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[Description of the Caliph Vathek and his Magnificent self up to pleasure was as able to govern as one who
his people, who thought that a sovereign giving himPalaces.)
declared himself an enemy to it. But the unquiet Vathek, ninth caliph of the race of the Abassides, and impetuous disposition of the caliph would not was the son of Motassem, and the grandson of Haroun allow him to rest there. He had studied so much for al Raschid. From an early accession to the throne, his amusement in the lifetime of his father as to acand the talents he possessed to adorn it, his subjects quire a great deal of knowledge, though not a suffiwere induced to expect that his reign would be long ciency to satisfy himself; for he wished to know everyand happy. His figure was pleasing and majestic; thing, even sciences that did not exist. He was fond but when he was angry, one of his eyes became so of engaging in disputes with the learned, but did not terrible that no person could bear to behold it; and allow thein to push their opposition with warmth. He the wretch upon whom it was fixed instantly fell back stopped with presents the mouths of those whose ward, and sometimes expired. For fear, however, of mouths could be stopped ; whilst others, whom his depopulating his dominions, and making his palace liberality was unable to subdue, he sent to prison to desolate, he but rarely gave way to his anger. cool their blood--a remedy that often succeeded.
Being much addicted to women, and the pleasures Vathek discovered also a predilection for theologiof the table, he sought by his affability to procure cal controversy ; but it was not with the orthodox that agreeable companions; and he succeeded the better he usually held. By this means he induced the zeaas bis generosity was unbounded and his indulgences lots to oppose him, and then persecuted them in reunrestrained ; for he did not think, with the caliph turn; for he resolved, at any rate, to have reason on Omar Ben Abdalaziz, that it was necessary to make his side. a hell of this world to enjoy paradise in the next. The great prophet, Mahomet, whose vicars the
He surpassed in magnificence all his predecessors. caliphs are, beheld with indignation from his abode in The palace of Alkoremi, which his father, Motassem, the seventh heaven the irreligious conduct of such a had erected on the hill of Pied Horses, and which vicegerent. "Let us leave him to himself,' said he to cominanded the whole city of Samarah, was in his the genii, who are always ready to receive his comidea far too scanty; he added, therefore, five wings, mands ; let us see to what lengths his folly and imor rather other palaces, which he destined for the par- piety will carry him; if he run into excess, we shall ticular gratification of each of the senses. In the know how to chastise him. Assist hinı, therefore, to first of these were tables continually covered with complete the tower, which, in imitation of Nimrod, the most exquisite dainties, which were supplied both he hath begun; not, like that great warrior, to escape by night and by day, according to their constant being drowned, but from the insolent curiosity of consumption ; whilst the most delicious wines, and penetrating the secrets of Heaven : he will not divine the choicest cordials, flowed forth from a hundred the fate that awaits him.' fountains that were never exhausted. This palace The genii obeyed ; and, when the workmen had was called The Eternal, or Unsatiating Banquet. raised their structure a cubit in the day time, two The second was styled The Temple of Melody, or cubits more were added in the night. The expedition The Nectar of the Soul. It was inhabited by the most with which the fabric arose was not a little flattering skilful musicians and admired poets of the time, who to the vanity of Vathek: he fancied that even insennot only displayed their talents within, but, dispers-sible matter showed a forwardness to subserve his deing in bands without, caused every surrounding scene signs, not considering that the successes of the foolish to reverberate their songs, which were continually and wicked form the first rod of their chastisement. varied in the most delightful succession.
His pride arrived at its height when, having asThe palace named The Delight of the Eyes, or The cended for the first time the fifteen hundred stairs of Support of Memory, was one entire enchantment. his tower, he cast his eyes below, and beheld men not Rarities, collected from every corner of the earth, larger than pismires, mountains than shells, and cities were there found in such profusion as to dazzle and than bee-hives. The idea which such an elevation confound, but for the order in which they were ar- inspired of his own grandeur completely bewildered ranged. One gallery exhibited the pictures of the him; he was almost ready to adore himself, till, liftcelebrated Mani, and statues that seemed to be alive. ing his eyes upward, he saw the stars as high above him Here a well managed perspective attracted the sight; as they appeared when he stood on the surface of the there the magic of optics agreeably deceived it ; whilst earth. He consoled himself, however, for this intrudthe naturalist, on his part, exhibited in their several ing and unwelcome perception of his littleness, with classes the various gifts that Heaven had bestowed on the thought of being great in the eyes of others; and our globe. In a word, Vathek omitted nothing in this flattered himself that the light of his mind would expalace that might gratify the curiosity of those who tend beyond the reach of his sight, and extort from resorted to it, although he was not able to satisfy his the stars the decrees of his destiny. own, for of all men he was the most curious.
The Palace of Perfumes, which was termed likewise After some horrible sacrifices, related with great The Incentive to Pleasure, consisted of various halls, power, Carathis reads from a roll of parchment an where the different perfumes which the earth produces injunction that Vathek should depart from his were kept perpetually burning in censers of gold. palace surrounded by all the pageants of majesty, Flambeaux and aromatic lamps were here lighted in and set forward on his way to Istakar. There, open day. But the too powerful effects of this agree-added the writing of the mysterious Giaour, 'I able delirium might be alleviated by descending into await thy coming : that is the region of wonders : an immense garden, where an assemblage of every there shalt thou receive the diadem of Gian Ben fragrant flower diffused through the air the purest Gian, the talismans of Soliman, and the treasures odours.
of the pre-adamite sultans : there shalt thou be The fifth palace, denominated The Retreat of Mirth, solaced with all kinds of delight. But beware how or The Dangerous, was frequented by troops of young thou enterest any dwelling on thy route, or thou females, beautiful as the Houris, and not less seduc- shalt feel the effects of my anger.' The degenerate ing, who never failed to receive with caresses all whom commander of the true believers sets off on his the caliph allowed to approach them, and enjoy a few journey with much pomp. Carathis remains, but hours of their company.
gives the caliph a series of tablets, fraught with Notwithstanding the sensuality in which Vathek supernatural qualities, which he is to consult on all indulged, he experienced no abatement in the love of emergencies. Vathek, to conciliate the spirits of the
subterranean palace, resolved that his expedition should be uncommonly splendid. “The great standard of the caliphat was displayed; twenty thousand lances shone round it; and the caliph, treading on the cloth of gold which had been spread for his feet, ascended his litter amidst the general acclamations of his subjects.” The impious enterprise is interrupted by various portentous omens—by darkness, fire, and tempest—and at length the party get bewildered among the mountains. The good Emir Fakreddin, hearing of their perplexity, sends two dwarfs laden with fruit to regale the commander of the faithful, and invites the expedition to repose in his ‘happy valley.’ Vathek consults his tablets, which forbid such a visit; but rather than perish in the deserts with thirst, he resolves to go and refresh himself in the delicious valley of melons and cucumbers. Here the caliph becomes enamoured of the emir's daughter, the lovely Nouronihar, who is betrothed to her young cousin, Gulchenrouz. His passion is returned, and, while luxuriating in the valley, screened from the eyes of intruders, listening to the voice and lute of Nouronihar, drinking the fragrant and delicious wine of Schiraz, ‘which had been hoarded up in bottles prior to the birth of Mahomet,’ or eating manchets prepared by the hands of Nouronihar, Wathek entirely forgot the object of his expedition, and his desire to visit the palace of fire. Carathis being informed of the fascination which detained him, ordered her camel and attendants, and set off for Fakreddin. There she encountered her sensual son, and prevailed upon him to continue his journey, and complete his adventure. Nouronihar accompanies the caliph in his litter. In four days they reached the spacious valley of Rocknabad, and, having devoted two days to its pleasures, proceeded towards a large plain, from whence were discernible, on the edge of the horizon, the dark summits of the mountains of Istakar. One of the beneficent genii, in the guise of a shepherd, endeavours to arrest Vathek in his mad career, and warns him, that beyond the mountains Eblis and his accursed dives hold their infernal empire. That moment, he said, was the last of grace allowed him, and as soon as the sun, then obscured by clouds, recovered his splendour, if his heart was not changed the time of mercy assigned to him would be past for ever. Wathek audaciously spurned from him the warning and the counsel. “Let the sun appear,' he said; “let him illume my career it matters not where it may end.’ At the approach of night most of his attendants escaped; but Nouronihar, whose impatience, if possible, exceeded his own, importuned him to hasten his march, and lavished on him a thousand caresses to beguile all reflection.
[The Hall of Eblis.]
In this manner they advanced by moonlight till they came within view of the two towering rocks that form a kind of portal to the valley, at the extremity of which rose the vast ruins of Istakar. Aloft, on the mountain, glimmered the fronts of various royal mausoleums, the horror of which was deepened by the shadows of night. They passed through two villages, almost deserted; the only inhabitants remaining being a few feeble old men, who, at the sight of horses and litters, fell upon their knees and cried out, “O heaven l is it then by these phantoms that we have been for six months tormented Alas! it was from the terror of these spectres, and the noise beneath the mountains, that our people have fled and left us at the mercy of the maleficent spirits!' The caliph, to whom these complaints were but unpromising auguries, drove over the bodies of these wretched old
men, and at length arrived at the foot of the terrace of black marble. There he descended from his litter, handing down Nouronihar; both, with beating hearts, stared wildly around them, and expected, with an apprehensive shudder, the approach of the Giaour. But nothing as yet announced his appearance. A deathlike stillness reigned over the mountain and through the air. The moon dilated on a vast platform the shades of the lofty columns which reached from the terrace almost to the clouds. The gloomy watch-towers, whose number could not be counted, were covered by no roof; and their capitals, of an architecture unknown in the records of the earth, served as an asylum for the birds of night, which, alarmed at the approach of such visitants, fled away croaking. The chief of the eunuchs, trembling with fear, besought Wathek that a fire might be kindled. “No,'
replied he, “there is no time left to think of such |
trifles; abide where thou art, and expect my commands.” to Nouronihar, and, ascending the steps of a vast staircase, reached the terrace, which was flagged with squares of marble, and resembled a smooth expanse of water, upon whose surface not a blade of grass ever dared to vegetate. On the right rose the watch
towers, ranged before the ruins of an immense palace, |
whose walls were embossed with various figures. In front stood forth the colossal forms of four creatures,
| Having thus spoken, he presented his hand
He scarcely had read these words before the moun- |
tain against which the terrace was reared trembled,
and the watch-towers were ready to topple headlong | upon them. The rock yawned, and disclosed within its |
staircase of polished marble that seemed to approach the abyss. Upon each stair were planted two large torches, like those Nouronihar had seen in her vision; the camphorated vapour of which ascended and o itself into a cloud under the hollow of the | vault. This appearance, instead of terrifying, gave new courage to the daughter of Fakreddin. Scarcely deigning to bid adieu to the moon and the firmament, she abandoned, without hesitation, the pure atmosphere, to plunge into these infernal exhalations. The gait of those impious personages was haughty and determined. As they descended by the effulgence of the torches, they gazed on each other with mutual admiration; and both appeared so respleudent, that they already esteemed themselves spiritual intelligences. The only circumstance that perplexed them was their not arriving at the bottom of the stairs. On hastening their descent with an ardent impetuosity, they felt their steps accelerated to such a degree that they seemed not walking but falling from a precipice. Their progress, however, was at length impeded by a vast portal of ebony, which the caliph without difficulty recognised. Here the Giaour awaited them with the key in his hand. ‘Ye are welcome!" said he to them with a ghastly smile, “in spite of Mahomet and all his dependents. I will now usher you into that palace where you have so highly merited a
| place.” Whilst he was uttering these words, he touched the enamelled lock with his key, and the doors at once flew open with a noise still louder than the thunder of the dog days, and as suddenly recoiled the moment they had entered. The caliph and Nouronihar beheld each other with amazement at finding themselves in a place which, though roofed with a vaulted ceiling, was so spacious and lofty that at first they took it for an immeasurable plain. But their eyes at length growing familiar to the grandeur of the surrounding objects, they extended their view to those at a distance, and discovered rows of columns and arcades which gradually diminished till they terminated in a point radiant as the sun when he darts his last beams athwart the ocean. The pavement, strewed over with gold dust and saffron, exhaled so subtle an odour as almost overpowered them. They, however, went on, and observed an infinity of censers, in which ambergris and the wood of aloes were continually burning. Between the several columns were placed tables, each spread with a profusion of viands, and wines of every species sparkling in vases of crystal. A throng of genii and other fantastic spirits of either sex danced lasciviously at the sound of music which issued from beneath. In the midst of this immense hall a vast multitude was incessantly passing, who severally kept their right hands on their hearts, without once regarding anything around them. They had all the livid paleness of death. Their eyes, deep sunk in their sockets, resembled those phosphoric meteors that glimmer by night in places of interment. Some stalked slowly on, absorbed in profound reverie; some, shrieking with agony, ran furiously about like tigers wounded with poisoned arrows; whilst others, grinding their teeth in rage, foamed along more frantic than the wildest maniac. They all avoided each other; and though surrounded by a multitude that no one could number, each wandered at random, unheedful of the rest, as if alone on a desert where no foot had trodden. Wathek and Nouronihar, frozen with terror at a sight so baleful, demanded of the Giaour what these appearances might mean, and why these ambulating spectres never withdrew their hands from their hearts : “Perplex not yourselves with so much at once,” replied he bluntly, “you will soon be acquainted with all; let us haste and present you to Eblis.’ They continued their way through the multitude, but notwithstanding their confidence at first, they were not sufficiently composed to examine with attention the various perspective of halls and of galleries that opened on the right hand and left, which were all illuminated by torches and braziers, whose flames rose in pyramids to the centre of the vault. At length they came to a place where long curtains, brocaded with crimson and gold, fell from all parts in solemn confusion. Here the choirs and dances were heard no longer. The light which glimmered came from afar. After some time Wathek and Nouronihar perceived a gleam brightening through the drapery, and entered a vast tabernacle hung round with the skins of leopards. An infinity of elders, with streaming beards, and afrits in complete armour, had prostrated themselves before the ascent of a lofty eminence, on the top of which, upon a globe of fire, sat the formidable Eblis. His person was that of a young man, whose noble and regular features seemed to have been tarnished by malignant vapours. In his large eyes appeared both pride and despair; his flowing hair retained some resemblance to that of an angel of light. In his hand, which thunder had blasted, he swayed the iron sceptre that causes the monster Ouranbad, the afrits, and all the powers of the abyss, to tremble. At his presence the heart of the caliph sunk within him, and he fell prostrate on his face. Nouronihar, however, though
greatly dismayed, could not help admiring the person of Eblis, for she expected to have seen some stupendous giant. Eblis, with a voice more mild than might be imagined, but such as penetrated the soul and filled it with the deepest melancholy, said— “Creatures of clay, I receive you into mine empire; ye are numbered amongst my adorers; enjoy whatever this palace affords; the treasures of the pre-adamite sultans; their fulminating sabres; and those talismans that compel the dives to open the subterranean expanses of the mountain of Kaf, which communicate with these. There, insatiable as your curiosity may be, shall you find sufficient objects to gratify it. You shall possess the exclusive privilege of entering the fortresses of Aherman, and the halls of Argenk, where are portrayed all creatures endowed with intelligence, and the various animals that inhabited the earth prior to the creation of that contemptible being whom ye denominate the father of mankind.” Wathek and Nouronihar, feeling themselves revived and encouraged by this harangue, eagerly said to the Giaour, “Bring us instantly to the place which contains these precious talismans.’ “Come,” answered this wicked dive, with his malignant grin, ‘come and possess all that my sovereign hath promised, and more.” He then conducted them into a long aisle adjoining the tabernacle, preceding them with hasty steps, and followed by his disciples with the utmost alacrity. They reached at length a hall of great extent, and covered with a lofty dome, around which appeared fifty portals of bronze, secured with as many fastenings of iron. A funereal gloom prevailed over the whole scene. Here, upon two beds of incorruptible cedar, lay recumbent the fleshless forms of the pre-adamite kings, who had been monarchs of the whole earth. They still possessed enough of life to be conscious of their deplorable condition. Their eyes retained a melancholy motion; they regarded one another with looks of the deepest dejection, each holding his right hand motionless on his heart. At their feet were inscribed the events of their several reigns, their power, their pride, and their crimes; Soliman Daki, and Soliman, called Gian Ben Gian, who, after having chained up the dives in the dark caverns of Kaf, became so presumptuous as to doubt of the Supreme Power. All these maintained great state, though not to be compared with the eminence of Soliman Ben Daoud. This king, so renowned for his wisdom, was on the loftiest elevation, and placed immediately under the dome. He appeared to possess more animation than the rest. Though, from time to time, he laboured
with profound sighs, and, like his companions, kept
his right hand on his heart, yet his countenance was more composed, and he seemed to be listening to the sullen roar of a cataract, visible in part through one of the grated portals. This was the only sound that intruded on the silence of these doleful mansions. A range of brazen vases surrounded the elevation. “Remove the covers from these cabalistic depositories,” said the Giaour to Wathek, “and avail thyself of the talismans which will break asunder all these gates of bronze, and not only render thee master of the treasures contained within them, but also of the spirits by
which they are guarded.” The .#. whom this ominous preliminary had entirely disconcerted, approached the vases with faltering footsteps, and was ready to sink with terror when he heard the groans of Soliman. As he proceeded, a voice from the livid lips of the prophet articulated these words:– “In my lifetime I filled a magnificent throne, having, on my right hand, twelve thousand seats of gold, where the patriarchs and the prophets heard my doctrines; on my left, the sages and doctors, upon as many thrones of silver, were present at all my decisions. Whilst I thus administered justice to innumerable multitudes, the birds of the 543
each of which was consecrated to a star.
air, hovering over me, served as a canopy against the rays of the sun. My people flourished, and my palace rose to the clouds. I erected a temple to the Most High, which was the wonder of the universe; but I basely suffered myself to be seduced by the love of women, and a curiosity that could not be restrained by sublunary things. I listened to the counsels of Aherman, and the daughter of Pharaoh ; and adored fire, and the hosts of heaven. I forsook the holy city, and commanded the genii to rear the stupendous palace of Istakar, and the terrace of the watch-towers, There for a while I enjoyed myself in the zenith of glory and pleasure. Not only men, but supernatural beings, were subject also to my will. I began to think, as these unhappy monarchs around had already thought, that the vengeance of Heaven was asleep, when at once the thunder burst my structures asunder, and precipitated me hither, where, however, I do not remain, like the other inhabitants, totally destitute of hope; for an angel of light hath revealed that, in consideration of the piety of my early youth, my woes shall come to an end when this cataract shall for ever cease to flow. Till then, I am in torments—ineffable torments an unrelenting fire preys on my heart.’ Having uttered this exclamation, Soliman raised his hands towards Heaven in token of supplication; and the caliph discerned through his bosom, which was transparent as crystal, his heart enveloped in flames. At a sight so full of horror, Nouronihar fell back, like one petrified, into the arms of Vathek, who cried out with a convulsive sob—“O Giaour! whither hast thou brought us! Allow us to depart, and I will relinquish all thou hast promised. O'Mahomet! remains there no more mercy!’ “None, none l’ replied the malicious dive. ‘Know, miserable prince thou art now in the abode of vengeance and despair. Thy heart, also, will be kindled like those of the other votaries of Eblis. A few days are allotted thee previous to this fatal o employ them as thou wilt; recline on these eaps of gold; command the infernal potentates; range at thy pleasure through these immense subterranean domains, no barrier shall be shut against thee. As for me, I have fulfilled my mission; I now leave thee to thyself.” At these words he vanished. The caliph and Nouronihar remained in the most abject affliction. Their tears were unable to flow, and scarcely could they support themselves. At length, taking each other despondingly by the hand, they went falteringly from this fatal hall, indifferent which way they turned their steps. Every portal opened at their approach. The dives fell prostrate before them. Every reservoir of riches was disclosed to their view, but they no longer felt the incentives of curiosity, of pride, or avarice. With like apathy they heard the chorus of genii, and saw the stately banquets prepared to regale them. o went wandering on, from chamber to chamber, hall to hall, and gallery to gallery, all without bounds or limit; all distinguishable by the same lowering gloom, all adorned with the same awful grandeur, all traversed by persons in search of repose and consolation, but who sought them in vain; for every one carried within him a heart tormented in flames. Shunned by these various sufferers, who seemed by their looks to be upbraiding the partners of their guilt, they withdrew from them to wait, in direful suspense, the moment which should render them to each other the like objects of terror. “What!' exclaimed Nouronihar, “will the time come when I shall snatch my hand from thine !’ “Ah!" said Wathek, “and shall my eyes ever cease to drink from thine long draughts of enjoyment! Shall the moments of our reciprocal ecstacies be reflected on with horror! It was not thou that broughtst me hither; the principles by which Carathis perverted my youth have been the sole cause of my perdition!
quaint you with ours, which deserve but too well to
be heard. To trace back our crimes to their source, though we are not permitted to repent, is the only employment suited to wretches like us.” The caliph and Nouronihar assented to the proposal, and Wathek began, not without tears and lamentations, a sincere recital of every circumstance that had passed. When the afflicting narrative was closed, the young man entered on his own. Each person proceeded in order, and when the third prince *. reached the midst of his adventures, a sudden noise interrupted him, which caused the vault to tremble and to open. Immediately a cloud descended, which, gradually dissipating, discovered Carathis on the back of an afrit, who grievously complained of his burden. She, instantly springing to the ground, advanced towards her son, and said, “What dost thou here in this little square chamber? As the dives are become subject to thy beck, I expected to have found thee on the throne of the pre-adamite kings.” “Execrable womans' answered the caliph, “cursed be the day thou gavest me birth ! Go, follow this afrit; let him conduct thee to the hall of the Prophet Soli
man: there thou wilt learn to what these palaces are
destined, and how much I ought to abhor the inpious knowledge, thou hast taught me.'
“Has the height of power to which thou art arrived turned thy brain?” answered Carathis: “but I ask no
more than permission to show my respect for Soliman the prophet. It is, however, proper thou shouldst know that (as the afrit has informed me neither of us
shall return to Samarah) I requested his permission ||
to arrange my affairs, and he politely consented.
Availing myself, therefore, of the few moments allowed
me, I set fire to the tower, and consumed in it the mutes, negresses, and serpents, which have rendered me so much good service: nor should I have been
less kind to Morakanabad, had he not prevented me
by deserting at last to thy brother. As for Bababalouk, who had the folly to return to Samarah to pro
vide husbands for thy wives, I undoubtedly would
have put him to the torture, but, being in a hurry, I only hung him, after having decoyed him in a snare with thy wives, whom I buried alive by the help of my negresses, who thus spent their last moments greatly to their satisfaction. - With respect to Dilara, who ever stood high in my favour, she hath evinced the greatness of her mind by fixing herself near in
| Carathis, however, eagerly, entered the dome of | Soliman, and without regarding in the least the | groans of the prophet, undauntedly removed the | covers of the vases, and violently seized on the talismans. Then, with a voice more loud than had hitherto been heard within these mansions, she compelled the dives to disclose to her the most secret treasures, the most profound stores, which the afrit himself had not seen. She passed, by rapid descents, known only to Eblis and his most favoured potentates; and thus penetrated the very entrails of the earth, where breathes the sansar, or the icy wind of | death. Nothing appalled her dauntless soul. She perceived, however, in all the inmates who bore their hands on their heart, a little singularity, not much to her taste. As she was emerging from one of the abysses, Eblis stood forth to her view; but notwithstanding he displayed the full effulgence of his infernal majesty, she preserved her countenance unaltered, and even paid her compliments with considerable firmness. This superb monarch thus answered: “Princess, whose knowledge and whose crimes have merited a | conspicuous rank in my empire, thou dost well to avail thyself of the leisure that remains; for the flames and torments which are ready to seize on thy
| heart will not fail to provide thee soon with full em
ployment.” He said, and was lost in the curtains of his tabernacle. | Carathis paused for a moment with surprise; but resolved to follow the advice of Eblis, she assembled all the choirs of genii, and all the dives to pay her homage. Thus marched she in triumph, through a vapour of perfumes, amidst the acclamations of all
the malignant spirits, with most of whom she had
formed a previous acquaintance.
She even attempted
to dethrone one of the Solimans, for the purpose of
usurping his place; when a voice, proceeding from the
| abyss of death, proclaimed: “All is accomplished ''
Instantaneously the haughty forehead of the intrepid princess became corrugated with agony: she uttered a tremendous yell; and fixed, no more to be withdrawn, her right hand upon her heart, which was become a receptacle of eternal fire. In this delirium, forgetting all ambitious projects, and her thirst for that knowledge which should ever be hidden from mortals, she overturned the offerings of the genii; and having execrated the hour she was begotten, and the womb that had borne her, glanced off in a rapid whirl that rendered her invisible, and continued to revolve without intermission. Almost at the same instant the same voice announced to the caliph, Nouronihar, the four princes, and the princess, the awful and irrevocable decree. Their hearts immediately took fire, and they at once lost the most precious gift of Heaven–Hope. These unhappy beings recoiled with looks of the most furious distraction. Wathek beheld in the eyes of Nouronihar nothing but rage and vengeance; nor could she discern aught in his but aversion and despair. The
two princes, who were friends, and, till that moment,
had preserved their attachment, shrunk back, gnashing their teeth with mutual and unchangeable hatred. Kalilah and his sister made reciprocal gestures of in
precation: all testified their horror for each other by
the most ghastly convulsions and screams that could
not be smothered. All severally plunged themselves
into the accursed multitude, there to wander in an
eternity of unabating anguish.
Such was, and such should be, the punishment of unrestrained passions and atrocious deeds ! Such shall be the chastisement of that blind curiosity which would transgress those bounds the wisdom of the Creator has prescribed to human knowledge; and such the dreadful disappointment of that restless ambition which, aiming at discoveries reserved for beings of a supernatural order, perceives not, through its infatuated pride, that the condition of man upon earth is to be—humble and ignorant.
Thus the Caliph Wathek, who, for the sake of empty pomp and forbidden power, had sullied himself with a thousand crimes, became a prey to grief without end, and remorse without mitigation; whilst the humble, the despised Gulchenrouz, passed whole ages in undisturbed tranquillity, and in the pure happiness of childhood.
There is astonishing force and grandeur in some of these conceptions. The catastrophe possesses a sort of epic sublimity, and the spectacle of the vast multitude incessantly pacing those halls, from which all hope has fled, is worthy the genius of Milton. The numberless graces of description, the piquant allusions, the humour and satire, and the wild yet witty spirit of mockery and derision (like the genius of Voltaire) which is spread over the work, we must leave to the reader. The romance altogether places Mr Beckford among the first of our imaginative writers, independently of the surprise which it is calculated to excite as the work of a youth of nineteen or twenty, who had never been in the countries he describes with so much animation and accuracy.
RICHARD CUMBERLAND, the dramatist, was author of three novels, Arundel, Henry, and John de Lancaster. The learning, knowledge of society (including foreign manners), and the dramatic talents of this author, would seem to have qualified him in an eminent degree for novel writing; but this is by no means the case. His fame must rest on his comedies of The West Indian, The Wheel of Fortune, and The Jew. Mr Cumberland was son of Mr Denison Cumberland, bishop of Clonfort, and afterwards of Kilmore. He was born in 1732, in the Master's Lodge of Trinity college, Cambridge, then occupied by his celebrated maternal grandfather, Dr Bentley. He was designed for the church; but in return for some services rendered by his father, the young student was appointed private secretary to the Marquis of Halifax, whom he accompanied to Ireland. Through the influence of his patron, he was made crown agent for the province of Nova Scotia; and he was afterwards appointed, by Lord George Germain, secretary to the Board of Trade. The dramatic performances of Cumberland written about this time were highly successful, and introduced him to all the literary and distinguished society of his day. The character of him by Goldsmith in his Retaliation, where he is praised as
The Terence of England, the mender of hearts,
is one of the finest compliments ever paid by one author to another. In the year 1780 Cumberland was employed on a secret mission to Spain, in order to endeavour to detach that country from the hostile confederacy against England. He seems to have been misled by the Abbé Hussey, chaplain to the king of Spain; and after residing a twelvemonth at Madrid, he was recalled and payment of his drafts refused. A sum of £5000 was due him; but as Cumberland had failed in the negotiation, and had exceeded his colnmission through excess of zeal, the minister harshly 545