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The happy Fire-side.
ILLUSTRATED BY INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS.
BY F. B. VAUX.
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has surviv'd the fall! Tho' few do taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or tasting, long enjoy thee! too infirm, Or too incautious to preserve thy sweets Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup; Thou art the nurse of virtue; in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is, Heaven-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
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MY DEAR YOUNG READERS,
When I was a child, if a new book were given to me, I recollect, my first question invariably was:—"Is this true." If the answer were in the affirmative, the volume immediately assumed, in my eyes, a new value, and was perused with far greater interest than a story merely fictitious. Now, as I am very desirous that you should take up this little volume with a prepossession in its favour, I must inform you, that the characters of the children here pourtrayed, are all real characters. The little work was undertaken for the improvement of a family very dear to me, and was, during its progress, regarded by them as a faithful mirror, reflecting both their virtues and defects. You will find in it, among other subjects, a slight sketch of the early part of the Roman history; but you must not suppose, that in offering it to you, I mean my little book to supersede the more detailed accounts that are usually put into the hands of children. I have often found, that even when a volume has been read entirely through, very few of the facts have made any deep impression on the youthful mind; and the improvement to be derived from those facts, is still more completely overlooked. This I discovered to be the case with my little friends: they had read the Roman history, and I had hoped that they had read it attentively; but upon questioning them afterwards, even upon some leading events, I found them exceedingly deficient in information. This suggested to me the idea of the following little volume. I recommended them to begin again the perusal of the Roman history; to take notes as they proceeded, and write, from them, an abridgment for themselves; promising that I would do the same, and give my manuscript to the one who should most deserve it. They were pleased with the plan, and regularly brought their little productions, once a fortnight, for my inspection. I, at the same time, read them mine. They soon discovered in it their own characters, delineated under fictitious names, and took a still more lively interest in their task. By the time I had completed the regal government of Rome, I found my manuscript had attained a considerable size; I therefore had it neatly bound, and as Emily and Louisa equally deserved the prize, they drew lots, and it fell to the former. Several young persons who had perused the little work, united in begging it might be printed, that they also might have it in their libraries. This, my dear young readers, is the origin of DOMESTIC PLEASURES.
The conversations recorded in the following pages, are chiefly such as have, at different times, taken place between my little friends and myself. I sincerely wish you may derive, not only amusement, but instruction, from the transcript; and that it may convince you, no pleasures are so pure as domestic pleasures; no society so delightful, as that experienced in the affectionate intercourse of parents and children, by a happy fire-side.
FRANCES BOWYER VAUX.
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MR. AND MRS. BERNARD.
EMILY, aged Fifteen.
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The rain came down in torrents, and beat violently against the parlour windows, whilst a keen autumnal blast made the children shiver, even by the side of a good fire. Their little hearts glowed with gratitude, when they reflected on their happy lot, sheltered from the bitter wind and driving sleet; and contrasted it with that of many miserable little beings, who were, no doubt, exposed, at that very moment, to the pitiless raging of the storm.
"Ah, mamma," said Ferdinand, a little boy of seven years old, "how I feel for those poor children who have no home to shelter them, and no fire to warm their cold hands. I often think of them, and it reminds me of the hymn I learned some time ago.
"Not more than others I deserve, Yet God hath given me more; For I have food whilst others starve, Or beg from door to door."
"I am glad to find that you can feel for others in distress, my boy," said Mrs. Bernard; "and hope you will each, my dear children, cultivate that benevolent affection called compassion, which enables us to enter into the distresses of others, and feel for them, in worse measure, as we do for ourselves. But we must not rest satisfied with only pitying their sorrows; as far as lies in our power, it is our duty to relieve them."
"That would be delightful indeed, mamma," said Ferdinand; "but what can such children as we are, do towards assisting our fellow creatures?—at least, such a little boy a I am. I thought it was only men and women, who could do good to others by their charity and benevolence."
His mother endeavoured to explain to him, that, although he might not at present be able to do any very extensive good to society, still the attempt to be useful, as far as lay in his power, would improve his own disposition; in which case his efforts would not be thrown away; and that, although he was so young, he might, nevertheless, be serviceable, in some degree, to his poorer neighbours. "And it would be very silly, my boy," added she, "to abstain from making the trial, merely because you could not do all the good you wished."
Ferdinand quite agreed with his mother, and the rest of the children cordially united in his wish to render themselves useful; but how to effect their purpose was the next consideration. Mrs. Bernard had taught her boys to net and knit, together with several other employments of the same kind. These occupations, she found, had the excellent effect of completely fixing their wandering attention, whilst she read to them, which she was daily in the practice of doing.
Ferdinand was the first to recollect that he could plat straw for a hat, which, he had no doubt, Emily and Louisa would afterwards sew together for him.
Louisa. Oh, yes, that we will most willingly, Ferdinand. But let us think what we can do, Emily: we might make a great many things, you know, because we can do all sorts of work.
Emily. Very true, Louisa: the chief difficulty will be to procure materials for the exercise of our abilities. I have several things that I shall not wear again; these, if mamma has no objection, might, I think, be converted to very useful purposes.
Mrs. B. You have my free permission, my dear girl, to exert all your ingenuity upon them.
Edward said, he had just thought of an employment for himself, which he hoped would please Ferdinand. "A few days ago," added he, "when I was drinking tea with my aunt, she was making gloves of fine white cotton, with a little ivory instrument hooked at the end; now, if I use worsted instead of cotton, I think I shall make some nice warm gloves, which will do instead of fire, to keep the poor children's hands warm; and I can knit stockings for them too, so that I do not think any one of us need be idle."
Louisa. And then our prize-money—that may be set apart to purchase materials for more clothes, when the stock we have on hand is all used. May it not, mamma?
Mrs. B. It is an excellent scheme, my dear Louisa, and, as a reward for suggesting it, you shall make the box to hold your treasure, provided you will take pains, and endeavour to do it as neatly as you can.
Ferdinand. And make it strong too, Lousia, for I expect it will soon be full. I shall be more anxious than ever to get a prize now.
Louisa. I have been thinking what I shall put upon the box as a motto. Ought it not to have one, mamma?
Mrs. B. By all means, my dear; but it must be something appropriate. What do you propose, Louisa?
Louisa. I was thinking of painting a little wreath of flowers, and writing very neatly in the middle, "Charity is kind."
Mr. B. A very well-chosen motto, Louisa. I am delighted to witness your benevolent dispositions, my beloved children. Make haste and sit down to your respective employments. In the mean time, I will hasten and finish my business in the counting-house, that I may enjoy your company this evening.
All. Thank you, dear papa.
While Mr. Bernard was absent, the children were all busily employed, preparing for their new occupations, and had just taken their seats before a cheerful fire, when their father re-entered the room.
Mr. B. Well, what all seated?
Louisa. Yes, papa, we made great haste, that we might be ready for you when you came in. Are we to read to-night, or will you be so kind as to talk to us?
Mr. B. Suppose you talk to me a little, Louisa. Tell me what you have been reading with your mother to-day.
Louisa. Emily would tell you best, papa; but if you wish to hear me, I will give you as good an account as I can.
Mr. B. To do your best, is all that can be expected of you, my dear. Remember to speak very distinctly.
Louisa. We began the Roman history, and read as far as the deaths of Romulus. Nobody saw him die, and so—
Mr. B. Stop, stop—not so fast, recollect, you have not yet told me who Romulus was.
Louisa. Oh! I thought you knew that, papa; he was the first king of Rome, and he built the city, and—
Mr. B. Begin again, my dear Louisa. Do not be in such a hurry; give me a clear account of Romulus, from his birth to his death.
Louisa. Oh dear, papa, I do not think I can do that.
Mrs. B. Try, however, my dear, as your father wishes it. Emily will help you out, if you find yourself at a loss.
Louisa, (laying aside her work and looking attentively at her father.) I do not at all know where to begin, papa. I think you will not understand me, if I do not first tell you something about Numitor and Amulius.
Mr. B. Then, by all means, begin with them.
Louisa. Numitor and Amulius were brothers. They were sons to the king of Lavinium. Numitor was, by his father's will, left heir to the throne, and Amulius was to have all the treasures. This, however, did not satisfy him; he wanted to be king too, and, by means of his riches, soon gained his wish. He was a very bad man indeed, for he killed Numitor's two sons, and would not let his daughter marry, for fear she should have a little baby, which, when it grew up, might deprive him of the crown he had so wickedly taken from his brother. Notwithstanding his precaution, she did have two little boys, whom she named Romulus and Remus. Amulius, their cruel uncle, found them out, and ordered them to be drowned: so the poor little creatures were put into a cradle, and thrown in the the river Tiber. But it happened, just at that time, it had overflowed its banks, and at the place where they were thrown in, the water was too shallow to drown them.—Do I get on pretty well, papa?
Mr. B. Admirably, my dear Louisa. Edward, can you tell us where the river Tiber flows?
Edward. Yes, father, it rises in the Apenine mountains in Italy, and empties itself into the Mediterranean Sea, ten miles from Rome. Its present name is Tivere.
Mr. B. Perfectly right, my boy. Now, Louisa, go on. I beg pardon for interrupting you.
Louisa. I think I left my little babies in a very dangerous situation on the banks of the Tiber: they, however, escaped the death prepared for them. The cradle floated some time, and on the waters' retiring, was left on dry ground. And now, papa, do you know, I do not quite believe what the book says, about a wolf's coming and suckling them: it seems so unnatural.
Mr. B. I am inclined to doubt the fact too, my dear; but not upon the ground of its being unnatural, as I have heard of many circumstances quite as extraordinary, which, nevertheless, I know to have been true. But go on with your relation.
Louisa. At last, Faustulus, the king's shepherd, found them, and took them home to his wife, Laurentia, who brought them up as her own children. They followed the employment of shepherds, but soon discovered abilities above the meanness of their supposed birth. As they grew up, they were not content with watching their flocks, but used often to employ themselves in hunting wild beasts, and attacking a band of robbers that infested the country. One day Remus was taken prisoner, carried before the king, and accused of having robbed upon his lands. The king sent him to Numitor, that he might punish him as he thought proper. Numitor, however, did not punish him at all, for he, by accident, discovered that he was his grandson. Amulius was soon afterwards killed, and Numitor restored to the throne. Now, papa, may Emily tell you the rest?
Mr. B. Louisa has acquitted herself wonderfully well. Let me hear you, my dear Emily, continue the account.
Emily. The two brothers leaving the kingdom to Numitor, determined upon building a city on the spot where they had been so cruelly exposed, and so wonderfully preserved: but a fatal desire of reigning seized them both, and created a difference between the noble youths, which ended in the death of Remus. Romulus being now without a rival, laid the foundation of a city, which, in compliment to its founder, was called Rome. In order to people this new settlement, admission was given to all malefactors and slaves, so that it was soon filled with inhabitants. The next object was to establish some form of government. Romulus left them at liberty to appoint their own king, and they, from motives of gratitude, elected him. He was accordingly acknowledged as chief of their religion, sovereign magistrate of Rome, and general of the army. Besides a guard to attend his person, it was agreed that he should be preceded, wherever he went, by twelve Lictors, each bearing an axe tied up in a bundle of rods. These were to serve as executioners of the law, and to impress his new subjects with an idea of his authority.
Mr. B. Very well, Emily: now suppose Edward gives us an account of the legislation of Rome.
Edward. The senate consisted of an hundred of the principal citizens, who were appointed as counsellors to the king. The first of these senators was nominated by the sovereign, and always acted as his representative, whenever war or other emergencies called him from the Capitol. The plebians, too, had considerable weight in the administration, as they assumed the power of confirming the laws passed by the king and senate. Their religion was mixed with much superstition. They had firm reliance on the credit of soothsayers, who pretended, from observations on the flight of birds, and from the entrails of beasts, to direct the present, and dive into futurity.
Mr. B. Very well, Now can Ferdinand tell us any thing about Romulus.
Ferdinand. Yes, papa, I can tell you how wickedly he deceived the Sabines, to get wives for his Roman people.
Mr. B. Who were the Sabines?
Ferdinand. A neighbouring nation, and reckoned the most warlike people in all Italy.
Mrs. B. Well, now for your account of the treachery of Romulus.
Ferdinand. Romulus proclaimed that he should give a feast in honour of the god Neptune, and made very great preparations for it. The Sabines came, with the rest of their neighbours, and brought their wives and daughters with them: but the poor things had better have been at home, papa, for in the middle of the entertainment, the young Romans rushed in with drawn swords, seized the most beautiful women, and carried them off. I think it was one of the most wicked actions I ever heard of.
Mr. B. I am not surprised, my dear, at your warm expressions. If we regard the deed merely as a breach of hospitality, we must pronounce it both barbarous and unmanly; but to mediate such treachery, and veil it under the cloak of religion, was indeed a sin of the deepest dye. Can you, Edward, tell us what was the consequence of this treachery?
Edward. A bloody war ensued. Tatius, the Sabine king, entered the Roman territories at the head of twenty-five thousand men; a force greatly exceeding that which the Romans could bring against them into the field.
Mr. B. Louisa, can you tell me how they gained possession of the Capitoline hill?
Louisa. Tarpeia, daughter of the commander, offered to betray one of the gates to the Sabine army, if the soldiers would give her, as a reward, what they wore on their left arms—meaning their bracelets: they, however, willing to punish her for such treachery, pretended to think she meant their shields, which they threw upon her as they entered, and crushed her to death. I think, papa, she was justly punished, for it is every one's duty to love and protect their country. It is very base to betray it to its enemies.
Mr. B. I am pleased with your remark, Louisa. Indeed, I have been delighted to hear you all answer, so properly, the different questions that have been proposed to you. But it is growing late, as it wants but a quarter to nine o'clock; we must therefore defer the remainder of our history till to-morrow. Farewell, my dear children.
The young folks immediately arose, and having carefully put by their work, took an affectionate leave of their parents, and retired for the night.
After a day spent happily, because it was spent in the cheerful performance of their several duties, the little family assembled round the tea-table, and were rewarded by the approving smiles of their affectionate parents.
Louisa. Let us make haste and finish our tea, that we may sit down to work, with papa and mamma, as comfortably as we did last night.
Mrs. B. Rather let us endeavour, my dear Louisa, to prolong each moment by employing it usefully. It is wrong to wish one instant of so short a life to pass unimproved. Recollect, the wisest of men has said, "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."
Ferdinand. When you speak of the wisest of men, do you not mean Solomon, mamma?
Mrs. B. Yes, my dear. You have read that part of the sacred Scriptures which contains the life of that great man, have you not?
Ferdinand. I have, mamma. When God gave him his choice of many blessings, he preferred the gift of wisdom, which was granted him; and honours and riches were also added, as a reward for his prudent choice.
Louisa. Is knowledge the same thing as wisdom, pray? [Footnote: The conversation following, was held, verbatim, between the author and a little boy seven years old.]
Ferdinand. I think not, Louisa. Wisdom is a much better thing than knowledge. Is it not, mamma:
Mrs. B. I think so my dear; but you shall hear what my favourite poet, Cowper, says upon this subject:
"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have oft-times no connexion. Knowledge dwells In heads, replete with thoughts of other men; Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude, unprofitable mass, The mere materials with which wisdom builds, Till smooth'd, and squar'd, and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom it seems t'enrich. Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more."
Ferdinand. I do not quite understand those lines: they say that knowledge is a mere unprofitable mass. You have told me, mamma, that I ought to take pains, and gain improvement by means of books, conversation, and observation; but if these lines are true, what good will it do me?
Mrs. B. Read the next line, my dear boy. "The mere materials with which wisdom builds." Now, if you provide no materials, you must be aware that wisdom cannot build her temple in your mind. Do you understand now the meaning of the lines?
Ferdinand, (after a pause for consideration,) Yes, mamma: and I think I understand the true meaning of the word wisdom, too. It is such power as God possesses:—a great deal of knowledge joined to a great deal of goodness.
Mrs. B. You are quite right, my dear Ferdinand. What is Emily reflecting upon so seriously?
Emily. I was thinking, my dear mother, how much at a loss the English must have been, before the introduction of tea into Europe. I have heard my father say, it was not known here till within the last two hundred years.
Mr. B. I did tell you so, my dear. Some Dutch adventurers [Footnote: See Macartney's Embassy to China.], seeking, about that time, for such objects as might produce a profit in China, and hearing of the general use, there, of a beverage from a plant of the country, endeavoured to introduce the use of the European herb, sage, amongst the Chinese, for a similar purpose, accepting, in return, the Chinese tea, which they brought to Europe. The European herb did not continue long in use in China, but the consumption of tea has been gradually increasing in Europe ever since. The annual public sales of this article, by the East India Company, did not, however, in the beginning of 1700, much exceed fifty thousand pounds weight: the annual sale now, approaches to upwards of twenty millions of pounds.
Emily. It is indeed an amazing increase; but I am not surprised that is has been so universally adopted. I know of no beverage so refreshing and pleasant. Although we take it twice a day, we never seem to grow tired of its flavour. I suppose it is cultivated in China, as carefully as corn is with us?
Mr. B. It grows wild, like any other shrub, in the hilly parts of the country; but where it is regularly cultivated, the seed is sown in rows, at the distance of about four feet from each other, and the land kept perfectly free from weeds. Vast tracts of hilly ground are planted with it. It is not allowed to grow very tall, for the convenience of the more readily collecting its leaves, which is done first in spring, and twice afterwards in the course of the summer. Its long and tender branches spring up almost from the root, without any intervening naked trunk. It is bushy, like a rose tree, and the blossom bears some resemblance to that flower.
Emily. There is a very great difference in the flavour of tea. Does that depend upon the manner of drying it?
Mr. B. In some degree it does; but its quality is materially affected by the soil in which it grows, and by the age of the leaves when plucked from the tree. The largest and oldest leaves are least esteemed, and are generally sold to the lowest of the people, with very little previous preparation. The younger ones, on the contrary, undergo great care and much attention, before they are delivered to the purchaser. Every leaf passes through the fingers of a female, who rolls it up almost to the form it assumed before it was expanded by growth. It is afterwards placed upon very thin plates of earthen-ware, or iron, and exposed to the heat of a charcoal fire, which draws all the moisture from the leaves, and renders them dry and crisp.
Emily. I have heard that green tea is dried on copper, which gives it its peculiar taste and colour, and renders it less wholesome than black tea.
Mr. B. This is, I believe, a mistake: the chief use of copper, in China, is for coinage. Scarcely any utensil is made of that metal, and the Chinese themselves confidently deny the use of copper plates for this purpose. The colour and flavour of green tea is thought to be derived from the early period at which the leaves are plucked, and which, like unripe fruit, are generally green and acrid.
Emily thanked her father for the account he had given her, and all the children gratefully felt the value of their kind parents, who were ever willing to devote their time and attention to the improvement of their beloved family.
Mr. B. I hope you are all prepared to give me a further account of Romulus, after tea.
All. We hope so, papa.
Ferdinand. May I first tell you a very curious account of a little dwarf, which I read today?
Mr. B. By all means, my boy.
Ferdinand. It is now seventy-four years since he was born, at a village in France. He was a very little creature indeed, as you will suppose, when I tell you he only weighed a pound and a quarter. When he was baptized, they handed him to the clergyman on a plate, and, for a long time, he used to sleep in a slipper. He could not walk alone till he was two years old, and then his shoes were only an inch and a half long. At six years old he was fifteen inches high. Notwithstanding he was so very small, he was well-made and extremely handsome, but he had not much sense. The king of Poland sent for him to his court, called him baby, and kept him in his palace. They tried to teach him dancing and music, but he could not learn. He was never more than twenty-nine inches tall. By the time he was sixteen he began to grow infirm, like an old man. From being very beautiful, the poor little creature became quite deformed. At twenty he was extremely feeble and decrepid, and two years after, he died.
Mr. B. Poor little creature: such objects are much to be pitied. There are persons who take pleasure in seeing them; but I must confess, there is something to me extremely unnatural, in such an exposure of our unhappy fellow-creatures.
Edward. Did not Peter the Great, on some occasion, assemble a vast number together?
Mr. B. He did; and I rather think Emily can give you an account of it.
Emily. It was in the year 1710, that a marriage between two dwarfs was celebrated at the Russian court. The preparations for this wedding were very grand, and executed in a style of barbarous ridicule. Peter ordered that all the dwarfs, both men and women, within two hundred miles, should repair to the capital, and insisted that they should be present at the ceremony. Some of them were unwilling to comply with this order, knowing that the object was to turn them into ridicule; but he soon obliged them to obey, and, as a punishment for their reluctance, made them wait on the others. There were seventy assembled, besides the bride and bridegroom, who were richly adorned in the extreme of fashion. Everything was suitably provided for the little company; a low table, small plates, little glasses; in short, all was dwindled down to their own standard. Dancing followed the dinner, and the ball was opened with a minuet by the bride and bridegroom, the latter of whom was exactly three feet two inches high, and the day closed more cheerfully than it had begun.
Edward. I had always understood that Peter was a man of a very barbarous disposition, and I think this circumstance is a strong proof of it. How cruel! to make sport of the misfortunes and miseries of others.
Mr. B. The Czar Peter was a most extraordinary man. No monarch ever did more towards the civilization of his subjects, or less towards the subduing of his own barbarous nature. My dear Ferdinand, ring the bell; I believe the tea-things may now be removed.
Louisa. Oh! how pleasantly the time has passed. I have not once thought of my work. I was afraid I should have been quite impatient to begin the little frock which I cut out last night.
Emily. You have felt interested in the conversation, Louisa, and that has made the time pass so pleasantly. Sometimes, when you are anxious respecting any pursuit, you think so much of its approach, that you do not attempt to employ the preceding minutes, which is the cause of their appearing so long.
Mrs. B. I was just going to make the same remark, Emily. It is very unwise to lose the present time, in the anticipation of a moment we may never see:
"Improve the present hour, for all beside Is a mere feather on the torrent's side."
Whilst the servant was clearing away the tea-things, the children employed themselves in preparing for their different occupations, and were soon happily seated around their parents.
Mr B. Well, now who will give us an account of the Sabine war? As the eldest, I believe I must call upon you, Emily.
Emily. The Sabines having become masters of the Capitoline hill, through the treachery of Tarpeis, a general engagement soon took place, which was renewed for several days, both armies obstinately refusing to submit. The slaughter was prodigious, which seemed rather to increase than diminish their rage. In a moment the attention of both armies was attracted by a most interesting spectacle. The Sabine women, who had been carried off by the Romans, rushed in between the combatants, their hair dishevelled, their dress disordered, and the deepest anguish pictured in their countenances; they seemed quite regardless of consequences, and, with loud outcries, implored their husbands and fathers to desist. Completely overcome by this distressing scene, the combantants let fall their weapons by mutual impulse, and peace was soon restored. It was determined that Tatius and Romulus should reign jointly in Rome, with equal power, and that an hundred Sabines should be admitted into the senate.
Mr. B. Was this union permanent, Edward?
Edward. Yes, father; though, as might have been expected, little jealousies occasionally crept in among them. Tatius was, however, murdered about five years afterwards, so that Romulus was once more sole master of Rome.
Mr. B. Come, Louisa, you have been silent to-night, let me hear you finish the account.
Louisa. Romulus soon began to grow very proud and haughty, now he had no one to oppose him. The members of the senate were much disgusted by his arrogance, and contrived to put him to death so privately, that his body was never discovered: they then persuaded the people that he was taken up into heaven, and he was long afterwards worshiped as a God, under the name of Quirinus.
Ferdinand. I am glad Romulus is dead, for I never liked him. Numa Pompilius was a much better man.
Mr. B. And pray who was he?
Ferdinand. He was a Sabine, papa: the second king of Rome, and was famous for being a just, moderate, and very good man; and that is the best kind of fame, I think.
Mr. B. I think so, too, Ferdinand. Was Numa Pompilius elected to the sovereign authority immediately upon the death of Romulus?
Edward. No, father: the senators undertook to supply the place of a king, by assuming, each of them in turn, the government for five days; but the plebeians not choosing to have so many masters, insisted upon the nomination of a king, and the choice fell on Numa Pompilius. He was received with universal approbation, and was himself the only person who objected to the nomination. Happy at home, and contented in a private station, he was not ambitious of higher honours, and accepted the dignity with reluctance.
Ferdinand. I should have thought just as
Numa did, papa; for I do not think kings can ever be happy.
Mr. B. They are certainly placed in a very responsible situation; but those who conscientiously perform their respective duties, need not fear being happy under any circumstances.
Ferdinand. But a king has so many duties to fulfil, and they are so important, that I am sure I had much rather be a subject.
Mr. B.. I am quite of your opinion, my dear boy, that there is much more happiness to be found in the private walks of life; and I can with truth declare, that I would not exchange my own fire-side, enlivened by so many happy countenances, for the gilded palace of the greatest monarch.
"Nor would we change our dear father and mother," said the cheerful little Louisa, "to be the gayest lords and ladies in the land."
Mr. B.. Well, my little lady, now let me hear how Numa goes on in his new dignity.
Louisa. He was so well calculated to be a king, by his goodness as well as his knowledge, papa, that you may suppose he made his subjects very happy. His whole time was spent in endeavouring to render them pious and virtuous. He built a great many new temples for religious worship; and, amongst others, one to Janus, which was always open in time of war, and shut in time of peace. He did every thing in his power to encourage agriculture, and, for this purpose, divided the lands which Romulus had conquered in war, among the poor people. His subjects loved him very much, and he lived till he was eighty years old, and then died in peace, after having reigned forty-three years. The temple of Janus was shut during his whole reign.
Mr. B. You have given your account very correctly, Louisa; Numa was, indeed, a wise and discreet prince. You have, however, omitted mentionaing his distribution of the tradesmen of Rome into distinct corporations, which Plutarch considered the master-piece of his policy. The city had been long divided into two factions, occasioned by the mixture of the Sabines with the first Romans. Hence arose jealousies, which were an inexhaustible source of discord. Numa, to remedy this evil, made all the artists and tradesmen of Rome, of whatever nation they originally were, enter into separate companies, according to their respective professions. The musicians, goldsmiths, carpenters, curriers, dyers, tailors, &c. formed distinct communities. He ordained particular statutes for each of them, and granted them peculiar privileges. Every corporation was permitted to hold lands, to have a common treasury, and to celebrate festivals and sacrifices proper to itself;—in short, to become a sort of little republic. By this means the Sabines and Romans, forgetting all their old partialities and party names, were brought to an entire union.
Ferdinand. That was a capital contrivance. What a clever man Numa was; and how much good such a king can do to his people.
Edward. You did not mention, Louisa, what pains Numa took to reform the calendar. The year, before his time, consisted of but three hundred and four days, which is neither agreeable to the solar nor the lunar year. Numa endeavoured to make it agree with both: he added January and February to the old year, which before consisted of only ten months. Although he did not render the calendar so complete as it is at present, he remedied the disorders as far as he was able, and put it into a condition of more easily admitting of new corections.
Mr. B. Louisa has alreay told us that the temple of Janus was not opened during the whole reign of Numa: he was, indeed a most pacific and amiable prince. He was beloved by his neighbours, and became the arbiter of all the differences among them; and his virtues seemed to have communicated themselves to all the nations around Rome. As to the Romans themselves, it might be literally said, that their weapons of war were changed into implements of husbandry. No seditions, no ambitious desires of the throne, nor so much as any murmurs against the person or administration of the king, appeared amongst his subjects. When he died, they lamented him as severely as if every man had lost his own father; and the concourse of strangers to Rome, to pay the last tribute of respect to his remains, was exceedingly great. Numa had forbidden the Romans to burn his body; they therefore put it into a stone coffin, and, according to his own orders, buried the greatest part of the books he had written, in the same sepulchre with himself. He had made a law, forbidding that any dead body should be buried within the city, and had, himself, chosen a burying-place beyond the Tiber. Thither he was carried, on the shoulders of his senators, and followed by all the people, who bewailed their loss with tears.
Mrs. B. How superior to brass and marble, is such a monument of a people's love.
Ferdinand. I suppose Numa named one of his new months January, in compliment to the god Janus, to whom he had erected the temple.
Mr. B. Yes. Janus is always represented with two faces, one looking backwards, the other forwards; and seems to be properly placed at the beginning of the year, to point out to us the necessity of looking back to the time that is past, that we may remedy our crimes in the year ensuing.
Louisa. Well, really now, that is very ingenious. Are the names of the other months all equally suitable, papa?
Mr. B. February was so called from the expiations signified by the word Februs, which were in this month performed. March had its name from Mars, the supposed father of Romulus; and on that account had been placed first, till the alteration made by Numa. April is said to have derived its name from Aphrodite, which is another name for Venus, because of the superstitious worship at that time paid to her. May, from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom this month was made sacred. June, from Juno; or, as some suppose, from Juventus, the Latin word for youth, because the season is warm, or, as it were, juvenile. The rest had their names from their order:—as, Quintilis, the fifth month; Sextilis, the sixth; September, the seventh; October, the eighth; November, the ninth; and December, the tenth:—all derived, as you know, Ferdinand, from the Latin words signifying these numbers. Quintilis and Sextilis were afterwards changed into July and August, in compliment to Julius Caesar and the emperor Augustus, of whom you will hear as you proceed with your history. Have you read any part of the reign of Tullius Hostilius, who was the next king of Rome?
Louisa. I just looked at a few pages, papa, but did not read much. But, from the little I saw, I do not think I shall like him so well as Numa.
Edward. No, that you will not, Louisa; for he was very fond of war, which you do not like at all. The temple of Janus was soon opened when he mounted the throne. I think Hostilius was a good name for him, for he was hostile to all his neighbours.
Mr. B. You have read his reign, I suppose, Edward? We must not, however, anticipate the history, by entering into any further detail at present, or we shall deprive your sisters of the pleasure they would otherwise have in the perusal of it. To-morrow, I shall expect an account of the battle between the Hexatii and Curiatii, which was the first remarkable event that occurred in his reign. It is now time to retire, as I purpose taking you all on a little excursion to-morrow, if it prove fine. You must, therefore, rise early, and prepare your lessons before breakfast.
The children all expressed their delight at this unexpected indulgence, promised the strictest attention to their lessons, and, affectionately embracing their parents, withdrew.
On the following morning the children rose according to their promise, and, by strict attention to their lessons, merited the treat their father had in store for them. It was a lovely morning! but our best- laid schemes are subject to disappointment; and the little group felt their pleasure greatly lessened, upon hearing that a violent headache, to which their mother was subject, would prevent her joining the party. I shall not enter into any detail respecting their visit, as my young readers will hear it all from their own lips, in the conversation they held with their mother, when they returned in the evening. They had the pleasure of finding her much better, and able to enjoy their company, and the account they gave of their excursion.
Emily first entered the parlour, and, gently opening the door, affectionately enquired after her mother's health.
"My head is much better, I thank you, my dear," replied Mrs. Bernard: "but why are you alone?—where are your brothers and sisters? All safe and well, I hope?"
Emily. Yes, quite well, and in high spirits, I assure you. They requested to get out at the lodge-gate, that they might have a race through the garden. Feeling rather tired, I preferred riding.
At this moment Louisa came running in, quite out of breath. The others soon followed her, laughing merrily.
Louisa. Oh! mamma, how I wish you had been with us. We have had such a happy day, and have seen so many curious things.
Ferdinand. What a nice woman Mrs. Horton is, mamma. She has been so kind to us.
Edward. Dear me, Louisa and Ferdinand, how loud you talk. You forget mamma's head.
"Gently, my dears, gently," said Mrs. Bernard: "moderate your delight a little. I am glad to hear that you have enjoyed year day, and shall like to have a full account of all you have seen, when you can enter upon it quietly. In the mean time, go and put by your hats and tippets, my dear girls, and come to tea as quickly as you can."
Louisa declared she did not want any tea, and requested that she might go into the nursery to little Sophy, and take her some shells, which Mrs. Horton had given her.
Mrs. Bernard willingly granted her request and added:—"I am glad, my dear Louisa, you do not, when in the midst of enjoyment yourself, forget your little sister, who is too young to join your pleasures. You may go and stay with her a quarter of an hour; but do not keep her up beyond her usual time."
Ferdinand. Pray take my shells too, Louisa, and tell her that little fishes once lived in them at the bottom of the sea.
Louisa, with a light step, and a heart still lighter, left the room, saying, she had a great deal of information to give little Sophy.
Mrs. B. Now, my dear Emily, ring the bell, and make haste down to tea: I see your father coming up the garden.
The children quickly returned. They were not, however, allowed to enter into any detail of their past pleasures, till the tea-things were removed, and Louisa had joined their part, which she did, very punctually, at the expiration of the promised quarter of an hour.
Louisa. Little Sophy is so delighted with her shells, mamma! She sends her love to you, Ferdinand, and says she will give you a kiss tomorrow. I do not think I shall do much work to-night, mamma, we have so many things to tell you.
The room was soon cleared, and liberty given to begin the account of their excursion, provided only one spoke at a time.
Ferdinand. Oh, Louisa, tell mamma about the dog!
Edward. No: tell about the cat, that is the most curious.
Louisa. Now, I do not think so, Edward. The story about the dog was so very droll.
Mrs. B. Stop—stop, my dear children, or I shall hear nothing after all. Begin at the beginning, and all will go on regularly. Now, set out from our own door.
Louisa. Come, Emily, you will tell that part best, because I do think you enjoyed the ride more than any of us.
Emily. I did, indeed, enjoy it. The country looks so rich, from the variety of foliage; the autumnal tints are in their highest beauty, and you know, my dear mother, how delightful the scenery is, particularly through the park which leads to Mrs. Horton's house. She received us with the greatest politeness, and was very sorry you were prevented accompanying us, especially when she heard that indisposition was the cause of your absence. After we had taken some refreshment, she proposed a walk in the park. As we passed through a small room, opening into the garden, I was much struck with the appearance of an elegant bird in a glass case. It was stuffed, but so remarkably well done, that you would have thought it still alive. From the two long feathers in its tail, I knew it to be the bird of Paradise, and begged Mrs. Horton would give me leave to examine it more closely. She told me it was a native of the Molucca Islands, and that there were eight different species of them. The plumage is very beautiful. The head, throat, and neck, are of a pale gold colour; the base of the bill, as well as the head, is covered with fine black feathers, soft and glossy as velvet, and varying in colour with the different shades of light that fall upon them. The back part of the head is of a shining green, mixed with bright yellow; the body and wings are covered with brown, purple, and gold-coloured feathers; the upper part of the tail is a pale yellow, and the undermost feathers are white, and longer than those above. But what chiefly excites curiosity, are two long, naked feathers, which spring from the upper part of the rump, above the tail, and are, in general, two feet in length. These birds are supposed to migrate into other countries at the time of the monsoons, but it is not certain that they do so.
Ferdinand. Pray, what are the monsoons, Emily?
Emily. They are periodical winds, to which those countries are subject lying within a certain distance of the equator. They blow in one direction for a time, and, at stated seasons, change, and blow for an equal space of time from the opposite point of the compass.
Louisa. Do not forget the little hummingbirds, Emily, which were in the case next to the bird of Paradise. What beautiful little creatures they were! And Mrs. Horton says that nature has provided them with forked tongues, completely formed for entering flowers, and drawing out the honey, which is their natural food.
Mrs. B. Did Mrs. Horton tell you how curiously they construct their nests?
Louisa. Oh, yes; she showed us one: it was suspended on the very point of a twig. She says, they adopt this plan to secure them from the attacks of the monkey and the snake. They form them in the shape of a hen's egg, cut in half. The eggs are not bigger than a pea, of a clear white, with a few yellow specks here and there. I wish I had some of these pretty little creatures; but Mrs. Horton says they will not live in England, it is so much colder than the tropical climates.
Ferdinand. What little feet the Chinese women have, mamma! We saw one of their shoes, and I am sure it was not a bit bigger than little Sophy's.
Emily. But you know, Ferdinand, that is not the natural size of the Chinese ladies' feet: they are confined, while they are babies, with very tight bandages, which prevent them from growing.
Louisa. I am glad I am not a Chinese little girl. Such small feet cannot be very useful to them when they grow up to be women, I think.
Mrs. B. Indeed, they are not: The poor things are perfect cripples, and are obliged to be carried wherever they go.
Ferdinand. Oh, how I pity them! They can never run about and enjoy themselves while they are little, as we do, Louisa.
Mrs. B. Indeed, my dear Ferdinand, an English child has great cause for thankfulness, on many accounts. I know of no country where the real happiness and welfare of children is so carefully studied.
Emily. In China, however, the boys are educated with considerable care. In their early studies, geography is particularly attended to. At six years of age, they are made acquainted with the names of the principal parts of the world; at eight, they are instructed in the rules of politeness; and at ten are sent to a public school, where they learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. From thirteen to fifteen they are taught music; they do not, however, sing merry songs, as we do, but serious sentences, or moral precepts. They also practise the use of the bow, and are taught to ride. In every city, town, and almost in every village, I have been told that there are public school for teaching the more abstruse sciences.
Mrs. B. The mind of the poor girls, on the contrary, are most sadly neglected. Needlework is almost the only accomplishment thought necessary for them. There is no country in the world in which the woman are in a greater state of humiliation, than in China. Those whose husbands are of high rank, live under constant confinement; those of the second class are little better than upper servants, deprived of all liberty; whilst the poort share with their husbands the most laborious occupations.
Louisa. How exceedingly I should dislike it; and yet, I think, I would rather be the wife of a poor Chinese, than of a rich one.
Emily I think so too; for the hardest labour would not be to me so irksome as total inactivity.
Mrs. B. I am quite of your opinion, Emily. The situation of these wretched beings must be rendered doubly irksome by the uncultivated state of their minds. This deprives them of those delightful resources, from which the well-educated female of our happy country may constantly derive the purest enjoyment.
Emily. Had not your and my dear father early installed into us a love of reading, how very much our present enjoyments would be lessened.
Mrs. B. We have always, my dear considered it as an important point in your education; since no amusement so delightfully occupies the vacant hours of life, even where entertainment is the principal object. It is one of those tastes that grows by indulgence: there is scarcely any enjoyment so independent of the will of others: it engages and employs the thoughts of the wretched, directs the enthusiasm of the young, and relieves the weariness of old age. Well might the amiable Fenelon say: "If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid at my feet, in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all."
Louisa. Now, Ferdinand, I know you long to tell mamma your droll story about the dog.
Ferdinand. Well, mamma, when we got into the garden, I was very much amused with a nice little terrier, and Mrs. Horton said, she thought we should be entertained with an anecdote or two she could tell us respecting him. The dog belongs to her brother, who is an elderly gentleman, and wears a wig. He used to keep one hung up on a peg in his dressing-room, and, as it was grown very shabby, he one day gave it away to a poor old man. The dog happened soon after to see him in the street. He knew the wig again in a minute; and, looking full in the man's face, made a sudden spring, leaped upon his shoulders, seized the wig, and ran off with it as fast as he could; and, when he reached home, endeavoured, by jumping, to hang it in its usual place.
Mrs. B. I think your story very amusing, Ferdinand: it is a curious instance of sagacity.
Emily. The other circumstance which Mrs. Horton mentioned, of the same animal, proves him equally sagacious. He was one day passing through a field, where a washerwoman had hung out her linen to dry; he stopped, and surveyed one particular shirt with attention, then seizing it, he dragged it through the dirt to his master, whose shirt it proved to be. [Footnote: See Bingley's Animal Biography.]
Edward. Well, now, mamma, please to listen to my story about the cat.
Mrs. B. By all means, my dear.
Edward. As we were walking near the house, I was surprised to see a fine cat, with a pretty little leveret gambolling and frolicking by her side. Mrs. Horton told us, that, about a fortnight ago, the farmer's boy brought this poor little creature into the house, having found it, almost starved to death, in a hole, in consequence, I suppose, of some accident having happened to its mother. Mrs. Horton gave directions that it should be fed and kept warm. The servants grew very fond of it, and were quite grieved, one day, suddenly to miss it. They concluded that some cat or dog had killed it, and never expected to see their little favourite again. However, yesterday, in the dusk of the evening, they observed the cat in the garden, with something gambolling after her, which, to their great delight, they discovered to be the leveret. They then recollected that poor puss had been deprived of a litter of kittens, on the very day that their favourite had so mysteriously disappeared. The cat had adopted him in the place of her own little ones, nourished him with her milk, and continues still to support him with the greatest affection [Footnote: See Bingley's Animal Biography].
Mrs. B. It is a curious circumstance, but not so extraordinary, I think, as the account Ferdinand read to me, some time ago, in "A Visit for a Week," of a cat supporting a chicken in a similar manner.
Ferdinand. Well, mamma, besides the accounts we have given you, Mrs. Horton told us several other curious things respecting the instinct of animals. She took us to an aviary in the garden, which is a large place made on purpose to keep birds in. There were some beautiful gold and penciled pheasants; but no bird, in my opinion, is so handsome as the peacock. I asked Mrs. Horton if it were originally a native of this country. She told me it was brought to us from the East, and that numerous flocks of them are still to be seen wild in Java and Ceylon.
Mrs. B. Where are those two islands situated, Louisa?
Louisa. They are both in the Indian Ocean. Java is a little to the east of Sumatra; and Ceylon, off the coast of Coromandel. All the animals with which the woods abound, are not so agreeable as the peacock, mamma; for I recollect reading, a little time ago, that there are varieties of wild beasts live there: particularly in Java, there are many large and fierce tigers.
Mrs. B. Did Mrs. Horton tell you any thing more respecting the peacock?
Emily. Yes; she made us observe its train, which does not appear to be the tail. The long feahers grow all up their backs. A range of short, brown, stiff feathers, about six inches long, is the real tail, and serves as a prop to the train when elevated. This certainly must be the case, as, when the train is spread, nothing appears of the bird but its head and neck; which could not be, were those long feathers fixed only in the rump. She also told us, that, in the time of Francis the first, king of France, it was the custom to serve up a peacock at the tables of the great, not for food, but ornament. The skin was first carefully stripped off, and the body being prepared with the hottest spices, was again covered with it; in this state it was not at all subject to decay, but preserved its beauty for several years.
Mrs. B. In China, a peacock's feather hanging from the cap, is considered as a mark of high distinction; and Sir George Staunton, in his account of the Embassy to China, mentions a circumstance of a legate of the emperor, who was degraded from his office, for disobeying the orders of his imperial majesty, being reduced to wear an opaque white, instead of a transparent blue button, and a crow's instead of a peacock's tail-feather pendant from his cap. The splendour of this bird's plumage certainly demands our highest admiration, but, independent of its beauty, it has few excellencies to boast. Its voice is extremely harsh and disagreeable, and its gluttony is a great counterbalance to its personal charms.
Emily. Mrs. Horton made a remark similar to yours, mamma. She said, beauty was certainly very pleasing when adorned by the smiles of good- humoured cheerfulness; but that the fairest face, without this charm, would soon cease to please. She also repeated to us those sweet lines from Cowper, in which he so prettily contrasts he retiring modesty of the pheasant, with the proud display made by the peacock, of his gaudy plumes.
"Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold His radiant glories—azure, green, and gold. He treads as if, some solemn music near, His measur'd step were govern'd by his ear; And seems to say—'Ye meaner fowl give place, I am all splendour, dignity, and grace! Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes, Though he too has a glory in his plumes; He, Christian-like, retreats, with modest mien, To the close copse, or far- sequester'd green, And shines, without desiring to be seen."
Ferdinand. We then walked some time in the park and gardens, mamma; after which Mrs. Horton took us into the house, that we might rest ourselves a little before dinner. When dinner was over we went into the picture-gallery, and, amongst a number of very beautiful prints and paintings, there was one representing the combat between the Horatii and Curiatii, of which we had read in the morning. How much more pleasure one has in looking at prints, when one knows a little about the subject of them.
Mr. B. A cultivated mind, my deal children, is a constant source of pleasure. Youth is the seed-time of life, and you must be careful so to plant now, as to ensure to yourselves hereafter, not only a plentiful, but a valuable harvest. It is growing late—we must think of our history, or we shall spend all the evening in chit-chat. Edward, suppose you begin the account.
Edward. I mentioned, yesterday, that Tullus Hostilius was of a disposition very different from the peaceful Numa. He was entirely devoted to war, and more fond of enterprise, than even the founder of the empire himself had been. The Albans were the first people that gave him an opportunity of indulging his favourite inclination. Upon the death of Romulus, seeing their ancient kings extinct, they resumed their independence, with a determination to shake off the Roman yoke, and to appoint their own governors. Cluilius was at the head of this affair. He is, by some historians, styled dictator; by others, king. Being very jealous of the growing greatness of Rome, he, by a stratagem, contrived to engage them in a war. Cluilius was, however, previous to the commencement of the hostilities, found dead in his tent, surrounded by his guards, without any external marks of violence. After his death, both parties seemed to wish for an accommodation upon a amicable terms, but neither liked to submit to be inferior to their rival. It was at length proposed, that the superiority should be determined of each other, and, when the people expected to see them begin fighting furiously, they, instead of that, laid aside their arms, and flew to embrace each other.
Mr. B. What effect had this upon the spectators, Emily?
Emily. They were much moved, and began to murmur at their king, who had engaged such leader friends in a cruel rivalship for glory. But a new scene quickly put an end to their pity, fixed their attention, and employed all their hopes and fears:—the combat began, and the victory long hung doubtful. At length the eldest of the Horatii received a mortal wound, and fell: a second soon met the same fate, and expired upon the body of his brother. The Alban army now gave a loud shout, whilst consternation and despair spread themselves through the Roman camp.
Ferdinand. Oh, papa, how interested I felt, this morning, when we got to this part.
Mr. B. I do not wonder that you were, my dear: it is a circumstance calculated strongly to interest the feelings. Edward, take up the account where Emily quitted it.
Edward. Do not suppose the Roman cause quite desperate. It is true, they had but one champion remaining, but he was both unhurt and undaunted, while all the Curiatii were wounded. He, however, did not conceive himself able to attack the three brothers at once, and therefore made use of a stratagem to separate them. He pretended fear, and fled before them. The Curiatii pursued him at unequal distances. Horatius turned short upon the foremost, and slew him. He then flew to the next, who soon shared his brother's fate. The only remaining Curiatii was so severely wounded, that he could scarcely support his shield, and offered no resistance to the attack of the conquering Horatius. Thus ended the famous combat, which gave Rome the superiority over Alba.
Ferdinand. The picture at Mrs. Horton's, represented Horatius at the moment he turned upon the first Curiatii. And there was another, representing him in the act of stabbing his sister, because she grieved for the death of one of the Curiatii, to whom she was going to be married.
Edward. Ah! that tarnished all the glory of Horatius, in my opinion. It was so natural she should weep for such a loss.
Mrs. B. Flushed with conquest, Horatius lost his self-possession. Often do we find heroes, who can subdue their enemies in the field, the weakest of the weak, when the combat is against their own evil passions. Self-knowledge, and self-possession, are most important acquirements. They are excellencies I must earnestly desire for each of you, my dear children. But we have not time for further conversation to-night: you have all exerted yourselves extremely to-day, and must feel fatigued.
Louisa. Oh no, papa, I am not all all tired.
Mrs. B. Indeed, my Louisa, your heavy eyes tell a different tale. Ferdinand, too, looks very sleepy. Good night, my dear children.
They immediately arose, and, thanking their father for the great indulgence he had afforded them, retired.
"Now, my dears, have you your work prepared for the evening?" said Mrs. Bernard, rising from the tea-table.
"Mine is quite ready, mamma," replied Emily.
"And mine too, I believe," said Louisa, opening her work-bag. "Oh! dear, no, I have used up all my thread. I quite forgot that. And where can my thimble be? I am sure I thought I had put it into my bag. Emily, have you seen my thimble? I dare say you have got it, you are so apt to take my things."
Emily. Oh! no, indeed, Louisa, you are mistaken, Sometimes, when I find them left about, I put them by for you, that they may not be lost.
"Well, that is the very thing that makes me think I have lost them," said Louisa, rather petulantly. "It is very tiresome of you, Emily. I do wish you never would touch any thing that belongs to me."
"Gently, gently, my Louisa," interrupted Mrs. Bernard: "you ought to feel much obliged to your sister for her kindness. If it were not for her attention, your carelessness would make a sad hole in your pocket- money. In this instance, however, Emily appears to be quite innocent of your loss: she does not seem to know any thing about the stray thimble. She has not, therefore, been the cause of your misfortune to-day."
Louisa rose from her seat, and leaving the room, exclaimed: "I dare say I shall find it in a minute or two."
She was, however, absent more than a quarter of an hour, and at length returned, without having found her thimble.
"Well, mamma, it is a most extraordinary thing," said she: "I cannot think what is become of it. It is very tiresome that things should get lost so."
Mrs. B. It is rather singular that Emily seldom meets with these misfortunes, from which you so frequently suffer, Louisa.
Louisa. Indeed, Emily is very fortunate, mamma. She never has occasion to lose her time in looking for things, and, I do believe, that is one reason why she gets on so much faster with her work than I do.
Mrs. B. It is a very probably conjecture, my dear; but you must not attribute the cause merely to good-fortune: Emily is attentive to the excellent maxim: "A place for every thing, and every thing in its place," and if you would endeavour, in this respect, to follow her example, you would find the same comfortable effects resulting from it.
Louisa. Well, mamma, and so I have a place for my things. My work- bag is exactly like Emily's.
"But you do not make exactly the same use of it," said Mrs. Bernard.
Here Ferdinand interposed, with a proposition, that they should all go and have a good hunt for the thimble, as it would hurt Louisa's finger sadly, to work all the evening without one.
Louisa expressed her thanks to Ferdinand for his kindness, adding, "I am quite sorry my carelessness has given every body so much trouble. If I find my thimble this once, I will endeavour, in future, to copy Emily's example, and be more careful."
Mrs. Bernard highly approved this determination, and added, "I hope you will be able to keep your resolution, my dear. You will find the comfort resulting from the adoption of method, an ample recompence for any little trouble it may at first occasion you. Now, make haste; I wish you success in your search." They go out.
After some time, Louisa returned with a disappointed countenance, which convinced Mrs. Bernard that her search had been in vain. The gloom was, however, soon banished by the entrance of Ferdinand, who, smiling with exultation, held out the stray thimble, and exclaimed, "I have found it, Louisa! Here it is! When you went to wash your hands, you left it in the closet."
"Oh, thank you, Ferdinand! thank you!" cried Louisa. "How glad I am to see it again! Pray, Emily, excuse my having been so cross to you just now."
"That I do, most willingly," said Emily. "Indeed, I had already forgotten your little momentary fit of anger."
"Come, let us now sit down to work, without further loss of time," said their mother. "It gives me most sincere pleasure, my dear children, to see in you a disposition to assist each other in any little case of difficulty. Nothing tends so much to cement brotherly love, as politeness and attention. In many families this is a thing much neglected; and I have seen more disagreements arise, from a rude, contradictory disposition, than from any other cause whatever. I know you like to have our instructions illustrated by a story, particularly if it be founded on fact. Your father will, therefore, I am sure, give you an account of a friend of his, who experienced the most beneficial effects, from adopting kind, conciliatory manners, in opposition to rudeness and incivility."
"I shall relate the circumstance with much pleasure," replied Mr. Bernard, "because I am convinced, a most excellent lesson may be learnt from it; and, as I know the parties, I can assure you it is perfectly true. An elderly gentleman, with a very large fortune, but no family, adopted a nephew and niece, the orphan children of two of his sisters. His object was, when they were of a proper age, to unite them to each other by marriage, intending that the whole of his immense possesions should centre in them; but he was much disappointed to find, instead of the affection which he expected to witness, an extreme dislike subsisting between the young people, which strengthened as they advanced in years. Their uncle's presence imposed upon them some restraint, but, when alone, they gave full scope to their dislike, teasing and tormenting each other by every means in their power. When the young man attained his twenty-second, and the young lady her nineteenth year, they lost their uncle, who had been to them as a parent. The only sentiment in which they united, was a tender regard to this common friend; and deeply did they lament his death. The idea that they should now be freed from the irksome incumbrance of each other's company, however, afforded them some consolation. Under these impressions, you may judge of the dismay they both experienced, upon opening their uncle's will, to find that his fortune was left equally between them, provided they accomplished his wish, by uniting their destinies; but, whichever refused fulfilling these conditions, was to forfeit all claim to the money and estates. Thunder-struck at this appalling sentence, the young man retired to his chamber, and spent some hours in solitude, considering what line of conduct it would be best for him to pursue. Always accustomed to affluence, the horrors of poverty presented themselves before him in dreadful array; yes, a union with his cousin, seemed an alternative still more formidable:—he knew not how to determine. She, in the mean time, suffered no less anxiety. The same fears agitated her mind. She was well aware of her cousin's dislike to her, and hoped it would prevent his making those proposals which she dreaded to hear. At length, he joined her in the garden, and addressed her as follows:—'You have heard the contents of our uncle's will, Emma. It places us both in a most painful situation. It were vain to profess for you an affection, I neither can, or do I believe I ever shall feel; but, yielding to the necessity of my circumstances, I offer you my hand.' 'The same sentiment induces me to accept your offer,' said the dejected Emma, with a heavy sigh; but surely, by such a union, we both bid adieu to happiness for ever.'—'Our prospect certainly does not promise us much felicity,' rejoined the young man, 'yet I cannot help thinking, a moderate share of happiness may still be within our power. Hitherto, our chief andeavour has been to thwart and irritate each other; let us, henceforth, employ the same pains to conciliate and oblige. Great affection, on either side, we will not expect: but let us resolve to maintain, on all occasions, a spirit of politeness and of good-will towards each other.' To this the young lady readily assented, and, under those circumstances, they were married. They persevered in their wise resolution. I have known them many years, and never did I see a couple more affectonately attached to each other."
Edward. It is a very interesting account, indeed, papa.
Mr. B. It is a story from which much solid instruction may be derived, my dear. People in general, are by no means aware what a powerful influence those attentions, which they deem trifling, leave upon the happiness of life. They think, on important occasions, they should be willing to make great sacrifices for those they love; but do not reflect how rarely such occasions present themselves; whereas, opportunities are daily, nay, hourly occurring, for the discharge of mutual kind offices, which powerfully tend to cement the affectionate ties of friendship. Edward, did you not commit to memory the passage upon politeness, we read in Xenophon's Cyropaedia the other day?
Edward. I did, papa.
Mr. B. Repeat it to us, my dear.
Edward. Politeness is an evenness of soul, which excludes, at the same time, both insensibility and too much earnestness. It supposes a quick discernment, to perceive, immediately, the different characters of men; and, by a sweet condescension, adapts itself to each man's taste, not to flatter, but to calm his passions. In a word, it is a forgetting of ourselves, in order to seek what may be agreeable to others, but, in so delicate a manner, as to let them scarce perceive that we are so employed. It knows how to contradict with respect, and to please without adulation; and is equally remote from an insipid complaisance, and a low familiarity.
Louisa. Pray, papa, who was the gentleman you were speaking of, a little time ago?
Mr. B. That cannot concern you at all, Louisa. His name is of no consequence to the moral of my tale.
Edward. Louisa is always so curious; we often laugh at her for it.
Mrs. B. It is a foolish and dangerous propensity, when it is carried into the minor concerns of life. A laudable curiosity, whose object is the improvement of the mind, should at all times be encouraged; and you will never, on such occasions, find either your father or myself, backward in satisfying it to the best of our abilities.
Louisa. I have been often told that it is wrong, mamma, and will really try to amend.
Mr. B. I most earnestly wish you success in your endeavour, Louisa. Curiosity was the fault of our first parents, you know. How much misery did this fatal propensity in Eve, entail upon the human race!
Ferdinand. Oh, mamma, may I tell Louisa that droll story, which I read to you the other day, about the poor wood-cutter's wife?
Mrs. B. I have no objection, provided Louisa would like to hear it.
Louisa. Yes, I should, mamma; for I do not mind being told of my faults, because I wish to amend them.
"That is perfectly right, my love," said Mrs. Bernard: "I admire your candour, and have no doubt that, with such a desire, your efforts will prove successful. She then requested Ferdinand to begin his story, which he did, as follows:
"A gentleman riding one morning through a wood, saw a poor man very busily employed in cutting down trees, whilst his wife was collecting the branches into bundles. She sighed heavily, from heat and fatigue, and complained sadly of their hard fate, laying all the blame upon Adam and Eve, whose fatal curiosity was the cause of man's being obliged to earn his bread by such hard labour. The gentleman got off his horse, and going up to these poor people, he began to talk to the woman, and enquired, whether, if she had been in Eve's place, she would not have been very likely to have done the same thing. 'No,' said the woman: 'if I had every thing necessary for me, without working, I should certainly be quite contented." 'Well,' said the gentleman, 'in order to silence your complaints, I will take you and your husband to my own house, where you shall have apartments to yourselves, servants to wait upon you, a carriage to attend you, and my park and gardens to amuse yourselves in. The continuance of these enjoyments shall depend entirely upon yourselves. You shall have a table spread with dishes; but the middle dish shall always remain covered, and if ever you uncover it, to examine its contents, you shall immediately return to your present situation.' The poor man and woman were delighted with the gentleman's proposal. The very next day, they removed to their new abode. The novelty of every object with which they were surrounded, filled them with delight. For some time they enjoyed themselves extremely, and never once thought of the covered dish; but, by degrees, all these delights lost the charm of novelty. Their walks were always the same, and, although they had plenty of nice things to eat, their appetites were not so good as when they worked hard for their living. One day the woman said: 'I wonder what there is under that cover?' After this, their wonder increased every day, till at last they determined, by taking a little peep, to satisfy their curiosity. They accordingly lifted up the cover, when, instantly, out jumped a little mouse, and away it ran. They now saw their folly, and were sadly vexed with themselves: but it was too late to complain. They returned to their daily labour, and from their own experience learned a useful lesson, and never blamed Adam and Eve any more."
"I think, mamma, we may all learn a useful lesson from this story," said Edward, as Ferdinand concluded his account: "for I am sure I often feel curious to discover things, that are not of the least consequence to me."
Louisa. Is it a true story, mamma?
Mrs. B. I do not know, my dear; but the picture it draws of human nature is true, and, on that account, the instruction it conveys is valuable.
Mr. B. Let us now turn our attention to history again. We concluded, last night, with the rash murder of his sister, committed by Horatius. Did he undergo any punishment for this crime?
Edward. Yes, father: it was thought of dangerous consequence to slacken the rigour of the laws, in favour of any person, merely on account of his bravery and success in battle. The king was puzzled how to act. He was divided between a regard for the laws, and a desire to save the young warrior, who had rendered him such important service.
Mr. B. How did Tullus extricate himself from this difficulty, Emily?
Emily. He turned it into a state crime, and appointed two commissioners to try him as a traitor. As the fact was so publicly known, and Horatius did not deny it, he was found guilty, and condemned to be executed; but, by the king's advice, he appealed to an assembly of the people, whose authority was superior to that of the monarch himself; and they, from admiration of his courage, rather than the justice of his cause, revoked the sentence that had been passed against him. However, that he might not go wholly unpunished, they condemned him to pass under the yoke, a disgrace to which prisoners of war were subject.
Mr. B. What was the yoke, Ferdinand?
Ferdinand. It was a kind of gallows, papa, in the shape of a door- case.
Mr. B. Did Horatius, then, receive no honour for his victory, Louisa?
Louisa. Yes, papa: a square column was erected in the middle of the Forum, and the spoils of the Curiatii were hung upon it.
Mr. B. Did the Romans continue at peace, after the victory of Horatius?
Edward. No, father: they went to war, successively, with the Fidenates, Latins, and Sabines; in all of which the Romans were successful.
Mr. B. How was the life of Tullus Hostilius terminated, Emily?
Emily. Historians differ in their accounts. Some suppose he was struck by lightning, whilst others imagine he fell by the hand of Ancus Martius, his successor.
Mr. B. Ferdinand, can you give us a short sketch of the character of Tullus Hostilius, from what you have heard of him.
Ferdinand. He was very much inclined to fighting, papa. Generosity and personal courage were his chief merit. He rekindled in the Romans the love of war, which Numa had endeavoured to suppress. He acquired to the Roman state a great name, but did not add to the real happiness of his people.
Mr. B. As he was so much engaged in war, I suppose he did not exert himself much to improve the legislation of his country.
Louisa. We only read of one law that he established, and that was, that, whenever three little boys should be born at one birth, they should, in memory of the Horatii, be brought up at the public expence.
Mr. B. Emily, what have you to tell us of Ancus Martius, successor to Tullus?
Emily. He was grandson to Numa Pompilius, and, after a short interregnum, was unanimously chosen, both by the senate and people, to the succession. He wished to imitate his grandfather, by reviving husbandry and religious worship; but soon found that this pacific disposition drew upon him the contempt of the neighbouring nations. The Latins were the first who endeavoured to throw off their allegiance to Rome. This provoked Ancus to declare war against them. He vanquished them in many battles, and took several of their towns. He strengthened Rome by new fortifications; built the port and city of Astin, at the mouth of the Tiber; and was successful over the Fidenates, Sabines, Veientes, and Volsci. Historians give different accounts of his death. Some say he was destroyed by violence, whilst others speak of his decease as altogether natural.
Mr. B. How long did he reign, Louisa?
Louisa. Twenty-three years, papa. We have not read any more yet. I hope we shall not forget this part, as we advance further. Pray papa, what do you think is the best means of remembering what we read?
Mr. B. The plan we adopt, in making it the subject of conversation, is a very likely method to effect this desirable object; and, if you keep a book, and take notes of the history as you proceed, you will still more deeply impress it upon your memory. But we will talk upon this subject some other day: it is now quite time for you to go to bed.
MR. AND MRS BERNARD, EMILY, EDWARD, LOUISA, AND FERDINAND.
(A servent coming in with a parcel.)
Ah! there is a parcel: I dare say it is from Charles. Do, pray give it me, Mary:—I am sure I shall have a letter. He promised to write to me the next opportunity. May I open it, mamma?
Mrs. B. You may, Louisa.
Louisa. Emily, be so good as to lend me your scissors; the string has got into a hard knot:—I shall not have untied it this hour. I will just give it a little snip and it will be off in a minute.
Mr. B. How, Louisa! Have you so soon forgotten the applicaiton of the story with which you were so much pleased a week ago?
Louisa. Oh! I recollect: "Waste not—want not." But then, papa, it is so tantalizing to know there is a letter for one, and not to be able to get at it for such a long time; particularly when it comes from Charles, for he does not write to me very often. Do pray let me cut it this once. On any other occasion, I should have patience to untie the knot, I am sure.
Mr. B. We are all apt, Louisa, to think it more difficult to act with propriety under the very circumstances in which we happen to be placed, than we should do under others; but, if we would learn wisdom, and acquire the esteem of the good, we must always endeavour to do the very best that circumstances will allow. By making this principle the rule of our conduct on trifling occasions, we shall acquire, as it were, the habit of correctness and propriety of conduct, which will be very valuable to us in the more important actions of our lives.
Louisa. Well, papa, I have been trying, all the time you have been talking, to untie this string, and it really was not in so hard a knot as I expected, for it is undone: and now I will endeavour to remember you kind advice, and be more patient in the future. Oh! here is my letter. What a long one it seems to be! And here is a short one for you, mamma, with a little parcel for Sophy.
Mrs. B. Well, my dear Louisa, I am almost as anxious as you are, to hear the contents of the letter: but do not be in a hurry. Read it slowly, and very distinctly.
Louia promised to do her best, and began as follows:
"MY DEAR LOUISA,
"It is a long time since I wrote to you last, but I must not have you, on that account, suppose I have forgotten you; for I really think more of you now I am away, than I used to do when we were all at home together. I am very happy in my new situation. Instead of finding a severe master, as I sometimes feared might be the case, I seem to have gained a second father in Mr. Lewis; and Mrs. Lewis is almost as affectionate to me as my own dear mother. It shall be my constant endeavour, by strict attention to my business, to prove myself grateful for their kindness. I have my evenings completely to myself, which I endeavour to employ profitably, according to my dear father's advice. I am studying natural history, and, if it would afford you any amusement, I should like to make my progress in that study, the subject of my future letters. I shall not, however, begin that plan till I hear from you, to know if it will be agreeable to you.
"A few evenings ago, I paid a very pleasant visit to an old friend of Mr. Lewis's, which will afford me ample materials for this letter. He is what Mr. Lewis calls a virtuoso, which signifies, a person fond of antique and natural curiosities. You will, therefore, suppose I was not at a loss for amusement. In one cabinet was a number of stuffed birds and beasts; amongst others, a little animal somewhat resembling a rat, but rather smaller. It legs are short and slender; the fore-legs longer than the hind ones. Its head is of a pointed form; the colour of its body tawny, and variegated with large black spots, irregularly arranged; and the belly is white, tinged with yellow. There appeared to me so little that was uncommon in this animal, that I could not help asking Dr. Sinclair, on what account he had given it a place among so many curiosities. 'I value that little animal,' said he, 'as much as any in my collection. It is the Leming, or Lapland Marmot, and is distinguished from other quadrupeds, by habits peculiar to itself. It is only found in the northern part of our continent, where immense numbers of these little animals sometimes overspread large tracts of country, especially in Lapland, Sweden, and Norway. Their appearance happens at uncertain periods; but fortunately for the inhabitants of these countries, not oftener than once or twice in twenty years. As the source whence they originate in such astonishing numbers, is as yet unexplored by the naturalist, it is no wonder that the ignorant Laplander should seriously believe that they are rained from the clouds. Myriads of these animals pour down from the mountains, and form an overwhelming troop, which nothing can resist. The disposition of their march is generally in lines, about three feet asunder, and exactly parallel. In this order they advance with as much regularity as a well-disciplined army; and, it is remarked, that their course is from the north-west or south-east. They frequently cover the extent of a square mile, travelling in the night. They always halt in the day, and in the evening resume their march. No opposition can stop them; and, whatever way their course is directed, neither fire not water can turn them out of their road. If a lake or river intercept their progress, they will swim across, or perish in the attempt; if a fire interrupt their course, they instantly plunge into the flames; if a well, they dart down into it; if a hay-rick, they eat through it; and, if a house stand in their way, they either attempt to climb over it, or eat through it; but, if both be impracticable, they will rather die with famine before it, than turn out of the way. If thousands perish, thousands still supply their place, until the whole column be destroyed. Wherever they pass, they annihilate every trace of vegetation, and, when subsistence fails, are said to divide into two different armies, which engage with the most deadly hostility, and continue fighting and devouring each other, till they are all entirely destroyed. Numbers of them are devoured by foxes, weasels, &c. which follow them in their march, so that none are ever known to return from their migrations."
"I thanked Dr. Sinclair for his curious and entertraining account, with which, I hope, my dear Louisa, you also have been amused. A very beautiful, large, white cat, took possession of Dr. Sinclair's kneee, the moment he seated himself in his elbow chair by the fire-side. It licked his hand in a caressing manner, and seemed, by every means in its power, to testify the greatest affection towards him. From the old gentleman's kindness, in giving me so amusing an account of the Leming, I was encouraged to enter into conversation with him upon the merits of his cat. 'Some naturalists,' said I, 'have represented that animal as insensible of kindness, and incapable of attachment; but I cannot help thinking this is a great mistake. We have a cat, at houme, that is very fond of me; and yours, Sir, seems much attached to you.' 'The cat is, on many accounts, unjustly aspersed,' said he: 'excepting the dog, I know of no animal that appears capable of stronger attachment. It is also reproached with treachery and cruelty; but are not the artifices it uses, the particular instincts which the all-wise Creator has given it, conformable to the purposes for which it is designed? Being destined to prey upon the mouse, a lively, active animal, possessing many means of escape, artifice is absolutely necessary for the accomplishment of its end. I can, however, say nothing in extenuation of its cruelty, in sporting with the unfortunate victim that falls into its power, in prolonging its tortures, and putting it to a lingering death. This, it must be confessed, is not a very favourable trait in its character. Notwithstanding all this, it certainly renders very essential services to man, and merits, in return, his kindness and protection.' I admired the beauty of Tom, for so Dr. Sinclair calls his favourite. 'His beauty is not his most remarkable property,' said the Doctor: 'this cat was once the cause of detecting a murderer.' I was astonished, as I doubt not, you, Louisa, will be also, and requested he would relate to me the particulars of so extraordinary a fact. This he kindly did, as follows:
"Some time ago, when I was pursuing the duties of my profession, as a physician, I was requested to enquire into the particulars of a murder, that had been committed upon a woman in the city where I lived. In consequence of this request, I went to the habitation of the deceased, where I found her extended lifeless on the floor, and weltering in her blood. This cat was mounted on the cornice of a cupboard, at the further end of the apartment, where he seemed to have taken refuge. He sat motionless, with his eyes fixed on the corpse, and his attitude and looks expressing horror and affright. The following morning, he was found precisely in the same position; and, when the room was filled with officers of justice, neither the clattering of the soldier's arms, nor the loud conversations of the company, could, in the least degree, divert his attention. As soon, however, as the suspected persons were brought in, his eyes glared with increased fury, his hair bristled, he darted into the middle of the apartment, where he stopped for a moment to gaze at them, and then retreated precipitately under the bed. The countenances of the assassins were disconcerted, and they were, for the first time during the whole course of the horrid business, abandoned by their usual audacity. I felt much interested for poor puss, and, as no other person laid claim to him, I secured him for myself; and Tom and I have been the best friends imaginable, ever since.'
"I felt my respect for Tom greatly increased by this story, the detail of which has so completely filled my letter, that I have not space to tell you of half the curiosities contained in Dr. Sinclair's cabinet. One thing, however, I must find room to describe; this is, a piece of cloth, which, judging merely from its outward appearance, I considered still more unworthy than the little Leming, of a place among so many rarities, and again ventured to express my surprise. 'Never allow yourself to form such hasty conclusions, my dear boy,' said Dr. Sinclair, taking my hand in the kindest manner: 'a rough exterior often conceals real merit. This you will find to be the case in your future commerce with the world, as well as in examining the cabinet of a virtuoso. That piece of cloth, and this bit of paper,' said he, opening one of the drawers and showing it to me, 'are made from a stone called asbestos.' 'A stone!' said I, with astonishment: 'is that possible, Sir?' 'It is very true, my dear,' replied he: 'this kind of linen cloth was greatly esteemed by the ancients. It was considered as precious as the richest pearls. The most remarkable property belonging to it, is, its being incombustible; that is, it cannot be consumed by fire. Among the Romans, napkins were made of it, which when soiled, were thrown into the fire, and by this means much more completely cleaned, than they could have been by washing. Its principal use was for making shrouds, to wrap up the dead bodies of their kings, so that their ashes might be preserved distinct from those of the wood composing the funeral pile.'
"I enquired where this very curious stone was found. He told me that there were ten species of it, and that it was discovered in many of the European mountains, particularly in those of Lapland, Sweden, and Germany; as well as in Candia, an island of the Mediterranean; and in China.
"I enquired, whether it was used for any other purpose than the manufacture of cloth and paper. To which Dr. Sinclair replied, that he understood, the Chinese employed it as an ingredient in the formation of their finest porcelain.
"You may easily imagine, my dear Louisa, how much I enjoyed the conversation of this kind and sensible man. I hope Mr. Lewis will allow me to accompany him, the next time he pays him a visit. And now I must beg of you to give my love to little Sophy, and tell her I have sent her a work-bag and pin-cushion, and hope I shall hear she grows very notable and industrious. Give my duty to my dear father and mother; and love to Emily, Edward, and Ferdinand; and believe me, my dear Louisa, your affectionate brother,
Mrs. B. Very well, Louisa, you have done your brother's letter justice, by the manner in which you have read it; and great amusement it has afforded me, I assure you.
Emily. I have been both amused and instructed by it. I never heard of the Leming before; it is a most curious little animal. I am glad Clarles is studying natural history, as, no doubt, he will meet with many pretty anecdotes to relate to us. Is it not a pleasing science, mamma?