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occupy it in the style he wished, having some former debts not yet paid; and this was the real cause of his continuing, after his second marriage, to reside first at York and subsequently in London.
The present building consisted of an old house, to which, though itself sufficiently extensive to accommodate a large family, a number of new rooms in a very superior and costly style had been added. The old and new parts of this immense mansion were connected by a noble hall of the same height as the new portion of the building, and several long passages running in various directions. The apartments appropriated to little Sophia and her establishment were in the old part of the house, and consisted of a large room wainscoted with oak, and furnished with heavy old-fashioned chairs and sofas of damask, with window-curtains of the same material. Within this parlour was the bed-room in which Mrs. Fortescue slept; and beyond this room were two large light closets, one of which was appropriated to Sophia, and the other to Mrs. Cicely, a respectable servant, who had been Sophia's nurse, and was now become the waiting-maid of the old lady. From the parlour was one door which opened into this bed-room, another which conducted to the garden, and a third which served as an entrance into the long passage leading to the other parts of the house. An old housekeeper, two or three gardeners, a housemaid, an old butler, and a gamekeeper, were the only persons who occupied any other part of this vast building.
The situation of this house was exceedingly beautiful. It stood in the midst of a park, which was richly diversified with dark groves, waterfalls, shadowy glades, and sunny lawns; over which were scattered many deer, and a few herds of horned cattle. Immediately opposite that front of the house in which appeared the windows of the brown oak parlour already mentioned, was seen a broad gravel road, which, winding round a thick grove of trees, descended into a dell where a clear stream pursued its course, and was passable only in one place by a light iron bridge, the only approach to the house by the west. This winding path and bridge, and a handsome lodge built of white stone at the further end of the park, together with the various intervening groups of trees, and
a range of blue hills on the very verge of the horizon, formed unitedly as elegant a landscape as any cultivated place in the kingdom could present to the eye.
We have now, I think, brought, as plainly as possible, before our reader, the scenes which lay extended before Sophia when first she began to be sensible of her exist
It is seldom that a little child asks itself who it is, or what may be its rank and situation in life; and Mrs. Fortescue, and, under her, the faithful Cicely, took care that nothing should ever be said to this little lady of the mansion-house which should make her conceive herself of more consequence than the poor children in the village school, whom she was sometimes carried to see. She was accustomed to call Mrs. Fortescue aunt, and was taught to admire and love the picture of her own mother, which the old lady had obtained permission to remove from its former situation over the drawing-room chimney-piece to the brown parlour.
Mrs. Fortescue loved to hear little Sophia, as soon as she began to lisp, call to this picture, and address it by the name of " Mamma! pretty mamma!” while the melancholy yet dovelike eyes of the beautiful portrait would seem to follow the lovely prattler in all her excursions round the ample apartment.
It is not the immediate purport of this little narrative to enter into a particular and comprehensive description of all that constitutes a Christian education. Those who are really acquainted with true religion will not deny that such an education, however, in inferior points, it may be modified according to the taste, feelings, and circumstances of those who conduct it, is, upon the whole, no other than a system of instruction that directly leads the pupil to the performance of Christian actions upon Christian principles, and which never admits for a single instant any other motive of conduct than a desire to please God.
Such was the nature of the education that was given by Mrs. Fortescue to Sophia Mortimer; neither did this pious woman fail daily, nay almost hourly, to implore the divine blessing upon her labours. And she had reason to believe that her prayers were heard : for as this little girl advanced in years, she evidenced a considerable degree of piety, and the fruits of the Spirit were discernible throughout the whole of her demeanour.
It is seldom found that so long a period of life passes 80 sweetly, so calmly, and so satisfactorily, as did the first sixteen years with Mrs. Fortescue, after she had undertaken the charge of Sophia. The only interruptions which she had met with to this delightful calm, were occasioned by one or two visits from Mr. Mortimer, unaccompanied by his lady, in the sporting seasons; at which times he had filled the house with roaring country squires, and had, also, considerably disturbed the delicate severity of Sophia's usual habits, by introducing her to his visitors, and setting her to ride upon his foot, which occasioned her sometimes to meet with an overthrow upon the carpet, which downfall was usually cheered by the roaring huzzas of the visitors. But as these interruptions to the usual routine of things were very rare and of short duration, they were not seriously injurious to the child ; nevertheless, these visits, and some little attacks of illness, were the only troubles which Mrs. Fortescue experienced through this long course of years: although, had her occasional trials been considerably greater, they would have been amply compensated by the delight she enjoyed in contemplating the divine blessing attendant on her exertions, and in seeing the child of her heart growing up as one of the polished corners of the temple. When we consider the amazing number of accidents to which man is liable in this present state of being, and all the inward disorders occasioned by sin, we ought to cultivate a strong feeling of thankfulness at the close of every day, if we have passed that day in a state of tolerable calm, and freedom from pain.
How much more then should we cherish the liveliest gratitude towards the Giver of all good gifts, when, on reviewing our pasi lives, we can recount, not only many peaceful days, but weeks, months, and years, in which we have known only petty troubles and trifling sorrows !
Had not Mrs. Fortescue possessed a faith which could not be shaken, she might indeed, as these years glided away, and the period approached when she must resign her interesting charge of Sophia, have had some uneasy thoughts; for she well knew that it was only in compliance with the promise which he had made, that Mr. Mortimer submitted to leave his daughter in her hands, and that he would certainly, when that promise should
cease to be binding, remove Sophia from under her care, and pursue with her a course widely different from that followed in her education.
It is, indeed, true, that Mr. Mortimer had seemed to think less of his daughter since his second wife had brought him two sons; still, however, he had taken care to let the old lady know from time to time that he by no means approved of the retired and methodistical
in which she was bringing up his child.
But Mrs. Fortescue was not one of those persons who trouble themselves with approaching evils. To make the best of the present was her only care; and she, therefore, lost no opportunity of giving her dear child such lessons of wisdom as in her estimation might lead to her wellbeing, not only in the present life, but also in that which is to come.
There was a promise of exquisite external loveliness in Sophia. Her person was elegant; her movements were graceful; her features regular; her eyes dark and brilliant; and a bloom, varying with every change of feeling, delicately tinged her cheeks: and when Mrs. Fortescue looked on this lovely young creature, and considered that in case of her death she would be left without a single protecting friend, (for the coarseness of her father and the levity of her step-mother were too well known to allow her to hope any thing from them,) she felt it necessary that Sophia should be endued with more than common prudence, in order that she might be enabled to meet and sustain the trials which probably awaited her in a world where she was likely to be an object at once of admiration and envy.
Mrs. Fortescue well knew that unless the defence of her beloved pupil was of God, who saveth the upright, (Psalm vii. 10,) no earthly wisdom could preserve her; still, however, she judged it right to employ every appointed means, in order to fit her for those encounters with temptation to which she could not but be exposed. And with this view she frequently conversed with her on those subjects which may fairly be regarded as included within the general command Loi Thou shalt not commit adultery: which command, as interpreted by this excellent lady, embraced every obligation relative to the government of the affections.
And first, she explained to her that this and every other divine commandment has a literal or obvious, as well as a spiritual sense, and that this commandment in particular admitted of several subdivisions.
The commandment, she represented in the literal sense, as first signifying the prohibition of that crime which a married person commits, on forsaking a husband or wife, and forming a connexion with another individual; and, secondly, as forbidding that offence which is committed by those who indulge in the worship of idols, or who, forsaking the true God, adopt other objects of public or private adoration. And, in the spiritual sense, she explained it, as, first, prohibiting such wanderings of the affections in married persons as are pointed out by our Lord in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew, twenty-eighth verse ;– Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart ; -and, secondly, as a denunciation of the divine displeasure against the admission of any created object to that place in the heart which ought only to belong to God.
Mrs. Fortescue then proceeded to point out to her youthful charge, that of these four subdivisions-viz. that which pointed out the sin of conjugal infidelity, that which forbade the commission of actual idolatry, that which forbade the wandering of the affections in married persons, and, finally, that which required the devotion of the first affections of the heart to God,there was one only, namely the last, to which she desired to draw her attention, as being that alone with which a young person in her situation was immediately concerned; and as that, also, which, if it were duly attended to, would involve within itself the right performance not only of all the rest, but of every other duty which both the Law and the Gospel might require.
Mrs. Fortescue then proceeded to recite those passages of Scripture in which the Church, or the congregation of the redeemed among the Gentiles, is addressed as a wife chosen and beloved; selecting, amidst a thousand others in which this emblem is used in Scripture, that beautiful passage in Isaiah, which for sentiment and pathos exceeds all that was ever penned by unassisted human intellect. — Feur not; for thou shalt not be ashamed, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any