Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

a

“Mr. Sunderland, stay-one moment my good girl, put down that trunk-take a seat, Madam ; permit me, Miss, to hand you a chair, Mr. Sunderland, will you be seated ? I have yet something more to say. When you requested me to yield up the wish I had to purchase this side-board, I told you that it was my determination to buy it, and I tell you now, that I will not sell it."

“ This, Mr. Clifford, needs no repetition.”

“Aye, but it does, and when that young lady made the same request for her piano, my answer was the same. Stop, Sir,-hear me out--no man would so act without a motive; no one, particularly a stranger, would court the displeasure of a crowded room, and bear up against the frowns of the many without an objeet. Now I had an object. --and that was—be seated, Sir-Madam, your attention-that object was to buy this house and furniture for the sole purpose of restoring them to you and yours again!"

“Sir, is this not a cruel jest?”
"Is it possible ?"-exclaimed mother and daughter.

Amazement took possession of Mary, and her trunk fell to the floor with a crash, causing her small stock of clothing to roll out, which she eagerly gathered up, and thrust back, without any regard to the manner with which it was done.

“ The auctioneer,” continued Mr. Clifford, “ has my instructions to have the matter arranged by to-morrow. In the meantime, you are at home ; Mr. Sunderland, you are in your own house--and I, the intruder ?"!

Intruder, Sir? Oh, say not that I will not tell you what a relief this knowledge is to me—but I have yet to learn how I am to repay you all this, and what could have induced you, a total stranger, thus to step forward. Ah! a thought strikes me-gracious heavens ! Can it be ? look on

a

66

me, Mr. Clifford—nay start not.” The stranger actually recoiled from the glance of Sunderland's eye—" look on me Sir-has that girl—that innocent girl who stands trembling there, any interest in this generous act of yours ?-speak, Sir, and let me know at once, that I may spurn your offer and resent the insult."

“I will not deny, Sir, but that she has."

“ Me, Father--dear Father! I never before saw the gentleman's face."

“Say not so, Miss”
6. Sir-1-1-Indeed, Father, 14"

“Remember, ten years back-call to mind a light haired boy, whom you called—”

6. Brother !"
“Gracious heaven-Henry-my boy ?"
“Is here I am your long lost son!”

Need we add more? Our readers can readily imagine that a more cheerful fire blazed upon the hearth, and that Mary, the faithful servant, was not forgotten in the general joy which prevailed on this occasion.

LEAF ELEVENTH.

6. Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear ;

Robes, and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of Justice hurtless breaks ;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it.--SHAKE.

THE poor have long since made up their minds to one thing, and that is, when brought before a magistrate or a

a

judge, their poverty is not unfrequently viewed as a part and portion of their crime, and hence it is their fate is very summarily decided upon. The sacredness of law is no longer respected, legislate as you will, the rich are always protected, thus breaches of trust, under our existing code, opens the way for a system of fraud, which we regret to say is carried into high places, and by men of high standing. The poor wretch who steals a loaf of bread to save a wise and children from starving is dragged before a magistrate, who commits him to prison, and he is tried, sentenced and condemned as a matter of course, while the well dressed swindler, the accomplished rogue, and the noted pick-pocket, are permitted to escape, and why? Ah, there lies the mystery—as well as the uncertainty of the law, say nothing of justice. No law can be considered a just one which opens one door to admit the poor and another to admit the rich. No law should be sanctioned by the people which is made to crush the poor man, and screen the rich. That such highhanded acts have characterised some of the proceedings of magistrates, and judges, the records of both too plainly show, and the penitentiary reports prove.-A family in a most lamentable state of destitution applied to the Missionary for assistance. It consisted of a woman, and three helpless children, the husband was in the state's prison. The scene of suffering presented was one calculated to excuse almost any act on the part of poverty to rescue itself from the slow approach of the monster starvation. The snow was piled up in heaps in each corner of the room, and the wind howled and whistled through the same means of ingress, the fire had gone

out on the hearth, and the trembling children were clinging to their mother, in the vain hope of receiving from her the means of warmth.

a

66

[ocr errors]

a

As the missionary opened the door, a boy, the youngest, stepped toward him, and with his little hands raised as if in supplication, exclaimed," do not take mother too, she never stole a piece a meat.”

It appeared that the father had taken a piece of meat, from the stall of a butcher, valued at a few pennies, he committed the act in open day, in presence of a multitude of people; in the eyes of all it was a most henious crime, so thought the law—the judge, and the jury. The case was a plain one—it was also a hard one; the poor, halfcrazed wretch, to save his family in the midst of winter from starvation, even while they were nearly perishing from the cold, committed the dreadful act of stealing a small piece of meat! The poor man had no friends—his coat was threadbare, he was an outcast--poverty had made him one !-Cold, and hunger, the sunken cheeks of his wife, the fading forms of his children, even on the threshold of youth, and bright hope, met his gaze as he entered his humble home. Their glassy eyes turned at the sound of footsteps, and their plaintive cries for bread, drove him almost to madness. He saw the baked dishes of the rich, passing from kitchen to hall, he saw upon the floor crumbs, and fragments enough to keep his poor family, and yet when he asked for a morsel, he was laughed at, mocked and ordered away from the door. It was while laboring under the abrupt dismissal from the rich man's dwelling, and the remembrance of those who were awaiting his arrival, that the theft was committed. The facts were all clearly proven, and the poor wretch was dragged to prison. Much might be said upon this subject—but the following thrilling poem, so truth-like, life-like, and so feelingly expressed, tells more in the beauty, the grandeur of rhyme, than would a volume upon the same subject if written in prose. It is the pro

duction of our talented townsman, Thomas Dunn English, Esq., and is entitled

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »