« ZurückWeiter »
being unable to enjoy any satisfaction without making his friend Septinius a partuer, prevailed upon him to introduce his mistress to his fellow student, which he did with all the gaiety of a man who found himself equally happy in friendship and love. Septimius no sooner saw her, but he was smitten with an involuntary passion. He used every effort, but in vain, to suppress desires at once so imprudent and unjust. He retired to his apartment iu inexpressible agony; and the emotions of his mind in a short time became so strong, that they brought on a fever, which the physicians judged incurable.
During this illness Alcander watched him with all the anxiety of fondness, and brought his mistress to join in those amiable offices of friendship. The sagacity of the physicians, by this means, soon discovered the cause of their patient's disorder; and Alcander, being apprised of their discovery, at length extorted a reluctant confession from his dying friend.
It would but delay the narrative to describe the conflict between love and friendship in the breast of Alcander on this occasion; it is enough to say,
that the Athenians were at this tine arrived to such refinement in morals, that every virtue was carried to excess. In short, forgetful of his own felicity, he gave up his intended bride in all her charms, to the young Roman. They were married privately by his condivance; and this unlooked for change of fortune, wrought as unexpected a change in the constitution of the now happy Septimius. In a few days he was perfectly recovered, and set out with his fair partner for Rome.
Here, by an exertion of those talents of which he was so eminently possessed, he in a few years arrived at the highest dignities of the state, and was constituted the city judge or prætor.
Meanwhile Alcander not only felt the pain of being separated from his friend and mistress, but a prosecution was also commenced against him by the relations of Hypatia, for having basely given her up, as was suggested, for money. Neither innocence of the crime laid to his charge, nor eloquence in bis own defence, were able to withstand the influence of a powerful party. He was cast, and condemned to pay an enormous fine. Unable to raise so large a
sum at the time appointed, his possessions were confiscated, himself stript of the habit of freedom, exposed in the market-place, and sold as a slave to the highest bidder.
A merchant of Thrace becoming his purchaser, Alcander, with some other companions of distress, was carried into the region of desolation
and sterility. His stated employment was to follow the herds of an imperious master, and his skill in hunting was all that was allowed him to supply a precarious subsistence. Condemned to hopeless servitude, every morning waked him to renewal of famine or toil; and every change of season served but to aggravate his unsheltered distress. Nothing but death or flight was left to him; and almost certain death was the consequence of attempting to fly.
After some years of bondage, however, an opportunity of escaping offered; he embraced it with ardour, and travelling by night, and lodging in caverns by day, to shorten a long story, he at last arrived at Rome. The day of Alcander's arrival Septimius sat in the forum administering justice; and bither our wanderer came, expecting to be instantly known, and publicly ackuowledged. Here he stood the whole day among the crowd, watching the eyes of the judge, and expecting to be noticed; but so much was he altered by a long succession of hardships that he passed entirely without notice, and iu the evening when he was going up to the prætor's chair he was brutally repulsed by the attending lictors.
The attention of the poor is generally driven from one ungrateful object to another. Night coming on, he found himself under the necessity
of seeking a place to lie in, and yet knew not where to apply. Emaciated and in rags, none of the citizens would harbour so much wretchedness, and sleeping in the streets might be attended with interruption or danger; in short he was obliged to take up his lodging in one of the tombs without the city, the usual retreat of guilt, poverty, or despair.
In this mansion of horror, laying his head on an inverted urn, he forgot his miseries for awbile in sleep; and virtue found on this flinty couch more ease than down can supply to the guilty.
At midnight 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 the dead body was found the next niorning, and this naturally induced a further enquiry. The alarm was spread, the cave exanined, Alcander was found sleeping, and immediately apprehended and accused of robbery and murder. The circunstances 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 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 deat benefactor, burst into an agony of distress.
The attention of the multitude 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 to the same tribunal, and acquitted every other person of any partnership in his guilt.
Need the sequel be related ? Alcander was liberated, shared the friendship and the honour of his friend Septimius, lived afterwards in hap