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up by inclination; so that all the world thought that old The.-would be hanged.
And now, reader, I have brought him to his last scene; a scene where, perhaps, my duty should have obliged me to assist. You expect, perhaps, his dying words, and the tender farewell he took of his wife and children; you expect an account of his coffin and white gloves, his pious ejaculations, and the papers he left behind him. In this I cannot indulge your curiosity: for, oh, the mysteries of fate! The.--was drowned!
'Reader,' as Hervey saith, 'pause and ponder, and ponder and pause;' who knows what thy own end may be!
THERE are few subjects which have been more written upon, and less understood, than that of friendship. To follow the dictates of some, this virtue, instead of being the assuager of pain, becomes the source of every inconvenience. Such speculatists, by expecting too much from friendship, dissolve the connection, and, by drawing the bands too closely, at length break them. Almost all our romance and novel writers are of this kind; they persuade us to friendships, which we find it impos sible to sustain to the last; so that this sweetener of life, under proper regulations, is, by their means, rendered inaccessible or uneasy, It is certain, the best method to cultivate this virtue is by letting it, in some measure, make itself; a similitude of minds or studies, and even sometimes a diversity of pursuits, will produce all the pleasures that arise from
it. The current of tenderness widens as it proceeds; and two men imperceptibly find their hearts filled with good nature for each other, when they were at first only in pursuit of mirth or relaxation.
Friendship is like a debt of honour; the moment it is talked of, it loses its real name, and assumes the more ungrateful form of obligation. From hence we find, that those who regularly undertake to cultivate friendship, find ingratitude generally repays their endeavours. The circle of beings, which dependence gathers round us, is almost ever unfriendly; they secretly wish the terms of their connections more nearly equal; and, where they even have the most virtue, are prepared to reserve all their affections for their patron only in the hour of his decline. Increasing the obligations which are laid upon such minds, only increases their burthen; they feel themselves unable to repay the immensity of their debt, and their bankrupt hearts are taught a latent resentment at the hand that is stretched out with offers of service and relief.
Plautinus was a man that thought, that every good was to be brought from riches; and, as he was possessed of great wealth, and had a mind naturally formed for virtue, he resolved to gather a circle of the best men round him. Among the number of his dependants was Musidorus, with a mind just as fond of virtue, yet not less proud than his patron. His circumstances, however, were such as forced him to stoop to the good offices of his superior, and he saw himself daily among a number of others loaded with benefits and protestations of friendship. These, in the usual course of the world, he thought it prudent to accept but, while he gave his esteem, he could. not give his heart. A want of affection breaks out in the most trifling instances, and Plautinus had,
skill enough to observe the minutest actions of the man he wished to make his friend. In these he even found his aim disappointed; Musidorus claimed an exchange of hearts, which Plautinus, solicited by a variety of claims, could never think of bestowing.
It may be easily supposed, that the reserve of our poor proud man was soon construed into ingratitude; and such indeed in the common, acceptation of the word it was. Wherever Musidorus appeared, he was remarked as the ungrateful man; he had accepted favours, it was said, and still had the insolence to pretend to independence. The event, however, justified his conduct. Plantinns, by misplaced liberality, at length became poor, and it was then that Musidorus first thought of making a friend of him. He flew to the man of fallen fortune, with an offer of all he had'; wrought under his direction with assiduity; and, by uniting their talents, both were at length placed in that state of life from which one of them had formerly fallen.
To this story, taken from modern life, I shall add one more, taken from a Greek writer of antiquity: Two Jewish soldiers, in the time of Vespasian, had made many campaigns together, and a participation of danger at length bred a union of hearts. They were remarked through the whole army, as the two friendly brothers; they felt and fought for each other. Their friendship might have continued, without interruption, till death, had not the good fortune of the one alarmed the pride of the other, which was in his promotion to be a centurion under the famous John, who headed a particular part of the Jewish malcontents.
From this moment, their former love was converted into the most inveterate enmity. They at
tached themselves to opposite factions, and sought each other's lives in the conflict of adverse party. In this manner they continued for more than two years, vowing mutual revenge, and animated with an unconquerable spirit of aversion. At length, however, that party of the Jews, to which the mean soldier belonged, joining with the Romans, it became victorious, and drove John, with all his ad. herents, into the Temple. History bas given us more than one picture of the dreadful conflagration of that superb edifice. The Roman soldiers were gathered round it; the whole temple was in flames; and thousands were seen amidst them, within its sacred circuit. It was in this situation of things, that the now-successful soldier saw his former friend, upon the battlements of the highest tower, looking round with horror, and just ready to be consumed with flames. All his former tenderness now returned; he saw the man of his bosom just going to perish; and unable to withstand the impulse, he ran, spreading his arms, and cried out to his friend to leap down from the top, and find safety with him. The centurion from above heard and obeyed; and. casting himself from the top of the tower into his fellow-soldier's arms, both fell a sacrifice on the spot; one being crushed to death by the weight of his companion, and the other dashed to pieces by the greatness of his fall.
FOLLY OF ATTEMPTING TO LEARN
BOOKS, while they teach us to respect the in.
terests of others, often make us unmindful of our own; while they instruct the youthful reader to grasp at social happiness, he grows miserable in detail; and, attentive to universal harmony, often forgets that he himself has a part to sustain in the concert. I dislike, therefore, the philosopher who describes the inconveniences of life in such pleasing colours, that the pupil grows enamoured of distress, longs to try the charms of poverty, meets it without dread, nor fears its inconveniences till he severely feels them.
A youth who has thus spent his life among books, new to the world, and unacquainted with man but by philosophic information, may be considered as a being whose mind is filled with the vulgar errors of the wise; utterly unqualified for a journey through life, yet confident of his own skill in the direction, he sets out with confidence, blunders on with vanity, and finds himself at last undone.
He first has learned from books, and then lays it down as a maxim, that all mankind are virtuous or vicious in excess; and he has been long taught to detest vice and love virtue. Warm, therefore, in attachments, and stedfast in enmity, he treats every creature as friend or foe; expects from those he loves, unerring integrity; and consigns his enemies to the reproach of wanting every virtue. On this principle he proceeds; and here begin his disap. pointments: upon a closer inspection of human nature, he perceives, that he should have moderated his friendship, and softened his severity; for he