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THE HILL OF SCIENCE:
In that season of the year when the serenity of the sky, the various fruits which cover the ground, the discoloured foliage of the trees, and all the sweet but fading graces of inspiring autumn open the mind to benevolence, and dispose it for contemplation; I was wandering in a beautiful and romantic country, till curiosity began to give way to weariness; and I sat me down on the fragment of a rock overgrown with moss, where the rustling of the falling leaves, the dashing of waters, and the hum of the distant city, soothed my
mind into the most perfect tranquillity; and sleep insensibly stole upon me, as I was indulging
the agreeable reveries which the objects around me naturally inspired.
I immediately found myself in a vast extended plain, in the middle of which arose a mountain higher than I had before any conception of. It was covered with a multitude of people, chiefly youth ; many of whom pressed forwards with the liveliest expression of ardour in their countenance, though the way was in many places steep and difficult. I observed that those who had but just begun to climb the hill, thought themselves not far from the top: but as they proceeded, new hills were continually rising to their view; and the summit of the highest they could before discern, seemed but the foot of another, till the mountain at length appeared to lose itself in the clouds. As I was gazing on these things with astonishment, my good genius suddenly appeared. “The mountain before thee,” said he, “is the hill of Science. On the top is the temple of Truth, whose head is above the clouds, and whose face is covered with a veil of pure light. Observe the progress of her votaries; be silent, and attentive.”
I saw that the only regular approach to the mountain was by a gate called the gate of languages. It was kept by a woman of a pensive and thoughtful appearance, whose lips were continually moving, as though she repeated something to herself. Her name was Memory. On
entering this first inclosure, I was stunned with a confused murmur of jarring voices and dissonant sounds; which increased upon me to such a degree, that I was utterly confounded, and could compare the noise to nothing but the confusion of tongues at Babel. The road was also rough and stony, and rendered more difficult by heaps of rubbish continually tumbled down from the higher parts of the mountain, and by broken ruins of ancient buildings, which the travellers were obliged to climb over at every step; insomuch that many, disgusted with so rough a beginning, turned back, and attempted the mountain no more: while others, having conquered this difficulty, had no spirits to ascend further, and sitting down on some fragment of the rubbish, barangued the multitude below with the greatest marks of importance and self-complacency.
About half way up the hill, I observed on each side of the path a thick forest covered with continual fogs, and cut out into labyrinths, cross alleys, and serpentine walks, entangled with thorns and briars. This was called the wood of Error: and I heard the voices of many who were lost up and down in it, calling to one another, and endeavouring in vain to extricate themselves. The trees in many places shot their boughs over the path, and a thick mist often rested on it; yet never