Evenings at home; or, the juvenile budget opened: Consisting of a variety of miscellaneous pieces, ... [pt.5]
- On Earths and Stones Page. 1
- The Wanderer's Return 35
- The Dog and his Relations 50
- The Coſt of a War 54
- The Cruciform-Flowered Plants 64
- Generous Revenge 76
- True Heroiſm 85
- The Coloniſts 91
- The Travelled Ant 101
- Show and Uſe, or the Two Preſents 116
- [Page 4] Humble Life 122
- On Emblems 138
- Ledyard's Praiſe of Women 150
This was a wide tract of champaign country, chequered with villages, whoſe towers and ſpires peeped above the trees in which they were emboſomed. The ſpace between them was chiefly arable land, from which the laſt products of harveſt were buſily carrying away.
[Page 36] A rivulet winded through the plain, its courſe marked with grey willows. On its banks were verdant meadows, covered with lowing herds, moving ſlowly to the milkmaids, who came tripping along with pails on their heads. A thick wood cloathed the ſide of a gentle eminence riſing from the water, crowned with the ruins of an ancient caſtle.
Edward (that was the traveller's name) dropt on one knee, and claſping his hands, exclaimed, ‘"Welcome, welcome, my dear native land! Many a ſweet ſpot have I ſeen ſince I left thee, but none ſo ſweet as thou! Never has thy dear image been out of my memory; and now, with what tranſport do I retrace all thy charms. O receive me again, never more to quit thee!"’ So ſaying, he threw himſelf on the turf, and having kiſſed it, roſe and proceeded on his journey.
‘"Walſingham!"’ Edward claſped the girl round the neck, and ſurpriſed her with two or three very cloſe kiſſes. He then lifted up little Roger, and almoſt devoured him. Roger ſeemed as if he wanted to be ſet down again, but Edward told him he would carry him home.
When they approached the houſe, an old maſtiff came running to meet the children. He looked up at Edward rather ſourly, and gave a little growl; when all at once his countenance changed; he leaped upon him, licked his hand, wagged his tail, murmured in a ſoft voice, and ſeemed quite overcome with joy. Edward ſtooped down, patted his head, and cried, ‘"poor Captain, what, are you alive yet?"’ Roſe was ſurpriſed that the ſtranger and their dog ſhould know one another.
They all entered the houſe together. A good-looking middle-aged woman was buſied in preparing articles of [Page 40] cookery, aſſiſted by her grown-up daughter. She ſpoke to the children as they came in, and caſting a look of ſome ſurpriſe on Edward, aſked him what his buſineſs was.
News of Edward's arrival ſoon flew acroſs the yard, and in came from the barn his father, his next brother Thomas, and the third, William. The [Page 41] father fell on his neck, and ſobbed out his welcome and bleſſing. Edward had not hands enow for them all to ſhake.
‘"O, how glad I am to ſee you all again!"’ were Edward's firſt words. ‘"How well you look, mother! but father's grown thinner. As for the [Page 42] reſt, I ſhould have known none of you, unleſs it were Thomas and old Iſaac."’
‘"Ay, mother, I have been enough in the ſun, I aſſure you. From ſeventeen to five and twenty I have been a wandere upon the face of the earth, and I have ſeen more in that time than moſt men in the courſe of their lives.’
‘"Our young landlord, you know, took ſuch a liking to me at ſchool, that he would have me go with him on his travels. We went through moſt of the countries of Europe, and at laſt to Naples, where my poor maſter took a fever and died. I never knew what grief was till then; and I believe the thoughts of leaving me in a ſtrange country went as much to his heart as his illneſs. An intimate acquaintance of his, a rich young Weſt [Page 43] Indian, ſeeing my diſtreſs, engaged me to go with him in a voyage he was about to take to Jamaica. We were too ſhort a time in England before we ſailed, for me to come and ſee you firſt, but I wrote you a letter from the Downs."’
‘"That was a pity,"’ returned Edward; ‘"for you muſt have concluded I was either dead, or had forgotten you. Well—we arrived ſafe in the Weſt Indies, and there I ſtaid till I had buried that maſter too; for young men die faſt in that country. I was very well treated, but I could never like the place; and yet Jamaica is a very fine iſland, and has many good people in it. But for me, uſed to ſee freemen work cheerfully along with their maſters—to behold nothing but droves of black ſlaves in the fields, toiling in the burning ſun under the conſtant [Page 44] dread of the laſh of hard-hearted taſkmaſters;—it was what I could not bring myſelf to bear; and though I might have been made an overſeer of a plantation, I choſe rather to live in a town, and follow ſome domeſtic occupation. I could ſoon have got rich here; but I fell into a bad ſtate of health, and people were dying all round me of the yellow fever; ſo I collected my little property, and though a war had broke out, I ventured to embark with it for England.’
‘"The ſhip was taken and carried into the Havanna, and I loſt my all, and my liberty beſides. However, I had the good fortune to ingratiate myſelf with a Spaniſh merchant whom I had known at Jamaica, and he took me with him to the continent of South America. I viſited great part of this country, once poſſeſſed by flouriſhing and independent nations, but now groaning under the ſevere yoke of [Page 45] their haughty conquerors. I ſaw thoſe famous gold and ſilver mines, where the poor natives work naked, for ever ſhut out from the light of day, in order that the wealth of their unhappy land may go to ſpread luxury and corruption throughout the remoteſt regions of Europe.’
‘"I accompanied my maſter acroſs the great ſouthern ocean, a voyage of ſome months without the ſight of any thing but water and ſky. We came to the rich city of Manilla, the capital of the Spaniſh ſettlements in thoſe parts. There I had my liberty reſtored, along with a handſome reward for my ſervices. I got from thence to China; and from China, to the Engliſh ſettlements in the Eaſt-Indies, where the ſight of my countrymen, and the ſounds of my native tongue, made me fancy myſelf almoſt at home again, though ſtill ſeparated by half the globe.’
[Page 46] ‘"Here I ſaw a delightful country, ſwarming with induſtrious inhabitants, ſome cultivating the land, others employed in manufactures, but of ſo gentle and effeminate a diſpoſition, that they have always fallen under the yoke of their invaders. Here how was I forced to bluſh for my countrymen, whoſe avarice and rapacity ſo often have laid waſte this fair land, and brought on it all the horrors of famine and deſolation! I have ſeen human creatures quarrelling like dogs for bare bones thrown upon a dunghill. I have ſeen fathers ſelling their families for a little rice, and mothers entreating ſtrangers to take their children for ſlaves that they might not die of hunger. In the midſt of ſuch ſcenes, I ſaw pomp and luxury of which our country affords no examples.’
‘"Having remained here a conſiderable time, I gladly at length ſet [Page 47] my face homewards, and joined a company who undertook the long and perilous journey to Europe over land. We croſſed vaſt tracts, both deſart and cultivated; ſandy plains parched with heat and drought, and infeſted with bands of ferocious plunderers. I have ſeen a well of muddy water more valued than ten camel-loads of treaſure; and a few half-naked horſemen ſtrike more terror than a king with all his guards. At length, after numberleſs hardſhips and dangers, we arrived at civilized Europe, and forgot all we had ſuffered. As I came nearer my native land, I grew more and more impatient to reach it; and when I had ſet foot on it, I was ſtill more reſtleſs till I could ſee again my beloved home.’
‘"Here I am at laſt—happy in bringing back a ſound conſtitution and a clear conſcience. I have alſo brought enough of the relicks of my [Page 48] honeſt gains to furniſh a little farm in the neighbourhood, where I mean to ſit down, and ſpend my days in the midſt of thoſe whom I love better than all the world beſides."’
When Edward had finiſhed, kiſſes and kind ſhakes of the hand were again repeated, and his mother brought out a large ſlice of harveſt cake, with a bottle of her niceſt currant wine, to refreſh him after his day's march. ‘"You are come,"’ ſaid his father, ‘"at a lucky time, for this is our harveſt ſupper. We ſhall have ſome of our neighbours to make merry with us, who will be almoſt as glad to ſee you as we are—for you were always a favourite among them."’
It was not long before the viſitors arrived. The young folks ran to meet them, crying, ‘"Our Edward's come back—Our Edward's come home! Here he is—this is he;"’ and ſo, without ceremony, they introduced them [Page 49] ‘Welcome!—welcome!—God bleſs you!"’ ſounded on all ſides. Edward knew all the elderly ones at firſt ſight, but the young people puzzled him for a while. At length he recollected this to have been his ſchoolfellow, and that, his companion in driving plough; and he was not long in finding out his favourite and playfellow Sally, of the next farm-houſe, whom he left a romping girl of fifteen, and now ſaw a blooming full-formed young woman of three and twenty. He contrived in the evening to get next her; and though ſhe was ſomewhat reſerved at firſt, they had pretty well renewed their intimacy before the company broke up.
‘"Health to Edward, and a happy ſettlement among us,"’ was the parting toaſt. When all were retired, the Returned Wanderer went to reſt in the very room in which he was born, [Page 50] having firſt paid fervent thanks to heaven for preſerving him to enjoy a bleſſing the deareſt to his heart.
KEEPER was a farmer's maſtiff, honeſt, brave, and vigilant. One day, as he was ranging at ſome diſtance from home, he eſpied a Wolf and Fox ſitting together at the corner of a wood. Keeper, not much liking their looks, though by no means fearing them, was turning another way, when they called after him, and civilly deſired him to ſtay. ‘"Surely, Sir, (ſays Reynard), you won't diſown your relations. My couſin Ghaunt and I were juſt talking over family matters, and we both agreed that we had the honour of reckoning you among our kin. You muſt know, [Page 51] that according to the beſt accounts, the wolves and dogs were originally one race in the foreſts of Armenia; but the dogs, taking to living with man, have ſince become inhabitants of towns and villages, while the wolves have retained their ancient mode of life. As to my anceſtors, the foxes, they were a branch of the ſame family who ſettled farther northwards, where they became ſtinted in their growth, and adopted the cuſtom of living in holes under ground. The cold has ſharpened our noſes, and given us a thicker fur and buſhy tails to keep us warm. But we have all a family likeneſs which it is impoſſible to miſtake; and I am ſure it is our intereſt to be good friends with each other."’
The wolf was of the ſame opinion; and Keeper, looking narrowly at them, could not help acknowledging their relationſhip. As he had a generous heart, he readily entered into friendſhip [Page 52] with them. They took a ramble together; but Keeper was rather ſurprized at obſerving the ſuſpicious ſhyneſs with which ſome of the weaker ſort of animals ſurveyed them, and wondered at the haſty flight of a flock of ſheep as ſoon as they came within view. However, he gave his couſins a cordial invitation to come and ſee him at his yard, and then took his leave.
They did not fail to come the next day about duſk. Keeper received them kindly, and treated them with part of his own ſupper. They ſtaid with him till after dark, and then marched off with many compliments. The next morning, word was brought to the farm that a gooſe and three goſlings were miſſing, and that a couple of lambs were found almoſt devoured in the home-field. Keeper was too honeſt himſelf readily to ſuſpect others, ſo he never thought of his kinſmen on [Page 53] the occaſion. Soon after, they paid him a ſecond evening viſit, and next day another loſs appeared, of a hen and her chickens, and a fat ſheep. Now Keeper could not help miſtruſting a little, and blamed himſelf for admitting ſtrangers without his maſter's knowledge. However, he ſtill did not love to think ill of his own relations.
They came a third time. Keeper received them rather coldly, and hinted that he ſhould like better to ſee them in the day-time; but they excuſed themſelves for want of leiſure. When they took their leaves, he reſolved to follow at ſome diſtance and watch their motions. A litter of young pigs happened to be lying under a hayſtack without the yard. The wolf ſeized one by the back, and ran off with him. The pig ſet up a moſt diſmal ſqueal; and Keeper running up at the noiſe, caught his dear couſin in the fact. He flew at him, and made [Page 54] him relinquiſh his prey, though not without much ſnarling and growling. The fox, who had been prowling about the hen-rooſt, now came up, and began to make proteſtations of his own innocence, with heavy reproaches againſt the wolf for thus diſgracing the family. ‘"Begone, ſcoundrels both! (cried Keeper) I know you now too well. You may be of my blood, but I am ſure you are not of my ſpirit. Keeper holds no kindred with villains."’ So ſaying, he drove them from the premiſes.
Of all the Gods who tread the ſpangled ſkies,Thou moſt unjuſt, moſt odious in our eyes!Inhuman diſcord is thy dire delight,The waſte of ſlaughter, and the rage of fight;No bound, no law thy fiery temper quells.POPE.
When daifies pied, and violets blue,And ladyſmocks all ſilver white;And cuckow-buds of yellow hueDo paint the meadows with delight.
AT the period when the Republic of Genoa was divided between the factions of the nobles and the people, [Page 77] Uberto, a man of low origin, but of an elevated mind and ſuperior talents, and enriched by commerce, having raiſed himſelf to be the head of the popular party, maintained for a conſiderable time a democratical form of government.
The nobles at length, uniting all their efforts, ſucceeded in ſubverting this ſtate of things, and regained their former ſupremacy. They uſed their victory with conſiderable rigour; and in particular, having impriſoned Uberto, proceeded againſt him as a traitor, and thought they diſplayed ſufficient lenity in paſſing a ſentence upon him of perpetual baniſhment, and the confiſcation of all his property. Adorno, who was then poſſeſſed of the firſt magiſtracy, a man haughty in temper, and proud of ancient nobility, though otherwiſe not void of generous ſentiments, in pronouncing this ſentence on Uberto, aggravated its ſeverity by the inſolent [Page 78] terms in which he conveyed it. ‘"You (ſaid he)—you, the ſon of a baſe mechanic, who have dared to trample upon the nobles of Genoa—You, by their clemency, are only doomed to ſhrink again into the nothing whence you ſprung."’
Uberto received his condemnation with reſpectful ſubmiſſion to the court; yet ſtung by the manner in which it was expreſſed, he could not forbear ſaying to Adorno ‘"that perhaps he might hereafter find cauſe to repent the language he had uſed to a man capable of ſentiments as elevated as his own."’ He then made his obeiſance and retired; and, after taking leave of his friends, embarked in a veſſel bound for Naples, and quitted his native country without a tear.
He collected ſome debts due to him in the Neapolitan dominions, and with the wreck of his fortune went to ſettle on one of the iſlands in the Archipelago [Page 79] belonging to the ſtate of Venice. Here his induſtry and capacity in mercantile purſuits raiſed him in a courſe of years to greater wealth than he had poſſeſſed in his moſt proſperous days at Genoa; and his reputation for honour and generoſity equalled his fortune.
Among other places which he frequently viſited as a merchant, was the city of Tunis, at that time in friendſhip with the Venetians, though hoſtile to moſt of the other Italian ſtates, and eſpecially to Genoa. As Uberto was on a viſit to one of the firſt men of that place at his country houſe, he ſaw a young chriſtian ſlave at work in irons, whoſe appearance excited his attention. The youth ſeemed oppreſſed with labour to which his delicate frame had not been accuſtomed, and while he leaned at intervals upon the inſtrument with which he was working, a ſigh burſt from his full heart, and a [Page 80] tear ſtole down his cheek. Uberto eyed him with tender compaſſion, and addreſſed him in Italian. The youth eagerly caught the ſounds of his native tongue, and replying to his enquiries, informed him he was a Genoeſe. ‘"And what is your name, young man? (ſaid Uberto) You need not be afraid of confeſſing to me your birth and condition."’ ‘"Alas! (he anſwered) I fear my captors already ſuſpect enough to demand a large ranſom. My father is indeed one of the firſt men in Genoa. His name is Adorno, and I am his only ſon."’ ‘"Adorno!"’ Uberto checked himſelf from uttering more aloud, but to himſelf he cried, ‘"Thank heaven! then I ſhall be nobly revenged."’
He took leave of the youth, and immediately went to enquire after the corſair captain who claimed a right in young Adorno, and having found him, demanded the price of his ranſom. [Page 81] He learned that he was conſidered as a capture of value, and that leſs than two thouſand crowns would not be accepted. Uberto paid the ſum; and cauſing his ſervant to follow him with a horſe and a complete ſuit of handſome apparel, he returned to the youth who was working as before, and told him he was free. With his own hands he took off his fetters, and helped him to change his dieſs, and mount on horſeback. The youth was tempted to think it all a dream, and the flutter of emotion almoſt deprived him of the power of returning thanks to his generous benefactor. He was ſoon, however, convinced of the reality of his good fortune, by ſharing the lodging and table of Uberto.
After a ſtay of ſome days at Tunis to diſpatch the remainder of his buſineſs, Uberto departed homewards, accompanied by young Adorno, who by his pleaſing manners had highly ingratiated [Page 82] himſelf with him. Uberto kept him ſome time at his houſe, treating him with all the reſpect and affection he could have ſhown for the ſon of his deareſt friend. At length, having a ſafe opportunity of ſending him to Genoa, he gave him a faithful ſervant for a conductor, fitted him out with every convenience, ſlipped a purſe of gold into one hand, and a letter into another, and thus addreſſed him.
‘"My dear youth, I could with much pleaſure detain you longer in my humble manſion, but I feel your impatience to reviſit your friends, and I am ſenſible that it would be cruelty to deprive them longer than neceſſary of the joy they will receive in recovering you. Deign to accept this proviſion for your voyage, and deliver this letter to your father. He probably may recollect ſomewhat of me, though you are too young to do ſo. Farewell! I ſhall not ſoon forget you, and I [Page 83] will hope you will not forget me."’ Adorno poured out the effuſions of a grateful and affectionate heart, and they parted with mutual tears and embraces.
The young man had a proſperous voyage home; and the tranſport with which he was again beheld by his almoſt heart-broken parents may more eaſily be conceived than deſcribed. After learning that he had been a captive in Tunis (for it was ſuppoſed that the ſhip in which he ſailed had foundered at ſea), ‘"And to whom,"’ (ſaid old Adorno) ‘"am I indebted for the ineſtimable benefit of reſtoring you to my arms?"’ ‘"This letter,"’ (ſaid his ſon) ‘"will inform you."’ He opened it, and read as follows.
‘"That ſon of a vile mechanic, who told you that one day you might repent the ſcorn with which you treated him, has the ſatisfaction of ſeeing his prediction accompliſhed. For know, [Page 84] proud noble! that the deliverer of your only ſon from ſlavery is The baniſhed Uberto."’
Adorno dropt the letter, and covered his face with his hand, while his ſon was diſplaying in the warmeſt language of gratitude the virtues of Uberto, and the truly paternal kindneſs he had experienced from him. As the debt could not be cancelled, Adorno reſolved if poſſible to repay it. He made ſuch powerful interceſſion with the other nobles, that the ſentence pronounced on Uberto was reverſed, and full permiſſion given him to return to Genoa. In apprizing him of this event, Adorno expreſſed his ſenſe of the obligations he lay under to him, acknowledged the genuine nobleneſs of his character, and requeſted his friendſhip. Uberto returned to his country, and cloſed his days in peace, with the univerſal eſteem of his fellow-citizens.
YOU have read, my Edmund, the ſtories of Achilles, and Alexander, and Charles of Sweden, and have, I doubt not, admired that high courage which ſeemed to ſet them above all ſenſations of fear, and rendered them capable of the moſt extraordinary actions. The world calls theſe men heroes; but before we give them that noble appellation, let us conſider what were the motives which animated them to act and ſuffer as they did.
The firſt was a ferocious ſavage, governed by the paſſions of anger and revenge, in gratifying which he diſregarded all impulſes of duty and humanity. The ſecond was intoxicated with the love of glory—ſwollen with abſurd pride—and enſlaved by diſſolute pleaſures; and in purſuit of theſe [Page 86] objects he reckoned the blood of millions as of no account. The third was unfeeling, obſtinate, and tyrannical, and preferred ruining his country, and ſacrificing all his faithful followers, to the humiliation of giving up any of his mad projects. Self, you ſee, was the ſpring of all their conduct; and a ſelfiſh man can never be a hero. I will give you two examples of genuine heroiſm, one ſhown in acting, the other in ſuffering; and theſe ſhall be true ſtories, which is perhaps more than can be ſaid of half that is recorded of Achilles and Alexander.
You have probably heard ſomething of Mr. Howard, the reformer of priſons, to whom a monument is juſt erected in St. Paul's church. His whole life almoſt was heroiſm; for he confronted all ſorts of dangers with the ſole view of relieving the miſeries of his fellow-creatures. When he began to examine the ſtate of priſons, ſcarcely [Page 87] any in this country was free from a very fatal and infectious diſtemper called the gaol-fever. Wherever he heard of it, he made a point of ſeeing the poor ſufferers, and often went down into their dungeons when the keepers themſelves would not accompany him. He travelled ſeveral times over almoſt the whole of Europe, and even into Aſia, in order to gain knowledge of the ſtate of priſons and hoſpitals, and point out means for leſſening the calamities that prevail in them. He even went into countries where the plague was, that he might learn the beſt methods of treating that terrible contagious diſeaſe; and he voluntarily expoſed himſelf to perform a ſtrict quarantine, as one ſuſpected of having the infection of the plague, only that he might be thoroughly acquainted with the methods uſed for prevention. He at length died of a fever caught in attending on the ſick, on the borders [Page 88] of Crim Tartary, honoured and admired by all Europe, after having greatly contributed to enlighten his own and many other countries with reſpect to ſome of the moſt important objects of humanity. Such was Howard the Good; as great a hero in preſerving mankind, as ſome of the falſe heroes above-mentioned were in deſtroving them.
There was a journeyman bricklayer in this town—an able workman, but a very drunken idle fellow, who ſpent at the alehouſe almoſt all he earned, and left his wife and children to ſhift for themſelves as they could. This is, unfortunately, a common caſe; and of all the tyranny and cruelty exerciſed in the world, I believe that of bad huſbands and fathers is by much the moſt frequent and the worſt.
The family might have ſtarved, but [Page 89] for his eldeſt ſon, whom from a child the father brought up to help him in his work; and who was ſo induſtrious and attentive, that being now at the age of thirteen or fourteen, he was able to earn pretty good wages, every farthing of which, that he could keep out of his father's hands, he brought to his mother. And when his brute of a father came home drunk, curſing and ſwearing, and in ſuch an ill humour that his mother and the reſt of the children durſt not come near him for fear of a beating, this good lad, (Tom was his name) kept near him, to pacify him, and get him quietly to bed. His mother, therefore, juſty looked upon Tom as the ſupport of the family, and loved him dearly.
It chanced that one day, Tom, in climbing up a high ladder with a load of mortar on his head, miſſed his hold, and fell down to the bottom on a heap of bricks and rubbiſh. The byſtanders [Page 90] ran up to him and found him all bloody, and with his thigh broken and bent quite under him. They raiſed him up, and ſprinkled water in his face to recover him from a ſwoon in which he had fallen. As ſoon as he could ſpeak, looking round, with a lamentable tone, he cried, ‘"O, what will become of my poor mother?"’
He was carried home. I was preſent while the ſurgeon ſet his thigh. His mother was hanging over him half diſtracted. ‘"Don't cry, mother! (ſaid he) I ſhall get well again in time."’ Not a word more, or a groan, eſcaped him while the operation laſted.
COME, ſaid Mr. Barlow to his boys, I have a new play for you. I will be the founder of a colony; and you ſhall be people of different trades and profeſſions coming to offer yourſelves to go with me. What are you, A?
THERE was a garden encloſed with high brick walls, and laid out ſomewhat in the old faſhion. Under the walls were wide beds planted with flowers, garden-ſtuff, and fruit-trees. Next to them was a broad gravel walk running round the garden; and the middle was laid out in graſs-plots, and beds of flowers and ſhrubs, with a fiſh-pond in the centre.
Near the root of one of the wall fruit-trees, a numerous colony of ants was eſtabliſhed, which had extended its ſubterraneous works over great part of the bed in its neighbourhood. One day, two of the inhabitants meeting in a gallery under ground, fell into the following converſation.
Ha! my friend, (ſaid the firſt) is it [Page 102] you? I am glad to ſee you. Where have you been this long time? All your acquaintance have been in pain about you, leſt ſome accident ſhould have befallen you.
A tour of mere curioſity. I had long felt diſſatisfied with knowing ſo little about this world of ours; ſo, at length, I took a reſolution to explore it. And, I may now boaſt that I have gone round its utmoſt extremities, and that no conſiderable part of it has eſcaped my reſearches.
Willingly. I ſet out, then, early one ſunſhiny morning; and, after croſſing our territory and the line of plantation by which it is bordered, I came upon a wide open plain, where, as far as the eye could reach, not a ſingle green thing was to be deſcried, but the hard ſoil was every where covered with huge ſtones, which made travelling equally painful to the eye and the feet. As I was toiling onwards, I heard a rumbling noiſe behind me, which became louder and louder. I looked back, and with the utmoſt horror beheld a prodigious rolling mountain approaching me ſo faſt, that it was impoſſible to get out of the way. I threw myſelf flat on the ground behind [Page 104] a ſtone, and lay expecting nothing but preſent death. The mountain ſoon paſſed over me, and I continued, I know not how long, in a ſtate of inſenſibility. When I recovered, I began to ſtretch my limbs one by one, and to my ſurpriſe found myſelf not in the leaſt injured; but the ſtone beſide me was almoſt buried in the earth by the craſh!
A wonderful one, indeed. I journeyed on over the deſart, and at length came to the end of it, and entered upon a wide green tract, conſiſting chiefly of tall, narrow, pointed leaves, which grew ſo thick and entangled, that it was with the greateſt difficulty I could make my way between them; and I ſhould continually have loſt my road, had I not taken care to keep the ſun in view before me. When I had got near the middle of this region, I was ſtartled with ſight huge four-legged [Page 105] monſter, with a yellow ſpeckled ſkin, which took a flying leap directly over me. Somewhat further, before I was aware, I ran upon one of thoſe long, round, crawling creatures, without head, tail, or legs, which we ſometimes meet with under ground near our ſettlement. As ſoon as he felt me upon him, he drew back into his hole ſo ſwiftly, that he was near drawing me in along with him. However, I jumped off, and proceeded on my way.
With much labour I got at laſt to the end of this perplexed tract, and came to an open ſpace like that in which we live, in the midſt of which grew trees ſo tall that I could not ſee to their tops. Being hungry, I climbed up the firſt I came to, in expectation of finding ſome fruit; but after a weary ſearch I returned empty. I tried ſeveral others with no better ſucceſs. There were, indeed, leaves and flowers in plenty, but nothing of which [Page 106] I could make a meal; ſo that I might have been famiſhed, had I not found ſome ſour harſh berries upon the ground, on which I made a poor repaſt. While I was doing this, a greater danger than any of the former befel me. One of thoſe two-legged feathered creatures which we often ſee to our coſt, jumped down from a bough, and picked up in his enormous beak the very berry on which I was ſtanding. Luckily he did not ſwallow it immediately, but flew up again with it to the tree; and in the mean time I diſengaged myſelf, and fell from a vaſt height to the ground, but received no hurt.
I croſſed this plantation, and came to another entangled green, like the firſt. After I had laboured through it, I came on a ſudden to the ſide of a vaſt glittering plain, the nature of which I could not poſſibly gueſs at. I walked along a fallen leaf which lay on the ſide, and coming to the farther [Page 107] edge of it, I was greatly ſurprized to ſee another ant coming from below to meet me. I advanced to give him a fraternal embrace, but inſtead of what I expected, I met a cold yielding matter, in which I ſhould have ſunk, had I not ſpeedily turned about, and caught hold of the leaf, by which I drew myſelf up again. And now I found this great plain to conſiſt of that fluid which ſometimes falls from the ſky, and cauſes us ſo much trouble by filling our holes.
As I ſtood conſidering how to proceed on my journey, a gentle breeze aroſe, which, before I was aware, carried the leaf I was upon away from the ſolid land into this yielding fluid, which, however, bore it up, and me along with it. At firſt, I was greatly alarmed, and ran round and round my leaf in order to find ſome way of getting back; but perceiving this to be impracticable, I reſigned myſelf to [Page 108] my fate, and even began to take ſome pleaſure in the eaſy motion by which I was borne forwards. But what new and wonderful forms of living creatures did I ſee inhabiting this liquid land! Bodies of prodigious bulk, covered with ſhining ſcales of various colours, ſhot by me with vaſt rapidity, and ſported a thouſand ways. They had large heads, and ſtaring eyes, tremendous wide mouths, but no legs; and they ſeemed to be carried on by the action of ſomewhat like ſmall wings planted on various parts of their body, and eſpecially at the end of the tail, which continually waved about. Other ſmaller creatures, of a great variety of extraordinary forms, were moving through the clear fluid, or reſting upon its ſurface; and I ſaw with terror numbers of them continually ſeized and ſwallowed by the larger ones before mentioned.
When I had got near the middle, [Page 109] the ſmooth ſurface of this plain was all roughened and moved up and down, ſo as to toſs about my leaf, and nearly overſet it. I trembled to think what would become of me ſhould I be thrown amidſt all theſe terrible monſters. At laſt, however, I got ſafe to the other ſide, and with joy ſet my feet on dry land again. I aſcended a gentle green ſlope, which led to a tall plantation like that I had before paſſed through. Another green plain, and another ſtony deſart, ſucceeded; which brought me at length to the oppoſite boundary of our world, encloſed by the ſame immenſe mound riſing to the heavens, which limits us on this ſide.
Here I fell in with another nation of our ſpecies, differing little in way of life from ourſelves. They invited me to their ſettlement, and entertained me hoſpitably, and I accompanied them in ſeveral excurſions in the neighbourhood. There was a charming fruit-tree [Page 110] at no great diſtance, to which we made frequent viſits. One day, as I was regaling deliciouſly in the heart of a green-gage plum, I felt myſelf all on a ſudden carried along with great ſwiftneſs, till I got into a dark place, where a horrid craſh threw me upon a ſoft moiſt piece of fleſh, whence I was ſoon driven forth in a torrent of wind and moiſture, and found myſelf on the ground all covered with ſlime. I diſengaged myſelf with difficulty, and looking up, deſcried one of thoſe enormous two-legged animals, which often ſhake the ground over our heads, and put us into terror.
My new friends now began to hint to me that it was time to depart, for you know we are not fond of naturalizing ſtrangers. And lucky, indeed, it was for me that I received the hint when I did; for I had but juſt left the place, and was travelling over a neighbouring eminence, when I heard behind [Page 111] hind me a tremendous noiſe; and looking back, I ſaw the whole of their ſettlement blown into the air with a prodigious exploſion of fire and ſmoke. Numbers of half-burnt bodies, together with the ruins of their habitations, were thrown to a vaſt diſtance around; and ſuch a ſuffocating vapour aroſe, that I lay for ſome time deprived of ſenſe and motion. From ſome of the wretched fugitives I learned that the diſaſter was attributed to ſubterranean fire burſting its way to the ſurface; the cauſe of which, however, was ſuppoſed to be connected with the machinations of that malignant two-legged monſter from whoſe jaws I had ſo narrowly eſcaped, who had been obſerved juſt before the exploſion to pour through the holes leading to the great apartment of the ſettlement, a number of black ſhining grains.
On my return from this remote country, I kept along the boundary [Page 112] wall, which I knew by obſervation muſt at length bring me back to my own home. I met with ſeveral wandering tribes of our ſpecies in my road, and frequently joined their foraging parties in ſearch of food. One day, a company of us, allured by the ſmell of ſomewhat ſweet, climbed up ſome lofty pillars, on which was placed a vaſt round edifice, having only one entrance. At this were continually coming in and going out thoſe winged animals, ſomewhat like ourſelves in form, but many times bigger, and armed with a dreadful ſting, which we ſo often meet with ſipping the juices of flowers; but whether they were the architects of this great manſion, or it was built for them by ſome beneficent being of greater powers, I am unable to decide. It ſeemed, however, to be the place where they depoſited what they ſo induſtriouſly collect; for they were perpetually arriving loaded with a fragrant [Page 113] ſubſtance, which they carried in, and they returned empty. We had a great deſire to enter with them, but were deterred by their formidable appearance, and a kind of angry hum which continually proceeded from the houſe. At length, two or three of the boldeſt of our party, watching a time when the entrance was pretty free, ventured to go in; but we ſoon ſaw them driven out in great haſte, and trampled down and maſſacred juſt in the gate-way. The reſt of us made a ſpeedy retreat.
Two more adventures which happened to me, had very nearly prevented my return to my own country. Having one evening, together with a companion, taken up my quarters in an empty ſnail-ſhell, there came on ſuch a ſhower of rain in the night, that the ſhell was preſently filled. I awaked juſt ſuffocated; but luckily, having my head turned towards the mouth of [Page 114] the ſhell, I roſe to the top, and made a ſhift to crawl to a dry place. My companion, who had got further into the ſhell, never roſe again.
Not long after, as I was travelling under the wall, I deſcried a curious pit, with a circular orifice, gradually growing narrower to the bottom. On coming cloſe to the brink in order to ſurvey it, the edge, which was of fine ſand, gave way, and I ſlid down the pit. As ſoon as I had reached the bottom, a creature with a huge pair of horns and dreadful claws made his appearance from beneath the ſand, and attempted to ſeize me. I flew back, and ran up the ſide of the pit; when he threw over me ſuch a ſhower of ſand, as blinded me, and had like to have brought me down again. However, by exerting all my ſtrength, I got out of his reach, and did not ceaſe running till I was at a conſiderable diſtance. I was afterwards informed that [Page 115] this was the den of an ant-lion, a terrible foe of our ſpecies, which not equalling us in ſpeed, is obliged to make uſe of this crafty device to entrap his heedleſs prey.
This was the laſt of my perils. To my great joy I reached my native place laſt night, where I mean to ſtay content for the future. I do not know how far I have benefited from my travels, but one important concluſion I have drawn from them.
Why, you know it is the current opinion with us, that every thing in this world was made for our uſe. Now, I have ſeen ſuch vaſt tracts not at all fit for our reſidence, and peopled with creatures ſo much larger and ſtronger than ourſelves, that I cannot help being convinced that the Creator had in view their accommodation as well as ours, in making this world.
ONE morning, Lord Richmore, coming down to breakfaſt, was welcomed with the tidings that his favourite [Page 117] mare, Miſs Slim, had brought a foal, and alſo, that a ſhe-aſs kept for his lady's uſe as a milker, had dropt a young one. His lordſhip ſmiled at the inequality of the preſents nature had made him. ‘"As for the foal (ſaid he to the groom) that, you know, has been long promiſed to my neighbour Mr. Scamper. For young Balaam, you may diſpoſe of him as you pleaſe."’ The groom thanked his lordſhip, and ſaid he would then give him to Iſaac the woodman.
In due time, Miſs Slim's foal, which was the ſon of a noted racer, was taken to Squire Scamper's, who received him with great delight, and out of compliment to the donor named him Young Peer. He was brought up with at leaſt as much care and tenderneſs as the Squire's own children—kept in a warm ſtable, fed with the beſt of corn and hay, duly dreſſed, and regularly exerciſed. As he grew up, he gave [Page 118] tokens of great beauty. His colour was bright bay, with a white ſtar on his forehead; his coat was fine, and ſhone like ſilk; and every point about him ſeemed to promiſe perfection of ſhape and make. Every body admired him as the completeſt colt that could be ſeen.
So fine a creature could not be deſtined to any uſeful employment. After he had paſſed his third year, he was ſent to Newmarket to be trained for the turf, and a groom was appointed to the care of him alone. His maſter, who could not well afford the expence, ſaved part of it by turning off a domeſtic tutor whom he kept for the education of his ſons, and was content with ſending them to the curate of the pariſh.
At four years old, Young Peer ſtarted for a ſubſcription purſe, and came in ſecond out of a number of competitors. Soon after, he won a country plate, and filled his maſter [Page 119] with joy and triumph. The Squire now turned all his attention to the turf, made matches, betted high, and was at firſt tolerably ſucceſsful. At length, having ventured all the money he could raiſe upon one grand match, Young Peer ran on the wrong ſide of the poſt, was diſtanced, and the ſquire ruined.
Meantime young Balaam went into Iſaac's poſſeſſion, where he had a very different training. He was left to pick up his living as he could in the lanes and commons; and on the coldeſt days in winter he had no other ſhelter than the lee ſide of the cottage, out of which he was often glad to pluck the thatch for a ſubſiſtence. As ſoon as ever he was able to bear a rider, Iſaac's children got upon him, ſometimes two or three at once; and if he did not go to their mind, a broomſtick or bunch of furze was freely applied to his hide. Nevertheleſs [Page 120] he grew up, as the children themſelves did, ſtrong and healthy; and though he was rather bare on the ribs, his ſhape was good and his limbs vigorous.
It was not long before his maſter thought of putting him to ſome uſe; ſo, taking him to the wood, he faſtened a load of faggots on his back, and ſent him with his ſon Tom to the next town. Tom ſold the faggots, and mounting upon Balaam, rode him home. As Iſaac could get plenty of faggots and chips, he found it a profitable trade to ſend them for daily ſale upon Balaam's back. Having a little garden, which from the barrenneſs of the ſoil yielded him nothing of value, he bethought him of loading Balaam back from town with dung for manure. Though all he could bring at once was contained in two ſmall panniers, yet this in time amounted to enough to mend the ſoil of his [Page 121] whole garden, ſo that he grew very good cabbages and potatoes, to the great relief of his family. Iſaac, being now ſenſible of the value of his aſs, began to treat him with more attention. He got a ſmall ſtack of ruſhy hay for his winter fodder, and with his own hands built him a little ſhed of boughs and mud in order to ſhelter him from the bad weather. He would not ſuffer any of his family to uſe Balaam ill, and after his daily journies he was allowed to ramble at pleaſure. He was now and then cleaned and dreſſed, and, upon the whole, made a reputable figure. Iſaac took in more land from the waſte, ſo that by degrees he became a little farmer, and kept a horſe and cart, a cow, and two or three pigs. This made him quite a rich man; but he had always the gratitude to impute his proſperity to the good ſervices of Balaam, the [Page 122] groom's preſent; while the ſquire curſed Young Peer as the cauſe of his ruin, and many a time wiſhed that his lordſhip had kept his dainty gift to himſelf.