ePub 版

to surprise it among the leaves of a rose, then to cover it with his hat, as it was feeding on a daisy. At one time he hoped to secure it as it revelled on a sprig of myrtle ; and, at another, grew sure of his prize, perceiving it to loiter on a bed of vio. lets. But the fickle fly still eluded his attempts. At last, observing it half buried in the cup of a tulip, he rushed forward, and snatching it with violence, crushed it to pieces. Thus, by his eagerness to enjoy, he lost the object of his pursuit.:

2. From this instance, young persons may learn, that pleasure is but a painted butterfly ; which, if temperately pursued, may serve to amuse; but which, when embraced with too much ardour, will perish in the grasp.

Disinterested Humanity. 1. The magnificent bridge over the river Loire, in France, having been broken down, a moving bridge was constructed in its stead.

2. A gentleman, with his wife, and child only four years old, were crossing this temporary bridge in a carriage ; whilst the people were turning the bridge round, the carriage was whirled off, and the father, mother and child fell into the water.

3. All the persons present, except one, believed the travel. lers were irretrievably lost. But John Baptist Murgot, a private dragoon in the regiment which was stationed there, thinking otherwise, plunged into the river in order to assist them. He first found the carriage empty. He knew not, afterwards, whereabouts to look for the people ; but the child at that moment rising above the water, he laid hold of it, and handed it up. to the people on the bridge. He afterwards had the good fortune to save both the father and mother. He next drew the carriage out, having previously cut the traces, and freed it from the horses, which, by this time, were drowned. The father, mother and child very soon recovered.

4. The gentleman, whose life and family were thus saved by the humanity and resolution of the dagroon, made him a tender of his property, and requested he would help himself to what part of it he pleased. The generous soldier refused all pecuniary, reward, saying that he was most nobly rewarded by the pleasure of having rescued so many fellow-creatures from death, and restored them to each other.

The Farmer and his two Sons. 1. A CERTAIN farmer, lying at the point of death, and being willing that his sons should pursue the same honest course of

life which he had done, called them to his bed-side, and thus bespoke them: “My dearest children,' said he, I have no other estate to leave you but my farm and my vineyard, of which I have made you joint heirs ; and I hope that you will have so much respect for me when I am dead and gone, and so much regard to your own welfare, as not to part with what I have left you, upon any account. All the treasure I am master of lies buried somewhere in my vineyard, within a foot of the surface; though it is not now in my power to go and show you the spot. Farewell then, my children; be honest in all your dealings, and kind and loving to each other, as children ought to be ; but be sure that you never forget my advice about the farm and the vineyard.' .

2. Soon after the old man was in his grave, his two sons set about searching for the treasure, which they supposed to have been hidden in the ground. When it is found,' said they, “we ! shall have enough and to spare, and may live at our ease.' So to work they both went as briskly as possible ; and though they missed of the golden treasure which they thought to have found, yet, by their joint labour, the vineyard was so well digged and turned up, that it yielded noble crops of fruit, which proved a treasure indeed. This success had such a happy effect upon them, that it gave an entire turn to each of their tempers, and made them both as active as they had before been idle and slothful.

[ocr errors]

Erskine and Freeport. 1. THERE were two boys at Westminster-school, whose names were Erskine and Freeport. Erskine was of a soft and timorous, but Freeport of a bold and hardy disposition. It happened one day that Erskine, by some accident, tore a piece of a curtain, which divided one part of the school from the other. The poor boy, well knowing what would be the consequence of such a transgression, was seized with a sudden panic, and fell crying and trembling. He was observed by his companions, and particularly by Freeport, who immediately came up to him, desired him not to be concerned, and generously promised to take the blame upon himself. As he promised, so he performed, and was punished for the fault accordingly.

2. When these two boys became men, in the reign of king Charles I. of England, the civil war between the king and parliament broke out, in which they were on opposite sideste Free

port was a captain in the king's army, and Erskine a judge ap. pointed by the parliament.

3. In an action between the king's and parliament's army, the king's army was defeated, and captain Freeport taken prisoner.

4. The parliament sent judge Erskine to take trial of the prisoners, among whom was his once generous school-fellow Freeport. They had been so long separated, that they did not know one another's faces. Judge Erskine, therefore, was on the point of condemning all the prisoners, without distinction But, when their names were read over, before pronouncing sentence, he heard his friend Freeport named ; and looking attentively in his face, asked him if ever he had been at West minster school ? He answered, he had. Erskine said no more, but immediately stopt proceeding, rode up to London, and in a few days returned with a signed pardon in his pocket for captain Freeport.

The Young Recruit. 1. A FEW years since, an officer being on a recruiting party, made a short stay at a village, where he enlisted several recruits. The evening preceding his departure, a tall, genteel youth offered himself. The captain, at first, wished to have this young fellow in his company; but seeing him tremble, and attributing this emotion to timidity, he mentioned his suspicions on that head, and endeavoured to encourage him. “Ah! sir,' exclaimed the youth with tears, my confusion arises only from the dread of being refused. You perhaps will not accept me, in which case how dreadful is my misfortune.'

2. The captain assured him that he was ready to enlist him, and demanded his terms. “I cannot propose them without trembling,' answered the youth : I am young, able, and willing to serve my country ; but an unfortunate circumstance constrains me to demand conditions, which, no doubt, you will think exorbitant: be assured, however, I should not sell my liberty, unless compelled by pressing necessity. I cannot enlist under fifty dollars; and you will break my heart if you reject me.' "The sum is considerable,' replied the captain, but I like you ; there is the money; keep yourself ready to march at an hour's notice.'

3. The young man joyfully accepted the bounty ; he then begged leave to fulfil a sacred obligation, and promised to return instantly to bis quarters. The captain remarking something

extraordinary in his behaviour, determined to watch him, and observed him to run to the county gaol ; and the moment it was opened, heard him call out, Here are the debts and costs for which my father is imprisoned : conduct me to him, that I may bave the pleasure of setting him free.'

4. The captain stops, to give him time to reach his father alone, and then enters the prison. He sees him clasped in the arms of an old man, whose liberty he had purchased at the price of his own. The captain, sensibly affected, advanced to the old man : • Comfort yourself,' said he, I will not deprive you of your son ; he is free as well as you : here is your discharge.'

5. The father and son threw themselves at his feet; the last declines the generous offer of his liberty, and conjures the captain to permit him to join his regiment, saying, that he should only be burdensome to his aged parent, who had no farther need of him. The captain complies with his request. The youth served the usual time, always saving something from his pay, which he constantly remitted to his father; and when he procured his discharge, he returned home, and ever afterwards maintained the old man by his own industry.

[ocr errors]

Lucretia and Virginia. 1. These two young ladies were the pride of the village where they dwelt. Both of them were handsome to perfection, but of dispositions exceedingly different. The unaffected Vir: : ginia was attentive to assist the infirmities of an aged parent, whom decrepitude confined to his cottage. She carefully attended his flock, or was employed in some useful and necessary work. 2. While knitting or spinning to procure him a more com

com fortable subsistence, her cheerful songs expressed a contented heart. Her dress, though plain, was neat and clean ; she studied no vain or fantastic ornament; and whenever her person was complimented, she lent no attention. "

3. Lucretia had been bred up under a careless mother. She was extremely conscious of being pretty. On holidays nobody was so spruce. Wreaths of flowers and ribands bedecked her hat ; every fountain had been explored for her dress, and every meadow ransacked to adorn it. From morn to night she danced or sported on the green.

4. The shepherds admired or flattered her, and she believed every word they said. Yet she felt many a discontent. Sometimes her garland was not sufficiently becoming ; some

times she imagined that a favourite shepherd was inattentive to her, or that he admired a new face. Every day was spent in frolic and dissipation, and every night brought with it some disquiet.

5. She was one morning sitting pensively under a poplar, tying up a nosegay, when she heard Virginia singing cheerfully in praise of industry. Lucretia approached her, and found she was busily engaged in plying the distaff.

6. • How is it possible, Virginia,' said she, that you should always be so merry while leading a life of drudgery?

7. • I prefer this way of life,' answered Virginia, because I perceive you are very unhappy in yours. I enjoy at least tranquillity and peace of mind, because I acquit myself well in the station in which Providence has placed me. I am the means of producing comfort for a good old father, who supported me in helpless infancy, and now requires this return of duty. When I have penned the fold at night, I return to his cot, and cheer him with my presence. I then prepare a supper, of which we partake with more pleasure than you do at a feast. My father afterwards relates to me the stories he has treasured up in his memory, and imparts the precepts of wisdom and experience. Sometimes he teaches me a song, and at other times I read to him in some good book. Thus, Lucretia, does my life pass. My expectations are few ; but I cherish many a joyful hope, which makes my heart light and easy.'

Negligence. 1. CHILDREN are apt to think that a few minutes added to their diversions can make no difference; and minutes slide away insensibly into hours ; their play becomes more interesting, the game is nearly concluded, or the kite will be down, it is a pity to stop its flight ; a race will shortly be determined, or some such reason prevails, till the time is elapsed in which their business should have been performed. Thus they are left to bewail, in sorrow and regret, the folly of their negligence.

2. It would be more prudent, therefore, at first, to secure essentials, and do what is necessary, before they begin to engage in those diversions, which, however laudable in their proper seasons, may frequently ensnare them into an errour, and subject them to severe punishment.

The Improvement of Time. 1. A LATE author, whose writings have much engaged the public attention hoe asserted, that time was nothing hut o evo

« 上一頁繼續 »