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Frederick was now able to perform the duty of the church; and excellent as Mr. Day was in the pulpit, still, in the opinion of Lady Augusta at least, he was greatly excelled by his pupil. Mr. Falconer, however, had far humbler ideas of his own powers as a Christian teacher, and was fully aware that a babe in Christ cannot instruct lik a father of the Church. He endeavoured however to tread as closely as possible in the steps of his tutor, and was careful never to allow his private feelings or pleasures to interfere with his duty as a pastor. Thus, by the divine blessing, he was led on in the way of holiness, and became strengthened in the performance of every Christian duty.
Mr. Day had scarcely been absent one week, when a circumstance, wholly unforeseen, took place in the little society which he left behind him. This was no other than the sudden death, by a fit of apoplexy, of Sir Anthony Lambert. Frederick had been with him only an hour before, and had left him in apparent good health, little thinking that he should never again be permitted to look upon a living uncle.
Frederick was particularly shocked at the unlooked-for decease of this poor man, because it had never been possible to bring him for a moment to any thing like serious reflection on religion or a future state. His mind had always been, and continued to the last, so filled with the empty and circumstantial nothings of life, that he appeared to be incapable of receiving an idea which was not connected with these; and, as he had advanced in life, he seemed more and more devoted to such follies.
To persons thus occupied, a sudden death seems, indeed, a great evil, although we are assured, that a protracted disease or a lingering dissolution would not have the least power of correcting these follies, and bringing such characters to serious reflection, unless attended with a blessing from on high.
As soon as Sir Anthony had been taken ill, Mr. Falconer was sent for, but, as I before said, he did not arrive till the old gentleman had expired. Lord V-had also been sent for at the same time; and, soon after his arrival, Frederick put his seal, in the presence of that nobleman, on all Sir Anthony's papers and valuables ; then, ordering a lead coffin to be made for the remains of Sir Anthony, he dispatched a special messenger to Paris for Robert, now Sir Robert Lambert.
Frederick calculated that it was possible Sir Robert might arrive in about fourteen days; he therefore resolved to delay the funeral till he should come, and, consequently, the body was laid in the coffin, which, by Frederick's orders, was placed in the handsomest apartment of the house, in such state as he thought the deceased would have approved, could he have witnessed what was passing: and during the time that the family were waiting for the arrival of Sir Robert, in order to solemnize the funeral, Frederick continued altogether at the Hall, and kept himself in entire privacy, admitting only Lord V- who came to him every day, treated him with particular respect, and spoke of his marriage with his daughter as a measure already resolved on, and one which might be expected to take place as soon as the mourning for Sir Anthony was over.
Young people, especially pious young ones, are not apt to be suspicious: yet Frederick, had he reflected but a little, must surely have thought that there was something extraordinary in this excessive politeness.
In the mean time, Mr. Day was proceeding to Paris, where, when he arrived, he found his pupil in a state of misery of which he before had scarcely an idea. He was living in a wretched lodging, almost without the decencies of life, exposed to perpetual fear from creditors, and in a state of the most violent irritation of mind. To add to his distress, Lady Frances Lambert was exceedingly ill, and confined to her bed in a chamber adjoining to that in which Mr. Day found his pupil; she having been brought into this state by uneasiness and disappointment, working on a proud and highly ambitious mind.
At the sight of his tutor, Robert burst into tears; and, throwing himself into his arms, “O my
my father!” he said, “I have not deserved this kindness. I am a lost and undone man. I have ruined myself by my own folly. Though all my debts were paid, and I were in possession of a fortune equal to my father's, I must still be miserable: for I have united myself with a woman destitute of principle, and even without affection."
Mr. Day was much touched by this statement, of the truth of which he had no doubt, and he immediately set himself to ascertain the extent of the young man's debts, and to discover what could be done for him. He also endeavoured to persuade him to a reconciliation with his wife, to whom it seems he had not spoken for several days; and the good man was the more anxious to bring this about, because, immediately on his seeing the sick lady, he plainly perceived that her constitution was giving way, and that Robert would be set free from his imprudent connexion sooner than he could naturally have expected.
Mr. Day had provided a sum of money more than sufficient for his own wants; and he resolved, by as strict an adherence to economy as decency would permit, to render his purse as useful as possible to Lady Frances, she being unprovided with any other attendant than her own maid, who was as helpless a poor creature, and as entirely overcome by the afflictions in which she saw the family involved, as it was possible for a woman in that situation to be. Mr. Day's presence seemed, however, to encourage her; and Lady Frances herself was, it appeared, particularly affected by his attentions.
While Mr. Day was exerting himself to ascertain the actual state of Robert's affairs, and endeavouring to bring the young couple into a state of mind more in accordance with their circumstances, the entire aspect of affairs was suddenly changed by the arrival of the messenger from Lambert-Hall. It was necessary for Robert to set out immediately, and he now found no difficulty in prevailing with his creditors to allow of his departure: for Mr. Day having advised him to make his situation known to the English ambassador, his Excellency very kindly spoke to them, telling them that the money should be paid immediately; adding, that Mr. Lambert, by the death of his father, was now come into possession of resources so ample, that his present debts would be scarcely an object of consideration to him.
Being thus set free, Robert Lambert thought of nothing but returning to England, and set off post the next morning, leaving Mr. Day behind him; that excellent man having declared his determination not to leave Lady Frances till her husband's return; as her health was becoming daily more and more precarious, and her spirits were now reduced to a state of such deep despondence, that they were wholly incapable of a revival, even in the near prospect of that worldly prosperity which she had hitherto so ardently desired.
Thus is it ever found, that earthly possessions produce no real comfort, unless they are accompanied with the divine blessing: and hence may be seen the folly of endeavouring to obtain, by any artful or dishonest practices, those worldly goods which ought to be the property of another.
A man who really desires and aims at the enjoyment of true peace of mind, will receive the commandment“ Thou shalt not steal," in its largest and most extensive acceptation. His conscience will be delicately tender on this point, and he will admit of no saving clauses wherewith to reconcile his mind to the appropriation of the smallest thing which ought to belong to another. And, inasmuch as nothing but scriptural views of true religion can enable an individual to sit down habitually easy and free from care with respect to the possessions and honours of this world, he will endeavour to keep his eye stedfastly fixed on a future life, and the glories of an eternal state of blessedness.—But to return to our story.
Sir Robert Lambert travelled night and day, and arrived at Lambert-Hall some hours earlier than Frederick had calculated upon. When he drew near his late father's domains, the
young man was considerably affected by the various recollections of his parent, and his heart smote him with the many acts of disrespect and disobedience of which he had been guilty towards him. He thought much also of Frederick, and tried to persuade himself that the superior attention and respect of his cousin's conduct towards Sir Anthony was merely the result of interested motives: “for he could not,” thought Robert,
" have been blind to my father's singularities, he could not but have seen his weaknesses, and felt his irritating ways. But he had an object to gain which I had not: he had his way to make, and his private interests to promote; and he wanted dignity and spirit sufficient to set him above a mean submission to the whims of those by whom he expected to be the better. I have no doubt," thought
Sir Robert, “ that if my father has left a will, it will be found that Frederick is handsomely provided for. But be it so: I would not deprive him of the fruits of his assiduities."
Thus Robert hardened his heart against Frederick, and arrived at the Hall in a state of mind full of irritation, not only against his cousin, but against all those whom he supposed to be at all attached to him.
There was a gloom and silence pervading every part of the domain, as Sir Robert advanced through the park to the Hall; and the sight of the hatchment placed over the front door affected him even to tears.
The first questions that he asked, as he sprang from the chaise, and entered the hall, the door of which was opened by an old servant, were, “ Is my father yet buried? and who has taken the management of every thing?"
"Your father is not buried, Sir," replied the servant; “and we have looked to Mr. Falconer for our direc
• Where is Humphreys? where is the steward?” asked Sir Robert. " Let him be sent for.”
“ He is at this moment with Mr. Falconer in the library.
“Humph!" said Sir Robert, and immediately walked forward to the library, the servant hastening before him to open the door and announce his arrival. Sir Robert found Frederick and the steward busy with cer
At the sight of Robert, Frederick sprang from his seat, and ran to meet his cousin. “I am glad to see you, Robert,” he said: “but we did not expect you till to-morrow.'
Robert extended his hand coldly towards Frederick, and, glancing his eye over the table, “You seem very busy, Falconer,” he said, “ deep in affairs !”
« Business must be done by some one, cousin,” replied Frederick ; “and when the head of the family is not present, it must devolve on others."
Certainly,” returned Robert. "I am much obliged to you for taking the trouble.” And, so saying, he threw himself on an easy chair, and began to question the steward on the occasion of Sir Anthony's death, on