Billeder på siden





CHALDEAN PEASANT was conducting a goat to the city of Bagdat. He was mounted on an afs; and the goat followed him, with a bell fufpended from his neck. "I fhall fell these "animals, faid he to himself, for thirty pieces of "filver. With this money I can purchase a new "turban, and a rich vestment of taffety, which I "will tie with a fash of purple filk. The young "damsels will then fmile more favourably upon me, "and I fhall be the fineft man at the Mofque."

WHILST the Peafant was thus anticipating in idea his future enjoyments, three artful rogues concerted a ftratagem to plunder him of his treasures.-As he moved flowly along, one of them flipped off the bell from the neck of the goat; and, faftening it, without being perceived, to the tail of the afs, carried A 2 away

away his booty. The man, riding upon the ass, and hearing the found of the bell, continued to muse, without the least suspicion of the lofs which he had fuftained. Happening, however, a fhort while afterwards, to turn about his head, he discovered, with grief and aftonishment, that the animal was gone, which conftituted fo confiderable a part of his riches; and he inquired, with the utmoft anxiety, after his goat, of every traveller whom he met.

THE fecond rogue now accofted him, and said, "I have juft feen, in yonder fields, a man in great "hafte, dragging along with him a goat." The peasant difmounted with precipitation, and requested the obliging ftranger to hold his afs, that he might lofe no time in overtaking the thief. He inftantly began the purfuit; and, having traversed, in vain, the courfe that was pointed out to him, he came back, fatigued and breathless, to the place from which he fet out; where he found neither his ass, nor the deceitful informer, to whose care he had entrufted him.

As he walked penfively onwards, overwhelmed with shame, vexation, and disappointment, his attention was roufed by the loud complaints and lamentations of a poor man, who fat by the fide of a well. He turned out of the way to fympathize with a brother in affliction, recounted his own misfortunes, and inquired the cause of that violent forrow, which feemed to opprefs him. "Alas!" faid the poor man, in a moft piteous tone of voice, as I was "refting here to drink, I dropped into the water a "casket full of diamonds, which I was employed to "carry to the Caliph at Bagdat; and I fhall be put "to death, on the fufpicion of having fecreted fo


valuable a treasure." "Why don't you jump in


[ocr errors]

"to the well, in fearch of the cafket?" cried the peasant, aftonished at the stupidity of his new acquaintance. "Because it is deep," replied the man, "and I can neither dive nor fwim. But will you "undertake this kind office for me, and I will re"ward you with thirty pieces of filver?" The peafant accepted the offer with exultation; and, whilft he was putting off his caflock, veft, and flippers, poured out his foul in thanksgivings to the holy Prophet, for this providential fuccour. But, the moment he plunged into the water, in fearch of the pretended cafket, the man (who was one of the three rogues that had concerted the plan of robbing him) feized upon his garments, and bore them off in fecucurity to his comrades.

THUS, thro' inattention, fimplicity, and credulity, was the unfortunate Chaldean duped of all his little poffeffions; and he haftened back to his cottage, with no other covering for his nakedness, than a tattered garment, which he borrowed on the road,




THENS, long after the decline of the Roman empire, ftill continued the feat of learning, politenefs, and wifdom. Theodoric, the Oftrogoth, repaired the schools which barbarity was fuffering to fall into decay; and continued thofe penfions to men of learning, which avaricious governors had monopolized.

In this city, and about this period, Alcander and Septimius were fellow-ftudents together. The one, the moft fubtle reafoner of all the Lyceum; the other, the moft eloquent fpeaker in the Academic grove. Mutual admiration foon begot a friendship. Their fortunes were nearly equal; and they were natives of the two moft celebrated cities in the world. Alcander was of Athens; Septimius came from Rome.

In this ftate of harmony they lived for fome time together; when Alcander, after paffing the first part of his youth in the indolence of philofophy, thought at length of entering into the bufy world; and, as a ftep previous to this, placed his affections on Hypatia, a lady of exquifite beauty. The day of their intended nuptials was fixed; the previous ceremonies were performed; and nothing now remained, but her being conducted in triumph to the apartment of the intended bridegroom.

ALCANDER's exultation in his own happiness, or being unable to enjoy any fatisfaction, without making his friend Septimus a partner, prevailed upon him to introduce Hypatia to his fellow-student; which he did with all the gaiety of a man who found himself equally happy in friendship and love. But this was an interview fatal to the future peace of both. Septimius no fooner faw her, than he was fmitten with an unvoluntary paffion: and, though he used every effort to fupprefs defires, at once fo imprudent and unjuft, the emotions of his mind, in a fhort time, became fo ftrong, that they brought on a fever, which the phyficians judged incurable.

DURING this illness, Alcander watched him with all the anxiety of fondnefs, and brought his mistress to join in the amiable offices of friendship. The fagacity of the physicians, by these means, foon difcovered that the cause of their patient's diforder was love; and Alcander, being apprized of their difcovery, at length extorted a confeffion from the reluctant dying lover.

IT would but delay the narrative to defcribe the conflict between love and friendship, in the breast of Alcander, on this occafion: it is enough to fay, that the Athenians were, at this time, arrived at fuch refinement in morals, that every virtue was carried to excess. In fhort, forgetful of his own felicity, he gave up his intended bride, in all her charms, to the young Roman. They were privately married, by ? his connivance; and this unlooked-for change of fortune, wrought as unexpected a change on the conftitution of the now happy Septimius. In a few days, he was perfectly recovered, and fet out with his fair partner for Rome. Here, by an exertion of those talents which he fo eminently poffeffed, Septimius, in a few years, arrived at the highest dignities of the ftate, and was conftituted the city-judge, or prætor.

In the mean time, Alcander not only felt the pain of being separated from his friend and his mistress, but a profecution was alfo commenced against him by the relations of Hypatia, for having bafely given up his bride, as was fuggefted, for money. His innocence of the crime laid to his charge, and even his eloquence in his own defence, were not able to withftand the influence of a powerful party. He was caft, and condemned to pay an enormous fine. Being unable to raise fo large a fum at the time appointed, his


A 4


« ForrigeFortsæt »