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in danger; and miners, who, in procuring metals and coal from the bowels of the earth, are continually in peril of their lives. The
very entrance into a mine looks fearful. I have here, in a little book, some account of an old miner, which I will read, as it is well suited to call forth your sympathy, and to dispose you to act with humanity when oc
Edward. Yes, let us have all about the old miner; shall
you like to hear it, Peter ? Peter. Oh yes ! the old miner! the old miner!
Mr. Franklin then read to his children the
following affecting narration. “There's danger in the mines, old man,' I exclaimed to a miner, who, with his arms bent, was leaning against the sides of the immense vault, absorbed in meditation-it must be a frightful life. The old man looked with a stedfast, but somewhat vacant stare; and then, in half broken sentences, he muttered, Dangerwhere is there not danger—on the earth or beneath it; on the mountain, or in the valley; on the ocean, or in the quiet of nature's most hidden spot; where hath not death left some token of his presence?' Truly,' I replied ; but the vicissitudes of life are various: the sailor seeks his living on the waters, and he knows each moment that they might engulf him; the hunter seeks death in the wild woods; the soldier on the field of battle; and the miner knows not but that the spot where he now stands, to-morrow may be his tomb."
It is so, indeed,' replied the old man: 'we find death in the means we seek to perpetuate life; 'tis a strange riddle, who shall solve it?
Have you long followed this occupation?' I asked, somewhat struck with the old man's manner. From a boy: I drew my first breath in the mines; I shall yield it in their gloom.' “You have seen some of these vicissitudes,' I said, 'to which you just now alluded ? Yes,' he replied, with a faltering voice, I have. There was a time when three small boys looked up to me, and called
me father; they were sturdy striplings. Now, it seems but yesterday, they stood before me in the pride of their strength, and I filled, too, with a father's vanity. But the Lord chasteneth the proud heart; where are they now? I saw the youngest (he was the dearest of the flock, his mother's spirit seemed to have settled on him,) crushed at my feet a bleeding
We were together, so near that his hot blood sprang up
face. Molten lead had not been more lasting than those fearful drops. One moment, and his light laugh was in my ears: the next, and the large mass came. There was no cry of terror, but transition to eternity was as the lightning's flash, and my poor boy lay crushed beneath the fearful load. It was an awful moment! but time, that changeth all things, brought relief, and I still had two sons.
But my cup of affliction was not yet full: they, too, were taken from me. Side by side they died, not as their brother, but the fire damp” caught their breath, and left them scorched and lifeless. They brought them home to the old man, his jewels, than whom earth's richest treasures in his sight had no price, and told him he was childless and alone. It is a strange decree that the old plant should thus survive the stripling things it shaded, and for whom it would have died a thousand times. Is it surprising that I should wish to die here in the mines? You have, indeed,' I replied
drunk of affliction : whence do
derive consolation ? The old man looked
From heaven; God
and he taketh away, blessed be his name.' I bowed my head to the miner's pious prayer, and the old man passed on.'»
M. That is a very affecting account indeed! Poor old man !
P. And were all three of his sons killed ?
Mr. F. All of them. While such relations make us grateful that we are not called on to pass through such dangers, they should make us feel kindly to those who are. Humanity endeavours to render the occupation of a miner more free from peril; assists the poor man when injured, and helps to maintain his wife and children, should he meet with death.
M. How many kind acts humanity does !
Mr. F. Humanity will do another thing, too, for the miner. It will endeavour to instruct him in the ways of righteousness, and lead him to the Saviour of sinners, that whatever may happen to his body, his soul may be saved with an everlasting salvation. But now for a word or two about the slave trade. This is a crying evil, a black spot on the brow of every people engaged in it. Humanity has tried hard to set it aside; but the poor negro is still dragged from his native country by his hard-hearted oppressor.
E. Oh, that abominable slave trade!
Mr. F. Much has been done, as I said, to put an end to it; and, to the credit and humanity of England, she is no longer among the nations that buy and sell human beings like cattle; yet still the trade is carried on to a great extent.
M. I wonder the poor Africans do not all rise up in a body to prevent it.
Mr. F. So far from that being likely, the Africans are as actively engaged in the business as the slave dealers themselves.
E. What! do the negroes themselves help on slavery?
Mr. F. Indeed they do; the white man has led on his black brother, by bribes and by spirituous liquors, to do his bidding, so
that Africans bring in their sable brethren and sell them as slaves. Cruelty seems natural to man, for all uncivilized people are cruel.