Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

II.

NARRATION. DAMON and Pythias, of the Pythagorean Narration sect in philosophy, lived in the time of Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily. Their inutual 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 should be the event of Doubting. so strange an affair. When the time was almost elapsed, and he, who was gonė, 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 Confidence least shadow of doubt in his mind, of his friend's fidelity. The event shewed how well he knew hiin. He came in due time, and surrendered to Courage. 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 eyen the savage heart of

not most of the following passages, taken both from the ancients and the moderns. For my design was to put together a set of lesfons 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 inatter of my own. I have excluded improper fentiments, and have substituted modern expressions for some antiquated ones, which I thought young people would be puzzled to understand ; and I have inserted a few fancies, which occurred to me in copying out some of the passages, to render them more divertir.g to youth, whose taste long experience las given me fome knowledge 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.]

III.

Have you a

NARRATION. Narration. DIONYSIUS, the tyrant of Sicily, shewed

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 compliinenting him upon his power, his treasures, and the magnificence of his

royal state, and affirming, that no monarch ever Questioning was greater or happier than he.

mind, Damocles," says the king, “ to taste this happiness, and know by experience, what my en. joyinents 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 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 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, (1) as he lay indulging

himself in state, a glittering sword, hung by a Fear.

single hair. (2) The sight of destruction thus

(1) The ancients, every body knows, lay on couches at table.

(2) This may pe spoken with as much of the adtion proper to fear, (See Fear in the Essay, p.21) as can be conveniently applied.

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 Trepidation chaplet of roses. He hastens to remove from his or hurry. dangerous situation ; and at last begs the king to restore him to his former humble condition, haying no desire to enjoy any longer such a dreadful kind of happiness. (Cic. Tusc. Quest.]

IV.

NARRATION. THE

HE præter had given up to the triumvir, Narration. a woman of some rank, condeinned for a capital crime, to be executed in the prison. He who had charge of the execution, in consideration 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, lest she should carry with her any sustenance ; concluding, that in a fere 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 began 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 thein, he found to his great astonishment,

Wonder. (1) 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 judg

(1) See Admiration, in the Essay, page 27.

upon it.

Declamation.

es, 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 teinple to Filial Piety built

What will not filial duty contrive, or what hazards will it not run ; if it will put a daughter upon venturing, at the peril of her own life, to maintain her imprisoned and condemned mother in so unusual a manner. For what was ever heard of more strange, iban a mother sucking the breasts of her own daughter ? It might even seem so unnatural, as to render it doubtful, whether it might not be, in some sort, wrong, if it were not, that duty to parents is the first law of nature. Val. Max. Plin.]

Pity.

V.

HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION. LUCIUS CATALINE, by birth a Patrician, was, by nature, endowed with superior advan

tages both bodily and mental ; but his disposiAversion. tions were corrupt and wicked. From his youth,

his supreme delight was in violence, (1) slaughter, rapines, 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 (1) Enumeration requires a short pause between the particulars.

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 Narration. Sylla, Cataline was seized with 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 Horror. 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 amongsta people infected with two vices, not less opposite to one another in their natures, than mischievous in their tendencies, I mean luxury and avarice. [Sal. BELL, CATILINAR.]

VI.

ARGUING. (1)
No
O

one, who has made the smallest progress in mathematics, can avoid observing, that mathematical demonstrations are accompained with such a kind of evidence, as overcomnes obstinacy, insuperable by many other kinds of reasoning, Hence it is, that so many learned men have laboured to illustrate other sciences with this sort of evidence; and it is certain, that the study of mathematics has given light to sciences very little connected with them. But what will not wrong-headed men abuse! This advantage, which mathematical reasoning has, for discovering truth, has given occasion to some to reject truth itself, though supported by the inost unexceptionable

(1) Sce in the Essay, the articles Arguing, Teaching, &c. page 23 & 24,

« AnteriorContinuar »