Page images
PDF
EPUB

introduced, and had a prospect of raising versions, and all desirable pleasures, were my fortune by application and industry, the blessings attending the middle station with a life of ease and pleasure. He told of life ; that this way men went silently me it was only men of desperate fortunes and smoothly through the world, and on one hand, or of aspiring superior for comfortably out of it; not embarrassed tunes on the other, who went abroad upon with the labours of the hands or of the adventures, to rise by enterprise, and head ; not sold to a life of slavery for make themselves famous in undertakings daily bread, or harassed with perplexed of a nature out of the common road; circumstances, which rob the soul of peace that these things were all either too far and the body of rest; not enraged with above me, or too far below me; that mine the passion of envy, or the secret burning was the middle state, or what might be lust of ambition for great things- but in called the upper station of low life, which easy circumstances, sliding gently through he had found, by long experience, was the the world, and sensibly tasting the sweets best state in the world—the most suited to of living without the bitter ; feeling that human happiness ; not exposed to the they are happy, and learning, by every miseries and hardships, the labour and day's experience to know it more sensibly. sufferings, of the mechanic part of man- After this he pressed me earnestly, and kind, and not embarrassed with the pride, in the most affectionate manner, not to luxury, ambition, and envy, of the upper play the young man, or to precipitate part of mankind.

He told me I might myself into miseries, which nature, and judge of the happiness of this state by the station of life I was born in, seem to this one thing, namely, that this was the have provided against ; that I was under state of life which all other people envied; no necessity of seeking my bread; that he that kings have frequently lamented the would do well for me, and endeavour to miserable consequences of being born to enter me fairly into the station of life great things, and wished they had been which he had been just recommending to placed in the middle of the two extremes, me; and that, if I was not very easy and between the mean and the great ; that the happy in the world, it must be my mere wise man gave his testimony to this, as fate, or fault, that must hinder it; and the just standard of true felicity, when he that he should have nothing to answer for, prayed to have neither poverty nor riches. having thus discharged his duty, in warn

He bade me observe it, and I should ing me against measures which he knew always find that the calamities of life were would be to my hurt. In a word, that as shared among the upper and lower part he would do very kind things for me, if I of mankind; but that the middle station would stay and settle at home as he dihad the fewest disasters, and was not ex- rected, so he would not have so much posed to so many vicissitudes as the higher hand in my misfortunes as to give me any or lower part of mankind ; nay, they encouragement to go away ; and, to close were not subjected to so many distempers all, he told me I had my elder brother and uneasinesses, either of body or mind, for my example, to whom he had used the as those were who, by vicious living, same earnest persuasions to keep him luxury, and extravagances on one hand, from going into the Low Country wars, or by hard labour, want of necessaries, but could not prevail, his young desires and mean or insufficient diet on the other prompting him to run into the army where hand, bring distempers upon themselves he was killed ; and though he said he by the natural consequences of their way would not cease to pray for me, yet he of living; that the middle station of life would venture to say to me, that if I did was calculated for all kind of virtues, and take this foolish step, God would not all kind of enjoyments; that peace and bless me—and I would have leisure hereplenty were the handmaids of a middle after to reflect upon having neglected his fortune ; that temperance, moderation, counsel, when there might be none to quietness, health, society, all agreeable di- | assist in my recovery.- Robinson Crusoe.

he;

in God he will still mend,” continued [LAURENCE STERNE. 1713-1768.]

we are all of us concerned for

him." THE STORY OF LE FEVRE.

“Thou art a good-natured soul, I will It was some time in the summer of answer for thee,” cried my uncle Toby; that year in which Dendermond was "and thou shalt drink the poor gentletaken by the allies, which was about man's health in a glass of sack thyself; seven years before my father came into and take a couple of bottles with my serthe country, and about as many after the vice, and tell him he is heartily welcome time that my uncle Toby and Trim had to them, and to a dozen more if they will privately decamped from my father's do him good." house in town, in order to lay some of the “Though I am persuaded,” said my finest sieges to some of the finest fortified uncle Toby, as the landlord shut the cities in Europe when my uncle Toby door, “he is a very compassionate fellow, was one evening getting his supper, with Trim, yet I cannot help entertaining a Trim sitting behind him at a small side- high opinion of his guest too: there board. I say sitting, for in consideration must be something more than common in of the corporal's lame knee, which some him that in so short a time should win so times gave him exquisite pain, when my much upon the affections of his host.” uncle Toby dined or supped alone, he “And of his whole family,” added the would never suffer the corporal to stand; corporal ; “for they are all concerned for and the poor fellow's veneration for his him. Step after him," said my uncle master was such, that, with a proper Toby; “do, Trim ; ask him if he knows artillery, my uncle Toby could have taken his name. Dendermond itself with less trouble than I have quite forgot it, truly,” said he was able to gain this point over him ; the landlord, coming back into the parfor many a time, when my uncle Toby lour with the corporal ; " but I can ask supposed the corporal's leg was at rest, his son again. • Has he a son with he would look back and detect him him, then?” said my uncle Toby. A standing behind him with the most dutiful boy,” replied the landlord,

o of about respect. This bred more little squabbles eleven or twelve years of age ; but the betwixt them than all other causes for poor creature has tasted almost as little five-and-twenty years together; but this as his father ; he does nothing but mourn is neither here nor there—why do I men- and lament for him night and day. He tion it? Ask my pen-It governs me—I has not stirred from the bedside these

two days." He was one evening sitting thus at his My uncle Toby laid down his knife and supper, when the landlord of a little inn fork, and thrust his plate from before in the village came into the parlour with him, as the landlord gave him the acan empty phial in his hand, to beg a count; and Trim, without being ordered, glass or two of sack. 66'Tis for a poor took it away, without saying one word, gentleman-I think of the army, said and in a few minutes after brought him the landlord, “who has been taken his pipe and tobacco. ill at my house four days ago, and has Stay in the room a little,” said my never held up his head since, or had a uncle Toby. “Trim !” said my uncle desire to taste anything, till just now, that Toby, after he lighted lis pipe, and he has a fancy for a glass of sack and a smoked about a dozen whiffs. Trim thin toast. 'I think,' says he, taking his came in front of his master, and made his hand from his forehead, “it would com- bow. My uncle Țoby smoked on, and fort me.' If I could neither beg, borrow, said no more. Corporal !” said my nor buy such a thing,” added the land- uncle Toby. The corporal made his lord, "I would almost steal it for the bow. My uncle Toby went no further, poor gentleman, he is so ill. I hope but finished his pipe.

govern not it.

77

66

“ Trim,” said my uncle Toby, “I "everything straightforwards as I learned have a project in my head, as it is a bad it.” “Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe, night, of wrapping myself up warm in my said my uncle Toby, “and not interrupt roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor thee till thou hast done ; so sit down at gentleman.” " Your honour's roque- thy ease, Trim, in the window-seat, and laure," replied the corporal, “has not begin thy story again.” The corporal once been had on since the night before made his old bow, which generally your honour received your wound, when spoke as plain as a bow could speak we mounted guard in the trenches before it-Your honour is good. And having the gate of St. Nicholas. And besides, done that, he sat down, as he was it is so cold and rainy a night, that what ordered ; and begun the story to my with the roquelaure, and what with the uncle Toby over again in pretty near the weather, 'twill be enough to give your same words. honour your death, and bring on your “I despaired at first,” said the corhonour's torment in your groin.” “I poral, “ of being able to bring back any fear so," replied my uncle Toby; "but intelligence to your honour about the I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since lieutenant and his son; for when I asked the account the landlord has given me. where his servant was, from whom I made I wish I had not known so much of this myself sure of knowing everything which affair,” added my uncle Toby, or that was proper to be asked”-“ That's a I had known more of it. How shall we right distinction, Trim,” said my uncle manage it?”

“Leave it, an't please your Toby)—“I was answered, an' please honour, to me,” quoth the corporal. your honour, that he had no servant "I'll take my hat and stick, and go to with him ; that he had come to the inn the house and reconnoitre, and act accord- with hired horses, which, upon finding ingly; and I will bring your honour a himself unable to proceed-to join, I sup full account in an hour." “Thou shalt pose, the regiment—he had dismissed the go, Trim,” said my uncle Toby; "and morning after he came. • If I get better, here's a shilling for thee to drink with his my dear,' he said, as he gave

his

purse servant. “I shall get it all out of his son to pay the man, we can hire him,” said the corporal, shutting the horses from hence.' ‘But, alas! the door.

poor gentleman will never get from My uncle Toby filled his second pipe ; hence, said the landlady to me; 'for I and had it not been that he now and heard the death-watch all night long : then wandered from the point, with con- and when he dies, the youth his son will sidering whether it was not full as well to certainly die with him; for he is brokenhave the curtain of the tenaille a straight hearted already.' line as a crooked one, he might be said "I was hearing this account,” conto have thought of nothing else but poor tinued the corporal, “when the youth Le Fevre and his boy the whole time he came into the kitchen, to order the thin smoked it.

toast the landlord spoke of. “But I will It was not till my uncle Toby had do it for my father myself,' said the knocked the ashes out of his third pipe, youth. 'Pray let me save you the trouble, that corporal Trim returned from the inn, young gentleman,' said I, taking up a and gave him the following account :- fork for the purpose, and offering him “I despaired at first,” said the corporal, my chair to sit down upon by the fire “of being able to bring back your honour whilst I did it. 'I believe, sir,' said he, any kind of intelligence concerning the very modestly, 'I can poor sick lieutenant." “Is he in the myself.' 'I am sure,

said I, 'his army, then?” said my uncle Toby. “ He honour will not like the toast the worse is,” said the corporal. “ And in what for being toasted by an old soldier.' The regiment ?" said my uncle Toby. “I'll youth took hold of my hand, and instantly tell your honour,” replied the corporal, burst into tears. “ Poor youth,” said

to

6

please him best

my uncle Toby; "he has been bred up when he is fighting for his king, and for from an infant in the army, and the name his own life, and for his honour too, he of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears has the most reason to pray to God of like the name of a friend ; I wish I had any one in the whole world.” "'Twas him here."

well said of thee, Trim,” said my uncle “I never in the longest march,” said Toby. But when a soldier,' said I, the corporal, “had so great a mind to 'an' please your reverence, has been my dinner, as I had to cry with him for standing for twelve hours together in the company.

What could be the matter trenches up to his knees in cold water, with me, an' please your honour ?” or engaged,' said I, ‘for months toge“Nothing in the world, Trim,” said my ther, in long and dangerous marches; uncle Toby, blowing his nose, “but that harassed, perhaps, in his rear to-day ; 1 thou art a good-natured fellow.” harassing others to-morrow; detached

“When I gave him the toast,” con- here; countermanded there; resting this tinued the corporal, “I thought it was night out upon his arms; beat up in his proper to tell him I was Captain Shandy's shirt the next ; benumbed in his joints; servant, and that your honour, though a perhaps without straw in his tent to kneel stranger, was extremely concerned for his on; one must say his prayers how and father; and that, if there was anything in when he can. I believe,' said I-"for I your house or cellar”—-("And thou mightst was piqued,” quoth the corporal, "for the have added my purse too,” said my uncle reputation of the army"-" I believe, an' Toby) - “ he was heartily welcome to it. please your reverence,' said I, 'that when He made a very low bow, which was a soldier gets time to pray, he prays as meant to your honour ; but no answer, heartily as a parson, though not with all for his heart was full ; so he went up- his fuss and hypocrisy. "" «Thou shouldst stairs with the toast. 'I warrand you, not have said that, Trim," said my uncle my dear,' said I, as I opened the kitchen Toby ; “for God only knows who is a door, “your father will be well again.' hypocrite and who is not. Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe and general review of us all, corporal, by the kitchen fire, but said not a word at the day of judgment, and not till then, good or bad, to comfort the youth. I it will be seen who has done their duties thought it wrong,” added the corporal. in this world, and who has not; and we “I think so too,” said my uncle Toby. shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly.” “When the lieutenant had taken his “I hope we shall,” said Trim.

“ It is glass of sack and toast, he felt himself a in the Scripture,” said my uncle Toby; little revived, and sent down into the “and I will show it thee to-morrow. kitchen to let me know that in about In the meantime, we may depend upon ten minutes he should be glad if I would it, Trim, for our comfort,” said my uncle step upstairs. I believe,' said the land- Toby, “ that God Almighty is so good lord, he is going to say his prayers, for and just a governor of the world, that if there was a book laid upon the chair by we have but done our duties in it, it will his bedside, and as I shut the door, I saw never be inquired into whether we have his son take up a cushion.'

done them in a red coat or a black one." “I thought,' said the curate, “that “I hope not,” said the corporal. “But you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, go on, Trim,” said my uncle Toby, “with never said your prayers at all.' 'I heard thy story. the poor gentleman say his prayers last “When I went up,” continued the night,' said the landlady, ‘very devoutly, corporal, “into the lieutenant's room, and with my own ears, or I could not which I did not do till the expiration of have believed it.' • Are you sure of it ?' | the ten minutes, he was lying in his bed replied the curate. A soldier, an' with his head raised upon his hand, with please your reverence,' said I, 'prays as his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean often of his own accord as a parson; and white cambric handkerchief beside it.

At the great

[ocr errors]

The youth was just stooping down to that he, as well as she, upon some account take up the cushion, upon which I sup- or other, I forget what, was universally posed he had been kneeling ; the book pitied by the whole regiment ; but finish was laid upon the bed ; and as he rose, the story thou art upon.” 'Tis finished in taking up the cushion with one hand, already,” said the corporal, "for I could he reached out his other to take it away stay no longer; so wished his honour a at the same time. Let it remain there, good night. Young Le Fevre rose from my dear,' said the lieutenant.

off the bed, and saw me to the bottom “He did not offer to speak to me till of the stairs; and as we went down toI had walked up close to his bedside. gether, told me they had come from • If you are Captain Shandy's servant,' Ireland, and were on their route to join said he, 'you must present my thanks to the regiment in Flanders. But, alas !” your master, with my little boy's thanks said the corporal, “the lieutenant's last along with them, for his courtesy to me.' day's march is over.' " Then what is If he was of Levens's, said the lieutenant. to become of this poor boy?” cried my I told him your honour was. “Then,' uncle Toby. said he, ‘I served three campaigns with It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honhim in Flanders, and remember him ; our—though I tell it only for the sake of but 'tis most likely, as I had not the those who, when cooped in betwixt a natuhonour of any acquaintance with him, ral and a positive law, know not for their that he knows nothing of me. You will souls which way in the world to turn tell him, however, that the person his themselves—that, notwithstanding my good nature has laid under obligations to uncle Toby was warmly engaged at that him, is one Le Fevre, a lieutenant in time in carrying on the siege of DenderAngus's. But he knows me not,' said he, mond, parallel with the allies, who pressed a second time, musing: Possibly he theirs on so vigorously that they scarce may my story,' added he. 'Pray, tell allowed him time to get his dinner—that the captain, I was the ensign at Breda nevertheless he gave up Dendermond, whose wife was most unfortunately killed though he had already made a lodgment with a musket-shot as she lay in my arms upon the counterscarp - and bent his in my tent.' 'I remember the story, whole thoughts towards his private disan 't please your honour,' said I, very tresses at the inn; and except that he well. 'Do you so ?' said he, wiping his ordered the garden gate to be bolted up, eyes with his handkerchief; then well by which he might be said to have turned may I.' In saying this, he drew a little the siege of Dendermond into a blockring out of his bosom, which seemed tied ade, he left Dendermond to itself, to be with a black ribbon about his neck, and relieved or not by the French king as kissed it twice. 'Here, Billy,' said he. the French king thought good, and only The boy flew across the room to the considered how he himself should relieve bedside, and falling down upon his knee, the poor lieutenant and his son. That took the ring in his hand, and kissed it kind Being, who is a friend to the too; then kissed his father, and sat down friendless, shall recompense thee for upon the bed and wept.”

this. “I wish,” said my uncle Toby, with a “ Thou hast left this matter short,” said deep sigh—“I wish I was asleep.” “Your my uncle Toby to the corporal, as he was honour,” replied the corporal,” “is too putting him to bed; "and I will tell thee much concerned. Shall I pour your in what, Trim. In the first place, when honour out a glass of sack to your pipe ?” thou mad'st an offer of my services to “Do, Trim,” said my uncle Toby. Le Fevre—as sickness and travelling are

I remember,” said my uncle Toby, both expensive, and thou knowest he sighing again, “the story of the ensign was but a poor lieutenant, with a son to and his wife, with a circumstance his subsist as well as himself out of his paymodesty omitted ; and particularly well that thou didst not make an offer to him

« EelmineJätka »