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A MORAL TALE; BY THE WANDERER.
" Α χαρις ευγενεων, χαρις α βασιληιδος αρχας,
“ The boast of heraldry ; the pomp of power,
DEDICATION TO THE INHABITANTS OF AMERICA.
Inhabitants of the United States,
When a wanderer, in ancient times, happened to reach the confines of Scythia, if he entered the tent of one of the chiefs of that nation, and implored protection, the chief took him under the shadow of his wing, and sheltered him from harm; till time and the hour had shewn, whether or not the stranger was likely to prove an acqusition of benefit to the country, which had taken him into her bosom.
If the stranger's conduct was praise-worthy, he was received and honoured as a citizen; if not, he was driven out from Scythia with disgrace. In either case the chief was applauded for having afforded to his country the opportunity of being benefited.
May I be allowed to claim the protection of the inhabitants of America to be extended to this little tale, on the same terms, that the stranger, of old, claimed it from the Scythian chief? If there be any thing just, or honourable, or useful, or of good report in it, will the people of America gild it with the rays of their patronage ? If it be a thing of nought, let them leave it to sink in the shades of everlasting night, as though it had never been.
The route of Edward through the highlands of Scotland, as far as relates to the scenery of the country, is correct, and described from actual observation on the spot. The decription of this route appeared in print, on the other side of the Atlantic, while the WanVOL.I.
derer was yet a beardless boy ; but as that book contained much extraneous matter, and was, also, objectionable in some parts, and has been long since out of print, it is presumed that I may be suffered to present the chief incidents of that perambulation, to the reader, in a more compressed form, without incurring the charge of needlessly obtruding upon the public, that which is already open to their inspection.
All the parts of the work, excepting those, which describe the fair face of nature, are to be considered as appertaining to a moral tale, that is, a fictitious narrative, delineating human characters, and appealing to the human heart.
Inhabitants of America,
And devoted well-wisher,
MOTTO FOR THE TALE.
And yet poor Edward was no vulgar boy,
Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene
CHAPTER I. Edward's birth-His mode of training-A drowned woman-A pie woman's opinion of the last day-Edward, his tutor and globes -Edward's tutor dismissed-Edward's first interview with Mary—Their mutual love-A little poem-Edward leaves Mary Their last interview-A consultation of physicians-Letter from Mary to Edward.
EDWARD was a younger son of an ancient family in England; his mother died, while he was yet in early infancy. His elder brother who was some years older than him, being, according to the law of primogeniture and entail prevailing in Britain, to succeed to the hereditary estate, was, of course, trained up in the ordinary mode of breeding the elder branches of aristocratic houses ; that is, he was very soon made to understand, that he was born to rank and fortune, and that it was not necessary for him to know any thing else than how to perform the exterior of a gentleman ; to live in splendour, to maintain an ostentatious establishment, to provide an heir for the family estate, to sleep in the vault of all his ancestors, and to be speedily forgotten.
As he was much older than Edward, his intercourse with his brother was very little, and soon faded into nothing. It was necessary, however, to give Edward an education, which might fit him for some active employment. Edward's father was an accomplished scholar and a finished gentleman; he had been, himself, a younger son, and came to the family estate by the death of the elder branches of the house ; he determined to train Edward up for public life, and give him an ample range of knowledge. For this purpose he kept a clergyman of the English church in his house to officiate in the capacity of Edward's tutor. This ecclesiastic was deemed to be a good scholar, that is, he knew the Latin and Greek tongues pretty accurately, and was well versed in the theology of his own particular sect.
It was the express injunction of Edward's father, that the boy should be induced to learn by mild and gentle treatment. The tutor, however, thought otherwise, and endeavoured to inforce the validity of his precepts by harsh and surly frowns, by magisterial and au
thoritative tones, and the occasional aid of blows; all which produced no other effect on Edward, than to induce so utter a dislike of all learning, that at the age of five years he, literally, could not repeat the alphabet. Edward's father being much engaged in public life, was seldom at home, and, consequently, saw but little of his child. In the commencement of Edward's sixth year his father came down to the family mansion to spend the summer months in the country. Soon after his arrival he inquired into the state of Edward's intellectual progress, and was informed by the tutor that the boy was such an incorrigibie dunce and blockhead, that it was impossible to make him comprehend even the first rudiments of education. He questioned the tutor as to his mode of instructing, and found, that it was rather calculated to inspire the child with meanness and with fear, than to expand his mind and to render his heart benevolent.
He therefore desired, that the experiment of gentleness might be tried, and taking care, himself, to superintend the ecclesiastic, and to sooth the boy with kindness, he speedily planted in Edward's bosom a desire for the attainment of knowledge, which was never afterwards eradicated. In the course of a single month Edward could read English fluently, and entered on the study of the Latin tongue. His tutor now saw where his power over his pupil lay, and by kindness led him on rapidly through the fields of improvement. Indeed, his life was now one continued round of instruction; his time being chiefly spent in reading, or in rambling about his father's domains, and asking questions concerning every object which he saw.
An impetuosíty of temper, and a quickness in discerning the weakness of the character of others, without guarding himself from danger, and a romantic, untempered generosity, together with too boundless a confidence in the virtue of others, were soon observed to be the principal features of Edward's mind.
This character was formed chiefly by the mode, in which the few first years of his life were passed. His father's uniform kindness, and earnest care to give him an early taste for the charms of nature, rendered his heart full of sensibility and always alive to the calls of compassion and affection; while it made him impatient of restraint, and full of indignation when treated harshly by others.
While yet in his sixth year Edward, one morning, took an opportunity of sallying forth into a neighbouring village ; and, seeing a great crowd assembled on the banks of a river, thitherward directed his steps. When he had made his way to the foremost
row of the people, he saw, lying extended on the grass, a middleaged woman, of a large size, dead; her countenance was pale and emaciated; her eyes were open, and starting forward from their sockets, and the ghastly smile of death upon her livid lips was rendered more impressive by a light circle of foam, which lay round her mouth : this woman had been recently drowned. Edward shrieked fearfully at the sight of this dead corpse, and was soon carried home by some of the mob, who recognized his person.
When he arrived at home his father inquired into the cause of his terror; and, gently, raised his courage, and dispelled his fears, by making him comprehend that a dead corpse could not possibly do him any injury. When Edward's alarm had subsided, his father took him by the hand, and led him out on the terrace before the house, and, sitting down on a rude rural seat, which commanded the view of a lovely country, rich with cultivation and adorned with verdure, thus addressed him.
“ Edward, that poor creature, whom you saw lying dead on the banks of the river, was a woman, whose intellect was below the common standard ; it should always be the pride of man, his chief ornament and grace, to protect and to be kind to the female sex, and particularly so when they are more than ordinarily weak and helpless; as was the case with this wretched woman. This female lived in the house of her brother, who was a mechanic in that village, which you see spread out in the valley beneath your feet. A distant relation in London left this woman a little property, which her brother wished to convert to his own use. He, therefore systematically starved his sister, by denying her all access to food in his own house, so that she was compelled to roam the streets at night, and pick up any scanty offall, which might have been thrown out of the doors of the cottagers. The decay of her frame, however, did not keep pace with his impatience for her death ; and, last night, he dragged her down to the river yonder, and there drowned her. He forced her into a shallow part of the stream, where the water was scarcely sufficient to cover her face as he held her down.
It was midnight, all around was hushed, save that the sullen gale brought slowly on the wind the solemn tolling of the village clock, as it sounded the knell of the departed day; and, now and then, at unfrequent intervals, the hoarse baying of the watch-dog's distant growl rolled its faint murmurings on his ear, when this unrelenting fiend performed the work of death upon the daughter of his mother. Beneath the pale glimmering of the moon, whose