Imágenes de páginas

they might solace a themselves with a short enjoyment of that delicious region: after which they always determined to pursue their course without any deviation.

13. Reason was too often prevailed upon so far by these promises, as to venture her charge within the eddy of the gulf of Intemperance, where indeed, the circumvolution b was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel, and drew it by insensible rotations toward the center. She then repented her temerity, and with all her force endeavored to retreat; but the draught of the gulf was generally too strong to be overcome; and the passenger, having danced in circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, was at last overwhelmed and lost. * 14. Those few whom Reason was able to extricate, a gene

rally suffered so many shocks upon the points which shot out from the rocks of Pleasure, that they were unable to continue their course with the same strength and facility as before, but floated along, timorously and feebly, endangered by every breeze, and shattered by every ruffle of the water, till they sunk, by slow degrees, after long struggles and innumerable expedients, e always repining at their own solly, and warning others against the first approach toward the gulf of Intemperance.

15. There were artists who prosessed to repair the breaches, and stop the leaks, of the vessels which had been shattered on the rocks of Pleasure. Many appeared to have great skill; and some, indeed, were preserved by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow; but I remarked that few vessels lasted long which had been much repaired; nor was it found that the artists themselves continued afloat, longer than those who had least of their assistance.

16. The only advantage which, in the voyage of Life, the cautious had above the negligent, was, that they sunk later, and more suddenly; for they passed forward till they had sometimes seen all those in whose company they had issued from the straits of Infancy, perish in the way; and at last were overset by a cross breeze, without the toil of resistance, or the anguish of expectation. But such as had often fallen against the rocks of Pleasure, commonly subsided by sensible degrees; contended long with the encroaching waters; and harrassed themselves by labors that scarcely Hope herself could flatter with success.

17. As I was looking upon the various fates of the multitude about me, I was suddenly alarmed with an admonition

a Sol'-ace, to comfort.
o Cir-cum-vo-lu' tion, turning round.
c Te-mer-i-ty, rash boldness.

d Ex'-tri-cate, to set free.
e Ex-pe-di-ents, means to an end.

from some unknown power: “Gaze not idly upon others, when thou thyself art sinking. Whence is this thoughtless tranquillity, when thou and they are equally endangered ?" I looked, and seeing the gulf of Intemperance before me, started and awaked.

Dr. Johnson.


Death of Socrates. 1. Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, a was born at Athens, about 451 years before Christ. He gave early proofs of his valor in the service of his country, but chiefly applied himself to the study of philosophy; and was a person of irresistible eloquence, and accomplished virtue. His distinguishing characteristic was a perfect tranquillity of mind, which enabled him to support, with patience, the most troublesome accidents of life.

2. He used to beg of those with whom he usually conversed, to put him on his guard, the moment they perceived in him the first emotions of anger; and when they did so, he instantly resumed perfect composure and complacency.b His wife, Xantippe, a woman of the most whimsical and provoking temper, afforded him sufficient opportunity of exercising his patience, by the revilings and abuse with which she was constantly loading him.

3. Socrates possessed, in a superior degree, the talent of reasoning. His principal employment was the instruction of youth an object to which he directed all his care and attention. He kept, however, no fixed public school, but took every opportunity, without regarding times or places, of conveying to them his precepts, and that in the most enticing and agreeable manner. His lessons were so universally relished, that the moment he appeared, whether in the public assemblies, walks, or feasts, he was surrounded with a throng of the most illustrious scholars and hearers. The young Athenians quitted even their pleasures, to listen to the discourse of Socrates.

4. He greatly exerted himself against the power of the thirty tyrants, and in the behalf of Theramenes, d whom they had condemned to death ; insomuch, that they became so much alarmed at his behavior, that they forbade him to instruct the Athenian youth. Soon after, an accusation was formally exhibited against him by Melitus, containing in

a Phi-los'o-pher, one skilled in the sei- cn-lus'-tri-ous, eminent, conspicuous ence of nature. o Com-pla'-cen-ey, satisfaction of mind.

d The-ram-e-nes, an Athenian general.

substance, “That he did not acknowledge the gods of the republic, but introduced new deities in their room ;” and further, “that he corrupted the youth.” He urged, in his defense, that he had assisted, as others had, at the sacrifices and solemn festivals.a

5. He denied his endeavoring to establish any new worship. He owned, indeed, that he had received frequent admonitions from a divine voice, which he called his genius, that constantly attended him, and discovered to him future events,—that he had often made use of this divine üssistance for the service of himself and his friends,—but, that if he had been thus particularly favored by Heaven, it was owing chiefly to the regularity of his life and conduct; and that the approbation of the Supreme Being, which was given him as a reward for his virtue, ought not to be objected to him as his crime.

6. Then, as to the other article, wherein he was accused of corrupting the youth, and teaching them to despise the settled laws and order of the commonwealth, he said he had no other view in his conversation with them than to regulate their morals,—that as he could not do this with any public authority, he was therefore forced to insinuate b himself into their company, and to use, in a manner, the same methods to reclaim, which others did to corrupt them.

7. How far the whole charge affected him, it is not easy to determine. It is certain, that amidst so much zeal and superstition as then reigned in Athens, he never dare openly oppose the received religion, and was therefore obliged to preserve an outward show of it. But it is very probable, from the discourses he frequently held with his friends, that, in his heart, he despised and laughed at their monstrous opinions and ridiculous mysteries, as having no other foundation than the fables c of the poets; and that he had attained to a notion of the one only true God, insomuch, that upon the account of his belief of the Deity, and his exemplaryd life, some have thought fit to rank him with Christian philosophers.

8. And indeed his behavior upon his trial was more like that of a Christian martyre than an impious pagan,f-where he appeared with such a composed confidence, as naturally results from innocence; and rather, as Cicero 8 observes, as if he were to determine upon his judges, than to supplicate them as a criminal.-But how slight soever the proofs were a Fes'-ti-vals, feasts.

e Mar'-tyr, one who is put to death for the 0 In-sin'-u-ate, to wind in, to hint. truth.

f Pa'-gan, an idolater. d Ex'-em-pla-ry worthy of imitation. g Cic-e-ró, a Roman orator.

cFa-bles, instructive fictions.

[ocr errors]

against him, the faction - was powerful enough to find him guilty.

9. It was a privilege, however, granted him, to demand a mitigation of punishment,—to change the condemnation of death into banishment, • imprisonment, or a fine. But he replied, generously, that he would choose neither of those punishments, because that would be to acknowledge himself guilty. This answer so incensed his judges, that they determined he should drink the hemlock," a punishment at that time much in use among them.

10. Thirty days were allowed him to prepare to die; during which time he conversed with his friends with the same evenness and serenity of mind he had ever done before. And though they had bribed the jailer for his escape, he refused it, as an ungenerous violation of the laws. He was about seventy years old when he suffered; which made him say, he thought himself happy to quit life, at a time when it began to be troublesome; and that his death was rather a deliverance than a punishment.

11. Cicero has described, with great elegance, the lofty sentiments and magnanimous e behavior of Socrates,-While he held the fatal cup in his hand, he declared that he considered death, not as a punishment inflicted on him, but as a help furnished him, of arriving so much sooner at heaven.

12. His children being brought before him, he spoke to them a little, and then desired them to be taken away. The hour appointed for drinking the hemlock being come, they brought him the cup, which he received without any emotion, and then addressed a prayer to heaven. It is highly reasonable, said he, to offer my prayers to the Supreme Being on this occasion, and to beseech him to render my departure from earth, and my last journey, happy. Then he drank off the poison with amazing tranquillity.

13. Observing his friends in this fatal moment weeping and dissolved in tears, he reproved them with great mildness, asking them whether their virtue had deserted them ; “ for," added he," I have always heard that it is our duty calmly to resign our breath, giving thanks to God.” After walking about a little while, perceiving the poison beginning to work, he lay down on his couch, and, in a few moments after, breathed his last. Cicero declares, that he could never read the account of the death of Socrates without shedding tears.

14. Soon after his death, the Athenians were convinced of his innocence, and considered all the misfortunes which aftera Fac-tion, a political party.

d Hem'-lock, a poisonous weed.
e Mag-nan-i-mous, greal m mind.

• Mit-i-gation, alleviation. [own country.
Ban-ish-ment, expulsion from one's

ward befell the republic, as a punishment for the injustice of his sentence. When the academy, and the other places of the city where he taught, presented themselves to the view of his countrymen, they could not refrain from reflecting on the reward bestowed by them, on one who had done them such important services. They canceled a the decree which had condemned him,-put Melitus to death,banished his other accusers, -and erected to his memory a statue b of brass, which was executed by the famous Lysippus.


Interesting account of William Penn's treaty with the Indians,

previous lo his sellling in Pennsylvania. 1. The country assigned to him by the royal charter, was yet full of its original inhabitants; and the principles of William Penn did not allow him to look upon that gift, as a warrant to dispossess the first proprietors of the land. He had accordingly appointed his commissioners, the preceding year, to treat with them for the fair purchase of a part of their lands, and for their joint possession of the remainder; and the terms of the settlement being now nearly agreed upon, he proceeded, very soon after his arrival, to conclude the settlement, and solemnly to pledge his faith, and to ratify and confirm the treaty, in sight both of the Indians and planters.

2. For this purpose, a grand convocation 4 of the tribes had been appointed, near the spot where Philadelphia now stands; and it was agreed, that he and the presiding Sachems e should meet and exchange faith, under the spreading branches of a prodigious elm-tree that grew on the bank of the river. On the day appointed, accordingly, an innumerable multitude of the Indians assembled in that neighborhood, and were seen, with their dark visages f and brandished & arms, moving, in vast swarms, in the depth of the woods which then overshaded the whole of that now cultivated region.

3. On the other hand, William Penn, with a moderate attendance of friends, advanced to meet them. He came of course unarmed,-in his usual plain dress, without banners, or mace, or guard, or carriages; and only distinguished from his companions by wearing a blue sash of silk net work, (which it seems is still preserved by Mr. Kett, of Seethinghall, near Norwich,) and by having in his hand a roll of

Can'-cel-led, obliterated, annullad . Sa'-chems, chiefs of Indian tribes. 1 Stat'-ue, an image.

Vis'-a-ges, faces, countenances. Charter, a deed, a grant

§ Brand-Ish-ed, raised and reared in the Con-vo-cation an assembly.

s brand' ished

« AnteriorContinuar »