« EelmineJätka »
an unhappy man, whose evil practices were leading him, in hasty strides, to the chambers of death, and to attempt to reclaim him. He immediately addressed him with great civility, enquired what way he was going, and proposed, if agreeable, to ride in company; assuring him, at the same time, that he need not entertain the least fearful apprehension upon his account. His obliging manner won upon the highwayman, and opened the way to a familiar conversation.
During the robbery itself, the man, with all his assumed courage, could not conceal the agitation of his mind. From this circumstance the doctor took occasion to suggest that his present mode of subsistence, separate from its moral turpitude, was both unwise and dangerous, as the small sums generally collected at one time in these adventures were inadequate to the risk, as they required the frequent exposure of his person, and must subject him to perpetual alarms. The robber urged the common plea of necessity. The doctor represented, that it was an unpleasant and commonly a fatal necessity, as it was not only a trespass upon the rights of society and the authority of God, but would subject him to a dreadful penalty in the life that now is, as well as in that which is to come. Here he intreated him to desist from these pernicious habits_urged him to repentance, assuring him that there was forgiveness, through Jesus Christ, for the most atro. cious offenders, and that he did not doubt, if he implored direction from above, but Providence would so direct his way, as to enable him to
provide all things honest in the sight of all men.”
This conversation appeared to make a deep impression; the immediate effect of which was, the robber took the watch, and returned it to him, saying, “ he conducted himself so much like a gentleman, that he could not think of retaining it.” The doctor replied, that he greatly valued the watch, and received it with pleasure; but acknowledged that he had a higher object in view than the restoration of his property.
As they continued their discourse, he took the money out of his pocket, and tendered that also to the doctor, saying, that his conscience would not permit him to keep it. But the doctor absolutely refused receiving it, begging him not to consider it as forced from him, but as the gift of benevolence to a necessitous man. . At this instance of generosity he appeared additionally affected.
Coming nearer to Cambridge, the robber told him that he was under a necessity of leaving him, and, on parting, wept considerably, saying, he hoped he should attend to his advice. He then took a cross road, on the skirts of the town; but, having previously committed other robberies in the neighbourhood, was almost immediately identified and seized. The doctor leizurely continued his ride, and, on his arrival at Cambridge, was greatly surprised to meet him in the street, in the custody of the persons who apprehended him. On his commitment to the castle, he sent for his spiritual monitor, who found him in very great distress. During his confinement, both before and after trial, he made him repeated visits, which were rendered eminently useful; and at his execu
tion, he had every reason to believe, he died a real convert:
HISTORY. “WISDOM is the great end of history: it is designed to supply the want of experience. Though it enforce not its instruction with the same authority, yet it furnishes us with a greater variety of instruction than it is possible for experience to afford in the course of the longest life. Its object is to enlarge our views of the human character, and to give full exercise to our judgment on human affairs." This observation is just, as to history itself; but the many wilful mistakes together with the prejudices of historians have rendered it contemptible in the eyes of some men. Hence,
When Frederick the great of Prussia ordered his secretary to read to him, “What” said he, “ shall I read? Will your majesty hear me “ read history ?” “No, no,” replied the king; “ no history: there is no truth in history.".
When Sir Robert Walpole's son Horace was about to read to him some historical piece, he stopped him short. “O do not read history," said the father, “for that I know must be false.”
Charles V. had so little faith in historians, that, when he had occasion to send for Sleidan's History, he used to say, "Bring me my liar."
These objections to history, howe ver, are founded upon ignorance and prejudice. To suppose all history unworthy of our perusal, because some part of it may want sufficient authority, is highly absurd. A wise and judicious VOL. III.
mind will make a proper discrimination between historic relation and those things, which bear evident marks of historic fact. To a person possessing such a mind, history, no doubt, will be very profitable: it will tend to enlighten the understanding, mature the judgment, afford entertainment, and excite to action. Let us hear what Plutarch says upon the subject.”
“I live," says he entirely upon history; and while I contemplate the pictures it presents to my view, my mind enjoys a rich repast from the representation of great and virtuous characters. If the actions of men produce some instances of vice, corruption, and dishonesty, I endeavour, nevertheless, to remove the impression, or to defeat its effect. My mind withdraws itself from the scene, and, free from every ignoble passion, I attach myself to those high examples of virtue which are so agreeable
. and satisfactory, and which accord so completely with the genuine feelings of our nature.'
Cicero has also justly observed, that history is the light of ages, the depository of events, the faithful evidence of truth, the source of prudence and good counsel, and the 'rule of conduct and manners.
No set of men ought to be more accurate, more just to truth, and more divested of prejudice, than historians. “I reckon a lie in history," says Bishop Burnet, “ To be a much greater sin than a lie in common discourse, as the one is like to be more lasting, and more generally known than the other.”
“Some writers of history have, however, the effrontery to pretend to give us a detail of the debates of privy councils, and of the most secret conversations and cabals of courtiers, with
as much formal precision as if they had been cabinet ministers in the courts of all the princes of the age concerning which they write, and as if nothing had been transacted or determined without their privacy; nor do they scruple to entertain us with a circumstantial account of a battle, a siege, or the operations of a whole campaign, with as much pretended accuracy as if they had taken the field with the army, and accompanied every detachment employed on different services during the whole contest. Such narratives ought always to be suspected ; generally speaking, they ought to be totally disregarded. Mr. Boswell relates, that Dr. Johnson used to say, “We talk of history; but let us consider how little history, I mean real, authentic history, we have. It is not to be questioned but such kings reigned, such battles were fought, such cities were taken, and such countries conquered, as we find mentioned; but all the colouring of history is mere conjec
In this, Dr. Johnson is most certainly right. It is only the outlines of history, the leading and important facts which have been productive of great and conspicuous effects, which ought to attract our attention, excite our reflection, and hold a place in our remembrance." See Bigland's letters on the study and use of an. cient and modern history.*
HONESTY, INTEGRITY, &c. NOUSCHERVAN, a Persian king, having been hunting, and desirous of eating some of the venison in his field, several of the attendants went to a neighbouring village, and took away a
** Printed by W. W. Woodward, Philadelphia.