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OM DRYSDALE and ANDREW COCHRAN were both sons of two respectable Scotch mechanics in Edinburgh; the one by trade a shoemaker, and the other a tailor. William, the father of Tom, had, after serving his
apprenticeship, repaired to London, with the view of obtaining higher wages as a journeyman, and at the same time a more perfect knowledge of his business. Walter, the father of Andrew, after his apprenticeship, continued in the place of his nativity, and, previous to the return of William Drysdale from London, had commenced business for himself. As they were both industrious and respectable men in their conduct, and lived within a few doors of each other, an intimacy naturally took place; and, getting gradually forward in the world, both married much about the same time, and had each a son born in the same year. The intimacy between the fathers produced of course the like between the two boys; and when the time came when it was necessary to give them instruction, they were both sent to the same school, to attain reading, writing, and arithmetic. Although different in some
* The present tract is an abridgment of a work of the same name, by Hector Macneill, Esq., published in Edinburgh in 1812, and though popular at the time, now little seen.-Ed.
respects, the two boys were both good scholars, and met with the approbation of their teachers; for although one was quicker than the other, it enabled him not to get before the superior attention and perseverance of his competitor, who, with much less memory, and consequently readiness, excelled him not only in application, but in judgment. This difference in the progress of the two boys was partly occasioned by the different manner in which they were brought up by their respective fathers; for, while Walter Cochran contented himself with Andrew's executing things quickly, William Drysdale constantly inculcated this advice to his son Tom-never to do anything he was engaged in superficially. “The quicker you do it the better,' he would say ; 'but never let quickness dispose you to put anything out of your hand without doing it well.'
When the two boys had mastered the elementary branches of instruction, Walter resolved on giving his son a classical education, by a course of study at the High School ; such, in his opinion, being all that was desirable for personal accomplishment and advancement in life. William Drysdale, a shrewd, sagacious man, prudent and circumspect in his conduct, and, withal, possessed of an acuteness in his observations on men and manners, differed from his friend on this important subject. Without entertaining any enmity to Latin, and other branches of classical study, he felt it to be his duty to give his son an education of a more useful and practical kindgeography and the use of the globes ; plane and spherical trigonometry; geometry and algebra-these, with a perfect knowledge of English grammar, and instruction in the French language sufficient to enable him to prosecute it at any future period, as occasion might require, together with an excellent hand, and a thorough acquaintance with figures and accounts, William very justly conceived were much more beneficial than Latin or Greek, or anything that classical learning could afford in six tedious years at the High School. What was still more gratifying, and of infinite importance to a tradesman's son, the boy's progress was fully equal to the father's wishes and expectations, and everything mentioned accomplished in the course of three years.
But perhaps the most beneficial part of Tom's education was the private instruction of his own father. Convinced of the importance of early impressions, he lost no opportunity to inculcate sound morals, and to imbue the young and ductile mind of his son with everything connected with principle, piety, and rectitude of conduct. For this purpose he selected proper books for his perusal during his evenings at home; and while Andrew Cochran was poring over his Rudiments, and conning his lesson at his father's fireside (who contented himself with constantly telling him to be sure and get it weel by heart'), Tom was delightfully occupied and amused in reading to his parents stories and histories pregnant with entertainment and instruction, while his father commented on different passages and descriptions, explaining what was difficult or abstruse, and moralising on what was impressive, serious, amiable, and respectable. By this means the boy not only advanced in useful knowledge and experience, but improved in genius, sentiment, and judgment; while he became the constant companion and delight of his parents.
While his mind was imbued with knowledge, and impressed with serious admonition, his heart was warmly attached to the authors of his birth. Both parents were devout, and regularly attentive to the duties of Christianity ; but it was that happy species of piety which is untinctured with superstitious gloom and austerity, and totally free from intolerance.
In due course of time young Drysdale, following the bent of his inclinations, was put apprentice to the business of a cabinetmaker and joiner; and to enable him the better to prosecute an art which might at some future period extend to other branches connected with it, his father very judiciously sent him to attend a private natural philosophy class, where, among other subjects of useful knowledge, an acquaintance with the powers of mechanics could not fail to be of material service.
During all this time Andrew Cochran was constantly occupied with his Latin exercises at the High School, where he certainly made no contemptible figure. By the help of his extraordinary memory, he soon surmounted the uninteresting and painful labours annexed to the elementary parts of an unknown language, which generally proves so irksome to boys at the commencement; in consequence of which he erelong outstripped his competitors, and became dux of his class. This, while it procured him the eulogiums of the teachers, operated so powerfully on the vanity of the delighted tailor and his wife, that they did nothing but expatiate on the wonderful genius and talents of their laddie to all their friends and acquaintance around, and looked forward to little less than a professor's chair as the ultimate reward of their son's celebrity. These sanguine expectations, however, were not permanent; for, as Andrew advanced further, it was discovered by his teachers that some of those boys who at first were left far behind, were now not only approaching him, but treading fast on his heels. In fact, neither Andrew's taste nor judgment kept pace with his memory, and when he arrived at those parts of the language where both were necessary, it was found that nature had not been equally bountiful to him. His teachers did all. they could to support their favourite, and maintain him in his wonted station, by explaining to him the principles of good composition, and illustrating passages in the best Roman authors where elegance was, conspicuous, and by exemplifying the difference between refinement and vulgarity of style and phraseology; but these distinctions were so obscured from Andrew's sight, that little or nothing was perceived. All he could do was to get the approved passages by rote, and repeat them afterwards to incompetent judges, as a proof of his refined taste and critical knowledge of the Latin language ; but in his themes and versions, it was very evident to his instructors that he got not one step forward, and that others, who were not gifted with a third of his memory, were greatly his superiors.
Having continued long stationary in his classical stance, and losing ground in his reputation, the teachers at last, finding they could do no more, thought it advisable to intimate to him that, being now qualified to attend the humanity class, he might tell his father, from them, that he might send him to college. As this was some months previous to the allotted time at the High School, it was most gratifying intelligence to Andrew, although not equally so to the father, who, notwithstanding he experienced no small degree of pride and pleasure in his son's success, began seriously to consider the additional expense he must necessarily be put to in giving him a college education for another year or two. While he was ruminating on this circumstance, and a further loss of time in establishing his laddie in some line more productive and less burdensome to him, Andrew, inflated with the prospect of going to college, ran to all his acquaintance, and communicated the important intelligence; among others to Tom Drysdale, with whom he had had little inter*course for a considerable time, in consequence of the dissimilarity of their occupations. They were at this time both about the age of seventeen, and stout, fine-looking young men; with this material difference, that while one had been instructed in the different branches of useful knowledge—was acquainted with men, manners, and things, and had already served two years of his apprenticeship—the other knew nothing but Latin superficially, had a very imperfect knowledge of figures and accounts, and wrote an exceedingly bad hand.
The interview between Tom and Andrew happened to be on a holiday morning, and as neither of them had anything to interrupt them, Tom proposed taking a long walk, by way of exercise, as well as to have a long conversation.
The ramble which the two friends took on this occasion conducted them to Newhaven, a fishing-village on the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, at the time, which was during the heat of the war, the resort of a press-gang in connection with a vessel of war in the roads. Accident brought the two young men into an unfortunate collision with this party, who were armed, and seeking for seamen. Having seized on a sailor, who loudly remonstrated against the cruelty of carrying him from his home, his wife, and family, Cochran's sense of justice was roused, and he interfered to assist in a rescue, but in a manner so insolent and inconsiderate, as greatly irritated the officer in command of the party, who immediately seized him, and proceeded to drag him away with him. Seeing his friend in this jeopardy, Drysdale flew to his rescue, grappled with the officer, and being a stouter man, threw him to the ground, at the same time calling on those around to assist him in effecting the liberation of
his companion. The scuffle now became general ; the press-gang drew their cutlasses, beat off their assailants, and succeeded in carrying both the lads to their boat-the commander of the party saying that he would make two landsmen supply the place of the seaman he had lost; for the latter had made his escape during the struggle.
Drysdale and Cochran were now immediately rowed on board the tender, which was at that moment under-weigh in the roads; and in a few days after they found themselves at Spithead. Here they were put on board the ship of the admiral of the Channel fleet, which was then waiting for a fair wind; and in a few days more they were
The lieutenant, who accompanied them, after having brought them on the quarter-deck, addressing himself to the captain, said: “These are two young Scotch lads, whom I was in a manner forced to bring along with me, in consequence of their very improper conduct in opposing me in the execution of my duty. I know not who they are, but I know that they are spirited young fellows, and as stout as they are brave. As to that young man,' said he, pointing to Tom, 'I don't know whether he will make a good seaman or not, but I will answer for him that he will not flinch from his gun. Had he not lost me a good seaman, whom I wished to have got, I would have let him off for having come manfully forward to rescue his companion there, who brought everything on by his own folly, in meddling with what he had no business with.'
All eyes were turned on our two unfortunate heroes, who, with their heads bound up and bloody, made a rueful appearance, and excited the sympathy of the bystanders ; but, as they had been guilty of opposing a king's officer in the execution of his duty, they were committed to the care and tuition of the boatswain, after a caution and gentle reprimand from the captain.
The boatswain, who was naturally a humane man, and, as far as was consistent with his duty, kind and indulgent to the seamen, had the two lads berthed and messed ; and telling them to be of good cheer, and not cast down with their misfortune, assured them that, if they conducted themselves properly, and minded their business, they should be taken care of.” “You have had a hard brush, I find, my lads,' said he, “at the commencement of your service ; but that's nothing at all against you, but rather in your favour. We seamen must lay our account with meeting with these things every day in our lives, and the sooner we meet with them the better. All you have to do is, to attend to your duty, obey your orders, and do everything as well as you can, and there is no fear of your coming on. We have no idlers, no skulkers here ; every one must be active and alert. So saying, he left them.
Sadly at variance as his new situation was with all his former habits and pursuits, Drysdale wisely resolved, since no better could now be done, not only to get reconciled to it as fast as possible, but