« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
cousin, should take a liking to another of the same character; but so it is with the old gentleman-his prime favourite and companion is Will Wizard, who is almost a member of the family, and will sit before the fire, with his feet on the massy handirons, and smoke his cigar, and screw his phiz, and spin away tremendous long stories of his travels, for a whole evening, to the great delight of the old gentleman and lady, and especially of the young ladies, who, like Desdemona, do is seriously in- , cline," and listen to him with innumerable “ O dears," "is it possibles," "good graciouses," and look upon him as a second Sinbad the sailor, i
The Miss Cocklofts, whose pardon I crave for not having particularly introduced them before, are a pair of delectable damsels; who having purloined and locked up the family-bible, pass for just what age they please to plead guilty to. Barbara, the eldest, has long since resigned the character of a belle, and adopted that staid, sober, demure, snuff-taking air, becoming her years and discretion. She is a good-natured soul, whom I never saw in a passion but once; and that was occasioned by seeing an old favourite beau of hers kiss the hand of a pretty blooming girl; and, in truth she only got angry because, as she very properly said, it would spoil the child. Her sister Margery, or Maggie, as she is familiarly termed, seemed disposed to maintain her post as a belle, until a few months since; when accidentally hearing a gentleman observe that she broke very fast, she suddenly left off going to the assembly, took a cat into high favour, and began to rail at the forward pertness of young misses. From that moment I set her down for an old maid; and so she is, "by the hand of my body." The young ladies are still visited by some half dozen of veteran beaux, who grew and flourished in the haut ton, when the Miss Cocklofts were quite children, but have been brushed rather rudely by the hand of time, who, to say the truth, can do almost any thing but make people young. They are, notwithstanding, still warm candidates for female favour; look venerably tender, and repeat over and over the same honeyed speeches and sugared sentiments to the little belles that they poured so profusely into the ears of their mothers. 'I beg leave here to give notice, that by this sketch I mean no reflection on old bachelors; on the contrary, I hold, that next to a fine lady, the ne plus ultra, an old bachelor is the
most charming being upon earth ; inasmuch as by living in “single blessedness, he of course does just as he pleases; and if he has any genius must acquire a plentiful stock of whims, and oddities, and whalebone habits: without which I esteem a man to be mere beef without mustard, good for nothing at all, but to run on errands for ladies, take boxes at the theatre, and act the part of a screen at tea-parties, or a walking stick in the streets. I merely speak of those old boys who infest public walks, pounce upon the ladies from every corner of the street, and worry and frisk and amble, and caper before, behind, and round about the fashionable belles, like old ponies in a pasture, striving to supply the absence of youthful whim and hilarity, by grimaces and grins, and artificial vivacity. I have sometimes seen one of these "reverend youths' endeavouring to elevate his wintry passions into something like love, by basking in the sunshine of beauty; and it did remind me of an old moth attempting to fly through a pane of glass towards a light without ever approaching near enough to warm itself, or scorch its wings.
Never I firmly believe, did there exist a family that went more by tangents than the Cocklofts.-Every thing is governed by whim; and if one member starts a new freak, away all the rest follow like wild geese in a string. As the family, the servants, the horses, cats, and dogs, have all grown old together, they have accommodated themselves to each other's habits completely; and though every body of them is full of odd points, angles, rhomboids, and ins and outs, yet somehow or other, they harmonize together like so many straight lines; and it is truly a grateful and refreshing sight to see them agree so well. Should one, however, get out of tune, it is like a cracked fiddle, the whole concert is ajar; you perceive a cloud over every brow in the house, and even the old chairs seem to creak affettuoso. If my cousin, as he is rather apt to do, betray any symptons of vexation or uneasiness no matter about what, he is worried to death with inquiries, which answer no other end but to demonstrate the good will of the inquirer, and put him in a passion; for every body knows how provoking it is to be cut short in a fit of the blues, by an impertinent question about “what is the matter ?ii when a man can't tell himself. I remember a few months ago the old gentleman came home in quite a squall; kicked poor Cæsar, the mastiff, out of his way
as he came through the hall; threw his hat on the table with most violent emphasis, and pulling out his box, took three huge pinches of snuff, and threw a fourth into the cat's eyes as he sat purring his astonishment by the fire-side. This was enough to set the body politic going; Mrs. Cockloft began "my dearing' it as fast as tongue could move; the young ladies took each a stand at an elbow of his chair: Jeremy marshalled in rear; the servants came tumbling in; the mastiff put up an inquiring nose; and even grimalkin, after he had cleansed his whiskers and finished sneezing, discovered indubitable signs of sympathy. After the most affectionate inquiries on all sides, it turned out that my cousin, in crossing, the street, had got his silk stockings bespattered with mud by a coach which it seems belonged to a dashing gentleman who had formerly supplied the family with hot rolls and muffins! Mrs. Cockloft thereupon turned up her eyes, and the young ladies their noses; and it would have edified a whole congregation to hear the conversation which took place concerning the insolence of upstarts, and the vulgarity of would be gentlemen and ladies, who strive to emerge from low life by dashing about in carriages to pay a visit two doors off, giving parties to people who laugh at them, and cutting all their old friends.
CONVERSION OF THE AMERICANS. But the most important branch of civilization, and which has most strenuously been extolled, by the zealous and pious fathers of the Romish Church, is the introduction of the Christian faith. It was truly a sight that might well inspire horror, to behold these savages, stumbling among the dark mountains of paganism, and guilty of the most horrible ignorance of religion. It is true, they neither stole nor defrauded; they were sober, frugal, continent, and faithful to their word; but though they acted right habitually, it was all in vain, unless they acted so from precept. The new comers therefore used every method to induce them to embrace and practise the true religion-except indeed that of setting them the example.
But notwithstanding all these complicated labours for
their good, such was the unparalleled obstinacy of these stubborn wretches, that they ungratefully refused to acknowledge the strangers as their benefactors, and persisted in disbelieving the doctrines they endeavoured to inculcate ; most insolently alleging that from their conduct, the advocates of Christianity did not seem to believe in it themselves. Was not this too much for human patience?-would not one suppose, that the benign visitants from Europe, provoked at their incredulity, and discouraged, by their stiff-necked obstinacy, would forever have abandoned their shores, and consigned them to their original ignorance and misery? But no-50 zealous were they to effect the temporal comfort and eternal salvation of these pagan infidels, that they even proceeded from the milder means of persuasion to the more painful and troublesome one of persecution-let loose among them whole troops of fiery monks and furious blood-hounds-purified them by fire and sword, by stake and faggot ; in consequence of which indefatigable measures the cause of Christian love and charity was so rapidly advanced that, in a very few years not one fifth of The number of unbelievers existed in South America, that were found there at the time of its discovery.
What stronger right need the European settlers advance to the country than this? Have not whole nations of uninformed savages been made acquainted with a thousand imperious wants and indispensable comforts, of which they were before wholly ignorant ? Have they not been literally hunted and smoked out of the dens and lurking places of ignorance and infidelity, and absolutely scourged into the right path? Have not the temporal things, the vain baubles and filthy lucre of this world, which were too apt to engage their worldly and selfish thoughts, been benevolently taken from them; and have they not instead thereof, been taught to set their affections on things above? And, finally, to use the words of a Reverend Spanish Father, in a letter to his superior in Spain—"Can any one have the presumption to say, that these savage Pagans have yielded any thing more than an inconsiderable recompense to their benefactors, in surrendering to them a little pitiful tract of this dirty sublunary planet, in exchange for a glorious inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven !"
Here, then, are three complete and undeniable sources of right established, any one of which was more than all
ple to establish a property in the newly discovered regions of America. Now, so it has happened in certain parts of this delightful quarter of the globe that the right of discovery has been so strenuously asserted, the influence of cultivation so industriously extended, and the progress of salvation and civilization so zealously prosecuted; that, what with their attendant wars, persecutions, oppressions, diseases, and other partial evils that often hang on the skirts of great benefits, the savage aborigines have, some how or another, been utterly annihilated ; and this all at once brings me to a fourth right, which is worth all the others put together; for the original claimants to the soil being all dead and buried, and no one remaining to inherit or dispute the soil, the Spaniards as the next immediate occupants, entered upon the po the hangman succeeds to the clothes of the malefactorand as they have Blackstone,* and all the learned expounders of the law on their side, they may set all actions of ejectment at defiance and this last right may be entitled the RIGHT BY EXTERMINATION, or in other words the RIGHT BY GUNPOWDER.
But, lest any scruples of conscience should remain on this head, and to settle the question of right for ever, his holiness Pope Alexander VI. issued a mighty bull, by which he generously granted the newly discovered quarter of the globe to the Spaniards and Portuguese; who, thus having law and gospel on their side, and being inflamed with great spiritual zeal, showed the Pagan savages neither favour nor affection, but prosecuted the work of discovery, colonization, civilization, and extermination, with ten times more fury than ever.
Thus were the European worthies who first discovered America clearly entitled to the soil; and not only entitled to the soil, but likewise to the eternal thanks of these infidel savages, for having come so far, endured so many perils by sea and land, and taken such unwearied pains, for no other purpose but to improve their forlorn, uncivilized, and heathenish condition-for having made them acquainted with the comforts of life--for having introduced among them the light of religion; and finally, for having hurried them out of the world, to enjoy its reward?
*B1. Com. b. ii. c. 1.