SANDFORD AND MERTON.
BY THOMAS DAY.
Six Coloured Engravings on Steel.
Philadelphia: J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO. MDCCCLXVIII.
CHAPTER I. PAGE Description of Harry Sandford and Tommy Merton—Adventure with the Snake—Harry in Mr Merton's house—Mr Barlow undertakes the education of Tommy—The first day at Mr Barlow's—Story of the Flies and the Ants—Harry rescues a Chicken from a Kite—Story of the Gentleman and the Basket-maker—Tommy learns to read—Story of the two dogs, 1
Tommy and the Ragged Boy—Story of Androcles and the Lion—Conversation on Slavery—Conversation about an Ass—Tommy's Present and its consequences—The Story of Cyrus—Squire Chase beats Harry—Harry saves the Squire's life—Making Bread—Story of the Two Brothers—Story of the Sailors on the Island of Spitzbergen, 47
Harry's Chicken—Tommy tries kindness on the Pig—Account of the Elephant—Story of the Elephant and the Tailor—Story of the Elephant and the Child—Stories of the Good Natured Boy and the Ill Natured Boy—The Boys determine to Build a House—Story of the Grateful Turk—The Boys' House blown down—They rebuild it stronger—The Roof lets in the Rain—At last is made Water-tight, 95
The Boys' Garden—The Crocodile—The Farmer's Wife—How to make Cider—The Bailiffs take possession of the Farmer's Furniture—Tommy pays the Farmer's Debt—Conclusion of the Story of the Grateful Turk—The three Bears—Tommy and the Monkey—Habits of the Monkey—Tommy's Robin Redbreast—Is killed by a Cat—The Cat punished—The Laplanders—Story of a Cure of the Gout, 185
Lost in the Snow—Jack Smithers' Home—Talk about the Stars—Harry's pursuit of The Will-o'-the-Wisp—Story of the Avalanche—Town and Country compared—The Power of the Lever—The Balance—The Wheel and Axle—Arithmetic—Buying a Horse—History of Agesilaus—History of Leonidas, 197
The Constellations—Distance from the Earth—The Magnet and its Powers—The Compass—The Greenlanders and their Customs—The Telescope—The Magic Lantern—Story of the African Prince and the Telescope—Mr Barlow's Poor Parishioners—His Annual Dinner—Tommy attempts Sledge Driving—His mishap in the Pond—His Anger, 255
Tommy and Harry visit Home—The Fashionable Guests—Miss Simmons takes notice of Harry—Harry's Troubles—Master Compton and Mash—Estrangement of Tommy—Visit to the Theatre—Misbehaviour there—Card Playing—The Ball—Harry Dancing a Minuet—Story of Sir Philip Sidney—Master Mash insults Harry—The Fight in the Drawing-room—The Bull-baiting—Tommy strikes Harry—Master Mash's Combat with Harry—Tommy's Narrow Escape from the Bull—The Grateful Black, 298
Arrival of Mr Barlow—Story of Polemo—Tommy's repentance—Story of Sophron and Tigranes—Tommy as an Arabian Horseman—His Mishap—Tommy's intrepidity—The Poor Highlander's story—Tommy's Sorrow for his conduct to Harry—Conclusion of the Story of Sophron and Tigranes—Tommy's resolution to study nothing but "reason and philosophy"—Visits Harry and begs his forgiveness—The Grateful Black's Story—Tommy takes up his abode at Farmer Sandford's—The Grateful Black's account of himself—Mr Merton's visit to the Farm—The unexpected present—Conclusion, 355
SANDFORD AND MERTON.
Description of Harry Sandford and Tommy Merton—Adventure with the Snake—Harry in Mr Merton's house—Mr Barlow undertakes the education of Tommy—The first day at Mr Barlow's—Story of the Flies and the Ants—Harry rescues a Chicken from a Kite—Story of the Gentleman and the Basket-maker—Tommy learns to read—Story of the two dogs.
In the western part of England lived a gentleman of great fortune, whose name was Merton. He had a large estate in the Island of Jamaica, where he had passed the greater part of his life, and was master of many servants, who cultivated sugar and other valuable things for his advantage. He had only one son, of whom he was excessively fond; and to educate this child properly was the reason of his determining to stay some years in England. Tommy Merton, who, at the time he came from Jamaica, was only six years old, was naturally a very good-tempered boy, but unfortunately had been spoiled by too much indulgence. While he lived in Jamaica, he had several black servants to wait upon him, who were forbidden upon any account to contradict him. If he walked, there always went two negroes with him; one of whom carried a large umbrella to keep the sun from him, and the other was to carry him in his arms whenever he was tired. Besides this, he was always dressed in silk or laced clothes, and had a fine gilded carriage, which was borne upon men's shoulders, in which he made visits to his play-fellows. His mother was so excessively fond of him that she gave him everything he cried for, and would never let him learn to read because he complained that it made his head ache.
The consequence of this was, that, though Master Merton had everything he wanted, he became very fretful and unhappy. Sometimes he ate sweetmeats till he made himself sick, and then he suffered a great deal of pain, because he would not take bitter physic to make him well. Sometimes he cried for things that it was impossible to give him, and then, as he had never been used to be contradicted, it was many hours before he could be pacified. When any company came to dine at the house, he was always to be helped first, and to have the most delicate parts of the meat, otherwise he would make such a noise as disturbed the whole company. When his father and mother were sitting at the tea-table with their friends, instead of waiting till they were at leisure to attend him, he would scramble upon the table, seize the cake and bread and butter, and frequently overset the tea-cups. By these pranks he not only made himself disagreeable to everybody else, but often met with very dangerous accidents. Frequently did he cut himself with knives, at other times throw heavy things upon his head, and once he narrowly escaped being scalded to death by a kettle of boiling water. He was also so delicately brought up, that he was perpetually ill; the least wind or rain gave him a cold, and the least sun was sure to throw him into a fever. Instead of playing about, and jumping, and running like other children, he was taught to sit still for fear of spoiling his clothes, and to stay in the house for fear of injuring his complexion. By this kind of education, when Master Merton came over to England he could neither write nor read, nor cipher; he could use none of his limbs with ease, nor bear any degree of fatigue; but he was very proud, fretful, and impatient.
Very near to Mr Merton's seat lived a plain, honest farmer, whose name was Sandford. This man had, like Mr Merton, an only son, not much older than Master Merton, whose name was Harry. Harry, as he had been always accustomed to run about in the fields, to follow the labourers while they were ploughing, and to drive the sheep to their pasture, was active, strong, hardy, and fresh-coloured. He was neither so fair, nor so delicately shaped as Master Merton; but he had an honest good-natured countenance, which made everybody love him; was never out of humour, and took the greatest pleasure in obliging everybody. If little Harry saw a poor wretch who wanted victuals, while he was eating his dinner, he was sure to give him half, and sometimes the whole: nay, so very good-natured was he to everything, that he would never go into the fields to take the eggs of poor birds, or their young ones, nor practise any other kind of sport which gave pain to poor animals, who are as capable of feeling as we ourselves, though they have no words to express their sufferings. Once, indeed, Harry was caught twirling a cock-chafer round, which he had fastened by a crooked pin to a long piece of thread: but then this was through ignorance and want of thought; for, as soon as his father told him that the poor helpless insect felt as much, or more than he would do, were a knife thrust through his hand, he burst into tears, and took the poor animal home, where he fed him during a fortnight upon fresh leaves; and when he was perfectly recovered, turned him out to enjoy liberty and fresh air. Ever since that time, Harry was so careful and considerate, that he would step out of the way for fear of hurting a worm, and employed himself in doing kind offices to all the animals in the neighbourhood. He used to stroke the horses as they were at work, and fill his pockets with acorns for the pigs; if he walked in the fields, he was sure to gather green boughs for the sheep, who were so fond of him that they followed him wherever he went. In the winter time, when the ground was covered with frost and snow, and the poor little birds could get at no food, he would often go supperless to bed, that he might feed the robin-redbreasts; even toads, and frogs, and spiders, and such kinds of disagreeable animals, which most people destroy wherever they find them, were perfectly safe with Harry; he used to say, they had a right to live as well as we, and that it was cruel and unjust to kill creatures, only because we did not like them.
These sentiments made little Harry a great favourite with everybody, particularly with the clergyman of the parish, who became so fond of him that he taught him to read and write, and had him almost always with him. Indeed, it was not surprising that Mr Barlow showed so particular an affection for him; for besides learning, with the greatest readiness, everything that was taught him, little Harry was the most honest, obliging creature in the world. He was never discontented, nor did he ever grumble, whatever he was desired to do. And then you might believe Harry in everything he said; for though he could have gained a plum-cake by telling an untruth, and was sure that speaking the truth would expose him to a severe whipping, he never hesitated in declaring it. Nor was he like many other children, who place their whole happiness in eating: for give him but a morsel of dry bread for his dinner, and he would be satisfied, though you placed sweetmeats and fruit, and every other nicety, in his way.
With this little boy did Master Merton become acquainted in the following manner:—As he and the maid were once walking in the fields on a fine summer's morning, diverting themselves with gathering different kinds of wild flowers, and running after butterflies, a large snake, on a sudden, started up from among some long grass, and coiled itself round little Tommy's leg. You may imagine the fright they were both in at this accident; the maid ran away shrieking for help, while the child, who was in an agony of terror, did not dare to stir from the place where he was standing. Harry, who happened to be walking near the place, came running up, and asked what was the matter. Tommy, who was sobbing most piteously, could not find words to tell him, but pointed to his leg, and made Harry sensible of what had happened. Harry, who, though young, was a boy of a most courageous spirit, told him not to be frightened; and instantly seizing the snake by the neck, with as much dexterity as resolution, tore him from Tommy's leg, and threw him to a great distance off.
Just as this happened, Mrs Merton and all the family, alarmed by the servant's cries, came running breathless to the place, as Tommy was recovering his spirits, and thanking his brave little deliverer. Her first emotions were to catch her darling up in her arms, and, after giving him a thousand kisses, to ask him whether he had received any hurt. "No," said Tommy, "indeed I have not, mamma; but I believe that nasty ugly beast would have bitten me, if that little boy had not come and pulled him off." "And who are you, my dear," said she, "to whom we are all so obliged?" "Harry Sandford, madam." "Well, my child, you are a dear, brave little creature, and you shall go home and dine with us." "No, thank you, madam; my father will want me." "And who is your father, my sweet boy?" "Farmer Sandford, madam, that lives at the bottom of the hill." "Well, my dear, you shall be my child henceforth; will you?" "If you please, madam, if I may have my own father and mother, too."
Mrs Merton instantly despatched a servant to the farmer's; and, taking little Harry by the hand, she led him to the mansion-house, where she found Mr Merton whom she entertained with a long account of Tommy's danger and Harry's bravery.
Harry was now in a new scene of life. He was carried through costly apartments, where everything that could please the eye, or contribute to convenience, was assembled. He saw large looking-glasses in gilded frames, carved tables and chairs, curtains made of the finest silk, and the very plates and knives and forks were of silver. At dinner he was placed close to Mrs Merton, who took care to supply him with the choicest bits, and engaged him to eat, with the most endearing kindness; but, to the astonishment of everybody, he neither appeared pleased nor surprised at anything he saw. Mrs Merton could not conceal her disappointment; for, as she had always been used to a great degree of finery herself, she had expected it should make the same impression upon everybody else. At last, seeing him eye a small silver cup with great attention, out of which he had been drinking, she asked him whether he should not like to have such a fine thing to drink out of; and added, that, though it was Tommy's cup, she was sure he would with great pleasure, give it to his little friend. "Yes, that I will," says Tommy; "for you know, mamma, I have a much finer one than that, made of gold, besides two large ones made of silver." "Thank you with all my heart," said little Harry; "but I will not rob you of it, for I have a much better one at home." "How!" said Mrs Merton, "does your father eat and drink out of silver?" "I don't know, madam, what you call this; but we drink at home out of long things made of horn, just such as the cows wear upon their heads." "The child is a simpleton, I think," said Mrs Merton: "and why is that better than silver ones?" "Because," said Harry, "they never make us uneasy." "Make you uneasy, my child!" said Mrs Merton, "what do you mean?" "Why, madam, when the man threw that great thing down, which looks just like this, I saw that you were very sorry about it, and looked as if you had been just ready to drop. Now, ours at home are thrown about by all the family, and nobody minds it." "I protest," said Mrs Merton to her husband, "I do not know what to say to this boy, he makes such strange observations."
The fact was, that during dinner, one of the servants had thrown down a large piece of plate, which, as it was very valuable, had made Mrs Merton not only look very uneasy, but give the man a very severe scolding for his carelessness.
After dinner, Mrs Merton filled a large glass of wine, and giving it to Harry, bade him drink it up, but he thanked her, and said he was not dry. "But, my dear," said she, "this is very sweet and pleasant, and as you are a good boy, you may drink it up." "Ay, but, madam, Mr Barlow says that we must only eat when we are hungry, and drink when we are dry: and that we must only eat and drink such things are as easily met with; otherwise we shall grow peevish and vexed when we can't get them. And this was the way that the Apostles did, who were all very good men."
Mr Merton laughed at this. "And pray," said he, "little man, do you know who the Apostles were?" "Oh! yes, to be sure I do." "And who were they?" "Why, sir, there was a time when people were grown so very wicked, that they did not care what they did; and the great folks were all proud, and minded nothing but eating and drinking and sleeping, and amusing themselves; and took no care of the poor, and would not give a morsel of bread to hinder a beggar from starving; and the poor were all lazy, and loved to be idle better than to work; and little boys were disobedient to their parents, and their parents took no care to teach them anything that was good; and all the world was very bad, very bad indeed. And then there came from Heaven the Son of God, whose name was Christ; and He went about doing good to everybody, and curing people of all sorts of diseases, and taught them what they ought to do; and He chose out twelve other very good men, and called them Apostles; and these Apostles went about the world doing as He did, and teaching people as He taught them. And they never minded what they did eat or drink, but lived upon dry bread and water; and when anybody offered them money, they would not take it, but told them to be good, and give it to the poor and sick: and so they made the world a great deal better. And therefore it is not fit to mind what we live upon, but we should take what we can get, and be contented; just as the beasts and birds do, who lodge in the open air, and live upon herbs, and drink nothing but water; and yet they are strong, and active, and healthy."
"Upon my word," said Mr Merton, "this little man is a great philosopher; and we should be much obliged to Mr Barlow if he would take our Tommy under his care; for he grows a great boy, and it is time that he should know something. What say you, Tommy, should you like to be a philosopher?" "Indeed, papa, I don't know what a philosopher is; but I should like to be a king, because he's finer and richer than anybody else, and has nothing to do, and everybody waits upon him, and is afraid of him." "Well said, my dear," replied Mrs Merton; and rose and kissed him; "and a king you deserve to be with such a spirit; and here's a glass of wine for you for making such a pretty answer. And should you not like to be a king too, little Harry?" "Indeed, madam, I don't know what that is; but I hope I shall soon be big enough to go to plough, and get my own living; and then I shall want nobody to wait upon me."
"What a difference between the children of farmers and gentlemen!" whispered Mrs Merton to her husband, looking rather contemptuously upon Harry. "I am not sure," said Mr Merton, "that for this time the advantage is on the side of our son:—But should you not like to be rich, my dear?" said he, turning to Harry. "No, indeed, sir." "No, simpleton!" said Mrs Merton: "and why not?" "Because the only rich man I ever saw, is Squire Chase, who lives hard by; and he rides among people's corn, and breaks down their hedges, and shoots their poultry, and kills their dogs, and lames their cattle, and abuses the poor; and they say he does all this because he's rich; but everybody hates him, though they dare not tell him so to his face—and I would not be hated for anything in the world." "But should you not like to have a fine laced coat, and a coach to carry you about, and servants to wait upon you?" "As to that, madam, one coat is as good as another, if it will but keep me warm; and I don't want to ride, because I can walk wherever I choose; and, as to servants, I should have nothing for them to do, if I had a hundred of them." Mrs Merton continued to look at him with astonishment, but did not ask him any more questions.
In the evening, little Harry was sent home to his father, who asked him what he had seen at the great house, and how he liked being there. "Why," replied Harry, "they were all very kind to me, for which I'm much obliged to them: but I had rather have been at home, for I never was so troubled in all my life to get a dinner. There was one man to take away my plate, and another to give me drink, and another to stand behind my chair, just as if I had been lame or blind, and could not have waited upon myself; and then there was so much to do with putting this thing on, and taking another off, I thought it would never have been over; and, after dinner, I was obliged to sit two whole hours without ever stirring, while the lady was talking to me, not as Mr Barlow does, but wanting me to love fine clothes, and to be a king, and to be rich, that I may be hated like Squire Chase."
But at the mansion-house, much of the conversation, in the meantime, was employed in examining the merits of little Harry. Mrs Merton acknowledged his bravery and openness of temper; she was also struck with the very good-nature and benevolence of his character, but she contended that he had a certain grossness and indelicacy in his ideas, which distinguish the children of the lower and middling classes of people from those of persons of fashion. Mr Merton, on the contrary, maintained, that he had never before seen a child whose sentiments and disposition would do so much honour even to the most elevated situations. Nothing, he affirmed, was more easily acquired than those external manners, and that superficial address, upon which too many of the higher classes pride themselves as their greatest, or even as their only accomplishment; "nay, so easily are they picked up," said he, "that we frequently see them descend with the cast clothes to maids and valets; between whom and their masters and mistresses there is little other difference than what results from the former wearing soiled clothes and healthier countenances. Indeed, the real seat of all superiority, even of manners, must be placed in the mind: dignified sentiments, superior courage, accompanied with genuine and universal courtesy, are always necessary to constitute the real gentleman; and where these are wanting, it is the greatest absurdity to think they can be supplied by affected tones of voice, particular grimaces, or extravagant and unnatural modes of dress; which, far from becoming the real test of gentility, have in general no other origin than the caprice of barbers, tailors, actors, opera-dancers, milliners, fiddlers, and French servants of both sexes. I cannot help, therefore, asserting," said he, very seriously, "that this little peasant has within his mind the seeds of true gentility and dignity of character; and though I shall also wish that our son may possess all the common accomplishments of his rank, nothing would give me more pleasure than a certainty that he would never in any respect fall below the son of farmer Sandford."
Whether Mrs Merton fully acceded to these observations of her husband, I cannot decide; but, without waiting to hear her particular sentiments, he thus went on:—"Should I appear more warm than usual upon this subject, you must pardon me, my dear, and attribute it to the interest I feel in the welfare of our little Tommy. I am too sensible that our mutual fondness has hitherto treated him with rather too much indulgence. While we have been over-solicitous to remove from him every painful and disagreeable impression, we have made him too delicate and fretful; our desire of constantly consulting his inclinations has made us gratify even his caprices and humours; and, while we have been too studious to preserve him from restraint and opposition, we have in reality been ourselves the cause that he has not acquired even the common attainments of his age and situation. All this I have long observed in silence, but have hitherto concealed, both from my fondness for our child, and my fear of offending you; but at length a consideration of his real interests has prevailed over every other motive, and has compelled me to embrace a resolution, which I hope will not be disagreeable to you—that of sending him directly to Mr Barlow, provided he would take the care of him; and I think this accidental acquaintance with young Sandford may prove the luckiest thing in the world, as he is so nearly the age and size of our Tommy. I shall therefore propose to the farmer, that I will for some years pay for the board and education of his little boy, that he may be a constant companion to our son."
As Mr Merton said this with a certain degree of firmness, and the proposal was in itself so reasonable and necessary, Mrs Merton did not make any objection to it, but consented, although very reluctantly, to part with her son. Mr Barlow was accordingly invited to dinner the next Sunday, and Mr Merton took an opportunity of introducing the subject, and making the proposal to him; assuring him at the same time, that, though there was no return within the bounds of his fortune which he would not willingly make, yet the education and improvement of his son were objects of so much importance to him, that he should always consider himself the obliged party.
To this, Mr Barlow, after thanking Mr Merton for the confidence and liberality with which he treated him, answered him in the following manner:—"I should be little worthy of the distinguished regard with which you treat me, did I not with the greatest sincerity assure you, that I feel myself totally unqualified for the task. I am, sir, a minister of the Gospel, and I would not exchange that character, and the severe duties it enjoins, for any other situation in life. But you must be sensible that the retired manner of life which I have led for these twenty years, in consequence of my profession, at a distance from the gaities of the capital, and the refinements of polite life, is little adapted to form such a tutor as the manners and opinions of the world require for your son. Gentlemen in your situation of life are accustomed to divide the world into two general classes; those who are persons of fashion, and those who are not. The first class contains everything that is valuable in life; and therefore their manners, their prejudices, their very vices, must be inculcated upon the minds of children, from the earliest period of infancy; the second comprehends the great body of mankind, who, under the general name of the vulgar, are represented as being only objects of contempt and disgust, and scarcely worthy to be put on a footing with the very beasts that contribute to the pleasure and convenience of their superiors."
Mr Merton could not help interrupting Mr Barlow here, to assure him that, though there was too much truth in the observation, yet he must not think that either he or Mrs Merton carried things to that extravagant length; and that, although they wished their son to have the manners of a man of fashion, they thought his morals and religion of infinitely more consequence.
"If you think so, sir," said Mr Barlow, "it is more than a noble lord did, whose written opinions are now considered as the oracles of polite life, and more than, I believe, most of his admirers do at this time. But if you allow what I have just mentioned to be the common distinctions of genteel people, you must at one glance perceive how little I must be qualified to educate a young gentleman intended to move in that sphere; I, whose temper, reason, and religion, equally combine to make me reject the principles upon which those distinctions are founded. The Christian religion, though not exclusively, is, emphatically speaking, the religion of the poor. Its first ministers were taken from the lower orders of mankind, and to the lower orders of mankind was it first proposed; and in this, instead of feeling myself mortified or ashamed, I am the more inclined to adore the wisdom and benevolence of that Power by whose command it was first promulgated. Those who engross the riches and advantages of this world are too much employed with their pleasures and ambition to be much interested about any system, either of religion or of morals; they too frequently feel a species of habitual intoxication, which excludes every serious thought, and makes them view with indifference everything but the present moment. Those, on the contrary, to whom all the hardships and miseries of this world are allotted as their natural portion—those who eat the bread of bitterness, and drink the waters of affliction, have more interest in futurity, and are therefore more prepared to receive the promises of the Gospel. Yes, sir; mark the disingenuousness of many of our modern philosophers; they quarrel with the Christian religion, because it has not yet penetrated the deserts of Africa, or arrested the wandering hordes of Tartary; yet they ridicule it for the meanness of its origin, and because it is the Gospel of the poor: that is to say, because it is expressly calculated to inform the judgments, and alleviate the miseries of that vast promiscuous body which constitutes the majestic species of man. But for whom would these philosophers have Heaven itself interested, if not for the mighty whole which it has created? Poverty, that is to say, a state of labour and frequent self-denial, is the natural state of man; it is the state of all in the happiest and most equal governments, the state of nearly all in every country; it is a state in which all the faculties, both of body and mind, are always found to develope themselves with the most advantage, and in which the moral feelings have generally the greatest influence. The accumulation of riches, on the contrary, can never increase, but by the increasing poverty and degradation of those whom Heaven has created equal; a thousand cottages are thrown down to afford space for a single palace. How benevolently, therefore, has Heaven acted, in thus extending its blessings to all who do not disqualify themselves for the reception by voluntary hardness of heart! how wisely in thus opposing a continual boundary to human pride and sensuality; two passions the most fatal in their effects, and the most apt to desolate the world. And shall a minister of that Gospel, conscious of these great truths, and professing to govern himself by their influence, dare to preach a different doctrine, and flatter those excesses, which he must know are equally contrary both to reason and religion? Shall he become the abject sycophant of human greatness, and assist it in trampling all relations of humanity beneath his feet, instead of setting before it the severe duties of its station, and the account which will one day be expected of all the opportunities of doing good, so idly, so irretrievably lost and squandered? But I beg pardon, sir, for that warmth which has transported me so far, and made me engross so much of the conversation. But it will at least have this good effect, that it will demonstrate the truth of what I have been saying; and show that, though I might undertake the education of a farmer or a mechanic, I shall never succeed in that of a modern gentleman."
"Sir," replied Mr Merton, "there is nothing which I now hear from you, which does not increase my esteem of your character, and my desire to engage your assistance. Permit me only to ask whether, in the present state of things, a difference of conditions and an inequality of fortune are not necessary, and, if necessary, I should infer, not contrary to the spirit of Christianity?"
"So it is declared, sir, that offences must come; but that does not prevent a severe denunciation against the offenders. But, if you wish to know, whether I am one of those enthusiasts, who are continually preaching up an ideal state of perfection, totally inconsistent with human affairs, I will endeavour to give you every satisfaction upon the subject. If you mean by difference of conditions and inequality of fortunes, that the present state of human affairs in every society we are acquainted with, does not admit that perfect equality which the purer interpretations of the Gospel inculcate, I certainly shall not disagree with you in opinion. He that formed the human heart certainly must be acquainted with all the passions to which it would be subject; and if, under the immediate dispensation of Christ himself, it was found impossible for a rich man to give his possessions to the poor, that degree of purity will hardly be expected now, which was not found in the origin. But here, sir, permit me to remark, how widely the principles of genuine Christianity differ from that imaginary scheme of ideal perfection, equally inconsistent with human affairs and human characters, which many of its pretended friends would persuade us to believe in; and, as comparisons sometimes throw a new and sudden light upon a subject, give me leave to use one here, which I think bears the closest analogy to what we are now considering. Were some physician to arise, who, to a perfect knowledge of all preceding medical facts, had added by a more than human skill a knowledge of the most secret principles of the human frame, could he calculate, with an accuracy that never was deceived, the effect of every cause that could act upon our constitutions; and, were he inclined, as the result of all his science and observation, to leave a rule of life that might remain unimpeached to the latest posterity, I ask, what kind of one would he form?"
"I suppose one," said Mr Merton, "that was the most adapted to the general circumstances of the human species, and, which observed, would confer the greatest degree of health and vigour."
"Right," said Mr Barlow; "I ask again, whether, observing the common luxury and intemperance of the rich, he would take his directions from the usages of a polite table, and recommend that heterogeneous assemblage of contrary mixtures, high seasonings, poignant sauces, fermented and distilled poisons, which is continually breeding diseases in their veins, as the best means of preserving or regaining health?"
"Certainly not. That were to debase his heart, and sanction abuses, instead of reforming them."
"Would he not, then, recommend simplicity of diet, light repasts, early slumbers, and moderate exercise in the open air, if he judged them salutary to human nature, even though fashionable prejudice had stamped all these particulars with the mark of extreme vulgarity?"
"Were he to act otherwise, he must forfeit all pretensions either to honesty or skill."
"Let us then apply all this to the mind, instead of the body, and suppose for an instant, that some legislator, either human or divine, who comprehended all the secret springs that govern the mind, was preparing a universal code for all mankind; must he not imitate the physician, and deliver general truths, however unpalatable, however repugnant to particular prejudices, since upon the observance of these truths alone the happiness of the species must depend?"
"I think so, indeed."
"Should such a person observe, that an immoderate desire and accumulation of riches, a love of ostentatious trifles, unnecessary splendour in all that relates to human life, and an habitual indulgence of sensuality, tended not only to produce evil in all around, but even in the individual himself, who suffered the tyranny of these vices; how would you have the legislator act? Should he be silent?"
"No, certainly; he should arraign these pernicious habitudes by every means within his power—by precept, by example."
"Should he also observe, that riches employed in another manner, in removing the real miseries of humanity, in cherishing, comforting, and supporting all around, produced a contrary effect, and tended equally to make the obliged and the obliger happy; should he conceal this great eternal truth, or should he divulge it with all the authority he possessed, conscious, that in whatever degree it became the rule of human life, in the same degree would it tend to the advantage of all the world?"
"There cannot be a doubt upon the subject."
"But, should he know, either by the spirit of prophecy, or by intuitive penetration, that the majority of mankind would never observe these rules to any great degree, but would be blindly precipitated by their passions into every excess against which he so benevolently cautioned them; should this be a reason for his withdrawing his precepts and admonitions, or for seeming to approve what was in its own nature most pernicious?
"As prudent would it be to pull off the bridle when we mounted an impetuous horse, because we doubted of our power to hold him in; or to increase his madness by the spur, when it was clearly too great before. Thus, sir, you will perceive, that the precepts of the Christian religion are founded upon the most perfect knowledge of the human heart, as they furnish a continual barrier against the most destructive passions, and the most subversive of human happiness. Your own concessions sufficiently prove, that it would have been equally derogatory to truth, and the common interests of the species, to have made the slightest concessions in favour either of human pride or sensuality. Your extensive acquaintance with mankind will sufficiently convince you, how prone the generality are to give an unbounded loose to these two passions; neither the continual experience of their own weakness, nor of the fatal effects which are produced by vicious indulgences, has yet been capable of teaching them either humility or moderation. What then could the wisest legislator do, more useful, more benevolent, more necessary, than to establish general rules of conduct, which have a continual tendency to restore moral and natural order, and to diminish the wide inequality produced by pride and avarice? Nor is there any greater danger that these precepts should be too rigidly observed, than that the bulk of mankind should injure themselves by too abstemious a temperance. All that can be expected from human weakness, even after working from the most perfect model, is barely to arrive at mediocrity; and, were the model less perfect, or the duties less severe, there is the greatest reason to think, that even that mediocrity would never be attained. Examine the conduct of those who are placed at a distance from all labour and fatigue, and you will find the most trifling exertions act upon their imaginations with the same force as the most insuperable difficulties.
"If I have now succeeded in laying down the genuine principles of Christian morality, I apprehend it will not be difficult to deduce the duty of one who takes upon him the office of its minister and interpreter. He can no more have a right to alter the slightest of its principles than the magistrate can be justified in giving false interpretations to the laws. The more the corruptions of the world increase, the greater the obligation that he should oppose himself to their course; and he can no more relax in his opposition than the pilot can abandon the helm, because the winds and the waves begin to augment their fury. Should he be despised, or neglected by all the rest of the human species, let him still persist in bearing testimony to the truth, both in his precepts and example; the cause of virtue is not desperate while it retains a single friend; should it even sink for ever, it is enough for him to have discharged his duty. But, although he is thus restricted as to what he shall teach, I do not assert that it is improper for him to use his understanding and experience as to the manner of his instruction. He is strictly bound never to teach anything contrary to the purest morality; but he is not bound always to teach that morality in its greatest extent. In that respect, he may use the wisdom of the serpent, though guided by the innocence of the dove. If, therefore, he sees the reign of prejudice and corruption, so firmly established, that men would be offended with the genuine simplicity of the Gospel, and the purity of its primeval doctrines, he may so far moderate their rigour as to prevent them from entirely disgusting weak and luxurious minds. If we cannot effect the greatest possible perfection, it is still a material point to preserve from the grossest vices. A physician that practises amongst the great may certainly be excused, though he should not be continually advising the exercise, the regimen of the poor; not that the doctrine is not true, but that there would not be the smallest probability of its ever being adopted. But, although he never assents to that luxurious method of life, which he is continually obliged to see, he may content himself with only inculcating those restrictions which even the luxurious may submit to, if they possess the smallest portion of understanding. Should he succeed thus far, there is no reason for his stopping in his career, or not enforcing a superior degree of temperance; but should it be difficult to persuade even so slight a restriction, he could hope for no success, were he to preach up a Spartan or a Roman diet. Thus the Christian minister may certainly use his own discretion in the mode of conveying his instructions; and it is permitted him to employ all his knowledge of the human heart in reclaiming men from their vices, and winning them over to the cause of virtue. By the severity of his own manners, he may sufficiently evince the motives of his conduct; nor can he, by any means, hope for more success than if he shows that he practises more than he preaches, and uses a greater degree of indulgence to the failings of others than he requires for his own."
"Nothing," said Mr Merton, "can be more rational or moderate than these sentiments; why then do you persist in pleading your incapacity for an employment which you can so well discharge?"
"Because," said Mr Barlow, "he that undertakes the education of a child, undertakes the most important duty in society, and is severally answerable for every voluntary omission. The same mode of reasoning, which I have just been using, is not applicable here. It is out of the power of any individual, however strenuous may be his endeavours, to prevent the mass of mankind from acquiring prejudices and corruptions; and, when he finds them in that state, he certainly may use all the wisdom he possesses for their reformation. But this rule will never justify him for an instant in giving false impressions where he is at liberty to instil truth, and in losing the only opportunity which he perhaps may ever possess, of teaching pure morality and religion. How will such a man, if he has the least feeling, bear to see his pupil become a slave, perhaps to the grossest vices; and to reflect with a great degree of probability that this catastrophe has been owing to his own inactivity and improper indulgence? May not all human characters frequently be traced back to impressions made at so early a period, that none but discerning eyes would ever suspect their existence? Yet nothing is more certain; what we are at twenty depends upon what we were at fifteen; what we are at fifteen upon what we were at ten; where shall we then place the beginning of the series? Besides, sir, the very prejudices and manners of society, which seem to be an excuse for the present negligence in the early education of children, act upon my mind with a contrary effect. Need we fear that, after every possible precaution has been taken, our pupil should not give a sufficient loose to his passions, or should be in danger of being too severely virtuous? How glorious would be such a distinction, how much to be wished for, and yet how little to be expected by any one who is moderately acquainted with the world! The instant he makes his entrance there, he will find a universal relaxation and indifference to everything that is serious; everything will conspire to represent pleasure and sensuality as the only business of human beings, and to throw a ridicule upon every pretence to principle or restraint. This will be the doctrine that he will learn at theatres, from his companions, from the polite circles into which he is introduced. The ladies, too, will have their share in the improvement of his character; they will criticise the colour of his clothes, his method of making a bow, and of entering a room. They will teach him that the great object of human life is to please the fair; and that the only method of doing it is to acquire the graces. Need we fear that, thus beset an every side, he should not attach a sufficient importance to trifles, or grow fashionably languid in the discharge of all his duties? Alas! sir, it seems to me that this will unavoidably happen in spite of all our endeavours. Let us, then, not lose the important moment of human life, when it is possible to flatter ourselves with some hopes of success in giving good impressions; they may succeed; they may either preserve a young man from gross immorality, or have a tendency to reform him when the first ardour of youth is past. If we neglect this awful moment, which can never return, with the view which, I must confess, I have of modern manners, it appears to me like launching a vessel in the midst of a storm, without a compass and without a pilot."
"Sir," said Mr Merton, "I will make no other answer to what you have now been saying, than to tell you, it adds, if possible, to my esteem of your character; and that I will deliver my son into your hands, upon your own conditions. And as to the terms—"
"Pardon me," replied Mr Barlow, "if I interrupt you here, and give you another specimen of the singularity of my opinions. I am contented to take your son for some months under my care, and to endeavour by every means within my power to improve him. But there is one circumstance which is indispensable, that you permit me to have the pleasure of serving you as a friend. If you approve of my ideas and conduct, I will keep him as long as you desire. In the mean time, as there are, I fear, some little circumstances which have grown up, by too much tenderness and indulgence, to be altered in his character, I think that I shall possess more of the necessary influence and authority, if I, for the present, appear to him and your whole family rather in the light of a friend than that of a schoolmaster."
However disagreeable this proposal was to the generosity of Mr Merton, he was obliged to consent to it; and little Tommy was accordingly sent the next day to the vicarage, which was at the distance of about two miles from his father's house.
The day after Tommy came to Mr Barlow's, as soon as breakfast was over, he took him and Harry into the garden; when he was there, he took a spade into his own hand, and giving Harry a hoe, they both began to work with great eagerness. "Everybody that eats," says Mr Barlow, "ought to assist in procuring food; and therefore little Harry and I begin our daily work. This is my bed, and that other is his; we work upon it every day, and he that raises the most out of it will deserve to fare the best. Now, Tommy, if you choose to join us, I will mark you out a piece of ground, which you shall have to yourself, and all the produce shall be your own." "No, indeed," said Tommy, very sulkily, "I am a gentleman and don't choose to slave like a ploughboy." "Just as you please, Mr Gentleman," said Mr Barlow; "but Harry and I, who are not above being useful, will mind our work."
In about two hours, Mr Barlow said it was time to leave off; and, taking Harry by the hand, he led him into a very pleasant summer-house, where they sat down; and Mr Barlow, taking out a plate of very fine ripe cherries, divided them between Harry and himself.
Tommy, who had followed, and expected his share, when he saw them both eating without taking any notice of him, could no longer restrain his passion, but burst into a violent fit of sobbing and crying. "What is the matter?" said Mr Barlow very coolly to him. Tommy looked upon him very sulkily, but returned no answer. "Oh! sir, if you don't choose to give me an answer, you may be silent; nobody is obliged to speak here." Tommy became still more disconcerted at this, and, being unable to conceal his anger, ran out of the summer-house, and wandered very disconsolately about the garden, equally surprised and vexed to find that he was now in a place where nobody felt any concern whether he was pleased or the contrary.
When all the cherries were eaten, little Harry said, "You promised to be so good as to hear me read when we had done working in the garden; and, if it is agreeable to you, I will now read the story of the 'Flies and the Ants.'" "With all my heart," said Mr Barlow; "remember to read it slowly and distinctly, without hesitating or pronouncing the words wrong; and be sure to read it in such a manner as to show that you understand it."
Harry then took up the book, and read as follows:—
"THE FLIES AND THE ANTS."
"In the corner of a farmer's garden, there once happened to be a nest of ants, who, during the fine weather of the summer, were employed all day long in drawing little seeds and grains of corn into their hole. Near them there happened to be a bed of flowers, upon which a great quantity of flies used to be always sporting, and humming, and diverting themselves by flying from one flower to another. A little boy, who was the farmer's son, used frequently to observe the different employments of these animals; and, as he was very young and ignorant, he one day thus expressed himself:—'Can any creature be so simple as these ants? All day long they are working and toiling, instead of enjoying the fine weather, and diverting themselves like these flies, who are the happiest creatures in the world.' Some time after he had made this observation, the weather grew extremely cold, the sun was scarcely seen to shine, and the nights were chill and frosty. The same little boy, walking then in the garden, did not see a single ant, but all the flies lay scattered up and down, either dead or dying. As he was very good-natured, he could not help pitying the unfortunate animals, and asking at the same time, what had happened to the ants that he used to see in the same place? The father said, 'The flies are all dead, because they were careless animals, who gave themselves no trouble about laying up provisions, and were too idle to work; but the ants, who had been busy all the summer, in providing for their maintenance during the winter, are all alive and well; and you will see them as soon as the warm weather returns.'"
"Very well, Harry," said Mr Barlow, "we will now take a walk." They accordingly rambled out into the fields, where Mr Barlow made Harry take notice of several kinds of plants, and told him the names and nature of them. At last Harry, who had observed some very pretty purple berries upon a plant that bore a purple flower, and grew in the hedges, brought them to Mr Barlow, and asked whether they were good to eat. "It is very lucky," said Mr Barlow, "young man, that you asked the question before you put them into your mouth; for, had you tasted them, they would have given you violent pains in your head and stomach, and perhaps have killed you, as they grow upon a plant called night-shade, which is a rank poison." "Sir," said Harry, "I take care never to eat anything without knowing what it is, and I hope, if you will be so good as to continue to teach me, I shall very soon know the names and qualities of all the herbs which grow."
As they were returning home, Harry saw a very large bird called a kite, upon the ground, who seemed to have something in its claws, which he was tearing to pieces. Harry, who knew him to be one of those ravenous creatures which prey upon others, ran up to him, shouting as loud as he could; and the bird, being frightened, flew away, and left a chicken behind him, very much hurt indeed, but still alive. "Look, sir," said Harry, "if that cruel creature has not almost killed this poor chicken; see how he bleeds, and hangs his wings! I will put him into my bosom to recover him, and carry him home; and he shall have part of my dinner every day till he is well, and able to shift for himself."
As soon as they came home, the first care of little Harry was to put his wounded chicken into a basket with some fresh straw, some water and some bread. After that Mr Barlow and he went to dinner.
In the meantime, Tommy, who had been skulking about all day, very much mortified and uneasy, came in, and, being very hungry, was going to sit down to the table with the rest; but Mr Barlow stopped him, and said, "No, sir, as you are too much of a gentleman to work, we, who are not so, do not choose to work for the idle." Upon this Tommy retired into a corner, crying as if his heart would break, but more from grief than passion, as he began to perceive that nobody minded his ill-temper.
But little Harry, who could not bear to see his friend so unhappy, looked up half crying into Mr Barlow's face, and said, "Pray, sir, may I do as I please with my share of the dinner?" "Yes, to be sure, child." "Why, then," said he, getting up, "I will give it all to poor Tommy who wants it more than I do." Saying this, he gave it to him as he sat in the corner; and Tommy took it, and thanked him without ever turning his eyes from off the ground. "I see," said Mr Barlow, "that though gentlemen are above being of any use themselves, they are not above taking the bread that other people have been working hard for." At this Tommy cried still more bitterly than before.
The next day Mr Barlow and Harry went to work as before; but they had scarcely begun before Tommy came to them, and desired that he might have a hoe too, which Mr Barlow gave him; but, as he had never before learned to handle one, he was very awkward in the use of it, and hit himself several strokes upon his legs. Mr Barlow then laid down his own spade, and showed him how to hold and use it, by which means, in a short time, he became very expert, and worked with the greatest pleasure. When their work was over they retired all three to the summer-house; and Tommy felt the greatest joy imaginable when the fruit was produced, and he was invited to take his share, which seemed to him the most delicious he had ever tasted, because working in the air had given him an appetite.
As soon as they had done eating, Mr Barlow took up a book, and asked Tommy whether he would read them a story out of it? but he, looking a little ashamed, said he had never learned to read. "I am very sorry for it," said Mr Barlow, "because you lose a very great pleasure; then Harry shall read to you." Harry accordingly took up the book and read the following story:—
"THE GENTLEMAN AND THE BASKET-MAKER."
"There was, in a distant part of the world, a rich man, who lived in a fine house, and spent his whole time in eating, drinking, sleeping, and amusing himself. As he had a great many servants to wait upon him, who treated him with the greatest respect, and did whatever they were ordered, and, as he had never been taught the truth, nor accustomed to hear it, he grew very proud, insolent, and capricious, imagining that he had a right to command all the world, and that the poor were only born to serve and obey him.
"Near this rich man's house there lived an honest and industrious poor man, who gained his livelihood by making little baskets out of dried reeds, which grew upon a piece of marshy ground close to his cottage. But though he was obliged to labour from morning to night, to earn food enough to support him, and though he seldom fared better than upon dry bread, or rice, or pulse, and had no other bed than the remains of the rushes of which he made baskets, yet was he always happy, cheerful, and contented; for his labour gave him so good an appetite, that the coarsest fare appeared to him delicious; and he went to bed so tired that he would have slept soundly even upon the ground. Besides this, he was a good and virtuous man, humane to everybody, honest in his dealings, always accustomed to speak the truth, and therefore beloved and respected by all his neighbours.
"The rich man, on the contrary, though he lay upon the softest bed, yet could not sleep, because he had passed the day in idleness; and though the nicest dishes were presented to him, yet could he not eat with any pleasure, because he did not wait till nature gave him an appetite, nor use exercise, nor go into the open air. Besides this, as he was a great sluggard and glutton, he was almost always ill; and, as he did good to nobody, he had no friends; and even his servants spoke ill of him behind his back, and all his neighbours, whom he oppressed, hated him. For these reasons he was sullen, melancholy, and unhappy, and became displeased with all who appeared more cheerful than himself. When he was carried out in his palanquin (a kind of bed, borne upon the shoulders of men) he frequently passed by the cottage of the poor basket-maker, who was always sitting at the door, and singing as he wove the baskets. The rich man could not behold this without anger. 'What!' said he, 'shall a wretch, a peasant, a low-born fellow, that weaves bulrushes for a scanty subsistence, be always happy and pleased, while I, that am a gentleman, possessed of riches and power, and of more consequence than a million of reptiles like him, am always melancholy and discontented!' This reflection arose so often in his mind, that at last he began to feel the greatest degree of hatred towards the poor man; and, as he had never been accustomed to conquer his own passions, however improper or unjust they might be, he at last determined to punish the basket-maker for being happier than himself.
"With this wicked design, he one night gave orders to his servants (who did not dare to disobey him) to set fire to the rushes which surrounded the poor man's house. As it was summer, and the weather in that country extremely hot, the fire soon spread over the whole marsh, and not only consumed all the rushes, but soon extended to the cottage itself, and the poor basket-maker was obliged to run out almost naked to save his life.
"You may judge of the surprise and grief of the poor man, when he found himself entirely deprived of his subsistence by the wickedness of his rich neighbour, whom he had never offended; but, as he was unable to punish him for this injustice, he set out and walked on foot to the chief magistrate of that country, to whom, with many tears, he told his pitiful case. The magistrate, who was a good and just man, immediately ordered the rich man to be brought before him; and when he found that he could not deny the wickedness, of which he was accused, he thus spoke to the poor man:—'As this proud and wicked man has been puffed up with the opinion of his own importance, and attempted to commit the most scandalous injustice from his contempt of the poor, I am willing to teach him of how little value he is to anybody, and how vile and contemptible a creature he really is; but, for this purpose, it is necessary that you should consent to the plan I have formed, and go along with him to the place whither I intend to send you both.'
"The poor man replied, 'I never had much; but the little I once had is now lost by the mischievous disposition of this proud and oppressive man. I am entirely ruined; I have no means left in the world of procuring myself a morsel of bread the next time I am hungry; therefore I am ready to go wherever you please to send me; and, though I would not treat this man as he has treated me, yet should I rejoice to teach him more justice and humanity, and to prevent his injuring the poor a second time.'
"The magistrate then ordered them both to be put on board a ship, and carried to a distant country, which was inhabited by a rude and savage kind of men, who lived in huts, were strangers to riches, and got their living by fishing.
"As soon as they were set on shore, the sailors left them as they had been ordered, and the inhabitants of the country came round them in great numbers. The rich man, seeing himself thus exposed, without assistance or defence, in the midst of a barbarous people, whose language he did not understand, and in whose power he was, began to cry and wring his hands in the most abject manner; but the poor basket-maker, who had always been accustomed to hardships and dangers from his infancy, made signs to the people that he was their friend, and was willing to work for them, and be their servant. Upon this the natives made signs to them that they would do them no hurt, but would make use of their assistance in fishing and carrying wood.
"Accordingly, they led them both to a wood at some distance, and showing them several logs, ordered them to transport them to their cabins. They both immediately set about their tasks, and the poor man, who was strong and active, very soon had finished his share; while the rich man, whose limbs were tender and delicate, and never accustomed to any kind of labour, had scarcely done a quarter as much. The savages, who were witnesses to this, began to think that the basket-maker would prove very useful to them, and therefore presented him with a large portion of fish, and several of their choicest roots; while to the rich man they gave scarcely enough to support him, because they thought him capable of being of very little service to them; however, as he had now fasted several hours, he ate what they gave him with a better appetite than he had ever felt before at his own table.
"The next day they were set to work again; and as the basket-maker had the same advantage over his companion, he was highly caressed and well treated by the natives, while they showed every mark of contempt towards the other, whose delicate and luxurious habits had rendered him very unfit for labour.
"The rich man now began to perceive with how little reason he had before valued himself, and despised his fellow-creatures; and an accident that fell out shortly after, tended to complete his mortification. It happened that one of the savages had found something like a fillet, with which he adorned his forehead, and seemed to think himself extremely fine; the basket-maker, who had perceived this appearance of vanity, pulled up some reeds, and, sitting down to work, in a short time finished a very elegant wreath, which he placed upon the head of the first inhabitant he chanced to meet. This man was so pleased with his new acquisition, that he danced and capered with joy, and ran away to seek the rest, who were all struck with astonishment at this new and elegant piece of finery. It was not long before another came to the basket-maker, making signs that he wanted to be ornamented like his companion; and with such pleasure were these chaplets considered by the whole nation, that the basket-maker was released from his former drudgery, and continually employed in weaving them. In return for the pleasure which he conferred upon them, the grateful savages brought him every kind of food their country afforded, built him a hut, and showed him every demonstration of gratitude and kindness. But the rich man, who possessed neither talents to please nor strength to labour, was condemned to be the basket-maker's servant, and to cut him reeds to supply the continual demand for chaplets.
"After having passed some months in this manner, they were again transported to their own country, by the orders of the magistrate, and brought before him. He then looked sternly upon the rich man, and said:—'Having now taught you how helpless, contemptible, and feeble a creature you are, as well as how inferior to the man you insulted, I shall proceed to make reparation to him for the injury you have inflicted upon him. Did I treat you as you deserve, I should take from you all the riches that you possess, as you wantonly deprived this poor man of his whole subsistence, but, hoping that you will become more humane for the future, I sentence you to give half your fortune to this man, whom you endeavoured to ruin.'
"Upon this the basket-maker said, after thanking the magistrate for his goodness:—'I, having been bred up in poverty, and accustomed to labour, have no desire to acquire riches, which I should not know how to use; all, therefore, that I require of this man is, to put me into the same situation I was in before, and to learn more humanity.'
"The rich man could not help being astonished at this generosity, and, having acquired wisdom by his misfortunes, not only treated the basket-maker as a friend during the rest of his life, but employed his riches in relieving the poor, and benefiting his fellow-creatures."
The story being ended, Tommy said it was very pretty; but that, had he been the good basket-maker, he would have taken the naughty rich man's fortune and kept it. "So would not I," said Harry, "for fear of growing as proud, and wicked, and idle as the other."
From this time forward, Mr Barlow and his two pupils used constantly to work in their garden every morning; and, when they were fatigued, they retired to the summer-house, where little Harry, who improved every day in reading, used to entertain them with some pleasant story or other, which Tommy always listened to with the greatest pleasure. But little Harry going home for a week, Tommy and Mr Barlow were left alone.
The next day, after they had done work, and retired to the summer-house as usual, Tommy expected Mr Barlow would read to him; but, to his great disappointment, found that he was busy, and could not. The next day the same accident was renewed, and the day after that. At this Tommy lost all patience, and said to himself, "Now, if I could but read like little Harry Sandford, I should not need to ask anybody to do it for me, and then I could divert myself; and why (thinks he) may not I do what another has done? To be sure, little Harry is clever; but he could not have read if he had not been taught; and if I am taught, I dare say I shall learn to read as well as he. Well, as soon as ever he comes home, I am determined to ask him about it."
The next day little Harry returned, and as soon as Tommy had an opportunity of being alone with him, "Pray, Harry," said Tommy, "how came you to be able to read?"
Harry.—Why, Mr Barlow taught me my letters, and then spelling; and then, by putting syllables together, I learnt to read. Tommy.—And could not you show me my letters? Harry.—Yes, very willingly.
Harry then took up a book, and Tommy was so eager and attentive, that at the very first lesson, he learned the whole alphabet. He was infinitely pleased with this first experiment, and could scarcely forbear running to Mr Barlow, to let him know the improvement he had made; but he thought he should surprise him more, if he said nothing about the matter till he was able to read a whole story. He therefore applied himself with such diligence, and little Harry, who spared no pains to assist his friend, was so good a master, that in about two months he determined to surprise Mr Barlow with a display of his talents. Accordingly, one day, when they were all assembled in the summer-house, and the book was given to Harry, Tommy stood up and said, that, if Mr Barlow pleased, he would try to read. "Oh, very willingly," said Mr Barlow; "but I should as soon expect you to fly as to read." Tommy smiled with a consciousness of his own proficiency, and, taking up the book, read with great fluency,—
"THE HISTORY OF THE TWO DOGS."
"In a part of the world, where there are many strong and fierce wild beasts, a poor man happened to bring up two puppies of that kind which is most valued for size and courage. As they appeared to possess more than common strength and agility, he thought that he should make an acceptable present to his landlord, who was a rich man, living in a great city, by giving him one of them, which was called Jowler; while he brought up the other, named Keeper, to guard his own flocks.
"From this time the manner of living was entirely altered between the brother whelps. Jowler was sent into a plentiful kitchen, where he quickly became the favourite of the servants, who diverted themselves with his little tricks and wanton gambols, and rewarded him with great quantities of pot-liquor and broken victuals; by which means, as he was stuffing from morning to night, he increased considerably in size, and grew sleek and comely; he was, indeed, rather unwieldy, and so cowardly that he would run away from a dog only half as big as himself; he was much addicted to gluttony, and was often beaten for the thefts he committed in the pantry; but, as he had learned to fawn upon the footmen, and would stand upon his hind legs to beg, when he was ordered, and, besides this, would fetch and carry, he was mightily caressed by all the neighbourhood.
"Keeper, in the meantime, who lived at a cottage in the country, neither fared so well, looked so plump, nor had learned all these little tricks to recommend him; but, as his master was too poor to maintain anything but what was useful, and was obliged to be continually in the air, subject to all kinds of weather, and labouring hard for a livelihood, Keeper grew hardy, active, and diligent; he was also exposed to continual danger from the wolves, from whom he had received many a severe bite while guarding the flocks. These continual combats gave him that degree of intrepidity, that no enemy could make him turn his back. His care and assiduity so well defended the sheep of his master, that not one had ever been missing since they were placed under his protection. His honesty too was so great, that no temptation could overpower it; and, though he was left alone in the kitchen while the meat was roasting, he never attempted to taste it, but received with thankfulness whatever his master chose to give him. From a continual life in the air he was become so hardy that no tempest could drive him to shelter when he ought to be watching the flocks; and he would plunge into the most rapid river, in the coldest weather of the winter, at the slightest sign from his master.
"About this time it happened that the landlord of the poor man went to examine his estate in the country, and brought Jowler with him to the place of his birth. At his arrival there he could not help viewing with great contempt the rough ragged appearance of Keeper, and his awkward look, which discovered nothing of the address for which he so much admired Jowler. This opinion, however, was altered by means of an accident which happened to him. As he was one day walking in a thick wood, with no other company than the two dogs, a hungry wolf, with eyes that sparkled like fire, bristling hair, and a horrid snarl that made the gentleman tremble, rushed out of a neighbouring thicket, and seemed ready to devour him. The unfortunate man gave himself over for lost, more especially when he saw that his faithful Jowler, instead of coming to his assistance, ran sneaking away, with his tail between his legs, howling with fear. But in this moment of despair, the undaunted Keeper, who had followed him, humbly and unobserved, at a distance, flew to his assistance, and attacked the wolf with so much courage and skill, that he was compelled to exert all his strength in his own defence. The battle was long and bloody, but in the end Keeper laid the wolf dead at his feet, though not without receiving several severe wounds himself, and presenting a bloody and mangled spectacle to the eyes of his master, who came up at that instant. The gentleman was filled with joy for his escape and gratitude to his brave deliverer; and learned by his own experience that appearances are not always to be trusted, and that great virtues and good dispositions may sometimes be found in cottagers, while they are totally wanting among the great."
"Very well indeed," said Mr Barlow. "I find that when young gentlemen choose to take pains, they can do things almost as well as other people. But what do you say to the story you have been reading, Tommy? Would you rather have owned the genteel dog that left his master to be devoured, or the poor, rough, ragged, meagre, neglected cur that exposed his own life in his defence?" "Indeed, sir," said Tommy, "I would have rather had Keeper; but then I would have fed him, and washed him, and combed him, till he had looked as well as Jowler." "But then, perhaps, he would have grown idle, and fat, and cowardly, like him," said Mr Barlow; "but here is some more of it, let us read to the end of the story." Tommy then went on thus:—
"The gentleman was so pleased with the noble behaviour of Keeper, that he desired the poor man to make him a present of the dog; which, though with some reluctance, he complied with. Keeper was therefore taken to the city, where he was caressed and fed by everybody; and the disgraced Jowler was left at the cottage, with strict injunctions to the man to hang him up, as a worthless unprofitable cur.
"As soon as the gentleman had departed, the poor man was going to execute his commission; but, considering the noble size and comely look of the dog, and above all, being moved with pity for the poor animal, who wagged his tail, and licked his new master's feet, just as he was putting the cord about his neck, he determined to spare his life, and see whether a different treatment might not produce different manners. From this day Jowler was in every respect treated as his brother Keeper had been before. He was fed but scantily; and, from this spare diet, soon grew more active and fond of exercise. The first shower he was in he ran away as he had been accustomed to do, and sneaked to the fire-side; but the farmer's wife soon drove him out of doors, and compelled him to bear the rigour of the weather. In consequence of this he daily became more vigorous and hardy, and, in a few months, regarded cold and rain no more than if he had been brought up in the country.
"Changed as he already was in many respects for the better, he still retained an insurmountable dread of wild beasts; till one day, as he was wandering through a wood alone, he was attacked by a large and fierce wolf, who, jumping out of a thicket, seized him by the neck with fury. Jowler would fain have run, but his enemy was too swift and violent to suffer him to escape. Necessity makes even cowards brave. Jowler being thus stopped in his retreat, turned upon his enemy, and, very luckily seizing him by the throat, strangled him in an instant. His master then coming up, and being witness of his exploit, praised him, and stroked him with a degree of fondness he had never done before. Animated by this victory, and by the approbation of his master, Jowler, from that time, became as brave as he had before been pusillanimous; and there was very soon no dog in the country who was so great a terror to beasts of prey.
"In the mean time Keeper, instead of hunting wild beasts, or looking after sheep, did nothing but eat and sleep, which he was permitted to do, from a remembrance of his past services. As all qualities both of mind and body are lost if not continually exercised, he soon ceased to be that hardy, courageous animal he was before, and acquired all the faults which are the consequences of idleness and gluttony.
"About this time the gentleman went again into the country, and, taking his dog with him, was willing that he should exercise his prowess once more against his ancient enemies the wolves. Accordingly, the country people having quickly found one in a neighbouring wood, the gentleman went thither with Keeper, expecting to see him behave as he had done the year before. But how great was his surprise when, at the first onset, he saw his beloved dog run away with every mark of timidity! At this moment another dog sprang forward, and seizing the wolf with the greatest intrepidity, after a bloody contest, left him dead upon the ground. The gentleman could not help lamenting the cowardice of his favourite, and admiring the noble spirit of the other dog, whom, to his infinite surprise, he found to be the same Jowler that he had discarded the year before. 'I now see,' said he to the farmer, 'that it is in vain to expect courage in those who live a life of indolence and repose, and that constant exercise and proper discipline are frequently able to change contemptible characters into good ones.'"
"Indeed," said Mr Barlow, when the story was ended, "I am sincerely glad to find that Tommy has made this acquisition. He will now depend upon nobody, but be able to divert himself whenever he pleases. All that has ever been written in our own language will be from this time in his power, whether he chooses to read little entertaining stories like what we have heard to-day, or to read the actions of great and good men in history, or to make himself acquainted with the nature of wild beasts and birds, which are found in other countries, and have been described in books; in short, I scarcely know of anything which from this moment will not be in his power; and I do not despair of one day seeing him a very sensible man, capable of teaching and instructing others."
"Yes," said Tommy, something elated by all this praise, "I am determined to make myself as clever as anybody; and I don't doubt, though I am such a little fellow, that I know more already than many grown-up people; and I am sure, though there are no less than six blacks in our house, that there is not one of them who can read a story like me." Mr Barlow looked a little grave at this sudden display of vanity, and said rather coolly, "Pray, who has attempted to teach them anything?" "Nobody, I believe," said Tommy. "Where is the great wonder, then, if they are ignorant?" replied Mr Barlow; "you would probably have never known anything had you not been assisted; and even now you know very little."
Tommy and the Ragged Boy—Story of Androcles and the Lion—Conversation on Slavery—Conversation about an Ass—Tommy's Present and its consequences—The story of Cyrus—Squire Chase beats Harry—Harry saves the Squire's life—Making Bread—Story of the Two Brothers—Story of the Sailors on the Island of Spitzbergen.
In this manner did Mr Barlow begin the education of Tommy Merton, who had naturally very good dispositions, although he had been suffered to acquire many bad habits, that sometimes prevented them from appearing. He was, in particular, very passionate, and thought he had a right to command everybody that was not dressed as fine as himself. This opinion often led him into inconveniences, and once was the occasion of his being severely mortified.
This accident happened in the following manner:—One day as Tommy was striking a ball with his bat, he struck it over a hedge into an adjoining field, and seeing a little ragged boy walking along on that side, he ordered him, in a very peremptory tone, to bring it to him. The little boy, without taking any notice of what was said, walked on, and left the ball; upon which Tommy called out more loudly than before, and asked if he did not hear what was said. "Yes," said the boy, "for the matter of that I am not deaf." "Oh! you are not?" replied Tommy, "then bring me my ball directly." "I don't choose it," said the boy. "Sirrah," said Tommy, "if I come to you I shall make you choose it." "Perhaps not, my pretty little master," said the boy. "You little rascal," said Tommy, who now began to be very angry, "if I come over the hedge I will thrash you within an inch of your life." To this the other made no answer but by a loud laugh, which provoked Tommy so much that he clambered over the hedge and jumped precipitately down intending to have leaped into the field; but unfortunately his foot slipped, and down he rolled into a wet ditch, which was full of mud and water; there poor Tommy tumbled about for some time, endeavouring to get out; but it was to no purpose, for his feet stuck in the mud, or slipped off from the bank; his fine waistcoat was dirtied all over, his white stockings covered with mire, his breeches filled with puddle water; and, to add to his distress, he first lost one shoe and then the other—his laced hat tumbled off from his head and was completely spoiled. In this distress he must probably have remained a considerable time, had not the little ragged boy taken pity on him and helped him out. Tommy was so vexed and ashamed that he could not say a word, but ran home in such a plight that Mr Barlow, who happened to meet him, was afraid he had been considerably hurt; but, when he heard the accident which had happened, he could not help smiling, and he advised Tommy to be more careful for the future how he attempted to thrash little ragged boys.
The next day Mr Barlow desired Harry, when they were all together in the arbour, to read the following story of
"ANDROCLES AND THE LION."
"There was a certain slave named Androcles, who was so ill treated by his master that his life became insupportable. Finding no remedy for what he suffered, he at length said to himself: 'It is better to die than to continue to live in such hardships and misery as I am obliged to suffer. I am determined, therefore, to run away from my master. If I am taken again, I know that I shall be punished with a cruel death; but it is better to die at once, than to live in misery. If I escape, I must betake myself to deserts and woods, inhabited only by beasts; but they cannot use me more cruelly than I have been used by my fellow-creatures; therefore, I will rather trust myself with them, than continue to be a miserable slave.'
"Having formed this resolution, he took an opportunity of leaving his master's house, and hid himself in a thick forest, which was at some miles' distance from the city. But here the unhappy man found that he had only escaped from one kind of misery to experience another. He wandered about all day through a vast and trackless wood, where his flesh was continually torn by thorns and brambles; he grew hungry, but could find no food in this dreary solitude! At length he was ready to die with fatigue, and lay down in despair in a large cavern which he found by accident."
"Poor man!" said Harry, whose little heart could scarcely contain itself at this mournful recital, "I wish I could have met with him; I would have given him all my dinner, and he should have had my bed. But pray, sir, tell me why does one man behave so cruelly to another, and why should one person be the servant of another, and bear so much ill treatment?"
"As to that," said Tommy, "some folks are born gentlemen, and then they must command others; and some are born servants, and then they must do as they are bid. I remember, before I came hither, that there were a great many black men and women, that my mother said were only born to wait upon me; and I used to beat them, and kick them, and throw things at them whenever I was angry; and they never dared strike me again, because they were slaves."
"And pray, young man," said Mr Barlow, "how came these people to be slaves?"
Tommy.—Because my father bought them with his money. Mr Barlow.—So then people that are bought with money are slaves, are they? T.—Yes. Mr B.—And those that buy them have a right to kick them, and beat them, and do as they please with them? T.—Yes. Mr B.—Then, if I was to take and sell you to Farmer Sandford, he would have a right to do what he pleased with you? No, sir, said Tommy, somewhat warmly; but you would have no right to sell me, nor he to buy me. Mr B.—Then it is not a person's being bought or sold that gives another a right to use him ill, but one person's having a right to sell another, and the man who buys having a right to purchase? T.—Yes, sir. Mr B.—And what right have the people who sold the poor negroes to your father to sell them, or what right has your father to buy them? Here Tommy seemed to be a good deal puzzled, but at length he said, "They are brought from a country that is a great way off, in ships, and so they become slaves." Then, said Mr Barlow, "if I take you to another country, in a ship, I shall have a right to sell you?" T.—No, but you won't, sir, because I was born a gentleman. Mr B.—What do you mean by that, Tommy? Why (said Tommy, a little confounded), to have a fine house, and fine clothes, and a coach, and a great deal of money, as my papa has. Mr B.—Then if you were no longer to have a fine house, nor fine clothes, nor a great deal of money, somebody that had all these things might make you a slave, and use you ill, and beat you, and insult you, and do whatever he liked with you? T.—No, sir, that would not be right neither, that anybody should use me ill. Mr B.—Then one person should not use another ill? T.—No, sir. Mr B.—To make a slave of anybody is to use him ill, is it not? T.—I think so. Mr B.—Then no one ought to make a slave of you? T.—No, indeed, sir. Mr B.—But if no one should use another ill, and making a slave is using him ill, neither ought you to make a slave of any one else. T.—Indeed, sir, I think not; and for the future I never will use our black William ill; nor pinch him, nor kick him, as I used to do. Mr B.—Then you will be a very good boy. But let us now continue our story.
"This unfortunate man had not lain long quiet in the cavern before he heard a dreadful noise, which seemed to be the roar of some wild beast, and terrified him very much. He started up with a design to escape, and had already reached the mouth of the cave, when he saw coming towards him a lion of prodigious size, who prevented any possibility of retreat. The unfortunate man now believed his destruction to be inevitable; but, to his great astonishment, the beast advanced towards him with a gentle pace, without any mark of enmity or rage, and uttered a kind of mournful voice, as if he demanded the assistance of the man.
"Androcles, who was naturally of a resolute disposition, acquired courage, from this circumstance, to examine his monstrous guest, who gave him sufficient leisure for that purpose. He saw, as the lion approached him, that he seemed to limp upon one of his legs, and that the foot was extremely swelled, as if it had been wounded. Acquiring still more fortitude from the gentle demeanour of the beast, he advanced up to him, and took hold of the wounded paw, as a surgeon would examine a patient. He then perceived that a thorn of uncommon size had penetrated the ball of the foot, and was the occasion of the swelling and lameness which he had observed. Androcles found that the beast, far from resenting this familiarity, received it with the greatest gentleness, and seemed to invite him by his blandishments to proceed. He therefore extracted the thorn, and, pressing the swelling, discharged a considerable quantity of matter, which had been the cause of so much pain and uneasiness.
"As soon as the beast felt himself thus relieved, he began to testify his joy and gratitude by every expression within his power. He jumped about like a wanton spaniel, wagged his enormous tail, and licked the feet and hands of his physician. Nor was he contented with these demonstrations of kindness: from this moment Androcles became his guest; nor did the lion ever sally forth in quest of prey without bringing home the produce of his chase, and sharing it with his friend. In this savage state of hospitality did the man continue to live during the space of several months; at length, wandering unguardedly through the woods, he met with a company of soldiers sent out to apprehend him, and was by them taken prisoner and conducted back to his master. The laws of that country being very severe against slaves, he was tried and found guilty of having fled from his master, and, as a punishment for his pretended crime, he was sentenced to be torn in pieces by a furious lion, kept many days without food, to inspire him with additional rage.
"When the destined moment arrived, the unhappy man was exposed, unarmed, in the midst of a spacious area, enclosed on every side, round which many thousand people were assembled to view the mournful spectacle.
"Presently a dreadful yell was heard, which struck the spectators with horror; and a monstrous lion rushed out of a den, which was purposely set open, and darted forward with erected mane and flaming eyes, and jaws that gaped like an open sepulchre. A mournful silence instantly prevailed! All eyes were directly turned upon the destined victim, whose destruction now appeared inevitable. But the pity of the multitude was soon converted into astonishment, when they beheld the lion, instead of destroying his defenceless prey, crouch submissively at his feet, fawn upon him as a faithful dog would do upon his master, and rejoice over him as a mother that unexpectedly recovers her offspring. The governor of the town, who was present, then called out with a loud voice, and ordered Androcles to explain to them this unintelligible mystery, and how a savage of the fiercest and most unpitying nature should thus in a moment have forgotten his innate disposition, and be converted into a harmless and inoffensive animal.
"Androcles then related to the assembly every circumstance of his adventures in the woods, and concluded by saying, that the very lion which now stood before them had been his friend and entertainer in the woods. All the persons present were astonished and delighted with the story, to find that even the fiercest beasts are capable of being softened by gratitude, and moved by humanity; and they unanimously joined to entreat for the pardon of the unhappy man from the governor of the place. This was immediately granted to him; and he was also presented with the lion, who had in this manner twice saved the life of Androcles."
"Upon my word," said Tommy, "this is a very pretty story; but I never should have thought that a lion could have grown so tame: I thought that they, and tigers, and wolves, had been so fierce and cruel that they would have torn everything they met to pieces."
"When they are hungry," said Mr Barlow, "they kill every animal they meet; but this is to devour it, for they can only live upon flesh, like, dogs and cats, and many other kinds of animals. When they are not hungry they seldom meddle with anything, or do unnecessary mischief; therefore they are much less cruel than many persons that I have seen, and even than many children, who plague and torment animals, without any reason whatsoever."
"Indeed, sir," said Harry, "I think so. And I remember, as I was walking along the road some days past, I saw a little naughty boy that used a poor jackass very ill indeed. The poor animal was so lame that he could hardly stir; and yet the boy beat him with a great stick as violently as he was able, to make him go on faster." "And what did you say to him?" said Mr Barlow. Harry.—Why, sir, I told him how naughty and cruel it was; and I asked him how he would like to be beaten in that manner by somebody that was stronger than himself? Mr B.—And what answer did he make you? H.—He said, that it was his daddy's ass, and so that he had a right to beat it; and that if I said a word more he would beat me. Mr B.—And what answer did you make; any? H.—I told him, if it was his father's ass, he should not use it ill; for that we were all God's creatures, and that we should love each other, as He loved us all; and that as to beating me, if he struck me I had a right to strike him again, and would do it, though he was almost as big again as I was. Mr B.—And did he strike you? H.—Yes, sir. He endeavoured to strike me upon the head with his stick, but I dodged, and so it fell upon my shoulder; and he was going to strike me again, but I darted at him, and knocked him down, and then he began blubbering, and begged me not to hurt him. Mr B.—It is not uncommon for those who are most cruel to be at the same time most cowardly; but what did you? H.—Sir, I told him I did not want to hurt him; but that as he had meddled with me, I would not let him rise till he had promised not to hurt the poor beast any more, which he did, and then I let him go about his business.
"You did very right," said Mr Barlow; "and I suppose the boy looked as foolish, when he was rising, as Tommy did the other day when the little ragged boy that he was going to beat helped him out of the ditch." "Sir," answered Tommy, a little confused, "I should not have attempted to beat him, only he would not bring me my ball." Mr B.—And what right had you to oblige him to bring your ball? T.—Sir, he was a little ragged boy, and I am a gentleman. Mr B.—So then, every gentleman has a right to command little ragged boys? T.—To be sure, sir. Mr B.—Then if your clothes should wear out and become ragged, every gentleman will have a right to command you? Tommy looked a little foolish, and said, "But he might have done it, as he was on that side of the hedge." Mr B.—And so he probably would have done if you had asked him civilly to do it; but when persons speak in a haughty tone, they will find few inclined to serve them. But, as the boy was poor and ragged, I suppose you hired him with money to fetch your ball? T.—Indeed, sir, I did not; I neither gave him anything nor offered him anything. Mr B.—Probably you had nothing to give him? T.—Yes I had, though; I had all this money (pulling out several shillings). Mr B.—Perhaps the boy was as rich as you. T.—No, he was not, sir, I am sure; for he had no coat, and his waistcoat and breeches were all tattered and ragged; besides, he had no stockings, and his shoes were full of holes. Mr B.—So, now I see what constitutes a gentleman. A gentleman is one that, when he has abundance of everything, keeps it all to himself; beats poor people, if they don't serve him for nothing; and when they have done him the greatest favour, in spite of his insolence, never feels any gratitude, or does them any good in return. I find that Androcles' lion was no gentleman.