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FILIAL LOVE, AND GENEROSITY. A conflagration having reduced to ashes one of the principal mosques of Cairo, the Mussulmans imputed this calamily to the hatred of the Christians, and running to the quarter inhabited by them, set fire (1) to it by way of (2) reprisal. Such an outrage deserved the most severe punishment; the governor caused (3) the perpetrators to be apprehended; but as the number was considerable, he could not resolve to doom to death so many young men who had been hurried into this excess more by passion than malice. As many lots (4) as there were culprits were thrown into an urn; some few of these were marked death, and the others with bastonade. When they had all drawn their lots out of the fatal urn, one of those destined to death cried out in a transport of grief :" I do not regret the loss of life; but how will my parents, overwhelmed with sorrow, and reduced to the greatest misery, be able to live without my assistance ?
One of those who had escaped death, replied to him that was lamenting his fate : “ Friend, I have neither father nor mother; my life is of no use to any one; give me your lot and take mine." This surprising sacrifice excited the admiration of every one present, and the
(1) To set fire to, mettre le feu à... "
(3) To cause, quand il se rapporte à un verbe, signifie faire, être cause de... Voyez Grammaire pratique, 103, notes.
(4) Lots, jetons.
governor, who was soon informed of it, pardoned both the criminals.
ART OF LISTENING.
We have had many treatises on the art of speaking : we now want one on the art of listening. It is not always necessary to talk; but to listen is almost a duty; for has not nature, by giving us two ears and but one mouth, taught us that we ought to talk less than we listen ? " Strike but listen, ” said a celebrated Grecian. Not to listen, or to listen with a want of attention, is an offence against the laws of politeness, and hightreason against society.
Nothing is more acceptable and pleasing than the art of listening. An old man left a large legacy to one who was not his relation, because he had always had the complaisance to listen to him.
In the winter of the year 1776, the count and countess Podotsky, being on their way from Vienna to Cracow, the wolves, which are very numerous in the Carpathian mountains, and, when the cold is very severe, are bolder and more savage than usual, came down (1) in hordes and pursued the carriage between the towns of Osweik and Zator, the latter of which is only a few leagues
(1) To come down , descendre.
from Cracow. Of two servants one was sent before to bespeak post horses; the other, whom the count particularly esteemed for his fidelity, seeing the wolves come nearer and nearer, begged his master to permit him to leave them his horse, by which their rage would in some measure be satisfied, and they should gain time to reach (1) Zator. The count consented; the servant mounted behind the carriage and let the horse go (2), which was seized by the wolves, torn into a thousand pieces and soon devoured. Meantime (3), the travellers proceeded with all the speed they could, in hopes to reach the town from which they were not very distant. But the horses were tired, and the wolves becoming more savage, now that they had tasted blood, had almost overtaken the carriage. In this extremity, the servant cried out : “There is only one means of deliverance: I will go and meet the wolves, if you will swear to provide (4) as a father for my wife and children. I must perish, but while they fall upon me you will escape. Podotsky hesitated; but as there was no prospect of escape, consented, and solemnly vowed that if he would sacrifice himself for their safety, he would constantly provide for his family. The servant immediately got down (3), went to meet the wolves, and was immediately devoured, as the horse had been. The count reached the gates of
(1) To reacht, atteindre, arriver à , parvenir.
(4) To provide , pourvoir. To provide for, pourvoir aux besoins de...
(5) To get down, descendre.
WISDOM AND POLLY.
Zator, and was saved. The servant was a protestant; his master was a catholic, and conscientiously kept his word.
A CHALLENGE REFUSED.
There cannot possibly be a greater extravagance, than for a man to run the hazard of losing his life to satisfy his revenge. When Mark Antony, after the battle of Actium, challenged Augustus, he took no further notice of the insult than by sending back for answer, that if Antony was weary of his life, there were other ways of despatch besides fighting him, and for his part he should not trouble himself to be his executioner (1).
A passionate temper renders a man unfit for advice (2), deprives him of reason, robs him of all that is great or noble in his nature; it makes him unfit for conversation, destroys friendship, changes justice into cruelty, and turns all order into confusion.
WISDOM AND FOLLY.
A wise man endeavours to shine himself; a fool (3) to
(1) Executioner, bourreau.
outshine others. The first is humbled by a sense of his own infirmities, the last is lifted up (1) by a discovery of those he observes in others. The wise man considers what he wants; the fool what he abounds in. The wise man is happy when he gains his own approbation, and the fool when he recommends himself to the applause of those about him.
Those who admonish their friends, says Plutarch, should observe this rule, not to leave them with barsh expressions. Ill language destroys the force of reprehension, which should be always given with prudence and circumspection.
RIVALS IN GENEROSITY.
Hatem-Tai was so famed for generosity that the most potent monarchs were jealous of his high reputation. The sultan of Damascus, wishing to ascertain (2) the truth of what report had published concerning this Arabian prince, sent one of his principal officers with magnificent presents for Hatem, and a request that he would furnish him with twenty camels that had red hair and black eyes; this sort of camel being extremely scarce, and consequently very dear. Upon this intima
(1) Lifted up, élevé.