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to do. At length, one of them naving a most active mind, devised for himself an amusement, by making the poker red hot, and with its point burning figures in the wooden settle. Before their imprisonment terminated, he succeeded in sketching a tolerable likeness of his friend, and has since carried on his newly discovered art to a considerable degree of perfection. I can easily imagine that the more active and energetic of the Greenwich pensioners would devise for themselves some kind of interesting, though perhaps mischievous employment, according to their several tastes; and those of a more indolent cast would become gloomy and diseased, for want of stimulus and exertion.”
“I wonder,” said Frank, “ that some kind of employment is not furnished to them by the institution.”
" That,” replied my uncle, “would be quite improper; it would entirely alter its character, and defeat its object. There must be nothing that could be construed into degradation or compulsion, or the retreat would at once lose the character of an honourable and well-earned reward for the British veteran, and assume that of a workhouse.”
No, no; that would never do,” rejoined our conductor : “they must be left free to choose their own employment. However much it may be regretted that any of them should adopt a course of listless indolence, which we know to be most unfriendly to happiness, we cannot compel them to be happy. Liberally to furnish them with the means of comfort is all that can be done; the rest must depend on themselves.”
After taking leave of this gentleman, who had shown us much polite attention, we rambled awhile
in the park, as well as looked into some of the rooms, and fell into conversation with several of the old men, whose remarks fully confirmed all he had said. Some of them we found
cheerful, contented, and happy; these were uniformly busy—benevolently busy. One was writing a letter to his aged mother, and enclosing in it a one-pound note, saved from his weekly allowance for tobacco. The tears filled his eyes as he spoke of her. He said she had been a good mother to him. He told us of her early instructions; her exertions to fit him out decently ; her anxieties and her prayers on his behalf; her joy at once more welcoming him to his native shores, though with mutilated limbs: and now his gratitude for having a comfortable asylum for himself, which he seemed chiefly to value as enabling him to contribute to the comfort of her old age. Another was making a chain of cherry-stones; and displayed for sale little grottoes of sea-shells, and several other ingenious and beautiful articles. A fine boy of five or six years old was endeavouring to assist the old man in his work. The affection that evidently subsisted between them seemed almost like that of parent and child. We learned, however, that the little fellow was the orphan child of an old messmate ; and that the veteran devoted the produce of his ingenuity and his merchandize to assisting the widow in the support and education of her children.
There was one interesting little group, consisting of three old men ; two of them, hale and hearty; the third had been much shattered. His companions had placed him on abench in the shade; he was reading aloud to them in Doddridge's “Rise and Progress.” One of the two sat with his elbows lodged
on his knees, both hands supporting his head, and his eyes eagerly fixed on the reader. deaf; but seemed to listen with his eyes, watching every motion of the lips, and so assisting the dull ear to guess at the sound conveyed. The other listened not with less attention, but with less difficulty; he was at the same time netting. When the chapter closed, each brushed away a tear from his weather-beaten cheek; and the two, with admirable dexterity and tenderness, assisted their crippled comrade in changing his position. My uncle took the opportunity of entering into conversation with the hoary tars, and congratulated them on the pleasures of Christian friendship, which they were evidently enjoying. It was truly pleasant to find how they were mutually serviceable to each other, and how each found his own happiness in promoting that of others. The cripple spoke gratefully of the kindness of his comrades. He said they were always at hand to attend to his wants, and help him about into an easy position ; and they did it with the skill of a surgeon, and the tenderness of a nurse. The other two old men were equally prompt in their expressions of obligation to their disabled comrade. One complained of having in his youth had no opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of reading; the other owned that he had then no sense of its value ; but “ Jack here,” they both agreed, was a fine reader ; he had learning enough for a chaplain : and by their joint savings they had purchased some choice books, which, by Jack's plain reading, they could well understand, and found them right comfortable to their poor ignorant souls.” The produce of the netting we found was devoted, together
with a portion of their weekly allowance, to the purchase of a valuable Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, then coming out in numbers. It appeared evident that the pious reading, in which they took so much delight, had been made really profitable to their souls. They had become acquainted with Him whom to know is life eternal, and they were rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. These men were happy, and verified the remark of the gentleman who had accompanied us through the establishment, that if the whole community “could be brought impartially to exhibit the degrees of happiness which prevail amongst them, we should find that he was the most happy man, who was laying by the greater portion of his little pittance for a heart that he loved, and was building up his own happiness by a preparation for eternity; while he was the most miserable, who was most exempt, in the common acceptation, from care, and who had acquired as much passing gratification as he could obtain.”
On our way back to the town, the topic of our conversation was the happiness of being well employed, and the wretchedness of having nothing to do.
“ Have you ever thought, my boys,” said my uncle, “how much our happiness depends on having something to do, and doing it?" We both acknowledged that we had never before been so forcibly struck with that sentiment, as present occasion : but even our own short experience and limited observation would serve to corroborate it. I recollected seeing my little brother look very unhappy, and asking him what was the matter, he replied, “I have got nothing to do.” Mrs. Harris, the superintendent of our nursery
immediately said, “Come to me, dear, and I will give you a nice raspberry tart.” Employment was what he wanted, not food; of course, the tart pleased him just as long as he was eating it, and no longer. He soon relapsed into his former discontented mood.
“Yes,” said my uncle, “and thus it often is, that children acquire habits of indolence, discontent, and gluttony. They are made to eat when they are not hungry, to save the lazy nurses the trouble of finding them employment. I do think parents should consider it an imperative duty to see that their children are furnished with suitable employment, such as will agreeably stimulate them to constant activity.”
“My poor mamma, I said, “does attend to that as much as ever her health will allow ; and
when he is at home. We are never dull for want of employment, when we can be with them.” My uncle, I am certain, had not intended to convey any unkind reflection on my parents. In their case, it was unavoidable, much more so than it usually is, for children to be left to the care of servants. I felt at the moment grieved by my uncle's remark; but I afterwards felt convinced that this was one of the many evils resulting from that arrangement. My uncle ohserved, that a physician who had lately been visiting at his house, when speaking of the beneficial effects of activity in promoting health and cheerfulness, had said that gentlemen's coachmen and porters were often unhealthy, and assigned this reason for it, “They suffer from excess of nourishment; they eat more than they work. Having often to wait