F. B. Vaux
Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Ted Garvin and the Distributed Proofreading Team
[Illustration: Frontispiece Eddystone Light House as erected
by Lord Bywater 1759.]
* * * * *
The happy Fire-side.
_BY INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS_.
BY F. B. VAUX.
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has surviv'd the
fall! Tho' few do taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or tasting, long enjoy
thee! too infirm, Or too incautious to preserve thy sweets Unmix'd with
drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup;
Thou art the nurse of virtue; in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in
truth she is, Heaven-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
* * * * *
MY DEAR YOUNG READERS,
When I was a child, if a new book were given to me, I recollect, my
first question invariably was:--"Is this true." If the answer were in
the affirmative, the volume immediately assumed, in my eyes, a new
value, and was perused with far greater interest than a story merely
fictitious. Now, as I am very desirous that you should take up this
little volume with a prepossession in its favour, I must inform you,
that the characters of the children here pourtrayed, are all _real_
characters. The little work was undertaken for the improvement of a
family very dear to me, and was, during its progress, regarded by them
as a faithful mirror, reflecting both their virtues and defects. You
will find in it, among other subjects, a slight sketch of the early part
of the Roman history; but you must not suppose, that in offering it to
you, I mean my little book to supersede the more detailed accounts that
are usually put into the hands of children. I have often found, that
even when a volume has been read entirely through, very few of the facts
have made any deep impression on the youthful mind; and the improvement
to be derived from those facts, is still more completely overlooked.
This I discovered to be the case with my little friends: they had read
the Roman history, and I had hoped that they had read it attentively;
but upon questioning them afterwards, even upon some leading events, I
found them exceedingly deficient in information. This suggested to me
the idea of the following little volume. I recommended them to begin
again the perusal of the Roman history; to take notes as they proceeded,
and write, from them, an abridgment for themselves; promising that I
would do the same, and give my manuscript to the one who should most
deserve it. They were pleased with the plan, and regularly brought their
little productions, once a fortnight, for my inspection. I, at the same
time, read them mine. They soon discovered in it their own characters,
delineated under fictitious names, and took a still more lively interest
in their task. By the time I had completed the regal government of Rome,
I found my manuscript had attained a considerable size; I therefore had
it neatly bound, and as Emily and Louisa equally deserved the prize,
they drew lots, and it fell to the former. Several young persons who had
perused the little work, united in begging it might be printed, that
they also might have it in their libraries. This, my dear young readers,
is the origin of DOMESTIC PLEASURES.
The conversations recorded in the following pages, are chiefly such as
have, at different times, taken place between my little friends and
myself. I sincerely wish you may derive, not only amusement, but
instruction, from the transcript; and that it may convince you, no
pleasures are so pure as _domestic pleasures_; no society so delightful,
as that experienced in the affectionate intercourse of parents and
children, by a _happy fire-side_.
FRANCES BOWYER VAUX.
* * * * *
MR. AND MRS. BERNARD.
EMILY, aged _Fifteen_.
* * * * *
The rain came down in torrents, and beat violently against the parlour
windows, whilst a keen autumnal blast made the children shiver, even by
the side of a good fire. Their little hearts glowed with gratitude,
when they reflected on their happy lot, sheltered from the bitter wind
and driving sleet; and contrasted it with that of many miserable little
beings, who were, no doubt, exposed, at that very moment, to the
pitiless raging of the storm.
"Ah, mamma," said Ferdinand, a little boy of seven years old, "how I
feel for those poor children who have no home to shelter them, and no
fire to warm their cold hands. I often think of them, and it reminds me
of the hymn I learned some time ago.
"Not more than others I deserve, Yet God hath given me more; For I have
food whilst others starve, Or beg from door to door."
"I am glad to find that you can feel for others in distress, my boy,"
said Mrs. Bernard; "and hope you will each, my dear children, cultivate
that benevolent affection called compassion, which enables us to enter
into the distresses of others, and feel for them, in worse measure, as
we do for ourselves. But we must not rest satisfied with only pitying
their sorrows; as far as lies in our power, it is our duty to relieve
"That would be delightful indeed, mamma," said Ferdinand; "but what can
such children as we are, do towards assisting our fellow creatures?--at
least, such a little boy a I am. I thought it was only men and women,
who could do good to others by their charity and benevolence."
His mother endeavoured to explain to him, that, although he might not at
present be able to do any very extensive good to society, still the
attempt to be useful, as far as lay in his power, would improve his own
disposition; in which case his efforts would not be thrown away; and
that, although he was so young, he might, nevertheless, be serviceable,
in some degree, to his poorer neighbours. "And it would be very silly,
my boy," added she, "to abstain from making the trial, merely because
you could not do all the good you wished."
Ferdinand quite agreed with his mother, and the rest of the children
cordially united in his wish to render themselves useful; but how to
effect their purpose was the next consideration. Mrs. Bernard had taught
her boys to net and knit, together with several other employments of the
same kind. These occupations, she found, had the excellent effect of
completely fixing their wandering attention, whilst she read to them,
which she was daily in the practice of doing.
Ferdinand was the first to recollect that he could plat straw for a hat,
which, he had no doubt, Emily and Louisa would afterwards sew together
_Louisa_. Oh, yes, that we will most willingly, Ferdinand. But let us
think what we can do, Emily: we might make a great many things, you
know, because we can do all sorts of work.
_Emily_. Very true, Louisa: the chief difficulty will be to procure
materials for the exercise of our abilities. I have several things that
I shall not wear again; these, if mamma has no objection, might, I
think, be converted to very useful purposes.
_Mrs. B._ You have my free permission, my dear girl, to exert all your
ingenuity upon them.
Edward said, he had just thought of an employment for himself, which he
hoped would please Ferdinand. "A few days ago," added he, "when I was
drinking tea with my aunt, she was making gloves of fine white cotton,
with a little ivory instrument hooked at the end; now, if I use worsted
instead of cotton, I think I shall make some nice warm gloves, which
will do instead of fire, to keep the poor children's hands warm; and I
can knit stockings for them too, so that I do not think any one of us
need be idle."
_Louisa._ And then our prize-money--that may be set apart to purchase
materials for more clothes, when the stock we have on hand is all used.
May it not, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ It is an excellent scheme, my dear Louisa, and, as a reward
for suggesting it, you shall make the box to hold your treasure,
provided you will take pains, and endeavour to do it as neatly as you
_Ferdinand._ And make it strong too, Lousia, for I expect it will soon
be full. I shall be more anxious than ever to get a prize now.
_Louisa._ I have been thinking what I shall put upon the box as a motto.
Ought it not to have one, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ By all means, my dear; but it must be something appropriate.
What do you propose, Louisa?
_Louisa._ I was thinking of painting a little wreath of flowers, and
writing very neatly in the middle, "Charity is kind."
_Mr. B._ A very well-chosen motto, Louisa. I am delighted to witness
your benevolent dispositions, my beloved children. Make haste and sit
down to your respective employments. In the mean time, I will hasten and
finish my business in the counting-house, that I may enjoy your company
_All._ Thank you, dear papa.
While Mr. Bernard was absent, the children were all busily employed,
preparing for their new occupations, and had just taken their seats
before a cheerful fire, when their father re-entered the room.
_Mr. B._ Well, what all seated?
_Louisa._ Yes, papa, we made great haste, that we might be ready for you
when you came in. Are we to read to-night, or will you be so kind as to
talk to us?
_Mr. B._ Suppose you talk to me a little, Louisa. Tell me what you have
been reading with your mother to-day.
_Louisa._ Emily would tell you best, papa; but if you wish to hear me, I
will give you as good an account as I can.
_Mr. B._ To do your best, is all that can be expected of you, my dear.
Remember to speak very distinctly.
_Louisa._ We began the Roman history, and read as far as the deaths of
Romulus. Nobody saw him die, and so--
_Mr. B._ Stop, stop--not so fast, recollect, you have not yet told me
who Romulus was.
_Louisa._ Oh! I thought you knew that, papa; he was the first king of
Rome, and he built the city, and--
_Mr. B._ Begin again, my dear Louisa. Do not be in such a hurry; give me
a clear account of Romulus, from his birth to his death.
_Louisa._ Oh dear, papa, I do not think I can do that.
_Mrs. B._ Try, however, my dear, as your father wishes it. Emily will
help you out, if you find yourself at a loss.
_Louisa, (laying aside her work and looking attentively at her father.)_
I do not at all know where to begin, papa. I think you will not
understand me, if I do not first tell you something about Numitor and
_Mr. B._ Then, by all means, begin with them.
_Louisa._ Numitor and Amulius were brothers. They were sons to the king
of Lavinium. Numitor was, by his father's will, left heir to the throne,
and Amulius was to have all the treasures. This, however, did not
satisfy him; he wanted to be king too, and, by means of his riches, soon
gained his wish. He was a very bad man indeed, for he killed Numitor's
two sons, and would not let his daughter marry, for fear she should have
a little baby, which, when it grew up, might deprive him of the crown he
had so wickedly taken from his brother. Notwithstanding his precaution,
she did have two little boys, whom she named Romulus and Remus. Amulius,
their cruel uncle, found them out, and ordered them to be drowned: so
the poor little creatures were put into a cradle, and thrown in the the
river Tiber. But it happened, just at that time, it had overflowed its
banks, and at the place where they were thrown in, the water was too
shallow to drown them.--Do I get on pretty well, papa?
_Mr. B._ Admirably, my dear Louisa. Edward, can you tell us where the
river Tiber flows?
_Edward._ Yes, father, it rises in the Apenine mountains in Italy, and
empties itself into the Mediterranean Sea, ten miles from Rome. Its
present name is Tivere.
_Mr. B._ Perfectly right, my boy. Now, Louisa, go on. I beg pardon for
_Louisa._ I think I left my little babies in a very dangerous situation
on the banks of the Tiber: they, however, escaped the death prepared for
them. The cradle floated some time, and on the waters' retiring, was
left on dry ground. And now, papa, do you know, I do not quite believe
what the book says, about a wolf's coming and suckling them: it seems so
_Mr. B._ I am inclined to doubt the fact too, my dear; but not upon the
ground of its being unnatural, as I have heard of many circumstances
quite as extraordinary, which, nevertheless, I know to have been true.
But go on with your relation.
_Louisa_. At last, Faustulus, the king's shepherd, found them, and took
them home to his wife, Laurentia, who brought them up as her own
children. They followed the employment of shepherds, but soon discovered
abilities above the meanness of their supposed birth. As they grew up,
they were not content with watching their flocks, but used often to
employ themselves in hunting wild beasts, and attacking a band of
robbers that infested the country. One day Remus was taken prisoner,
carried before the king, and accused of having robbed upon his lands.
The king sent him to Numitor, that he might punish him as he thought
proper. Numitor, however, did not punish him at all, for he, by
accident, discovered that he was his grandson. Amulius was soon
afterwards killed, and Numitor restored to the throne. Now, papa, may
Emily tell you the rest?
_Mr. B._ Louisa has acquitted herself wonderfully well. Let me hear you,
my dear Emily, continue the account.
_Emily_. The two brothers leaving the kingdom to Numitor, determined
upon building a city on the spot where they had been so cruelly exposed,
and so wonderfully preserved: but a fatal desire of reigning seized them
both, and created a difference between the noble youths, which ended in
the death of Remus. Romulus being now without a rival, laid the
foundation of a city, which, in compliment to its founder, was called
Rome. In order to people this new settlement, admission was given to all
malefactors and slaves, so that it was soon filled with inhabitants. The
next object was to establish some form of government. Romulus left them
at liberty to appoint their own king, and they, from motives of
gratitude, elected him. He was accordingly acknowledged as chief of
their religion, sovereign magistrate of Rome, and general of the army.
Besides a guard to attend his person, it was agreed that he should be
preceded, wherever he went, by twelve Lictors, each bearing an axe tied
up in a bundle of rods. These were to serve as executioners of the law,
and to impress his new subjects with an idea of his authority.
_Mr. B._ Very well, Emily: now suppose Edward gives us an account of
the legislation of Rome.
_Edward_. The senate consisted of an hundred of the principal citizens,
who were appointed as counsellors to the king. The first of these
senators was nominated by the sovereign, and always acted as his
representative, whenever war or other emergencies called him from the
Capitol. The plebians, too, had considerable weight in the
administration, as they assumed the power of confirming the laws passed
by the king and senate. Their religion was mixed with much
superstition. They had firm reliance on the credit of soothsayers, who
pretended, from observations on the flight of birds, and from the
entrails of beasts, to direct the present, and dive into futurity.
_Mr. B._ Very well, Now can Ferdinand tell us any thing about Romulus.
_Ferdinand_. Yes, papa, I can tell you how wickedly he deceived the
Sabines, to get wives for his Roman people.
_Mr. B._ Who were the Sabines?
_Ferdinand_. A neighbouring nation, and reckoned the most warlike
people in all Italy.
_Mrs. B._ Well, now for your account of the treachery of Romulus.
_Ferdinand_. Romulus proclaimed that he should give a feast in honour
of the god Neptune, and made very great preparations for it. The Sabines
came, with the rest of their neighbours, and brought their wives and
daughters with them: but the poor things had better have been at home,
papa, for in the middle of the entertainment, the young Romans rushed in
with drawn swords, seized the most beautiful women, and carried them
off. I think it was one of the most wicked actions I ever heard of.
_Mr. B._ I am not surprised, my dear, at your warm expressions. If we
regard the deed merely as a breach of hospitality, we must pronounce it
both barbarous and unmanly; but to mediate such treachery, and veil it
under the cloak of religion, was indeed a sin of the deepest dye. Can
you, Edward, tell us what was the consequence of this treachery?
_Edward._ A bloody war ensued. Tatius, the Sabine king, entered the
Roman territories at the head of twenty-five thousand men; a force
greatly exceeding that which the Romans could bring against them into
_Mr. B._ Louisa, can you tell me how they gained possession of the
_Louisa_. Tarpeia, daughter of the commander, offered to betray one of
the gates to the Sabine army, if the soldiers would give her, as a
reward, what they wore on their left arms--meaning their bracelets:
they, however, willing to punish her for such treachery, pretended to
think she meant their shields, which they threw upon her as they
entered, and crushed her to death. I think, papa, she was justly
punished, for it is every one's duty to love and protect their country.
It is very base to betray it to its enemies.
_Mr. B._ I am pleased with your remark, Louisa. Indeed, I have been
delighted to hear you all answer, so properly, the different questions
that have been proposed to you. But it is growing late, as it wants but
a quarter to nine o'clock; we must therefore defer the remainder of our
history till to-morrow. Farewell, my dear children.
The young folks immediately arose, and having carefully put by their
work, took an affectionate leave of their parents, and retired for the
After a day spent happily, because it was spent in the cheerful
performance of their several duties, the little family assembled round
the tea-table, and were rewarded by the approving smiles of their
_Louisa._ Let us make haste and finish our tea, that we may sit down to
work, with papa and mamma, as comfortably as we did last night.
_Mrs. B._ Rather let us endeavour, my dear Louisa, to prolong each
moment by employing it usefully. It is wrong to wish one instant of so
short a life to pass unimproved. Recollect, the wisest of men has said,
"To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under
_Ferdinand._ When you speak of the wisest of men, do you not mean
_Mrs. B._ Yes, my dear. You have read that part of the sacred
Scriptures which contains the life of that great man, have you not?
_Ferdinand_. I have, mamma. When God gave him his choice of many
blessings, he preferred the gift of wisdom, which was granted him; and
honours and riches were also added, as a reward for his prudent choice.
_Louisa._ Is knowledge the same thing as wisdom, pray? [Footnote: The
conversation following, was held, _verbatim_, between the author and a
little boy seven years old.]
_Ferdinand_. I think not, Louisa. Wisdom is a much better thing than
knowledge. Is it not, mamma:
_Mrs. B._ I think so my dear; but you shall hear what my favourite
poet, Cowper, says upon this subject:
"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have oft-times no connexion.
Knowledge dwells In heads, replete with thoughts of other men; Wisdom,
in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude, unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds, Till smooth'd, and squar'd,
and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom it seems t'enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much; Wisdom is humble that he
knows no more."
_Ferdinand_. I do not quite understand those lines: they say that
knowledge is a mere unprofitable mass. You have told me, mamma, that I
ought to take pains, and gain improvement by means of books,
conversation, and observation; but if these lines are true, what good
will it do me?
_Mrs. B._ Read the next line, my dear boy. "The mere materials with
which wisdom builds." Now, if you provide no materials, you must be
aware that wisdom cannot build her temple in your mind. Do you
understand now the meaning of the lines?
_Ferdinand, (after a pause for consideration,)_ Yes, mamma: and I think
I understand the true meaning of the word wisdom, too. It is such power
as God possesses:--a great deal of knowledge joined to a great deal of
_Mrs. B._ You are quite right, my dear Ferdinand. What is Emily
reflecting upon so seriously?
_Emily_. I was thinking, my dear mother, how much at a loss the English
must have been, before the introduction of tea into Europe. I have
heard my father say, it was not known here till within the last two
_Mr. B._ I did tell you so, my dear. Some Dutch adventurers [Footnote:
See Macartney's Embassy to China.], seeking, about that time, for such
objects as might produce a profit in China, and hearing of the general
use, there, of a beverage from a plant of the country, endeavoured to
introduce the use of the European herb, sage, amongst the Chinese, for a
similar purpose, accepting, in return, the Chinese tea, which they
brought to Europe. The European herb did not continue long in use in
China, but the consumption of tea has been gradually increasing in
Europe ever since. The annual public sales of this article, by the East
India Company, did not, however, in the beginning of 1700, much exceed
fifty thousand pounds weight: the annual sale now, approaches to upwards
of twenty millions of pounds.
_Emily._ It is indeed an amazing increase; but I am not surprised that
is has been so universally adopted. I know of no beverage so refreshing
and pleasant. Although we take it twice a day, we never seem to grow
tired of its flavour. I suppose it is cultivated in China, as carefully
as corn is with us?
_Mr. B._ It grows wild, like any other shrub, in the hilly parts of the
country; but where it is regularly cultivated, the seed is sown in rows,
at the distance of about four feet from each other, and the land kept
perfectly free from weeds. Vast tracts of hilly ground are planted with
it. It is not allowed to grow very tall, for the convenience of the more
readily collecting its leaves, which is done first in spring, and twice
afterwards in the course of the summer. Its long and tender branches
spring up almost from the root, without any intervening naked trunk. It
is bushy, like a rose tree, and the blossom bears some resemblance to
_Emily._ There is a very great difference in the flavour of tea. Does
that depend upon the manner of drying it?
_Mr. B._ In some degree it does; but its quality is materially affected
by the soil in which it grows, and by the age of the leaves when plucked
from the tree. The largest and oldest leaves are least esteemed, and are
generally sold to the lowest of the people, with very little previous
preparation. The younger ones, on the contrary, undergo great care and
much attention, before they are delivered to the purchaser. Every leaf
passes through the fingers of a female, who rolls it up almost to the
form it assumed before it was expanded by growth. It is afterwards
placed upon very thin plates of earthen-ware, or iron, and exposed to
the heat of a charcoal fire, which draws all the moisture from the
leaves, and renders them dry and crisp.
_Emily._ I have heard that green tea is dried on copper, which gives it
its peculiar taste and colour, and renders it less wholesome than black
_Mr. B._ This is, I believe, a mistake: the chief use of copper, in
China, is for coinage. Scarcely any utensil is made of that metal, and
the Chinese themselves confidently deny the use of copper plates for
this purpose. The colour and flavour of green tea is thought to be
derived from the early period at which the leaves are plucked, and
which, like unripe fruit, are generally green and acrid.
Emily thanked her father for the account he had given her, and all the
children gratefully felt the value of their kind parents, who were ever
willing to devote their time and attention to the improvement of their
_Mr. B._ I hope you are all prepared to give me a further account of
Romulus, after tea.
_All_. We hope so, papa.
_Ferdinand_. May I first tell you a very curious account of a little
dwarf, which I read today?
_Mr. B._ By all means, my boy.
_Ferdinand_. It is now seventy-four years since he was born, at a
village in France. He was a very little creature indeed, as you will
suppose, when I tell you he only weighed a pound and a quarter. When he
was baptized, they handed him to the clergyman on a plate, and, for a
long time, he used to sleep in a slipper. He could not walk alone till
he was two years old, and then his shoes were only an inch and a half
long. At six years old he was fifteen inches high. Notwithstanding he
was so very small, he was well-made and extremely handsome, but he had
not much sense. The king of Poland sent for him to his court, called him
baby, and kept him in his palace. They tried to teach him dancing and
music, but he could not learn. He was never more than twenty-nine inches
tall. By the time he was sixteen he began to grow infirm, like an old
man. From being very beautiful, the poor little creature became quite
deformed. At twenty he was extremely feeble and decrepid, and two years
after, he died.
_Mr. B._ Poor little creature: such objects are much to be pitied. There
are persons who take pleasure in seeing them; but I must confess, there
is something to me extremely unnatural, in such an exposure of our
_Edward_. Did not Peter the Great, on some occasion, assemble a vast
_Mr. B._ He did; and I rather think Emily can give you an account of it.
_Emily_. It was in the year 1710, that a marriage between two dwarfs was
celebrated at the Russian court. The preparations for this wedding were
very grand, and executed in a style of barbarous ridicule. Peter ordered
that all the dwarfs, both men and women, within two hundred miles,
should repair to the capital, and insisted that they should be present
at the ceremony. Some of them were unwilling to comply with this order,
knowing that the object was to turn them into ridicule; but he soon
obliged them to obey, and, as a punishment for their reluctance, made
them wait on the others. There were seventy assembled, besides the bride
and bridegroom, who were richly adorned in the extreme of fashion.
Everything was suitably provided for the little company; a low table,
small plates, little glasses; in short, all was dwindled down to their
own standard. Dancing followed the dinner, and the ball was opened with
a minuet by the bride and bridegroom, the latter of whom was exactly
three feet two inches high, and the day closed more cheerfully than it
_Edward._ I had always understood that Peter was a man of a very
barbarous disposition, and I think this circumstance is a strong proof
of it. How cruel! to make sport of the misfortunes and miseries of
_Mr. B._ The Czar Peter was a most extraordinary man. No monarch ever
did more towards the civilization of his subjects, or less towards the
subduing of his own barbarous nature. My dear Ferdinand, ring the bell;
I believe the tea-things may now be removed.
_Louisa._ Oh! how pleasantly the time has passed. I have not once
thought of my work. I was afraid I should have been quite impatient to
begin the little frock which I cut out last night.
_ Emily._ You have felt interested in the conversation, Louisa, and that
has made the time pass so pleasantly. Sometimes, when you are anxious
respecting any pursuit, you think so much of its approach, that you do
not attempt to employ the preceding minutes, which is the cause of their
appearing so long.
_Mrs. B._ I was just going to make the same remark, Emily. It is very
unwise to lose the present time, in the anticipation of a moment we may
"Improve the present hour, for all beside Is a mere feather on the
Whilst the servant was clearing away the tea-things, the children
employed themselves in preparing for their different occupations, and
were soon happily seated around their parents.
_Mr B._ Well, now who will give us an account of the Sabine war? As the
eldest, I believe I must call upon you, Emily.
_Emily._ The Sabines having become masters of the Capitoline hill,
through the treachery of Tarpeis, a general engagement soon took place,
which was renewed for several days, both armies obstinately refusing to
submit. The slaughter was prodigious, which seemed rather to increase
than diminish their rage. In a moment the attention of both armies was
attracted by a most interesting spectacle. The Sabine women, who had
been carried off by the Romans, rushed in between the combatants, their
hair dishevelled, their dress disordered, and the deepest anguish
pictured in their countenances; they seemed quite regardless of
consequences, and, with loud outcries, implored their husbands and
fathers to desist. Completely overcome by this distressing scene, the
combantants let fall their weapons by mutual impulse, and peace was soon
restored. It was determined that Tatius and Romulus should reign jointly
in Rome, with equal power, and that an hundred Sabines should be
admitted into the senate.
_Mr. B_. Was this union permanent, Edward?
_Edward_. Yes, father; though, as might have been expected, little
jealousies occasionally crept in among them. Tatius was, however,
murdered about five years afterwards, so that Romulus was once more sole
master of Rome.
_Mr. B_. Come, Louisa, you have been silent to-night, let me hear you
finish the account.
_Louisa_. Romulus soon began to grow very proud and haughty, now he had
no one to oppose him. The members of the senate were much disgusted by
his arrogance, and contrived to put him to death so privately, that his
body was never discovered: they then persuaded the people that he was
taken up into heaven, and he was long afterwards worshiped as a God,
under the name of Quirinus.
_Ferdinand_. I am glad Romulus is dead, for I never liked him. Numa
Pompilius was a much better man.
_Mr. B._ And pray who was he?
_Ferdinand_. He was a Sabine, papa: the second king of Rome, and was
famous for being a just, moderate, and very good man; and that is the
best kind of fame, I think.
_Mr. B._ I think so, too, Ferdinand. Was Numa Pompilius elected to the
sovereign authority immediately upon the death of Romulus?
_Edward_. No, father: the senators undertook to supply the place of a
king, by assuming, each of them in turn, the government for five days;
but the plebeians not choosing to have so many masters, insisted upon
the nomination of a king, and the choice fell on Numa Pompilius. He was
received with universal approbation, and was himself the only person who
objected to the nomination. Happy at home, and contented in a private
station, he was not ambitious of higher honours, and accepted the
dignity with reluctance.
_Ferdinand_. I should have thought just as
Numa did, papa; for I do not think kings can ever be happy.
_Mr. B._ They are certainly placed in a very responsible situation; but
those who conscientiously perform their respective duties, need not fear
being happy under any circumstances.
_Ferdinand_. But a king has so many duties to fulfil, and they are so
important, that I am sure I had much rather be a subject.
_Mr. B._. I am quite of your opinion, my dear boy, that there is much
more happiness to be found in the private walks of life; and I can with
truth declare, that I would not exchange my own fire-side, enlivened by
so many happy countenances, for the gilded palace of the greatest
"Nor would we change our dear father and mother," said the cheerful
little Louisa, "to be the gayest lords and ladies in the land."
_Mr. B._. Well, my little lady, now let me hear how Numa goes on in his
_Louisa_. He was so well calculated to be a king, by his goodness as
well as his knowledge, papa, that you may suppose he made his subjects
very happy. His whole time was spent in endeavouring to render them
pious and virtuous. He built a great many new temples for religious
worship; and, amongst others, one to Janus, which was always open in
time of war, and shut in time of peace. He did every thing in his power
to encourage agriculture, and, for this purpose, divided the lands which
Romulus had conquered in war, among the poor people. His subjects loved
him very much, and he lived till he was eighty years old, and then died
in peace, after having reigned forty-three years. The temple of Janus
was shut during his whole reign.
_Mr. B._ You have given your account very correctly, Louisa; Numa was,
indeed, a wise and discreet prince. You have, however, omitted
mentionaing his distribution of the tradesmen of Rome into distinct
corporations, which Plutarch considered the master-piece of his policy.
The city had been long divided into two factions, occasioned by the
mixture of the Sabines with the first Romans. Hence arose jealousies,
which were an inexhaustible source of discord. Numa, to remedy this
evil, made all the artists and tradesmen of Rome, of whatever nation
they originally were, enter into separate companies, according to their
respective professions. The musicians, goldsmiths, carpenters, curriers,
dyers, tailors, &c. formed distinct communities. He ordained particular
statutes for each of them, and granted them peculiar privileges. Every
corporation was permitted to hold lands, to have a common treasury, and
to celebrate festivals and sacrifices proper to itself;--in short, to
become a sort of little republic. By this means the Sabines and Romans,
forgetting all their old partialities and party names, were brought to
an entire union.
_Ferdinand._ That was a capital contrivance. What a clever man Numa was;
and how much good such a king can do to his people.
_Edward._ You did not mention, Louisa, what pains Numa took to reform
the calendar. The year, before his time, consisted of but three hundred
and four days, which is neither agreeable to the solar nor the lunar
year. Numa endeavoured to make it agree with both: he added January and
February to the old year, which before consisted of only ten months.
Although he did not render the calendar so complete as it is at present,
he remedied the disorders as far as he was able, and put it into a
condition of more easily admitting of new corections.
_Mr. B._ Louisa has alreay told us that the temple of Janus was not
opened during the whole reign of Numa: he was, indeed a most pacific and
amiable prince. He was beloved by his neighbours, and became the arbiter
of all the differences among them; and his virtues seemed to have
communicated themselves to all the nations around Rome. As to the Romans
themselves, it might be literally said, that their weapons of war were
changed into implements of husbandry. No seditions, no ambitious desires
of the throne, nor so much as any murmurs against the person or
administration of the king, appeared amongst his subjects. When he died,
they lamented him as severely as if every man had lost his own father;
and the concourse of strangers to Rome, to pay the last tribute of
respect to his remains, was exceedingly great. Numa had forbidden the
Romans to burn his body; they therefore put it into a stone coffin, and,
according to his own orders, buried the greatest part of the books he
had written, in the same sepulchre with himself. He had made a law,
forbidding that any dead body should be buried within the city, and had,
himself, chosen a burying-place beyond the Tiber. Thither he was
carried, on the shoulders of his senators, and followed by all the
people, who bewailed their loss with tears.
_Mrs. B._ How superior to brass and marble, is such a monument of a
_Ferdinand._ I suppose Numa named one of his new months January, in
compliment to the god Janus, to whom he had erected the temple.
_Mr. B._ Yes. Janus is always represented with two faces, one looking
backwards, the other forwards; and seems to be properly placed at the
beginning of the year, to point out to us the necessity of looking back
to the time that is past, that we may remedy our crimes in the year
_Louisa._ Well, really now, that is very ingenious. Are the names of the
other months all equally suitable, papa?
_Mr. B._ February was so called from the expiations signified by the
word _Februs_, which were in this month performed. March had its name
from _Mars_, the supposed father of Romulus; and on that account had
been placed first, till the alteration made by Numa. April is said to
have derived its name from _Aphrodite_, which is another name for Venus,
because of the superstitious worship at that time paid to her. May, from
_Maia_, the mother of Mercury, to whom this month was made sacred. June,
from _Juno_; or, as some suppose, from _Juventus_, the Latin word for
youth, because the season is warm, or, as it were, juvenile. The rest
had their names from their order:--as, _Quintilis_, the fifth month;
_Sextilis_, the sixth; _September_, the seventh; _October_, the eighth;
_November_, the ninth; and _December_, the tenth:--all derived, as you
know, Ferdinand, from the Latin words signifying these numbers.
_Quintilis_ and _Sextilis_ were afterwards changed into July and August,
in compliment to Julius Caesar and the emperor Augustus, of whom you
will hear as you proceed with your history. Have you read any part of
the reign of Tullius Hostilius, who was the next king of Rome?
_Louisa._ I just looked at a few pages, papa, but did not read much.
But, from the little I saw, I do not think I shall like him so well as
_Edward_. No, that you will not, Louisa; for he was very fond of war,
which you do not like at all. The temple of Janus was soon opened when
he mounted the throne. I think Hostilius was a good name for him, for he
was hostile to all his neighbours.
_Mr. B._ You have read his reign, I suppose, Edward? We must not,
however, anticipate the history, by entering into any further detail at
present, or we shall deprive your sisters of the pleasure they would
otherwise have in the perusal of it. To-morrow, I shall expect an
account of the battle between the Hexatii and Curiatii, which was the
first remarkable event that occurred in his reign. It is now time to
retire, as I purpose taking you all on a little excursion to-morrow, if
it prove fine. You must, therefore, rise early, and prepare your lessons
The children all expressed their delight at this unexpected indulgence,
promised the strictest attention to their lessons, and, affectionately
embracing their parents, withdrew.
On the following morning the children rose according to their promise,
and, by strict attention to their lessons, merited the treat their
father had in store for them. It was a lovely morning! but our best-
laid schemes are subject to disappointment; and the little group felt
their pleasure greatly lessened, upon hearing that a violent headache,
to which their mother was subject, would prevent her joining the party.
I shall not enter into any detail respecting their visit, as my young
readers will hear it all from their own lips, in the conversation they
held with their mother, when they returned in the evening. They had the
pleasure of finding her much better, and able to enjoy their company,
and the account they gave of their excursion.
Emily first entered the parlour, and, gently opening the door,
affectionately enquired after her mother's health.
"My head is much better, I thank you, my dear," replied Mrs. Bernard:
"but why are you alone?--where are your brothers and sisters? All safe
and well, I hope?"
_Emily_. Yes, quite well, and in high spirits, I assure you. They
requested to get out at the lodge-gate, that they might have a race
through the garden. Feeling rather tired, I preferred riding.
At this moment Louisa came running in, quite out of breath. The others
soon followed her, laughing merrily.
_Louisa_. Oh! mamma, how I wish you had been with us. We have had such
a happy day, and have seen so many curious things.
_Ferdinand_. What a nice woman Mrs. Horton is, mamma. She has been so
kind to us.
_Edward_. Dear me, Louisa and Ferdinand, how loud you talk. You forget
"Gently, my dears, gently," said Mrs. Bernard: "moderate your delight a
little. I am glad to hear that you have enjoyed year day, and shall
like to have a full account of all you have seen, when you can enter
upon it quietly. In the mean time, go and put by your hats and tippets,
my dear girls, and come to tea as quickly as you can."
Louisa declared she did not want any tea, and requested that she might
go into the nursery to little Sophy, and take her some shells, which
Mrs. Horton had given her.
Mrs. Bernard willingly granted her request and added:--"I am glad, my
dear Louisa, you do not, when in the midst of enjoyment yourself, forget
your little sister, who is too young to join your pleasures. You may go
and stay with her a quarter of an hour; but do not keep her up beyond
her usual time."
_Ferdinand_. Pray take my shells too, Louisa, and tell her that little
fishes once lived in them at the bottom of the sea.
Louisa, with a light step, and a heart still lighter, left the room,
saying, she had a great deal of information to give little Sophy.
_Mrs. B._ Now, my dear Emily, ring the bell, and make haste down to tea:
I see your father coming up the garden.
The children quickly returned. They were not, however, allowed to enter
into any detail of their past pleasures, till the tea-things were
removed, and Louisa had joined their part, which she did, very
punctually, at the expiration of the promised quarter of an hour.
_Louisa_. Little Sophy is so delighted with her shells, mamma! She sends
her love to you, Ferdinand, and says she will give you a kiss tomorrow.
I do not think I shall do much work to-night, mamma, we have so many
things to tell you.
The room was soon cleared, and liberty given to begin the account of
their excursion, provided only one spoke at a time.
_Ferdinand_. Oh, Louisa, tell mamma about the dog!
_Edward_. No: tell about the cat, that is the most curious.
_Louisa_. Now, I do not think so, Edward. The story about the dog was so
_Mrs. B._ Stop--stop, my dear children, or I shall hear nothing after
all. Begin at the beginning, and all will go on regularly. Now, set out
from our own door.
_Louisa_. Come, Emily, you will tell that part best, because I do think
you enjoyed the ride more than any of us.
_Emily_. I did, indeed, enjoy it. The country looks so rich, from the
variety of foliage; the autumnal tints are in their highest beauty, and
you know, my dear mother, how delightful the scenery is, particularly
through the park which leads to Mrs. Horton's house. She received us
with the greatest politeness, and was very sorry you were prevented
accompanying us, especially when she heard that indisposition was the
cause of your absence. After we had taken some refreshment, she proposed
a walk in the park. As we passed through a small room, opening into the
garden, I was much struck with the appearance of an elegant bird in a
glass case. It was stuffed, but so remarkably well done, that you would
have thought it still alive. From the two long feathers in its tail, I
knew it to be the bird of Paradise, and begged Mrs. Horton would give me
leave to examine it more closely. She told me it was a native of the
Molucca Islands, and that there were eight different species of them.
The plumage is very beautiful. The head, throat, and neck, are of a pale
gold colour; the base of the bill, as well as the head, is covered with
fine black feathers, soft and glossy as velvet, and varying in colour
with the different shades of light that fall upon them. The back part of
the head is of a shining green, mixed with bright yellow; the body and
wings are covered with brown, purple, and gold-coloured feathers; the
upper part of the tail is a pale yellow, and the undermost feathers are
white, and longer than those above. But what chiefly excites curiosity,
are two long, naked feathers, which spring from the upper part of the
rump, above the tail, and are, in general, two feet in length. These
birds are supposed to migrate into other countries at the time of the
monsoons, but it is not certain that they do so.
_Ferdinand_. Pray, what are the _monsoons_, Emily?
_Emily_. They are periodical winds, to which those countries are subject
lying within a certain distance of the equator. They blow in one
direction for a time, and, at stated seasons, change, and blow for an
equal space of time from the opposite point of the compass.
_Louisa_. Do not forget the little hummingbirds, Emily, which were in
the case next to the bird of Paradise. What beautiful little creatures
they were! And Mrs. Horton says that nature has provided them with
forked tongues, completely formed for entering flowers, and drawing out
the honey, which is their natural food.
_Mrs. B_. Did Mrs. Horton tell you how curiously they construct their
_Louisa_. Oh, yes; she showed us one: it was suspended on the very point
of a twig. She says, they adopt this plan to secure them from the
attacks of the monkey and the snake. They form them in the shape of a
hen's egg, cut in half. The eggs are not bigger than a pea, of a clear
white, with a few yellow specks here and there. I wish I had some of
these pretty little creatures; but Mrs. Horton says they will not live
in England, it is so much colder than the tropical climates.
_Ferdinand_. What little feet the Chinese women have, mamma! We saw one
of their shoes, and I am sure it was not a bit bigger than little
_Emily_. But you know, Ferdinand, _that_ is not the natural size of the
Chinese ladies' feet: they are confined, while they are babies, with
very tight bandages, which prevent them from growing.
_Louisa._ I am glad I am not a Chinese little girl. Such small feet
cannot be very useful to them when they grow up to be women, I think.
_Mrs. B._ Indeed, they are not: The poor things are perfect cripples,
and are obliged to be carried wherever they go.
_Ferdinand._ Oh, how I pity them! They can never run about and enjoy
themselves while they are little, as we do, Louisa.
_Mrs. B._ Indeed, my dear Ferdinand, an English child has great cause
for thankfulness, on many accounts. I know of no country where the real
happiness and welfare of children is so carefully studied.
_Emily._ In China, however, the boys are educated with considerable
care. In their early studies, geography is particularly attended to. At
six years of age, they are made acquainted with the names of the
principal parts of the world; at eight, they are instructed in the rules
of politeness; and at ten are sent to a public school, where they learn
reading, writing, and arithmetic. From thirteen to fifteen they are
taught music; they do not, however, sing merry songs, as we do, but
serious sentences, or moral precepts. They also practise the use of the
bow, and are taught to ride. In every city, town, and almost in every
village, I have been told that there are public school for teaching the
more abstruse sciences.
_Mrs. B._ The mind of the poor girls, on the contrary, are most sadly
neglected. Needlework is almost the only accomplishment thought
necessary for them. There is no country in the world in which the woman
are in a greater state of humiliation, than in China. Those whose
husbands are of high rank, live under constant confinement; those of the
second class are little better than upper servants, deprived of all
liberty; whilst the poort share with their husbands the most laborious
_Louisa._ How exceedingly I should dislike it; and yet, I think, I would
rather be the wife of a poor Chinese, than of a rich one.
_Emily_ I think so too; for the hardest labour would not be to me so
irksome as total inactivity.
_Mrs. B._ I am quite of your opinion, Emily. The situation of these
wretched beings must be rendered doubly irksome by the uncultivated
state of their minds. This deprives them of those delightful resources,
from which the well-educated female of our happy country may constantly
derive the purest enjoyment.
_Emily._ Had not your and my dear father early installed into us a love
of reading, how very much our present enjoyments would be lessened.
_Mrs. B._ We have always, my dear considered it as an important point
in your education; since no amusement so delightfully occupies the
vacant hours of life, even where entertainment is the principal object.
It is one of those tastes that grows by indulgence: there is scarcely
any enjoyment so independent of the will of others: it engages and
employs the thoughts of the wretched, directs the enthusiasm of the
young, and relieves the weariness of old age. Well might the amiable
Fenelon say: "If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid at
my feet, in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all."
_Louisa_. Now, Ferdinand, I know you long to tell mamma your droll
story about the dog.
_Ferdinand_. Well, mamma, when we got into the garden, I was very much
amused with a nice little terrier, and Mrs. Horton said, she thought we
should be entertained with an anecdote or two she could tell us
respecting him. The dog belongs to her brother, who is an elderly
gentleman, and wears a wig. He used to keep one hung up on a peg in his
dressing-room, and, as it was grown very shabby, he one day gave it away
to a poor old man. The dog happened soon after to see him in the
street. He knew the wig again in a minute; and, looking full in the
man's face, made a sudden spring, leaped upon his shoulders, seized the
wig, and ran off with it as fast as he could; and, when he reached home,
endeavoured, by jumping, to hang it in its usual place.
_Mrs. B._ I think your story very amusing, Ferdinand: it is a curious
instance of sagacity.
_Emily_. The other circumstance which Mrs. Horton mentioned, of the
same animal, proves him equally sagacious. He was one day passing
through a field, where a washerwoman had hung out her linen to dry; he
stopped, and surveyed one particular shirt with attention, then seizing
it, he dragged it through the dirt to his master, whose shirt it proved
to be. [Footnote: See Bingley's Animal Biography.]
_Edward_. Well, now, mamma, please to listen to my story about the cat.
_Mrs. B._ By all means, my dear.
_Edward_. As we were walking near the house, I was surprised to see a
fine cat, with a pretty little leveret gambolling and frolicking by her
side. Mrs. Horton told us, that, about a fortnight ago, the farmer's
boy brought this poor little creature into the house, having found it,
almost starved to death, in a hole, in consequence, I suppose, of some
accident having happened to its mother. Mrs. Horton gave directions
that it should be fed and kept warm. The servants grew very fond of it,
and were quite grieved, one day, suddenly to miss it. They concluded
that some cat or dog had killed it, and never expected to see their
little favourite again. However, yesterday, in the dusk of the evening,
they observed the cat in the garden, with something gambolling after
her, which, to their great delight, they discovered to be the leveret.
They then recollected that poor puss had been deprived of a litter of
kittens, on the very day that their favourite had so mysteriously
disappeared. The cat had adopted him in the place of her own little
ones, nourished him with her milk, and continues still to support him
with the greatest affection [Footnote: See Bingley's Animal Biography].
_Mrs. B._ It is a curious circumstance, but not so extraordinary, I
think, as the account Ferdinand read to me, some time ago, in "A Visit
for a Week," of a cat supporting a chicken in a similar manner.
_Ferdinand_. Well, mamma, besides the accounts we have given you, Mrs.
Horton told us several other curious things respecting the instinct of
animals. She took us to an aviary in the garden, which is a large place
made on purpose to keep birds in. There were some beautiful gold and
penciled pheasants; but no bird, in my opinion, is so handsome as the
peacock. I asked Mrs. Horton if it were originally a native of this
country. She told me it was brought to us from the East, and that
numerous flocks of them are still to be seen wild in Java and Ceylon.
_Mrs. B._ Where are those two islands situated, Louisa?
_Louisa_. They are both in the Indian Ocean. Java is a little to the
east of Sumatra; and Ceylon, off the coast of Coromandel. All the
animals with which the woods abound, are not so agreeable as the
peacock, mamma; for I recollect reading, a little time ago, that there
are varieties of wild beasts live there: particularly in Java, there are
many large and fierce tigers.
_Mrs. B._ Did Mrs. Horton tell you any thing more respecting the
_Emily_. Yes; she made us observe its train, which does not appear to
be the tail. The long feahers grow all up their backs. A range of
short, brown, stiff feathers, about six inches long, is the real tail,
and serves as a prop to the train when elevated. This certainly must be
the case, as, when the train is spread, nothing appears of the bird but
its head and neck; which could not be, were those long feathers fixed
only in the rump. She also told us, that, in the time of Francis the
first, king of France, it was the custom to serve up a peacock at the
tables of the great, not for food, but ornament. The skin was first
carefully stripped off, and the body being prepared with the hottest
spices, was again covered with it; in this state it was not at all
subject to decay, but preserved its beauty for several years.
_Mrs. B._ In China, a peacock's feather hanging from the cap, is
considered as a mark of high distinction; and Sir George Staunton, in
his account of the Embassy to China, mentions a circumstance of a legate
of the emperor, who was degraded from his office, for disobeying the
orders of his imperial majesty, being reduced to wear an opaque white,
instead of a transparent blue button, and a crow's instead of a
peacock's tail-feather pendant from his cap. The splendour of this
bird's plumage certainly demands our highest admiration, but,
independent of its beauty, it has few excellencies to boast. Its voice
is extremely harsh and disagreeable, and its gluttony is a great
counterbalance to its personal charms.
_Emily_. Mrs. Horton made a remark similar to yours, mamma. She said,
beauty was certainly very pleasing when adorned by the smiles of good-
humoured cheerfulness; but that the fairest face, without this charm,
would soon cease to please. She also repeated to us those sweet lines
from Cowper, in which he so prettily contrasts he retiring modesty of
the pheasant, with the proud display made by the peacock, of his gaudy
"Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold His radiant glories--azure,
green, and gold. He treads as if, some solemn music near, His measur'd
step were govern'd by his ear; And seems to say--'Ye meaner fowl give
place, I am all splendour, dignity, and grace! Not so the pheasant on
his charms presumes, Though he too has a glory in his plumes; He,
Christian-like, retreats, with modest mien, To the close copse, or far-
sequester'd green, And shines, without desiring to be seen."
_Ferdinand_. We then walked some time in the park and gardens, mamma;
after which Mrs. Horton took us into the house, that we might rest
ourselves a little before dinner. When dinner was over we went into the
picture-gallery, and, amongst a number of very beautiful prints and
paintings, there was one representing the combat between the Horatii and
Curiatii, of which we had read in the morning. How much more pleasure
one has in looking at prints, when one knows a little about the subject
_Mr. B._ A cultivated mind, my deal children, is a constant source of
pleasure. Youth is the seed-time of life, and you must be careful so to
plant now, as to ensure to yourselves hereafter, not only a plentiful,
but a valuable harvest. It is growing late--we must think of our
history, or we shall spend all the evening in chit-chat. Edward, suppose
you begin the account.
_Edward_. I mentioned, yesterday, that Tullus Hostilius was of a
disposition very different from the peaceful Numa. He was entirely
devoted to war, and more fond of enterprise, than even the founder of
the empire himself had been. The Albans were the first people that gave
him an opportunity of indulging his favourite inclination. Upon the
death of Romulus, seeing their ancient kings extinct, they resumed their
independence, with a determination to shake off the Roman yoke, and to
appoint their own governors. Cluilius was at the head of this affair. He
is, by some historians, styled dictator; by others, king. Being very
jealous of the growing greatness of Rome, he, by a stratagem, contrived
to engage them in a war. Cluilius was, however, previous to the
commencement of the hostilities, found dead in his tent, surrounded by
his guards, without any external marks of violence. After his death,
both parties seemed to wish for an accommodation upon a amicable terms,
but neither liked to submit to be inferior to their rival. It was at
length proposed, that the superiority should be determined of each
other, and, when the people expected to see them begin fighting
furiously, they, instead of that, laid aside their arms, and flew to
embrace each other.
_Mr. B._ What effect had this upon the spectators, Emily?
_Emily_. They were much moved, and began to murmur at their king, who
had engaged such leader friends in a cruel rivalship for glory. But a
new scene quickly put an end to their pity, fixed their attention, and
employed all their hopes and fears:--the combat began, and the victory
long hung doubtful. At length the eldest of the Horatii received a
mortal wound, and fell: a second soon met the same fate, and expired
upon the body of his brother. The Alban army now gave a loud shout,
whilst consternation and despair spread themselves through the Roman
_Ferdinand_. Oh, papa, how interested I felt, this morning, when we got
to this part.
_Mr. B._ I do not wonder that you were, my dear: it is a circumstance
calculated strongly to interest the feelings. Edward, take up the
account where Emily quitted it.
_Edward_. Do not suppose the Roman cause quite desperate. It is true,
they had but one champion remaining, but he was both unhurt and
undaunted, while all the Curiatii were wounded. He, however, did not
conceive himself able to attack the three brothers at once, and
therefore made use of a stratagem to separate them. He pretended fear,
and fled before them. The Curiatii pursued him at unequal distances.
Horatius turned short upon the foremost, and slew him. He then flew to
the next, who soon shared his brother's fate. The only remaining
Curiatii was so severely wounded, that he could scarcely support his
shield, and offered no resistance to the attack of the conquering
Horatius. Thus ended the famous combat, which gave Rome the superiority
_Ferdinand_. The picture at Mrs. Horton's, represented Horatius at the
moment he turned upon the first Curiatii. And there was another,
representing him in the act of stabbing his sister, because she grieved
for the death of one of the Curiatii, to whom she was going to be
_Edward_. Ah! that tarnished all the glory of Horatius, in my opinion.
It was so natural she should weep for such a loss.
_Mrs. B._ Flushed with conquest, Horatius lost his self-possession.
Often do we find heroes, who can subdue their enemies in the field, the
weakest of the weak, when the combat is against their own evil passions.
Self-knowledge, and self-possession, are most important acquirements.
They are excellencies I must earnestly desire for each of you, my dear
children. But we have not time for further conversation to-night: you
have all exerted yourselves extremely to-day, and must feel fatigued.
_Louisa_. Oh no, papa, I am not all all tired.
_Mrs. B._ Indeed, my Louisa, your heavy eyes tell a different tale.
Ferdinand, too, looks very sleepy. Good night, my dear children.
They immediately arose, and, thanking their father for the great
indulgence he had afforded them, retired.
"Now, my dears, have you your work prepared for the evening?" said Mrs.
Bernard, rising from the tea-table.
"Mine is quite ready, mamma," replied Emily.
"And mine too, I believe," said Louisa, opening her work-bag. "Oh!
dear, no, I have used up all my thread. I quite forgot that. And where
can my thimble be? I am sure I thought I had put it into my bag.
Emily, have you seen my thimble? I dare say you have got it, you are so
apt to take my things."
_Emily._ Oh! no, indeed, Louisa, you are mistaken, Sometimes, when I
find them left about, I put them by for you, that they may not be lost.
"Well, that is the very thing that makes me think I have lost them,"
said Louisa, rather petulantly. "It is very tiresome of you, Emily. I
do wish you never would touch any thing that belongs to me."
"Gently, gently, my Louisa," interrupted Mrs. Bernard: "you ought to
feel much obliged to your sister for her kindness. If it were not for
her attention, your carelessness would make a sad hole in your pocket-
money. In this instance, however, Emily appears to be quite innocent of
your loss: she does not seem to know any thing about the stray thimble.
She has not, therefore, been the cause of your misfortune to-day."
Louisa rose from her seat, and leaving the room, exclaimed: "I dare say
I shall find it in a minute or two."
She was, however, absent more than a quarter of an hour, and at length
returned, without having found her thimble.
"Well, mamma, it is a most extraordinary thing," said she: "I cannot
think what is become of it. It is very tiresome that things should get
_Mrs. B._ It is rather singular that Emily seldom meets with these
misfortunes, from which you so frequently suffer, Louisa.
_Louisa_. Indeed, Emily is very fortunate, mamma. She never has
occasion to lose her time in looking for things, and, I do believe, that
is one reason why she gets on so much faster with her work than I do.
_Mrs. B._ It is a very probably conjecture, my dear; but you must not
attribute the cause merely to good-fortune: Emily is attentive to the
excellent maxim: "A place for every thing, and every thing in its
place," and if you would endeavour, in this respect, to follow her
example, you would find the same comfortable effects resulting from it.
_Louisa_. Well, mamma, and so I have a place for my things. My work-
bag is exactly like Emily's.
"But you do not make exactly the same use of it," said Mrs. Bernard.
Here Ferdinand interposed, with a proposition, that they should all go
and have a good hunt for the thimble, as it would hurt Louisa's finger
sadly, to work all the evening without one.
Louisa expressed her thanks to Ferdinand for his kindness, adding, "I am
quite sorry my carelessness has given every body so much trouble. If I
find my thimble this once, I will endeavour, in future, to copy Emily's
example, and be more careful."
Mrs. Bernard highly approved this determination, and added, "I hope you
will be able to keep your resolution, my dear. You will find the
comfort resulting from the adoption of method, an ample recompence for
any little trouble it may at first occasion you. Now, make haste; I wish
you success in your search." _They go out._
After some time, Louisa returned with a disappointed countenance, which
convinced Mrs. Bernard that her search had been in vain. The gloom was,
however, soon banished by the entrance of Ferdinand, who, smiling with
exultation, held out the stray thimble, and exclaimed, "I have found it,
Louisa! Here it is! When you went to wash your hands, you left it in the
"Oh, thank you, Ferdinand! thank you!" cried Louisa. "How glad I am to
see it again! Pray, Emily, excuse my having been so cross to you just
"That I do, most willingly," said Emily. "Indeed, I had already
forgotten your little momentary fit of anger."
"Come, let us now sit down to work, without further loss of time," said
their mother. "It gives me most sincere pleasure, my dear children, to
see in you a disposition to assist each other in any little case of
difficulty. Nothing tends so much to cement brotherly love, as
politeness and attention. In many families this is a thing much
neglected; and I have seen more disagreements arise, from a rude,
contradictory disposition, than from any other cause whatever. I know
you like to have our instructions illustrated by a story, particularly
if it be founded on fact. Your father will, therefore, I am sure, give
you an account of a friend of his, who experienced the most beneficial
effects, from adopting kind, conciliatory manners, in opposition to
rudeness and incivility."
"I shall relate the circumstance with much pleasure," replied Mr.
Bernard, "because I am convinced, a most excellent lesson may be learnt
from it; and, as I know the parties, I can assure you it is perfectly
true. An elderly gentleman, with a very large fortune, but no family,
adopted a nephew and niece, the orphan children of two of his sisters.
His object was, when they were of a proper age, to unite them to each
other by marriage, intending that the whole of his immense possesions
should centre in them; but he was much disappointed to find, instead of
the affection which he expected to witness, an extreme dislike
subsisting between the young people, which strengthened as they advanced
in years. Their uncle's presence imposed upon them some restraint, but,
when alone, they gave full scope to their dislike, teasing and
tormenting each other by every means in their power. When the young man
attained his twenty-second, and the young lady her nineteenth year, they
lost their uncle, who had been to them as a parent. The only sentiment
in which they united, was a tender regard to this common friend; and
deeply did they lament his death. The idea that they should now be freed
from the irksome incumbrance of each other's company, however, afforded
them some consolation. Under these impressions, you may judge of the
dismay they both experienced, upon opening their uncle's will, to find
that his fortune was left equally between them, provided they
accomplished his wish, by uniting their destinies; but, whichever
refused fulfilling these conditions, was to forfeit all claim to the
money and estates. Thunder-struck at this appalling sentence, the young
man retired to his chamber, and spent some hours in solitude,
considering what line of conduct it would be best for him to pursue.
Always accustomed to affluence, the horrors of poverty presented
themselves before him in dreadful array; yes, a union with his cousin,
seemed an alternative still more formidable:--he knew not how to
determine. She, in the mean time, suffered no less anxiety. The same
fears agitated her mind. She was well aware of her cousin's dislike to
her, and hoped it would prevent his making those proposals which she
dreaded to hear. At length, he joined her in the garden, and addressed
her as follows:--'You have heard the contents of our uncle's will, Emma.
It places us both in a most painful situation. It were vain to profess
for you an affection, I neither can, or do I believe I ever shall feel;
but, yielding to the necessity of my circumstances, I offer you my
hand.' 'The same sentiment induces me to accept your offer,' said the
dejected Emma, with a heavy sigh; but surely, by such a union, we both
bid adieu to happiness for ever.'--'Our prospect certainly does not
promise us much felicity,' rejoined the young man, 'yet I cannot help
thinking, a moderate share of happiness may still be within our power.
Hitherto, our chief andeavour has been to thwart and irritate each
other; let us, henceforth, employ the same pains to conciliate and
oblige. Great affection, on either side, we will not expect: but let us
resolve to maintain, on all occasions, a spirit of politeness and of
good-will towards each other.' To this the young lady readily assented,
and, under those circumstances, they were married. They persevered in
their wise resolution. I have known them many years, and never did I see
a couple more affectonately attached to each other."
_Edward_. It is a very interesting account, indeed, papa.
_Mr. B._ It is a story from which much solid instruction may be
derived, my dear. People in general, are by no means aware what a
powerful influence those attentions, which they deem trifling, leave
upon the happiness of life. They think, on _important_ occasions, they
should be willing to make great sacrifices for those they love; but do
not reflect how rarely such occasions present themselves; whereas,
opportunities are daily, nay, hourly occurring, for the discharge of
mutual kind offices, which powerfully tend to cement the affectionate
ties of friendship. Edward, did you not commit to memory the passage
upon politeness, we read in Xenophon's Cyropaedia the other day?
_Edward._ I did, papa.
Mr. B. Repeat it to us, my dear.
_Edward._ Politeness is an evenness of soul, which excludes, at the same
time, both insensibility and too much earnestness. It supposes a quick
discernment, to perceive, immediately, the different characters of men;
and, by a sweet condescension, adapts itself to each man's taste, not to
flatter, but to calm his passions. In a word, it is a forgetting of
ourselves, in order to seek what may be agreeable to others, but, in so
delicate a manner, as to let them scarce perceive that we are so
employed. It knows how to contradict with respect, and to please without
adulation; and is equally remote from an insipid complaisance, and a low
_Louisa._ Pray, papa, who was the gentleman you were speaking of, a
little time ago?
_Mr. B._ That cannot concern you at all, Louisa. His name is of no
consequence to the moral of my tale.
_Edward._ Louisa is always so curious; we often laugh at her for it.
_Mrs. B._ It is a foolish and dangerous propensity, when it is carried
into the minor concerns of life. A laudable curiosity, whose object is
the improvement of the mind, should at all times be encouraged; and you
will never, on such occasions, find either your father or myself,
backward in satisfying it to the best of our abilities.
_Louisa._ I have been often told that it is wrong, mamma, and will
really try to amend.
_Mr. B._ I most earnestly wish you success in your endeavour, Louisa.
Curiosity was the fault of our first parents, you know. How much misery
did this fatal propensity in Eve, entail upon the human race!
_Ferdinand._ Oh, mamma, may I tell Louisa that droll story, which I read
to you the other day, about the poor wood-cutter's wife?
_Mrs. B._ I have no objection, provided Louisa would like to hear it.
_Louisa._ Yes, I should, mamma; for I do not mind being told of my
faults, because I wish to amend them.
"That is perfectly right, my love," said Mrs. Bernard: "I admire your
candour, and have no doubt that, with such a desire, your efforts will
prove successful. She then requested Ferdinand to begin his story, which
he did, as follows:
"A gentleman riding one morning through a wood, saw a poor man very
busily employed in cutting down trees, whilst his wife was collecting
the branches into bundles. She sighed heavily, from heat and fatigue,
and complained sadly of their hard fate, laying all the blame upon Adam
and Eve, whose fatal curiosity was the cause of man's being obliged to
earn his bread by such hard labour. The gentleman got off his horse, and
going up to these poor people, he began to talk to the woman, and
enquired, whether, if she had been in Eve's place, she would not have
been very likely to have done the same thing. 'No,' said the woman: 'if
I had every thing necessary for me, without working, I should certainly
be quite contented." 'Well,' said the gentleman, 'in order to silence
your complaints, I will take you and your husband to my own house, where
you shall have apartments to yourselves, servants to wait upon you, a
carriage to attend you, and my park and gardens to amuse yourselves in.
The continuance of these enjoyments shall depend entirely upon
yourselves. You shall have a table spread with dishes; but the middle
dish shall always remain covered, and if ever you uncover it, to examine
its contents, you shall immediately return to your present situation.'
The poor man and woman were delighted with the gentleman's proposal. The
very next day, they removed to their new abode. The novelty of every
object with which they were surrounded, filled them with delight. For
some time they enjoyed themselves extremely, and never once thought of
the covered dish; but, by degrees, all these delights lost the charm of
novelty. Their walks were always the same, and, although they had plenty
of nice things to eat, their appetites were not so good as when they
worked hard for their living. One day the woman said: 'I wonder what
there is under that cover?' After this, their wonder increased every
day, till at last they determined, by taking a little peep, to satisfy
their curiosity. They accordingly lifted up the cover, when, instantly,
out jumped a little mouse, and away it ran. They now saw their folly,
and were sadly vexed with themselves: but it was too late to complain.
They returned to their daily labour, and from their own experience
learned a useful lesson, and never blamed Adam and Eve any more."
"I think, mamma, we may all learn a useful lesson from this story," said
Edward, as Ferdinand concluded his account: "for I am sure I often feel
curious to discover things, that are not of the least consequence to
_Louisa_. Is it a true story, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ I do not know, my dear; but the picture it draws of human
nature is true, and, on that account, the instruction it conveys is
_Mr. B._ Let us now turn our attention to history again. We concluded,
last night, with the rash murder of his sister, committed by Horatius.
Did he undergo any punishment for this crime?
_Edward_. Yes, father: it was thought of dangerous consequence to
slacken the rigour of the laws, in favour of any person, merely on
account of his bravery and success in battle. The king was puzzled how
to act. He was divided between a regard for the laws, and a desire to
save the young warrior, who had rendered him such important service.
_Mr. B._ How did Tullus extricate himself from this difficulty, Emily?
_Emily_. He turned it into a state crime, and appointed two
commissioners to try him as a traitor. As the fact was so publicly
known, and Horatius did not deny it, he was found guilty, and condemned
to be executed; but, by the king's advice, he appealed to an assembly of
the people, whose authority was superior to that of the monarch himself;
and they, from admiration of his courage, rather than the justice of his
cause, revoked the sentence that had been passed against him. However,
that he might not go wholly unpunished, they condemned him to pass under
the yoke, a disgrace to which prisoners of war were subject.
_Mr. B_. What was the yoke, Ferdinand?
_Ferdinand_. It was a kind of gallows, papa, in the shape of a door-
_Mr. B._ Did Horatius, then, receive no honour for his victory, Louisa?
_Louisa_. Yes, papa: a square column was erected in the middle of the
Forum, and the spoils of the Curiatii were hung upon it.
_Mr. B._ Did the Romans continue at peace, after the victory of
_Edward_. No, father: they went to war, successively, with the
Fidenates, Latins, and Sabines; in all of which the Romans were
_Mr. B._ How was the life of Tullus Hostilius terminated, Emily?
_Emily_. Historians differ in their accounts. Some suppose he was struck
by lightning, whilst others imagine he fell by the hand of Ancus
Martius, his successor.
_Mr. B._ Ferdinand, can you give us a short sketch of the character of
Tullus Hostilius, from what you have heard of him.
_Ferdinand_. He was very much inclined to fighting, papa. Generosity and
personal courage were his chief merit. He rekindled in the Romans the
love of war, which Numa had endeavoured to suppress. He acquired to the
Roman state a great name, but did not add to the real happiness of his
_Mr. B._ As he was so much engaged in war, I suppose he did not exert
himself much to improve the legislation of his country.
_Louisa._ We only read of one law that he established, and that was,
that, whenever three little boys should be born at one birth, they
should, in memory of the Horatii, be brought up at the public expence.
_Mr. B._ Emily, what have you to tell us of Ancus Martius, successor to
_Emily_. He was grandson to Numa Pompilius, and, after a short
interregnum, was unanimously chosen, both by the senate and people, to
the succession. He wished to imitate his grandfather, by reviving
husbandry and religious worship; but soon found that this pacific
disposition drew upon him the contempt of the neighbouring nations. The
Latins were the first who endeavoured to throw off their allegiance to
Rome. This provoked Ancus to declare war against them. He vanquished
them in many battles, and took several of their towns. He strengthened
Rome by new fortifications; built the port and city of Astin, at the
mouth of the Tiber; and was successful over the Fidenates, Sabines,
Veientes, and Volsci. Historians give different accounts of his death.
Some say he was destroyed by violence, whilst others speak of his
decease as altogether natural.
_Mr. B._ How long did he reign, Louisa?
_Louisa_. Twenty-three years, papa. We have not read any more yet. I
hope we shall not forget this part, as we advance further. Pray papa,
what do you think is the best means of remembering what we read?
_Mr. B._ The plan we adopt, in making it the subject of conversation, is
a very likely method to effect this desirable object; and, if you keep a
book, and take notes of the history as you proceed, you will still more
deeply impress it upon your memory. But we will talk upon this subject
some other day: it is now quite time for you to go to bed.
MR. AND MRS BERNARD, EMILY, EDWARD, LOUISA, AND FERDINAND.
(_A servent coming in with a parcel_.)
Ah! there is a parcel: I dare say it is from Charles. Do, pray give it
me, Mary:--I am sure I shall have a letter. He promised to write to me
the next opportunity. May I open it, mamma?
_Mrs. B_. You may, Louisa.
_Louisa_. Emily, be so good as to lend me your scissors; the string has
got into a hard knot:--I shall not have untied it this hour. I will just
give it a little snip and it will be off in a minute.
_Mr. B_. How, Louisa! Have you so soon forgotten the applicaiton of the
story with which you were so much pleased a week ago?
_Louisa_. Oh! I recollect: "Waste not--want not." But then, papa, it is
so tantalizing to know there is a letter for one, and not to be able to
get at it for such a long time; particularly when it comes from Charles,
for he does not write to me very often. Do pray let me cut it this once.
On any other occasion, I should have patience to untie the knot, I am
_Mr. B_. We are all apt, Louisa, to think it more difficult to act with
propriety under the very circumstances in which we happen to be placed,
than we should do under others; but, if we would learn wisdom, and
acquire the esteem of the good, we must _always_ endeavour to do the
very best that circumstances will allow. By making this principle the
rule of our conduct on trifling occasions, we shall acquire, as it were,
the habit of correctness and propriety of conduct, which will be very
valuable to us in the more important actions of our lives.
_Louisa_. Well, papa, I have been trying, all the time you have been
talking, to untie this string, and it really was not in so hard a knot
as I expected, for it is undone: and now I will endeavour to remember
you kind advice, and be more patient in the future. Oh! here is my
letter. What a long one it seems to be! And here is a short one for you,
mamma, with a little parcel for Sophy.
_Mrs. B_. Well, my dear Louisa, I am almost as anxious as you are, to
hear the contents of the letter: but do not be in a hurry. Read it
slowly, and very distinctly.
Louia promised to do her best, and began as follows:
"MY DEAR LOUISA,
"It is a long time since I wrote to you last, but I must not have you,
on that account, suppose I have forgotten you; for I really think more
of you now I am away, than I used to do when we were all at home
together. I am very happy in my new situation. Instead of finding a
severe master, as I sometimes feared might be the case, I seem to have
gained a second father in Mr. Lewis; and Mrs. Lewis is almost as
affectionate to me as my own dear mother. It shall be my constant
endeavour, by strict attention to my business, to prove myself grateful
for their kindness. I have my evenings completely to myself, which I
endeavour to employ profitably, according to my dear father's advice. I
am studying natural history, and, if it would afford you any amusement,
I should like to make my progress in that study, the subject of my
future letters. I shall not, however, begin that plan till I hear from
you, to know if it will be agreeable to you.
"A few evenings ago, I paid a very pleasant visit to an old friend of
Mr. Lewis's, which will afford me ample materials for this letter. He is
what Mr. Lewis calls a _virtuoso_, which signifies, a person fond of
antique and natural curiosities. You will, therefore, suppose I was not
at a loss for amusement. In one cabinet was a number of stuffed birds
and beasts; amongst others, a little animal somewhat resembling a rat,
but rather smaller. It legs are short and slender; the fore-legs longer
than the hind ones. Its head is of a pointed form; the colour of its
body tawny, and variegated with large black spots, irregularly arranged;
and the belly is white, tinged with yellow. There appeared to me so
little that was uncommon in this animal, that I could not help asking
Dr. Sinclair, on what account he had given it a place among so many
curiosities. 'I value that little animal,' said he, 'as much as any in
my collection. It is the Leming, or Lapland Marmot, and is distinguished
from other quadrupeds, by habits peculiar to itself. It is only found in
the northern part of our continent, where immense numbers of these
little animals sometimes overspread large tracts of country, especially
in Lapland, Sweden, and Norway. Their appearance happens at uncertain
periods; but fortunately for the inhabitants of these countries, not
oftener than once or twice in twenty years. As the source whence they
originate in such astonishing numbers, is as yet unexplored by the
naturalist, it is no wonder that the ignorant Laplander should seriously
believe that they are rained from the clouds. Myriads of these animals
pour down from the mountains, and form an overwhelming troop, which
nothing can resist. The disposition of their march is generally in
lines, about three feet asunder, and exactly parallel. In this order
they advance with as much regularity as a well-disciplined army; and, it
is remarked, that their course is from the north-west or south-east.
They frequently cover the extent of a square mile, travelling in the
night. They always halt in the day, and in the evening resume their
march. No opposition can stop them; and, whatever way their course is
directed, neither fire not water can turn them out of their road. If a
lake or river intercept their progress, they will swim across, or perish
in the attempt; if a fire interrupt their course, they instantly plunge
into the flames; if a well, they dart down into it; if a hay-rick, they
eat through it; and, if a house stand in their way, they either attempt
to climb over it, or eat through it; but, if both be impracticable, they
will rather die with famine before it, than turn out of the way. If
thousands perish, thousands still supply their place, until the whole
column be destroyed. Wherever they pass, they annihilate every trace of
vegetation, and, when subsistence fails, are said to divide into two
different armies, which engage with the most deadly hostility, and
continue fighting and devouring each other, till they are all entirely
destroyed. Numbers of them are devoured by foxes, weasels, &c. which
follow them in their march, so that none are ever known to return from
"I thanked Dr. Sinclair for his curious and entertraining account, with
which, I hope, my dear Louisa, you also have been amused. A very
beautiful, large, white cat, took possession of Dr. Sinclair's kneee,
the moment he seated himself in his elbow chair by the fire-side. It
licked his hand in a caressing manner, and seemed, by every means in its
power, to testify the greatest affection towards him. From the old
gentleman's kindness, in giving me so amusing an account of the Leming,
I was encouraged to enter into conversation with him upon the merits of
his cat. 'Some naturalists,' said I, 'have represented that animal as
insensible of kindness, and incapable of attachment; but I cannot help
thinking this is a great mistake. We have a cat, at houme, that is very
fond of me; and yours, Sir, seems much attached to you.' 'The cat is, on
many accounts, unjustly aspersed,' said he: 'excepting the dog, I know
of no animal that appears capable of stronger attachment. It is also
reproached with treachery and cruelty; but are not the artifices it
uses, the particular instincts which the all-wise Creator has given it,
conformable to the purposes for which it is designed? Being destined to
prey upon the mouse, a lively, active animal, possessing many means of
escape, artifice is absolutely necessary for the accomplishment of its
end. I can, however, say nothing in extenuation of its cruelty, in
sporting with the unfortunate victim that falls into its power, in
prolonging its tortures, and putting it to a lingering death. This, it
must be confessed, is not a very favourable trait in its character.
Notwithstanding all this, it certainly renders very essential services
to man, and merits, in return, his kindness and protection.' I admired
the beauty of Tom, for so Dr. Sinclair calls his favourite. 'His beauty
is not his most remarkable property,' said the Doctor: 'this cat was
once the cause of detecting a murderer.' I was astonished, as I doubt
not, you, Louisa, will be also, and requested he would relate to me the
particulars of so extraordinary a fact. This he kindly did, as follows:
"Some time ago, when I was pursuing the duties of my profession, as a
physician, I was requested to enquire into the particulars of a murder,
that had been committed upon a woman in the city where I lived. In
consequence of this request, I went to the habitation of the deceased,
where I found her extended lifeless on the floor, and weltering in her
blood. This cat was mounted on the cornice of a cupboard, at the
further end of the apartment, where he seemed to have taken refuge. He
sat motionless, with his eyes fixed on the corpse, and his attitude and
looks expressing horror and affright. The following morning, he was
found precisely in the same position; and, when the room was filled with
officers of justice, neither the clattering of the soldier's arms, nor
the loud conversations of the company, could, in the least degree,
divert his attention. As soon, however, as the suspected persons were
brought in, his eyes glared with increased fury, his hair bristled, he
darted into the middle of the apartment, where he stopped for a moment
to gaze at them, and then retreated precipitately under the bed. The
countenances of the assassins were disconcerted, and they were, for the
first time during the whole course of the horrid business, abandoned by
their usual audacity. I felt much interested for poor puss, and, as no
other person laid claim to him, I secured him for myself; and Tom and I
have been the best friends imaginable, ever since.'
"I felt my respect for Tom greatly increased by this story, the detail
of which has so completely filled my letter, that I have not space to
tell you of half the curiosities contained in Dr. Sinclair's cabinet.
One thing, however, I must find room to describe; this is, a piece of
cloth, which, judging merely from its outward appearance, I considered
still more unworthy than the little Leming, of a place among so many
rarities, and again ventured to express my surprise. 'Never allow
yourself to form such hasty conclusions, my dear boy,' said Dr.
Sinclair, taking my hand in the kindest manner: 'a rough exterior often
conceals real merit. This you will find to be the case in your future
commerce with the world, as well as in examining the cabinet of a
_virtuoso_. That piece of cloth, and this bit of paper,' said he,
opening one of the drawers and showing it to me, 'are made from a stone
called asbestos.' 'A stone!' said I, with astonishment: 'is that
possible, Sir?' 'It is very true, my dear,' replied he: 'this kind of
linen cloth was greatly esteemed by the ancients. It was considered as
precious as the richest pearls. The most remarkable property belonging
to it, is, its being incombustible; that is, it cannot be consumed by
fire. Among the Romans, napkins were made of it, which when soiled,
were thrown into the fire, and by this means much more completely
cleaned, than they could have been by washing. Its principal use was
for making shrouds, to wrap up the dead bodies of their kings, so that
their ashes might be preserved distinct from those of the wood composing
the funeral pile.'
"I enquired where this very curious stone was found. He told me that
there were ten species of it, and that it was discovered in many of the
European mountains, particularly in those of Lapland, Sweden, and
Germany; as well as in Candia, an island of the Mediterranean; and in
"I enquired, whether it was used for any other purpose than the
manufacture of cloth and paper. To which Dr. Sinclair replied, that he
understood, the Chinese employed it as an ingredient in the formation of
their finest porcelain.
"You may easily imagine, my dear Louisa, how much I enjoyed the
conversation of this kind and sensible man. I hope Mr. Lewis will allow
me to accompany him, the next time he pays him a visit. And now I must
beg of you to give my love to little Sophy, and tell her I have sent her
a work-bag and pin-cushion, and hope I shall hear she grows very notable
and industrious. Give my duty to my dear father and mother; and love to
Emily, Edward, and Ferdinand; and believe me, my dear Louisa, your
_Mrs. B._ Very well, Louisa, you have done your brother's letter
justice, by the manner in which you have read it; and great amusement it
has afforded me, I assure you.
_Emily_. I have been both amused and instructed by it. I never heard
of the Leming before; it is a most curious little animal. I am glad
Clarles is studying natural history, as, no doubt, he will meet with
many pretty anecdotes to relate to us. Is it not a pleasing science,
_Mrs. B._. It is, indeed, my dear. No study tends so greatly to
enlarge the mind. You already know something of botany, and have
admired the wisdom manifested in the formation of the minutest flower;
"Not a tree,
A plant, a leaf, a blossom, but contains
A folio volume.
We may read, and read,
And read again, and still find something new;
Something to please, and something to instruct,
E'en in the nuisanceweed."
A deeper research into the beauties of nature, will excite in you still
greater attentions and astonishment, and will, I am sure, fill you with
reverence towards the Divine Author of so many wonders. I hope Charles
will not merely relate to us the amusing anecdotes he meets with, but
enter scientifically upon the subject; as it is impossible to gain clear
ideas, without great method and regularity.
_Louisa_. I hope, mamma, we shall not, in natural history, have long
lists of classes and orders to learn by heart, as we had when we began
botany; for I cannot say I think all those hard names at all
_Mrs. B._ Perhaps not, my dear; but nothing that is valuable, can be
attained without difficulty. I would wish to smooth the path for you as
much as I can, but learning is "labour, call it what you will;" and
without strict attention, and industrious perseverance, you will never
attain perfection in any thing. The classes and orders in that division
of natural history, called the animal kingdom, are, however, by no means
difficult. There are, in botany, as you no doubt recollect, twenty-four
classes; in natural history, there are but six.
"Will you be so kind as to repeat them to us, mamma?" said Louisa.
_Mrs. B._ Willingly, my dear. The first is called Mammalia, and
consists of Quadrupeds and Whales; the second, Birds; third, Amphibia;
fourth, Fishes; fifth, Insects; and sixth, Worms.
_Louisa_. That seems very easy. I think I could soon learn those six
classes. Are there many orders, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ In the class Mammalia there are seven. But we must not talk
of them just at present, or our Roman history will be forgotten.
_Edward_. Before we change the subject, will you be so good as to tell
me, mamma, what you meant by saying, that division of natural history
called the animal kingdom. Are there, then, many divisions?
_Mrs. B._ There are three, my dear. The first consisting of Minerals;
the second, of Vegetables; and the third, of Animals.
_Mr. B._ Well, my dears, now do not forget what you have been already
told, and another day we will talk further on this subject: for the
present, let us attend to our history. We concluded with the death of
Ancus Martius. Who succeeded to the crown, Emily?
_Emily._ Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. He was the son of a merchant of
Corinth, which is a large city of Greece. This man had acquired a
considerable fortune by trade, which was inherited by his son Lucumo,
who took the name of Tarquinius, from Tarquinia, a city of Hetruria,
where his wife Tanaquil lived, previous to her marriage. His birth being
considered contemptible by the nobles of this place, he, by his wife's
persuasions, settled in Rome, where merit alone gave distinction.
_Mr. B._ What remarkable circumstance is said to have occurred to him
on his way thither, Ferdinand?
_Ferdinand._ As he approached the city gate, historians say, that an
eagle, stooping from above, took off his hat, and, after flying round
his chariot for some time, with a great noise, put it on again. From
this circumstance, his wife, Tanaquil, foretold that he would one day
wear the crown.
_Mr. B._ By what means, Edward, did he obtain this object of his
_Edward._ The two sons of Ancus were left under his guardianship. He
was a skillful politician, and found out the secret of making himself a
great favourite with the people. He used every artifice to set aside
these children, and to get himself elected in their stead. For this
purpose, he contrived to have them sent out of the city, and made a long
speech, mentioning his friendship for the people, the fortune he had
spent among them, together with his knowledge of their government, and
concluded by offering himself for their king. The people, with one
consent, elected him as their sovereign.
_Mr. B._ Pray, Louisa, can you tell me how he has governed the city he
had so unjustly obtained?
_Louisa._ Much more properly, papa, than might have been expected. The
first thing he did, was to add a hundred members to the senate: so that
it now consisted of three hundred. He was disposed to live in peace, but
the Latins and Sabines rose up against him: however, after a severe
conflict, he subdued them both. Peace being restored, he employed his
subjects in many useful works for the improvement of the city, that they
might not grow corrupted through indolence.
_Mr. B._ This conduct in Tarquinius, shows great wisdom; for it is very
true, that "idleness is the root of all evil." In states it foments
discord, and in private life occasions misery and ruin. Well,
Ferdinand, what have you to tell us?
_Ferdinand_. There is a curious account of Attius Navius, a famous
augur, (this signifies a kind of prophet, who could foretel future
events.) The Romans used to place great confidence in these people, and
Tarquinius, wishing to try this man's skill, sent for him; and, when he
was come into the midst of the Forum, said to him: "diviner, canst thou
discover, by thy art, whether what I am thinking of can be done or not?
Go and consult thy birds." The augur did as he was ordered, and
returning quickly, answered: "Yes, Tarquin, my art tells me, that what
thou art thinking of may be done." Upon which Tarquin pulled a razor
from under his robe, took a flint in his hand, and replied,
contemptuously, "I was thinking, whether it were possible to cut this
flint with this razor. I have taken thee in thy own craft. The
introducing of the gods into thy decisions, is all cheat and imposture.
If thou canst do what is impossible, do." At these words the people
burst out a laughing, but the augur did not appear at all moved. He, on
the contrary, addressed himself to the king, with a bold air, and said,
"Put the razor to the flint and try. I readily submit to any
punishment, if what you thought of be not done." Upon trial, the razor
passed through with the greatest ease. The people then gave a loud
shout, and the king's contempt for the augur was turned into admiration.
This is a very extraordinary account: but do you think it is true, papa.
_Mr. B._ I do not, my dear. I think it is a mere fabulous invention;
and this was the opinion of the great orator, Tully, who was himself an
augur. Writing to his brother, he says, "Look with contempt on the
razor and flint of the famous Attius. When we reason as philosophers,
we ought to lay no stress upon fables." How did Tarquin close his long
_Emily_. In the eightieth year of his age, and thirty-seventh of his
reign, he was murdered by the artifices of the sons of Ancus Martius.
They hired two young men, who dressed themselves like peasants, with
hatchets on their shoulders, as if they had been wood-cutters. They
approached the kings palace, pretending to have a quarrel about some
goats, and made so much disturbance, that they were carried before the
king. At first they began to rail at each other, until a lictor
interfered, and ordered them to speak by turns. Then one of them began
to tell his story, and, whilst the king was listening to it very
attentively, the other, lifting up his hatchet, gave him a deep wound on
his head, and instantly ran out of doors with his companion. Whilst some
of the company hastened to assist the king, others pursued the ruffians
and seized them. On being put to the torture, they confessed by whom
they had been employed.
_Ferdinand_. Pray, papa, what is the meaning of being put to the
_Mr. B._ It is a most barbarous punishment, my dear. The unhappy
victim is extended upon a wheel, which stretches his limbs till they are
all dislocated; and it has frequently happened, that many poor wretches,
unable to endure such severe torments, have made confessions of crimes
they never committed, in order to free themselves from the severity of
their sufferings. How did queen Tansquil set upon the death of her
_Edward_. She did not lose her presence of mind, but cleared the
palace of the crowd, shutting herself up in the apartment of the
expiring king, with only Servius Tullius, who was her son-in-law, his
wife, and Octivia his mother. She pressed him to ascend the throne,
that Tarquin's two grandsons might be safe under his protection: then,
opening the window which looked into the street, she bade the people be
under no concern, since the wound was not deep, and the king, having
only been stunned by the sudden blow, was come to himself. She concluded
by expressing her hopes, that they would see him again very shortly;
declaring that it was their sovereign's orders, that, till that time,
they should obey Servius Tullius. This stratagem succeeded. The report
that the king would soon be well again, so terrified the sons of Ancus,
that they went, of their own accord, into banishment.
_Mr. B._ How did Servius proceed, Louisa?
_Louisa_. The second day after the murder of Tarquin, he took his seat
on the throne, in the royal robes, and heard causes; some of which he
decided himself, and, in difficult cases, pretended he would consult the
king. He continued this management some time, and by his prudent
conduct gained the love of the people. At last, when he thought his
authority well established, the death of Tarquin was announced, as a
thing which had just happened, and Servius continued in power, without
being positively chosen as king. That is all we have read at present,
papa. I hope we shall hear something more about Servius, as I do not
think I clearly understand who he was, except that he was son-in-law to
Tarquinius. _Mr. B._ Oh, no doubt, all those matters will be cleared up
to your satisfaction to-morrow, Louisa. For the present we must
separate, my dears, as our conversation has been already prolonged
beyond your usual hour. Good night, my dear children.
MR. AND MRS. BERNARD, EMILY, EDWARD LOUISA, FERDINAND, AND SOPHY,
_standing by her mother._
_Sophy_. Mamma, may I stay with you a little time to-night. I am not
sleepy at all.
_Mrs. B._ You may stay till seven o'clock, my dear, but not later, as we
must not break through good rules. When you are as old as Ferdinand, you
shall sit with us as long as he does; but, whilst you are such a little
girl, after tea, bed is quite the best place for you.
"Early to bed, and early to rise, Is the way to grow healthy, wealthy,
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