« AnteriorContinuar »
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 tlapsed, and he who was gone did not appear ; the rashness of the other, whose sanguine friendship had put him upon running so seemingly desperale a hazard, was uni. versally blamed. But he still declared, that he had not the least shadow of doubt in his mind, of his friend's fidelity. The event showed 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 nut 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 ihe two friends to one another, and begged that they would take himself in for a third.
XVI. Dionysics and Damocles.--)B. 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 flaiterers, 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 a mind Da. mocles," 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 accepled 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,andto 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. Darnocles fancied himself amongst the gods. In the midst of all his happiness, he sees let down from the roof, exactly over his neck, as hic lay indulging himself in state, a glittering sword,
hung by a single hair. , The sight of destruction, thus threatning 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 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.-SALLUST. LUCIOUS CATALINE, by birth a Patrician, was, by nature, endowed with superior advantages, both bodily and mental; but his dispositions were corrupt and wick ed. From his youth, his supreme deliglit was in vio. lence, slaughter, rapine and intestine confusion ; and such works were the enployment 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 immod. erate, 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 domin. ion. His restless spirit was in a continual ferment, oceasioned 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 prevail. ed amongst a people infested with two vices, not less opposite to one another in their natures, than mischiev. ous in their tendencies : I mean Luxury and Avarice.
XVIII.- Avarice and Luxury.--SpectaTOR.
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 Pleas. ure, Mirth, Pomp and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care and Watchfulness; he had likevise a privy counsellor, who was always at his elbow and whispering something or other in his ear: the name of t5is privy counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice conducted himself by the counsels of Poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Plenty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, that concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of liis 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 the family would of. ten 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 saine person would very often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the o:ber in old age. Indeed, the wise men of the world stood neuter ; but alas ! their numbers were not considerable. At lengih, when these two potentales had wearied theme selves 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 counsel. lor, who made an ill use of his ear, and filled him with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To this Avarice replied that he looked upon Plenty; (the first min.
* ister of his antagonist) to be a much more destructive counsellor than poverly: For that he was perpetually. suggesting pleasures,banishing allihe necessary cautions against wani, and consequently undermining those prin. ciples on which the government of Avarice was founded. At last, in order to an accommodation, they agreed upon this preliminary; that each of them should imme. diately dismiss his privy counsellor. When things were thus far adjusted towards a peace, all other differences were soon accommodated ; insomuch, that for the future, they resolved to live as good friend and confederates, and to share between them whatever conquests were made on either side. For this reason we now find Luxury and Avarice taking possession of the same heart, and dividing the same person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the dis. carding of the counsellors above mentioned, Avarice supplies Luxury, in the room of plenty, as Luxury prompts Avarice, in the place of Poverty,
XIX.-Hurcules's Choice.--TATILER. WHEN Hercules was in that part of his youth, in which it was natural for him to consider what course of life he ought to pursue, he one day retired into a desert, where the silence and solitude of the place very much favored his meditations. As he was musing on his present condition, and very much perplexed in himself, on the state of life he should choose, he saw two women of a larger stature than ordinary, approaching towards him. One of them had a very noble air and graceful deportment; her beauty was natural and easy, her person clean and unspotted, her eyes cast towards the ground, with an agreeable reserve, her motion and be. haviour full of modesty,and her raincat as white as snow. The other had a great deal of health and floridness in her countenance, which she l:ad helped with an artificial white and red; and she endeavored to appear more graceful than ordinary in her mein, by a mixture of aifectation in all her gestures. She had a wonderful collo fidence and assurance in her looks, and all the variety of colors in her dress, that she thought were the most
Si proper to show her complexion to advantage. She cast
her eyes upon herself, then turned them on those that were present, to see how they liked her: and often looked on the figure she made in her own shadow, Upon her nearer approach to Hercules, she stepped before the Other lady, who came forward with a regular composed carriage ; and running up to him, accosted him after the following manner:
« My dear Hercules," says she, « I find you are very much divided in your thoughts, upon the way of life that you ought to choose ; be my friend, and follow me; I will lead you into the possession of pleasure, and out of the reach of pain, and remove you from all the noise and disquietude of business. The affairs of either war or peace shall have no power to disturb you. Your whole employment shall be to make your life easy, and to entertain every sense with its proper gratifications. Sumptuous tables, beds of roses, clouds of perfuines, concerts of music, crowds of beauties, are all in readi. ness to receive you. Come along with me into this region of delights, this world of pleasure, and bid fare'well forever', to care, to pain, to business.”
· Hercules, hearing the lady talk after this manner, desired to know her name.; to which she answered, “ my friends, and those who are well acquainted with me, call me Happiness ; but my enemies, and those who would injure my reputation, have given me the name of Pleasure.”
By this time the other lady was come up, who addressed herself to the young hero in a very different manner.
“Hercules," says she, “I offer myself to you, be'cause I know you are descended from the gods, and give proofs of that descent by your love to virtue, and application to the studies proper for your age. This makes me hope you will gain, both for yourself and me, an immortal reputation. But, before I invite you into my society and friendship, I will be open and sincere with you, and must lay down tbis, as an established truth, that there is nothing truly valuable which can be