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HISTORY OF RASSELAS,
PRINCE OF ABYSSINIA.
WITH A COMPLETE VOCABULARY COMPILED
Dr. E. AMTHOR.
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NOTICES OF RASSELAS,
BOSWELLS LIFE OF JOHNSON.
“This Tale, with all the charms of oriental imagery, and all the force and beauty of which the English language is capable, leads us through the most important scenes of human life, and shows us that this stage of our being is full of 'vanity and vexation of spirit.' To those who look no further than the present life, or who maintain that human nature has not fallen from the state in which it was created, the instruction of this sublime story will be of no avail. But they who think justly and feel with strong sensibility will listen with eagerness and admiration to its truth and wisdom.“
“It may be considered as a more enlarged and more deeply philosophical discourse in prose, upon the interesting truth, which, in his “Vanity of Human Wishes,' he had so successfully enforced in verse.
· "The fund of thinking which this work contains is such that almost every sentence of it may furnish a subject of long meditation. I am not satisfied if a year passes without my having read it through; and at every perusal, my admiration of the mind which produced it is so highly raised that I can scarcely believe that I had the honour of enjoying the intimacy of such a man.
"I restrain myself from quoting passages from this excellent work, or even referring to them, because I should not know what to select, or, rather, what to omit.
"Notwithstanding my high admiration of Rasselas, I will not maintain that the ‘morbid melancholy' in Johnson's constitution may not, perhaps, have made life appear to him more insipid and unhappy than it generally is; for I am sure that he had less enjoyment from it than I have. Yet, whatever additional shade his own particular sensations may have thrown on his representation of life, attentive observation and close inquiry have convinced me that there is too much reality in the gloomy picture. The truth, however, is, that we judge of the happiness and misery of life differently at different times, according to the state of our changeable frame. I always remember a remark made to me by a Turkish lady educated in France: 'Ma foi, Monsieur, notre bonheur depend de la façon que notre sang circule. This have I learnt from a pretty hard course of experience, and would, from sincere benevolence, impress upon all who honour this book with a perusal, that, until a steady conviction is obtained, that the present life is an imperfect state, and only a passage to a better, if we comply with the divine scheme of progressive improvement; and also that it is a part of the mysterious plan of Providence that intellectual beings must be made perfect through suffering;' there will be a continual recurrence of disappointment and uneasiness. But if we walk with hope in the 'mid-day sun' of revelation, our temper and disposition will be such that the comforts and enjoyments in our way will be relished, while we patiently support the inconveniences and pains.“