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"As for you, Fabritius, I am fenfible of your me"rit: I am convinced, that you are an excellent "general, and perfectly qualified for the command "of an army; that juftice and temperance are "united in your character; and that you juftly "pafs for a perfon of confummate virtue. But I am "no lefs certain of your poverty; and muft confefs, "that fortune, in this particular, has treated you "with injuftice, by mifplacing you in the clafs of "indigent fenators. In order therefore, to fupply "that fole deficiency (provided you affift me to ne"gociate an honourable peace) I am ready to give
you as much gold and filver, as will raise you "above the richest citizen of Rome; being fully "perfuaded, That no expence can be more honour"able to a prince, than that which is employed in "the relief of great men, who are compelled by "their poverty, to lead a life unworthy of their
virtues; and that this is the nobleft purpofe, to "which a king can poffibly devote his treasures."
THE anfwer of Fabritius was as follows.
"As to my poverty, you have, indeed, Sir, been "rightly informed. My whole eftate confifts in a "house of but mean appearance, and a little spot "of ground, from which, by my own labour, I "draw my fupport. But if, by any means, you "have been perfuaded to think that this poverty "makes me lefs confidered in my country, or in "any degree unhappy, you are extremely deceived. "I have no reason to complain of fortune: the fup"plies me with all that nature requires: and, if "I am without fuperfluities, I am alfo free from "the defire of them. With thefe, I confefs, I "thould be more able to fuccour the neceffitous, "the only advantage for which the wealthy are to
"be envied; but, as fmall as my poffeffions are, "I can ftill contribute fomething to the fupport of "the ftate, and the affiftance of my friends. With
regard to honours, my country places me, poor 66 as I am, upon a level with the richeft: for Rome "knows no qualifications for great employments,
but virtue and ability. She appoints me to offi"ciate in the most auguft ceremonies of religion; "fhe entrusts me with the command of her armies ; "The confides to my care, the most important ne"gociations. My poverty does not leffen the weight "and influence of my counfels in the fenate; the "Roman people honour me, for that very poverty "which you confider as a difgrace: they know the many opportunities I have had, in war, to en"rich myself, without incurring cenfure; they are. "convinced of my difinterested zeal for their prosperity; and, if I have any thing to complain of, "in the return they make, it is only the excess "of their applaufe. What value, then, can I fet "upon your gold and filver? what king can add any thing to my fortune? Always attentive to "difcharge the duties incumbent on me, I have a "mind free from SELF-REPROACH, and I have an 66 HONEST FAME."
"O one, who has made the smallest progress in
N mathematics, can avoid obferving, that ma
thematical demonftrations are accompanied with such a kind of evidence, as overcomes obftinacy, infuperable
infuperable by many other kinds of reasoning. Hence it is, that fo many learned men have laboured to illuftrate other fciences with this fort of evidence; and it is certain, that the ftudy of mathematics, has given light to sciences very little connected with them. But, what will not wrong-headed men abuse! This advantage, which mathematical reafoning has for difcovering truth, has given occafion to fome to reject truth itself, though supported by the most unexceptionable arguments. Contending, that nothing is to be taken for truth, but what is proved by mathematical demonftration; they, in many cafes, take, away all criterion of truth, while they boaft, that they defend the only infallible one.
Bur, how eafy is it to fhew the abfurdity of fuch a way of philofophifing! Afk thofe gentlemen, whether they have any more doubt, that there were, in former times, fuch men as Alexander and Cæfar, than whether all the angles of a plain triangle, amount to the fum of one hundred and eighty degrees? They cannot pretend, that they believe the latter at all more firmly than the former: yet they have geometrical demonftration for the latter, and nothing more than mere moral evidence for the former. Does not this fhew, that many things are to be received, are actually received, even by themfelves, for truth, for certain truth, which are not capable of mathematical demonstration?
THERE is, therefore, an evidence, different from mathematical, to which we cannot deny our affent ; and it is called, by philofophers, moral evidence, as the perfuafion arifing from it is called moral certainty; a certainty as real, and as much to be depended upon, as mathematical, though of a different fpecies. Nor is there any more difficulty, in con
ceiving how this may be than in conceiving, that two buildings may be both fufficiently fubftantial, and, to all the intents and purposes of buildings, equally fo, though one be of marble, and the other of Portland stone.
THE object of mathematics, is quantity. The geometrician measures extenfion; the mechanic compares forces. Divinity, ethics, ontology, and hiftory, are naturally incapable of mathematical difquifition, or demonftration. Yet, moral subjects are capable of being enquired into, and truths concerning them determined in that way which is proper to them, as well as mathematical in theirs; in the fame manner, as money is reckoned by tale, bullion by weight, and liquors by measure.
MENALCAS AND ALEXIS.
'ENALCAS was old. Fourfcore years had
already bowed down his head. The filver
hairs fhadowed his forehead, and a fnowy beard flowed over his breaft. A ftaff fecured his tottering fteps. As he, who, after the labours of a fair fummer's day, in the cool of the evening, fits down! content, and thanks the gods, waiting for peaceful flumbers; fo Menalcas confecrated the remainder of his days to repofe, and to the worship of the gods: for he had paffed his life in labour and beneficence; and, therefore, tranquil and refigned, he waited for the lumbers of the grave.
MENALCAS faw bleffings diffused among his children. He had given them numerous flocks, and fruitful pastures. Full of tender anxiety, they ftrove to cheer his latter days, and to repay the care he had taken of their tender years. 'Tis a duty the gods never leave unrecompenfed.
ONE day, as he was fitting at the entrance of his cottage, refreshing himself in the morning fun, no one was with him but his grandfon Alexis. The lovely youth had not yet feen fourteen winters. The rofes of the fpring bloomed on his cheeks, while locks of gold flowed o'er his fhoulders. The old man entertained him with difcourfes on the happiness of doing good to mankind, and of relieving the indigent. There is no pleasure, he faid, can equal that we feel after a virtuous action. The brilliant charms of Aurora, the fweet fetting of the fun, and the variegated beauties of nature, all fill the heart with delicious fenfations: but the pleasure which fprings from the beneficence, is far, far more delicious!-Tears of joy and tenderness bedewed the cheeks of young Alexis. The old man faw them with transport. You weep, my child, faid he, fixing his eyes tenderly on him; furely my difcourfe, alone, could not caufe thefe tears! There is fomething in thy heart, that makes them flow.
ALEXIS wiped the drops from his rofy cheeks; but his eyes were ftill filled with fresh tears. Oh ! I know, yes, I feel, that nothing is fo fweet as doing good.
MENALCAS was affected. He preffed the youth's hand in his; and faid, I fee by thy countenance, I read in thine eyes, that thy mind is touched, and that it is not merely by what I have said.