The Last Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about The Last Man.
was the inhabitant of a tropical island, against whose heats and storms he could obtain small shelter.—­Viewing the question thus, who would not have preferred the Sybarite enjoyments I could command, the philosophic leisure, and ample intellectual resources, to his life of labour and peril?  Yet he was far happier than I:  for he could hope, nor hope in vain—­the destined vessel at last arrived, to bear him to countrymen and kindred, where the events of his solitude became a fire-side tale.  To none could I ever relate the story of my adversity; no hope had I. He knew that, beyond the ocean which begirt his lonely island, thousands lived whom the sun enlightened when it shone also on him:  beneath the meridian sun and visiting moon, I alone bore human features; I alone could give articulation to thought; and, when I slept, both day and night were unbeheld of any.  He had fled from his fellows, and was transported with terror at the print of a human foot.  I would have knelt down and worshipped the same.  The wild and cruel Caribbee, the merciless Cannibal—­or worse than these, the uncouth, brute, and remorseless veteran in the vices of civilization, would have been to me a beloved companion, a treasure dearly prized—­his nature would be kin to mine; his form cast in the same mould; human blood would flow in his veins; a human sympathy must link us for ever.  It cannot be that I shall never behold a fellow being more!—­never! —­never!—­not in the course of years!—­Shall I wake, and speak to none, pass the interminable hours, my soul, islanded in the world, a solitary point, surrounded by vacuum?  Will day follow day endlessly thus?  —­No! no! a God rules the world—­providence has not exchanged its golden sceptre for an aspic’s sting.  Away! let me fly from the ocean-grave, let me depart from this barren nook, paled in, as it is, from access by its own desolateness; let me tread once again the paved towns; step over the threshold of man’s dwellings, and most certainly I shall find this thought a horrible vision—­a maddening, but evanescent dream.

I entered Ravenna, (the town nearest to the spot whereon I had been cast), before the second sun had set on the empty world; I saw many living creatures; oxen, and horses, and dogs, but there was no man among them; I entered a cottage, it was vacant; I ascended the marble stairs of a palace, the bats and the owls were nestled in the tapestry; I stepped softly, not to awaken the sleeping town:  I rebuked a dog, that by yelping disturbed the sacred stillness; I would not believe that all was as it seemed—­The world was not dead, but I was mad; I was deprived of sight, hearing, and sense of touch; I was labouring under the force of a spell, which permitted me to behold all sights of earth, except its human inhabitants; they were pursuing their ordinary labours.  Every house had its inmate; but I could not perceive them.  If I could have deluded myself into a belief of this kind, I should have been far more satisfied.  But my brain, tenacious of its reason, refused to lend itself to such imaginations—­and though I endeavoured to play the antic to myself, I knew that I, the offspring of man, during long years one among many—­now remained sole survivor of my species.

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The Last Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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