Imágenes de páginas

you think, Sir, that I misimproved my boyish days, by not acquiring that perfection of happiness, which they generally bring, you force me to conclude that you have misimproved the years of manhood, if in the decline of life, you are compelled to look back to your childish days, as the most happy you have ever known.”

As Mr. Sykes, perceived from the smartness of this reply, that he stood no chance to carry his point, without a strong reinforcement, he turned round, and appealed to the Friend, who did not appear to take any interest in the question. “Why truly," said the Friend, “ I think with my neighbour opposite, that if thou wert more happy when a boy, than thou art now, thou canst not have improved thy time, as thou oughtest to have done." W Well," said Mr. Sykes, “as this is the first company in which I have ever heard the question disputed, I suppose I am along with a class of human beings of a new order.” “ Perhaps thou art,” rejoined the Friend,“ and at any rate thou must confess, that this new order of human beings, as thou art pleased to term us, excel all thy former associates in one very important point.” “In what point, Sir,” Mr. Sykes asked, in his native tone. “Why in this,—while thou and thy friends have outlived your happiest days, we are now enjoying ours. Hence, while it is to our advantage to live in a state of manhood, it would have been yours, to have continued in a state of childhood.” .

This remark re-established the reign of silence which continued undisturbed, till some children ran out from a few miserable looking huts, which stood near the road side, and followed the coach some considerable distance; attempting to excite our generosity, by their piteous moans, and wanton antics. “There, Sir," said Mr. Sykes, “ If you look out, you will see the picture of perfect happiness.” Our sagacious Friend, who appeared to have high purposes revolving in his breast, when disengaged from conversation, was rather startled by this observation, as he had not seen the group of juvenile beggars, by which we were annoyed; but on looking out, as requested, he shrewdly replied, “I was not aware that perfect happiness was reduced so low in life, as to become a common beggar.” “Poverty, Sir,” said Mr. Sykes, “is no disgrace, and poor people are happy, as well as rich.” “Very true,” replied the Friend ; " put it is a disgrace to any parents, to train up their children to the practice of begging. These children certainly look healthy and sprightly, but if thou wert to be present when they return from an unsuccessful race, thou wouldest see a picture of perfect sorrow.” “Well,” said Mr. Sykes, they shall have one happy day, and immediately tossed out a few halfpence.” “Now," said the Friend, “if thou wilt look, probably thou wilt see a violent contention between them; some crying because unable to get the prize, and some fighting over the division of the spoil.” “I suppose, Sir,” Mr.Sykes remarked sarcastically, “no one ever fought over any of your scattered gifts." “ I never saw any,” the Friend replied, “ as I am not in the habit of scattering my gifts, with an indiscriminate hand; nor do I approve of those acts, misnamed charitable, which have an evil tendency.” “ But, Sir," said Mr. Sykes, “what evil can result from giving a few pence to a few poor miserable looking boys and girls." W Why,” replied the Friend, thou hast seen one evil in the contention which immediately ensued, but this is not the least; these children who are initiated at such an early period of life into the begging system, are taught the art of deception; they are thrown off from the resources of industry and frugality, on the precarious supplies of charity ; and if from the influence of vagrancy, they are not led to thieving, they will never feel any reluctance to receive support from the parish rate. Charity is a virtue which we all admire, and which we ought to cultivate; but I have long thought, that where discretion does not administer its bounties, society sustains more moral injury, than it derives advantages. “Discretion ! O yes, discretion !” said Mr. Sykes, " is the chief virtue, with Sir John Falstaff it is the better part of valour, with you of charity ; but in my opinion it is more frequently an apology for cowardice, or for covetousness.”

We soon after parted with Mr. S. when our sage Friend addressing himself to Mr. Llewellen, said, “I have no doubt, but the passenger who has just left us, has some excellencies, but he does not excel in the art of rendering himself agreeable; an art which few learn, and fewer practise; but it is one of so much importance, that it

"gives the flower
Of feeting life its lustre and perfume,

And we are weeds without it.” His place in the coach was soon occupied by a young man, who was going to enjoy the sports of the field, with a party which he expected to meet at his friend's, who resided near M . He was very loquacious, but his conversation turned principally on horses, and dogs, and game, and the various qualifications of a good shot. , Mr. Llewellen made several efforts to introduce other topics, but he could not succeed, as no canine animal ever stood truer to his bird, than he did to his favourite theme. He told us of his hair breadth escapes, of the fatigues which he had endured, and the feats which he : had achieved ; with as much glec, as the huntsman throws off at a chase; and dwelt with peculiar delight on his good fortune the preceding day, when out of twenty-five who started, he was the only one in at the death, and exhibited the brush, as the proud memorial of his honour. After he had told, and re-told his tales, which gave no one pleasure hut himself; he fell into a dead silence, which we all hailed with delight, as we had other and graver subjects to engross our attention. At length turning himself to the Friend who sat by his side, and whose patriarchal simplicity appeared to amuse him, he said, with an air of low satire," I believe, Sir, your sect are not much given to such sports.” “Why no," replied the Friend, “we have too much humanity, to attempt to extract pleasure from the sports which torture others.". “ I have read," said the sportsman, “ all your objections ; but Sir, they have no point, they don't hit the mark, nature points to game, and we are to follow. I love the sound of the horn, more than the silence of meditation.” “I have no doubt," said the Friend, but thou dost, but thou shouldst remember, that some prefer silence to noise.” “I take you, Sir, you intend to say, that you would rather have silence, than my conversation.” “I have no objection,” the Friend replied, “ to conversation, when it is interesting or profitable, but thou must be aware, that the present company, take no interest in the detail of thy field achievements.” “Well, Sir," said the sportsman," I have no objection to turn the conversation to graver subjects; and as I am a young man, just beginning to turn my attention

to religion, you will permit me to ask you one question, which puzzles me. It is this, Sir: As we have so many religions in this kingdom, which is the best?” “ Why, said the Friend,“ that which makes the simple wise, and teaches young men to cultivate the grace of modesty.” “ Very smart, Sir; then you think such a religion would do me good ?” “I think it would.”

When the sportsman left us, his place was immediately occupied by a gentleman who had lately returned to England, after an absence of five years. He was an interesting and intelligent looking man; and I flattered myself from his general appearance, that we should have agreeable society, during the rest of our journcy. Nor was I disappointed. He was rather reserved at first, but after we had been engaged in a desultory conversation for some time, he fell in with us, and willingly contributed his share. There is a strong propensity in some minds to sacrifice truth, when engaged in the narrative, or descriptive. They will not utter direct and palpable falsehood, but they are so accustomed to exaggeration and high colouring, that a man who respects his own reputation, will never presume to speak after them. The design which they have in view, is to produce effect, and hence, they often leave the beaten path of sober truth, to amuse or astonish their hearers, with the fanciful, or the marvellous. But our companion appeared to have escaped from the contagion of this moral disorder, which is prevalent amongst his fraternity; as he gave us no description of persons, of places, or of things, which staggered our faith. He had sailed on the boisterous sea, without having just escaped the horrors of a shipwreck; he had pass'd through woods, without having had to contend with the assassin; he had resided in crowded cities, and thinly inhabited villages, where he met with no rude insults from the vulgar, or flattering attentions from the great. He had travelled througł the greater part of the continent of Europe, had visited the East and West Indies, and had spent the last two years in America: but intended to fix his final abode in his native country, where he said he hoped to rest in the same grave with his fathers. “You have seen, Sir," I remarked, “ a great part of the world, but as you intend to fix your final residence in old England, I take for granted, that you have not discovered any country which rivals her in your estimation.” “No, Sir, he replied, “I have not. I love England love her changing seasons, and her fruitful soil-her fine national character-her political constitution, and that love of liberty, both civil and religious; which she cherishes and which she diffuses--I love every thing that is English; and I condemn the Briton who is not enthusiastic in the praise of his country.” “The love of liberty," I remarked, " is a passion which gives a beauty, and a powerful energy to our national character ; but you 'must confess, Sir, that this passion is not exclusively ours. America cherishes it with an equal degree of ardour.” “Yes, Sir," he replicd," she does, but her love of liberty is a selfish passion. She has fought for her own freedom, and she has won the laurels, but she knows how to enslave others. When the foot of a poor captive touches the soil of Britain, his chains burst from around him; his life is taken under the protection of the law, no one can insult him with impunity, he is as safe in his hut, as the lordly Baron is within the walls of his castle. But, in the United States of America, there are upwards of a million of human beings, now living in a state of slavery, bought and sold like our cattle ; subjected to the torturous cruelty of men, in whose bosom every atom of humanity has long since been annihilated; with no hope of ever breathing the vital air of liberty. What, Sir, is freedom, where all are not free, where the greatest of God's blessings is limited with impious caprice, to the colour of the body? Having bled at every pore, rather than submit to wear the yoke of a foreign authority; why does she not, now she has recovered herself from her state of exhaustion, and is in the possession of her unalienable right, ect a just and generous part towards her black population, and grant them that liberty, which it is no less unjust, than it is cruel to withhold ? She is worse than the chief butler of Pharoah, who, when he had gained his freedom merely forgot his fellow prisoner. She remembers hers, but it is to rivet the chains of perpetual bondage still closer upon. them. She may vaunt herself on the love of liberty, and on her rising greatness in the scale of nations; but as long as the groans of a million human beings howl around her Congress, without moving its pity, or its commiseration, she will have a badge of infamy affixed to her

« AnteriorContinuar »