LIBRARY OF THE ^f
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA ^S
FARMER AND SOLDIER.
BY MRS. L. H. 8IGOURNEY.
[FOCKDID ox r
THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY.
No. 150 Nassau-street,
FARMER AND SOLDIER.
IT was a cold evening in winter. A
lamp cast its cheerful ray from the win-
dow of a small farm-house in one of the
villages of New-England. A fire was
burning brightly on the hearth, and two
brothers sat near it. Several school-
books lay by them on the table, from.
which they had been studying their
lessons for the ensuing day. Their pa-
4 THE FARMER [84
rents had retired to rest, and the boys
were conversing earnestly. The youn-
gest, who was about thirteen years of
" John, I mean to be a soldier."
"Why so, lames'?"
" Because I have been reading the life
of Alexander of Macedon, and also a
good deal about Napoleon Bonaparte.
I think they were the greatest men that
ever lived. There is nothing in this
world like the glory of the warrior."
" I cannot think it is glorious to do
so much harm. To destroy great multi-
tudes of innocent men. and to make such
mourning in families, and so much po-
verty and misery in the world, seems to
me more cruel than glorious."
" O, but then to be so honored, and to
have so many soldiers under your com-
mand, and the fame of such mighty vic-
tories, what glory can there be to com-
pare with this T'
" James, our good minister told us, in
his sermon last Sunday, that the end of
life was the test of its greatness. Now,
85] AND SOLDIER. 5
if I recollect right, Alexander, he that
you call the Great, got intoxicated, and
died like a madman ; and Napoleon was
imprisoned in a desolate island, like a
chained wild beast, for all the world to
gaze and wonder at. :)
"John, your ideas are very limited.
You certainly are not capable of admir-
ing heroes. You are just fit for a farmer.
I dare say that to break a pair of steers
is the height of your ambition, and to
spend your days in ploughing and hoe-
ing and reaping is all the glory you
The voice of their father was now
heard calling-: " Boys, go to bed." And so
ended their conversation for that night.
Thirty years passed away, and the
same season again returned. From the
same window a bright lamp gleamed,
and on the same hearth was a cheerful
fire. The building wore an unaltered ap-
pearance, but its inmates were changed.
The parents, who had then retired to
their sleeping apartments, had now gone
6 THE FARMER [86
down to the deeper rest of the grave.
They were pious, and their virtues were
held in sweet remembrance among the
peaceful inhabitants of their native vil-
lage. In the chairs which they used to
occupy sat their eldest son and his wife.
A babe lay in the cradle near them, and
two other little ones were breathing
quietly from their trundle-bed, in the
profound slumber of childhood. A blast
with snow beat against the casement.
<c I always think." said John, " a great
deal about poor James at this season of
87] AND SOLDIER. 7
the year, and especially on stormy nights.
But it is now so long since we have
heard from him, and his way of life has
exposed him to so many dangers, that I
fear there is strong reason to believe him
" What a pity," replied his wife, " that
he would be a soldier."
A knock was heard at the door. They
opened it, and a man leaning upon
crutches entered wearily. His garments
were thin and tattered, and his counte-
nance haggard. They reached him a
chair, and he sank into it. He gazed on
each of their faces, then on the sleeping
children, and then at every article of
furniture, as on some recollected friend.
At length, stretching out his withered
arms, he said, in a voice scarcely audi-
ble, " Brother!" That tone opened the
remembrances of many years. They
welcomed the returning wanderer, and
mingled their tears with his.
" Brother, sister, I have come home*
to you to die."
They perceived that he was too much
8 THE FARMER [88
exhausted to converse, and hastened to
prepare him fitting nourishment, and to
make him comfortable for the night.
The next morning he was unable to rise.
They sat by his bed-side and soothed
his sad heart with kindness, and told
him the history of all that had befallen
them in their quiet abode.
" Among all my troubles," said he,
" and I have had many, none have so
bowed my spirit down, as my sin in leav-
ing home without the knowledge of my
parents. I know it was against their
will that I should become a soldier, and
many were the warnings they gave me
not to choose that profession. I have
felt the pain of wounds, but nothing like
this sting of conscience. I have been a
prisoner in the enemy's hands, and have
sometimes lain almost perishing with
hunger, or parching with the thirst of
fever. Then the image of my home and
of my ingratitude would be with me,
both when I lay down and when I rose
up. Sometimes I would fancy that I saw
my mother bending tenderly over me,
89] AND SOLDIER. 9
as she used to do when I had only a
head-ache, and my father with the Bi-
ble in his hand, out of which he used to*
read to us before the evening prayer.
But when I lifted my hands to say,
" Father, I have sinned against heaven
and in thy sight, and am no more wor-
th}' to be called thy son," I awoke, and
it was all a dream. But the remembrance
of my disobedience would be there,
gnawing at my bosom ; and how bitterly
have I wept to think that the child of so
many peaceful precepts and prayers had
become a man of blood."
His brother assured him of the entire
forgiveness of his parents, and that daily
before the family- altar, as well as in
iheir private recesses of devotion, their
supplications were poured out for the
loved, the absent, the erring son.
" Ah ! those prayers followed me.
But for them I should have been a re-
probate. They plucked me as a brand
from the burning, when I se.emed forsa-
ken both of God and man."
Gradually, as strength permitted, he
told them his painful history. He had
been in battles by sea and land. He
tad heard the deep ocean echo with the
thunders of war, and seen the earth
drink in the strange red shower from
mangled and palpitating bosoms. He
had stood in the martial lists of Europe,
and jeoparded his life for a foreign
power, and he had pursued in his own
land the hunted Indian flying at mid-
night from the flames of his own hut.
He had gone with the bravest where
dangers thickened, and had sought in
91] AND SOLDIER. 11
every place for the glory of war, but had
found only misery.
" That glory which so dazzled my
boyish fancy, and which I supposed was
always the reward of the brave, conti-
nually eluded me. It is only the suc-
cessful leader of an army that is hailed
as a hero, while the poor soldiers by
whose sufferings his victories are won,
endure the hardship, that they may reap
the fame. Yet r how light is all the boast-
ed glory that was ever achieved by the
greatest commander, compared with the
good that he forfeits, and the sorrow
that he inflicts in order to obtain it.
"Sometimes, when ready for a battle,
just before we rushed into it, I have felt
an inexpressible reluctance and horror
at the thought of butchering my fellow-
creatures. But in the heat of contest all
such feelings vanished, and the madness
and desperation of a demon possessed
me. I cared neither for heaven, nor
hell. You who dwell in the midst of the
influences of mercy, who shrink to give
pain even to an animal, can scarcely be-
12 THE FARMER [92
lieve what hardness of heart comes with
the life of a soldier. Deeds of cruelty
are always before him, and he heeds
neither the agony of the starving infant,
nor the groans of its dying mother. Of
my own varieties of pain it will be of
no use to speak. When I have lain on
the field among the feet of trampling
horses, when my wounds stiffened in the
chilly night-wind, and no man cared for
my soul, 1 have thought it was no more
than just, since my own hand had dealt
the same violence to others. But the
greatest evil of a soldier's life is not the
suffering to which he is exposed, but the
sin with which he is made familiar.
Oaths, execrations, contempt of all sa-
cred things every where surround him.
The sweet and holy influences of the
Sabbath, the peaceful dispositions pray-
ed for at his mother's knee, the blessed
precepts of the Gospel graven upon his
young heart, are swept away. Yet amid
this hardened career, though I exerted
myself to appear gay and bold, my heart
constantly misgave me. God errant that
93] AND SOLDIER. 13
it may be purified by the Holy Spirit,
and have part in the atonement of a Re-
deemer, before I am summoned to the
dread bar of judgment."
His friends continued to hope that by
medical skill and careful nursing his
health might be restored. But he said :
" It can never be. Even now, Death
is standing at my right hand. When
I entered this valley, and my swollen
limbs failed, I prayed to my God, 0, hold
thou me up, but a little longer, that I
may reach the home where I was born,
confess my guilt, and, pardoned through
the blood of Jesus, die there, and be
buried by the side of my father and my
mother, and I will ask no more."
He felt that there was much to be
changed in his soul ere it could be fit-
ted for the holy enjoyments of a realm
of purity and peace. He therefore prayed
and wept, and "studied the Scriptures,
and conversed with Christians, and la-
bored to apprehend clearly the magni-
tude of his sins and the way of salvation.
'' Brother, you bid me to be comfort-
14 THE FARMER [94
ed. You have been a man of peace. In
the quiet occupation of husbandry you
have served God and loved your neigh-
bor. You have been merciful to the poor
brute. You have taken the fleece, and
saved the sheep alive. But I have de-
faced the image of God, and taken away
that breath which I never can restore.
You have taken the honey, and preserv-
ed the laboring bee. But I have de-
stroyed man and his habitation, burn-
ed the hive and spilled the honey on
the ground. You cannot imagine how
strong is the warfare in my soul with
the " prince of the power of the air, the
spirit that ruleth the children of disobe-
He declined rapidly. Death came on
with hasty strides. Laying his cold
hand upon the head of the eldest little
boy, he said, " Dear child, do not be a
soldier. Sister, brother, you have been
as angels of mercy to me ; the blessing
of the God of peace abide with you. and
upon your house."
. The venerable minister, who had in-
structed his childhood and laid his pa-
rents in their grave, had continually vi-
sited him, and administered spiritual in-
struction and consolation in his afflic-
tion. Now he stood by his side, as he
was about to go down into the valley of
the shadow of death.
" My son, look unto the Lamb of God."
"Yes, father! there is a fullness in
Him for me, the chief of sinners."
There was a short and solemn pause.
Then the dying man added, " but let no
16 THE FARMER AND SOLDIER. [96
one sin against light, and against love."
The white-haired man of God lifted
up his fervent prayer for the departing
soul. He commended it to the boundless
riches of divine grace, and the infinite
compassion of a Redeemer. He ceased,
and the eyes of the dying were closed.
There was no more gasping, or heaving
of the breast. They thought that the
breath had forsaken the clay, and spoke
of him as having passed where there is
no more sin, neither sorrow nor crying.
But there was a faint sigh. The pale
lips slowly moved, and bowing down
over his pillow, they caught the whisper
of his last words on earth. "Jesus, thnu
whose last gift icas peace, take a sinner