In a week he had finished Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia.
The story of Rasselas is that of a prince who is shut up in the Happy Valley until the time shall come for him to ascent the throne of his father.
But a year or two after Rasselas was written, a great change came in Johnson's life, which gave him comfort and security for the rest of his days.
I saw a girl sitting on a stone bench near; she was bent over a book, on the perusal of which she seemed intent: from where I stood I could see the title--it was "Rasselas;" a name that struck me as strange, and consequently attractive.
I did so; a brief examination convinced me that the contents were less taking than the title: "Rasselas" looked dull to my trifling taste; I saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety seemed spread over the closely-printed pages.
Hepzibah then took up Rasselas
, and began to read of the Happy Valley, with a vague idea that some secret of a contented life had there been elaborated, which might at least serve Clifford and herself for this one day.
Laurence seemed to suspect that something was brewing in her mind, for after taking several brisk turns about the room, he faced round on her, speaking so abruptly that Rasselas
tumbled face downward on the floor.
He was a quick fellow, and when hot from play, would toss himself in a corner, and in five minutes be deep in any sort of book that he could lay his hands on: if it were Rasselas
or Gulliver, so much the better, but Bailey's Dictionary would do, or the Bible with the Apocrypha in it.
,' which in the guise of an Eastern tale is a series of philosophical discussions of life.
"Beauties of the Spectator," "Rasselas
," "Economy of Human Life," "Gregory's Letters,"--she knew the sort of matter that was inside all these; the "Christian Year,"--that seemed to be a hymnbook, and she laid it down again; but Thomas a Kempis?
In his novella The History of Rasselas
, Prince of Abissinia, one character says, "Such is the state of life, that none are happy but by anticipation of change; the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again.
Weinbrot, "Johnsons Irene, and Rasselas
; Richardson's Pamela Exalted: Contexts, Polygamy, and the Seraglio," in The Age of Johnson 23 (2015): 89-140.