By this time the other lady was come up, who addressed herself to the young hero in a very different manner:—“Hercules,” says she, “I offer myself to you because I know you are descended from the gods, and give proofs of that descent by your love of virtue and application to the studies proper for your age. This makes me hope you will gain, both for yourself and me, an immortal reputation. But before I invite you into my society and friendship, I will be open and sincere with you, and must lay this down as an established truth, that there is nothing truly valuable which can be purchased without pains and labour. The gods have set a price upon every real and noble pleasure. If you would gain the favour of the Deity, you must be at the pains of worshipping Him; if the friendship of good men, you must study to oblige them; if you would be honoured by your country, you must take care to serve it; in short, if you would be eminent in war or peace, you must become master of all the qualifications that can make you so. These are the only terms and conditions upon which I can propose happiness.”
The Goddess of Pleasure here broke in upon her discourse:—“You see,” said she, “Hercules, by her own confession, the way to her pleasures is long and difficult; whereas that which I propose is short and easy.”
“Alas!” said the other lady, whose visage glowed with passion, made up of scorn and pity, “what are the pleasures you propose? To eat before you are hungry; drink before you are athirst; sleep before you are tired; to gratify appetites before they are raised, and raise such appetites as Nature never planted. You never heard the most delicious music, which is the praise of one’s-self; nor saw the most beautiful object, which is the work of one’s own hands. Your votaries pass away their youth in a dream of mistaken pleasures, while they are hoarding up anguish, torment, and remorse for old age. As for me, I am the friend of gods and of good men; an agreeable companion to the artizan; an household guardian to the fathers of families; a patron and protector of servants; an associate in all true and generous friendships. The banquets of my votaries are never costly, but always delicious; for none eat or drink of them who are not invited by hunger or thirst. Their slumbers are sound, and their wakings cheerful. My young men have the pleasure of hearing themselves praised by those who are in years; and those who are in years, of being honoured by those who are young. In a word, my followers are favoured by the gods, beloved by their acquaintance, esteemed by their country, and after the close of their labours honoured by posterity.”
We know, by the life of this memorable hero, to which of these two ladies he gave up his heart; and I believe every one who reads this will do him the justice to approve his choice.
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