F. B. Vaux
Part 2 out of 3
_Sophy_. Well, mamma, I want very much to grow a clever girl, like
Emily; but how can going to bed early make me wise? If I might sit up
with you and papa, you would teach me a great many things, as you do
Fedinand; but when I am in bed, I go to sleep and learn nothing.
_Mrs. B._ But your sleep does you a vast deal of good, my little dear.
It makes you rosy and healthy, and will strengthen your memory too; so
that when you are older, you will learn your lessons much better, and
quicker, than those little unfortunate children who have been spoiled by
the silly indulgence of their nurses.
These arguments, together with an assurance that cheerful obedience
would make her dear father and mother very happy, soon convinced little
Sophy that going to bed early was very proper, though she could not
think it very agreeable; and promising to comply, the moment Mary made
her appearance, she added: "has papa ever heard grandpapa's verses,
which you taught me to-day? If he has not, I will repeat them to him;
for it is not seven o'clock yet. Is it, mamma?"
_Mrs. B._ No my dear; there will be quite time enough for you to repeat
them to your papa. But first tell him on what occasion they were
_Sophy._ A good while ago, grand-papa had two nice little pigs, and they
one day found some paint in a pot, and thinking it something nice, they
ate it. There is something in paint that is poison, papa: pray, what is
Mr. Bernard told Sophy that it was white-lead.
_Sophy._ Oh, well then, the white-lead that was in the paint, poisoned
these poor little pigs; and grand-papa had them buried in the orchard,
and wrote the verses, which mamma taught me, over their grave. Now do
you understand, papa? May I begin?
Mr. Bernard assured Sophy he understood her explanation perfectly well,
and was all attention, waiting for her recital.
Upon which she immediately repeated as follows:
"Ye passing pigs, I pray draw nigh, And hear a dreadful tragedy, Of two
fine pigs, as e'er were seen Grazing or grunting on the green: Till on a
time, and near this spot, We chanc'd to spy a painter's pot, White-lead
and oil it did contain, By which we pretty pigs were slain; Therefore a
warning let us be To future pigs, who this may see, With life prolong'd,
and free from pains, To be content with wash and grains."
_Mr. B._ Very well, Sophy. Here is a lesson for little boys and girls,
as well as pigs. Tell me what you have learnt from those lines.
_Sophy._ I do not know, papa: I learnt the verses, and that is all.
_Mr. B._ But that should not be all. There is a very useful lesson
hidden in that story. Try and find it out.
_Ferdinand._ I think I know it.
_Louisa._ And so do I.
_Mr. B._ And so will Sophy, when she has considered a little.
_Sophy._ Aye: yes. I think I have found it out, papa. You mean, that
the tale should teach little boys and girls never to taste things they
do not understand, for fear they should be killed, like the poor little
_Mr. B._ That is exactly what I meant, Sophy; and, I assure you, I have
heard of children who have been actually poisoned, by incautiously
eating berries, and other things, which they had met with in their
country walks. You, my dear, have a sad habit of putting leaves and
flowers into your mouth. I hope you will endeavour to break yourself of
it, as, I assure you, it is very dangerous.
_Sophy._ I am going to try to leave it off, papa; for I made my tongue
very sore yesterday, by biting the stalk of a flower, that Ferdinand and
Louisa called lords and ladies.
_Mr. B._ That is an _arum_, the juice of which is, I believe, extremely
poisonous; so pray never put it in your mouth again.
_Sophy._ No, papa, I do not intend it, for it hurt me very much, I
assure you. Oh! here comes Mary. Good night, dear papa and mamma. Good
Little Sophy, after receiving many affectionate caresses, retired in
high good-humour, and soon forgot her sorrow for the little pigs, in a
_Louisa._ Mamma, I remember the names of the six classes in natural
history, which you were so kind as to teach me yesterday. Mammalia,
Birds, Amphibia, Fishes, Insects, and Worms; and now pray tell me the
seven orders, for I do like to know a little of every thing.
_Mr. B._ But that, Louisa, is exactly what I do not wish you to do. I
would greatly prefer that your information should be rather
circumscribed, provided it were correct, than that you should have a
slight smattering of many things, and a thorough knowledge of none. You
may impose upon the illiterate by this superficial information; but the
really wise will soon discover your ignorance, and despise you for
affecting a degree of knowledge you do not possess. Besides which, a
mere smattering of learning is very apt to fill the mind with self-
conceit and vanity, faults from which the really well-informed are
always free. My favourite poet, Pope, says:--
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
Here shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
But drinking largely sobers us again."
Therefore, my dear, unless you intend to enter decidedly upon the study,
I shall certainly beg your mother not to say any thing further on the
_Louisa_. Oh, then, I assure you, papa, I will enter decidedly upon it;
as it seems to me as if it would be extremely entertaining.
_Mr. B_. I think, my dear, you have formed your opinion somewhat
prematurely, as you certainly, at present, know very little of the
matter. This, however, with the young and ignorant, is no uncommon
error. I hope your good opinion of the study, will continue when you are
better acquainted with it. There are seven orders belonging to the first
class, as your mother has already informed you; the names of which are,
Primates, Bruta, Ferae, Glires, Picora, Beluae, and Cete.
_Louisa_. Those words are harder than the classics. I doubt I shall find
them more difficult to remember: however, I must write them down, and
try my best. Please not to tell me any more at present, papa. I believe
I shall succeed best, if I do not puzzle myself by attempting too much
at a time.
"I am quite of your opinion there," replied her father.
_Louisa_. Natural history shall be one of my pleasures. I will not call
it a lesson; but will study it when I am most in the fit for it. And
will you be so kind as to help me, papa?
"Willingly, my dear, provided your fit comes on when I am at liberty,"
replied Mr. Bernard.
Louisa thanked her father, adding, "and now I must tell you, that I am
quite satisfied with the account I have read of Servius Tullius. I
perfectly understand now, who he is."
_Ferdinand_. Louisa, before we begin our history, I wish to ask papa a
question about those verses which he repeated a few minutes ago. There
is one line, which I do not think I understand. Please to say them over
once more, papa.
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
Here shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
But drinking largely sobers us again."
_Ferdinand_. The first line is plain enough; but I do not at all know
the meaning of Pierian, which is in the second.
_Mr. B_. It is an epithet applied to the Muses and poetical
compositions, and takes its name from Pieria, a small tract of country
in Thessaly, in Macedonia, where stands a mountain called Pierius, on
which the nine Muses are said to have been born.
_Ferdinand_. Are not all those places in Greece?
_Mr. B._ Yes, my dear.
_Louisa_. Who were the Muses, pray, papa?
_Mr. B._ They were supposed to be goddesses, presiding over poetry,
music, dancing, and all the liberal arts, and were said to be daughters
_Emily_. Those stores of the heathen gods and goddesses are all
fabulous, I suppose, papa!
_Mr. B._ Yes, my dear, completely so. Do you understand the second
line now, Ferdinand?
_Ferdinand_. Yes. Pierian spring is another term for learning or
knowledge. That makes the sense of all the lines perfectly clear, I
_Mr. B_ Louisa may then give us an account of Servius Tullius, who, you
will recollect, was the sixth king of Rome.
_Louisa_. He was the son of Ocrisia, a very beautiful and virtuous
lady, who was taken prisoner by the Romans when they sacked Corniculum.
_Mr. B._ Can you tell us, Edward, where Corniculum is situated?
_Edward_. Yes, papa, it is a town of Latium, a country of Italy, near
the river Tiber. This territory has now changed its name, and is called
Campagna di Roma.
_Ferdinand_. May we look in the map for it, papa?
_Mr. B._ By all means, my dear. I believe no plan of learning
geography is so effectual as that of finding, on the map, the different
towns that you meet with in the course of your reading. The names of
many places have been so completely changed latterly, that you will find
it useful to compare together the ancient and modern maps. By this
means, both names will become familiar to you. But now for the place in
_Ferdinand_. I have found it, papa. It is bounded on the north by the
patrimony of St. Peter, on the east by Abruzzo, on the south by Terra di
Lavora, and on the west by the Mediterranean.
_Mr. B_ I see you are looking on the ancient map, Emily. How is it
_Emily_. On the north by Etruria, on the east by Salbina, on the south
by Samnium, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea.
_Mr. B._ Very well, Now, Louisa, you may go on with your account of
_Louisa_. I told you that his mother's name was Ocrisia, papa; but who
his father was, seems uncertain. Tarquin made a present of his fair
captive, to queen Tanaquil, who grew extremely attached to her, and
restored her to freedom. But as her son was born whilst she was in a
state of servitude, he took the name of Servius.
_Mr. B._ Is anything extraordinary related respecting the infancy of
this child, Ferdinand?
_Ferdinand._ Yes, papa; it is declared that a sudden flame, in the form
of a crown, surrounded his head one day whilst he was asleep, which was
supposed to foretel his future greatness.
_Mr. B._ Who had the charge of his education, Emily?
_Emily._ The king and queen, who loved him as tenderly as if he had been
their son. It was, however, chiefly to his own wise, noble, and amiable
conduct, that he owed his elevation to the throne. He distinguished
himself by his military achievements, even before he attained the age of
manhood; and his reputation increasing as he advanced in years, and
being joined to pleasing manners, manly eloquence, and uncommon
abilities in council, gained him the esteem and affection of the people.
He was twice married: first to a lady of illustrious birth, and, after
her death, to Tarquinia, daughter of the king and queen. Upon this
alliance, the king placed in him the most unbounded confidence,
entrusting him with the management, both of his public and private
affairs; of all which he acquitted himself so well, that the people were
perfectly indifferent whether they were governed by him or Tarquin. This
accounts for his having so easily gained possession of the throne, on
the death of his father-in-law.
_Mr. B._ In what manner did Servius conduct himself, after his accession
to the throne, Edward?
_Edward._ He determined, as much as possible, to make the peaceful Numa
his pattern, and directed his attention to the improvement of the civil
government of Rome. Although his accession to the throne had been
unattended by tumult, the beginning of his reign was disturbed by the
dissatisfaction of the nobles. They were not pleased at his ascending
the throne without being duly elected to it, and determined, if
possible, to oblige him to lay aside his royalty. In this emergency,
Servius endeavoured to gain over the people to his cause, that he might
employ their power against the patricians. For this purpose, he
assembled them together, and, with a grandson of Tarquin in each hand,
addressed them in a very moving speech, declared himself the protector
of the poor children, and the guardian of their helpless infancy, and
implored the assistance of the people in this arduous undertaking; at
the same time, promising them freedom from slavery.
_Mr. B_ Provided Servius performed this promise, this plan was
calculated to interest the people greatly in his behalf. "Well, papa,"
said Louisa, "he did keep his promise: for, a few days afterwards, he
commanded all those people who were too poor to pay their debts, to send
him an account of them; and then, causing counting-houses to be opened
in the Roman Forum, he there paid all with his own money. Besides which,
he made a much more equal distribution of the lands, and, by every means
in his power, endeavoured to gain the affection of the lower orders of
the people. Now, Edward, will you please to give papa some account of
the war in which Servius was obliged to engage against the Veientes; for
I like to speak about peaceable times best."
_Edward._ So do I, indeed, Louisa. I do not like war at all, I assure
you, nor did Servius Tullius. His inclination led him much more to works
of peace and civil government, than to military exploits; yet he found
himself obliged to embark in a war. It proved a very long one too, but
brought much glory, both to the Roman people and to their king. The
Veientes, whom Tarquin had often subdued, refused now to recognize the
sovereignty of Rome, and treated with scorn some ambassadors sent from
thence, to claim their submission. "We entered," said they, "into no
treaty with the _son of a slave_, nor will we ever submit to Servius's
dominion. Tarquin is dead, and our obligations to be subject to the
Romans, are dead with him."
_Mr. B._ Pray where did these haughty people reside, Edward?
_Edward._ At Veii, papa, a powerful city of Etruria, about twelve miles
distant from Rome.
_Mr. B._ Perfectly right. I imagine, the confidence of the Veientes
proceeded partly from the hopes they entertained of profiting by the
dissensions between the king and senate of Rome. Nothing weakens a state
so much as internal discord. The moral of the old man's bundle of
sticks, might be as properly applied to the larger communities of men,
as to his own little family. You all know the story to which I allude:
do you not?
_Ferdinand._ I do. You know, I read it to you the other day, papa.
_Emily._ But we do not; so, perhaps, papa, you will be so kind as to
tell is us.
_Mr. B._ We will not interrupt our Roman history now; when you have
finished your account, Ferdinand shall relate the story to you. Now,
_Edward._ The Veientes prepared for war, and drew two other neighbouring
states, those of Caere and Tarquinia, into their party. But Servius, by
his courage and conduct, subdued the confederates, deprived them of
their lands, and transferred them to the new citizens of Rome, who had
no lands of their own. The success of Servius attached the people still
more to his interest, and he resolved to take advantage of their favour,
in order to render his title to the throne still more secure. He,
therefore, a second time assembled the citizens, and in a moving speech,
which drew tears from their eyes, complained of a design formed by the
patricians to take away his life, and bring back the sons of Ancus. In
the conclusion of his speech, he left the kingdom absolutely at their
disposal, and begged them to determine between him and his pupils on one
side, and their competitors on the other. Having finished his harangue,
he stepped down from the tribunal, and prepared to leave the assembly;
but they called to him to stay, and entreated him to be their king.
Accordingly, a day was appointed, and he was duly elected to the
sovereign power. The senate were not, however, reconciled to him, and
formed so dangerous a faction, that Servius was almost inclined to
renounce the dignity conferred upon him by the people; but imparting his
perplexities to Tanaquil, she disapproved of his intention, and
prevailed upon him to bind himself by an oath, never to resign the
_Mr. B._ Tanaquil was, in many respects, a great woman. She rendered
herself illustrious by her virtues, as well as by her political
abilities. Private life is the sphere most calculated for the display of
female perfection, and here her excellence conspicuously shone. The
king, to immortalize her memory, hung up her distaff in the Temple of
Hercules. I hope my dear girls will endeavour to imitate the domestic
virtues of this excellent woman, rather than her ambitious temper. I do
not wish to see them heroines.
_Emily._ I do not feel ambitious of any thing but my dear parents'
_Mr. B._This, affection and obedience, my Emily, will never fail to
obtain. But let us now hear what further befell Servius. If Edward is to
be the recorder of his warlike achievements, I believe we must again
call upon him.
_Edward._ The Etrurians furnished him with an opportunity to increase
his glory. His victories over them obtained for him the honours of a
second triumph, and restored peace to his kingdom. Now, Emily, I again
resign the office of narrator to you.
_Emily._ Servius employed this interval of rest, in enlarging and
adorning the city. He divided the Roman territory into tribes, the
citizens into six different classes, and these classes into centuries. A
tax was levied on each century, according to the class to which it
belonged; by which means, each individual contributed towards the
exigencies of the state, in exact proportion to the amount of his
property. He also increased the number of the citizens, by giving
liberty to the unfortunate captives taken in war; permitting them either
to return to their own countries, or continue at Rome, with the
enjoyment of all the privileges of free citizens. The senate were at
first offended at this regard shown to a people they considered so mean;
but the king addressed to them a very persuasive speech, which entirely
appeased their anger, and they passed his institution into a law, that
subsisted ever after.
_Mr. B._ Another important regulation was, taking an estimate of the
population of the kingdom. It was performed every fifth year,
accompanied with sacrifices, and other religious rites, which were
called lustrations. This led to the computation of time amongst the
Romans, by _lustra_, or periods of five years.
_Louisa._ The most unfortunate thing Servius did, was marrying his
daughters so unsuitably. His two wards, Lutius Tarquinius and Aruns,
were now old enough to be capable of disturbing his government. To
secure their fidelity, therefore, he determined to marry them to his two
daughters; and, without consulting their dispositions, gave his eldest
daughter, who was mild and gentle, to the eldest of his wards, who was
fierce and haughty; and married his youngest girl, who was of a most
ungovernable disposition, to Aruns, who was extremely amiable and
virtuous. It was not likely that either of these marriages would prove
happy ones. Tarquin's wife endeavoured, by every winning way of
sweetness and insinuation, to soften the haughty fierceness of her
husband's temper; whilst her sister was always urging the quiet, good-
natured Aruns, to the most wicked attempts, in order to reach the
throne. She loudly lamented her fate, in being tied to such an indolent,
stupid husband; and being very much like Tarquin she soon began to love
him a great deal better than her own husband, and, at last, proposed to
him that he should murder her father and sister, together with the
gentle Aruns, that they might ascend the throne together. What a
dreadfully wicked woman she must have been, papa.
_Mr. B._ Dreadfully wicked, indeed, my dear. History presents us with
many very painful instances of the depravity of human nature. It is a
useful, but humiliating lesson. Proceed with your account, Louisa.
_Louisa._ A very little time afterwards, this wicked woman contrived to
poison her amiable husband, whilst Tarquin got rid of his virtuous and
gentle wife by the same means; and they were then so insolent as to ask
the consent of the king and queen to their marriage. Servius and
Tarquinia, though they did not give it, were silent. This disgraceful
marriage was celebrated shortly after, and was followed by intrigues
against the king. Tarquin and Tullia had not patience to wait till the
death of the good old monarch, which would have put them into quiet
possession of the crown, but endeavoured, by threats, to make him give
up his authority. When Tarquin found this plan was not likely to
succeed, he acted a new part. By the most affectionate behaviour, he
entirely regained the king's favour, and tranquillity seemed re-
established in the royal family. But it was not long before the cruel
Tullia put an end to it. She reproached her husband with cowardice,
insensibility, and stupidity. He was moved by these reproaches; gained a
number of young patricians over to his party; and contrived a stratagem,
which succeeded from the bold manner in which it was executed. I think
Ferdinand can explain it to you, papa.
_Mr. B._ Well, my boy, let us hear what it was.
_Ferdinand._ He clothed himself in the royal robes, sent some of
servants before, and, followed by a great number of his party, who had
swords under their robes, he crossed the Forum, and came to the gate of
the temple, where the senators used to assemble. He then sent messengers
to them all, commanding them, in king Tarquin's name, to attend
immediately, and seated himself on the throne. All the senators
assembled in haste; many concluded Servius was dead, and were afraid to
disobey the orders of the new king. When they were all collected
together, Tarquin began to rail against his father-in-law. In the midst
of his speech, Servius appeared; and, being enraged by the insolence of
Tarquin, rashly endeavoured to pull him from the throne. This raised a
loud shout, and occasioned great confusion, but nobody attempted to part
them. Tarquin, who was the strongest, seized the poor old man by the
waist, and harrying him through the temple, threw him down from the top
of the steps into the Forum. The old king, grievously hurt, and covered
with blood, raised himself up with much difficulty: but all his friends
had deserted him: scarcely a creature was found to lead him to his
palace, which he was not allowed to reach. Tullia advised her husband to
complete the bloody work he had begun; upon which he dispatched some of
his servants to overtake the venerable monarch, and deprive him of his
small remains of life. On her return home, the body of her murdered
father, still panting, lay in the street she had to pass. This inhuman
woman was not at all shocked at the horrid sight, but commanded the
charioteer to drive over it. The man, who had more feeling than the
cruel daughter, obeyed with reluctance; and, it is said, that not only
the chariot wheels, but even the clothes of the wicked Tullia, were
stained with her parent's blood.
_Edward._ Such horror was excited by these atrocities, and especially by
the barbarity of Tullia, that the street in which the transaction took
place, the day on which it was perpetrated, and the very name of the
parricide, were branded with perpetual infamy.
_Louisa._ I am glad that shocking account is finished: it really makes
one feel very uncomfortable. Servius was so good a man, too, I quite
_Mr. B._ His wicked daughter is an object of still greater pity. The
sufferings of the good old king, we may hope, ended with this life;
whilst, we have every reason to believe, that the punishment of the
unnatural Tullia, would extend to the countless ages of eternity.
Servius was, indeed, an excellent prince: he subdued the enemies of
Rome, and was always desirous to avoid making new ones. He did not
conquer merely for the sake of glory, but for the public good. He made
Rome more formidable by twenty years' peace, than his predecessors had
done by many victories. He introduced order into the militia and public
revenues, extended the power of the senate, and yet kept its authority
within proper bounds. He was beloved by the people, and even his ancient
enemies, the patricians, esteemed his virtues; so that, if he could have
preserved the affection of his own family, he might have been said not
to have had a single enemy. He was, at the time of his death, seventy-
four years of age; of which he had reigned forty-four years. Tarquin
refused him the honours of a funeral, lest it might occasion a commotion
among the people. Tarquinia conveyed the body of her husband, privately,
by night, to his tomb, and she herself died on the following evening;
but whether from grief, or the wickedness of Tullia, is uncertain.
_Mrs. B._ This is, indeed, my dear children, a mournful account; but it
contains a very important lesson to all who are subject to the same
criminal enormities. At the commencement of her dreadful career, Tullia
would, perhaps, have recoiled with horror, from the hideous picture of
her own crimes. She might have remonstrated, as did Hazael to the
prophet: "What! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great
thing?" The example of Tullia, forcibly teaches the progressive nature
and dreadful consequences of sin. It points out to us the danger of
entering upon a course of criminal indulgence, by showing the sad
extremes into which those are likely to be hurried, who resign
themselves slaves to ambition and to vice. Listen not, my children, to
the syren song of worldly pleasure; pursue not the gilded pageants of
time. Instead of amusing yourselces with these phantoms of a moment,
build up your happiness on the durable foundations of innocence and
virtue. Let us now turn from the dismal picture we have been
contemplating, though without forgetting the important lesson it
inculcates. Ferdinand, my dear, tell us your promised story of the old
mand and his bundle of sticks.
_Ferdinand_. An old man had several sons, who used very often to
quarrel with each other. Their father exerted his authority, and tried
every means in his power, in order to reconcile them, but all to no
purpose. At length he assembled his family together, and ordered a
short bundle of sticks be brought, which he commanded them, one by one,
to endeavour to break. They each tried, with all their might, but in
vain. The sticks were firmly bound together, and no force they could
employ, could break them. After this, the old man untied the bundle,
and gave a single stick to each of his sons, bidding them try to break
_that_, which they did with the greatest ease. The father then said:
"Behold, my dear children, the power of unity. If you would keep
yourselves strictly joined together by the bond of friendship, it would
not be in the power of any one to hurt you; but when once the ties of
brotherly love are dissolved, you are liable to be injured by the attack
of every enemy."
_Mr. B_. It is an excellent fable, and I hope, my beloved children, you
will all attend to the lesson it conveys. To see you united by the
tender hands of affection, is one of the first wishes of our hearts for
"What a very pleasing manner of conveying instruction, is a fable," said
"It is, my love," replied his father: "the ancients were aware of this,
and made great use of fables in their instruction of the young:
'Whatever is conceived by the mind, must enter by the senses; and moral
truth is never so easily understood, as when it is exemplified by
reference to some parallel case in nature.' The various instincts of
brute creatures, are particularly useful for this purpose. Moral good
and evil are, through their means, represented in a way which even
children can understand."
"Can you tell me, papa, what was the first origin of fables?" enquired
"It is not very clear, my dear," replied Mr. Bernard, "but it is
probable they are nearly as ancient as the history of mankind; or, at
least, that there never was a time, of which we have any knowledge, when
they were no familiar. We first read of them as being used in Palestine
and Egypt, from whence they were even borrowed by the Greeks and Romans.
The earliest specimen of fables with which I am acquainted, occurs in
the book of Judges, where Jotham signifies to the people, the temper and
fate of a usurper, under the similitude of the trees going forth to
choose them a king." [Footnote: See Jones, on the Origin and Use of
_Ferdinand._ It is in the ninth chapter of Judges. I read it this
morning, but did not quite understand the intention of it.
_ Mr. B._ I will endeavour to explain it to you then, my love. You will
recollect, that the fruitful trees, when applied to, all declined taking
upon them the sovereign authority; but the bramble offers his services,
and gets into power. The moral of which, as applicable to the person of
Abimelech, was this:--that the desire of reigning does not prevail in
wise and good men, who should feed the people, and protect them under
the shadow of their authority; but chiefly in men of rough minds and
bloody intentions, who harass the people, and are, at last, consumed
with them, in the unjust exercise of their power.
"The parables made use of by our Saviour, are, I think, very much in the
form of fables," said Emily.
_Mrs. B._ They are, my love. They were delivered in this manner, for
the sake of some moral, which would either be obscure without an
illustration, or offensive to the bearers, if it were delivered in plain
_Louisa._ Nathan's reproof to king David, when he took away the wife of
Uriah the Hittite, is very beautiful. I read it a little time ago, in
the twelfth chapter of the second book of Samuel. He made use of a fable
to gain his attention.
_Mrs. B._ He did, my love. By putting a case in which David seemed to
have no immediate concern, he interested his affections; and when his
indignation was raised against a fictitious person, the prophet turned
it upon himself, with that striking application: "Thou art the man."
Then there was no retracting: he had already condemned himself, in the
judgement he had passed upon the cruel offender in the parable.
Mrs. Bernard now took out her watch, and expressed her surprise upon
finding it near ten o'clock.
Their father immediately requested them to prepare to retire, adding:
"To-morrow will be Sunday: I hope you will be in my study by seven
o'clock, that we may begin early the important duties of that sacred
_Ferdinand._ I have been often surprised to find, that many people lie
longer in bed on Sundays, then on the other mornings of the week. This
must be wrong. They can rise six days a week to work, and not one to
worship. [Footnote: This was an observation, _verbatim_, of the same
little boy before mentioned.]
_Mr. B._ Your remark is a just one, my dear boy; let us, in our own
family, endeavour to set a different example. Good night, my children.
The little party assembled this evening, as usual; but, being Sunday,
the conversation was less general, though not less cheerful than at
other times. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard possessed the happy art of presenting
religious instruction to their children, under the most pleasing form;
consequently, they did not dread the approach of the sabbath, as a day
when all pleasure must be excluded. On the contrary, it was hailed with
gladness: the business of the week was entirely laid aside, and their
minds were naturally turned, in thankfulness, towards the Divine Being
to whom they owed so much. The gracious God was always presented to
their view, surrounded by his benign attributes. They were instructed to
regard him, not only as the author of their existence, but as the source
whence every comfort flowed. They were taught to consider him, not a
severe judge, delighting in punishment, but a merciful father, who
withheld not even his only Son, but freely gave him up to die for
sinners, that they might be pardoned through his blood. They were
instructed, fully to appreciate that mercy, which delighteth not in the
death of a sinner, but would rather that he should be converted and
live. The beautiful prayers in the Liturgy, were explained to them in a
manner suitable to their different capacities; consequently, they were
not repeated by rote, as is too frequently the case, where the same
attention is not paid. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard took unremitted pains with
their children, and felt themselves amply rewarded by their conduct; for
though, like other human beings, they were fallible, and, consequently,
often did wrong, yet religious principle being the ground-work of their
characters, conviction instantly followed the commission of a fault, and
sorrow and repentance succeeded.
I hope, my dear young readers, you feel some degree of interest in my
little family, and some of you, perhaps, may wish to be as good and as
happy as they were: let me then most earnestly and affectionately
entreat you, to "remember your Creator in the days of your youth: while
the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you shall say, I
have no pleasure in them."
After Ferdinand had repeated the text, and Emily, Edward, and Louisa,
had given an abstract of the sermon they had heard in the morning,
Louisa added: "I should have liked the sermon much better, mamma, if the
preacher had not been such a disagreeable-looking man."
"I should not have expected to have heard my little Louisa make so
foolish and improper a remark," replied Mrs. Bernard: "it reminds me of
an anecdote which I read a short time ago. I will relate it to you, as
I think I cannot give you a more suitable reproof. A person once
excusing his non-attendance at public worship, by pleading the
disagreeable appearance and manner of the minister, 'Let us look,' said
the good Bishop of Alet, to whom this man was addressing himself, 'more
at our Saviour, and less at the instrument. Elijah was as well
nourished, when the bread from heaven was brought to him by a raven, as
Ishmael, when the spring of water was revealed to him by an angel.'"
"Thank you, my dear mamma," said Louisa: "it is a beautiful anecdote,
and I shall endeavour not to merit another reproof upon that subject."
Mrs. Bernard then produced a letter, which she had received from a
friend the day before, and desired Emily to read it aloud, as it
contained an account which she thought would both interest and instruct
the children. "Read it slowly, my dear girl," continued she, "endeavour
to avoid hesitation, and lay your emphasis properly. This is a very
material point. Lindley Murray, in his excellent Introduction to the
English Reader, says: 'It is one of the most decisive trials of a true
and just taste, and must arise from feeling delicately ourselves, and
from judging accurately of what is fittest to strike the feelings of
Emily promised to attend to her mother's instructions, and taking the
letter, read the following extract.
"In the autumn of the year 1808, eight passengers, consisting of seven
gentlemen and one lady, embarked on board an American vessel, bound from
the port of Cronstadt to America, purposing to touch at England, in
company with a brig and another vessel. They had scarcely proceeded
fifty leagues, when a violent storm arose. The night was unusually
dark, and the ship ungovernable. In this extremity, the brig suddenly
dashed against them with such force, that every plank seemed rent
asunder, and an instant after, they found themselves transfixed upon a
rock. It was now near five o'clock in the morning. They repeatedly
fired guns of distress, hung out signals, and at daybreak beheld, with
grateful delight, a large boat, rowed by two stout females, approaching
their ship. The captain insisted that his eight passengers should go on
board the boat, whilst he and the seamen hastened to attempt the
preservation of their luggage and stores. He entreated the women to
land their charge in safety, and then return, as expeditiously as
possible, for himself and his six sailors; as the ship leaked very fast,
and though the storm was abated, they were surrounded by such a cluster
of rocks, as to deprive them of all hope of getting off in safety. The
two heroines steered their charge to the island of Stameo, a barren
rock, which they reached in about an hour. They conducted them to the
best hut on the island. It was built of mud, and was the habitation of
two sisters, and several other females, who resided under the same roof.
They produced milk, dried fish, and rye bread, for the refreshment of
their wearied and exhausted guests. They prepared a room, with beds,
for the gentlemen; and one of the boat-women gave up her own to the
lady, sleeping herself upon the oven. Hospitality, affectionate
civility, and tender solicitude for their comfort, accompanied every
action, and occupied every thought.
"In vain they sought to gain the ship a second time: the swell was so
great, and the surf so strong, that no boat could venture--no vessel
dared approach. Meanwhile, the generous crew were agitated by a
thousand fears. In vain they waited for the wished-for boat: no answer
was returned to their signals of distress--no pity shown for their
"Distracted by this delay, the captain ordered them to man the jolly-
boat, and arming himself and sailors with swords and pistols: 'My lads,'
said he, 'we will instantly seek our friends, and if the merciless
barbarians have robbed and murdered them, their lives shall pay the just
forfeit of their treachery.'
"The sailors instantly prepared to obey their commander. They struggled
successfully against the roaring billows, and, benumbed with horror and
despair, at length reached the shore. Here they wandered from one
wretched hovel to another, but no human voice broke upon their ear. At
length they espied a solitary cow, and, mute with apprehension, sword in
hand, they hastened to the cot near which she was trying to graze. With
a trembling hand and beating heart, the captain lifted up the latch,
and, on opening the door, imagine his joy on beholding his happy
shipmates safe. His tongue denied him utterance--tears gushed
spontaneously to his eyes: with eager grasp he pressed his lost
companions to his heart, and in the rapture of that moment, all his
former sufferings were forgotten. The hospitable board was filled
again, and every guest received a cordial welcome.
"Eleven days elapsed before the ship was again fit to put to sea. When
the hour of departure arrived, a mutual interest animated their breasts,
and gratitude broke forth in thanks, from every tongue. They begged
their kind hostesses to name the sum that would pay, as far as money
could, their offices of Christian charity. Fourteen persons, for eleven
days, to board, wash, and lodge, had nearly exhausted all their winter
store. After a short consultation, the elder sister returned, with a
large Bible, translated into the Fins language, and given to the
islanders by Gustavus Adolphus, and said: 'We are not aware that we have
acted beyond what every Christian is in duty bound to do.' Then,
opening the Bible, 'in this,' continued she, 'we learn that duty which
all our Christian brethren practise. Distress, which claims, must
always find relief while it can be obtained; if, however, it will make
you more happy, that we should take some reward, provided two rubles
(four shillings and eight-pence) be not thought too much, that sum will
amply repay us.' Then, taking the lady's hand, 'we regret,' continued
she, 'that we can never be assured of what would rejoice our hearts, and
reconcile us most to your departure, which is, that you all reach your
native land in safety, and find your parents and relations well. Then
wishing them prosperous gales, they bid farewell, and parted, probably
"Stameo is situated in the Gulph of Finland. It is one of the small
islands nearly opposite Fredericstadt, and distant about twenty verstes
[Footnote: A Verste is about 31 English miles.]. It is a barren rock of
granite, with scarcely any herbage, and only a few fir-trees here and
there. It is about three miles in extent, and has ten or twelve mud
huts, containing, men, women, and children, fifty souls. They were
formerly under the dominion of Sweden; but at the defeat of Charles the
Twelfth, by Peter the Great, became subject to the Russian government.
They are of the Lutheran church, though there is no place of public
worship on the island. Both men and women are expert at fishing, on
which they chiefly depend for subsistence; and keep up a sort of traffic
with Fredericstadt, exchanging fish, both dried, fresh, and pickled, for
rye, flax, wood, and vegetables. Their labour exceeds belief: they rise
at four o'clock, and instantly begin the labour of the day. The hut is
first cleaned and put in order: they then commence spinning, in which
they particularly excel, and continue working till eight at night. Their
breakfast is dispensed by the hostess of the hut, to all the family, who
eat it standing. It consists of black bread, fish dried or pickled, and
goat milk, when it is to be had: when that cannot be procured, they are
satisfied with pure water. Sixteen persons out of the fifty lived in
this hut, and were in possession of more comforts than might have been
"They are very net in their houses, persons, and dress. The bedding is
excellent: the blankets and linen are fine, warm, and white; the pillow-
cases and sheets have fine, open-worked, deep borders. Their dress is
becoming and modest, uniting warmth with convenience. The married women
hide their hair under a close, embroidered, silk cap, with a plain lace
border over their cheeks. The single women exhibit their beautiful
flaxen tresses, which they plat round their heads, or let it hang at
full length, with a knot of ribbon at the end, to confine the braid.
"Their government is truly patriarchal. The mistress of the house is
called mamma, and when advice is wanted, they assemble five or seven of
the elders, who confer on the subject, and decide, in a few minutes, on
the best means of acting. Such was the case when they determined on the
sum to be paid by the strangers.
"As soon as their youth attain the age of fourteen years, they go every
Sunday in boats to Fredericstadt, to learn their creed and catechism,
and to hear the word of God: they are also taught to read and write. In
winter, the clergyman crosses twice to them, to administer the sacrament
to the sick and aged.
"One Christian charity unites their minds. They are faithful to their
promises, honest, temperate, sober, and benevolent. They fear God, and
honour their king. In a word, they are virtuous, innocent, and happy;
and when told of vices, they seem to consider it as we do fairy tales:--
stories to listen to, but not believe.
"Two cows supply them all with milk; a few pigs with animal food: when
these fail, fish and water are the substitutes."
_Edward_. It is a very interesting account, my dear mother; but I did
not think that any people in the world were so innocent--so free from
vice. The Scriptures tell us, that the heart of man is deceitful above
all things, and desperately wicked; but this happy little community
seems quite an exception to the general rule.
"No doubt, their hearts, like those of the rest of mankind, are prone to
evil," replied Mrs. Bernard, "but being, from their insulated situation,
in a great measure removed from the commerce of men, and, consequently,
from many temptations by which the inhabitants of large societies are
beset, and making the sacred Scriptures the guide of their conduct, they
appear happily preserved from the commission of those crimes, to which
many individuals, more exposed to the temptations of the world, so
fatally fall victims. Nothing is so destructive to the morals of the
young, as indiscriminate intercourse with the world. In the bosom of
your own family, you are most likely to be secured from a temptation to
false pleasures; and there do I earnestly hope, my dear children, you
will ever find your chief enjoyment; since no felicity is so pure and
innocent, as that which results from an affectionate attachment to your
_Emily_. We should be ungrateful, indeed, were we not happy at home; as
I am sure it is the constant endeavour of both you and our dear father,
to make us so.
"We are amply repaid for all our efforts," said her tender mother, "when
the smile of good-humour enlivens your countenances, and beams delight
around our little circle.
"Now, Edward, read us the extract you have made from Sir Matthew Hale's
Contemplation upon Contentment," said Mr. Bernard.
"Indeed, my dear father," replied he, "I am sorry to say I have not
finished it. I put it off on Monday and Tuesday, when I had, certainly,
plenty of time, thinking I should readily accomplish it before the end
of the week; but in consequence of this delay, and several unexpected
circumstances intervening, to employ my time, it is wtill unfinished. I
hope you will excuse this neglect, and by next Sunday I will endeavour
to be prepared."
_Mr. B_. I am sorry to see in you a sad habit of procrastination, and
want of punctuality. I assure you, my dear boy, that, to a man of
business, such a habit is more ruinous; and if not subdued in youth,
will surely grow the more confirmed by age, and blight his fairest
Edward felt the justice of his father's reproof, and, bending his eyes
upon the ground, remained silent, forming a resolution to amend, and
hoping that he might never again incur his father's displeasure for a
Mr. Bernard perceived, by his countenance, what was passing in his mind,
and affectionately taking his hand, confirmed his good resolve by a
smile of approbation. Then, taking up Cecil's Remains, that lay upon the
table, he opened it, and read aloud the following passage:
"Method, as Mrs. More says, is the very hinge of business, and there is
no method without punctuality. Punctuality is important, because it
subserves the peace and good-temper of a family. The want of it not only
infringes on necessary duty, but sometimes excludes this duty.
Punctuality is important, as it gains time: it is like packing things in
a box; a good packer will get in as much again as a bad one. The
calmness of mind which it produces, is another advantage of punctuality.
A disorderly man is always in a hurry: he has no time to speak with you,
because he is going elsewhere; and, when he gets there, he is too late
for his business, or he must hurry away to another before he can finish
it. It was a wise maxim of the Duke of Newcastle:--'I do one thing at a
time.' Punctuality gives weight to character. Such a man has made an
appointment;--then I know he will keep it. And this generates
punctuality in you; for, like other virtues, it propagates itself.
Servants and children must be punctual, where their leader is so.
Appointments, indeed, become debts.--I owe you punctuality, if I have
made an appointment with you; and have no right to throw away your time,
if I do my own."
When Mr. Bernard had finished reading, Edward thanked his father, and
promised to endeavour to correct his bad habit. His parents united in
encouraging him to make a steady effort, assuring him that they felt
convinced that it would be attended with success, and recommending him
to commit to memory the preceding admirable paragraph. His father then
changed the subject, by enquiring whether Louisa had any thing new to
repeat to them before they separated. She answered in the affirmative,
and immediately recited the following lines from Miss Carter's Poems.
"Grant me, great God, a heart to thee inclin'd, Increase my faith, and
rectify my mind; Teach me by times to tread thy sacred ways, And to thy
service consecrate my days. Still, as through life's perplexing maze I
stray, Be thou the guiding star to mark my way; Conduct the steps of my
unguarded youth, And point their motions to the paths of truth. Protect
me by thy providential care, And warm my soul to shun the tempter's
snare. Through all the shifting scenes of varied life, In calms of ease,
or ruffling storms of grief; Through each event of this inconstant
state, Preserve my temper equal and sedate. Give me a mind that nobly
can despise The low designs, and little arts of vice, Be my religion
such, as taught by thee, Alike from pride and superstition free. Inform
my judgment, regulate my will, My reason strengthen, and my passions
still. To gain thy favour, be my first great end, And to that scope may
every action tend. Amidst the pleasures of a prosperous state, Whose
fluttering chains the untutor'd heart elate, May I reflect to whom those
gifts I owe, And bless the bounteous hand from whence they flow. Or, if
as adverse fortune be my share, Let not its terrors tempt me to despair;
But, fix'd on thee, a steady faith maintain, And own all good, which thy
decrees ordain; On thy unfailing providence depend, The best protector,
and the surest friend. Thus on life's stage may I my part sustain, And
at my exit, thy applauses gain. When the pale herald summons me away,
Support me in that dread catastrophe; In that last conflict guard me
from alarms, And take my soul, aspiring, to thy arms."
_Mrs. B._ The lines are excellent, Louisa, and you have repeated them
as if you understood their meaning. What is the "pale herald," alluded
to in the last verse?
_Louisa_. Is it not Death, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ It is, my dear. The concluding lines contain a supplication
for fortitude and serenity at that awful hour, which every individual
must one day meet.
_Emily_. There is something very solemn in the contemplation of death,
my dear mother. It is an idea that often casts a gloom over my gayest
_Mrs. B._ A firm reliance on the power and mercy of God, with an humble
confidence in the redeeming love of Christ, will banish that fearful
dread which might otherwise obscure the closing scene. Even in that
extremity, the true Christian has nothing to fear; he may say, with the
Psalmist, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they
At this moment the clock struck eight, at which hour the servants always
joined the family, that they might have the advantage of hearing their
excellent master read such portions of the sacred Scriptures as were
best adapted to their capacities and circumstances; after which, the
solemn duties of the day were closed with prayer and thanksgiving, and
the children retired to their pillows, serene and happy.
A very fine autumnal morning induced Mrs. Bernard to excuse the children
some of their lessons, that they might avail themselves of the
opportunity it afforded of enjoying a country walk, at this delightful
season of the year. She considered every object in nature, as a book
from which, with a careful guide, much useful instruction might be
derived; and she never neglected any opportunity of enlarging their
minds, and elevating their thoughts, by directing their attention from
the various beauties of creation, to the kind and omnipotent Father, who
has graciously prepared for his dependent children, so many unmerited
"Pray, mamma, what has become of all the swallows we saw flying about a
few weeks ago?" enquired Ferdinand: "I cannot see one now. I was very
much amused, when we last walked this way, in watching their rapid
motions: other birds are here as usual, but I do not observe a single
Mrs. Bernard took him by the hand, saying, "You have, my dear boy,
put a question to me, which I shall not be able to answer to your
satisfaction. It is a subject that has puzzled naturalists more than
many others, and opinions upon it are still very various. Some suppose
that they migrate into milder climates, whilst others conclude, they
conceal themselves in some warm spot, and lie dormant, as is the case
with many animals during the severity of the winter months. In
confirmation of this latter opinion, some few have been discovered in
sandbanks, apparently dead, but, upon being laid before the fire, have
recovered their former vigour. If, however, the vast multitudes that
visit us, universally adopted this mode of concealment, they would be,
no doubt, frequently discovered in their winter retreats, which is not
the case. Mr. White, of Selborne, a man of great observation,
particularly directed his attention to this point, but was not able to
decide it to his own satisfaction. I think he seems of opinion, that the
majority of them migrate, and that some few of late broods, which have
not attained sufficient strength to join the travellers, conceal
themselves as before mentioned, reviving upon the return of spring."
_Ferdinand_. They seem to be curious birds: will you be so kind, mamma,
as to tell us some particulars respecting them? Pray, are not martins
very similar in their habits to swallows?
_Mrs. B._ They belong to the same order, called _hirundines_. There are
four kinds of British _hirundines_:--the house-martin, the swallow, the
swift, and the bank-martin, which have each habits peculiar to
themselves. The swallow is the first that makes its appearance in
spring; generally about the middle of April. It frequently builds in
chimneys, five or six feet from the top, and prefers those stacks where
there is a constant fire; no doubt, for the sake of the warmth. It does
not select the immediate shaft where there is a fire, but prefers one
adjoining the kitchen, and disregards the smoke by which it is almost
continually enveloped. The nest of the swallow, like that of the house-
martin, consists of a shell, composed of dirt or mud, mixed with short
pieces of straw to strengthen it. The shape is, however, somewhat
different: it is lined with fine grass and feathers, which are collected
by the little architects as they float in the air. Having constructed
their dwelling, the hen lays from four to six white eggs, dotted with
red specks, and brings out her first brood about the last week in June.
I have been frequently amused in watching the progressive method by
which the young ones are introduced into life: they first emerge from
their place of concealment with difficulty, and frequently I have found
a young one in the parlour, which had fallen down the chimney in its
first attempt to leave the next. For a day or two, the old ones feed
them on the chimney-top, after which, they conduct them to the dead
bough of some tree near at hand, where they continue attending them with
the greatest assiduity. In a few days after this, the young brood is
enabled to fly, but it is some time longer before the little creatures
can take their own food; until which time, they are fed by the parent
birds, with the most affectionate solicitude. As soon as they are
disengaged from their necessary attendance on their first brood, they
betake themselves to the business of rearing a second, which they bring
out towards the end of August. This little bird is an instructive
pattern of unwearied industry and affection; for, from morning till
night, whilst their young ones require support, they spend the whole day
in their service. Their food consists of flies, gnats, and a small
species of beetle, and they drink as they fly along, sipping the surface
of the water. They settle, occasionally, on the ground, to pick up
gravel, which is necessary to grind and digest the food of all birds.
[Footnote: for the preceding and following account, see White's Natural
History of Selberne.]
_Ferdinand_. Pray mamma, how can we distinguish a swallow from the other
species of _hirundines_? I think that is the name by which you call
"By the length and forkedness of their tails," returned Mrs. Bernard:
"they are much more nimble, too, than the other species."
_Louisa_. Do they always build in chimneys, pray, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ Although the shaft of a chimney is the place of which they
usually make choice for this purpose, they sometimes vary their plan.
In Sir Ashton Lever's Museum, was the nest of a swallow built on the
wings and body of an owl, which happened, by accident, to hang dead and
dry from the rafter of a barn; and another in a large shell, which was,
the following year, suspended in the same place. You have, no doubt, my
dear children, all observed vast flocks of swallows assemble together on
the roofs of houses; they chirp, and chatter, and seem very busy,
preparing for their ensuing migration, and consulting, as it were, upon
the plan most proper to be adopted on this occasion. I have often
wished, at such times, that I could understand their language. There is
seldom one of these birds to be seen after the middle of October; but to
what regions they fly, we do not exactly know; though I read, in Dr.
Russel's account of Aleppo, that numbers of these birds visit that
country towards the end of February, when they build as in Europe, and,
having hatched their young, disappear about the end of July. They are
also said to be by no means uncommon North America. Sir Charles Wager
and Captain Wright, saw vast flocks of them at sea, when on their
passage from one country another. White, in a pretty little poem, which
he calls "The Naturalist's Summer Evening Walk," addresses them as
"Amusive birds! say where your hid retreat, When the frost rages, and
the tempests beat; Whence your return, by such nice instinct led, When
spring, soft season, lifts her bloomy head? Such baffled searches mock
man's prying pride, The God of nature is your secret guide."
Professor Kahn, in his travels into America, relates an interesting
anecdote, of a pair of swallows which built their nest in a stable
belonging to a lady of his acquaintance. The female laid her eggs, and
was about to brood them: some days elapsed, and the people saw the
female still sitting on the eggs, but the male, flying about the nest,
and sometimes settling on a nail, was herd to utter a very plaintive
note, which betrayed his uneasiness. On a nearer examination the female
was found dead on the nest, and, on her being removed, the male took his
seat upon the eggs; but after remaining upon them about two hours, he
went out, and returned in the afternoon, bringing with him another
female, which sat upon the nest, and afterwards fed the young ones till
they were able to provide for themselves, with as much assiduity and
kindness as their natural parent could have done.
The children were all much interested in the account which their mother
had given them, and united in requesting some information respecting the
other species of _hirundines_. This, Mrs. Bernard most willingly gave
them, as follows:
"The house-martin, my dears, usually appears a few days later than the
swallow. For some time after their arrival, they play and sport about,
without any preparation for constructing their nests, which they do not
attempt to build till about the middle of May. At this season, if the
weather be fine, they begin seriously to think of providing a mansion
for their little family. This bird usually builds against a
perpendicular wall, without any projection to support the fabric; it is,
therefore, very necessary that the first foundation should be firmly
fixed. For this purpose, the prudent little architect is careful not to
advance in her work too rapidly. By building only in the morning, and
dedicating the remainder of the day to food and amusement, she gives it
sufficient time to dry and harden, seldom building more than half an
inch in a day."
_Ferdinand_. Mamma, I have seen workmen, when they build mud walls,
raise but a little at a time, and then leave off: very likely it was
their observation of the martin's plan, which first taught them this
_Mrs. B._ Very probably, my dear. We might learn many a useful lesson
from the sagacity and careful economy of animals, were we not above
attending to such humble instructors.
_Ferdinand_. Yes, mamma; the shepherd, in one of Gay's Fables, which I
learned the other day, gained almost all his wisdom from his observation
of animals. You know, he says to the philosopher:----
"The cheerful labours of the bee, Awake my soul to industry, Who can
observe the careful ant, And not provide for future want? My dog, (the
trustiest of his kind,) With gratitude inflames my mind; I mark his
true, his faithful way, And in my service, copy Tray--In constancy and
nuptial love, I learn my duty from the dove. The hen, who from the
chilly air, With pious wing protects her care, And every fowl that flies
at large, instruct me in a parent's charge.
Thus every object in creation;
Can furnish hints to contemplation;
And from the most minute and mean,
A virtuous mind can morals glean."
_Mrs. B._ Very true, my dear: and I am pleased to find you have
materials at hand to support your opinion.
_Ferdinand_. But I have interrupted you, mamma, in your account. Pray
go on, for I am very much interested in it, and want to know in how many
days the careful little laborers complete their house.
_Mrs. B._ In about ten or twelve days the mansion is finished; strong,
compact, warm, and perfectly fitted for all the purposes for which it
was intended; but very often, after this industrious little bird has
finished the shell of its nest, the house-sparrow seizes it as its own,
turning out the rightful master, and lining it after its own manner.
_Ferdinand_. Poor little bird! how I should pity him, to be deprived
of his house after having constructed it with so much labour. I should
think, such strong nests would last more than one season, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ And so they do, my dear. Martins will continue to breed for
several years together in the same nest, when it happens to be well
sheltered, and secure from the injuries of the weather. The hen lays
from four to six white eggs; and, like the swallow, as soon as the young
are able to shift for themselves, the old ones turn their thoughts to
the business of rearing a second brood. About the beginning of October,
they retire in vast flocks together.
_Louisa_. How are house-martins distinguished from the others, pray,
_Mrs. B._ By having their legs covered with feathers quite down to their
toes. They are no songsters, but twitter in their nests, in a pretty,
inward, soft manner.
_Louisa_. Now, pray mamma, give us some account of the swift.
_Mrs. B._ Most willingly, my dear Louisa. This is the largest of the
British _hirundines_, and makes its appearance much later in the season
than the others I have mentioned; being seldom seen before the last week
in April, or the first week in May. It is by no means so skilful an
architect as the two species I have already noticed. Making no crust or
shell to its nest, it forms it of dry grass and features, very rudely
put together, and constructing it in some dark corner of a castle,
tower, or steeple; this species cannot, therefore, be so narrowly
watched as the others, which build more openly. They are almost
constantly on the wing, never settling, either on the ground, on the
roofs of houses, or in trees, as is the case with the other species. The
female lays only two eggs, which are milk-white, long, and peaked at the
small end. It is a very lively bird, rising early and retiring to rest
late, and is observed, in the height of summer, to be on the wing
sixteen hours a day. Like the martin, they are no songsters, having only
one harsh, screaming note, which, however, I cannot consider
disagreeable. It is never heard but in the most lovely summer weather,
and, consequently, the sound occasions in my mind a pleasing association
of ideas, which I like to indulge. If by any accident they settle upon
the ground, they find great difficulty in rising, on account of the
shortness of their legs and the length of their wings: neither can they
walk conveniently, they only crawl along.
_Louisa_. They seem, in many respects different in their habits from the
other species you have mentioned, mamma: how may we distinguish them by
their outward appearance?
_Mrs. B_. The peculiar formation of the foot plainly discriminates them,
for it is so disposed, as to carry all its four toes forward; which
clearly accounts for the difficulty it finds in walking. As they arrive
later, so they retire sooner than the others, being seldom seen after
the middle of August. Are you not tired, my children, with my long
account of these birds?
"Oh no, dear mamma: pray tell us something about sand-martins too,"
exclaimed each of the children; "we shall then be able to distinguish
each of the four species of British _hirundines_."
Mrs. Bernard assured them, she would willingly comply with their
request, as far as she was able to do it: "but," added she, "it is
difficult to gain full and exact information respecting the lives and
habits of these little birds, which are extremely wild by nature,
disclaiming all domestic attachments, and haunting heaths and commons,
far from the resorts of man. They are very fond of water, and are never
known to abound but near vast pools or rivers. They form their nests in
a manner totally different from the varieties I have mentioned; boring a
round hole in the sand, in a serpenting direction, and about two feet
deep. At the further end of this burrow, they form their rude nest;
consisting of fine grass and feathers, laid together with very little
art. It is wonderful to observe what arduous undertakings perseverance
will accomplish. One would suppose it almost impossible that this
feeble bird, with its soft bill and tender claws, should be able to bore
a stubborn sand-bank, without injury. Sand-martins are much smaller
than any other species of _hirundines_, and also differ from them in
colour, being what is termed mouse-colour, instead of black. They fly
also in a peculiar manner, by jerks, somewhat resembling a butterfly.
They are by no means so common as the other species; for there are few
towns or large villages that do not abound with house-martins; few
churches, towers, or steeples, but what are haunted by swifts; scarcely
a cottage chimney that has not its swallow; whilst the bank-martins,
scattered here and there, live a sequestered life, in sand-hills and in
the banks of rivers."
_Ferdinand_. Do they sing, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ No, my dear; they are particularly mute, only making a little
harsh noise when any person approaches their nest. They lay from four
to six white eggs, and breed twice in the season.
_Louisa_. Have you any thing more to tell us on this amusing subject,
my dear mother?
_Mrs. B._ No, my dear: I believe I have now told you most of the
important particulars respecting these curious little birds. But I have
an account in my pocket-book, which I extracted from a book I was
reading last week--"Bingley's Animal Biography:" I will read that to
you, if you please. It is respecting a foreign species of _hirundines_,
called the esculent martin.
The children all united in begging to hear this account; upon which Mrs.
Bernard took it from her pocket, and read the following extract:
"The esculent martin is said to less in size than the wren. The bill is
thick; the upper parts of the body brown, and the under parts white. The
tail is forked, and each feather is tipped with white. The legs are
"The nest of this bird is excessively curious, and composed of such
materials, that it is not only eatable, but is considered one of the
greatest dainties that the Asiatic epicures possess. It generally weighs
about half an ounce, and is, in shape, like half a lemon; or, as some
say, like a saucer with one side flatted, which adheres to the rock. The
texture is somewhat like isinglass, or rather more like fine gum-dragon;
and the several layers of the matter it is composed of, are very
apparent; being fabricated from repeated parcels of a soft slimy
substance, in the same manner as the common martins form theirs of mud.
Authors differ much as to the materials of which it is composed: some
suppose it to consist of sea-worms, of the mollusca kind; others, of a
kind of cuttle-fish, or a glutinous sea-plast called agal-agal. It has
also been supposed, that the swallows rob other birds of their eggs,
and, after breaking the shells, apply the white of them to that purpose.
"The best sorts of nests, which are perfectly free from dirt, are
dissolved in broths, in order to thicken them, and are said to give them
an exquisite flavour. They are soaked in water to soften, then pulled to
pices, and, after being mixed with ginseng, are put into the body of a
fowl. The whole is then stewed in a pot, with a sufficient quantity of
water, and left on the coals all night. The following morning it is
ready to be eaten."
"Pray, mamma, what is _ginseng?_ I never heard of it before," said
_Mrs. B._ It is the root of a small plant, growing in China, Tartary,
and likewise in some parts of North America, particularly Canada and
Pennsylvania, from whence considerable quantities have lately been
brought over here. Amongst the Chinese, it is esteemed a medicine of
"A medicine! mamma," exclaimed Louisa; "I thought you said they put it
into the stuffing of their fowl!"
"And so they do, my dear," returned Mrs. Bernard, "it is by no means of
an unpleasant taste, as it has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching to
that of liquorice, accompanied with an agreeable bitterness, and a
slight aromatic warmth, with little or no smell."
_Louisa._ Thank you mamma. Now will you go on with your account?
_Mrs. B._ "The nests of which I was speaking, are found in vast numbers
in many islands of the Eastern Archipelago. The best kind sell in China,
from one thousand to fifteen hundred dollars the picle, a weight of
about twenty-five pounds. The black and dirty ones only sell for twenty
"Sir George Staunton, in his Embassy to China, says: 'These nests are a
considerable object of traffic among the Javanese, and many are employed
in it from their infancy. The birds having spent near two months in
preparing their nests, usually lay two eggs, which are hatched in about
fifteen days. When the young birds become fledged, it is thought time to
seize upon their nests, which is done regularly three times a year, and
is effected by means of ladders of bamboo and reeds, by which the people
descend into the caverns; but when these are very deep, rope-ladders are
preferred. This operation is attended with much danger, and several lose
their lives in the attempt. The inhabitants of the mountains generally
employed in it, begin always by sacrificing a buffalo; a custom which is
constantly observed by the Javanese, on the eve of every extraordinary
undertaking. They also pronounce some prayers, anoint themselves with
sweet-scented oils, and smoke the entrance of the cavern with gum-
benjamin. Near some of these caverns, a tutular goddess is worshipped,
whose priest burns incense, and lays his protecting hand on every person
intending to descend. A flambeau is carefully prepared at the same time,
with a gum which exudes from a tree growing in the vicinity, and is not
easily extinguished by fixed air, or subterraneous vapours.'"
The children were delighted with this account, and thanked their mother
for the amusement and instructions she had kindly afforded them. They
each determined, before the following spring, to provide themselves with
a book, for the purpose of keeping a diary, and noticing the different
objects that might engage their attention. They had been so much
interested by their mother's conversation, that the beauties of the
surrounding scenery had almost passed unnoticed. She now directed their
attention to the fine open country that lay behind them. A beautiful
little copse they were just entering, quite charmed Emily, who was a
great admirer of rural scenery. "The autumnal tints add to the riches of
the foliage, and improve our present prospect, my dear mother," said
she, "but make us fear that a very few weeks will deprive us of our
"That is very true, Emily," added Louisa, "but we shall have new
pleasures in the place of those we love. Think of the delightful winter
evenings which we always so much enjoy. I really scarcely know what
season to prefer. Spring is very charming; in summer too we have many
pleasures; and, at this moment, I feel as if a morning walk in autumn
were the best of all."
Mrs. Bernard smiled at the cheerful vivacity of Louisa, and recommended
to each of the children the cultivation of a contented disposition,
which knows how to derive comfort from circumstances in themselves
At this moment they turned into a little glen, and were delighted with
the rural appearance of a cottage, shaded by lofty trees. They
approached its humble door, which stood open, and beheld a young
cottager, who was singing at her spinning-wheel, and too much engaged by
her occupation to notice their approach. Mrs. Bernard drew back a few
paces, and whispered to Emily the following lines, which this sweet
scene recalled to her mind:
"E'en from the straw-roof'd cot, the note of joy Flows full and
frequent, as the village fair, Whose little wants the busy hour employ,
Chaunting some rural ditty, soothes her care.
"Verse softens toil, however rude the sound; She feels no biting pang
the while she sings, Nor, as she turns the giddy wheel around, Revolves
the sad vicissitude of things."
Then, again approaching the cottage, she accosted the young girl, who,
with a modest blush, arose from her wheel, and hastily pushing it on one
side, invited her unexpected visitors to take a seat, and rest
themselves after their walk.
Pleased with their reception, Mrs. Bernard accepted her invitation; and,
upon entering into conversation with the young cottager, became more and
more interested in her favour. There was that modest reserve in her
manner, which is particularly pleasing in youth.
In answer to Mrs. Bernard's questions, she informed her, that she was,
in very early life, left an orphan; having lost both her parents before
she had attained her third year. Since which time, she had been indebted
to an aged grandmother for protection and support.
"We have both worked hard for our livelihood," said Mary, (for that was
the young cottager's name,) "and, thank Heaven, we have never wanted the
_necessaries_ of life; _more_ we have never wished for. My grandmother
weeds in the squire's garden hard by, and I earn a trifle at my wheel."
Just as Mary had said these words, they perceived an old woman
approaching. She was leaning on the arm of a fine, healthy-looking
youth. A deeper blush, which at this moment dyed the cheeks of the
pretty young cottager, told a tale she would wittingly have concealed.
"Is that your grandmother, Mary?" enquired Mrs. Bernard.
_Mary_. Yes, Madam.
_Mrs. B._ And the young man is your brother, I suppose?
"No, Ma'am," said Mary, blushing still more deeply: "I have no brother.
That is Henry, our neighbour Farmer Wilson's son; and he is always very
kind to my grandmother."
By this time, the old woman had reached the cottage door, and was
introduced by Mary to her new guests. The young man made a rustic bow
Mrs. Bernard soon entered into conversation with the old woman, and was
not less pleased with her, than she had before been with her grand-
daughter. There was an air of cheerful content in her countenance, which
bespoke that all was peace within, and prepossessed you more completely
in her favour than any words could have done.
After some conversation, the old woman, turning to her grand-daughter,
said: "The ladies will perhaps eat an apple, Mary."
Mary instantly left the cottage to gather some; and her grandmother took
that opportunity of passing upon the good girl, a well-merited eulogium.
"She is my greatest comfort, Madam," said she; "and I may truly say.
from the day she was born, she never willingly gave me a single moment's
uneasiness. To be sure, I do feel very anxious about her at times;
particularly since she and Henry have taken such a fancy to each other.
Times are so hard, Ma'am, and money so scarce, that I dare not consent
to their marrying. And yet it grieves me to the heart to keep them
asunder; for he is as good as she herself, and almost as dear to me."
Mrs. Bernard enquired what means Henry had of supporting a wife, and
found he was the younger son of a small farmer in the neighbourhood, who
had a large family to establish in the world, and very little to
accomplish it with.
Mary's return at this moment, with a basket of fresh-gathered apples,
interrupted the conversation; and the children, after regaling
themselves with her little offering, took their leave, and, accompanied
by their mother, bent their steps towards home.
Ferdinand, who was a child of great observation, seldom proceeded far
without discovering some object to interest his attention. He had
remained a considerable distance behind his mother, exploring the hedges
for some new flower or insect that he had not before examined, when his
attention was attracted by a wasp, which, having seized a fly almost as
large as himself, was endeavouring to carry the prize to his nest; but
the wind blowing in a contrary direction, acted so forcibly upon the
extended wings of the fly, that the poor wasp, with all his efforts,
could make no progress. Ferdinand was anxious to see how he would act in
this difficulty, and called his mother and sisters, to smile with them
at the insect's perplexity. In a few minutes, the wasp alighted upon the
ground, and, with the most persevering industry, sawed off, with his
teeth, the two wings of the fly, and then flew away with the body, in
triump, to his young ones.
"Well done, wasp," cried Ferdinand; "you do deserve that meal, however.
But is it not a wonderful instance of sagacity, mamma? Who would expect
it in an insect! Do you suppose it knew this by instinct?"
"We are led to believe, my love," repied Mrs. Bernard, "that man alone
acts by the higher principle of reason; but I have met with many
instances of sagacity in the brute creation, which almost puzzle me,
when I ascribe their actions merely to instinct:
Remembrance and reflection -- how allied!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!"
"It is astonishing how completely some animals will accommodate
themselves to circumstances. I will relate to you an anecdote which a
friend of mine told me a few weeks ago."
"Pray do, dear mamma," said Ferdinand; "I quite enjoy an anecdote. I
suppose it is true?"
"Yes, my dear, it is quite true," returned Mrs. Bernard: "the gentleman
of whom I spoke, has a little monkey, which frequently affords him much
amusement, by his sagacious, imitative tricks. As he was one day
sitting near the pen in which the monkey was confined, he observed him
making many ineffectual efforts to regain a nut which had rolled beyond
his reach. After several vain attempts, he took up a stick, and with
this he endeavoured to draw it towards him, but still without success.
Baffled, but not discouraged, he proceeded to select a second stick,
from a bundle that lay beside him, measuring it against the one he had
before found useless. With this longer twing he set himself again to
his task. This proving aslo insufficient, he adopted the same plan in
the selection of a third, and so on; always discarding the shortest, til
he found one that was long enough to touch the nut. But this increased
his difficulty, by rolling it to a still greater distance. Upon this he
sat himself in a contemplative posture for a few minutes, as if
considering what was best to be done in this emergency; when, hastily
turning over the whole bundle of sticks he made choice of one of
considerable length, and hooked at the end, by means of which he, with
much apparent delight, accrued his prize."
"Well, that was a most capital contrivance," said Ferdinand; "and it
puts me in mind of a clever plan which I saw our own dog, Brush, adopt
yesterday. A bone that was thrown him, fell, like the monkey's nut,
beyond the reach of his chain, and, finding he could not obtain it by
means of his fore paws, he turned round, and throwing out his hinder
legs, readily reached it, and drew it to his kennel."
Just as Ferdinand had concluded his story of Brush, his attention was
caught by a beautiful dragon-fly, which flitted above his head. He
hastily threw up his handkerchief, and took the insect prisoner.
"It is rather late in the season, is it not, mamma, to see these insects
abroad?" said he, carefully unfolding his handkerchief, and discovering
his prize. "Do look what a beautiful crature. Do they sting, pray?"
"No, my dear, but they bit sometimes, rather fiercely. Their bite,
however, is perfectly harmless, therefore you need not look so much
alarmed, Ferdinand. Examine its eyes. You perceive they are very large
and prominent, covering almost the whole head. As it seeks its food
flying in the air, this seems a very necessary provision. By means of
these eyes, it can see in almost every direction at the same instant.
Dragon-flies are extremely voracious, and are the greatest tyrants of
the insect tribe. When we think them idly and innocently flitting about
in the cheerful sunshine, they are, in fact, only hovering up and down
to seize their prey."
"Which are the insects upon which they particularly feed, mamma?"
_Mrs. B There is none, how large soever, that they will not attack and
devour. The blue fly, the bee, the wasp, and the hornet, are their
constant prey; and even your favourite butterfly is often caught, and
treated without mercy. Their appetite seems to know no bounds; and they
have been seen to devour three times their own size, in the space of a
"Oh, the greedy creatures; I cannot forgive them for destroying the
pretty butterflies," said Ferdinand: "to wasps and hornets they are
perfectly welcome. Are they produced from eggs, like other insects,
"Yes, my dear: the female deposits her eggs in the water, where they
remain some time, apparently without life or motion. The form they first
assume, is that of a worm with six legs, much resembling the dragon-fly
in its winged state, the wings being as yet concealed within a sheath
peculiar to this animal."
"What do they feed upon in this state, pray, mamma?" enquired Louisa.
"Upon the soft mud and glutinous earthy substances that are found at the
bottom," replied her mother.
"Pray, mamma, how long do they continue in their reptile state?" said
"For a whole year, my dear," returned her mother. "When they parepare to
change to their flying state, they move out of the water to a dry place;
such as into grass, to pieces of wood, stone, or any thing else they may
meet with. There they firmly fix their sharp claws, and, for a short
time, continue quite immovable. It has been observed, that the skin
first opens on the head and back, and out of this aperture they exhibit
their real head and eyes, and at length their six legs; whilst the
hollow and empty skin remains firmly fixed in its place. After this the
creature creeps forward by degrees; drawing, first its wings, and then
its body, out of the skin; it then sits at rest for some time. The
wings, which were moist and folded together, now begin to expand. The
body is likewise insensibly extended, until all the limbs have attained
their proper size. The insect cannot at first make use of its new wings,
and is, therefore, obliged to remain stationary until its limbs are
dried by the air. It soon, however, begins to enter upon a more noble
life than it had before led at the bottom of the brook; and from
creeping slowly, and living accidentally, it now wings the air, adorning
the fields with beauty, and expanding the most lively colours to the
"Well, my pretty fly," said Ferdinand, "you have afforded me much
amusement, and now I will release you from your captivity." So saying,
he opened his handkerchief, and gave his prisoner liberty.
In a few minutes they reached home, highly pleased with their morning's
Mr. Bernard having dined from home, the children had not, till they met
round the tea-table in the evening, an opportunity of telling him how
pleasantly they had spent their morning, and how much information their
mother had given them respecting the habits of the swallow tribes. "But
even now," added Edward, "I do not feel quite satisfied with regard to
their migration. Pray, papa, what is your opinion upon that subject?"
_Mr. B._ I am decidedly of opinion that they do migrate, my dear. The
internal structure of such animals as continue during winter in a torpid
state, is peculiar: both the formation of the stomach, and the organs of
respiration, differ from such as are constantly in a state of activity
and vigour. Mr. John Hunter, one of our most celebrated English
anatomists, dissected several of these birds, but did not find them in
any respect different from the other tribes; from which he concludes the
accounts of their turpitude to be erroneous. Now, although I feel no
doubt myself, that such instances have occurred, yet I by no means
believe them to be frequent. Indeed, a particular friend of mine, a
skilful navigator, tells me he has not infrequently seen, when many
hundreds of miles distant from shore, large flights of these birds; and
that his ship has often afforded the poor little travellers a most
seasonable resting-place, in their toilsome journeys.
"Oh, well papa," said Edward, "if a friend of yours has really seen
them, I can believe they do migrate; but I do not like to give up an
enquiry, till my mind is satisfied upon a subject."
_Mr. B_. Within certain restrictions, your resolution is good, Edward;
but if you can believe nothing but what I, or some friend of mine, can
attest from our own observation, your incredulity will deprive you of
much valuable information. The great advantage of reading is, that it
enables us to gain instruction from the observation of others, on
subjects beyond the reach of our own experience.
_Edward._ Very true, papa: but do you not think that many authors make
mistakes, and put things in books that are not facts?
_Mr. B._ I do, my dear boy; and I always endeavor, when I meet with a
difficulty, to consult a variety of authors upon the same subject, and,
by this means, generally find I can discover the truth.
"In future I will endeavour to do so too, papa," said Edward, "and will
not allow my doubts to prevent my improvement; for I am sure I am at
present very ignorant. Every day, and almost every hour, I meet with
something that I do not understand--something that surprises me. Papa,
you have read, and thought, and seen so much, I should think you would
never meet with any thing new."
_Mr. B._ Indeed, my dear boy, you are much mistaken; I seldom read any
book without gaining from it some new idea, or some additional
information upon a subject with which I was before but imperfectly
acquainted. This very morning, for instance, in the book you saw me
reading at breakfast-time, I gained information that was entirely new to
_Louisa._ Oh, pray papa, was it upon a subject we could understand, if
you were to be so kind as to tell us?
_Mr. B._ Yes, my dear girl, I think you might understand it, if you were
to pay attention to it; although it was a treatise upon comparative
anatomy I was reading.
_Louisa._ Oh, then, papa, I am sure I could not understand any thing
about it. I never heard of such a subject before.
_Mr. B._ Is that any proof that you will not understand it when you do
hear of it, Louisa? Do not allow yourself to be frightened by a hard
name, my dear; it is a proof of great weakness of mind. Edward,
endeavour to explain to your sister the meaning of the word anatomy.
_Edward._ I believe, papa, it is the study of animal bodies; more
particularly, their internal organization.
_Mr. B._ Yes and it also implies the dissecting, or cutting them to
pieces, to ascertain the structure and uses of their several parts.
Well, Louisa, what do you now think of anatomy? You have been much
pleased with your mother's description of the external structure and
habits of the swallow, this morning; now pay the same attention to my
account of the internal organization of the ostrich and cassowary, to-
night, and I think you will find it quite within the limits of your
_Louisa._ I will, indeed, attend, papa; and I hope I shall understand
_Mr. B._ The more minutely, my dear children, you investigate the hidden
wonders of nature, the more firmly will you be convinced of the
unlimited power, as well as infinite mercy, of its Supreme Author. The
superintending providence of God, is as plainly manifested in the
provision made for the meanest reptile, as it is in the wonderful
formation of man. Each bird, beast, fish, and insect, is endowed with
powers best suited to its wants, and most calculated to promote its
enjoyment. In the cassowary of Java, a region of great fertility, the
colon is no more than one foot long; whilst in the ostrich, doomed to
seek its food in the wide and sandy deserts of the African continent, it
is _forty-five_ feet in length.
"Pray, papa, what is the _colon?_? enquired Louisa.
"It is one intestine," replied Mr. Bernard, which converts the food into
nourishment. You will now instantly perceive the wisdom of this
arrangement. In the cassowary, the food passes very quickly through
this short channel, by which means, but a very small portion of its
nutritive particles is taken into the system, and the bird is thereby
preserved from many diseases, to which it would be liable, if the whole
of the food it devoured were converted into fat and nourishment. The
ostrich, on the contrary, who can gain but a slender supply of food in
the desolate regions which it inhabits, is provided with a colon so
long, that every particle of nourishment is extracted, before it has
passed this channel; hence, the latter derives as much actual support
from her slender supply of food, as the former does from her abundance.
_Louisa_. Thank you, papa. I understand what you have told us, quite
well, and think it a very curious and a very wise contrivance.
_Mr. B._ Now then, tell me, in your turn, Louisa, how history has gone
on since we last met.
_Louisa_. But, papa, we have not yet concluded the account of our walk.
Had we not better finish one subject first?
Mr. Bernard agreed to the propriety of Louisa's remark, and she entered
with great animation upon the description of the beautiful little
cottage, the pretty, innocent cottager, the nice, neat old woman, and
the bashful-looking youth, and concluded by expressing her sorrow, that
Mary and Henry could not be married; because she was such a pretty
creature, she had no doubt they would make the happiest couple in the
Mr. Bernard endeavour to explain to Louisa, that beauty was by no means
the only requisite in a companion, where happiness was the object.
"Oh, no! I know that, papa," returned Louisa; "I recollect that Mrs.
Horton told us, that the peacock, beautiful as it is, has but few really
amiable qualities; but I cannot help admiring pretty people, and if you
saw Mary, I am sure you would admire her too; for she looks so good-
humoured and so modest, so cheerful, so industrious, and so very pretty,
papa, that you could not help loving her. Don't you think so, mamma?
_Mrs. B._ I think there certainly is something very interesting in her
appearance, and, I assure you, Louisa, I am quite disposed to think
favourably of her; but we shall have an opportunity of seeing more of
her, probably, and then we can form a more decided opinion of her
character. There is always danger in giving way to a sudden
prepossession in favour of a stranger.
_Edward._ But, mamma, do you think it possible not to feel a
prepossession in favour of such a sweet-looking girl as Mary?
_Mrs. B._ I do not think any one could avoid thinking favourably of
Mary; nor do I wish to check a generous sentiment in favour of a
stranger, at any time, my dear children. Caution is necessary, but
suspicion is hateful; and I would rather you should be often deceived,
than never feel a confidence. When I was young, I was once imposed upon
by a person quite as pleasing in manners and appearance as the young
cottager. I was warned that there was danger in trusting to appearances,
but disdained the caution of those who were older and wiser than myself.
I suffered for my folly, and would have you learn prudence from my
_Louisa_. Do, mamma, tell us the story. I dare say it is an
_Mrs. B._ Not at present, my dear; your father wishes to hear what
history you have read since Saturday. Besides, an account of the
depravity of a fellow-creature, can never be a very interesting topic of
_Louisa._. No mamma, certainly it is not: but how did she impose upon
you? You are so careful, you know--so prudent.
_Mrs. B_ But at that time I was credulous and imprudent, as I have
already told you, my dear, and was deceived by a pleasing address, and a
_Louisa_. Oh, do tell me, dear mamma. I do love a mournful tale.
_Mrs. B._ But this was, in all probability, a fabricated story, to
impose on the incautious: at least, I have every reason to consider it
so. I found out so many untruths, that I was inclined to think the
whole a complete falsehood. But we will not dwell longer upon this
subject at present: at some future time, if we have nothing upon which
we can more profitably employ our attention, I may perhaps give you a
full account of the affair; but I have mentioned it to your father
before, and will not, therefore, trouble him to listen to a repetition,
as nothing is more tedious than a twice-told tale.
_Ferdinand_. I want to ask you a question, papa, before we begin our
history. It is quite different from any thing we have been hitherto
talking of, to be sure; but I was reading a book to-day, in which,
speaking of some crime, it mentioned that it was punished by death,
without benefit of clergy. Now I do not know what benefit of clergy
means, and I thought you would be so good as to explain it to me.
_Mr. B._ That I shall most willingly, my dear boy. In order to encourage
the art of reading in England, which formerly made but slow progress,
the capital punishment for murder was remitted if the criminal could
read; and this, in law-language, is termed benefit of clergy.
_Edward._ I should think the art must have made very rapid progress,
when so highly favoured.
_Mr. B._ It does not appear that this was the case; for so small an
edition of the Bible as six hundred copies, translated into English, in
the reign of Henry the Eighth, was not completely sold in three years.
_Emily._ How different, my dear father, are the happy days in which we
live. No family, however indigent, need now be without a Bible.
_Edward._ And almost every poor child has an opportunity, in some of the
numerous charity-schools that are every where established, of learning
to read it too, which is better still.
_Mr. B._ We do, indeed, my beloved children, live in very glorious
times. The scriptural prophecy seems to be fast accomplishing, which
declares, that "the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the
waters cover the sea." May we prize our high privilege, and may our more
virtuous conduct bespeak our gratitude for the superior blessings we
_Louisa._ In the days of the cruel Tarquin, papa, of whom we have been
reading in our Roman history, the religion of Jesus Christ was not
known. The wicked Tullia could not, I think, have acted so basely, had
she been a Christian.
_Mr. B._ Those who act up to the _precepts_ taught by Christianity, my
dear girl, must act virtuously; but the _name_ of Christian will be
found by no means sufficient for any of us.
_Louisa._ Papa, it is very uninteresting to read about wicked people. I
do not feel the least inclination to give you any account of Tarquin and
Tullia. On the contrary, I quite enjoyed talking of the good Numa
Pompilius, and Servius Tullius.
_Mr. B._ Much is to be learned from history, my dear. It unmasks the
human character. You there read man as he is, and trace the fatal
effects of vice upon society, as well as the pleasing consequences of
virtue. But let me now hear how Tarquin behaved, on mounting the throne
so basely acquired. _Emily._ The whole series of his reign was suitable
to the manner of his accession to the throne. Scarcely had he seated
himself there, when, from his capricious humour and arrogant behaviour,
he acquired the surname of the Proud. He refused to consult, either
with the senate or people; but having secured a sufficient number of
soldiers to guard his person and execute his will, arbitrary power
actuated all his proceedings. Informers were dispersed throughout the
city, the king was sole judge of the accused, and wealth and merit were
considered unpardonable crimes.
_Edward_. The cruel murder of the venerable Marcus Janius, was a proof
of what Emily has just mentioned. He was descended from a noble family,
and possessed great riches, on which account, Tarquinius Priscus had
allowed him to marry his youngest daughter. The wicked Tarquin, in
order to get possession of his estate, caused both him and his son to be
assassinated. His youngest son escaped the same fate, by pretending to
be an idiot, from whom he supposed he had nothing to fear.
_Ferdinand_. He was mistaken, however; was he not, Emily?
_Edward_. Stop, stop, Ferdinand; you must not forestal our history.
Let Louisa give some account of Tarquin's government first.
_Louisa_. Emily has already told you it was very tyrannical. To avoid
the effects of his cruelty and avarice, the most worthy men in the
senate went into voluntary banishment. The people at first rejoiced to
see the great thus humbled; but they were soon treated quite as ill as
the patricians, and all the laws which had been made in their favour,
were unmade again.
_Mr. B._ You have not expressed yourself well, my dear Louisa. When a
law is unmade again, as you call it, we say it is annulled.
_Louisa_. Thank you, papa. Well then, all the laws made in favour of
the people, which had pleased them so much, were annulled. The poor
were obliged to pay the same taxes as the rich. Nor would they allow
any meetings, even for amusement, either in the town or country.
_Mrs. B._ It is astonishing that the people bore such oppressions
_Edward._ Indeed, mamma, Tarquin was justly afraid they would not; on
which account, he gave his daughter in marriage to a man of considerable
interest among the Latins, in hopes he should strengthen himself by this
foreign alliance. He also employed the people in finishing the common
sewers, and the great Circus which his grandfather had begun; knowing
that constant employment was the best means to prevent their brooding
over their oppressions, and planning schemes of revenge.
_Mr. B._ His conduct was well judged, and likely to be attended with
success, as far as the common people were concerned; but he could not
employ the patricians in these labours. How were they kept in
subjection? for their wrongs appear to have been quite as flagrant as
those of the plebeians.
_Edward._ Indeed, papa, they were not kept in subjection at all. A
great number of them fled from Rome, and took refuge in Gabii, a city of
Latium, about a hundred furlongs distant.
_Mr. B._ Can Ferdinand tell us how many miles that is?
_Ferdinand._ If I consider a minute, I think I can, papa. There are
eight furlongs in a mile, so I must divide a hundred by eight, which
will go twelve times and four over; therefore, it was exactly twelve
miles and a half from Rome.
_Mr. B._ You are quite right, my boy. You may now go on, Edward.
_Edward_. The inhabitants of Gabii were touched with compassion, to see
so many considerable persons thus cruelly persecuted, and resolved to
espouse their cause, by beginning a war with the king of Rome. This war
lasted seven years; sometimes one having the advantage, sometimes the
other. The inroads and devastations made on both sides, prevented the
regular sowing and reaping of the corn, which at length produced a great
scarcity in Rome. This increased the discontents of the people, who were
suffering so cruelly on account of the hatred borne by their neighbours,
not against them, but against their king; and they urgently demanded
either peace or provisions.
_Mr. B._ Affairs seem now coming to the extremities with Tarquin, I
_Ferdinand._ They are, indeed, papa, and you cannot think what a
treacherous plan he contrived to extricate himself from his
_Louisa_. No indeed, Ferdinand, it was not Tarquin who contrived the
plot; it was his shocking son, Sextus Tarquinius, who was, I really
think, a more wicked man than his father.
_Ferdinand._ So it was, Louisa: pray let me tell about it. He pretended
to quarrel with his father, papa, declaring he was a great tyrant, who
had no compassion, even for his own children. Upon this, the king
ordered him to be publicly beaten in the Forum. All this was repeated at
Gabii, by persons who were in the secret, and whom they thought they
could trust. The Gabini believed it all, and were very anxious to get
Sextus amongst them. After many secret invitations, he agreed to their
request, provided they first gave him their solemn promise, never, on
any pretence, to deliver him up to his father. When he reached Gabii, he
talked constantly of the tyranny of the king of Rome, and acted, in
every respect, as the declared enemy of his country. He frequently made
inroads on the Roman lands, and came back loaded with spoil; his father
always contriving to send against him such weak parties, that he easily
conquered them. By these means, Sextus gained very great credit among
the Gabini. They at last chose him general of their army, and he was as
much master there, as Tarquin was in Rome.
_Louisa._ Ah! now comes the treachery. Oh, papa, what a very base thing
it is to betray those who place confidence in us. I cannot bear Sextus.
_Ferdinand._ Well, Louisa, now pray do not interrupt me just in this
very interesting part. Finding his authority so firmly established, he
sent a slave to his father, to enquire what he should do. The king dare
not treat the slave with his answer, even in writing; so he took him
into the garden, and there struck off the heads of all the tallest
poppies. Having done this, he sent back the messenger. Sextus, who
understood the meaning of this action, assembled the Gabini, and
pretended to have discovered a plot to deliver him up to his father. The
people, who were very fond of him, fell into a great rage, and begged
him to declare the names of the conspirators. He mentioned Antistius
Petro, who was, from his merit, the most considerable person in the
country. He, knowing his innocence, despised the accusation; but Sextus
had bribed his servants to convey amongst his papers some pretended
letters from the king of Rome, which being produced and read, the
populace, without further examination, immediately stoned him to death.
The Gabini then committed to Sextus the care of discovering his
accomplices, and appointing their punishment. He instantly ordered the
city gates to be shut, and sent officers into every quarter, to cut off
the heads of all the most eminent citizens, without any mercy; and in
the midst of the confusion occasioned by this dreadful massacre, he
opened the gates to his father, who had previously had notice of his
design, and who entered the city with all the pride of a conquerer.
Just as Ferdinand had finished this account, and before he had time to
make any comment upon it, Mr. Dormer was announced, a gentleman who
lived at no great distance from Mr. Bernard's, and who frequently, in an
evening, made one at his social fire-side. His kind, conciliatory
manners, had endeared him to the children, and he was, in his turn, much
pleased with their amiable frankness, and tender attachment to each
Being a man of general information, and possessing an enlarged and
cultivated mind, his conversation was both amusing and instructive, and
he was always a welcome guest at Broomfield.
"I hope I have not interrupted any agreeable topic of conversation,"
said he, drawing Ferdinand between his knees.
Mr. Bernard assured him he could never be considered an interruption,
and proceeded to tell him how they had been engaged previously to his
Mr. Dormer highly approved the plan of impressing instruction upon the
minds of young people by conversation, and regretted that it should be
generally so much neglected. "I dare say the little folks look forward
with great delight to the approach of evening," said he.
"Oh yes, Sir, that we do," replied Louisa: "we see so little of our dear
father in the day-time, that it is really quite a treat to sit down
altogether at night, and tell him what we have said, and thought, and
done, in the day; for I like that papa and mamma should know all my
thoughts, as well as my actions."
_Ferdinand_. And so do I too; but mine are often very silly thoughts,
not worth any one's knowing. I wish I could keep them in better order.
Those lines written by Cowper, which I learnt the other day, are very
"We may keep the body bound, but know not what a range the spirit
takes." [Footnote: This was an actual remark of the little boy that has
been before mentioned.]
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard looked at each other, and smiled with delight, to
find their dear boy entered so completely into the spirit of his
lessons, and was able to apply, in so proper a manner, the knowledge he
"Your fire-side circle seems so complete," said Mr. Dormer, "and you
appear so thoroughly to enjoy each other's society, that I fear a
proposition, which I have called this evening with the purpose of
making, will not be received so favourably as I could wish. What do you
say to my running away with one of your party?"
"Not papa or mamma," said all the children at once: "we cannot spare
them, indeed, Sir."
Mr. Dormer assured them he had no intention of depriving them of either
of their valuable parents, even for a single day. "But," added he,
"unexpected business calls me to Plymouth. I shall be absent about a
fortnight or three weeks, and shall be very dull without a companion.
Ned, my boy, what say you to accompanying me?"
Edward was delighted with the proposal, and anxiously looked at his
parents for their permission to accept Mr. Dormer's invitation. It was
willingly granted, and Edward received the affectionate congratulations
of his brother and sisters upon the occasion; who, far from envying him
the pleasure that awaited him, sincerely rejoiced in his good fortune,
and only requested to be made partakers of his pleasure, by letter.
"I shall set off the day after to-morrow," said Mr. Dormer, "so you have
no time to lose, Edward."
_Edward._ Oh sir, I shall be ready; you need not fear my
procrastination, on this occasion.
"Nor on any other occasion, I hope, my dear boy," said Mr. Dormer, "for
it is a most ruinous habit for a youth to indulge in."
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