« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
“ I am sensible that I am surrounded by a multitude of very worthy people, plain-hearted souls, sincere and kind. But they have hitherto eluded my pursuit, and will continue to 'bless the liude circle of their families and friends, while I must remain a stranger to them.
“ Kept at a distance by mankind, I have not ceased to love them and could I find the cruel persecutor, the malignant instrument of God's judgments on me and mine, I think I would forgive, and try to love him too.
“I have been a quiet sufferer. From the beginning of my calamities it was given to me not to see the hand of man in them. I perceived a mighty arm, which none but myself could see, extended over me. I
gave my heart to the Purifier, and my will to the Sovereign Will of the universe. The irré. sistible wheels of destiny passed on in their everlasting rotation—and I suffered myself to be carried along with them without complaining.”
ALLAN told me, that for some years past, feeling himself disengaged from every personal tie, but not alienated from human sympathies, it had been his taste, his humour he called it, to spend a great portion of his time in hospitals and lazarhouses.
He had found a wayward pleasure, he refused to name it a virtue, in tending a description of people, who had long ceased to expect kindness or friendliness from mankind, but were content to accept the reluctant services, which the oftentimes unfeeling instruments and servants of these well-meant institutions deal out to the poor sick people under their care.
It is not medicine, it is not broths and coarse meats, served up at a stated hour with all the hard formalities of a prisonit is not the scanty dole of a bed to die on-which dying man requires from his species.
Looks, attentions, consolations, in a word, sympathies, are what a man most needs in this awful close of mortal suffer ings. A kind look, a smile, a drop of cold water to the parched lip-for these things a man shall bless you in death.
And these better things than cordials did Allan love to ad. minister—to stay by a bedside the whole day, when some thing disgusting in a patient's distemper has kept the very nurses at a distance-to sit by, while the poor wretch got a Jittle sleep—and be there to smile upon him when he awoke --to slip a guinea, now and then, into the hands of a nurse or attendant-these things have been to Allan as privileges, for which he was content to live, choice marks, and circumstances of his Maker's goodness to him.
And I do not know whether occupations of this kind be not a spring of purer and nobler delight (certainly instances of a more disinterested virtue) than arises from what are called friendships of sentiment.
Between two persons of liberal education, like opinions, and common feelings, oftentimes subsists a vanity of sentiment, which disposes each to look upon the other as the only being in the universe worthy of friendship, or capable of understanding it—themselves they consider as the solitary receptacles of all that is delicate in feeling or stable in attachment: when the odds are, that under every green hill, and in every crowded street, people of equal worth are to be found, who do more good in their generation, and make less noise in the doing of
It was in consequence of these benevolent propensities I have been describing, that Allan oftentimes discovered considerable inclinations in favour of my way of life, which I have before mentioned as being that of a surgeon. He would frequently attend me on my visits to patients; and I began to think that he had serious intentions of niaking my profession his study.
He was present with me at a scene-a deathbed scene- shudder when I do but think of it.
I was sent for the other morning to the assistance of a gentleman who had been wounded in a duel, and his wounds by unskilful treatment had been brought to a dangerous crisis.
The uncommonness of the name, which was Matravis, sug. gested to me that this might possibly be no other than Allan's old enemy. Under this apprehension, I did what I could to dissuade Allan from accompanying me--but he seemed bent upon going, and even pleased himself with the notion, that it might lie within his ability to do the unhappy man some serVie. So he went with me.
When we came to the house, which was in Soho-square, we discovered that it was indeed the man, the identical Matravis, who had done all that mischief in times past—but not in a condition to excite any other sensation than pity in a heart more hard than Allan's.
Intense pain had brought on a delirium—we perceived this on first entering the room--for the wretched man was raving to himself-talking idly in niad unconnected sentences, that yet seemed, at times, to have reference to past facts.
One while he told us his dream. “He had lost his way on a great heath, to which there seemed no end—it was cold, cold, cold--and dark, very dark--an old woman in leadingstrings, blind, was groping about for a guide ;" and then he frightened me, for he seemed disposed to be jocular, and sang a song about “ an old woman clothed in gray,” and said “he did not believe in a devil.”
Presently he bid us “not tell Allan Clare.” Allan was hanging over him at that very moment, sobbing. I could not resist the impulse, but cried out, “ This is Allan Clare-Allan Clare is come to see you, my dear sir.” The wretched man did not hear me, I believe, for he turned his head away, and began talking of charnel-houses and dead inen, " whether they knew anything that passed in their coffins."
Matravis died that night.
To comfort the desponding parent with the thought that, without diminishing the stock which is imperiously demanded to furnish the more pressing and homely wants of our nature, he has disposed of one or more perhaps out of a numerous offspring, under the shelter of a care scarce less tender than the paternal, where not only their bodily cravings shall be supplied, but that mental pabulum is also dispensed, which He haih declared to be no less necessary to our sustenance who said, that “not by bread alone man can live;" for this Christ's Hospital unfolds her bounty. Here neither, on the one hand, are the youth lifted up above their family, which we must suppose liberal, though reduced ; nor, on the other hand, are they liable to be depressed below its level by the mean habits and sentiments which a common charity-school generates. It is, in a word, an institution to keep those who have yet held up their heads in the world from sinking; to keep alive the spirit of a decent household, when poverty was in danger of crushing it; to assist those who are the most willing, but not always the most able, to assist themselves; to separate a child from his family for a season, in order to render him back hereafter with feelings and habits more congenial to it than he could have attained by remaining at home in the bosom of it. It is a preserving and renovating principle, an antidote for the res angusta domi, when it presses, as it always does, most heavily upon the most ingenuous natures.
This is Christ's Hospital; and whether its character would be improved by confining its advantages to the very lowest of the people, let those judge who have witnessed the looks, the gestures, the behaviour, the manner of their play with one another, their deportment towards strangers, the whole aspect and physiognomy of that vast assemblage of boys on the Lon
don foundation, who freshen and make alive again with their sports the else mouldering cloisters of the old Gray Friarswhich strangers who have never witnessed, if they pass through Newgate-street, or by Smithfield, would do well to go a little out of their way to see.
For the Christ's Hospital boy feels that he is no charity-boy ; he feels it in the antiquity and regality of the foundation to which he belongs; in the usage which he meets with at school, and the treatment he is accustomed to out of its bounds; in the respect, and even kindness, which his well-known garb never fails to procure him in the streets of the metropolis ; he feels it in his education, in that measure of classical attainments, which every individual at that school, though not destined to a learned profession, has it in his power to procure; attainments, which it would be worse than folly to put it in the reach of the labouring classes to acquire : he feels it in the numberless comforts, and even magnificences, which surrounded him ; in his old and awful cloisters, with their traditions ; in his spacious schoolrooms, and in the well-ordered, airy, and losty rooms where he sleeps ; in his stately dining-hall, hung round with pictures, by Verrio, Lely, and others, one of them surpassing in size and grandeur almost any other in the kingdom ;* above all, in the very extent and magnitude of the body to which he belongs, and the consequent spirit, the intelligence, and public conscience, which is the result of so many various yet wonderful combining members. Compared with this last-named advantage, what is the stock of information, (I do not here speak of book-learning, but of that knowl. cdge which boy receives from boy,) the mass of collected opinions, the intelligence in common, among the few and narrow members of an ordinary boarding-school.
The Christ's Hospital or blue-coat boy has a distinctive character of his own, as far removed from the abject qualities of a common charity-boy as it is from the disgusting forwardness of a lad brought up at some other of the public schools. There is pride in it, accumulated from the circumstances which I have described as differencing him from the former ; and there is a restraining modesty, from a sense of obligation and dependance, which must ever keep his deportment from assimilating to that of the latter. His very garb, as it is antique and venerable, feeds his self-respect; as it is a badge of dependance, it restrains the natural petulance of that age from breaking out into overt acts of insolence. This produces si.
By Verrio, representing James the Second on his throne, surrounded by his courtiers, (all curious portraits,) receiving the mathematical pupils at their nnual presentation, a custom still kept up on Newyear's day at court.