THE TWO COMFORTERS
The great philosopher Citosile once said to
a woman who was disconsolate, and who had
good reason to be so: "Madame, the queen of
England, daughter to Henry IV., was as
wretched as you. She was banished from her
kingdom, was in great danger of losing her
life at sea, and saw her royal spouse expire
on a scaffold."
"I am sorry for her," said the lady, and
began again to lament her own misfortunes.
"But," said Citosile, "remember the fate
of Mary Stuart. She loved (but with a most
chaste and virtuous affection) an excellent
musician, who played admirably on the bass-viol.
Her husband killed her musician before her
face; and in the sequel, her good friend and
relative, Queen Elizabeth, who called herself
a virgin, caused her head to be cut off on
a scaffold covered with black, after having
confined her in prison for the space of
"That was very cruel," replied the lady, and
presently relapsed into her former melancholy.
"Perhaps," said the comforter, "you have
heard of the beautiful Joan of Naples, who
was taken prisoner and strangled."
"I have a dim remembrance of her," said the
"I must relate to you," continued the other,
"the adventure of a sovereign princess who,
within my recollection, was dethroned after
supper, and who died in a desert island."
"I know her whole history," replied the lady.
"Well, then," said Citosile, "I will tell
you what happened to another great princess
whom I instructed in philosophy. She had a
lover as all great and beautiful princesses
have. Her father surprised this lover in
her company, and was so displeased with the
young man's confused manner and excited
countenance, that he gave him one of the
most terrible blows that had ever been given
in his province. The lover seized a pair of
tongs and broke the head of the angry parent,
who was cured with great difficulty, and who
still bears the marks of the wound. The lady
in a fright leaped out of the window and
dislocated her foot, in consequence of which
she habitually halts, though still possessed
in other respects of a very handsome person.
The lover was condemned to death for having
broken the head of a great prince. You can
imagine in what a deplorable condition the
princess must have been when her lover was
led to the gallows. I have seen her long ago
when she was in prison, and she always
spoke to me of her own misfortunes."
"And why will you not allow me to think of
mine?" said the lady.
"Because," said the philosopher, "you ought
not to think of them; and since so many
great ladies have been so unfortunate, it
ill becomes you to despair. Think of Hecuba, --
think of Niobe."
"Ah!" said the lady, "had I lived in their
time, or in that of so many beautiful
princesses, and had you endeavored to console
them by a relation of my misfortunes, would
they have listened to you, do you imagine?"
Next day the philosopher lost his only son,
and was entirely prostrated with grief. The
lady caused a catalogue to be drawn up of
all the kings who had lost their children,
and carried it to the philosopher. He read
it -- found it very exact -- and wept
Three months afterwards they chanced to renew
their acquaintance, and were mutually surprised
to find each other in such a gay and sprightly
humor. To commemorate this event, they caused
to be erected a beautiful statue to Time, with
this inscription: "TO HIM WHO COMFORTS."