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look which betōkened both intelligence and feeling;' and the few, but pertinent remarks which he made, all united to raise the artist's curiofity, and to render him more atten tive to his present vifitor, than he was accustomed to be to those who usually intruded.
The ftranger had now taken a deliberate view of the works which were at prefent in the artist's poffeffion; and it happened by a chance, which was rather unusual, that most of them were engroffed in the celebration of victories. The continual wars between the Greeks and the Arabs; which were never interrupted but by a temporary truce, could not fail of interesting the cotemporaries of Melonion; and the grateful Constantine had, by the affiftance of Sculpture, endeavoured to immortalize his most illustrious commanders. This ftriking fimilarity in the performances before him did not escape the obfervation of the stranger, who, immediately after having finished his circuit, turned about, and addreffed himfelf to Melonion.
I fee, faid he, that these excellent performances of yours reprefent none but conquerors and heroes; have you con fecrated your talents entirely to their fervice?
Mel. Far from it. I am too great a friend to the interefts of mankind, to behold their destroyers with a favour able eye. That my work-fhop fhould at prefent be fo full of their images, is a circumstance, I affure you, merely accidental; a circumstance, to speak freely, which I feel rather difagreeable. When I was occupied in commemorating thefe deftructive achievements, I could not help frequently regretting my employment, and dropping my chiffel with vexation and difguft.
Old Man. Deferved indeed is the reputation of the artist, who thus unites fenfibility to genius. You would not then, I imagine, be unwilling to be employed in celebrating fidelity and affection, under whatever fhape these virtues might appear?/
Mel. Surely not, provided they were really displayed. Old Man. That they were, and in fo high a degree, that neither of us could have displayed them more conspicuufly.
While the ftranger fpoke thus, the tear stood in his eye; and his tone was altered from the fobriety of age, to all the fervour and animation of youth.
But what price do you demand for a monument of your handy-work?
Mel. Two thoufand golden byzantines...
Old Man. A large fum, yet not more than he deferves. And of whom do you speak? asked Melonion, fomewhat furprised.
Before I can tell that, you must answer me once more. You fay you have no intention of confining yourself to heroes. Would you then confider your art as degraded, if it were to be employed on an animal of another fpecies, whose life was deferving of admiration and praise ?
Every word which the ftranger uttered, contributed to increase the perplexity of Melonion. "An animal of another fpecies! what canft thou mean ??
Old Man. I fee you are already fufficiently aftonished; but your furprise will be still greater, when I tell you it is my dog.
The old man was in the right. Melonion, on hearing thefe words, stood aghaft. He examined the firanger's countenance, and his habit by turns; and unable to reconcile fuch apparent contradiction, fixed his eyes upon the ground in perplexity and amazement. The wildnefs and extravagance of fuch a propofal made him imagine, that either his vifitor was mad, or that he was a perfon employed by his enemies, to turn both himself and his art into ridicule. The first of these fuppofitions was however contradicted by his fenfible converfation at his first coming in; and the fecond by his ferious and animated tone. It was not till after the artist had bewildered himself for fome minutes in fruitless conjectures, that he fo far recovered himielf as to be able to speak.
I must confefs to you, reverend old man, that your prefent propofal furprises me not a little; for it is the first of the kind which I have ever received; permit me then to afk, if you are jefting or ferious?
Old Man. Serious indeed.
Mel. Have you deliberately confidered the matter?
Old Man. Deliberately.
Mel. And what it will cost you? two thousand byzan-! tines.
Old Man. That alfo I have thought on.
Mel. And if I were prevailed upon to undertake what you wish for, what certainty could you give me that I fhould not labour in vain ?.
Old Man. This stone fhould be your fecurity.
While he faid this, he drew a ring from his finger, which, exclufive of all that had hitherto paffed between them, would alone have been fufficient to ftrike the artist with aftonishment. It could not indeed, now be called a ring with propriety, as it was only the focket of what had formerly been one; in which, however, there ftill continued fome remains of its ancient fplendor. The fize of the spaces, which were now empty, teftified fufficiently of what value it had been; and this was still more ftrongly confirmed by the two ftones, which were yet left. The artift, who was no ftranger to the value of jewels, estimated one of them at about four thousand ducats, and the other about half as much.
He could no longer reftrain his curiofity and astonishment.-Old man, faid he, (fpringing up and carefully shutting the door), old man, I intreat thee to tell me immediately who thou art, and what is thy defire?
"What I defire, you know already;-but to discover who I am, requires fome deliberation.—I must first have ap oath of inviolable fecrecy."
Mel. That you shall have. I am not, indeed, much accustomed to fwearing, unlets upon matters of the highest importance; and I thould even imagine, that my unble. mished reputation would of itself be fufficient to prevent any fufpicion.
Old Man. It is not your reputation, however unquestionable, but that voice of integrity with which you appeal to it, which has already perfuaded me that an oath is unneceffary. If you have an apartment where we can be more private, and lefs expofed to the danger of interruption, lead me to it, and your curiofity fhall be fatisfied.
Melonion immediately complied with his request; and after they were feated, the ftranger began thus:
My father was fovereign of the greateft part of Indoftan: I, Melai, was his eldeft fon, and, of confequence, the peaceful inheritor of his throne.
The artist was confounded, and started from his feat, to testify his respect for a visitor so illustrious; but the old man took him by the hand, and with a friendly fmile, obliged him to refume it. I intreat you, faid he, to let ceremony alone. It is the fate of princes to be flattered in profperity; but when, at any time, by the viciffitude of human affairs, they are reduced to the level of ordinary mortals, thousands are ready to cenfure and despise them; but few, very few, either to comfort or to pity. Be you but one of these, and I am more than contented :-Then, after paufing a few moments, the king of Indoftan proceeded as follows :
My father was a prince who delighted in war.-His neighbours trembled at the terror of his name; and even his fubjects looked up to him with fear. My difpofition was totally different; my chief wifh, even from my youth, was to fecure the tranquillity, and the affection of my people. He was grown old amid the tumults of war, and looked upon his arms with as much fatisfaction, as the bridegroom contemplates his nuptial attire. I, on the contrary, put them on with reluctance, and never without offering a fervent fupplication, that I might foon be able to lay them afide for ever.
A few minutes before the death of my father, he called me for the last time to his bedfide; when, taking this ring from his finger, and putting it upon mine, he spoke with difficulty the following words :-With this I bequeath to the government of my kingdom: may you never be in danger of lofing it. But the foftnefs of your temper, and your averfion to war, embitters with anxiety these last moments of my life. I fee that the eminence to which you will foon be exalted, is a station you was never intended to fill; and I tremble with apprehenfion for what may be the confequence, when your fubjects become acquainted with your unmanly difpofition. I beseech you, at least, so long as you are a monarch, never to let that ring part from your finger: A time may perhaps come, in which it will be ufeful. I promifed it, and he expired.
The beginning of my government was employed in bentfactions, which were amply requited with acclamation and
praise. The deity and I were always mentioned together, in those flattering panegyrics which I daily received; and even in many of them, I was impiously preferred. I lightened as much as poffible the burdens of the ftate; I concluded a peace with all my neighbours; and can say with truth, that I was often fleepless myself, in order that my fubjects might reft in tranquillity.
I had already a fon born to me in the lifetime of my father; but his mother died a few minutes after his birth: I had lamented her fincerely, and I had buried her magnificently; and the whole of my affection now centered in her child. Although in confequence of my acceffion to the throne, I became the fole master of innumerable beauties, the poffeffion of them occupied but very little of my attention; I looked upon my kingdom, and upon the welfare of my people, to be the noblest object of my affection and care.
But love had quitted me only for a feafon; I was yet in poffeffion, at my forty-eighth year, of all the health, the vigour, and the cheerfulness of youth.-At this period, I beheld a virgin throw herself proftrate upon the steps of my throne; a virgin, whofe equal I had never yet feen. An eye of more sweetness, a fhape of more elegance, and a bofom of more allurement, it was impoffible to conceive; and when the began to fpeak, the tones of her voice must have prepoffeffed in her favour, even those who were ignorant of the language which the ufed. Long before the cause of her affliction was known, every one present was eager to redress t; and had her fuit been as totally inconfiftent with justice, as it was in reality conformable to it, I am very much afraid that it would not have been denied.
Her complaint was against an avaricious uncle, who wanted to fell her to a fuperannuated wretch, equally deformed both in body and in mind, who intended that she should ferve as the flave of his pleasures, or rather as a provocative to his impotent defires. What was my fentence, you may eafily fuppofe.
But you will not, I imagine, fo readily conjecture with what uneafinefs and melancholy I was feized, when she was about to retire from my prefence. The feelings of a youth of fixteen, when deprived of the object of his first love, were enly a jest in comparison of mine. Had I not been restrain