« ZurückWeiter »
before; she said, she was unsettled much at that time but remembered it upon two accounts—that ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft. She had washed it, she said, in the brook and kept it ever since in her pocket to restore to him in case she should ever see him again, which, she added, he had half promised her. As she told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me see it; she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril—on opening it I saw an S marked in one of the corners.
She had since that, she told me, strayed as far as Rome, and walked round St. Peter's once—and returned back—that she had found her way alone across the Apennines—had travelled over all Lombardy without money—and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes—how she had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell—but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.
“Shorn indeed! and to the quick,” said I; “and wast thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee; thou shouldst eat of my own bread, and drink of my own cup—I would be kind to thy Sylvio—in all thy weaknesses and wanderings I would seek after thee and bring thee back-when the sun went down I would say my prayers, and when I had done, thou shouldst play thy evening song upon thy pipe, nor would the incense of my sacrifice be worse accepted for entering heaven along with that of a broken heart.”
Nature melted within me, as I uttered this; and Maria observing, as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of use, would needs go
wash it in the stream. “And where will you dry it, Maria ?” said I. “I will dry it in my bosom,” said she, “it will do me good.”
“And is your heart still so warm, Maria ?” said I.
I touched upon the string on which hung all her sorrows—she looked with wistful disorder for some time in my face; and then, without saying anything, took her pipe, and played her service to the Virgin. The string I had touched ceased to vibrate—in a moment or two Maria returned to herself— let her pipe fall
and rose up
“And where are you going, Maria ?” said I.
Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string, to let the dog follow-in that order we entered Moulines.
Though I hate salutations and greetings in the market-place, yet when we got into the middle of this, I stopped to take my last look and last farewell of Maria.
Adieu, poor luckless maiden ! imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journeyeth on his way, now pours into thy wounds—the Being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever.
CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. [THOMAS JEFFERSON, a celebrated American statesman, was born
2nd April, 1743. After filling many subordinate posts, he became President of the United States in the year 1801.
He died 4th July, 1826.] His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where, hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no general ever planned his battles more judiciously. But it deranged during the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden circumstances, he was slow in re-adjustment. The consequence was, that he often failed in the field, and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, bis justice the most inflexible I have ever known; no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man, His temper was naturally irritable and high toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and habitual ascendency over it. If ever, however, it broke its bounds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honourable, but exact; liberal in contributions to whatever promised utility ; but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects, and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man's value, and gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish ; his deportment easy, erect, and noble, the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback. Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, he was unready, short, and embarrassed. Yet he wrote readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. This he had acquired by conversation with the world, for his education was merely reading, writing, and common arithmetic, to which he added surveying at a later day. His time was employed in action chiefly, reading little, and that only in agriculture and English history. His correspondence became necessarily extensive, and with journalising his agricultural proceedings occupied most of his leisure hours within doors. On the whole his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in a few points indifferent; and it may truly be said that never did nature and fortune combine more completely to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. For his was the singular destiny and merit of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it bad settled down into a quiet and orderly train ; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example.
POPE TO BISHOP ATTERBURY IN THE
TOWER. [ALEXANDER POPE, born 22nd May, 1688, was the greatest poet
of Queen Anne's reign. He was an elegant prose writer. His letters have been particularly admired. He died 30th
May, 1744.] ONCE more I write to you, as I promised, and this once, I fear, will be the last! The curtain will soon be drawn between my friend and me, and nothing left but to wish you a long good night. May you enjoy a state of repose in this life not unlike that sleep of the soul which some have believed is to succeed it,
where we lie utterly forgetful of that world from which we are gone, and ripening for that to which we are to go.
If you retain any memory of the past, let it only image to you what has pleased you best; sometimes present a dream of an absent friend, or bring you back an agreeable conversation. But, upon the whole, I hope you will think less of the time past than of the future, as the former has been less kind to you than the latter infallibly will be. Do not envy the world your studies; they will tend to the benefit of men against whom you can have no complaint ; I mean of all posterity; and, perhaps, at your time of life, nothing else is worth your care.
What is every year of a wise man's life but a censure or critic on the past? Those whose date is the shortest, live long enough to laugh at one-half of it; the boy despises the infant, the man the boy, the philosopher both, and the Christian all. You may now begin to think your manhood was too much a puerility, and you
will never suffer your age to be but a second infancy. The toys and baubles of your childhood are hardly now more below you, than those toys of our riper and our declining years, the drums and rattles of ambition, and the dirt and bubbles of avarice. At this time, when you are cut off from a little society, and made a citizen of the world at large, you should bend your talents, not to serve a party or a few, but all mankind. Your genius should mount above that mist in which its participation and neighbourhood with earth long involved it; to shine abroad, and to heaven, ought to be the business and the glory of your present situation. Remember it was at such a time that the greatest lights of antiquity dazzled and blazed the most, in their retreat, in their exile, or in their death. But why do I talk of dazzling or blazing ?—it as then that they did good, that they gave light, and that they became guides to mankind. Those aims alone are worthy of spirits truly great,