, the son of the viceroy of Egypt, entered every day early, and retired late. He was beautiful and eloquent; Omar admired his wit, and loved his docility. Tell me, said Caled, thou to whose voice nations have listened, and whose wisdom is known to the extremities of Asia, tell me how I may resemble Omar the Prudent? The arts by which you have gained power and preserved it, are to you no longer necessary or useful; impart to me the secret of your conduct, and teach me the plan upon which your wisdom has built your fortune.
Young man, said Omar, it is of little use to form plans of life. When I took my first survey of the world, in my twentieth year, having considered the various conditions of mankind, in the hour of solitude I said thus to myself, leaning against a cedar which spread its branches over my head: "Seventy years are allowed to man; I have yet fifty remaining: ten years I will allot to the attainment of knowledge, and ten I will pass in foreign countries; I shall be learned, and therefore shall be honoured; every city will shout at my arrival, and every student will solicit my friendship. Twenty years thus passed will store my mind with images, which I shall be busy through the rest
of my life in combining and comparing. I shall revel in inexhaustible accumulations of intellectual riches; I shall find new pleasures for every moment, and shall never more be weary of myself. I will, however, not deviate too far from the beaten track of life, but will try what can be found in female delicacy. I will marry a wife beautiful as the Houries, and wise as Zobeide; with her I will live twenty years within the suburbs of Bagdat, in every pleasure that wealth can purchase and fancy can invent. I will then retire to a rural dwelling, pass my days in obscurity and contemplation, and lie silently down on the bed of death. Through my life it shall be my settled resolution, that I will never depend upon the smile of princes; that I will never stand exposed to the artifices of courts; I will never pant for public honours, nor disturb my quiet with affairs of state." Such was my scheme of life, which I impressed indelibly upon my memory.
The first part of my ensuing time was to be spent in search of knowledge; and I know not how I was diverted from my design. I had no visible impediments without, nor any ungovernable passions within. I regarded knowledge as the highest honour and the most engaging pleasure; yet day stole upon day, and month glided after month, till I found that seven years of the first ten had vanished, and left nothing behind them. I now postponed my purpose of travelling; for why should I go abroad, while so much remained to be learned at home? I immured myself for four years, and studied the laws of the empire. The fame of my skill reached the judges; I was found able to speak upon doubtful questions, and was commanded to stand at the footstool of the Calif. I was heard with attention, I was consulted with confidence, and the love of praise fastened on my heart.
I still wished to see distant countries, listened with rapture to the relations of travellers, and resolved some time to ask my dismission, that I might feast my soul with novelty; but my presence was always necessary, and the stream of business hurried me along. Sometimes I was afraid lest I should be charged with ingratitude; but I still proposed to travel, and therefore would not confine myself by marriage.
In my fiftieth year I began to suspect that the time of travelling was past, and thought it best to lay hold on the felicity yet in my power, and indulge myself in domestic pleasures. But at fifty no man easily finds a woman beautiful as the Houries, and wise as Zobeide. I inquired and rejected, consulted and deliberated, till the sixtysecond year made me ashamed of gazing upon girls. I had now nothing left but retirement; and for retirement I never found a time, till disease forced me from public employment.
Such was my scheme, and such has been its consequence. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I trifled away the years of improvement; with a restless desire of seeing different countries, I have always resided in the same city; with the highest expectation of connubial felicity, I have lived unmarried; and with unalterable resolutions of contemplative retirement, I am going to die within the walls of Bagdat.-The Idler.
THE DYING SWAN.
"MUST I alone be silent and songless?" spake sighingly the quiet swan to himself, while he bathed in the radiance of the setting sun; almost I alone in the whole realm of the feathered kind? Certainly, as for the cackling goose, the clacking hen, and the screeching peacock, I envy not their sounds; but thee, O soft Philomela, I envy thee, when I,—as if enchained by thy song,-move slowly along in my wavy undulations, and linger, as if intoxicated, in the resplendence of the heavens. How would I sing of thee, thou golden evening sun-sing of thy beautiful light and my own bliss-plunge myself in the bright mirror of thy rosy bosom, and die!"
Transported, the swan dived down, and scarcely had he raised himself up again out of the waters, when a shining form, which stood on the shore, beckoned him to come to him. It was the god of the evening and morning sun— the beautiful Phoebus.
Sweet, lovely creature," said he, "the desire is fulfilled to thee which thou hast so often cherished in thy silent breast, and which could not before be granted."
Scarcely had he spoken the words, when he touched the swan with his lyre, and sounded upon it the note of the immortals. The sound thrilled ravishingly through the bird of Apollo, and he poured forth his song on the strings of the god of beauty. Gratefully and joyfully he sang of the beautiful sun, the resplendent sea, and his own innocent, peaceful life. Soft as his own soft form was the melodious song; he drew long waves of sound in sweet, languishing tones, until at last he found himself in Elysium, at the feet of Apollo, in all his true celestial beauty. The song which was denied to him in his lifetime had become his swan-song, which was softly to unloose his limbs and dissolve him in death; for he had heard the tone of the immortals, and seen the countenance of a god. Gratefully he bowed himself before the feet of Apollo, and listened to his divine tones; and now, too, his faithful spouse arrived, who had mourned his departure in a sweet song, and after his death had followed him to paradise. The goddess of innocence chose both of them as her favourites;-as the beautiful team of her pearly chariot when she bathes in the sea of youth.
Have patience, oh quiet, hoping heart! What is denied to thee in life, because thou couldst not bear it, the happy moment of death bestows.—From the German.
GELALEDDIN Of Bassora.
IN the time when Bassora was considered the school of Asia, and flourished by the reputation of its professors, and the confluence of its students, among the pupils that listened round the chair of Albumazar was Gelaleddin, a native of Tauris in Persia, a young man, amiable in his manners and beautiful in his form, of boundless curiosity, incessant diligence, and irresistible genius; of quick apprehension and tenacious memory, accurate without narrowness, and eager for novelty without inconstancy.
No sooner did Gelaleddin appear at Bassora, than his virtues and abilities raised him to distinction. He passed from class to class, rather admired than envied by those whom the rapidity of his progress left behind; he was consulted by his fellow-students as an oraculous guide, and admitted as a competent auditor to the conference of the Sages.
After a few years, having passed through all the exercises of probation, Gelaleddin was invited to a professor's seat, and entreated to increase the splendour of Bassora. Gelaleddin affected to deliberate on the proposal, with which, before he considered it, he resolved to comply; and next morning retired to a garden planted for the recreation of the students, and, entering a solitary walk, began to meditate upon his future life.
"If I am thus eminent (said he) in the regions of literature, I shall be yet more conspicuous in any other place: if I should now devote myself to study and retirement, I must pass my life in silence, unacquainted with the delights of wealth, the influence of power, the pomp of greatness, and the charms of elegance, with all that man envies and desires, with all that keeps the world in motion, by the hope of gaining or the fear of losing it. I will therefore depart to Tauris, where the Persian monarch resides in all the splendour of absolute dominion; my reputation will fly before me, my arrival will be congratulated by my kinsmen and my friends. I shall see the eyes of those who predicted my greatness sparkling with exultation, and the faces of those that once despised me clouded with envy, or counterfeiting kindness by artificial smiles. I will show my wisdom by my discourse, and my moderation by my silence; I will instruct the modest with easy gentleness, and repress the ostentatious by seasonable superciliousness. My apartments will be crowded by the inquisitive and the vain, by those that honour and those that rival me; my name will soon reach the court; I shall stand before the throne of the emperor; the judges of the law will confess my wisdom, and the nobles will contend to heap gifts upon me. If I shall find that my merit, like that of others, excites malignity, or feel myself tottering on the seat of elevation, I may at last retire to academical obscurity, and become, in my lowest state, a professor of Bassora."
Having thus settled his determination, he declared to his friends his design of visiting Tauris, and saw, with more pleasure than he ventured to express, the regret with which he was dismissed. He could not bear to delay the honours to which he was destined; and therefore hasted away, and in a short time entered the capital of Persia. He was immediately immersed in the crowd, and passed unobserved to his father's house. He entered, and was