ePub 版


LESSON I. Petition to the Reader.

1. COME, youthful, reader, lend a listening ear,

And the petition of these pages hear!·
For, though a book, methinks 't is no offence
To speak to thee as if with soul and sense.


2. One word allow, thy favor to invite

For these light leaves, unsullied now and white. Wouldst thou possess a fair and comely face? Then do not mark my visage with disgrace!

3. Let no dog's ears on these square corners be,
No greasy thumb-marks make me blush for thee:
No inky spot, no idle scrawl, declare,
That book and reader need a master's care.

4. This said, I fain would win thy listening heart,
Some deeper, better meaning to impart.
Come, let thy fancy stray awhile with me,
In search of knowledge ranging far and free!

5. The West we seek, where boundless prairies lie; 'Tis spread before us, bright to fancy's eye! Here roams the savage; let us each draw near, To mark his aspect and his voice to hear.

6. How wild and fierce the warrior's kindled eye! How shrill his war-whoop, piercing to the sky! His home, the wigwam, oh how sad the scer His wife a slave, — his children all unclean!

[ocr errors]

7. No school is there, no church with lofty spire,
Pointing to heaven, and hallowing man's desire.
No holy prayer goes up to Mercy's throne;
No soothing hymn, no gentle love is known.


8. Fierce, selfish passions reign, and all declares,
The untutored savage rough as wrestling bears.
And why is this? Go search in every nook,
Thou canst not find among them all a book!

[ocr errors]

9. Oh could they read, how soon 't would change their plan,
And the wild Indian turn to Christian man!
How soon the darkness from his mind would fly,
And the bright sun of knowledge light his sky!

10. Books would reveal the God that dwells above,
Unfold man's duty, justice, truth, and love:
Would teach the blissful toil and arts of peace,
Life's snares to shun, life's pleasures to increase.

[ocr errors]

11. Come now, fair reader, our light journey o'er,
One word of inference, and I say no more.
Knowledge is power, and books that knowledge hold,
But you must delve for knowledge as for gold.

12. All that is good, - 't is Heaven's wise decree, -
We win by toil, and all to this is free.
Study these pages, be thy friend and mine,
And all my gathered stores are freely thine.

LESSON II. The Fox and Elephant.

1. I AM sorry to say that a great many people listen with more pleasure to a lively tale, that is full of cunning, wit, and scandal, than to a wise discourse, which teaches truth and inculcates virtue. This may be illustrated by the fable of the elephant and fox.

2. These two animals fell into dispute, as to which had the greatest powers of persuasion; and, as they could not settle the matter themselves, it was agreed to call an assembly of the beasts and let them decide it. These were accordingly summoned; and, when the tiger, porcupine, dog, ox, panther, goat, and the rest of the quadruped family had all taken their places, the elephant began his oration.

3. He discoursed very eloquently upon the beauty of



truth, justice, and mercy, and set forth the enormity of falsehood, cunning, selfishness, and cruelty. A few of the wiser beasts listened with interest and approbation; but the leopard, tiger, porcupine, and a large majority of the audience, yawned, and showed that they thought it a very stupid piece of business.


4. But, when the fox began to tell his cunning knaveries, they pricked up their ears, and listened with a lively interAs he went on to relate his various adventures, how he had robbed hen-roosts, and plundered geese and ducks from the poultry-yard, and how, by various cunning artifices, he had escaped detection, they manifested the greatest delight. So the fox proceeded, sneering at the elephant and all others who loved justice, truth, and mercy, and recommended to his listeners to follow the pleasures of thievery and plunder. As he closed his discourse, there was a loud burst of applause, and, on counting the votes, the majority was found to be in favor of the fox.


5. The assembly broke up, and some months passed away, when, as the elephant was quietly browsing in the woods one day, he heard a piteous moan at a little distance. Proceeding to the place from which the sound came, he there found the orator fox, caught in a trap, with both his hinder legs broken, and sadly mangled.


6. "So," said the fox, sharply, though he was nearly exhausted with pain, you have come to jeer at me, in my hour of trouble." "Surely not," said the elephant. " I would relieve your pain if I could, but your legs are broken, and there is no relief for you but death."

7. "True," said the fox, mournfully, "and I now admit the foolish policy of those principles I have avowed, and the practice which resulted from them. I have lived a gay life, though even my gayety has been sadly shadowed by perpetual fear of what has now come upon me. Had I been satisfied with an honest life and innocent pleasures, I had not thus come to a miserable end. Knavery, artifice, and cunning, may be very good topics with which to delude those who are inclined to be vicious, but they furnish miserable rules to live and die by."

LESSON III. The Twins.

1. In the autumn of 1826, I had occasion to visit the town of N, beautifully situated on the west bank of the Connecticut River. My business led me to the house of B—, a lawyer of threescore and ten, who was now resting from the labors, and enjoying the fruits, of a life strenuously and successfully devoted to his profession. His drawing-room was richly furnished, and decorated with several valuable paintings.

2. There was one among them that particularly attracted my attention. It represented a mother with two children, one in either arm, a light veil thrown over the group, and one of the children pressing its lips to the cheek of its mother. "That," said I, pointing to the picture," is very beautiful. Pray, Sir, what is the subject of it?"

3.It is a mother and her twins," said he; "the picture in itself is esteemed a fine one, but I value it more for the recollections which are associated with it." I turned my eye upon B- ; he looked communicative, and I asked him for the story. "Sit down," said he, " and I will tell it." We accordingly sat down, and he gave me the following narrative. .4. "

During the war of the Revolution, there resided, in the western part of Massachusetts, a farmer by the name of Stedman. He was a man of substance, descended from a very respectable English family, well educated, distinguished for great firmness of character in general, and alike remarkable for inflexible integrity and steadfast loyalty to the king.

5. "Such was the reputation he sustained, that even when the most violent antipathies against royalists swayed the community, it was still admitted on all hands, that farmer Stedman, though a Tory, was honest in his opinions, and firmly believed them to be right.

6. "The period came when Burgoyne was advancing from the north. It was a time of great anxiety with both the friends and foes of the Revolution, and one which called forth their highest exertions. The patriotic militia flocked to the standard of Gates and Stark, while many of the Tories resorted to the quarters of Burgoyne and Baum. Among the latter was Stedman.


7. "He had no sooner decided it to be his duty, than he took a kind farewell of his wife, a woman of uncommon beauty; gave his children, a twin boy and girl, a long embrace, then mounted his horse and departed. He joined himself to the unfortunate expedition of Baum, and was taken with other prisoners of war by the victorious Stark.

8. "He made no attempt to conceal his name or character, which were both soon discovered, and he was accordingly committed to prison as a traitor. The gaol in which he was confined was in the western part of Massachusetts, and nearly in a ruinous condition. The farmer was one night waked from his sleep by several persons in his room. Come,' said they, 'you can now regain your liberty; we have made a breach in the prison through which you can escape.'


9. "To their astonishment, he utterly refused to leave his prison. In vain they expostulated with him; in vain they represented to him that his life was at stake. His reply was, that he was a true man, and a servant of king George, and he would not creep out of a hole at night, and sneak away from the rebels, to save his neck from the gallows. Finding it fruitless to attempt to move him, his friends left him with some expressions of spleen.


10. The time at length arrived for the trial of the prisonThe distance to the place, where the court was sitting, was about sixty miles. Stedman remarked to the sheriff, that it would save some expense if he could be permitted to go alone, and on foot. And suppose,' said the sheriff, that you should prefer your safety to your honor, and leave me to seek you in the British camp?'


11. "I had thought,' said the farmer, reddening with indignation, that I was speaking to one who knew me.' 'I do know you, indeed,' said the sheriff, I spoke but in jest; you shall have your own way. Go! and on the third day I shall expect to see you at SThe farmer departed, and, at the appointed time, he placed himself in the hands of the sheriff.



12. "I was now engaged as his counsel. Stedman insisted before the court upon telling his whole story; and, when I would have taken advantage of some technical points, he sharply rebuked me, and told me that he had not employed me to prevaricate, but only to assist him in telling

« 上一頁繼續 »