« PreviousContinue »
Any thing to please, says the owner; and alighting with his fon, they tied the legs of the ass together, and by the help of a pole endeavoured to carry him upon their shoulders over the bridge that led to the town. This was so entertaining a fight, that the people ran in crowds to laugh at it; till the ass, conceiving a didike to the over-complaisance of his master, burst asunder the cords that tied him, slipt from the pole, and tumbled into the river. The poor old man made the best of his way home, ashamed and vexed, that by endeavouring to please every body, he had pleased no body, and loft his ass into the bargain.
HERCULES'S CHOICE. WHEN Hercules was in that part of his youth, in which it was natural for him to consider what course of life he ought to pursue, he one day retired into a desert, where the filence and solitude of the place very much favoured his meditations. As he was musing on his present condition, and very much perplexing himself on the state of life he should choose, he saw two women of a larger ftature than ordinary approaching towards him. One of them had a very noble air, and graceful deportment; her beauty was natural and easy, her person clean and unspotted, her eyes caft towards the ground with an agreeable reserve, her motion and behaviour full of modesty, and her raiment as white as snow. The other had a great deal of health and floridness in her countenance, which she had helped with an artificial white and red; and endeavoured to appear more graceful than ordinary in her mien, by a mixture of affectation in all her D.
gestures. She had a wonderful confidence and affurance in
much divided in your own thoughts upon
you ought to choose : be my friend, and follow me; I will lead you into the poffeffion of pleasure, and out of the reach of pain, and remove you from all the noise and disquietude of business. The affairs of either war or peace shall have no power to disturb you. Your whole employment shall be to make your life easy, and to entertain every sense, with its proper gratifications. Sumptuous tables, beds of roses, clouds of perfumes, concerts of music, crowds of beauties, are all in readiness to receive you. Come along with me into this region of delights, this world of pleasure, and bid farewel for ever to care, to pain, to business.
HERCULES hearing the lady talk after this manner, defired to know her name; to which she answered,
friends, and those who are well acquainted with me, call me Happiness; but my enemies, and those who would injure my reputation, have given me the name of Pleasure.
By this time the other lady was come up, who addressed herself to the young
different manner. HERCULES, says she, I offer myself to you, because I know you are descended from the gods, and give proofs of
that descent by your love to virtue, and application to the ftudies proper for your age. This makes me hope you will gain both for yourself and me an immortal reputation. But, before I invite you into my society and friendfhip, I will be open and sincere with you, and must lay down this -as an established truth, that there is nothing truly valuable which can be purchased without pains and labour. The gods have set a price upon every real and noble pleasure. If you would gain the favour of the Deity, you must be at the pains of worshipping him; if the friendship of good men, you muft ftudy to oblige them; if you would be honoured by your country, you muft take care to ferve it : In short, if you would be etninent in war or peace, you 'must become master of all the qualifications that can make
These are the only terms and conditions upon which I can propose happiness. The Goddess of Pleasure here broke in upon her discourse: You see, said the, Hercules, by her own confession, the way to her pleasures is long and difficult, whereas that which I propose is short and easy. Alas! said the other lady, whose visage glowed with paflion, made up of scorn and pity, what are the pleafures you propofe ? To eat before you are hungry, drink before you are athirft, fleep before you are tired; to gratify appetites before they are raised, and raise such appetites as Nature never planted. You never heard the most delici. ous music, which is the praise of one's self; nor faw the most beautiful object, which is the work of one's own hands. Your votaries pass away their youth in a dream of mistaken pleasures, while they are hoarding up anguish, torment, and remorse, for old age.
As for me, I am the friend of the gods and of good men, an agreeable companion to the artizan, an household guar
dian to the fathers of families, a patron and protector of fervants, an associate in all true and generous friendships. The banquets of my votaries are never costly, but always delicious; for none eat or drink at them who are not invited by hunger and thirst. Their slumbers are found, and their wakings cheerful. My young men have the pleasure of hearing themselves praised by those who are in years; and those who are in years, of being honoured by those who are young. In a word, my followers are favoured by the gods, beloved by their acquaintance, esteemed by their country, and, after the close of their labours, honoured by posterity:
We know, by the life of this memorable hero, to which of these two ladies he gave up his heart; and I believe, every one who reads this, will do him the justice to approve his choice.
P I T Y. In the happy period of the Golden Age, when all the celeftial inhabitants descended to the earth, and conversed familiarly with mortals, amongst the most cherished of the heavenly powers were twins, the offspring of Jupiter, Love and Joy. Wherever they appeared, the lowers sprung up beneath their feet, the sun shone with a brighter radiance and all nature seemed embellished by their presence. They were inseparable companions, and their growing attachment was favoured by Jupiter, who had decreed that a lasting union should be folemnized between them so soon as they were arrived at maturer years. But in the mean time the fons of men deviated from their native innocence; Vice and Ruin overran the earth with giant Arides: and Aftrea, with
her train of celestial visitants, forsook their polluted abodes, Love alone remained, having been stolen away by Hope, who was his nurse, and conveyed by her to the forests of Arcadia, where he was brought up among the shepherds. But Jupiter affigned him a different partner, and commanded him to espouse SORROW, the daughter of Atè. He complied with reluctance; for her features were harsh and diragreeable, her eyes funk, her forehead contracted into perpetual wrinkles, and her temples were covered with a wreath of cypress and wormwood. From this union sprung a virgin, in whom might be traced a strong resemblance to both her parents; but the fullen and unamiable features of her niother were so mixed and blended with the sweetness of her father, that her countenance, though mournful, was highly pleasing. The maids and thepherds of the neighbouring plains gathered round, and called her Pity. A redbreast was observed to build in the cabin where she was born; and while she was yet an infant, a dove, pursued by a hawk, flew into her bofom. This nymph bad a dejected appearance, but fo soft and gentle a mien that she was be
loved to a degree of enthusiasm. Her voice was low and · plaintive, but inexpressibly sweet; and the loved to lie for hours together on the banks of some wild and melancholy stream, singing to her lute. She taught men to weep, for the took a strange delight in tears; and often, when the virgins of the hamlet were assembled at their evening sports, The would feal in amongst them, and captivate their bearts by her tales, full of a charming sadness. She wore on her head a garland composed of her father's myrtleş, twisted with her mother's cypress.
One day, as fhe fat musing by the waters of Helicon, her tears by chance fell into the fountain, and, ever fince