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These arguments convicted me of my error, and before I left my preceptor's presence, I thanked him, and promised to be careful for the future not to show my contempt for my companions. But I knew not my own heart. Pride clung to it, as the burrs to my dress in my rambles, and he frequently had occasion to reprove me for similar conduct. I revere his memory for his care ; for, by it I have learned, in some measure, the lesson of humility. I have learned to subscribe to this sentiment of the poet :
“Wisdom retires; she hates the crowd,
And, with a secret scorn,
Have e'er a passage worn.” Charles Murphy had his faults. Charles was a pleasant companion, but his volatile spirit frequently led him into error and consequent disgrace. But the errors of Charles did not proceed from a vicious disposition ; rather, they were the offspring of the want of thought, and many a bitter tear did they cause him. “Philosopher, he would say to me sometimes in secret, “I wish I was not so much inclined to waggery ; you see how much pain it causes me, through the reproofs of our preceptor. Have you any remedy for it in your system of philosophy ?” Charles did not see that in the question he put to me in my philosophical capacity, he was indulging in the error which I believe he sincerely deplored, and I could then only tell him, that the best remedy was to keep his tongue still.
But Charles Murphy's waggery did not consist alone in words ; though that was bad enough, since it frequently led to dissension in our happy community. On several occasions his waggish disposition led him to commit actions that even endangered the lives of his fellow-pupils. One morning, especially, Charles was thus led into
He seemed to have awakened with more than usual light-heartedness, and, after playing off some of his usual droll tricks, he suddenly exclaimed : “I have a glorious thought, Philosopher;" and turning to the boys who slept in our room, he asked, “ Who is for a ride in the air ?” The idea of such a treat seemed to please the whole ; and Charles gravely proposed tying the sheets and the blankets together, that each might, in his turn, have a ride up and down from our bed-room window. As it was no mean height from the ground, I at once saw the danger of the proposal, and remonstrated with him on his folly. But the thought was such a glorious one to Charles, that he could not forego it, and the only reply was—“A fine philosopher you must be to think of danger! Come, boys, all hands to work.” Every hand but my own was in requisition, and the required length of sheet and blanket was soon found. “Now, who has the first ride ?” inquired Charles. Each one of them rushed to the window, but as they looked down, a dread of danger seemed to seize them all, and none replied. “ So you have all turned philosophers, have you ?" inquired Charles, sarcastically ; “all afraid, are you? what cowards !" The thought of being considered a coward raised the colour in the cheeks of William Weston, who
had gained celebrity for his bravery in rushing into pools of water, or through bramble bushes, and the like, and be declared that he was not afraid, and was ready for the excursion. He had no sooner expressed his willingness, than he entered the noose prepared for the adventurer, and off he started. “Steady," said Charles, “steady boys, hold tight, and let him go down gently." But, unfortunately, William Weston had not travelled many inches before he showed himself a true coward. He kicked and screamed, and I believe, if I had not flown to the rescue —if I had not exhorted them to hold tight or he would be dashed to the ground, poor William would have had a fearful fall. As it was, he alighted safely on the ground, and his screams soon brought out our master.
In the excitement of the moment, not one of us had considered that the adventurer, in his flight, would have to pass full in front of our preceptor's window. This was a sad oversight; for when the adventurer had gained that particular altitude, he was awakened by his screams, and rushing to the window, he threw it open, and loudly demanded what we were doing ? There certainly was no need of the question, but from the stupor which the deed seemed to occasion him, it was repeated amidst our silence several times ; till, at length, William, recovering from his fright, and still wishing to sustain his character for bravery, replied, “ Please, sir, I am not going to run away ; I am only having a ride in the air."
There was no occasion for the adventurer to say this, for he was still in his night-dress. Our
master saw this, and therefore he simply replied : - A ride in the air, sir! stand where you are.” William readily obeyed the injunction ; nor could we, I believe, with our united force, have drawn him up again.
As Mr. White closed his window, “Now, Charley,” said I, “prepare for a lecture. The deed is all your own.
Charles turned pale, and without wishing to exculpate himself, for he was a high-minded boy, he threw himself on his bed, and hid his face from the gaze of his companions.
It was not many minutes before our master's footsteps were heard at our door. accompanied by the adventurer, and, entering with a grave countenance, he charged us all to dress immediately and descend to the school
All obeyed in silence, and we were soon arraigned before Mr. White's desk.
Whenever any error had been committed in my presence, it was our master's custom to de. mand of me the relation of it in every particular : who were the movers, and who the actors. I was thus called upon to relate William Weston's adventure, which I did to his evident satisfaction; for, although I was not afraid of kicks and blows, I believe I never made the worst of the matter; and, on this occasion, I endeavoured to extenuate the fault which Charles had committed, by attributing it to his light-heartedness, and thoughtless love of fun.
“ I have no doubt,” replied Mr. White, “ that this atrocious act did proceed from this cause ; but it scarcely makes it the less criminal. Charles, Charles, how often have I told you, that your
waggery, in which you indulge, may one day lead you to commit mischief for which you will ever have cause to repent! This boy, through your wantonness, might now have been a corpse but for the care of a watchful Providence. Yes, Charles, his blood might now have been streaming on the ground, and you consigned over to the hands of justice. Nor is this all. My reputation would have received a stain from which I could never have hoped to recover, although I could not have been justly charged with negligence. I saw you here last night, safe and happy, and hoped to find you so this morning; but you,
from a sheer love of fun, have, by your wanton act, endangered your schoolfellow, and distressed my mind. I lift up my heart with gratitude to Heaven for the preservation of this boy. But let me again warn you, that, if you still indulge in your thoughtlessness, you may one day become noted for recklessness. The one, by an easy transition leads to the other, and Charles Murphy may, therefore, become the scorn and hatred of all whom he may meet with in life.”
Charles wept bitterly, and seeing him thus penitent—and I believe it was genuine repentance-our master turned his conversation to William Weston. “ And you, Weston,” said he, “are scarcely less culpable, and are in no less danger of one day committing a fatal error, than Charles Murphy. Your daring is your bane, and I have observed it with sorrow.
I once knew a boy, who, like yourself, could not brook the idea of being called a coward, and was ready to do any thing within reach of his power, so