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For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name ; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: the God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. (Isaiah liv. 4–6.) And then, she went on to point out other passages, in which the Lord addresses the Church in displeasure, and reproves her for her adulteries, or idolatrous regard towards other gods. And hence she took occasion to enforce the duty which is incumbent on every member of the Church of the redeemed, of so guarding and regulating the affections, that none shall have in the heart a place above Him to whom all love and gratitude is due. Whosoever," she observed, “proceeds straight forward towards one exalted point, with his eyes ever directed to that point, will assuredly keep his body erect, and will advance with a a firm step. He will comparatively disregard the trifling interruptions and occasional stumbling-blocks in his way.
The former he will scarcely observe; and if the latter sometimes cause him to fall, he will rise and advance again ere yet the enemy will have observed that he has stumbled.
“So it is,” continued she, “ with every young person whose affections are fixed on things above. The world, to such a one, will lose half its enchantments, and the power of the enemy will be considerably weakened.
“Love thy God, my child,” would this excellent woman always say; "allow no mortal to become his rival in thy affections; and I need give thee no other lesson of wisdom."
“But, dear aunt," Sophia would often reply, “how am I to love him? My heart is so cold and dead with respect to heavenly things, and my eyes and thoughts so busy about worldly matters.”
On these occasions, the old lady generally repeated, though seldom in the same words, that comprehensive lesson which she had endeavoured, even from the earliest infancy of Sophia, to impress on her mind; viz. the lesson consisting of those solemn truths which make up the entire and perfect outline of religion: the nature and attributes of the Deity being the foundation of these truths, together with the mysterious doctrine of the three Persons in one God. From which fundamental instructions she led her pupil to consider the natural relation which subsisted between the Creator and his creatures, ere sin had yet been conceived and brought forth by the father of lies, even by him who once shone foremost among the glorious hierarchies of heaven.
She taught her, moreover, that the origin of sin in the breast of the first offender, was a mystery which no mortal could either comprehend or explain; that, still, this truth was, however, revealed in Scripture, and, as the existence of sin could not now be questioned, nothing better remained to man than for him to receive the doctrine as unquestionably true, at the same time endeavouring, in the use of those means appointed by the Almighty, to secure his deliverance from its power in the present state, and its consequences in the world to come.
Neither did this holy instructress fail to point out those means appointed for man's recovery ere this fair creation hat yet been called out of chaos; while she painted in glowing and animated colours, such as faith only can supply, that divine love by which the Father predestinated many sons to glory ;-that infinite pity by which the Second Person of the Trinity was induced to undertake their ransom;--and those almighty operations of the Spirit by which the redeemed are progressively prepared for the glory provided for them. “I do not urge moral obligations on you, my child,” would this excellent lady often say, “I do not encumber you with numerous prudential motives, in order to guard you against the temptations of life; but I entreat you, my beloved one, to seek that internal holiness which is the best and in fact the only preservative from the snares of Satan. For they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah xl. 31.)
In this manner did Mrs. Fortescue frequently instruct her beloved Sophia; and from time to time, fearing that she might perhaps fatigue her pupil by dwelling too long on subjects of this kind, she committed her thoughts to writing, and laid the little manuscript aside, proposing to make it a dying gift to her beloved pupil. But while Mrs. Fortescue thus laboured rightly to inform the mind of
VOL. IV. H
her charge, in reference to things of the first importance, she by no means neglected her education in inferior matters. She was herself well acquainted with music, was an excellent needle-woman, and had a general and accurate knowledge of geography and history, &c. possessing, at the same time, an acquaintance with such parts of English and French literature as are usually requisite for females in polished society.
In the acquirement of useful knowledge of various kinds, in pleasant excursions in the beautiful environs of the Hall, and in frequent visits to the poor,
many years of Sophia Mortimer's life now been spent, since Mrs. Fortescue had undertaken the charge of her education. And, having now entered on her eighteenth year, she was in many respects such as her adopted parent could desire.
At this period, Mrs. Fortescue became sensible of such a change in the state of her own health, and was aware of so many alarming symptoms, that she could not but feel assured, that her cares for her beloved Sophia must soon terminate.
Such feelings as these in the breasts of persons who have an habitual confidence in God, partake more of the tender sentiment of sorrow than that of bitterness and dismay. “I know my Sophia will be taken care of when I am no more,” she would often say to herself: “I shall leave her with entire confidence in Him in whom the fatherless find mercy, and yet I know that I shall not part from her without some natural tears."
During this summer, however, the old lady had such an abiding impression that she must soon part from Sophia, that for many weeks she could hardly bear to have her out of her sight; and as Sophia's attachment was equal to her own, their enjoyment of each other's society became greater every day.
Many were the hours which they spent together this summer in different parts of the park and garden, sometimes reading, and at other times conversing; and Mrs. Fortescue seldom failed to direct both their reading and conversation to the promotion, as far as she was able, of the spiritual benefit of her beloved child.
As the days shortened, Mrs. Fortescue began to complain of such a diminution of strength as entirely pre
cluded her from taking exercise, and which soon after confined her to her bed, where, at the expiration of a few months, she closed her blessed earthly career.
Long as Mrs. Fortescue had been ill, her death came rather unexpectedly on the inexperienced Sophia, and was the more severely felt by her, as her time, during several weeks just passed, had been exclusively devoted to attendance upon this excellent lady, who had supplied to her the place of a mother.
Immediately on Mrs. Fortescue's death, Sophia wrote to her father, in consequence of which, she, in a few days, received a formal letter of condolence from her step-mother, with an invitation from Mr. Mortimer and herself to come to them in Town; 'adding, that it was their intention, in the ensuing autumn, to visit Yorkshire, where they might probably make a long stay at the family mansion.
Sophia, whose spirits were greatly dejected, shrunk from the very idea of a journey to London. She therefore wrote again to her parents, requesting permission to remain alone in Yorkshire till the time appointed for their visit should arrive. Her request was immediately granted; and Sophia enjoyed the comfort of looking forward to six quiet months, during which she hoped that, by the divine blessing, she might be enabled still to follow those plans of life prescribed by her revered monitress. For this pious woman, though dead, yet spoke to her, not only through the medium of the manuscript already mentioned, which that excellent lady had, only a few hours before her death, put into the hands of her Sophia; but, also, by a thousand tender recollections and associations which occurred every moment to her mind.
Sophia, after Mrs. Fortescue's death, found a peculiar consolation, in doing every thing precisely in such a way and in such order as she thought would please her were she still alive. She arose at the hour formerly prescribed to her, she had her simple meals brought to her with the same regularity, she pursued the same objects of study, walked out at the old hours, and returned again at the same; and, since her late beloved governess was no longer present to hear her read and play, she encouraged her old servant before mentioned to bring her work into
the parlour and sit by her, while she varied her lectures in order to suit the simple but pious taste of this respect
There is a certain kind of grave and intelligent modesty, perfectly free from asperity or affectation, sometimes seen in young people, which, when it is natural, and the effect of a sober, thoughtful, and well-regulated mind, is extremely delightful, adding strikingly to beauty where beauty exists, and giving comeliness in cases where beauty is not found. This gravity naturally belonged to Sophia, and appeared to become her in no ordinary degree; and her smiles, when she did smile, were the more captivating, because they were not at hand on every light and foolish occasion, nor ready to offer themselves even without any occasion at all.
The remains of Mrs. Fortescue had now been laid in the grave nearly three months, and the grief of Sophia had acquired that soft character which time only can give to sorrow, when the eventful occurrences took place which I am now about to relate.
It was about the latter end of April, on one of those days in which nature seems to put forth all the charms with which poets have decked their Arcadia, when a poor old woman, from an adjoining parish, came to say, that a widow, who had lately come to lodge in a cottage beyond the furthest boundary of the park, was dying, and desired particularly to see Miss Mortimer.
When Sophia had seen the woman, and endeavoured to ascertain the exact situation of the cottage, she summoned Mrs. Cicely, who, since the death of Mrs. Fortescue, had been the constant companion of her walks, and hastened to obey the summons of the dying person.
As they walked, Sophia asked her companion many questions relative to this widow. These cottages, how ever, were not in the same parish with the Hall, but at a considerable distance, having the whole extent of the park, which was very large, between them. Mrs. Cicely, therefore,
could give her no satisfactory information. When Sophia and her attendant had reached the further end of the park, they entered into the turnpikeroad by a flight of wooden steps, which were carried over the park-paling; and being got out into the road, they saw the cottages before them. Sophia requested