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MENALCUS AND ALEXIS.
old. Fourscore years had already bow'd his head. The silver hairs shadow'd his forehead, and a snowy beard flowed o'er his breast. A staff secur'd his tottering steps. As he who after the labours of a fair summer's day, in the cool evening sits down content, and thanks the gods, waiting for peaceful slumbers-so MENALCUS consecrated the remainder of his days to repose, and to the worship of the gods; for he had pass'd his life in labour and beneficence, and therefore, tranquil and resign'd, he waited for the slumbers of the grave.
MENALCUS saw blessings diffused among his children. He had given them numerous flocks, and fruitful pastures. Full of tender anxiety, they each one strove to cheer his latter days, and to repay the cares he had taken of their tender years. 'Tis a duty that the gods never leave unrecompensed. Often, seated at his cottage-door, in the sun's gentle warmth, he survey'd his gardens, cultivated with the greatest care, and far distant off the labours and the riches of the fields. With an affable and courteous air, he engaged the passenger to sit down by him; gladly he heard the news of neighbouring villages, and was pleased to learn of strangers the manners and the customs of far distant countries.
His children, and his childrens' children, came playing about him; the most delightful amusement of his age. The judge of their diversions, he decided their trifling disagreements. He taught them to be just, mild, and compassionate to men, and to the least of animals. With the various sports he learnt them, still he mix'd some simple and affecting truth. He made for them the instruments of their diversions. They came incessantly crying to him-O, now make us this-and then that. When they had got them, they threw their arms around his neck; they leap'd for joy, while the old man smil'd at their transports. He taught them to cut the reeds into pipes and whistles. He instructed them to call the sheep and goats to the pasture, and back again to the fold. He composed songs for them, which were sung by the youngest, accompanied on the pipe by the eldest. At other times, he told them some affecting story; then they all sat round him on the ground, or on the threshold of the door, with their mouths half open, and their eyes fix'd upon his lips.
One day, as he was sitting at the entrance of his cottage, refreshing himself in the morning sun, no one was with him but his grandson ALEXIS. The lovely youth had not yet seen fourteen winters. The roses of the spring of life and health bloom'd on his cheeks, while locks of gold flowed o'er his shoulders. The old man entertained him with discourses on the happiness of doing good to mankind, and of relieving the indigent. There is no
pleasure, he said, can equal that we feel after a virtuous action. The brilliant charms of AURORA, -the sweet setting of the sun-the moon, that pierces through the sable veil of night-all fill the heart with delicious sensations. But that which beneficence inspires-O, my son, is far, far more delicious! Tears of joy and tenderness bedew'd the cheeks of young ALEXIS. The old man saw them with transport-You weep, my child, he said, fixing his eyes tenderly on him; surely my discourse alone could not cause these tears! There is something in thy heart that makes them flow.
ALEXIS wip'd the drops from his rosy cheeksbut his eyes still fill'd with fresh tears. Oh, I know-yes, I feel that nothing is so sweet as doing good.
MENALCUS was affected; he press'd the youth's hand in his, and said-I see by thy countenance, I read in thine eyes, that thy mind is affected, and that it is not merely by what I have said.
The young shepherd, abash'd, turn'd away his face. Was not your discourse affecting enough to cover my cheeks with tears?
I see, my child, replied MENALCUS-I see that you hide from me, perhaps for the first time, that which makes thy bosom pant, and even now stands upon thy lips.
Well, then, said ALEXIS, restraining his tears, I will tell you all; which, but for you, I shou'd have conceal'd for ever at the bottom of my heart.Have I not learnt from you, that he who boasts of
the good he does is but good by halves? It was for that reason I would have conceal'd from you what made my heart throb-what convinced me so pleasingly that the satisfaction of doing good is the most delicious pleasure of our lives. One of our sheep had stray'd; I went to seek it on the hills, when I heard a voice! I crept to the part from whence the voice came, and I perceiv'd a man. He took from his shoulders a heavy burden, and, sighing, laid it on the ground. "I cannot-no, he said, I cannot go any further. How full of bitterness are my days! A scanty and wretched subsistence is all I obtain by my labour. Many hours have I wander'd, loaded with this burden, amidst the noon-day's heat, and I can find no spring to quench my thirst; no tree-not even a bush, whose fruit can refresh me. O gods! I see nothing all around me but frightful deserts-no path appears to lead me to my hut, and my tottering knees cannot support me longer. Yet I will not murmur. Gods! you have always succour'd me." Thus lamenting, he laid himself, exhausted, on his burden.
Then, without being perceived, I ran with all my strength to our cottage. I instantly put in a basket fresh and dry fruits, and fill'd my largest flagon with milk. I flew back to the mountain, and again found the unhappy man. He was then in a peaceful slumber. Softly, quite softly, I approached him, set the basket and flagon of milk by his side, and hid myself behind the bushes. He soon awoke. What a sweet refreshment is sleep!
he said; then, looking on his burden-I will now try to carry thee further; for hast thou not served as a pillow to my head? Perhaps the gods will direct my steps, that I may soon hear the murmur of some fountain, or that I may find some cottage, whose hospitable master will receive me under his roof. At the moment he was taking up his load, he perceived the flagon and the basket! The burden fell from his hands!-Gods! he cried, what do I see!--Alas, my want disturbs my senses! I surely dream, and when I shall awake, all will vanish. But, no-I am awake!-O gods, it is no dream! He laid his hand upon the fruit-Yes, I am awake! What divinity, O what propitious power, hath wrought this miracle? To thee I pour the first drops of this milk, and to thee I consecrate these two apples, the fairest of the basket. Receive, O vouchsafe favourably to receive my grateful offering! Thou knowest the sincerity of my heart. He then sat down and eat, while tears of joy ran down his face. When he was refreshed, he rose, and offer'd his thanks once more to the power that had watch'd over him with so much goodness. Or have the gods, he said, have they sent hither some beneficent mortal? Why can I not see and embrace him? Where art thou? Let me thank and bless thee. May the gods bless him! bless the generous man, all that are his, and all that is dear to him. I am satisfied! I will take with me these fruits; my wife and children shall eat of them, and bless, with me,