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Poggius relates of Dante, that he indulged his meditations more strongly than any man he ever knew; whenever he read, he was only alive to (1) what was passing in his mind; to all human concerns he was as if they had not been. Dante went one day to see a great public procession; he entered the shop of a bookseller to be a spectator of the passing show. He found a book which greatly interested him; he devoured it in silence, and plunged into an abyss of thought. On his return be declared that he had neither seen nor heard the slightest occurrence of the public exhibition which had passed before him.
ROYALTY A BURDEN.
A great Polish monarch having quilted his companions when he was hunting, his courtiers found him a few days after in a market-place, disguised as a porter (2), and lending out (3) the use of his shoulders for
a few pence.
At this they were much surprised, and they were doubtful at first whether the porter could be his majesty. At length (4) they ventured to express their astonishment and complaints, that so great a personage should de
(1) To be alive to, être sensible à.
TREACHERY REWARDED BY PROVIDENCE. 125 base (1) himself by so vile an employ. His majesty, having heard them, answered them: – “Upon my honour, gentlemen, the load which I quitted, is by far heavier than the one you see me carry here
even the weighliest (2) is but a straw compared to that world under which I laboured. I have slept more in the four nights since I have quitted royalty, than I have during all my reign. I begin to live, and to be king of myself. Elect whom you will. For me, who am so well, it would be madness (3) to return to court. Another Polish king who succeeded this philosophical monarch and porter, when they placed the sceptre in his hand, exclaimed:-“ I had rather manage (4) an oar!” The vacillating fortunes of the Polish monarchy present several of these anecdoles; their monarchs appear to have frequently been philosophers; and in the actual state of the world, an excellent philosopher proves but an indifferent king
TREACHERY REWARDED BY PROVIDENCE.
In the year 1352, the Lithuanians invaded Poland. Casimir III. was then upon the throne; he put himself at the head of his brave troops, and marched to repel the invaders. The Poles arrived in face of their
(1) To debase, dégrader.
(2) The weightiest, le plus lourd ; les adjectifs qui sont terminés au positif par un y précédé d'une consonne, changent le y en i avant de prendre le signe du superlatif , est.
(3) Madness, folie.
enemies, stopped their march, and prepared for a decisive battle. All was ready for the attack, when a Traitor of the Polish army informed the enemy of the plan, told him how to avoid the engagement, and advised him to direct his march towards the capital, which had been left almost defenceless (1). He indicated the roads by which the Lithuanians might advance without danger, and even promised to drive stakes (2) into the banks of the Vistula at a spot where it was fordable (3). The stakes were driven, the enemy received notice of it, and prepared to cross the river that night. Some fishermen passing soon after observed the stakes, and suspecting something wrong (4), removed them a short distance to a part of the river that was very deep. As soon as it was dark, the Lithuanians began their march, the traitor accompanied them; they arrive at the river, the first ranks enter and are immediately swallowed up (5), men and horses. The commander Lubartus, thinking that he himself was betrayed , and fearing to fall into ambuscade, ordered the traitor's head to be immediately cut off, and hastily evacuated Poland.
TURKISH JUSTICE AND HUMANITY.
The Aga of Boli, in Asia Minor, having made some
(1) Defenceless, sans défense; en ajoutant le privatif less aux noms , ils deviennent adjectifs.
(2) Stakes, des pieux, poteaux.
TURKISH JUSTICE AND HUMANITY,
125 unjust exactions on the inhabitants, six of the principal ones sent a complaint to the Sultan, demanding redress. A person was despatched from Constantinople to ascertain the truth of the complaint; but the Aga having bribed (1) him by a present of five hundred piastres, he reported that there was no foundation for the complaint, and that it was a conspiracy against the Aga. The petitioners guessed what would be the result of such an inquiry, and endeavoured to escape; three of them succeeded, but the others were taken : two of the latter disappeared, and the third was sent into exile to Rasgrad, an excessively cold place.
The officers who conduct the exiles to their destination have a cruel manner of extorting money from them. If the unfortunate man be rich , the janissary who has the care of him selects a hard-trotting horse on which he puts a great wooden (2) saddle, such as is used for carrying burdens.
The exile is placed on this, and his conductor, pretending that his orders are to make great haste, sets off at a rapid pace. This stratagem rarely fails to produce such an effect on the prisoner, that he begs, he supplicates, he offers any recompense to the conductor if he will allow (3) him another saddle. This abominable Practice is so common that it is carried on without com. punction, and is considered as a legal perquisite (4). A
(1) To bribe, corrompre , soudoyer.
Turk once owned (1) to me that he had , not long before, received five hundred piastres from a Jew of Aleppo for a similar (2) indulgence.
(WALCH's Journey from Constantinople.)
Memory is, among the faculties of the human mind, that of which we make the most frequent use, or rather that of which the agency is incessant or perpetual.
Memory is the primary or fundamental power, without which there could be no other intellectual operation.
When Voltaire resided at the court of Frederic the Great, an English gentleman arrived at Berlin, who had so extraordinary a memory, that he could repeat a long composition, if once recited to him, without missing (3) a word. The king had the curiosity to try (4) him; and the gentleman exceeded all that had been said of his po
At this time Voltaire informed his majesty that he had just finished a poem, which , with his permission, he would read to him. The king gave his consent, and immediately formed the resolution of diverting himself at the expense (5) of the poet. He caused the Englishman to be placed behind a screen (6), and desired
(1) To own , avouer, confesser.