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selon moi, être le partage de tout homme raisonnable; et, s'il arrivait que cette vertu s'éteignît dans tout l'univers, il faudrait encore qu'elle fût immortelle chez les princes."
Volt. Admirable! This is indeed to be a king; and is the character to which yourself may fairly pretend.
Fred. And yet my actions have been as severely reprobated by some, as my principles have been by others.
Volt. Yes, by cavillers, and les petits esprits, as you have well denominated them in your writings; men who are content with viewing the superficies of things, who are directed, not by reason but caprice. The glory of a monarch, like the sun, may for a time be obscured by clouds, but, then, the hour will assuredly come when it will break forth in all its lustre
When first that sun too powerful beams displays,
It draws up vapours which obscure its rays;
But even those clouds at last adorn its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.—POPE.
Fred. You have likewise been greatly vilified by the faux raisonneurs of the times; but we shall triumph over the prejudices of the world.-Farewell!
MERCURY.-A FATHER is discovered at the Bedside of his SON, and weeping;-PHYSICIAN attending.
Father. Ан, my poor boy! My poor boy! Not the smallest hope of his recovery, do you say? Alas! alas! was there ever misery equal to mine?
Phys. There is little hope, indeed: but let me entreat you to be composed, and submit with patience to the will of Heaven.
Father. Aye, but to rear him with care and attention; to bestow on him the education of a prince; to have him attain his twentieth year; and then to see him suffer thus-Oh! had it pleased Heaven to have spared my child and to have taken me, I could have received the fatal summons without a murmur: I am surely the meetest companion for death. But yonder is Mercury, the messenger of the gods, he is coming to conduct my dear Eugenius to the shades.-Oh! my dear boy! my dear boy!
Merc. Your boy, good Sir, is safe; he lives, and will be happy the gods, in pity to your sufferings, and in compliance with your ardent wishes
Father. Be witness for me, heaven, how sincere those wishes were!
Merc. Have determined on taking you, instead of him. Father. How! What! Come, come, a truce with this raillery, I am not in a jesting mood.
Merc. The gods jest not on these matters: I must certainly have you in my suite.
Father. But I am wholly unprepared; I have a thousand things to do; beside, I have never made my will.
Merc. That is not necessary, since you have not a relation living except your son, and he is, consequently, heir to your possessions.
Father. Well, well, but my friends; only consider my friends; some of them are actually sinking beneath the weight of poverty and accumulated ills.
Merc. Indeed! but have relief?
afforded them any
Father. O, no; and it would be barbarous in the extreme to do any thing for your friends till you are dead. Merc. You surprise me! but I suppose it is the fashion of the world.
Father. Entirely: and every action of our lives is regulated by fashion; we eat, drink, walk, talk, and even think, just as she directs.
Merc. Think! I do not rightly understand you.
Father. Why, Sir, she presides particularly over our studies: if, for example, the favourite one be metaphysics, you, too, must accordingly look grave, and stroke your beard.
Merc. Metaphysics! pray, what is meant by the study of metaphysics?
Father. The study of metaphysics is an inquiry into that which it is impossible ever to learn.
Merc. A very delightful inquiry, indeed.
Father. But, then, you should remember that it gives rise to much hypothetical reasoning,-to learned disquisitions, which tend to increase our fame.
Merc. But are not such disquisitions much more ingenious than solid? in my opinion, truth alone is to be admired
Le vrai seul est beau, le vrai seul est aimable.-BOILEAU.
But come, I have wasted considerable time on earth, and must think of returning home.-You, old gentleman, have your wish; your son is fated to live, and you, in place of him, to become the inhabitant of Pluto's "drear domain."
Father. My wish! you mistake the matter entirely; in such a situation a man should never be taken at his word: it was a fever of the brain, an absolute phrenzy ; I knew not what I said.
Merc. Well; but, as either you or your son must instantly visit the regions below, you have surely no desire to retract the wish that you have made.
Father. Why that—as to that—I really think that, as I am wholly unprepared, "unanointed," "unaneled," and as the sickness of my son has enabled him to look with complacency on that Gorgon death,-in such a case I say with the poet
The wearied and most loathed worldly life,
To what we fear of death!
Now, this admitted, he, who by a course of meditation and prayer has fitted himself for the other world, can feel but little uneasiness in the prospect of being speedily removed to it.
Son. Your reasoning, my father, is just: vigour is returning to my veins;-I feel the spring of life renewed: yet such is the present temper of my soul, that I could submit with fortitude to the stroke of death; nay, I even wish not that it should be delayed.
Merc. Observe the effect of christian resignation and love! you have a pattern of meekness and humility in your son.
Father. Alas! my life has been wicked, and death is, therefore, to be feared.-Now, if, by religious exercises
Merc. Your present wish, then, is to live, in order to make atonement for your sins?
Father. It is certainly my only desire.
Merc. It is highly praiseworthy, and must, therefore, be encouraged: I will represent your case to my sovereign.
Father. Many thanks to you. [Exit Mercury.] Ha! ha! I have cheated his divinityship: nothing like pretending to religion and piety; nothing equal to a little hypocrisy marry, I have carried it rarely!
SCENE THE ELYSIAN FIELDS.
RABELAIS, CERVANTES, and STERNE.
Sterne. "My dear Rabelais! and my dearer Cervantes!"* happy am I to see you.
Rab. Prithee, Cervantes, are you acquainted with this shade? He addresses us very familiarly; I do not remember to have seen him before.
Cerv. 'Tis Sterne, or Shandy, or Yorick; he is newly arrived here; but you, no doubt, know him sufficiently by name.
Rab. Sterne! a distinguished name indeed: welcome, most welcome, to the Elysian fields!
Sterne. Many thanks to you. My first desire, on arriving here, was to find the men whose writings had afforded me such exquisite pleasure on earth. I was conversing with Lucian when you passed his bower; he kindly pointed you out to me, and I hastened to embrace my friends,—if such I may be allowed to call you. Rab. You do us much honour: but Lucian may be displeased at your quitting his society to follow us.
Sterne. There is little fear of that; I left him in excellent company,—no other than Addison and Swift.
Cerv. Once more, then, our dearest brother in pleasantry, once more, welcome to Elysium. But what is going on in the upper world? How many successors have you in wit and humour?
Sterne. Alas! but few: wit is degenerated into puns, and humour into buffoonery.
Rab. The English, it should be remembered, were never remarkable for fine-turned raillery; it is properly the province of the French.
* See Tristram Shandy.