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poffeffions were confifcated, he himself was stripped of the habit of freedom, exposed as a flave in the market`place, and fold to the highest bidder.
A merchant of Thrace becoming his purchaser, Alcander, with fome other companions of diftrefs, was carried into that region of defolation and fterility. His ftated employment was to follow the herds of an imperious mafter, and his success in hunting was all that was allowed him to fupply his precarious fubfiftence. Every morning waked him to a renewal of famine or toil; and every change of feafon, ferved but to aggravate his unfheltered diftrefs. After fome years of bondage, however, an opportunity of efcaping offered: he embraced it with ardour, fo that, travelling by night, and lodging in caverns by day, to shorten a long story, he at last arrived in Rome.
THE fame day on which Alcander arrived, Septimius fat adminiftering juftice in the forum, whither our wanderer came, expecting to be inftantly known, and publicly acknowledged, by his former friend. Here he ftood the whole day amongst the crowd, watching the eyes of the judge, and expecting to be taken notice of: but he was fo much altered by a long fucceffion of hardships, that he continued unnoted among the reft; and, in the evening, when he was going up to the prætor's chair, he was brutally repulfed by the attending lictors. The attention of the poor is generally driven from one ungrateful object to another; for, night coming on, he now found himself under a neceffity of seeking a place to lie in, and yet knew not where to apply. All emaciated, and in rags as he was, none of the citizens would harbour fo much wretchedness; and fleeping in the streets might be attended with interruption or danger: in fhort, he was obliged to take up his lodging in one of the tombs without
without the city; the ufual retreat of guilt, poverty, and despair. In this manfion of horror, laying his head upon an inverted urn, he forgot his miferies for a while in fleep; and found, on his flinty couch, more ease than beds of down can fupply to the guilty.
As he continued here, about midnight, two robbers came to make this their retreat: but, happening to difagree about the divifion of their plunder, one of them stabbed the other to the heart, and left him weltering in blood at the entrance. He was found next morning, dead, at the mouth of the vault. This naturally inducing an enquiry, an alarm was spread; the cave was examined; and Alcander was apprehended, and accufed of robbery and murder. Misfortune and he were now fo long acquainted, that he at laft became regardless of life. He detefted a world, in which he had found only ingratitude, falfhood, and cruelty: he was determined to make no defence; and, thus lowering with resolution, he was dragged, bound with cords, before the tribunal of Septimius.
As the circumstances against him were strong, and he offered nothing in his own vindication, the judge was proceeding to doom him to a moft cruel and ignominious death, when the attention of the fpectators was foon divided by another object. The robber, who had been really guilty, was apprehended felling his plunder; and, ftruck with a panic, had confeffed his crime. He was brought bound, to the fame tribunal, and acquitted every other perfon of any partnership in his guilt. Alcander's innocence, therefore, appeared; but the fullen rashness of his conduct, remained a wonder to the furrounding multitude. But their aftonishment was ftill farther increased, A 5 when
when they faw their judge ftart from his tribunal, to embrace the supposed criminal. Septimius recollected his friend and former benefactor, and hung upon his neck with tears of pity and of joy. Need the fequel be related? Alcander was acquitted; fhared the friendship and honours of the principal citizens of Rome; lived afterwards in happiness and ease; and left it to be engraved on his tomb, That no circumstances are fo desperate, which Providence may not relieve.
THE TRUE ENJOYMENTS OF LIFE.
MAY be furvive his relations and friends! was the
imprecation of a Roman, on the perfon who fhould deftroy the monument of his ancestors. more dreadful curfe could scarcely be denounced.
I remember to have feen it fomewhere recorded, that an Emperor of China, on his acceffion to the throne, commanded a general release from the prifons, of all that were confined for debt. Amongst the number was an old m 1, who had been an early victim to adverfity; and whofe days of imprisonment, reckoned by the notches which he had cut on the door of his gloomy cell, expreffed the annual revolution of more than fifty funs. With faultering fteps, he departed from his manfion of forrow: his eyes were dazzled with the fplendor of light; and the face of nature presented to his view a perfect paradise. The gaol, in which he had been imprisoned, was at fome diftance from Pekin; and he directed his course
to that city, impatient to enjoy the gratulations of his wife, his children, and his friends.
WITH difficulty he found his way to the street, in which formerly ftood his decent habitation; and his heart became more and more elated at every step which he advanced. He proceeded, and looked with earneftness around; but faw few of thofe objects with which he was formerly converfant. A magnificent edifice was erected on the fite of the house which he had inhabited: the dwellings of his neighbours had affumed new forms; and he beheld not a fingle face, of which he had the leaft recollection. An aged pauper, who stood with trembling knees at the gate of a portico, from which he had been thruft by the infolent menial who guarded it, ftruck his attention. He ftopped, to give him a pittance out of the bounty with which he had been fupplied by the Emperor's liberality; and received, in return, the fad tidings, that his wife had fallen a lingering facrifice to penury and forrow; that his children were gone to seek their fortunes in unknown climes; and that the grave contained his nearest and most valuable friends.
OVERWHELMED with anguish, he haftened to the palace of his Sovereign, into whose presence hist hoary looks and mournful vifage foon obtained admiffion; and cafting himself at the feet of the Emperor, "Great Prince," he cried, " remand me to "the prifon, from which mistaken mercy hath deli"vered me! I have furvived my family and friends; " and, in the midft of this populous city, I find my"felf in dreary folitude. The cell of my dungeon "protected me from the gazers at my wretchedness; "and, whilft fecluded from fociety, I was lefs sen"fible of the lofs of focial enjoyments, I am now ❝ tortured
"tortured with the view of pleasures, in which I' "cannot participate; and die with thirst, though "ftreams of delight surround me.
LAERTES AND IRU S.
AERTES and IRUS are neighbours, whose ways of living are an abomination to each other. Irus is moved by the fear of poverty, and Laertes by the shame of it. Though the motive of action is of fo near affinity in both, and may be refolved into this, "That to each of them poverty is the greatest of "all evils," yet are their manners widely different. Shame of poverty, makes Laertes launch into unneceffary equipage, vain expence, and lavish entertainments: fear of poverty, makes Irus allow himself only plain neceffaries, appear without a fervant, fell his own corn, attend his labourers, and be himself a labourer. Shame of poverty, makes Laertes go every day a step nearer to it; and, fear of poverty, ftirs up Irus to make every day fome further progrefs from it.
THESE different motives produce most of the exceffes which men fall into, in the negligence of, and provifion for, themselves. Ufury, ftock-jobbing, extortion, and oppreffion, have their feed in the dread of want; and vanity, riot, and prodigality, in the ame of it. But these exceffes are infinitely below the pursuit of a reasonable creature.