« AnteriorContinuar »
This surgeon, whose name I have forgot, though I remember it began with an R, had the first character in his profession and was serjeant-surgeon to the : king. He had moreover many good, qualities, and was a very generous, good-natured man, and ready to do any service to his fellowcreatures. He offered his patient the use of his chariot to carry him to his inn, and at the same time whispered in his ear, that if he wanted any money, he would furnish him.
The poor man was not now capable of returning thanks for this generous offer: for having had his eyes 'for some time stedfastly on me, he threw himself back in his chair, crying: „0, my son! my son!” and then sainted away..
Many of the people present imagined this accident had happened through his loss of blood; but I, who at the same time began to recollect the features of my father, was, now confirmed in my suspicion, and satisfied that it was he himself who appeared before me. I presently rap to him, raised him in my arms, and kissed his cold lips with the utmost eagerness. Here I must draw ai curtain over a scene which I cannot describe :: for though I did not lose my being, as my father for a while did, my senses were however so overpowered with affright and surprise, that I am a stranger to what passed during some minutes, and indeed till my father had again recovered from his swoon; and I found myself in his arms, both tenderly embracing each other, while the tears trickled apace down the cheeks of each of us.
Most of those present seemed affected by this scene, which we, who might be considered as the actors in it, were desirous of removing from the eyes of all spectators as fast
we could; my father therefore accepted the kind offer of the surgeon's chariot, and I attended him in it to his inn. When we
were alone together, he gently upbraided me with having neglected to write to him during so long a time; but entirely omitted the mention of that crime which had occasioned it. He then informed me of my mother's death, and insisted on my returning home with him, saying: „, that „he had long suffered the greatest anxiety on my account; that he knew not whether he had most feared my death or wished it; since he had so many more dreadful apprehen„sions for me. At last he said, a neighbouring gentleman, who had just recovered a son from the same place, informed bim were I was; and that to reclaim me from this
course of life, was the sole cause of his journey to Lon, don." . He thanked heaven he had succeeded so far as to find me out by means of an accident which had like to have proved fatal to him; and had the pleasure to think he partly owed his preservation to my humanity, with which he professed himself to be more delighted than he should have been with my filial piety, if I had known that the object of all my care was my own father.
Vice had not' so depraved my heart, as to excite in it an insensibility of so much paternal affection, though so unworthily bestowed. I presently promised to 'cbey his commands in my return home with him, as soon as he was able to travel, which indeed he was in a very few days, by the assistance of that excellent surgeon who had undertaken
The day preceding my father's journey (before which time I scarce ever left him) I went to take my leave of some of my most intimate acquaintance, particularly of Mr. Watson, who dissuaded me from burying myself, as he called it, out of a simple compliance with the fond desires of a foolish old fellow. Such solicitations, however, had no effect, and I once more saw my own home. My father now greatly solicited me to think of marriage; but my inclinations were utterly averse to any such thoughts. I had tasted of love | already, and perhaps you know the extravagant excesses of that most tender and most violent passion,
Being now provided with all the necessaries of life, I hetook myself one again to study', and that with a more ordinate application than 1 had ever done formerly. The books which now employed my time. solely were those, as well ancient as modern, which treat of true philosophy, a word which is by many thought to be the subject only of farce and ridicule. I now read over the works of Aristotle and Plato, with the rest of those inestimable treasures which ancieni Greece hath bequeathed to the world.
To this I added another study, compared to which all the philosophy taught by the wisest heathens is little better than a dream, and is indeed as full of vanity as the silliest jester ever pleased to represent it. This is that divine wisdom which is alone to be found in the holy scriptures: for those impart to as the knowledge and assurance of thinks much more worthy our altention, than all which this world can
offer to our acceptance of things which heaven itself hath condescended to reveal to us, and to the smallest knowledge of which the highest human wit unassisted could never ascend. I began now, to think all the time I had spent with the best, heathen writers, was little more than labour lost: for however pleasant and delightful their lessons may be, or however adequate to the right regulation of our conduct with respect to this world only, yet, when compared with the glory revealed in scripture, their highest documents will appear as trifling, and of as little consequence as the rules by which children regulate their childish little games and pastime. True it is, that philosophy makes us wiser, but christianity makes as better men: Philosophy elevates and steels the mind, christianity softens and sweetens it: The former makes us the objects of human admiration, the latter of divine love. That insures us a temporal, but this an eternal happiness
I had spent about four years in the most delightful manner to myself, totally given up to contemplation, and entirely unembarrassed with the affairs of the world, when I lost the best of fathers, and one whom I so entirely loved, that
my grief at his loss exceeds all description.. I now abandoned my books, and gave myself up for a whole month to the efforts of melancholy and despair. Time, however, the best physician of the mind, at length brought me relief. I then betook myself again to my former studies, which I may say perfected my cure: for philosophy and religion may be called the exercises of the mind, and, when this is disordered, they are as wholesome as exercise can be to a distempered body. They do indeed produce similar effects with exercise: for they strengthen and confirm the mind; till man becomes, in the noble strain of Horace,
Fortis, et in seipso totus teres atque rotundus,
Der Weise, der
Horat. Sat. II. 7. 88. ff.
My circumstances were now greatly altered by the death of that best of men: for my brother, who was now become master of the house, differed so widely from me in his in clinations, and our pursuits in life had been so very various, that we were the worst of company to each other; but what made our living together still more disagreeable, was the little harmony which could subsist between the few who resorted to me,
and the numerous train of sportsmen who often attended my brother from the field to the table: for such fellows, besides the noise and nonsense with which they persecute the ears of saber men, endeavour always to attack them with affront and contempt. This was so much the case, that neither I myself, nor my friends,''could over sit down to a meal with them, without being treated with derision, because we were unacquainted with the phrases of sportsmen. For men of true learning, and almost universal knowledge, always compassionate the ignorance of others; but fellows who excel in some little, low, contemptible art, are always certain to despise those who are unacquainted with that art.
In short, we soon separated, and I went by the advice of a physician to drink the Bath") waters: for my violent affliction, added to a sedentary life, bad thrown me into a kind of paralytic disorder, for which those waters are accounted an almost certain cure. The second day after my arrival, as I was walking by the river, the sun shone so intensely hot, (though it was early in the year) that I retired to the shelter of some willows, and sat down by the riverside. Here I had not been seated long, before I heard a' person on the other side of the Willows, sighing and bemoaning himself bitterly. On a sudden, having uttered a most impious oath, he cried: „I am resolved to bear it no longer," and directly threw-himself into the water. I immediately started, and ran towards the place, calling at the same time as loudly as I could for assistance. An angler happened luckily to be a fishing a little below me, though some very high hedge had hid bim from my sight. He immediately came up, and both of us together, not without some hazard of our lives, drew the body to the shore. At first we perceived no sign of life remaining; but having held
) Bekannte und wegen ikror warmen Bäder berühmte Stadt in Somo setskirc.
the body up by the heels, (for ve soon had assistance enough) it discharged a vast quantity of water at the mouth, and at length began to discover some symptoms of breathing, and a little afterwards to move both its hands and its legs.
An apothecary, who happened to be present among others, advised that the body, whicb seemed now to have pretty well emptied itself of water, and which began to have many cunvulsive motions, should be directly taken up, and carried into a warm bed. This was accordingly performed; the apothecary and myself attending.
As we were going towards an inn, for we knew not the man's lodgings, luckily a woman met us, who after some violent screamings, told us, that the gentleman lodged at her house.
When I had seen the man safely deposited there, I left him to the care of the apothecary, who, I
used all the right methods with him; for the next morning I heard he had perfectly recovered his senses.
I then went to visit him, intending to search out, as well as I could, the cause of his having attempted so desperate an act, and to prevent; as far as I was able, his pursuing such wicked' intentions for the future. I was no sooner admitted into his chamber, than we both instantly knew each other; for who should this person be but my good friend Mr. Watson! Here I will not trouble you with what past at our first interview; for I would avoid prolixity as much as possible.
Mr. Watson very freely acquainted me, that the unhappy situation of his circumstances, occasioned by a tide of illluck, had in a manner forced him to a resolution of destroying himself.
now began to argue very seriously with him, in oppo sition to this beathenish, or indeed diabolical principle of the lawfulness of self-murder; and said every thing which occurred to me on the subject; but, to my great concern, it seemed to bave very little effect on him. He seemed not at all to repent of what he had done, and gave me reason to fear, he would soon make a second attempt of the like horrible kind.
When I had finished my discourse, instead of endeavouring to answer my arguments, he looked me steadfastly in the face, and with a smile said: You are strangely altered,