Abbildungen der Seite

blowing his nose,—but that thou art a good-natured fellow.

When I gaye him the toast, continued the corporal, I thought it was proper to tell him I was Captain Shandy's servant, and that your honour (though a stranger was extremely concerned for his father;— and that if there was any thing in your house or cellar—(and thou might'st have added my purse too, said my uncle Toby) he was heartily welcome to it:—he made a very low bow, (which was meant to your honour) but no answer,—for his heart was full—so he went up stairs with the toast:—I warrant you, my dear, said I, as I opened the kitchen-door, your father will be well again.—Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire—but said not a word good or bad to comfort the youth. I thought it was wrong, added

the corporal 1 think so too, said my

uncle Toby.

When the lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast, he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen, to let me know, that in about ten minutes he should be glad if 1 would step up stairs.—I believe, said the landlord, he is going to lay his prayers—for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bed-side; and as I shut the door I saw his son take up a cushion.—

I thought, said the curate, that you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, never said

your prayers at all. 1 heard the poor

gentleman fay his prayers last night, said the landlady, very devoutly, and with my own cars, or I could not have believed it.—

Are you sure of it? replied the curate;

A soldier, an* please your reverence, said 1, prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson ;—and when he is fighting for his king, and for hisown life, and for hishonour too, lie has the most reason to pray to God of any one in the whole world.—'Twas well said of thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby.—But when a soldier, said 1, an' please your reverence, has been standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in

cold water, orengaged.said I, for months

together in long and dangerous marches; —harassed, perhaps, in his rear to-day ;— harassing others to-morTOw :—detached here;—countermanded there;—resting this night upon his arms;—beat up in his shirt the next;—benumbed in his joints;—perhaps without straw in his tent to kneel on; —he must fay his prayers how and when he can.—I believe, said I,—for I was

piqued, quoth the corporal, for the reputation of the army,— I believe, an't please your reverence, said I, that when a soldier gets time to pray,—he prays as heartily as a parson—though not with all his fuss and

hypocrisy. Thou (hould'st not have said

that, Trim, said my uncle Toby,— for God only knows who is a hypocrite, and who is not :—At the great and general review of us all, corporal, at tiie day of judgment, (and not till then) it will be seen who has done their duties in this world, and who has nor, and we shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly.—I hope we (hall, said

Trim. It is in the Scripture, said my

uncle Toby j and I will shew it thee tomorrow :—In the mean time we may depend upon it, Trim, for our comfort, said my uncle Toby, that God Almighty is so good and just a governor of the world, that if we have but done our duties in it,—it will never be enquired into, whether we have done them in a red coat or a black one:—I hope not said the corporal.—But go on, Trim, said my uncle Toby, with thy story.

When I went up, continued the corporal, into the l'eutenant's room, which I did not do till the expi ation of the ten minutes,— he was lying in his bed with his head raised upon his hand, with his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean white cambric handkerchief beside it:—The youth was just stooping down to take up the cushion, upon which 1 supposed he had been kneeling— the book was laid, upon the bed,—and as he rose, in taking up the cushion with one hand, he reached out his other to take it away at the fame time.——Let it remain there, my dear, said the lieutenant.

He did not offer to speak to me, till I had walked up close to his bed-side:—If you are Captain Shandy's servant, said he, you must present my thanks to your master, with my little boy's thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me,—if he was of Leven's—said the lieutenant.—I told

him your honour was. Then, said he, I

served three campaigns with him in Flanders, and remember him—but 'tis most likely, as I had not the honour of any acquaintance with him,thatheknowsnothing of me.—You will tell him, however, that the person his good-nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fevre, a lieutenant in Angus's——but he knows me not,—said he, a second time, musing;— possibly he may my story—added he—pray tell the captain, 1 was the ensign at Breda,

3 E 4 "whos« whose wife was most unfortunately killed with a musketrshot, as she lay in my arms in my ter.t.. I remember t;>e story, an't please your honour, said I, very well.—— Do you so? said he, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief,—then well may I.—In <aying this, he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black ribband, about his neck, and kissed it twice. — —Here, Billy, said he,—the boy flew across the room to the bed-side, and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in his hand, and kissed it too,—then kissed his father, and fat down upon the bed and wept.

1 wish, said my uncle Toby with a deep sigh, I wish, Trim, I was asleep.

Your honour, replied the corporal, is tco much concerned ;—shall I pour your honour out a glass of sack to your pipe f ——Do, Trim, r id my uncle Toby.

I remember, said my uncle Toby, sighing again, the story of the ensign and his wile, with a circumstance his modesty omitted ;—and particularly well that he, as well as she, upon some account or other, (J forget what) was universally pitied by the whole regiment;—but finish the story thou art upon; — 'Tis finished already, said the corporal,—for I could stay no longer,— so wished his honour a good night; young Le Fevre rose frpm oft* the bed, and saw ine to the bottom of the stairs; and as we went down together,, tpld me, they had come from Ireland, and were on their route to join their regiment in Flanders— But alas! said the corporal,—the lieutenant's last day's march is over. ■ Then what is to become of his poor boy? cried my uncle Toby,

It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honour,—thouph I tell it only for the fake of those, who, when cooped in betwixt a natural and a positive law., know not for their fouls which way in the world to turn themselves That notwithstanding my uncle

Toby was warmly engaged at that time in carrying on the siege of Dendermond, parallel with the allies, who pressed theirs on so vigorously that they scarce allowed him rime to get his dinner - that nevertheless he gave up Denuerrr.oi.d, though he had already made a lodgment upon the counterscarp: and bent his whole thoughts towards the private distresses at the inn; and, except that he ordered the garden-gate to be bolted up, by which he might be said to have turned the liege of Dendermond into a blockade—he left Dendermond to i tself,—to be relieved or not by the French

king, as the French king thought good: and only considered how he himself should relieve the poor lieutenant and his son.

——That kind being, who is a friend to the friendless, shall recompence thee for this.

Thou hast left this matter short, said my uncle Toby to the corporal, as he was putting him to bed.—and I will tell thee in what Trim,—In the first place, when thou madeft an offer of my lei vices to Le Fevre,— as sickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knowest he was but a poor lieutenant, with a son to subsist as well as himself, out of his pay,—that thou didlt not make an offer to him of my purse; because, had he stood in need, thou knowest, Trim, he had been as welcome to it as

myself. Your honour knows, said the

corporal, I had no orders; True, quoth

my uncle Toby, thou didst very right,

Trim, as a soluier,—but certain'y very wrong as a man.

In the second place, for which, indeed, thou hud the same excuie, continued my

uncle Toby, when thou offeredst him,

whatever was in my house, thoushouldst

have offered aim my house too: A sick

brother osiieer should have the best quarters, Trim; and if we had him with us,—• we could tend and look to him:——thou art an excellent nurse thyself, Trim, % and what with thy care of him, and the old woman's, and his boy's, and mine together, we might recruit him again at once, and set him upon his legs.—

In a fortnight or three weeks, added

my uncle Toby, smiling,—he might march, —He will never march, an' please your honour, in the world, said the corporal;

He will march, said my uncle Toby,

rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off:—An' please your honour, said the corporal, he will never march but to his grave:—He (hall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a Ihoe on, though without advancing an inch,— he sliall march to his regiment.—He cannot stand it, said the corporal.—He sliall be supported, said my uncle Toby.—He'll drop at last, said the corporal, and what v. ill become of his boy ?—He shall not drop, said myuncleToby, firmly.—A-wello'day,—do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point, the poor soul will

die: He shall not die, by G—, cried

my uncle Toby.

The accusing Jpirit, which flew up

to heaven's chancery with the oath, bluflied

as S; he gave it in—and the recording angel, a.- he wrote it down, dropp'd a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.

My uncle Toby went to his bureau,

—put his purse into his breeches pocket, and having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician,—he went to bid and fell asleep.

The sun looked bright the morning aster, to every eye in the village but Le f eyre's and his afflicted fen's; the hand of d.ath press'd heavy upon his eye-lids,— and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle,—when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before '.,U wonted time, entered the lieutenant's room, ind without preface or apology fat himself cWnupon the chair, by the bed-side, and independently of all modes and customs opened the curtain in the manner an old friend an J brother officer would have done i:, and asked him how he did,—how he had rested in the night,—what was his comf'aint,—where w as his pain,—and what he could do to help him?——and without giving him time to answer any one of the inquiries, went on and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting w'.th the corporal the night before for him.—

You shall go home directly, Le

Fevre, said my uncle Toby, to my house, and we'll fend for a doctor to see what's t ie matter,—ind we'll have an apothecary, —aud the corporal (hall be your nurse;— and I'll be your servant, Le Fevre.

Therewasasranknessin my uncleToby, —not the effect of familiarity,—but the cause of it,—which let you at once into his foul, and shewed you the goodness of his nature; to this, there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him; so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breall of his coat, and *as palling it towards him. The blood and spirits of Le Fevre, which were waxing cold and flow within him,and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart,— sallied back, the film forsook his eyes for a moment.—he looked up wishfully in my uncle Toby's face,—then cast a look upon, tb boy,—and that ligament, fine as it was, —was never broken. Nature instantly ebb'd again,—the

film returned to its place, the pulse

flutter'd—Kopp'd—went on—throb'o'd— stoppM again—niov'd—stopp'd—(hall I go onf No. Sterne.

\ 2. Yorick'/ Death.

A sew hours before Yorick breathed hi* last, Eugenius slept in, with an intent to take his last sight and last farewel of him. Upon his drawing Yorick's curtain, and asking how he felt himself, Yorick looking up in his face, took hold of his hand,—— and, after thanking him for the many tokens of his friendship to him, for which, he said, if it was their fate to meet hereafter, he would thank him again and again; he told him, he was within a few hours of giving his enemies the flip for ever.—I hope not, answered Eugenius, with tears trickling down his cheeks, and with the tendered tone that ever man spoke,—I hope

not, Yorick, said he. Yorick replied^

with a look up, and a gentle squeeze of Eugenius's hand,—and that was all,—bur, it cut Eujenius to his heart.—Come, come, Yorick, quoth Eugenius, wiping his eye^ and summoning up the man within him, —my dear lad, be comforted,—let not all thy spirits and fortitude forsake thee at this crisis when thou most wanted them ;— who knows what resources are in store, and, what the power of God may yet do for thee?—Yorick laid his hand upon his heart, and gently shook his head; for my part, continued Eugenius, crying bitterly as hs uttered the words,—I declare, I know nor, Yorick, how to part with thee, and would gladly flatter my hopes, added Eugenius^ chearing up his voice, that there is still enough of thee left to make a bishop,—

and that I may live to see it. 1 beseech

thee Eugenius, quoth Yorick, taking off his night-cap as well as he could with his

left hand, his right being still grasped

closein thatof Eugenius,—I beseech thee to take a view of my head. I see nothing that ails it, replied Eugenius. Then, alas! my friend, said Yorick, let me tell you, that it is so bruised and mis-shapened with the blows which have been so unhandsomely given me in the dark, that I might say with SanchoPanca,that should I recover, and "mitres thereupon be suffered to rain "down from heaven as thick as hail, not

•' one of them would fit it." Yorick's

last tjreath was hanging upon his trembling lips, ready to depart as he uttered this;—• yet still it was uttered with something os i ^ervantic tone;—and as he spoke it; Eugenius could perceive a stream of lambent lire lighted up for a moment in his eyes;

faint picture of thole nasties of his spirit, which (as Shakespear said of his ancestor) were wont to set tl.e table in a roar!

Eugenius was convinced from this, that the heart of his friend was broke; he

squeezed his hand, and then walked

softly out of the room, weeping as he walked. Yorick followed Eugenius with his

eyes to the door, he then closed them

and never opened them more.

He lies buried in a cerner of his churchyard, under a p'ain marble-flab, which his friend Eugenius, by leave of his executors, laid upon his grave, with no more than these three words of inscription, serving both for his epitaph, and elegy

, Alas, poor YORICK!

Ten times a day has Yorkk's ghost the consolation to hear his monumental inscription read over with such a variety of plain, tlve tones, as denote a general pity and esteem for him; a soot-way crossing the

church-yard close by his grave,—not a passenger goes by, without stopping to cast

a look upon it, and sighing as he walks


Alas, poor YORICK!


§ 3. The Story of Ai.candei WsepTimius, Taken from a Byzantine His. torian.

Athens, long after the decline of the Roman empire, still continued the feat of learning, politeness, and wisdom. Theodoric the Ostrogoth repaired the schools which barbarity was suffering to soil into decay, and continued those pensions to men of learning which avaricious governors had monopolized.

In this city, and about this period, Alcander and Septimius were fellow-students together: the one the most subtle reasoner of all the Lyceum, the other the most eloquent speaker in the academic greve. Mutual admiration soon begot a friendship. Their fortunes were nearly equal, and they were natives of the two most celebrated cities in the world; for Alcander was of Athens, Septimius ctme f.r.m Rome.

In this state of harmony they lived for feme time together; when Alcander, after *

pasting the first part of his youth in the in» dolence of philosophy, thought at length os entering into the busy world; and, as a step previous to this, placed his affections on Hypatia, a lady of exquisite beauty. The day of their intended nuptials was fixed; the previous ceremonies were performed; and nothing now remained but her being conducted in triumph to the apartment of the intended bridegroom.

Alcander's exultation in his own happiness, or being unable to enjoy any satisfaction without making his friend Septimius a partner, prevailed upon him to introduce Hypatia to his fellow-student; which he did with all the giiety of a man who found himself equally happy in friendship and love. But this was an interview fatal to the suture peace of both; for Septimius no sooner saw her, but he was smitten with an involuntary passion; and, though he used every effort to suppress desires at once so imprudent and unjust, the emotions of his mind in a short time became so strong, that they brought on a sever, which the physicians judged incurable.

During this illness, Alcander watched him with all the anxiety of fondness, and brought his mistress to join in those amiable offices of friendship. The sagacity of the physicians, by these means scon discovered that the cause of their patient's d:sorder was love: and Alcander being apprized of their discovery, at length extorted a confession from the reluctant dying lover.

It would but delay the narrative to describe the conflict between love and friendship in the breast of Alcander on this occasion ; it is enough to fay, that the Athenians were at that time arrived at such refinement in morals, that every virtue was carried to excel"?. In short, forgetful of his own felicity, he gave up his intended bride, in all her charms, to the young Roman. They were married privately by his connivance, and this unlooked-for change of fortune wrought as unexpected a change in the constitution of the now happy Septimius: in a few days he was perfectly recovered, and set out with his fair partner for Rome. Here, by an exertion of those talents which he was so eminently possessed of, Septimius in a few years arrived at the highest dignities of the state, and was constituted the city-judge, or prxtor.

In the mean time Alcander not onW felt the pain of being separated from his friend and his mistress, but a prosecution was tub commenced against him by the relations of Hypatia, for having basely given up his bride, as was suggested, for money. His innocence of the crime laid to his charge, and even his eloquerec in his own defence, were not able to withstand the influence of a powerful party. He was cast, and condemned to pay an enormous fine. How. ever, being unable to raise so large a sum at thetime appointed, his possessions wereconfiscated, he himself was (tripped of the habit of freedom, exposed as a (Live in the market-place, and fold to the highest bidder.

A merchant of Thrace becoming his purchaser, Alcandcr, with some other companions of distress, was carried into, that region of desolation and sterility. His stated employment was to follow the herds of an imperious master, and his success in hunting was all that was allow ed him to supply his precarious subsistence. Every morning awaked him to a renewal of famine or toil, and every change of season served but to aggravate his unlheltered distress. After some years of bondage, however, an opportunity of escaping offered; he embraced it with ardour; so that travelling by night, and lodging in caverns by day, to shorten a long story, he at last arrived in Rome. The same day on which Alcander anived, Septimius fat administering justice in the forum, whither our wanderer came, expecting to be instantly known, and publicly acknowledged by his former friend. Here he stood the whole day amongst the crowd, watching the eyes of the judge, and expecting to be taken notice of; but he was so much altered by a long succession of hardships, that he continued unnoted among the reft; and, in the evening, when he was going up to the prxtor's chair, he was brutally repulsed by the attending lictors. The attention of the poor is generally driven from one ungrateful object to another; for night coming on, he now found himself tinder a necessity of seeking a place to lie in, and yet knew not where to apply. All emaciated, and in nigs as he was, none of the citizens would harbour so much wretchedness; and steeping in the streets might he attended with interruption or danger: in short, he was obiiged to take up his lodging in one of the tombs without the city, the usual retreat of guilt, poverty, and despair. In this mansion of horror, laying his head upon an inverted urn, he forgot his miseries fora while in steep; and found, on his flinty couch, more ease than beds of down can supply to the guilty.

As he continued here, about midnight two robbers came to make this their retreat; but happening to disagree about the division of their plunder, one of them stabbed the other to the heart, and left him weltering in blood at the entrance. In these circumstances he was found next morning dead at the mouth of the vault. This naturally inducing a farther enquiry, an alarm was spread; the cave was examined; and Alcander being found, was immediately apprehended, and accused of robbery and murder. The circumstances agaiist him were strong, and the wretcheaness of his appearance confirmed suspicion. Misfortune and he were now so long acquainted, that he at last became regardless of life. He detested a world where he had found only ingratitude, falsehood, and cruelty; he was determined to make no defence, and thus, lowering with resolution he was dragged, bound with cords, before the tribunal of Septimius. As the proofs were positive against him, and he offered nothing in his own vindication, the judge was proceeding to doom him to a most cruel and ignominious death, when the attention of the multitude was soon divided by another object. The robber, who had b?en really guilty, was apprehended selling his plunder, and, struck with a panic, had confessed his crime. He was brought bound to the fame tribunal, and acquitted every other person of any partnership in his guilt. Alcander's innocence therefore appeared, but the sullen rashness of his conduct remained a wonder to the surrounding multitude; but their astonishment was still farther encreased, when they saw their judge start from his tribunal to embrace the supposed criminal; Septimius recollected his friend and former benefactor, and hung upon his neck with tears of pity and of joy. Nerd the sequel be related? Alcander was acquitted: snared the friendship and honours of the principal citizens of Rome; lived afterwards in happiness and ease; and left it to be engraved on his tomb, That no circumstances are so desperate, which Providence may not relieve.

§ 4. The Monk.

A poor Monk of the order os St. Francis came into the room to beg something for his convent. The moment I cast my eyes upon him, I was pre-determined not to give him a single sous, and accordingly I put my purse into my pocket—buttooed it up—let myself a little moic upon my


« ZurückWeiter »