« ZurückWeiter »
Succeeding authors, warmed with their descriptions of Francis' bounty, adopted their encomiums, and refined upon them. The appellation of Father of Letters, bestowed upon Francis, had rendered his memory sacred among
bis. torians; and they seem to have regarded it as a sort of jmpiety, to uncover his infirmities, or to point out bis defects. Thus Francis, notwithstanding his inferior abilities and want of success, hath more than equalled the fame of Charles. The virtues which he possessed as a man, have entitled him to greater admiration and praise, than have been bestowed upon the extensive genins, and fortunate arts, of a more capable, but less amiable rival.
XVII.-The Supper and Grace. A SHOE coming loose from the fore foot of the thillhorse, at the beginning of the ascent of mount Taurira, the postillion disinounted, twisted the shoe off, and put it in his pocket. As the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fastened on again as well as we could ;- but the postil. lion had thrown away the nails, and the hammer in the chaise box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on.
He had not mounted half a mile higher, when coming to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other fore foot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest ; and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal ado, I prevailed upon the postillion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and every thing about it, as we drew nearer, soon reconciled me to the disaster. It was a little farm house, surrounded with _about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corp; and close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie of ati acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasaut's house; and on the other side was a little wood, which furuished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the house ; so I left the postillion to dianage his point as he could ; and, for mine, I walked directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old grey-headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons-in-law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them.
They were all sitting down together to their lentil-soup: a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table : land & flaggon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast-it was a feast of love.
The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table. My heart was sit down the moment I entered the room ; so 1 sat down at once, like a son of the family; and, to invest myBelf in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the loaf cut my. self a hearty luncheon; and, as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcoine mixed with thanks, that I had not seemed to doubt it.
Was-it this, or tell me, Nature, what else was it that made this morsel so sweet-and to what magic I owe it that the draught I took of their flaggon was so delicious with it, that it remains upon my palate to this hour
If the supper was to my taste, the grace which followed was much inore so.
When supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his knife, to bid them prepare for the dance. The moment the signal was given the women and girls ran all together into the back apartments to tie up their hair, and the young men to the door to wash their faces, and change their sabots, / wooden shoes) and in three minutes every soul was ready upon a little esplanade before the house to begin. The old man and his wife came out last, and, placiug me betwixt them, sat down upon a sofa of turf by the door.
The old man had, some fifty years ago, been no mean performer upon the vielle ; and, at the age he was then of, touched it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune, then intermitted, and joined her old man agaili, as their children and grand-chil. dren danced before them.
It was not till the middle of the second dance, when for some pauses in the movement, wherein they all seemed to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit, different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity. In a word, I thought I beheld religion mixing in the dance; but, as I had never seen her so engaged, I should have looked upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said that this was their cor stant 'way; and that, all his life-long, he made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance
and rejoice; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay,–Or learned prelate either, said I.
XVIII.-Rustic Felicity. MANY are the silent pleasures of the honest peasant, who rises cheerfully to his labour.-Look into his dwelling --where the scene of every man's happiness chiefly lies; he has the same doniestic endearments--as much joy and comfort in his children, and as flattering hopes of their doing well to enliven his hours and gladden his heart, as you would conceive in the most affivent station. And I make no doubt, in general, but if the true account of his joys and sufferings were to be balanced with those of his betters--that the upshot would prove to be little more than this; that the rich man had the more meat-lout the poor man the better stomach ;--the one had more luxuryable physicians to attend and set him to rights:--the other, more health and soundness in his bones, and less occasion for their help; that, after these two articles betwixt them were balanced--in all other things they stood upon a level that the sun shines as warm--the air blows as fresh, and the earth breathes as fragrant upon the one as the other ;-and they have an equal share in all the beauties and real benefits of nature.
XIX-House of Mourning. LET us go into the house of mourning, made so by such afflictions as have been brought in merely by the common cross accidents and disasters to which our condition is exposed-where, perhaps, the aged parents sit broken hearted, pierced to their souls, with the folly and indiscretion of a ihankless child-the child of their prayers, in whom all their hopes and expectations centered :-Perhaps, a more affecting scene—a virtuous family lying pinched with want, where the unfortunaie support of it, having long struggled with a train of misfortunes, and bravely fought up against them, is now piteously horne down at the last-overwelmed with a cruel blow, which no forecast or frugality could have prevented. O God ! look upon his afflictions. Behold bin distracted with many sorrows, surrounded with the tender pledges of his love; and the partner of his cares without bread to give them; anable from the remembrance $f better days to dig :--0hegashamed.
When we enter into the house of mourning; such as this it is impossible to insult the unfortuate, even with an improper look. Under whatever levity and dissipation of heart such objects catch our eyes-they-catch likea ise our attentions, collect and call home our scattered thoughts and exercise them with wisdom. A transient scene of distress, such as is here sketched, how soon does it furnish materials to set the mind at work! How vecessarily does it engage
it to the consideration of the miseries and misfortunes, the dangers and calamities, to which the life of man is subject ! By holding up such a glass before it, it forces the mind to see and reflect upon the vanity-the perishing condition, aud uncertain tenure of every thing in this world. From reflections of this serious cast, how insensibly do the thoughts carry us farther !-and, from considering what we are, what kind of world we live in, and what evils befall us iri it, how naturally do they set as to look forward at what possibly we shall be ;– for what kind of world we are intended what evils may befall us there and what provisions we
old make against them here, whilst we have time and opportunity !--If these lessons are so inseparable from the house of mourning here supposed-we shall find it a still more instructive school of wisdom, when we take a view of the place in that affecting light in which the wise man seems to confine it in the text; in which by the house of nourriing, I believe he means that particular scene of sorrow, where there is lamentation and mourning for the dead. Turn in hither, I beseech you, for a noment. Behold a dead man ready to be carried out, the only son of his mother, and she a widow. Perhaps a still more affecting spectacle, a kind and indulgent father of a numerous family lies, breathless-spatched away
in the strengih of his age-torn, in an evil hour, from his children, and the bosoin of a disconsolate wife. Behold much people of the city gathered together to mix their tears, with settled sorrows in their looks, going heavily along to the house of mourning, to perform that last meloncholy office, which when the debt of nature is paid, we are called-upon to pay to each other. If this såd occasion, which leads hin there, has not done it already, take notice to what a serious and devout frame of mind every man is reduced, the moinent he enters this gate of affliction - The busy and fluttering spirits which, in the house of mirth, were wont to transport him from ope diverting object to another-see how they are fallen ! how peace
ably they are laid ! In this gloomy mạnsion, full of shadesand uncomfortable damps to seize the soul-see, the light and easy heart, which never knew what it was to think before, how pensive it is now, how soft, how susceptible, how full of religious impressions, how deep it is smitten with a sense, and with a love of virtue. Could we, in this crisis, whilst this empire of reason and religion lasts, and the heart is thus exercised with wisdom, and busied with heavenly contemplations--could we see it naked as it is--stripped of its passions, unspotted by the world, and regardless of its pleasures--we might then safely rest our cause upon this single evidence, and appeal to the most sensual, whether Solomon has not made a just determination here in favour of the house of mourning: Not for its own sake, but as it is fruitful in virtue, and becomes the occasion of so much good. Without this end, sorrow, I own, has no use but to shorten a man's days por can gravity, with all its studied solem uity of look and carriage, serve any end but to make one, half of the world merry, and impose upon the other.
SECTION III. 1.--The Honour and Advantage of a constant Adherence to
Truth. PETRARCH, a celebrated Italian poet, who flourished. about four hundred years ago, recommended himself to the confidence and affection of Cardinal Colonna, in whose family he resided, by his candor and strict regard to truth. A violent quarrel occurred in the household of this nobleman ;
which was carried so far, that recourse was had to
The Cardinal wished to know the foundation of this affair; and that he might be able to decide with justice, he assembled all his people, and obliged them to bind themselves, by a most solemu oath on the gospels to declare the whole truth. Every one, without exception, submitted to this determination; even the Bishop of Luna, brother to the Cardinal, was not excused. Petrarch, in his turn, presenting himself to take the oath, the Cardinal closed the book, and said, As to you, Petrarch, your word is sufficient.
II.-Impertinence in Discourse. THIS kind of impertinence is a habit of talking much without thinking...