“Nay, father! but thy playing is far superior to our best performances.”
“Well, Perreeza, I will try; but I fear my song will make thee sad.”
“Sadness at times, dear father, is far more profitable to the mind than hilarity.”
“True, my daughter! True! We both know it by experience.”
The Hebrew took the harp, and, in tones peculiar for their sweetness, sang a plaintive melody.
Great success attended the reign of the King of Babylon. His powerful legions had proved victorious in every clime. In addition to Judea, he had subjugated Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, and Arabia. Peace once more was proclaimed, and the great body of the army was called home. The monarch’s popularity was unbounded, and his praises were loudly trumpeted on the wings of every breeze, from east to west, and from north to south. The Chaldean empire rose still higher in glory, while numerous tributaries continued to pour their streams of gold into its already rich treasuries.
The afternoon was warm and sultry. The king reclined on an easy couch within a bower, in the palace garden. His mind was occupied with reflections on the past and thoughts of the future, and thus ran the soliloquy of the mighty potentate:
“Yea, the years are passing! On looking back they seem but short. But where has more been accomplished in so short a period? Ah, King of Babylon, thy career, hitherto, has been a brilliant one. My armies have clothed themselves with glory, which glory reflects back on their king. Surrounding nations do me homage. My coffers are filled from the wealth of Judah, Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, and Arabia. What hinders my success? Babylon is but in the infancy of her greatness. Her glory shall yet reach the heavens! Tea, I will make her a fit place for the residence of the gods. Selfish? Yea, truly. And who ever succeeded without being selfish? Yea, the King of Babylon is selfish; but may the gods assist me to hide it from the people. To them, may it appear that all my efforts are put forth in their behalf. But have I no regard for the welfare of my people aside from my own glory? I have! The gods know I have. And yet, I have a strong desire that my name shall be carried down to posterity surrounded by a halo of glory. Is this selfishness? Be it so. It must be done! Am I not deep in the affections of my people? In this I cannot be mistaken. Never was the Chaldean empire so firmly established. It will stand forever. Forever? Ah, that word has a long meaning. But what power can overthrow us? Is not Babylon the mistress of the world? Is not Chaldea the queen of nations? Will not her prosperity be perpetual? Alas for our brief knowledge! The gods, in this, have not elevated the king above the beggar. The future is enshrouded in gloom and hid from the gaze of mortals. My wise men say that they can