« PředchozíPokračovat »
orbeår smiling at a virtue which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took the occasion to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he uttered with much vehemence. Cæsar answered him with a great deal of seeming temper ; but as I stood at a great distance from them, I was not able to hear one word of what they said. But I could not forbear taking notice, that in all the discourse which passed at the table, a word or nod from Homer decided the controversy
After a short pause Augustus appeared, looking round him with a serene and affable countenance upon all the writers of his age, who strove among themselves which of them should show him the greatest marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appeared more such to the learned than the military worthies. The next man astonished the whole table with his appearance: he was slow, solemn, and silent in his behaviour, and wore a raiment curiously wrought with hieroglyphics. As he came into the middle of the room, he threw up the skirt of it, and discovered a golden thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping company with any who were not made of flesh and blood; and therefore desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the apartment allotted for fabulous heroes, and worthies of dubious existence. At his going out, he told them, that they did not know whom they dismissed; that he was now Pythagoras, the first of philosophers, and that formerly he had been a very brave man ať the siege of Troy. That may be very true, said Socrates ; but you forget that you have likewise been a very great harlot in your time. This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came forward with a schemo
of mathematical figures in his hand; among which I observed a cone and cylinder.
Seeing this table full, I desired my guide, for variety, to lead me to the fabulous apartment, the rouf of which was painted with gorgons, chimæras, and centaurs, with many other emblematical figures which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle. The first table was almost full: at the upper end sat Hercules leaning an arm upon his club; on his right hand were Achilles and Ulysses, and between them Æneas; on his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason: the lower end had Orpheus, Æsop, Phalaris, and Musæus. The ushers seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when, methought, to my great joy and surprise, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention Isaac Bickerstaff : but those of the upper end received it with disdain ; and said if they must have a British worthy, they would have Robin Hood.
While I was transported with the honour that was done me, and burning with envy against my competitor, I was awakened by the noise of the cannon which were then fired for the taking of Mons. I should have been very much-troubled at being thrown out of so pleasing a vision on any other occasion, but thought it an agreeable change to have my thoughts diverted from the greatest among the dead and fabulous heroes, to the most famous among the real and the living.
SWIFT AND ADDISOX.
PATHETIC STORIES. No. 82
A YOUNG gentleman and lady of antient and honourable houses in Cornwall had from their childhood entertained for each other a generous and noble passion,
which had been long opposed by their friends, by reason of the inequality of their fortunes; but their constancy to each other, and obedience to those on whom they depended, wrought so much upon their relations, that these celebrated lovers were at length joined in marriage. Soon after their nuptials the bridegroom was obliged to go into a foreign country to take care of a considerable fortune, which was left him by a relation, and came very opportunely to improve their moderate circumstances. They received the congratulations of all the country on this occasion; and I remember it was a common sentence in every one's mouth, You see how faithful love is rewarded.'
He took this agreeable voyage, and sent home every post fresh accounts of his success in his affairs abroad; but at last, though he designed to return with the next ship, he lamented in his letters, that business would detain him some time longer from home; because he would give himself the pleasure of an unexpected arrival.
The young lady, after the heat of the day, walked every evening on the sea-shore, near which she lived, with a familiar friend, her husband's kinswoman; and diverted herself with what objects they met there, or upon discourse of the future methods of life, in the happy change of their circumstances. They stood one evening on the shore together in a perfect tranquillity, observing the setting of the sun, the calm face of the deep, and the silent heaving of the waves, which gently rolled towards them, and broke at their feet; when at a distance her kinswoman saw something float on the waters, which she fancied was a chest; and with a smile told her, she saw it first, and if it came ashore full of jewels, she had a right to it. They both fixed their eyes upon it, and entertained themselves with the subject of the wreck, the cousin still asserting her right; but promising, if it was a prize, to give her a very rich coral for the child, of which she was then big, provided she might be god-mother. Their mirth soon abated, when they observed, upon the nearer approach, that it was a human body. The young lady, who had a heart naturally filled with pity and compassion, made many melancholy reflections on the occasion. Who knows, said she, but this man may be the only hope and heir of a wealthy house; the darling of indulgent parents, who are now in impertinent mirth, and pleasing themselves with the thoughts of offering him a bride they have got ready for him ? or, may he not be the master of a family that wholly depended upon his life? There may, for aught we know, be half a dozen fatherless children, and a tender wife, now exposed to poverty by his death. What pleasure might he have promised himself in the different welcome he was to have from her and them ! But let us go away; it is a dreadful sight! The best office we can do is to take care that the poor man, whoever he is, may be decently buried. She turned away; when a wave threw the carcase on the shore. The kinswoman immediately shrieked out, Oh, my cousin ! and fell upon the ground. The unhappy wife went to help her friend; when she saw her own husband at her feet, and dropped in a swoon upon the body. An old woman, who had been the gentleman's nurse, came out about this time to call the ladies in to supper, and found her child, as she always called him, dead on the shore, her mistress and kinswoman both lying dead by him. Her loud lamentations, and calling her
young master to life, soon awaked the friend from her trance; but the wife was gone for ever.
When the family and neighbourhood got together round the bodies, no one asked any question, but the objects before them told the story.
Incidents of this nature are the more moving when they are drawn by persons concerned in the catastrophe, notwithstanding they are often oppressed beyond the power of giving them in a distinct light, except we gather their sorrow from their inability to speak it.
I have two original letters, written both on the same day, which are to me exquisite in their different kinds. The occasion was this: A gentleman who had courted a most agreeable young woman, and won her heart, obtained also the consent of her father, to whom she was an only child. The old man had a fancy that they should be married in the same church where he himself was, in a village in Westmorland, and made them set out while he was laid up with the gout at London. The bridegroom took only his man, and the bride her maid ; they had the most agreeable journey imaginable to the place of marriage; from whence the bridegroom writ the following letter to his wife's father : "Sir,
March 18, 16-2. After a very pleasant journey hither, we are preparing for the happy hour in which I am to be your son. I assure you the bride carries it, in the eve of the vicar who married you, much beyond her mother; though he says, your open sleeves, pantaloons, and shoulder-knot, made a much better show than the finical dress I am in. However, I am contented to be the second fine man this village ever saw, and shall make it very merry before night, because I shall write myself from thence Your most dutiful son,