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Reader, think of these things-divest yourself of prejudice, and apply what I have said to present circumstances. I will in a future number give you a captivating example from ancient history of the true spirit of government.
THE PHILOSOPHER AND THE MERCHANT. Wisdom is the Science of Life. In the capital of an eastern kingdom lived, many years since, Seid Ali, a man so devoted to science that he neglected everything else. He had made many profound and important discoveries, of which others had availed themselves to obtain distinction and wealth-whilst he was passing the meridian of life, his patrimony spent in experiments, his health impaired by study, his temper soured by neglect. He had for a neighbour and acquaintance Ghulam Hassan, known throughout the city by the appellation of the Honest Merchant. Hassan had begun the world with very little education and no money, but in recompense he had a straightforward understanding, quick observation, a very agreeable frankness of manner, and a heart without guile. Consequently he was universally courted, and though much given to hospitality and the performance of very generous acts, he had amassed a considerable fortune. To him in his extremity Seid disclosed all his griefs. When he had finished
“ I have a few friends coming to sup with me this evening," said Hassan; “ be of the party, and when they are gone, we will talk of your affairs. In the mean time, take this purse for present exigencies. I will enable you soon to repay me.
How it is to be done, I will endeavour to devise before we meet again. Only keep up your spirits, and all shall be well.”
Kind intentions need no preface. The moment the guests were gone, Hassan began thus :
“You see, my friend, you have kept yourself so much in your study, that yours is the fame of a dead man. You have caused vast benefits to be derived to the world, but the world has scarcely seen you, and, of course, never thinks of rewarding your merits. To remedy your error, I have planned a frolic, if you are not too proud to play your part in it; but I have observed, almost
every man must stoop to rise, and happy he who can do so without dishonour. You remember our going this time two years to my little country place, near that singularity amongst us, the ancient aqueduct. I cannot tell you how much I was struck with your conjectures as to its origin, and your observations on its construction and materials. Now the old man who used to occupy my house, and accompany visitors to the ruins, is
lately dead, and what I propose is, that you should disguise yourself and take his place. You know what an extensive acquaintance I have, and the terms upon which I live with them. I will take care to make parties to the aqueduct, and you in a homely garb shall be their guide. Everything strikes by contrast, and a man of your attainments in such a situation cannot, by possibility, fail soon to attract sufficient notice to accomplish all you
desire." • I do not know—” said Seid despondingly,
“I dare say you do not,” interrrupted Hassan ; “ but you know this, that with my little knowledge I have gained a fortune, and that with all yours you have lost one. In matters of science,” continued he, bending low with unaffected homage, “I kiss the very ground you walk upon, but in practical matters you must put faith in me. Well-grounded faith, my friend, iake the word of a successful man, has great virtue in other things besides religion. To-morrow I will arrange everythingnot another word—good night, and may Heaven give you your deserts !”
Experience shows, that those who have fallen into a wrong train, frequently meet with nothing but an unbroken series of adverse circumstances. Let them but change their course, and the exact reverse becomes the case; everything turns to account. Just so it was with Seid. Being duly installed in his new office, his altered way of life quickly produced so great a change in his appearance, health, and spirits, that he scarcely needed any further disguise ; and he felt, moreover, a degree of confidence in himself, of which previously he had no idea. Hassan made frequent parties on his account; and his fame spread so fast, that a visit to the aqueduct soon came into great vogue. As good fortune would have it, the Vizier himself, who used from time to time to pass an evening with Hassan in the disguise of a brother merchant, sent at this conjuncture notice of his approach. He found in Hassan's company an agreeable relaxation from the cares of government, and the sophistications of the world; besides which, he had looked in vain for any other man upon whose information and integrity he could implicitly rely. Hassan availed himself of the opportunity to induce the Vizier to accompany him on an early day to his country place, and he informed Seid that he was bringing a friend, with whom he particularly wished him to be well. The Vizier, though not scientific, delighted in the conversation of scientific men, and he had not long listened to Seid before he remarked to Hassan, “ It strikes me this is a very extraordinary person. We are alone; is there any objection to his supping with us?"
“ If it be your pleasure, none,” said Hassan.
The scene around the house was lovely, the air cool and fragrant, the repast simple but refined, and without any state. The Vizier was in the best possible humour; and Seid, pleased with so acute and polished a hearer, rose above himself, till at last Hassan, suddenly bursting into a fit of laughter, cried out
“ Pardon me, but I can resist no longer.” Then rising up, he gravely added
“ I have extreme satisfaction in this opportunity of presenting to his highness the Vizier the philosopher Seid Ali.” The surprise of the two was great, and the pleasure mutual. Hassan then related the history of the whole affair, and it will easily be supposed that from that time ample justice was done to the merits of his friend, and would have been to his own, but his reply to the Vizier's intimation was, “ Whatever your goodness intends for me, bestow on Seid. He deserves everything, and I want nothing."
THE ALBUNEAN LAKE. To the left of the road from Rome to Tivoli, and nearer the latter, lies the Albunean Lake, insignificant as to extent, but interesting from its classical associations. The water resembles warm soapsuds, and sends forth a most noisome sulphureous vapour. Islets of weeds sometimes detach themselves from the sides, and are said to present a remarkable appearance as they are moved about on the constant bubbling surface. Virgil describes the lake as shaded by a sacred grove, and as having a communication with the infernal regions. This fiction must have been readily believed in the days of heathen poetry; for Sir William Gell, in his Topography of Rome and its vicinity, observes, “ The rocky crust of the margin probably covers an unfathomable abyss, for a stone thrown into the lake occasions in its descent so violent a discharge of carbonic acid gas, and for so long a time, as to give the idea of an immense depth of water. He adds, " the sulphureous smell is so strong, that when the wind assists, it has sometimes been perceived in the highest parts of Rome” -a distance, I should think, of from ten to fifteen miles. The grove mentioned by Virgil is now reduced to a few stunted trees, standing on a sterile plain covered with unsightly weeds. The scere is strikingly desolate and disagreeable. In the spring of 1822 I visited it in company with two friends. We walked round the lake, leaving our horses in charge of a courier. As we were on the point of remounting, one of the party called our attention to something emerging from the
weeds on the opposite side. For a moment he supposed it to be one of the floating islets, of which he had just been speaking, and we paused to observe it. We were, however, soon convinced that it was a living being; but as we could literally see nothing but a pair of distended nostrils moving through the water, and two large eyes at a distance behind them, we were utterly at a loss to conjecture to what they could by possibility belong
The monster was evidently making towards us, and when about the middle of the lake it raised two very long, dark, shaggy ears, as if by way of attracting our attention, and then suddenly let them sink. The horses started, and we stood in silent amaze. Again the ears were raised, and again let fall. I do not know how I looked, but throwing a glance on one of my companions, who was of a florid complexion, I saw he had become as pale as death ; and I told him afterwards, I was sure that, for the moment, he was not far from believing in the poet's account. At length we discovered the object of our wonder to be a young ass, nearly black, which, having fallen into the lake, and being unable to get out, was on the point of perishing. In its extremity it had the sense to make towards us for assistance, but in such an exhausted state as only just to be able to keep its nostrils and eyes above the water as it slowly swam, and we had great difficulty in helping it to land. Certainly I never experienced anything like so much perplexity as from this extraordinary combination of such an incident with such a scene, and had the animal sunk before we had ascertained what it was, regard for my credit would have prevented me from ever mentioning the occurrence.
LIFE. Life without some necessity for exertion must ever lack real interest. That state is capable of the greatest enjoyment where necessity urges, but not painfully; where effort is required, but as much as possible without anxiety; where the spring and summer of life are preparatory to the harvest of autumn and the repose of winter.
Then is every season sweet, and in a wellspent life the last the best—the season of calm enjoyment, the richest in recollections, the brightest in hope. Good training and a fair start constitute a more desirable patrimony than wealth ; and those parents who study their children's welfare rather than the gratification of their own avarice or vanity, would do well to think of this. Is it better to run a successful race, or to begin and end at the goal ?
Take care, or care will take you.
The flatterers of kings and princes have ever been held in deserved hatred and contempt. In this country they seem nearly to have had their day, but their successors, the courtiers of the people, are equally contemptible, and much more pernicious.
The art of government is the most difficult, the noblest, and the most important of all arts, and it is the most inefficiently practised and the least understood. Well might the chancellor of Sweden say to his son, “ You know not with how little wisdom the world is governed !"
LOCKE'S OPINION OF THE GOSPEL. The gospel contains so perfect a body of ethics, that reason may be excused from the inquiry, since she may find man's duty clearer and easier in revelation than in herself. --Letter to Molyneux, March 30th, 1696.
ANECDOTE OF DUNNING. I once heard Horne Tooke relate the following anecdote illustrative of the personal appearance of Dunning, Lord Ashburton, who was the most celebrated lawyer of his day. When it was the custom for barristers to leave chambers early, and to finish their evenings at the coffee-houses in the neighbourhood of the inns of court, Lord Thurlow on some occasion wanted to see Dunning privately. He went to the coffee-house frequented by him, and asked a waiter if Mr. Dunning was there. The waiter, who was new in his place, said he did not know him. know him !” exclaimed Thurlow, with his usual oaths : 6 go
into the room up stairs, and, if you see any gentleman like the knave of clubs, tell him he is particularly wanted.” The waiter went up, and forthwith re-appeared, followed by Dunning.
Notice.--I purpose ere long to enter upon three subjects of interest and importance ;—the art of dining and giving dinners; the art of travelling; and the art of attaining high health-all from experience.