generous forbearance, overwhelmed Demetrius
Horace was fascinated by the story.
He thought the conduct of Demetrius
not only magnanimous and humane, but just and politic.
Sparing the people, misguided by their leaders, seemed to him the best way to make them ashamed of their ingratitude, and the best way of preventing its recurrence.
And he argued, if mercy is best and wisest on a small scale, can it be less so on a large?
If a man
is capable of such lofty magnanimity, may not God be who made
man capable of it. If, in a human being, revenge and jealousy are despicable, petty and vulgar, what impiety is it to attribute such feelings to the beneficent Father of the Universe?
The sin of the Athenians against Demetrius
had every element of enormity.
Twice he had snatched them from the jaws of ruin.
Twice he had supplied their dire necessity.
Twice he had refused all reward except the empty honors they paid to his name and person.
Ho had condescended to become one of them by taking a daughter of Athens
as his wife.
He had entrusted his wife, his ships and his treasure to their care.
Yet in the day of his calamity, when for the first time it was in their power
to render him a service, when lie was coming to them with the remnant of his fortune, without a doubt of their fidelity, with every reason to suppose that his misfortunes would render him dearer to them than ever; then
it was that they determined to refuse him even an admittance within their gates, and sent an embassy to meet him with mockery and subterfuge.
Of the offences committed by man against man, there is one which man can seldom lift his soul up to the height of forgiving.
It is to be slighted in the day of his humiliation by those who showed him honor in the time of his prosperity.
Yet man can
forgive even this.
forgave it; and the nobler and greater a man is, the less keen is his sense of personal wrong, the less difficult it is for him to forgive.
The poodle must show his teeth at every passing dog; the mastiff walks majestic and serene through a pack of snarling curs.
Amid such thoughts as these, the orthodox theory of damnation had little chance; the mind of the boy revolted against it more and