« EelmineJätka »
Anna had a good temper, and was quick in learning. Her person was pretty, and her parents paid well for her tuition, frequently sending to her governesses sundry presents of cheese, fruit, cakes, and fowls ready plucked and prepared for table. It was, therefore, no wonder that she was a favourite with her governesses, although her character, if minutely looked into, would have presented very few if any marks of real excellence. Like other school girls of ordinary character, Anna had attached herself to one of her companions in particular, of whom she always spoke in terms of the most exaggerated affection. This young lady, whom we shall call Miss Charlotte Parker, was the daughter of a widow lady in L-, a person of considerable figure and fortune in the town; and Miss Parker was, in consequence, made very much of by her governesses, who were, as my reader may have already discovered, persons by no means above worldly considerations. Miss Parker had one sister only, who, as well as herself, was a schoolfellow of Anna's. But Miss Jane was considerably younger than her sister; and being a lively child, and much spoiled, was, at one time, the plaything, and, at another, the torment of her youthful companions. It is necessary to add, in this place, that these young ladies had each of them a large fortune, independent of their mother, into possession of which they were to enter on coming of age.
The former years of Anna's school career passed, like those of most other school girls in common boardingschools. She idled a great deal of time, and learned very few things that were likely to be useful. The last year, however, which she spent as a parlour-boarder, unfitted her more for her duties as a farmer's daughter than all the preceding years which she had wasted under the Misses Barber's roof. Her friend, Miss Parker, had now left school; and Anna's whole time during this twelvemonth was spent in dressing, preparing for dress, and visiting, either with her friend, or in company with her governesses.
These twelve months of folly began immediately after the Christmas vacation; and as they were the last twelve months to be spent at school, it was settled that Anna should not go home during the summer holidays, in order, as Miss Barber said, that she might enjoy every advantage which the summer months might afford from the best society of the town of L
It is not my present concern to enumerate the assemblies, plays, and tea-parties, to which Anna was introduced during this year. It is sufficient, that they were all duly recorded, with certain other important particulars, in a ladies' memorandum-book for the year, which Anna purchased for the occasion, and to which she often referred, in after life, with the same painful kind of feelings, as those with which a deposed monarch might be supposed to contemplate the insignia of his former exaltation.
At length, the year began to wear fast away, and as the months flew by, Anna began to make some reflections upon the solitude of her father's house, and the very great change she must experience on leaving her present situation as parlour-boarder in the Misses Barber's family, to become an inhabitant of the mountains of Wales.
As the time approached for her quitting school, her unpleasant feelings became stronger; so that she not unfrequently awoke in tears, after having dreamed of the great hall and long galleries of her father's house. She had by this time totally lost the pleasing impressions of the days of early childhood, when she was accustomed to dance with delight along those wide galleries, and to address the grim pictures in the hall as ladies and gentlemen come to visit her. She had forgotten the peaceful hours in which she used to sit hemming by her mother's side in the little parlour to which she now looked forward with so much dread, and the many happy times when she had accompanied the dairy-maid to milk the cows, and returned laden with buttercups and cowslips.
Poor Anna had lost all her taste for simple pleasures, and had acquired, on the contrary, that love of worldly amusements, dress, company, and admiration, which hastens the destruction of thousands and tens of thousands of our fellow-creatures.
Anna's unpleasant feelings about home were at length become so strong, that when, at the beginning of the Christmas vacation, she saw her father's little neat
taxed-cart drive up to the door, instead of running to meet her parent with joy, it was some time before she could venture to appear at all in his presence, so excessive was her grief. It was natural indeed that she should feel at parting with her governesses and schoolfellows, and it would be harsh indeed to blame her for the indulgence of such feelings; but it was much to be lamented, that she should have received such an education as rendered her domestic duties, the retired life to which she looked forward, and the society of her parents, objects of apprehension to her. And here I cannot but observe, how necessary it is for parents to pause, and consider whether they are giving to their daughters that kind of education which is calculated to fit them either for the situations they are probably to fill in their parents' -houses, or to become the wives of men of the same rank as their own brothers.
We have as yet, during the course of our narrative, said nothing of religion, or of those higher motives by which a Christian parent should be influenced to train up his son or daughter in a humble course, in order to their future exaltation, in submission to the will of our blessed Saviour, who hath said, Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister ; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. (Matt. xx. 26, 27.) But we have hitherto addressed ourselves to mere worldly persons, endeavouring only to point out the dissatisfaction to parents themselves which must follow from the ambitious views of fathers and mothers respecting their children, by which they not only render them unfit for the duties of home, but deprive themselves of that comfort which they might more reasonably expect to receive from humbler children.
We will pass over the very strong expressions of Anna's grief, when she took leave of her schoolfellows and governesses, and found herself seated, by her kind old father, in the taxed-cart. The travellers had already goi
some miles before she was able to assume any gree of cheerfulness; and when they stopped for the night, (the farmer's horse not being able to take them through in one day,) at a little inn on the side of a common, which Mr. Williams called his half-way house, Anna was glad, while the farmer looked after his horse,
to be alone for a few minutes, in order to give way to her
clear sighted, and was withal so much delighted with the prospect of having his dear child at home, that he had no suspicion of the real cause of Anna's grief, namely, her reluctance to exchange the gaieties of L- for the retirement of a lone farm-house: he therefore, being quite at ease, ordered a hot supper, and sat down, full of glee, to enjoy it. Anna wept herself to sleep that night, and awoke in very low spirits the next morning to continue, her journey; during which however she succeeded in keeping her grief from her father. But, I am sorry to say, that neither the appearance of her native home, nor the sight of her affectionate mother, had power to raise her spirits, even for a minute, during the whole day ter her arrival; and that when she went to bed at night, in a large old-fashioned apartment, which was thenceforward to be appropriated entirely to her use, she moistened her pillow with many tears.
The following day Anna found some relief in unpacking her clothes; and she was pleased to find that her father having bought her a small piano-forte at a neighbouring sale, had it placed for her use in the little parlour before mentioned.
The return of Anna, and the feast of Christmas, occasioned some little stir in Mr. Williams's house for a few days. The curate of the next village, his wife, and daughter, spent one day at the farm, and their visit was returned the next. Some Welsh friends also came from six or eight miles distance over the mountains, to spend a few days with the family: in addition to which a feast of plum-pudding and roast beef was given by the farmer to all his work-people. All these little events diverted, for a short time, the mind of Anna; but when the visitors were gone, and every thing returned into its old course, Anna again had leisure to indulge her melancholy, and lament her separation from the gay companions she had left at L
It would have been well for her at that time, if she had been required to execute any household work; but this not being thought necessary, she was allowed to spend her time in whatever way she pleased. It may therefore be supposed, that, like most other persons
who think themselves unhappy, she chose to do nothing, or next to nothing; for had she employed herself industriously, in any way whatever, her fancied afflictions would have disappeared.
She spent her mornings in idly practising a few tunes on her piano-forte, in altering her clothes, or in looking over her keepsakes and other trinkets which she had brought from L-, together with the important memorandums at which I formerly hinted, and with which she fed her grief when likely to abate, crying out frequently, in the bitterness of her heart, “This day twelvemonth, I was preparing to go to the play with my dear Charlotte: 0, happy day! and how differently will the same night be spent by me this year-in listening to the whistling wind, and making tea for my father and mother!”
Thus passed several weeks; during which time she was daily expecting a letter from Miss Parker. At length the letter arrived, and she ran up to her room to read it at leisure, and to be at liberty to give free course to her tears.
The letter was long, and crossed backwards and forwards. It brought no very important tidings, neither did it contain any thing very pathetic; nevertheless, it had power to draw floods of tears from Anna's eyes. It concluded with an account of a play at which Miss Parker had been present, and which she declared she could not half enjoy, because of the absence of her beloved Anna. In a postscript was added this information, that "
Harry Low, the smart son of the man who used to cut our hair, and who came, you remember, one day, instead of his father, to cut the ladies' hair, is turned actor, and appeared last night, for the first time, in some very fine character, I just now forget what, and was extremely admired: he has engaged himself to the manager of the theatre, and goes from L— with the company.'
" The arrival of this letter occasioned a considerable increase of grief in the mind of Anna for some time, as it revived all her regrets for the loss of those pleasures which were so common among the inhabitants of L
After tea in an evening, instead of talking or reading to her mother, assisting her in her needlework, or trying