網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

earth, and conversed familiarly with mortals, amongst the most cherished of the heavenly powers were twins, the offspring of Jupiter, Love and Joy. Wherever they appeared, the flowers sprung up beneath their feet, the sun shone with a brighter radiance, and all nature seemed embellished by their presence. They were inseparable companions, and their growing attachment was favoured by Jupiter, who had decreed that a lasting union should be solemnized between them so soon as they were arrived at maturer years. But in the mean time the sons of men deviated from their native innocence; Vice and Ruin over-ran the earth with giant strides : and Astrea, with her train of celestial visitants, forsook their polluted abodes. Love alone remained, having been stolen away by Hope, who was his nurse, and conveyed by her to the forests of Arcadia, where he was brought up among the shepherds. But Jupiter assigned him a different partner, and commanded him to espouse Sorrow, the daughter of Até. He complied with reluctance; for her features were harsh and disagreeable, her eyes sunk, her forehead contracted into perpetual wrinkles, and her temples were covered with a wreath of cypress and wormwood. From this union sprung a virgin, in whom might be traced a strong resemblance to both her parents ; but the sullen and unamiable features of her mother were so mixed and blended with the sweetness. of her father, that her countenance, though mournful, was highly pleasing. The maids and shepherds of the neighbouring plains gathered, round, and called her Pity. A red-breast was observed to build in the cabin where she was born; and while she was yet an infant, a dove,

pursued by a hawk, flew into her bosom. This nymph had a dejected appearance, but so soft and gentle a mien that she was beloved to a degree of enthusiasm. Her voice was low and plaintive, but inexpressibly sweet; and she loved to lie for hours together on the banks of some wild and melancholy stream, singing to her lute. She taught men to weep, for she took a strange delight in tears : and often, when the virgins of the hamlet were assembled at their evening sports, she would steal in amongst them, and captivate their hearts by her tales, full of a charming sadness. She wore on her head a garland composed of her father's myrtles, twisted with her mother's cypress.

One day, as she sat musing by the waters of Helicon, her tears by chance fell into the fountain, and ever since the Muses’ spring has retained a strong taste of the infusion. Pity was commanded by. Jupiter to follow the steps of her mother through the world, dropping balm in the wounds she made, and binding up the hearts she had broken. She follows with her hair loose, her bosom bare, and throbbing her garments torn by the briers, and her feet bleeding with the roughness of the path. The nymph is mortal, for her mother is so ; and when she has fulfilled her destined course upon the earth, they shall both expire together, and Love be again united to Joy, his immortal and long betrothed bride.

MRS. BARBAULD. C H A P. I x.

: The Dead Ass. AND this, said he, putting the remains of a crust into his wallet--and this should have been

thy portion , said he, hadst thou been alive to have shared it with me. I thought by the accent, it had been an apostrophe to his child; but it was to his ass, and to the very ass we had seen dead in the road, which had occasioned La Fleur's misadventure. The man seemed to lament him much; and it instantly brought into my mind Sancho's lamentation for his ; but he did it with more true touches of nature.

The mourner was sitting upon a stone-bench at the door, with the ass's pannel and its bridle on one side, which he took up from time to time--then he laid them down--looked at them and shook his head. He then took his crust of bread out of his wallet again, as if to eat it; held it some time in his hand--then laid it upon the bit of his ass's bridle--looked wistfully at the little arrangement he had made--and then gave a sigh.

The simplicity of his grief drew numbers about him, and La Fleur among the rest, whilst the horses were getting ready: as I continued sitting in the post-chaise, I could see and hear over their heads.

He said he had come last from Spain ,, where he had been from the furthest borders of Franconia; and had got so far on his return home, when his ass died. Every one seemed desirous to know what business could have taken so old and poor a man so far a journey from his own home.

It had pleased Heaven, he said, to bless him with three sons, the finest lads in all Germany; but having in one week lost two of them by the small-pox , and the youngest falling ill of the same distemper , he was afraid of being bereft of them all, and made a vow, if Heaven

would not take him from him also, he would go in gratitude to St. Iago in Spain.

When the mourner got thus far in his story, he stopped to pay Nature her tribute--and wept bitterly.

He said, Heaven had accepted the conditions ; and that he had set out from his cottage with this poor creature, who had been a patient partner of his journey--that it had eat the same bread with him all the way, and was unto him. as a friend.

Every body who stood about, heard the poor fellow with concern--La Fleur offered him mo. ney--The mourner said he did not want it--it was not the value of the ass--but the loss of him--The ass, he said , he was assured, loved him--and upon this, told them a long story of a mischance upon their passage over the Pyrenean mountains, which had separated them from each other three days ; during which time the ass had sought him as much as he had sought the ass, and that neither had scarce eat or drank till they met.

Thou hast one comfort, friend, said I, at least, in the loss of thy poor beast; I am sure thou hast been a merciful master to him.-Alas! said the mourner , I thought so, when he was alive--but now he is dead I think otherwise--I fear the weight of myself--and my afflictions together--have been too much for him --they have shortened the poor creature's days, and I fear I have them to answer for.--Shame on the world ! said I to myself.--Did we love each other, as this poor soul but lov'd his ass --'£would be something.-

STERNE,

C H A P. X.
The Sword.

W HEN states and empires have their periods of declension and feel in their turns what distress and poverty is--I stop not to tell the causes which gradually brought the house of d’E****, in Britany into decay. The Marquis d'E**** had fought up against his condition with great firmness ; wishing to preserve and still shew to the world some little fragments of what his ancestors had been--their indiscretion had put it out of his power. There was enough left for the little exigencies of obscurity--But he had two boys who looked up to him for light--he thought they deserved it. He had tried his sword--it could not open the way--the mounting was too expensive--and simple economy was not a match for it--There was no resource but commerce. • In any other province in France, save Britany, this was smiling the root for ever of the littla tree his pride and affection wished to see re-blossom--But in Britany, there being a provision for this, he availed himself of it; and taking an occasion when the states were assembled at Rennes, the Marquis, attended with his two sons, entered the court; and having pleaded the right of an ancient law of the duchy, which, though seldom claimed , he said, was no less in force; he took his sword from his side--Here-said hea-take it; and be trusty guardians of it, till better times put me in a condition to claim it.

The president accepted the Marquis's sword --he staid a few minutes to see it deposited in the archives of his house--and departed.

The Marquis and his whole family embarked

« 上一頁繼續 »