Page images

single atom of fish, flesh, or fowl. For their first day's breakfast on the new regimen, the old woman treated them with a terrene of oat-meal gruel.

Keimer was particularly fond of his breakfast, at which a nice beefsteak with onion sauce was a standing dish. It was as good as a farce to Bed to see with what an eye Keimer regarded the terrene, when entering the room, in place of his steak, hot, smoking, and savory, he beheld this pale, meagre-looking slop.

“What have you got there?" said he, with a visage grum and scowling eye.

“A dish of hasty pudding,” replied Ben, with the smile of an innocent youth who had a keen appetite, with something good to satisfy it—a dish of nice hasty pudding, sir, made of oats.”

“Of OATS!” retorted Keimer, with a voice raised to

[ocr errors]

a scream.

“Yes, sir, oats," rejoined Ben-soats, that precious grain which gives such elegance and fire to our noblest of quadrupeds, the horse."

Keimer growled out that he was no horse to eat oats.

“No matter for that,” replied Ben, "tis equally good for men."

Keimer denied that any human being ever eat oats.

6 Ave!” said Ben, “and pray what's become of the Scotch? Don't they live on oats; and yet where will you find a people so bony, blythe, and gay;' a nation of such wits and warriors.”

As there was no answering this, Kejmer sat down to the terrene and swallowed a few spoonfuls, but not with out making as many wry faces as if it hai been so much jalan; while Ben, all smile and chat, breakfasted most deliciously.

At divner, by Ben's order, the old woman paraded a trencher piled up with potatoes. Keimer's grumbling fit came on him again. “He saw clear enough," he said, "that he was to be poisoned "

“Poh, cheer up man,' replied Ben; "this is your right preacher's bread.”

“Bread the d—1!" replied Keimer, snarling.

“Yes, bread, sir," continued Ben, pleasantly; "the bread of life, sir; for where do you fi: such health and spirits, such bloom and beauty, as among the houest

hearted IRISH, and vet for breakfast, dinner, and supper, the potatoe is their tetotuin; the first second, and third coarse.” In this way, Ben and his old woman went on with Keimer; daily ringing the changes on oatmeal gruel, roasted potatoes, boiled rice, and so on, through the whole family of roots and grains in all their various genders, moods and tenses.

Sometimes, like a restive mule, Keimer would kick up and show strong symptoms of flying the way. But then Ben would prick him up again with a touch of his ruling passion, vanity; "only think, Mr. Keimer," he would say, "only think what has been done by the foueders of new religions: how they have enlightened the ignorant, polished the rude, civilized the savage and made heroes of those who were little better than brutes. Think, sir, what Moses did among the stiffnecked Jews; what Mahomet did among the wild Arabs -and what you may do among these gentle drab-coated Pennsylvanians." This, like a spur in the flank of a jaded horse, gave Keimer a new start, and pushed hima on afresh to his gruel breaklasts and potatoe dinners. Ben strove hard to keep him up to this gait. Often at table, and especially when he saw that Keimer was in good humour and fed kindly, he would give a loose to fancy, and paint the advantages of their new regimen in the most glowing colours. "Aye, sir," he would say, letting drop at the same time his spoon, as in extacy of his subject, while his pudding on the platter cooled“aye sir, now we are beginning to live like men going apreaching indeed. Let your epicures gormandize their fowl, fish, and flesh, with draughts of intoxicating li.. quors. Such gross inflammatory food may suit the brutal votaries of Mars and Venus. But our views, sir, are different altogether; we are going to teach wisdom and benevolence to mankind. This is a heavenly work, sir, and our minds ought to be heavenly. Now, as the mind depends greatly on the body, and the body on the food, we should certainly select that which is of the most pure and refining quality. And this, sir is exactly the food to our purpose.

This inild potatoe, or this gentle pudding, is the thing to insure the light stomach, the cool liver, the clear head, and above all those celestial passions which become a preacher that would moralize :


the world. And these celestial passions, sir, let me add, though I dont pretend to be a prophet, these celestial passions, sir, were you but to stick to this diet, would soon shine out in your countenance with such apostolic majesty and grace, as would strike all beholders with revereuce, and enable you to carry the world before you." Such was the style of Ben's rhetoric with old Kei

But it could not all do. For though these harangues would sometimes make him fancy himself as big as Zoroaster or Confucius, and talk as if he should soon have the whole country running after him, and worshipping hiin for the GREAT LAMA of the west; yet this divinity fit was too inuch against the grain to last long. Unfortunately for poor Keimer, the kitchen lay between him and his bishoprick: and both nature and habit had so wedded him to that swinish idol that nothing could divorce him. So after having been led by Ben a "very d-l of a life," as he called it, "for three months, his flush-pot appetites prevailed, and he swore by his whiskers, he would suffer it no longer.” Accordingly he ordered a nice roast pig for dinner, and desired Ben to invite a young friend to dine with them. Ben did so: but neither himself nor his young friend were any thing the better for the pig. For before they couid arrive, the pig being done, and his appetite beyond all restraint, Keimer had fallen on it and devoured the whole. And there he sat panting and torpid as an ANACONDA who had just swallowed

buffaloe. But still his looks gave sign that the Ministers of Grace had not entirely deserted him, for at sight of Ben and his young friend, he blushed up to the eye lids, and in a glow of scarlet, which showed that he paid dear for his whistle, (gluttony) he apologized for disappointing them of their dinner. "ludeed, the smell of the pig," he said, swas so sweet, and the nicely browned skni so inviting, especially to him, who had been so long starved, that for the soul of him he could not resist the temptation to taste itand then, 0! if Lucifer himself had been at the door, he must have gone on, let what would have been the consequences." He said too, that for his part he was glad it was a pig and not a hog', for that he verily believed he should have bursted himsell”--thenlean

a young

ing back in his chair and pressing his swollen abilomen with his paws, he esclaimed with an awkward laugh. well, I dont belive I was ever cut out for a bishop!”Here ended the farce: for Keiner never after this uttered another word about his New Religion.

Ben used, laughing, to say that he drew Keimer into this scrape that he might enjoy the satisfaction of starving him out of his gluttony. And he did it also that he might gave the more for books and candles: their vegetable regimen costing him in all, rather less than three cents a day! To those who can spend twenty times this sum on tobacco and whiskey alone, three cents per day must appear a scurvy a lowance, and of course poor Ben must be sadly pitied. But such philosophers should remember that all depends on our loves, whose property it is to make bitter things sweet and heavy things light.

For example, to lie out in the darksome swamp with no other canopy but the sky, and no bed but the cold ground, and his only music the midnight owl or screaming alligator, seems terrible to servile minds; but it was joy to Marion, whose "whole soul, as general Lee well observes, “was devoted to liberty and country."

So, to shut himself up in a dirty printing office with no dinner but a bit of bread, no supper but an apple, must appear to every epicure as it did to Keimer, a mere da of a life;"? but it was joy to Ben, whose whole soul was on his books as the sacred lamps that were to guide him to usefulness and glory.

Happy he who early strikes into the path of wisdom, and bravely walks therein till habit sprinkles it with ro

He shall be led as a lanb among the green pastures along the water courses of pleasure, nor sha!l he ever experience the pang of those

sWho see the right and approve it too;
Condemn the wrong--and yet the wrong pursue,"



BEN, as we have seen, was never without a knot of choice spirits,like satellites constantly revolving around him, and both receiving and reflecting light. By these satellites I mean young meu of fine minds and fond books. He had at this time a trio of such. The first was of the name of Osborne, the second Watson, and the third Ralph. As the two first were a good deal of the nature of wandering stars, which though bright, soon disappeared again, I shall let them pass away in silence. But the last, that's to say Ralph, shone so long in the same sphere with Ben both in America and Europe, that it will never do to let him go without giviog the reader some what at least of a telescopic squint at him. James Ralph then was a young man of the first rate talents, ingenious at argument, of flowery fancy most fascinating in his manners, and uncommonly eloquent In short, he appears to have been built and equipped to run the voyage of litt with as splendid success as any. But alas! as the seamen say of their ships, she took the wrong sheer. Hence, while many a DULL GENIUS, with only a few plain-sailing virtues on board, such as honest indlustry, good humour and prudence, have made fine wea. ther through life, and come into port at last laden up to the benus with riches and houors, this gallant Proa, this stately GondoLA, the moment he was put to sea, was caught up in a Euroclydon of turious passions and appetites that shivered his character and peace, and made a wreck of him at the very outset.

According to his own account, it appears that Ben was olten haunted with fears that he himself had some hand in Ralph's disasters. Dr. Franklin was certainly one of the wisest of mankind. But with all his wis. dom he was still but a man, and therefore liable to err. So omon, we know, was fallible; what wonder then young Franklin?

But here lies the difference between these two wise men, as to their errors. Solomon, according to scripture, was sometimes overcome of Satan, even in the bone and sinew of his strength; but the devil was too

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »