« PreviousContinue »
generous and noble passion, which had been long opposed by their friends, by reason of the inequality of their fortunes ; but their constancy to each other, and obedience to those on whom they depended, wrought so much upon their relations, that these celebrated lovers were at length joined in marriage. Soon after their nuptials, the bridegroom was obliged to go into a foreign country, to take care of a considerable fortune, which was left him by a relation, and came very opportunely to improve their moderate circumstances. They received the congratulations of all the country on this occasion ; and I remember it was a common sentence in every one's mouth, “ You see how faithful love is rewarded."
He took this agreeable voyage, and sent home every post fresh accounts of his success in his affairs abroad; but at last, though he designed to return with the next ship, he lamented in his letters, that “business would detain him some time longer from home,” because he would give himself the pleasure of an unexpected arrival.
The young lady, after the heat of the day, walked every evening on the sea-shore, near which she lived, with a familiar friend, her husband's kinswoman; and diverted herself with what objects they met there, or upon discourses of the future methods of life, in the happy change of their circumstances. They stood one evening on the shore together in a perfect tranquillity, observing the setting of the sun, the calm face of the deep, and the silent heaving of the waves, which gently rolled towards them, and broke at their feet; when at a distance her kinswoman saw something float on the waters, which she fancied was a chest; and with a smile told her, “She saw it first, and if it came ashore full of jewels, she had a right to it.” They both fixed their eyes upon it, and entertained themselves with the subject of the wreck, the cousin still asserting her right; but promising, “if it was a prize, to give her a very rich coral for her youngest child." Their mirth soon abated, when they observed, upon the nearer approach, that it was a human body. The young lady, who had a heart naturally filled with pity and compassion, made many melancholy reflections on the occasion. « Who knows,” said she, “but this man may be the only hope and heir of a wealthy house; the darling of indulgent parents, who are now in impertinent mirth, and pleasing themselves with the thoughts of offering him a bride They had got ready for him ? Or, may he not be the master of a family that wholly depended upon his life? There may, for aught we know, be half a dozen fatherless children, and a tender wife, now exposed to poverty by his death. What pleasure might he have promised himself in the different welcome he was to have from her and them! But let us go away; it is a dreadful sight! The best office we can do, is to take care that the poor man, who
ever he is, may be decently buried.” She turned away, when a wave threw the carcass on the shore. The kinswoman immediately shrieked out, “ Oh, my cousin !" and fell upon the ground. The unhappy wife went to help her friend, when she saw her own husband at her feet, and dropped in a swoon upon the body. - An old woman, who had been the gentleman's nurse, came out about this time to call the ladies to supper, and found her child, as she always called him, dead on the shore, her mistress and kinswoman both lying dead by him. Her loud lamentations, and calling her young master to life, soon awaked the friend from her trance; but the wife was gone for ever.
Taller, No. 82. THE BLIND RESTORED TO sight. While others are busied in relations which concern the interest of princes, the peace of nations, and revolutions of empire; I think, though these are very great subjects, my theme of discourse is sometimes to be of matters of a yet higher consideration. The slow steps of Providence and nature, and strange events which are brought about in an instant, are what, as they come within our view and observation, shall be given to the public. Such things are not accompanied with show and noise, and therefore seldom draw the eyes of the unattentive part of mankind; but are very proper at once to exercise our humanity, please our imaginations, and improve our judgments. It may not, therefore, be unuseful to relate many circumstances, which were observable upon a late cure done upon a young nobleman who was born blind, and on the twenty-ninth of June last received his sight, at the age of twenty years, by the operation of an oculist. This happened no farther off than Newington; and the work was prepared for in the following manner:
The operator, Mr. Grant, having observed the eyes of his patient, and convinced his friends and relations, among others the reverend Mr. Caswell, minister of the place, that it was highly probable that he should remove the obstacle which prevented the use of his sight; all his acquaintance, who had any regard for the young man, or curiosity to be present when one of full age and understanding received a new sense, assembled themselves on this occasion. Mr. Caswell, being a gentleman particularly curious, desired the whole company, in case the blindness should be cured, to keep silence : and let the patient make his own observations, without the direction of any thing he had received by his other senses, or the advantage of discovering his friends by their voices. Among several others, the mother, brethren, sisters, and a young gentlewoman for whom he had a passion, were present. The work was performed with great skill and dexterity. When the patient first received the dawn of light, there appeared such
an ecstasy in his action, that he seemed ready to swoon away in the surprise of joy and wonder. The surgeon stood before him with his instruments in his hands. The young man observed hiin from head to foot; after which he surveyed himself as carefully, and seemed to compare him to himself; and observing both their hands, seemed to think they were exactly alike, except the instruments, which he took for parts of his hands. When he had continued in his amazement for some time, his mother could not longer bear the agitations of so many passions as thronged upon her; but fell upon his neck, crying out, “My son ! my son !” The youth knew her voice, and could speak no more than, “ Oh me! are you my mother ?" and fainted. The whole room, you will easily conceive, were very affectionately employed in recovering him ; but, above all, the young gentlewoman who loved him, and whom he loved, shrieked in the loudest manner. That voice seemed to have a sudden effect upon him as he recovered, and he showed a double curiosity in observing her as she spoke and called to him ; until at last he broke out, “ What has been done to me? Whither am I carried ? Is all this about me, the thing I have heard so often of? Is this the light? Is this seeing? Were you always thus happy when you said you were glad to see each other? Where is Tom, who used to lead me? But I could now, methinks, go anywhere without him!” He offered to move, but seemed afraid of every thing around him. When they saw his difficulty, they told him, “ until he became better acquainted with his new being, he must let the servant still lead him." The boy was called for, and presented to him. Mr. Caswell asked him, “ What sort of thing he took Tom to be before he had seen him ?” He answered," he believed there was not so much of him as himself; but he fancied him the same sort of creature.” The noise of this sudden change made all the neighborhood throng to the place where he was. As he saw the crowd thickening, he desired Mr. Caswell to tell him how many there were in all to be seen. The gentleman, smiling, answered him, that “it would be very proper for him to return to his late condition, and suffer his eyes to be covered, until they had received strength; for he might remember well enough, that by degrees he had from little to little come to the strength he had at present in his ability in walking and moving: and that it was the same thing with his eyes, which," he said, “ would lose the power of continuing to him that wonderful transport he was now in, except he would be contented to lay aside the use of them, until they were strong enough to bear the light without so much feeling as, he knew, he underwent at present.” With much reluctance he was prevailed upon to have his eyes bound; in which condition they kept him in a dark room, until it was proper to let the organ receive its objects without further precaution. During the time of this darkness, he bewailed himself in the most distressed manner; and accused all his friends, complaining that “some incantation had been wrought upon him, and some strange magic used to deceive him into an opinion that he had enjoyed what they called sight.” He added, " that the impressions then let in upon his soul would certainly distract him, if he were not so at that present." At another time, he would strive to name the persons he had seen among the crowd after he was couched, and would pretend to speak, in perplexed terms of his own making, of what he, in that short time, observed. But on the sixth instant it was thought fit to unbind his head, and the young woman whom he loved was instructed to open his eyes accordingly, as well to endear herself to him by such a circumstance, as to moderate his ecstasies by the persuasion of a voice which had so much power over him as hers ever had. When this beloved young woman began to take off the binding of his eyes, she talked to him as follows:
“Mr. William, I am now taking the binding off, though when I consider what I am doing, I tremble with the apprehension, that, though I have from my very childhood loved you, dark as you were, and though you had conceived so strong a love for me, you will find there is such a thing as beauty, which may ensnare you into a thousand passions of which you are now innocent, and take you from me for ever. But, before I put myself to that hazard, tell me in what manner that love, you always professed to me, entered into your heart; for its usual admission is at the eyes."
The young man answered, “ Dear Lydia, if I am to lose by sight the soft pantings which I have always felt when I heard your voice ; if I am no more to distinguish the step of her I love when she approaches me, but to change that sweet and frequent pleasure for such an amazement as I knew the little time I lately saw; or if I am to have any thing besides, which may take from me the sense I have of what appeared most pleasing to me at that time, which apparition it seems was you ; pull out these eyes, before they lead me to be ungrateful to you, or undo myself. I wished for them but to see you: pull them out, if they are to make me forget you."
Lydia was extremely satisfied with these assurances; and pleased herself with playing with his perplexities. In all his talk to her, he showed but very faint ideas of any thing which had not been received at the ears ; and closed his protestation to her, by saying, that if he were to see Valentia and Barcelona, whom he supposed the most esteemed of all women, by the quarrel there was about them, he would never like any but Lydia.
Tatler, No. 55.
DANIEL DE FOE. 1661–1731.
DANIEL DE FRE, the author of that remarkable book of world-wide fame, * Robinson Crusoe,” was born in London, 1661. Of his youthful years we know but little; but that his education was not neglected, and that he applied hiinself with assiduity to his studies, we may fairly infer from his subsequent success in the walks of literature. He first engaged in trade, but after a few years' trial of it, he found that that was not his sphere: his lively imagination, eager interest in politics, and fondness for literature, disqualified bim for commercial matters. In 1700 he published his ~ True-Born Englishıman," a pamphlet in answer to a libel on King William, with which his majesty was well pleased. From that time forth, he wrote with unwearied assiduity, and in 1704 first published his “Review," a periodical paper written exclusively by himself, and which he continued to publish twice or three times a week for nine years. This resembled, more than any other preceding work, the Tatler and Spectator; but borne down by a rude mass of temporary and un. interesting matter, connected with the news and politics of the day, it soon sunk into oblivion.
After the death of Queen Anne, in 1714, the continued attacks of his politi. cal opponents so weighed upon his mind and depressed his spirits, that his health gave way, and he was for a time dangerously ill. When he recovere!, he resolved to abandon his old field of political satire and invective, and to enter upon a new one; and accordingly he put forth the first part of his in. imitable “ Adventures of Robinson Crusoe," which no story has ever exo ceeded in popularity. The great success that attended this, induced him to write a second and a third part, which, however, are very inferior to the first. The multitude of books and pamphlets which he subsequently published, we have not space to enumerate. Some of the most popular of these were, * The Adventures of Captain Singleton," “ The Fortunes of Moll Flan ders, « The Memoirs of a Cavalier," " A Tour through Great Britain," History of the Plague," and " The true Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs. Veal, the next Day after her Death." The last was afterwards subjoined to the editions of “ Drelincourt on Death," and made that otherwise unsaleable book much sought after. One of his works had the following curious title: “ Mars stript of his armor: a lashing caricature of the habits and manners of all kinds of military men, written on purpose to delight quiet trades-people, and cure their daughters of their passion for red-coats." He died on the 24th of April, 1731, in the seventy-first year of his age.
De Foe was a very remarkable man. His power, as a writer, of seizing and retaining a strong hold upon the popular mind, has seldom been equalled, Of great originality, and of strong and clear conceptions, which he was able to embody in language equally perspicuous and forcible, he has the power of o forging the handwriting of nature," and of giving to fiction all the appear. ance of reality. By a particularity and minuteness of description which his skill prevents from being tedious, he increases the probability of liis story, and
1 Lowndes gives the titles of ninety-seven different works that De Foe wrote, and his list is probably Incomplete. "The fertility of De Foe," says Sir Walter Scott, "was astonishing. He wrote on an ocasions and on all subjects, and seemingly had little time for preparation on the subject in hand, but rented it from the stores which his memory retained of early reading, and such hints 25 de naucht up in society, not one or which seems to have been lost upon him." Read an interesting te pf De Foe in Sir Walter Scott's Prose Works.