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THE OLD MAN AND HIS ASS.
An old man and a little boy were driving an ass to the next market to sell. What a fool is this fellow, says a man upon the road, to be trudging it on foot with his son, that his ass may go light! The old man, hearing this, set his boy upon the ass, and went whistling by the side of him. Why, sirrah! cries a second man to the boy, is it fit for you to be riding, while your poor old father is walking on foot? The father, upon this rebuke, took down his boy from the ass, and mounted himself. Do you see, says a third, how the lazy old knave rides along upon his beast, while his poor little boy is almost crippled with walking! The old man no sooner heard this, than he fook up his son behind him. Pray, honest friend, says a fourth, is that ass your own? Yes, says the man. One would not have thought so, replied the other, by your loading him so unmercifully. You and your son are better able to carry the poor beast, than he you. Any thing to please, says the owner; and alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the ass together, and by the help of a pole endeavoured to carry him upon their shoulders over the bridge that led to the town. This was so entertaining a sight, that the people ran in crowds to laugh at it; till the ass, conceiving a dislike to the over-complaisance of his mas. ter, burst ásunder the 'cords that tied him, slipped from the pole, and tumbled into the river. The poor old man made the best of his way home, ashamed and vexed, that by endeavouring to please every body, he had pleased nobody, and lost his ass into the bargain.
THE CHOICE OF HERCULES.
Wuen Hercules was in that part of his youth, in whicla it was natural for him to consider what course of life le
ought to pursue, he one day retired into a desert, where the silence and solitude of the place very much favoured his meditations. As he was musing on bis present condition, and very much perplexed in himself on the state of life he should choose, he saw two women of a larger stature than ordinary approaching toward him. One of them had a very noble air, and graceful deportment: her beauty was natural and easy,
person clean and unspotted, her eyes cast toward the ground with an agreeable reserve, her motion and behaviour full of modesty, and her raiment as white as snow. The other had a great deal of health and floridness in her countenance, which she had helped with an artificial white and red; and endeavoured to appear more graceful than ordinary in her mien, by a mixture of affectation in all her gestures. She had a wonderful confidence and assurance in her looks, and all the variety of colours in her dress, that she thought were the most proper to show her complexion to advantage. She cast her eyes upon herself, then turned them on those that were present, to see how they liked her, and often looked on the figure she made in her shadow. Upon her nearer approach to Hercules, she stepped before the other lady, who came forward with a regular composed carriage, and running up to him, accosted him after the following manner:
My dear Hercules, says she, I find you are very much divided in your own thoughts upon the way of life that you ought to choose : be my friend, and follow me; I will lead you into the possession of pleasure, and out of the reach of pain, and remove you from all the noise and disquietude of business. The affairs of either war or peace shall have no power to disturb you. Your whole employment shall be to make your
easy, and to entertain every sense with it's proper gratifications. Sumptuous tables, beds of roses, clouds of perfumes, concerts of music, crowds of beauties, are all in readiness to receive you. Come along with me into this region of delights, this world of pleasure, and bid farewel for ever to care, to pain, to business.
Hercules hearing the lady talk after this manner, desired to know her name; to which she answered, my friends, and those who are well acquainted with me, call me Happiness; but my enemies, and those who would injure my reputation, have given me the name of Pleasure.
By this time the other lady was come up, who addressed herself to the young hero in a very different manner.
Hercules, says she, I offer myself to you, because I know you are descended from the Gods, and give proofs of that descent by your love to virtue, and application to the studies proper for your age. This makes me hope you will gain, both for yourself and me, an immortal reputation. But before I invite you into my society and friendship, I will be open and sincere with you, and must lay down this as an established truth, that there is nothing truly valuable, which can be purchased without pains and labour. The Gods have set a price upon every real and noble pleasure. If you would gain the favour of the Deity, you must be at the pains of worshipping him; if the friendship of good men, you must study to oblige them; if you would be honoured by your country, you must take care to serve it. In short, if you would be eminent in war or peace, you must become' master of all the qualifications that can niake you so.
These are the only terms and conditions, upon which I can propose happiness. The Goddess of Pleasure here broke in upon her discourse : You see, said she, Hercules, by her own confession, the way to her pleasures is long and difficult, wliereas that which I propose is short and easy. Alas! said the other lady, whose visage glowed with pässion made up of scorn and pity, what are the pleasures you propose! To eat before you are hungry, drink before you are athirst, sleep before you are tired : to gratify appetites before they are raised, and raise such appetites as nature never planted. You never heard the most delicious music, which is the praise of one's self; or saw the most beatiful object, which is the work of one's own hands. Your votaries pass away their youth in a dream of mistaken pleasures, while they are hoarding up anguish, torment, and remorse for old age.
As for me, I am the friend of Gods, and of good men, an agreeable companion to the artizan, a household guardian to the fathers of families, a patron and protector of servants, an associate of all true and generous friendships. The banquets of
my votaries are never costly, but always delicious; for none eat or drink at them, who are not invited by hunger and thirst. Their slumbers are sound, and their wakings cheerful. My young men have the pleasure of hearing themselves praised by those who are in years, and those who are in years, of being honoured by those who are young. In a word, my followers are favoured by the Gods, beloved by their acquaintance, esteemed by their country, and, after the close of their labours, honoured by posterity.
We know, by the life of this memorable hero, to which of these two ladies he gave up his heart; and, I believe, every one who reads this, will do him the justice to approve his choice.
In the happy period of the golden age, when all the celestial inhabitants descended to the earth, and conversed familiarly with mortals, among the most cherished of the heavenly powers were twins, the offspring of Jupiter, Love and Joy." Wherever they appeared, the flowers sprung up beneath their feet, the sun shone with a brighter radiance, and all nature seemed embellished by their presence. They were inseparable companions, and their growing attachment was favoured by Jupiter, who had decreed that a lasting union should be solemnized between them, so soon as they were arrived at maturer years. But in the mean time the sons of men deviated from their native innocence; Vice and Ruin overran the earth with giant strides; and Astrea, with her train of celestial visitants, forsook their polluted abodes. Love alone remained, having been stolen away by Hope, who was his nurse, and conveyed by her to the forests of Arcadia, where he was brought up among the shepherds. But Jupiter assigned him a different partner, and commanded him to espouse Sorrow, the daughter of Atè. He complied with reluctance; for her features were harsh and disagreeable, her eyes sunk, her forehead contracted into perpetual wrinkles, and lier temples were covered with a wreath of cypress
and worm wood. From this union sprung a virgin, in whom might be traced a strong resemblance to both
her parents ; but the sullen and unamiable features of her mother were so mixed and blended with the sweetness of her father, that her countenance, though mournful, was highly pleasing. The maids and shepherds of the neighbouring plains gathered round, and called her Pity. A red breast was observed to build in the cabin where she was born; and while she was yet an infant, a dove pursued by a hawk flew into her bosom. This nymph had a dejected appearance, but so soft and gentle a mien, that she was beloved to a degree of enthusiasın. Her voice was low and plaintive, but inexpressibly sweet; and she loved to lie for hours together on the banks of some wild and melancholy stream, singing to her lute. She taught men to weep, for she took a strange delight in tears ; and often, when the virgins of the hamlet were assembled at their evening sports, she would steal in among them, and captivate their hearts by her tales full of a charming sadness. She wore on her head a garland composed of her father's myrtles twisted with her
mother's cy: press.
One day as she sat musing by the waters of Helicon, her tears by chance fell into the fountain ; and ever since the Muses' spring has retained a strong taste of the infusion. Pity was commanded by Jupiter to follow the steps of her mother through the world, dropping balm into the wounds she made, and binding up the hearts she had broken. She follows with her hair loose, her bosom bare and throbbing, ber garments torn by the briers, and her feet bleeding with the roughness of the path. The nymph is mortal, for her mother is so; and when she has filled her destined course upon the earth, they shall both expire together, and Love be again united to Joy, his immortal and long-betrothed bride.
THE DEAD ASS.
And this, said he, putting the remains of a crust into his wallet-and this should have been thy portion, said he, hadst thou been alive to have shared it with me. I thought,