« FöregåendeFortsätt »
gratify the company, as soon as they were seated, and the first ceremonies passed. He described the march of many thousands of their countrymen into a field, where batteries had been concealed on each side, which in a moment strewed the ground with mangled limbs and carcasses that almost floated in blood, and obstructed the path of those who followed to the slaughter. He related how often the decreasing multitude returned to the mouth of the cannon : how suddenly they were rallied, and how suddenly broken: he repeated the list of officers who bad fallen undistinguished in the carnage, men whose eminence rendered their names universally known, their influence extensive, and their attachments numerous ; and he hinted the fatal effects which this defeat might produce to the nation, by turning the success of the war against us. But the company, however amused by the relation, appeared not to be affected by the event: they were still attentive to every trifling punctilio of ceremony, usual among well bred persons; they bowed with a graceful simper to a lady who sneezed, mutually presented each other with snuff, shook their heads and changed their posture at proper intervals, asked some questions which tended to produce a more minute detail of such circumstances of horror as had been lightly touched; and having at last remarked that the Roman patriot regretted the brave could die but once, the conversation soon became general, and a motion was made to divide into parties at whist. But just as they were about to comply, the gentleman again engaged their attention. * I forgot,” said he, “ to relate one particular, which, however, deserves to be remembered. The captain of a company, whose name I cannot now recollect, had, just before his corps was ordered to embark, married a young lady to whom he had been long tenderly attached, and who, contrary to the advice of all her friends, and the expostulations, persuasion, and entreaty of her husband, insisted to go abroad with him, and share his fortune at all events. If he should be wounded, she said that she might hasten his recovery, and alleviate his pain, by such attendance as strangers cannot be hired to pay; if he should be taken prisoner, she might, perhaps, be permitted to shorten the tedious hours of captivity which solitude would protract; and if he should die, that it would be better for her to kyow it with certainty and speed than to wait at a distance in anxiety and suspense, tormented by doubtful and contradictory reports, and at last believing it possible, that if she had been present, her assiduity and tenderness might have preserved his life. The captain, though he was not convinced by her reasoning, was yet overcome by the importunate eloquence of her love; he consented to her request, and they embarked together.
“ The head-quarters of the Duke of Cumberland were at Bruffoel, from whence they removed the evening before the battle to Monbray, a village within musket shot of the enemy's lines, where the captain, who commanded in the left wing, was encamped.
“ Their parting in the morning was short. She looked after him till he could no longer be distinguished from others; and as soon as the firing began, she went back pale and trembling, and sat down expecting the event in an agony of impatience, anxiety, and terror. She soon learned from stragglers and fugitives that the slaughter was dreadful, and the victory hopeless. She did not, however, yet despair ; she hoped that the captain might return among the few that should remain: but soon after the retreat this hope was cut off, and she was informed that he fell in the first charge, and was left among the dead.
She was restrained by those about her from rushing in the frenzy of desperation to the field of battle, of which the enemy was still possessed: but the tumult of her mind having abated, and her grief become more calm during the night, she ordered a servant to attend her at break of day; and as leave had been given to bury the dead, she went herself to seek the remains of her husband, that she might honour them with the last rites, and pour the tears of conjugal affection upon his grave. They wandered about among the dying and the dead, gazing on every distorted countenance, and looking round with irresolution and amazement on a scene which those who stripped had left tenfold more a sight a horror than those who had slain. From this sight she was at last turning with confusion and despair; but was stopped by the cries of a favourite spániel, who had followed her without being perceived. He was standing at some distance in the field; and the moment she saw him she conceived the strongest assurance that he had found his master. She hasted instantly to the place, without regarding any other object; and stooping over the corpse by which he stood, she found it so disfigured with wounds and besmeared with blood that the features were not to be known : but as she was weeping in the anguish of suspense, she discovered hanging on the wrist the remains of a ruffle, round which there was a slight border of her own work. Thus suddenly to have discovered, and in such dreadful circumstances, that which she had sought quite overwhelmed her, and she sunk down on the body. By the assistance of the servant she was recovered to sensibility, but not to reason; she was seized at once with convulsions and madness; and a few hours after she was carried back to the village she expired.”
Those who had heard the fate of whole battalions without pity, and the loss of a battle by which their country would probably suffer irreparable damage, without concern, listened to a tale of private distress with uninterrupted attention. All regard to each other was for a while suspended ; tears by degrees overflowed every eye, and every bosom became susceptible of pity : but the whole circle paused with evident regret, when the narrative was at an end; and would have been glad, that such another could have been told to continue their entertainment. Such was the benevolence of pity! But a lady, who had taken the opportunity of a very slight acquaintance to satisfy her curiosity, was touched with much deeper distress; and fainting in the struggle to conceal the emotions of her mind, fell back in her chair : an accident which was not sooner discovered because every eye had been fixed upon the speaker, and all attention monopolized by the story. Every one, however, was ready to afford her assistance; and it was soon discovered, that she was mother to the lady whose distress had afforded so much virtuous pleasure to the company. It was not possible to tell her another story, which would revive the same sensations; and if it had, the world could not have bribed her to have heard it. Her affection to the sufferer was too strong to permit her, on this occasion, to enjoy the luxury of pity, and applaud her benevolence for sensations which showed its defects. It would, indeed, be happy for us, if we were to exist only in this state of imperfection, that a greater share of sensibility is not allowed us; but if the mole, in the kindness of unerring wisdom, is permitted scarce to distinguish light from darkness, the mole should not, surely, be praised for the perspicacity of its sight.
Let us distinguish that malignity which others confound with benevolence, and applaud as virtue ; let that imperfection of nature, which is adapted to an imperfect state, teach us humility; and fix our dependence upon Him who has promised to create in us a new heart and a right spirit;" and to receive us to that place, where our love of others, however ardent, can only increase our felicity; because in that place there will be no object but such as perfect benevolence can contemplate with delight.
No. 111. TUESDAY, NOV. 27, 1753.
-Quæ non fecimus ipsi,
The evils inseparably annexed to the present condition of man are so numerous and afflictive that it has been, from age to age, the task of some to bewail, and of others to solace them; and he, therefore, will be in danger of seeming a common enemy who shall attempt to depreciate the few pleasures and felicities which nature has allowed us.
Yet I will confess, that I have sometimes employed my thoughts in examining the pretensions that are made to happiness by the splendid and envied condition of life; and have not thought the hour unprofitably spent, when I have detected the imposture of counterfeit advantages, and found disquiet lurking under false appearances of gaiety and greatness.
It is asserted by a tragic poet, that “ est miser nemo nisi comparatus," no man is miserable, but as he is compared with others happier than him