« НазадПродовжити »
versity is to the last degree disconsolate. Health and opulence were the two pillars on which they rested. Shake either of them, and their whole edifice of hope and comfort falls. Prostrate and forlorn, they are left on the ground; obliged to join with the man of Ephraim, in his abject lamentation, “ They have taken away my gods, which I have made, and what have I more ?"-Such are the causes to which we must ascri the broken spirits, the peevish temper, and impatient passions, that so often attend the declining age, or falling fortunes, of vicious men.
But how different is the condition of a truly good man, in those trying situations of life! Religion had gradually prepared his mind for all the events of this inconstant state. It had instructed him in the nature of true happiness. It had early weaned him from an undue love of the world, by discovering to him its vanity, and by setting higher prospects in his view. Affilictions do not attack him by surprise, and therefore do not overwhelm him. He was equipped for the storm, as well as the calm, in this dubious navigation of life. Under these conditions he knew himself to be brought hither; that he was not always to retain the enjoyment of what he loved : and therefore he is not overcome by disappointment, when that which is mortal, dies, when that which is mutable, begins to change ; and when that which he knew to be transient, passes away.
All the principles which religion teaches, and all the habits which it forms, are favourable to strength of mind.
It will be found, that whatever purifiés, fortifies also the heart. In the course of living “righteously, soberly, and piously, a good man acquires a steady and well-governed spirit. Trained, by Divine grace, to enjoy with moderation the advantages of the world, neither lifted up by success, nor enervated with sensuality, he meets the changes in his lot without unmanly dejection. He is inured to temperance and restraint. He has learned firmness and self-command. He is accustomed to look up to that Supreme Providence, which disposes of human affairs, not with reverence only, but with trust and hope.
The time of prosperity was to him not merely a season of barren joy, but productive of much useful improvement. He had cultivated his inind. He had stored it with useful knowledge, with good principles, and virtuous dispositions. These resources remain entire, when the days of trouble come. They remain with him in sickness, as in health ; in
poverty, as in the midst of riches; in his dark and solitary hours, no less than when surrounded with friends and gay society. From the glare of prosperity, he can, without dejection, withdraw into the shade. Excluded from several advantages of the world, he may be obliged to retract into a narrower circle; but within that circle he will find many comforts left.
His chief pleasures were always of the calm, innocent, and temperata kind; and over these, the changes of the world have the least power. His mind is a kingdom to him; and he can still enjoy it. The world did not bestow upon him all bis enjoyments; and therefore it is not in the power of the world, by its most cruel attacks, to carry them all away.
Rome saved by female virtue. CORIOLANUS was a distinguished Roman Senator and General, who had rendered eminent services to the Republic. But these services were no security against envy and popular prejudices. He was at length treated with great severity and ingratitude, by the senate and people of Rome; and obliged to leave his country to preserve his life. Of a haughty and indignant spirit, he resolved to avenge himself; and, with this view, applied to the Volscians, the enemies of Rome, and tendered them his services against his native country. The offer was cordially embraced, and Coriolanus was made general of the Volscian army. He recovered from the Romans all the towns they had taken from the Volsci; carried by assault several cities in Latium ; and led his troops within five miles of the city of Rome. After several unsuc cessful embassies from the senate, all hope of pacifying the
injured exile appeared to be extinguished ; and the sole bu. siness at Rome was to prepare, with the utmost diligence, for sustaining a siege. The young and able-bodied men had instantly the guard of the gates and trenches assigned to them; while those of the veterans, who, though exempt by their age from bearing arms, were yet capable of service, undertook the defence of the ramparts. The women, in the mean while, terrified by these movements, and the impending danger, into a neglect of their wonted decorum, ran tumultuously from their houses to the temples. Every sanctuary, and especially the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, resounded with the wailings and loud supplications of women, prostrate before the statues of their divinities. In this general consternation and distress, Valeria, (sister of the famous Valerius Poplicola,) as if moved by a divine impulse, suddenly took her stand upon the top of the steps of the temple of Jupiter, assembled the women about her, and having first exhorted them not to be terrified by the greatness of the present danger, confidently declared, “That there was yet hope for the republic ; that its preservation depended upon them, and upon their performance of the duty they owed their country.” 56 Alas!” cried one of the company,
co what resource can there be in the weakness of wretched women, when our bravest men, our ablest warriors themselves despair ?!!_“It is not by the sword, nor by strength of arm,' replied Valeria, “that we are to prevail; these belong not to our sex. Soft moving words must be our weapons and our force. Let us all in our mourning attire, and accompanied by our children, go and entreat Veturia, the mother of Coriolanus, to intercede with her son for our common country. Veturia's prayers will bend his soul to pity. Haughty and implacable as he has hitherto appeared, he has not a heart so cruel and obdurate, as not to relent, when he shall see his mother, his revered, his beloved mother, a weeping suppliant at his feet.”
This motion being universally applauded, the whole train of women took their way to Veturia's house. Her son's wife, Volumnia, who was sitting with her when they arrived, and was greatly surprised at their coming, hastily asked them the meaning of so extraordinary an appearance.
" What is it,” said she, “ what can be the motive that has brought so numerous a company of visiters to this house of sorrow ?"
Valeria then addressed herself to the mother : “ It is to you, Veturia, that these women have recourse in the ex
teme peril, with which they and their children are threatened. They entreat, implore, conjure you, to compassionate their distress, and the distress of our common country. Suffer not Rome to become a prey to the Volsci, and our enemies to triumph over our liberty. Go to the camp of Coriolanus : take with you Volumnia and her two sons : let that excellent wife join her intercession to yours. Permit these women with their children to accompany you : they will all cast themselves at his feet. O Veturia, conjure him to grant peace to his fellow-citizens. Cease not to beg till
have obtained. So good a man can never withstand your tears : our only hope is in you. Come then, Veturia ; the danger presses ; you have no time for deliberation ; the enterprise is worthy of your virtue ; Heaven will crown it with success ; Rome shall once more owe its preservation to our
You will justly acquire to yourself an immortal fame, and have the pleasure to make every one of us a sharer in your glory.”
Veturia, after a short silence, with tears in her eyes, answered: “ Weak indeed is the foundation of your hope, Valeria, when you place it in the aid of two miserable wo
We are not wanting in affection to our country, nor need we any remonstrance or entreaties to excite our zeal for its preservation. It is the power only of being serviceable that fails us. Ever since that unfortunate hour, when the people in their madness so unjustly banished Coriolanus, his heart has been no less estranged from his family than from his country. You will be convinced of this sad truth, by his own words to us at parting. When he returned home from the assembly, where he had been condemned, he found us in the depth of affliction, bewailing the miseries that were sure to follow our being deprived of so dear a son, and so excellent a husband. We had his children upon our knees. He kept himself at a distance from us; and, when he had awhile stood silent, motionless as a rock, his eyes fixed, and without shedding a tear ; ' 'Tis done,' he said. - O mother, and thou, Volumnia, the best of wives, to you Marcius is no
i am banished hence for my affection to my country, and the services I have done it. I go this instant; and I leave for ever a city, where all good men are proscribed. Support this blow of fortune with the magnanimity that becomes women of your high rank and virtue. I commend my ohildren to your care.
Éducate them in a manner worthy of you, and of the race from which they come. Heaven
grant, they may be more fortunate than their father, and never fall short of him in virtue ; and may you in them find your consolation !-Farewell.'
“We started up at the sound of this word, and with loud cries of lamentation ran to him to receive his last embraces. I led his elder son by the hand ; Volumnia had the younger in her arms. He turned his eyes from us, and putting us back with his hand, Mother,' said he, “from this moment
have no son : our country has taken from you the stay of your old
age. -Nor to you, Volumnia, will Marcius be henceforth a husband ; mayst thou be happy with another, more fortunate !—My dear children, you
father.' “ He said no more, but instantly broke away from us. He departed from Rome without settling his domestic affairs, or leaving any orders about them; without money, without servants, and even without letting us know, to what part of the world he would direct his steps. It is now the fourth year since he went away ; and he has never inquired after his family, por, by letter or messenger, given us the least account of himself: so that it seems as if bis mother and his wife, were the chief objects of that general hatred which he shows to his country.
“ What success then can you expect from our entreaties to a man so implacable ? Can two women bend that stubborn heart, which even all the ministers of religion were not able to soften? And indeed what shall I say to him ? What can I reasonably desire of him ? that he would pardon ungrateful citizens, who have treated him as the vilest criminal? that he would take compassion upon a furious, unjust populace, which had no regard for his innocence ? and that he would betray a nation, which has not only opened him an asylum, but has even preferred him to her most illustrious citizens in the command of her armies ? With what face can I ask him to abandon such generous protectors, and deliver himself again into the hands of his most bitter enėmies? Can a Roman mother, and a Roman wife, with decency, exact, from a son and a husband, compliances which must dishonour him before both gods and men ? Mournful circumstance, in which we have not power to hate the most formidable enemy of our country! Leave us therefore to our unhappy destiny ; and do not desire us to make it more unhappy, by an action that may Cast a blemish upon our virtue.'