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disaster, was the first that fled; on the contrary, he continued on the field as long as one battalion or squadron stood their ground; but, at last, having received a wound in the shoulder, he retired upon his elephant, and was easily distinguished from the rest, by the greatness of his stature, and his unparalleled bravery.
Alexander, finding who he was, by those glorious marks, and being desirous of saving this king, sent Taxilus after him, because he was of the same nation. The latter advanced as near to him as he could, without running any danger of being wounded, called out to him to stop, in order to hear the message he had brought from Alexander. Porus turning back, and seeing it was Taxilus, his old enemy, “How !” says he, “is it Taxilus that calls ; that traitor to his country and kingdom ?” Immediately after which, he would have transfixed him with his dart, had he not instantly retired. Notwithstanding this, Alexander was still desirous of saving so brave a prince; and despatched other officers, among whom was Meroë, one of his intimate friends, who besought him, in the strongest terms, to wait upon a conqueror altogether worthy of him. After much entreaty, Porus consented, and accordingly returned. Alexander, who had been told of his coming, advanced forward, in order to receive him, with some of his train. Having approached pretty near, Alexander stopped, purposely, to take a view of his stature and noble mien, he being about five cubits in height.
Porus did not seem dejected at his misfortune; but came up with a resolute countenance, like a valiant warrior, whose courage in defending his dominions ought to acquire him the esteem of the brave prince who had taken him prisoner. Alexander spoke first; and, with an august and gracious air, asked him how he desired to be treated ? “ Like a king,” replied Porus. “But,” continued Alexander, “do you ask nothing more?” “No," replied Porus ; "all things are included in that single word.”
Struck with the greatness of his soul, the magnanimity of which seemed heightened by distress, Alexander not only restored him his kingdom, but annexed other provinces to it, and treated him with the highest testimonies of honour, esteem, and friendship. Porus was faithful to him till his death. It is hard to say whether the victor or the vanquished best deserved praise on this occasion.
THE BLIND BOY.
O say, what is that thing called light,
Which I must ne'er enjoy ?
O tell your poor blind boy!
You say the sun shines bright;
Or make it day or night?
Whene'er 1 sleep or play ;
With me 'twere always day.
You mourn my hapless wo;
A loss I ne'er can know.
My cheer of mind destroy ;
Although a poor blind boy,
DAMON AND PYTHIAS.
When Damon was sentenced by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to die on a certain day, he begged permission to retire previous to his execution to his own country, that he might set in order the affairs of his disconsolate family. This the tyrant intended peremptorily to refuse, by granting it on what he conceived to be the impossible condition of his procuring some one to remain as security for his return, under equal forfeiture of his life.
Pythias, who was the friend of Damon, heard the conditions, and did not wait for an application on the part of the latter, but instantly offered to remain in his place ; which being accepted, Damon was immediately set at liberty. The king and all the courtiers were astonished
at this action ; and therefore, when the day of execution drew near, the tyrant had the curiosity to visit Pythias in his confinement.
After some conversation on the subject of friendship, in which the tyrant delivered it as his opinion, that self interest was the sole mover of human actions; as for virtue, friendship, benevolence, patriotism, and the like, he looked upon them as terms invented by the wise to keep in awe, and impose upon the weak.
“My lord,” said Pythias, with a firm voice and noble aspect, “I would it were possible that I might suffer a thousand deaths, rather than my friend should fail in any article of his honour! He cannot fail therein, my lord; I am as confident of his virtue, as I am of my own exist
But I pray, I beseech the gods to preserve the life and the integrity of Damon together.
“ Oppose him, ye winds! prevent the eagerness and impatience of his honourable endeavours, and suffer him not to arrive, till, by my death, I have redeemed a life a thousand times more valuable than my own; more estimable to his lovely wife, to his innocent children, to his friends, and to his country. O, leave me not to die the worst of deaths in that of my friend!”
Dionysius was awed and confounded by the dignity of these sentiments, and by the manner in which they were uttered; he felt his heart struck by a slight sense of invading truth ; but it served rather to perplex than to undeceive him. The fatal day arrived. Pythias was brought forth, and walked amidst the guards, with a serious but satisfied air, to the place of execution. Dionysius was already there; he was exalted on a moveable throne, drawn by six
; white horses, and sat pensive and attentive to the prisoner.
Pythias came; he vaulted lightly on the scaffold, and beholding for a time the apparatus of death, he turned, with a placid countenance, and thus addressed the spectators: “ My prayers are heard; the gods are propitious. You know, my friends, that the winds have been contrary till yesterday. Damon could not come; he could not conquer impossibilities ; he will be here to-morrow, and the blood which is shed to-day shall have ransomed the life of
“Oh! could I erase from your mean suspicion of the honour of the man for whom I am
about to suffer, I should go to my death with as much joy as to a marriage feast. Be it sufficient, in the meantime, that my
friend will be found noble; that his truth is unimpeachable; that he will speedily prove it; that he is now on his way, hurrying forward, accusing himself, the adverse elements, and fortune ; but I haste to prevent his speed.—Executioner! perform your duty.”
As he pronounced the last words, a buzz began to arise among the remotest of the people; a distant voice was heard; the crowd caught the words, and,“ Stop, stop the execution,” was repeated by the whole assembly. A man came at full speed; the throng gave way to his approach; he was mounted on a courser that almost flew; in an instant, he was off his horse, on the scaffold, and in the arms of Pythias.
“You are safe," he cried, “my friend! my dearest friend! the gods be praised, you are safe! I have now nothing but death to suffer, and am delivered from the anguish of those reproaches which I gave myself for having endangered a life so much dearer than my own." Pale, cold, and half speechless in the arms of his Damon, Pythias replied in broken accents, “Fatal haste!—Cruel impatience ! -What envious powers have wrought impossibilities in
But I will not be wholly disappointed. Since I cannot die to save, I will not survive you.'
Dionysius heard, beheld, and considered all with astonishment. His heart was touched; he wept, and leaving his throne, he ascended the scaffold. “Live, live, ye incomparable pair!” he cried; "ye have borne unquestionable testimony to the existence of virtue ; and that virtue equally evinces the existence of a God to reward it. Live happy; live renowned; and, oh, form me by your precepts, as ye have instructed me by your example, to be worthy the participation of so sacred a friendship.”
VANITY OF HUMAN PURSUITS.
I see that all are wanderers, gone astray,
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
XERXES CROSSES THE HELLESPONT.
Xerxes had given orders for building a bridge of boats across the Hellespont, for the transporting of his army into Europe. This narrow strait, which now goes by the name of the Dardanelles, is nearan English mile over. However, soon after the completion of this work, a violent storm arising, the whole was broken and destroyed, and the labour was to be undertaken anew.
The fury of Xerxes, upon this disappointment, was attended with equal extravagance and cruelty. His vengeance knew no bounds, the workmen who had undertal the task, had their he struck off by his order; and, that the sea also might know its duty, he ordered it to be lashed, as a delinquent, and a pair of fetters thrown into it, to curb its future irregularities.
Having thus given vent to his absurd resentment, two bridges were ordered to be built in the place of the former, one for the army to pass over, and the other for the baggage and beasts of burden. The workmen, now warned by the fate of their predecessors, undertook to give their labours greater stability. They placed three hundred and sixty vessels across the strait, some of them having three banks of oars, and others fifty oars apiece. They then cast large anchors, on both sides, into the water, in order to fix those vessels against the violence of the winds and current. They then drove large piles into the earth, with huge rings fastened to them, to which were tied six vast cables, which went over each of the two bridges.