Billeder på siden

sing those great improvements in the machinery of his country, for which the nation at large is indebted to him as having opened a mine of wealth, never to be exhausted, until its industry shall have ceased. Alone, and unaided except by ideas derived from the suggestions of those who had gone before him, this wonderful man projected a machine to facilitate the spinning of thread, which, however, his own means did not enable him to reduce to practice; while those whose pecuniary resources were sufficient for this purpose, afraid of failure, refused to assist him with their capital. Still, however, in spite of all difficulties, he persevered; and at length succeeded so far as to attract the attention of some individuals who had discernment enough to see that his machinery was at least worth a trial. Every succeeding experiment was attended with a certain degree of failure, arising from contingencies which had not been anticipated; but still, among the taunts and the ridicule of minds less comprehensive than his own, the humble but determined workman persevered; and it was only after the lapse of many years, and a long series of progressive improvements, that the great object was attained, and that series of machinery constructed, by the employment of which, a portion of British manufactures till then exciting no very considerable notice, began to be regarded as a source of inexhaustible prosperity and wealth.

"Now do you not think with me, Frederic, that such a man deserved to build himself a splendid mansion, and to call it a castle too ?"

"I do," said Frederic; "but had I been in his

place, I would have built a far more splendid mansion than Willersley Castle in Derbyshire appears to be; for I suppose he was very rich."

"In this, as in other things, Sir Richard showed his good sense, by not aiming at too much. It is a curious fact, that in the choice of a situation for his residence, he exhibited also that energy of character, and that determination not to be defeated by difficulties, which characterized the whole of his career. Although the exact spot selected for the erection of Willersley Castle, was originally occupied by a vast rock, even this circumstance presented no insurmountable hinderance to one whose whole life had been a succession of efforts, ultimately crowned with their reward. At the cost of three thousand pounds, the removal of this rock was accomplished: and although, during the erection of the building, it was once almost entirely destroyed by an accidental fire, Sir Richard, by whose ingenuity the whole structure was arranged, steadily pursued his object, and finally succeeded in making himself the master and occupant of a noble mansion, no less remarkable for its simplicity, than its elegance. This beautiful edifice stands on the southern side of an eminence which forms the eastern boundary of the Derwent, in its romantic course through Matlock Dale."


My favorite hero," said Henry Ashton, turning to another engraving, "was satisfied with a less magnificent residence, though, for its beautiful and commanding situation, it could scarcely be surpassed."

"Who is your favorite hero ?" asked Frederic.

"A simple-hearted, and unassuming man; yet one whose true heroism has never been disputed." "One of your lack-a-daysical-poet sort of people," said Frederic, "I suppose; with a slouched hat, a drooping feather, and a threadbare coat."

"The very reverse of your description," said his brother" a man who neither feared death, nor left, when he died, the least trace of disorder among his public or private affairs; one who was ever ready to obey the call of his country, either in the senate, or the battle-field; and who, after earning the laurels of a conqueror, could retire to his peaceful residence on the banks of the Potomac, to cultivate the arts of rural life, and the social affections of a private and domestic man." "You mean General Washington ?" exclaimed Frederic.

"Now, mother, we have thought of a great man at last, who left behind him a name worth having."


"Yes, my children," replied Mrs. Ashton ; you must remember, that he did nothing simply for the sake of obtaining that name. His objects were of a higher order, and such as justly obtained for him the distinction of a hero; they were the welfare of his country, and the good of his fellowcreatures at large. For this he sacrificed his retirement, his health, and his repose: for this he was willing to sacrifice his life, had it been required.

"On visiting the residence of General Washington at Mount Vernon, as it is now exhibited to strangers, one of the most interesting objects which strikes the eye of the curious, is an old and rusty

key, enclosed in a glass frame, and suspended from the ceiling of the hall. It is the key of the French Bastile, and was sent to General Washington by his friend and fellow-soldier, Lafayette. Beneath it is suspended an engraving of the demolition of that prison by an infuriated people, an event which forms a conspicuous scene in the tragedy of the French revolution.

"But the simple tomb of Washington, inscribed only with his own name, and placed exactly in the spot where he had often expressed a wish to be laid, is, of all others, the most interesting relic which remains. The sarcophagus in which his ashes are enclosed, is of white marble, of the ancient Roman form, with a flat cover, on which an eagle is sculptured in relief, and beneath it the word Washington.' Close beside this, is another sarcophagus of the same material and form, containing the ashes of his wife, who died soon after him. The only inscription to be found upon this monument, is 'Martha, the consort of Washington.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


And what else could have been desired? For, was it not enough of earthly distinction to have been the chosen companion of such a man, sharer of his joys, the soother of his sorrows; and at last to sleep with him beside the banks of that broad river on which his eye was wont to gaze, when he retired from the pressing avocations of public and private life, "to converse with his own heart, and be still?”


How shall we spend this evening? or, what shall we do in the dark hour? are questions which not unfrequently occur toward the close of a winter's day.

Lady Caroline Grey had her own opinions as to the best manner of spending this portion of time; but as she knew that experience was more convincing than argument, she determined to let the young people under her care try their own plans, in order that the one finally adopted might have the advantage of being chosen by unanimous consent. The little party who composed her fireside circle, during the Christmas holydays, consisted of her own two daughters, Fanny and Ellen, and two nephews and a niece, whose parents were abroad.

But first let us look in upon the family before the arrival of these much-wished-for guests, and hear for ourselves what were the ideas entertained by these young people of the happiness of a winter's evening.


Mamma," said Fanny, as she sat on her mother's lap, holding her foot in no very lady-like position, we shall do nothing but play when our cousins come, shall we?"


"Oh! no, dear mamma," exclaimed Ellen, who

« ForrigeFortsæt »