Page images
PDF
EPUB

different with the greater part of mankind ; there is no fpeétacle we so eagerly pursue, as that of fome uncommon and grievous calamity; so that whether this misfortune is before our eyes, or whether it be represented on the stage, it always touches with delight. The more real, the keener is the sensation. Choose the day, on which to represent the most sublime and affecting tragedy we have; appoint the most favourite actors; spare no cost upon the scenes and decorations ; unite the greatest effort of poetry, painting, and music; and when you have collected your audience, just at the moment when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be announced, that a ftate criminal of high rank is on the point of being executed; in' a moment the emptiness of the theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the irritative arts, and proclaim the triumph of real sympathy: for our CREATOR has designed we should be united by the bond of sympathy, and hath strengthened that bond by a proportional delight; and there most, where our sympathy is most wanted; and he hath also wisely ordained that this delight should, by presing on us too strongly, finally give way to real un4

easiness.

me.

easiness. The delight we have in such events hinders us from shunning scenes of misery; and the pain we afterwards feel, prompts us to relieve ourselves in relieving those who suffer; and all this antecedent to any reasoning by an instinct that works us to its own purposes without our concurrence.

VOL. IV.

4 X

SECT.

SECT. LXVI.

A SINGULAR INSTANCE OF SYMPATHY.

O Greece! thou fapient nurse of finer arts;

-whose every son,
even the last mechanic, the true taste possess’d.
Thine was the meaning music of the heart;
not the vain trill, that, void of passion, runs
in giddy mazes, tickling idle ears ;-
But that deep-searching voice, and artful hand,
to which, respondent, shakes the varied soul.

THOMSON.

When the appointed day arrived, the whole inhabitants of Athens, whether citizens or strangers, assembled early in the Piræus, to admire the greatest fpectacle ever beheld in a Grecian harbour.

A hundred gallies were adorned with all the splendour of naval pomp: the troops destined to embark, vied with each other in the elegance of their dress and the brightness of their arms: the alacrity painted in every face, and the magnificence displayed with profufion in every part of the equipage, reprefented a triumphal show, rather than the stern image of war. But the folidity

and

and greatness of the armament proved that it was intended for use, and not ostentation.

Amidst this glare of external pageantry which accompanied the adventurous youth, their friends and kinsmen could not suppress a few parting tears, when they considered the dangers of the fea, and the uncertainty of behokling again the dearest pledges of their affection. But their partial expressions of grief were speedily interrupted by the animating sounds of the trumpet, which issued at once from an hundred ships, and provoked sympathetic acclamations from the shore.

The captains then offered solemn prayers to the gods, which were answered by corresponding vows from the spectators: the customary libations were poured out ; and, after the triumphant Pæan had been fung in full chorus, the whole fleet at once fet fail, and contended for the prize of naval skill and celerity, until they reached the lofty shores of Ægina, froin whence they enjoyed a prosperous navigation to the rendezvous of their confederates at Corcyra.

There the coiamanders reviewed the strength of the armament, which consisted of an hundred and thirtyfour ships of war, with a proportioned number of tranfports and tenders. 4 X 2

At

At a moderate computation, we may estimate the whole military and naval strength at twenty thousand

men.

When the inhabitants of Syracuse heard the first rumours of the Athenian invasion, they despised them, as idle lies invented to amuse the populace. The hostile armament had arrived at Rhegium before they could be persuaded, by the wisdom of HERMOCRATES, to provide against a danger which their presumption painted as imaginary. But when they received undoubted intelligence that the enemy had reached the Italian coast; when they beheld their numerous fleet commanding the sea of Sicily, and ready to make a descent on their defenceless island, they were seized with a just degree of terror and alarm proportional to their false security, From the heights of presumption they plunged into the depths of despair, and their spirits were, with difficulty, restored by the animating voice of the brave and prudent HERMOCRATES.

Only a few days elapsed before the adverse armies prepared to engage. The Syracufan generals drew up their troops fixteen, and the Athenians only eight, deep: but the latter had, in their camp, a body of reservė, which was kept ready for action on the first signal.

The

« PreviousContinue »