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grasping his hand convulsively. “Colonel Singleton, you are a father !-pity-mercy-mercy for the son ! mercy for the daughter! Yes, you had a daughter. On this bosom she poured out her last breath; these hands closed her eyes; these very hands that are now clasped in prayer did those offices for her that you condemned my poor, poor brother to require.”
One mighty emotion the veteran struggled with, and quelled; but with a groan that shook his whole frame.' He even looked around in conscious pride at his victory; but a second burst of feeling conquered. His head, white with the frost of seventy winters, sank upon the shoulder of the frantic suppliant. The sword that had been his companion in so many fields of blood dropped from his nerveless hand, and as he cried, "May God bless you for the deed !” he wept aloud.
Long and violent was the indulgence that Colonel Singleton yielded to his feelings. On recovering he gave the senseless Frances into the arms of her aunt, and, turning with an air of fortitude to his comrades, he said, “Still, gentlemen, we have our duty as officers to discharge; our feelings as men may be indulged hereafter. What is your pleasure with the prisoner?"
One of the judges placed in his hand a written sentence that he had prepared while the Colonel was engaged with Frances, and declared it to be the opinion of himself and his companion. It briefly stated that Henry Wharton had been detected in passing the lines of the American army
as a spy and in disguise ; that thereby, according to the laws of war, he was liable to suffer death, and that this court adjudged him to the penalty, recommending him to be executed, by hanging, before nine o'clock on the following morning. It was not usual to inflict capital punishments
on the enemy, without referring the case to the Commander-in-Chief for his approbation, or, in his absence, to the officer commanding for the time being. But, as Washington held his headquarters at New Windsor, on the western bank of the Hudson, sufficient time was yet before them to receive his answer.
“This is short notice," said the veteran, holding the pen in his hand, in a suspense that had no object. “Not a day to fit one
So young for heaven ?"
“The royal officers gave Hale but an hour," returned his comrade. “We have extended the usual time. But Washington has the power to extend it or to pardon."
" Then to Washington will I go," cried the Colonel, returning the paper with his signature :
and if the services of an old man like me, or that brave boy of mine, entitle me to his ear, I will yet save the youth." So saying, he departed, full of his generous intentions in favour of Henry Wharton.
The sentence of the court was communicated with proper tenderness to the prisoner; and after giving a few necessary instructions to the officer in command, and dispatching a courier to headquarters with their report, the remaining judges mounted, and rode to their own quarters with the same unmoved exterior, but with the consciousness of the same dispassionate integrity that they had maintained throughout the trial.
7. F. Cooper.
THE OLD TORTOISE.
THE old Sussex tortoise, that I have mentioned to you so often, is become my property. I dug it out of its winter dormitory in March last, when it was enough wakened to express its resentment by hissing; and packing it in a box with earth, carried it eighty miles in post-chaises. The rattle and hurry of the journey so perfectly roused it that when I turned it out on a border, it walked twice down to the bottom of my garden. However, in the evening, the weather being cold, it buried itself in the loose mould, and continues still concealed.
As it will be under my eye, I shall now have an opportunity of enlarging my observations on its mode of life and propensities; and perceive already that towards the time of coming forth, it opens a breathing-place in the ground near its head, requiring, I conclude, a freer respiration as it becomes more alive. This creature not only goes under the earth from the middle of November to the middle of April, but sleeps great part of the summer; for it goes to bed in the longest days at four in the afternoon, and often does not stir in the morning till late. Besides, it retires to rest for every shower; and does not move at all in wet days.
When one reflects on the state of this strange being, it is a matter of wonder to find that Providence should bestow such a profusion of days, such a seeming waste of longevity, on a reptile that appears to relish it so little as to squander more than two-thirds of its existence in a joyless stupor, and be lost to all sensation for months together in the profoundest of slumbers.
While I was writing this letter, a moist and warm afternoon, with the thermometer at fifty, brought forth troops of shell-snails, and, at the same juncture, the tortoise heaved up the mould and put out its head; and the next morning came forth as it were raised from the dead, and walked about till four in the afternoon. This was a curious coincidence-a very amusing occurrence, to see such a similarity of feeling between the two pepeoinoi!1 for so the Greeks call both the shell-snail and the tortoise.
Because we call “the old family tortoise” an abject reptile, we are too apt to undervalue his abilities, and to depreciate his powers of instinct. Yet he is, as Mr. Pope says of his lord,
'Much too wise to walk into a well :
and has so much discernment as not to fall down a ha-ha, but to stop and withdraw from the brink with the readiest precautions.
Though he loves warm weather, he avoids the hot sun; because his thick shell when once heated, would—as the poet says of solid armour—"scald with safety." He therefore spends the more sultry hours under the umbrella of a large cabbage-leaf, or amidst the waving forests of an asparagus bed.
But as he avoids heat in the summer, so, in the decline of the year, he improves the faint autumnal beams by getting within the reflection of a fruitwall; and, though he has never read that plains inclining to the horizon receive a greater share of warmth, he inclines his shell, by tilting it against the wall, to collect and admit every feeble ray.
THE DEATH OF SLAVERY.
O Thou great wrong, that, through the slow-paced years,
Didst hold thy millions fettered, and didst wield
The scourge that drove the labourer to the field, And turn a stony gaze on human tears,
Thy cruel reign is o'er;
Thy bondmen crouch no more In terror at the menace of thine eye;
For He who marks the bounds of guilty power, Long-suffering, hath heard the captive's cry,
And touched his shackles at the appointed hour, And lo! they fall, and he whose limbs they galled Stands in his native manhood, disenthralled,