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MR. TASKER'S LETTERS
LETTER THE EIGHTH.
FURTHER REMARKS ON LUCAN.
for there I shall beg leave to introduce you to the Psyllians, the most extraordinary people, according to our author's account, that ever this world produced, and very properly situated amidst all the viperous brood. - Would you suspect another miracle so soon? Here you have it-read and judge:
Gens unica terras,
Marmarida Psylli « The Psylli; the only nation on the face of the earth, who could not be hurt by the bites of serpents.”
He likewise mentions a most singular custom prevailing, among this poison-proof nation. When any good men suspect their wives of being connected with m n of another tribe or people,
Letificâ dubios explorant aspide partus. they make the following experiment: if the new-born babes can bear the bite of the asp unhurt, they declare them genuine Psyllians, otherwise not. This tells well in fiction, but can never be reconciled to the belief of the natural historian. Some of this tribe that followed the Roman camp, exorcised it by spells and charms, and likewise made large fires round it, and burnt a great variety of herbs, supposed to be possessed of a smell.or quality calculated to keep serpents at a due distance. The poet recounts a large catalogue of herbs of this description, and such as will afford ample materials for the exercise of botanical knowledge. He likewise does not fail to avail himself of the powers of the potent Panacæa *, a poetical herb of all virtues, but existing no where in the nature of things, and the pure coinage of poets' brains. He likewise particularises the well-known herb
* This word, in its true and genuine sense, signifies a medicine that cures all diseases; and any foreigner would suppose, that our English empirics, or quack doctors, by their confidence in advertising to cure all disorders, were in possession of this medicine. But as their boasted nostrums, upon a moderate computation, kill five where they cure one, the odds (in the gambler's phrase) seěna to be in their disfavour.
Centaury (vulgo centory), and by the phrase, “ Tliessala Centaurëa,” gives reason to think, that the name was derived from that famous antient practitioner of medicine, the Centaur Chiron; but the usual practice of this tribe, in preventing the ill consequences of venomous bites inflicted on strangers, was, we are told, to inake use of charms (but God knows how); and fearing these should not succeed, they made a circle round the wound with theit owo saliva, or spittle, to confine the poison as in a magic circumference, and then they sucked it out with their lips; and this last practice, I believe, contained the whole secret of the business. This seems to have been a rational practice, and likewise a safe one; for, as Cato observes in the beginning of his march, when his soldiers came to a well, surrounded by, and full of serpents,
Norja serpentúm est admissio sanguine pestis,
My soldiers drink, and dread nor death nor pain;
And this fact is further proved by the conduct of some German ema pirie that I have heard of, who boasted that he had an infallible antidote for the bite of a viper; and, in order to prove it, he used to get a number of people around him, and in their presence enrage a viper, and cause it to bite a bit of flesh, which he immediately swallowed, and then took the antidote, which he well knew there was no occasion for, nor virtue in. But the patients of the German doctor did not $ucceed so well; for all those wlio were bitten by vipers, and relied on his nostruins, found no good effect, which led to the discovery after the following manner: one of the doctor's patients, ratlier of more discernment than the rest, being told, that the nostrum he de. livered was an infallible cure for the bite he had received, humbly requested the doctor to make the experiment upon himself, by being bitten a little by a viper. The doctor shuddered at the thought; made soine plausible excuse; viz, that his blood was not at that time in a proper state for the experiment; but that at some future period he would have no objection to make the trial on himself. In the mean time the doctor decamped, and was no more heard of in that part of the world. ---This ignorant and daring empiric, however, added to the improvement of real science, by proving that the poison of the viper miglit be swallowed without any detriinent to the constitution,
FOR THE FREEMASONS MAGAZINE.
THE TRUE SOURCES
AN EASTERN TALE.
THERE shall we find, O holy prophet! that ease which our
sages have so long been in search of? Kings enjoy it not; for they are oppressed with care, and are, for the most part, the sport of fortune; the bashas have thoughts confused and perplexed, expecting every moment that their life will be required of them by their master; and if they escape that fate, they are still liable to be murdered by any factious janisary, or haughty spahi; the people they govern they must oppress, that they may be able to gratify the insatiable avarice of the ministers of the divan: yet do we foolishly thirst after these high dignities, thinking they will contribute to make us happy
Vain ambition! it is not honour that constitutes happiness. Assan was son of an Emir in Bosnia ; gracefulness and beauty joined to embellish his person, and his mind was not destitute of sweet accomplishments. The fire of his soul might be seen in his eyes ; yet was it of a nature rather to please than dazzle the beholders. Ambition pushed him into the Sultan's army; he greatly distinguished him in several engagements, and merited and enjoyed the favour of Sultan Ibrahim; he was promoted to the command of a large body of janisaries, and stationed at Constantinople to be near his master. He vainly imagined honours would make him happy, and that he was now in a fair way to attain the summit of glory. But, behold! all his hopes were in a moment blasted; the janisaries rose, murdered his beloved master, and it was with the greatest difficulty he escaped with his life. Assan was undeceived; honours had now no charms for him; he went, therefore, in search of wealth, as the source of contentment. He sold the jewels he had contrived to save from the general wreck of his fortunes, and going to Aleppo, vested his whole stock in merchandise. Assan carried on for some years a considerable traffic; he grew rich apace, and enjoyed every luxury the east could afford; his haram was filled with the fairest women of Circassia, and his table was crouded with the spices of Arabia ; his house was magnificent, being built of cedar, and his fur. niture was the work of the most celebrated artists. Assan thought himself now in a right train ; most things were within his power, and he failed not to enjoy them all; but Assan unfortunately was too sanguine in his hopes. The evening saw him reposed on a magnificent sofa; but he was in the morning an outcast, without a place wherein to shelter himself from the inclemency of the heat. The
basha had long seen his riches with a greedy eye, and taking occasion to accuse him of high crimes, seized on all his possessions; Assan had no remedy in his power, yet did he wish to vindicate his character from imputed slander, fully sensible that his riches only had been the occasion of his ruin. He set out for Constantinople, meaning to throw himself at the sultan's feet, and ask of him the justice that was so much his due. When he came thither, to his inexpressible joy he found that his old friend Ali Suza was lately made visier Azem; he flew to him, and was received with open arms; but, on mentioning the cause of his voyage, his friend told him, that the sultan had already sent a mute with an order for the basha's head. Suza advised him to put up with his loss, and got him immediately appointed Bostangi Aga. Assan now thought himself happy indeed; the gardens of the seraglio were under his care, and he had opportunities enough of amusing himself in a kind of elegant, yet not unimportant retirement. His power in the divan was great; but he exerted it only to promote the happiness of the good. This was the second time he tried if honour could give him content and ease; he enjoyed both, indeed, for a time; but what was his grief and surprise, when one moruing early a page of the seraglio came to inform him, that his friend Suza was strangled, and that himself was banislied to the confines of Servia. Cruel change! in appearance ; yet mindful of the precepts of the Koran, Assan was resigned, and submitted to his fate without repining. He arrived at his destined abode, and found there a house scarcely fit to defend him from the weather, and a large tract of ground that had never been wounded with either plow or harrow. Assan had seen as yet but thirty summers, he was vi orous, strong, and healthy; he applied with diligence to the affairs of husbandry, and endeavoured to improve by cultivation what he found a mere waste. His thoughts were now continually employed on liis farm, and he first began to perceive the dawn of true happiness. In a very few years the face of nature was entirely changed; his ground, now improved, supplied all his wants, and he regretted not the loss of his riches or honours. Day passed after day in a serene tranquillity, and by being master of his passions, he had no desires but what were easily gratified. -Experience had taught him to distrust fortune; yet he flattered himself that he was now on the road to content. Social converse seemed to be all he wanted; wonderful are the ways of Providence, which by the most unexpected means contributes to our happiness. Assan one day saw a dervise approaching his habitătion; hospitality prompted him to meet the venerable sage, and invite him to a repast; but how great was his surprise, how inexpressible his joy, when he found in him his long lost friend Aļi Suza, why had, by means of a timely bribe, escaped the hands of the messengers of death. Assan, to the joys of retirement, had now added those of friendship; he thought he had nothing to wish for os hope in this life; tears of unfeigned satisfaction added beauty to his countenance, and he looked and spoke like one contented with his lot: but truer and more complete happiness was still in reserve for him. Suza, retired for about
an hour, and returned with the all-accomplished Fatima in his hand. He bestowed on Assan the daughter of his affections, wishing, she might make him as happy as her mother, the amiable Zara, had done himself. Assan was enchanted with the present; he knew its value, and was thankful accordingly. He now found, after many experimental scenes in the space of a few years, that love, friendship, and a virtuous retirement, are the true sources of earthly happiness.
THE CHARACTER OF A GOOD HUSBAND, AND A GOOD WIFE.
A GOOD HUSBAND.
choice, is constant as well from inclination as from principles; he treats his wife with delicacy as a woman, with tenderness as a friend; he attributes her follies to her weakness, her imprudence to her inadvertency; he passes them over, therefore, with good nature, and pardons them with indulgence; all' his strength and power are exerted for her support and protection; he is more anxious to preserve his own character and reputation, because her's is blended with it; lastly, the good husband is pious and religious, that he may animate her faith by his practice, and enforce the precepts of Christianity by his own example; that as they join to promote each others happiness in this world, they may unite to ensure eternal joy and folicity ill that which is to come.
A GOOD WIFE. THE good wife is one who, ever mindful of tlie solemn contract which she hath entered into, is strictly and conscientiously virtuous, constant, and faithful to her husband ; chaste, pure, and unblemnished,
every thought, word, and deed; she is humble and modest from reason and conviction, submissive from choice, and obedient from inclination; what she acquires by love and tenderness, she preserves by prudence and discretion; she makes it her business to serve, and her business to oblige hier liusband; conscious that every thing t at promotes his happiness, must in the end contribute to her own : her tenderness relieves his cares, her affection softens his distress, her good humour and complacency lessen and subdue his afflictions.* She openeth her mouth,” as Solomon says, “ with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness. --She looketh well to the way of