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ANECDOTES OF CHARLES XII. THE following anecdotes strongly illustrate the character of this great king and warrior :-At the siege of Stralsund, while he was dictating a letter to a secretary, a bomb fell through the roof into the upper room. The secretary, terrified, let the pen drop from his hand. “What is the matter ?” said the king, calmly. The secretary could only answer, “O! sir, the bomb!" “ The bomb," replied Charles, “what has the bomb to do with what I am dictating? Go on.” Some of his actions evinced humanity. In the middle of a battle, finding a young officer wounded, and unable to march, he mounted him on his own horse, and fought on foot along with the infantry. The Princess Lubomirski, who was greatly attached to Augustus, being taken prisoner, he ordered her to be set at liberty, saying, that “ he did not make war upon women." Near Leipsic, a peasant complained against a grenadier, for robbing him of some provisions. “Is it true," said Charles, sternly, “ that you have robbed this man ?” “ Sir," answered the soldier, “I have not done so much injury to this man, as your Majesty has done to his master. I have only taken a dinner from him; you have deprived Augustus of a kingdom." Charles reimbursed the peasant, and pardoned the soldier for his firmness; desiring the latter, however, to recollect, that, although he had deprived Augustus of his kingdom, yet he had kept nothing to himself. In his unfortunate march into the Ukraine, a soldier presented him with a piece of black and mouldy bread, which was the only kind of food the troops had to eat. Charles took the bread, and, calmly eating it, said, “ Indeed it is not good, but it may be eaten."
MARTYRDOM OF ATHANASIUS. This martyrdom was so remarkable an event, as illustrative of the discipline of the Greek Church, that the author took much pains to ascertain the facts of the case. He had, with this view, many conversations on the subject with the late Rev. Mr. Williamson, who was then British Chaplain at Smyrna. This gentleman furnished a narrative of the martyrdom, which is here copied from the Missionary Register.
Athanasius, a fine young man, about four-and-twenty years of age, was the son of a boatman, who carried on a small trade in the Archipelago. The business of the father being insufficient to require the assistance of his son, he was obliged, like thousands of his countrymen, to leave the land of his birth in search of a livelihood. Athanasius fell at length into the service of a Turk, in decent circumstances, and something above the common rank. The master, pleased with the conduct of his servant, and in reward of his fidelity, often proposed, with great offers, to elevate him from the degrading bondage of a Greek, to the privileges of a Turk. Every temptation was manfully resisted; till, on one fatal festival night, he was overcome. When the words of abjuration are once spoken, the deed is done. The next morning made the man a Turk.
He remained with his master about a year, suffering many pangs of conscience, and having no alternative but to die, (since he could not live,) a Christian. Thus circumstanced, and, no doubt, urged by his own people, whose practice it is not to receive back to their communion any one who has apostatised, Athanasius resolved to give up life as an atonement for his crime.
With this intention he quitted his master, and went on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos. At this place, sacred among the Greeks, he remained some months, receiving instruction, and preparing for death. On the expiration of his pilgrimage, he quitted Mount Athos, with the congratulations of all the Greek monks who reside there, on the prospect of becoming a distinguished saint. He arrived at Smyrna in the habit of a monk, and went immediately, with the approbation of the Greeks, to the Turkish judge, declaring his resolution to die a Christian, rather than to live an apostate. The judge wished to save his life, by persuading the Turks that he was mad; but he persisted in publicly abjuring Mahomedanism, and asserting his readiness to die. He was confined, therefore, in a dungeon, and tor
tured, which he endured with the greatest firmness and patience.
The Greeks were afraid that, during his confinement, the tortures and the extravagant promises and allurements of the Turks would shake his resolution, and they therefore sent a priest to strengthen him to suffer death.
On the day of his execution, Athanasius was led out of prison with his hands tied behind. He walked firmly to the square, a very public place before the large mosque. There he was again offered his life, with riches, women, lands, and houses, if he would remain a Turk; but nothing could dissuade him from his purpose. At length a Turkish blacksmith was ordered, by the captain of the Guard, to strike off his head: but as a last attempt to induce him to live a Turk, the executioner was desired to cut a little of the skin of his neck, that he might feel the edge of the sword. This last attempt having failed, and Athanasius, on his knees, declaring, with a calm and resigned countenance, that he was born with Jesus, and would die with Jesus, his head was struck off at a single blow. The Turkish guard instantly threw buckets of water on the neck of the corpse and the dissevered head, to prevent the multitude of expecting Greeks from dipping their handkerchiefs in his blood, to be kept as memorials of the great event. The body lay guarded and exposed for three days. It was afterwards given up to the Greeks, and buried in the principal church-yard. Happy Britain! where every one can safely worship God according to the dictates of his conscience.
A BLIND AND DEAF GIRL AND HER BIBLE.
A YOUNG person, completely blind and deaf, was brought before a number of eminent surgeons to see if anything could be done for her. Her sad condition had been suddenly produced by a violent pain in the head. The only method of communicating with her was by tapping her hand, which signified, No; and by squeezing her hand, which signified, Yes.
The surgeons concluded that her case was incurable ; and, in reply to her earnest inquiries, she received the unwelcome tap. She immediately burst into tears, and wept aloud in all the bitterness of anguish. “What?” said she, “shall I never again see the light of day, or hear a human voice ? Must I remain shut up in darkness and silence as long as I live ? ” and again she wept. If she had been able to see, she might have been pointed to the promises of the Bible; if to hear, they might have been cited for her comfort. At length, a friend who was present took up the Bible and pressed it to her breast. It was a touching and beautiful act.
She placed her hands on it, and asked, “Is this the Bible ?” Her hand was squeezed in reply. She immediately clasped the Bible in her hands, and held it to her bosom, and exclaimed, “ This is the only comfort I have left. I shall never be able to look upon its blessed pages, but I can think of the precious promises I have learnt from it in the Sabbath-school;” and then began to repeat some of its promises. “ Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee. Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee. My grace is sufficient for thee,” &c. She dried her tears, became submissive to the will of God, and was happy.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD CHARACTER. HAVING addressed several remarks to the young on mental improvement, I would now direct their minds to a subject of great importance, without which their knowledge will lose its lustre. You may improve your minds, you may amass stores of knowledge, all but inexhaustible in their extent; you may dig deep in the mines of science and learning, but a good character must give grace and ornament to your knowledge, or you will be but learned fools.
If you have not a good character, with all your knowledge, you will be like many within your circle of acquaintance, whose influence is small, though their knowledge is extensive, because their characters are bad. An unimpeachable character is worth more than treasures of gold and silver. In fact, the greatest treasures cannot purchase it. It is a diamond of the first water. It is a star of the first magnitude. Like heaven, it is all glorious; or, like the sun, it shines with distinguished lustre when undimmed by the mists of detraction. The man of character stands above his fellows. Men look up to him with veneration and respect. The man who has a good character is like the current coin of the realm, which passes everywhere current, because it is known. Character adds emphasis to the words of the intelligent man.
Were we required and necessitated to choose and advise between the two, we would say, be a man of good character in preference to a man of knowledge. “If there be knowledge, it passeth away,” but character is eternal. What we are here in character, we shall be hereafter. Let your minds, then, be deeply impressed with the weight and value of character, and while you have an opportunity of signalizing yourselves, endeavour to attain and secure both knowledge and a good character, but particularly the latter. “A character truly excellent is an invaluable treasure. Its presence converts even the dungeon into a palace; its absence changes even the palace into a dungeon. It is of all ornaments the most precious and beautiful; and of all badges of distinction the most brilliant and ennobling. It secures the most estimable of all opinions; the most valuable of all privileges—the approbation of the wise, and the society of the good. The sacrifice of character involves a loss incalculable, frequently irreparable. Its preservation, therefore, like its acquisition, is of very great importance.
The testimony of a good conscience is a treasure of which no circumstance or violence can ever deprive its possessor, without his knowledge and consent. It sustains him under the heaviest load of temporal or personal privation or affliction. It gilds his path amidst the darkest season of adversity or calamity. It guides him safely through the most intricate labyrinths of perplexity and difficulty. Attempts may occasionally be made to becloud or extinguish its brightness. Its partial obscuration or apparent evanescence may be the