« السابقةمتابعة »
“ This confusion and uproar was beheld by the goddess with indignation and regret: she flew to the throne of Jupiter, and casting herself at his feet, • Great ruler of the world,' said she, if I have erected a temple to fulfil the purposes of thy wisdom and thy love, to allure mortals up the steep of Virtue, and animate them to communicate happiness at the expense of life; let it not be perverted to render Vice presumptuous, nor possessed by those who dare to perish in the violation of thy laws and the diffusion of calamity.' Jupiter graciously touched the goddess with his sceptre, and replied, that the appointment of Fate he could not reverse; that admission to her temple must still depend upon Opinion; but that he would depute Reason to examine her conduct, and, if possible, put her again under the influence of Truth.
• Reason, therefore, in obedience to the command of Jupiter, descended upon the mountain of Honour, and entered the temple. At the tirst appearance of Reason, contention was suspended, and the whole assembly became silent with expectation : but the moment she revealed her commission, the tumult was renewed with yet greater violence. All were equally confident that Reason would establish the determination of Opinion in their favour; and he that spoke loudest hoped to be first heard. Reason knew that those only had a right to enter the temple who ascended by the path of Virtue; to determine, therefore, who should be expelled or received, nothing more seemed necessary than to discover by which avenue they had access : but Reason herself found this discovery, however easy in speculation, very difficult in effect.
“ The most flagitious affirmed that if they had not walked the whole length of the valley, they came into it at the foot of the mountain; and that at least
the path by which they had ascended it, was the path of Virtue. This was eagerly contradicted by others; and, to prevent the tedious labour of deducing truth from a great variety of circumstances, Opinion was called to decide the question.
“ But it soon appeared that Opinion scarce knew one path from the other; and that she neither determined to admit or refuse upon certain principles, or with discriminating knowledge. Reason, however, still continued to examine her; and, that she might judge of the credibility of her evidence by the account she would give of a known character, asked her, which side of the mountain was ascended by the Macedonian who deluged the world with blood: she answered without hesitation, The side of Virtue; that she knew she was not mistaken, because she saw him in the path at a great distance, and remarked that no man had ever ascended with such impetuous speed. As Reason knew this account to be false, she ordered Opinion to be dismissed, and proceeded to a more particular examination of the parties themselves.
“Reason found the accounts of many to be in the highest degree extravagant and absurd: some, as a proof of their having climbed the path of Virtue, described prospects that appeared from the opposite side of the mountain, and others affirmed, that the path was smooth and level, and that many had walked it without stumbling when they were scarce awake, and others when they were intoxicated with wine.
“Upon the foreheads of all these Reason impressed a mark of reprobation : and as she could not expel them without the concurrence of Opinion, she delivered them over to Time, to whom she knew Opinion had always paid great deference, and who had generally been a friend to Truth.
“ Time was commanded to use his influence to procure their expulsion, and to persuade Opinion to regulate her determinations by the judgment of Truth. Justice also decreed, that if she persisted to execute her office with negligence and caprice, under the influence of Prejudice, and in concurrence with the absurdities of Custom, she should be given up to Ridicule, a remorseless being who rejoices in the anguish which he inflicts: by him alone Opinion can be punished; at the sound of his scourge, she trembles with apprehension; and whenever it has been applied by the direction of Justice, Opinion has always become obedient to Truth.
“Time," continued my instructor, “still labours to fulfil the command of Reason : but though he has procured many to be expelled who had been admitted, yet he has gained admission for but few who had been rejected; and Opinion still continues negligent and perverse; for as she has often felt the scourge of Ridicule when it has not been deserved, the dread of it has no otherwise influenced her conduct than by throwing her into such confusion that the purposes of Reason are sometimes involuntarily defeated.”
“ How then," said I, “shall Honour distinguish those whom she wishes to reward ?" “They shall be distinguished," replied the visionary sage, " in the regions of Immortality; to which they will at length be conducted by Time, who will not suffer them to be finally disappointed."
While I was listening to this reply, with my eyes fixed steadfastly upon the temple, it suddenly dis. appeared: the black clouds that hovered over the plain of Vice burst in thunder; the hill on which I stood began to sink under me; and the start of sudden terror as I descended awaked me.
No. 62. SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 1753.
O fortuna viris invida fortibus,
" TO THE ADVENTURER.
Fleet, June 6. “ To the account of such of my companions as are imprisoned without being miserable, or are miserable without any claim to compassion, I promised to add the histories of those whose virtue has made them unhappy, or whose misfortunes are at least without a crime.
That this catalogue should be very numerous, neither you nor your
readers ought to expect; 'rari quippe boni ;' The good are few.' Virtue is uncommon in all the classes of humanity ; and I suppose it will scarcely be imagined more frequent in a prison than in other places.
“Yet in these gloomy regions is to be found the tenderness, the generosity, the philanthropy of Serenus, who might have lived in competence and ease, if he could have looked without emotion on the 'miseries of another. Serenus was one of those exalted minds, whom knowledge and sagacity could not make suspicious; who poured out his soul in boundless intimacy, and thought community of possessions the law of friendship. The friend of Serenus was arrested for debt, and after many endeavours to soften his creditor, sent his wife to solicit that assistance which never was refused. The tears and importunity of female distress were more than was necessary to move the heart of Serenus ; he hasted immediately away, and conferring a long
time with his friend, found him confident that if the present pressure was taken off, he should soon be able to reestablish his affairs. Serenus, accustomed to believe, and afraid to aggravate distress, did not attempt to detect the fallacies of hope, nor reflect that every man overwhelmed with calamity believes that if that was removed he shall immediately be happy: he, therefore, with little hesitation offered himself as surety.
“ In the first raptures of escape all was joy, gratitude, and confidence; the friend of Serenus displayed his prospects, and counted over the sums of which he should infallibly be master before the day of payment. Serenus in a short time began to find his danger, but could not prevail. with himself to repent of beneficence; and therefore suffered himself still to be amused with projects which he durst not consider for fear of finding them impracticable. The debtor, after he had tried every method of raising money which art or indigence could prompt, wanted either fidelity or resolution to surrender himself to prison, and left. Serenus to take his place.
“ Serenus has often proposed to the creditor to pay him whatever he shall appear to have lost by the flight of his friend; but however reasonable this proposal may be thought, avarice and brutality have been hitherto inexorable, and Serenus still continues to languish in prison.
“ In this place, however, where want makes almost every man selfish, or desperation gloomy, it is the good fortune of Serenus not to live without a friend : he passes most of his hours in the conversation of Candidus, a man whom the same virtuous ductility has with some difference of circumstances made equally unhappy. Candidus, when he was young, helpless, and ignorant, found a patron that