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pened in the ages of remote antiquity. Jerusalem was taken in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, and the term of the captivity was seventy years; but it is not possible to ascertain the duration of this reign; and it is equally impossible to discover exactly at what time the books of the scriptures were collected and arranged; but it is well known that it happened soon after the return of the Jews from the captivity. From these circumstances, therefore, it seems probable that this extraordinary history was written within about fifty years after the thing happened. Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest monarch, as well as the most distinguished political and military character of the age in which he lived, and in every respect the most conspicuous personage that had appeared on the theatre of the world. Some of the Jews who returned from the captivity, as well as some of the aged inhabitants of Babylon, could, perhaps, when this account was written, remember his reign and the circumstance of his insanity. At least his reign could not fail, at that time, to be fresh in the memory of the inhabitants of those countries. So remarkable a circumstance, in the history of so conspicuous and celebrated a character, must have been universally known and publicly talked of, both by the Jews and Babylonians. In such cir
cumstances a fabrication of that nature must have been immediately detected.
The sacred historians relate, that Nebuchadnezzar, walking in the garden of his palace, and having his thoughts absorbed in the contemplation of his own greatness and power, and insensible to whom he was indebted for these, his reason suddenly departed from him. This is no physical improbability. Thousands of similar cases may be found in the annals of medical experience, and produced from the same cause; pride and vainglory. They then tell us, that from a man he was transformed into a beast; a strong figurative expression, used to signify his deprivation of reason, the distinguishing characteristic of human nature, which discriminates man from the brute creation. By the representation of his hair growing like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws, that deformity of his exterior appearance, which must be the consequence of so dreadful a state of insanity, is hyperbolically expressed. As to his running wild with the beasts of the field, &c., it is probable that the unfortunate maniac spent the greater part of his time in wandering about in the parks and forests belonging to the royal palace, though under the inspection of persons appointed to take care of him.
The monarch, on the recovery of his reason, appears to have made suitable reflections on his crimes and sufferings, and to have acquired just ideas of the weakness and insufficiency of man, although ever so highly exalted; of the instability of all human power and grandeur, and of the absolute subjection of the greatest monarchs to the will of that supreme and omnipotent Being, who, according to the irresistible decrees of his providence, disposes all things as he pleases. This is the genuine representation of the fact related in this remarkable story.
FILIAL AND FRATERNAL DUTIES.
Every human being has been the subject of many cares before he could acquire even the thoughtless vigor of boyhood; and how many cares additional were necessary then, to render that thoughtless vigor something more than mere power of doing injury to itself! They whose constant attendance was necessary to preserve our very being,—to whom we owe the instruction we received, and, in a great measure too, our very virtues—may have sometimes, perhaps, exercised a rigor that was unnecessary, or abstained from affording us comforts which we might have enjoyed without any loss of virtue. But still the amount of advantage is not to be forgotten on account of some slight evil. We owe them much, though we might have owed them more; and, owing them much, we cannot morally abstain from paying them the duties of those who owe much. They should have no wants while we have even the humblest superfluity; or rather, while want is opposed to want, ours is not that of which we should be the first to think. In their bodily infirmities, we are the attendants who should be most assiduous round their couch or their chair ; and even those mental infirmities of age which are more disgusting ; the occasional peevishness, which reproaches for failures of duty that were not intended; the caprice that exacts one day what it would not permit the day before, and what it is again to refuse on the succeeding day, we are to bear, not as if it were an effort to bear them, and a sacrifice to duty, but with that tenderness of affection which bears much, because it loves much, and does not feel the sacrifices which it occasionally makes, because it feels only the love which delights in making them. How delightful is the spectacle, when, amid all the temptations of youth and beauty, we witness some gentle heart that gives to the couch of the feeble, and, perhaps, of the thankless and repining, those hours which others find too short for the successive gaieties with which an evening can be filled; and that prefers to the smile of universal admiration, the single smile of enjoyment, which, after many vain efforts, has at last been kindled on one solitary cheek!
If filial love be thus ready to bear with bodily and moral infirmities, it is not less ready to bear with intellectual weakness. · There is often, especially in the middle classes of life, as great a difference of mental culture in the parent and child, as if they had lived at the distance of many centuries. The wealth that has been acquired by patient industry, or some fortunate adventure, may be employed in diffusing all the refinements of science and literature to the children of those to whom the very words, science and literature, are words of which they would scarcely be able, even with the help of a dictionary, to tell the meaning. In a rank of life still lower, there are not wanting many meritorious individuals, who, uninstructed themselves, labor indefatigably to obtain the means of liberal education for one, whose wisdom, in after years, when he is to astonish the village, may gratify at once their ambition and love. It would, indeed, be painful to think that any one, whose superiority of knowledge has cost his parents so much fatigue, and so many privations of comfort, which, but for the expense of the means of his acquired superiority, they might have enjoyed, should turn against them, in his own mind, the acquirements which