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philosophy makes us wiser, but Christianity makes us better men. Philosophy elevates and steels the mind, Christianity softens and sweetens it. The former makes us the objects of human admiration, the latter of divine love. That insures us a temporal, but this an eternal happiness.
TOBIAS GEORGE SMOLLETT. 1721-1771. (Manual, p. 315.) 195. THE Soldier's Return.
We set out from Glasgow, by the way of Lanark, the county town of Clydesdale, in the neighborhood of which the whole river Clyde, rushing down a steep rock, forms a very noble and stupendous cascade. Next day we were obliged to halt in a small borough, until the carriage, which had received some damage, should be repaired; and here we met with an incident which warmly interested the benevolent spirit of Mr. Bramble. As we stood at the window of an inn that fronted the public prison, a person arrived on horseback, genteelly though plainly dressed in a blue frock, with his own hair cut short, and a gold-laced hat upon his head. Alighting, and giving his horse to the landlord, he advanced to an old man who was at work in paving the street, and accosted him in these words: "This is hard work for such an old man as you." So saying, he took the instrument out of his hand, and began to thump the pavement. After a few strokes, "Had you never a son," said he, "to ease you of this labor?" "Yes, an' please your honor,” replied the senior, "I have three hopeful lads, but at present they are out of the way." "Honor not me," cried the stranger; "it more becomes me to honor your gray hairs. Where are those sons you talk of?" The ancient pavior said, his eldest son was a captain in the East Indies, and the youngest had lately enlisted as a soldier, in hopes of prospering like his brother. The gentleman desiring to know what was become of the second, he wiped his eyes, and owned he had taken upon him his old father's debts, for which he was now in the prison hard by.
The traveller made three quick steps towards the jail; then turning short, "Tell me," said he, "has that unnatural captain sent you nothing to relieve your distresses?" "Call him not unnatural," replied the other, "God's blessing be upon him! he sent me a great deal of money, but I made a bad use of it; I lost it by being security for a gentleman that was my landlord, and was stripped of all I had in the world besides." At that instant a young man, thrusting out his head and neck between two iron bars in the prison-window, exclaimed, "Father! father! if my brother William is in life, that's he." "I am! I am!" cried the stranger, clasping the old man in his arms, and shedding a flood of tears; "I am your son Willy, sure enough!" Before the father, who was quite confounded, could make any return to this tenderness, a decent old woman, bolting out from the door of a poor habitation, cried, "Where is my bairn? where is my dear
Willy?" The captain no sooner beheld her than he quitted his father, and ran into her embrace.
I can assure you, my uncle, who saw and heard everything that passed, was as much moved as any one of the parties concerned in this pathetic recognition. He sobbed, and wept, and clapped his hands, and holloed, and finally ran down into the street. By this time the captain had retired with his parents, and all the inhabitants of the place were assembled at the door. Mr. Bramble, nevertheless, pressed through the crowd, and entering the house, "Captain," said he, "I beg the favor of your acquaintance. I would have travelled a hundred miles to see this affecting scene; and I shall think myself happy if you and your parents will dine with me at the public house." The captain thanked him for his kind invitation, which, he said, he would accept with pleasure; but in the mean time he could not think of eating or drinking while his poor brother was in trouble. He forthwith deposited a sum equal to the debt in the hands of the magistrate, who ventured to set his brother at liberty without further process; and then the whole family repaired to the inn with my uncle, attended by the crowd, the individuals of which shook their townsman by the hand, while he returned their caresses without the least sign of pride or affectation.
My uncle was so charmed with the character of Captain Brown that he drank his health three times successively at dinner. He said he was proud of his acquaintance; that he was an honor to his country, and had in some measure redeemed human nature from the reproach of pride, selfishness, and ingratitude. For my part I was as much pleased with the modesty as with the filial virtue of this honest soldier, who assumed no merit from his success, and said very little of his own transactions, though the answers he made to our inquiries were equally sensible and laconic.
LAURENCE STERNE. 1713-1768. (Manual, p. 319.)
FROM "TRISTRAM SHANDY."
196. DEATH OF LE FEVRE.
In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, smiling he might march. He will never march, an' please your honor, in this world, said the corporal. He will march, said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed with one shoe off: An' please your honor, said the corporal, he will never march but to his grave: He shall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advancing an inch, he shall march to his regiment. He cannot stand it, said the corporal, He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby. He'll drop at last, said the corporal, and what will become of his boy?shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly. - Ah welladay,
- He do
what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point,
-The Accusing Spirit, which flew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in and the Recording Angel, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out forever.1
My uncle Toby went to his bureau-put his purse into his breeches' pocket, and having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician he went to bed, and fell asleep.
The sun looked bright the morning after to every eye in the village but Le Fevre's, and his afflicted son's; the hand of Death pressed heavy upon his eyelids, and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle, when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant's room, and without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair by the bedside, and, independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have done it, and asked him how he did how he had rested in the night-what was his complaint where was his pain and what he could do to help him?and without giving him time to answer any one of the inquiries, went on, and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal the night before for him.
- You shall go home directly, Le Fevre, said my uncle Toby, to my house and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter - and we'll have an apothecary, and the corporal shall be your nurse, and I'll be your servant, Le Fevre. There was a frankness in my uncle Toby, not the effect of familiarity, but the cause of it, which let you at once into his soul, and showed you the goodness of his nature; to this, there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him; so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, the son had insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirits of Le Fevre, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart, rallied back, -the film forsook his eyes for a moment, he looked up wistfully in my uncle Toby's face- then cast look upon his boy,- and that ligament, fine as it was, was never broken..
Nature instantly ebbed again, the pulse fluttered-stopped stopped again –
― stopped —
the film returned to its place
1 The sentiment of this paragraph has been characterized by an eminent American divine as the most beautiful in English literature.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH. 1728-1774. (Manual, p. 321.)
FROM "THE CITIZEN OF the World.”
197. THE STERN MORALIST.
Though fond of many acquaintances, I desire an intimacy only with a few. The man in black, whom I have often mentioned, is one whose friendship I could wish to acquire, because he possesses my esteem.
In one of our late excursions into the country, happening to discourse upon the provision that was made for the poor in England, he seemed amazed how any of his countrymen could be so foolishly weak as to relieve occasional objects of charity, when the laws had made such ample provision for their support. In every parish house, says he, the poor are supplied with food, clothes, fire, and a bed to lie on; they want no more, I desire no more myself; yet still they seem discontented. I am surprised at the inactivity of our magistrates, in not taking up such vagrants, who are only a weight upon the industrious. I am surprised that the people are found to relieve them, when they must be at the same time sensible that it, in some measure, encourages idleness, extravagance, and imposture. Were I to advise any man for whom I had the least regard, I would caution him, by all means, not to be imposed upon by their false pretences: let me assure you, sir, they are impostors, every one of them, and rather merit a prison than relief.
He was proceeding in this strain earnestly, to dissuade me from an imprudence of which I am seldom guilty, when an old man, who still had about him the remnants of tattered finery, implored our compassion. He assured us that he was no common beggar, but forced into the shameful profession to support a dying wife, and five hungry children. Being prepossessed against such falsehoods, his story had not the least influence upon me; but it was quite otherwise with the man in black. I could see it visibly operate upon his countenance, and effectually interrupt his harangue. I could easily perceive that his heart burned to relieve the five starving children, but he seemed ashamed to discover his weakness to me. While he thus hesitated between compassion and pride, I pretended to look another way, and he seized this opportunity of giving the poor petitioner a piece of silver, bidding him, at the same time, in order that I should not hear, go work for his bread, and not tease passengers with such impertinent falsehoods for the future.
198. A FABLE.
Once upon a time, a Giant and a Dwarf were friends, and kept together. They made a bargain that they would never forsake each other, but go seek adventures. The first battle they fought was with
two Saracens, and the Dwarf, who was very courageous, dealt one of the champions a most angry blow. It did the Saracen but very little injury, who, lifting up his sword, fairly struck off the poor Dwarf's arm. He was now in a woful plight; but the Giant coming to his assistance, in a short time left the two Saracens dead on the plain, and the Dwarf cut off the dead man's head out of spite. They then travelled on to another adventure. This was against three bloody-minded Satyrs, who were carrying away a damsel in distress. The Dwarf was not quite so fierce now as before; but for all that, struck the first blow; which was returned by another, that knocked out his eye but the Giant was soon up with them, and had they not fled, would certainly have killed them every one. They were all very joyful for this victory, and the damsel who was relieved fell in love with the Giant, and married him. They now travelled far, and farther than I can tell, till they met with a company of robbers. The Giant, for the first time, was foremost now; but the Dwarf was not far behind. The battle was stout and long. Wherever the Giant came, all fell before him; but the Dwarf had like to have been killed more than once. At last the victory declared for the two adventurers: but the Dwarf lost his leg. The Dwarf had now lost an arm, a leg, and an eye, while the Giant was without a single wound. Upon which he cried out to his little companion: "My little hero, this is glorious sport; let us get one victory more, and then we shall have honor for"No," cries the Dwarf, who was by this time grown wiser, "no, I declare off; I'll fight no more: for I find in every battle that you get all the honor and rewards, but all the blows fall upon me."
FROM "THE TRAVELLER."
To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire !