Abbildungen der Seite

late a few particulars of Herodes Atticus, an Athenian citizen, whose munificent gifts would have been been worthy of the greatest king.

"The family of Herod was lineally descended from Cimon and Miltiades, Theseus and Cecrops, iEgeus and Jupiter; but the posterity of so many gods and heroes was fallen into the most abject state. His grandfather had suffered by the hands of justice; and Julius Atticus, his father, must have ended his life in poverty and contempt, had he not discovered an immense treasure, buried under an old house, the last remains of his patrimony.

"According to the rigour of the law, the emperor might have asserted his claim; and the prudent Atticus prevented, by a frank confession, the officiousness of informers. But the equitable Nerva, who then filled the throne, refused to accept any part of it, and commanded him to use, without scruple, the present of fortune. The cautious Athenian still insisted that the treasure was too considerable for a citizen, and that he knew not how to use it. 'Abuse it, then,' said the monarch, with a good-natured peevishness, 'for it is your own.'

"Many will be of opinion, that Atticus literally obeyed the emperor's last instructions, since he expended the greatest part of his fortune, which was much increased by an advantageous marriage, in the public service. He had obtained for his son Herod the prefecture of Asia; and the young magistrate, observing that the town of Troas was but indifferently supplied with water, obtained from the munificence of Hadrian three hundred myriads of drachms, (about one hundred thousand pounds of our money.) But in the execution of the work, the charge amounted to more than double the estimate; and the officers of the revenue began to murmur, till the generous Atticus silenced their complaints, by requesting that he might be permitted to take upon himself the whole additional expence.

"The ablest preceptors of Greece and Asia had been invited, by liberal rewards, to direct the education of young Herod. Their pupil soon became a celebrated orator, according to the useless rhetoric of that age; which, confining itself to schools, disdained to visit either the forum or the senate. He was honoured with the consulship at Rome; but the greatest part of his life was spent in a philosophical retirement, at Athens and the adjacent villas; perpetually surrounded by sophists, who acknowledged, without reluctance, the superiority of a rich and generous rival. The monuments of his genius have perished, but some considerable ruins still preserve the fame of his taste and munificence.

"Modern travellers have measured the remains of the Stadium which he constructed at Athens. It was six hundred feet in length, built entirely of white marble, capable of admitting the whole body of the people; and was finished in four years, whilst Herod was president of the Athenian games.

"To the memory of his wife Regilla he dedicated a theatre, scarcely to be paralleled in the empire: no wood, except cedar very curiously carved, was employed in any part of the building.

"The Odeum, designed by Pericles for musical performances, and rehearsals of new tragedies, had been a trophy of the arts over barbaric greatness, as the timbers employed in the construction consisted chiefly of the masts of the Persian vessels. Notwithstanding the repairs bestowed on that ancient edifice by a king of Cappadocia, it was again fallen to decay. Herod restored its ancient beauty and magnificence.

"Nor was the liberality of that illustrious citizen confined to the walls of Athens. The most splendid ornaments bestowed on the temple of Neptune in the Isthmus, a theatre at Corinth, a Stadium at Delphi, a bath at Thermopylae, and an aqueduct at Canusium in Italy, were even insufficient to exhaust his treasures.

"The people of Epirus, Thessaly, Eubcea, Bceotia, and Peloponnesus, experienced his favours; and many inscriptions of the critics of Greece and Asia, gratefully style Herodus Atticus their patron and benefactor.

"But we have had a long meeting this morning," said Mr. Wilmot: "let us adjourn till tomorrow."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The indisposition of Mr. Wilmot on the following day, prevented the little party from meeting in the gallery as usual. It proved to be an attack of a very serious nature, which confined him to his room for some months. Susan and Ann attended him with an assiduity and affection, that proved his instructions had not been thrown away upon them. At intervals, they read the books from which his anecdotes had been taken; and thus became acquainted with the history of their own and other countries.

The tuition and wise counsel of their sensible mother, had done much to correct the errors of their dispositions and characters, and to infuse a love of rational pursuits. The love of dress became a secondary point, and neatness and simplicity was alone regarded. They had still faults, but they were open to conviction. A sense of weakness opens an encouraging prospect of improvement, and time and care

« ZurückWeiter »