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THE STORY OF THE TAME PIGEON.
BY THE CELEBRATED MISS HAMILTON.
Some years ago, a deep and universal, regret | Indeed, in the very nature of things, they who was excited by the premature death of the Earl must be governed will fall under the don inion of of N. a nobleman who had the rare felicity of the worthless; for who but the self-interested being very sincerely and very deservedly beloved and depraved will practise the arts necessary to An eulogium upon his character given in one of obtain an ascendancy over the mind eller of an the newspapers of the day cuncludes as follows: equal or superior? “ His lordship is succeeded in his titles and estates Those who do not select from esteem, or esteem by his only son, now in the third year of his age. | from real and accurate observation, will be for The present earl and his sister, who is in her ever liable to misplace their confidence. Such sixth year, are left to the sole guardianship of was the fate of lady N. Her too great facility of their amiable mother, a lady no less distinguished || teniper rendered her an easy prey to the arts of by exemplary virtue, than by her exquisite beauty, the designing. Her principles were good; but splendiei fortune, and brilliant accomplish- they were not fixed in her mind wiih sufficient ments."
strength to be resorted to as the support and. This account of Lady N. was by no means | guide of her life. She thought it requisite for exaggeraied. She liad hitherto performed all her to have some one on whom to lean, and inthe duties of life in an exemplary manner. She dolently resigned herself to the first to whom had been an amiable daughter, a good wife, and chance happened to direct her. a fond mother-but she had been neither one nor Mrs. Pegg, the person who, after the death of other from principle. She had only acted the the Earl of N. had the boldness to aspire and to part planned for her by others, and quietly gone gain her lady's confidence, was a woman of very on in the track into which she had fortunately low origin, but of very insinuating address. By been led.
pretending a more profound degree of sorrow for For the sweetness with which she accom- the death of her late master than was at all conmodated herself to the inclinations of her parents, sistent with probability, she made her first apand her husband, Lady N. had obtained much proaches to her lady's favour. The grief of I.ady applause, and would have merited more than all N. was unaffected and sincere. She was soothed the praise bestowed, had her obedience pro- by the apparent sympathy of the hypocrite, ceeded from a principle of duty; but it was in her whose tears flowed still faster than her own, and the offspring of indolence and timidity. She considered them as an infallible proof of the yielded, not to gratify others, but to save trouble strength of her attachinent. to herself. She consequently never had expe Lady N. was not deficient in understanding; rienced the pleasure which glows in the breasts but Mrs. Pegg was as much her superior in of the generous when conscious of having made talents as in artifice: had her talents been a sacrifice of inclination to duiy or affection. guided by principle, she would indeed have
Having been successfully guided by the wis been a valuable acquisition in any family ; dom of judicious parents, and of a sensible hus- but her heart was corrupt and depraved: her band, Lady N. had always appeared to acı with talents were therefore employed to cheat, to uncoinmon prudence; but when left solely circumvent, and to deceive. She soon peneirated dependent upon her own judgment, she found into all the weaknesses of her lady's character, that she had been very imprudent in never having and with infinite dexterity curned them to her given herself the habit of exerting it. She had own advantage. Every thing at Castle N. was had what is sometimes called a religious educa now placed under the control of this ambitious tion :-that is to say, she had learned a respect
So complete was the ascendancy she for the institutions of the church, had learned to obtained over the mind of her too easy mistress, repeat her creed, and say her prayers, and to keep that she neither heard, saw, examined, nor clear of all gross offences. But even these best || judged for herself. Every thing was left to Mrs. impressions were rather adopted as prejudices, Peyg. All the servants, even the old and atthan embraced as principles.
tached domestics of the family, were, one after It has been observed of women, by a witty || another, on various pretexts, dismissed. Some poei, (though in fact the observation is equally | Mrs. Pegg thought it dangerous to keep, because applicable to both sexes,) that
they knew too much of her real character; others They who are born to be controll'd, were too unbending to be subservient to her Sloop w the forward and the bold. wicked views : she therefore made use of the
opportunity which constant access to her lady: this detestable practice, that a two-inch door was afforded, to prejudice her mind against them all. no obstacle in the way of her information.
Never, indeed, did Mis. Pegg make use of her When she had, from any thing that passed, the influence for the advantage of any human being. i slightest grounds for alarm respecting the conNever did she commend any one to her lady's tinuance of her influence, she had immediate favour on account of their real worth; or seek recourse to a method which she had ever found to lessen any one in her regard on account of any to be infallible. Loid N. or Lady Mary were, blemish in their moral character: all her mutives
such occasions, the innocent sufferers. were purely selfish. But if Lady N. had been As they were the objects of their mother's pessessed of the principles of justice, she would doting fundness, their slightest indisposition not have taken this woman's representations as ingrossed her whole attention; and upon such sufficient evidence, neither would she have dele occasions her sole dependance was placed on the gated to a mean and vulgar person that authority, care, the skill, the wonderful management of for the due exercise of whichi, she was to be Mrs. Pagr. No wonder, then, that Mrs. Pegg responsible at the tribunal of the Almigh:y. should be sometimes induced to make to herself
The dread of giving herself trouble, would not an opportunity of evincing her skill and dexterity then have appeared to her as a sufficient excuse in their recovery; and as she could do it at the for shrinking from those inquiries by which the
expence of a little stomach sickness, the children truth would have been established; nor would
were, perhaps, in reality, not much the worse for she have considered herself justifiable in giving up the experiment. her own judgment, where she was called upon
Mrs. Pegg was not, however always thus forby Providence to exercise it.
tunate in being able speedily to remove the effects With respect to her children Lady N. was still of her own treatment. When her young lord more seriously to blame. She doated upon them was in his fifth year, he was seized with an into excess. Yet she did not give herself any i Hammation in his lungs, which had nearly cut trouble in the formation of their minds. She short the slender thread of his existence. It is trusted every thing to Mrs. Pegg. “What could impossible to describe the confusion and disinay she do?" she said ; “she never had been used | which reigned at Ca tle N. during the anxious to children, and did not know how to manage period of his danger. No eye (at least so Lady them ; but happily Mrs. Pegg had been used to
N, believed) ever shut in sleep; no lips were them, and therefure could not fail to manage opened for any other purpose but to sigh. How them properly!"
much the usual consumption of victuals was Their first notions of right and wrong were lessened, is best known to the housekeeper; consequently inıbibed from Mrs. Pegg. Now it but certain it is, that among the numerous train happened, that of right and wrong Mrs. Pegg had of domestics and dependants at Castle N. there no other rule or standard than self-interest. were few who did not on this occasion feel deeply Whatever gave her trouble was punished as a interested for their lady, or for their young lord, fault of the first magnitude. Whatever did not or for themselves! interfere with her ease or convenience was passed We may believe tha: Mrs. Pegg would now without notice. No idea of the consequences act the part of grief to admitaticn. She indeed which false and injurious impressions might have appeared to be almost distracted; but she did upon the future character, entered into her not now act a part: her terrors were, for the imagination; nor, if it had, would it have dis- | first time, sincere. For, though her soul was of turbed her peace. The children might be false, 100 hard a texture to be susceptible of the tencruel, capricious, proud, or obstinate, with im- derness of affection, the fond mother herself was punity, provided they paid a proper respect to not now more truly anxious for her son's recovery her, and never filed to observe her special than she was. Her attention was not however oriers; but no sooner did they transgress in this solely engrossed by the little sufferer. Lady respect, then they were punished with unmerci- || Mary never experienced from Mrs. Pegg so much ful severity; and so completely did she keep the tenderness of end rment, or such unliınited inpoor infants under subjection, that they dared not
dulgence as she now experienced. She was only utter a complaint.
entreated not to speak of her brother to her The children believed that their mamma's
mamma, and she might have what she pleased. apartments were haunted by a secret spy; and in Mrs. Pegs gave herself, in this instance, a great truth they were 50; for the unprincipled nurse, deal of unnecessary trouble. The poor child's not contented with the possession of her lady's | spirits had been too effectually subdued by terunbounded confidence, took care, by means of ror to betray any transaction which it was Mrs. listening, to inform herself of all that was going | Pegg's interest to conceal: nor did it, perhaps, forward. And such an adope had she become in enter into her mind to ascribe her brother's illa
ness to any other cause than that tu which she been that morning raked from a sewer, and lay had heard it ascribed, viz running across the lawn directiy in his way, and in which he would, the without his hat. But though Lady Mary might the next moment, have measured all his length, not know, or might not chuse to tell, I know, I had it not been for the agility of his companion, and I shall tell you how it really happened. who, throwing himself before him, saved him
Mrs. Pegg's standard of right and wrong has || from falling further than his knees. As he was already been explained. Now as the children not hurt, he would have joined Tom in the could do nothing which produced so much loud laugh which he instantly set up, had not trouble to her as soiling or tearing their clothes, the idea of Mrs. Pegg presented itself to his afso no fault of which they were ever guilty, was frighted imagination, banishing all thoughts of punished with half the severity. Lady Mary, | mirth and gladness from his mind. As he looked being of a timid and quiet disposition, was not in sad dismay on the woefully bespattered trownearly so apt 10 transgress in this way as her sers, the roses forsook his cheeks, the ruby lips brother, who, while he was in frocks, was per grow pale, and the long dark silken fringes with petually grieving Mrs. Pegg's righteous spirit by which nature bad adorned his seraph eyes, were stains, and rents, most unfeelingly inflicted on her moistened, with tears of anguish. He stood aghast future perquisite. Nor when he exchanged the and trembling; afraid to cry, lest his crying fragile muslin for the stouter trowsers, were her should reach the ears of Mrs. Pegg, and yet not troubles at an end. Though he could no longer able to refrain from giving vent to the misery tear, he still could soil; and in those elopements which swelled his little heart. At length he into the garden or court-yard, which not all her took courage to turn his steps towards the house, vigilance could prevent, he would sometimes in supported by Tom, who was now little less terrunning after a butterfy slip his foot on the freshrified than himself, though he knew not for dung mould; sometimes in caressing a spaniel what; when, all at once the sound of Mrs. receive such a warm return of gratitude as left its Pegg's voice broke in thunder on his ears, and visible effects behind; nor did he think of the her stately form was seen advancing towards consequences, until he beheld the marks of his them, clothed in all the majesty of anger. Lord favourite's paws upon the fair nankeen, which || N. now screamed outright; but unmindful of his he would then most willingly have exchanged | emotion she took him by the arm with one of for the coarsest linsey-Woolsey that ever little boy those jerks which prove that dislocation is not 50 was clothed in.
easily accomplished as some weak persons may It happened on a luckless day, when, as Lady | imagine; and giving Tom a box on the ear which N. dined from home, Mrs. Pegg intended saving sent him staggering to the other side of the court, herself the trouble of dressing the children a se hastily proceeded with the culprit to her own cond time, that Lord N. finding himself unob apartment. How she stamped and raged, and served, and hearing the voice of Tom the stable- || scolded, it is needless to describe, but as she had boy speaking to the tame pigeon, was tempted stamped and raged, and scolded at offences of the to slip down the back stairs to share with Tom same kind before now, and as it proved without the pleasure of feeding his pet.
effect, she determined on a new method of The pigeon was at first a little shy. It flew punishment. Having stripped the unfortunate away at his approach, but being lured back by delinquent of his soiled garments, she put him Tom, it at length became so familiar as to eat in a corner, there to stand during the term of her the corn which he scattered for it at his feet. pleasure, and then calmly left him, in order to Tom assured him that when a little better ac resume ihe occupation in which she had been quainted, it would eat from his hand with as so disagreeably interrupted. little fear as it now did from his, Lord N. was It was in the month of May. The sun was very ambitious to rival Tom in the pigeon's | hot, but the east wind blew chill. The poor favour, but in the eagerness of impetuosity he boy had thrown himself into a heat running after defeated his own purpose. The pigeon took the pigeon, which had been increased by sucfright and retreated. He pursued. Snatching ceeding agitation, and from wearing coat and the hat full of corn from Toni's hand, he fol trowsers lined with flannel, he was now exposed, lowed the fugitive, coaxing it in such sweet without defence, to the piercing air of an open accents as but one other liitle boy in the wide | window. The consequences are not so surprise world could utter. The hard-hearted pigeon || ing as his recovery appeared to be to those best heeded noi the music of his voice. It walked on acquainted with his danger. till, turning into an inner court, it there took to
These consequences it is certain Mrs. Pegg its wings and flew to the top of the opposite wall! I did not foresee, but she made no scruple of doing Poor N. rushed on unconscious of his danger, under the eye of God, what she would not have : nor once perceived the heap of mud which had done under the eye of her mistress. And ihat
she was conscious of doing wrong was evident what he wanted, but to be sure to speak the from the rage she was in on finding that the truth, for that she could not endure any one that situation in which she had left Lord N. was dis tolu lies. covered by little Tom; who, deeply interested in “No, my lady, Ize never told no lies since I the fate of his young master, and directed by was born, my lady. My lord there can tell you his lamentations to the scene of punishment, had | it was not I, was it, my lord ? Pray tell your adventurously dared, by the assistance of a step- || lady mamma; was it I that 'ticed you out the Lidder, to peep in at the window, through which | day you fell into the mud and dirtied all your he hastily offered all the consolation in his power, clothes so ? and when Mrs. Pegg was so hugeous by assuring Lord N. that the pigeon should be angry? Do pray speak, my dear sweet young his own.
lord, was it I?” When Lord N. was well enough to be taken “ No,” said Lord N. looking wistfully up in out an airing, he went one morning with his || his mother's face, “indeed, indeed, mamma, it mamma and sister, attended by Mrs. Pegg, in was not Tom's fault.” the landau, and was standing up by his mamma's “ I know not what you speak of, my dear. side looking over the carriage, when it stopped child,” said Lady N. so suddenly as to throw him off his balance, with “ I said so," cried Tom, “ I said my lady a violence that might have been fatal, had not knew nothing of the matter, I was sure and Mrs. Pegg's arm been ready to receive him. certain, my lady, that it was all a story of Mrs.
The coachman at the same moment called Pegg's own making, and that you never would Joudly to some one to get out of the way. "No," || have had the heart, my lady, to order her to twist Teplied the person spoken to, “I will not get off the neck of my pretty pigeon." out of the way. You muy ride over me, you
“ You little abominable lying vagabond," said may trample me to death, but I will not stir till Mrs. Pegg, lifting up her voice, and casting her my lady promises to speak to me.”
indignant regards on the unfortunate outcast, Lady N. stood up, and on looking out per “what is it that you dare to say of me?" ceived a little boy kneeling in the middle of the “ I say,” cried Tom, agitated with fresh emohighway, which was in that part only sufficiently tion," I say that you said as how that my lady wide for the carriage. She called out to know said, that my lord caught cold by following of who it was. “ It is little Tom, te stable-boy, me; and that it was I that 'ticed him into the please your ladyship," said the coachman, “ he yard, and that it was by my lady's orders that was turned away yesterday morning by your you twisted off the head of my pretty pigeon, ladyship's orders.”
Lady Mary saw you do it; aye, she saw you “I gave no such orders," said Lady N. “let do it, and she saw you throw the bloody head the boy come here to speak to me."
in my face, too, and heard you tell me that I “ Bless me," cried Mrs. Pegg, “I dare say should be served in the same way myself. And Mr. Ditto (the steward) has mistaken me. I she heard you say, too, that it was all my lady's told him yesterday that I was sure if your lady- | orders. Did not you my Lady Mary? I am ship knew what a sad liar this little fellow was, sure you will not say you didn't.” you would not keep him another day about the The poor Lady Mary sadly discomfited by this house; but I did not say your ladyship had disappeal, sai trembling and silent. Three times missed him. I wonder how he could mistake the truth rose to her lips, and a voice within her me so."
heart told her that she ought to give it utterance. "I wonder so too,” growled the coachman; But a glance from the eyes of Mrs. Pegg silenced I never knew Mr. Ditto make blunders, nor did the feeble voice of conscience, and repelled the litile Tom ever tell a fib in all his life, as I knows truth that sat upon the tongue. Lady N. looked of.”
at her daughter in surprise, “ and do you know Tom was by this time at the carriage door, a any thing of this, my love :” said she, taking piteous spectacle. Stripped of his livery, and her kindly by the hand. having out-grown his former clothes, he had, in “ Do, pray tell," cried Mrs. Pegg, in a tone order to secure himself from the inclemency of which Lady Mary perfectly well knew how to the weather, fastened his old coat upon his back | interpret, “ did you ever see me do such a thing by bringing the sleeves round his neck, and in your life? Me twist off the head of a tame tying them in a hard knot upon his breast, l pigeon! Du, pray tell, my dear, I insist upon where they conveniently hung, as they now
your speaking.” served the office of a handkerchief, in wiping Lady Mary was still silent. the tears from his swollen eyes.
“ Bless you, dear sweet young lady, speak,” Lady N could not but compassionate the little cried Tom. “I am sure and certain you can't wretch. In a mild tone she desired him to tell have forgotten.” No. XIII. Vol. II.
“ Was there ever such impudence!” cried which would at any rate give a sad shock to her Mrs. Peys, in a voice half choaked with rage,
poor nerves. “ you little story-telling villain, I shall know The principle of selfishness was, therefore, in who it is that has put you upon this.” Then Lady N. more powerful than the principle of turning to Lady Mary, whose hand she at the justice. She had from youth been accustomed sanie time seized with vehemence, “tell this to cultivate the one, for it is evident that it had moment, linsist upon it. Did you ever see me become a habit of her mind; and she had from do such a thing?"
youth been accustomed only to talk of the other, No,” faintly uttered the too timid Lady so that it had no real influence upon her conduct. Mary: the consciousness of flagrantly departing | Lady N. was mild, amiable, and gentle, as heart from truth and justice, dying her face with crim- could wish, yet here we see her guilty of an act son as she spoke.
of cruelty and oppression, of which a person of “Now," cried Mrs. Pegg, in exultation. a less yielding disposition, and who had been “ Now, my lady, I hope you will believe, I hope actuated by steady principle, would never have you see what a knave this is : if your ladyship been guilty. chuses to listen to hiin all day you will have Even for the crimes into which Mrs. Pegg was plenty of stories, I'll be bound for it."
led, Lady N. was in a great measure accountable. “ You know it is no story,” said Tom, “in Had she considered the influence she possessed deed, indeed, my lady, it is no story; I have not as a trust received from God, a talent which she a friend in the wide world, but God; and my was bound to employ to the best advantage, she mammy told me God would be my friend while would not have deemed herself excusable in thus I told the truth. Indeed, my lady, I don't lye, l disposing of it. The ambition which led Mrs. and if your ladyship's honour will let me go Pegg from crime to crime, would have been back to the castle, I will bring proof that I don't.” crushed in its very birth. Her talents would
“What astonishing impudence!” cried Mrs. have b en employed in their proper sphere; and Pegg, turning up the whites of her eyes, “I her merit judged of, not merely according to the wonder how your ladyship can encourage such height of its artificial gloss, but by the rigid rules a depraved tle wretch, I should hope your of truth and justice. The poor woman would Jadrship cannot possibly take his word against by this means have escaped the misery into which mine and Lady Mary's too! Shall I bid the she was afterwards led by the gradual but overcoachman drive on?"
powering force of great temptations. Lady N. silently assented. The coachman As to Lady Mary, we cannot but consider her smacked his whip. The horses darted forward, as an object of piry. She had been told to reand poor honest Tom was left a helpless orphan, spect truth, yet was placed in a situation where destitute and forlorn, to seek his way through to speak truth required a degree of fortitude bea world in which he saw hypocrisy and falsehood yond her strength. She had never been taught triumph over innocence and truth; and in which the necessity of exerting it. But had religious he found the ear of the powerful to be only open principles been impianted in her heart, she would to favourites and flatterers, even when justice have felt that it was less daring to offend Mrs. and judgment lifted up the voice!
Pegs, than to offend her creator and her judge. Had Lady N. been sensible of the fatal im She would therefore at all events have run the pression which her conduct at that moment made risk of incurring Mrs. Pegg's displeasure, rather upon the mind of a fellow creature, lad she than soil the pure integrity of her mind, by givforeseen the consequences which ensued from ing utterance to a wilful falsehood. Granting depriving this, then innocent boy, of the confi. that through tiinidity she had permitted herself dence which he had been taught to put in the to be inadvertently hurried into this grie vous certain success of integrity, she would have been error; she would, upon reflection, have hastened struck with horror! But though these conse to repair it, and by an ingenuous confession of quences were too remote to be distinctly foreseen, the truth, have wiped the stain from her conshe must doubtless be conidsered as responsible cience. Thus would the principles of honour for them, in so far as she acted upon other prin- and humanity have been upheld by the principles ciples than those which her heart and conscience of religion. most seriously approved.
Happy they who are taught the practice, while She was in reality far from being satisfied that they are initiated into the procepts of virtuó! Mrs. Pegg'was free from blame, and far from Happy they who at an early period, have acbeing convinced that the boy said what was false; il qured suficient resolution to adhere with firm. but she had not courage to pursue an enquiry, ness to the principles in which they have been which if it terminated to the disadvantage of her thus instructed! favourite, would disturb her own peace; and