« PreviousContinue »
principally engaged my attention, and touched me with · passing melancholy, were the bloody, yet precious spoils of the two greatest heroes the north ever produced. What I mean are the clothes in which the great Gustavus Adolphus and the intrepid Charles XII died, by a fate not unusual to kings. The first, if I remember, is a sort of a buff waistcoat, made antique fashion, very plain, and without the least ornaments; the second, which was even more remarkable, consisted only of a coarse blue cloth coat, a large hat of less value, a shirt of coarse linen, large boots, and buff gloves made to cover a great part of the arm. His saddle, his pistols, and his sword, have nothing in them remarkable, the meanest soldier was in this respect no way inferior to his gallant monarchi. I shall use this opportunity to give you some particulars of the life of a man already so well known, which I had from persons who knew him when a child, and who now, by a fate not unusual to courtiers, spend a life of poverty and retirement, and talk over in raptures all the actions of their old victorious king, companion, and master.
Courage and inflexible constancy formed the basis of this monarch's character. In his tenderest years he gave instances of both. When he was yet scarcely seven years old, being at dinner with the queen his mother, intending to give a bit of bread to a great dog he was fond of, this hungry animal snapt too greedily at the morsel, and bit his hand in a terrible manner. The wound bled copiously, but our young / hero, without offering to cry, or taking the least notice of his misfortune, endeavoured to conceal what had happened, lest his dog should be brought into trouble, and wrapped his bloody hand in the napkin. The queen perceiving that he did not eat, asked him the reason. He contented himself with replying, that le thanked her, he was not hungry. They thought he was taken ill, and so repeated their solicitations. Bui
all was in vain, though the poor child was already grown pale with the loss of blood. An officer who attended at table, at last perceived it; for Charles would sooner have died than betrayed his dog, who he knew intended 1 no injury.
At another time when in the small-pox, and his case appeared dangerous, he grew one day very uneasy in i his bed, and a gentleman who watched him, desirous of covering him up close, received from the patient a violent box on his ear. Some hours after, observing the prince more calm, he entreated to know how he had incurred his displeasure, or what he had done to have merited a blow. A blow, replied Charles, I don't remember any thing of it; I remember, indeed, that I thought myself in the battle of Arbela, fighting for Darius, where I gave Alexander a blow, which brought him to the ground.
What great effects might not these two qualities of courage and constancy have produced, had they at first - received a just direction! Charles, with proper in
structions, thus naturally disposed, would have been the delight and the glory of his age. Happy those princes, who are educated by men who are at once virtuous and wise, and have been for some time in the school of affliction; who weigh happiness against glory, and teach their royal pupils the real value of fame; who are ever showing the superior dignity of man to that of royalty ; that a peasant who does his duty is a nobler character than a king even of middling reputation. Happy, I say, were princes, could such men be found to instruct them; but those to whom such an education is generally intrusted, are men who themselves have acted in a sphere too high to know mankind. Puffed up themselves with the ideas of false grandeur, and measuring merit by adventitious circumstances of greatness, they generally communicate those fatal prejudices to their pupils, confirm their pride by
adulation, or encrease their ignorance by teaching them to despise that wisdom which is found among the poor.
But not to moralize when I only intend a story; what is related of the journies of this prince is no less astonishing. He has sometimes been on horseback for four and twenty hours successively, and thus traversed. the greatest part of his kingdom. At last none of his officers were found capable of following him; he thus consequently rode the greatest part of his journies quite alone, without taking a moment's repose, and without any other subsistence but a bit of bread. In one of these rapid courses he underwent an adventure singular enough. Riding thus post one day, all alone he had the misfortune to have his horse fall dead under him. This might have embarrassed an ordinary man, but it gave Charles no sort of uneasiness. Sure of finding another horse, but not equally so of meeting with a good saddle and pistols, he ungirds his horse, claps the whole equipage on his own back, and thus accoutred marches on to the next inn, which by good fortune was not far off. Entering the stable, he here found a horse entirely to his mind; so, without further ceremony, he clapped on his saddle and housing with great composure, and was just going to mount, when the gentleman, who owned the horse, was apprized of a stranger's going to steal his property out of the stable. Upon asking the king, whom he had never seen, bluntly, how he presumed to meddle with his horse, Charles coolly replied, squeezing in his lips which was his usual custom, that he took the horse because he wanted one; for you see, continued he, if I have none, I shall be obliged to carry the saddle myself This answer did not seem at all satisfactory to the gentleman, who instantly drew his sword. In this the king was not much behind hand with him, and to it they were going, when the guards by this time came
up, and testified that surprize which was natural to see arms in the hand of a subject against his king. Imagine whether the gentleman was.less surprised than they at his unpremeditated disobedience. His 7 astonishment, however, was soon dissipated by the king, who taking him by the hand, assured him he was a brave fellow, and himself would take care he should be provided for. This promise was afterwards fulfilled; and I have been assured the king made him a captain.
HAPPINESS, IN A GREAT MEASURE, DEPENDENT ON
WHEN I reflect on the unambitious retirement in which I passed the earlier part of my life in the country, I cannot avoid feeling some pain in thinking that those happy days are never to return. In that retreat all nature seemed capable of affording pleasure; I then made no refinements on happiness, but could be pleased with the most aukward efforts of rustic mirth; thought cross-purposes the highest stretch of human wit, and questions and commands the most rational amusement for spending the evening. Happy could so charming an illusion still continue. I find age and knowledge only contribute to sour our dispositions. My present enjoyments may
be more refined, but they are infinitely less pleasing. - The pleasure Garrick gives can no way compare to
that I have received from a country wag, who imi- tated a quaker's sermon. The music of Matei is dis
sonance to what I felt when our old dairy-maid sung me into tears with Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night, or the Cruelty of Barbara Allen.
Writers of every age have endeavoured to show that pleasure is in us, and not in the objects offered for our amusement. If the soul be happily disposed, every thing becomes a subject of entertainment, and distress will almost want a name. Every occurrence passes in review like the figures of a procession; some may be aukward, others ill-dressed; but none but a fool is for this enraged with the master of the ceremonies.
I remember to have once seen a slave in a fortifica. Ition in Flanders, who appeared no way touched with
his situation. He was maimed, deformed, and chained; obliged to toil from the appearance of day till nightfall, and condemned to this for life; yet, with all these circumstances of apparent wretchedness, he sung, would have danced, but that he wanted a leg, and apbeared the merriest, happiest man of all the garrison. What a practical philosopher was here! A happy constitution supplied philosophy, and though seemingly destitute of wisdom, he was really wise. No reading or study had contributed to disenchant the fairy land around him. Every thing furnished him with an opportunity of mirth; and though some thought him from his insensibility a fool, he was such an idiot as philosophers might wish in vain to imitate.
They, who like him can place themselves on that side of the world, in which every thing appears in a ridiculous or pleasing light, will find something in every la occurrence to excite their good-humour. The most calamitous events, either to themselves or others, can bring no new affliction; the whole world is to them ab theatre, on which comedies only are acted. All the bustle of heroism, or the rants of ambition, serve only to heighten the absurdity of the scene, and make the humour more poignant. They feel, in short, as little