« 上一頁繼續 »
the truth. I had never seen such a display of simple integrity.
13. "It was affecting to witness his love of holy, unvarnished truth, elevating him above every other consideration, and presiding in his breast as a sentiment even superior to the love of life. I saw the tears more than once springing to the eyes of his judges; never before or since have I felt such interest in a client, I pleaded for him as I would have pleaded for my own life, I drew tears, but I could not sway the judgment of stern men, controlled rather by a sense of duty, than by the compassionate promptings of humanity.
14. "Stedman was condemned. I told him there was a chance of pardon if he asked for it. I drew up a petition and requested him to sign it, but he refused. 'I have done,' said he, what I thought my duty. I can ask pardon of my God, and my king; but it would be hypocrisy to ask forgiveness of these men for an action which I should repeat, were I placed again in similar circumstances.
15. "No! ask me not to sign that petition. If what you call the cause of American freedom requires the blood of an honest man for a conscientious discharge of what he deemed his duty, let me be its victim. Go to my judges and tell them, that I place not my fears nor my hopes in them.' It was in vain that I pressed the subject, and I went away in despair.
16. "In returning to my house, I accidentally called on an acquaintance, a young man of brilliant genius, the subject of a passionate predilection for painting. This led him frequently to take excursions into the country, for the purpose of sketching such objects and scenes as were interesting to him. From one of these rambles he had just returned. 1 found him sitting at his easel, giving the last touches to the picture which has just attracted your attention.
17. "He asked my opinion of it. It is a fine picture,' said I; is it a fancy piece, or are they portraits?' 'They are portraits,' said he, and, save perhaps a little embellishment, they are, I think, striking portraits of the wife and children of your unfortunate client, Stedman. In the course of my rambles, I chanced to call at his house in H. I never saw a more beautiful group. The mother is one of a thousand, and the twins are a pair of cherubs.'
18. "Tell me,' said I, laying my hand on the picture,
THE WOUNDED ROBIN.
tell me, are they true and faithful portraits of the wife and children of Stedman?' My earnestness made my friend stare. He assured me, that, so far as he could be permitted to judge of his own productions, they were striking representations. I asked no further questions; I seized the picture, and hurried with it to the prison, where my client was confined. 19. " I found him sitting, his face covered with his hands, and apparently wrung by keen emotion. I placed the picture in such a situation that he could not fail to see it. I laid the petition on the little table by his side, and left the
20. "In half an hour I returned. The farmer grasped my hand, while tears stole down his cheeks; his eye glanced first upon the picture, and then to the petition. He said nothing, but handed the latter to me. I took it and left the apartment. His name was fairly written at the bottom! The petition was granted, and Stedman was set at liberty."
LESSON IV. The Wounded Robin.
1. WHY, pretty robin, why so late
2. Away beneath some sunny sky,
3. Thou shiverest in the bitter gale,
And thy lone plaint doth seem a tale
4. Say, is thy frame with hunger shaken,
Or art thou sick, and, here forsaken,
5. Alas, I see thy little wing
Is broken, and thou canst not fly;
6. Nay, little flutterer, do not fear;
I'll bear thee home, thy heart I 'll cheer,
7. And oh, when sorrow through my heart
May some kind friend relieve the smart,
8. And in that sad and gloomy hour,
9. To bloom with happy hopes of spring,
LESSON V. The Violet and the Nightshade; a Fable.
1. A MODEST little violet once grew by the side of a flaunting nightshade. This latter flower was in full bloom, and, proud of its splendor, could not forbear looking down with contempt upon its humble neighbor; at the same time, it spoke as follows:
2. "Pray, what are you doing down there, my poor neighbor Violet? It seems to me, that you must have a dull time of it, living such an humble life as you do. It is quite different with me. Do you observe my proud leaves, and splendid blossoms? It is really delightful to possess such rare beauty, and to be conscious of the power to extort admiration from all we meet. How hard it must be to dwell in obscurity, and be treated with indifference or scorn!"
3. "Nay, neighbor Nightshade," said the violet in reply, "do not trouble yourself on my account. However humble my lot may be, I am at least coutent. Though I have not your splendor, and cannot expect to dazzle the eyes of anybody, still I have the power by my perfume to afford gratification to those who are fond of simple pleasures; and, if I can do no great good, I am also incapable of doing harm. You are, doubtless, very splendid; but I am told, that you have a mischievous disposition, and poison those who come within your reach. If, therefore, I cannot imitate your magnificence, I have at least the advantage of being innocent."
4. While the two flowers thus communed with each other, a mother with her two children chanced to be passing by. The children both noticed the nightshade, and were about to pluck its blossoms, when the lady told them to beware. "That flower," said she," though beautiful to the sight, is a deadly poison. Remember, my children, that what is beautiful to view, is often dangerous to the touch. Do you see that little violet, modestly crouching at the side of the gorgeous nightshade? To my mind, it is much the more pleasing of the two; for it is not only very pretty, but it has a sweet breath, and is perfectly harmless.
5. "Let this little scene be a lesson to you. When you see any one who is either rich or beautiful, and who is yet unkind, ungenerous, or wicked, remember the deadly nightshade. When you see one who is innocent, pure, and true, though humble and poor, remember the fragrant, but unpretending violet."
LESSON VI. An Escape.
1. It was the afternoon of an autumn day, and my journey led me over a range of low, broken hills, that skirt the southern border of the Ohio, not far from its junction with the Mississippi. The path was narrow, and but little travelled, and wound with a devious course amid open prairies, knolls covered with dwarf trees, and glades of thick forest.
2. I had pursued my way for several hours, without seeing a human being, or observing a human habitation. But
I'did not regret their absence, for solitude often feeds the mind better than society. I left my horse to choose his way and determine his pace; and, musing on things far and near, as they came pouring through my imagination, I proceeded on my journey.
3. It was at a late hour, and with a feeling of some surprise, that I at length observed a thunder-cloud spread over the western sky, and already shooting down its lightning upon the tops of the distant hills. Its grey masses were whirling in the heavens, as if agitated by the breath of a hurricane; and the mist that streamed down from its lower edge declared that it was full of rain. It was idle for me to turn back, with the expectation of finding any other shelter than what the forest might afford; I therefore pushed on, in the hope of reaching some hut or house, before the tempest should burst upon me.
4. I had scarcely taken this resolution, when a bolt of lightning fell upon a tall tree, at no great distance, at the same time ploughing a deep furrow in its trunk, and scattering the kindled fragments around in every direction. There was a momentary pause, and then a rush of wind that made the firmest oak of the forest tremble like a reed. This was succeeded by a second and third sweep of the gale, when a tall chestnut tree, by the side of my path, was beset by the tempest. It wrestled with the wind for a moment, like a giant, but suddenly it was torn from its place, and thrown over exactly in the direction where I chanced at the moment to be.
5. I heard the sound, and saw the falling tree; and, believing that I must inevitably be crushed, felt that momentary stupor which often attends the first discovery of instant peril. But the instinct of my horse was not thus paralyzed. He, too, saw the descending mass, and with a bound, placed himself and me out of danger. But the branches, as they fell, grazed his back, and his tail had well nigh shared the fate of that which once adorned Tam O'Shanter's mare.
6. This, however, was the only adventure we met with; for I soon arrived at a small inn, and there sheltered myself and horse from the torrent, which began shortly after to pour down from the cloud.