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“ I have called to pay your little bill,” said my father, entering the shop? of one of those fancy stationers2 common in country towns, and who sell all kinds of pretty toys and nick-nacks.3 “And by the way,"4 he added, as the smiling shopman looked over his books for the entry,5 “I think my little boy here6 can show you a much handsomer specimen of French workmanship than that workbox which you enticed Mrs Caxton into raffling for last winter. Show your domino-box, my dear.”
I produced my treasure, and the shopman was liberal in his commendations. 8 “ It is always well, my boy, to know what a thing is worth, in case one wishes to part with it. If my young gentleman gets tired of his plaything, what will you give him for it?”
“Why, sir,” said the shopman, “I fear we could not afford to give more than eighteen shillings for it, unless the young gentleman took some of those pretty things in exchange.”
Eighteen shillings ! ” said my father ; "you would give that. Well, my boy, whenever you do grow tired of your box, you have my leave to sell it."
My father paid his bill, and went out. I lingered behind a few moments, and joined him at the end of the street.
“ Papa, papa !” I cried, clapping my hands, “we can buy the geranium—we can buy the flower-pot." And I pulled a handful of silver from my pocket.
“ Did I not say right ? ” said my father, passing his handkerchief over his eyes. “ You have found the two fairies !”
Ah! how proud, how overjoyed I was, when, after placing vase and flower on the window-sill, I plucked my mother by the gown, and made her follow me to the spot.
See $ 37.—2 Fancy stationers, Marchands d'articles de fantaisie.—3 All kinds of pretty toys and nick-nacks, Toutes sortes de jouets et de jolis riens.-4 And by the way,
propos.-_5 Looked over his books for the entry, Cherchait le compte dans ses livres.—6 My little boy here, Mon petit garçon que voici.—7 That worke-box which you enticed Mrs Caxton into rafiling for last winter, Cette boîte à ouvrage qui fut mise en loterie l'hiver dernier et dont vous avez engagé Mrs Caxton à prendre quelques billets.—8 Was liberal in his commendations, N'épargna pas ses éloges.—9 How proud, how overjoyed I was, Comme j'étais fier, comme j'étais transporté de joie.
“It is his doing and his money !” said my father, “ good actions have mended the bad."
“ What !” cried my mother, when she had learned all ; " and your poor domino-box that you were so fond of! We will go back to-morrow, and buy it back, if it costs us double.”1 “Shall we buy it back, Pisistratus ?” asked my father.
Oh, no-no—no !—it would spoil all,” I cried, burying my face on my father's breast.
My wife," said my father solemnly, “ this is my first lesson to our child—the sanctity and happiness of self-sacrifice-undo not what it should teach him to his dying hour.” 2 And that is the history of the broken flower-pot.
SIR E. BULWER LYTTON.
THE DECLINE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
SINCE Romulus, with a small band of shepherds and outlaws, fortified himself on the hills near the Tiber, ten centuries had already elapsed. During the four first ages, the Romans, in the laborious school of poverty, had acquired the virtues of war and government: by the vigorous exertion3 of those virtues, and by the assistance of fortune, they had obtained, in the course of the three succeeding centuries, an absolute empire over many countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last three hundred years had been consumed in apparent prosperity and internal decline. The nation of soldiers, magistrates, and legislators who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman people, was dissolved 4 into the common mass of mankind, and confounded with the millions of servile provinces, who had received the name, without adopting the spirit of Romans. A mercenary army, levied among the subjects and barbarians of the frontier, was the only order of men who preserved and abused their independence. By their tumultuary election, a Syrian, a Goth, or an Arab was exalted to the throne of Rome, and invested with despotic power over the conquests and over the country of the Scipios. The limits of the Roman empire still extended from the Western Ocean to the Tigris, and from Mount Atlas to the Rhine and the Danube. To the undiscerning eye of the vulgar, Philip appeared a monarch no less powerful than Hadrian or Augustus had formerly been. The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigour were fled. The industry of the people was discouraged and exhausted by a long series of oppressions. The discipline of the legions, which alone, after the extinction of every other virtue, had propped the greatness of the State, was corrupted by the ambition, or relaxed by the weakness of the emperors. The strength of the frontiers, which had always consisted in arms rather than in fortifications, was insensibly undermined ; and the fairest provinces were left exposed to the rapaciousness or ambition of the barbarians, who soon discovered the decline of Rome.
1 If it costs us double, Dût-elle nous coûter le double.—2 Undo not what it should teach him to his dying hour, Ne détruisez pas les effets que cette leçon doit produire jusqu'à l'heure de sa mort.-3 By the vigorous exertion, Par la constante pratique. -4 Was dissolved, Était fondue.
From the reign of Augustus to the time of Alexander Severus, the enemies of Rome were in her bosom ; the tyrants, and the soldiers; and her prosperity had a very distant and feeble interest in the revolutions that might happen beyond the Rhine and the Euphrates. But when the military order had levelled, in wild anarchy, the power of the prince, the laws of the senate, and even the discipline of the camp, the barbarians of the north and of the east, who had long hovered on the frontier, boldly attacked the provinces of a declining monarchy. Their vexatious inroads were changed into formidable irruptions, and, after a long vicissitude of mutual calamities, many of the tribes of the victorious invaders established themselves in the provinces of the Roman empire.
To the undiscerning eye of the vulgar, Pour l'ail sans pénétration du vulgaire.
LORD CHESTERFIELD TO HIS SON. I WILL suppose you at Rome, studying six hours uninterruptedly with Mr Harte every morning, and passing your evenings with the best company of Rome, observing their manners, and forming your own ; and I will suppose a number of idle, sauntering, illiterate English, as there commonly is there, living entirely with one another, supping, drinking, and sitting up late at each other's lodgings.? I will take one of these pretty fellows, and give you the dialogue between him and yourself, such as I dare say it would be on his side, and such as I hope it would be on yours.
Englishman. Will you come and breakfast with me to-morrow? there will be four or five of our countrymen ; we have provided chaises, and we will drive somewhere out of town after breakfast.
Stanhope. I am very sorry I cannot ; but I am obliged to be at home all morning.
Englishman. Why, then, we will come and breakfast with you.
Stanhope. I cannot do that either; I am engaged.
Stanhope. To tell you the truth, it can be no day in the morning; for I neither go out nor see anybody at home before twelve.
Englishman. And what do you do with yourself till twelve o'clock.
Stanhope. I am not by myself ; I am with Mr Harte.
Are you to take orders then ?3
Stanhope. Yes, my father's orders I believe I must take.4
Englishman. And pray, are you to obey your nurse,5 too, this same, what's his name—Mr Harte ?
1 With one another, Entre eux.—2 And sitting uplate at each other's lodgings, Et restant jusqu'à une heure indue les uns chez les autres. -3 Are you to take orders, then? Allez-vous donc prendre les ordres ?–4 Yes, my father's orders, I believe 1 must take, Oui, les ordres de mon père ; je crois que je dois les prendre.—5 Your nurse, Votre bonne.
Englishman. So he stuffs you all morning with Greek and Latin and logic, and all that. I have a nurse, too ; but I never looked into a book with him in my life;1 I have not so much as seen the face of him this week, and don't care a bit if I never see it again.
Stanhope. My tutor never desires anything of me that is not reasonable, and for my own good ; and therefore I like to be with him.
Englishman. Very sententious and edifying, upon my word! At this rate, you will be reckoned “a very good young man.”
Stanhope. Why, that will do me no harm.
Englishman. Will you be with us to-morrow in the evening, then? We shall be ten with you ;4 and I have got some excellent good wine; and we'll be very merry.5
Stanhope. I am very much obliged to you; but I am engaged for all the evening, to-morrow; first at Cardinal Albani's, and then to sup at the Venetian ambassadress's.
Englishman. How can you like being always with these foreigners? I never go amongst them, with all their formalities and ceremonies. I am never easy in company with them; and I don't know why, but I am ashamed.6
Stanhope. I am neither ashamed nor afraid ; I am very easy with them; they are very easy with me; I get the language, and I see their characters, by conversing with them; and that is what we are sent abroad for, is it not?
Englishman. I hate your fine women's company; your women of fashion as they call 'em. I don't know what to say to them for my part.
Stanhope. Have you ever conversed with them?
Englishman. No, I never conversed with them; but I have been sometimes in their company, though much against my will.
Stanhope. But at least they have done you no hurt; which is,
1 In my life, De ma vie.—2 Very sententious, Très-moral. -—-3 At this rate, à ce trair là.—1 With you, En vous comptant. -5 And we'll be very merry, Et nous nous amuserons beaucoup.—6 Ashamed, Tout décontenancé.