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towards Fairfield. The carriage now began to ascend, till it reached an eminence from which was seen the little village itself, almost embosomed in trees, and standing in a fertile plain, while just beyond, upon a rising ground, appeared the church and pretty parsonagehouse. The bells rang loudly and merrily as they entered the village street, and many persons were collected at the doors of the houses, to welcome, by respectful bows and courtseys their beloved minister and his lovely bride.
Sophia recollected, among these, many of the poor people from the neighbourhood of the Hall, and their innocent joy affected her even to tears.
The carriage had now passed the village, and ascended towards the rectory, which, though an old-fashioned dwelling, yet, from its being stuccoed with stone colour, and adorned with a green latticed verandah in front, situated in a garden abounding with the choicest shrubs and flowers, presented a very pleasant appear
But the sweetest flower, in the eyes of Sophia, which there presented itself, was the little blushing and sparkling Annette, holding good Mrs. Cicely by the hand, who, as Sophia afterwards found, had taken a small dwelling in the village of Fairfield, and was living on the fruits of her long services.
Sophia and Annette could hardly wait the opening of the carriage-door, before they were in each other's arms weeping abundantly, and thus relieving themselves from that excess of joy by which they might otherwise have been overwhelmed.
The happy party were then led by Mr. Sackville into his favourite room, a large old-fashioned apartment, which served as a study and dining-room, having one window looking towards the village, and another into the blooming and fragrant garden. Here a handsome collation had been set out and decorated with
sweet herbs: and nothing would serve the young and affectionate pair but that the faithful Mrs. Cicely should sit down with them and share in the repast; while the little Annette became almost boisterous with excessive joy.
The evening was finished with a prayer of thanksgiving to the bountiful Giver of all good gifts.
And now, having described the happiness of this pious
young couple,--a happiness, surely, never to be tasted by young persons who allow their minds before marriage to be carried away by any feelings unauthorized by religion, or who deliberately and perversely allow their own unsanctified desires to interfere with their duties either to God or their fellow-creatures,—I shall proceed to say, that the promise of happiness given to this young pair did not prove delusive; and time, as it passed with Mr. Sackville, only tended to prove to himself, and to all who knew him
“How much the wife was dearer than the bride."
In order to have the more means of doing good, and to preserve themselves as much as possible from anxious cares, the young people set out in a humble way of living; and though Sophia had brought her husband an ample fortune, and at different times afterwards received some very handsome presents from her father, yet she always preserved the most humble habits, and desired to be expensive only in her charities.
Annette never lost her place in the affections of her adopted parents, though they were blessed with many lovely children of their own. From the day of their marriage, they resolved to lay aside certain little savings for the use of this dear child when she should come of age : and they would rather have chosen to reduce their own modes of living, than to have departed from their original intentions respecting her.
Sophia bestowed upon this her eldest child, as she always called her, the best instructions which she was capable of giving, (and of what is not a pious and tender mother capable ?) and her labours were returned in kind in a much shorter time than she had foreseen : for Annette being so much older than the eldest of her own children, she was enabled so to guide and direct them in their hours of recreation, that she proved an essential benefit to them.
Mrs. Cicely spent the remainder of her days in her small house in the village of Fairfield, having sufficient to maintain herself in great comfort without labour. But as her health had been better since she had seen her young lady happy, she, after a while, began to be weary
of total want of employment, and made herself very useful in visiting the sick among the poor, besides sometimes undertaking
an office of the same kind in the families of the more affluent; and thus adding a few guineas every year to her small income. Her Sunday afternoons were, however, usually spent at the rectory, on which occasions, Mr. Sackville always insisted on her taking her place at his own table.
Mr. Sackville and his beloved Sophia had, it is true, some sorrows, in common with all other mortals. Among their trials, was the loss of several infants in the cradle. But perhaps of all afflictions attendant on man's state on earth, this is the one which best admits of the consolations of religion. The loss of a beloved infant inflicts, in truth, a deep and bleeding wound; but for wounds like these there is a balm which, when duly sought and applied, presently assuages the smart, and restores the wounded heart to perfect health.
And now, before I conclude my narrative, it may perhaps be expected that I should say something of the Squire and his family; the elder part of which remained in or near some one or other of the most fashionable public places till the old gentleman wished all these public places sunk in the sea, and even Mrs. Mortimer herself became weary of her own and her eldest daughter's manæuverings.
At length, an end was put to all these schemes by the marriage of Miss Juliana to her old lord, and that of Miss Harriet to her rupees: after which, the two brides, having each quarrelled with her elder sister, to whom they were both in some degree indebted for their splendid settlements, it was agreed that the Squire, with the mother and single daughter, should return to take up
their abode in Yorkshire; in pursuance of which plan, they arrived at Mortimer-Hall about twelve months after the marriage of Sophia.
In the course of time, Mrs. Mortimer became somewhat heavy and infirm, and sunk into excessive indolence. Miss Clifford took upon herself the management of the house, and spent some of her superabundant activity in hunting with the Squire, scolding the grooms, and putting all the lower offices into confusion.
Mr. Mortimer frequently visited his beloved Sophia,
and took extreme delight in her children. At first, he ridiculed Mr. Sackville's religious principles, but at length he was brought to tolerate them, even so far as to put his sons under his tuition; and, in his old age, his daughter had the happiness of believing that a very decided change had taken place in his mode of thinking: while she enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing her brothers grow up as real gentlemen and sincere Christians.
We now close the history of Sophia with this request - that our young female readers will study her character, and endeavour, like her, to cast all their cares, with respect to their future establishment, on Him who knoweth what is best for them ; for in this confidence in the Almighty all true wisdom consists. And let us remember, that the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none ; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. (1 Cor. vii. 29-31.)
As the lady of the manor finished this story, she looked at her watch, and saw, with some surprise, that she had considerably exceeded the usual time. She therefore, without commenting on the narrative, requested her young people to join her in prayer.
A Prayer for a holy and heavenly State of Mind.
“ BLESSED and glorious Lord God, we sinners lie at the door of thy mercy, beseeching thee to forgive all our innumerable offences, for the sake of that blessed atonement which the Lord Jesus has made by the sacrifice of himself O Lord, what a world of corruption and vanity wilt thou find in our hearts! O take out thence every evil thought, and subdue every sinful inclination. Mortify all the vicious principles which thou seest in us. Let thy blessed Spirit renew our souls, sanctify all the powers of our nature, and make us holy as God is holy. Strengthen our pious resolutions under all the frailties of youth, and against the assaults of temptation; for,
though we would willingly avoid every thing that displeases thee, yet we know our own weakness, and therefore we humbly put ourselves under the constant protection of thy grace. Preserve our younger years from the pollutions of the world, and guard us throughout this dangerous stage of life. Help us to set a more careful watch over our thoughts, our lips, and our actions, that we offend not our God, and have continual cause for bitter repentance. Choose thou, O Lord, our inheritance for us, and our portion in this world, and be thou our portion and happiness in the world to come. Let not our hearts be set on worldly pleasure and riches; but fix our affections on things above, where Jesus Christ sits at thy right-hand.
“O Almighty God, we are not sufficient for these things of ourselves; for who, among the children of men, has yet been enabled to cry out, O God, thy will, not mine, be done?' whoever has been enabled to cast his cares at the foot of the cross, and leave them there undisturbed ? or who, even among the faithful, has been enabled to place his infant Moses among the bulrushes without setting one to watch what may
become of him?
“O Father, we know that perfect faith is able to triumph over every trial appointed to man on earth: but where is perfect faith? Where was it of old ? and where is it now? Lord, what then remains for us to do, but to cry, “Lord, we believe; help thou our unbelief?' We desire to possess holy hearts and pure affections; we desire to be raised above the love of earthly pleasure, and that idolatrous regard for any temporal object, by which our hearts may be drawn away from thee. Our lives have hitherto passed in restless longings after some imaginary worldly good; and in pursuit of these we have lost many opportunities of doing thy holy will and pleasure, and enjoying those innocent delights and quiet satisfactions, the means of which are profusely shed in the path of every individual of the children of Adam.
“Heavenly Father, relieve us, we beseech thee, from these wretched longings after sublunary joys, and lift our affections on high, to the object of supreme love and everlasting bliss. Teach us to seek present happiness