Imatges de pÓgina
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gations which are laid upon such minds, only increases their burthen; they feel themselves unable to repay the immensity of their debt, and their bankrupt hearts are taught a latent resentment at the hand that is stretched out with offers of service and relief.

Plautinus was a man who thought that every good was to be bought by riches; and as he was possessed of great wealth, and had a mind naturally formed for virtue, he resolved to gather a circle of the best men around him. Among the number of his dependants was Musidorus, with a mind just as fond of virtue, yet not less proud than his patron. His circumstances, however, were such as forced him to stoop to the good offices of his superior, and he saw himself daily among a number of others, loaded with benefits and protestations of friendship. These, in the usual course of the world, he thought it prudent to accept; but while he gave his esteem, he could not give his heart. A want of affection breaks out in the most trifling instances, and Plautinus had skill enough to observe the minutest actions of the man he wished to make his friend. In these he ever found his aim disappointed; for Musidorus claimed an exchange of hearts, which Plautinus, solicited by a variety of claims could never think of bestowing.

It may be easily supposed, that the reserve of our poor proud man was soon construed into ingratitude; and such, indeed, in the common acceptation of the word, it was. Whenever Musidorus appeared, he was remarked as the ungrateful man; he had accepted favours, it was said, and still had the insolence to pretend to independence. The event, however, justified his conduct. Plautinus, by misplaced liberality, at length became poor, and it was then that Musidorus first thought of making a friend of him. He flew to the man of fallen fortune with an offer of all he had; wrought under his direction with assiduity; and by

uniting their talents, both were at length placed in that state of life from which one of them had formerly fallen.

To this story, taken from modern life, I shall add one more, taken from a Greek writer of antiquity. Two Jewish soldiers, in the time of Vespasian, had made many campaigns together, and a participation of dangers at length bred an union of hearts. They were remarked throughout the whole army, as the two friendly brothers; they felt and fought for each other. Their friendship might have continued without interruption till death, had not the good fortune of the one alarmed the pride of the other, which was in his promotion to be a Centurion, under the famous John, who headed a particular party of Jewish malcontents.

From this moment their former love was converted into the most inveterate enmity. They attached themselves to opposite factions, and sought each other's lives in the conflict of adverse party. In this manner they continued for more than two years, vowing mutual revenge and animated with an unconquerable spirit of aversion. At length, however, that party of the Jews to which the mean soldier belonged, joining with the Romans, it became victorious, and drove John with all his adherents into the Temple. History has given us more than one picture of the dreadful conflagration of that superb edifice. The Roman soldiers were gathered round it; the whole Temple was in flames, and thousands were seen amidst them within its sacred circuit. It was in this situation of things, that the now successful soldier saw his former friend upon the battlements of the highest tower looking round with horror, and just ready to be consumed with flames. All his former tenderness now returned; he saw the man of his bosom just going to perish; and unable to withstand the impulse, he ran, spreading his arms and crying out to his friend to leap down from the top and find safety with him. The Centurion from above.

heard and obeyed, and casting himself from the top of the tower into his fellow-soldier's arms, both fell a sacrifice on the spot; one being crushed to death by the weight of his companion, and the other dashed to pieces by the greatness of his fall.

AN

ENQUIRY

INTO

THE PRESENT STATE

OF

POLITE LEARNING IN EUROPE.

Εμοι προς φιλοσοφες εςι φιλια προς μεν τοι σοφιςας η γραμματισας ετε νυν εςι φιλια μητε υςερον ποτε γενοιτο.(1)

Tolerabile si Edificia nostra diruerent Ædificandi capaces.

(1) Philosophers I esteem; but I cannot extend similar consideration to sophists and pedantic grammarians.]

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[This Essay was first published in April 1759, by the Dodsleys. A second edition, revised previous to Goldsmith's last illness, appeared in July 1774, after his death. On the latter he bestowed considerable care, throwing out a portion of the first, either from alteration of circumstances or having seen cause to change his opinion; but it was not replaced by new matter. See Life, ch. xxv.]

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