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selves 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 ingrati. tude ; and such indeed in the common acceptation of the world it was. Wherever Musidorus appeared, he was remarked as the ungrateful man; he had accepted favours, it was said, and still had the iu. solence to pretend to independence. The event, however, justified his conduct. Plautinus, by mis. placed liberality, at leagth became poor, and it was then that Musidorus first thought of making a friend of him. He flew to the man of falling 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, takeu 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 leugth bred a union of hearts. They were remarked through the whole arny, 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 con. verted 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 Sohn, with all his adherents, into the Temple. History has given us more than one picture of the dreadful cooflagration of that superb edifice. The Roman soldiers were gathered round it; thew hole 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 cousumed 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 hiin. 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
WISDOM IN RETIREMENT. 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 onsidered as a being whose mind is filled with the vulgar errors of the wise; utterly unqualified for a journey througlı life, yet confident of his own skill in the direction, he sets out with confidence, blunders on with va. nity, and finds himself at last undone.
He first has learued from books, and then lags 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 attachmenis, and stedfast in enmity, he treats every creature as friend or foe; expects from those he loves, unerring integrity; and consigns bis enemics to the reproach of wanting every virtue. On this principle he proceeds; and here begia bis dis. appointments : upon a closer inspection of humar nature, he perceives, that he should have moderated his friendship, and softered his severity; for he often finds the excellences of one part of mankind clouded with vice, and the faults of the other brightened with virtue; he finds no character so sanctified that has not its failings; none so infamous, but has somewhat to attract our esteem; he beholds impiety in lawn, and fidelity in fetters.
He now therefore, but too late, perceives that his regards should have been more cool, and his hatred less violent; that the truly wise seldom court romantic frieodship with the good, and avoid, if pos. sible, the resentment even of the wicked; every moment gives him fresh instances that the bonds of friendship are broken if drawn too closely; and that those whom he has treated with disrespect, more. than retaliate the injury: at length, therefore, he is obliged to confess, that he has declared war upon the vicious half of mankind, without being able to form an alliance among the virtuous to espouse his quarrel.
Our book-taught philosopher, however, is now too far advanced to recede; and though poverty be the just consequence of the many enemies his conduct has created, yet he is resolved to meet it without shrinking; philosophers have described poverty in most charming colours; and even his vanity is touched in thinking he shall show the world in himself one more example of patience, fortitude, and resignation : . Come, then, O poverty ! for what is the in thee dreadful to the wise? Temperance, health, and frugality, walk in thy train; cheerful. ness and liberty are ever thy companions. Shall any be ashamed of thee, of whom Cincinnatus was not ashamed? The running brook, the herbs of the field, can amply satisfy nature; man wants but little, nor that little long. Come then, O while kings stand by, and gaze with admiration at the true philosopher's resignation.'
The goddess appears; for Poverty erer comes at the call; but, alas! he finds her by no means the charming figure books and his own imagination had painted. As when an eastern bride, whom her friends and relations had long described as a model of perfection, pays her first visit, the longing bridegroom lifts the veil to see a face he had never seen before ; but, instead of a countenance blazing with beauty like the sun, he beholds deformity shooting icicles to his heart; such appears Poverty to her new entertainer: all the fabric of enthusiasm is at once demolished, and a thousand miseries rise upon its ruins; while contempt, with pointing finger, is foremost in the hideous processiou.
The poor man now finds that he can get no kings to look at him while he is eating : he finds, that in proportion as he grows poor, the world turns its back upon him, and gives him leave to act the philosopher in all the majesty of solitude. It might be agreeable enough to play the philosopher, while we are conscious that mankind are spectators; but what signifies wearing the mask of sturdy contentment, and mounting the stage of restraint, when not one creature will assist at the exhibition? Thus is he forsaken of men, while his fortitude wants the satisfaction even of self-applause; for either he does not feel his present calamities, and that is na.. tural iusensibility; or he disguises his feelings, and that is dissimulation.
Spleen now begins to take up the man; not distin. guishing in his resentment, be regards all maukind with detestation: and commencing man.bater, seeks solitude to be at liberty to rail.
It has been said, that he who retires to solitude, is either a beast or an angel : the censure is too severe, and the praise unmerited; the discontented being, who retires from society, is generally some good-natured man who has begun life without ex. perience, and knew not how to gain it in his iuter. course with mankind.