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Introduction Milton's Sonnet Account of the Waldenses-Cromwell's Letters to the Protestant Princes-Motives for suffering persecution-Examination of the evidences of religion a duty incumbent on young persons.
SEVERAL happy years had passed away, during which the mind of Harry Beaufoy continued in a course of progressive improvement. His attention having been successfully directed to the observation of those proofs of Divine power and wisdom which are manifest in the works of creation, he did not relinquish a habit which proved the source of continually-increasing pleasure, by giving a higher interest to the
objects that presented themselves to his notice, than they would otherwise have possessed. If any of our young readers should imbibe a similar taste, they will soon experience the satisfaction arising from a correct knowledge of facts; and, as they endeavour to trace the effects they witness to their original cause, they will discern with greater clearness,
"The unambiguous footsteps of the God Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing, And wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds."
As the powers of Harry's mind gradually unfolded, he became more of a companion to his mother, who was ever ready to assist him in the acquisition of useful knowledge. She was in the practice of devoting an hour every morning to hearing him read, and bestowed a great deal of pains in selecting subjects likely to conduce to his improvement. Many books which young people cannot fully under
stand by themselves, contain passages capable of interesting them exceedingly, if some kind friend will have the patience to read with them, and now and then explain a difficult sentence, or an allusion to which they have no key. This is especially useful in reading the higher kinds of poetry, in which the beauty and justness of the thoughts are often lost to young persons, for want of a little previous information. In consequence of enjoying this advantage, Harry Beaufoy, at the age of thirteen, was familiar with of the finest passages of our poets and historians. His increasing knowledge of words was also made subservient, not only to the improvement of his taste and understanding, but, as he was encouraged to ask questions and propose difficulties, the hour of reading often gave birth to some interesting conversation, calculated to impress his mind with the superior importance of moral and religious principle.
One morning, on going into the parlour at the usual hour, Harry was surprised not to find his mother; but seeing a volume of Milton lying on the table, he concluded that she had been selecting something for him to read to her. And so it proved; for the well-known mark of her pencil was visible on the open page, which contained the following
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold; Ev'n them who kept thy faith so pure of old, When all our fathers worshipp'd stocks and stones, Forget not; in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
A hundred fold, who having learned thy way,
Harry had scarcely finished reading these lines, when his mother entered the room, and he eagerly inquired whether the poet intended to describe real events; and, if so, who were the people that had been guilty of such dreadful cruelty?
"The lines you have been reading, my dear Harry," replied Mrs. Beaufoy, "neither describe fictitious scenes, nor present an exaggerated picture of the truth. Indeed, it may be said that they convey but a faint representation of the cruelties really inflicted by the troops of the duke of Savoy, on the innocent inhabitants of the mountains and valleys of Piedmont. But I never wish you to rest satisfied with my account of any historical fact which you are capable of examining for yourself. Since you are interested about these poor people, we will take them for the subject of our reading, this morning, and see how far the sketch given of their fate by the B 3