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It was but a few days before the time at which these circumstances were told me, that she was gathering some vegetables for a repast, when she heard the cottage door, which faced the garden, suddenly open. A stranger came out, and seemed to be looking eagerly and wildly around. He was dressed in seamen's clothes, and was emaciated and ghastly pale, and bore the air of one broken by sickness and hardships. He saw her, and hastened towards her, but his steps were faint and faltering; he sank on his knees before her, and sobbed like a child. The poor woman gazed upon him with a vacant and wandering eye— Oh, my dear, dear mother, don't you know your son? your poor boy George?” It was, indeed, the wreck of her once noble lad; who, shattered hy wounds, by sickness, and foreign imprisonment, had, at length, dragged his wasted limbs homeward, to repose among the scenes of his childhood.
I will not attempt to detail the particulars of such a meeting, where joy and sorrow were so completely blended: still he was alive! he was come home! he might yet live to comfort and cherish her old age! Nature, however, was exhausted in him; and if any thing had been wanting to finish the work of fate, the desolation of his native cottage would have been sufficient. He stretched himself on the pallet on which his widowed mother had passed many a sleepless night, and never rose from it again.
The villagers, when they heard that George Sommers had returned, crowded to see him, offering every comfort and assistance that their humble means afforded. He was too weak, however, to talk-he could only look his thanks. His mother was his constant attendant; and he seemed unwilling to be helped by any other hand.
There is something in sickness, that breaks down the pride of manhood; that softens the heart, and brings it back to the feelings of infancy. Who that has languished, even in advanced life, in sickness and
despondency; who that has pined on a weary bed in the neglect and loneliness of a foreign land, but has thought on the mother that looked on his childhood," that smoothed his pillow and administered to his helplessness? Oh! there is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart. It is neither to be chilled by selfishness, nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stifled by ingratitude. She will sacrifice every comfort to his convenience; she will surrender every pleasure to his enjoyment; she will glory in his fame, and exult in his prosperity:-and, if misfortune overtake him, he will be the dearer to her from his misfortunes; and if disgrace settle upon his name, she will still love and cherish him in spite of his disgrace; and if all the world beside cast him off, she will be all the world to him.
Poor George Sommers had known what it was to be in sickness and none to sooth--lonely and in prison, and none to visit him. He could not endure his mother from his sight; if she moved away, his eye would follow her. She would sit for hours by his bed, watching him as he slept. Sometimes he would start from a feverish dream, and look anxiously up until he saw her bending over him; when he would take her hand, lay it on his bosom, and fall asleep with the tranquillity of a child. In this way he died.
My first impulse on hearing this humble tale of affliction, was to visit the cottage of the mourner, and administer pecuniary assistance, and, if possible, comfort. I found, however, on inquiry, that the good feelings of the villagers had prompted them to do every thing that the case admitted; and as the poor know best how to console each others' sorrows, I did not venture to intrude.
The next Sunday I was at the village church; when, to my surprise, I saw the poor old woman tottering down the aisle to her accustomed seat on the steps of the altar.
She had made an effort to put on something like mourning for her son; and nothing could be more touching than this struggle between pious affection and utter poverty: a black riband or so—a faded black handkerchief, and one or two more such humble attempts to express by outward signs that grief that passes show. When I looked round upon the storied monuments; the stately hatchments; the cold marble pomp, with which grandeur mourned magnificently over departed pride, and turned to this poor widow, bowed down by age and sorrow at the altar of her God, and offering up the prayers and praises of a pious though a broken heart, I felt that this living monument of real grief was worth them all.
I related her story to some of the wealthy members of the congregation, and they were moved by it. They exerted themselves to render her situation more comfortable, and to lighten her afflictions. It was, however, but smoothing a few steps to the grave. In the course of a Sunday or two after she was missed from her usual seat at church, and before I left the neighbourhood I heard, with a feeling of satisfaction, that she had quietly breathed her last, and had gone to rejoin those she loved, in that world where, sorrow is never known, and friends are never parted.
STORM AT SEA.
The storm increased with the night. The sea was lashed into tremendous confusion. There was a fear·ful, sullen sound of rushing waves, and broken surges, Deep called unto deep. At times the black volume of clouds over head seemed rent asunder by flashes of lightning that quivered along the foaming billows, and made the succeeding darkness doubly terrible. The thunders bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed and prolonged by the mountain waves.
As I saw the ship staggering and plunging among these roaring caverns, it seemed miraculous that she regained her balance, or preserved her buoyancy. Her yàrds would dip in the water; her bow was almost buried beneath the waves. Sometimes an impending surge appeared ready to overwhelm her, and nothing but a dexterous movement of the helm preserved her from the shock.
When I retired to my cabin, the awful scene still followed me. The whistling of the wind through the rigging sounded like funeral wailings. The creaking of the masts, the straining and groaning of bulk heads, as the ship laboured in the weltering sea, were frightful. As I heard the waves rushing along the side of the ship, and roaring in my very ear, it seemed as if Death were raging round this floating prison, seeking for his prey; the mere starting of a nail, the yawning of a seam might give him entrance.
THERE is no species of humour in which the English more excel, ihan that which consists in caricaturing and giving lırdicrous appellations, or nicknames. In this way they have whimsically designated, not merely individuals, but nations; and in their fondness for pushing a joke, they have not spared even themselves. One would think that, in personifying itself, a nation would be apt to picture something grand, he. roic, and imposing; but it is characieristic of the peculiar humour of the English, and of their love for what is blunt, comic, and familiar, that they have imbodied their national oddities in the figure of a sturdy corpulent old fellow, with a three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, leathern breeches, and a stout oaken cudgel. Thus they have taken a singular delight in exhibiting their most private foibles in a laughable point of view; and have been so successful in their delineations, that there is scarcely a being in actual existence more absolutely present to the public mind than that eccentric personage, John Bull. .
Perhaps the continual contemplation of the character thus drawn of them, has contributed to fix it upon the nation; and thus to give reality to what at first may have been painted in a great measure from imagination. Men are apt to acquire peculiarities that are continually ascribed to them. The common orders of English seem wonderfully captivated with the beau ideal which they have formed of John Bull, and endeavour to act up to the broad caricature that is perpetually before their eyes. Unluckily, they sometimes make their boasted Bull-ism an apology for their prejudice or grossness; and this I have especially noticed among those truly home-bred and genuine sons of the soil who have never migrated beyond the sound of Bow-bells. If one of these should be a little uncouth in speech, and apt to utter impertinent truths, he confesses that he is a real John Bull, and always speaks his mind. If he now and then flies into an unreasonable burst of passion about trifles, he observes that John Bull is a choleric old blade, but then his passion is over in a moment, and he hears no malice. If he betrays a coarseness of taste, and an insensibility to foreign refinements, he thanks heaven for his igno. rance-he is a plain John Bull, and has no relish for frippery and nicknacks, his very proneness to be gulled by strangers, and to pay extravagantly for absurdities, is excused under the plea of munificencefor John is always more generous than wise.
Thus, under the name of John Bull, he will contrive to argue every fault into a merit, and will frankly convict himself of being the most honest fellow in existence.
However little, therefore, the character may have suited in the first instance, it has gradually adapted itself to the nation, or rather they have adapted them