Page images
PDF
EPUB

off to the doctor, who finds that the cough was produced by inflammation of the covering of the lungs, which the abstraction of a little blood and a blister would, at the onset, have removed at once; but that now coagulable lymph has been poured from the inflamed surface, the covering of the lungs is adhering to the lining of the chest, and the patient has contracted a deadly disease which no art can remedy. The tinker, and the tailor, and the butcher, and the baker, when informed of this, lift up their hands and eyes, and cry, “ Lord have mercy upon us, who could have thought it?" And then march away to their other customers, to whom, if they happen to have coughs too, they very composedly recommend their “ fine things for a cough” over again.

Is it not perfectly astonishing that a carpenter, or a bricklayer, who would never think of pretending to mend your shoes, should nevertheless have no hesitation whatever in offering his services to mend your health. If you carry your kettle to be mended to any one but à tinker, he will tell you honestly that he does not know how to do it. But you shall travel from Dan to Beersheba, and should you meet a thousand passengers by the way, not a soul of them but will undertake, should you complain of being unwell, to cure you on the spot.

Now all this folly and mischief is attributable to no less a personage than that respectable old lady, said to be the mother of Wisdom-I. mean Experience. It happens thus. Mr. Noaks gets a pain in his bowels—his neighbour Styles experienced a similar pain last week, took brandy, and got well. Relying on this experience, he recommends brandy to Noaks. Noaks takes a glass, and feels betteranother glass and feels better still—a third cures him. Next year his son complains of a pain in his bowels, and his father, mindful of the experience of himself and eke his neighbour Styles, administers to his son, in full confidence, a bumper of brandy. The son gets rather worse, but then his father recollects that the first glass did not cure his own pain, and so he gives his son another, and advises him to go to bed. Next morning, however, the pain being no better, some other neighbour assures the father that he has often experienced wonderful relief, whenever he has had a pain in the bowels, from gin and peppermint. So the father gives the son a bumper of gin and peppermint. But although brandy, and gin, and peppermint, might have cured the colic-pains of his two neighbours, it would not be found to be quite the thing for the inflammation which is already raging among his poor son's bowels. At last the doctori called in, who finds that his patient has been labouring for thirty or forty hours under a disease which will often kill its victim in twentyfour; and that however mild it might have been at its onset, it has now, by the aid of brandy and gin, been urged on to incurable violence.

Experience may be the mother of Wisdom, for ought I know, but she is certainly the mother of Mischief also. Experience may teach a man to make bricks, and to lay bricks, but she can never teach him the practice of physic. Money is of no use to a man unless he knows

how to lay it out; and experience is unprofitable, unless a man knows how to apply it. And as money may be laid out to the injury of the spender, so experience misapplied becomes a curse in the hands of its possessor. Farewell .

E. JOHNSON.

TO A DYING CHILD.

BY R. SHELTON MACKENZIE, LL.D.

As, tempest-wrecked, 'mid ocean waves, the seaman struggles on,
Though mountain-high the waters rise—though hope be all but gone,
Yet may one memory cheer his soul amid the breakers' roar,
The thought of that thrice-blessed home he never may see more,
The thought of all the loved, the far, to whom his life is life ;-
Then, then, his failing energies re-gather for the strife,
In the life struggle on he speeds, with strengthened heart and hand,
And grasps the plank which bears him on to yonder friendly strand !
Thus do I struggle—hopeless all, for oh! it is in vain-
Grasping at every chance that health may tint thy cheek again.
Yet is it hard, my drooping flower, to think that there can be
Nought which may glad a father's heart with bright-eyed hope for thee :
For, in thy cheek, so wasted now-once like the roses' bloom-
I read, too well, the omens sad, which tell me of thy doom :
In thy faint voice—thy feeble steps—thy racking, constant pain-
Thy patience sweet, which suffers, ay, and never doth complain-
Thy low, deep sigh, (for us who weep,)-thy fixed and thrilling gaze,
With all the fitful brightness which belongs to dying days -
I feel that hope were madness, that thy time on earth is brief,
But tears are vain, my task is now to calm thy mother's grief.

Methinks thou wert as fair a flower as Earth hath ever borne !
Thy cheek was radiant with the hues which tint the dewy morn-
Thy voice as sweet as is the tone of some dear bird of song,
A sudden burst of melody, as we speed through life along-
Thy bounding step was free and fleet-thy lovely form of grace
Well suited with the beauty which adorned thy mind and face.-
Thine eyes! the diamond's light was nothing to their flash
Whene'er they spoke, all joyful, from beneath each long, dark lash;
Thou wert more like the fancy thought which fills a poet's dream,
Than aught which ever glanced across Earth's melancholy stream.

Oh, child of lovely mind and form ! if thou wert not mine own,
Methinks I could have loved thee well, for thy sweet self alone :
But here, when in thy features blend thy mother's and thy sire's,
Then from thy fount of feeling springs the love which never tires ;
When sweet affection, full and frank, flowed with thy slightest word,
When every lip confessed thy worth, and every heart adored,
When, early dowered with mental worth, thy wit surpassed thy years,
When, never yet, (till now, in grief,) for thee flowed forth our tears,
Oh, gladly might à father's heart exult in such a child,
And Heaven must pardon, if it throb with anguish deep and wild.

Oh, early-gifted ! seldom yet hath nature's hand combined
Strength or long years with such a quick maturity of mind :
The earliest flower, the ripest fruit, first withers and decays-
And thus, my child, for thee is not the boon of length of days.
Yet, oh, how bitter is the thought that gifts so rich as thine,
Should, for a moment, cheat our hope, and then, for aye decline :
What 'wildering dreams have often sprung and fancied all thy life,
Lovely and loved, with women's charms, a bride—a happy wife-
With“ olive branches round about” thy happy, happy hearth,
It was a father's dream, sweet child, a fantasy of earth.
I think on all which thou hast been-I view thee as thou art-
Yet, pallid flower, far dearer now to this afflicted heart:
The love which once it cherished so, still holds its primal sway,
Linked with a tender, soft regret above thy sad decay:
The pride, for thee, which swelled this heart, for all that thou hast been,
Falls chastened now, like fading light, upon day's dying scene.
I watch thy couch, at midnight hour, when silence reigns around,
And, by my side, beloved child, another may be found:
Thy gentle mother, o'er thy rest an anxious vigil keeps,
Presses my hand, and points to thee, and sadly, sadly weeps.
Thou art our very pulse of life, and must we lose thee now,
Just in the morning of thy youth, with promise on thy brow?
We'll miss our merry songstress, with her melodies of heart,
Snatches of music, sweeter far than ever framed by Art, -
We'll miss our winning playfellow, whose very glance was glee,
We'll miss our fairy dancer, with her motions light and free;
We'll miss the glad “good morrow," and the prayerful "good-night,"
We'll miss the deep, deep beauty of those eyes so darkly bright,-
Even here, as I watch over thee, they open on me now,
Undimm'd and brilliant, as if pain had never pressed thy brow.

Yet, Beautiful !—if God should call thy spirit from its clay,
If from the cares and tears of earth he summon thee away;
Wilt thou not come-if oh! indeed, a spirit-child may come,
And breathe the better air of heaven above what was thy home?
Wilt thou not hover round that home, of which thou art the light?
Wilt thou not come to us, in dreams, in the still hour of night?
Wilt thou not sweetly whisper us, “Not lost, but gone before ?"
Shall not the happy day arrive when we shall weep no more?
Then in the better, brighter sphere, the lost of earth shall rise,
Enfranchised from this world of pain, to yonder glorious skies ?
His will be done. What Time might bring if it had left us thee,
Lies hidden from our ken behind the veil of mystery ;
A thousand griefs might have been thine on life's tempestuous wave;
Perhaps, in mercy, God would claim the boon of life he gave!
Be still, my spirit ! think of all his mercy leaves thee here -
Friends, health, and hope to live for yet,--all that the heart holds dear;
A happy home,—though one bright gem be loosened from its zone,-
The trusting love which, years ago, made one true heart mine own,-
One bud for hope to cherish, for pride to boast, is left,
And, while I weep, I still can say, “ I am not quite bereft !"

Liverpool, May, 1836.

ARDENT TROUGHTON, THE WRECKED MERCHANT.1

BY THE SUB-EDITOR.

“ Send the men here. All, all !” exclaimed Gavel, as he rose from binding the drunken and felon master. Terrible and revolting was the scene that ensued. The growling brute, whom we had just overthrown, lay bound and helpless upon the deck of the cabin, gnashing his teeth in the impotence of his rage, and giving vent to his exasperation by the most horrid blasphemies. Also, on the deck, the poor old steward, with his silver hair, dabbled in his own blood, was supported in my arms, his life ebbing fast away from the mortal wound. I was vainly endeavouring to staunch the stream that, trickling along the deck, actually came and licked the very hand that had thus ruthlessly wasted it, and life together.

The haggard and worn-out crew assembled in the cabin.

“My men—my good, my dear men,” began to whine from the deck, the overthrown and pusillanimous Tomkins, “ come to my relief. You see there is mutiny and murder here—I am innocent, totally innocent. It is a vile plot between the passenger and the mate to take the command from me. They have begun by murdering my faithful Williams ;” and he looked askance at the poor old man in my arms, but the dying steward neither spoke nor moved.

“Up, my men, and fall upon Gavel and Troughton-up, my good fellows, and I'll give every man of you a bottle of rum.”

" Liar as well as murderer !” exclaimed the sullen mate, “ though dead men cannot rise up and accuse you, your own pistol will. My men, do you believe this drunken assassin ? or this gentleman, Mr. Ardent Troughton, who has been so good and so kind to us all ?"

“ Don't know what to think,” said the boatswain, luxuriating in idea upon the promised bottle of rum. “ We know, Mr. Gavel, that neither you nor Mr. Troughton bore the captain any good will;

now I calculate, seeing as how short we are of hands, that if Captain Tomkins means to be as good as his word, and he'll hand out the rum, I'll vote that he be released, and all this murdering affair left to be sifted out by the big wigs when we get on shore—now that's my notion."

“ And mine—and mine—and mine !" said the rest of the fellows, with one exception.

“ Ardent Troughton,” said Gavel to me solemnly, “ these are your reformed crew-the images of the Deity that it is a profanation to handspike. Not only will they lick the foot of the murderer still wet with his victim's blood, but they would sell their own souls for the privilege of getting drunk. Let the brutes have their way. There is a curse upon the vessel-it will be all one a week hence. She is doomed to destruction, and every living creature in her.”

i Continued from p. 90.

“ Thank you for me,” said the boatswain ; " but all this lingo is neither here nor there, One man's word is as good as another's. So here goes to cut the lashings, and, my lads, we'll have a night of it.”

“ Hurrah !” shouted the men, and the boatswain advanced to release the wretched homicide, when an unsuspected impediment presented itself.

I have mentioned before, a great and strong negro, that was very active in cutting away the foremast in our late dangerous situation. Of this man I had taken less notice than of the others. I never remembered to have spoken to him. Of course I was a little surprised to see him start out from the group of his shipmates, and, bestriding the prostrate man, seize the other undischarged pistol, and threaten by action, though not by words, to shoot the first man that might attempt to unbind him. The crew gave back, and the mate, at this turn of affairs, indulged himself with a low, deriding laugh, that seemed horribly out of tharacter in this scene of horrors.

For myself, I was still occupied in supporting the dying steward, holding to his wounded breast my handkerchief saturated with blood. The would-be liberators and the boatswain, to use the language of the latter, were taken aback. The black had now his right hand upon the throat of his master, his left still holding the pistol, looking first at me, and then at Gavel, watching for the slightest indication from us to end this dilemma, by strangling him with his neckerchief. The mate gave the ready and self-constituted executioner a grim smile of approbation; but I motioned to him energetically not to harm the prisoner. He obeyed me immediately, making a harsh guttural sound that was frightfully startling.

At length, the boatswain said to Tomkins, “ I and the ship's company are very sorry to see you hove down there, captain, and belayed to the deck. All we can do just now is to remember what's going on when this comes before the coroner. Are you, captain, innocent of the poor old man's death ?”

“ I am.”
“ Will you swear to it?"
“ I will."
“ So help you God?”
“ So help me God.”

Then there was a silence, when, to the astonishment and dismay of all, the dying steward half rose from my arms, and said distinctly,

Captain Tomkins shot me. May God forgive him !” and fell back dead into my arms.

“ He is gone," said I, speaking for the first time. “ My good men, take the advice of your true friend. Go to your different duties in silence, and praying inwardly for the deceased, commune with your own hearts. Mr. Tomkins can no longer have any control in this vessel. The moment that we arrive in harbour he shall be handed over to the civil power, and be made to answer for the deed that you have partly witnessed. Go, be serious—know me as your friend, and be obedient to Mr. Gavel.”

They retired humbled, but not contumacious. As the negro, who

« PreviousContinue »