ページの画像
PDF
ePub

is past, is advancing on the great theatre of the world, the delight of his friends, and the solicitous expectation of his affectionate parents, who, in the decline of life, see with transport their youth renewed, and the hopes and honour of their family refiourishing in their beloved son.

But dearer, tenderer ties still remain, to twine about the heart, to touch it with the keenest sensibility, and to preserve it from the seducing calls of false honour and romantic bravery. If thou wilt needs engage in the desperate duel, see, on one side, to-unnerve thy wretched arm-Honour, reason, humanity, religion, disavowing the deed ; and from what source then shall Courage spring? And, on the other side, see the faithful and beloved partner of thy bed, with streaming eyes, and anguish too great for utterence, pointing to the little pledges of your mutual affection, and with dumb but expressive oratory, bewailing her widowed and their orphan state !

Examples

**> Eugenio, in consequence of a quarrel with the il.

liberal and brutish Ventosus, received a challenge from the latter, which he answers by the following billet " Sir, your behaviour last night has convinced me that you are a scoundrel ; and your letter this morning that you are a fool. If I should accept your challenge, I should myself be both. I owe a duty to God and my country, which I deem it infamous to violate ; and I am entrusted with a life, which I think cannot without folly be staked against your's. I believe you have ruined, but you cannot degrade me. You may possibly, while you sneer over this letter, secretly exult in your own safety ; but remember, that, to prevent assassination, I have a sword ; and to chastise insolence, a cane.”.

FORGIVENESS of injuries, and a merciful disposition towards those who have offended us, is not only - an infallible mark of a great and noble mind, but it

is our indispensable duty, as reasonable creatures, and . peculiarly so as Christians. The following is a fine example of this virtue : Gaston, marquis de Renty, an illustrious nobleman, was a soldier and a Chris. tian; and had a peculiar felicity to reconcile the seeming opposition between those characters. He had a command in the French army ; and had the misfortune to receive a challenge from a person of distinction in the same service. The marquis returned for answer, “that he was really to convince the gentleman that he was in the wrong ; or, if he could not convince him, was ready to ask his pardon.” The other, not satisfied with this reply, insisted upon his meeting him with the sword; to which the marquis sent this answer : “ That he was resolved not to do it, since God and his king had forbidden it; otherwise, he would have him know, that all the endea. vours he had used to pacify him did not proceed from any fear of him, but of Almighty God, and his displeasure : that he should go every day about his usual business, and if he did assault him, he would make him repent it.” The angry man, not able to provoke the marquis to a duel, and meeting him one day by chance, drew his sword and attacked him : The marquis soon wounded and disarmed both him and his second, with the assistance of a servant who attended him. But then did this truly Christian no. bleman shew the difference betwixt a brutish and a Christian courage ; for, leading them to his tent, he refreshed them with wine and cordials, caused their wounds to be dressed, and their swords to be restored to them ; then dismissed them with Christian and friendly advice ; and was never heard to mention the affair afterwards, even to his nearest friends. It was an usual saying with this great man, " That there was more true courage and generosity in bearing and forgiving an injury, for the love of God, than in requi. ting it with another : in suffering, rather than revenging ; because the thing was really more difficult.” Adding, “ that bulls and bears had courage enough,

[ocr errors]

but it was a bratal courage, whereas that of men should be such as became rational beings and Christians.”

A quarrel having arisen between a celebrated gen· tleman in the literary world and one of his acquaintance, the latter heroically, and no less laconically, concluded a letter to the former, on the subject of the dispute, with, “I have a life at your service, if you dare to take it.” To which the other replied, “ You say you have a life at my service, if I dare to take it. I must confess to you, that I dare not take it : I thank my God, that I have not the courage to take it. But though I own that I am afraid to deprive you of your life, yet, Sir, permit me to assure you, that I am equally thankful to the Almighty Being, for mercifully bestowing on me sufficient resolution, if attacked, to defend my own." This unexpected kind of reply had the proper effect; it brought the madman back again to reason ; friends intervened, and the affair was compromised.

MYRTLE, a character in “Steele's Conscious Lov-ers," delivers the following just sentiments on this

subject : “ How many friends have died by the hands of friends for the want of temper! There is nothing manly but what is conducted by reason, and agreeable to the practice of virtue and justice ; and yet how many have been sacrificed to that idol the unreasona. ble opinion of men!

Betray'd by honour, and compeli'd by shame,

They hazard being to preserve a name.” Sir Walter Raleigh (a man of known courage and honour) being very injuriously treated by a hotheaded, rash youth, who next proceeded to challenge him, and on his refusal spit upon him, and that too in public; the knight, taking out his handkerchief, with great calmness made him only this reply : * Young man, if I could as easily wipe your blood from my conscience, as I can this injury from my face, I would this moment take away your life.” The consequence was, that the youth, struck with a sudden and strong sense of his misbehaviour, fell upon his knees and begged forgiveness.

It is no uncommon thing, with persons of duel. ling propensity, to make a very liberal but inexplicable, use of the term “ Satisfaction.” An honest country gentleman had the misfortune to fall into company with two or three modern men of honour, . where he happened to be very ill treated. One of the company, being conscious of his offence, sent a note to him the next morning, telling him," he was ready to give him satisfaction.” “Why surely now (says the plain, honest man) this is fine doings : last night he sent me away very much out of temper; and this morning he fancies it would be a satisfaction to me to be run through the body! ..

It is reported of the famous Viscount de Turrenne, that when he was a young officer, at the siege of a fortified town, he had no less than twelve challenges sent him ; all of which he put in his pocket without farther notice ; but being soon after commanded upon a desperate attack on some part of the fortifications, he sent a billet to each of his challengers, acquainting them, “that he had received their papers, which he deferred answering until a proper occasion offered, both for them and himself, to exert their courage for the king's service ; that being ordered to assault the enemy's works next day, he desired their company; when they would have an opportunity of signalizing their own bravery, and of being witnesses of his." We may leave the reader to determine, in this case, who acted most like a man of sense, of temper, and of true courage.

When Augustus Cæsar received a challenge from Mark Antony (in his decline of fortune) to engage him in single combat, he very calmly answered the bearer of the message, “ If Antony is weary of his life, tell him there are other ways of death besides the point of my sword !" Now, who ever deemed

this an instance of cowardice ? All ages have admired it as the act of a discreet and gallant man; who, sensible of his own importance, knew how to treat the petulant and vindictive humour of a discontented adversary with its proper contempt.

Section III.

A COMPENDIOUS VIEW OF THE PRINCIPAL CONTENTS

OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES..

THAT book which we call THE BIBLE (that is, The Book, by way of eminence) although it is comprized in one volume, yet in fact comprehends a great number of different narratives and compositions, written at different times, by different persons, in different languages, and on different subjects. And taking the whole of the collection together, it is an un questionable truth that there is no one book extant, in any language, or in any country, which can in any degree be compared with it for antiquity, for authority, for the importance, the dignity, the variety, and the curiosity of the matter it contains.

It begins with that great and stupendous event, of all others the earliest and most interesting to the human race, the creation of this world, of the heavens and the earth, of the herbs of the field, the sea and its inhabitants. All this it describes with a brevity and sublimity well suited to the magnitude of the subject, to the dignity of the Almighty Artificer, and unequalled by any other writer. LET THERE BE LIGHT AND THERE WAS LIGHT ; is an instance of the sublime, which stands to this day unrivalled in any human composition.

But what is of infinitely greater moment, this history of the creation has settled forever that most important question, which the ancient sages were never able to decide ; from whence and from what causes

« 前へ次へ »