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young man, who, to a warm heart, added a sound judgment, with correct and extensive views of religion. Such a man was Mr. Harwood; and there is no doubt but he proved a blessing to the little society.
Aided by Mr. Harwood, Mrs. Montague's plans now prospered to the utmost of her desires, and presently produced such a revolution in the village as astonished all who witnessed it. A stream of active benevolence ran through the society; young ladies appeared visiting from house to house, instructing children, praying by the sick, and administering to their wants; and the young men were little behind them in similar exertions.
Mrs. Montague had a protegee, a young person whom she had rescued from a very distressed situation, having been induced to this act of charity by the warmth of religious feeling which she had exhibited. This young lady (whom we shall call Joanna) was, however, though we hope not wholly unaffected by true religion, one of the worst helpmates which Mrs. Montague could have selected; being at the same time, pleasing in her manners and extremely injudicious; active in her benevolence, but ambitious and changeable; when fond of any one, she was unable to see a single fault in his or her character; connecting the grossest flattery with her regards; while, at the same time, as might be expected, she could see no good whatever in those who did not please her.
The influence of this young person over Mrs. Montague was so great, that she could almost persuade her to any thing, or turn her from any purpose; and, as she was that lady's almoner, her influence in the village was even greater than that which she exercised within the precincts of the mansion-house.
Having now described the characters to whom I am about to introduce the family which has afforded the chief subject of this memoir; I proceed to remark, that, where religion becomes the order of the day; or, to use another term, when religion walks in silver slipperswhen it is creditable to be religious—when ignorance of the doctrines of Scripture is generally censured-then is the time to dread hypocrisy, and to guard against selfdeception. VOL. VII.
Mrs. Montague was no sooner informed of the arrival of the young ladies, than she hastened to pay her respects to them, accompanied by her inseparable friend.
Madame received the ladies, in her disorderly parlour, with the same ease as if she had been surrounded by the splendours of a royal palace; not a whit conscious of the want of her cap and wig, or of the loose state of her morning-dress, which, by the by, she always wore without her corset. Mrs. Montague had seen enough of the world to be rather amused than surprised at the national peculiarities of Madame, at the superlative politeness of the old gentleman, and the familiarity of the maid; while the appearance of her two young cousins, who united the decorum of English manners with the animation of their parents' countries, so greatly pleased and surprised her, that, when she returned to her carriage, in company with Joanna, she could not help expressing her admiration; adding the pious wish that these young people might be spiritually benefited by their residence in tħat village. They are charming young women in person and manner, Joanna,” she said: "you must cultivate their friendship, and lead them right, if possible.”
“I shall have the greatest pleasure in so doing, Madam,” said Joanna, "and, indeed, I already hope well concerning one of them."
“Of the little Antoinette you mean ?" returned Mrs. Montague: "yes, there is a modesty and tenderness in her aspect which charmed me. I have seldom seen eyes at once so dark and yet so soft in their expression.'
“Yes," replied Joanna, “she has fine eyes; but I do not think so well of her as of her sister. While you was conversing with Madame, I had an opportunity of discoursing with both sisters; and I found an openness and warmth in Eleanore which delighted me beyond expression.
“Of course,” said Mrs. Montague, “you must be the best judge of young people, Joanna; they speak more unreservedly to each other than to their elders. Surely they are charming girls; and, as they dine with us tomorrow, we must endeavour to interest them in our little plans of charity; and thus we shall be enabled to make them useful.”
The next day Mrs. Montague invited some of the most agreeable of her neighbours to meet Madame and her family; and she evinced her attention by desiring certain stews and hashes to be prepared according to the French fashion.
When Madame arrived at Montague-House at the hour appointed, she looked at least ten years younger than she had done the day before, by reason of her wig, her rouge, and her bodice; and, being much pleased with the polite behaviour of Mrs. Montague, she was in high spirits, and made herself very agreeable.
The old gentleman enjoyed his dinner and the bottle of French wine which was set before him; and, accordingly, failed not to pay many very high compliments to the lady of the house. In the mean time, Joanna cultivated the acquaintance of Eleanore; and invited her to unite in various schemes of visiting the poor, giving instruction, working, reading, and walking.
After dinner, the ladies adjourned to a little favourite apartment of Mrs. Montague, elegantly and usefully furnished with bookcases, Indian cabinets, instruments of music, and specimens of the fine arts, arranged in tasteful confusion over the apartment. This favourite retreat had glass doors, which opened into a flower garden, or kind of wilderness of sweets: and, as it was the height of summer, the doors were open, and all the perfumes of this flowery Paradise circulated, in consequence, throughout the room.
“Charmant! charmant!" exclaimed Madame, as she seated herself on a sofa in front of these open doors; “Madame Montague is perfectly French in her taste.”
In this pleasant retreat the ladies were presently joined by the gentlemen; and while they were taking their coffee, which the old gentleman (whom we shall call Monsieur) declared to be excellent, a number of delicate voices were heard, issuing from an adjoining apartment, accompanied by a fine organ.
Every eye was instantly turned to the side from which the sound proceeded; and Joanna, rising, opened a folding-door, and exposed a group of little charity-children, neatly dressed, standing in a half-circle, and singing a hymn of Cowper's.
Madame, although she but half comprehended the scene, was all ecstacy; and immediately recollected something in her native country to compare with it. The little children having finished their hymn, with
the doors were closed, and the conversation naturally turned upon the subject of the various plans which were going forward for benefiting the poor in the parish. Eleanore and Antoinette were requested to give their assistance. The young people both declared their willingness to forward any scheme of Mrs. Montague's; and Madame seemed to enter warmly into every thing which was brought forward.
When they had finished their coffee, a walk in the flower garden was proposed. Madame was no great walker; but she was too polite to say, "No," to any thing which Mrs. Montague seemed to desire. She therefore put on her shawl; and Antoinette being ready to offer her arm, the party stepped out into the garden.
When a number of persons engage in a pleasurable walk, it is natural for them to separate into parties. Such was now the case. The elder persons extended their walk only as far as an alcove at the further end of the flowery wilderness, where they sat down to converse; and the younger people scattered themselves, in pairs, or trios, over the wide domain without the iron rails of the flower garden. Antoinette only remained with her mother and the rest of the elders.
Among the little distinct parties before mentioned, we shall accompany only one, which consisted of Joanna and Eleanore. These young people had already persuaded themselves that they were vastly fond of each other; and Joanna was now proceeding to lead Eleanore into a still more dangerous illusion, namely, that she was in a very advanced state of knowledge and experience with respect to religion, and that she was about to be a very shining light in their little society. “Do, my dear, tell me a little more of that dear, good old lady, Mrs. Hay,” said Joanna, as soon as they had reached a retired walk in the shrubbery. “ And so she took infinite pains with you, and brought you to a knowledge of your Saviour, and of the need of a change of heart ? Well, this is indeed a blessing, and what I did not ex
pect to hear. To tell you the truth, I understood that your family were all Roman Catholics."
"No," said Eleanore, “my father was a Protestant; and he left it, as his last injunction, that we should be educated in a Protestant school."
“But Madame is a Roman Catholic, is she not?” asked Joanna.
"O yes,” said Eleanore; "and so is Monsieur.”
“Well, but," asked Joanna, "are you satisfied to see a dear parent and an old friend living in error?"
But they think themselves right,” replied Eleanore. “So you may say of heathens,” said Joanna, “that they think themselves right. But should you be satisfied to leave a relation in heathenism ?"
“No," returned Eleanore, “certainly not. But, if I were to say any thing to my mother on the subject of her religion, I should offend her past forgiveness."
“And what, then,” said Joanna, “are you to conceal the truth from your mother, because you fear you shall give offence? Do you know, that we are to consider ourselves blessed, if we are persecuted for righteousness' sake?"
Eleanore made no answer.
“You have been blessed, my dear Eleanore," continued Joanna, “with a knowledge of the truth; you have been brought to know the necessity of a new heart; you feel the privilege, the happiness of being a Christian indeed; and do you hesitate to impart the same blessings to your dear mother-to the friend of your youth-to her who gave you birth? and will you allow her to live and die in darkness, to the utter perdition of her soul and body? 0, Eleanore, I am sure your heart will not suffer you to continue in this neglect !"
Joanna then proceeded to mention a number of trials, which she had undergone, or fancied she had undergone, for the sake of religion: and wished to make it appear, that she had been a heroine and a victim; and that it was necessary that Eleanore should become one also, if she would prove the sincerity of her profession.
The effect of this conversation on Eleanore was, probably, not exactly such as Joanna intended, but certainly, it was what might be expected; for she returned