Sivut kuvina

he never had appeared to her but in the character of a friend; and as lovers, on the eve of meeting or separation, have seldom the proper use of their reasoning faculties, he indulged the injudicious idea of increasing her pleasure at seeing him, by surprise. Having leaped over a wall, he placed himself in that favourite seat, in the ground near her own peculiar flower-garden, whither his fancy had so often strayed. After a few tedious moments of breathless suspense, he hears a rustling in the leaves. “ 'Tis Laura !" No, it is a decrepit old weeding-woman, who begins her daily task. But she is followed by the radiant form of Laura; not, however, beaming in smiles. She has just discovered that this poor woman had pulled, by mistake, and sent to another young lady, as a present, the curious exotics intended for the ornament of Laura's luxuriant tresses, at an approaching ball. The unseen lover remains mute and motionless from astonishment, at hearing a storm of coarse reproach, and energetic scolding, in tones, now sharp, now rough, varied through all the notes of the gamut, from those lovely lips which seemed hitherto to have opened only to breathe

music and perfume. The scene concluded with the final dismissal of the poor woman. Laura retired. The lover put a bank-note into the hand of the astonished weeder, whom he respected as the instrument of his deliverance ; leaped the wall; returned, for a short time, to Italy; came home restored to himself; and never forgot the gratitude he owed his father, for having prevailed on him to conceal his attachment till confirmed by time and intimacy.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Long before children can practise any lessons of humanity to their fellow-men, they may be accustomed to perform their duties to inferior animals; and the seeds of kindness, or cruelty, may be cherished by the conduct they are taught to observe to the fly in the window.

Women have it completely in their power to mould the rising generation into habits of rational kindness to the inferior world; and the minute attention of parents would be more efficacious than even Lord Erskine's bill, so honourable to his head and heart—with which we carnestly wish their efforts were destined to co-operate. But we must be consistent. If a boy sees his mother tread on, what she terms, “the odious spider," with eye of hate, and step of triumph, he will not think her prompted by compassion, but caprice, when she restrains him from touching “the dear little goldfinch’s nest,” to which he is impelled by a powerful instinct, probably given to man, to assist him in procuring his food, when in a state of nature. The taste of children for beauty and melody is not awakened very early, Providence having kindly ordained that feelings of a higher nature should be first developed. In the bottom of his heart, the boy thinks mamma either “ill-natured for killing the poor little spider,” or unreasonable for saving the bird's nest; and, at best, strangely capricious.

In the scale of existence, wherever sensibility to pain and pleasure commences, there should commence our respect for the feelings of beings thus endowed. No matter, whether they are covered with scales, repugnant to our limited senses, or clothed more beautifully than Solomon in all his glory. Where sensation begins, there begin the rights of beings partaking, in one respect, of a joint nature with ourselves; and whenever we are forced to destroy them, we are bound to do it in the most humane and expeditious manner.

Even in this compasionate age, we may hourly see instances of hardness of heart towards the

animal creation. In the sports of the field*, in most of our unnecessary despatch in travelling, in the treatment of horses, and in several modes of preparing the creatures which we use as food, there is still much cruelty. We still see fruittrees protected by bottles of honey, where wasps and other insects meet with that lingering death, which we ought not to inflict on any sentient

* It may be doubted whether field sports do at all enhance the sufferings of the brute creation, since the death they meet with in this way, is, probably, the least painful that could be devised : and since we conceive that we have a right, not only to kill, but to breed up-on purpose to kill them for the table,-tame animals,—we can scarcely be scrupulous about destroying wild ones for the same purpose.

With respect to the Insect tribes also, much false sensibility, and subsequent hardness of heart, may be excited, by representing their sufferings as much greater than they really are-as something even analogous to our own. But the fly, whose depredations on our sugar-basin are not disturbed, even by the loss of a leg in the service, need not be made an object of sympathy. Nor, perhaps, have the wasps, who sip their deadly syrup to the last, much right to complain of the cruelty of their fate. But if we make our children feel that this is the case, their hearts must either become hardened under constant exposure to scenes of this nature, or themselves the slaves of a morbid sensibility.

« EdellinenJatka »