Abbildungen der Seite

movement. These the creatures kept in a continual motion, like that of opening and shutting the human hand; this movement naturally described a part of a circle, and as the creature always expanded them to their full breadth, as it shut them, and contracted them to their ut. most narrowness again, as it drew them up, they drove the water forcibly before them in the closing, and were brought back to their open state without much disturbance to the current.

How wonderful an apparatus is this for the service of an animal, a thousand of which would not together be equal to a grain of sand in bigness! Animalcules of this kind have been occasionally seen before by naturalists, but the mechanism has never been at all understood; the apparatus about the head has been declared to consist of real wheels, and the creature has been thence called the wheel-animal. It ought to have occurred to these gentlemen, that the wheel they imagined in this part, could not perform its continued and unchanging rotatory motion unless detached ; and that, if detached from all other parts of the animal, it could not be nourished.


Volvantur varia pereuntium forma, et omni imagine mortium,


The various forms of the dying and the dead float before his eyes.

Such and so great is the power of deceit, that, while health is our own, specious shews and fair appearances will blind the judgment of the deepest observer :

For neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone.


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

In order therefore to know the true state of the human heart, we must wait till the closing hour of life; for then only, in the hearts of many, sincerity takes possession; then indeed, whatever shews we may have made, if they were false, the prospect of approaching death will soon discover the deceit.

Full of these reflections I fell asleep, and was, methought, insensibly conveyed on to an eminence, whence I saw a city crowded with inhabitants, who seemed in general afraid of a

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

spectre that constantly stalked among them armed with a dart, with which whosoever was struck immediately expired. Some, indeed, I observed who seemed not to fly from him ; but I perceived nevertheless that whenever he passed, they shrunk and turned pale. His arm was constantly employed ; some, and those the most indeed, he met and killed, while he followed others and struck them unseen or unapprehended. I longed eagerly to go among them, because I saw that whenever Death (for it was he) lifted up his arm to strike any one, his breast appeared transparent, so that one might behold what passed within ; but though my ardent curiosity excited me to join them, yet the stronger fear of the spectre restrained

[merged small][ocr errors]

While I was thus agitated by fear and desire, a youth approached me with an instrument in his hand, opened my breast, took thence my heart, and, pressing it, the fomes peccati flowed out so abundantly, that I was struck with shame at the sight; he then breathed fresh vigour into it, replaced it in me, closed the wound, and disappeared.

Every one will imagine I was not a little startled at this operation, but I was not less pleased with the wonderful effects of it that I felt in me; all fear of the late dreaded spectre vanished, and I descended the hill, and made one in the crowd. As I was under no apprehension or concern for myself, I kept near him, in order to observe the hearts of those he approached.

We entered a house together, where I heard a confused noise in a room which we made up to; it proceeded from a set of atheists and blasphemers, one of whom was particularly loud in praise of the poor arguments of Spinosa; as

-Over him triumphant Death his dart
Shook, but delayed to strike.

I discovered his heart, wherein sat Ignorance with her eyes shut, and Fear, who, upon sight of the uplifted dart, forced him upon his knees, made him beg his life, renounce his principles, and own the deity. Upon the spectre's withdrawing his arm, and stalking out of the room, I followed him, rejoicing at this wretch's apostacy, when I was surprised with hearing the noise renewed afresh, and his voice distinguished in blasphemies and lies above the rest.

The next was indeed a sight of pity; a young lady, in the bloom of beauty, lay expecting the final stroke. I will not describe the affecting scene of mourners round her, indeed it is not to be described; but she herself most engaged (as she most merited) my attention. I trembled while I saw the uplifted hand of Death, but the view of her heart dispelled that concern, and filled me with a generous pleasure. I there beheld Faith with a smile upon her countenance as expressive--nay, nothing could be so expressive of expected happiness : Virtue, in the form of an angel, and Religion, with uplifted hands and eyes, were visible inmates of her heart. The dart descended; she died, (angelic creature!) and soared to the seats of immortal life and joy.

We then approached a youth, whose heart, at sight of the impending dart, was in wonderful agitations; hope and fear, rage and trembling, reigned in it alternately; it sometimes shrunk to nothing, and immediately after swelled to a more than ordinary size; but when the dart, after some delay, struck him, it burst amidst the most dreadful execrations imaginable.

I was in amaze at his fearful exit, and was something pleased at hearing another whom we approached, profess an entire resignation to providence; when the dart was raised, I exa

« ZurückWeiter »