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to have been satisfied, and then a feeling of compassion arises. This is praiseworthy, in comparison with habitual or insatiable cruelty. When Antigonus was presented with the head of his enemy, Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, he wept. And when the head of Pompey was shown to Cæsar, he turned aside with disgust and sorrow.
The appetite of man, superstition, and other influences, have occasioned cruelty. Is it not shameful that a man should occasion the sufferings of others for the purpose of increasing his pleasures? Yet thus, by such barbarous persons, lobsters are boiled alive, cod are crimped, turkeys are crammed, geese are nailed to a board by the webs of the feet, in order to increase the size of their livers ! In some countries the inhabitants have fed upon human beings. Captain Cook says, that Maquinna, a chief in Nootka Sound, killed a slave every month for the purpose of drinking his blood! Bruce has related, and his account has been confirmed by subsequent travellers, that in Abyssinia the inhabitants cut off slices from the body of a living animal, and eat it while it is quivering with life! But, even in this country, eels are brutally skinned while living, to the everlasting disgrace of those inhuman housekeepers who patronise the practice. Superstition has tortured brutes and human beings for the purpose of sacrifice. Macrianus, a prefect of Egypt, was fondly attached to the superstitions of that country; and, in celebrating the orgies of that obscene and cruel religion, he put to death a vast number of infants! When Gelon, king of Syracuse, made a treaty of peace with the Carthaginians, he very humanely insisted on the abolition of infanticide; and Mahomed accomplished a similar reformation among the Arabians and Persians: thus exhibiting the truth of the aphorism, that every evil is attended with some advantage. In China, in India, and in Africa, thousands of children have been sacrificed to the gods. In many of the South Sea islands, among the Eareeoie society (at the time of Cook's visit), the women destroyed all their infants, by putting a bit of cloth, dipped in water, over the mouth and nostrils — a great resemblance to the modern system of burking. A cruel superstition has induced children to murder their aged parents, or to leave them to the rapacity of wild beasts. In India, it has made tender females burn themselves to a cinder, in conformity with a foolish custom. All public occurrences, and especially the funerals of great men, have been attended by acts of cruelty. When the Scythians interred a king, they massacred a great number of his household. Sometimes they encircled the sepulchre with forty or fifty pages on horseback, whom they brutally impaled, riders and horses, and left in that condition until they were dead, and their bodies
A disposition for brutality, as it has been already observed, will generally increase. Nero began his diabolical career by catching flies and torturing them. This monster caused several houses to be lighted up in the city of Rome for his amusement; and when the flames began to spread, and when the safety of the whole city was endangered, he leaped for joy! After a short period, the finer sensibilities of the mind are destroyed, and the heart becomes callous. When Charles XII. was killed, Megret, one of his officers, exclaimed, as he looked upon the dead body, — “ Voilà la pièce finie; allons souper !” — The farce is now over; let us go to supper! When Don Carlos, the son of Philip II., had been sentenced to death by his brutal father, the executioner entered with a cord for the purpose of strangling him. Don Carlos began to exclaim bitterly against his unnatural parent; when the man coolly replied to him,« Do not put yourself in a passion, my young master; it is all for your good!”
Cruelty and excellence were never yet united. No thoughtful person could indulge this barbarous feeling. “ No two things,” observes Landor, “ have less affinity than violence and reflection.” - " If a man be compassionate,” says Lord Bacon, 5 towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree which is wounded itself when it gives the balm.”
A person should avoid the two extremes of sensibility and brutal indifference. The former is cruelty to the possessor, the latter is cruelty to others. The middle principle, which allows the operation of mercy with judgment, and compassion without excessive feeling, increases, rather than diminishes, the satisfaction of the possessor, while it benefits society.
ON FORGIVENESS AND REVENGE.
FORGIVENESS is a duty which has been enjoined only by the Christian religion. Retaliation was the spirit of the heathen and the Jewish laws. There have been eminent instances of forgiveness among sensible men of all ages, but these have been exceptions to the general rule: these persons were influenced by better principles than the religious institutions of their country demanded. Milton has beautifully represented a forgiving spirit in Adam. After Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, and thus, in an evil hour, had brought
“ Death into the world, and all our woe,” Adam does not severely condemn her, but he merely chides her with forgiving language,
66 Would thou had hearken’d to my words, and stay'd
With me, as I besought thee!” The case of Joseph is beautifully illustrative of a forgiving spirit; and, as it might have been expected, he who came as an example for men, that they might walk in his steps, has exhibited the sublimest illustration of patience under indignity, and forgiveness of injury, which this world has ever beheld.
Forgiveness is a magnanimous contempt of wrongs. The soul rises above the evils to which it is exposed. As the eagle wings its way among the breakers, and is sprinkled by the foam, but rises above it unconcerned, and directs his course to the bright heavens, glittering with the drops of the boisterous waters, so the mind, in which forgiveness is seated as a principle, is calm and tranquil amidst the storms and the insults of life: it mounts upwards to the fountain of all beneficence, and finds at last its home in heaven.
A forgiving disposition is generally produced by the influence of reason or piety. A man practises it because he perceives it to be most contributive to happiness, most noble, or most pleasing to God. It sometimes arises from a feeling of pity towards the offender; a belief that the wrong was unintentional; that it was the result of ignorance; or, if it be fancied that it was the result of malice, it is wisely considered that the malicious person is his own foe, that he brings upon himself the condemnation of Heaven, which is a sufficient punishment. The feeling of revenge is, therefore, changed into one of interest for the welfare of the offender. It may be produced by a reference to self — to the advantages which are enjoyed. A person may conceive that the injury is trifling; and, as Providence has favoured him with many blessings, the deprivation of this may be unimportant. If it relate to honour, he is aware that he receives as much regard from his fellow-creatures as his own advantage would demand; if to wealth, he has enough for the enjoyment of life; if to reputation, he is convinced that his good name has maintained
to one of ifeeling of revbich is a sufficif the com