Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

mercy of the flames. He funk into the deepest despair, when, upon inquiry, he found that his fon, who flept in an upper apartment, had been forgotten in the general confusion. He raved in agonies of grief, and offered half his fortune to any one who would risk his life to save his child. As he was known to be very rich, feveral ladders were instantly raifed by those who wished to obtain the reward: but the violence of the flames drove every one down who attempted it.

The unfortunate youth then appeared on the top of the houfe, extending his arms, and calling out for aid. The unhappy father became motionless, and remained in a state of insensibility. At this critical moment, a man rushed through the crowd, and afcended the talleft ladder, seemingly determined to rescue the youth, or perish in the attempt. A fudden guft of flame bursting forth, led the people to suppofe he was lost; but he presently appeared descending the ladder with the child in his arms, without receiving any material injury. An universal shout attended this noble action, and the father, to his inexpressible surprise, on recovering from his swoon, found his child in his arms.

After giving vent to the first emotions of tenderness, he inquired after his generous deliverer, whose features were so changed by the smoke, that they could not be distinguished, Francisco immediately presented him with a purse of gold, promising the next day to give him the reward he offered. The stranger replied, that he should accept of no reward. Francisco started, and thought he knew the voice, when his fon flew to the arms of his deliverer, and cried out, “ It is my dear Hamet! it is my dear Hamet !"

The astonishment and gratitude of the merchant were equally excited, and, retiring from the crowd, he took Hamet with him to a friend's houfe. As foon as they were alone, Francisco inquired by what means he had been a second time enslaved.

“ I will tell you in a few words,” said the generous Turk. " When I was taken by the Venetian gallies,

my

my father shared in my captivity. It was his fate, and not my own, which fo often made me shed those tears, which first attracted the notice of your amiable fon. As soon as your bounty had set me free, I flew to the Christian who had purchased my father. I told him, that as I was young and vigorous, and he aged and infirm, I would be his flave instead of my father. I added, too, the gold which your bounty had bestowed on me, and by these means I prevailed with the Christian to fend back my father in that ship you had provided for me, without his knowing the cause of his freedom.Since that time I have staid here a willing Nave, and Heaven has been so gracious as to put it into my power to save the life of that youth, which I value a thousand times more than my own.”

The merchant was astonished at such an instance of gratitude and affection, and pressed Hamet to accept of the half of his fortune, and to settle in Venice for the remainder of his days. Hamet, however, with a noble magnanimity refused the offer, saying, he had done no more than what every one ought to do in a similar fituation. Though Hamet seemed to under-rate his past services to the merchant, yet the latter could not suffer things to pass in this manner. He again purchased his freedom, and fitted out a ship on purpose to take him back to his own country. At parting, they mutually embraced each other, and, as they thought, took an eternal farewel.

After many years had elapsed, and young Francisco was grown up to manhood, beloved and respected by every one, it so happened, that some business made it necessary for him and his father to visit a neighbouring city on the coast ; and as they supposed a passage by sea would be more expeditious than by land, they embarked in a Venetian veffel, which was bound to that port, and ready to fail.

A favourable gale foon wafted them out of sight, and promised them a speedy passage ; but unfortunately for them, before they had proceeded half their voyage, they

were

[ocr errors]

of that money

were met by fome Turkish veffels, who, after an obftinate resistance from the Venetians, boarded them, loaded them with irons, and carried them prisoners to Tunis. There they were exposed in the market-place in their chains, in order to be fold as flaves.

At laft a Turk came to the market, who seemed to be a man of superior rank, and after looking over the prisoners, with an expression of compassion, he fixed his eyes upon young Francisco, and asked the captain what was the price of that young captive. The captain replied, that he would not part with him for less than five hundred pieces of gold. The Turk considered that as a very extraordinary price, since he had seen him fell others, that exceeded him in strength and vigour, for less than a fifth

part " That is true," replied the captain, “but he shall either fetch me a price that will repay me the damage he has occasioned me, or he shall labour all the rest of his life at the oar.” The Turk asked him, what damage he could have done him more than the rest of the crew. -« It was he," replied the captain, "who animated the Chriftians to make a defperate resistance, and thereby proved the destruction of many of my bravest feamen. We three times boarded them with a fury that seemed invincible, and each time did that youth attack us with a cool and determined opposition; so that we were obliged to give up the contest, till other ships came up to our asistance. I will therefore have that price for him, or I will punish him for life.”

The Turk now furveyed young Francisco more attentively than before ; and the young man, who had hitherto fixed his eyes in sullen silence on the ground, at length raised them up; but he had no fooner beheld the person who was talking to the captain, than, in a loud voice, he uttered the name of Hamet. The Turk, stryck with astonishment, surveyed him for a moment, and then caught him in his arms.

After a moment's pause, the generous Hamet lifred up his hands to Heaven, and thanked his God, who had

put

put it in his power to fhew his gratitude; but words cannot express his feelings, when he found that both father and son were slaves. Suffice it to say, that he instantly bought their freedom, and conducted them to his magnificent house in the city.

They had here full leisure to discourse on the strange vicissitudes of fortune, when Hamet told his Venetian friends, that after their generosity had procured him liberty, he became an officer in the Turkilh army, and happening to be fortunate in all his enterprises, he had been gradually promoted, till he arrived at the dignity of bashaw of Tunis. That in this situation, he found the greatest consolation in alleviating the misfortunes of the Christian prisoners, and always attended the sales of those unhappy llaves, to procure liberty to a certain number of them. And gracious Allah,” added he,

has this day put it in my power, in some measure, to return the duties of gratitude."

They continued some days with Hamet, who did every thing in his power to amuse, and divert them; but as he found their desire was to return to their own country, he told them, that he would not wish to detain them against their wishes, and that they Thould embark the next day in a ship bound for Venice, which would be furnished with a passport to carry them fafe there.

The next day he dismissed them with every mark of tenderness and affection, and ordered a party of his own guards to attend them to the vessel. They had no sooner got on board, than they found, to their inexprefsible surprise and joy, that they were in the very ship in which they had been taken, and that, by the generosity of Hamet, not only the ship, but even the whole crew, were redeemed and restored to freedom. Francisco and his son, after a quick paffage, arrived in their own country, where they lived beloved and respected, and endeavoured to convince every one they knew, how great were the vicissitudes of fortune, and that God never suffers humanity and generosity to go unrewarded, here or hereafter.

On the Respect paid by the Lacedæmonians

and Athenians to Old Age.

I of

T happened at Athens, during a public representa

monwealth, that an old gentleman came too late for a place suitable to his age and quality. Many of the young gentlemen, who observed the difficulty and confusion he was in, made figns to him that they would accommodate him if he came where they sat: The good man bustled through the crowd accordingly; but when he came to the seat to which he was invited, the jest was, to fit close and expose him, as' he stood out of countenance, to the whole audience. The frolic went round all the Athenian benches. But, on those occafions, there were also particular places afsigned for foreigners : When the good man skulked towards the boxes appointed for the Lacedæmonians, that honest people, more virtuous than polite; rofe up all to a man, and, with the greatest respect, received him among them. The Athenians, being suddenly touched with a sense of the Spartan virtue, and their own degeneracy; gave a thunder of applause; and the old man cried out, « The Athenians understand what is good, but the Lacedæmonians practise it."

Parental

« AnteriorContinuar »