Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

By Samuel Johnson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLIII. .
THE ASTRONOMER LEAVES IMLAC HIS DIRECTIONS

"HEAR, therefore, what I shall impart with attention, such as the welfare of a world requires. If the task of a king be considered as difficult, who has the care only of a few millions, to whom he cannot do much good or harm, what must be the anxiety of him on whom depends the action of the elements, and the great gifts of light and heat! -- Hear me therefore with attention.

"'I have diligently considered the position of the earth and sun, and formed innumerable schemes in which I changed their situation. I have sometimes turned aside the axis of the earth, and sometimes varied the ecliptic of the sun: but I have found it impossible to make a disposition by which the world may be advantaged; what one region gains another loses by any imaginable alteration, even without considering the distant parts of the solar system with which we are unacquainted. Do not therefore, in thy administration of the year, indulge thy pride by innovation; do not please thyself with thinking that thou canst make thyself renowned to all future ages, by disordering the seasons. The memory of mischief is no desirable fame. Much less will it become thee to let kindness or interest prevail. Never rob other countries of rain, to pour it on thine own. For us the Nile is sufficient.'

"I promised that, when I possessed the power, I would

Ecliptic : the apparent yearly course of the sun.

-132-

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