« AnteriorContinua »
dare not tell you what it is. The Sultán would not be satisfied with such an answer, but forced him to repeat word for word every thing the owls: had said. You must know then, said the visier, that one of these owls has a son, and the other a daughter, between whom they are now upon a treaty of marriage. The father of the son said to the father of the daughter, in my hearing, brother, I consent to this marriage, provided you will settle upon your daughter fifty ruined villages for her portion. To which the father of the daughter replied, instead of fifty I will give her five hundred, if you please. God grant a long life to Sultan Mahmoud ; whilst he reigns over us, we shall never want ruined villages.
The story says, the Sultan was so touched with the fable, that he rebuilt the towns and villages which had been destroyed, and from that time forward consulted the good of his people. ·
THERE were two very powerful tyrants engaged in a perpetual war against each other : the name of the first was Luxury, and of the second Avarice. The aim of each of them was no less than universal monarchy over the hearts of mankind. Luxury had many generals under him, who did him great service, as Pleasure, Mirth, Pomp, and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care, and Watchfulness : he had also a privycounsellor who was always at his elbow, and whispering something or other in his ear: the name of this privy. counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice conducted himself by the councels of poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Plenty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, that concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of his sight. While these two great rivals were thus contending for empire, their conquests were very various. Luxury got possession of one heart, and Avarice of ano, ther. The father of a family would often range himself under the banners of Avarice, and the son under those of Luxury. The wife and husband would often declare themselves on the two different parties ; nay, the same person would
often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the other in his old age. Indeed the wise men of the world stood neuter ; but alas, their numbers were not considerable. At length, when these two potentates had wearied themselves with waging war upon one ano. ther, they agreed upon an interview, at which neither of their counsellors were to be present. It is said that Luxury began the parley, and after having represented the endless state of war in which they were engaged, told his enemy, with a frankness of heart which is natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good friends, were it not for the instigations of Poverty, that pernici. ous counsellor, who made an ill use of his ear, and file led him with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To this Avarice replied, that he looked upon Plenty (the first minister of his Antagonist) to be a much more des. tructive counsellor than Poverty, for that he was perpetually suggesting pleasures, banishing all the necessary cautions against want, and consequently undermining those principles on which the government of Avarice was founded. At last, in order to an accommodation, they agreed upon this preliminary, that each of them should immediately dismiss his privy counsellor. When things were thus far adjusted towards a peace, all other differences were soon accommodated, insomuch that for
the future they resolved to live as good friends and confederates, and to share between them whatever conquests were made on either side. For this reason we now find Luxury and Avarice taking possession of the same heart, and dividing the same person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the discarding of the counsellors above mentioned, Avarice supplies luxury in the room of Plenty, as: Luxury prompts Avarice in the place of Poverty.
PLEASURE AND PAIN.
THERE were two families which from the beginning of the world were as opposite to each other as light and darkness. The one of them lived in heaven and the other in hell. The youngest descendant of the first family was Pleasure, who was the daughter of Happiness, who was the child of Virtue, who was the offspring of the Gods. These, as I said before had their habitation in heaven. The youngest of the opposite family was Pain, who was the son of Misery, who was the child of Vice, who was the offi;ring of the Furies. The habitation of this race of beings was in hell.
The middle station of nature between these two opposise extremes was the earth, which was inhabited by creatures of a middle kind, neither so virtuous as the one, nor so vicious as the other, but partaking of the good and bad qualities of these two opposite families. Jupiter considering that this species, conumonly called man, was too virtuous to be miserable, and too vicious to be happy ; that he might make a distinction between the good and
the bad, ordered the two youngest of the above men tioned families, Pleasure who was the daughter of Happiness, and Pain who was the son of Misery, to meet one another upon this part of nature which lay in the half way between them, having promised to settle it upon them both, provided they could agree upon the division of it, so as to share mankind between them.
Pleasure and Pain were no sooner met in their new habitation, but they immediately agreed upon this point, that Pleasure should take possession of the virtuous, and Pain of the vicious part of that species which was given up to them. But upon examining to which of them any . individual they met with belonged, they found each of them had a right to him ; for that, contrary to what they had seen in their old places of residence, there was no person so vicious who had not some good in him, nor any person, so virtuous who had-not in him some evil. The truth of it is, they generally found upon search, that in the most vicious man, Pleasure might lay claim to an hundredth part; and that in the most virtuous man, Pain might come in for at least two thirds. This they saw would occasion endless disputes between them, unless they could come to some accommodation. 'To this end there was a marriage proposed between them, and at length.concluded : by this means it is that we find Pleasure and Pain are such constant yoke-fellows, and that they either make their visits together, or are never far asunder. If Pain comes into a heart, he is quickly followed by Pleasure; and if Pleasure enters, you may be sure Pain is not far off.
But notwithstanding this marriage was very convenient for the two parties, it did not seem to answer the intention of Jupiter in sending them among mankind. To remedy there fore this inconvenience, it was stipulated between them by article, and confirmed by the consent of cach family, that notwithstanding they here possessed the species indifferently, upon the death of every single person,
if he was found to have in him a certain proportion of evil, he should be dispatched into the infernal "regions by a passport from Pain, there to dwell with Misery, Vice, and the Furies. Or on the contrary, if he had in him a certain proportion of good, he should be dispatched into heaven by. a passport from Pleasure, there to dwell with Happiness, Virtue, and the Gods.
LABOUR, the offspring of Want, and the mother of Health, and Contentment, lived with her two daughters in a little cottage by the side of a hill, at a great distance from Town. They were totally unacquainted with the great, and kept no better company than the neighbouring villagers ; but having a desire of seeing the world, they forsook their companions and habitation, and determined to travel. Labour went soberly along the road with Health on the right hand, who by the sprightliness of her conversation, and songs of cheerfulness and joy, softened the toils of the way ; while Contentment went smiling on the left, supporting the steps of her mother, and by a perpetual good-humour increasing the vivacity of her sister.
In this manner they travelled over forests and through towns and villages, till at last they arrived at the capital of the kingdom. A! their entrance into the great city, the mother conjured her daughters never to lose sight of her ; for it was the will of Jupiter, she said, that their seperation should be attended with the utter ruin of all three, But Health was of too gay a disposition to regard