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« Ah ! Sir,” replied the Lady,
" these were people who had squandered their fortunes in luxury and dissipation ; such, indeed, seldom fail to meet with pations and benefactors; but, it is far otherwise with the poor man, who has bcen struggling with adversity, and employing his efforts, for the maintenance of a virtuous wife and family: when he fails, he is considered as an object unworthy of notice ; his situation, creates no interest.
His wretchedness, excites no commiseration;"
“ But your own family, my dear Madam --they have it in their power to extricate you from every difficulty ; will you permit me to apply to them in your behalf?”
“ Alas! Sir," I fear it would be in vain, they are too fond of money, to give it to those who have none. You know how I offended them by my marriage; yet, bad my husband succeeded in the world, and made a fortune, mine would not have been witheld from him. It would have been given, if we had not wanted it ; but, now that we are reduced to poverty, I have no hopes of assistance, from any of my friends. Yet would I thank you, for making trial of an application to them, if they, were in town-but they are not. They are all at York, except one Aunt, who is, indeed, very rich she is also very religious and very
charitable, but makes it a rule, never to give assistance to any, who are not of her own fect.” .« Then,” cried Severan, with unusual warmth, “ whatever are her professions, she is a stranger to the religion of Jesus Chrift! But, you have not told me the amount of the debt, for which your husband is confined; is it pot confiderable ?"
« Alas! yes," returned the lady. “ It -is more than forty pounds, and, what with the bailiff's and the jailor's fees, will, I dare say, arife to little less than fifty ?”
• Fifty pounds!” repeated the pbilosopher. “ And fifty pounds would release your husband from a jail. Fifty pounds would restore a father to his infant family, and make the heart of a virtuous woman rejoice. It is the noblest of all experiments !--And detefted be the pursuit, that would stand in the way of the happiness of a fellow-creature. My good Madam," continued he, addresfing himself to the Lady, who looked aftonished at the incoherence of his expressions, “ you must know, that I this morning made a mistake; I thought that Providence had sent me fifty pounds, to enable ine to pursue a philosophical discovery, on which I bad vainly set my heart; but I now find, it was for a nobler purpose; it was to contribute to the happiness of an unfortunate family; here it is ; and all I desire, is that you would consider me only as the agent, and keep your thanks for him who fent it.”
The various emotions of astonishment, doubt, gratitude, and joy, which took poffefsion of the poor Lady's bofom, struggled for utterance, and at length found vent in tears.
The effect upon my feelings, was too powerful to be supported. I left the room, and when I returned, found my friend advising with the Lady, on the steps necessary to be taken for her husband's release. I had from the commencement of our acquaintance, regarded the philosopher as the first of human beings. I now looked up to him as something more. To help a fellowcreature in distress, is the instinctive impulse of benevolence; but to sacrifice for The good of others, the darling pursuit of one's life! to give up on that account the favourite, the cherished object of one's mind! this belongs only to the philofophy of Jesus. It was now, that I understood what cutting off the right hand, and plucking out the right eye, truly meant. But ah ! my friend, if this is really the re
ligion of Christ, how falsely are people of ten called Christians !
On the arrival of the man of the law, whom the Doctor had sent for to conduct the business, we all set out with the Lady, for the place of her husband's confinement.
When we arrived at the great, gloomy manfion), Doctor Severan thinking it indelicate to go immediately into the presence of his friend, sent his lawyer with the lady, to inform her husband of his liberation, and in the mean time, indulged my curiosity with a fight of the prison.
You have seen the dungeons in which the Mussulmans confine their malefactors, and in which their prisoners of war are often doomed to suffer the lingering torture of despair ; to inhale the noxious vapours of pestilence, and to piue in all the miseries of disease and famine. But after what I have said of Christian charirity, you will, no doubt, think it impofsible that in a Christian country, similar places should be found. This, indeed, at first sight appears very inexplicable; but it only serves to confirm me in the truth of my conjecture, respecting a new revelation, a supplementary code of Chriftian laws and Christian precepts, which, in many respects, must very essentially differ from the old one.
In this new gospel, I have every reason to believe, from all that I have observed fince my abode in England, that poverty is considered as one of the most heinous of crimes. It is accordingly by the Christians of the new system, not only stigmatised with a degree of infamy, but by their very laws, and under the immediate inspection of their fage magiftiates, it is punished in the most exemplary manner. The abhorrence in which this crime is held by those Christian legislators, is, indeed, evident throughout the tenor of their laws.
Can a person contrive by villainy, to possess himself of the estate of another, provided it can be clearly proved, that poverty had no share in instigating bim to the offence, the law is satisfied with simple restitution. But, should a poor starving wretch, put forth his audacious hand to satisfy the calls of hunger, or still the clamorous demands of an infant family, he is condemned to death, or doomed to everlasting wretchedness. You who are prejudiced in favour of the mild ordinances of our revered Pundits, will, perhaps, think it unjust, that to the miserable mortal who steals the value of twenty rupees, and to him who boldly ventures on plundering the wealth of a family, adding murder to the crime of robbery, the same punishment should be