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Over all these, they laid trunks of trees, cut purposely for that use, and flat boats over them, fastened and joined together, so as to serve for a floor, or solid bottom. When the whole work was thus completed, a day was appointed for their passing over; and, as soon as the first rays of the sun began to appear, sweet odours of all kinds were abundantly scattered over the new work, and the way was strewed with myrtle. At the same time, Xerxes, turning his face towards the east, worshipped the sun, which is the god of the Persians. Then, throwing his libations into the sea, together with a golden cup and Persian scimitar, he went forward, and gave orders for the army to follow.
This immense train were no less than seven days and seven nights passing over, while those who were appointed to conduct the march, quickened the troops by lashing them along; for the soldiers of the East, at that time, and to this day, are treated like slaves. Thus, this immense army having landed in Europe, and being joined by the several European nations that acknowledged the Persian power, Xerxes prepared for marching directly forward into Greece.
How blessed the sacred tie that binds
Nor shall the glowing flame expire ;
THE FIRST LESSON OF CYRUS.
It is reported of Cyrus, when young, that, being asked what was the first thing he learned, he answered, "To tell the truth ;” which is indeed, “though no science, fairly worth the seven.” When the wise men were commanded by the king, to declare what was the strongest power upon earth, such as exceeded even that of the monarch himself, they were all at a loss for an answer.
At last the prophet Daniel was consulted, who, being endowed with wisdom from on high, answered that truth was the strongest ; and supported his assertions by such weighty arguments, that nobody could controvert them. Thus his understanding was approved by the king, and all the sages were humbled in his presence.
Of all the qualities that adorn the human mind, truth is the most respectable. It is a rich, though a simple ornament; and he who is not possessed of it, let his rank and qualities be what they may, will be for ever despicable in the sight of the good and wise.
We are naturally led to dislike those who are always intent upon deceiving. Whereas, on the contrary, we make no scruple to confide in those who are sincere, because we know ourselves to be safe in their hands. They will be either constant friends, or open enemies; and, even if, through human frailty, they are sometimes led into errors, yet their generous acknowledgment of them makes amends, in a great degree, and is a good token of their avoiding them for the future.
“Where truth is found, bright virtue still resides,
PYRRHUS AND FABRICIUS. A treaty being on foot between the Romans and Pyrrhus, king of Macedon, for the exchange of prisoners, the latter, after having given a general audience to the ambassadors, took Fabricius aside, and thus conversed with him.
After telling him he was sensible of his merit, that he was convinced of his excellence as a general, and perfect qualifications for the command of an army; that justice and temperance were united in his character, and that he justly passed for a person of virtue ; he lamented the certainty of poverty, and said that fortune, in this particular, had treated him with injustice, by misplacing him in the class of indigent senators.
“In order, therefore, to supply that deficiency,” said Pyrrhus, “provided thou wilt assist me to negotiate an honourable peace, I am ready to give as much gold and silver as will raise thee above the richest citizen of Rome; being fully persuaded that no expense can be more honourable to a prince, than that which is employed in the relief of great men, who are compelled by their poverty to lead a life unworthy of their virtue, and that this is the noblest purpose to which a king can possibly devote his treasures.”
The answer of Fabricius was as follows:
“As to my poverty, thou hast, indeed, been rightly informed. My whole estate consists in a house, of but mean appearance, and a little spot of ground, from which, by my own labour, I draw my support.
“But, if any have been persuaded to think that this poverty makes me less considered in my country, or in any degree unhappy, they are extremely deceived." I have no reason to complain of Fortune; she supplies me with all that nature requires ; and, if I am without superfluities, I am also free from the desire of them.
“ With these, I confess, I should be more able to succour the necessitous, the only advantage for which the wealthy are to be envied. But, small as my possessions are, I can still contribute something to the support of the state, and the assistance of
friends. With regard to honours, my country places me, poor as I am, upon a level with the richest; for Rome knows no qualifications for great employments, but virtue and ability.
“ She intrusts me with the command of her armies, and confides to my care the most important negotiations. My poverty does not lessen the weight and influence of my counsels in the senate. The Roman people honour me for that very poverty which some consider as a disgrace. They know the many opportunities I have had in war to enrich myself, without incurring censure.
They are convinced of my disinterested zeal for their prosperity; and, if I have anything to complain of in the return they make, it is only the excess of their applause. What value, then, can I set on gold and silver? What king can add anything to my fortune ? Always attentive to discharge the duties incumbent on me, I have a mind free from self-reproach, and I have an honest fame.”
SO IS LIFE.
Like to the falling of a star,
THE UNGRATEFUL GUEST. A soldier in the Macedonian army had, in many instances, distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of valour, and had received many marks of Philip's favour and approbation. On some occasion, he embarked on board a vessel, which was wrecked by a violent storm, and he himself was cast on the shore helpless and naked, and scarcely with the appearance of life.
A Macedonian, whose lands were contiguous to the sea, came opportunely to be witness of his distress; and, with all humane and charitable tenderness, flew to the relief of the unhappy stranger.
He bore him to his house, laid him in his own bed, revived, cherished, comforted, and, for forty days, supplied him freely with all the necessaries and conveniences which his languishing condition could require.
The soldier, thus happily rescued from death, was incessant in the warmest expressions of gratitude to his benefactor, assured him of his interest with the king, and of his power and resolution of obtaining for him from the royal bounty, the noble returns which such extraordinary benevolence had merited. He was now completely recovered, and his kind host supplied him with money, to pursue his journey.
Some time afterwards, he presented himself before the king: he recounted his misfortunes ; magnified his services; and this inhuman wretch, who had looked with an eye of envy on the possessions of the man who had pre-, served his life, was now so abandoned to all sense of gratitude, as to request that the king would bestow upon him the house and lands, where he had been so tenderly and kindly entertained.
Unhappily, Philip, without examination, inconsiderately and precipitately granted his infamous request ; and this soldier, now returned to his preserver, repaid his goodness by driving him from his settlement, and taking immediate possession of all the fruits of his honest industry.
The poor man, stung with this instance of unparalleled ingratitude and insensibility, boldly determined, instead of submitting to his wrongs, to seek relief, and in a letter addressed to Philip, represented his own and the soldier's conduct in a lively and affecting manner.
The king was fired with indignation. He ordered that justice should be done without delay; that the possessions should be immediately restored to the man whose charitable offices had been thus horribly repaid ; and, having seized this soldier, caused these words to be branded on his forehead—“The Ungrateful Guest ;" a character, infamous in every age, and among all nations, but particularly among the Greeks, who, from the earliest times, were most scrupulously observant of the laws of hospitality.