Lindley Murray.

Sequel to the English reader, or, Elegant selections in prose and poetry : designed to improve the highest class of learners in reading, to establish a taste for just and accurate composition, and to promote the interests of piety and virtue online

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heart those softer passions, -which the sig-ht and discourse of his mo
ther had awakened in bis breast. Veturia perceiving- his irresolu-
tion, and fearing- the event, thus renev/ed her expostulation : '^ Why
iost thou not answer me, my son? Is there then such greatness of mind
»n giving- all to resentment ? Art tliou ashamed to grant any thing- to
1 motlier who thus entreats thee, thus humbles herself to thee ? If it
•DC so, to what purpose should I long-er endure a wretched life ?" As
he uttered these last words, interrupted by sig-hs, she threw herself
irostrate at his feet. His wife and children did tlie same ; and all
he othe" women, with united voices of mournful accent, beg-ged and
■■ aiplored his pity.

The Volscian officers, not able unmoved to behold this scene,
urned away their eyes : but Coriolanus, almost beside himself to
ee Veturia at his feet, passionately cried out : " Ah ! mother, what
.rt thou doing- .-" And, tenderly pressing- lier hand, in raising her up,
le added, in a low voice, " Kome is saved, but thy son is lost !"

Early the next morning-, Cariolanus broke up his camp, and
, eaceably marched his army homewards. Nobody had the boldnes*
' contradict his orders. ?flany Avere exceeding-ly dissatisfied with
uis conduct : but others excused it, being- more affected Avith his fjlia)
respect to his raotlier, than with their own interests.

hooke's roaian history

SECTION II.

Execution of Cranrner, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Queen Mary dctermind to bring- Ci-anmer, whom she had long
letained in prison, to punishment ; and in order more fully to satiat



60 Sequel to the Eng-lislt Reader Pari 1

her vengeance, she resolved to punish him for heres}', rather than foi
treason. He was cited by the Pope to stand his trial at Komc ; and
tliough he was known to be kept in close custody at Oxford, he was,
upon his not appearing-, condemned as contumacious. Bonner,
bishop of Londoi,, and Thirleby, bisliop of Ely, were sent to degrade
him; and the former executed the melancholy ceremony, vith all
the joy and exultation which suited his savage nature. The im-
placable spirit of the Queen, not satisfied with the future misery of
Cranmcr, which she believed inevitable, and Avith the execution of
that dreadful sentence to which he was condemned, prompted ho;
also to seek the ruin of his honour, and the infamy of his name. Ft-r
sons v.ere employed to attack him, not in the way of disputation
against which he was suflicientl}' armed ; but by flattery, insinua-
tion, and address ; by representing the dignities to which his charac
ter- still entitled him, if he would merit them by a recantation ; by
giving him hopes of long- enjoying those powerful friends, vvhcjn his
beneficent disposition had attached to him, during- the course of hi?
f>rosperity. Overcome by the fond love of life ; terrified by the pros-
pect of those tortures which awaited him ; he allowed, in an unguard
ed hour, the sentiments of nature to prevail over his reeolution, and
agreed to subscribe the doctrines of the papal supremacy, and of Uie
leal presence. The couijt, equally perfidious and cruel, was de-
lermined that this recantation should avail him nothing- ; and sent
<>rders that he should be required to acknowledge his errors in
church before the whole people ; and that he should thence be im
mediately carried to execution.

Cranmer, whether he had received a secret intimation of their de-
sign, or had repented of his weakness, surprised tlie audience by a ccn-
ti-ary declaration. He said that he was well apprised of the obedience
u hich he owed to his sovereign and the laws ; but that this duty ex-
lended no farther than to submit patiently to their commandf ; and to
bear, without resistance, whatever hardships they should impose up
on him : that a superior duty, the duty which he owed to his Maker,
obliged him to speak truth on all occasions ; and not to relinquish,
1)}' a base denial, the holy doctrine which the Supreme Being- had
levealed to mankind : that there was one miscarriag-e in his life, o/
\\ hich above all others, he severely repented ; the insincere declara
li.in of faith to which he had the Aveakncss to consent, and whicl
ilie fear of death alone had extorted from him : that he took this op
piirtunity of atoning- for his error by a sincere and open recantation ;
;iiid was willing- to seal with his blood, tliat doctrine vhich he firn.ly
liclieved to be communicated from heaven : and that, as his hand had
0! red, by betraying his heart, it should first be punished, by ?
s«-\'ere, but just doom, and should first pay the forfeit of its olTences.

He was then led to the stake, amidst the insults of his enemies :
and having- now summoned up all the force of his mind, he bore
llieir scorn, as well as the torture of his punisljment, with singu-
l.ir fortitude. He stretched out his hand, and, vrithout betraying,
either by his countenance, or motions, the least sig-n of weakriess,
or even of feelinjr he held u in tie flames till it was entirolv con-



Chap. 5. Dialogues. 61

sumed. His thoughts seemed wholly occupied with reflections on
his former fault, and he called aloud several times, "This hand
has offended." Satisfied witJi that atonement, he then discovered
a serenity in his countenance : and when the fire attacked hie
body, he seemed to be quite insensible of his outward sufferings, and
by the force of hope and resolution, to have collected his mind
altogether within itself, and to repel the fury of the flames. — He was
undoubtedly a man of merit ; possessed of learning and capacity ;
and adorned with candour, smcerity, and beneficence, and ail
those virtues which were fitted to render him useful and amiable
ic society.

- HUME,

*- SECTION in.

Christianity furnishes the best consolation under the evils of life.
It is of great importance to contemplate the Christian religion in
the lio-hi of consolation : as bringing aid and relief to us amidst
the distresses of life. Here our religion incontestibly triumphs
and its happy effects, in this respect, furnish a strong argument to •
every benevolent, mind, for wishing them to be farther diffused
tliroughout the world. For without the belief and hope afforded
by Divine Revelation, the circumstances of man are extremely for-
lorn. He finds himself placed here as a stranger in a vast universe,
where the powers and operations of nature are very imperfectly
known ; where both the beginnings and the issues of things are in-
volved in mysterious darkness ; where he is unable to discover, with
any certainty, whence he sprung, or for what purpose he was brought
into this state of existence; whether he is subjected to the govern-
ment of a mild, or of a wrathful ruler ; what construction he is to put
on many of the dispensations of his providence ; and what his fate
is to be when he departs hence. What a disconsolate situation, to
a serious, inquiring mi.id ! The greater degree of virtue it possesses,
the more its sensibility is likely to be oppressed by this burden of
labouring thought. Even though it were in one's power to banish
all uneasy thoug-ht, and to fill up the hours of life with perpetual
amusement, life so filled up would, upon reflection, appear poor
and trivial. But these are far from being the terms upon which man
is^brougiit into this world. He is conscious that his being is frail
and feeble ; he sees himself beset with various dangers ; and is ex-
[KDsed to many a melancholy apprehension, from the evils which he
may have to encounter, before he arrives at the close of life. In
this distressed condition, to reveal to him such discoveries of the Su-
preme Being as the Christian religion affords, is to reveal to him a
father and a friend ; is to let in a ray of the most cheering light up-
on tlie darkness of the human state. He who was before a destitute
orphan, wandering in the inhospitable desert, has now gained a
shelter from the bitter and inclem_ent blast. He now knows to
whom to pray, and in whom to trust; whero to unbosom his sorrows:
and from what hand to look for relief.

F



62 Sequel to the English Header.

It is certain, tiiat when the heart bleeds from some wound of re-
cent misfortune, nothing- is of equal efficacy with relig-ious comfort.
It is of pjwer to enlighten the darkest hour, and to assuage thf
severest wo, by the belief of the Divine favour, and the prospect of
a blcosed immortaJity. In such hopes, the mirid expatiates witlj
jO}^ ; and when beieaved of its eai thly friends, solaces itself witl)
the thoug-hls of one Friend, v/ho v. ill never forsake it. Refined
reasoning's concerning the nature of tlic human condition, and the im-
provement which pliilosophy teaciies u-i to make of every event, may
entertain (he mind when it is at ease; may perljaps contribute to
sooth it, when slightly touched with sorrow : but when it is torn with
any sore distress, they are cold and feeble, compared with the direct
promise from the Father of mercies. This is '•'■ an anchor to the
soul both sure and steadfast."" This has given consolation and re-
fug"e to m.any a virtuous heart, at a time when the most cogent rea.
soning's Avould have proved utterly unavailing-.

Upon the approach of death, when, if a man thinks at all, his
anxiety about his future interests must naturally increase, the power
of religious consolation is sensibly felt. Then appears in the most
striking light, the high value of the discoveries made by the gospel :
not only life and immortality revealed, but a Mediator with God dis-
covered ; mercy pi'oclaimed, through liim, to the frailties of the peni-
tent and the humble ; and his presence promised to be with tliem
v,-hen they are passing through '' the valley of the shadow of death,'*'
in order to bring them safe into unseen habitations of rest and joy
Here is ground for their leaving the world vrith comfort and peace
But in this severe and trying- period, this labouring hour of nature,
how shall the unhappy man support himself, who iinows not, or be-
lieves not, the discoveries of religion ? Secretly conscious to himself
that he has not acted his part as he ought to have done, the sins of
his past life arise before him in sad remembrance. He v/ishes to exist,
after death, and yet dreads that existence. The Governor of the
world is unknown. He cannot tell whether every endeavour to ob-
tain his rnercy may not be in vain. All is awful obscurit}' around
bim ; and, in the m.idst of endless doubts and perplexities, the trem-
bling-, reluctant soul is forced away from the body». As the misfor-
tunes of life must, to such a man, have been most oppressive, so its
end is bitter. His sun sets in a dark cloud ; and the night of death
closes over his head, full of misery. blair.

SECTION IV.

Benefits to be derived from scenes of distress.

Some periods of sadness have, in our present situation, a just and
natural place ; and they are requisite to the true enjoyment of plea-
sure ; but I shall at present decline considering the subject in this
view ; and confine myself to point out the direct effects of a proper
attention to the distresses of life, upon our moral and relig-iou.st
character.

In the first place, tlie bouse of mourning- is calculated to give a



Chap. 5. Pathetic Pieces. 68

[)roper check to our natural thoughtlessncjsS and levity. The indo-
■ ence of mankind, and their love of pleasure, spread through all char
racters and ranks, some den-ree of aversion to what is grave aiid
serious. They grasp at any object, either of business or amuse-
inent, which makes ihe present moment pass smoothly away; which
>?arries their tiioughts abroad, and saves them from the trouble of re-
liecting on themselves. With too many, tiiis passes into a habit of
constant dissipation. If their fortune and rank allow them to in-
dulge their inclinations, they devote themselves to the pursuiL of
amusement through all its different forms. The skilful arrange-
ment of its successive scenes, and the preparatory study for shining-
in each, are the only exertions in which their understanding is era-
ployed. Such a mode of life may keep alive, for awhile, a fri\oloug
vivacity; it may improve men in some of those exterior accomplish-
ments, v.'hich sparkle in the eyes of the giddy and the Vtwn ; but it
must sink them in the esteem of all the wise. It renoers tliem stran-
gers to themselves ; and useless, if not pernicious, to the world
They lose every manly principle. Their mmds become relaxed and
effeminate. AH that is great or respectable in the human character
is buried under a mass of trifles and follies.

If some measures ought to be taken for rescuing the mind frona
this disgraceful levity ; if some principles must be acquired, which
ma^ give more dignity and steadiness to conduct; where are these
to be looked fori Not surely in the house of feasting, where every
object flatters the senses, and strengthens the seductions to which
we are already prone ; where the spirit of dissipation circulates
from heart to heart; and the children of folly mutually admire
and are admired. It is in the sober and serious house of m.ourning
that the tide of vanity is made to turn, and a new direction given to
the current of thought. When some affecting incident presents a
strong discovery of the deceitfulness of all worldly joy, and rouses our
sensibility to human wo; when we behold those with v.'hom we had
lately mingled in the house of feastingf, sunk by some of the sudden
vicissitudes of life int/) the vale of misery; or when, in sad silence,
we stand by the friend whom we had loved as our own soul, stretch-
ed on the bed of death ; then is the season when this world begins to
appear in a new light ; when the heart opens to virtuous sentiments,
and is led into that train of reflection which ought to direct life. He
who before knew not what it was to commune with iiis heart on any
serious si.biect now puts the question to himself, for what purpose he
was sent forth into this mortal, transitory state ; what his fate is like-
ly to be when it concludes; and what judgment he ought to form of
those pleasures v;hich amuse for a little, but which, he now sees,
cannot save the heart from ang-uish in the e; 1 day. Touched by
the hand of thoughtful melancholy, that airy edifice of Miss, which
fancy had raised up for him, vanishes away. He beholds, in the
place of it, the lonely and barren desert, in which, surrounded with
many c disagreeable object, he is left musing upon himself. Th«
time which he has mispent, and the faculties which he has misem-
ployed, his foolish leyiuty and his crimmal pursuits, all rise in painful



^ Sequd to the English Reader. Part \

prospect before him. Tliat unknown state of existence into which
race after race, the cbildren of men pass, strikes his mind with so-
lemn awe. Is there no course by which he can retrieve his past
errors ? Is there no superior power to which he can look up for
aid? Is there no plan of conduct which, if it exempt liim not from
sorrow, can at least procure him consolation amidst the distressful
exig-encies of lifer — Such meditations as these, sug-gesied by the
house of mourning-, frequently produce a chang-e in ihe whole cha-
ract;er. They revive those sparks of goodness vvhicn v/ere nearly
exting-uished in the dissipated mind; and give rise to jjrinciples of
conduct more rational in tlicmselves, and more suitable to the human
state.

In the next place, impressions of this nature not only produce
moral seriousness, but awaken sentiments of piety, and bring men
into the sanctuary of religion. One mig-ht, mdeed, imag-ine that the
blessing's of a prosperous condition would prove the most natural
incitements to devotion ; and that when men v/ere iiappy in them.
selves, and saw nothing but happiness around them, they could not
fail 2rratefully to acknowledg-e that God who "• giveth them all
things richly to enjoy." Yet such is their corruption, that they are
never more ready to forg"€t their benefactor, tlian .^hen loaded with
his benefits. The g-iver is concealed from their careless and inat-
tentive view, by the cloud of his own gifts. VVlien their life con-
tinues to flow in one smooth current, unruffled by any griefs ; when
they neither receive in tlieir own circumstances, nor allow them,
selves to receive frxjm the circumstances of otliers, any admonitions
of human instability, they not only become regardless of Providence,
but are in hazard of contemning it. Glorying in their strength, and
lifted up by the pride of life into supposed independence, that impious
sentiment, if not uttered by the mouth, yet too often lurks in the
hearts of many during their flourishing periods, " What is the
Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit should we have
if we pray unto him ''"

If such be the tendency of the house of feasting, how necessary is
it that, by some change in their situation, men should be obhged to
enter into the house of mourning, in order to recover a proper sense
of their dependent state ! It is there, when forsaken by tlie gaieties
of the world, and left alone with the Almighty, that we are made to
perceive how awful his government is ; how easily human greatness
bends before him; and how quickly all our designs and measures, at
his interposal, vanish into nothing. There, when the countenance
is sad, and the affections a^e softened by grief; when we sit apart,
involved in serious thought, looking down as from some eminence on
those dark clouds <'at hang over the life of man, the arrogance of
prosperity is humored, and the heart melts under the impressions of
religion. Formerly we vrere taught, but now we see, we feel, how
much we stand in need of an Almighty Protector, amidst the changsa
of this vain world. Our soul cleaves to him who " despises not, nor
abhors the affliction of the afflicted." Prajer flows forth of its own
accord from ttie relenting heart^^ that lie may be our God. and th«



Chap. 5. Pathetic Pieces. 55

Grod of our friends in distress ; that he may never forsake us while
we are sojourning- in this land of pilgrimag-e; rria\- strengthen ua
under its calamities, and bring- us hereafter to those habitations of
rest, where we, and they whom we lo;e, may be delivered fi-om the
trials wliich ail are now doomed to endure. The discoveries of his
mercy, which he has made in the g-ospel of Christ, are viewed with
joy, as so many ray?, of hg-ht sent dov/n from above, to dispel, in some
degfree, the surrounding- gloom. A Mediator and Intercessor with
the Sovereig-n of the universe, appear comfortable names ; and the
resurrect io! I of the just becomes Use po^vcrful cordial of g-rief. In
such mora'iiits as these, which we may jastly call happy moments,
the soul participates of all the pleasures of devotion. It feels the
power c"f religion to support and relieve. It is softened, without
being" broken. It is full, and it pours itself forth; pours itself jorth,
if we may be allowed to use the expression, into the bosom of its
merciful Creator.

Enough has been said to show, that, on various occasions, "sor-
row may bj better than laug-hter." — WoniMst thou acquire the habit
of recollection, and fix the principles of thy conduct; wouldst thou
be led up to thy Creator and Redeemer, and be form.ed to sentiments
of piety and devotion ; wouldst thou be acquainted witli these raiia
ind tender affections which delight the compassionate and humane ;
wouldst thou have the power of sensual appetites tamed and cor-
rected, and thy soul raised above the ignoble love of life, and fear of
death ? go, my brother, g-o — not to scenes of pleasure and riot, not
to the house of feasting" and m.irtb — but to the silent house of mourn
ing ; and adventure to dwell for awhile among- objects that will soften
thy heart- (_ ontempla4:e the lifeless remains of -what once v.as fair
and flourishing-. Bring home to thyself tlie vicissitudes of life. —
Recall tlie remembrance of the friend, the parent, or the child,
whom tliou tenderly lovedst. Look back on the days of former
years ; and think on the companions of thy youth, who now sleep in
the dust. Let the vanity, tlie mutabiht}-, and the sorrows of the
human state, rise in full prospect before thee ; and though thy
"countenance may be made sad, thy heart shall be made better."
This sadness, thoug'h for the present it dejects, yet shall in the end
fortify thy spirit ; inspiring- thee with such sentiments, and prompting-
such resolutions as shall enable thee to enjoy, with more real ad-
vantag-e, the rest of life. Dispositions of this nature form one part
of the chaructei' of those mourners, whom our Saviour hath pro-
nounced blessed ; and of those to whom it is promised, that " sowing
in tears, they shrv'l reap in joy." A g-reat difference tiiere is be-
tween being serious and melancholy ; and a melancholy too there ia
of that kind which deserves to be sometimes indulg-ed.

Religion hath, on the whole, provided for ever}- g-ood man, abun-
dant materials of consolation and relief. How dark soever tb9
present lace of nature may appear, it dispels the darkness, when it
brings into view the entire system of things, and extends our survey
to the whole kmg-dom of God. It represents what we now behold
as only a part, and a smalLpart, of the general oider. It assures us,

r 'i



66 Sequel to the English Header. Pari 1

that though here, for wise ends, misery and sorrow are permitted to
have place, these temporary evils shall, in the end, advance the
happiness of all who love God, and are faithful to their duty. It
shows them this mixed and confused scene vanishing by degree-
away, and preparing the introduction of that state, where thfc house
of mourning shall be shut forever ; where no tears are seen, and
no groans heard; where no hopes are frustrated, and no virtirous
connexions dissolved ; but where under the hght of the Divme eoun.
tenance, goodness shall flourish in perpetual felicity. Thus, though
religion may occasionally chasten our mirth with sadness of counte-
nance, yet under that sadness it allows not the heart of good men to
sink. It calls upon them to rejoice " because the Lord reignetb
who is their Rock, and the most high God who is their Redeemer."
Reason likewise joins her voice with that of religion ; forbidding us
to make peevish and unreasonable complaints of human life, or in-
juriously to ascribe to it more evil tlian it contains. Mixed as the
present state is, she pronounces, that generally, if not alwaj^s, thero
is more happiness than misery, more pleasure than pain, in the
condition of man. blair.



CHAPTER VI.

^ DIALOGUES, " ": '

SECTION I.
THERON AND ASPASIO.

Beauty and utility combined in the productions of nature.

THERON and Aspasio took a morning walk into the fields ; their
8.pirits cheered, and their imiginations lively ; gratitude glowing in
their hearts, and the whole creation smiling around them.

After sufficient exercise, they seated themselves on a mossy hil-
lock, which oiTered its couch. The rising sim had visited the spot,
to dry up the dews and exhale the damps, that might endanger
health ; to open the violets, and to expand the primroses, that deck-
ed the green. The whole shade of the wood was collected behind
them ; and a beautiful, extensive, diversified landscape spread itself
before them.

Theron, according to his usual manner, made many improving
remarks on the prospect, and its furniture. He traced the footsteps
of an All-comprehending contrivance, and pointed out the strokes
of inimitable skill. He observed the grand exertions of powe-r, and
the rich exuberance of goodness, most signally, most charming-
ly conspicuous through the whole. — Upon one circumstance he en-
larged, with particular satisfaction.

THERON.

See ! Aspasio, how all is calculated to administer the highest de
light to mankind. Those trees and hedges, which skirt the extre-



Chop. 6. Dialogues, 67

mities of the landscape, stealing- away from their real bulk, and less-
ening by g-entle diminutions, appear like elegant pictures in minia-
ture- Those which occupy the nearer situations, are a set of noble
images swelling upon the eye, m full proportion, and in a variety of
graceful attitudes ; both of them ornamenting the several apartments
of our common abode, with a mixture of delicacy and grandeur.

The blossoms that array the branches, the flowers that embroider
the mead, address and entertain our eyes Avith every charm of beau-
ty . whereas, to other creatures, they are destitute of all those at-
tractions, which result from a combination of the loveliest colours,



Online LibraryLindley MurraySequel to the English reader, or, Elegant selections in prose and poetry : designed to improve the highest class of learners in reading, to establish a taste for just and accurate composition, and to promote the interests of piety and virtue → online text (page 8 of 28)