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In this mansion of horror, laying his head upon an inverted urn, he forgot his miseries for a while in sleep; and virtue found on this flinty couch more ease than down can supply to the guilty.
It was midnight, when two robbers came to make this cave their retreat, but happening to disagree about the division of their plunder, one of them stabbed the other to the heart, and left him weltering in blood at the entrance. In these circumstances he was found next morning, and this naturally induced a further inquiry. The alarm was spread, the cave was examined, Alcander was found sleeping, and immediately apprehended and accused of robbery and murder. The circumstances against him were strong, and the wretchedness of his appearance confirmed suspicion. Misfortune and he were now so long acquainted, that he at last became regardless of life. He detested a world where he had found only ingratitude, falsehood, and cruelty, and was determined to make no defence. Thus lowering with resolution, he was dragged, bound with cords, before the tribunal of Septimius. The proofs were positive against him, and he offered nothing in his own vindication; the judge, therefore, was proceeding to doom him to a most cruel and ignominious death, when, as if illumined by a ray from Heaven, he discovered, through all his misery, the features, though dim with sorrow, of his long-lost, loved Alcander. It is impossible to describe his joy and his pain on this strange occasion; happy in once more seeing the person he most loved on earth, distressed at finding him in such circumstances. Thus agitated by contending passions, he flew from his tribunal, and
falling on the neck of his dear benefactor, burst into an agony of distress. The attention of the mul titude was soon, however, divided by another object. The robber, who had been really guilty, was apprehended selling his plunder, and, struck with a panic, confessed his crime. He was brought bound to the same tribunal, and acquitted every other person of any partnership in his guilt. Need the sequel be related? Alcänder was acquitted, shared the friendship and the honours of his friend Septimius, lived afterwards in happiness and ease, and left it to be engraved on his tomb, "That no circumstances are so desperate which Providence may not relieve."
A LETTER FROM A TRAVELLER.
Cracow, Aug. 2, 1758.
MY DEAR WILL,
You see by the date of my letter that I am arrived in Poland. When will my wanderings be at an end? When will my restless disposition give me leave to enjoy the present hour? When at Lyons, I thought all happiness lay beyond the Alps; when in Italy, I found myself still in want of something, and expected to leave solicitude behind me by going into Romelia, and now you find me turning back, still expecting ease every where but where I am. It is now seven years since I saw the face of a single creature who cared a farthing whether I was dead or alive. Secluded from all the comforts of confi
dence, friendship, or society, I feel the solitude of an hermit, but not his ease.
The prince of *** has taken me in his train, so that I am in no danger of starving for this bout. The prince's governor is a rude ignorant pedant, and his tutor a battered rake: thus, between two such characters, you may imagine he is finely instructed. I made some attempts to display all the little knowledge I had acquired by reading or observation; but I find myself regarded as an ignorant intruder. The truth is, I shall never be able to acquire a power of expressing myself with ease in any language but my own; and out of my own country the highest character I can ever acquire is that of being a philosophic vagabond.
When I consider myself in the country which was once so formidable in war, and spread terror and desolation over the whole Roman empire, I can hardly account for the present wretchedness and pusillanimity of its inhabitants; a prey to every invader; their cities plundered without an enemy; their magistrates seeking redress by complaints, and not by vigour. Every thing conspires to raise my compassion for their miseries, were not my thoughts too busily engaged by my own. The whole kingdom is in a strange disorder: when our equipage, which consists of the prince and thirteen attendants, had arrived at some towns, there were no conveniences to be found, and we were obliged to have girls to conduct us to the next. I have seen a woman travel thus on horseback before us for thirty miles, and think herself highly paid, and make twenty reverences, upon receiving, with ec
stasy, about two-pence for her trouble. In general we were better served by the women than the men on those occasions. The men seem directed by a low sordid interest alone; they seemed mere machines, and all their thoughts were employed in the care of their horses. If we gently desired them to make more speed, they took not the least notice; kind language was what they had by no means been used to. It was proper to speak to them in the tones of anger, and sometimes it was even necessary to use blows to excite them to their duty. How different these from the common people of England, whom a blow might induce to return the affront sevenfold! These poor people, however, from being brought up to vile usage, lose all the respect which they should have for themselves. They have contracted a habit of regarding constraint as the great rule of their duty. When they were treated with mildness, they no longer continued to perceive a superiority. They fancied themselves our equals, and a continuance of our humanity might probably have render them insolent; but the imperious tone, menaces, and blows, at once changed their sensations and their ideas: their ears and shoulders taught their souls to shrink back into servitude, from which they had for some moments fancied themselves disengaged.
The enthusiasm of liberty an Englishman feels is never so strong as when presented by such prospects as these. I must own, in all my indigence, it is one of my comforts, (perhaps, indeed, it is my only boast,) that I am of that happy country; though I scorn to starve there; though I do not choose to
lead a life of wretched dependence, or be an object for my former acquaintance to point at. While you enjoy all the ease and elegance of prudence and virtue, your old friend wanders over the world, without a single anchor to hold by, or a friend except you to confide in.
A SHORT ACCOUNT
OF THE LATE M. MAUPERTUIS.
M. MAUPERTUIS, lately deceased, was the first to whom the English philosophers owed their being particularly admired by the rest of Europe. The romantic system of Des Cartes was adapted to the taste of the superficial and the indolent: the foreign universities had embraced it with ardour, and such are seldom convinced of their errors, till all others give up such false opinions as untenable. The philosophy of Newton, and the metaphysics of Locke, appeared; but, like all new truths, they were at once received with opposition and contempt. The English, it is true, studied, understood, and consequently admired them; it was very different on the Continent. Fontenelle, who seemed to preside over the republic of letters, unwilling to acknowledge that all his life had been spent in erroneous philosophy, joined in the universal disapprobation, and the English philosophers seemed entirely unknown.
Maupertuis, however, made them his study; he thought he might oppose the physics of his country,