Imagens das páginas


· Yes, frequently,' answered the youth. And what is ingratitude ? demanded Socrates. • It is to receive a kindaess,' said Lamprocles, without making a proper return when there is a favourable opportunity.' Ingratitude is, therefore, a species of injustice ?' said Socrates." I should think so,' answered Lamprocles. • If then,' "continued Socrates, ingratitude be injustice, does it not follow, that the degree of it must be proportionate to the magnitude of the favours which have been received ? Lamprocles admitted the inference; and Socrates thus pursued his interrogations.

2 2. Can there subsist higher obligations than those which children owe to their parents ; from whom life is derived and supported, and by whose good offices it is rendered honoura·ble, useful, and happy ?' · I acknowledge the truth of what you say,' replied Lamprocles ; but who could suffer without resentment, the ill-humours of such a mother as I have ?! • What strange thing has she done to you?' said Socrates. • She has a tougue, replied Lamprocles, that no mortal can bear.' • How much more,' said Socrates, has she endured from your wrangling, fretfulness, and incessant cries, in the period of infancy! What anxieties has she suffered from the levitics, capriciousness, and follies of your childhood and youth ! What affliction has she felt, what toil and watching has she sustained, in your illnesses! These, and various other powerful motives to filial duty and gratitude, have been recognized by the legislators of our republic. For if any one be disrespectful to big parents, he is not permitted to enjoy any post of trust or honour. It is believed that a sacrifice, offered by an impious hand, can neither be acceptable to heaven, nor profitable to the state : and that an undutiful son cannot be capable of performing any great action, or of executing justice with impartiality?

3. • Therefore, my son, if you be wise, you will pray to heaven to pardon the offences committed against your mother. Let no one discover the contempt with which you have treated her; for the world will condemn and abandon you for such behaviour. And if it be even suspected, that you repay with ingratitude, the good offices of your parents, you will inevitably forego the kindnesses of others; because no man will suppose that you have a heart to require either his favours or his friendship.

Noble Behaviour of Scipio. 1. Scipio, the younger, at twenty-four years of age, was appointed, by the Roman republic, to the command of the army


ness ;

against the Spaniards. Soon after the conquest of Carthagena, the capital of the empire, his integrity and virtue were put to the following exemplary, and ever memorable trial, related by historians, ancient and modern, with universal applause. Being retired into his camp, some of his officers brought him a young virgin of such exquisite beauty, that she drew upon her the eyes and admiration of every body. The young conqueror started from his seat with confusion and surprise ; and seemed to be robbed of that presence of mind and self-possession, so necessary in a general, and for which Scipio was very remarkable. In a few moments, having recovered himself, he inquired of the beautiful captive, in the most civil and polite manner, concern. ing her country, birth, and connexions; and finding that she was betrothed to a Celtiberian Prince, named Allucius, he or. dered both him and the captive's parents to be sent for.

2. When the Spanish Prince appeared in his presence, Scipio took him aside ; and, to remove the anxiety he might feel, on account of the young lady, addressed him in these words : • You and I are young, which admits of my speaking to you with freedom. They who brought me your future spouse, assured me, at the same time, that you loved her with extreme tender

and her beauty and merit left me no room to doubt it. Upon which I reflected, that if I were in your situation, I should hope to meet with favour : and, therefore, think myself happy in the present conjuncture, to do you a service. Though the fortune of war has made me your master, I desire to be your friend. Here is your wife : take ber, and may you be happy! You may rest assured, that she has been amongst us, as she would have been in the house of her father and mother. Far be it from Scipio to purchase any pleasure at the expense of virtue, honour, and the happiness of an honest man !

No: I have kept her for you, in order to make you a present, worthy of you, and of me. The only gratitude I require of you, for this inestimable gift, is, that you will be a friend to the Roman people.'

3. Allucius' heart was too full to make him any answer; but, throwing himself at the general's feet, he wept aloud : the captive lady fell down in the same posture, and remained so til the aged father, overwhelmed with transports of joy, burst into the following words : “O excellent Scipio! heaven has given thee more than human, virtue. O glorious leader! ( wondrous youth! what pleasure could equal that which must now fill thy heart, on bearing the prayers of this grateful virgin, for thy health and prosperity!'

4. Such was Scipio ; a soldier, a youth, a heathen! nor was his virtue unrewarded. Allucius, charmed with such magnanimity, liberality, and politeness, returned to his own country, and published, on all occasions, the praises of his generous victor: crying out, that there was come into Spain a young hero who conquered all things, less by the force of his arms, than by the charms of his virtue, and the greatress of his beneficence.'

The grateful Scholars. 1. Duty to parents, and gratitude to preceptors, are virtues of the most amiable kind. Yet we daily see children who are indifferent to their parent's peace, and neglectful of those who have laboured to instruct them. But can the most ignorant suppose, that the small pittance which a master receives for his faithful attention to form the youthful mind, is a compensation for his care ? And does not this second parent, if he has done his duty, deserve something from the soil which he has cultivated 2

2. I will suppose that want of reflection, more than want of gratitude, often occasions the neglect towards tútors, of wbich no benevolent heart could think of being guilty without a blush. Selfish as the world is, there are principles of goodness in the human soul, that only want to be awakened to display their amiable sensibilities. The following simple narration is not the fiction as imagination. May it teach others to know what they ought to in itate and avoid !

3. During a long and active life, Saville had traiñed up numbers in the precepts of virtue and good learning. He had exhausted without enriching himself; and, on the verge of the grave, he scarcely knew where to find a refuge from the storm.

4. Necessity (and bow bitter the necessity must be, every cultivated taste may judge) drove him to apply for relief to those who had once been under bis protection, had eaten at his table, and slept under his roof, during that happy period when hope is young, and the days are unclouded with reflection. Some had forgotten his person-others had forgotten themselves. Notwithstanding the philanthropy of Saville's heart, he began to believe the old adage, that services done to the young and the old are equally useless, as the one forget them, and the other live not long enough to repay them.'

5. His delicacy would not suffer him to make many trials of such ingratitude. He was ready to sink under bis misfortunes. Chance, however, directed him to two brothers, who, in consequence of his care in their early youth, and their own dili.

gent exertions in maturer years, had obtained a competence in foreign lands, and were returned to spend it with honour in their own. These, instead of turning their backs on his distress, invited him in the most cordial manner to spend the remainder of his days with them.

6. It would have shown pride rather than humility, in his situation, not to have accepted such a disinterested offer. His days, indeed, were few, after he found this asylum ; but they were closed in comfort, and his former pupils, having lost their own, bewailed this second parent with tears of grateful remembrance, and inscribed their sorrow on his tomb.

The Merchant and his Dog. 1. A French merchant having some money due from a correspondent, set out on horseback, accompanied by his dog, on purpose to receive it." Having settled the business to his satis. faction, he tied the bag of money before him, and returned towards home. His faithful dog, as if he entered into his master's feelings, frisked about the horse, barked and jumped, and seemed to participate in his joy.

2. The merchant, after riding some miles, had occasion to alight, and taking the bag of money in his hands, laid it down by his side under a hedge, and, on remounting, forgot it. The dog perceived his lapse of recollection, and, wishing to rectify it, ran to fetch the bag, but it was too heavy for him to drag along. He then hastened to his master, and by crying, barking, and howling, seemed to remind him of his mistake. The merchant understood not his language ; but the assiduous creature persevered in his efforts, and, after trying to stop the horse in vain, at last began to bite his heels.

3. The merchant, absorbed in some reverie, wholly over. looked the real object of his affectionate attendant's importunity, but waked to the alarming apprehension that he was gone mad. Full of this suspicion, in crossing a brook, he turned back to see if the animal would drink. But it was too intent on its master's service to think of itself; it continued to bark and bite with greater violence than before.

4. Mercy!' cried the astonished merchant, it must be so; my poor dog is certainly mad. What must I do? I must kií him, lest some greater misfortune befał me : but with what regret! Oh could I find any one to perform this cruel office for me! But there is no time to lose; I myself may become the victim if I spare him.'

[ocr errors]

5. With these words he drew a pistol from his pocket, and with a trembling hand, took aim at his faithful servant. Hé turned away in agony as he fired, but his aim was too sure. The

poor animal falls wounded ; and, weltering in his blood, still endeavours to crawl towards his master, as if to tax him with ingratitude. The merchant could not bear the sight, he spurred on his horse, with a heart full of sorrow, and lamented he had taken a journey which had cost him so dear. Still, hóv. erer, the money never entered his mind : he only thought of his poor dog, and tried to console himself with the reflection, that he had prevented a greater evil, by despatching a mad animal, than he had suffered a calamity by his loss.

6. This opiate to his wounded spirit was ineffectual : "I am most unfortunate,' said he, to himself: I had almost rather have lost my money than my dog. Saying this, he stretched out his hand to grasp his treasure. It was missing—no bag was to be found. In an instant, he saw his rashness and folly, "Wretch that I am! I alone am to blame. I could not com. prehend the admonition which my best and most faithful friend gave me, and I have sacrificed him for his zeal. He only wish. ed to inform me of my mistake, and he has paid for his fidelity with his life.'

7. He instantly turned his horse, and went off, at full speed, to the place where he had stopped. He saw, with half averts ed eyes, the scene where the tragedy was acted; he perceived the traces of blood, as he proceeded

he was oppressed and distracted; but in vain did he look för his dog : he was not to be seen on the road. At last, he arrived at the spot where he had alighted. The poor dog, unable to follow his dear, but cruel master, had determined to consecrate his last moments to his service. He had crawled, all bloody as he was, to the forgotten bag, and, in the agonies of death, he lay watching beside it. When he saw his master, he still testified his joy, by the wagging of his tail-he could do no more--he tried to rise, but his strength was gone. The vital tide was ebbing fast : even the caresses of his master could not prolong his fate for a few moments. He stretched out his tongue to lick the hand that was now fondling him, in the agonies of regret, as if to seal forgiveness of the deed that had deprived him of life. He then cast a look of kindness on his master, and closed his eyes forever!

Indian Magnanimity. 1. An Indian who had not met with his usual success in hunting, wandered down to a plantation among the back set

« AnteriorContinuar »