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THE

FRIENDS.

A TALE

VV HEN Damon was sentenced by Dionysius of Syracuse, to die on such a day; he prayed permission in the interim, to retire to his own country, to set the affairs of his disconsolate family in order. This the tyrant intended most peremptorily to refuse, by granting .it, as he conceived, on the impossible conditions of his procuring some one to remain, as hostage for his return, under equal forfeiture of life. Pythias heard the conditions, and did not wait for an application on the part

of

of Damon ; he instantly offered himself to durance in the place of his friend, and Damon was accordingly set at liberty. .

The king and all his courtiers were astonished at this action, as they could not account for it on any allowed principles.

Self intrest in their judgment, was the sole mover of human affairs; and they looked on virtue, friend:hip, benevolence, Jove of ccuntry and the like, as terms invented by the wise to impose upon the weak. They therefore, imputed this act of Pythias in his dungeon, to the extravagance of his folly to the defect of head, mierely--and no way to any virtue or good quality of heart.

When the day of the destined execution drew near, the tyrant had the curiosity to · visit Pythias in his dungeon. Having reproached him for the romantic stupidity of his conduct, and rallied him some time for his madness, in presuming that Damon,

by his return, would prove as great a fool as himself; “ my lord, said Pythias, with a firm voice and noble aspect," I would it were possible that I might suffer a thousand deaths, rather than my friend should fail in any article of his honour. He cannot fail therein my lord, I am as confident of his virtue, as I am of my own existence, But I pray, I beseech the Gods to preserve the life and integrity of my Damon together. Oppose him, ye winds ! prevent the tagerness of his honourable endeavours ! and suffer him not to arrive till, by my death, I have redeemed a life, a thousand times of more consequence-more estimation than my own-more estimable to his lovely wife-to his precious little innocents—to his friends—to his country. O leave me not to die the worst of deaths in my Damon.

Dionysius was confounded and awed by the dignity of these sentiments, and by

- the the manner (still more sentimental) in which they were uttered; he felt his heart struck by a slight sense of invading trath; but it served rather to perplex than to undeceive him. He hesitated he would have spoken--but he looked down and retired in silence.

The fatal day arrived. Pythias was brought forth, and walked amidst the guard, with a serious but satisfied air, to the place of execution. . . .

Dionysius was already there. He was exalted on a moving throne that was drawn by six white horses, and sat pensive and attentive to the demeanor of the prisoner. Pythias came.--He vaulted lightly on the scaffold; and beholding for some time the apparatus for his death, he turned with a pleased countenance and addressed the assembly. .66 My prayers are heard,” he cried, " the Gods are propitious! You know

my

my friends, that the winds have been contrary till yesterday. Damon could not come he could not conquer impossibili, ties; he will be here to-morrow, and the blood which is shed to day shall have ransomed the life of my friend. O, could I erase from your bosoms every doubt, every mean suspicion of the honour of the man for whom I am about to suffer, I should go to my death even as I would to my bridal. Be it sufficient in the mean time,' that my friend will be found noble—that his truth is, unimpeachable—that he will speedily approve it—that he is now on his way, hurrying on, accusing himself, the adverse elements, and the Gods. But I haste to prevent his speed-executioner to your office.”

As he pronounced the last words, a buzz began to arise among the remotest of the people. A distant voice was heard-the. croud caught the words-and, stop, stop

the

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