Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

coiled in consternation from so monstrous a vis tor; but by degrees they ventured to peep up fro their lakes, and gaze with astonishment and sel complacency upon the king which they had th obtained.

Happy in the idea that they now possessed a that they had desired, they also thought that was all that was requisite to their happiness. B indeed it was only for a time that things went o so smoothly; for the root of their misery was sti there still discontented with their lot, and callin upon king log for redress, they were astonishe and vexed to find that he favoured them not, no procured them that relief for which they altogethe relied upon him. Then assailing him on every side with murmuring and croaking, they at last one by one, leapt upon him, saying, "Oh! tho immoveable log, we now see what thou art; and since thou canst not earn our respect, thou must endure our reproach and contempt." Nor satisfied with venting reproaches, nor with so inert a king, they again presented their petitions to Jupiter for another.

But woe to the nation of Frogs! when "Jupiter disgusted at their importunate folly sent them a stork for a king, who, without ceremony eat them up whenever his craving appetite required a supply!"

The miserable short-sighted croakers now saw, when it was too late, that no change of external circumstances could possibly remove the evils re

a VISI

up from

nd self

ad this

ssed all

that it

=. But

ent on

as still

calling nished

ot, nor

gether

every

at last ! thou

; and

must

or sa

nert a

upiter

upiter

em a!

them

-ed a

saw,

ernal

Is re

sulting from private vices and follies; but that on the contrary, such a change was, in their case, only from bad to worse.

The Athenians, under their Commonwealth, led free and prosperous lives, until they allowed their refinement to degenerate into luxury, and their liberty into licentiousness; and then divided into factions, and misled by designing and reckless characters, they became an easy prey to whoever might dare to seize the falling reins of Government. At this crisis, Pisistratus the Tyrant, after a series of intrigues and artifices, stepped forward, and at once grasped both their citadel and liberties. But although Pisistratus was admired even by the Athenians for his clemency and justice, yet on account of a name, he was three times banished by the fickle republicans; and by their wavering factions as often recalled. They would rather crouch and succumb to the most vile and tyrannical of their fellow-citizens than endure the sway of the wisest and mildest sovereign.

It was while they were thus writhing under the tyranny of the mere name of Tyrant; whilst they were declaiming against the sovereignty of the once popular Pisistratus, that Esop took occasion to recite to them the significant fable of "the Frogs and their King."

And indeed it was not inapplicable. For when we consider, on the one hand, the happy condition of the Frogs, while they continued faithful to the laws of their nature, and the futility of every

device when they departed from them; and the other hand, the prosperity of the Atheni people during those times of their commonwea in which their adherence to wisdom and virt prevailed over every disposition of a vicious ch racter; and again, how abandoned they becam to anarchy and every depravity when they d generated from their previous happy state; whe we consider all this, the lesson of the Frogs is n inappropriate.

Much is frequently remarked concerning th apparent perfect adaptation of the instincts of irra tional animals, in contradistinction to the erroneou and inapt conduct of rational beings. And whe we regard the former, and scrutinize their variou performances, as, for instance, the mathematica precision of the bee in the construction of the cell of its comb, whilst man with all his scholastic erudition, could scarcely have devised so complete a model; or if we observe the regularity of their economy, and the corresponding order and business of their lives, and the subservience of their classes only to the general good of their little commonwealth; we must confess the superiority of nature's workmanship, we must acknowledge that the wisdom which regulates their happy polity is superior to the crude and self-degrading expedients of presumptuous man. Yet this does not arise from the superior intelligence of the animal, but proceeds from the wisdom of the Divine Author of nature, thus systematized in them, and instinctively

_nd on
henian

wealth

virtue

s cha

ecame

ey de

when

is not

g the

f irraoneous

when

arious natical e cells

plastic

plete

their

siness lasses

mon

ture's ewis

Derior

ts of

from
pro-

or of

ively

carried into stupendous operation. And if this instinct be by any circumstance thwarted, the evil consequences are presently manifested. Reason and revelation are to man, what instinct is to animals. A deviation from either is a departure from rectitude and happiness.

It is said in the fable, that the Frogs became tired of the monotony of their happy life, and therefore wished for a change. Now it is very improbable that they should desire a change for the worse, inasmuch as such a wish has no analogy in the animal kingdom. Every prayer is for good and happiness; and if any creature in a state of happiness seeks a change, it is only for another variety of the same happy state of being. Yet the circumstance of the Frogs having become discontented, does not prove that their felicity was not all of which their nature was susceptible. Probably it was of that negative description, which consists in ignorance of any thing more desirable; and as soon as they obtained a glimpse of a higher state of being, however inappropriate to them, yet they immediately felt an irresistible longing to attain it. We may also conceive that this glimpse of better things, might first of all dawn upon the wakeful eyeballs of some one frog of superior understanding to the rest of that nation. And we may also conceive that this frog, wiser than all the rest, was also endowed with such enlarged views of citizenship and patriotism, that he might have reasoned thus :—“ I have obtained a new light that enables me

to see all things as they are, and as they should -a light is not made to be placed under a sha but to communicate its effulgence to all arour and it is therefore my duty to disseminate the fluence of which I am now possessed." He wo then go and call together an assembly of the Frog and he himself mounting upon the margin of lake, and turning towards the multitude beneat might address them, and say, " Friends and fe low-creatures! we have long lived together he in undisturbed tranquillity and apparent felicit I call it apparent felicity, because I have di covered that there are higher grades of existen even in the world that we inhabit, than any of ข seem before to have dreamt of. You may indeed many of you, have seen instances of the kind t which I refer; but it has fallen to my lot only, t contemplate them with a philosophic eye, and t draw deductious from them, in which I trust yo will at once concur as soon as you hear them pro posed. They are so simple and natural that I can not see how any one can dissent from them. Al the beings on earth are the creatures of the great Jove. But we perceive how varied are all the sorts of them. I refer not only to the noble lion pacing through his forests, and keeping all other creatures in awe of his magnanimous power; but chiefly to beings of our own dimensions, and even less. There are the busy little emmets who erect themselves palaces, and fulfil their appointed offices with all the wonderful propriety of beings of

« IndietroContinua »