Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

He sought in far and foreign clime
To 'scape the vengeance of his crime.
The manner of the slaughter done
Was known to few, my guilt to none;
Some tale my faithful steward framed-
I know not what-of shaft mis-aim'd;
And even from those the act who knew,
He hid the hand from which it flew.
Untouch'd by human laws I stood,
But GOD had heard the cry of blood!-
There is a blank upon my mind,
A fearful vision ill-defined,

Of raving till my flesh was torn,
Of dungeon-bolts and fetters worn-
And when I waked to woe more mild,
And question'd of my infant child-
(Have I not written, that she bare
A boy, like summer morning fair?)
With looks confused my menials tell,
That armèd men in Mortham dell
Beset the nurse's evening way,
And bore her, with her charge, away.
My faithless friend, and none but he,
Could profit by this villany;

Him, then, I sought, with purpose dread
Of treble vengeance on his head!

He 'scaped me-but my bosom's wound Some faint relief from wandering found; And over distant land and sea

I bore my load of misery.

""Twas then that fate my footsteps led Among a daring crew and dread, With whom full oft my hated life I ventured in such desperate strife, That even my fierce associates saw My frantic deeds with doubt and awe.

Much then I learn'd, and much can show,
Of human guilt and human woe,

Yet ne'er have, in my wanderings, known
A wretch, whose sorrows match'd my own!
It chanced, that after battle fray,

Upon the bloody field we lay;
The yellow moon her lustre shed
Upon the wounded and the dead,
While, sense and toil in wassail drown'd,
My ruffian comrades slept around.

There came a voice-its silver tone

Was soft, Matilda, as thine own

'Ah, wretch !' it said, 'what makest thou here,
While unavenged my bloody bier,
While unprotected lives mine heir,
Without a father's name and care?'

"I heard-obey'd-and homeward drew; The fiercest of our desperate crew I brought at time of need to aid

My purposed vengeance, long delay'd.
But, humble be my thanks to Heaven,
That better hopes and thoughts has given,
And by our Lord's dear prayer has taught,

Mercy by mercy must be bought !—

Let me in misery rejoice

I've seen his face-I've heard his voice

I claim'd of him my only child—

As he disown'd the theft, he smiled!
That very calm and callous look,
That fiendish sneer his visage took,
As when he said, in scornful mood,
"There is a gallant in the wood !'—
-I did not slay him as he stood-
All praise be to my Maker given !
Long-sufferance is one path to heaven."

Scott.

LABOUR AND RECREATION.

OUR

UR modern system of division of labour divides wits also. The more necessity there is, therefore, for finding in recreation something to expand man's intelligence. There are intellectual pursuits almost as much divided as pin-making; and many a man goes through some intellectual process, for the greater part of his working hours, which corresponds with the making of a pin's-head. Must there not be some danger of a general contraction of mind from this convergence of attention upon something very small, for so considerable a portion of man's life?

I have seen it quoted in Aristotle, that the end of labour is to gain leisure. It is a great saying. We have in modern times a totally wrong view of the matter. Noble work is a noble thing, but not all work. Most people seem to think that any business is in itself something grand; that to be intensely employed, for instance, about something which has no truth, beauty, or usefulness in it, which makes no man happier or wiser, is still the perfection of human endeavour, so that the work be intense. It is the intensity, not the nature of the work, that men praise. You see the extent of this feeling in little things. People are so ashamed of being caught for a moment idle, that if you come upon the most industrious servants or workmen whilst they are standing looking at something which interests them, or fairly resting, they move off in a fright, as if they were proved, by a moment's relaxation, to be neglectful of their work. Yet it is the result that they should mainly be judged by, and to which they should appeal. But amongst all classes, the working itself, incessant working, is the thing deified. Now what is the end and object of most work? To provide for animal wants. Not a contemptible thing, by any means, but still it is not all in all with man. Moreover, in those cases where the pressure of bread-getting is fairly past, we do not often find men's exertions lessened on that account. There enter into their minds as motives, ambition, a love of hoarding, or a fear of leisure, things which, in moderation, may be defended or even justified, but which are not so peremptorily, and upon the face of them excellent, that they at once dignify excessive labour.

The truth is, that to work insatiably requires much less mind than to

R

work judiciously, and less courage than to refuse work that cannot be done honestly. For a hundred men whose appetite for work can be driven on by vanity, avarice, ambition, or a mistaken notion of advancing their families, there is about one who is desirous of expanding his own nature and the nature of others in all directions, of cultivating many pursuits, of bringing himself and those around him in contact with the universe in many points, of being a man and not a machine.

Arthur Helps.

[graphic]

ALEXANDER SELKIRK.

UNDER

NDER the title of this paper, I do not think it foreign to my design to speak of a man born in her Majesty's dominions, and relate an adventure in his life so uncommon, that it's doubtful whether the like has happened to any other of the human race. The person I speak of is Alexander Selkirk, whose name is familiar to men of curiosity, from the fame of his having lived four years and four months alone in the island of Juan Fernandez. I had the pleasure, frequently, to converse with the man soon after his arrival in England, in the year 1711. It was matter of great curiosity to hear him, as he is a man of good sense, give an account of the different revolutions in his own mind in that long solitude. When we consider how painful absence from company, for the space of but one evening, is to the generality of mankind, we may have a sense how painful this necessary and constant solitude was to a man bred a sailor, and ever accustomed to enjoy, and suffer, eat, drink, and sleep, and perform all offices of life in fellowship and company. He was put ashore from a leaky vessel, with the captain of which he had an irreconcilable difference; and he chose rather to take his fate in this place, than in a crazy vessel, under a disagreeable commander. His portion was a sea-chest, his wearing-clothes and bedding, a firelock, a pound of gunpowder, a large quantity of bullets, a flint and steel, a few pounds of tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a Bible, and other books of devotion; together with pieces that concerned navigation, and his mathematical instruments. Resentment against his officer, who had ill-used him, made him look forward on this change of life as the more eligible one, till the instant in which he saw the vessel put off; at which moment his heart yearned within him, and melted at the parting with his comrades and all human society at once. He had in provisions for the sustenance of life but the quantity of two meals. The island abounding only with wild goats, cats, and rats, he judged it most. probable that he should find more immediate and easy relief by finding shell-fish on the shore, than seeking game with his gun. He accordingly found great quantities of turtle, whose flesh is extremely delicious, and of which he frequently ate very plentifully on his first arrival, till it grew disagreeable to his stomach, except in jellies. The necessities of hunger and thirst were his greatest diversions from the reflections on his lonely

« VorigeDoorgaan »