« PředchozíPokračovat »
there was a hundred and ten pounds in it, when he lost it. The usurer, being called before the judge, unwarily acknowledged that the seal was broke open in his presence, and that there were no more at that time but a hundred pounds in the bag. "You say," says the judge," that the bag you lost had a hundred and ten pounds in it." "Yes, my lord." "Then," replied the judge, "this cannot be your bag, as it contained but a hundred pounds; therefore the plaintiff must keep it till the true owner appears; and you must look for your bag where you can find it."
SIR WILLIAM LELY, a famous painter in the reign of Charles I. agreed beforehand, for the price of a picture he was to draw for a rich London Alderman, who was not indebted to nature, either for shape or face. The picture being finished, the Alderman endeavoured to beat down the price, alledging, that if he did not purchase it, it would lie on the painter's hand. "That's your mistake," says Sir William ; "for I can sell it at double the price I demand." "How can that be," says the Alderman, "for 'tis like nobody but myself "True," replied Sir William," but I can draw a tail to it, and then it will be an excellent monkey." Mr. Alderman, to prevent being exposed, paid down the money demanded, and carried off the picture.
XIII.-The Two Bees.
ON a fiue morning in May, two Bees set forward in quest of honey; the one wise and temperate, the other careless and extravagant. They soon arrived at a garden enriched with aromatic herbs, the most fragrant flowers, and the most delicious fruits. They regaled themselves for a time, on the various dainties that were spread before them; the one loading his thigh, at intervals, with provisions for the hive, against the distant winter; the other revelling in sweet's, without regard to any thing but his present gratification. At length they found a wide mouthed phial, that hung beneath the bow of a peach tree, filled with honey, ready tempered, and exposed to their taste, in the most alluring manner. The thoughtless epicure, in spite of all his friend's remonstrances, plunged headlong into the vessel, resolving to indulge himself in all the pleasures of sensuality. The philosopher, on the other hand, sipped a little with caution, but, being suspicious of danger, few off to fruits and flow
ers, where, by the moderation of his meals, he improved his relish for the true enjoyment of them. In the evening, however, he called upon his friend, to inquire whether he would return to the hive; but he found him surfeited in sweets, which he was as unable to leave as to enjoy. Clogged in his wings, enfeebled in his feet, and his whole frame totally enervated, he was but just able to bid his friend adieu, and to lament, with his latest breath, that, though at taste of pleasure might quicken the relish of life, an unrestrained indulgence is inevitable destruction.
XIV.-Beauty and Deformity.
A YOUTH, who lived in the country, and who had not acquired, either by reading or conversation, any knowledge of the animals which inhabit foreign regions, came to Manchester, to see an exhibition of wild beasts. The size and figure of the Elephant struck him with awe; and be viewed the Rhinoceros with astonishment. But his attention was soon drawn from these animals, and directed to another of the most elegant and beautiful form; and he stood contemplating with silent admiration the glossy smoothness of his hair, the blackness and regularity of the streaks with . which he was marked, the symmetry of his limbs, and, above all, the placid sweetness of his countenance. What is the name of this lovely animal, said he to the keeper, which you have placed near one of the ugliest beasts in your collection, as if you meant to contrast beauty with deformity? Beware, young man, replied the intelligent keeper, of being so easily captivated with external appearance. The animal which you admire is called a Tyger; and notwithstanding the meekness of his looks, he is fierce and savage beyond description: I can neither terrify him by correction, nor tame him by indulgence. But the other beast, which you despise, is in the highest degree docile, affectionate and useful. For the benefit of mau, he traverses the sandy deserts of Arabia, where drink and pasture are seldom to be found; and will continue six or seven days without sustenance, yet still patient of labour. His hair is manufactured into clothing; his flesh is deemed wholesome nourishment; and the milk of the female is much valued by the Arabs. The Camel, therefore, for such is the name given to this animal, is more worthy of your admiration than the Tyger; notwithstanding the inelegance of his make, and the two bunches upon his back. For mere external beauty
is of little estimation; and deformity, when associated with amiable dispositions and useful qualities, does not preclude our respect and approbation.
XV. Remarkable Instance of Friendship.
DAMON and Pythias, of the Pythagorean sect in philosophy, lived in the time of Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily. Their mutual friendship was so strong, that they were ready to die for one another. One of the two (for it is not known which) being condemned to death by the tyrant, obtained leave to go into his own country, to settle his affairs, on condition that the other should consent to be imprisoned in his stead, and put to death for him, if he did not return before the day of execution. The attention of every one, and especially of the tyrant himself, was excited to the highest pitch, as every body was curious to see what would be the event of so strange an affair. When the time was almost elasped, and he who was goue did not appear; the rashness of the other, whose sanguine friendship had put him upon running so seemingly desperate a hazard, was universally blamed. But he still declared, that he had not the least shadow of doubt in his mind, of his friend's fidelity. The event shewed how well he knew him. He came in due time, and surrendered himself to that fate, which he had no reason to think he should escape; and which he did not desire to escape, by leaving his friend to suffer in his place. Such fidelity softened even the savage heart of Dionysius himself. He pardoned the condemned; he gave the two friends to one another, and begged that they would. take himself in for a third.
XVI. Dionysius and Damocles.
DIONYSIUS, the tyrant of Sicily, showed how far he was from being happy, even whilst he abounded in riches, and all the pleasures which riches can procure. Damocles, one of his flatterers, was complimenting him. upon power, his treasures, and the magnificence of his royal state, and affirming, that no monarch ever was greater or happier than he. "Have you a mind, Damocles," says the king, "to taste this happiness, and know by experience, what my enjoyments are, of which you have so high an idea?" Damocles gladly accepted the offer. Upon which the king ordered that a royal banquet should be prepared, and a gilded couch placed for him, covered with
rich embroidery, and sideboards loaded with gold and silver plate of immense value. Pages of extraordinary beauty were ordered to wait on him at table, and to obey his commands with the greatest readiness, and the most profound submission. Neither ointments, chaplets of flowers, nor rich perfumes were wanting. The table was loaded with the most exquisite delicacies of every kind. Damocles fancied himself amongst the gods. In the midst of all his happiness, he sees let down from the roof, exactly over his neck, as he lay indulging himself in state, a glittering sword, hung by a single hair. The sight of destruction, thus threatening him from on high, soon put a stop to his joy and revelling. The pomp of his attendants, and the glitter of the carved plate, gave him no longer any pleasure. He dreads to stretch forth his hand to the table; he throws off the chaplet of roses; he hastens to remove from his dangerous situation; and, at last, begs the king to restore him to his former humble condition, having no desire to enjoy any longer, such a dreadful kind of happiness.
XVII.-Character of Cataline.
LUCIUS CATALINE, by birth a Patrician, was, by nature, endowed with superior advantages, both bodily and mental; but his dispositions were corrupt and wicked.From his youth, his supreme delight was in violence, slaughter, rapine, and intestine confusions; and such works were the employment of his earliest years. His constitution qualified him for bearing hunger, cold, and want of sleep, to a degree exceeding belief. His mind was daring, subtle, unsteady. There was no character which he could not assume, and put off at pleasure. Rapacious of what belonged to others, prodigal of his own, violently bent on whatever became the object of his pursuit. He possessed a considerable share of eloquence, but little solid knowledge. His insatiable temper was ever pushing him to grasp at what was immoderate, romantic, and out of his reach.
About the time of the disturbances raised by Sylla, Cataline was seized by a violent lust of power; nor did he at all hesitate about the means, so he could but attain his purpose of raising himself to supreme dominion. His restless spirit was in a continual ferment, occasioned by the confusion of his own private affairs, and by the horrors of his guilty conscience; both which he had brought upon
himself, by living the life above described. He was encouraged in his ambitious projects by the general corruption of manners, which then prevailed amongst a people infested with two vices, not less opposite to one another in their natures, than mischievous in their tendencies; I mean luxury and avarice.
XVIII.-Avarice and Luxury.
THERE were two very powerful tyrants engaged in a perpetual war against each other; the name of the first was Luxury, and of the second, Avarice. The aim of each of them, was no less than universal monarchy over the hearts of mankind. Luxury had many generals under him, who did him great service; as Pleasure, Mirth, Pomp and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care and Watchfulness; he had likewise a privy counsellor, who was always at his elbow, and whispering something or other in his ear; the name of this privy counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice conducted himself by the counsels of Poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Pleuty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, that concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of his sight. While these two great rivals were thus contending for, empire, their conquests were very various. Luxury got possession of one heart, and Avarice of another. The father of a family would often range himself under the banners of Avarice, and the son under those of Luxury. The wife and husband would often declare themselves of the two different parties; nay, the same person would very often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the other in old age. Indeed, the wise men of the world stood neuter; but alas! their numbers were not considerable. At length, when these two potentates had wearied themselves with waging war upon one another, they agreed upon an interview, at which neither of the counsellors was to be present. It is said that Luxury began the parley; and after having represented the endless state of war in which they were engaged, told his enemy, with a frankness of heart which is natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good friends, were it not for the instigations of Poverty, that pernicious counsellor, who made an ill use of his ear, and filled him with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To this Avarice replied, that he looked upon