« PreviousContinue »
patriarch of the tribe, quitted his dwelling just as twenty soldiers with fixed bayonets marched up to it.
It was broad day long before Hamilton arrived. He found the work not even half performed. About thirty corpses lay wallowing in blood on the dunghills before the doors. One or two women were seen among the number, and a yet more fearful and piteous sight, a little hand, which had been lopped, in the tumult or the butchery, from some infant. One aged Macdonald was found alive. He was probably too infirm to flee, and, as he was above seventy, was not included in the orders under which Glenlyon had acted. Hamilton murdered the old man in cold blood. The deserted hamlets were then set on fire; and the troops departed, driving away with them many sheep and goats, nine hundred kine, and two hundred of the small shaggy ponies of the Highlands.
It is said, and may but too easily be believed, that the sufferings of the fugitives were terrible. How many old men, how many women with babes in their arms, sank down and slept their last sleep in the snow; how many, having crawled, spent with toil and hụnger, into nooks among the precipices, died in those dark holes, and were picked to the bone by the mountain ravens, can never be known. But it is probable that those who perished by cold, weariness, and want, were not less numerous than those who were slain by the assassins.
When the troops had retired, the Macdonalds crept out of the caverns of Glencoe, ventured back to the spot where the huts had formerly stood, collected the scorched corpses from among the smoking ruins, and performed some rude rites of sepulture. The tradition runs that the hereditary bard of the tribe took his seat on a rock which overhung the place of slaughter, and poured forth a long lament over his murdered brethren and his desolate home. Eighty years later that sad dirge was still chanted by the people of the valley.
“Their flags were furld, and mute their drum,
In guise of hospitality.
To tend her kindly housewifery.
"The hand that mingled in the meal,
the host's kind breast to feel
Their red and fearful blazonry.
“ Then woman's shriek was heard in vain,
Respite from ruthless butchery.
Far more than Southron clemency.
Long have my harp's best notes been gone,
Their grey-hair'd master's misery.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, the youngest son of a family of seventeen children, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1706. His parents desired to give him a good education, and at the age of eight years placed him at school, where, by his readiness to learn, he soon reached the head of the class, and bade fair to become a distinguished scholar.
But his father, being obliged to labor for the support of a numerous family, found himself unable to bear the expenses of keeping him at school, and took him at ten years of age to assist in his own trade of a tallow chandler. While he was industriously employed in the work of the shop, he was meditating upon the books he had perused, and devising how to get time to read others.
In the account of his life which Franklin left, he says, “I disliked the trade in which I was employed, and had a strong inclination to go to sea; but my father declared against it; but, residing near the water, I was much in it and on it. I learnt to swim well and to manage boats; and when embarked with other boys I was commonly allowed to govern, especially in any case of difficulty. Upon other occasions I was generally the leader among the boys, and sometimes led them into scrapes, of which I will mention one, as it shows an early projecting public spirit, though not then justly conducted.
• There was a salt-marsh which bounded part of the mill-pond, on the edge of which, at high-water, we used to stand to fish for minnows; by much trampling we had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to build a wharf there for us to stand upon; and I showed my comrades a large heap of stones, which were intended for a new house near the marsh, and which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly, in the evening, when the workmen had gone home, I assembled a number of my playfellows, and we worked diligently like so many emmets ; sometimes two or three to a stone, till we had brought them all to make our little wharf. The next morning the workmen were surprised at missing the stones which formed our wharf; inquiry was made after the authors of this transfer. We were discovered, complained of, and corrected by our fathers; and though I demonstrated the utility of our work, my father showed me that that which was not truly honest could not be truly useful.”
Benjamin's dislike to his occupation, and desire to follow the sea, increased rather than diminished; but his father deemed it prudent, after the trial of several trades, to apprentice him to his brother James, a printer, who had just returned from London with a press and types, to establish himself in Boston. This new occupation had advantages which soon reconciled young Franklin to it. It gave him a more ready access to books than he had before enjoyed; and thus a craving, stronger, because more lasting, than that which led him to wish to go to sea, was satisfied. He became acquainted in the course of business with bookseller's apprentices, who frequently lent him books, which he was careful to keep clean, and return at the appointed time. How he enjoyed his little privilege of reading will be seen by his own words.
says—“Often I sat up in my chamber the greatest part of the night, when the book borrowed in the evening was to be returned, lest it should be missing."
From reading, and the arguments and reasoning of others, Franklin, young as he was, soon began to write and reason for himself. He used to engage with a companion of his, John Collins, in disputations, in which Collins usually had the better; a superiority which became more evident when, instead of arguing by word of mouth, the boys took to committing their ideas to paper. Some of these papers fell into the hands of Franklin's father, who pointed out to Franklin that his young antagonist was much his superior in elegance of expression, in method, and clearness. The lad saw that his father was right and determined to improve. He met with an odd volume of the Spectator, bought it, and read it over and over with delight. “I thought the writing excellent,” he says, “and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With that view, I took some of the papers, and, making short notes of the sentiments in each sentence, laid them by for a few days; and, without looking at the book, tried to complete the essays again.”
Having at length, by the exertion of such pains to improve his mind, arrived at some proficiency, he felt a great desire to try his hand at writing for the press. So he wrote an article in a disguised hand for his brother's newspaper. “Being still a boy,” he remarks, “and suspecting that my brother would object to printing anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, 1 contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it at night under the door of the printing-house. It was found in the morning, and communicated to his writing friends when they called in as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing; and I had the exquisite pleasure of finding it had met with their approbation, and that, in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose that I was rather lucky in my judges, and that they were not really so very good as I then believed them to be.
Encouraged, however, by this attempt, I wrote and sent in the same way to the press several other pieces that were equally approved; and I kept my secret till all my fund of sense for such performiances was exhausted. I then disclosed the secret, and henceforth was considered with a little more attention by my brother's acquaintances.”