Page images

them as they treated them well or ill. This was no other than entering them betimes into a daily exercise of humanity, and improving their very diversion to a virtue.

6. The laws of self defence undoubtedly justify us in destroying those animals which would destroy us, which injure our properties, or annoy our persons; but not even these, whenever their situation incapacitates them from hurting us.

7. I know of no right which we have to shoot a bear on an inaccessible island of ice; or an eagle on the mountain's top; whose lives cannot injure, nor deaths procure us any benefit. We are unable to give life, and therefore ought not wantonly to take it away from the meanest insect, without sufficient reason. They all receive it from the same benevolent hand as ourselves; and have therefore an equal right to enjoy it.

8. God has been pleased to create numberless animals intended for our sustenance; and that they are so intended the agreeable flavour of their flesh to our palates, and the wholesome nutriment which it administers to our stomachs, are sufficient proofs.

9. These, as they are formed for our use, propagated by our culture, and fed by our care; we have certainly a right to deprive of life, because it is given and preserved to them on that condition.

10. But this should always be performed with all the tenderness and compassion, which so disagreeable an office will permit; and no circumstance ought to be omitted, which can render their executions as quick and easy as possible.


THE Athenians having made war upon the Syracusians, the army of the former, under the command of Nicias and Demosthenes, was totally defeated; and the generals obliged to surrender at discretion. The victors, having entered their capital in triumph, the next day a council was held to deliberate what was to be done with the prisoners.

2. Diocles, one of the leaders of the greatest authority among the people, proposed that all the Athenians who were born of free parents, and all such Sicilians as had joined with them, should be imprisoned, and be maintained on bread and water only; that the slaves, and all the Atticks, should be publicly sold; and that the two Athenian generals should be first scourged with rods, and then put to death.

3. This last article exceedingly disgnsted all wise and compassionate Syracusians. Hermocrates, who was very famous for his probity and justice, attempted to make some remonstrances to the people; but they would not hear him, and the shouts which echoed from all sides prevented him from continuing his speech.

4. At that instant, Nicolaus, a man venerable for his great age and gravity, who in this war had lost two sons, the only heirs to his name and estate, made his servants carry him to the tribunal for harangues; and the instant he appeared, a profound silence ensued, when he addressed them in the following manner.

5. "You here behold an unfortunate father who has felt more than any other Syracusian the fatal effects of this war, by the death of two sons, who formed all the consolation, and were the only supports of my old age.

6. "I cannot, indeed, forbear admiring their patriotism in sacrificing to their country's welfare a life which they would one day have been deprived by the common course of nature; but then, I cannot but be sensibly affected with the cruel wound which their death hath made in my heart; nor forbear detesting the Athenians, the authors of this unhappy war, as the murderers of my children.

[ocr errors]

7. "But, however, there is one circumstance which I cannot conceal, that I am less sensible for my private afflictions, than for the honour of my country, which I see exposed to eternal infamy, by the barbarous advice which is new given you. The Athenians, I own, for declaring war so unjustly against us, merit the severest treatment which could be inflicted on them; but have not the gods, the just avengers of wrongs, sufficiently punished them, and avenged us?

8. When their generals laid down their arms and surrendered, did they not do this in hopes of having their lives

spared? And will it be possible for us, if we put them to death, to avoid the just reproach of having violated the law of nations, and dishonoured our victory by unheard of cruelty !

9," What, will you suffer your glory to be thus sullied. in the face of the whole world? and will you hear it said that a nation, who first dedicated a temple to clemency, had found none in Syracuse? Surely, victories and triumphs do not give immortal glory to a city: but the exercising of mercy towards a vanquished enemy, moderation in the greatest prosperity, and the fearing to offend the gods by a haughty and insolent pride, are glories far more permanent than the most splendid conquests.

10. "You doubtless have not forgotten, that this Nicias whose fate you are going to pronounce, was the very man who pleaded your cause in the assembly of the Athenians, and who employed all his credit, and the whole power of his eloquence, to dissuade his country from embarking in this war.

11. "Should you, therefore, pronounce sentence of death on this worthy general, would it be a just reward for the zeal he showed for your interest? With regard to myself, death would be less grievous to me, than the sight of so horrid an injustice committed by my countrymen and fellowcitizens.


THE Spanish historians relate a memorable instance of honour and regard to truth. A Spanish cavelier in a sudden quarrel slew a Moorish gentleman, and fled, His pursuers soon lost sight of him; for he had, unperceived, thrown himself over a garden wall.

2. The owner, a Moor, happening to be in his garden, was addressed by the Spaniard on his knees, who acquainted him with his case, and implored concealment. Eat this, said the Moor, giving him half a peach, you now know that you may confide in my protection.

3. He then locked him up in his garden apartments, telling him as soon as it was night, he would provide for his


escape to a place of greater safety. The Moor then went into his house; where he had but just seated himself, when a great crowd, with loud lamentations, came to his gate, bringing the corpse of his son, who had just been killed by' a Spaniard.

4. When the first shock of surprise was a little over, he learned from the description given, that the fatal deed was done by the very person then in his power. He mentioned this to no one; but, as soon as it was dark, retired to his garden, as if to grieve alone, giving orders that none should follow him.

5. Then accosting the Spaniard, he said, Christian, the person you have killed is my son; his body is now in my house. You ought to suffer; but you have eaten with me, and I have given you my faith, which must not be broken.

6. He then led the astonished Spaniard to his stables, and mounted him on one of his fleetest horses, and said, Fly far while the night can cover you; you will be safe in the morning. You are indeed guilty of my son's blood, but God is just and good, and I thank him I am innocent of yours, and that my faith given is preserved.

7. In the year 1746, when the English were at open war with Spain, the Elizabeth, of London, Capt. William Edwards, coming through the gulf from Jamaica, richly laden, met with a most violent storm, in which the ship sprung a leak, that obliged them, for the saving of their lives, to run into Havanna, a Spanish port.

8. The captain went on shore, and directly waited on the governor, told the occasion of his putting in, and that he surrendred the ship as a prize, and himself and his men as prisoners of war, only requesting good quarter.

9. No, Sir, replied the Spanish governor, if we had taken you in fair war at sea, or approaching our coast with hostile intentions, your ship would then have been a prize, and your people prisoners; but when distressed by a tempest, you come into our ports for the safety of your lives, we, the enemies, being men, are bound as such by the laws of humanity to afford relief to distressed men who ask it of us.

10. We cannot, even against our enemies, take advantage of an act of God. You have leave, therefore, to unload

your ship, if that be necessary to stop the leak; you may refit her here, and traffic so far as shall be necessary to pay the charges; you may then depart, and I will give you a pass to be in force till you are beyond Bermuda.


11. If after that you are taken, you will then be a lawful prize but now you are only a stranger, and have a stranger's right to safety and protection. The ship accordingly departed, and arrived safe in London.


BESIDE yon lonely tree, whose branches bare,
Rise white, and murmur to the passing air;
There, where the twining briars the yard enclose,
The house of sloth stands hush'd in long repose.

2. O'er an old well, the curb, half fallen, spread, Whose boards, end loose, a mournful creaking made; Pois'd on a leaning post, and ill sustain'd,

In ruin sad, a mouldering sweep remain'd;
Useless, the crooked pole still dangling hung,
And tied with thrums, a broken bucket swung.
3. A half made wall around the garden lay,
Mended, in gaps, with brushwood in decay;
No culture through the tangled briars was seen,
Save a few sickly plants of faded green;
The starved potatce hung its blasted seeds,
And fennel struggled to o'ertop the weeds:
There gaz'd a ragged sheep with wild surprise,
And two lean geese upturn'd their slanting eyes.
4. The cottage gap'd with many a dismal yawn,
Where, rent to burn, the covering boards were gone;
Or by one nail, where others endwise hung,
The sky look'd through, and winds portentous rung.
In waves, the yielding roof appear'd to run,
And half the chimney top was fallen down.

5. The ancient cellar door, of structure rude, With tatter'd garments caulk'd, half open stood; There, as I peep'd, I saw the ruin'd bin,

The sills were broke, the wall had crumbled in ;

« PreviousContinue »