Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. A. That is true, Charles, but the studies upon which you are now engaged, are such as every man" should be a proficient in. But what has occurred just now, to make you so fixed as to your future destination ?

Char. I have been reading the history of the American Revolution, and

Mr. A. And pray what in the history of the American Revolution, makes you wish to be a soldier? Do you like the idea of so much fighting with Americans and Indians, who will shoot you down from behind fences and trees, and stone walls, as if you were so many woodcocks ?

Char. Oh! dear, no sir; I would not have fought against the Americans. It is General Washington that I admire so much. Father, don't you think he was a good man, though he was a soldier ?

Mr. A. Indeed I do, my son,-one of the best men that have ever lived, though he was a soldier. But every soldier cannot be like him.

Char. Yes, but as you say, sir, what man has been, man can be; and if I am a soldier, and try hard, perhaps I shall be as good a man as he,-almost.

Mr. A. It is possible, no doubt, but not probable. Washington, you must recollect, was not made a good man by being a soldier ; he continued to be a good man in spite of it, and would have been, perhaps, a better man, had he never become one. But Washington is an exception to all great soldiers, and his military character forms but a small part of his excellence. He was the benefactor, the saviour, the father of his countrymen. His benevolence was as great as his valour-his piety and trust in the Deity, more remarkable than either. He is an exception to all soldiers ; and the exception does not make the

rule. Besides, you know, that Washington fought for the liberties of a whole people, against what they deenied oppression and tyranny. Now that was a just cause; and a good man can fight only in a just cause.

Char. But, father, I would fight only in a just cause too; that I am sure of.

Mr. A. But if you become a soldier for life, you must fight when your king and commander tells you to, and not only when you think you have reason on your side. Others will fight the battle, and win the glory, while you are debating between right and wrong.– A soldier by profession never asks whether he should or should not be morally justified in bearing arms. He only inquires who his enemies are, and where they are not why they are so.

Char. Well, and was not Washington a soldier by profession? The book says he was a major when only nineteen years old.

Mr. A. He was no soldier by profession. He did not engage in the war because it was his business to fight; he was a farmer, and not a soldier. He took up arms for a season only, mark that because he thought his country had just cause for war. He left the plough to take up the sword, when his country was in danger, and left the sword to take up the plough again, when the danger had ceased. So you see that fighting was not his occupation.

Char. Except in a just cause, father; and are not all wars, I mean most wars, just ?

Mr. A. One side at least must always be in the wrong. Both cannot be in the right at once; both cannot have just cause of war. But in most cases you would acknowledge, I suspect, if you knew the circumstances, that there was nothing on either side sufficient to authorize recourse to so dreadful an expedient as war. Wars generally arise from the ambition of kings, or ministers, or generals, and are founded upon some petty dispute about boundaries or landmarks, which serve merely as a pretence.

Char. Is this really the case, papa ?

Mr. A. It is, and if three quarters of the officers and soldiers engaged in battle were asked, after it was over, what they had been fighting for, they would not be able to tell you. They fight because it is their business to fight, and because they earn their living by it, or expect to gain credit, and honour, and rank--not because their cause is just.

Char. Well, father, it may be so with some, or a good many, but not with me; so that, after all, I don't see but I must be a soldier. To be an officer-a colonel, for instance-must be a fine thing indeeda colonel has two epaulets, sir, and rides on horseback, and commands a whole regiment-and to be general, and command an army, must be a very, very fine thing indeed. · Mr. A. Well, Charles, I repeat to you I shall not control your choice. When you have arrived at a proper age to judge for yourself, if you still persist in your intention of becoming a soldier, I shall not oppose it, but put every facility in your way.

I will purchase a commission for you in the army, and then you must fight your way to fame and fortune.

Char. Oh, father, how proud I shall be; that is just what I should like-how I wish the time was come!

Mr. A. A few years pass away very quickly, Charles. But in the meantime I must use my endeavours to render you perfect in the studies you are now pursuing, which are as necessary to the soldier as they are to the clergyman or lawyer.

THE AFRICAN CHIEF.
Chained in the market-place he stood,

A man of giant frame,
Amid the gathering multitude

That shrunk to hear his name,-
All stern in look and strong of limb,

His dark eye on the ground :
And silently they gazed on him,

As on a lion bound.

Vainly, but well, that chief had fought

He was a captive now;
Yet pride, that fortune humbles not,

Was written on his brow :
The scars his dark broad bosom wore

Showed warrior true and brave;
A prince among his tribe before,

He could not be a slave.

Then to his conqueror he spake

“ My brother is a king :
Undo this necklace from my neck,

And take this bracelet ring,
And send me where my brother reigns,

And I will fill thy hands
With store of ivory from the plains,

And gold dust from the sands.”
“ Not for thy ivory nor thy gold

Will I unbind thy chain ;

That bloody hand shall never hold

The battle-spear again.
A price thy nation never gave

Shall yet be paid for thee;
For thou shalt be the Christian's slave

In lands beyond the sea."

Then wept the warrior chief, and bade

To shred his locks away ;
And, one by one, each heavy braid

Before the victor lay.
Thick were the platted locks, and long,

And deftly hidden there
Shone many a wedge of gold among

The dark and crisped hair. 66 Look, feast thy greedy eye with gold,

Long kept for sorest need :
Take it—thou askest sums untold

And say that I am freed.
Take it,-my wife, the long, long day

Weeps by the cocoa tree,
And my young children leave their play,

And ask in vain for me.”
“ I take thy gold, but I have made

Thy fetters fast and strong,
And ween that by the cocoa shade

Thy wife shall wait thee long."
Strong was the agony that shook

The captive's frame to hear, And the proud meaning of his look

Was changed to mortal fear. His heart was broken-crazed his brain

At once his eye grew wild :

« PreviousContinue »