« EelmineJätka »
ment, to wit, the monarchical. And a fenate consisting of men advanced in years, and grown wise by experience, though infirm of body, consulted with their kings upon all important matters, and, on account of their age, and care of their count try, were called Fathers. Afterwards, when kingly power, which was originally established for the preservation of liberty, and the advantage of the state, came to degenerate into lawless tyranny, they found it necessary to alter the form of government, and to put the supreme power into the hands of two chief magistrates, to be held for one year only; hoping, by this contrivance, to prevent the bad effets naturally arising from the exorbitant licentiousness of princes, and the indefeasible tenure by which they generally imagine they hold their sovereignty, &c. [Sal.' Bell. CATILINAR.]
The reader is, once for all, desired to take notice, that I have not scrupled to alter both the sense and the words in many, if not most, of the following passages, taken both from the ancients and the moderns. For my design was to put together a set of lessons useful for practice, which did not restrict me to the very words of any author. I have endeavoured to make each leffon a complete piece ; which obliged me to insert matter of my own. I have excluded improper sentiments, and have substituted modern expressions, for some antiquated ones, which I thought young people would be puzzled to underftand ; and I have inserted a few fancies, which occurred to me in copying out fome of the passages, to render them more diverting to youth, whose taste long experience has given me some knowledge of.
NARRA- AMON and Pythias, of the Pythagorean TION.
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 bighest pitch; as every body
was curious to see what should be the event of DOUBTING. so strange an affair. When the time was almost
elapsed, and he, who was gone, 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 CONFIE he still declared that he had not the least madow
of doubt in his inind, of his friend's fidelity. The
event shewed how well he knew him. He came COURAGE. 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 it 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. [Val. Max. Cic.]
IONYSIUS, the tyrant of Sicily, shewed Narra- **
bow 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 his power, his treasures, and the magnificence of his royal state, and affirming, that no monarch ever was greater, or happier, than he.
“ Have you QUESTIONS a mind, Damocles,” says the king, “ to taste ing. " this happiness, and know, by experience, what
my enjoyments are, of which you have sohigh
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 side-boards 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 submision. Neither ointE 2
ments, chaplets of flowers, nor rich perfuines 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 fight of destruction thus threatening him from on high, soon put a stop to his joy and revelling. The pomp of his attendance, and the glitter of the carved plate, gave him no longer any pleasure. He dreads to stretch forth his band to the table. He throws off the chaplet of roses. He bastens to remove from his dangercus 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. [Cic. Tusc. Quest.]
a capital crime, to be executed in the prison. He, who had charge of the execution, in considera
h This may
& The ancients, every body knows, lay on couches at table.
be spoken with as much of the action proper to fear (Sce Fear, in the Essay, pag. 17.) as can be conveniently applied.
tion of her birth, did not immediately put her to death. He even ventured to let her daughter have access to her in prison ; carefully searching her, however, as she went in, left she should carry with her any sustenance ; concluding, that; in a few days, the mother must, of course, perish for want, and that the severity of putting a woman of family to a violent death, by the hand of the executioner, might thus be avoided. Some days passing in this manner, the triumvir begun to wonder that the daughter still came to visit her mother, and could by no means comprehend, how the latter should live so long. Watching, therefore, carefully, what passed in the interview between them, he found, to his great astonishment, Wonder; that the life of the mother had been, all this while, supported by the milk of the daughter, who came to the prison every day, to give her mother her breasts to suck. The strange contrivance between them was represented to the judges, and procured a pardon for the mother. Nor was it thought sufficient to give to so dutiful a daughter, the forfeited life of her condemned mother, but they were both maintained afterwards by a pension settled on them for life. And the ground, upon which the prison stood, was consecrated, and a temple to Filial Piety built upon it.
What will not filial duty contrive, or what Declama, bazards, will it not run ; if it will put a daughter
upon See Admiration, in the Essay, pag. 22.