« PreviousContinue »
hundreds of years ago, an eruption of an unusually violent kind took place in this mountain. Burning matter poured down its sides in various directions, destroying whole villages, and the air was thickened with falling cinders and ashes. The inhabitants of the neighbouring country fled for their lives, carrying with them the most valuable of their goods. Amongst these people, so careful of their wealth, were two young men named Anapias and Amphinomus, who bore a very different kind of burden on their backs. They carried only their aged parents, who by no other means could have been preserved.
The conduct of these youths excited great admiration. It chanced that they took a way which the burning matter did not touch, and which remained afterwards verdant, while all around was scorched and barren. The people, who were very ignorant, but possessed of good feelings, believed that this tract had been preserved by a miracle, in consequence of the goodness of the youths; and it was ever after called THE FIELD OF THE Pious.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT AND HIS MOTHER.
Even when parents are ill tempered and unreasonable, they should be treated with respect and forbearance by their children.
Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great, was a woman of an ambitious disposition, and occasioned much trouble to her son. Nevertheless, when pursuing his conquests in Asia, he sent her many splendid presents out of the spoils which he had taken, as tokens of his affection. He only begged that she would not meddle with state affairs, but allow his kingdom to be managed peaceably by his governor Antipater. When she sent him a sharp reply to this request, he bore it submissively, and did not use sharp language in return. On one occasion, when she had been unusually troublesome, Antipater sent him letters, complaining of her in very grievous terms. Alexander only said, “ Antipater doth not know that one single tear of my mother is able to blot out six hundred of his epistles.”
Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, having rung his bell one day, and nobody answering, opened the door where his servant was usually in waiting, and found him asleep on a sofa. He was going to awake him, when he perceived the end of a billet or letter hanging out of his pocket. Having a curiosity to know its contents, he took it and read it, and found it was a letter from the page's mother, thanking him for having sent her a part of his wages to assist her in her distress, and concluding with beseeching God to bless him for his attention to her wants. The king returned softly to his room, took a roller of ducats, and slid them with the letter into the page's pocket. Returning to his apartment, he rang so violently that the page awoke, opened
the door, and entered. “ You have slept well,” said the king. The page made an apology, and in his embarrassment happened to put his hand in his pocket, and felt with astonishment the roller. He drew it out, turned pale, and looking at the king, burst out into tears, without being able to speak a word. “What is the matter ?" asked the king; “what ails
“Ah! sir,” said the young man, throwing himself at his feet, “ somebody has wished
to ruin me. I know not how I came by this money in my pocket.” “My friend," said Frederick, “God often sends us good in our sleep: send the money to your mother; salute her in my name; and assure her that I shall take care of her and you."
THE PORTUGUESE BROTHERS.
In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese carracks sailed from Lisbon to Goa, a very great, rich, and flourishing colony of that nation in the East Indies. On board of one of these vessels there were no less than twelve hundred souls, mariners, passengers, priests, and friars. The beginning of their voyage was prosperous; but after they had doubled the southern extremity of the great continent of Africa, called the Cape of Good Hope, and were steering their course north-east, to the great continent of India, the ship struck upon a rock, which shattered its bottom, and permitted the water to come in, so that it could not fail soon to go to the bottom. The pinnace, a small vessel carried on board the larger, was now launched by the captain, who threw into it a bag of biscuit, and some boxes of marmalade. He then jumped in, with nineteen others, who, with their swords, prevented the coming in of any more, lest the boat should sink. In this condition they put off into the great Indian Ocean, without a compass to steer by, or any fresh water but what might chance to fall from the heavens. The ship, it is supposed, soon after sank, with the many unfortunate persons
whom it contained. Those in the pinnace rowed to and fro four days in the most miserable condition, when the captain, who had for some time been in weak health, died. This added, if possible, to the distress of the rest, for now they fell into confusion : every one would govern, and none would obey. At length they agreed to elect one of their number to the command, and to follow his directions.
This person proposed to the company to draw lots, and to cast every fourth man overboard, that their small stock of provisions might last a little longer. They were now nineteen persons in all, in which number were a friar and a carpenter, both of whom they agreed to exempt, as the one was useful to comfort them in their last extremity, and the other to repair the pinnace, in case of a leak, or other accident. The same compliment they paid to their new captain, he being the odd man, and his life of much consequence. He refused their indulgence a great while; but at last they obliged him to acquiesce, so there were four to die out of the sixteen remaining persons.
The first three, after having performed the rites of their religion, submitted to their fate. The fourth was a Portuguese gentleman who had a younger brother in the boat, who, seeing the elder about to be thrown overboard, most tenderly embraced him, and with tears in his eyes begged to be allowed to die in his room. His brother, he said, had a wife and children, besides three sisters, depending on him, while he himself was single, and therefore his life was of much less consequence. The elder brother, astonished and
THE PORTUGUESE BROTHERS.
melted by this generosity, answered, that it would be wicked and unjust to permit any other to die for him, especially a brother to whom he was so infinitely obliged. The younger, persisting in his purpose, would take no denial; but, throwing himself on his knees, held his brother so fast that the company could not disengage them. Thus they disputed for a while, the elder brother bidding him be a father to his children, and recommending his wife to his protection, and, as he would inherit his estate, to take care of their sisters; but all he could say could not make the younger desist. At last the resolve of the elder yielded to the generous wishes of the other, who was thrown into the sea in his stead.
Being a good swimmer, the young man soon overtook the pinnace, and laid hold of the rudder with one of his hands, when a sailor, with a cutlass, chopped off the hand, and he dropped back into the sea. Then collecting his strength, he laid hold of the boat with the other hand, which the sailor in like manner cut off. Nevertheless, he still made shift to keep himself above water with his feet and two stumps, which he held bleeding upwards. This spectacle, with the consideration of his fraternal affection, so moved the pity of the company, that they cried out, “He is but one man; let us endeavour to save his life;" and he was accordingly taken into the boat, where he had his hands bound up as well as the place and circumstances could permit. They rowed all that night, and next morning, when the sun arose, they descried land, which proved to be the mountains of Mozambique in Africa, not far from a Portuguese colony. There they all arrived safe, and remained until the next ship from Lisbon passed by and carried them to Goa.
At that city, Linschoten, a writer of good credit, assures us that he himself saw them land, supped with the two brothers that very night, beheld the younger with his stumps, and had the story from both their mouths, as well as from the rest of the company.
Who fed me from her gentle breast,
My Mother. Who sat and watch'd
infant head, When sleeping in my cradle bed, And tears of sweet affection shed?
My Mother. When pain and sickness made me cry, Who gazed upon my heavy eye, And wept for fear that I should die?
My Mother. Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the part to make it well ?
My Mother. Who taught my infant lips to pray, To love God's holy word and day, And walk in wisdom's pleasant way?
My Mother. And can I ever cease to be Affectionate and kind to thee, Who wast so very kind to me?
My Mother. Oh no! the thought I cannot bear: And, if God please my life to spare, I hope I shall reward thy care,
My Mother. When thou art feeble, old, and grey, My healthy arm shall be thy stay, And I will soothe thy pains away,