« PreviousContinue »
give me to her, I will be wholly at your disposal. I am a soldier of fortune, ha!'-— This was followed by a vain laugh of his own, and a deep silence of all the rest of the company. I had nothing left for it but to fall fast asleep, which I did with all speed. • Come,' said he, resolve upon it, we will make a wedding at the next town: we will wake this pleasant companion who is fallen asleep, to be the brideman; and,' giving the quaker a clap on the knee, he concluded, ' This sly saint, who, I will warrant, understands what is what as well as you or I, widow, shall give the bride as father. The quaker, who happened to be a man of smartness, answered, · Friend, I take it in good part that thou hast given me the authority of a father over this comely and virtuous child; and. I must assure thee, that if I have the giving her, I shall not bestow her on thee. Thy mirth, friend, savoureth of folly; thou art a person of a light mind, thy drum is a type of thee, it soundeth because it is empty. Verily, it is not from thy fullness, but thy emptiness that thou hast spoken this day. Friend, friend, we have hired this coach in partnership with thee, to carry us to the great city; we cannot go any other way. This worthy mother must hear thee if thou wilt needs utter thy follies; we cannot help it, friend, I say: if thou wilt we must hear thee; but if thou wert a man of understanding, thou wouldst not take advantage of thy courageous countenance to abash us children of peace.-Thou art, thou sayest, a soldier ; give quarter to us, who cannot resist thee. Why didst thou fleer at our friend, who feigned himself asleep? He said nothing; but how dost thou know what he containeth? If thou speakest improper things in the hearing of this virtuous young virgin, consider it as an outrage against a distressed person that cannot get from thee; to speak indiscreetly what we are obliged to hear, by being hasped
up with thee in this public vehicle, is in some degree assaulting on the high road.'
Here Ephraim paused, and the captain with a happy and uncommon impudence (which can be convicted and support itself at the same time) cries, Faith, friend, I thank thee; I should have been a little impertinent if thou hadst not reprimanded me. Come, thou art, I see, a smoky old fellow, and I will be very orderly the ensuing part of my journey. I was going to give myself airs, but, ladies, I beg pardon.
The captain was so little out of humour, and our company was so far from being soured by this little ruffle, that Ephraim and he took a particular delight in being agreeable to each other for the future ; and assumed their different provinces in the conduct of the company. Our reckonings, apartments, and accommodation, fell under Ephraim; and the captain looked to all disputes upon the road, as the good behaviour of our coachman, and the right we had of taking place, as going to London, of all vehicles coming from thence. The occurrences we met with were ordinary, and very little happened which could entertain by the relation of them: but when I considered the company we were in, I took it for no small good-fortune, that the whole journey was not spent in impertinences, which to one part of us might be an entertainment, to the other a suffering. What therefore Ephraim said when we were almost arrived at London, had to me an'air not only of good understanding, but good breeding. Upon the young lady's expressing her satisfaction in the journey, and declaring how delightful it had been to her, Ephraim declared himself as follows : “ There is no ordinary part of human life, which expresseth so much a good mind, and a right inward man, as his behaviour upon meeting with strangers, especially such as may seem
the most unsuitable companions to him: such a man, when he falleth in the way with persons of simplicity and innocence, however knowing he may be in the ways of men, will not vaunt himself thereof, but will the rather hide his superiority to them, that he may not be painful unto them. My good friend, continued he, turning to the officer, “ thee and I are to part by and by, and peradventure we may never meet again: but be advised by a plain man; modes and apparel are but trifles to the real man, therefore do not think such a man as thyself terrible for thy garb, nor such a one as me contemptible for mine. When two such as thee and I meet, with affections as we ought to have towards each other, thou shouldst rejoice to see my peaceable demeanor, and I should be glad to see thy strength and ability to protect me in it.'
N° 133. THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 1711.
Quis desiderio sit pudor, aut modus
HOR, 1 Od. xxiv. 1.'
Such was his worth, our loss is such,
THERE is a sort of delight, which is alternately mixed with terror and sorrow, in the contemplation of death. The soul has its curiosity more than ordinarily awakened, when it turns its thoughts upon the conduct of such who have behaved themselves
with an equal, a resigned, a cheerful, a generous or heroic temper in that extremity. We are affected with these respective manners of behaviour, as we secretly believe the part of the dying person imitable by ourselves, or such as we imagine ourselves more particularly capable of. Men of exalted minds march before us like princes, and are to the ordinary race of mankind, rather subjects for their admiration than example. However, there are no ideas strike more forcibly upon ourimaginations, than those which are raised from reflections upon the exits of great and excellent men. Innocent men who have suffered as criminals, though they were benefactors to human society, seem to be persons of the highest distinction, among the vastly greater number of human race, the dead. When the iniquity of the times brought Socrates to his execution, how great and wonderful is it to behold him, unsupported by any thing but the testimony of his own conscience, and conjectures of hereafter, receive the poison with an air of mirth and good-humour, and, as if going on an agreeable journey, bespeak some deity to make it fortunate!
When Phocion's good actions had met with the like reward from his country, and he was led to death with many others of his friends, they bewailing their fate, he walking composedly towards the place of execution, how gracefully does he support his illustrious character to the very last instant! One of the rabble spitting at him as he passed, with his usual authority he called to know if no one was ready to teach this fellow how to behave himself. When a poor-spirited creature that died at the same time for his crimes, bemoaned himself unmanfully, he rebuked him with this question, · Is it no consolation to such a man as thou art to die with Phocion? At the instant when he was to die, they asked what com
mands he had for his son: he answered, 'To forget this injury of the Athenians. Nicoles, his friend, under the same sentence, desired he might drink the potion before him : Phocion said, ' because he never had denied him any thing, he would not even this, the most difficult request he had ever made.
These instances were very noble and great, and the reflections of those sublime spirits had made death to them what it is really intended to be by the Author of nature, a relief from a various being, ever subject to sorrows and difficulties.
Epaminondas the Theban general, having received in a fight a mortal stab with a sword, which was left in his body, lay in that posture till he had intelligence that his troops had obtained the victory, and then permitted it to be drawn out, at which instant he expressed himself in this manner: This is not the end of my life, my fellow-soldiers ; it is now your Epaminondas is born, who dies in so much glory.'
It were an endless labour to collect the accounts, with which all ages have filled the world, of noble and heroic minds that have resigned this being, as if the termination of life were but an ordinary occurrence of it. :
This common-place way of thinking I fell into from an aukward endeavour to throw off a real and fresh affliction, by turning over books in a melancholy mood; but it is not easy to remove griefs which touch the heart, by applying remedies which only entertain the imagination. As therefore this paper is to consist of any thing which concerns human life, I cannot help letting the present subject regard what has been the last object of my eyes, though an entertainment of sorrow..
I went this evening to visit a friend, with a de