« НазадПродовжити »
which contained his treasure, and lamenting his inability to rescue her from his power, he flew to the Sultan, and besought relief. The guards were instantly ordered to attend, and the humane Sultan headed the band. When they arrived at the scene of injustice and oppression, the Sultan ordered the lights to be extinguished, and the soldiers forcibly to enter the dwelling, and to sacrifice the victim of unlawful passion!
During the time that this act of justice was performing, the Sultan appeared in the greatest agitation; and as soon as he was informed that the deed was perpetrated, he ordered the flambeaus to be re-lighted, and he entered the house. He approached the corpse with fearful and trembling steps, and it was some moments before he was able to turn his eyes towards it. At length he caught an imperfect glimpse of the features, which seemed to re-animate his breast with joy, and he desired the lights might be brought nearer. No sooner did he take a complete view of the body, than he fell prostrate before it, with an appearance of adoration; and after remaining for some time in the most fervent prayer, he arose with a countenance placid and resigned.
The guards, who had remained transfixed with astonishment during this extraordinary instance of their Sovereign's religious homage, were still more surprized at hearing him request the peasant to set before him whatever food his cottage might afford, and to see him eat the coarsest fare with all the keenness of the most voracious hunger, and with as much apparent relish, as if it had been composed of the greatest dainties.
The peasant, emboldened by this wonderful condescension in a person of such exalted dignity, ventured to ask the reason of the extraordinary scene he had witnessed; when the Sultan, laying aside all appearance of distinction, replied to the interrogation in the following words;
“ Upon hearing of the greatness of the offence which had been committed by an officer in my army, I had reason to think it might have been one of my own sons, believing that none other would have ventured to have been so audacious and presumptuous! I gave orders, therefore, for the lights to be extinguished, that I might not be led astray by partiality or compassion from doing an act of justice on an offending criminal. Upon re-lighting the flambeaus, I looked upon the face of the dead person, and, to my unspeakable joy, I found it was not my son. It was for this reason I involuntarily fell upon my knees, to return God thanks for having saved me from the misery of finding that, in performing an act of justice, I had sacrificed a life that I considered dearer than my own! You will cease to wonder at my asking for food, or eating voraciously of it, when I tell you, that, from the moment I was made acquainted with the injury you had sustained, the apprehension I endured lest one of my children was the offending party, had so far agonized my mind, that I have been incapable of affording any nourishment to my body, and have actually not eaten a morsel from that period until this moment.”
Admiration and delight filled the bosoms of his attendants, who, whilst they venerated the man who could be capable of such an action, silently congratulated themselves upon their own felicity, in being placed under the protection of a Monarch, who was neither to be biassed by the bonds of Nature, nor to be guided by the force of Tenderness.
FORTUNE IN GOOD HUMOUR.
mour to make mankind amends for the many mischievous tricks which she had played them. Her intentions were signified : her levee was crowded; and happiest was he who could get foremost in the ranks. A touch upon the forehead gave one impudence: he went off, and married a duchess. Assiduity was communicated by a kiss to the tips of another's fingers, and he scraped up a million out of the dirt: to be thrown there again by his successors. She spread an unguent over the tongue of a third, and he flattered his master out of a pension; and she looked stupidly into the eyes of a fourth, and, bidding him call it gravity, engaged him a bishopric.
Fortune was as reserved as a French matron, and as well bred as an Englishman of quality. She had almost got to the end of her beneficence, when three strangers appeared, one morning, all with the same eagerness of face, all with vast humility and address, and all with the same complaisant ease of acquiescing in whatever she would be pleased to bestow on them.
The goddess was washing her hands as she received their petitions. She cast a good-natured look towards them, as they knelt to her; and, dangling her left hand with all the jaunty ease of an Auretti, shook off a drop of the suds from the tip of her finger. The bubble enlarged its form as it danced towards them; the utmost radiance of colouring fluctuated on its surface; and within its cavity appeared, self-balanced on its centre (as Milton tells us the world is), in golden capitals, the glorious word-HONOUR! The unsubstantial form floated in the liquid air, and made its
approaches towards each of them, in their furns, as a motion from the finger of the deity gave it direction. Each would have seized upon it, but all were forbidden.
"Be satisfied,” said the goddess : “ I will serve you all. The appearance of it is all that can be of use
While the breath of your own mouths mutually blows it from one to another, each will be entitled to all its advantages : but, remember, when you grasp it, it is lost. Let this be your religion,” continued she, “this your honesty, this your friendship; let this set the seal upon your faith, let this keep the key of your treasures : this shall stand in the place of every virtue, in the world's eye; and this shall take the seat of interest among yourselves, and make it worth your while to be faithful to each other. Now, go,” concluded the goddess : “ the world is before you; and know, that-every thing is in the power of him who has Honour !"
The supplicants departed, the bubble danced before them, and, as it passed from mouth to mouth, spread a mutual lustre over the face from which it parted, and that which waited to receive it.
Extravagance was the pretended taste of one, Influence the glory of the second, and Business the blind that stalked before the last; but the sovereign aim of all was
-Money!-One of them purchased his share at the slight expence of his Peace; a second, at the yet more inconsiderable purchase of his Conscience-a trifle, not worth the regard of a man that has Honour; and the third, at the price of eternal Exilema consideration of no great importance to a man who had no friend in any nation, and who was as much at home in one place as another. Sacrifices like these could not fail to bend the heart of Plutus; or if they had wanted power to do so, the boon bequeathed to them by Fortune would have effected more than the immediate presence of all the heathen deities. The world re
sounded with their eclat: their extravagance would have beggared princes; yet all the while their purses continued filling. The Alley poured in half its stores into the hat of one, in consequence of the right side of a die appearing uppermost: the head of a falling halfcrown dictated the sale of a commission in favour of a second; and a pip extraordinary on a spade rooted up for a third all the timber of a forest. The losers murmured at their fate, and the unconcerned shook their heads at the means of it: but no sooner did a glance of suspicion direct itself to either of the associates, than a puff from one of the others rolled the bubble towards him, and the surmise was lost before words could be got together to express it.
In the course of these fortunate transactions a sudden blast from an unexpected point of the compass blew Honour over the water. The association could not subsist without its influence, nor any single member thrive independently of the others. They settled their offairs, and followed the means of their suc
It was not long before they found that they had left the land of Fortune. Her native country was the only place where princes dared or could reduce themselves to beggary to enrich them. What was to be done in this dearth of employment? The association had been the work of chance, not of choice; nor was there any thing to keep it firm, but the very principle which dow pleaded for its violation- -Interest.
When winters are so hard, that the woods afford no other
prey; or countries so barren, that they produce none else, wolves will eat one another. Content is not among the gifts which a fortune of this kind has in its disposal. Neither of the party could suppose himself rich while the fortune of the other two could add to his possessions. They mutually sent up their prayers to the goddess who had hitherto favoured them, and begged bless their last attempt with suc