Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

These and various other powerful motives to filial duty and gratitude, have been recognised by the legislators of our republic. For, if any one be disrespectful to his parents, he is not permitted to enjoy any post or trust of honor. It is believed, that a sacrifice offered by an impious hand, can neither be acceptable to Heaven, nor profitable to the state; and that an undutiful son cannot be capable of performing any great action, or executing justice with impartiality.

" Therefore, my son, if you are wise, you will pray to Heaven to pardon the offences committed against your mother. Let no one discover the contempt with which you have treated her, for the world will condemn and abandon you for such behavior. And if it even be suspected, that you repay with ingratitude the good offices of your parents, you will inevitably forego the kindnesses of others; because, no man will suppose, that you have a heart to requite either his favors or his friendship.”

LESSON TWENTY-THIRD.

The Happy End.
When life's tempestuous storms are o'er,
How calm he meets the friendly shore,

Who lived averse to sin!
Such peace on virtue's path attends,
That, where the sinner's pleasure ends,

The good man’s joys begin.

See smiling patience smooth his brow!
See the kind angels waiting now,

To lift his soul on high!
While eager for the blest abode,
He joins with them to praise the God,

Who taught him how to die.

No sorrow drowns his lifted eyes,
Nor horror wrests the struggling sighs,

As from the sioner's breast;
His God, the God of peace and love,
Pours sweetest comforts from above,

And soothes his heart to rest!

LESSON TWENTY-FOURTH.

Cincinnatus. When Herodotus, taking advantage of the domestic troubles at Rome, possessed hiinselt' of the capital, the Consul Valerius Publicola repulsed him, but fell at the head of his troops. Another consul was now to be elected, and, after much deliberation, the choice fell on Cincinnatus; in consequence of which, the senate sent deputies to him, to invite him to come and take possession of the magistracy. He was then at work in his field, and, being his own ploughman, he was dressed in a manner suitable to that profession. When he saw the deputies coming towards him, he stopped his oxen, very much surprised at seeing such a number of persons, and not knowing what they could want with him.

One of the company approached him, and requested him to put on a more suitable dress. He went into his hut, and having put on other clothes, he presented himself to those who were waiting for him with out doors. They immediately saluted him Consul, and invested him with the purple robe; the lictors ranged themselves before him, ready to obey his orders, and begged him to follow them to Rome. Troubled at this sight, he for some time shed tears, in silence. At last, recovering himself, he said only these words: “My field will not be sown this year!” and then repaired to Rome.

The conduct of Cincinnatus during his consulship, fully showed what patriotism and greatness of soul had inhabited a poor wretched cottage. By the vigor and prudence of his measures, he appeased the tumult, and reinstated judiciary proceedings, which had been interrupted during many years. So peaceful a government could not fail of applause; and the people, in consequence, expressed their entire satisfaction with it. But what charmed them was, that, upon the expiration of his term, he refused to be continued in office, with no less constancy than he had pain at first in accepting it. The senate, in particular, forgot nothing that might induce him to comply with being continued in the consulship; but all their entreaties and solicitations were to no purpose.

No sooner had this great man resigned his office, than domestic troubles again embroiled the state; and the Roman state were forced to declare, that the commonwealth required a dictator. Cincinnatus was immediately nominated to the office; and the deputies sent to announce it to him, again found him at his plough. He, however, accepted the office, and a second time saved his country.

Cincinnatus afterwards received the honor of the most splendid triumph that ever adorned any general's success, for having, in the space of sixteen days, during which he had been invested with the dictatorship, saved the Roman camp from the most imminent danger, defeated and cut to pieces the army of the enemy, taken and plundered one of their finest cities, and left a garrison in it, and, lastly, gratefully repaid the Tusculans, who had sent an army to their assistance. -Such were a few of the advantages which this great patriot rendered his country.

Sensible of their obligations, and desirous to convince him of their regard and gratitude, the senate made him an offer of as much of the land he had taken from the enemy, as he should think proper to accept,

with as many slaves and cattle as were necessary to stock it. He returned them his thanks, but would accept of nothing but a crown of gold, of a pound weight, decreed him by the army.

He had no passion or desire beyond the field he cultivated, and the laborious life he had embraced; more glorious and contented with his poverty, than others with the empire of the world.

LESSON TWENTY-FIFTH.

The Pleasures of Retirement.
Happy the man, whose wish and care

A few paternal acres bound;
Content to breathe his native air,

In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,

Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,

In winter fire.

Blessed who can unconcernedly find

Hours, days, and years, slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,

Quiet by day.
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,

Together mixed; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,

With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;

Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone

Tell where I lie.

LESSON TWENTY-SIXTH.

Anglo Saxon Courts. The punishments inflicted by the Anglo Saxon courts of judicature, as well as the proofs employed, were different from those which prevail amongst all civilized nations, in the present age. Indemnity for all kinds of wounds received, and for death itself, was fixed by the Saxon laws at a regular price. A wound of an inch long, under the hair, was recompensed by one shilling; a scar, of equal size, upon the face, by two shillings; thirty shillings were received for the loss of an ear; and other scars were compensated in proportion.

Their mode of evidence was still further dissimilar to the modern practice. When any controversy about a fact became too intricate for their judges to unravel, they had recourse to (what they called) the judgment of God; that is, to fortune; and their methods of consulting this oracle were various.

The most remarkable custom was by the ordeal. It was practised generally by boiling water, or redhot iron. The water or iron being consecrated by many ceremonies, the person accused either took up a stone immersed in the former a certain depth, or carried the iron a certain distance: and his hand being then wrapped up, and the covering sealed for three days, if there appeared, on examination, no marks of burning, he was pronounced innocent; if otherwise, guilty.

The trial by cold water, was different. Into this, the culprit was thrown, his feet and his hands being tied. If he swam, he was guilty; if he sunk, he was considered innocent; though, to us, it appears extra. ordinary, that any innocent person could ever be ac. quitted by the one trial, or any criminal be convicted by the other.

This purgation by ordeal seems to have been very ancient, and universal in the times of superstitious

« ПредишнаНапред »