Domestic pleasures by F. B. Vaux
or, the happy fire-side
[Illustration: Frontispiece Eddystone Light House as erected by Lord
* * * * *
The happy Fire-side.
ILLUSTRATED BY INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS.
BY F. B. VAUX.
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has surviv'd
the fall! Tho' few do taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or tasting, long
enjoy thee! too infirm, Or too incautious to preserve thy sweets
Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy
crystal cup; Thou art the nurse of virtue; in thine arms She smiles,
appearing, as in truth she is, Heaven-born, and destin'd to the skies
* * * * *
MY DEAR YOUNG READERS,
When I was a child, if a new book were given to me, I recollect, my
first question invariably was:—“Is this true.” If the answer were in
the affirmative, the volume immediately assumed, in my eyes, a new
value, and was perused with far greater interest than a story merely
fictitious. Now, as I am very desirous that you should take up this
little volume with a prepossession in its favour, I must inform you,
that the characters of the children here pourtrayed, are all real
characters. The little work was undertaken for the improvement of a
family very dear to me, and was, during its progress, regarded by them
as a faithful mirror, reflecting both their virtues and defects. You
will find in it, among other subjects, a slight sketch of the early
part of the Roman history; but you must not suppose, that in offering
it to you, I mean my little book to supersede the more detailed
accounts that are usually put into the hands of children. I have often
found, that even when a volume has been read entirely through, very few
of the facts have made any deep impression on the youthful mind; and
the improvement to be derived from those facts, is still more
completely overlooked. This I discovered to be the case with my little
friends: they had read the Roman history, and I had hoped that they had
read it attentively; but upon questioning them afterwards, even upon
some leading events, I found them exceedingly deficient in information.
This suggested to me the idea of the following little volume. I
recommended them to begin again the perusal of the Roman history; to
take notes as they proceeded, and write, from them, an abridgment for
themselves; promising that I would do the same, and give my manuscript
to the one who should most deserve it. They were pleased with the plan,
and regularly brought their little productions, once a fortnight, for
my inspection. I, at the same time, read them mine. They soon
discovered in it their own characters, delineated under fictitious
names, and took a still more lively interest in their task. By the time
I had completed the regal government of Rome, I found my manuscript had
attained a considerable size; I therefore had it neatly bound, and as
Emily and Louisa equally deserved the prize, they drew lots, and it
fell to the former. Several young persons who had perused the little
work, united in begging it might be printed, that they also might have
it in their libraries. This, my dear young readers, is the origin of
The conversations recorded in the following pages, are chiefly such
as have, at different times, taken place between my little friends and
myself. I sincerely wish you may derive, not only amusement, but
instruction, from the transcript; and that it may convince you, no
pleasures are so pure as domestic pleasures; no society so
delightful, as that experienced in the affectionate intercourse of
parents and children, by a happy fire-side.
FRANCES BOWYER VAUX.
* * * * *
MR. AND MRS. BERNARD.
EMILY, aged Fifteen.
* * * * *
The rain came down in torrents, and beat violently against the
parlour windows, whilst a keen autumnal blast made the children shiver,
even by the side of a good fire. Their little hearts glowed with
gratitude, when they reflected on their happy lot, sheltered from the
bitter wind and driving sleet; and contrasted it with that of many
miserable little beings, who were, no doubt, exposed, at that very
moment, to the pitiless raging of the storm.
“Ah, mamma,” said Ferdinand, a little boy of seven years old, “how I
feel for those poor children who have no home to shelter them, and no
fire to warm their cold hands. I often think of them, and it reminds me
of the hymn I learned some time ago.
“Not more than others I deserve, Yet God hath given me more; For I
have food whilst others starve, Or beg from door to door.”
“I am glad to find that you can feel for others in distress, my
boy,” said Mrs. Bernard; “and hope you will each, my dear children,
cultivate that benevolent affection called compassion, which enables us
to enter into the distresses of others, and feel for them, in worse
measure, as we do for ourselves. But we must not rest satisfied with
only pitying their sorrows; as far as lies in our power, it is our duty
to relieve them.”
“That would be delightful indeed, mamma,” said Ferdinand; “but what
can such children as we are, do towards assisting our fellow
creatures?—at least, such a little boy a I am. I thought it was only
men and women, who could do good to others by their charity and
His mother endeavoured to explain to him, that, although he might
not at present be able to do any very extensive good to society, still
the attempt to be useful, as far as lay in his power, would improve his
own disposition; in which case his efforts would not be thrown away;
and that, although he was so young, he might, nevertheless, be
serviceable, in some degree, to his poorer neighbours. “And it would be
very silly, my boy,” added she, “to abstain from making the trial,
merely because you could not do all the good you wished.”
Ferdinand quite agreed with his mother, and the rest of the children
cordially united in his wish to render themselves useful; but how to
effect their purpose was the next consideration. Mrs. Bernard had
taught her boys to net and knit, together with several other
employments of the same kind. These occupations, she found, had the
excellent effect of completely fixing their wandering attention, whilst
she read to them, which she was daily in the practice of doing.
Ferdinand was the first to recollect that he could plat straw for a
hat, which, he had no doubt, Emily and Louisa would afterwards sew
together for him.
Louisa. Oh, yes, that we will most willingly, Ferdinand. But
let us think what we can do, Emily: we might make a great many things,
you know, because we can do all sorts of work.
Emily. Very true, Louisa: the chief difficulty will be to
procure materials for the exercise of our abilities. I have several
things that I shall not wear again; these, if mamma has no objection,
might, I think, be converted to very useful purposes.
Mrs. B. You have my free permission, my dear girl, to exert
all your ingenuity upon them.
Edward said, he had just thought of an employment for himself, which
he hoped would please Ferdinand. “A few days ago,” added he, “when I
was drinking tea with my aunt, she was making gloves of fine white
cotton, with a little ivory instrument hooked at the end; now, if I use
worsted instead of cotton, I think I shall make some nice warm gloves,
which will do instead of fire, to keep the poor children's hands warm;
and I can knit stockings for them too, so that I do not think any one
of us need be idle.”
Louisa. And then our prize-money—that may be set apart to
purchase materials for more clothes, when the stock we have on hand is
all used. May it not, mamma?
Mrs. B. It is an excellent scheme, my dear Louisa, and, as a
reward for suggesting it, you shall make the box to hold your treasure,
provided you will take pains, and endeavour to do it as neatly as you
Ferdinand. And make it strong too, Lousia, for I expect it
will soon be full. I shall be more anxious than ever to get a prize
Louisa. I have been thinking what I shall put upon the box as
a motto. Ought it not to have one, mamma?
Mrs. B. By all means, my dear; but it must be something
appropriate. What do you propose, Louisa?
Louisa. I was thinking of painting a little wreath of
flowers, and writing very neatly in the middle, “Charity is kind.”
Mr. B. A very well-chosen motto, Louisa. I am delighted to
witness your benevolent dispositions, my beloved children. Make haste
and sit down to your respective employments. In the mean time, I will
hasten and finish my business in the counting-house, that I may enjoy
your company this evening.
All. Thank you, dear papa.
While Mr. Bernard was absent, the children were all busily employed,
preparing for their new occupations, and had just taken their seats
before a cheerful fire, when their father re-entered the room.
Mr. B. Well, what all seated?
Louisa. Yes, papa, we made great haste, that we might be
ready for you when you came in. Are we to read to-night, or will you be
so kind as to talk to us?
Mr. B. Suppose you talk to me a little, Louisa. Tell me what
you have been reading with your mother to-day.
Louisa. Emily would tell you best, papa; but if you wish to
hear me, I will give you as good an account as I can.
Mr. B. To do your best, is all that can be expected of you,
my dear. Remember to speak very distinctly.
Louisa. We began the Roman history, and read as far as the
deaths of Romulus. Nobody saw him die, and so—
Mr. B. Stop, stop—not so fast, recollect, you have not yet
told me who Romulus was.
Louisa. Oh! I thought you knew that, papa; he was the first
king of Rome, and he built the city, and—
Mr. B. Begin again, my dear Louisa. Do not be in such a
hurry; give me a clear account of Romulus, from his birth to his death.
Louisa. Oh dear, papa, I do not think I can do that.
Mrs. B. Try, however, my dear, as your father wishes it.
Emily will help you out, if you find yourself at a loss.
Louisa, (laying aside her work and looking attentively at her
father.) I do not at all know where to begin, papa. I think you will
not understand me, if I do not first tell you something about Numitor
Mr. B. Then, by all means, begin with them.
Louisa. Numitor and Amulius were brothers. They were sons to
the king of Lavinium. Numitor was, by his father's will, left heir to
the throne, and Amulius was to have all the treasures. This, however,
did not satisfy him; he wanted to be king too, and, by means of his
riches, soon gained his wish. He was a very bad man indeed, for he
killed Numitor's two sons, and would not let his daughter marry, for
fear she should have a little baby, which, when it grew up, might
deprive him of the crown he had so wickedly taken from his brother.
Notwithstanding his precaution, she did have two little boys, whom she
named Romulus and Remus. Amulius, their cruel uncle, found them out,
and ordered them to be drowned: so the poor little creatures were put
into a cradle, and thrown in the the river Tiber. But it happened, just
at that time, it had overflowed its banks, and at the place where they
were thrown in, the water was too shallow to drown them.—Do I get on
pretty well, papa?
Mr. B. Admirably, my dear Louisa. Edward, can you tell us
where the river Tiber flows?
Edward. Yes, father, it rises in the Apenine mountains in
Italy, and empties itself into the Mediterranean Sea, ten miles from
Rome. Its present name is Tivere.
Mr. B. Perfectly right, my boy. Now, Louisa, go on. I beg
pardon for interrupting you.
Louisa. I think I left my little babies in a very dangerous
situation on the banks of the Tiber: they, however, escaped the death
prepared for them. The cradle floated some time, and on the waters'
retiring, was left on dry ground. And now, papa, do you know, I do not
quite believe what the book says, about a wolf's coming and suckling
them: it seems so unnatural.
Mr. B. I am inclined to doubt the fact too, my dear; but not
upon the ground of its being unnatural, as I have heard of many
circumstances quite as extraordinary, which, nevertheless, I know to
have been true. But go on with your relation.
Louisa. At last, Faustulus, the king's shepherd, found them,
and took them home to his wife, Laurentia, who brought them up as her
own children. They followed the employment of shepherds, but soon
discovered abilities above the meanness of their supposed birth. As
they grew up, they were not content with watching their flocks, but
used often to employ themselves in hunting wild beasts, and attacking a
band of robbers that infested the country. One day Remus was taken
prisoner, carried before the king, and accused of having robbed upon
his lands. The king sent him to Numitor, that he might punish him as he
thought proper. Numitor, however, did not punish him at all, for he, by
accident, discovered that he was his grandson. Amulius was soon
afterwards killed, and Numitor restored to the throne. Now, papa, may
Emily tell you the rest?
Mr. B. Louisa has acquitted herself wonderfully well. Let me
hear you, my dear Emily, continue the account.
Emily. The two brothers leaving the kingdom to Numitor,
determined upon building a city on the spot where they had been so
cruelly exposed, and so wonderfully preserved: but a fatal desire of
reigning seized them both, and created a difference between the noble
youths, which ended in the death of Remus. Romulus being now without a
rival, laid the foundation of a city, which, in compliment to its
founder, was called Rome. In order to people this new settlement,
admission was given to all malefactors and slaves, so that it was soon
filled with inhabitants. The next object was to establish some form of
government. Romulus left them at liberty to appoint their own king, and
they, from motives of gratitude, elected him. He was accordingly
acknowledged as chief of their religion, sovereign magistrate of Rome,
and general of the army. Besides a guard to attend his person, it was
agreed that he should be preceded, wherever he went, by twelve Lictors,
each bearing an axe tied up in a bundle of rods. These were to serve as
executioners of the law, and to impress his new subjects with an idea
of his authority.
Mr. B. Very well, Emily: now suppose Edward gives us an
account of the legislation of Rome.
Edward. The senate consisted of an hundred of the principal
citizens, who were appointed as counsellors to the king. The first of
these senators was nominated by the sovereign, and always acted as his
representative, whenever war or other emergencies called him from the
Capitol. The plebians, too, had considerable weight in the
administration, as they assumed the power of confirming the laws passed
by the king and senate. Their religion was mixed with much
superstition. They had firm reliance on the credit of soothsayers, who
pretended, from observations on the flight of birds, and from the
entrails of beasts, to direct the present, and dive into futurity.
Mr. B. Very well, Now can Ferdinand tell us any thing about
Ferdinand. Yes, papa, I can tell you how wickedly he deceived
the Sabines, to get wives for his Roman people.
Mr. B. Who were the Sabines?
Ferdinand. A neighbouring nation, and reckoned the most
warlike people in all Italy.
Mrs. B. Well, now for your account of the treachery of
Ferdinand. Romulus proclaimed that he should give a feast in
honour of the god Neptune, and made very great preparations for it. The
Sabines came, with the rest of their neighbours, and brought their
wives and daughters with them: but the poor things had better have been
at home, papa, for in the middle of the entertainment, the young Romans
rushed in with drawn swords, seized the most beautiful women, and
carried them off. I think it was one of the most wicked actions I ever
Mr. B. I am not surprised, my dear, at your warm expressions.
If we regard the deed merely as a breach of hospitality, we must
pronounce it both barbarous and unmanly; but to mediate such treachery,
and veil it under the cloak of religion, was indeed a sin of the
deepest dye. Can you, Edward, tell us what was the consequence of this
Edward. A bloody war ensued. Tatius, the Sabine king, entered
the Roman territories at the head of twenty-five thousand men; a force
greatly exceeding that which the Romans could bring against them into
Mr. B. Louisa, can you tell me how they gained possession of
the Capitoline hill?
Louisa. Tarpeia, daughter of the commander, offered to betray
one of the gates to the Sabine army, if the soldiers would give her, as
a reward, what they wore on their left arms—meaning their bracelets:
they, however, willing to punish her for such treachery, pretended to
think she meant their shields, which they threw upon her as they
entered, and crushed her to death. I think, papa, she was justly
punished, for it is every one's duty to love and protect their country.
It is very base to betray it to its enemies.
Mr. B. I am pleased with your remark, Louisa. Indeed, I have
been delighted to hear you all answer, so properly, the different
questions that have been proposed to you. But it is growing late, as it
wants but a quarter to nine o'clock; we must therefore defer the
remainder of our history till to-morrow. Farewell, my dear children.
The young folks immediately arose, and having carefully put by their
work, took an affectionate leave of their parents, and retired for the
After a day spent happily, because it was spent in the cheerful
performance of their several duties, the little family assembled round
the tea-table, and were rewarded by the approving smiles of their
Louisa. Let us make haste and finish our tea, that we may sit
down to work, with papa and mamma, as comfortably as we did last night.
Mrs. B. Rather let us endeavour, my dear Louisa, to prolong
each moment by employing it usefully. It is wrong to wish one instant
of so short a life to pass unimproved. Recollect, the wisest of men has
said, “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose
Ferdinand. When you speak of the wisest of men, do you not
mean Solomon, mamma?
Mrs. B. Yes, my dear. You have read that part of the sacred
Scriptures which contains the life of that great man, have you not?
Ferdinand. I have, mamma. When God gave him his choice of
many blessings, he preferred the gift of wisdom, which was granted him;
and honours and riches were also added, as a reward for his prudent
Louisa. Is knowledge the same thing as wisdom, pray?
[Footnote: The conversation following, was held, verbatim,
between the author and a little boy seven years old.]
Ferdinand. I think not, Louisa. Wisdom is a much better thing
than knowledge. Is it not, mamma:
Mrs. B. I think so my dear; but you shall hear what my
favourite poet, Cowper, says upon this subject:
“Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have oft-times no
connexion. Knowledge dwells In heads, replete with thoughts of other
men; Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude,
unprofitable mass, The mere materials with which wisdom builds, Till
smooth'd, and squar'd, and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom
it seems t'enrich. Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.”
Ferdinand. I do not quite understand those lines: they say
that knowledge is a mere unprofitable mass. You have told me, mamma,
that I ought to take pains, and gain improvement by means of books,
conversation, and observation; but if these lines are true, what good
will it do me?
Mrs. B. Read the next line, my dear boy. “The mere materials
with which wisdom builds.” Now, if you provide no materials, you must
be aware that wisdom cannot build her temple in your mind. Do you
understand now the meaning of the lines?
Ferdinand, (after a pause for consideration,) Yes, mamma: and
I think I understand the true meaning of the word wisdom, too. It is
such power as God possesses:—a great deal of knowledge joined to a
great deal of goodness.
Mrs. B. You are quite right, my dear Ferdinand. What is Emily
reflecting upon so seriously?
Emily. I was thinking, my dear mother, how much at a loss the
English must have been, before the introduction of tea into Europe. I
have heard my father say, it was not known here till within the last
two hundred years.
Mr. B. I did tell you so, my dear. Some Dutch adventurers
[Footnote: See Macartney's Embassy to China.], seeking, about that
time, for such objects as might produce a profit in China, and hearing
of the general use, there, of a beverage from a plant of the country,
endeavoured to introduce the use of the European herb, sage, amongst
the Chinese, for a similar purpose, accepting, in return, the Chinese
tea, which they brought to Europe. The European herb did not continue
long in use in China, but the consumption of tea has been gradually
increasing in Europe ever since. The annual public sales of this
article, by the East India Company, did not, however, in the beginning
of 1700, much exceed fifty thousand pounds weight: the annual sale now,
approaches to upwards of twenty millions of pounds.
Emily. It is indeed an amazing increase; but I am not
surprised that is has been so universally adopted. I know of no
beverage so refreshing and pleasant. Although we take it twice a day,
we never seem to grow tired of its flavour. I suppose it is cultivated
in China, as carefully as corn is with us?
Mr. B. It grows wild, like any other shrub, in the hilly
parts of the country; but where it is regularly cultivated, the seed is
sown in rows, at the distance of about four feet from each other, and
the land kept perfectly free from weeds. Vast tracts of hilly ground
are planted with it. It is not allowed to grow very tall, for the
convenience of the more readily collecting its leaves, which is done
first in spring, and twice afterwards in the course of the summer. Its
long and tender branches spring up almost from the root, without any
intervening naked trunk. It is bushy, like a rose tree, and the blossom
bears some resemblance to that flower.
Emily. There is a very great difference in the flavour of
tea. Does that depend upon the manner of drying it?
Mr. B. In some degree it does; but its quality is materially
affected by the soil in which it grows, and by the age of the leaves
when plucked from the tree. The largest and oldest leaves are least
esteemed, and are generally sold to the lowest of the people, with very
little previous preparation. The younger ones, on the contrary, undergo
great care and much attention, before they are delivered to the
purchaser. Every leaf passes through the fingers of a female, who rolls
it up almost to the form it assumed before it was expanded by growth.
It is afterwards placed upon very thin plates of earthen-ware, or iron,
and exposed to the heat of a charcoal fire, which draws all the
moisture from the leaves, and renders them dry and crisp.
Emily. I have heard that green tea is dried on copper, which
gives it its peculiar taste and colour, and renders it less wholesome
than black tea.
Mr. B. This is, I believe, a mistake: the chief use of
copper, in China, is for coinage. Scarcely any utensil is made of that
metal, and the Chinese themselves confidently deny the use of copper
plates for this purpose. The colour and flavour of green tea is thought
to be derived from the early period at which the leaves are plucked,
and which, like unripe fruit, are generally green and acrid.
Emily thanked her father for the account he had given her, and all
the children gratefully felt the value of their kind parents, who were
ever willing to devote their time and attention to the improvement of
their beloved family.
Mr. B. I hope you are all prepared to give me a further
account of Romulus, after tea.
All. We hope so, papa.
Ferdinand. May I first tell you a very curious account of a
little dwarf, which I read today?
Mr. B. By all means, my boy.
Ferdinand. It is now seventy-four years since he was born, at
a village in France. He was a very little creature indeed, as you will
suppose, when I tell you he only weighed a pound and a quarter. When he
was baptized, they handed him to the clergyman on a plate, and, for a
long time, he used to sleep in a slipper. He could not walk alone till
he was two years old, and then his shoes were only an inch and a half
long. At six years old he was fifteen inches high. Notwithstanding he
was so very small, he was well-made and extremely handsome, but he had
not much sense. The king of Poland sent for him to his court, called
him baby, and kept him in his palace. They tried to teach him dancing
and music, but he could not learn. He was never more than twenty-nine
inches tall. By the time he was sixteen he began to grow infirm, like
an old man. From being very beautiful, the poor little creature became
quite deformed. At twenty he was extremely feeble and decrepid, and two
years after, he died.
Mr. B. Poor little creature: such objects are much to be
pitied. There are persons who take pleasure in seeing them; but I must
confess, there is something to me extremely unnatural, in such an
exposure of our unhappy fellow-creatures.
Edward. Did not Peter the Great, on some occasion, assemble a
vast number together?
Mr. B. He did; and I rather think Emily can give you an
account of it.
Emily. It was in the year 1710, that a marriage between two
dwarfs was celebrated at the Russian court. The preparations for this
wedding were very grand, and executed in a style of barbarous ridicule.
Peter ordered that all the dwarfs, both men and women, within two
hundred miles, should repair to the capital, and insisted that they
should be present at the ceremony. Some of them were unwilling to
comply with this order, knowing that the object was to turn them into
ridicule; but he soon obliged them to obey, and, as a punishment for
their reluctance, made them wait on the others. There were seventy
assembled, besides the bride and bridegroom, who were richly adorned in
the extreme of fashion. Everything was suitably provided for the little
company; a low table, small plates, little glasses; in short, all was
dwindled down to their own standard. Dancing followed the dinner, and
the ball was opened with a minuet by the bride and bridegroom, the
latter of whom was exactly three feet two inches high, and the day
closed more cheerfully than it had begun.
Edward. I had always understood that Peter was a man of a
very barbarous disposition, and I think this circumstance is a strong
proof of it. How cruel! to make sport of the misfortunes and miseries
Mr. B. The Czar Peter was a most extraordinary man. No
monarch ever did more towards the civilization of his subjects, or less
towards the subduing of his own barbarous nature. My dear Ferdinand,
ring the bell; I believe the tea-things may now be removed.
Louisa. Oh! how pleasantly the time has passed. I have not
once thought of my work. I was afraid I should have been quite
impatient to begin the little frock which I cut out last night.
Emily. You have felt interested in the conversation, Louisa, and
that has made the time pass so pleasantly. Sometimes, when you are
anxious respecting any pursuit, you think so much of its approach, that
you do not attempt to employ the preceding minutes, which is the cause
of their appearing so long.
Mrs. B. I was just going to make the same remark, Emily. It
is very unwise to lose the present time, in the anticipation of a
moment we may never see:
“Improve the present hour, for all beside Is a mere feather on the
Whilst the servant was clearing away the tea-things, the children
employed themselves in preparing for their different occupations, and
were soon happily seated around their parents.
Mr B. Well, now who will give us an account of the Sabine
war? As the eldest, I believe I must call upon you, Emily.
Emily. The Sabines having become masters of the Capitoline
hill, through the treachery of Tarpeis, a general engagement soon took
place, which was renewed for several days, both armies obstinately
refusing to submit. The slaughter was prodigious, which seemed rather
to increase than diminish their rage. In a moment the attention of both
armies was attracted by a most interesting spectacle. The Sabine women,
who had been carried off by the Romans, rushed in between the
combatants, their hair dishevelled, their dress disordered, and the
deepest anguish pictured in their countenances; they seemed quite
regardless of consequences, and, with loud outcries, implored their
husbands and fathers to desist. Completely overcome by this distressing
scene, the combantants let fall their weapons by mutual impulse, and
peace was soon restored. It was determined that Tatius and Romulus
should reign jointly in Rome, with equal power, and that an hundred
Sabines should be admitted into the senate.
Mr. B. Was this union permanent, Edward?
Edward. Yes, father; though, as might have been expected,
little jealousies occasionally crept in among them. Tatius was,
however, murdered about five years afterwards, so that Romulus was once
more sole master of Rome.
Mr. B. Come, Louisa, you have been silent to-night, let me
hear you finish the account.
Louisa. Romulus soon began to grow very proud and haughty,
now he had no one to oppose him. The members of the senate were much
disgusted by his arrogance, and contrived to put him to death so
privately, that his body was never discovered: they then persuaded the
people that he was taken up into heaven, and he was long afterwards
worshiped as a God, under the name of Quirinus.
Ferdinand. I am glad Romulus is dead, for I never liked him.
Numa Pompilius was a much better man.
Mr. B. And pray who was he?
Ferdinand. He was a Sabine, papa: the second king of Rome,
and was famous for being a just, moderate, and very good man; and that
is the best kind of fame, I think.
Mr. B. I think so, too, Ferdinand. Was Numa Pompilius elected
to the sovereign authority immediately upon the death of Romulus?
Edward. No, father: the senators undertook to supply the
place of a king, by assuming, each of them in turn, the government for
five days; but the plebeians not choosing to have so many masters,
insisted upon the nomination of a king, and the choice fell on Numa
Pompilius. He was received with universal approbation, and was himself
the only person who objected to the nomination. Happy at home, and
contented in a private station, he was not ambitious of higher honours,
and accepted the dignity with reluctance.
Ferdinand. I should have thought just as
Numa did, papa; for I do not think kings can ever be happy.
Mr. B. They are certainly placed in a very responsible
situation; but those who conscientiously perform their respective
duties, need not fear being happy under any circumstances.
Ferdinand. But a king has so many duties to fulfil, and they
are so important, that I am sure I had much rather be a subject.
Mr. B.. I am quite of your opinion, my dear boy, that there
is much more happiness to be found in the private walks of life; and I
can with truth declare, that I would not exchange my own fire-side,
enlivened by so many happy countenances, for the gilded palace of the
“Nor would we change our dear father and mother,” said the cheerful
little Louisa, “to be the gayest lords and ladies in the land.”
Mr. B.. Well, my little lady, now let me hear how Numa goes
on in his new dignity.
Louisa. He was so well calculated to be a king, by his
goodness as well as his knowledge, papa, that you may suppose he made
his subjects very happy. His whole time was spent in endeavouring to
render them pious and virtuous. He built a great many new temples for
religious worship; and, amongst others, one to Janus, which was always
open in time of war, and shut in time of peace. He did every thing in
his power to encourage agriculture, and, for this purpose, divided the
lands which Romulus had conquered in war, among the poor people. His
subjects loved him very much, and he lived till he was eighty years
old, and then died in peace, after having reigned forty-three years.
The temple of Janus was shut during his whole reign.
Mr. B. You have given your account very correctly, Louisa;
Numa was, indeed, a wise and discreet prince. You have, however,
omitted mentionaing his distribution of the tradesmen of Rome into
distinct corporations, which Plutarch considered the master-piece of
his policy. The city had been long divided into two factions,
occasioned by the mixture of the Sabines with the first Romans. Hence
arose jealousies, which were an inexhaustible source of discord. Numa,
to remedy this evil, made all the artists and tradesmen of Rome, of
whatever nation they originally were, enter into separate companies,
according to their respective professions. The musicians, goldsmiths,
carpenters, curriers, dyers, tailors, &c. formed distinct communities.
He ordained particular statutes for each of them, and granted them
peculiar privileges. Every corporation was permitted to hold lands, to
have a common treasury, and to celebrate festivals and sacrifices
proper to itself;—in short, to become a sort of little republic. By
this means the Sabines and Romans, forgetting all their old
partialities and party names, were brought to an entire union.
Ferdinand. That was a capital contrivance. What a clever man
Numa was; and how much good such a king can do to his people.
Edward. You did not mention, Louisa, what pains Numa took to
reform the calendar. The year, before his time, consisted of but three
hundred and four days, which is neither agreeable to the solar nor the
lunar year. Numa endeavoured to make it agree with both: he added
January and February to the old year, which before consisted of only
ten months. Although he did not render the calendar so complete as it
is at present, he remedied the disorders as far as he was able, and put
it into a condition of more easily admitting of new corections.
Mr. B. Louisa has alreay told us that the temple of Janus was
not opened during the whole reign of Numa: he was, indeed a most
pacific and amiable prince. He was beloved by his neighbours, and
became the arbiter of all the differences among them; and his virtues
seemed to have communicated themselves to all the nations around Rome.
As to the Romans themselves, it might be literally said, that their
weapons of war were changed into implements of husbandry. No seditions,
no ambitious desires of the throne, nor so much as any murmurs against
the person or administration of the king, appeared amongst his
subjects. When he died, they lamented him as severely as if every man
had lost his own father; and the concourse of strangers to Rome, to pay
the last tribute of respect to his remains, was exceedingly great. Numa
had forbidden the Romans to burn his body; they therefore put it into a
stone coffin, and, according to his own orders, buried the greatest
part of the books he had written, in the same sepulchre with himself.
He had made a law, forbidding that any dead body should be buried
within the city, and had, himself, chosen a burying-place beyond the
Tiber. Thither he was carried, on the shoulders of his senators, and
followed by all the people, who bewailed their loss with tears.
Mrs. B. How superior to brass and marble, is such a monument
of a people's love.
Ferdinand. I suppose Numa named one of his new months
January, in compliment to the god Janus, to whom he had erected the
Mr. B. Yes. Janus is always represented with two faces, one
looking backwards, the other forwards; and seems to be properly placed
at the beginning of the year, to point out to us the necessity of
looking back to the time that is past, that we may remedy our crimes in
the year ensuing.
Louisa. Well, really now, that is very ingenious. Are the
names of the other months all equally suitable, papa?
Mr. B. February was so called from the expiations signified
by the word Februs, which were in this month performed. March
had its name from Mars, the supposed father of Romulus; and on
that account had been placed first, till the alteration made by Numa.
April is said to have derived its name from Aphrodite, which is
another name for Venus, because of the superstitious worship at that
time paid to her. May, from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom
this month was made sacred. June, from Juno; or, as some
suppose, from Juventus, the Latin word for youth, because the
season is warm, or, as it were, juvenile. The rest had their names from
their order:—as, Quintilis, the fifth month; Sextilis,
the sixth; September, the seventh; October, the eighth;
November, the ninth; and December, the tenth:—all derived,
as you know, Ferdinand, from the Latin words signifying these numbers.
Quintilis and Sextilis were afterwards changed into July and
August, in compliment to Julius Caesar and the emperor Augustus, of
whom you will hear as you proceed with your history. Have you read any
part of the reign of Tullius Hostilius, who was the next king of Rome?
Louisa. I just looked at a few pages, papa, but did not read
much. But, from the little I saw, I do not think I shall like him so
well as Numa.
Edward. No, that you will not, Louisa; for he was very fond
of war, which you do not like at all. The temple of Janus was soon
opened when he mounted the throne. I think Hostilius was a good name
for him, for he was hostile to all his neighbours.
Mr. B. You have read his reign, I suppose, Edward? We must
not, however, anticipate the history, by entering into any further
detail at present, or we shall deprive your sisters of the pleasure
they would otherwise have in the perusal of it. To-morrow, I shall
expect an account of the battle between the Hexatii and Curiatii, which
was the first remarkable event that occurred in his reign. It is now
time to retire, as I purpose taking you all on a little excursion
to-morrow, if it prove fine. You must, therefore, rise early, and
prepare your lessons before breakfast.
The children all expressed their delight at this unexpected
indulgence, promised the strictest attention to their lessons, and,
affectionately embracing their parents, withdrew.
On the following morning the children rose according to their
promise, and, by strict attention to their lessons, merited the treat
their father had in store for them. It was a lovely morning! but our
best- laid schemes are subject to disappointment; and the little group
felt their pleasure greatly lessened, upon hearing that a violent
headache, to which their mother was subject, would prevent her joining
the party. I shall not enter into any detail respecting their visit, as
my young readers will hear it all from their own lips, in the
conversation they held with their mother, when they returned in the
evening. They had the pleasure of finding her much better, and able to
enjoy their company, and the account they gave of their excursion.
Emily first entered the parlour, and, gently opening the door,
affectionately enquired after her mother's health.
“My head is much better, I thank you, my dear,” replied Mrs.
Bernard: “but why are you alone?—where are your brothers and sisters?
All safe and well, I hope?”
Emily. Yes, quite well, and in high spirits, I assure you.
They requested to get out at the lodge-gate, that they might have a
race through the garden. Feeling rather tired, I preferred riding.
At this moment Louisa came running in, quite out of breath. The
others soon followed her, laughing merrily.
Louisa. Oh! mamma, how I wish you had been with us. We have
had such a happy day, and have seen so many curious things.
Ferdinand. What a nice woman Mrs. Horton is, mamma. She has
been so kind to us.
Edward. Dear me, Louisa and Ferdinand, how loud you talk. You
forget mamma's head.
“Gently, my dears, gently,” said Mrs. Bernard: “moderate your
delight a little. I am glad to hear that you have enjoyed year day, and
shall like to have a full account of all you have seen, when you can
enter upon it quietly. In the mean time, go and put by your hats and
tippets, my dear girls, and come to tea as quickly as you can.”
Louisa declared she did not want any tea, and requested that she
might go into the nursery to little Sophy, and take her some shells,
which Mrs. Horton had given her.
Mrs. Bernard willingly granted her request and added:—“I am glad,
my dear Louisa, you do not, when in the midst of enjoyment yourself,
forget your little sister, who is too young to join your pleasures. You
may go and stay with her a quarter of an hour; but do not keep her up
beyond her usual time.”
Ferdinand. Pray take my shells too, Louisa, and tell her that
little fishes once lived in them at the bottom of the sea.
Louisa, with a light step, and a heart still lighter, left the room,
saying, she had a great deal of information to give little Sophy.
Mrs. B. Now, my dear Emily, ring the bell, and make haste
down to tea: I see your father coming up the garden.
The children quickly returned. They were not, however, allowed to
enter into any detail of their past pleasures, till the tea-things were
removed, and Louisa had joined their part, which she did, very
punctually, at the expiration of the promised quarter of an hour.
Louisa. Little Sophy is so delighted with her shells, mamma!
She sends her love to you, Ferdinand, and says she will give you a kiss
tomorrow. I do not think I shall do much work to-night, mamma, we have
so many things to tell you.
The room was soon cleared, and liberty given to begin the account of
their excursion, provided only one spoke at a time.
Ferdinand. Oh, Louisa, tell mamma about the dog!
Edward. No: tell about the cat, that is the most curious.
Louisa. Now, I do not think so, Edward. The story about the
dog was so very droll.
Mrs. B. Stop—stop, my dear children, or I shall hear nothing
after all. Begin at the beginning, and all will go on regularly. Now,
set out from our own door.
Louisa. Come, Emily, you will tell that part best, because I
do think you enjoyed the ride more than any of us.
Emily. I did, indeed, enjoy it. The country looks so rich,
from the variety of foliage; the autumnal tints are in their highest
beauty, and you know, my dear mother, how delightful the scenery is,
particularly through the park which leads to Mrs. Horton's house. She
received us with the greatest politeness, and was very sorry you were
prevented accompanying us, especially when she heard that indisposition
was the cause of your absence. After we had taken some refreshment, she
proposed a walk in the park. As we passed through a small room, opening
into the garden, I was much struck with the appearance of an elegant
bird in a glass case. It was stuffed, but so remarkably well done, that
you would have thought it still alive. From the two long feathers in
its tail, I knew it to be the bird of Paradise, and begged Mrs. Horton
would give me leave to examine it more closely. She told me it was a
native of the Molucca Islands, and that there were eight different
species of them. The plumage is very beautiful. The head, throat, and
neck, are of a pale gold colour; the base of the bill, as well as the
head, is covered with fine black feathers, soft and glossy as velvet,
and varying in colour with the different shades of light that fall upon
them. The back part of the head is of a shining green, mixed with
bright yellow; the body and wings are covered with brown, purple, and
gold-coloured feathers; the upper part of the tail is a pale yellow,
and the undermost feathers are white, and longer than those above. But
what chiefly excites curiosity, are two long, naked feathers, which
spring from the upper part of the rump, above the tail, and are, in
general, two feet in length. These birds are supposed to migrate into
other countries at the time of the monsoons, but it is not certain that
they do so.
Ferdinand. Pray, what are the monsoons, Emily?
Emily. They are periodical winds, to which those countries
are subject lying within a certain distance of the equator. They blow
in one direction for a time, and, at stated seasons, change, and blow
for an equal space of time from the opposite point of the compass.
Louisa. Do not forget the little hummingbirds, Emily, which
were in the case next to the bird of Paradise. What beautiful little
creatures they were! And Mrs. Horton says that nature has provided them
with forked tongues, completely formed for entering flowers, and
drawing out the honey, which is their natural food.
Mrs. B. Did Mrs. Horton tell you how curiously they construct
Louisa. Oh, yes; she showed us one: it was suspended on the
very point of a twig. She says, they adopt this plan to secure them
from the attacks of the monkey and the snake. They form them in the
shape of a hen's egg, cut in half. The eggs are not bigger than a pea,
of a clear white, with a few yellow specks here and there. I wish I had
some of these pretty little creatures; but Mrs. Horton says they will
not live in England, it is so much colder than the tropical climates.
Ferdinand. What little feet the Chinese women have, mamma! We
saw one of their shoes, and I am sure it was not a bit bigger than
Emily. But you know, Ferdinand, that is not the
natural size of the Chinese ladies' feet: they are confined, while they
are babies, with very tight bandages, which prevent them from growing.
Louisa. I am glad I am not a Chinese little girl. Such small
feet cannot be very useful to them when they grow up to be women, I
Mrs. B. Indeed, they are not: The poor things are perfect
cripples, and are obliged to be carried wherever they go.
Ferdinand. Oh, how I pity them! They can never run about and
enjoy themselves while they are little, as we do, Louisa.
Mrs. B. Indeed, my dear Ferdinand, an English child has great
cause for thankfulness, on many accounts. I know of no country where
the real happiness and welfare of children is so carefully studied.
Emily. In China, however, the boys are educated with
considerable care. In their early studies, geography is particularly
attended to. At six years of age, they are made acquainted with the
names of the principal parts of the world; at eight, they are
instructed in the rules of politeness; and at ten are sent to a public
school, where they learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. From
thirteen to fifteen they are taught music; they do not, however, sing
merry songs, as we do, but serious sentences, or moral precepts. They
also practise the use of the bow, and are taught to ride. In every
city, town, and almost in every village, I have been told that there
are public school for teaching the more abstruse sciences.
Mrs. B. The mind of the poor girls, on the contrary, are most
sadly neglected. Needlework is almost the only accomplishment thought
necessary for them. There is no country in the world in which the woman
are in a greater state of humiliation, than in China. Those whose
husbands are of high rank, live under constant confinement; those of
the second class are little better than upper servants, deprived of all
liberty; whilst the poort share with their husbands the most laborious
Louisa. How exceedingly I should dislike it; and yet, I
think, I would rather be the wife of a poor Chinese, than of a rich
Emily I think so too; for the hardest labour would not be to
me so irksome as total inactivity.
Mrs. B. I am quite of your opinion, Emily. The situation of
these wretched beings must be rendered doubly irksome by the
uncultivated state of their minds. This deprives them of those
delightful resources, from which the well-educated female of our happy
country may constantly derive the purest enjoyment.
Emily. Had not your and my dear father early installed into
us a love of reading, how very much our present enjoyments would be
Mrs. B. We have always, my dear considered it as an important
point in your education; since no amusement so delightfully occupies
the vacant hours of life, even where entertainment is the principal
object. It is one of those tastes that grows by indulgence: there is
scarcely any enjoyment so independent of the will of others: it engages
and employs the thoughts of the wretched, directs the enthusiasm of the
young, and relieves the weariness of old age. Well might the amiable
Fenelon say: “If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid at
my feet, in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all.”
Louisa. Now, Ferdinand, I know you long to tell mamma your
droll story about the dog.
Ferdinand. Well, mamma, when we got into the garden, I was
very much amused with a nice little terrier, and Mrs. Horton said, she
thought we should be entertained with an anecdote or two she could tell
us respecting him. The dog belongs to her brother, who is an elderly
gentleman, and wears a wig. He used to keep one hung up on a peg in his
dressing-room, and, as it was grown very shabby, he one day gave it
away to a poor old man. The dog happened soon after to see him in the
street. He knew the wig again in a minute; and, looking full in the
man's face, made a sudden spring, leaped upon his shoulders, seized the
wig, and ran off with it as fast as he could; and, when he reached
home, endeavoured, by jumping, to hang it in its usual place.
Mrs. B. I think your story very amusing, Ferdinand: it is a
curious instance of sagacity.
Emily. The other circumstance which Mrs. Horton mentioned, of
the same animal, proves him equally sagacious. He was one day passing
through a field, where a washerwoman had hung out her linen to dry; he
stopped, and surveyed one particular shirt with attention, then seizing
it, he dragged it through the dirt to his master, whose shirt it proved
to be. [Footnote: See Bingley's Animal Biography.]
Edward. Well, now, mamma, please to listen to my story about
Mrs. B. By all means, my dear.
Edward. As we were walking near the house, I was surprised to
see a fine cat, with a pretty little leveret gambolling and frolicking
by her side. Mrs. Horton told us, that, about a fortnight ago, the
farmer's boy brought this poor little creature into the house, having
found it, almost starved to death, in a hole, in consequence, I
suppose, of some accident having happened to its mother. Mrs. Horton
gave directions that it should be fed and kept warm. The servants grew
very fond of it, and were quite grieved, one day, suddenly to miss it.
They concluded that some cat or dog had killed it, and never expected
to see their little favourite again. However, yesterday, in the dusk of
the evening, they observed the cat in the garden, with something
gambolling after her, which, to their great delight, they discovered to
be the leveret. They then recollected that poor puss had been deprived
of a litter of kittens, on the very day that their favourite had so
mysteriously disappeared. The cat had adopted him in the place of her
own little ones, nourished him with her milk, and continues still to
support him with the greatest affection [Footnote: See Bingley's Animal
Mrs. B. It is a curious circumstance, but not so
extraordinary, I think, as the account Ferdinand read to me, some time
ago, in “A Visit for a Week,” of a cat supporting a chicken in a
Ferdinand. Well, mamma, besides the accounts we have given
you, Mrs. Horton told us several other curious things respecting the
instinct of animals. She took us to an aviary in the garden, which is a
large place made on purpose to keep birds in. There were some beautiful
gold and penciled pheasants; but no bird, in my opinion, is so handsome
as the peacock. I asked Mrs. Horton if it were originally a native of
this country. She told me it was brought to us from the East, and that
numerous flocks of them are still to be seen wild in Java and Ceylon.
Mrs. B. Where are those two islands situated, Louisa?
Louisa. They are both in the Indian Ocean. Java is a little
to the east of Sumatra; and Ceylon, off the coast of Coromandel. All
the animals with which the woods abound, are not so agreeable as the
peacock, mamma; for I recollect reading, a little time ago, that there
are varieties of wild beasts live there: particularly in Java, there
are many large and fierce tigers.
Mrs. B. Did Mrs. Horton tell you any thing more respecting
Emily. Yes; she made us observe its train, which does not
appear to be the tail. The long feahers grow all up their backs. A
range of short, brown, stiff feathers, about six inches long, is the
real tail, and serves as a prop to the train when elevated. This
certainly must be the case, as, when the train is spread, nothing
appears of the bird but its head and neck; which could not be, were
those long feathers fixed only in the rump. She also told us, that, in
the time of Francis the first, king of France, it was the custom to
serve up a peacock at the tables of the great, not for food, but
ornament. The skin was first carefully stripped off, and the body being
prepared with the hottest spices, was again covered with it; in this
state it was not at all subject to decay, but preserved its beauty for
Mrs. B. In China, a peacock's feather hanging from the cap,
is considered as a mark of high distinction; and Sir George Staunton,
in his account of the Embassy to China, mentions a circumstance of a
legate of the emperor, who was degraded from his office, for disobeying
the orders of his imperial majesty, being reduced to wear an opaque
white, instead of a transparent blue button, and a crow's instead of a
peacock's tail-feather pendant from his cap. The splendour of this
bird's plumage certainly demands our highest admiration, but,
independent of its beauty, it has few excellencies to boast. Its voice
is extremely harsh and disagreeable, and its gluttony is a great
counterbalance to its personal charms.
Emily. Mrs. Horton made a remark similar to yours, mamma. She
said, beauty was certainly very pleasing when adorned by the smiles of
good- humoured cheerfulness; but that the fairest face, without this
charm, would soon cease to please. She also repeated to us those sweet
lines from Cowper, in which he so prettily contrasts he retiring
modesty of the pheasant, with the proud display made by the peacock, of
his gaudy plumes.
“Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold His radiant glories—azure,
green, and gold. He treads as if, some solemn music near, His measur'd
step were govern'd by his ear; And seems to say—'Ye meaner fowl give
place, I am all splendour, dignity, and grace! Not so the pheasant on
his charms presumes, Though he too has a glory in his plumes; He,
Christian-like, retreats, with modest mien, To the close copse, or far-sequester'd green, And shines, without desiring to be seen.”
Ferdinand. We then walked some time in the park and gardens,
mamma; after which Mrs. Horton took us into the house, that we might
rest ourselves a little before dinner. When dinner was over we went
into the picture-gallery, and, amongst a number of very beautiful
prints and paintings, there was one representing the combat between the
Horatii and Curiatii, of which we had read in the morning. How much
more pleasure one has in looking at prints, when one knows a little
about the subject of them.
Mr. B. A cultivated mind, my deal children, is a constant
source of pleasure. Youth is the seed-time of life, and you must be
careful so to plant now, as to ensure to yourselves hereafter, not only
a plentiful, but a valuable harvest. It is growing late—we must think
of our history, or we shall spend all the evening in chit-chat. Edward,
suppose you begin the account.
Edward. I mentioned, yesterday, that Tullus Hostilius was of
a disposition very different from the peaceful Numa. He was entirely
devoted to war, and more fond of enterprise, than even the founder of
the empire himself had been. The Albans were the first people that gave
him an opportunity of indulging his favourite inclination. Upon the
death of Romulus, seeing their ancient kings extinct, they resumed
their independence, with a determination to shake off the Roman yoke,
and to appoint their own governors. Cluilius was at the head of this
affair. He is, by some historians, styled dictator; by others, king.
Being very jealous of the growing greatness of Rome, he, by a
stratagem, contrived to engage them in a war. Cluilius was, however,
previous to the commencement of the hostilities, found dead in his
tent, surrounded by his guards, without any external marks of violence.
After his death, both parties seemed to wish for an accommodation upon
a amicable terms, but neither liked to submit to be inferior to their
rival. It was at length proposed, that the superiority should be
determined of each other, and, when the people expected to see them
begin fighting furiously, they, instead of that, laid aside their arms,
and flew to embrace each other.
Mr. B. What effect had this upon the spectators, Emily?
Emily. They were much moved, and began to murmur at their
king, who had engaged such leader friends in a cruel rivalship for
glory. But a new scene quickly put an end to their pity, fixed their
attention, and employed all their hopes and fears:—the combat began,
and the victory long hung doubtful. At length the eldest of the Horatii
received a mortal wound, and fell: a second soon met the same fate, and
expired upon the body of his brother. The Alban army now gave a loud
shout, whilst consternation and despair spread themselves through the
Ferdinand. Oh, papa, how interested I felt, this morning,
when we got to this part.
Mr. B. I do not wonder that you were, my dear: it is a
circumstance calculated strongly to interest the feelings. Edward, take
up the account where Emily quitted it.
Edward. Do not suppose the Roman cause quite desperate. It is
true, they had but one champion remaining, but he was both unhurt and
undaunted, while all the Curiatii were wounded. He, however, did not
conceive himself able to attack the three brothers at once, and
therefore made use of a stratagem to separate them. He pretended fear,
and fled before them. The Curiatii pursued him at unequal distances.
Horatius turned short upon the foremost, and slew him. He then flew to
the next, who soon shared his brother's fate. The only remaining
Curiatii was so severely wounded, that he could scarcely support his
shield, and offered no resistance to the attack of the conquering
Horatius. Thus ended the famous combat, which gave Rome the superiority
Ferdinand. The picture at Mrs. Horton's, represented Horatius
at the moment he turned upon the first Curiatii. And there was another,
representing him in the act of stabbing his sister, because she grieved
for the death of one of the Curiatii, to whom she was going to be
Edward. Ah! that tarnished all the glory of Horatius, in my
opinion. It was so natural she should weep for such a loss.
Mrs. B. Flushed with conquest, Horatius lost his
self-possession. Often do we find heroes, who can subdue their enemies
in the field, the weakest of the weak, when the combat is against their
own evil passions. Self-knowledge, and self-possession, are most
important acquirements. They are excellencies I must earnestly desire
for each of you, my dear children. But we have not time for further
conversation to-night: you have all exerted yourselves extremely
to-day, and must feel fatigued.
Louisa. Oh no, papa, I am not all all tired.
Mrs. B. Indeed, my Louisa, your heavy eyes tell a different
tale. Ferdinand, too, looks very sleepy. Good night, my dear children.
They immediately arose, and, thanking their father for the great
indulgence he had afforded them, retired.
“Now, my dears, have you your work prepared for the evening?” said
Mrs. Bernard, rising from the tea-table.
“Mine is quite ready, mamma,” replied Emily.
“And mine too, I believe,” said Louisa, opening her work-bag. “Oh!
dear, no, I have used up all my thread. I quite forgot that. And where
can my thimble be? I am sure I thought I had put it into my bag. Emily,
have you seen my thimble? I dare say you have got it, you are so apt to
take my things.”
Emily. Oh! no, indeed, Louisa, you are mistaken, Sometimes,
when I find them left about, I put them by for you, that they may not
“Well, that is the very thing that makes me think I have lost them,”
said Louisa, rather petulantly. “It is very tiresome of you, Emily. I
do wish you never would touch any thing that belongs to me.”
“Gently, gently, my Louisa,” interrupted Mrs. Bernard: “you ought to
feel much obliged to your sister for her kindness. If it were not for
her attention, your carelessness would make a sad hole in your pocket-money. In this instance, however, Emily appears to be quite innocent of
your loss: she does not seem to know any thing about the stray thimble.
She has not, therefore, been the cause of your misfortune to-day.”
Louisa rose from her seat, and leaving the room, exclaimed: “I dare
say I shall find it in a minute or two.”
She was, however, absent more than a quarter of an hour, and at
length returned, without having found her thimble.
“Well, mamma, it is a most extraordinary thing,” said she: “I cannot
think what is become of it. It is very tiresome that things should get
Mrs. B. It is rather singular that Emily seldom meets with
these misfortunes, from which you so frequently suffer, Louisa.
Louisa. Indeed, Emily is very fortunate, mamma. She never has
occasion to lose her time in looking for things, and, I do believe,
that is one reason why she gets on so much faster with her work than I
Mrs. B. It is a very probably conjecture, my dear; but you
must not attribute the cause merely to good-fortune: Emily is attentive
to the excellent maxim: “A place for every thing, and every thing in
its place,” and if you would endeavour, in this respect, to follow her
example, you would find the same comfortable effects resulting from it.
Louisa. Well, mamma, and so I have a place for my things. My
work- bag is exactly like Emily's.
“But you do not make exactly the same use of it,” said Mrs. Bernard.
Here Ferdinand interposed, with a proposition, that they should all
go and have a good hunt for the thimble, as it would hurt Louisa's
finger sadly, to work all the evening without one.
Louisa expressed her thanks to Ferdinand for his kindness, adding,
“I am quite sorry my carelessness has given every body so much trouble.
If I find my thimble this once, I will endeavour, in future, to copy
Emily's example, and be more careful.”
Mrs. Bernard highly approved this determination, and added, “I hope
you will be able to keep your resolution, my dear. You will find the
comfort resulting from the adoption of method, an ample recompence for
any little trouble it may at first occasion you. Now, make haste; I
wish you success in your search.” They go out.
After some time, Louisa returned with a disappointed countenance,
which convinced Mrs. Bernard that her search had been in vain. The
gloom was, however, soon banished by the entrance of Ferdinand, who,
smiling with exultation, held out the stray thimble, and exclaimed, “I
have found it, Louisa! Here it is! When you went to wash your hands,
you left it in the closet.”
“Oh, thank you, Ferdinand! thank you!” cried Louisa. “How glad I am
to see it again! Pray, Emily, excuse my having been so cross to you
“That I do, most willingly,” said Emily. “Indeed, I had already
forgotten your little momentary fit of anger.”
“Come, let us now sit down to work, without further loss of time,”
said their mother. “It gives me most sincere pleasure, my dear
children, to see in you a disposition to assist each other in any
little case of difficulty. Nothing tends so much to cement brotherly
love, as politeness and attention. In many families this is a thing
much neglected; and I have seen more disagreements arise, from a rude,
contradictory disposition, than from any other cause whatever. I know
you like to have our instructions illustrated by a story, particularly
if it be founded on fact. Your father will, therefore, I am sure, give
you an account of a friend of his, who experienced the most beneficial
effects, from adopting kind, conciliatory manners, in opposition to
rudeness and incivility.”
“I shall relate the circumstance with much pleasure,” replied Mr.
Bernard, “because I am convinced, a most excellent lesson may be learnt
from it; and, as I know the parties, I can assure you it is perfectly
true. An elderly gentleman, with a very large fortune, but no family,
adopted a nephew and niece, the orphan children of two of his sisters.
His object was, when they were of a proper age, to unite them to each
other by marriage, intending that the whole of his immense possesions
should centre in them; but he was much disappointed to find, instead of
the affection which he expected to witness, an extreme dislike
subsisting between the young people, which strengthened as they
advanced in years. Their uncle's presence imposed upon them some
restraint, but, when alone, they gave full scope to their dislike,
teasing and tormenting each other by every means in their power. When
the young man attained his twenty-second, and the young lady her
nineteenth year, they lost their uncle, who had been to them as a
parent. The only sentiment in which they united, was a tender regard to
this common friend; and deeply did they lament his death. The idea that
they should now be freed from the irksome incumbrance of each other's
company, however, afforded them some consolation. Under these
impressions, you may judge of the dismay they both experienced, upon
opening their uncle's will, to find that his fortune was left equally
between them, provided they accomplished his wish, by uniting their
destinies; but, whichever refused fulfilling these conditions, was to
forfeit all claim to the money and estates. Thunder-struck at this
appalling sentence, the young man retired to his chamber, and spent
some hours in solitude, considering what line of conduct it would be
best for him to pursue. Always accustomed to affluence, the horrors of
poverty presented themselves before him in dreadful array; yes, a union
with his cousin, seemed an alternative still more formidable:—he knew
not how to determine. She, in the mean time, suffered no less anxiety.
The same fears agitated her mind. She was well aware of her cousin's
dislike to her, and hoped it would prevent his making those proposals
which she dreaded to hear. At length, he joined her in the garden, and
addressed her as follows:—'You have heard the contents of our uncle's
will, Emma. It places us both in a most painful situation. It were vain
to profess for you an affection, I neither can, or do I believe I ever
shall feel; but, yielding to the necessity of my circumstances, I offer
you my hand.' 'The same sentiment induces me to accept your offer,'
said the dejected Emma, with a heavy sigh; but surely, by such a union,
we both bid adieu to happiness for ever.'—'Our prospect certainly does
not promise us much felicity,' rejoined the young man, 'yet I cannot
help thinking, a moderate share of happiness may still be within our
power. Hitherto, our chief andeavour has been to thwart and irritate
each other; let us, henceforth, employ the same pains to conciliate and
oblige. Great affection, on either side, we will not expect: but let us
resolve to maintain, on all occasions, a spirit of politeness and of
good-will towards each other.' To this the young lady readily assented,
and, under those circumstances, they were married. They persevered in
their wise resolution. I have known them many years, and never did I
see a couple more affectonately attached to each other.”
Edward. It is a very interesting account, indeed, papa.
Mr. B. It is a story from which much solid instruction may be
derived, my dear. People in general, are by no means aware what a
powerful influence those attentions, which they deem trifling, leave
upon the happiness of life. They think, on important occasions,
they should be willing to make great sacrifices for those they love;
but do not reflect how rarely such occasions present themselves;
whereas, opportunities are daily, nay, hourly occurring, for the
discharge of mutual kind offices, which powerfully tend to cement the
affectionate ties of friendship. Edward, did you not commit to memory
the passage upon politeness, we read in Xenophon's Cyropaedia the other
Edward. I did, papa.
Mr. B. Repeat it to us, my dear.
Edward. Politeness is an evenness of soul, which excludes, at
the same time, both insensibility and too much earnestness. It supposes
a quick discernment, to perceive, immediately, the different characters
of men; and, by a sweet condescension, adapts itself to each man's
taste, not to flatter, but to calm his passions. In a word, it is a
forgetting of ourselves, in order to seek what may be agreeable to
others, but, in so delicate a manner, as to let them scarce perceive
that we are so employed. It knows how to contradict with respect, and
to please without adulation; and is equally remote from an insipid
complaisance, and a low familiarity.
Louisa. Pray, papa, who was the gentleman you were speaking
of, a little time ago?
Mr. B. That cannot concern you at all, Louisa. His name is of
no consequence to the moral of my tale.
Edward. Louisa is always so curious; we often laugh at her
Mrs. B. It is a foolish and dangerous propensity, when it is
carried into the minor concerns of life. A laudable curiosity, whose
object is the improvement of the mind, should at all times be
encouraged; and you will never, on such occasions, find either your
father or myself, backward in satisfying it to the best of our
Louisa. I have been often told that it is wrong, mamma, and
will really try to amend.
Mr. B. I most earnestly wish you success in your endeavour,
Louisa. Curiosity was the fault of our first parents, you know. How
much misery did this fatal propensity in Eve, entail upon the human
Ferdinand. Oh, mamma, may I tell Louisa that droll story,
which I read to you the other day, about the poor wood-cutter's wife?
Mrs. B. I have no objection, provided Louisa would like to
Louisa. Yes, I should, mamma; for I do not mind being told of
my faults, because I wish to amend them.
“That is perfectly right, my love,” said Mrs. Bernard: “I admire
your candour, and have no doubt that, with such a desire, your efforts
will prove successful. She then requested Ferdinand to begin his story,
which he did, as follows:
“A gentleman riding one morning through a wood, saw a poor man very
busily employed in cutting down trees, whilst his wife was collecting
the branches into bundles. She sighed heavily, from heat and fatigue,
and complained sadly of their hard fate, laying all the blame upon Adam
and Eve, whose fatal curiosity was the cause of man's being obliged to
earn his bread by such hard labour. The gentleman got off his horse,
and going up to these poor people, he began to talk to the woman, and
enquired, whether, if she had been in Eve's place, she would not have
been very likely to have done the same thing. 'No,' said the woman: 'if
I had every thing necessary for me, without working, I should certainly
be quite contented.” 'Well,' said the gentleman, 'in order to silence
your complaints, I will take you and your husband to my own house,
where you shall have apartments to yourselves, servants to wait upon
you, a carriage to attend you, and my park and gardens to amuse
yourselves in. The continuance of these enjoyments shall depend
entirely upon yourselves. You shall have a table spread with dishes;
but the middle dish shall always remain covered, and if ever you
uncover it, to examine its contents, you shall immediately return to
your present situation.' The poor man and woman were delighted with the
gentleman's proposal. The very next day, they removed to their new
abode. The novelty of every object with which they were surrounded,
filled them with delight. For some time they enjoyed themselves
extremely, and never once thought of the covered dish; but, by degrees,
all these delights lost the charm of novelty. Their walks were always
the same, and, although they had plenty of nice things to eat, their
appetites were not so good as when they worked hard for their living.
One day the woman said: 'I wonder what there is under that cover?'
After this, their wonder increased every day, till at last they
determined, by taking a little peep, to satisfy their curiosity. They
accordingly lifted up the cover, when, instantly, out jumped a little
mouse, and away it ran. They now saw their folly, and were sadly vexed
with themselves: but it was too late to complain. They returned to
their daily labour, and from their own experience learned a useful
lesson, and never blamed Adam and Eve any more.”
“I think, mamma, we may all learn a useful lesson from this story,”
said Edward, as Ferdinand concluded his account: “for I am sure I often
feel curious to discover things, that are not of the least consequence
Louisa. Is it a true story, mamma?
Mrs. B. I do not know, my dear; but the picture it draws of
human nature is true, and, on that account, the instruction it conveys
Mr. B. Let us now turn our attention to history again. We
concluded, last night, with the rash murder of his sister, committed by
Horatius. Did he undergo any punishment for this crime?
Edward. Yes, father: it was thought of dangerous consequence
to slacken the rigour of the laws, in favour of any person, merely on
account of his bravery and success in battle. The king was puzzled how
to act. He was divided between a regard for the laws, and a desire to
save the young warrior, who had rendered him such important service.
Mr. B. How did Tullus extricate himself from this difficulty,
Emily. He turned it into a state crime, and appointed two
commissioners to try him as a traitor. As the fact was so publicly
known, and Horatius did not deny it, he was found guilty, and condemned
to be executed; but, by the king's advice, he appealed to an assembly
of the people, whose authority was superior to that of the monarch
himself; and they, from admiration of his courage, rather than the
justice of his cause, revoked the sentence that had been passed against
him. However, that he might not go wholly unpunished, they condemned
him to pass under the yoke, a disgrace to which prisoners of war were
Mr. B. What was the yoke, Ferdinand?
Ferdinand. It was a kind of gallows, papa, in the shape of a
Mr. B. Did Horatius, then, receive no honour for his victory,
Louisa. Yes, papa: a square column was erected in the middle
of the Forum, and the spoils of the Curiatii were hung upon it.
Mr. B. Did the Romans continue at peace, after the victory of
Edward. No, father: they went to war, successively, with the
Fidenates, Latins, and Sabines; in all of which the Romans were
Mr. B. How was the life of Tullus Hostilius terminated,
Emily. Historians differ in their accounts. Some suppose he
was struck by lightning, whilst others imagine he fell by the hand of
Ancus Martius, his successor.
Mr. B. Ferdinand, can you give us a short sketch of the
character of Tullus Hostilius, from what you have heard of him.
Ferdinand. He was very much inclined to fighting, papa.
Generosity and personal courage were his chief merit. He rekindled in
the Romans the love of war, which Numa had endeavoured to suppress. He
acquired to the Roman state a great name, but did not add to the real
happiness of his people.
Mr. B. As he was so much engaged in war, I suppose he did not
exert himself much to improve the legislation of his country.
Louisa. We only read of one law that he established, and that
was, that, whenever three little boys should be born at one birth, they
should, in memory of the Horatii, be brought up at the public expence.
Mr. B. Emily, what have you to tell us of Ancus Martius,
successor to Tullus?
Emily. He was grandson to Numa Pompilius, and, after a short
interregnum, was unanimously chosen, both by the senate and people, to
the succession. He wished to imitate his grandfather, by reviving
husbandry and religious worship; but soon found that this pacific
disposition drew upon him the contempt of the neighbouring nations. The
Latins were the first who endeavoured to throw off their allegiance to
Rome. This provoked Ancus to declare war against them. He vanquished
them in many battles, and took several of their towns. He strengthened
Rome by new fortifications; built the port and city of Astin, at the
mouth of the Tiber; and was successful over the Fidenates, Sabines,
Veientes, and Volsci. Historians give different accounts of his death.
Some say he was destroyed by violence, whilst others speak of his
decease as altogether natural.
Mr. B. How long did he reign, Louisa?
Louisa. Twenty-three years, papa. We have not read any more
yet. I hope we shall not forget this part, as we advance further. Pray
papa, what do you think is the best means of remembering what we read?
Mr. B. The plan we adopt, in making it the subject of
conversation, is a very likely method to effect this desirable object;
and, if you keep a book, and take notes of the history as you proceed,
you will still more deeply impress it upon your memory. But we will
talk upon this subject some other day: it is now quite time for you to
go to bed.
MR. AND MRS BERNARD, EMILY, EDWARD, LOUISA, AND FERDINAND.
(A servent coming in with a parcel.)
Ah! there is a parcel: I dare say it is from Charles. Do, pray give
it me, Mary:—I am sure I shall have a letter. He promised to write to
me the next opportunity. May I open it, mamma?
Mrs. B. You may, Louisa.
Louisa. Emily, be so good as to lend me your scissors; the
string has got into a hard knot:—I shall not have untied it this hour.
I will just give it a little snip and it will be off in a minute.
Mr. B. How, Louisa! Have you so soon forgotten the
applicaiton of the story with which you were so much pleased a week
Louisa. Oh! I recollect: “Waste not—want not.” But then,
papa, it is so tantalizing to know there is a letter for one, and not
to be able to get at it for such a long time; particularly when it
comes from Charles, for he does not write to me very often. Do pray let
me cut it this once. On any other occasion, I should have patience to
untie the knot, I am sure.
Mr. B. We are all apt, Louisa, to think it more difficult to
act with propriety under the very circumstances in which we happen to
be placed, than we should do under others; but, if we would learn
wisdom, and acquire the esteem of the good, we must always
endeavour to do the very best that circumstances will allow. By making
this principle the rule of our conduct on trifling occasions, we shall
acquire, as it were, the habit of correctness and propriety of conduct,
which will be very valuable to us in the more important actions of our
Louisa. Well, papa, I have been trying, all the time you have
been talking, to untie this string, and it really was not in so hard a
knot as I expected, for it is undone: and now I will endeavour to
remember you kind advice, and be more patient in the future. Oh! here
is my letter. What a long one it seems to be! And here is a short one
for you, mamma, with a little parcel for Sophy.
Mrs. B. Well, my dear Louisa, I am almost as anxious as you
are, to hear the contents of the letter: but do not be in a hurry. Read
it slowly, and very distinctly.
Louia promised to do her best, and began as follows:
“MY DEAR LOUISA,
“It is a long time since I wrote to you last, but I must not have
you, on that account, suppose I have forgotten you; for I really think
more of you now I am away, than I used to do when we were all at home
together. I am very happy in my new situation. Instead of finding a
severe master, as I sometimes feared might be the case, I seem to have
gained a second father in Mr. Lewis; and Mrs. Lewis is almost as
affectionate to me as my own dear mother. It shall be my constant
endeavour, by strict attention to my business, to prove myself grateful
for their kindness. I have my evenings completely to myself, which I
endeavour to employ profitably, according to my dear father's advice. I
am studying natural history, and, if it would afford you any amusement,
I should like to make my progress in that study, the subject of my
future letters. I shall not, however, begin that plan till I hear from
you, to know if it will be agreeable to you.
“A few evenings ago, I paid a very pleasant visit to an old friend
of Mr. Lewis's, which will afford me ample materials for this letter.
He is what Mr. Lewis calls a virtuoso, which signifies, a person
fond of antique and natural curiosities. You will, therefore, suppose I
was not at a loss for amusement. In one cabinet was a number of stuffed
birds and beasts; amongst others, a little animal somewhat resembling a
rat, but rather smaller. It legs are short and slender; the fore-legs
longer than the hind ones. Its head is of a pointed form; the colour of
its body tawny, and variegated with large black spots, irregularly
arranged; and the belly is white, tinged with yellow. There appeared to
me so little that was uncommon in this animal, that I could not help
asking Dr. Sinclair, on what account he had given it a place among so
many curiosities. 'I value that little animal,' said he, 'as much as
any in my collection. It is the Leming, or Lapland Marmot, and is
distinguished from other quadrupeds, by habits peculiar to itself. It
is only found in the northern part of our continent, where immense
numbers of these little animals sometimes overspread large tracts of
country, especially in Lapland, Sweden, and Norway. Their appearance
happens at uncertain periods; but fortunately for the inhabitants of
these countries, not oftener than once or twice in twenty years. As the
source whence they originate in such astonishing numbers, is as yet
unexplored by the naturalist, it is no wonder that the ignorant
Laplander should seriously believe that they are rained from the
clouds. Myriads of these animals pour down from the mountains, and form
an overwhelming troop, which nothing can resist. The disposition of
their march is generally in lines, about three feet asunder, and
exactly parallel. In this order they advance with as much regularity as
a well-disciplined army; and, it is remarked, that their course is from
the north-west or south-east. They frequently cover the extent of a
square mile, travelling in the night. They always halt in the day, and
in the evening resume their march. No opposition can stop them; and,
whatever way their course is directed, neither fire not water can turn
them out of their road. If a lake or river intercept their progress,
they will swim across, or perish in the attempt; if a fire interrupt
their course, they instantly plunge into the flames; if a well, they
dart down into it; if a hay-rick, they eat through it; and, if a house
stand in their way, they either attempt to climb over it, or eat
through it; but, if both be impracticable, they will rather die with
famine before it, than turn out of the way. If thousands perish,
thousands still supply their place, until the whole column be
destroyed. Wherever they pass, they annihilate every trace of
vegetation, and, when subsistence fails, are said to divide into two
different armies, which engage with the most deadly hostility, and
continue fighting and devouring each other, till they are all entirely
destroyed. Numbers of them are devoured by foxes, weasels, &c. which
follow them in their march, so that none are ever known to return from
“I thanked Dr. Sinclair for his curious and entertraining account,
with which, I hope, my dear Louisa, you also have been amused. A very
beautiful, large, white cat, took possession of Dr. Sinclair's kneee,
the moment he seated himself in his elbow chair by the fire-side. It
licked his hand in a caressing manner, and seemed, by every means in
its power, to testify the greatest affection towards him. From the old
gentleman's kindness, in giving me so amusing an account of the Leming,
I was encouraged to enter into conversation with him upon the merits of
his cat. 'Some naturalists,' said I, 'have represented that animal as
insensible of kindness, and incapable of attachment; but I cannot help
thinking this is a great mistake. We have a cat, at houme, that is very
fond of me; and yours, Sir, seems much attached to you.' 'The cat is,
on many accounts, unjustly aspersed,' said he: 'excepting the dog, I
know of no animal that appears capable of stronger attachment. It is
also reproached with treachery and cruelty; but are not the artifices
it uses, the particular instincts which the all-wise Creator has given
it, conformable to the purposes for which it is designed? Being
destined to prey upon the mouse, a lively, active animal, possessing
many means of escape, artifice is absolutely necessary for the
accomplishment of its end. I can, however, say nothing in extenuation
of its cruelty, in sporting with the unfortunate victim that falls into
its power, in prolonging its tortures, and putting it to a lingering
death. This, it must be confessed, is not a very favourable trait in
its character. Notwithstanding all this, it certainly renders very
essential services to man, and merits, in return, his kindness and
protection.' I admired the beauty of Tom, for so Dr. Sinclair calls his
favourite. 'His beauty is not his most remarkable property,' said the
Doctor: 'this cat was once the cause of detecting a murderer.' I was
astonished, as I doubt not, you, Louisa, will be also, and requested he
would relate to me the particulars of so extraordinary a fact. This he
kindly did, as follows:
“Some time ago, when I was pursuing the duties of my profession, as
a physician, I was requested to enquire into the particulars of a
murder, that had been committed upon a woman in the city where I lived.
In consequence of this request, I went to the habitation of the
deceased, where I found her extended lifeless on the floor, and
weltering in her blood. This cat was mounted on the cornice of a
cupboard, at the further end of the apartment, where he seemed to have
taken refuge. He sat motionless, with his eyes fixed on the corpse, and
his attitude and looks expressing horror and affright. The following
morning, he was found precisely in the same position; and, when the
room was filled with officers of justice, neither the clattering of the
soldier's arms, nor the loud conversations of the company, could, in
the least degree, divert his attention. As soon, however, as the
suspected persons were brought in, his eyes glared with increased fury,
his hair bristled, he darted into the middle of the apartment, where he
stopped for a moment to gaze at them, and then retreated precipitately
under the bed. The countenances of the assassins were disconcerted, and
they were, for the first time during the whole course of the horrid
business, abandoned by their usual audacity. I felt much interested for
poor puss, and, as no other person laid claim to him, I secured him for
myself; and Tom and I have been the best friends imaginable, ever
“I felt my respect for Tom greatly increased by this story, the
detail of which has so completely filled my letter, that I have not
space to tell you of half the curiosities contained in Dr. Sinclair's
cabinet. One thing, however, I must find room to describe; this is, a
piece of cloth, which, judging merely from its outward appearance, I
considered still more unworthy than the little Leming, of a place among
so many rarities, and again ventured to express my surprise. 'Never
allow yourself to form such hasty conclusions, my dear boy,' said Dr.
Sinclair, taking my hand in the kindest manner: 'a rough exterior often
conceals real merit. This you will find to be the case in your future
commerce with the world, as well as in examining the cabinet of a
virtuoso. That piece of cloth, and this bit of paper,' said he,
opening one of the drawers and showing it to me, 'are made from a stone
called asbestos.' 'A stone!' said I, with astonishment: 'is that
possible, Sir?' 'It is very true, my dear,' replied he: 'this kind of
linen cloth was greatly esteemed by the ancients. It was considered as
precious as the richest pearls. The most remarkable property belonging
to it, is, its being incombustible; that is, it cannot be consumed by
fire. Among the Romans, napkins were made of it, which when soiled,
were thrown into the fire, and by this means much more completely
cleaned, than they could have been by washing. Its principal use was
for making shrouds, to wrap up the dead bodies of their kings, so that
their ashes might be preserved distinct from those of the wood
composing the funeral pile.'
“I enquired where this very curious stone was found. He told me that
there were ten species of it, and that it was discovered in many of the
European mountains, particularly in those of Lapland, Sweden, and
Germany; as well as in Candia, an island of the Mediterranean; and in
“I enquired, whether it was used for any other purpose than the
manufacture of cloth and paper. To which Dr. Sinclair replied, that he
understood, the Chinese employed it as an ingredient in the formation
of their finest porcelain.
“You may easily imagine, my dear Louisa, how much I enjoyed the
conversation of this kind and sensible man. I hope Mr. Lewis will allow
me to accompany him, the next time he pays him a visit. And now I must
beg of you to give my love to little Sophy, and tell her I have sent
her a work-bag and pin-cushion, and hope I shall hear she grows very
notable and industrious. Give my duty to my dear father and mother; and
love to Emily, Edward, and Ferdinand; and believe me, my dear Louisa,
your affectionate brother,
Mrs. B. Very well, Louisa, you have done your brother's
letter justice, by the manner in which you have read it; and great
amusement it has afforded me, I assure you.
Emily. I have been both amused and instructed by it. I never
heard of the Leming before; it is a most curious little animal. I am
glad Clarles is studying natural history, as, no doubt, he will meet
with many pretty anecdotes to relate to us. Is it not a pleasing
Mrs. B.. It is, indeed, my dear. No study tends so greatly to
enlarge the mind. You already know something of botany, and have
admired the wisdom manifested in the formation of the minutest flower;
“Not a tree,
A plant, a leaf, a blossom, but contains
A folio volume.
We may read, and read,
And read again, and still find something new;
Something to please, and something to instruct,
E'en in the nuisanceweed.”
A deeper research into the beauties of nature, will excite in you
still greater attentions and astonishment, and will, I am sure, fill
you with reverence towards the Divine Author of so many wonders. I hope
Charles will not merely relate to us the amusing anecdotes he meets
with, but enter scientifically upon the subject; as it is impossible to
gain clear ideas, without great method and regularity.
Louisa. I hope, mamma, we shall not, in natural history, have
long lists of classes and orders to learn by heart, as we had when we
began botany; for I cannot say I think all those hard names at all
Mrs. B. Perhaps not, my dear; but nothing that is valuable,
can be attained without difficulty. I would wish to smooth the path for
you as much as I can, but learning is “labour, call it what you will;"
and without strict attention, and industrious perseverance, you will
never attain perfection in any thing. The classes and orders in that
division of natural history, called the animal kingdom, are, however,
by no means difficult. There are, in botany, as you no doubt recollect,
twenty-four classes; in natural history, there are but six.
“Will you be so kind as to repeat them to us, mamma?” said Louisa.
Mrs. B. Willingly, my dear. The first is called Mammalia, and
consists of Quadrupeds and Whales; the second, Birds; third, Amphibia;
fourth, Fishes; fifth, Insects; and sixth, Worms.
Louisa. That seems very easy. I think I could soon learn
those six classes. Are there many orders, mamma?
Mrs. B. In the class Mammalia there are seven. But we must
not talk of them just at present, or our Roman history will be
Edward. Before we change the subject, will you be so good as
to tell me, mamma, what you meant by saying, that division of natural
history called the animal kingdom. Are there, then, many divisions?
Mrs. B. There are three, my dear. The first consisting of
Minerals; the second, of Vegetables; and the third, of Animals.
Mr. B. Well, my dears, now do not forget what you have been
already told, and another day we will talk further on this subject: for
the present, let us attend to our history. We concluded with the death
of Ancus Martius. Who succeeded to the crown, Emily?
Emily. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. He was the son of a
merchant of Corinth, which is a large city of Greece. This man had
acquired a considerable fortune by trade, which was inherited by his
son Lucumo, who took the name of Tarquinius, from Tarquinia, a city of
Hetruria, where his wife Tanaquil lived, previous to her marriage. His
birth being considered contemptible by the nobles of this place, he, by
his wife's persuasions, settled in Rome, where merit alone gave
Mr. B. What remarkable circumstance is said to have occurred
to him on his way thither, Ferdinand?
Ferdinand. As he approached the city gate, historians say,
that an eagle, stooping from above, took off his hat, and, after flying
round his chariot for some time, with a great noise, put it on again.
From this circumstance, his wife, Tanaquil, foretold that he would one
day wear the crown.
Mr. B. By what means, Edward, did he obtain this object of
Edward. The two sons of Ancus were left under his
guardianship. He was a skillful politician, and found out the secret of
making himself a great favourite with the people. He used every
artifice to set aside these children, and to get himself elected in
their stead. For this purpose, he contrived to have them sent out of
the city, and made a long speech, mentioning his friendship for the
people, the fortune he had spent among them, together with his
knowledge of their government, and concluded by offering himself for
their king. The people, with one consent, elected him as their
Mr. B. Pray, Louisa, can you tell me how he has governed the
city he had so unjustly obtained?
Louisa. Much more properly, papa, than might have been
expected. The first thing he did, was to add a hundred members to the
senate: so that it now consisted of three hundred. He was disposed to
live in peace, but the Latins and Sabines rose up against him: however,
after a severe conflict, he subdued them both. Peace being restored, he
employed his subjects in many useful works for the improvement of the
city, that they might not grow corrupted through indolence.
Mr. B. This conduct in Tarquinius, shows great wisdom; for it
is very true, that “idleness is the root of all evil.” In states it
foments discord, and in private life occasions misery and ruin. Well,
Ferdinand, what have you to tell us?
Ferdinand. There is a curious account of Attius Navius, a
famous augur, (this signifies a kind of prophet, who could foretel
future events.) The Romans used to place great confidence in these
people, and Tarquinius, wishing to try this man's skill, sent for him;
and, when he was come into the midst of the Forum, said to him:
“diviner, canst thou discover, by thy art, whether what I am thinking
of can be done or not? Go and consult thy birds.” The augur did as he
was ordered, and returning quickly, answered: “Yes, Tarquin, my art
tells me, that what thou art thinking of may be done.” Upon which
Tarquin pulled a razor from under his robe, took a flint in his hand,
and replied, contemptuously, “I was thinking, whether it were possible
to cut this flint with this razor. I have taken thee in thy own craft.
The introducing of the gods into thy decisions, is all cheat and
imposture. If thou canst do what is impossible, do.” At these words the
people burst out a laughing, but the augur did not appear at all moved.
He, on the contrary, addressed himself to the king, with a bold air,
and said, “Put the razor to the flint and try. I readily submit to any
punishment, if what you thought of be not done.” Upon trial, the razor
passed through with the greatest ease. The people then gave a loud
shout, and the king's contempt for the augur was turned into
admiration. This is a very extraordinary account: but do you think it
is true, papa.
Mr. B. I do not, my dear. I think it is a mere fabulous
invention; and this was the opinion of the great orator, Tully, who was
himself an augur. Writing to his brother, he says, “Look with contempt
on the razor and flint of the famous Attius. When we reason as
philosophers, we ought to lay no stress upon fables.” How did Tarquin
close his long life, Emily?
Emily. In the eightieth year of his age, and thirty-seventh
of his reign, he was murdered by the artifices of the sons of Ancus
Martius. They hired two young men, who dressed themselves like
peasants, with hatchets on their shoulders, as if they had been
wood-cutters. They approached the kings palace, pretending to have a
quarrel about some goats, and made so much disturbance, that they were
carried before the king. At first they began to rail at each other,
until a lictor interfered, and ordered them to speak by turns. Then one
of them began to tell his story, and, whilst the king was listening to
it very attentively, the other, lifting up his hatchet, gave him a deep
wound on his head, and instantly ran out of doors with his companion.
Whilst some of the company hastened to assist the king, others pursued
the ruffians and seized them. On being put to the torture, they
confessed by whom they had been employed.
Ferdinand. Pray, papa, what is the meaning of being put to
Mr. B. It is a most barbarous punishment, my dear. The
unhappy victim is extended upon a wheel, which stretches his limbs till
they are all dislocated; and it has frequently happened, that many poor
wretches, unable to endure such severe torments, have made confessions
of crimes they never committed, in order to free themselves from the
severity of their sufferings. How did queen Tansquil set upon the death
of her husband?
Edward. She did not lose her presence of mind, but cleared
the palace of the crowd, shutting herself up in the apartment of the
expiring king, with only Servius Tullius, who was her son-in-law, his
wife, and Octivia his mother. She pressed him to ascend the throne,
that Tarquin's two grandsons might be safe under his protection: then,
opening the window which looked into the street, she bade the people be
under no concern, since the wound was not deep, and the king, having
only been stunned by the sudden blow, was come to himself. She
concluded by expressing her hopes, that they would see him again very
shortly; declaring that it was their sovereign's orders, that, till
that time, they should obey Servius Tullius. This stratagem succeeded.
The report that the king would soon be well again, so terrified the
sons of Ancus, that they went, of their own accord, into banishment.
Mr. B. How did Servius proceed, Louisa?
Louisa. The second day after the murder of Tarquin, he took
his seat on the throne, in the royal robes, and heard causes; some of
which he decided himself, and, in difficult cases, pretended he would
consult the king. He continued this management some time, and by his
prudent conduct gained the love of the people. At last, when he thought
his authority well established, the death of Tarquin was announced, as
a thing which had just happened, and Servius continued in power,
without being positively chosen as king. That is all we have read at
present, papa. I hope we shall hear something more about Servius, as I
do not think I clearly understand who he was, except that he was
son-in-law to Tarquinius. Mr. B. Oh, no doubt, all those matters
will be cleared up to your satisfaction to-morrow, Louisa. For the
present we must separate, my dears, as our conversation has been
already prolonged beyond your usual hour. Good night, my dear children.
MR. AND MRS. BERNARD, EMILY, EDWARD LOUISA, FERDINAND, AND SOPHY,
standing by her mother.
Sophy. Mamma, may I stay with you a little time to-night. I
am not sleepy at all.
Mrs. B. You may stay till seven o'clock, my dear, but not
later, as we must not break through good rules. When you are as old as
Ferdinand, you shall sit with us as long as he does; but, whilst you
are such a little girl, after tea, bed is quite the best place for you.
“Early to bed, and early to rise, Is the way to grow healthy,
wealthy, and wise.”
Sophy. Well, mamma, I want very much to grow a clever girl,
like Emily; but how can going to bed early make me wise? If I might sit
up with you and papa, you would teach me a great many things, as you do
Fedinand; but when I am in bed, I go to sleep and learn nothing.
Mrs. B. But your sleep does you a vast deal of good, my
little dear. It makes you rosy and healthy, and will strengthen your
memory too; so that when you are older, you will learn your lessons
much better, and quicker, than those little unfortunate children who
have been spoiled by the silly indulgence of their nurses.
These arguments, together with an assurance that cheerful obedience
would make her dear father and mother very happy, soon convinced little
Sophy that going to bed early was very proper, though she could not
think it very agreeable; and promising to comply, the moment Mary made
her appearance, she added: “has papa ever heard grandpapa's verses,
which you taught me to-day? If he has not, I will repeat them to him;
for it is not seven o'clock yet. Is it, mamma?”
Mrs. B. No my dear; there will be quite time enough for you
to repeat them to your papa. But first tell him on what occasion they
Sophy. A good while ago, grand-papa had two nice little pigs,
and they one day found some paint in a pot, and thinking it something
nice, they ate it. There is something in paint that is poison, papa:
pray, what is it?
Mr. Bernard told Sophy that it was white-lead.
Sophy. Oh, well then, the white-lead that was in the paint,
poisoned these poor little pigs; and grand-papa had them buried in the
orchard, and wrote the verses, which mamma taught me, over their grave.
Now do you understand, papa? May I begin?
Mr. Bernard assured Sophy he understood her explanation perfectly
well, and was all attention, waiting for her recital.
Upon which she immediately repeated as follows:
“Ye passing pigs, I pray draw nigh, And hear a dreadful tragedy, Of
two fine pigs, as e'er were seen Grazing or grunting on the green: Till
on a time, and near this spot, We chanc'd to spy a painter's pot,
White-lead and oil it did contain, By which we pretty pigs were slain;
Therefore a warning let us be To future pigs, who this may see, With
life prolong'd, and free from pains, To be content with wash and
Mr. B. Very well, Sophy. Here is a lesson for little boys and
girls, as well as pigs. Tell me what you have learnt from those lines.
Sophy. I do not know, papa: I learnt the verses, and that is
Mr. B. But that should not be all. There is a very useful
lesson hidden in that story. Try and find it out.
Ferdinand. I think I know it.
Louisa. And so do I.
Mr. B. And so will Sophy, when she has considered a little.
Sophy. Aye: yes. I think I have found it out, papa. You mean,
that the tale should teach little boys and girls never to taste things
they do not understand, for fear they should be killed, like the poor
Mr. B. That is exactly what I meant, Sophy; and, I assure
you, I have heard of children who have been actually poisoned, by
incautiously eating berries, and other things, which they had met with
in their country walks. You, my dear, have a sad habit of putting
leaves and flowers into your mouth. I hope you will endeavour to break
yourself of it, as, I assure you, it is very dangerous.
Sophy. I am going to try to leave it off, papa; for I made my
tongue very sore yesterday, by biting the stalk of a flower, that
Ferdinand and Louisa called lords and ladies.
Mr. B. That is an arum, the juice of which is, I
believe, extremely poisonous; so pray never put it in your mouth again.
Sophy. No, papa, I do not intend it, for it hurt me very
much, I assure you. Oh! here comes Mary. Good night, dear papa and
mamma. Good night all.
Little Sophy, after receiving many affectionate caresses, retired in
high good-humour, and soon forgot her sorrow for the little pigs, in a
Louisa. Mamma, I remember the names of the six classes in
natural history, which you were so kind as to teach me yesterday.
Mammalia, Birds, Amphibia, Fishes, Insects, and Worms; and now pray
tell me the seven orders, for I do like to know a little of every
Mr. B. But that, Louisa, is exactly what I do not wish you to
do. I would greatly prefer that your information should be rather
circumscribed, provided it were correct, than that you should have a
slight smattering of many things, and a thorough knowledge of none. You
may impose upon the illiterate by this superficial information; but the
really wise will soon discover your ignorance, and despise you for
affecting a degree of knowledge you do not possess. Besides which, a
mere smattering of learning is very apt to fill the mind with self-conceit and vanity, faults from which the really well-informed are
always free. My favourite poet, Pope, says:—
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
Here shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
But drinking largely sobers us again.”
Therefore, my dear, unless you intend to enter decidedly upon the
study, I shall certainly beg your mother not to say any thing further
on the subject.
Louisa. Oh, then, I assure you, papa, I will enter decidedly
upon it; as it seems to me as if it would be extremely entertaining.
Mr. B. I think, my dear, you have formed your opinion
somewhat prematurely, as you certainly, at present, know very little of
the matter. This, however, with the young and ignorant, is no uncommon
error. I hope your good opinion of the study, will continue when you
are better acquainted with it. There are seven orders belonging to the
first class, as your mother has already informed you; the names of
which are, Primates, Bruta, Ferae, Glires, Picora, Beluae, and Cete.
Louisa. Those words are harder than the classics. I doubt I
shall find them more difficult to remember: however, I must write them
down, and try my best. Please not to tell me any more at present, papa.
I believe I shall succeed best, if I do not puzzle myself by attempting
too much at a time.
“I am quite of your opinion there,” replied her father.
Louisa. Natural history shall be one of my pleasures. I will
not call it a lesson; but will study it when I am most in the fit for
it. And will you be so kind as to help me, papa?
“Willingly, my dear, provided your fit comes on when I am at
liberty,” replied Mr. Bernard.
Louisa thanked her father, adding, “and now I must tell you, that I
am quite satisfied with the account I have read of Servius Tullius. I
perfectly understand now, who he is.”
Ferdinand. Louisa, before we begin our history, I wish to ask
papa a question about those verses which he repeated a few minutes ago.
There is one line, which I do not think I understand. Please to say
them over once more, papa.
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
Here shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
But drinking largely sobers us again.”
Ferdinand. The first line is plain enough; but I do not at
all know the meaning of Pierian, which is in the second.
Mr. B. It is an epithet applied to the Muses and poetical
compositions, and takes its name from Pieria, a small tract of country
in Thessaly, in Macedonia, where stands a mountain called Pierius, on
which the nine Muses are said to have been born.
Ferdinand. Are not all those places in Greece?
Mr. B. Yes, my dear.
Louisa. Who were the Muses, pray, papa?
Mr. B. They were supposed to be goddesses, presiding over
poetry, music, dancing, and all the liberal arts, and were said to be
daughters of Jupiter.
Emily. Those stores of the heathen gods and goddesses are all
fabulous, I suppose, papa!
Mr. B. Yes, my dear, completely so. Do you understand the
second line now, Ferdinand?
Ferdinand. Yes. Pierian spring is another term for learning
or knowledge. That makes the sense of all the lines perfectly clear, I
Mr. B Louisa may then give us an account of Servius Tullius,
who, you will recollect, was the sixth king of Rome.
Louisa. He was the son of Ocrisia, a very beautiful and
virtuous lady, who was taken prisoner by the Romans when they sacked
Mr. B. Can you tell us, Edward, where Corniculum is situated?
Edward. Yes, papa, it is a town of Latium, a country of
Italy, near the river Tiber. This territory has now changed its name,
and is called Campagna di Roma.
Ferdinand. May we look in the map for it, papa?
Mr. B. By all means, my dear. I believe no plan of learning
geography is so effectual as that of finding, on the map, the different
towns that you meet with in the course of your reading. The names of
many places have been so completely changed latterly, that you will
find it useful to compare together the ancient and modern maps. By this
means, both names will become familiar to you. But now for the place in
Ferdinand. I have found it, papa. It is bounded on the north
by the patrimony of St. Peter, on the east by Abruzzo, on the south by
Terra di Lavora, and on the west by the Mediterranean.
Mr. B I see you are looking on the ancient map, Emily. How is
it bounded there?
Emily. On the north by Etruria, on the east by Salbina, on
the south by Samnium, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea.
Mr. B. Very well, Now, Louisa, you may go on with your
account of Servius.
Louisa. I told you that his mother's name was Ocrisia, papa;
but who his father was, seems uncertain. Tarquin made a present of his
fair captive, to queen Tanaquil, who grew extremely attached to her,
and restored her to freedom. But as her son was born whilst she was in
a state of servitude, he took the name of Servius.
Mr. B. Is anything extraordinary related respecting the
infancy of this child, Ferdinand?
Ferdinand. Yes, papa; it is declared that a sudden flame, in
the form of a crown, surrounded his head one day whilst he was asleep,
which was supposed to foretel his future greatness.
Mr. B. Who had the charge of his education, Emily?
Emily. The king and queen, who loved him as tenderly as if he
had been their son. It was, however, chiefly to his own wise, noble,
and amiable conduct, that he owed his elevation to the throne. He
distinguished himself by his military achievements, even before he
attained the age of manhood; and his reputation increasing as he
advanced in years, and being joined to pleasing manners, manly
eloquence, and uncommon abilities in council, gained him the esteem and
affection of the people. He was twice married: first to a lady of
illustrious birth, and, after her death, to Tarquinia, daughter of the
king and queen. Upon this alliance, the king placed in him the most
unbounded confidence, entrusting him with the management, both of his
public and private affairs; of all which he acquitted himself so well,
that the people were perfectly indifferent whether they were governed
by him or Tarquin. This accounts for his having so easily gained
possession of the throne, on the death of his father-in-law.
Mr. B. In what manner did Servius conduct himself, after his
accession to the throne, Edward?
Edward. He determined, as much as possible, to make the
peaceful Numa his pattern, and directed his attention to the
improvement of the civil government of Rome. Although his accession to
the throne had been unattended by tumult, the beginning of his reign
was disturbed by the dissatisfaction of the nobles. They were not
pleased at his ascending the throne without being duly elected to it,
and determined, if possible, to oblige him to lay aside his royalty. In
this emergency, Servius endeavoured to gain over the people to his
cause, that he might employ their power against the patricians. For
this purpose, he assembled them together, and, with a grandson of
Tarquin in each hand, addressed them in a very moving speech, declared
himself the protector of the poor children, and the guardian of their
helpless infancy, and implored the assistance of the people in this
arduous undertaking; at the same time, promising them freedom from
Mr. B Provided Servius performed this promise, this plan was
calculated to interest the people greatly in his behalf. “Well, papa,”
said Louisa, “he did keep his promise: for, a few days afterwards, he
commanded all those people who were too poor to pay their debts, to
send him an account of them; and then, causing counting-houses to be
opened in the Roman Forum, he there paid all with his own money.
Besides which, he made a much more equal distribution of the lands,
and, by every means in his power, endeavoured to gain the affection of
the lower orders of the people. Now, Edward, will you please to give
papa some account of the war in which Servius was obliged to engage
against the Veientes; for I like to speak about peaceable times best.”
Edward. So do I, indeed, Louisa. I do not like war at all, I
assure you, nor did Servius Tullius. His inclination led him much more
to works of peace and civil government, than to military exploits; yet
he found himself obliged to embark in a war. It proved a very long one
too, but brought much glory, both to the Roman people and to their
king. The Veientes, whom Tarquin had often subdued, refused now to
recognize the sovereignty of Rome, and treated with scorn some
ambassadors sent from thence, to claim their submission. “We entered,”
said they, “into no treaty with the son of a slave, nor will we
ever submit to Servius's dominion. Tarquin is dead, and our obligations
to be subject to the Romans, are dead with him.”
Mr. B. Pray where did these haughty people reside, Edward?
Edward. At Veii, papa, a powerful city of Etruria, about
twelve miles distant from Rome.
Mr. B. Perfectly right. I imagine, the confidence of the
Veientes proceeded partly from the hopes they entertained of profiting
by the dissensions between the king and senate of Rome. Nothing weakens
a state so much as internal discord. The moral of the old man's bundle
of sticks, might be as properly applied to the larger communities of
men, as to his own little family. You all know the story to which I
allude: do you not?
Ferdinand. I do. You know, I read it to you the other day,
Emily. But we do not; so, perhaps, papa, you will be so kind
as to tell is us.
Mr. B. We will not interrupt our Roman history now; when you
have finished your account, Ferdinand shall relate the story to you.
Now, Edward, proceed.
Edward. The Veientes prepared for war, and drew two other
neighbouring states, those of Caere and Tarquinia, into their party.
But Servius, by his courage and conduct, subdued the confederates,
deprived them of their lands, and transferred them to the new citizens
of Rome, who had no lands of their own. The success of Servius attached
the people still more to his interest, and he resolved to take
advantage of their favour, in order to render his title to the throne
still more secure. He, therefore, a second time assembled the citizens,
and in a moving speech, which drew tears from their eyes, complained of
a design formed by the patricians to take away his life, and bring back
the sons of Ancus. In the conclusion of his speech, he left the kingdom
absolutely at their disposal, and begged them to determine between him
and his pupils on one side, and their competitors on the other. Having
finished his harangue, he stepped down from the tribunal, and prepared
to leave the assembly; but they called to him to stay, and entreated
him to be their king. Accordingly, a day was appointed, and he was duly
elected to the sovereign power. The senate were not, however,
reconciled to him, and formed so dangerous a faction, that Servius was
almost inclined to renounce the dignity conferred upon him by the
people; but imparting his perplexities to Tanaquil, she disapproved of
his intention, and prevailed upon him to bind himself by an oath, never
to resign the kingdom.
Mr. B. Tanaquil was, in many respects, a great woman. She
rendered herself illustrious by her virtues, as well as by her
political abilities. Private life is the sphere most calculated for the
display of female perfection, and here her excellence conspicuously
shone. The king, to immortalize her memory, hung up her distaff in the
Temple of Hercules. I hope my dear girls will endeavour to imitate the
domestic virtues of this excellent woman, rather than her ambitious
temper. I do not wish to see them heroines.
Emily. I do not feel ambitious of any thing but my dear
Mr. B._This, affection and obedience, my Emily, will never fail
to obtain. But let us now hear what further befell Servius. If Edward
is to be the recorder of his warlike achievements, I believe we must
again call upon him.
Edward. The Etrurians furnished him with an opportunity to
increase his glory. His victories over them obtained for him the
honours of a second triumph, and restored peace to his kingdom. Now,
Emily, I again resign the office of narrator to you.
Emily. Servius employed this interval of rest, in enlarging
and adorning the city. He divided the Roman territory into tribes, the
citizens into six different classes, and these classes into centuries.
A tax was levied on each century, according to the class to which it
belonged; by which means, each individual contributed towards the
exigencies of the state, in exact proportion to the amount of his
property. He also increased the number of the citizens, by giving
liberty to the unfortunate captives taken in war; permitting them
either to return to their own countries, or continue at Rome, with the
enjoyment of all the privileges of free citizens. The senate were at
first offended at this regard shown to a people they considered so
mean; but the king addressed to them a very persuasive speech, which
entirely appeased their anger, and they passed his institution into a
law, that subsisted ever after.
Mr. B. Another important regulation was, taking an estimate
of the population of the kingdom. It was performed every fifth year,
accompanied with sacrifices, and other religious rites, which were
called lustrations. This led to the computation of time amongst the
Romans, by lustra, or periods of five years.
Louisa. The most unfortunate thing Servius did, was marrying
his daughters so unsuitably. His two wards, Lutius Tarquinius and
Aruns, were now old enough to be capable of disturbing his government.
To secure their fidelity, therefore, he determined to marry them to his
two daughters; and, without consulting their dispositions, gave his
eldest daughter, who was mild and gentle, to the eldest of his wards,
who was fierce and haughty; and married his youngest girl, who was of a
most ungovernable disposition, to Aruns, who was extremely amiable and
virtuous. It was not likely that either of these marriages would prove
happy ones. Tarquin's wife endeavoured, by every winning way of
sweetness and insinuation, to soften the haughty fierceness of her
husband's temper; whilst her sister was always urging the quiet, good-natured Aruns, to the most wicked attempts, in order to reach the
throne. She loudly lamented her fate, in being tied to such an
indolent, stupid husband; and being very much like Tarquin she soon
began to love him a great deal better than her own husband, and, at
last, proposed to him that he should murder her father and sister,
together with the gentle Aruns, that they might ascend the throne
together. What a dreadfully wicked woman she must have been, papa.
Mr. B. Dreadfully wicked, indeed, my dear. History presents
us with many very painful instances of the depravity of human nature.
It is a useful, but humiliating lesson. Proceed with your account,
Louisa. A very little time afterwards, this wicked woman
contrived to poison her amiable husband, whilst Tarquin got rid of his
virtuous and gentle wife by the same means; and they were then so
insolent as to ask the consent of the king and queen to their marriage.
Servius and Tarquinia, though they did not give it, were silent. This
disgraceful marriage was celebrated shortly after, and was followed by
intrigues against the king. Tarquin and Tullia had not patience to wait
till the death of the good old monarch, which would have put them into
quiet possession of the crown, but endeavoured, by threats, to make him
give up his authority. When Tarquin found this plan was not likely to
succeed, he acted a new part. By the most affectionate behaviour, he
entirely regained the king's favour, and tranquillity seemed re-established in the royal family. But it was not long before the cruel
Tullia put an end to it. She reproached her husband with cowardice,
insensibility, and stupidity. He was moved by these reproaches; gained
a number of young patricians over to his party; and contrived a
stratagem, which succeeded from the bold manner in which it was
executed. I think Ferdinand can explain it to you, papa.
Mr. B. Well, my boy, let us hear what it was.
Ferdinand. He clothed himself in the royal robes, sent some
of servants before, and, followed by a great number of his party, who
had swords under their robes, he crossed the Forum, and came to the
gate of the temple, where the senators used to assemble. He then sent
messengers to them all, commanding them, in king Tarquin's name, to
attend immediately, and seated himself on the throne. All the senators
assembled in haste; many concluded Servius was dead, and were afraid to
disobey the orders of the new king. When they were all collected
together, Tarquin began to rail against his father-in-law. In the midst
of his speech, Servius appeared; and, being enraged by the insolence of
Tarquin, rashly endeavoured to pull him from the throne. This raised a
loud shout, and occasioned great confusion, but nobody attempted to
part them. Tarquin, who was the strongest, seized the poor old man by
the waist, and harrying him through the temple, threw him down from the
top of the steps into the Forum. The old king, grievously hurt, and
covered with blood, raised himself up with much difficulty: but all his
friends had deserted him: scarcely a creature was found to lead him to
his palace, which he was not allowed to reach. Tullia advised her
husband to complete the bloody work he had begun; upon which he
dispatched some of his servants to overtake the venerable monarch, and
deprive him of his small remains of life. On her return home, the body
of her murdered father, still panting, lay in the street she had to
pass. This inhuman woman was not at all shocked at the horrid sight,
but commanded the charioteer to drive over it. The man, who had more
feeling than the cruel daughter, obeyed with reluctance; and, it is
said, that not only the chariot wheels, but even the clothes of the
wicked Tullia, were stained with her parent's blood.
Edward. Such horror was excited by these atrocities, and
especially by the barbarity of Tullia, that the street in which the
transaction took place, the day on which it was perpetrated, and the
very name of the parricide, were branded with perpetual infamy.
Louisa. I am glad that shocking account is finished: it
really makes one feel very uncomfortable. Servius was so good a man,
too, I quite pity him.
Mr. B. His wicked daughter is an object of still greater
pity. The sufferings of the good old king, we may hope, ended with this
life; whilst, we have every reason to believe, that the punishment of
the unnatural Tullia, would extend to the countless ages of eternity.
Servius was, indeed, an excellent prince: he subdued the enemies of
Rome, and was always desirous to avoid making new ones. He did not
conquer merely for the sake of glory, but for the public good. He made
Rome more formidable by twenty years' peace, than his predecessors had
done by many victories. He introduced order into the militia and public
revenues, extended the power of the senate, and yet kept its authority
within proper bounds. He was beloved by the people, and even his
ancient enemies, the patricians, esteemed his virtues; so that, if he
could have preserved the affection of his own family, he might have
been said not to have had a single enemy. He was, at the time of his
death, seventy- four years of age; of which he had reigned forty-four
years. Tarquin refused him the honours of a funeral, lest it might
occasion a commotion among the people. Tarquinia conveyed the body of
her husband, privately, by night, to his tomb, and she herself died on
the following evening; but whether from grief, or the wickedness of
Tullia, is uncertain.
Mrs. B. This is, indeed, my dear children, a mournful
account; but it contains a very important lesson to all who are subject
to the same criminal enormities. At the commencement of her dreadful
career, Tullia would, perhaps, have recoiled with horror, from the
hideous picture of her own crimes. She might have remonstrated, as did
Hazael to the prophet: “What! is thy servant a dog, that he should do
this great thing?” The example of Tullia, forcibly teaches the
progressive nature and dreadful consequences of sin. It points out to
us the danger of entering upon a course of criminal indulgence, by
showing the sad extremes into which those are likely to be hurried, who
resign themselves slaves to ambition and to vice. Listen not, my
children, to the syren song of worldly pleasure; pursue not the gilded
pageants of time. Instead of amusing yourselces with these phantoms of
a moment, build up your happiness on the durable foundations of
innocence and virtue. Let us now turn from the dismal picture we have
been contemplating, though without forgetting the important lesson it
inculcates. Ferdinand, my dear, tell us your promised story of the old
mand and his bundle of sticks.
Ferdinand. An old man had several sons, who used very often
to quarrel with each other. Their father exerted his authority, and
tried every means in his power, in order to reconcile them, but all to
no purpose. At length he assembled his family together, and ordered a
short bundle of sticks be brought, which he commanded them, one by one,
to endeavour to break. They each tried, with all their might, but in
vain. The sticks were firmly bound together, and no force they could
employ, could break them. After this, the old man untied the bundle,
and gave a single stick to each of his sons, bidding them try to break
that, which they did with the greatest ease. The father then said:
“Behold, my dear children, the power of unity. If you would keep
yourselves strictly joined together by the bond of friendship, it would
not be in the power of any one to hurt you; but when once the ties of
brotherly love are dissolved, you are liable to be injured by the
attack of every enemy.”
Mr. B. It is an excellent fable, and I hope, my beloved
children, you will all attend to the lesson it conveys. To see you
united by the tender hands of affection, is one of the first wishes of
our hearts for you.
“What a very pleasing manner of conveying instruction, is a fable,”
“It is, my love,” replied his father: “the ancients were aware of
this, and made great use of fables in their instruction of the young:
'Whatever is conceived by the mind, must enter by the senses; and moral
truth is never so easily understood, as when it is exemplified by
reference to some parallel case in nature.' The various instincts of
brute creatures, are particularly useful for this purpose. Moral good
and evil are, through their means, represented in a way which even
children can understand.”
“Can you tell me, papa, what was the first origin of fables?”
“It is not very clear, my dear,” replied Mr. Bernard, “but it is
probable they are nearly as ancient as the history of mankind; or, at
least, that there never was a time, of which we have any knowledge,
when they were no familiar. We first read of them as being used in
Palestine and Egypt, from whence they were even borrowed by the Greeks
and Romans. The earliest specimen of fables with which I am acquainted,
occurs in the book of Judges, where Jotham signifies to the people, the
temper and fate of a usurper, under the similitude of the trees going
forth to choose them a king.” [Footnote: See Jones, on the Origin and
Use of Fables.]
Ferdinand. It is in the ninth chapter of Judges. I read it
this morning, but did not quite understand the intention of it.
Mr. B. I will endeavour to explain it to you then, my love. You will
recollect, that the fruitful trees, when applied to, all declined
taking upon them the sovereign authority; but the bramble offers his
services, and gets into power. The moral of which, as applicable to the
person of Abimelech, was this:—that the desire of reigning does not
prevail in wise and good men, who should feed the people, and protect
them under the shadow of their authority; but chiefly in men of rough
minds and bloody intentions, who harass the people, and are, at last,
consumed with them, in the unjust exercise of their power.
“The parables made use of by our Saviour, are, I think, very much in
the form of fables,” said Emily.
Mrs. B. They are, my love. They were delivered in this
manner, for the sake of some moral, which would either be obscure
without an illustration, or offensive to the bearers, if it were
delivered in plain terms.
Louisa. Nathan's reproof to king David, when he took away the
wife of Uriah the Hittite, is very beautiful. I read it a little time
ago, in the twelfth chapter of the second book of Samuel. He made use
of a fable to gain his attention.
Mrs. B. He did, my love. By putting a case in which David
seemed to have no immediate concern, he interested his affections; and
when his indignation was raised against a fictitious person, the
prophet turned it upon himself, with that striking application: “Thou
art the man.” Then there was no retracting: he had already condemned
himself, in the judgement he had passed upon the cruel offender in the
Mrs. Bernard now took out her watch, and expressed her surprise upon
finding it near ten o'clock.
Their father immediately requested them to prepare to retire,
adding: “To-morrow will be Sunday: I hope you will be in my study by
seven o'clock, that we may begin early the important duties of that
Ferdinand. I have been often surprised to find, that many
people lie longer in bed on Sundays, then on the other mornings of the
week. This must be wrong. They can rise six days a week to work, and
not one to worship. [Footnote: This was an observation, verbatim, of the same little boy before mentioned.]
Mr. B. Your remark is a just one, my dear boy; let us, in our
own family, endeavour to set a different example. Good night, my
The little party assembled this evening, as usual; but, being
Sunday, the conversation was less general, though not less cheerful
than at other times. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard possessed the happy art of
presenting religious instruction to their children, under the most
pleasing form; consequently, they did not dread the approach of the
sabbath, as a day when all pleasure must be excluded. On the contrary,
it was hailed with gladness: the business of the week was entirely laid
aside, and their minds were naturally turned, in thankfulness, towards
the Divine Being to whom they owed so much. The gracious God was always
presented to their view, surrounded by his benign attributes. They were
instructed to regard him, not only as the author of their existence,
but as the source whence every comfort flowed. They were taught to
consider him, not a severe judge, delighting in punishment, but a
merciful father, who withheld not even his only Son, but freely gave
him up to die for sinners, that they might be pardoned through his
blood. They were instructed, fully to appreciate that mercy, which
delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but would rather that he
should be converted and live. The beautiful prayers in the Liturgy,
were explained to them in a manner suitable to their different
capacities; consequently, they were not repeated by rote, as is too
frequently the case, where the same attention is not paid. Mr. and Mrs.
Bernard took unremitted pains with their children, and felt themselves
amply rewarded by their conduct; for though, like other human beings,
they were fallible, and, consequently, often did wrong, yet religious
principle being the ground-work of their characters, conviction
instantly followed the commission of a fault, and sorrow and repentance
I hope, my dear young readers, you feel some degree of interest in
my little family, and some of you, perhaps, may wish to be as good and
as happy as they were: let me then most earnestly and affectionately
entreat you, to “remember your Creator in the days of your youth: while
the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you shall say, I
have no pleasure in them.”
After Ferdinand had repeated the text, and Emily, Edward, and
Louisa, had given an abstract of the sermon they had heard in the
morning, Louisa added: “I should have liked the sermon much better,
mamma, if the preacher had not been such a disagreeable-looking man.”
“I should not have expected to have heard my little Louisa make so
foolish and improper a remark,” replied Mrs. Bernard: “it reminds me of
an anecdote which I read a short time ago. I will relate it to you, as
I think I cannot give you a more suitable reproof. A person once
excusing his non-attendance at public worship, by pleading the
disagreeable appearance and manner of the minister, 'Let us look,' said
the good Bishop of Alet, to whom this man was addressing himself, 'more
at our Saviour, and less at the instrument. Elijah was as well
nourished, when the bread from heaven was brought to him by a raven, as
Ishmael, when the spring of water was revealed to him by an angel.'“
“Thank you, my dear mamma,” said Louisa: “it is a beautiful
anecdote, and I shall endeavour not to merit another reproof upon that
Mrs. Bernard then produced a letter, which she had received from a
friend the day before, and desired Emily to read it aloud, as it
contained an account which she thought would both interest and instruct
the children. “Read it slowly, my dear girl,” continued she, “endeavour
to avoid hesitation, and lay your emphasis properly. This is a very
material point. Lindley Murray, in his excellent Introduction to the
English Reader, says: 'It is one of the most decisive trials of a true
and just taste, and must arise from feeling delicately ourselves, and
from judging accurately of what is fittest to strike the feelings of
Emily promised to attend to her mother's instructions, and taking
the letter, read the following extract.
“In the autumn of the year 1808, eight passengers, consisting of
seven gentlemen and one lady, embarked on board an American vessel,
bound from the port of Cronstadt to America, purposing to touch at
England, in company with a brig and another vessel. They had scarcely
proceeded fifty leagues, when a violent storm arose. The night was
unusually dark, and the ship ungovernable. In this extremity, the brig
suddenly dashed against them with such force, that every plank seemed
rent asunder, and an instant after, they found themselves transfixed
upon a rock. It was now near five o'clock in the morning. They
repeatedly fired guns of distress, hung out signals, and at daybreak
beheld, with grateful delight, a large boat, rowed by two stout
females, approaching their ship. The captain insisted that his eight
passengers should go on board the boat, whilst he and the seamen
hastened to attempt the preservation of their luggage and stores. He
entreated the women to land their charge in safety, and then return, as
expeditiously as possible, for himself and his six sailors; as the ship
leaked very fast, and though the storm was abated, they were surrounded
by such a cluster of rocks, as to deprive them of all hope of getting
off in safety. The two heroines steered their charge to the island of
Stameo, a barren rock, which they reached in about an hour. They
conducted them to the best hut on the island. It was built of mud, and
was the habitation of two sisters, and several other females, who
resided under the same roof. They produced milk, dried fish, and rye
bread, for the refreshment of their wearied and exhausted guests. They
prepared a room, with beds, for the gentlemen; and one of the
boat-women gave up her own to the lady, sleeping herself upon the oven.
Hospitality, affectionate civility, and tender solicitude for their
comfort, accompanied every action, and occupied every thought.
“In vain they sought to gain the ship a second time: the swell was
so great, and the surf so strong, that no boat could venture—no vessel
dared approach. Meanwhile, the generous crew were agitated by a
thousand fears. In vain they waited for the wished-for boat: no answer
was returned to their signals of distress—no pity shown for their
“Distracted by this delay, the captain ordered them to man the
jolly- boat, and arming himself and sailors with swords and pistols:
'My lads,' said he, 'we will instantly seek our friends, and if the
merciless barbarians have robbed and murdered them, their lives shall
pay the just forfeit of their treachery.'
“The sailors instantly prepared to obey their commander. They
struggled successfully against the roaring billows, and, benumbed with
horror and despair, at length reached the shore. Here they wandered
from one wretched hovel to another, but no human voice broke upon their
ear. At length they espied a solitary cow, and, mute with apprehension,
sword in hand, they hastened to the cot near which she was trying to
graze. With a trembling hand and beating heart, the captain lifted up
the latch, and, on opening the door, imagine his joy on beholding his
happy shipmates safe. His tongue denied him utterance—tears gushed
spontaneously to his eyes: with eager grasp he pressed his lost
companions to his heart, and in the rapture of that moment, all his
former sufferings were forgotten. The hospitable board was filled
again, and every guest received a cordial welcome.
“Eleven days elapsed before the ship was again fit to put to sea.
When the hour of departure arrived, a mutual interest animated their
breasts, and gratitude broke forth in thanks, from every tongue. They
begged their kind hostesses to name the sum that would pay, as far as
money could, their offices of Christian charity. Fourteen persons, for
eleven days, to board, wash, and lodge, had nearly exhausted all their
winter store. After a short consultation, the elder sister returned,
with a large Bible, translated into the Fins language, and given to the
islanders by Gustavus Adolphus, and said: 'We are not aware that we
have acted beyond what every Christian is in duty bound to do.' Then,
opening the Bible, 'in this,' continued she, 'we learn that duty which
all our Christian brethren practise. Distress, which claims, must
always find relief while it can be obtained; if, however, it will make
you more happy, that we should take some reward, provided two rubles
(four shillings and eight-pence) be not thought too much, that sum will
amply repay us.' Then, taking the lady's hand, 'we regret,' continued
she, 'that we can never be assured of what would rejoice our hearts,
and reconcile us most to your departure, which is, that you all reach
your native land in safety, and find your parents and relations well.
Then wishing them prosperous gales, they bid farewell, and parted,
probably for ever.
“Stameo is situated in the Gulph of Finland. It is one of the small
islands nearly opposite Fredericstadt, and distant about twenty verstes
[Footnote: A Verste is about 31 English miles.]. It is a barren rock of
granite, with scarcely any herbage, and only a few fir-trees here and
there. It is about three miles in extent, and has ten or twelve mud
huts, containing, men, women, and children, fifty souls. They were
formerly under the dominion of Sweden; but at the defeat of Charles the
Twelfth, by Peter the Great, became subject to the Russian government.
They are of the Lutheran church, though there is no place of public
worship on the island. Both men and women are expert at fishing, on
which they chiefly depend for subsistence; and keep up a sort of
traffic with Fredericstadt, exchanging fish, both dried, fresh, and
pickled, for rye, flax, wood, and vegetables. Their labour exceeds
belief: they rise at four o'clock, and instantly begin the labour of
the day. The hut is first cleaned and put in order: they then commence
spinning, in which they particularly excel, and continue working till
eight at night. Their breakfast is dispensed by the hostess of the hut,
to all the family, who eat it standing. It consists of black bread,
fish dried or pickled, and goat milk, when it is to be had: when that
cannot be procured, they are satisfied with pure water. Sixteen persons
out of the fifty lived in this hut, and were in possession of more
comforts than might have been expected.
“They are very net in their houses, persons, and dress. The bedding
is excellent: the blankets and linen are fine, warm, and white; the
pillow- cases and sheets have fine, open-worked, deep borders. Their
dress is becoming and modest, uniting warmth with convenience. The
married women hide their hair under a close, embroidered, silk cap,
with a plain lace border over their cheeks. The single women exhibit
their beautiful flaxen tresses, which they plat round their heads, or
let it hang at full length, with a knot of ribbon at the end, to
confine the braid.
“Their government is truly patriarchal. The mistress of the house is
called mamma, and when advice is wanted, they assemble five or seven of
the elders, who confer on the subject, and decide, in a few minutes, on
the best means of acting. Such was the case when they determined on the
sum to be paid by the strangers.
“As soon as their youth attain the age of fourteen years, they go
every Sunday in boats to Fredericstadt, to learn their creed and
catechism, and to hear the word of God: they are also taught to read
and write. In winter, the clergyman crosses twice to them, to
administer the sacrament to the sick and aged.
“One Christian charity unites their minds. They are faithful to
their promises, honest, temperate, sober, and benevolent. They fear
God, and honour their king. In a word, they are virtuous, innocent, and
happy; and when told of vices, they seem to consider it as we do fairy
tales:— stories to listen to, but not believe.
“Two cows supply them all with milk; a few pigs with animal food:
when these fail, fish and water are the substitutes.”
Edward. It is a very interesting account, my dear mother; but
I did not think that any people in the world were so innocent—so free
from vice. The Scriptures tell us, that the heart of man is deceitful
above all things, and desperately wicked; but this happy little
community seems quite an exception to the general rule.
“No doubt, their hearts, like those of the rest of mankind, are
prone to evil,” replied Mrs. Bernard, “but being, from their insulated
situation, in a great measure removed from the commerce of men, and,
consequently, from many temptations by which the inhabitants of large
societies are beset, and making the sacred Scriptures the guide of
their conduct, they appear happily preserved from the commission of
those crimes, to which many individuals, more exposed to the
temptations of the world, so fatally fall victims. Nothing is so
destructive to the morals of the young, as indiscriminate intercourse
with the world. In the bosom of your own family, you are most likely to
be secured from a temptation to false pleasures; and there do I
earnestly hope, my dear children, you will ever find your chief
enjoyment; since no felicity is so pure and innocent, as that which
results from an affectionate attachment to your domestic circle.”
Emily. We should be ungrateful, indeed, were we not happy at
home; as I am sure it is the constant endeavour of both you and our
dear father, to make us so.
“We are amply repaid for all our efforts,” said her tender mother,
“when the smile of good-humour enlivens your countenances, and beams
delight around our little circle.
“Now, Edward, read us the extract you have made from Sir Matthew
Hale's Contemplation upon Contentment,” said Mr. Bernard.
“Indeed, my dear father,” replied he, “I am sorry to say I have not
finished it. I put it off on Monday and Tuesday, when I had, certainly,
plenty of time, thinking I should readily accomplish it before the end
of the week; but in consequence of this delay, and several unexpected
circumstances intervening, to employ my time, it is wtill unfinished. I
hope you will excuse this neglect, and by next Sunday I will endeavour
to be prepared.”
Mr. B. I am sorry to see in you a sad habit of
procrastination, and want of punctuality. I assure you, my dear boy,
that, to a man of business, such a habit is more ruinous; and if not
subdued in youth, will surely grow the more confirmed by age, and
blight his fairest prospects.
Edward felt the justice of his father's reproof, and, bending his
eyes upon the ground, remained silent, forming a resolution to amend,
and hoping that he might never again incur his father's displeasure for
a similar fault.
Mr. Bernard perceived, by his countenance, what was passing in his
mind, and affectionately taking his hand, confirmed his good resolve by
a smile of approbation. Then, taking up Cecil's Remains, that lay upon
the table, he opened it, and read aloud the following passage:
“Method, as Mrs. More says, is the very hinge of business, and there
is no method without punctuality. Punctuality is important, because it
subserves the peace and good-temper of a family. The want of it not
only infringes on necessary duty, but sometimes excludes this duty.
Punctuality is important, as it gains time: it is like packing things
in a box; a good packer will get in as much again as a bad one. The
calmness of mind which it produces, is another advantage of
punctuality. A disorderly man is always in a hurry: he has no time to
speak with you, because he is going elsewhere; and, when he gets there,
he is too late for his business, or he must hurry away to another
before he can finish it. It was a wise maxim of the Duke of
Newcastle:—'I do one thing at a time.' Punctuality gives weight to
character. Such a man has made an appointment;—then I know he will
keep it. And this generates punctuality in you; for, like other
virtues, it propagates itself. Servants and children must be punctual,
where their leader is so. Appointments, indeed, become debts.—I owe
you punctuality, if I have made an appointment with you; and have no
right to throw away your time, if I do my own.”
When Mr. Bernard had finished reading, Edward thanked his father,
and promised to endeavour to correct his bad habit. His parents united
in encouraging him to make a steady effort, assuring him that they felt
convinced that it would be attended with success, and recommending him
to commit to memory the preceding admirable paragraph. His father then
changed the subject, by enquiring whether Louisa had any thing new to
repeat to them before they separated. She answered in the affirmative,
and immediately recited the following lines from Miss Carter's Poems.
“Grant me, great God, a heart to thee inclin'd, Increase my faith,
and rectify my mind; Teach me by times to tread thy sacred ways, And to
thy service consecrate my days. Still, as through life's perplexing
maze I stray, Be thou the guiding star to mark my way; Conduct the
steps of my unguarded youth, And point their motions to the paths of
truth. Protect me by thy providential care, And warm my soul to shun
the tempter's snare. Through all the shifting scenes of varied life, In
calms of ease, or ruffling storms of grief; Through each event of this
inconstant state, Preserve my temper equal and sedate. Give me a mind
that nobly can despise The low designs, and little arts of vice, Be my
religion such, as taught by thee, Alike from pride and superstition
free. Inform my judgment, regulate my will, My reason strengthen, and
my passions still. To gain thy favour, be my first great end, And to
that scope may every action tend. Amidst the pleasures of a prosperous
state, Whose fluttering chains the untutor'd heart elate, May I reflect
to whom those gifts I owe, And bless the bounteous hand from whence
they flow. Or, if as adverse fortune be my share, Let not its terrors
tempt me to despair; But, fix'd on thee, a steady faith maintain, And
own all good, which thy decrees ordain; On thy unfailing providence
depend, The best protector, and the surest friend. Thus on life's stage
may I my part sustain, And at my exit, thy applauses gain. When the
pale herald summons me away, Support me in that dread catastrophe; In
that last conflict guard me from alarms, And take my soul, aspiring, to
Mrs. B. The lines are excellent, Louisa, and you have
repeated them as if you understood their meaning. What is the “pale
herald,” alluded to in the last verse?
Louisa. Is it not Death, mamma?
Mrs. B. It is, my dear. The concluding lines contain a
supplication for fortitude and serenity at that awful hour, which every
individual must one day meet.
Emily. There is something very solemn in the contemplation of
death, my dear mother. It is an idea that often casts a gloom over my
Mrs. B. A firm reliance on the power and mercy of God, with
an humble confidence in the redeeming love of Christ, will banish that
fearful dread which might otherwise obscure the closing scene. Even in
that extremity, the true Christian has nothing to fear; he may say,
with the Psalmist, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.”
At this moment the clock struck eight, at which hour the servants
always joined the family, that they might have the advantage of hearing
their excellent master read such portions of the sacred Scriptures as
were best adapted to their capacities and circumstances; after which,
the solemn duties of the day were closed with prayer and thanksgiving,
and the children retired to their pillows, serene and happy.
A very fine autumnal morning induced Mrs. Bernard to excuse the
children some of their lessons, that they might avail themselves of the
opportunity it afforded of enjoying a country walk, at this delightful
season of the year. She considered every object in nature, as a book
from which, with a careful guide, much useful instruction might be
derived; and she never neglected any opportunity of enlarging their
minds, and elevating their thoughts, by directing their attention from
the various beauties of creation, to the kind and omnipotent Father,
who has graciously prepared for his dependent children, so many
“Pray, mamma, what has become of all the swallows we saw flying
about a few weeks ago?” enquired Ferdinand: “I cannot see one now. I
was very much amused, when we last walked this way, in watching their
rapid motions: other birds are here as usual, but I do not observe a
Mrs. Bernard took him by the hand, saying, “You have, my dear boy,
put a question to me, which I shall not be able to answer to your
satisfaction. It is a subject that has puzzled naturalists more than
many others, and opinions upon it are still very various. Some suppose
that they migrate into milder climates, whilst others conclude, they
conceal themselves in some warm spot, and lie dormant, as is the case
with many animals during the severity of the winter months. In
confirmation of this latter opinion, some few have been discovered in
sandbanks, apparently dead, but, upon being laid before the fire, have
recovered their former vigour. If, however, the vast multitudes that
visit us, universally adopted this mode of concealment, they would be,
no doubt, frequently discovered in their winter retreats, which is not
the case. Mr. White, of Selborne, a man of great observation,
particularly directed his attention to this point, but was not able to
decide it to his own satisfaction. I think he seems of opinion, that
the majority of them migrate, and that some few of late broods, which
have not attained sufficient strength to join the travellers, conceal
themselves as before mentioned, reviving upon the return of spring.”
Ferdinand. They seem to be curious birds: will you be so
kind, mamma, as to tell us some particulars respecting them? Pray, are
not martins very similar in their habits to swallows?
Mrs. B. They belong to the same order, called hirundines. There are four kinds of British hirundines:—the house-martin,
the swallow, the swift, and the bank-martin, which have each habits
peculiar to themselves. The swallow is the first that makes its
appearance in spring; generally about the middle of April. It
frequently builds in chimneys, five or six feet from the top, and
prefers those stacks where there is a constant fire; no doubt, for the
sake of the warmth. It does not select the immediate shaft where there
is a fire, but prefers one adjoining the kitchen, and disregards the
smoke by which it is almost continually enveloped. The nest of the
swallow, like that of the house- martin, consists of a shell, composed
of dirt or mud, mixed with short pieces of straw to strengthen it. The
shape is, however, somewhat different: it is lined with fine grass and
feathers, which are collected by the little architects as they float in
the air. Having constructed their dwelling, the hen lays from four to
six white eggs, dotted with red specks, and brings out her first brood
about the last week in June. I have been frequently amused in watching
the progressive method by which the young ones are introduced into
life: they first emerge from their place of concealment with
difficulty, and frequently I have found a young one in the parlour,
which had fallen down the chimney in its first attempt to leave the
next. For a day or two, the old ones feed them on the chimney-top,
after which, they conduct them to the dead bough of some tree near at
hand, where they continue attending them with the greatest assiduity.
In a few days after this, the young brood is enabled to fly, but it is
some time longer before the little creatures can take their own food;
until which time, they are fed by the parent birds, with the most
affectionate solicitude. As soon as they are disengaged from their
necessary attendance on their first brood, they betake themselves to
the business of rearing a second, which they bring out towards the end
of August. This little bird is an instructive pattern of unwearied
industry and affection; for, from morning till night, whilst their
young ones require support, they spend the whole day in their service.
Their food consists of flies, gnats, and a small species of beetle, and
they drink as they fly along, sipping the surface of the water. They
settle, occasionally, on the ground, to pick up gravel, which is
necessary to grind and digest the food of all birds. [Footnote: for the
preceding and following account, see White's Natural History of
Ferdinand. Pray mamma, how can we distinguish a swallow from
the other species of hirundines? I think that is the name by
which you call them.
“By the length and forkedness of their tails,” returned Mrs.
Bernard: “they are much more nimble, too, than the other species.”
Louisa. Do they always build in chimneys, pray, mamma?
Mrs. B. Although the shaft of a chimney is the place of which
they usually make choice for this purpose, they sometimes vary their
plan. In Sir Ashton Lever's Museum, was the nest of a swallow built on
the wings and body of an owl, which happened, by accident, to hang dead
and dry from the rafter of a barn; and another in a large shell, which
was, the following year, suspended in the same place. You have, no
doubt, my dear children, all observed vast flocks of swallows assemble
together on the roofs of houses; they chirp, and chatter, and seem very
busy, preparing for their ensuing migration, and consulting, as it
were, upon the plan most proper to be adopted on this occasion. I have
often wished, at such times, that I could understand their language.
There is seldom one of these birds to be seen after the middle of
October; but to what regions they fly, we do not exactly know; though I
read, in Dr. Russel's account of Aleppo, that numbers of these birds
visit that country towards the end of February, when they build as in
Europe, and, having hatched their young, disappear about the end of
July. They are also said to be by no means uncommon North America. Sir
Charles Wager and Captain Wright, saw vast flocks of them at sea, when
on their passage from one country another. White, in a pretty little
poem, which he calls “The Naturalist's Summer Evening Walk,” addresses
them as follows:
“Amusive birds! say where your hid retreat, When the frost rages,
and the tempests beat; Whence your return, by such nice instinct led,
When spring, soft season, lifts her bloomy head? Such baffled searches
mock man's prying pride, The God of nature is your secret guide.”
Professor Kahn, in his travels into America, relates an interesting
anecdote, of a pair of swallows which built their nest in a stable
belonging to a lady of his acquaintance. The female laid her eggs, and
was about to brood them: some days elapsed, and the people saw the
female still sitting on the eggs, but the male, flying about the nest,
and sometimes settling on a nail, was herd to utter a very plaintive
note, which betrayed his uneasiness. On a nearer examination the female
was found dead on the nest, and, on her being removed, the male took
his seat upon the eggs; but after remaining upon them about two hours,
he went out, and returned in the afternoon, bringing with him another
female, which sat upon the nest, and afterwards fed the young ones till
they were able to provide for themselves, with as much assiduity and
kindness as their natural parent could have done.
The children were all much interested in the account which their
mother had given them, and united in requesting some information
respecting the other species of hirundines. This, Mrs. Bernard
most willingly gave them, as follows:
“The house-martin, my dears, usually appears a few days later than
the swallow. For some time after their arrival, they play and sport
about, without any preparation for constructing their nests, which they
do not attempt to build till about the middle of May. At this season,
if the weather be fine, they begin seriously to think of providing a
mansion for their little family. This bird usually builds against a
perpendicular wall, without any projection to support the fabric; it
is, therefore, very necessary that the first foundation should be
firmly fixed. For this purpose, the prudent little architect is careful
not to advance in her work too rapidly. By building only in the
morning, and dedicating the remainder of the day to food and amusement,
she gives it sufficient time to dry and harden, seldom building more
than half an inch in a day.”
Ferdinand. Mamma, I have seen workmen, when they build mud
walls, raise but a little at a time, and then leave off: very likely it
was their observation of the martin's plan, which first taught them
this prudent caution.
Mrs. B. Very probably, my dear. We might learn many a useful
lesson from the sagacity and careful economy of animals, were we not
above attending to such humble instructors.
Ferdinand. Yes, mamma; the shepherd, in one of Gay's Fables,
which I learned the other day, gained almost all his wisdom from his
observation of animals. You know, he says to the philosopher:——
“The cheerful labours of the bee, Awake my soul to industry, Who can
observe the careful ant, And not provide for future want? My dog, (the
trustiest of his kind,) With gratitude inflames my mind; I mark his
true, his faithful way, And in my service, copy Tray—In constancy and
nuptial love, I learn my duty from the dove. The hen, who from the
chilly air, With pious wing protects her care, And every fowl that
flies at large, instruct me in a parent's charge.
Thus every object in creation;
Can furnish hints to contemplation;
And from the most minute and mean,
A virtuous mind can morals glean.”
Mrs. B. Very true, my dear: and I am pleased to find you have
materials at hand to support your opinion.
Ferdinand. But I have interrupted you, mamma, in your
account. Pray go on, for I am very much interested in it, and want to
know in how many days the careful little laborers complete their house.
Mrs. B. In about ten or twelve days the mansion is finished;
strong, compact, warm, and perfectly fitted for all the purposes for
which it was intended; but very often, after this industrious little
bird has finished the shell of its nest, the house-sparrow seizes it as
its own, turning out the rightful master, and lining it after its own
Ferdinand. Poor little bird! how I should pity him, to be
deprived of his house after having constructed it with so much labour.
I should think, such strong nests would last more than one season,
Mrs. B. And so they do, my dear. Martins will continue to
breed for several years together in the same nest, when it happens to
be well sheltered, and secure from the injuries of the weather. The hen
lays from four to six white eggs; and, like the swallow, as soon as the
young are able to shift for themselves, the old ones turn their
thoughts to the business of rearing a second brood. About the beginning
of October, they retire in vast flocks together.
Louisa. How are house-martins distinguished from the others,
Mrs. B. By having their legs covered with feathers quite down
to their toes. They are no songsters, but twitter in their nests, in a
pretty, inward, soft manner.
Louisa. Now, pray mamma, give us some account of the swift.
Mrs. B. Most willingly, my dear Louisa. This is the largest
of the British hirundines, and makes its appearance much later
in the season than the others I have mentioned; being seldom seen
before the last week in April, or the first week in May. It is by no
means so skilful an architect as the two species I have already
noticed. Making no crust or shell to its nest, it forms it of dry grass
and features, very rudely put together, and constructing it in some
dark corner of a castle, tower, or steeple; this species cannot,
therefore, be so narrowly watched as the others, which build more
openly. They are almost constantly on the wing, never settling, either
on the ground, on the roofs of houses, or in trees, as is the case with
the other species. The female lays only two eggs, which are milk-white,
long, and peaked at the small end. It is a very lively bird, rising
early and retiring to rest late, and is observed, in the height of
summer, to be on the wing sixteen hours a day. Like the martin, they
are no songsters, having only one harsh, screaming note, which,
however, I cannot consider disagreeable. It is never heard but in the
most lovely summer weather, and, consequently, the sound occasions in
my mind a pleasing association of ideas, which I like to indulge. If by
any accident they settle upon the ground, they find great difficulty in
rising, on account of the shortness of their legs and the length of
their wings: neither can they walk conveniently, they only crawl along.
Louisa. They seem, in many respects different in their habits
from the other species you have mentioned, mamma: how may we
distinguish them by their outward appearance?
Mrs. B. The peculiar formation of the foot plainly
discriminates them, for it is so disposed, as to carry all its four
toes forward; which clearly accounts for the difficulty it finds in
walking. As they arrive later, so they retire sooner than the others,
being seldom seen after the middle of August. Are you not tired, my
children, with my long account of these birds?
“Oh no, dear mamma: pray tell us something about sand-martins too,”
exclaimed each of the children; “we shall then be able to distinguish
each of the four species of British hirundines.”
Mrs. Bernard assured them, she would willingly comply with their
request, as far as she was able to do it: “but,” added she, “it is
difficult to gain full and exact information respecting the lives and
habits of these little birds, which are extremely wild by nature,
disclaiming all domestic attachments, and haunting heaths and commons,
far from the resorts of man. They are very fond of water, and are never
known to abound but near vast pools or rivers. They form their nests in
a manner totally different from the varieties I have mentioned; boring
a round hole in the sand, in a serpenting direction, and about two feet
deep. At the further end of this burrow, they form their rude nest;
consisting of fine grass and feathers, laid together with very little
art. It is wonderful to observe what arduous undertakings perseverance
will accomplish. One would suppose it almost impossible that this
feeble bird, with its soft bill and tender claws, should be able to
bore a stubborn sand-bank, without injury. Sand-martins are much
smaller than any other species of hirundines, and also differ
from them in colour, being what is termed mouse-colour, instead of
black. They fly also in a peculiar manner, by jerks, somewhat
resembling a butterfly. They are by no means so common as the other
species; for there are few towns or large villages that do not abound
with house-martins; few churches, towers, or steeples, but what are
haunted by swifts; scarcely a cottage chimney that has not its swallow;
whilst the bank-martins, scattered here and there, live a sequestered
life, in sand-hills and in the banks of rivers.”
Ferdinand. Do they sing, mamma?
Mrs. B. No, my dear; they are particularly mute, only making
a little harsh noise when any person approaches their nest. They lay
from four to six white eggs, and breed twice in the season.
Louisa. Have you any thing more to tell us on this amusing
subject, my dear mother?
Mrs. B. No, my dear: I believe I have now told you most of
the important particulars respecting these curious little birds. But I
have an account in my pocket-book, which I extracted from a book I was
reading last week—“Bingley's Animal Biography:” I will read that to
you, if you please. It is respecting a foreign species of hirundines, called the esculent martin.
The children all united in begging to hear this account; upon which
Mrs. Bernard took it from her pocket, and read the following extract:
“The esculent martin is said to less in size than the wren. The bill
is thick; the upper parts of the body brown, and the under parts white.
The tail is forked, and each feather is tipped with white. The legs are
“The nest of this bird is excessively curious, and composed of such
materials, that it is not only eatable, but is considered one of the
greatest dainties that the Asiatic epicures possess. It generally
weighs about half an ounce, and is, in shape, like half a lemon; or, as
some say, like a saucer with one side flatted, which adheres to the
rock. The texture is somewhat like isinglass, or rather more like fine
gum-dragon; and the several layers of the matter it is composed of, are
very apparent; being fabricated from repeated parcels of a soft slimy
substance, in the same manner as the common martins form theirs of mud.
Authors differ much as to the materials of which it is composed: some
suppose it to consist of sea-worms, of the mollusca kind; others, of a
kind of cuttle-fish, or a glutinous sea-plast called agal-agal. It has
also been supposed, that the swallows rob other birds of their eggs,
and, after breaking the shells, apply the white of them to that
“The best sorts of nests, which are perfectly free from dirt, are
dissolved in broths, in order to thicken them, and are said to give
them an exquisite flavour. They are soaked in water to soften, then
pulled to pices, and, after being mixed with ginseng, are put into the
body of a fowl. The whole is then stewed in a pot, with a sufficient
quantity of water, and left on the coals all night. The following
morning it is ready to be eaten.”
“Pray, mamma, what is ginseng? I never heard of it before,”
Mrs. B. It is the root of a small plant, growing in China,
Tartary, and likewise in some parts of North America, particularly
Canada and Pennsylvania, from whence considerable quantities have
lately been brought over here. Amongst the Chinese, it is esteemed a
medicine of extraordinary value.
“A medicine! mamma,” exclaimed Louisa; “I thought you said they put
it into the stuffing of their fowl!”
“And so they do, my dear,” returned Mrs. Bernard, “it is by no means
of an unpleasant taste, as it has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching
to that of liquorice, accompanied with an agreeable bitterness, and a
slight aromatic warmth, with little or no smell.”
Louisa. Thank you mamma. Now will you go on with your
Mrs. B. “The nests of which I was speaking, are found in vast
numbers in many islands of the Eastern Archipelago. The best kind sell
in China, from one thousand to fifteen hundred dollars the picle, a
weight of about twenty-five pounds. The black and dirty ones only sell
for twenty dollars.
“Sir George Staunton, in his Embassy to China, says: 'These nests
are a considerable object of traffic among the Javanese, and many are
employed in it from their infancy. The birds having spent near two
months in preparing their nests, usually lay two eggs, which are
hatched in about fifteen days. When the young birds become fledged, it
is thought time to seize upon their nests, which is done regularly
three times a year, and is effected by means of ladders of bamboo and
reeds, by which the people descend into the caverns; but when these are
very deep, rope-ladders are preferred. This operation is attended with
much danger, and several lose their lives in the attempt. The
inhabitants of the mountains generally employed in it, begin always by
sacrificing a buffalo; a custom which is constantly observed by the
Javanese, on the eve of every extraordinary undertaking. They also
pronounce some prayers, anoint themselves with sweet-scented oils, and
smoke the entrance of the cavern with gum- benjamin. Near some of these
caverns, a tutular goddess is worshipped, whose priest burns incense,
and lays his protecting hand on every person intending to descend. A
flambeau is carefully prepared at the same time, with a gum which
exudes from a tree growing in the vicinity, and is not easily
extinguished by fixed air, or subterraneous vapours.'“
The children were delighted with this account, and thanked their
mother for the amusement and instructions she had kindly afforded them.
They each determined, before the following spring, to provide
themselves with a book, for the purpose of keeping a diary, and
noticing the different objects that might engage their attention. They
had been so much interested by their mother's conversation, that the
beauties of the surrounding scenery had almost passed unnoticed. She
now directed their attention to the fine open country that lay behind
them. A beautiful little copse they were just entering, quite charmed
Emily, who was a great admirer of rural scenery. “The autumnal tints
add to the riches of the foliage, and improve our present prospect, my
dear mother,” said she, “but make us fear that a very few weeks will
deprive us of our pleasure.”
“That is very true, Emily,” added Louisa, “but we shall have new
pleasures in the place of those we love. Think of the delightful winter
evenings which we always so much enjoy. I really scarcely know what
season to prefer. Spring is very charming; in summer too we have many
pleasures; and, at this moment, I feel as if a morning walk in autumn
were the best of all.”
Mrs. Bernard smiled at the cheerful vivacity of Louisa, and
recommended to each of the children the cultivation of a contented
disposition, which knows how to derive comfort from circumstances in
At this moment they turned into a little glen, and were delighted
with the rural appearance of a cottage, shaded by lofty trees. They
approached its humble door, which stood open, and beheld a young
cottager, who was singing at her spinning-wheel, and too much engaged
by her occupation to notice their approach. Mrs. Bernard drew back a
few paces, and whispered to Emily the following lines, which this sweet
scene recalled to her mind:
“E'en from the straw-roof'd cot, the note of joy Flows full and
frequent, as the village fair, Whose little wants the busy hour employ,
Chaunting some rural ditty, soothes her care.
“Verse softens toil, however rude the sound; She feels no biting
pang the while she sings, Nor, as she turns the giddy wheel around,
Revolves the sad vicissitude of things.”
Then, again approaching the cottage, she accosted the young girl,
who, with a modest blush, arose from her wheel, and hastily pushing it
on one side, invited her unexpected visitors to take a seat, and rest
themselves after their walk.
Pleased with their reception, Mrs. Bernard accepted her invitation;
and, upon entering into conversation with the young cottager, became
more and more interested in her favour. There was that modest reserve
in her manner, which is particularly pleasing in youth.
In answer to Mrs. Bernard's questions, she informed her, that she
was, in very early life, left an orphan; having lost both her parents
before she had attained her third year. Since which time, she had been
indebted to an aged grandmother for protection and support.
“We have both worked hard for our livelihood,” said Mary, (for that
was the young cottager's name,) “and, thank Heaven, we have never
wanted the necessaries of life; more we have never wished
for. My grandmother weeds in the squire's garden hard by, and I earn a
trifle at my wheel.”
Just as Mary had said these words, they perceived an old woman
approaching. She was leaning on the arm of a fine, healthy-looking
youth. A deeper blush, which at this moment dyed the cheeks of the
pretty young cottager, told a tale she would wittingly have concealed.
“Is that your grandmother, Mary?” enquired Mrs. Bernard.
Mary. Yes, Madam.
Mrs. B. And the young man is your brother, I suppose?
“No, Ma'am,” said Mary, blushing still more deeply: “I have no
brother. That is Henry, our neighbour Farmer Wilson's son; and he is
always very kind to my grandmother.”
By this time, the old woman had reached the cottage door, and was
introduced by Mary to her new guests. The young man made a rustic bow
Mrs. Bernard soon entered into conversation with the old woman, and
was not less pleased with her, than she had before been with her grand-daughter. There was an air of cheerful content in her countenance,
which bespoke that all was peace within, and prepossessed you more
completely in her favour than any words could have done.
After some conversation, the old woman, turning to her
grand-daughter, said: “The ladies will perhaps eat an apple, Mary.”
Mary instantly left the cottage to gather some; and her grandmother
took that opportunity of passing upon the good girl, a well-merited
eulogium. “She is my greatest comfort, Madam,” said she; “and I may
truly say. from the day she was born, she never willingly gave me a
single moment's uneasiness. To be sure, I do feel very anxious about
her at times; particularly since she and Henry have taken such a fancy
to each other. Times are so hard, Ma'am, and money so scarce, that I
dare not consent to their marrying. And yet it grieves me to the heart
to keep them asunder; for he is as good as she herself, and almost as
dear to me.”
Mrs. Bernard enquired what means Henry had of supporting a wife, and
found he was the younger son of a small farmer in the neighbourhood,
who had a large family to establish in the world, and very little to
accomplish it with.
Mary's return at this moment, with a basket of fresh-gathered
apples, interrupted the conversation; and the children, after regaling
themselves with her little offering, took their leave, and, accompanied
by their mother, bent their steps towards home.
Ferdinand, who was a child of great observation, seldom proceeded
far without discovering some object to interest his attention. He had
remained a considerable distance behind his mother, exploring the
hedges for some new flower or insect that he had not before examined,
when his attention was attracted by a wasp, which, having seized a fly
almost as large as himself, was endeavouring to carry the prize to his
nest; but the wind blowing in a contrary direction, acted so forcibly
upon the extended wings of the fly, that the poor wasp, with all his
efforts, could make no progress. Ferdinand was anxious to see how he
would act in this difficulty, and called his mother and sisters, to
smile with them at the insect's perplexity. In a few minutes, the wasp
alighted upon the ground, and, with the most persevering industry,
sawed off, with his teeth, the two wings of the fly, and then flew away
with the body, in triump, to his young ones.
“Well done, wasp,” cried Ferdinand; “you do deserve that meal,
however. But is it not a wonderful instance of sagacity, mamma? Who
would expect it in an insect! Do you suppose it knew this by instinct?”
“We are led to believe, my love,” repied Mrs. Bernard, “that man
alone acts by the higher principle of reason; but I have met with many
instances of sagacity in the brute creation, which almost puzzle me,
when I ascribe their actions merely to instinct:
Remembrance and reflection —how allied!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!”
“It is astonishing how completely some animals will accommodate
themselves to circumstances. I will relate to you an anecdote which a
friend of mine told me a few weeks ago.”
“Pray do, dear mamma,” said Ferdinand; “I quite enjoy an anecdote. I
suppose it is true?”
“Yes, my dear, it is quite true,” returned Mrs. Bernard: “the
gentleman of whom I spoke, has a little monkey, which frequently
affords him much amusement, by his sagacious, imitative tricks. As he
was one day sitting near the pen in which the monkey was confined, he
observed him making many ineffectual efforts to regain a nut which had
rolled beyond his reach. After several vain attempts, he took up a
stick, and with this he endeavoured to draw it towards him, but still
without success. Baffled, but not discouraged, he proceeded to select a
second stick, from a bundle that lay beside him, measuring it against
the one he had before found useless. With this longer twing he set
himself again to his task. This proving aslo insufficient, he adopted
the same plan in the selection of a third, and so on; always discarding
the shortest, til he found one that was long enough to touch the nut.
But this increased his difficulty, by rolling it to a still greater
distance. Upon this he sat himself in a contemplative posture for a few
minutes, as if considering what was best to be done in this emergency;
when, hastily turning over the whole bundle of sticks he made choice of
one of considerable length, and hooked at the end, by means of which
he, with much apparent delight, accrued his prize.”
“Well, that was a most capital contrivance,” said Ferdinand; “and it
puts me in mind of a clever plan which I saw our own dog, Brush, adopt
yesterday. A bone that was thrown him, fell, like the monkey's nut,
beyond the reach of his chain, and, finding he could not obtain it by
means of his fore paws, he turned round, and throwing out his hinder
legs, readily reached it, and drew it to his kennel.”
Just as Ferdinand had concluded his story of Brush, his attention
was caught by a beautiful dragon-fly, which flitted above his head. He
hastily threw up his handkerchief, and took the insect prisoner.
“It is rather late in the season, is it not, mamma, to see these
insects abroad?” said he, carefully unfolding his handkerchief, and
discovering his prize. “Do look what a beautiful crature. Do they
“No, my dear, but they bit sometimes, rather fiercely. Their bite,
however, is perfectly harmless, therefore you need not look so much
alarmed, Ferdinand. Examine its eyes. You perceive they are very large
and prominent, covering almost the whole head. As it seeks its food
flying in the air, this seems a very necessary provision. By means of
these eyes, it can see in almost every direction at the same instant.
Dragon-flies are extremely voracious, and are the greatest tyrants of
the insect tribe. When we think them idly and innocently flitting about
in the cheerful sunshine, they are, in fact, only hovering up and down
to seize their prey.”
“Which are the insects upon which they particularly feed, mamma?”
Mrs. B There is none, how large soever, that they will not attack
and devour. The blue fly, the bee, the wasp, and the hornet, are their
constant prey; and even your favourite butterfly is often caught, and
treated without mercy. Their appetite seems to know no bounds; and they
have been seen to devour three times their own size, in the space of a
“Oh, the greedy creatures; I cannot forgive them for destroying the
pretty butterflies,” said Ferdinand: “to wasps and hornets they are
perfectly welcome. Are they produced from eggs, like other insects,
“Yes, my dear: the female deposits her eggs in the water, where they
remain some time, apparently without life or motion. The form they
first assume, is that of a worm with six legs, much resembling the
dragon-fly in its winged state, the wings being as yet concealed within
a sheath peculiar to this animal.”
“What do they feed upon in this state, pray, mamma?” enquired
“Upon the soft mud and glutinous earthy substances that are found at
the bottom,” replied her mother.
“Pray, mamma, how long do they continue in their reptile state?”
“For a whole year, my dear,” returned her mother. “When they
parepare to change to their flying state, they move out of the water to
a dry place; such as into grass, to pieces of wood, stone, or any thing
else they may meet with. There they firmly fix their sharp claws, and,
for a short time, continue quite immovable. It has been observed, that
the skin first opens on the head and back, and out of this aperture
they exhibit their real head and eyes, and at length their six legs;
whilst the hollow and empty skin remains firmly fixed in its place.
After this the creature creeps forward by degrees; drawing, first its
wings, and then its body, out of the skin; it then sits at rest for
some time. The wings, which were moist and folded together, now begin
to expand. The body is likewise insensibly extended, until all the
limbs have attained their proper size. The insect cannot at first make
use of its new wings, and is, therefore, obliged to remain stationary
until its limbs are dried by the air. It soon, however, begins to enter
upon a more noble life than it had before led at the bottom of the
brook; and from creeping slowly, and living accidentally, it now wings
the air, adorning the fields with beauty, and expanding the most lively
colours to the sun.”
“Well, my pretty fly,” said Ferdinand, “you have afforded me much
amusement, and now I will release you from your captivity.” So saying,
he opened his handkerchief, and gave his prisoner liberty.
In a few minutes they reached home, highly pleased with their
Mr. Bernard having dined from home, the children had not, till they
met round the tea-table in the evening, an opportunity of telling him
how pleasantly they had spent their morning, and how much information
their mother had given them respecting the habits of the swallow
tribes. “But even now,” added Edward, “I do not feel quite satisfied
with regard to their migration. Pray, papa, what is your opinion upon
Mr. B. I am decidedly of opinion that they do migrate, my
dear. The internal structure of such animals as continue during winter
in a torpid state, is peculiar: both the formation of the stomach, and
the organs of respiration, differ from such as are constantly in a
state of activity and vigour. Mr. John Hunter, one of our most
celebrated English anatomists, dissected several of these birds, but
did not find them in any respect different from the other tribes; from
which he concludes the accounts of their turpitude to be erroneous.
Now, although I feel no doubt myself, that such instances have
occurred, yet I by no means believe them to be frequent. Indeed, a
particular friend of mine, a skilful navigator, tells me he has not
infrequently seen, when many hundreds of miles distant from shore,
large flights of these birds; and that his ship has often afforded the
poor little travellers a most seasonable resting-place, in their
“Oh, well papa,” said Edward, “if a friend of yours has really seen
them, I can believe they do migrate; but I do not like to give up an
enquiry, till my mind is satisfied upon a subject.”
Mr. B. Within certain restrictions, your resolution is good,
Edward; but if you can believe nothing but what I, or some friend of
mine, can attest from our own observation, your incredulity will
deprive you of much valuable information. The great advantage of
reading is, that it enables us to gain instruction from the observation
of others, on subjects beyond the reach of our own experience.
Edward. Very true, papa: but do you not think that many
authors make mistakes, and put things in books that are not facts?
Mr. B. I do, my dear boy; and I always endeavor, when I meet
with a difficulty, to consult a variety of authors upon the same
subject, and, by this means, generally find I can discover the truth.
“In future I will endeavour to do so too, papa,” said Edward, “and
will not allow my doubts to prevent my improvement; for I am sure I am
at present very ignorant. Every day, and almost every hour, I meet with
something that I do not understand—something that surprises me. Papa,
you have read, and thought, and seen so much, I should think you would
never meet with any thing new.”
Mr. B. Indeed, my dear boy, you are much mistaken; I seldom
read any book without gaining from it some new idea, or some additional
information upon a subject with which I was before but imperfectly
acquainted. This very morning, for instance, in the book you saw me
reading at breakfast-time, I gained information that was entirely new
Louisa. Oh, pray papa, was it upon a subject we could
understand, if you were to be so kind as to tell us?
Mr. B. Yes, my dear girl, I think you might understand it, if
you were to pay attention to it; although it was a treatise upon
comparative anatomy I was reading.
Louisa. Oh, then, papa, I am sure I could not understand any
thing about it. I never heard of such a subject before.
Mr. B. Is that any proof that you will not understand it when
you do hear of it, Louisa? Do not allow yourself to be frightened by a
hard name, my dear; it is a proof of great weakness of mind. Edward,
endeavour to explain to your sister the meaning of the word anatomy.
Edward. I believe, papa, it is the study of animal bodies;
more particularly, their internal organization.
Mr. B. Yes and it also implies the dissecting, or cutting
them to pieces, to ascertain the structure and uses of their several
parts. Well, Louisa, what do you now think of anatomy? You have been
much pleased with your mother's description of the external structure
and habits of the swallow, this morning; now pay the same attention to
my account of the internal organization of the ostrich and cassowary,
to- night, and I think you will find it quite within the limits of your
Louisa. I will, indeed, attend, papa; and I hope I shall
Mr. B. The more minutely, my dear children, you investigate
the hidden wonders of nature, the more firmly will you be convinced of
the unlimited power, as well as infinite mercy, of its Supreme Author.
The superintending providence of God, is as plainly manifested in the
provision made for the meanest reptile, as it is in the wonderful
formation of man. Each bird, beast, fish, and insect, is endowed with
powers best suited to its wants, and most calculated to promote its
enjoyment. In the cassowary of Java, a region of great fertility, the
colon is no more than one foot long; whilst in the ostrich, doomed to
seek its food in the wide and sandy deserts of the African continent,
it is forty-five feet in length.
“Pray, papa, what is the colon?? enquired Louisa.
“It is one intestine,” replied Mr. Bernard, which converts the food
into nourishment. You will now instantly perceive the wisdom of this
arrangement. In the cassowary, the food passes very quickly through
this short channel, by which means, but a very small portion of its
nutritive particles is taken into the system, and the bird is thereby
preserved from many diseases, to which it would be liable, if the whole
of the food it devoured were converted into fat and nourishment. The
ostrich, on the contrary, who can gain but a slender supply of food in
the desolate regions which it inhabits, is provided with a colon so
long, that every particle of nourishment is extracted, before it has
passed this channel; hence, the latter derives as much actual support
from her slender supply of food, as the former does from her abundance.
Louisa. Thank you, papa. I understand what you have told us,
quite well, and think it a very curious and a very wise contrivance.
Mr. B. Now then, tell me, in your turn, Louisa, how history
has gone on since we last met.
Louisa. But, papa, we have not yet concluded the account of
our walk. Had we not better finish one subject first?
Mr. Bernard agreed to the propriety of Louisa's remark, and she
entered with great animation upon the description of the beautiful
little cottage, the pretty, innocent cottager, the nice, neat old
woman, and the bashful-looking youth, and concluded by expressing her
sorrow, that Mary and Henry could not be married; because she was such
a pretty creature, she had no doubt they would make the happiest couple
in the world.
Mr. Bernard endeavour to explain to Louisa, that beauty was by no
means the only requisite in a companion, where happiness was the
“Oh, no! I know that, papa,” returned Louisa; “I recollect that Mrs.
Horton told us, that the peacock, beautiful as it is, has but few
really amiable qualities; but I cannot help admiring pretty people, and
if you saw Mary, I am sure you would admire her too; for she looks so
good- humoured and so modest, so cheerful, so industrious, and so very
pretty, papa, that you could not help loving her. Don't you think so,
Mrs. B. I think there certainly is something very interesting
in her appearance, and, I assure you, Louisa, I am quite disposed to
think favourably of her; but we shall have an opportunity of seeing
more of her, probably, and then we can form a more decided opinion of
her character. There is always danger in giving way to a sudden
prepossession in favour of a stranger.
Edward. But, mamma, do you think it possible not to feel a
prepossession in favour of such a sweet-looking girl as Mary?
Mrs. B. I do not think any one could avoid thinking
favourably of Mary; nor do I wish to check a generous sentiment in
favour of a stranger, at any time, my dear children. Caution is
necessary, but suspicion is hateful; and I would rather you should be
often deceived, than never feel a confidence. When I was young, I was
once imposed upon by a person quite as pleasing in manners and
appearance as the young cottager. I was warned that there was danger in
trusting to appearances, but disdained the caution of those who were
older and wiser than myself. I suffered for my folly, and would have
you learn prudence from my experience.
Louisa. Do, mamma, tell us the story. I dare say it is an
Mrs. B. Not at present, my dear; your father wishes to hear
what history you have read since Saturday. Besides, an account of the
depravity of a fellow-creature, can never be a very interesting topic
Louisa.. No mamma, certainly it is not: but how did she
impose upon you? You are so careful, you know—so prudent.
Mrs. B But at that time I was credulous and imprudent, as I
have already told you, my dear, and was deceived by a pleasing address,
and a mournful tale.
Louisa. Oh, do tell me, dear mamma. I do love a mournful
Mrs. B. But this was, in all probability, a fabricated story,
to impose on the incautious: at least, I have every reason to consider
it so. I found out so many untruths, that I was inclined to think the
whole a complete falsehood. But we will not dwell longer upon this
subject at present: at some future time, if we have nothing upon which
we can more profitably employ our attention, I may perhaps give you a
full account of the affair; but I have mentioned it to your father
before, and will not, therefore, trouble him to listen to a repetition,
as nothing is more tedious than a twice-told tale.
Ferdinand. I want to ask you a question, papa, before we
begin our history. It is quite different from any thing we have been
hitherto talking of, to be sure; but I was reading a book to-day, in
which, speaking of some crime, it mentioned that it was punished by
death, without benefit of clergy. Now I do not know what benefit of
clergy means, and I thought you would be so good as to explain it to
Mr. B. That I shall most willingly, my dear boy. In order to
encourage the art of reading in England, which formerly made but slow
progress, the capital punishment for murder was remitted if the
criminal could read; and this, in law-language, is termed benefit of
Edward. I should think the art must have made very rapid
progress, when so highly favoured.
Mr. B. It does not appear that this was the case; for so
small an edition of the Bible as six hundred copies, translated into
English, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, was not completely sold in
Emily. How different, my dear father, are the happy days in
which we live. No family, however indigent, need now be without a
Edward. And almost every poor child has an opportunity, in
some of the numerous charity-schools that are every where established,
of learning to read it too, which is better still.
Mr. B. We do, indeed, my beloved children, live in very
glorious times. The scriptural prophecy seems to be fast accomplishing,
which declares, that “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth,
as the waters cover the sea.” May we prize our high privilege, and may
our more virtuous conduct bespeak our gratitude for the superior
blessings we enjoy.
Louisa. In the days of the cruel Tarquin, papa, of whom we
have been reading in our Roman history, the religion of Jesus Christ
was not known. The wicked Tullia could not, I think, have acted so
basely, had she been a Christian.
Mr. B. Those who act up to the precepts taught by
Christianity, my dear girl, must act virtuously; but the name of
Christian will be found by no means sufficient for any of us.
Louisa. Papa, it is very uninteresting to read about wicked
people. I do not feel the least inclination to give you any account of
Tarquin and Tullia. On the contrary, I quite enjoyed talking of the
good Numa Pompilius, and Servius Tullius.
Mr. B. Much is to be learned from history, my dear. It
unmasks the human character. You there read man as he is, and trace the
fatal effects of vice upon society, as well as the pleasing
consequences of virtue. But let me now hear how Tarquin behaved, on
mounting the throne so basely acquired. Emily. The whole series
of his reign was suitable to the manner of his accession to the throne.
Scarcely had he seated himself there, when, from his capricious humour
and arrogant behaviour, he acquired the surname of the Proud. He
refused to consult, either with the senate or people; but having
secured a sufficient number of soldiers to guard his person and execute
his will, arbitrary power actuated all his proceedings. Informers were
dispersed throughout the city, the king was sole judge of the accused,
and wealth and merit were considered unpardonable crimes.
Edward. The cruel murder of the venerable Marcus Janius, was
a proof of what Emily has just mentioned. He was descended from a noble
family, and possessed great riches, on which account, Tarquinius
Priscus had allowed him to marry his youngest daughter. The wicked
Tarquin, in order to get possession of his estate, caused both him and
his son to be assassinated. His youngest son escaped the same fate, by
pretending to be an idiot, from whom he supposed he had nothing to
Ferdinand. He was mistaken, however; was he not, Emily?
Edward. Stop, stop, Ferdinand; you must not forestal our
history. Let Louisa give some account of Tarquin's government first.
Louisa. Emily has already told you it was very tyrannical. To
avoid the effects of his cruelty and avarice, the most worthy men in
the senate went into voluntary banishment. The people at first rejoiced
to see the great thus humbled; but they were soon treated quite as ill
as the patricians, and all the laws which had been made in their
favour, were unmade again.
Mr. B. You have not expressed yourself well, my dear Louisa.
When a law is unmade again, as you call it, we say it is annulled.
Louisa. Thank you, papa. Well then, all the laws made in
favour of the people, which had pleased them so much, were annulled.
The poor were obliged to pay the same taxes as the rich. Nor would they
allow any meetings, even for amusement, either in the town or country.
Mrs. B. It is astonishing that the people bore such
oppressions without revolt.
Edward. Indeed, mamma, Tarquin was justly afraid they would
not; on which account, he gave his daughter in marriage to a man of
considerable interest among the Latins, in hopes he should strengthen
himself by this foreign alliance. He also employed the people in
finishing the common sewers, and the great Circus which his grandfather
had begun; knowing that constant employment was the best means to
prevent their brooding over their oppressions, and planning schemes of
Mr. B. His conduct was well judged, and likely to be attended
with success, as far as the common people were concerned; but he could
not employ the patricians in these labours. How were they kept in
subjection? for their wrongs appear to have been quite as flagrant as
those of the plebeians.
Edward. Indeed, papa, they were not kept in subjection at
all. A great number of them fled from Rome, and took refuge in Gabii, a
city of Latium, about a hundred furlongs distant.
Mr. B. Can Ferdinand tell us how many miles that is?
Ferdinand. If I consider a minute, I think I can, papa. There
are eight furlongs in a mile, so I must divide a hundred by eight,
which will go twelve times and four over; therefore, it was exactly
twelve miles and a half from Rome.
Mr. B. You are quite right, my boy. You may now go on,
Edward. The inhabitants of Gabii were touched with
compassion, to see so many considerable persons thus cruelly
persecuted, and resolved to espouse their cause, by beginning a war
with the king of Rome. This war lasted seven years; sometimes one
having the advantage, sometimes the other. The inroads and devastations
made on both sides, prevented the regular sowing and reaping of the
corn, which at length produced a great scarcity in Rome. This increased
the discontents of the people, who were suffering so cruelly on account
of the hatred borne by their neighbours, not against them, but against
their king; and they urgently demanded either peace or provisions.
Mr. B. Affairs seem now coming to the extremities with
Tarquin, I think.
Ferdinand. They are, indeed, papa, and you cannot think what
a treacherous plan he contrived to extricate himself from his
Louisa. No indeed, Ferdinand, it was not Tarquin who
contrived the plot; it was his shocking son, Sextus Tarquinius, who
was, I really think, a more wicked man than his father.
Ferdinand. So it was, Louisa: pray let me tell about it. He
pretended to quarrel with his father, papa, declaring he was a great
tyrant, who had no compassion, even for his own children. Upon this,
the king ordered him to be publicly beaten in the Forum. All this was
repeated at Gabii, by persons who were in the secret, and whom they
thought they could trust. The Gabini believed it all, and were very
anxious to get Sextus amongst them. After many secret invitations, he
agreed to their request, provided they first gave him their solemn
promise, never, on any pretence, to deliver him up to his father. When
he reached Gabii, he talked constantly of the tyranny of the king of
Rome, and acted, in every respect, as the declared enemy of his
country. He frequently made inroads on the Roman lands, and came back
loaded with spoil; his father always contriving to send against him
such weak parties, that he easily conquered them. By these means,
Sextus gained very great credit among the Gabini. They at last chose
him general of their army, and he was as much master there, as Tarquin
was in Rome.
Louisa. Ah! now comes the treachery. Oh, papa, what a very
base thing it is to betray those who place confidence in us. I cannot
Ferdinand. Well, Louisa, now pray do not interrupt me just in
this very interesting part. Finding his authority so firmly
established, he sent a slave to his father, to enquire what he should
do. The king dare not treat the slave with his answer, even in writing;
so he took him into the garden, and there struck off the heads of all
the tallest poppies. Having done this, he sent back the messenger.
Sextus, who understood the meaning of this action, assembled the
Gabini, and pretended to have discovered a plot to deliver him up to
his father. The people, who were very fond of him, fell into a great
rage, and begged him to declare the names of the conspirators. He
mentioned Antistius Petro, who was, from his merit, the most
considerable person in the country. He, knowing his innocence, despised
the accusation; but Sextus had bribed his servants to convey amongst
his papers some pretended letters from the king of Rome, which being
produced and read, the populace, without further examination,
immediately stoned him to death. The Gabini then committed to Sextus
the care of discovering his accomplices, and appointing their
punishment. He instantly ordered the city gates to be shut, and sent
officers into every quarter, to cut off the heads of all the most
eminent citizens, without any mercy; and in the midst of the confusion
occasioned by this dreadful massacre, he opened the gates to his
father, who had previously had notice of his design, and who entered
the city with all the pride of a conquerer.
Just as Ferdinand had finished this account, and before he had time
to make any comment upon it, Mr. Dormer was announced, a gentleman who
lived at no great distance from Mr. Bernard's, and who frequently, in
an evening, made one at his social fire-side. His kind, conciliatory
manners, had endeared him to the children, and he was, in his turn,
much pleased with their amiable frankness, and tender attachment to
Being a man of general information, and possessing an enlarged and
cultivated mind, his conversation was both amusing and instructive, and
he was always a welcome guest at Broomfield.
“I hope I have not interrupted any agreeable topic of conversation,”
said he, drawing Ferdinand between his knees.
Mr. Bernard assured him he could never be considered an
interruption, and proceeded to tell him how they had been engaged
previously to his entrance.
Mr. Dormer highly approved the plan of impressing instruction upon
the minds of young people by conversation, and regretted that it should
be generally so much neglected. “I dare say the little folks look
forward with great delight to the approach of evening,” said he.
“Oh yes, Sir, that we do,” replied Louisa: “we see so little of our
dear father in the day-time, that it is really quite a treat to sit
down altogether at night, and tell him what we have said, and thought,
and done, in the day; for I like that papa and mamma should know all my
thoughts, as well as my actions.”
Ferdinand. And so do I too; but mine are often very silly
thoughts, not worth any one's knowing. I wish I could keep them in
better order. Those lines written by Cowper, which I learnt the other
day, are very true, mamma:—
“We may keep the body bound, but know not what a range the spirit
takes.” [Footnote: This was an actual remark of the little boy that has
been before mentioned.]
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard looked at each other, and smiled with delight,
to find their dear boy entered so completely into the spirit of his
lessons, and was able to apply, in so proper a manner, the knowledge he
“Your fire-side circle seems so complete,” said Mr. Dormer, “and you
appear so thoroughly to enjoy each other's society, that I fear a
proposition, which I have called this evening with the purpose of
making, will not be received so favourably as I could wish. What do you
say to my running away with one of your party?”
“Not papa or mamma,” said all the children at once: “we cannot spare
them, indeed, Sir.”
Mr. Dormer assured them he had no intention of depriving them of
either of their valuable parents, even for a single day. “But,” added
he, “unexpected business calls me to Plymouth. I shall be absent about
a fortnight or three weeks, and shall be very dull without a companion.
Ned, my boy, what say you to accompanying me?”
Edward was delighted with the proposal, and anxiously looked at his
parents for their permission to accept Mr. Dormer's invitation. It was
willingly granted, and Edward received the affectionate congratulations
of his brother and sisters upon the occasion; who, far from envying him
the pleasure that awaited him, sincerely rejoiced in his good fortune,
and only requested to be made partakers of his pleasure, by letter.
“I shall set off the day after to-morrow,” said Mr. Dormer, “so you
have no time to lose, Edward.”
Edward. Oh sir, I shall be ready; you need not fear my
procrastination, on this occasion.
“Nor on any other occasion, I hope, my dear boy,” said Mr. Dormer,
“for it is a most ruinous habit for a youth to indulge in.”
Edward looked a little conscious of his deficiency in this
particular, but again promised strict punctuality.
The clock at this moment struck nine, a signal for the children to
retire. They instantly arose, and, taking an affectionate leave of the
This being the last evening before Edward's departure, the family
could not be assembled so regularly as usual. Mrs. Bernard was engaged
with Edward up stairs, arranging his clothes, and other matters that
were necessary, preparatory to his journey. Mr. Bernard, in the mean
time, devoted himself exclusively to the other children below. Little
Sophy was allowed to make one of the party, and amused them with her
cheerful vivacity, till Jane came with the unwelcome news that it was
bed-time. After she had taken her leave, Louisa sat down to complete a
baby's cap, which she had begun the preceding evening; and Ferdinand
was going to attempt to copy a house, that Edward had, in the morning,
sketched for him, when Mr. Bernard, who generally took an opportunity,
when not alone, of speaking to the children upon any little impropriety
of conduct, called Ferdinand to him, and, with the most endearing
gentleness, told him, that he had remarked in him that day, as well as
on several former occasions, an unwillingness to acquiesce in the
commands of his mother, unless he were informed what were her reasons
for urging them. “Every child, my dear boy,” continued he, “who wishes
to learn, must bring with him that teachable disposition, which is
willing to receive rules implicitly, and rust to the future for a
knowledge of the reasons on which they are grounded. A child who is
resolved to take the judgment of no one but himself, concerning the
impropriety of what is proposed to him, will absolutely prevent the
possibility of improvement; at least, he will lose a great deal of
time, and, what is still worse, will contract bad habits in the
beginning, and, in all probability, find himself unfit to be taught,
when he would gladly learn. One of the first duties of children, is
obedience: indeed, instruction can, in no instance, be built on any
other foundation. If examples in proof of this were wanting, I could
give you many. The recruit learns his exercise on the authority of his
officer, because he is himself ignorant of the art of war. The reasons
for the different manoeuvres, he will discover when he comes into
action. General Wolfe told his soldiers, that if the French should land
in Kent, as they were at that time expected to do, actual service in
that enclosed country, would show them the reason of several
evolutions, which they had never hitherto been able to comprehend.”
Ferdinand confessed the truth of all his father had said, but, at
the same time, thought it far better to know the motive of actions and
commands, when it was possible.
“But it is so often impossible, my dear boy,” continued Mr. Bernard,
“that it is far better to make implicit obedience the groundwork of
your conduct, particularly when the commands are from your excellent
mother; to whom you all owe so much, and whose wishes are ever dictated
by reason, though it may not be always either necessary or proper to
disclose those reasons to you. The Lacedeaeonians carried the doctrine
of submission so far, that they obliged their Ephori to submit to the
ridiculous ceremony of being shaved, when they entered upon their
office; signifying, by this act, that they knew how to practise
submission to the laws of their country. In short, my dear boy, it is a
universal rule, that he who will gain any thing, must give up
something; he that wishes to improve his understanding, his manners, or
his health, must contradict his will. This may not be an easy task; but
you will find it much harder to suffer that contempt, which is always
the portion of those who neglect the acquirement of wisdom and of
virtue. The wisest of men are often obliged to adopt the principle I
have been recommending to you. I will tell you an anecdote, in
confirmation of this assertion: 'A gentleman appointed to a government
abroad, consulted an eminent person, who was at that time the oracle of
the law, as to the rule of his future conduct in his office, and begged
his instructions. 'I take you,' said he, 'for a man of integrity, and
therefore the advice I must give you in general is—to act in all cases
according to the best of your judgment. However, I have this rule to
recommend: never give your reasons. You will gain no ground that way,
and may, perhaps, bring yourself into great difficulties by attempting
it. Let your motives be those of an honest man, and such as your
conscience will support you in; but never expose them to your
inferiors, who will be sure to have their reasons against yours; and
while these matters are discussed, authority is lost, and the public
interest suffers.' Thus, my dear Ferdinand, you see, that when children
submit to the direction of their parents and teachers, who are bound,
by affection and interest, to promote their happiness, and who will
certainly take pleasure in explaining to them, at proper times, the
motives by which they are actuated, they do but follow the example of
all communities of men in the world: who are passive for their own
good; who are governed by laws, which not one in five hundred of them
understand; and who submit to actions, of which they cannot see either
the propriety or justice. Now, if children are only required to submit
to the same necessary restraints that are imposed upon men, no
indignity is offered to them, nor can they have any just cause of
complaint. Your own sense, my love, if you consult it, will convince
you, that society could not subsist, nor could any instruction go
forward, without obedience. Consider the wisdom and happiness which are
found amongst a swarm of bees. They are a pattern to all human
societies. There is perfect obedience, perfect subordination: no time
is lost in disputing or questioning, but business goes forward with
cheerfulness at every opportunity, and the great object is the common
interest. All are armed for defence, and ready for work. Recollect,
too, what is the fruit of their wise economy:—they have a store of
honey to feed upon, when the summer is past. Follow their example, my
dear boy; and such, I hope, will be the fruit of your studies.”
Having said these words, Mr. Bernard kissed Ferdinand with the
fondest affection. He owned himself convinced, most fully, by his
father's arguments, of the impropriety of his past conduct, and
promised, in future, to yield implicit obedience to the wishes of both
his dear parents.
“And now, my dear girl,” continued Mr. Bernard, turning to Louisa,
“I have also something to say to you, respecting your noisy, boisterous
manner of entering a room. It is extremely unbecoming in any well-educated person, but in a little girl, from whom we expect the greatest
delicacy and gentleness, such rough, unpolished manners, are
particularly disagreeable. A very intimate friend of mine, the other
day, was speaking of your conduct in terms of general approbation, but
she ended by regretting extremely, that awkwardness of manner which
prevents your appearing in so agreeable a light as other children, who
are not possessed of half so many real excellencies. I should be very
sorry to have you neglect the jewel, in order to polish the
casket; but having secured the one, can see no objection to
your attending, in some degree, to the improvement of the other.
A diamond is, when first dug from the mine, a valuable acquisition, but
its beauties are not discovered till the hand of the polisher has
brought to light its hidden lustre. A pleasing, gentle deportment,
places female virtue in the fairest point of view; and I hope, my dear
love, you will not neglect its assistance, in the formation of your
Louisa thanked her father for his advice, and promised, in future,
to pay greater attention to her manners, in which respect she had
certainly been hitherto very deficient. Having completed her cap, she
enquired whether there would be time for her to have a lesson in
natural history: adding, I have, by means of “Bingley's Animal
Biography,” taught myself a good deal, without your assistance, papa. I
have learnt that the animals in the first class, Mammalia, have warm
and red blood, that they breathe by means of lungs, that they are
viviparous, which means bringing forth their young alive, and that they
suckle them with their milk. The jaws are placed one over the other,
and are covered with lips. The seven orders into which this class is
divided, are, as mamma taught me last week, Primates, Bruta, Ferae,
Glires, Pecora, Belluae, and Cete. All this, you see, papa, I have
remembered pretty well. Will you now be so kind as to tell me what
animals belong to the first order, Primates, and how they may be
Mr. B. The principal animals of this order are, man, the ape,
the various tribes of monkeys, and the bat. They have, in each jaw,
four front, or cutting teeth; except in some species of bats, which
have, occasionally, only two, and at others none. They have one canine
tooth on each side, in both jaws. Mr. Bernard then desired Louisa and
Ferdinand to open their mouths, and he would show them which were the
canine teeth; and, pointing to the sharp, single tooth, situated next
to the double ones, he told them that all animals preying upon flesh,
were provided with those sharp instruments, for the purpose of tearing
their food to pieces.
Louisa. The more I study nature, my dear papa, the more
clearly do I see the goodness and mercy of God, who has so wisely
provided for the various wants of his creatures.
Ferdinand. I am not surprised that men and monkeys should be
ranged in the same class, because they are, in many respects, very
similar in their appearance; but bats, papa, seem so extremely
different. They are a great deal more like birds than man. They have
wings, you know, and flit about exactly like birds.
Mr. B. If you regard their wings alone, they might be classed
as you propose, Ferdinand; but if you attend to their formation, with
the eye of a naturalist, you will find that they have all the
characteristics which determine the class Mammalia. They are
viviparous, and they suckle their young.
Ferdinand. And so do cows, horses, pigs, and many other
animals: do they, then, belong to the same class?
Mr. B. Yes, my dear: cows belong to the class Mammalia, but
to the fifth order, Pecora, which is known by their having several
blunt, wedge-like front teeth in the lower jaw, and none in the upper.
Their feet are defended by cloven hoofs. They live entirely upon
vegetable food, and all ruminate, or chew the cud.
Ferdinand. Pray, what does that mean, papa?
Mr. B. All the genera in this order, my dear, are provided
with four stomachs. They swallow their food without chewing, which is
received into the first stomach; here it remains some time to macerate,
and afterwards, when the animal is at rest, by a peculiar action of the
muscles, it is returned to the mouth in small quantities, then chewed,
and swallowed a second time for digestion.
Ferdinand. Do horses and pigs belong to the order Pecora,
Mr. B. No: they are both ranked in the order Bellua. They
have obtuse front teeth. Their feet are armed with hoofs; in many
whole, in others divided.
Louisa. I take notice, papa, you always mention the teeth: I
suppose they are of consequence, in determining the order.
Mr. B. Yes, my dear, they are one of the most striking
Ferdinand. You were surprised, Louisa, to find that bats were
considered of the class Mammalia; but I think it is much more
extraordinary that whales should be ranked under the same head with
men. I always thought they were great, large fishes.
Mr. B. They differ from fishes as much as bats differ from
birds. Like them, they bring forth their young alive, and suckle them
with their milk. They breathe by means of lungs, like land animals,
being totally destitute of gills. But here come your mother and Edward:
let us move our table, and make room for them by the fire. They will
find it very comfortable, after their employment in the cold.
Louisa jumped up, and, in her usual bustling manner, was preparing
to obey her father, but suddenly recollecting the advice which he had
just given her, she corrected herself, and, with the greatest
gentleness, removed every obstacle; set two chairs for her mother and
brother, in the place she thought most comfortable; and, to her great
surprise, found the business effected as soon, or sooner, than it would
have been with the greatest noise and bustle.
Her father perceived her caution, and gave her a smile of
approbation, which filled her with delight.
Whilst Mrs. Bernard and Edward warmed themselves, the children
continued their conversation.
“Pray, papa,” said Ferdinand, “to what order do mice belong?”
Mr. B. To the fourth, Glires: but, unless you know the
peculiar characteristics by which each order is distinguished, you will
never be able to recollect the answers I have given to your desultory
questions this evening. I have, in my pocket-book, a short account of
each order, which I yesterday wrote out for Louisa, and which I should
wish you to copy neatly, into a book devoted to the purpose of
observation on natural history. Mr. Bernard then gave to Louisa a
paper, containing the following account:
The Primates, which is the first order of the class MAMMALIA,
have four parallel front, or cutting teeth, in each jaw; except in some
species of bats, which have either two only, or none. They have one
canine tooth on each side, in both jaws. The females have two pectoral
mammae, or breasts. The two fore feet resemble hands, having fingers,
generally furnished with flattened, oval nails. Their food is both
animal and vegetable. The principal animals in this order are, man, the
ape and lemur tribes, and the bats.
2nd. The Bruta have no front teeth in either jaw: their feet
are armed with strong, blunt, and hoof-like nails. Their form is, to
appearance, clumsy, and their pace usually slow. Their food is
principally vegetable. None of the animals of this order are found in
Europe: they consist of the sloths, the ant-eaters, the rhinoceros,
elephant, and manati.
3rd. The Ferae have generally six front teeth, of a somewhat
conical shape, both in the upper and under jaw: next to these, are
strong and sharp canine teeth; and the grinders are formed into
conical, or pointed processes. Their feet are divided into toes, which
are armed with sharp, hooked claws. This tribe is predacious, living
almost entirely upon animal food; and consists of the seal, dog, cat,
weasel, otter, bear, opossum, kangaroo, mole, shrew, and hedgehog
4th. Glires are furnished with two remarkably large and long
front teeth, both above and below, and are destitute of canine teeth.
Their feet have claws, and are formed both for bounding and running.
They feed on vegetables. The genera are, the porcupine, cavy, beaver,
bat, marmot, squirrel, dormouse, jerboa, and hare.
5th. The Pecora have several blunt, wedge-like front teeth,
in the lower jaw, and none in the upper. Their feet are armed with
cloven hoofs. They live on vegetable food, and all ruminate, or chew
the cud. The genera are, the camel, musk, deer, giraffe, antelope,
goat, sheep, and cow.
6th. Belluae have obtuse front teeth. The feet are armed with
hoofs; in some whole or rounded, in others obscurely lobed or
sub-divided. They live on vegetable food. The genera are, the horse,
hippopotamus, tapir, and hog.
7th. The Cete, or Whales, although they resemble fishes in
external appearance, are ranged very properly amongst the Mammalia,
having warm blood, similar lungs, teats, &c. Instead of feet, they are
provided with pectoral fins, and a horizontally flattened tail, fitted
for swimming. They have no hair. The teeth are in some species
cartilaginous, and in others bony. Instead of nostrils, they have a
tubular opening on the top of the head, through which they occasionally
spout water. They live entirely in the sea; feeding on the soft marine
animals and vegetables.
The children carefully read over this paper, exclaiming: “It is
almost exactly what you have told us before, papa, only here we have it
all at one view.”
Mr. B. Do you understand the signification of all the words,
The children looked over it again.
Louisa. Predacious papa; I do not know the meaning of that
Ferdinand. Oh, Louisa! I can tell you that. A predacious
animal is one that preys upon others.
Louisa. Thank you, Ferdinand. Conical? Does not that
mean, in the form of a sugar-loaf?
“It does, my dear,” replied her father: “do you understand the
meaning of pectoral fins?”
“No, I do not,” answered Louisa.
Mr. B. They are fins growing by the breasts, and serve them
to clasp their young, as well as for the purposes of feet.
“I am not certain that I understand the meaning of the word
cartilaginous, but believe it signifies, that the teeth of the
whale are sometimes formed of gristle, instead of bone,” said
Mr. B. You are quite right, my love; and now, if you fully
comprehend the meaning of all the words, we will attend to our Roman
history a little. Let me hear what more you have read respecting
Tarquin and his infamous son.
Edward. We have finished the account of the regal government.
Tarquin and his son behaved so basely, that the people could no longer
bear their tyranny and oppression, but boldly threw off the yoke. We
must, however, first tell you, papa, what became of the poor
inhabitants of Gabii, who had fallen victims to their credulity, and to
the confidence they placed in the perfidious Sextus. When they saw
themselves thus totally at the mercy of the tyrant, they fell into the
deepest despair, expecting to suffer the most cruel treatment. Their
misfortunes were not, however, so great as their fears. Tarquin thought
it most for his own interest, to act with some degree of humanity
towards this betrayed people, and none of the citizens were put to
death by his order. He granted them their lives and liberties, making
Sextus their king. Tarquin, after this, continued for some time to
enjoy profound peace at home. The Romans became accustomed to the yoke
of their imperious master, and groaned in silence under his
“Let me give the account of that curious woman, who came with her
great books, if you please, Edward,” said Ferdinand.
“With all my heart,” returned Edward.
Ferdinand. Just at this time, when Tarquin was enjoying
profound peace, an unknown woman came to court, loaded with nine large
volumes, which she offered to sell for a great sum of money. On
Tarquin's refusing to give it, she went away and burnt three of the
books. Some time after this she returned to court, and offered the
remaining six for the same sum. The people then thought her a mad
woman, and drove her away with contempt. She again withdrew, and burnt
four more, still returning with the remainder, and demanding the same
price as she had done for the whole nine volumes. Tarquin now grew
quite curious to know the cause of this strange proceeding, and put the
books into the hands of his augurs, to have them examined. They found
them to be the oracles of the Sybil of Cumae, and declared them an
invaluable treasure. Tarquin, therefore, ordered the woman to be paid
the sum she demanded. She exhorted the Romans to preserve her books
with great care, and afterwards disappeared.
Mrs. B. What became of these mysterious books? Can you tell
Louisa. They soon became very much respected at Rome, and
were consulted on all cases of emergency, as they were supposed to
foretel future events. Two persons of high rank were appointed by
Tarquin, to be guardians of these invaluable treasures. They were
locked up in a vault of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and when,
some time after, this temple was burnt, they also were destroyed with
Emily. The tranquillity of Tarquin's reign was disturbed by a
dreadful plague, which suddenly broke out in Rome, and raged with great
violence. It made such an impression upon his mind, that he resolved to
send his sons, Titus and Arun, to consult the oracle of Delphi upon the
cause of this contagion, and how they might effect its cure. The
princes prepared magnificent presents for Apollo. Junius Brutus, the
pretended idiot, was to accompany them for their amusement. He was the
youngest son of the venerable Marcus Junius, whom I mentioned last
night, as being assassinated by order of Tarquin; and Brutus would also
have fallen a sacrifice to his cruel policy, had he not counterfeited
idiotism. When the princes were preparing their presents, he resolved
to carry his offering also. The whole court was diverted at the choice
he made, of a suitable present for the occasion, which was an elder
stick. He knew that the gods of those times, or their ministers, were
much delighted with valuable offerings; he therefore contrived to
conceal a rod of gold in this stick, without the knowledge of any one.
Mr. B. This was a true emblem of his own mind, which, under a
contemptible outside, concealed the richest gifts of nature. Did they
gain any intelligence from the oracle.
Louisa. I believe it told them, there would soon be a new
reign at Rome. Upon this, the young princes enquired which of them
should succeed Tarquin. The answer returned was: “He who shall first
give a kiss to his mother.” The two brothers then declared that they
would both kiss her at the same moment, that they might reign jointly.
Brutus, however, thought the oracle had another meaning, and,
pretending to fall down, he kissed the earth, the common mother of all
Emily. The regal power lasted but a very little time longer
in Rome. A brutal insult, offered by Sextus to Lucretia, the virtuous
wife of Collatinus, roused the dormant spirit of the people. Brutus
threw off the mark of idiotism, by which he had been hitherto
concealed, and seizing the dagger, which Lucretia, unable to survive
the insult she had received, had plunged into her breast, he held it up
to the assembly, stained as it was with the blood of that unhappy
woman, and, in a very animated speech, called upon his fellow-citizens
to avenge her cause. They were all astonished at the sudden change in
Brutus, who then told them his former folly had been affected, as the
only means of securing him from the murderous designs of Tarquin. The
nobility all submitted to the will of Brutus. He caused the still
bleeding body of Lucretia to be carried to the place where the senators
usually assembled, and, placing the corpse where it might be seen by
every body, ordered the people to be called together, and addressed
them in a very spirited speech, which was often interrupted by the
acclamations of the people. Some wept at the remembrance of past
sufferings, other rejoiced in the idea that their sorrows were about to
end, and all called for arms. The senate passed a decree, depriving
Tarquin of every right belonging to the regal authority, and condemning
him and all his posterity to perpetual banishment.
“Can you tell me, Edward, how Tarquin acted upon this change of
fortune,” said Mr. Bernard.
Edward. He was not in Rome at the time it occurred, but, upon
hearing that Brutus was endeavouring to excite a tumult against him, he
hastened to the city, attended by his friends and his three sons; but
finding the gates shut, and the people in arms upon the walls, he
returned with all speed, to the camp. During his absence, however,
short as it was, he found that the conspirators had gained over the
army to their party. Thus, driven from his capitol and rejected by his
troops, he was forced, at the age of seventy-six, to fly for refuge,
with his wife and sons, to Gabii, in hopes the Latines would come
forward and espouse his cause; but being disappointed in this
expectation, he retired into Etruria, the country of his mother's
family, where he hoped to find more friends, and still entertained
expectations of recovering his throne. Having wandered from city to
city, he at length fixed his residence in Tarquinia, and so far raised
the compassion of the inhabitants, as to induce them to send an embassy
to Rome, with a modest, submissive letter from himself, directed to the
Mr. B. Pray Emily, what was passing in Rome all this time.
Emily. Brutus assembled the people in the field of Mars, and
in long speeches exhorted them to concord; and the consuls, standing
before the altars, took an oath, in the name of themselves, their
children, and posterity, that they would never recall king Tarquin nor
his family from banishment, nor create any other king of Rome; and they
made the people take the same oath. Under these circumstances, you may
suppose that the ambassadors from the banished king did not meet with a
very favourable reception. From their earnest supplications to the
senate, however, that they would hear their monarch before he was
condemned, the consuls at first inclined to bring them before the
people, and to leave the decision of the affair to them; but Valerius,
a man of great weight in the council, strongly opposed this measure,
and, by his influence in the senate, defeated this first attempt of the
artful Tarquin. His next step seemed likely to be more successful. A
second embassy was dispatched to Rome, under pretence of demanding the
estates of the exiles, but with private instructions to stir up a
faction, if possible, against the consuls. The ambassadors were
admitted, and urged the most modest demands in behalf of the banished
king. They requested only his paternal estate, and on that condition
promised never to attempt the recovery of his kingdom by force of arms.
Mr. B. Well, Louisa, what reception did this proposition
Louisa. The consul Collatinus would have complied with the
request, but Brutus opposed it. It was then left to the decision of the
people, who generously determined that the Tarquins should be put in
possession of the estates of their family.
“It was a generosity which those wicked Tarquins did not deserve, I
am sure,” said Ferdinand; “for whilst the people were employed in
loading carriages with their effects, and in selling what could not be
carried off, the ambassadors were trying to draw some of the nearest
relations of the consuls into a plot against them. Among the
conspirators were Titus and Tiberius, the two sons of Brutus.
Notwithstanding the secrecy with which they carried on their designs,
their plot was discovered by one of their slaves, who disclosed the
affair to Valerius. Upon this information, the conspirators were taken
prisoners, and their papers, with several letters which they had
written to the banished king, seized.”
“The trial of these unhappy men was very affecting,” said Emily:
“early on the following morning, the people being summoned to the hall
of justice, the prisoners were brought forth.
“Brutus began with the examination of his two sons. The slave who
had discovered their designs, appeared against them, and the letters
they had written to the Tarquins were read. The proofs being clear, the
prisoners stood quite silent, and pleaded only by their tears. Three
times their father called upon them to plead their cause, but tears
were still their only answer. Many of the senators were touched with
compassion, and implored for their banishment rather than their deaths.
All the people stood trembling, in expectation of the sentence. Their
stern father at length arose, and with a steady voice, uninterrupted by
a single sigh, said: “Lictors, I deliver them over to you; the rest is
your part.” At these words, the whole assembly groaned aloud; distress
showed itself in every face, and the mournful looks of the people
pleaded for pity: but neither their intercessions, nor the bitter
lamentations of the young men, who called upon their father by the most
endearing names, could soften the inflexible judge. The heads of the
young men were struck off by the lictors, Brutus all the while gazing
on the cruel spectacle, with a steady look and composed countenance.”
“Oh! my dear father,” exclaimed Ferdinand, “surely Brutus must have
been a cruel, hard-hearted man.”
“In his feelings as a patriot,” returned Mr. Bernard, “those of the
father appear to have been absorbed. What became of the other
Edward. Excepting the ambassadors, they all shared the fate
of the sons of Brutus. His severity towards his children, greatly
increased his authority in Rome; and when he was, some time after,
slain in battle by Aruns, the son of Tarquin, the citizens were
inconsolable for his loss. They considered him as a hero, who had
restored liberty to his country, who had cemented that liberty by the
blood of his own children, and who had died in defending it against the
tyrant. The first funeral honours were paid him in the camp; but, the
next day, the corpse was brought into the Forum, in a magnificent
litter. On this occasion, Valerius gave Rome the first example of those
funeral orations, which were ever after made in praise of great men.
The ladies distinguished themselves on this occasion: they mourned for
him a whole year, as if they had lost a common father.
“The death of such a man was, indeed, a serious misfortune to the
state,” said Mr. Bernard: “can you tell me what became of the banished
Emily. After an exile of fourteen years, during which time he
made many ineffectual struggles to recover the throne, he died at the
advanced age of ninety.
“This, papa, is all we have read at present,” said Edward; “I hope
my brother and sisters will not go on with the history till my return,
for this is a very good place to leave off.”
Louisa I am sure, Edward, we should have no pleasure in going
on without you, and am certain mamma would not wish it.
It was unanimously agreed, that the Roman history should be laid
aside till Edward's return.
“You have now seen,” said Mr. Bernard, “the freedeom which the
Romans recovered by the expulsion of Tarquin the Proud, secured to them
by his death; a freedom that was undoubtedly the source of all their
future grandeur. I must again repeat, my dear children, that I have
been much pleased with the manner in which you have given this little
sketch of the regal government of Rome. One very important point you
have, however, overlooked.”
“Pray, papa, what is that?” enquired the children, with one voice.
“The dates of the different events which you have mentioned,”
replied their father. “Geography and chronology, are desevedly called
the two eyes of history. Without geography, which is a knowledge of
the situation and extent of the different countries of the earth, no
reader of history can have clear and distinct ideas of what he reads,
as being transacted in them; and without chronology, which is a
knowledge of the time when the various events took place, the
historical facts he acquires by reading, will only be an incumbrance
upon his memory. He will have a number of confused ideas, but no
regular or useful information. Now, which of you can tell me in what
year Rome was built?”
“Oh, we all know that,” said Louisa; “it was seven hundred and
fifty- three years before the birth of our Saviour.”
“And the regal power was abolished four hundred and sixty-seven
years before that event,” continued Edward; “so that that
administration lasted two hundred and eighty-six years.”
“But I do think, papa,” said Ferdinand, “that it is very difficult
to remember dates. I wish you could tell us some easy way, by which we
might impress them upon our memories.”
“The system of Mnemonics, lately introduced by Fineagle and Coglan,
you will find a great assistance. The substitution of letters for
figures, is an excellent plan, as it enables you to form the date into
words, which you may associate with the event itself, and, by this
means, impress it much more indelibly upon your memory.”
“I do not quite understand you, papa,” said Louisa.
“I will purchase one of Mr. Coglans's books, the next time I go to
town,” said her father, “that will explain the plan to you very
clearly, and I think you will find it extremely useful. Come, my dear
Edward,” added he, turning to his son, “as you have so long a journey
in prospect to-morrow, it is quite time for you to retire.”
The rest of the children soon followed his example, and taking an
affectionate leave of their parents, withdrew for the night.
Mr. Dormer called early the following morning, and breakfasted with
the Bernard family before his departure. The little folks endeavoured
to welcome him with smiles; but it was very evident that their hearts
were heavy, in spite of their efforts to appear cheerful. They had
never before been separated from each other, and they felt that
Edward's absence would make a sad blank in their little circle. Edward
himself, though delighted with the prospect of his journey, could not
repress a starting tear, as his mother folded him, with maternal
tenderness, to her bosom. He renewed his promise of writing them a long
letter in the course of a week, giving a full account of all he should
hear and learn; then, kissing his brother and sister, he hastened into
the chaise, followed by Mr. Dormer, and soon lost the sadness which had
crept over his spirits, in admiration of the luxuriant country through
which they passed.
But with the little group at home, it was quite otherwise: they had
no variety of scene to banish their sorrow for his departure; on the
contrary, every object they saw reminded them of their beloved Edward.
They felt, without being aware of it, the force of Scott's beautiful
“When musing on companions gone, We doubly feel ourselves alone.”
Their customary tasks passed off heavily, and every object,
notwithstanding the cheerfulness of the day, assumed an appearance of
Mrs. Bernard affectionately sympathised in their sorrow, and
thinking a walk might in some measure divert their attention, proposed
a visit to the old woman's cottage. Mr. Bernard had lost one of his
under clerks, and intended taking Henry to supply his place, should he
find him qualified for the situation. No proposition could have been
more agreeable to the children, and with great alacrity they prepared
to accompany their mother. It was, however, some time before they could
recover their spirits, so as to enjoy their walk as usual.
“Ah, mamma,” said Ferdinand, “how very different things appear when
we are happy, and when we are unhappy; this walk was so delightful last
Monday! How much we did enjoy ourselves! Do you not remember it? You
gave us that interesting account of the British hirundines.
Edward enjoyed it with us, and we thought it so pleasant; and now I
really do not think it a particularly cheerful walk, and, to tell you
the truth, mamma, it appears to me very dull to-day, and yet I see no
alteration in the prospect.”
Mrs. B. The alteration is in your own mind, my boy. Your
present feelings must convince you, how important is the acquisition of
that firmness of mind, which your father has so constantly endeavoured
to inculcate, and which can alone enable you to bear, with fortitude,
the real evils you will have to encounter in after life.
“Real evils, mamma!” reiterated Ferdinand; “you do not then
think this a real evil?”
“Indeed, my dear, I do not,” replied Mrs. Bernard; “on the contrary,
I hope, to Edward it will prove a real good; and I am sure you are none
of you so selfish as to wish to deprive him of any advantage, merely
for the sake of your own gratification.”
“Selfish! Oh, no, mamma, indeed we are not selfish,” cried all the
children at once: “we will convince you we are not, for we will, this
minute, leave off grieving for Edward's departure, and teach ourselves
to rejoice, and wish him very happy.”
Mrs. B. You will do quite right, my dears; and now let us
change the subject, for that is the best way to banish your regret.
Ferdinand. I was very much amused yesterday, mamma, with
reading the new book you gave me for a prize a little time ago.
Mrs. B. Miss Edgworth's “Early Lessons,” do you mean, my dear
“Yes, mamma: I was reading that part of Harry and Lucy, in which
their father so clearly explains to them the expansibility of air, and
the power of steam; and I thought this might, perhaps, account for a
thing that has always puzzled me extremely, and that is, earthquakes.
[Footnote: Another remark of the child before mentioned.] I was reading
a description of one a few days ago, and feel very anxious to know what
can occasion such dreadful convulsions in the bowels of the earth. Will
you be so kind, mamma, as to tell me what is supposed to be the cause?”
Mrs. B. On this, as well as on most other philosophical
subjects, the opinions of the learned vary. Mr. *****, who was a great
naturalist, imagines some to be produced by fire, in the manner of
volcanoes; others, by the struggles of confined air, expanded by heat,
and endeavouring to get free. But there does not appear any sufficient
reason for this distinction. The union of fire and air seems necessary
to effect the explosion; since the former is an agent of no power,
without the aid of the latter.
Ferdinand. But pray, mamma, how does heat get into the inside
of the earth?
Mrs. B. There are hidden in the bowels of the earth, immense
quantities of inflammable matter: pyrites, bitumens, and other
substances of a similar nature, which only require moisture to put
their fires in motion. Water readily finds its way into the greatest
depths of earth: or even from subterraneous springs, this dreadful
mixture may occur, when immediately new appearances ensue; those
substances which have lain dormant for ages, and which, had they not
met with this new element, would have remained so for ages longer,
appear suddenly to have changed their nature: they grow hot, produce
new air, and require room for expansion. The struggles this air then
makes to get free, throw all above into convulsions, and produce those
dreadful catastrophes which we so properly denominate earthquakes. This
appears the most rational means of accounting for this phenomenon; I
have not, therefore, thought it needful to enter into the theoretical
speculations of philosophers upon the subject.
Ferdinand. Well, mamma, directly I read, in Henry and Lucy,
an account of those experiments, I felt almost sure, the expansion of
the air in the earth, was the cause of earthquakes; though I did not
exactly understand how it could be. I am much obliged to you for your
Mrs. B. You are very welcome, my dear. You lately read an
account of one of these dreadful convulsions of nature. Where did it
Ferdinand. In Jamaica, mamma, in the year 1692: it is a most
dreadful account. In two minutes' time, the town of Port Royal was
destroyed, and the houses sunk in a gulph forty fathoms deep. In every
fathom, there are six feet, you know, mamma; so, if we multiply forty
by six, we shall find that these poor creatures were instantly buried,
with their houses, to the depth of two hundred and forty feet under
ground. In other parts of the island, the sand rose like the waves of
the sea, lifting up all who stood upon it, and then dashing them into
pits. The water was thrown out of the wells with the greatest violence;
the openings of the earth were in some places so broad, that the
streets appeared twice as wide as they were before: in others, the
ground yawned and closed again continually, swallowing, at each yawn,
two or three hundred of the wretched inhabitants: sometimes the chasms
suddenly closing, caught them by the middle, and crushed them instantly
to death. From openings still more dreadful than these, spouted up
cataracts of water, drowning such as the earthquake had spared. Every
thing was destroyed: houses, people, and trees, shared one universal
ruin. Great pools of water afterwards appeared, which, when dried by
the sun, left only a plain of barren sand, without a single trace of
its former inhabitants.
Mrs. B. I recollect to have read the account, as well as that
of a very similar one that occurred some years ago at Lisbon, which is,
you know, the capital of Portugal. I have, at home, a very interesting
narrative of an earthquake that happened at Calabria, in the southern
part of Italy. It is related by Father Kircher, who was considered as a
prodigy of learning, and was also a very excellent man. When we return
home, I will look for the paper, and let you read it.
Just as Mrs. Bernard had finished speaking, a little girl, about six
years old, came running towards them, crying most bitterly, and
exclaiming: “Oh! dear lady, do pray come to my poor mammy, for she is
very bad indeed: I do think she is going to die, as my daddy did last
week; and then poor baby, and Tommy, and I shall die too, for there
will be nobody to take care of us when mammy is gone.”
“Where does your mammy live, my poor little girl?” enquired Mrs.
“By the hill-side, Ma'am, at yonder cottage,” said the child,
pointing to a low-roofed shed at no great distance.
Mrs. Bernard, accompanied by Emily, Louisa, and Ferdinand, proceeded
towards the spot pointed out by the little girl, and on entering the
cot, beheld a sight which wrung their gentle hearts with pity. On a
bundle of straw in one corner of the hovel, (for it deserved no better
name,) lay a young woman, apparently fast sinking into the arms of
death; at the foot of this wretched bed, sat a poor little half naked
boy, crying for that food his wretched mother could not supply; an
infant at her breast, was vainly endeavouring to procure the
nourishment which nature usually provides, but which want and misery
had now nearly exhausted.
Mrs. Bernard approached the poor sufferer, and took her hand. It was
cold and clammy: her lips moved, but no sound met the ears of the
attentive listeners Mrs. Bernard then enquired of the child, what food
her mother had lately taken.
“Oh! none, Ma'am, since the day before yesterday. When my poor daddy
was carried away, we had but one loaf left, and that she giv'd
all to Tommy and me.”
This account, though it shocked Mrs. Bernard extremely, still gave
her hopes that disease was not the sole cause of the poor woman's
deplorable situation, and induced her to believe, that proper
nourishment, with other attentions, might be the means of preserving a
life so valuable to her infant family.
Emily proposed hastening home for medical assistance, and also for
that nourishment which seemed not less necessary.
Mrs. Bernard requested she would take charge of her brother and
sister, as it was her intention to remain at the cottage till the poor
woman should revive a little. She also begged her to send Jane as
quickly as possible, who was an excellent nurse, and would cheerfully
afford the assistance of which the poor sufferer stood so much in need.
Emily immediately set off, accompanied by Louisa and Ferdinand.
Before they had proceeded far, they met a rosy milk-maid, singing with
her pail upon her head.
“Oh!” exclaimed Louisa, “I do think some milk would be good for the
poor woman and the children, till we can get them something better. Do
let me ask the young woman to take some to the hut.”
Emily quite approved her sister's plan, and pointing out to the girl
the path that led to the hovel, they received her promise to call with
the milk, and proceeded on their way, their hearts already lightened of
a load of anxiety.
Mrs. Bernard was delighted at the sight of the milk-girl, and much
pleased with the consideration of the children in sending her. She
purchased a sufficient quantity, to supply, for the half starved
children, a plentiful meal.
“Have you no bread in the house, my dear,” said she to Susan, for
that was the little girl's name.
“Yes, Ma'am, a little,” returned she; “because I did not eat my last
bit, for fear we should not get any more; and then, if poor little
Tommy was ever so hungry, he would have nothing to eat, for mammy is
too ill to work for us now.”
“But are you not hungry yourself?” enquired Mrs. Bernard.
“Oh yes, Ma'am,” replied Susan, “that I am; but I don't mind it: I
am the biggest and the strongest, so it won't hurt me to be hungry a
Mrs. Bernard looked the surprise and admiration at this truly good
child. “Well, my poor little Susan, you shall have a good meal now, as
soon as we can boil the milk. But the fire is almost out.”
“Oh, Ma'am, I'll make a cheerful blaze in a minute,” said Susan,
whose usual alacrity was increased by the hopes of a plentiful meal:
and instantly running into the lane, she, in a few minutes, collected a
large bundle of sticks, which she placed with much judgment upon the
expiring embers, and exciting them with her breath, a blazing fire soon
lighted the cold walls of the hut, and cast a ray of cheerfulness
around the gloomy scene. The heat from the fire, together with
reflection from its flame, gave to the child's before pallid
countenance, a momentary flush of health; and Mrs. Bernard thought, as
she gazed upon her, she had never seen a more interesting little
creature. She supplied the fire with a fresh bundle of faggots, which
maintained the genial warmth; and producing a saucepan, which for
brightness might have vied with any in Mrs. Bernard's kitchen, she put
on the milk to boil.
Whilst this operation was performing, Susan swept up the hearth,
reached out of a cupboard two black porringers, and crumbled into them
her little store of bread.
Tommy, in the mean time, had crept from the bed, and was warming his
half-frozen limbs at the cheerful fire, eyeing with delight the meal
that was preparing for him.
As soon as the milk boiled, Mrs. Bernard poured it upon the bread,
and persuaded the poor woman to take a few spoonfuls. It appeared to
revive her much; and a violent flood of tears, which at this moment
came to her relief, proved still more salutary. Mrs. Bernard did not
wish to stop their flow: she took the little infant in her arms, and
gave it a good meal of bread and milk; after which it dropped into a
sweet sleep, and was again laid on the humble bed of its mother.
Susan and her brother ate their portion with the eagerness of real
hunger, and with hearts glowing with gratitude; though in a style of
infantine simplicity, they tanked their generous benefactress for her
In about an hour Jane arrived, accompanied by Mr. Simmons, the
medical friend of the family. He was a man possessed of a liberal
fortune, but of a still more liberal mind. His skill in his profession
was great, and he was always ready to exert it to the utmost, for the
relief of the needy sufferer. He warmly entered into Mrs. Bernard's
benevolent plan on this occasion, and confirming her suspicion, that
the poor woman required nourshing diet and care, rather than medicine,
it was determined that Jane should remain at the cottage as nurse, and
that the children should be removed to a more comfortable abode, till
their mother was sufficiently recovered to attened properly to them. No
persuasions, however, could prevail upon poor little Susan to leave her
mother; she was, therefore, permitted to remain as Jane's assistant,
whilst her brother and the baby were conveyed to the hospitable mansion
of Mr. Bernard.
Under the kind care of Jane, and with the necessary assistance from
her benevolent mistress, the cottage soon assumed a new appearance. The
wretched pallet of straw was removed, and gave place to a comfortable
bed. A table and chairs were provided, and a degree of comparative
comfort reigned around.
The poor woman endeavoured to express her gratitude for so many
unexpected blessings, but was prevented by the positive commands of
Mrs. Bernard, who insisted upon her keeping herself, for this day at
least, perfectly tranquil.
The children at home had not been less busily, or less benevolently
employed, than their mother at the cottage. The moment little Tommy and
the baby entered the house, the charity-box, so recently stored by the
hand of industry, was recollected with delight. Some warm
undergarments, with a neat frock and petticoat, were soon found, that
exactly fitted little Tommy, and the baby was still more easily
“See, see, the effects of industry!” cried Ferdinand, jumping with
delight around his sisters, as Louisa tied the last string of Tommy's
frock, and Emily put on the baby's cap, which she declared made it look
quite beautiful: “Oh! how delightful to be able to be so useful. Now I
wish mamma would come home: how pleased she would be. What a pity that
poor little Susan is not here, to have some new clothes too; but we
must take her some, Emily. Let us go to the box, and look for some that
will fit her.”
“We have none large enough, Ferdinand,” said Emily.
“Oh yes, I do think this pink frock will be big enough,” exclaimed
Ferdinand, drawing one out from underneath the others: “here is a great
tuck in it, let us pull it out; that will make it a great piece
longer.” Saying these words, he was going to immediately to proceed to
business, when Louisa loudly exclaimed:
“Oh, stop, Ferdinand, stop; that is not a real tuck; there is a
great join under it, because my stuff was not long enough to make it
all in one piece.”
“What a pity! How shall we manage then?” said Ferdinand, putting on
a look of great consideration.
“We must have patience till we can make one of proper size, I
believe,” added Emily: “but here comes mamma.”
Ferdinand and Louisa instantly seized each a hand of little Tommy,
and led him forward, whilst Emily followed with the baby.
protegeis, and thanked her children for the assistance they
had rendered her.
The idea of having afforded their mother assistance, as well as
having extended their benevolence towards a poor stranger in distress,
gladdened their affectionate little hearts, and never was there a
“Ah, mamma, I am now convinced of the truth of what you said,”
continued Ferdinand, “that the departure of Edward is not a real evil.
Do you not think it is very useful to see real sorrow sometimes?”
Mrs. B. Indeed, my dear boy, I do. It teaches us the true
value of the blessings we enjoy, and, I should hope, would fill our
minds with gratitude towards the Dispenser of so many favours.
In attention to their new charge, the children spent a most happy
day, and in the evening, Emily and Louisa, according to the promise
they had given Ferdinand, began to make the clothes for little Susan;
whilst he read aloud to them the following account of the earthquake in
Calabria, which had been the subject of their conversation during the
“Having hired a boat, in company with four more, two friars of the
order of St. Francis, and two seculars, we launched, on the
promontory of Pelorus. Our destination was for the city of Euphemia
in Calabria, where we had some business to transact, and where we
designed to tarry for some time. However, Providence seemed willing to
cross our designs; for we were obliged to continue three days at
Pelorus, on account of the weather; and though we often put out to sea,
yet we were as often driven back. At length, however, wearied with
delay, we resolved to prosecute our voyage; and although the sea seemed
more than usually agitated, yet we ventured forwards. The gulph of
Carybdis, which we approached, seemed whirled round in such a manner,
as to form a vast hollow, verging to a point in the centre. Proceeding
onwards, and turning my eyes to Etna, I saw it cast forth large volumes
of smoke, of mountainous sizes, which entirely covered the whole
island, and blotted out the very shores from my view. This, together
with the dreadful noise, and the sulphureous stench which was strongly
perceptible, filled me with apprehensions that some most dreadful
calamity was impending. The sea itself seemed to wear a very unusual
appearance: those who have seen a lake in a violent shower of rain,
covered all over with bubbles, will conceive some idea of its
agitations. My surprise was still increased by the calmness and
serenity of the weather: not a breeze, not a cloud, which might be
supposed to put all nature thus into motion. I therefore warned my
companions that an earthquake was approaching; and, after some time,
making for the shore with all possible diligence, we landed at Tropoea,
happy and thankful for having escaped the threatening dangers of the
“But our triumphs at land were of short duration; for we had
scarcely arrived at the Jesuit's College in that city, when our ears
were stunned with a horrid sound, resembling that of an infinite number
of chariots driven fiercely forward, the wheels rattling and the thongs
cracking. Soon after this, a most dreadful earthquake ensued; so that
the whole track upon which we stood seemed to vibrate, as if we were in
the scale of a balance that continued wavering. This motion, however,
soon grew more violent, and being no longer able to keep my legs, I was
thrown prostrate upon the ground. In the mean time, the universal ruin
around me redoubled my amazement. The crash of falling houses, the
tottering of towers, and the groans of the dying, all contributed to
raise my terror and despair. On every side of me, I saw nothing but a
scene of ruin, and danger threatening wherever I should fly. I
commended myself to God, as my last great refuge. At that hour, Oh, how
vain was every sublunary happiness! Wealth, honour, empire, wisdom, all
were useless sounds, and as empty as the bubbles in the deep. Just
standing on the threshold of eternity, nothing but God was my pleasure,
and the nearer I approached, I only loved him the more. After some
time, however, finding that I remained unhurt amidst the general
confusion, I resolved to venture for safety, and running as fast as I
could, reached the shore, but almost terrified out of my reason. I soon
found the boat in which I had landed, and my companions also, whose
terrors were even greater than mine. Our meeting was not of that kind
where every one is desirous of telling his own happy escape; it was all
silence, and a gloomy dread of impending terrors.
“Leaving this seat of desolation, we prosecuted our voyage along the
coast, and the next day came to Rosetta, where we landed, although the
earth still continued in violent agitation. But we were scarcely
arrived at our inn, when we were once more obliged to return to the
boat, and in about half an hour, we saw the greatest part of the town,
and the inn at which we had set up, dashed to the ground, and burying
all its inhabitants beneath its ruins.
“In this manner proceeding onwards in our little vessel, finding no
safety on land, and yet, from the smallness of our boat, having but a
very dangerous continuance at sea, we at length landed at Lopizium, a
castle midway between Tropoea and Euphemia, the city to which, as I
said before, we were bound. Here, wherever I turned my eyes, nothing
but scenes of ruin and horror appeared; towns and castles levelled to
the ground: Strombolo, though at sixty miles distance, belching forth
flames in an unusual manner, and with a noise which I could distinctly
hear. But my attention was quickly turned from more remote, to
contiguous danger. The rumbling sound of an approaching earthquake,
which we by this time were grown acquainted with, alarmed us for the
consequences. It every moment seemed to grow louder, and to approach
more near. The place on which we stood, now began to shake most
dreadfully; so that being unable to stand, my companions and I caught
hold of whatever shrub grew next us, and supported ourselves in that
“After some time, this very violent paroxysm ceasing, we again stood
up, in order to prosecute our voyage to Euphemia, that lay within
sight. In the mean time, while we were preparing for this purpose, I
turned my eyes towards the city, but could see only a frightful dark
cloud, that seemed to rest upon the place. This the more surprised us,
as the weather was so very serene. We waited, therefore, till the cloud
was past away, then turning to look for the city, it was totally sunk.
Wonderful to tell! nothing but a dismal and putrid lake was seen where
it stood. We looked about to find some one that could tell us of its
sad catastrophe, but could see none: all was become a melancholy
solitude—a scene of hideous desolations. Thus proceeding pensively
along, in quest of some human being that could give us some little
information, we at length saw a boy sitting by the shore, and appearing
stupified with terror. Of him, therefore, we enquired concerning the
fate of the city; but he could not be prevailed upon to give us an
answer. We entreated him, with every expression of tenderness and pity,
to tell us; but his senses were quite wrapped up in the contemplation
of the danger he had escaped. We offered him some victuals, but he
seemed to loath the sight. We still persisted in our offices of
kindness, but he only pointed to the place of the city, like one out of
his senses; and then running up into the woods, was never heard of
after. Such was the fate of the city of Euphemia; and as we continued
our melancholy course along the shore, the whole coast, for the space
of two hundred miles, presented nothing but the remains of cities, and
men scattered, without a habitation, over the fields. Proceeding thus
along, we at length ended our distressful voyage by arriving at Naples,
after having escaped a thousand dangers, both at sea and land.”
“The children were all highly interested by this extract, but a
secret awe crept over their minds, as they listened to the account of
this dreadful visitation, and they felt thankful that a gracious
Providence had placed him in this happy isle, where such tremendous
convulsions are but seldom felt.
“I learnt a passage from Cowper's 'Task,' the other day, mamma,”
said Emily, “in which he deplores a similar catastrophe, that occurred
in Sicily some time ago: may I repeat it to my brother and sister?”
“Certainly, my dear,” replied Mrs. Bernard.
Emily having received the approbation of her mother, immediately
recited the following striking passage:
“Alas, for Sicily! rude fragments now
Lie scatter'd, where the shapely column stood.
Her palaces are dust. In all her streets,
The voice of singing and the sprightly chord
Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show,
Suffer a syncope and solemn passe,
While God performs upon the trembling stage
Of his own works, his dreadful part alone,
How does the earth receive him? With what signs
Of gratulation and delight, her king.
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad,
Her sweetest flowers, her aromatic gums,
Disclosing Paradise where'er he treads?
She quakes at his approach: her hollow womb
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps
And fiery caverns, roars beneath his foot.
“The hills move lightly, and the mouontains smoke,
For he hath touch'd them. From the extremest point
Of elevation, down into the abyss.
His wrath is busy, and his arm is felt.
The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise:
The rivers die into offensive pools,
And, charg'd with putrid verdure, breathe a gross
And mortal nuisance into all the air.
What solid was, by transformation strange,
Grows fluid; and the fix'd and rooted earth,
Tormented into billows, heaves and swells,
Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl,
Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense
The tumult and the overthrow; the pangs
And agonies of human and of brute
Multitudes, fugitive on every side,
And fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene
Migrates uplifted, and with all its soil
Alighting in far distant fields, finds out
A new possessor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the phrenzy; and upwrought
To an enormous and o'erbearing height,
Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice
Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore
Resistless. Never such a sudden flood.
Upridg'd so high, and sent on such a charge,
Possess'd an inland scene. Where sow the throng
That press'd the beach, and hasty to depart,
Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone!
Gone with the refluent wave into the deep,
A prince with half his people! Ancient towers,
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes,
Where beauty oft, and *etter'd worth, consume
Life in the unproductive shades of death,
Fall prone. The pale inhabitants come forth,
And happy in their unforseen release
From all the rigours of restraint, enjoy
The terrors of the day that sets them free.”
Whilst Mr. and Mrs. Bernard were conversing in this instructive and
interesting manner, with their little family, they were interrupted by
the arrival of Jane. She brough a good account of the poor woman, who
was already considerably better, and felt her appetite in some measure
“I think, Ma'am,” continued Jane, “that a little sago or tapioca, or
something of that kind, would be very nice and nourishing for her to
take, before she settles for the night.”
Mrs. Bernard quite approved this proposition: she desired Emily to
bring a small jar of tapioca from the closet in the store-room, and
giving Jane a sufficient quantity for the poor woman's supper,
dismissed her again to her charge.
The children all rejoiced to hear so good an accouont, and begged
their mother would allow them to walk to the cottage the following
morning. She readily promised a compliance with their request, provided
the weather should prove favourable.
Louisa, who had been for some minutes examining the tapioca,
exclaimed: “Pray, mamma, what is this; I cannot make it out: it does
not look like a seed, I think.”
Mrs. B. It is, my dear, the produce of a plant, but not its
seed. The plant is called cassada, and it grows in the Cape Verd
Islands, as well as in Rio de Janeiro, and many other parts of South
America. The root is a wholesome vegetable, but the expressed juice
from it is a rank poison.
“How extraordinary!” said Ferdinand: “I should think they could not
eat the root, without taking the juice also.”
“You will be still more surprised,” said his mother, “to hear that
this very juice, after standing some time, deposits a sediment, which,
when dried, is not only wholesome, but extremely nutritious: and, in
fact, forms the tapioca which Louisa now holds in her hand.”
“And sago, mamma,” said Ferdinand, “is that the produce of a plant
Mrs. B. Yes, my dear; it is obtained from a plant which grows
in the East Indies: the medullary, or pithy part of which, is beaten
with water, and made into cakes. These the Indians use as bread. This,
when reduced into granules and dried, forms the sago we find so
nourishing to persons of weakly and delicate constitutions. But it is
now, my dear children, quite time to retire.
The children instantly arose, and putting away their work, took
leave of their parents; and having peeped at their little charge, who
were both in a sweet sleep, they retired to their pillows, and enjoyed
that tranquil repose which generally visits the young and innocent.
Contrary to the hopes of the children, the following morning was
extremely wet, so that it was impossible they could walk to the
cottage. They had, however, the pleasure of hearing that the poor woman
had had a comfortable night's rest, and that she was so much refreshed,
as to be able to sit up whilst Jane made her bed.
Several days elapsed without affording them their wished-for
pleasure. This put their patience to a severe trial, as they were very
anxious to hear the poor woman's story, and to make the dutiful and
affectionate little Susan, the present their industry had prepared for
her. Still, being fully convinced that impatience would not hasten the
accomplishment of their wishes, they bore their disappointment with the
greatest good-humour; and turning their attention to other objects,
spent the time, which would otherwise have passed heavily away, in
cheerful and improving occupations.
They began now each day to watch anxiously for the arrival of the
postman, and on the sixth morning after Edward's departure, Emily
received from him the following letter:
Plymouth, Sept. 30, 1814.
“MY DEAR SISTER,
“If I had not bound myself by a promise to write to you, I am sure
you would have received, by this post, a letter from me. Now I am at a
distance from home, it is the only means of communication afforded me.
I long for you every moment, to enjoy with me the many pleasures Mr.
Dormer's kindness provides for me, and which would all be doubled,
could you each share them with me.
“I have just thought of a riddle:—'What is that, which, the more
you divide it, the greater it grows?' You will guess in a minute that I
mean pleasure; for indeed, my dear Emily, at this distance from
you all, when each delight is unshared by those I so dearly love, I
seem to enjoy myself only by halves.
“I shall not detain you with a long account of my journey: we have
read together a description of the delightful scenes in the south and
west of England, I should therefore tell you nothing new, were I to
describe them even in the most minute manner. It is enough to say,
that, although my expectations were highly missed, I was not
disappointed with the scenery.
“Mr. Dormer, last Saturday, promised me, that if the wind should
prove favourable, he would take me on Monday to see the Eddystone
Lighthouse. I was, as you may suppose, extremely delighted with the
idea, and the moment I was out of bed in the morning, ran to the
window, and very anxiously looked at the weather-cock, as my fate
depended upon the point from which the wind should blow. To my great
joy, I found it full north- west, which is the most favourable point of
the compass for such an expedition.
“Whilst we were at breakfast, Mr. Dormer gave me some account of
this wonderful building. It is constructed upon the Eddystone Rock.
Before the construction of this lighthouse, many valuable vessels were
wrecked upon this spot.
“The first lighthouse was built by a gentleman of the name of
Winstanley. He was a very singular man, and had a peculiar turn for
mechanics, which he frequently introduced into his furniture, in such a
manner as to surprise, and often even to terrify, his visitors. He
lived at Littlebury in Essex. In one of his rooms there was an old
slipper, lying, as it were, carelessly upon the floor; if you gave it a
kick with your foot, up started a ghastly-looking figure before you. If
you sat down in one particular chair, although there was nothing in its
appearance to distinguish it from others, a couple of arms would
immediately clasp you, so as to render it impossible to disentangle
yourself, till some one, who understood the trick, chose to set you at
liberty. In his garden was an arbour, by the side of a canal, in which,
if you unguardedly took a seat, forthwith you were sent afloat into the
middle of the water, before you were at all aware; from whence it was
impossible to escape, till the manager restored you to your former
situation on dry ground.
“Mr. Dormer showed me a print of the lighthouse, which Mr.
Winstanley erected upon the rock. It must have been a whimsical-looking
thing; more like a fanciful Chinese temple, in my opinion, than an
edifice that would have to encounter the boisterous waves of the angry
ocean. He began the building in 1696, and it was four years before it
was completed. In 1703 it was much damaged, and stood in need of great
repair. Mr. Winstanley went himself to Plymouth, to superintend the
work. Some gentleman mentioning it to him, that they thought it was not
built upon a plan long to withstand the dreadful storms to which, from
its exposed situation, it would be subject, this presumptuous man
replied, that he was so well assured of the strength of his building,
he should only wish to be there during the most dreadful storm that
ever blew under the face of heaven, that he might see what effect it
would have upon his structure. He was, alas! too fatally gratified in
this presumptuous wish; for while he was there, with his workmen and
light- keeper, on the 26th of November, one of the most tremendous
storms began, which was ever known in great Britain. On the 27th, when
the violence was somewhat abated, many went to look anxiously for the
lighthouse; but not a remnant of it was remaining, nor were any of the
unfortunate people, nor ever any of the materials, ever afterward
“The ravages occasioned by this tremendous tempest, were by no means
confined to the Eddystone. In London, the loss sustained by it was
calculated at one million sterling, and upwards of eight thousand
persons were supposed to be drowned in the several inundations it
occasioned. On one level, fifteen thousand sheep were lost; and a
person counted seventeen thousand trees blown up by the roots, in Kent
alone. What a happy thing is it for us, my dear sister, that these
dreadful convulsions of nature are not more frequent in our favoured
island. “Three years after the destruction of Mr. Winstanley's work, a
similar one was undertaken by a Mr. Rudyerd. It was built of wood and
upon a plan very different from the former, without any unnecessary
ornament, and well calculated to resist the fury of the waves.
“Mr. Dormer related to me an anecdote of Louis the Fourteenth, king
of France, which, as I think his conduct on the occasion much to his
credit, I shall send to you. He was at war with the English at the time
this building was begun; during its progress, a French privateer took
the men at work on the rock prisoners, together with their tools, and
carried them to France. The captain, no doubt, expected a handsome
reward for his achievement. Whilst the captives lay in prison, the
transaction reached the ears of Louis: he immediately ordered the
prisoners to be released, and the men who had captured them to be put
in their place, declaring, that although he was at war with England, he
was not at war with all mankind. He therefore directed the men to be
sent back to their work with presents; observing, that the Eddystone
Lighthouse was so situated, as to be of equal service to all nations
who had occasion to navigate the channel which divides England from
“I do not know, my dear Emily, whether you will feel as much
interested as myself, in the fate of this lighthouse; but I scarcely
ever recollect to have been more delighted, than with this ornament,
and well calculated to resist the fury of the waves. “Mr. Dormer
related to me an anecdote of Louis the Fourteenth, king of France,
which, as I think his conduct on the occasion much to his credit, I
shall send to you. He was at war with the English at the time this
building was begun; during its progress, a French privateer took the
men at work on the rock prisoners, together with their tools, and
carried them to France. The captain, no doubt, expected a handsome
reward for his achievement. Whilst the captives lay in prison, the
transaction reached the ears of Louis: he immediately ordered the
prisoners to be released, and the men who had captured them to be put
in their place, declaring, that although he was at ware with England,
he was not at war with all mankind. He therefore directed the men to be
sent back to their work with presents; observing, that the Eddystone
Lighthouse was so situated, as to be of equal service to all nations
who had occasion to navigate the channel which divides England from
“I do not know, my dear Emily, whether you will feel as much
interested as myself, in the fate of this lighthouse but I scarcely
ever recollect to have been more delighted, than with this expedition,
notwithstanding my having been in considerable danger, as I shall tell
you in its proper place. The dread of that is, however, now over, and
the information I have gained, upon subject of which I was before
totally ignorant, will, I think, be a constant source of pleasure to
me. I shall venture to give you another anecdote or two respecting the
lighthouse; for as our tastes are, on many subjects, very similar, I am
inclined to hope my account will not weary your patience, though I
sometimes fear, the lively little Louisa may think I might have chosen
a more interesting topic.
“But to proceed with my relation. For many years after the
establishment of the second lighthouse, it was attended by two men
only; and, indeed, the duty required no more. This duty consisted in
watching, alternately, four hours, to snuff and renew the candles. But
it happened that one of the men was taken ill and died, and
notwithstanding the Eddystone flag was hoisted as a signal of distress,
yet the weather was so boisterous for some time, as to prevent any boat
from getting near enough to speak to them. In this dilemma, the living
man found himself in a very awkward situation, being apprehensive, that
if he committed the dead body to the deep, (the only way in which he
could dispose of it,) he might be charged with his murder. This induced
him, for some time, to let the corpse remain, in hopes that the boat
might be able to land, and relieve him from his distress. In the mean
time, the body became, as it might naturally be supposed that it would
do, extremely offensive, and the poor man's sufferings were, as you may
imagine, very great. He, however, bore it till some sailors effected
their landing, when, with their assistance, it was committed to the
waves. This unpleasant circumstance induced the proprietors afterwards
to employ a third man; so that in case of any future accident of the
same nature, there might be constantly one to supply his place. I
should not much like a life of such confinement, where the troubled
waves must be almost one's only companion. The tastes of mankind are,
however, various, and it is very well they are so:—'Many men, many
minds,' as our copy says. Ferdinand wanted an explanation of its
meaning the other day. I can tell him a little anecdote, very much to
my present subject, and to that point also.
“A skipper was once carrying out a shoe-maker in his boat, to be a
light-keeper at the Eddystone. 'How happens it, friend,' said he, 'that
you should choose to go out to be a light-keeper, when you can, on
shore, as I am told, earn half-a-crown or three shillings a day, by
making leathern pipes; whereas, the light-keeper's salary is but
twenty- five pounds a year, which is scarcely ten shillings a week.' To
this the shoemaker replied: 'I am going, bcause I don't like
confinement:' Thus you see, my dear Ferdinand, what different ideas
different people attach to the same word.
“I am now coming to a very melancholy part of my narrative, which
is, the fatal catastrophe that occasioned the destruction of this
“About two o'clock in the morning, on the second of December, 1755,
when one of the light-keepers went into the lantern to snuff the
candles, as usual, he found the whole in a smoke, and upon opening the
door of the lantern into the balcony, a flame instantly burst from the
inside of the cupola. He immediately endeavoured to alarm his
companions; but they being in bed and asleep, were some time before
they came to his assistance.
“There were always some leathern buckets kept on the spot, and a tub
of water in the lantern. He therefore attempted to extinguish the
flames in the cupola, by throwing water from the balcony, upon the
outside cover of lead. As soon as his companions came to his
assistance, he encouraged them to fetch up water in the leathern
buckets from the sea; which, you may suppose, they could not do very
quickly, as the fire was at so great a height. You may judge of their
horror, in perceiving that the flames gained strength every moment, in
spite of all their efforts to extinguish them. The poor men were
obliged to throw the water full four yards higher than their heads, to
render it of the least service. A most remarkable accident put an end
to the exertions of the unfortunate man who first discovered the
calamity. As he was looking very attentively, with his mouth a little
way open, a quantity of lead, melted by the heat of the flames,
suddenly rushed like a torrent from the roof, and fell, not only upon
his head, face, and shoulders, but even down his throat, and into his
stomach. This increased the terror and dismay of these wretched men,
who now saw no means of escaping. They found it impossible to subdue
the raging element, and, in dreadful alarm, retreated from the
immediate scene of horror, into one of the rooms below; and continued
descending, from room to room, as the fire, with constantly increasing
fury, advanced over their head. Early in the morning, the conflagration
was perceived by some fishermen in Plymouth Sound, who soon spread the
alarm: boats were instantly sent out to the relief of the unhappy
sufferers at the Eddystone. They were almost stupified with terror, and
were discovered sitting in a hole under the rock. All three were
conveyed in safety to the shore; but the poor man who had swallowed the
melted lead, continued to grow worse and worse, and in ten or eleven
days, he expired in great agonies. Although he had always himself been
positive that he had actually swallowed the melted metal, his physician
could scarcely believe it possible. After his death, his body was
opened, in order to ascertain the fact, and a large lump of lead,
weighing seven ounces and five drams, was actually found in his
stomach. It is a most extraordinary circumstance, but Mr. Dormer says
it is so well attested, as to be beyond all possibility of doubt.
“The present lighthouse, the sight of which has afforded me so much
pleasure, was begun in 1756, by Mr. Smeaton, and completed in little
more than three years. It is built of stone, and is reckoned quite a
master-piece of architecture. Hitherto it has resisted the utmost
violence, both of the winds and waves, and seems likely to stand so
long as the rock itself endures.
“I am amused myself on Saturday evening, with taking a small drawing
of this wonderful tower, from a large print belonging to our landlord.
I shall enclose it in this letter, as I think you will like to see a
representation of it.
“But it is time, my dear Emily, to give you some account of our
little voyage. And now I fancy I see you all attention. My curious
sister, Louisa, has laid aside her work to listen the more profoundly;
and the ears and eyes of the philosophic little Ferdinand, are opened
even wider than usual, that he may not lose a single word of my
“The day could not have been more delightful, nor the wind more
favourable; and if I shone in poetical description, here would be a
fine field for its display. I could tell you how brilliantly the
sun-beams danced upon the waters, and with how delightful a motion the
vessel glided lightly over its surface, as our sails swelled with the
wind; but all this I shall leave for your own fancies to picture. It is
sufficient for me to say, I completely enjoyed my short voyage.
“A singular circumstance occurred soon after we left land.
[Footnote: This circumstance actually occurred to the passengers on
board the Argyle steam-boat, in the autumn of the year 1814.]—A poor
little lark was pursued, at no great distance from our vessel, by a
merciless hawk; the little creature continued, for some time, with
surprising dexterity, to elude the grasp of its intended destroyer. At
length, quite exhausted by its efforts, it alighted on our boat. I
incautiously ran to catch it, purposing to shield it from the
threatened danger. Not, however, comprehending my design, the terrified
bird again took flight, and was again pursued by its pitiless foe. Half
a dozen crows from a neighbouring wood, generously enlisted themselves
on the weaker side, and at length succeeded in driving completely away
the formidable antagonist; whilst the poor little lark again sought
shelter on our deck, and escaped the threatened danger. This was the
only adventure that befell us on our way to the rock. The landing was
very hazardous; at least, it appeared so to me, who am unaccustomed to
“I have already told you so many particulars of the Eddystone, that
little remains for me to add upon the subject. I was extremely pleased
with the opportunity of viewing this wonderful structure, in company
with so well-informed a friend as Mr. Dormer, who took the greatest
pains to explain to me the uses of its several parts. I thought of the
poor sufferers whom I have already mentioned, as exposed to the raging
of the flames; and trembled for my own safety, as the angry billows
dashed against the rocks, whilst their hollow roar seemed to me, who am
not accustomed to the tremendous sound, to threaten instant
destruction. The light-keepers told us, that, on the morning after a
storm, the waves dashed above a hundred feet over the top of the
building, completely concealing it by the spray.
“After having spent some time in admiring this wonderful monument of
human ingenuity, we returned to our boat in high spirits, and little
anticipating the dangers that awaited us.
“About half an hour after we left the rock, the gathering clouds
threatened an approaching tempest; and what is termed a land-swell,
dashed about our little bark, and terrified me most sadly. Mr. Dormer
was himself alarmed, but he acted on this occasion with his usual
fortitude and presence of mind. Some of the gentlemen on board, who had
been more accustomed than I to the boisterous element, laughed at my
fears, and called me a fresh-water sailor. The storm increased, and
with it my terrors. I thought of my dear parents; of you, my beloved
Emily; of Louisa, Ferdinand, and our dear little Sophy. I felt scarcely
a hope that I should ever see you more. My love for you would, I
thought, be soon buried with myself in the stormy deep. I do not like
to think of those moments of horror. Heaven, in mercy, preserved us
through the danger, and guided us in safety to the shore. Do you not
remember the description of a storm, in the “Odyssey,” which we were
reading last week. I thought it, at the time, a striking passage, but
having now experienced myself, the horrors of such a scene, I can
discover in it additional beauties:
“Meanwhile the god, whose hand the thunder forms, Drives clouds on
clouds, and blackens heaven with storms! Wide o'er the waste the rage
of Boreas sweeps, And night rush'd headlong on the shaded deeps.”
“What a long letter have I written to you, Emily. Pray give my duty
to my dear father and mother, kiss little Sophy for me, and give my
kind love to Louisa and Ferdinand. I long to see you again. Farewell,
“Oh, what a delightful letter!” cried Louisa, as Emily concluded it:
“but only think of his being exposed to such a dreadful storm. Dear,
dear Edward, how thankful I am that you escaped in safety.”
The moistened eye of his tender parent, directed with pious
gratitude to heaven, silently spoke her feelings.
“Edward is quite mistaken in thinking that I should not feel
interest in his account of the lighthouse,” continued Louisa; “for I
think every thing he has mentioned extremely entertaining, and even
feel disappointed that he has not given a more particular account of
the present building.”
“I believe, my dear,” said her mother, “I can supply you with all
the information you wish, as I have frequently heard your father speak
upon the subject.”
Louisa. Thank you, mamma. Then, first of all, I want to know
who Mr. Smeaton was, who built it.
Mrs. B. He was, originally, a philosophical instrument maker;
and in consequence of his having made many inventions and improvements
in mechanics, he was chosen a Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1753. Not
finding the business in which he first embarked likely to afford him
much emolument, he turned his attention to architecture, and was
recommended to Lord Macclesfield as a very suitable person to attempt
the re-building of the Eddystone Lighthouse. His lordship bore a strong
testimony to his ability, in declaring he had never known him to
undertake anything, which he did not complete to the perfect
satisfaction of those who employed him.
Louisa. This was speaking highly in his favour, indeed. I
should think it would make the proprietors very anxious to have him
undertake the work.
Mrs. B. It did, my dear. He was at that time engaged in
business in Scotland, where a friend wrote to him, merely informing
him, in a few words, that he was made choice of, as a proper person to
rebuild the Eddystone Lighthouse. Mr. Smeaton not understanding that
the former building had been totally consumed, imagined he was only
required to repair or rebuild the upper part of it; or, perhaps, that
he was merely requested to give in his proposals, with other
candidates. The information of his friend, therefore, occasioned him no
great joy; nor was he much inclined to have any thing to do in the
business, not thinking it prudent to leave the affairs, which at that
time engaged his attention, upon an uncertainty.
Louisa. How much disappointed the proprietors must have been,
if he sent them this answer.
Mrs. B. He first prudently wrote a letter to his friend,
enquiring what was the extent of the mischief the former lighthouse had
sustained, and whether he was actually appointed to make the repairs.
To this he received an answer still more laconic than the first letter
had been: “It is a total demolition; and, as Nathan said unto David,
thou art the man.”
Louisa. What an odd man that friend must have been. I suppose
this second letter pleased him highly, and that he was willing to
undertake the business.
Mrs. B. Yes, my dear; he regarded it as a high honour to be
considered competent to so great a work, and having finished the
business in which he was engaged in the north, he set off for London,
where he arrived on the 23d of February, 1756. Mr. Smeaton had an
interview with the proprietors, when it was determined that he should
go to Plymouth; and, after seeing the rock, and examining the plans
upon which the two former buildings had been erected, should
communicate his ideas to the proprietors. They seemed to wish to have
it again constructed with wood; Mr. Smeaton himself, on the contrary,
greatly preferred stone.
Louisa. I should think stone would be much best: it could not
then be burnt down again; but I suppose it would be a great deal dearer
Mrs. B. Exactly so, Louisa. However, the gentlemen concerned
in the business, were too generous to let this influence their
determination; therefore, when convinced that it would not only be
stronger constructed of stone, but also more speedily erected, they did
not hesitate a moment, but determined that it should be rebuilt in the
very best manner; and such was their confidence in Mr. Smeaton's honour
and integrity, that they left the accomplishment of the plan entirely
Louisa. In what month did he begin his work, mamma?
Mrs. B. On the 23d of July, 1756, he set sail for the rock;
but there was a great deal to be done before the erection of the
building could be begun. First, marking out and preparing the rock, and
contriving such cements as would not be affected by water.
Ferdinand. I was wondering how that would be managed.
Mrs. B. Mr. Smeaton was indefatigable in his experiments upon
that subject, and at length succeeded, in a manner equal to his most
Louisa. I long to hear when he began the building.
Mrs. B. Have a little patience, my love, and you shall hear.
Towards the end of May, 1757, every thing was in readiness for the
commencement of the work. The comfort and accommodation of the
light-keepers was, in this building, most kindly considered. In the one
constructed by Mr. Rudyerd, the bed-rooms had been in the lower part,
and the kitchen at top; but the beds were, in that case, very apt to be
damp. In the present instance, the chambers are contrived above the
kitchen; the funnel for the smoke from which, passes through them, and
by this means they are kept constantly warm and comfortable. I cannot
give you an account of the whole admirable arrangement of this
building, nor do I think it would be at all interesting to you if I
could; you will be satisfied to know, that on the 9th of October, 1759,
it was completed, without loss of life or limb to any person concerned
in it. Not a single accident occurred during the whole time, by which
the work could be said to have been retarded. The time that elapsed,
between the first stroke upon the rock, and leaving the lighthouse
completed, was three years, nine weeks, and three days.
Louisa. Thank you, dear mamma. Now I think I know all about
it; and I feel quite as well pleased, as if I had actually been at the
Eddystone, and heard the billows roar, and seen the waves dash over it,
in the tremendous manner Edward says they sometimes do.
“I am much better pleased than I should be under those
circumstances,” said Emily, whose gentle nature preferred the calm of
domestic life, to any other scene. But Ferdinand thought it would
certainly be more interesting to see and hear for himself, under all
circumstances, than to receive the most eloquent description from the
lips of another.
“And now, pray, mamma,” added he, “what does Edward mean by calling
me a philosopher. I believe he only intended to laugh at me, and that I
do not much like. Little boys cannot be philosophers, can they?”
“I shall answer your question by another,” returned his mother: “Can
little boys love to acquire wisdom?”
“O yes, mamma, certainly,” said Edward, “for I love nothing so well
as hearing new things, and improving myself.”
“The word philosophy,” my dear, “is formed from two Greek terms,
which signify a lover of wisdom. You have heard your father speak of
Ferdinand. Yes, I have, mamma. I heard him once say, that he
was the first who discovered the solar system.
Mrs. B. Do you understand the meaning of the term you have
just used, my dear?
Ferdinand. It means, the revolution of the earth and other
planets round the sun, I believe, mamma.
Mrs. B. True. This was discovered, as your father has
informed you, by Pythagoras, several hundred years before the birth of
our Saviour. This great man was as humble as he was wise; and when the
appellation of sophist was given him, which signifies a wise
man, he requested rather to be called a philosopher, or lover
Ferdinand. I like Pythagoras very much, mamma; I wish you
would be so kind as to tell me some more about him.
Mrs. B. That I will do most willingly, my dear. I see the sun
is breaking out, and I believe we may venture to take a little walk. Go
and put on your cloaks and bonnets, Emily and Louisa, and we will talk
about Pythagoras as we go along.
The children were soon equipped, and joined their mother in the
garden. The plantations were extensive, and as the clouds still looked
dark and lowering, they did not venture to extend their ramble beyond
Mrs. Bernard aroused them for some time, with relating the most
interesting particulars of the life of Pythagoras.
Louisa thought his forbidding his pupils to speak in his presence,
till they had listened five years to his instructions, was not a good
plan; declaring, that she should learn very little, were she not
allowed to ask the meaning of such things as she did not understand,
and to mention her own notions upon various subjects.
“The plan adopted by Pythagoras,” said Mrs. Bernard, “was calculated
to teach his pupils those amiable virtues—diffidence, humility, and
forbearance. These charms give a brilliant lustre to every other
acquirement; indeed, they are so necessary, that knowledge without
them, far from improving a character, is apt to produce conceit and
arrogance, which are great failings in all, but particularly disgusting
Louisa fully agreed to the truth of her mother's remark, and was
going on with the conversation upon the character of the philosopher,
when her attention was attracted by her favourite tortoise. He was
creeping slowly out of his hole, to enjoy the sun-beams, which at this
instant, with splendour, shone through the dark cloud, that a moment
before had obscured his rays.
“Mamma, does not the tortoise live a great many years?” enquired
“It does, my dear,” returned Mrs. Bernard: “I was reading an account
in the 'Monthly Magazine,' this morning, of one which lives in the
garden of the Bishop of Peterborough, and is known to have been two
hundred and sixteen years in the country.”
“Two hundred and sixteen years!” exclaimed Louisa, with
astonishment: “why that is almost as long as the patriarchs lived of
“Oh no, indeed, you are mistaken there, Louisa,” said Ferdinand;
“for I read in the Bible, this morning, that Methuselah, who was the
oldest man ever known, lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years.”
Mr. Bernard at this instant joined them, and in conversation equally
instructive and entertaining, the time passed pleasantly away, till the
dinner-bell summoned them to the house.
“Several days elapsed without any remarkable occurrence; frequent
showers prevented their visiting the poor cottager, whose health
gradually recovered, under the kind care of her excellent nurse Jane,
and the tender attentions of her little Susan. On the day fixed for
Edward's return, the two children were again taken to their humble
home, and rejoiced their mother by their improved appearance.
Each hour was anxiously counted, as the time fixed for his arrival
approached. Ferdinand, Louisa, and little Sophy, stationed themselves
at the window. Anxiously they watched every carriage that drove past
the gate; at length, a cry of joy announced his arrival. In an instant
he was folded in the arms of his tender parents, and alternately
embraced, with the greatest affection, by his brother and sisters.
Every individual rejoiced at his return. And thus restored to the bosom
of DOMESTIC PLEASURE, we leave him, for the present, tranquil and
* * * * * HISTORICAL QUESTIONS.
Who were Numitor and Amullus? Who was Romulus? To what danger were
Romulus and Remus exposed in their infancy? How were they preserved?
Where does the river Tiber rise, and where does it discharge itself?
What is its present name? What was the employment of Romulus and Remus
during their youth? What circumstance was the principal cause of the
change in their situations? What occasioned the death of Remus? Who
founded Rome? What was its first form of government? Did any thing
extraordinary attend the first peopling of Rome? What was the cause of
the Sabine war? How did the Sabines gain possession of the Capitoline
hill? How was Tarpeia punished for her treachery? What was the
consequence of the Sabines becoming masters of the Capitoline hill? How
were the two nations reconciled? What change did this reconciliation
occasion in the government of Rome? Did Tatius long survive this
arrangement? What occasioned the death of Romulus? Who was Numa
Pompilius, and what was his character? Was he elected to the sovereign
authority immediately after the death of Romulus? How was he received
by the Roman people? How did he fulfill the important duties of a king?
What was the name of the temple he built, which was only opened during
war? What regulations did he make, to allay the animosities subsisting
between the Sabines and Romans? How many years did he reign, and what
was his age at his death? Where was he buried? Can you tell me why Numa
called the first month January, and whence the others derived their
names? Who was the third king of Rome? What was his character? Who were
the first people who gave Tallus an opportunity of indulging his
warlike disposition? How was this war terminated? Who were the Horatii
and Curiatii? What cruel action tarnished the honour which Horatius
gained by his victory? Did he undergo no punishment for his crime? What
was the yoke, used as a punishment by the Romans? Did Horatius receive
no honour for his victory? Did the Romans continue at peace after the
termination of the Alban war? How was the life of Tullus Hostilius
terminated? Give me a sketch of his character. What new law did he
establish? Who succeeded him? Who was Ancus Martius? What was his
character? Give me a short sketch of his reign. How long did he govern
Rome? Who succeeded him? Who was Lucius Tarquinius Priscus? How did he
obtain the crown? How did he govern the city so unjustly acquired? Give
me an account of Altius Naevius, and tell me the meaning of the word
augur. What was Tully's opinion of the pretended miracle? How did
Tarquinius close his long life? Were his murderers taken? Did they
confess their guilt? What is the punishment of the torture? How did
queen Tanaquil act upon the death of her husband? What became of the
sons of Ancus Martius? How did Servius act? Who were his parents? Where
is Corniculum situated, and what is its present name? Is any thing
extraordinary related respecting his infancy? Who had the charge of his
education? How can you account for his having so easily obtained the
throne on the death of his father- in-law? In what manner did he
conduct himself after his accession? How was he received by the nobles?
How did Servius act in this emergency? How did he ingratiate himself
with the people? Give me some account of the war with the Vicentes.
Where is Veii? What was the result of this war? How did Servius still
further work upon the feelings of the people? Did the nobles raise any
other cabals against him? What resolution was he inclined to make in
consequence of this? Who prevented his fulfilling this resolution? What
was the character of Tanaquil? Was Servius engaged in any new war? How
did he employ the interval of rest after the termination of this war?
What important regulations did he introduce into the government? What
was his most impolitic measure? What was the consequence of the
ill-judged marriage of his daughters? What stratagem did Tarquin make
use of to gain possession of the throne? In what manner did he behave
to her aged father? How did Tullia act upon seeing the bleeding body of
her father in the street? Give me a sketch of the character of the
venerable Servius. At what age did he die, and how long had he reigned?
Was he allowed the honours of a funeral? What became of his wife
Tarquinia? What do you learn from this disgraceful catastrophe? How did
Tarquin act upon the death of the aged Servius? Give me a proof of his
injustice How did Brutus escape the same sad fate as the rest of his
family? How did the nobles escape the tyranny of Tarquin? How did he
act towards the people? How did he employ them, to prevent their
brooding over their misfortunes? How were the patricians kept in
submission? How afar distant was Gabii from Rome? What circumstance
occurred to increase the discontents of the Roman people? What plan did
Sextus devise, to extricate his father from his difficulties? How did
he execute it? What were the consequences? What happened to Tarquin and
his infamous son, after their treachery? What became of the unfortunate
inhabitants of Gabii? Give me an account of the manner in which the
Sybilline books were brought to Rome. What occurred to interrupt the
tranquillity of Tarquin's reign? What means did he take to enquire into
the cause of this calamity? Who accompanied the princes to the Oracle?
What present did Brutus take to the god? What answer was returned to
their enquiries of who should succeed Tarquin on the throne? How did
Brutus act when he heard the reply? What occasioned the overthrow of
the regal power in Rome? How did Brutus act on this occasion? What
effect had his speech upon the people? How did Tarquin act? What was
his object in going to Gabii? Did he succeed to his wishes? Whither did
he next flee? What was passing in the meantime in Rome? Who did Tarquin
persuade to undertake an embassy to Rome? What was the object of it?
How were the ambassadors received? Being disappointed in this scheme,
what was Tarquin's next attempt? Was this second embassy successful?
What were his demands? Were they granted? What was the consequence? Who
were the most remarkable among the conspirators? By whom was their plot
discovered? Who sat in judgment on the sons of Brutus? What was his
decree? What became of the other conspirators? How did Brutus meet his
death? What funeral honours were decreed him? What became of Tarquin?
When was Rome built? In what year was the regal power abolished? How
long had it existed?
* * * * *
Who was the wisest of men? What was his choice, when many blessings
were offered him? Do you consider knowledge and wisdom to be the same
thing? Repeat to me Cowper's lines upon this subject. Where does tea
come from? What was the cause of its first introduction into Europe?
How many years is it since this circumstance? How many pounds weight
were sold by the East India Company in the year 1700? What is the
present annual consumption? Can you give me any account of the manner
in which it is cultivated? On what does the difference of flavour
depend? How is it prepared for sale? What occasions the difference
between green and black tea? Give me some account of the dwarf named
Baby. On what account did Peter the Great assemble a vast number of
dwarfs together? Can you tell me where birds of Paradise come from, and
how many species there are of them? Give me 1 description of this bird.
Do they migrate? What is the meaning of the word monsoon? What is the
food of the humming-bird, and how does it procure it? How do they
construct their nests? Will these birds live in England? What is the
peculiarity of the feet of the Chinese women? Give me a description of
the mode of educating the boys in China. Are the girls of that country
equally well educated? What is the native country of the peacock? Where
are the islands of Java and Ceylon situated? Give me some further
particulars of the peacock. Repeat these lines of Cowper's, in which he
so prettily contrasts the retiring modesty of the pheasant, with the
proud display made by the peacock, of his gaudy plumes. Repeat to me
the passage on politeness, quoted from Xenophon's Cyropaedia. Give me
some particulars of that curious little animal, the Lapland Marmot.
What is asbestos? Where is it found? Of what use is the cloth
manufactured from it, and what are its peculiar properties? How many
classes are there in botany? How many are there in that division of
natural history called the animal kingdom? What are their names? How
many divisions are there in natural history? How many orders belong to
the first class, Mammalia? What are their names? Repeat to me Mr.
Pope's lines upon Superficial Information? What is the meaning of the
word Pierian? Who were the nine Muses? Relate the story of the old man
and his bundle of sticks. Can you tell me the origin of fables? What is
the first specimen of them of which we read? Explain to me the
application of the fable of the bramble. What was the parable spoken by
Nathan to King David? Give me an account of the Americana vessel
stranded on the island of Stameo. Where is this island situated, and
are its inhabitants numerous? What are their manners and government?
Repeat to me Cecil's remarks on Punctuality. What becomes of swallows
in the winter? What is Mr. White's opinion on that subject? How many
kinds of British hirundines are there, and what are their names? Which
species first makes its appearance? How does the swallow construct its
nest? How many broods do they rear each season? On what do they feed?
How are swallows distinguished from the other species of hirundines? In
what month do they usually disappear? Repeat to me Mr. White's lines
upon these birds. How does the house-martin construct her nest? In what
month do they usually leave us? How are they distinguished? Give me
some account of the swift. Where do they build their nests, and how
many eggs does the female usually lay? How may they be distinguished
from the other species? Do they continue with us as late a the former
ones? Can you give me some account of the sand-martin? How are they
distinguished? Are they songsters? Give me some account of the nest of
the esculent martin. What is ginseng, and where is it found? Where are
the nests of the esculemt-martin found, and what is their value? How do
the inhabitants procure them? What particular ceremony do the Javanese
use, previously to this undertaking? Give me some account of the
dragon-fly. What are the insects upon which they particularly feed?
Where does the female deposit her eggs? What is the first appearance
this insect assumes? Upon what do they feed in this state? How long do
they continue reptiles? Give me some account of their transformation.
What is the opinion of Hunter, the celebrated anatomist, respecting the
migration of the swallow tribes, and upon what clues he found his
opinion? What is the meaning of the word anatomy? What difference is
there between the internal structure of the cassowary and the ostrich?
What is the meaning of the term, benefit of clergy? How is the first
class in natural history, called Mamamalia, distinguished? What animals
belong to the first order, Primates, and how may they be distinguished?
Which are the canine teeth? What animals belong to the second order,
Bruta, and how may they be known? What are the characteristics of the
third order, Fera, and what animals does it comprehend? Give me an
account of the fourth order, Glires, with the animals belonging to it.
What animals belong to the fifth order, Pecora, and how may they be
known? What are the characteristics of the sixth order, Fellux, and
what animals are included under it? How is the seventh order, Cete,
distinguished? What is the meaning of the word predacious? What
are the pectoral fins, and what is their use? What is the meaning of
the term cartilaginous? What is geography? What is chronology?
What are the causes of earthquakes? Give me an account of the one which
happened in Jamaica in 1692. Give me some account of the one in
Calabria. Repeat Cowper's lines upon this subject. What is tapioca?
What is sago? Of what use is the Eddystone Lighthouse? By when was the
first constructed? What was this gentleman's character? What occasioned
the destruction of this edifice? Give me some account of the dreadful
storm that occurred in the year 1703. By whom was the second lighthouse
built, and what were the materials of which is was composed? How did
Louis XIV behave to some workmen captured on the rock by a French
Privateer? What circumstance occasioned there being three men stationed
on this spot, instead of two, as formerly? What destroyed the second
building? What particular circumstance occurred during this sad
catastrophe? In what year was the present building erected, and who was
the architect? With what materials is the present edifice constructed?
Give me some account of the circumstances that led to the appointment
of Mr. Smeaton to this undertaking? How long were they in building the
present lighthouse? From what is the word philosophy derived? What is
the solar system? By whom was it first discovered? Does the tortoise
live many years? What is the age of the