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love, if it had been well employed; but envy is a more unmixed and genuine evil ; it pursues a hateful end by despicable means, and defires not so much its own happiness as another's misery. To avoid depravity like this, it is not necessary that any one should aspire to heroism or fanctity; but only, that he should resolve not to quit the rank which nature afligns, and wish to maintain the dignity of a human being.
SI walked one evening through St Andrew's
Square, I observed a girl, meanly dressed, coming along the pavement at a flow pace.
When I passed her, she turned a little towards me, and made a sort of halt; but said nothing. I went on a few steps before I turned my eye to observe her. She had, by this time, resumed her former pace. I remarked a certain elegance in her form, which the poorness of her garb could not altogether overcome: Her person was thin and genteel, and there was something not ungraceful in the stoop of her head, and the seeming feebleness with which she walked. I could not resist the desire, which her appearance gave me, of knowing somewhat of her situation and circumstances: I therefore walked back, and passed her with such a look as might induce her to speak what she seemed desirous to say at first. This had the effect I wished. — Pity a poor orphan !” said she, in a voice tremulous and weak. I stopped, and put my hand in my pocket : I had now a better opportunity of observing her. Her face was thin and pale ; part of it was shaded by her hair, of a light brown colour, which was parted, in a disordered manner, at her forehead, and hung loose upon her shoulders; round them was cast a piece of tattered cloak, which with one hand she held across her bosom, while the other was half outstretched to receive the bounty I intended for her. Her large blue eyes were cast on the ground : She was drawing back her hand as I put a trifle into it; on receiving which she turned them up to me, muttered something which I could not hear, and then, letting go her cloak, and pressing her hands together, burst into tears.
It was not the action of an ordinary beggar, and my curiosity was strongly excited by it. 'I desired her to follow me to the house of a friend hard by, whose beneficence I have often had occasion to know. When fhe arrived there, she was so fatigued and worn out, that it was not till after some means used to restore her that she was able to give us an account of her misfortunes.
Her name, she told us, was Collins; the place of her birth one of the northern counties of England. Her father, who had died several years ago, left her remaining parent with the charge of her, then a child, and one brother, a lad of seventeen. By his industry, however, joined to that of her mother, they were tolerably supported, their father having died poffefsed of a small farm, with the right of pasturage on an adjoining common, from which they obtained a decent livelihood; that, last summer, her brother having become acquainted with a recruiting serjeant, who was quartered in a neighbouring village, was by him enticed to enlist as a foldier, and soon after marched off, along with some other recruits, to join his regiment: That this, the believed, broke her mother's heart, for she had never afterwards had a day's health, and, at length, had died about three weeks ago : That, immediately after her death, the steward, employed by the 'squire of whom their farm was held, took poffeflion of every thing for
the arrears of their rent: That, as she had heard her brother's regiment was in Scotland when he enlisted, she had wandered thither in quest of him, as she had no other relation in the world to own her! But the found, on arriving there, that the 'regiment had been embarked several months before, and was gone a great way off, she could not tell whither.
« This news," said she, “ laid hold of my heart; " and I have had something wrong here,” putting her hand to her bofom, “ever since. I got a bed and some « victuals in the house of a woman here in town, to “ whom I told my story, and who seemed to pity me. “ I had then a little bundle of things, which I had “ been allowed to take with me after my mother's “ death ; but, the night before laft, somebody stole it “ from me while I slept ; and the woman said she “ would keep me no longer, and turned me out into “ the street, where I have since remained, and am al“ most dying for want."
She was now in better hands ; but our assistance had come too late. A frame, naturally delicate, had yielded to the fatigues of her journey and the hardships of her situation. She declined by flow but uninterrupted degrees, and yesterday breathed her last. A short while before she expired, she asked to see me; and taking from her bosom a little silver locket, which she told me had been her mother's, and which all her distresses could not make her part with, begged I would keep it for her dear brother, and give it him, if ever he should return home, as a token of her remembrance.
I felt this poor girl's fate strongly; but I tell not her story merely to indulge my feelings ; I would make the reflections it may excite in my readers useful to others who may suffer from similar causes.
There are many, fear, from whom their country has called brothers, fons, or fathers, to bleed in her service, forlorn, like poor Nancy Collins, with “ no relation in the world to " own them.” Their sufferings are often unknown, when they are such as most demand compassion. The
mind that cannot obtrude its diftreffes on the ear of pity, is formed to feel their poignancy the deepest.
In our idea of military operations, we are too apt to forget the misfortunes of the people. In defeat, we think of the fall, and in victory, of the glory of commanders; we seldom allow ourselves to consider how many, in a lower rank, both events make wretched ! How many, amidst the acclamations of national triumph, are left to the helpless misery of the widow and the orphan, and, while victory celebrates her festival, feel, in their diftant hovels, the extremities of want and wretchedness!