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And oft from his warm fire he'd go,
And once behind a rick of barley,
Right glad was he when he beheld her:
And fiercely by the arm he took her,
She pray'd, her wither'd hand uprearing,
He went complaining all the morrow
That day he wore a riding coat,
'Twas all in vain, a useless matter,
No word to any man he utters,
Supposed feelings of Adam on being called into existence.*
I REMEMBER the moment when my existence commenced : it was a moment replete with joy, amazement, and anxiety. I neither knew what I was, where I was, nor from whence I came. I opened my eyes; what an increase of sensation! The light, the celestial vault, the verdure of the earth, the transparency of the waters, gave animation to my spirits, and conveyed pleasures which exceed the powers of expression.
*The above extract is taken from Buffon's Natural History, and contains a very vivid description of the slow and painful process by which human beings acquire what may be called the use and knowledge of their senses. The idea, that Adam had to undergo nearly the same discipline as a little child, before he acquired a knowledge of himself and of that sublime creation of which he was then the sole heir, is, of course, altogether imaginary, and merely assumed for the purpose of illustration.
I at first believed that all these objects existed within me, and formed a part of myself. When totally absorbed in this idea, I turned my eyes to the sun his splendor overpowered me. I voluntarily shut out the light, and felt a slight degree of pain. During this moment of darkness, I imagined that I had lost the greatest part of my being.
When reflecting, with grief and astonishment, upon this great change, I was roused with a variety of sounds. The singing of birds, and the murmuring of the breezes, formed a concert which excited the most sweet and enchanting emotions. I listened long, and was convinced that these harmonious sounds existed within me.
Totally occupied with this new species of existence, I had already forgot the light, though the first part of my being that I had recognised. I again, by accident, opened my eyes, and was delighted to find myself recover the possession of so many brilliant objects. This pleasure surpassed every former sensation, and suspended, for a time, the charming melody of sound.
I fixed my eyes on a thousand objects; I soon perceived that I had the power of losing and of recovering them, and that I could, at pleasure, destroy and renew this beautiful part of my existence.
I could now see without astonishment, and hear without anxiety, when a gentle breeze wafted perfumes to my nostrils. This new and delightful sensation agitated my frame, and gave a fresh addition to my self-love.
Totally occupied by all these sensations, and loaded with pleasures so delicate and so extensive, I suddenly arose, and was transported by the perception of an unknown power.
I had made but a single step, when the novelty of my situation rendered me immoveable. My surprise was extreme. I thought my being fled from me: the movement I had made confounded the objects of vision; and the whole creation seemed to be disordered.
I raised my hand to my head; 1 touched my forehead and my eyes; and I felt every part of my body. The hand now appeared to be the principal organ of my existence. The perceptions afforded by this instrument were so distinct and so perfect; the pleasures conveyed by it were so superior to those of light and sound, that, for some time, I attached myself entirely to this substantial part of my being, and I perceived that my ideas began to assume a consistence and reality which I had never before experienced. Every
part of my body, which I touched with my hand, reflected the sensation, and produced in my mind a double idea.
By this exercise I soon learned, that the faculty of feeling was expanded over every part of my frame; and I began to recognise the limits of my existence, which till now seemed to be of an immense extent.
I surveyed my body, and I judged it to be of a size so immense, that all other objects, in comparison, seemed to be only luminous points. I followed my hand with my eyes, and observed all its motions. Of all these objects my ideas were confused and fallacious. I imagined that the motion of my hand was a kind of fugitive existence, a mere succession of similar causes; I brought my hand near my eye; it then seemed to be larger than my whole body; for it concealed from my view almost every other object.
I began to suspect that there was some illusion in the sensation conveyed by the eyes. I distinctly perceived that my hand was only a small part of my body; but I was unable to comprehend how it should appear so enormously large. I therefore resolved to depend for information upon the sense of feeling alone, which had never deceived me, and to be on my guard against all the other modes of sensation.
This precaution was extremely useful to me. I renewed my motions, and walked with my face turned toward the heavens. I struck against a palm tree, and felt a slight degree of pain. Seized with terror, I ventured to lay my hand upon the object, and discovered it to be a being distinct from myself, because it gave me not, like touching my own body, a double sensation: I turned from it with horror, and perceived, for the first time, that there was something external, something which did not constitute a part of my own existence.
It was with difficulty that I could reconcile myself to this discovery; but, after reflecting on the event which had happened, I concluded that I ought to judge concerning external objects in the same manner as I had judged concerning the parts of my body; and the sense of feeling alone could ascertain their existence. I resolved, therefore, to feel every object that I saw. I had a desire of touching the sun; I accordingly stretched forth my hands to embrace the heavens; but they met, without feeling any intermediate object.
Every experiment I made served only to increase my as
tonishment; for all objects appeared to be equally near; and it was not till after an infinite number of trials, that I learned to use my eye as a guide to my hand. As the hand gave me ideas totally different from the impressions I received by the eye, my sensations were contradictory; the judgments I formed were imperfect; and my whole existence was disorder and confusion.
Reflecting deeply on the nature of my being, the contradictions I had experienced filled me with humility: the more I meditated, my doubts and difficulties increased. Fatigued with so many uncertainties, and with anxious emotions which successively arose in my mind, my knees bended, and I soon found myself in a situation of repose. This state of tranquillity added fresh force to my senses. I was seated under the shade of a beautiful tree. Fruit of a vermilion hue hung down, in the form of grapes, within reach of my hand. These fruits I gently touched, and they instantly separated from the branch. In laying hold of one of them, I imagined I had made a great conquest; and I rejoiced in the faculty of containing in my hand an entire being which made no part of myself. Its weight, though trifling, seemed to be an animated resistance, which I had a pleasure in being able to conquer.
I held the fruit near my eyes: I examined its form and its colors. A delicious odor allured me to bring it near ́my lips, and I inhaled long draughts of its perfumes. When entirely occupied with the sweetness of its fragrance, my mouth opened, and I discovered that I had an internal sense of smelling, which was more delicate and refined than that conveyed by the nostrils. In fine, I tasted the fruit. The novelty of the sensation, and the exquisiteness of the savor, filled me with astonishment and transport. Till now I had only enjoyed pleasures; but taste gave me an idea of voluptuousness. The enjoyment was so congenial and intimate, that it conveyed to me the notion of possession or property. I thought that the substance of the fruit had become part of my own, and that I was endowed with the power of transforming bodies.
Charmed with this idea of power, and with the pleasures I felt, I continued to pull and to eat. But an agreeable languor gradually impaired my senses; my limbs grew heavy; and my mind seemed to lose its natural activity, I perceived this inaction by the feebleness of my thoughts: the dulness of my sensations rounded all external objects,