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mysteries, until by degrees the whole office has degenerated into an empty show.
Their successors see the vanity and inconvenience of these ceremonies; but instead of reforming, perbaps add others, which they think more significant, and which take possession in the same manner, and are never to be driven out after they have been once admitted. I have seen the Pope officiate at St. Peter's, where, for two hours together, he was busied in putting on or off his different accoutrements, according to the different parts he was to act in them.
Nothing is so glorious in the eyes of mankind, and ornamental to human nature, setting aside the infinite advantages which arise from it, as a strong, steady, masculine piety; but enthusiasm and superstition are the weaknesses of human reason, that expose us to the derision and scorn of infidels, and sink us even below the beasts that perish.
Idolatry may be looked upon as another error aris ing from mistaken devotion; but because reflections on that subject would be of no use to an English reader, I shall not enlarge upon it. E.
"DEATH OF A FRIEND.
Quis desiderio sit pudor, aut modus
Who can grieve too much, what time shall end Our mourning for so dear a friend.
THERE is a sort of delight which is alternately mixed with terror and sorrow, in the contemplation of death. The soul has its curiosity more than ordinarily awakened, when it turns its thoughts upon the subject of such who have behaved themselves with an equal, a resigned, a cheerful, a generous, or heroic temper in that extremity. We are affected with these respective manners of behaviour, as we secretly believe the part of the dying person imitable by ourselves, or such as we imagine ourselves more partieularly capable of. Men of exalted minds march before us like princes, and are, to the ordinary race of mankind, rather subjects for their admiration than example. Innocent men who have suffered as criminals, though they were benefactors to human society, seem to be persons of the highest distinction, amongst the vastly great number of human race, the dead. When the iniquity of the times brought Socrates to his execu tion, how great and wonderful is it to behold him, unsupported by any thing but the testimony of his own conscience and conjectures of hereafter, receive the poison with an air of mirth and good-humour; and, as if going on an agreeable journey, bespeak some deity to make it fortunate!
When Phocion's good actions had met with the like reward from his country, and he was led to death with
many others of his friends, they bewailing their fate, he walking composedly towards the place of execu tion, how gracefully does he support his illustrious character to the very last instant! One of the rabble. spitting at him as he passed, with his usual authority he called to know if no one was ready to teach this fellow how to behave himself. When a poor spirited creature that died at the same time bemoaned himself numanfully, he rebuked him with this question, Is it no consolation to such a man as thou art to die with Phocion? At the instant when he was to die, they asked what commands he had for his son: he answer. ed, to forget this injury of the Athenians. Niocles, his friend, under the same sentence, desired he might drink the potion before him; Phocion said, because he never had denied him any thing he would not even this, the most difficult request he had ever made.
These instances were very noble and great, and the reflections of those sublime spirits had made death to them what it is really intended to be by the author of nature, a relief from a various being ever subject to sorrows and difliculties.
Epaminondas the Thebau general, having received in fight a mortal stab with a sword, which was left in his body, lay in that posture until he had intelligence that his troops had obtained the victory, and then permitted it to be drawn out, at which instant he expressed himself in this manner, "This is not the end of my life, my fellow soldiers; it is now your Epaminondas is born, who dies in so much glory."
It were an endless labour to collect the accounts with which all ages have filled the world of noble and heroic minds that have resigned this being, as if the termination of life were but an ordinary occurrence of it.
This common-place way of thinking I fell into from an awkward endeavour to throw off a real and fresh affliction, by turning over books in a melancholy
mood; but it is not easy to remove griefs which touch the heart, by applying remedies which only entertain the imagination. As therefore this paper is to consist of any thing which concerns human life, I cannot help letting the present subject regard what has been the last object of my eyes, though an entertainment of
I went this evening to visit a friend, with a design to rally him upon a story I had heard of his intending to steal a marriage without the privity of us his intimate friends and acquaintance. I came into his apartment with that intimacy which I have done for very many years, and walked directly into his bed-chamber, where I found my friend in the agonies of death. What could I do? The innocent mirth in my thoughts struck upon me like the most flagitious wickedness: I in vain called upon him; he was senseless, and too far spent to have the least knowledge of my sorrow, or any pain in himself. Give me leave then to transcribe my soliloquy, as I stood by his mother, dumb with the weight of grief for a son who was her honour and her comfort, and never until that hour since his birth had been an occasion of a moment's sorrow to her.
"How surprising is this change! from the possession of vigorous life and strength, to be reduced in a few hours to this fatal extremity! Those lips which look so pale and livid, within these few days gave delight to all who heard their utterance; it was the business, the purpose of his being, next to obeying him to whom he is going, to please and instruct, and that for no other end but to please and instruct. Kindness was the motive of his actions, and with all the capacity requisite for making a figure in a contentious world, moderation, good nature, affability, temperance, and chastity, were the arts of his excellent life. There, as he lies in helpless agony, no wise man who knew him so well as I, but would resign all the world can bestow to be so near the end of such a life. Why
does my heart so little obey my reason as to lament thee, thou excellent man? Heaven receive him, or restore him! Thy beloved mother, thy obliged friends, thy helpless servants, stand around thee without distinction. How much wouldst thou, hadst thou thy senses, say to each of us!
"But now that good heart bursts, and he is at restwith that breath expired a soul who never indulged a passion unfit for the place he is gone to: where are now thy plans of justice, of truth, of honour? Of what use the volumes thou hast collated, the arguments thou hast invented, the examples thou hast followed? Poor were the expectations of the studious, the modest, and the good, if the reward of their labours were only to be expected from mau. No, my friend, thy intended pleadings, thy intended good offices to thy friends, thy intended services to thy country, are already performed, as to thy concern in them, in his sight before whom the past, present, and future, appear at one view. While others with thy talents were tormented with ambition, with vainglory, with envy, with emulation, how well didst thou turn thy mind to its own improvement in things out of the power of fortune; in probity, in integrity, in the practice and study of justice, how silent thy passage, how private thy journey, how glorious thy end! many have I known more famous, some more knowing, not one so innocent." La