Page images

Howard. Sultan, the reward I ask, is, leave to preserve more of your people still.

Sult. How more? my subjects are in health; no contagion visits them.

How. The prisoner is your subject. There, misery, more contagious than disease, preys on the lives of hundreds: sentenced but to confinement, their doom is death. Immured in damp and dreary vaults, they daily perish; and who can tell but that, among the many hapless sufferers, there may be hearts bent down with penitence, to heaven and you, for every slight offense-there may be some, among the wretched multitude, even innocent victims. Let me seek them out; let me save them and you.

Sul. Amazement! retract your application: curb this weak pity, and accept our thanks.

How. Restrain my pity;-and what can I receive in recompense for that soft bond which links me to the wretched? and, while it sooths their sorrow, repays me more than all the gifts an empire can bestow!-But, if it be a virtue repugnant to your plan of government, I apply not in the name of Pity, but of Justice.

Sul. Justice!

How. The justice that forbids all, but the worst of criminals, to be denied that wholesome air the very brute creation freely takes.

Sul. Consider for whom you plead-for men (if not base culprits) so misled, so depraved, they are dangerous to our state, and deserve none of its blessings.

How. If not upon the undeserving, if not upon the wretched wanderer from the paths of rectitude,-where shall the sun diffuse his light, or the clouds distill their dew? Where shall spring breathe fragrance, or autumn pour its plenty?

Sul. Sir, your sentiments, still more your character, excite my curiosity. They tell me that in our camps you visited each sick man's bed,-administered yourself the healing draught, encouraged our savages with the hope of life, or pointed out their better hope in death.-The widow speaks your charities, the orphan lisps your bounties, and the rough Indian melts in tears to bless you.-I wish to ask why you have done all this?-what is it that prompts you thus to befriend the miserable and forlorn ?

How. It is in vain to explain: the time it would take to reveal to you—

Sul. Satisfy my curiosity in writing then.

a Re-tract', to recant.

Re-pug'-nant, contrary, inconsistent

How. Nay, if you will read, I'll send a book in which is

already written why I act thus.

Sul. What book? what is it called?
How. "The Christian Doctrine."
I have done was but my duty.

There you will find all

Sul. Your words recall reflections that distract me; nor can I bear the pressure on my mind, without confessing-I am a Christian! Mrs. Inchbald.


Cadmus and Hercules.

Hercules. Do you pretend to sit as high on Olympus' as Hercules? Did you kill the Nemean lion, the Erymanthean boar, the Lernean serpent, and Stymphalian birds? Did you destroy tyrants and robbers ?-You value yourself greatly on subduing one serpent: I did as much as that while I lay in my cradle.

Cadmus. It is not on account of the serpent that I boast myself a greater benefactor to Greece than you. Actions should be valued by their utility, rather than their splendor. I taught Greece the art of writing, to which laws owe their precision and permanency. You subdued monsters; I civilized men. It is from untamed passions, not from wild beasts, that the greatest evils arise to human society. By wisdom, by art, by the united strength of civil community, men have been enabled to subdue the whole race of lions, bears, and serpents; and, what is more, to bind by laws and wholesome regulations, the ferocious violence and dangerous treachery of the human disposition. Had lions been destroyed only in single combat, men had had but a bad time of it;-and what but laws could awe the men who killed the lions? The genuine glory, the proper distinction of the rational species, arise from the perfection of the mental powers. Courage is apt to be fierce, and strength is often exerted in acts of oppression; but wisdom is the associate of justice. It assists her to form equal laws, to pursue right measures, to correct power, protect weakness, and to unite individuals in a common interest and general welfare. Heroes may kill tyrants, but it is wisdom and laws that prevent tyranny and oppresThe operations of policy far surpass the labors of Hercules, preventing many evils which valor and might cannot even redress. You heroes regard nothing but glory; and


a Cad'-mus, king of Thebes, introduced Jetters into Greece.

Her'-cu-les, a heathen Deity.

CO-lym' pus, a mountain in Greece.
d Fe-ro'-cious, savage, cruel

scarcely consider whether the conquests which raise your fame, are really beneficial to your country. Unhappy are the people who are governed by valor, not directed by prudence, and not mitigated by the gentle arts!

Her. I do not expect to find an admirer of my strenuous life, in the man who taught his countrymen to sit still and read; and to lose the hours of youth and action in idle speculation and the sport of words.

Cad. An ambition to have a place in the registers of fame, is the Eurystheusa which imposes heroic labors on mankind. The muses incite to action, as well as entertain the hours of repose; and I think you should honor them for presenting to heroes so noble a recreation, as may prevent their taking up the distaff, when they lay down the club.

Her. Wits as well as heroes can take up the distaff. What think you of their thin-spun systems of philosophy, or lascivious poems, or Milesian fables? Nay, what is still worse, are there not panegyrics on tyrants, and books that blaspheme the gods, and perplex the natural sense of right and wrong? I believe if Eurystheus were to set me to work again, he would find me a worse task than any he imposed; he would make me read over a great library, and I would serve it as I did the Hydra, I would burn as I went on, that one chimera might not rise from another, to plague mankind. I should have valued myself more on clearing the library than on cleansing the Augean stables.


Cad. It is in those libraries only, that the memory of your labor exists. The heroes of Marathon, the patriots of Thermopyla, owe their fame to me. All the wise institutions or lawgivers, and all the doctrines of sages, had perished in the ear like a dream related, if letters had not preserved them. O Hercules! it is not for the man who preferred virtue to pleasure, to be an enemy to the muses. Let Sardanapalus, and the silken sons of luxury, who have wasted life in inglorious ease, despise the records of action, which bear no honorable testimony to their lives: but true merit, heroic virtue, should respect the sacred source of lasting honor.


Her. Indeed, if writers employed themselves only in recording the acts of great men, much might be said in their favor. But why do they trouble people with their meditations? Can it be of any consequence to the world what an idle man has been thinking?

Cad. Yes it may. The most important and extensive ad

a Eu-rys'-the-us, the person employed by Juno, the step mother of Hercules, to task him in bazardous undertakings, in the hope of destroying him.

Pan-e-gyr'-ics, eulogy, formal praise. c Hy'-dra, a monster with many heads d Chi-me'-ra, a vain, idle fancy. ear-da-nap'-a-lus, king of Assyria.

vantages mankind enjoy, are greatly owing to men who have never quitted their closets. To them mankind are obliged for the facility and security of navigation. The invention of the compass has opened to them new worlds. The knowledge of the mechanical powers, has enabled them to construct such wonderful machines, as perform what the united labor of millions, by the severest drudgery, could not accomplish. Agriculture, too, the most useful of arts, has received its share of improvement from the same source. Poetry likewise is of excellent use, to enable the memory to retain with more ease, and to imprint with more energy upon the heart, precepts and examples of virtue. From the little root of a few letters, science has spread its branches over all nature, and raised its head to the heavens. Some philosophers have entered so far into the counsels of Divine Wisdom, as to explain much of the great operations of nature. The dimensions and distances of the planets, the causes of their revolutions, the paths of comets, and the ebbing and flowing of tides, are understood and explained. Can any thing raise the glory of the human species more, than to see a little creature, inhabiting a small spot amidst innumerable worlds, taking a survey of the universe, comprehending its arrangement, and entering into the scheme of that wonderful connexion and correspondence of things so remote, and which it seems a great exertion of Omnipotence to have established? What a volume of wisdom, what a noble theology" do these discoveries open to us? While some superior geniuses have soared to these sublime subjects, other sagacious and diligent minds have been inquiring into the most minute works of the Infinite Artificer: the same care, the same providence, is exerted through the whole; and we should learn from it, that, to true wisdom, utility and fitness appear perfection, and whatever is beneficial is noble.

Her. I approve of science as far as it is assistant to action. I like the improvement of navigation, and the discovery of the greater part of the globe, because it opens a wider field for the master spirits of the world to bustle in.

Cad. There spoke the soul of Hercules. But if learned men are to be esteemed for the assistance they give to active minds in their schemes, they are not less to be valued for their endeavors to give them a right direction, and moderate their too great ardor. The study of history will teach the legisla tor by what means states have become powerful; and in the private citizen, they will inculcate the love of liberty and order. The writings of sages point out a private path

a The ol'-o-gy, the science of Divinity.

In-cul-cate, to urge.

virtue; and show that the best empire is self-government, and that subduing our passions is the noblest of conquests. Her. The true spirit of heroism acts by a generous impulse, and wants neither the experience of history, nor the doctrines of philosophers to direct it. But do not arts and sciences render men effeminate, luxurious, and inactive? and can you deny that wit and learning are often made subservient to very bad purposes?

Cad. I will own that there are some natures so happily formed, they scarcely want the assistance of a master, and the rules of art, to give them force or grace in every thing they do. But these favored geniuses are few. As learning flourishes only where ease, plenty, and mild government subsist, in so rich a soil, and under so soft a climate, the weeds of luxury will spring up among the flowers of art: but the spontaneous weeds would grow more rank, if they were allowed the undisturbed possession of the field. Letters keep a frugal, temperate nation from growing ferocious, a rich one from becoming entirely sensual and debauched. Every gift of heaven is sometimes abused; but good sense and fine talents, by a natural law, gravitate toward virtue. Accidents may drive them out of their proper direction; but such accidents are an alarming omen, and of dire portent to the times. For if virtue cannot keep to her allegiance those men, who in their hearts confess her divine right, and know the value of her laws, on whose fidelity and obedience can she depend? May such geniuses never descend to flatter vice, encourage folly, or propagate irreligion; but exert all their powers in the service of virtue, and celebrate the noble choice of those, who like Hercules preferred her to pleasure!



Lord Bacon and Shakspeare.

Shakspeare. Near to Castalia there bubbles a fountain of petrifying water, wherein the Muses are wont to dip whatever posies have met the approval of Apollo; so that the slender foliage, which originally sprung forth in the cherishing brain of a true poet, becomes hardened in all its leaves, and glitters as if it were carved out of rubies and emeralds. The elements have afterwards no power over it.


Grav-i-tate, to tend to the center.
O'-men, a sign.

d Ba'-con, an English philosopher

e Shakspeare, an English poet.
Pet'-ri-fy-ing, hardning into stone
gA-pol-lo, a heathen deity.

« PreviousContinue »