« AnteriorContinuar »
smiling, he might march. He will never march, an't please your honour, in this world, said the Corporal. He will march, said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off. An't please your honour, said the Corporal, he will never march but to his grave. He shall march cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advancing an inch ; he shall march to his regiment. He cannot stand it, said the Corporal. He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby. He'll drop at last, said the Corporal; and what will become of his boy? He shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly. A-well-a-day, do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point, the poor soul will die. He shall not die, by cried my uncle Toby.
The ACCUSING SPIRIT, which flew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in; and the RECORDING ANGEL, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.
My uncle Toby went to his bureau, put his purse into his pocket, and having ordered the Corporal to go early in the morning for a physician, he went to bed and fell asleep.
The sun looked bright the morning after to every eye in the village but Le Fevre's and his afflicted son's; the hand of death pressed heavy upon his eyelids, and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle, when my uncle Toby, who had got up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant's room, and without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair by the bedside, and independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have done it, and asked him how he did ; how he had rested in the night; what was his complaint; where was his pain ; and what he could do to help him; and without giving him time to answer any one of the inquiries, went on and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the Corporal the night before for him.
You shall go home directly, Le Fevre, said my uncle Toby, to my house; and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter; and we'll have an apothecary; and the Corporal shall be your nurse, and I'll be your servant, Le Fevre.
There was a frankness in my uncle Toby—not the effect of familiarity, but the cause of it—which let you at once into his soul, and showed you the goodness of his na ce; to this, there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him ; so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirits of Le Fevre, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, rallied back; the film forsook
for a moment; he looked up wistfully in my uncle Toby's face, then cast a look upon his boy. Nature instantly ebbed again; the film returned to its place; the pulse fluttered — stopped — went on— throbbed — stopped again moved-stopped ; shall I go on? No.
All that is necessary to be added is as follows:-
Le Fevre in his hand, attended the poor lieutenant, as chief mourners, to his grave. When
my uncle Toby had turned every thing into money, and settled all accounts betwixt the agent of the regiment and Le Fevre, and betwixt Le Fevre and all mankind, there remained nothing more in my uncle Toby's hands than an old regimental coat and a sword; so that my uncle Toby found little or no opposition from the world in taking administration. The coat my uncle Toby gave the Corporal. Wear it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, as long as it will hold together, for the sake of the poor lieutenant. And this, said my uncle Toby, taking up the sword in his hand, and drawing it out of the scabbard as he spoke; and this, Le Fevre, I'll save for thee; 'tis all the fortune, continued
my uncle Toby, hanging it up upon a crook, and pointing to it; 'tis all the fortune, my dear Le Fevre, which God has left thee; but if he has given thee a heart to fight thy way with it into the world, and thou dost it like a man of honour, 'tis enough for us.
As soon as my uncle Toby had laid a foundation, he sent him to a public school, where, excepting Whitsurtide and Christmas, at which times the Corporal was punctually despatched for him, he remained to the spring of the year seventeen ; when the stories of the Emperor's sending his army into Hungary against the Turks kindling a spark of fire in his bosom, he left his Greek and Latin without leave, and throwing himself upon his knees before my uncle Toby, begged his father's sword, and my uncle Toby's leave along with it, to go and try his fortune under Eugene. Twice did my uncle Toby forget his wound, and cry out, Le Fevre! I will go with thee, and thou shalt fight beside me. And twice he laid his hand upon his side, and hung down his head in sorrow and disconsolation.
My uncle Toby took down the sword from the crook where it had hung untouched ever since the lieutenant's death, and delivered it to the corporal to brighten up; and having detained Le Fevre a single fortnight to equip him, and contract for his passage to Leghorn, he put the sword into his hand. If thou art brave, Le Fevre, said my uncle Toby, this will not fail thee; but Fortune, said he, musing a little, Fortune may. And if she does, added my uncle Toby, embracing him, come back again to me, Le Fevre, and we will shape thee another course.
The greatest injury could not have oppressed the heart of Le Fevre more than my uncle Toby's paternal kindness. He parted from my uncle Toby as the best of sons from the best of fathers ; both dropped tears; and as my uncle Toby gave
him his last kiss, he slipped sixty guineas, tied up in
purse of his father's, in which was his mother's ring, into his hand, and bid God bless him.
II. REYNO AND ALPIN.
Reyno.—The wind and rain are over. Calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. Over the green hill flies the inconstant sun. Red, through the stony vale, comes down the stream of the hill. Sweet are thy murmurs, O stream! but more sweet is the voice I hear. It is the voice of Alpin, the son of song, mourning for the dead. Bent is his head of age, and red his tearful eye. Alpin thou son of song, why alone on the silent hill? Why complainest thou as a blast in the wood, as a wave on the lonely shore ?
Alpin.-My tears, 0 Reynol are for the dead, my voice for the inbabitants of the grave. Tall thou art on the hill, fair among the sons of the plain. But thou shalt fall like Morar;
and the mourner shall sit on thy tomb. The hills shall know thee no more. Thy bow shall lie in the hall unstrung. Thou wert swift, O Morar! as a roe on the hill, terrible as a meteor of fire. Thy wrath was as the stormthy sword, in battle, as lightning in the field. Thy voice was like a stream after rain, like thunder on distant hills. Many fell by thy arm; they were consumed in the flames of thy wrath. But when thou didst return from war, how peaceful was thy brow! Thy face was like the sun after rain ; like the moon in the silence of night; calm as the breast of the lake, when the loud wind is hushed into repose. Narrow is thy dwelling now; dark the place of thine abode. With three steps I compass thy grave, O thou who wast so great before! Four stones, with their heads of moss, are the only memorial of thee. A tree, with scarce a leaf-long grass whistling in the wind-mark to the hunter's eye the grave of the mighty Morar. Morar, thou art low indeed ! thou hast no mother to mourn thee; no maid with her tears of love; dead is she that brought thee forth; fallen is the daughter of Morglan! Who, on his staff, is this ? who this, whose head is white with age, whose eyes are galled with tears, who quakes at every step? It is thy father, O Morar! the father of no son but thee. Weep, thou father of Morar! weep; but thy son heareth thee not. Deep is the sleep of the dead, low their pillow of dust. No more shall he hear thy voice, no more awake at thy call. When shall it be morn in the grave, to bid the slumberer awake ? Farewell! thou bravest of men, thou conqueror in the field; but the field shall see thee no more; nor the gloomy wood be lightened with the splendour of thy steel. Thou hast left no son ; but the song shall preserve thy name.
III.—THE BEGGAR'S PETITION.
Pity the sorrows of, a
Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span,
These tatter'd clothes my poverty bespeak,
And many a furrow in my grief-worn cheek
Yon house, erected on the rising ground,
For Plenty there a residence has found,
Hard is the fate of the infirm and poor!
A pamper'd menial drove me from the door,
Oh! take me to your hospitable dome!
Short is my passage to the friendly tomb,