Page images

proper to be asked." "That's a right distinction, Trim," said my uncle Toby. "I was answered, an' please your honour, that he had no servant with him; that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, upon finding himself unable to proceed, (to join, I suppose, the regiment,) he had dismissed the morning after he came. 'If I get better, my dear,' said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man, 'we can hire horses from hence.' 'But, alas! the poor gentleman will never get from hence,' said the landlady to me, 'for I heard the death-watch all night long; and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with him, for he is brokenhearted already.'

"I was hearing this account," continued the corporal, "when the youth came into the kitchen to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of; but I will do it for my father myself,' said the youth. 'Pray let me save you the trouble, young gentleman,' said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my chair to sit down upon by the fire whilst I did it. "I believe, sir,' said he very modestly, I can please him best myself.' 'I am sure,' said I, 'his honour will not like the toast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier.' The youth took hold of my hand and instantly burst into tears." "Poor youth!" said my uncle Toby, "he has been bred up from an infant in the army, and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears like the name of a friend: I wish I had him here."

[ocr errors]

I never, in the longest march," said the corporal, " had so great a mind to my dinner as I had to cry with him for company. What could be the matter with me, an' please your honour?" "Nothing in the world, Trim," said my uncle Toby, blowing his nose; "but that thou art a good-natured fellow."

"When I gave him the toast," continued the corporal, "I thought it was proper to tell him I was Captain Shandy's servant, and that your honour (though a stran ger) was extremely concerned for his father; and that if there was anything in your house or cellar, ("and thou mightst have added my purse too," said my uncle Toby,) he was heartily welcome to it; he made a very low bow, (which was meant to your honour,) but no answer-for his heart was full-so he went up stairs with the toast. I warrant you, my dear,' said I, as I opened the kitchen door, 'your father will be well again.' Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire, but said not a word, good or bad, to comfort the youth. I thought it was wrong," added the corporal. "I think so too," said my uncle Toby.

"When the lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen to let me know, that in about ten minutes he should be glad if I would step up stairs. 'I believe,' said the landlord, 'he is going to say his prayers, for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bedside; and as I shut the door I saw his son take up a cushion.'

"I thought,' said the curate, 'that you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, never said your prayers at all.' 'I heard the poor gentleman say his prayers last night,' said the landlady, 'very devoutly, and with my own ears, or I could not have believed it.' 'Are you sure of it?' replied the curate. 'A soldier, an' please your reverence,' said I, 'prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson; and when he is fighting for his king and for his own life, and for his honour too, he has the most reason to pray to God of any one in the whole world.'" ""Twas well said of thee, Trim," said my uncle Toby. "But when a soldier,' said I, 'an' please your reverence, has been standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in cold water, or engaged,' said I, 'for months together in long and dangerous marches; harassed, perhaps, in his rear to-day; harassing others to-morrow; detached here countermanded there; resting this night upon his arms; beat up in his shirt the next; benumbed in his joints; perhaps without straw in his tent to

[ocr errors]

kneel on; he must say his prayers how and when he can. I believe,' said I, 'for I was piqued,' quoth the corporal, for the reputation of the army, I believe, an't please your reverence,' said I, 'that when a soldier gets time to pray, he prays as heartily as a parson, though not with all his fuss and hypocrisy.'" "Thou shouldst not have said that, Trim," said my uncle Toby, "for God only knows who is a hypocrite, and who is not. At the great and general review of us all, corporal, at the day of judgment, (and not till then,) it will be seen who have done their duties in this world and who have not; and we shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly." "I hope we shall," said Trim. "It is in the Scripture," said my uncle Toby," and I will show it thee to-morrow. In the mean time we may depend upon it, Trim, for our comfort," said my uncle Toby, "that God Almighty is so good and just a governor of the world, that if we have but done our duties in it, it will never be inquired into whether we have done them in a red coat or a black one." "I hope not," said the corporal. "But go on, Trim," said my uncle Toby, "with thy story."

"When I went up," continued the corporal, "into the lieutenant's room, which I did not do till the expiration of the ten minutes, he was lying in his bed with his head raised upon his hand, with his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean white cambric handkerchief beside it :-The youth was just stooping down to take up the cushion upon which I supposed he had been kneeling-the book was laid upon the bed, and as he rose in taking up the cushion with one hand, he reached out his other to take it away at the same time. Let it remain there, my dear,' said the lieutenant.

"He did not offer to speak to me, till I had walked up close to his bedside:-'If you are Captain Shandy's servant,' said he, 'you must present my thanks to your master, with my little boy's thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me, if he was of Leven's',-said the lieutenant.-I told him your honour was.-Then,' said he, 'I served three campaigns with him in Flanders, and remember him-but 'tis most likely, as I had not the honour of any acquaintance with him, that he knows nothing of me.-You will tell him, however, that the person his good nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fevre, a lieutenant in Angus's-but he knows me not,' said he, a second time, musing;-'possibly he may my story'— added he, 'pray tell the captain, I was the ensign at Breda whose wife was most unfortunately killed with a musket-shot, as she lay in my arms in my tent.'--' I remember the story, an't please your honour,' said I, 'very well.'-'Do you so ?' said he, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief, then well may I.'-In saying this, he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black riband about his neck, and kissed it twice. 'Here, Billy,' said he, the boy flew across the room to the bedside, and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in his hand, and kissed it too-then kissed his father, and sat down upon the bed, and wept.”

"I wish," said my uncle Toby with a deep sigh,-"I wish, Trim, I was asleep." "Your honour," replied the corporal, ❝is too much concerned ;-shall I pour your honour out a glass of sack to your pipe?"-"Do, Trim," said my uncle Toby.

"I remember," said my uncle Toby, sighing again, "the story of the ensign and his wife, with a circumstance his modesty omitted, and particularly well that he, as well as she, upon some account or other, (I forget what,) was universally pitied by the whole regiment ;-but finish the story thou art upon : """Tis finished already," said the corporal,-" for I could stay no longer, so wished his honour good night: young Le Fevre rose from off the bed, and saw me to the bottom of the stairs; and as we went down together, told me, they had come from Ireland, and were on their route to join their regiment in Flanders.—But alas!" said the corporal, "the

lieutenant's last day's march is over."-"Then what is to become of his poor boy?" cried my uncle Toby.

It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honour, though I tell it only for the sake of those, who, when cooped in betwixt a natural and a positive law, know not for their souls which way in the world to turn themselves-that notwithstanding my uncle Toby was warmly engaged at that time in carrying on the siege of Dendermond, parallel with the allies, who pressed theirs on so vigorously that they scarce allowed him time to get his dinner-that nevertheless he gave up Dendermond, although he had already made a lodgment upon the counterscarp; and bent his whole thoughts towards the private distresses at the inn; and except that he ordered the garden-gate to be bolted up, by which he might be said to have turned the siege of Dendermond into a blockade he left Dendermond to itself,-to be relieved or not by the French king as the French king thought good; and only considered how he himself should relieve the poor lieutenant and his son.

That kind Being, who is a friend to the friendless, shall recompense thee for this. "Thou hast left this matter short," said my uncle Toby to the corporal as he was putting him to bed,-" and I will tell thee in what, Trim.—In the first place, when thou madest an offer of my services to Le Fevre,-as sickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knewest he was but a poor lieutenant, with a son to subsist as well as himself out of his pay,-that thou didst not make an offer to him of my purse; because, had he stood in need, thou knowest, Trim, he had been as welcome to it as myself."-"Your honour knows," said the corporal, "I had no orders ;"—"True," quoth my uncle Toby, "thou didst very right, Trim, as a soldier, -but certainly very wrong as a man."

"In the second place, for which, indeed, thou hast the same excuse," continued my uncle Toby, "when thou offeredst him whatever was in my house, thou shouldst have offered him my house too. A sick brother officer should have the best quarters, Trim, and if we had him with us, we could tend and look to him thou art an excellent nurse thyself, Trim, and what with thy care of him, and the old woman's, and his boy's, and mine together, we might recruit him again at once, and set him upon his legs

[ocr errors]

"In a fortnight or three weeks," added my uncle Toby, smiling, "he might march." "He will never march, an' please your honour, in this world," said the corporal :--" He will march," said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off:-"An' please your honour," said the corporal, “he will never march but to his grave:" "He shall march," cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advancing an inch,-" he shall march to his regiment."-" He cannot stand it," said the corporal.-" He shall be supported," said my uncle Toby.-"He'll drop at last," said the corporal," and what will become of his boy?"-"He shall not drop," said my uncle Toby, firmly.-"Ah, well-a-day, do what we can for him," said Trim, maintaining his point, "the poor soul will die :"-" He shall not die, by G―d,” cried my uncle Toby.

The accusing spirit, which flew up to heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in-and the recording angel, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.

My uncle Toby went to his bureau, put his purse into his breeches pocket, and having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician, he went to bed and fell asleep.

The sun looked bright the morning after to every eye in the village but Le Fevre's and his afflicted son's; the hand of death pressed heavy upon his eye-lids, and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle,-when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant's

room, and, without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair, by the bedside, and independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have done it, and asked him how he did, -how he had rested in the night,-what was his complaint,—where was his pain, -and what he could do to help him?-and without giving him time to answer any one of the inquiries, went on and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal, the night before, for him.

"You shall go home directly, Le Fevre," said my uncle Toby, "to my house, and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter, and we'll have an apothecary,— and the corporal shall be your nurse; and I'll be your servant, Le Fevre."

There was a frankness in my uncle Toby, not the effect of familiarity, but the cause of it,—which let you at once into his soul and showed you the goodness of his nature; to this, there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him; so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirits of Le Fevre, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel the heart,-rallied back, the film forsook his eyes for a moment, he looked up wishfully in my uncle Toby's face, then cast a look upon his boy, and that ligament, fine as it was, was never broken.

Nature instantly ebbed again,—the film returned to its place, the pulse fluttered -stopped-went on-throbbed-stopped again-moved-stopped-Shall I go on ?-No.



[FRANÇOIS DE BASSOMPIERRE, Marshal of France, was born in Lorraine, in 1579. He was of a noble family, accomplished in martial exercises, and handsome in his person; and it was a natural consequence of these advantages that he was received with the highest favour at the Court of France, which he first visited in 1598. For some thirty years his career was that of a gallant soldier, a successful diplomatist, and a "chartered libertine." But he found time to write accounts of his Embassies, which are curious, though somewhat dull. The most interesting of these productions is a narrative of his Embassy to England, in 1626, which has been ably translated, with notes, by a living writer of eminence. The last twelve years of Bassompierre's life present a dreary contrast to his early adventures. They were spent in prison, at the absolute bidding of the powerful minister of France, Richelieu, whom he had thwarted and offended. His prison hours were employed in the composition of his Memoirs. He was released on the death of the Cardinal, and died three years afterwards, in 1646.]

The origin of the execrable and accursed practice of duelling, which has cost France more noble blood than the loss of twenty battles, is to be traced no farther back than the reign of King Henry the Second; for, before that time, if any difference arose between gentlemen, it was amicably arranged or decided by the decree of the constable and marshals of France, the natural judges of the honour of the nobility; the satisfaction from the aggressor to the offended party being apportioned to the outrage which had been given or received: and if the offence was so great that it could not be atoned for by words, apologies, or imprisonment, or if the disagreement was of so aggravated a nature that the parties could not be reconciled, and no sufficient proofs were to be had of the facts, very rarely, and with great difficulty, they permitted single combat in the lists, with the customary formalities and ceremonies; and if it happened that they discovered malice or insolence in either party, they never failed to adjudge the penalty or chastisement which the crime deserved. No man, therefore, took justice into his own hands, since com

plaints were sure to receive the most equitable compensation possible; and every body put such restraint upon himself and observed such moderation in his deportment, fearing the punishment of any excesses, that it very rarely happened that any such appeal was necessary. Two or three words, inconsiderately uttered at different times by Henry the Second, first opened the door and gave rise to duels; and the devil has since fomented their continuation and progress. One was, "that he did not esteem a man a gentleman who suffered another to give him the lie, without resenting it;" upon which, all to whom that happened came to demand combat in the lists; and the king, finding himself importuned on this point by a multitude of persons, one day asked a man who pressed him, why he came to ask him to do him justice for an offence he had received, when he wore that at his side with which he could do justice to himself? This gentleman, who knew very well what the king meant, immediately wrote a note to the person by whom he thought himself offended, in which he told him that he should expect him in a meadow, in his doublet, armed with a sword and dagger, to give satisfaction for the injury he had done him, and invited him to come similarly armed and equipped, which the other did; and the offended party having killed his enemy, his frank and generous conduct was highly esteemed by all the court; and several nobles having entreated the king to grant him a pardon, his majesty could not in justice refuse it, since he had instigated him to the commission of the crime.

The applause which this first offender received for his offence, and the impunity he enjoyed, inspired others with the desire of imitating him, and in a short time rendered duels so frequent, that the king, who now perceived the importance of the words he had so lightly uttered, was constrained to remedy the evil by severe and rigorous edicts against duelling. These were effectual in checking the spread of them during his reign, that of his eldest son, Francis XI., and part of that of Charles IX. But, as the minorities of the kings and the civil wars opened the door to every kind of disorder and contempt of law-authority, and as the laws of France seldom continue long in force, the edict against duelling was violated, together with many others, though not to any great excess; for public dissensions occupied the nobility so fully, that they had no time to bestow on private ones. Then followed the reign of Henry III., during which duels were not only fought with perfect impunity, but seconds, thirds, and even fourths, were added, in order to make the bloodshed more copious, and the massacres more extensive and complete. The wars of the League, which happened towards the end of this reign, and lasted through the former part of the following, checked or rather diverted the course of this sanguinary mania, until the peace of Vervins, when it broke out with redoubled violence and fury, as King Henry IV. did not apply the necessary remedies for the cure of the evil, either from negligence, or because his attention was diverted by the number of pressing affairs upon his hands. It was even thought that he was not sorry to see his nobility occupied with their own quarrels, which prevented their turning their thoughts against him. At length, however, he wisely took into consideration the number of brave men who were continually lost to the service of his person and his kingdom, and that he was chargeable with their death, which he might have prevented by the abolition of this fatal and tragical custom. Admonished by preachers, and pressed by the parliaments, he applied himself, although late, to correct it by very severe laws; and in the beginning of the year 1609, having assembled the constable, marshals of France, and the principal lords of his council, he issued that very harsh edict against duelling, which he swore, in their presence, to observe religiously, and not to pardon any man soever who might violate it. He made the constable and marshals swear to the like observance of it, giving them fresh and more ample jurisdiction in the affair; and expressly forbade the chancellors and secretaries of state,

« PreviousContinue »