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" how uncertain is life, how certain death !
Without doubt, young Fabricius had as
little thought of dying as any of your com-
pany ; and yet, see now, he is arrayed for
the last time, and the juvenile gown, which
he should so soon have laid aside for the
manly, is destined to be consumed along
with him, amidst the blaze of the funeral


" Alas ! indeed," replied Sextus, " I am
sure there is not one of all his acquaint-
ances that will not mourn over him."

" A fine lad he was," cries one of the
standers by, — " a fine lad, and an excellent
horseman. The Martian Field did not of-
ten behold such a rider in these degenerate
days of Rome, and the Koman youth."

But while the rest were still contempla-
ting the bier, Xerophrastes, turning to his
brother philosopher, said, " Tell me now,
my learned friend, do you still, after this
mournful event, continue to reside with
the elder Fabricius ? Has that excellent
man any more sons to be educated, or will
he retain you only for the sake of the li-
brary, with which assuredly he will find
few so conversant as yourself ?"

To which Parmeno replied, " Your ques-
tion, O Xerophrastes, is a natural one, and
shews that clear judgment concerning the
affairs of men, for which you have always
been celebrated. No, my friend, the grey-


haired Fabricius no longer requires my re-
sidence here ; for he is about to retire into
one of his villas on the Campanian shore,
and to bury for ever his affliction in the
privacy of his woods. We are about to part,
not without mutual tears ; and several Pa-
tricians have already been applying to him
for his influence with me, whom, although
unworthy of so much research, they earnest-
ly covet, and wish to engage as the in-
structor of their young men. I have beeu
sitting here not unseen, beside this my for-
mer charge, and each is impatient to soli-
cit me into his service."

'' Your reputation I well know is high,"
replied Xerophrastes, " and deservedly so ;
more particularly, for that fine talent you
have for giving metaphysical interpreta-
tions of mythology, and for explaining the
obscure allegories of ancient poets. But
for my own part, Parmeno, I find not so
much delight in abstract ideas, or in the
passive contemplation of the universe ; but
D 2


incline rather to study, as heretofore, that
part of philosophy which relates to action,
and the morality of duty."

" Yes, worthy Xerophrastes," returned
he, with a most languid serenity ; " and
so far as I understand, you sort well in this
with the stirring disposition of your friend

To which Xerophrastes made answer : —
" My patron Licinius is fond of action, and
I of the rules of action. He says, it is only
in war, or in civil functions of a public na-
ture, that a person can prove himself a man.
The rest, he says, is visionary, and comes
to nothing, or is a slumber of the mind in
sensuality, without thought."

" Does he think, then," quoth Parmeno,
• with a sarcastic smile,^ — " Does Licinius
think, then, there is no sensuality in per-
petual action, and declamation, and noise?
To me, such things appear almost as trivial
as the lazy enjoyments of Epicureans, be-
sides being harsh and disagreeable, and not
unfrequently ridiculous. But observe, O


Xerophrastes ! that I speak these things as
it were abstractly, and not by any means in
disparagement of Licinius, your excellent
patron and friend."

To which the Stoic replied, in astonish-
ment — " What is this you have said ? Do
you assert that action is sensual ?"

Then Parmeno, lifting from the pavement
the book which he had been reading, or ap-
pearing to read, said, " It is even so, most
erudite Xerophrastes. Indeed, I have always
delighted in the most primitive and remote
doctrines handed down from antiquity ;
and among others, in the riddles of this
obscure Ephesian. Following the scope of
his philosophy, I am led to believe, that, so
often as the mind impels, or is impelled by
other causes, it begins to lose sight of pure
knowledge, and becomes in danger of think-
ing that every thing is vain, light, and eva-
nescent, except what is perceived by the
senses. Heraclitus thinks, that Love and
Hatred govern all things. Now, when the


principle of Discord prevails, it subjects all
things to the dominion of action, and to the
gross perceptions of sense. But when that
of Love is prevalent, it emancipates the
struggling chaos of things from the yearn-
ing of compulsion, and from the darkness
of sensual proximity ; for, between things
that struggle immediately against each other,
light has no room to enter in and shine;
and therefore it is, that, when Love gains
the ascendancy, a new arrangement is pro-
duced — an arrangement, that, if I may so
express it, is more serene, transparent, or-
derly and divine, and wherein things exist
in safety from the danger of mutual destruc-

To which learned speech Xerophrastes,
after a preliminary cough, made answer : —
" My opinion coincides rather with that of
Empedocles, the immortal Sicilian. He
thinks that Discord is the only separating
and arranging principle which marks the
boundaries between things, and enables


them mutually to act and repel, in such a
way as to preserve order."

" Nay, nay," interrupted Parmeno, his
hands being by this quite disentangled from
his cloak, and his countenance considerably
lighted up, — " Nay, nay, to such doctrine
I never shall assent. From Empedocles —
even from Xerophrastes, I must differ for
ever on this head. The order of which you
and the Sicilian speak, is the order of dark-
ness only, and of blind force, — a kind of
order in which fierceness and cruelty always

But Xerophrastes continued : — " And I
must confess, that I further concur with
Empedocles in thinking, that Love is a prin-
ciple of which the predominance is more fit
to turn order into a chaos, than to produce
the effects you have described."

<' Nay, speak not against Love," quoth
Parmeno — " Speak not against Love, nor
believe that any respect is due to the dic-
tates of Empedocles, who taught the worst
that can be taught by any man — that is to


say, the alternation of order and confusion
succeeding each other throughout all time.
To seek for truth in conceptions like these,
is no better than to seek repose in the bo-
som of jEtna."

" In reference to that point," resumed
Xerophrastes, " I agree with you in your
disapprobation of Empedocles. But when
you say, that Love is the source of know-
ledge, you much astonish me ; for I have
always thought rather that its tendency is
to bring confusion upon the mind."

" Once more," said Parmeno — " once
more, let me beseech you to say nothing
against love. You are thinking of the love
of particular objects. You speak of Cupid,
and not of that heavenly Eros, who, so far
from enchaining, or tyrannizing over the
mind, rather enables it to escape into the
tranquil freedom of far extended contem-
plation. But what is. contemplation with-
out the knowledge of permanent forms, on
which the mind may find repose, and so
keep itself from being perplexed by the


shifting aspects of the many- coloured uni-
verse ? And therefore it is, oh Xerophrastes,
that, sometimes laying aside Heraclitus, I
study the ancient verses of the poet, Xeno-
phanes, who shews, by the nature of ab-
stract forms, that a certain unity pervades
all things. Xenophanes mused of old at
Colophon, looking through the blue ether
of my native Ionia. — But why should I
speak thus at length ? Alas ! what is the
occasion of our being here ! — I perceive the
approach of the poet, who was to compose
an inscription for the urn of my dear Fa-
bricius. Yonder also is the architect, who
comes with a design for the tomb. Oh !
day of woe, that I should sit in judgment
concerning the epitaph and tomb of my in-
genuous youth !"

" It is, indeed, true," replies the solemn
Xerophrastes, " that even I, in the reper-
cussions of our talk, had well nigh forgot-
ten all this sorrowful occasion ; but, per-
haps, there is something not after all en-


tirely inexcusable in our giving so much
superiority to the affairs of philosophical
discussion. Now, however, it is evident,
that we must suspend our colloquy — And
who, I beseech you, above all things, is he
that now draws near to the place of this
mournful assembly, holding a horse in his
hand. Methinks I have seen his face be-

" That you have indeed. Master," quoth
he that had come up, — " that you have ;
and no longer ago than yesterday neither,
if you will be pleased to give yourself the
trouble of recollecting me. My name is
Aspar, I am well known in every Feed-
ery* in Rome, and they that know me
best will give every assurance concerning
my superiority to any thing in the sem-
blance of a trick. If my excellent friend
the noble Centurion Sabinus were here.



poor old Aspar would have no reason to
complain of the want of a good word."

** Good morrow to you, Aspar," said
Sextus, for he could not help remembering
the attention which the Numidianhad ma-
nifested at the Amphitheatre ; " but what
is it that brings you hither just at this mo-
ment? And for what purpose have you
brought your horse along with you ? for
people of your sort do not in general ride on
horseback in the courts of the Palatine."

" Alas !" quoth Aspar, " and is it you,
who seem to have been one of the contem-
poraries of that peerless youth — is it you
that ask such a question as this? I did
not, in truth, imagine that there was any
friend of young Fabricius, who did not
know his affection for little Sora. There
is not such another filly within twenty
miles of the Capitol ; but I brought her
hither merely out of regard for the family,
some of whom I thought might be very
anxious to possess a pretty creature of
which the dear boy had been so fond. As


for myself, I should never bear to look on
her again with pleasure, after knowing the
sudden manner of his death. I wish to
Heaven the filly were fairly lodged in one
of the paddocks of the Lord Fabricius him-

" Lead the animal round into the court,"
quoth Parmeno, " and I doubt not care
will be taken of her. — Yonder comes one of
the buffoons of the theatre ; — he, I doubt
not, is here to disgrace, if he be permitted,
this solemn scene, with ranting quotations
from the tragic poets. Alas ! alas ! I cannot
bear all this : There also advance the of-
ficiators from the Temple of Libitina ; they
have their cypress boughs ready in their
hands. O, my learned friend, I cannot sus-
tain these things ; let me be gone into the

And when he had said so, the admirer of
Heraclitus picked up his favourite scroll, and
gathering together the folds of his mantle,
moved slowly into the house, andXerophras-


tes followed him with similar gestures ; and
Sextus and I also were about to take our
departure ; and he, having procured from
one of the slaves of the house a myrtle gai^-
land, had already placed it upon the bier
of the young Fabricius, as the last testimo-
nial of his concern ; when there drew near
two young men, clad in long mantles of
black, who also seemed to have been before
acquainted with my friend, for, on seeing
him, they immediately went up and began
to exchange with him many expressions of
grief and lamentation. But while they were
speaking so together, Rubellia, who had
been standing all this while a little apart,
sent a boy to inform us that the painter we
were in search of had at last made his ap-
pearance, and was anxious to proceed with
his portrait. I drew Sextus away, therefore,
and soon joined the lady and the artist ; but
as we were moving off thus, one of the by-
standing slaves, an old grey-headed man,
came up and whispered to us, " These two


that you have been speaking with, are to
me the most disagreeable part of all this
preparation. You have heard their lamen-
tation, and seen their sweeping raiment of
mourning ; but they are nephews of Fabri-
dus, and I think the chief subject of their
reflection is, the probability that one or
other of them must be adopted by my be-
reaved old master. Alas ! alas ! so goes all be-
tween Lucina and Libitina. There was never
a birth nor a marriage that did not create
some sorrow, nor a funeral procession that
did not give rise to some joy. Your rheto-
ricians talk, but what avails it all ? Slaves
and masters are all alike subjected to the
evils of the world, and of these death is both
the last and the least."

Little Agaso, the painter, was an amu-
sing character, and even in his exterior
there was so much of the amusing, that I
wish I had for a moment fingers like his,
that I might give you the pleasure of sur-
veying his portrait. Imagine, however, since


that is all you can do, a smart dapper little
bandy-legged man of Verona, dressed in a
Grecian mantle, and endeavouring, in every
particular, to look as much as possible like
a Greek. Had Xerophrastes not gone off
with his brother of Ionia, I have no doubt
this man would have made his presence a
sufficient excuse for speaking nothing but
Greek to us ; but, even as it was, his con-
versation was interlarded with an abund-
ant intermixture of the phraseology of that
noble tongue. Nothing could be spoken
of which Agaso did not think fit to illus-
strate, either by the narration of something
he himself had seen or heard during his re-
sidence at Athens, or, at least, by some quo-
tation from some of the Grecian poets, of
whom it seemed to me that Menander and
Anacreon were his foremost favourites. To
judge from the square, and somewhat pon-
derous formation of the man's features. Na-
ture had not designed him for any of the
most mercurial specimens of her workman-
ship ; but he contrived, notwithstanding,


by perpetual shrugging and grimacing, and,
above all, by keeping his eyes and eye-brows
continually in motion, to give himself an
air of no inconsiderable life and vivacity.

Hopping before us with much alacrity,
this little artist soon conducted our steps
through seven, eight, or ten galleries, open-
ing off each other, until at length a certain
curtain being withdrawn, which had cover-
ed the space between two pilasters, we
found ourselves in a spacious and brilliant
apartment, which, from the superior cour-
teousness wherewith he bowed us into it,
there could be no difficulty in perceiving
to be the customary sphere of his own
exertions. It was not altogether deserted
nor solitary, even when we entered ; but
the removal of the intervening curtain
soon attracted many more of the loungers
of the baths, and ere poor Sextus was fair-
ly fixed in the proper attitude before the
table of the painter, the modest youth had
the mortification to find himself surround-
ed with a very crowd of knowing and cu-


rious physiognomies. The presence of these,
however, if it might have been gladly dis-
pensed with by Sextus, appeared, most as-
suredly, to be quite the reverse of unwel-
come to the master of the room. On the
contrary, there arose between the little man,
as he was preparing his brushes, and those
who had come to survey him at his work,
such a learned gabble of mutual compli-
ments, remarks, and disquisitions, that it
seemed to me as if he would have been
quite disappointed, had he not been fa-
voured with their admiring attendance.

The walls all around being covered with
different specimens of Agaso's workman-
ship, there was no want of subjects for every
sort of conversation likely to interest his

" How noble," cries one, " is that large
portrait you have just been finishing of
Rupilius ! — Heavens ! with what felicity
you have caught the august air of that dig-
nified man ! Methinks I see him just about
to enter the Basilica, when he knows that


some great cause is awaiting his decision.
What solemnity in his aspect ! what gran-
deur in the gown ! — How finely the pur-
ple of the laticlave is made to harmonize
with the colouring of the cheeks and chin !
What beautiful handling about the fingers
with which he grasps his tablets ! — As for
the head of the stylus, it is the very eye of
the picture."

" Exquisite indeed," quoth another of
these knowing characters ; " but who can
look at it, or at any thing else, in the same
room, with this charming little jewel ? —
Heavens ! what a beauty ! who can it be ?
for I never saw her either at the Circus or
the Amphitheatre, or at any other place of
resort. What an inimitable picture of mo-
desty and loveliness is this girl !"

The little painter heard this last piece of
eulogy with an air of some little embarrass-
ment, and at the same time looked very
cunningly towards the person who had ut-
tered it. But the Lady Rubellia tossed
her head, as if indignantly, and whispered


to me, " Pretty she may be, though I can't
say that style of dressing her hair is at all
adapted for such features ; but, as for mo-
desty, I should like to see what part of
her face it is in which that is so visible. I
asked Agaso two or three days ago, who it
was, and he told me it is a little Spanish
girl, whom that august-looking person,
with the grand laticlave, and the purple
cheeks and chin, and the glittering stylus,
thought fit to bring with him from Spain,
when he was relieved from the hard duties of
the Pro-praetorship, — which, without doubt,
her agreeable society had enabled him to go
through with better than that of his own
wife would have done. I dare say, he takes
good care she shall not be seen either at
Circus or Amphitheatre ; and, indeed, I
thmk it is sufficient impudence to shew her
likeness in this way, in the company of so
many portraits of respectability. But there
is no saying how far these enamoured old
dotards will go. Impudent minx that it is,



I think if the wife of this same Rupilius
were to hear of its being here, she would
do well to come and scratch its eyes out. I
have no patience for such audacity."

" My dear lady," quoth the painter, who
overheard somewhat of what jshe was say-
ing — « my dear Lady Rubellia, for the sake
of all that is sacred, don't say a word about
this to any one again ; wait at least till the
canvass for the Augurship be over, and then,
if you will, you may say any thing about
it you please. But just at present Rupi-
lius would be very angry if any of these
affairs were made more public than is ne-
cessary ; for there are always enough of
people to exaggerate and misrepresent."

" Exaggerate, indeed !" replied the lady
— " there is much room for exaggeration,
forsooth. For my part, I think Rupilius
ought to be ashamed of himself; and at
his time of life too." — Then sinking her
voice into a note almost inaudible, she add-
ed, " I think you said he was just the same
age with my own untie ?"


" Yes," says the painter, " I think he
must be about the same standing ; and I
think he went to Spain just about the pe-
riod of your own marriage."

" Filthy old fellow," quoth she very
quickly ; *' and this is what he has brought
home with him ! I have a great mind to
tell his wife."

" Hush, hush," said Agaso ; " if you do
so, you will ruin me. Besides, this is the
very day Rupilius spoke of bringing her to
see his own portrait ; and, indeed, I am
sure that is the old Senator's hem, in the
adjoinining gallery. They will be here in
an instant. I rely on your prudence."

And no sooner had Agaso said so, than,
of a surety, the portly original of the lati-
claved portrait walked into the room, ha-
virg his gown, and every part of his dress,
arranged,in all things, after the same fashion
represented in the picture ; although, in the
living countenance, it was easy to discover
not a few deep lines and spots which had


been cautiously omitted in the copy. By
his side moved a short pursy woman, array-
ed in the extremity of gaudy and costly at-
tire, whose own naturally dark and swarthy
complexion did not, in spite of all the arts
of cosmeticism, harmonize very well with
the bright golden ringlets of her Sicambrian
peruque ; while behind the pair came a
thin damsel, whose scraggy lineaments ex-
hibited a sort of faint shadow, or type, as
it were, of the same visage, the rudiments
of which had been so abundantly filled up
in that of the broad and rubicund old ma-
gistrate, her father.

" There now," quoth Rubellia, percei-
ving their approach ; " just see with what
effrontery this ancient libertine struts into
the room ; and his wife anddau ghter, too,
are along with him. Oh, dog-eyed auda-
city ! — and yet it is scarcely possible to ob-
serve the groupe without laughing."

But if she, or any of the rest of us, felt
any inclination to smile on the very first


appearance of the party, I leave you to
judge how much this mclination must
have been increased by what passed after
they had begun to make their observations
on the work which they had come to exa-
mine. For the ex-pro-preetor himself, af-
ter saluting Agaso, stood still with an air
of infinite dignity, in the midst of the
apartment, while the fond daughter, rush-
ing close up to his picture, could with dif-
ficulty affix any limits to her expressions of
the satisfaction with which it inspired her.
The little fat MetuUa also (for so his wife
was named) devoured its features at first
with eyes of rapture ; but she ere long began
to see and to say, that, after all, imperfect
justice had been rendered to the manly
charms of her lord.

" Oh Jupiter !" quoth the young damsel,
" if papa were not here himself, I should
expect the wood to speak to us, so perfect-
ly does this resemble him ! Look at the
very ring upon his finger. It is the very


ring he wears ! One can see the very images
that are engraved upon it ; one can see the
three Graces that papa always seals with. I
never saw such a picture — when will it be
brought home ?'*

" Hush, hush, now, Primula, my darling,"
quoth the mother. " It is certainly an asto-
nishing likeness ; but I don't understand
what it is that makes painters, now-a-days,
paint people older than they are. I am
sure your papa, girl, does not look near so
old as in this picture. It may be like him
hereafter ; but he should have been repre-
sented much younger just now. And be-
sides, it wants something of his expression.
Don't you think so now yourself, sir ?'*
(turning to the painter). " Don't it strike
yourself thatyouhave given him toosombre
a look ? Rupilius has surely been looking
very gloomily when he sat to you."

On this the painter leaving Sextus, ad-
vanced to the side of Metulla, and after a
pause of some moments, spent in contem-


plating alternately his own work and the
original, said, with a courteous simper,
" How much am I indebted to you, most
noble lady, for this visit, and these judici-
ous remarks ! Without doubt, you must
be the best judge. But as for me, I only
wish you had accompanied the senator
when he was sitting to me, and then, with-
out question, his countenance would have
worn the look you desiderate ; and I per-
haps might have more easily succeeded in
catching it, being aided by your sugges-
tions. But ladies do not know how their
lords look at times, when they themselves
are not present. I have painted the sena-
tor ; but I have missed — I perceive it too
plainly — I have missed something of the
man. I hope it may yet be amended."

" How modest he is !" ejaculated the
flattered spouse — " How modest he is, with
all his genius ! — A single sitting will suf-
fice, I am sure, to give it every thing it
wants. We shall come," added she, in a


lower tone — " we shall come some day
when you are quite alone, and I will sit
by you, and talk to Rupilius all the while,
and that will keep senate-meetings and
edicts, and all that stuff out of his head,
and you shall paint him just whei> he has
his own smile on his face."

" Delightful!" replied the artist ; " how
happy shall I be in having such an oppor-
tunity of improving both the picture and
myself! We must positively prevail on the
senator to give us this one sitting more ;
for, consider only, had the picture been for
the Senate, or for Csesar, or for the Province,
or any public place, it might have been
well, perhaps, to leave it almost as it is ;
but the case is very different in a domestic
portrait. In regard to that, the usual do-
mestic expression should, above all things,

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