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all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. vi. 13–17.)
“And now, my beloved young people, having briefly stated the motives which religion suggests for the control of the tongue, I shall proceed to give you some of my own views on the state of conversation in general in this country.
“It is commonly supposed, that a gossiping disposition is now confined to low life, and that the genuine spirit of it is rarely found in any higher circle than the milliner's shop. But this appears to me an error; and although there is a certain sort of tittle-tattle which seldom creeps into polished life, yet I am of opinion that there is not a single order or denomination of men, from the courtiers who attend the royal levee, to the shoeblack in the corner of the street, who has not its appropriate gossip and its petty calumnies.
"Gossip and tittle-tattle, disguised with the cloak of pretended charity and anxiety for the well-being of a neighbour's soul, is one of the greatest evils of the present state of religious society. The University has a peculiar style of tittle-tattle of its own, with an appropriate language. There is another sort of tittle-tattle at clerical meetings; and another where many military men are found. Persons bred to the law and to physic have each their appropriate gossip, independent of all discussions of that general kind which may be useful to them in their professions. The higher and lower, the elegant and coarser orders of females, have each their tea-table scandal. Seminaries of instruction are, in general, deeply infected with this low spirit of tittletattle; and the halls of the senate, and the very courts of kings, are as deeply infected with this evil spirit as the tepid atmosphere of the laundry and the workshop of the tailor. And the unconverted man, in every situation and rank of life, is nearly as incapable of refraining from this kind of pastime, as he would be to live without bread or water.'
The young ladies smiled at this assertion of their instructress; not, indeed, because they questioned its truth, but at the new view which it gave them of society -a view which brought conviction with it to all those who had seen any thing of the world. “ But may I ask you, my dear Madam,” said one of the young ladies, how you would define the word gossip or tittle-tattle?”
Gossip is no other,” returned the lady of the manor, “than the repetition of such unimportant matters as take place in the families of our acquaintance, or as affect their affairs. This kind of conversation is always unimproving; and it is more or less sinful, according to the feelings by which it is dictated, and the spirit in which it is uttered. When retailed without excitement of any kind, and merely from the love of talking, it is inexpressibly dull; and when dictated by evil passions, which is most commonly the case, it becomes decidedly injurious to all who hear it: and, to say the best of it, if it does not excite bad passions in the hearer, it fills his mind with a sort of rubbish which leaves little room for more useful matter.
But, inasmuch,” continued the lady of the manor, as I have a very striking narrative by me, wherein these matters, to wit, the faults of the tongue, are largely discussed, and their sad consequences very plainly set forth, I shall
the less beforehand, but refer you to my manuscript for my further opinion on these subjects.”
The sight of a manuscript always pleased the young people; and while the lady was unfolding it, one of them ventured to say, that she thought it impossible that any character she might hereafter meet with should please her so well as that of Frederick Falconer.
« Well,” said the lady of the manor, we shall see. But I apprize you, that, though I am about to introduce you into a large society, there is but one individual in that society whose character can be at all compared with your favourite Frederick.”
She then spread the paper before her, and read as fol.. lows.
Clara Lushington's Account of herself; related, during
the Course of a long Illness, to a tender and pious Friend, who was her constant Companion.
“I was born in the province of Delhi in the East Indies. My father was an officer, high in the Company's
service; and my mother a native of Cashmire, born of Mussulmaun parents, and never, as I have reason to fear, convinced of the errors of that faith.
“ From such an ill-assorted union, much domestic happiness was, of course, not to be expected, neither, as I well remember, did much result.
“I do not recollect the station at which I was born, my parents having left it while I was too young to take much notice. When I first became conscious of my existence, I was living with them at Cawnpore, a European station in the East Indies, on the banks of the Ganges, about eight hundred miles above Calcutta.
Cawnpore is the largest station, with the exception of Calcutta, on that side of India; consisting, first, of a black or native town, a barrack for European infantry, a second for artillery, a third for European cavalry, and a fourth for native cavalry; the whole forming a line along the banks of the river for nearly seven miles, the country in the rear of and between these several stations for regiments being sprinkled with gentlemen's houses, standing, for the most part, in beautiful gardens abounding with all kinds of fruit and forest trees.
My father, who held a staff situation in this place, inhabited a house situated at the extreme end of the native cavalry cantonment. The site of his habitation was on a conca rock, on the bank of the river; and it consisted of two bungalows, united by a gallery which was formed of mud, and covered with thatch, of nearly a quarter of a mile in length, and built with a gradual ascent from the lower to the upper bungalow.
“Of the two bungalows, the less, which was the habitation of my mother, was so near the precipice which flanked the bed of the river, that one of the outer verandahs hung in mid air, suspended on beams strongly attached to the rock, and at such a height as to be above the highest masts of the pinnaces and budgerows which passed beneath. The second bungalow, which was my father's especial dwelling, lay in a direction from the river, and considerably lower than the first or lesser one, the long passage before mentioned sloping considerably towards it.
“The bungalows in India, whether large or small, are, for the most part, of the same construction; being built
of unbaked bricks and covered with thatch, having in the centre a hall, encircled by eight smaller apartments, the whole being encompassed by an open verandah, commonly inclosed by rails, and shut up, at times, by kind of delicate matting, composed of rushes, and painted of various colours, by which the glaring light of the sun is excluded, although the air is admitted.
“My father's bungalow was furnished, according to the taste of Europeans, with branched wall-shades, carpets, and tables carefully polished. I also remember a sideboard, richly covered with plate; and his equipages were as numerous and various as we should see in the establishment of a prince in Europe. Well do I remember the elephant, with his sumptuous howdah, on which my father went out every day before sunrise, and on which, as a great favour, I was sometimes permitted to accom
“My father at that time loved pomp, and kept much company, although I have had reason to think that his whole views of life and happiness have since been entirely changed. The publicity and display in which he then indulged formed, however, a very striking contrast with my mother's mode of life, which was so retired, and so monotonous, that a European female would, I believe, have some difficulty even to conceive it.
“ The bungalow in which my mother resided was, as I before remarked, much smaller than my father's, though of the same construction. It was also furnished entirely according to the eastern custom. My mother herself occupied the centre apartment, which on all occasions was shut out from the others by such light screens as I have described above, these screens being covered with green silk, to render them more impervious to the eye. The walls of her room were whitewashed, and the pavement was spread with a sitringe, or carpet of striped cotton, the manufacture of the country. Attached to the ceiling, in the centre of the room, was a kind of silken canopy, enriched with golden fringe, from which fell a drapery of purple China gauze, which in the day-time was knotted up, but in the night opened and spread over the person beneath. On the floor, under this
canopy, was a large quilt of Benares silk, spreading widely around, and, upon this, many cushions of the richest kinquaub. In the centre of these cushions was my poor mother's usual resting-place; and there she commonly sat, in the oriental fashion, with her paun-box, of burnished gold, on one side, and her hookuh, of materials equally rich, on the other.
“ On this spot she spent twenty out of the twenty-four hours, never moving from it, night or day, excepting in the cool of the evening, when she went out into the high gallery above mentioned as suspended from the top of the rock over the river. There seated, with her female servants about her, she enjoyed a little variety in looking down, through the purduh, upon the boats passing and repassing beneath. How she spent the rest of the twenty-four hours I can give you little idea, excepting that some part of each day was devoted to the use of the hookah, in chewing the betel-nut, and in sitting under the hands of the waiting-women, who expended no small labour in combing, perfuming, and braiding her hair.
. My mother never, as I can remember, discovered any very strong proofs of regard for me, excepting in case of my being ill; on which occasions I more than once recollect her displaying deep and tender solicitude: and, when I think of this parent, and consider that she died in the false belief in which she lived, I own that I have certain feelings of anguish which I cannot describe; and I am inclined to envy the poorest creature, who, having been born in a Christian country and of Christian parents, is not exercised with the painful feelings which agitate me whenever I think of her who gave me birth.
But, amidst any circumstances, there surely must be something sweet and touching in the recollection of a mother. Mine was a beautiful woman, though totally different from any one I ever saw in Europe. Her complexion was a clear brown, and her hair long, black, and beautifully disposed upon her forehead. Her eyes were dark, and set as those of the oriental beauties commonly are, being somewhat long, and having a melancholy expression, but possessing an indescribable lustre. Her features were small and delicate, as was indeed her whole person, though, when she stood up, she appeared tall. Her dress was always perfectly oriental, her person being covered with a profusion of ornaments, and a loose drapery of