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are good and grateful sons, thus answer your worldly minded mother. My father is the source of my being—that is, of my soul ; and all things which I possess, are his free gift.” Therefore, I advise you not to desire length of years, which may approach in suffering, poverty, and blindness; for then the world will flee you, how much soever you cling to it. No longer than you can be serviceable will you
be valued *. Remember this, and study to amend your lives with all diligence; that so you may come eventually to everlasting life, To which may God lead us, who lives, &c.
* The sentiment here expressed, implies a greater knowledge of the world than we should have looked for in an ascetic ; but we frequently meet with a shrewd reflection, when least prepared for it—as the forest-ranger finds the “ cowslip, violet, and the primrose pale,” ornamenting the wildest and most sequestered nooks. Old Burton has a passage so similar, both in thought and expression, that I cannot forbear affixing it at foot. “ Our estate and bene esse ebbs and flows with our commodity; and as we are endowed or enriched, so we are beloved or esteemed : it lasts no longer than our wealth ; when that is gone, and the object removed, farewell friendship: as long as bounty, good cheer, and rewards were to be hoped, friends enough; they were tied to thee by the teeth, and would follow thee as crows do a carcase: but when thy goods are gone and spent, the lamp of their love is out; and thou shalt be contemned, scorned, hated, injured.”- Anatomy of Melancholy. Vol. II. p. 169.
T A L E XV.
OF THE LIFE OF ALEXIUS, SON OF THE
SENATOR EUFEMIAN *.
In the reign of one of the Roman Emperorsť, lived a youth, named Alexius, the son of Eufemian, a noble Roman, at that time the chief ornament of the emperor's court. He was attended by a band of three thousand youths, girded with golden zones, and habited in silken vestures. His expenditure was princely. He daily maintained three tables, to which the widow and the orphan were ever welcome. Their necessities were often supplied by his own person; and at the ninth hour, in company with other devout men, he sat down to dinner. His wife, whose name was Abael, was as religious and charitable as himself. But there is ever some bitterness mixed up with the draught of human joy; and in the midst of so much splendour, the want of a successor was long a source of unavailing affiction. At length their prayers were heard ; Heaven, in its benevolence, blessed them with a son, who was carefully instructed in all the polite learning of the period. Arriving at the age of manhood, he proved himself an acute and solid reasoner. But reason is no barrier against love; he became attached to a lady of the blood-royal, and with the consent of their friends was united to her. On the very evening of their nuptials, when the clamour of the feast had subsided, the pious youth commenced a theological disquisition, and strove with much force and earnestness to impress his bride with the fear and love of God. When he had concluded, recommending her to preserve the same modesty of demeanour for which she had always been distinguished, be consigned to the care of a servant his gold
* It is proper to warn the reader, that this tale is somewhat periphrastically translated.
+ Before the close of the Tale we find it was in the reign of
ring, and the clasp * of the sword-belt which usually begirt him, “ Take charge of these vanities,” said he, “ for I abjure them; and as long as it shall please God, keep them in remembrance of me: may the Almighty guide us.” He then provided a sum of money, and the same night embarked in a ship bound for Laodicea. From thence he proceeded to Edessa ť, a city of Syria. It was here that the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, wrought upon linen by supernatural hands, was preserved. On reaching this place he distributed whatever he had brought with him to the poor; and putting on a worn and tattered garment, joined himself to a number of mendicants who sat in the porch of the temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He now constantly solicited alms; but of all that he received, only the smallest portion was retained, -an unbounded charity leading him to bestow the residue upon his more needy, or more covetous brethren.
The father of Alexius, however, was over* The Latin is caput; if it mean not this, I know not what it
† It has also borne the names of Antiochia, Callirrhoë Justinopolis-and Rhoas, said to have been built by Nimrod.
whelmed with sorrow at the inexplicable departure of his son; and despatched his servants in pursuit of him to various parts of the world. These servants were very diligent in their inquiries; and it chanced that certain of them came to the city of Edessa, and were recognized by Alexius; but, pertinaciously concealing himself under the garb of want and misery, he passed unknown and unsuspected. The men, little aware who was experiencing their bounty, conferred large alms upon the paupers amongst whom he sojourned; and his heart silently but.gratefully acknowledged the benefaction. “I thank thee, O my God, that thou hast thought good to dispense thine alms by the hands of my own servants."
On this unsuccessful issue of their search, the messengers returned; and when the intelligence of their failure reached his mother, she shut herself up in a remote chamber, and there gave utterance to her griefs. She slept upon the ground, with sack-cloth only for a covering; and solemnly vowed never to change her way
of life until she recovered her lost son.