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troops with their families, and though it was known that there was a large quantity of powder in the magazine, yet not a cry of alarm was heard even from the women and children ; the consequence
that the officers and crew were able to do all that was needful, and to transmit the whole of her living freight to a vessel which most providentially came in sight at the time. In striking contrast was the scene on board the Halsewell, where the daughters of the captain, losing all self-control, threw themselves upon their father with such frantic cries as entirely to unman him, and deprive him of that calmness and intrepidity, on the maintenance of which all depended." It is recorded of the late duke of Wellington, that no feature of his character was more remarkable than his coolness in the hour of danger. Instead of becoming paralyzed or perturbed by sudden and perilous conjunctures, he scemed to rise up to each emergency, so that the more imminent the danger, the quicker were his perceptions, the cooler his judgment, and the firmer his resolve. Much of this invaluable capacity is, of course, a natural gift, but it is still very susceptible of development and culture. Where young persons are accus
tomed to make a clamour about trifles, to give way to the first impulses of terror, or to affect alarm at frivolous causes, this quality can scarcely be expected to survive. But let the young be taught to cultivate a calm, tranquil spirit, and to maintain a firin, fearless deportment under such circumstances, and they will be prepared to meet, and, as far as human agency can go, to escape from the real and important perils which may threaten their riper years. We need hardly remark, how pre-eminently true religious principle is adapted to implant and foster this habit of mind, giving as it does faith in a presiding Providence, striping death of its terrors, and accustoming the individual to contemplate with serenity an opening eternity. Others may rush upon death with a callous insensibility arising from indifference to the future life, but the Christian, who by à living faith is victor over death, is alone able to encounter the king of terrors with a calın, rational confidence.
We subjoin a few instances of presence of mind exhibited by persons of both these classes.
No man, perhaps, was ever naturally gifted in greater perfection with the quality now under consideration than Napoleon Bonaparte. In
the hour of danger his coolness was so remarkable, that “calm as on the morning of a great battle," was the phrase employed by those who knew him best, when they wished to describe his appearance on any occasion in civil ļife upon which he had manifested peculiar self-possession. In one period of his eventful career, Napoleon was especially indebted to this valuable quality for his preservation. During his residence in Egypt, he had had occasion, with some attendants, to cross some sands at low tide ; night set in while they were thus engaged ; the tide set in ; and having lost their
the party came to a full pause. Not knowing on which side the water was shallow or on which it was deep, they could not tell whether the next step would take them nearer to or further from the shore. At this juncture, Napoleon relieved the whole party by one of those happy strokes of genius, which, however, but for presence of mind would never have occurred to him. Ordering his attendants to form a circle around him, he then instructed each of them to gallop forward, pausing when their horses began to swim.
In this manner some of the party speedily found out where the water, in the direction of the shore, began to grow shallow, and all escaped in safety. “Had
I perished here, like Pharaoh," said Napoleon, with the hardened sneer of infidelity, “what a famous text it would have proved to half the divines of Europe."
The value of presence of mind, united with unflinching nerve and courage, was also powerfully displayed in private life some forty years since by sir John Purcell, at a time when his house was attacked by fourteen assassins. The subjoined narrative * is drawn from sir John's own statement, as given in a court of justice.
Sir John Purcell, at the time the adventure occurred, was residing at Highfort, in Ireland, when, on the 11th of March, 1812, after he had retired to rest, he heard some noise outside the window of his parlour. He slept on the ground floor, in a room immediately adjoining the parlour. There was a door from one room into the other, but this having been found inconvenient, and there being another passage from the bed-room more commodious, it was nailed up, and some of the furniture of the parlour placed against it. Shortly after sir John heard the noise in the front of his house, the windows of his parlour were dashed in, and
* See Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, vol, vi, first series.
the noise occasioned by the feet of the robbers in leaping from the windows down into the parlour, appeared to indicate a gang not less than fourteen in number. He immediately got out of bed, and the first determination he took being to make resistance, it was with no small mortification that he reflected upon the unarmed condition in which he was placed, being destitute of a single weapon of the ordinary sort. In this state he spent little time in deliberation, as it almost immediately occurred to him, that having supped in the bedchamber on that night, a knife had been left there, and he instantly proceeded to grope in the dark for the weapon, which he found before the door leading from the parlour into the bedchamber had been broken open. While he stood in calm but resolute expectation that the progress of the robbers would soon lead them to the hedchamber, he heard the furniture which had been placed against the nailed-up door expeditiously displaced, and immediately afterwards the door was burst open.
The moon shone with great brightness, and when the door was thrown open, the light streaming in through three large windows in the parlour afforded sir John a view which might have made