Page images
PDF
EPUB

and attention necessary. An atten- Adicu, my beloved cousin; I shall tion, and a care, that have injured not always be thus nimble in reply, her health, and whiclı, had she not but shall always have great pleasure bech uncommonly supported, must in answering you when I can. have brought her to the grave. But 'I will pass to another subject; it

Yours, my friend and cousin, · would be cruel to particularize only

W. COWPER. to give pain, neither would I by any means give a sable hue to the first letter of a correspondence so unex. pectedly renewed.

ACCOUNT OF BOETHIUS. Iam delighted with what you tell me of my uncle's good health; to The senator Boethias is the last enjoy any measure of cheerfulness of the Romans whom Cato or Tulat so late a day is much, but to have ly could have acknowledged for that late day enlivened with the their countryman. As a wealthy vivacity of youth, is much more, orphan, he inherited the patrimoand in these post diluvien times a ny and honours of the Anician fararity indeed. Hapay for the most mily, a name ambitiously assumed part, are the parents who have by the kings and emperors of the daughters. Daughters are not apt age; and the appeilation of Manto outlive their natural affections, lius asserted his genuine or fabulous which a son has generally survivel descent from a race of consuls and eren before his boyish years are dictators, who had repuised the expired. I rejoice particulariy in Gauls from the Capitol, and sacrifiiny uncle's fericity, who is thiree ced their sons to the discipline of female descendants from his little the republic. In the youth of Boeperson, who leave hiin notining to this, the studies of Rome were wish for upon that bead.

not totally abandoned ; a Virgil is My dear cousin, dejection of spi- now extant, corrected by the hand sits, which I suppose may have of a consul; and the professors of prevented many a man from be- grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprucoming an author, made me one. dence, were maintained in their I find constant employment neces- privileges and pensions, by the libsary, and therefore take care to erality of the Goths. But the erube constantly employed. Manual dition of the Latin language was occupations do not engage the mind insufficient to satiste his ardent cusulficiently, as I know by experi. riosity; and Bocthius is said to have ence, having tried many. But employed eighten laborious years conposition, especially of verse, ab- in the schools of Athens, which sorbs it wholly. I write therefore were supported by the zeal, tire generally three hours in a morning, learning, and the diligence of Proand in an evening I transcribe. I clus and his disciples. The reason read also, but less than I write, for and piety of their Roman pupil were I must have bodily exercise, and fortunately saved from the contatherefore never pass a day without gion of mystery and magic, which

polluted the groves of the academy; You ask me wliere I have been but he imbibed thic spirit, and imithis summer. I answer, at Olney. tate the mcthod of his dead and Should you ask me where I spent living masters, who attempted to the last seventeen sunimers, I reconcile the strong and subtle should still answer, at Olney. sense oi J istet'e vil the devout Ay, and the winter also, I hive contemplation arl:wlime fancy of seldom leit it, and excepi when I Plato. After his stirn to Rome, attended my brother in his last ill. anti li, narriage wiilatie daughter ness, nerer i belierea aurtniglic to- of his friend, ile patrician Symgether. - .

macius, Eoethius stint continued, in

[ocr errors]

a palace of ivory and marble, to Prosperous in his fame and fortunes, prosecute the same studies. The in his public honours and private church was edified by his profound alliances, in the cultivation of scidefence of the orthodox creed ence and the consciousness of viragainst the Arian, the Eutychian, tue, Boethius might have been styled and the Nestorian heresies; and happy, if that precarious epithet the Catholic unity was explained or could be safely applied before the exposed in a formal treatise by the last term of the life of man. indifference of three distinct though A philosopher,liberal of his wealth consubstantial persons. For the and parsimonious of his time, might benefit of his Latin readers, his be insensible to the common alluregenius submitted to teach the first ments of ambition, the thirst of elements of the arts and sciences gold and employment. And some of Greece. The geometry of Eu- credit may be due to the assereraclid, the music of Pythagoras, the tion of Boethius, that he had rearithmetic of Nichomachus,' the luctantly obeyed the divine Plato, mechanics of Archimedes, the as- who enjoins every virtuous citizen tronomy of Ptolemy, the theology to rescue the state from the usurpaof Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, tion of vice and ignorance. For with the commentary of Porphyry, the integrity of his public conduct were translated and illustrated by he appeals to the memory of his the indefatigable pen of the Roman country. His authority had resenator. And he alone was esteemed strained the pride and oppression capable of describing the wonders of the royal officers, and his eloof art, a sun-dial, a water-clock, quence had delivered Paulianus from or a sphere which represented the the dogs of the palace. He had almotions of the planets. From ways pitied, and often relieved, the these abstruse speculations, Boethius distress of the provincials, whose stooped, or to speak more truly, he fortunes were exhausted by public rose to the social duties of public and private rapine; and Boethius and private life : the indigent were alone had courage to oppose the relieved by his liberality ; and his tyranny of the Barbarians, elated eloquence, which flattery might by conquest, excited by avarice, compare to the voice of Demos- and, as he complains, encouraged thenes or Cicero, was uniformly ex- by impunity. In these honourable erted in the cluse of innocence and contests, his spirit soared above the humanity. Such conspicuous merit consideration of danger, and perwas feit and rewarded by a discern- haps of prudence; and we may ing prince; the dignity of Boethius learn from the example of Cato, was adorned with the titles of con- that a character of pure and insul and patrician, and his talents flexible virtue is the most apt to be were usefully emploved in the im- misled by prejudice, to be heated portant station of master of the by enthusiasm, and to confound prioffices. Notwithstanding the equal vate cnmities with public justice, claims of the East and West, his The disciple of Plato might exagtwo sons were created, in their ten- gerate the infirmities of nature, and der youth, the consuls of the same the imperfections of society ; and to vear. On the memorable day of the mildest form of a Gothic kinga their inauguration, they proceeded dom, eren the weight of allegiance in solemn pomp from their palace and gratitude, must be insupportto the forum, amidst the applause able to the free spirit of a Roman of the senate and the people; and patrict. But the favour and fidelity their joyful father, the true consul of Boethius declined in just proporof Rome, after pronouncing an ora- tion with the public happiness; and tion in the praise of his royal bene- an unworthy colleague was imposed, factor, distributed a triumphal lar- to divide and controul the power of gess in the games of the circus. the master of the offices. In the

VOL. I....N0. 11.

last gloomy season of Theodoric, he sentence or the stroke of death, he indignantly felt that he was a slave; composed in the tower of Pavia the but as his master had only power Consolation of Philosofihy; a golden over his life, he stood without arms volume not unworthy of the leisure and without fear against the face of of Plato or Tully, but which claims an angry Barbarian, who had been incomparable merit from the barprovoked to believe that the safety barisim of the times and the situaof the senate was incompatible with tion of the author. The celestial his own. The senator Albinus was guide whom he had so long invoked accused and already convicted on at Rome and Athens, now condethe presumption of honing, as it scended to illumine his dungeon, to was said, the liberty of Rome. “ If revive his courage, and to pour into Albinus be criminal," exclaimed his wounds her salutary balm. the orator, “ the senate and my. She taught him to compare his self are all guilty of the same long prosperity and his recent discrime. If we are innocent, Albi- tress, and to conceive new hopes nus is equally entitled to the pro- from the inconstancy of fortune. tection of the laws." These laws Reason had informed him of the might not have punished the simple precarious condition of her gifts; and barren wish of an unattainable experience had satisfied hiin of blessing ; but they would have shewn their real value ; he had enjoyed less indulgence to the rash confession them without guilt; he might reof Boethius, that, had he known sign them without a sigh, and calmof a conspiracy, the tyrant never ly disdain the impotent malice of should. The Advocate of Albinus his enemies, who had left him hapwas soon involved in the danger and piness, since they had left him virperhaps the guilt of his client ; their tue. From the earth, Boethius as. signature (which they denied as a cended to heaven in search of the forgery) was affixed to the original SUPREME GOOD; explored the address, inviting the emperor to metaphysical labyrinth of chance deliver Italy from the Goths ; and and destiny, of prescience and freethree witnesses of honourable will, of time and eternity ; and rank, perhaps of infamous reputa- generously attempted to reconcile tion, attested the treasonable de the perfect attributes of the Deity, signs of the Roman patrician. Yet with the apparent disorders of his his innocence must be presumed, moral and physical government. since he was deprived by Theodo. Such topics of consolation, so cbric of the means of justification, and vious, so vague, or so abstruse, are rigorously confined in the tower of ineffectual to subdue the feelings of Pavia, while the senate, at the dishuman nature. Yet the sense of tance of five hundred miles, pro- misfortune may be diverted by the nounced a sentence of confiscation labour of thought; and the sage and death against the most illustri. who could artfully combine in the ous of its members. At the com- same work, the various riches of mand of the Barbarians, the occult philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, science of a philosopher was stigma. must aiready have possessed the intised with the names of sacrilege trepid calmness, which he affected and magic. A devout and dutiful to seek. Suspense, the worst of attachment to the senate was con- evils, was at length determined by demned as criminal by the trembling the ministers of death, who exe. voices of the senators themselves; cuted, and perhaps exceeded, the and thcir ingratitude deserved the inhuman mandate of Theodoric. wishor prediction of Boethius, that, A strong cord was fastened round after him, none should be found the head of Boethius, and forcibly guilty of the same offence.

tightened, till his eyes almost startWhile Boethius, oppressed with ed from their sockets; and some fetters, expected each moment the mercy may be discovered in the

milder torture of beating him with permanent, are more lively; and clubs till he expired. But his genius though their vigour may quickly survived to diffuse a ray of know. relax, yet the first spring is so pow. ledge over the darkest ages of the erful, that it will carry them fur. Latin world ; the writings of the ther than a more continued impetus philosopher were translated by the will lead a man....But I am going most glorious of the English Kings, to set before my readers the chaand the third emperor of the name racter of a female, not more disof Otho removed to a more honour- tinguished for her feeling than her able tomb the bones of a Catholic resolution; and whose case, as it saint, who, from his Arian perse- may be common to all, may concutors, had acquired the honours tain a general warning and a gene. of martyrdom, and the fame of ral example. miracles. In the last hours of Boe- Cecilia was, from her infancy, thius, he derived some comfort from the child of misfortune. She lost the safety of his two sons, of his her mother in the first month of wife, and of his father-in-law, the her life, and experienced through venerable Symmachus. But the her childhood every disadvantage grief of Symmachus was indiscreet, which can attend a motherless and perhaps disrespectful : he had female. It is needless to detail the presumed to lament, he might dare circumstances which threw Cecilia, to revenge, the death of an injured without fortune and without friends, friend. He was dragged in chains into a dependent situation in an from Rome to the palace of Raven- elegant family. There, however, na; and the suspicions of Theo. we find her, from a very early age, doric could only be appeased by the bereft of all the splendid hopes her blood of an innocent and aged sena father's prospects once held out to tor.

her, and trusting alone to “ Innocence and Heaven."

Cecilia was no beauty ; .... instead

of the Grecian elegance of form, STORY OF CECILIA. and the unrivalled delicacy of fea.

tures she might have inherited from The passion of love is suposed her lovely mother, she could boast to exert its sway most despotically only an active, though not a slender over the softer sex, the gentler half person, a complexion that glowed of our species; but though I cannot with the pure tints of health, a but confess that women, taken in countenance that bespoke good the aggregate, are more delicate humour, and an eye that beamed animals than men, and less capable intelligence. Her skin had been of resolute exertion and firmness, despoiled of its polish by that foe to yet there are instances among them loveliness, the small-pox;....and the of a firm endurance of evil, an narrowness of her fortune deprived energy of mind fully equal to the her of the adventitious advantages boasted strength of the stern Lords of dress. The lowliness of her of the Creation. Awoman indeed who situation, which she felt most acute. has a soul at all, (for it is well known ly, (perhaps too much so, since to be the Turkish creed that that circumstances, not incurred by guilt, beautiful machine is not endued with ought to bring no imputation with so useless a spring, and there are them) repressed all the freedom of some instances among our own coun- her manner, and all the graces of trywomen that would almost induce her youth. With these exterior one to believe that a few fair Turks disadvantages, Cecilia was living had straggled into Great Britain)... with a woman of fashion, fortune, a woman, I say, who has a soul, and beauty, who, satisfied with tho is much more animated, more alive charitable deed of affording a homo than man. Her impulses, if less to a fellow-creature, thought she

treated her with sufficient kindness when some events occurred, which when she did not beat her.

seemed to promise a possibility of Cecilia, however, possessed a happiness. mind far superior to her situation : Alcanor, an intimate friend of it had been elegantly and even the family, had for some time disstudiously cultivated. She was no tinguished Cecilia with more than mean proficient in the modern ac- a polite.....with a kind attention.... complishments, and was more than Alcanor was a man of sense, a comcommonly skilled in the Belles Let- plete gentleman, and bore an untres. She had loved moral philo- blemished character for probity and sophy, as the most improving and honour. Cecilia, who, with a bosom the most interesting study; and she formed to feel the warmest raptures now sought in its doctrines a relief of love, with a judgment keen to from the discomforts she experi- perceive, and a heart alive to disenced. She could not believe but tinguish excellence, had hitherto that unwearied assiduity, diligence, preserved herself from any partiand good-humour would procure cular attachment only by perpetual her the good-will, and even the af- reflections on the hopelessness of fection of her patroness; but the her situation, felt a fearless graticourse of a few years shewed her tude for the friendship of Alcanor. that she deceived herself, and that It exalted her in her own eyes above a fine lady is a non-descript in the insignificance into which she ethics.

was conscious she had sunk in the Had Cecilia been one of those estimation of those around her; humble toad-eaters, who can bear yet considering Alcanor as a being to dangle after their ladies into many degrees above her, she indulgpublic, clad in their forsaken orna- ed her gratitude without the smallments, at once the envy and the est idea that it would ever ripen scorn of the whole tribe of waiting into a warmer sentiment. Nor could gentlewomen,....had she been an it ever have disturbed her peace, adept at flattery, and echoed with though it might have added to her applause the unmeaning witticisms happiness, but for some occurrenshe was condemned to hear, she ces, not necessary to be detailed, would probably have been a favour- whic, threw her often into confiite: but such was not her character. dentiid talk with Alcanor. Conscious of some internal merit, Though wholly a novice in the Cecilia sought to be chosen, not affairs of love, Cecilia had not suffered; and finding, unhappily, reached the age of twenty-eight that she could not obtain what she without having observed the effects sought, she gradually withdrew of the passions; and the inquietude more and more from observation, she now began to be conscious of, and though obliged to frequent all alarmed her for the nature of her company, slie never met with even sentiment towards Alcanor. His - the common attentions due to her increasing kindness increased her age and sex.

inquietude and her alarms. She Thus retired in herself, and thrust strictly examined her heart, and back by circumstances, it was not learned to distrust, not him, but · possible for her to obtain any atten- herself. She had hitherto put no

tion in the gay and dissipated cir- restraint on the natural warmth of cle in which she was condemned to her manner when conversing with move, nor to have the least chance him: she now assumed a more of being lifted to a better situation. guarded style. Alcanor saw the The best years of her life were difference of her conduct, and strove wasted in hopeless despondency, by the most delicate attentions, to and she could look forward to no- bring her back to her former unrething but passing the evening of her serve. Cecilia could no longer be days in the same joyless gloom, blind to the meaning of Alcanor....

« PreviousContinue »