« PreviousContinue »
the counsels of Labour: she suffered herself to be debauched by intemperance, and at last died in child birth of Disease. Contentment, in the absence of her sister,, gave herself up to the enticements of Sloth, and was never heard of after: while Labour, who could have no enjoyment without her daughters, went every where in search of them, till she was at last seized by Lassitude in her way, and died in misery.
THE OLD MAN AND HIS ASS.
AN old man and a little boy were driving an ass to the aext market to sell. "What a fool is this fellow (says a man upon the road) to be trudging it on foot with his son, that his ass may go light ! The poor man hearing this, set his boy upon the ass> and went whistling by the side of him. Why, sirrah! (cries a second man to the boy) is it fit for you to be riding, while your poor old father is walking on foot ? The father, upon this rebuke, took down his boy from the ass, and mounted himself. Do you see (says a third) how the la2y old knave rides along upon his beast, while his poor little boy is almost crippled w;ith walking? The old man no sooner heard this, than he took up his son behind him. Pray honest friend, (says a fourth) is that ass your own? Yes, says the man. • One would not have thought so, replied the c'.her3 by your loading him so unmercifully. You and and your sen are better able to carry the poor beast than he you.' Any thing to please, says the owner; and alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the ass together, and by the help of a pole endeavoured to carry him up
on their shoulders over the bridge that led to the town.. This was so entertaining a sight, .that the people ran in crowds to langh/at it ; till the ass,, conceiving a dislike to the over-complaisance of his.master,burst asunder the cords that tied him, slipped 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 lo&t tia ass into the bargain.
WHEN Hercules was in that part of his youth, ia which it was natural for him to caaiiuer what course of Hie he ought to pursue, he one day retired to a desert,, where the silence and solitude of the place very much favoured his meditations. As he was musing on his pre'seut condition, and very much perplexed in. himself on the state of life he should chuse, he saw two women of a larger stature 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 cast 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 artficial white and red; and endeavoured to appear more graceful than, ordinary in her mein,'by a mixture of affectation in all her gestures. She had a wonderful confidence and assurance in her leaks, and all the variety of cofours in her dress, that she thought were the most proper to shew her complexion to advantage. She cast her eyes upon herself,, then turned them on those that were present, to see how they liked her, and often looked on, the figure she made in her shadow. Upon her nearer approach to Hercules, she stepped before the other lady,, who came forward with a regular composed carriage, and running up to him, accosted .him after the following manner r
My dear Hercules, says she, I find'you are very mueff: divided in your own thoughts upon the way of life that you ought to chase be my friend, and follow,me ; I will lead you into the possession 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 s^nse 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 ofpleasure, and bid farewel. for ever to care, to pain, to business,
Hercules hearing the lady talk after this manner, de-' sired to know her name ; to which she answered, my 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 address-, ed herself to the young hero in a very 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 studies 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
friendship, I will be opep nnd 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 worshiping hjm j if the friendship of good men, you must study to oblige them; if you would be honoured by your country, you must take care to serve it. In short, if you w^uld be eminent in war or peace, j'ou must become master of all the Qualifications that would malte you so. These are the only terms and conditions upon which 1 can propose happiness. The Goddess of Pleasure here broke in upon her discourse: You see, said she, Hercules, by her confession, the -way to her pleasure is long and difficult, whereas that which I propose is short and easy. Alas! said the other lady, whose visage glowed with passion made up of scorn,and pity, what are the pleasures you propose? To eat before you are hungry, drink before you are athirst,sleep before you are tired; to gratfy appetites before they are raised, and raise such appeties as nature never planted. You never heard the most delicious music, which is the praise of one's self; nor saw 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 Gods-and of good men, an agreeable companion to theartizan, an houshold guardian to the fathers of families, a patron and protector of servants, 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 sound, 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 fay 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 justice, to approve of his choice.
"IN the happy period of the golden age, when all tri* telestial inhabitants descended to thcearth, and conversed familiarly with mortals, amongst-the most cherished of the heavenly powers were twins, the offspring of Jirpiter, Love and Joy. Wherever they appeared, the flowers 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 ."Jemnized fcetween them so soon as they were arrived at maturer years. But in the meun time the sons of men deviated .from their native innocence; vice and ruin over-ran the earth with giant strides; and Astria, 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 assigned him a different partner, and commanded him to espouse Sorrow, the daughter of -Ate,