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The fireside, on a winter evening, was a scene highly picturesque, and worthy of the pencil of Wilkie. The veteran sat in his easy chair, surrounded by his children. A few grey hairs peeped from beneath his hat, worn somewhat awry, which gave an arch turn to the head, which it seldom quitted. The anchor button, and scarlet waistcoat trimmed with gold, marked the fashion of former times. Before him lay his book, and at his side a glass prepared by the careful hand of a daughter, who devoted herself to him with a tenderness peculiarly delightful to the infirmities of age. The benevolent features of the old man were slightly obscured by the incense of a “cigárre " (the last remnant of a cock-pit education) which spread its fragrance in long wreaths of smoke around himself and the whole apartment. A footstool supported his wounded leg, beneath which lay the old and faithful Newfoundland dog stretched on the hearth. Portraits of King Charles the First and Van Tromp (indicating the characteristic turn of his mind) appeared above the chimney-piece; and a multitude of prints of British heroes covered the rest of the wainscot. A knot of antique swords and Indian weapons garnished the old-fashioned pediment of the door; a green curtain was extended across the room, to fence off the cold air, to which an old sailor's constitution is particularly sensitive. Such was the picture.
The servants, who reverenced his peculiarities, served him with earnest affection. Even his horse confided in his benevolence as much as the rest of the household; for when he was of opinion that the morning ride was sufficiently extended, he commonly faced about, and as my father generally rode in gambadoes, (not the most convenient armour for a conflict with a self-willed steed, he generally yielded to the caprice of his horse. The chief personage in his confidence was old Boswell, the self-invested. minister of the extraordinaries of the family, who looked upon the footman as a jackanapes, and on the female servants as incapable of “understanding his honour.” Boswell had been in his time a smart young seaman, and formerly rowed the stroke-oar in the captain's barge. After many a hard gale and long separation, the association was renewed in old age, and to a bystander had more of the familiarity of ancient friendship, than of the relation of master and servant. “Has your honour any further commands ?” said Boswell, as he used to enter the parlour in the evening, while, throwing his body into an angle, he made his reverence, and shut the door with his opposite extremity at the same time. “No, Boswell, I think not, unless indeed you are disposed for a glass of grog before you go.” “ As your honour pleases," was the established reply. A word from my father soon produced the beverage, at the approach of which the old sailor was seen to slide a quid into his cuff, and prepare for action. “Does your honour remember when we were up the Mississippi, in the Nautilus sloop of war?” “Ay, my old friend, I shall never forget it, 'twas a happy trip, the poor Indians won all our hearts." “Ah, but your honour, there was worse company than they in the woods there. Mayhap you recollect the great black snake that chung about the serjeant of marines, and had well nigh throttled him ?” “I do, I do, and the poor fellow was obliged to beat its head to pieces against his own thigh. I remember it as though it was but yesterday." "And the rattle-snake too, that your honour killed with your cane, five and forty feet.” “ Avast, Boswell !" cried my father, “mind your reckoning there, 'twas but twelve, you rogue, and that's long enough in all conscience.” These scenes were highly amusing to our occasional visitors, and are still remembered with delight by those of his familiar friends who yet survive him.
If benevolence was the striking feature of his disposition, religion was the guide of his conduct, the anchor of his hope, the stay of all his confidence. There was an habitual energy in his private devotions, which proved the firm hold which Christianity had obtained over his mind. Whether in reading or in conversation, at the name of God he instantly uncovered his head, by a spontaneous movement of religious feeling. Nothing but illness ever kept him from church. His example there was a silent reproof to the idle and indifferent. I see him still in imagination, kneeling, unconscious of all around him, absorbed in earnest prayer, and though his features were concealed, the agitation of his venerable head indicated the fervour of his supplications. The recollection has often quickened my own indolence.
Such was the man whose memory was endeared to all who knew his worth, affording us a beautiful example of a true old English officer.
Dec. 26, 1822.
CAMPBELL. [THE following illustration of the inferiority in subject-matter and style of the Koran of Mohammed, as compared with the Bible, is not given as a paper for Sunday reading, but as a specimen of a book which contains a number of similar stories, in connection, indeed, with many things that are in a higher spirit. The passage which we subjoin occurs in a note to Dr. George Campbell's · Dissertation on Miracles.' T'his learned Scotch divine was Principal of Marischal College, Aberdeen. He was the author also of a valuable work, · The Philosophy of Rhetoric. George Campbell was born in 1709, and died in 1796.]
I hardly think that we can have a more striking proof of the prejudices of modern infidels, than in their comparing this motley composition, the Koran, to the writings of the Old and New Testament. Let the reader but take the trouble to peruse the history of Joseph by Mahomet, which is the subject of a very long chapter, and to compare it with the account of that patriarch given by Moses, and if he doth not perceive at once the immense inferiority of the former, I shall never, for my part, undertake by argument to convince him of it. To me it appears even almost incredible, that the most beautiful and most effecting passages of Holy Writ should have been so wretchedly disfigured by a writer, whose intention, we are certain, was not to burlesque them. But that every reader may be qualified to form some notion of this miracle of a book, I have subjoined a specimen of it, from the chapter of the Ant; where we are informed particularly of the cause of the visit which the queen of Sheba (there called Saba) made to Solomon, and of the occasion of her conversion from idolatry. I have not selected this passage on account of any special futility to be found in it, for the like absurdities may be observed in every page of the performance; but I have selected it because it is short, and because it contains a distinct story, which bears some relation to a passage of scripture. I use Mr. Sale's version, which is the latest, and the most approved, omitting only, for the sake of brevity, such supplementary expressions as have been, without necessity, inserted by the translator.
and they were
e into your hai to the valley of
“Solomon was David's heir; and he said, "O men, we have been taught the speech of birds, and have had all things bestowed on us; this is manifest excellence.' And his armies were gathered together to Solomon, consisting of genü, and men, and birds ; and they were led in distinct bands, until they came to the valley of ants. An ant said,
O ants, enter ye into your habitations, lest Solomon and his army tread you under foot, and perceive it not. And he smiled, laughing at her words, and said, O Lord, excite me, that I may be thankful for thy favour, wherewith thou hast favoured me and my parents ; and that I may do that which is right and well pleasing to thee: and introduce me, through thy mercy, among thy servants the righteous.' And he viewed the birds, and said, 'What is the reason that I see not the lapwing? Is she absent ? Verily I will chastise her with a serere chastisement, or I will put her to death; unless she bring me a just excuse.' And she tarried not long, and said, I have viewed that which thou hast not viewed; and I come to thee from Saba, with a certain piece of news. I found a woman to reign over them, who is provided with every thing, and hath a magnificent throne. I found her and her people to worship the sun, besides God: and Satan hath prepared their works for them, and bath turned them aside from the way (wherefore they are not directed), lest they should worship God, who bringeth to light that which is hidden in heaven and earth, and knowing whatever they conceal, and whatever they discover. God! there is no God but he; the lord of the magnificent throne.' He said, “We shall see whe. ther thou hast spoken the truth, or whether thou art a liar. Go with this my letter, and cast it down to them; then turn aside from them, and wait for their answer.' The queen said, “O nobles, verily an honourable letter hath been delivered to me; it is from Solomon, and this is the tenour thereof. In the name of the most merciful God, rise not up against me: but come and surrender yourselves to me. She said, '0 nobles, advise me in my business. I will not resolve on any thing, till ye be witnesses hereof.' They answered, “We are endued with strength, and endued with great prowess in war; but the command appertaineth to thee: see, therefore, what thou wilt command.' She said, “Verily kings, when they enter a city, waste the same, and abase the most powerful of the inhabitants thereof; and so will these do. But I will send gifts to them; and will wait for what those who shall be sent shall bring back.' And when the ambassador came to Solomon, the prince
said, “Will ye present me with riches ? Verily that which God hath given me is better than what he hath given you: but ye glory in your gifts. Return to your people. We will surely come to them with forces which they shall not be able to withstand; and we will drive them out humbled, and they shall be contemptible.' And Solomon said, “O nobles, which of you will bring me her throne, before they come and surrender themselves to me?' A terrible genius answered, “I will bring it thee before thou arise from thy place. And one, with whom was the knowledge of the Scripture, said, 'I will bring it to thee in the twinkling of an eye.' And when Solomon saw it placed before him, he said, “This is a favour of my Lord, that he may make trial of me, whether I will be grateful, or whether I will be ungrateful; and he who is grateful, is grateful to his own advantage; but if any shall be ungrateful, verily my Lord is self-sufficient and munificent.' And he said, 'Alter her throne, that she may not know it, to the end we may see whether she be directed, or whether she be of those who are not directed.' And when she was come, it was said, 'Is thy throne like this ?' She answered, as though it were the same. And we have had knowledge bestowed on us before this, and have been resigned. But that which she worshipped besides God, had turned her aside, for she was of an unbelieving people. It was said to her, · Enter the palace.' And when she saw it, she imagined it to be a great water, and she discovered her legs. Solomon said, · Verily this is a palace, evenly floored. with glass.' She said, “O Lord, verily I have dealt unjustly with my own soul; and I resign myself, together with Solomon, to God, the Lord of all creatures.'
Thus poverty of sentiment, monstrosity of invention, which always betokens a distempered not a rich imagination, and, in respect of · diction, the most turgid verbosity, so apt to be mistaken by persons of
a vitiated taste for true sublimity, are the genuine characteristics of the book. They appear almost in every line. The very titles and epithets assigned to God are not exempt from them. The Lord of the daybreak, the Lord of the magnificent throne, the King of the day of judgment, &c. They are pompous and insignificant. If the language of the Koran, as the Mahometans pretend, is indeed the language of God, the thoughts are but too evidently the thoughts of men. The reverse of this is the character of the Bible. When God speaks to men, it is reasonable to think that he addresses then in their own VOL. I.