Imágenes de páginas

seems to me one of the most comfortable circumstances in his lot.

It appears to me a very pernicious mistake, which I have sometimes seen parents guilty of in the education of their children, to encourage and incite in them a haughty and despotic behaviour to their servants; to teach them an early conceit of the difference of their conditions ; to accustom them to consider the fervices of their attendants as perfectly compensated by the wages they receive, and as unworthy of any return of kindness, attention, or complacency,

I was last autumn at my friend Colonel Caustic's. in Scotland, and saw there, on a visit to Miss Caustic, a young gentleman and his fifter, children of a neighbour of the Colonel's, with whose appearance and manner I was particularly pleased.--" The history of their parents,” said my friend, “is somewhat singular, and I love to tell it, as I do every thing that is to the honour of our nature. Man is fo poor a thing taken in the gross, that when I meet with an instance of nobleness in detail, I am glad to reft upon it long, and to recall it often.

6. The father of those young folks, whose looks you were struck with, was a gentleman of considerable domains and extensive influence on the northern frontier of our county. In his youth he lived, as it was then more the fashion than it is now, at the seat of his ancestors, surrounded with Gothic grandeur, and compaffed with feudal followers and dependents, all of whom could trace their connection, at a period more or less remote, with the family of their chief. Every domestic in his house bore the family name, and looked on himself as in a certain degree partaking its dignity, and sharing its fortune. Of these, one was in a particular manner the favourite of his master. Albert Bane had been his companion from his infancy. Of an age so much more advanced as to enable him to be a sort of tutor to his youthful Lord, Albert had early taught


him the rural exercises and rural amusements, in which he was eminently fkilful; he had attended him in the course of his education at home, of his travels abroad, and was still the constant companion of his excursions, and the associate of his sports.

“On one of these occasions, a favourite dog of Albert's, which he had trained himself, and of whole qualities he was proud, happened to mar the sport which his master expected, who, irritated at the disappointment, and having his gun ready cocked in his hand, fired at the animal, which, however, in the violence of his resentment, he miffed. Albert, to whom the dog (Oscar) was as a child, remonftrated against the rasness of the deed, in a manner rather too warm for his master, ruffled as he was with the accident, and conscious of being in the wrong, to bear. In his paffion he struck his faithful attendant; who suffered the indignity in filence, and retiring, rather in grief than in anger, left his native country that very night; and when he reached the nearest town, enlifted with a recruiting party of a regiment then on foreign service. It was in the beginning of the war with France which broke out in 1744, rendered remarkable for the rebellion which the policy of the French court excited, in which some of the first families in the Highlands were unfortunately engaged. Among those who joined the standard of Charles, was the master of Albert.

After the battle of Culloden, fo fatal to that party, this gentleman, along with others who had escaped the flaughter of the field, sheltered himself from the rage of the unsparing foldiery, among the distant receffes of their country. To him his native mountains offered an asylum ; and thither he naturally fled for protection. Acquainted, in the pursuits of the chace, with every secret path and unworn track, he lived for a confiderable time, like the deer of his forest, close hid all day, and only venturing down at the fall of evening, to obtain from some of his cottagers, whose fidelity he


could truft, a feanty and precarious support. I have often heard him, for he' is one of my oldest acquaintances, describe the scene of his hiding-place, at a later period, when he could recollect it in its sublimity, without its horror.--" At times,” said he, « when I ventured to the edge of the wood, among some of those inaccessible crags which you remember a few miles from my house, I have heard, in the pauses of the breeze which rolled suddenly through the pines beneath me, the distant voices of the foldiers, shouting in answer to one another, amidst their inhuman search. I have heard their shots re-echoed from cliff to cliff, and seen reflected from the deep still lake, the gleam of those fires which consumed the cottages of my people. Sometimes shame and indignation had nearly overcome my fear, and I have prepared to rush down the steep, unarmed as I was, and to die at once by the swords of my enemies; but the instinctive love of life prevailed, and starting as the roe bounded by me, I have again Ihrunk back to the shelter I had left.

“ One day,” continued he, “ the noise was nearer than usual ; and, at last, from the cave in which I lay, I heard the parties immediately below so close upon me, that I could distinguish the words they spoke. After some time of horrible suspense, the voices grew weaker and more distant; and at last I heard them die away at the end of the wood. I rose, and stole to the mouth of the cave; when suddenly a dog met me, and gave that short, quick bark by which they indicate their prey.

Amidst the terror of the circumstance, I was yet master enough of myself to discover that the dog was Oscar; and I own to you I felt his appearance like the retribution of justice and of Heaven.-Stand ! cried a threatening voice; and a soldier pressed through the thicket, with his bayonet charged. It was Albert ! Shame, confusion, and remorse, stopped my utterance, and I stood motionless before him.—“My master !" faid he, with the stifled voice of wonder and of fear,


and threw himself at my feet. I had recovered my recollection. You are revenged, faid I, and I am your prisoner.”—“ Revenged! Alas! you have judged too hardly of me;, I have not had one happy day since, that fatal one on which I left my master; but I have lived, I hope, to save him. The party to which I belong are passed ; : for I lingered behind them among those woods and rocks which I remembered so well in happier days. There is, however, no time to be loft. In a few hours this wood will blaze, though they do not suspect that it shelters you. Take my dress, which may help your escape, and I will endeavour to difpofe of yours.' On the coast, to the westward, we have learned there is a small party of your friends, whom, by following the river's track till dusk, and then striking over the shoulder of the hill, you may join without much danger of discovery."-"I felt the disgrace of owing so much to him I had injured, and remonstrated against expofing him to such imminent danger of its being known that he had favoured my escape, which, from the temper of his commander, I knew would be instant death. Albert, in an agony of fear and distress, besought me to think only of my own safety.--"Save us both,” said he, “ for if you die, I cannot live. Perhaps we may meet again; but whatever becomes of Albert, may the blessing of God be with his master !”

Albert's prayer was heard. His master, by the exercise of talents which, though he had always poffeffed, adversity only taught him to use, acquired abroad a station of equal honour and emolument; and when the profcriptions of party had ceased, returned home to his own country, where he found Albert advanced to the rank of a Lieutenant in the army, to which his valour and merit had raised him, married to a lady by whom he had acquired some little fortune, and was the fatherof an only daughter, for whom nature had done much, and to whose native endowments it was the chief study and delight of her parents to add every thing that art


could bestow. The gratitude of the chief was only equalled by the happiness of his follower, whose honest pride was vot long after gratified, by his daughter's becoming the wife of that master whom his generous fidelity had faved. That master, by the clemency of more indulgent and liberal times, was again restored to the domains of his ancestors, and had the satisfaction of seeing the grandson of Albert enjoy the hereditary birthright of his race.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »