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ị THE BEACON ;
OR, THE EXECUTION IMPROVED! BEING AN HUMBLE ATTEMPT TO CHECK THE FIRST AP
PROACHES TO VICE. Founded on a circumstance which really happened; and ad
dressed to the Publishers of the Cheap Magazine.
“ Observing the crowd, he (SUTHERLAND) expressed an earnest wish
that his fate, and that of his fellow-sufferers, might be blessed, as the means of leading many of them to reflcct,” &c. DURING my residence at a small town on the coast last autumn, I went out one Sunday evening, at the time when
“Twilight grey, Had in her sober liv'ry all things clad,” ... ju order to stretch my limbs a little, and inbale the refreshing breeze, (before lighting candle to resume my reading:) without expecting any thing to break in upon my reflections, or draw off my attention from such scenes as nature, at this delightful season of the year, miglit present to my view.
For you must know, gentlemen, that I am an Obser. vant Pedestrian, and that while I indulge myself occasionally with a ramble through the fields of nature, and amongst the enclosures of human life, I seldom return from my excursions without being somewhat benefited by the observations I am accustomed to make on men and things. And although my mode of travelling precludes my taking a wider range, yet, like the busy bee, that extracts sweets from such flowers as she meets with in her way, I endeavour to turn the circumstance to advantage ; and, being deprived of the means of rambling farther, am the more diligent to improve myself by those numerous incidents which occur in my contracted sphere of action. Indeed, upon the whole, I cannot help considering my method of travelling as best adapted to my pursuits ; for, wbile sauntering leisurely along the road, unencumbered with the care of a horse, I have not only more time to reflect on what I see, but, being more at liberty to turn to the right and left at pleasure, I am often led to explore those sweet sequestered spots, where, to the hasty traveller,
“ Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
I am led to make this digression, gentlemen, in order that you may know something of the man you have to do with on the present occasion, and be the better able to appreciate how far, from his habits and pursuits, he may be useful in fulure in your projected undertaking; for I have read your Prospectus of THE CHEAP MAGAZINE with great pleasure ; and being warmly interested in every thing that promises to better the condition, by alleviating the distresses, or adding to the comforts of the poorer
classes, especially in a religious or moral point of view, I'
“ Pass, with melancholy state,
“ And time will be when I shall rest.” And after having taken a few turns amongst the numerous mementos in this great school of morality, my mind. filled with reflections, serious, and mournfully pleasing," I went forward into the fields, and had not proceeded far. till I was reminded of being again in the land of the living, by a confused kind of gabbling noise, which I found arose from some boys who had got into an adjoining field of beans, and were at once busily employed in talking, treading down the corn, and filling their pockets.—“ There,”. said I, (alluding to the place I had just left,) “ There, the wicked cease from troubling; here, I find them busy at work."
Shocked at the circumstance, not merely of a parcel of boys being so employed on a Sunday evening, but at that effrontery which unmoved could be guilty of such a practice, in the immediate neighbourhood of a town, and in the presence of a person actually passing at the
time ; and having been long a convert to the asiom, that " It is better to prevent crimes than to punish them,” I felt a strong propensity to exert myself on this occasion, in order to check such early blossoms of wickedness in the bud.
Observing the boys were not far advanced within an open gateway which led into the field, by taking a circular turn to get nigh them un perceived, I soon found myself in such a situation, outside of the entry, as to prevent, as I thought, the possibility of their escape.
My precaution as will appear in the sequel, was partly successful; but there was one great advantage I found I had gained at my post, the overhearing their conversation undiscovered. Just as I arrived, one of the lads, whose name I afterwards learned was David Doubtful, was ex pressing his fears that the strange gentleman, as he called me, might have noticed them, and had gone to give inform mation to the proprietor of the field'; for, added he, “I saw him gang rather faster after he was past, and now he's no to be seen.”—“I think,” concladed David, “we bad better be awa' wi' what we hae got, for farther on and we may fare varse." Will Candid, one of his companions, gave it as his opinion, that it was very possible the gentleman might have seen them, for he was obliged to caution both Bragwell and Careless not to speak so loud, at the very time he was looking that way; at the same time, observed he, “I dinna think there is ony danger, for he went on without taking muckle notice.” John Careless observed, that “ he didna care for his part whether he saw them or no, the beans were nane o' his, an' at ony rate he coudna Weel ken them at sic a distance, for it was getting darkish," and a very good time, he thought, to get his pockets
well well filled. “Weel done, Jock,” cried Tom Bragwell, « Wha's fear'd ?-for me, as lang as I hae the use o' my legs and gude sea-room, I fear nae man ;--as for that co’artly fallow Doubtfu', he's aye startin' questions, an's fear'd o's ain shadow I dare say. He was tryin' before to make as believe there was some ill in takin' beans i' the Sunday, whan ilka hody kens we've naething else to do ; an' begude to talk about Sutherland, Afacdonald and Alacintosh, the Edinburgh chaps, just as we were doin' ony thing like them; and because we winna gie o'er, he now tries to frighten us wi' a man that does nae ken ony thing about ony o' us ; an' cares nae tipence for either him or his beans.---Gang wha will, I'm determined no to flinch till my pouches are baith weel lined, in spite o' fate.”
“ Then,” said Candid, “ according to what ye say, ye wadna move though it was thun'er just now. D'ye mind Tam what a fright ye gat yon Sunday forenoon when we were gaen to the turnips.” “O! aye,” said Bragwell, “ but ye ken I had a sàir fit that time, but this is a fire night Wull, an' there's nae fear o' thun'er or light. ning either, ma man; and I'm as sure that we hae nae. thing to be fear’d for just now, as I'm that Doubtfu' was speakin' nonsense ; when he begude wi' his palaver about an e'e seein' us, whan I ran awa’ wi' the auld wife's cloak, whan she ran after us for daddin' her cabbage at hallow. een, although it was dark. This was the first time we fell in wi' him, an' I wish we had never ken’d ony thing about him, for he's aye fear’d for sometbing or ither-I wonder he disna try to fright us again wi’ this e'e ; but he kens we could easily find him out the night, for its no dark yet.”
Poor Doubtful, who rose in my estimation in propor. tion as he appeared blame-worthy in that of his compa