Page images
PDF
EPUB

of our adoption; the first being the type of the washing of regeneration, and the second, of our admission to a communion with our Saviour, and of our participation in his strengthening and supporting influences.”

“I think, Madam,” said Miss Emmeline, “that I understand much of what you have last said. I hope that I have a tolerably clear idea of the grand outline of religion, and of the necessity, as it respects the perfections of the Almighty, of the death of our Redeemer to rescue guilty man. I hope, in speaking of these things, that I do not use terms which are too familiar. And I wish also to acknowledge, that I never could understand why it was necessary that our Lord should die for us, though I could readily recognise it as an act of kindness and benevolence, till you explained to me the nature of the divine attributes, and showed me that these attributes could not cease to be infinitely perfect; and hence, that justice must be satisfied before mercy could be exercised. Thus the many beauties in the great plan of salvation unfolded themselves to me; and I was brought to understand how God in human flesh was made to be a propitiation for the sins of the human race, and by his infinite perfection to give merit to his obedience." “A merit,” replied the lady of the manor,

6 so glorious, so sufficient, so beyond all computation, that, if all the sins of the sons of Adam were included in one mighty sum-and mighty indeed it would be,—that sum of guilt might be for ever obliterated by faith in his all-sufficient obedience."

“In reflecting on these things,” said Miss Sophia, “it appears that we have nothing else to do but to believe and be saved."

This is our great duty and mercy,” said the lady of the manor.

And now, my beloved young people,” she added, while the tears stood in her eyes, “may the Almighty guide and direct you! may my humble endeavours be blessed to your everlasting benefit! and may the periods we have spent together shed their benign influence through the whole of your lives, and bring their consolation in the hour of death !"

At the termination of this prayer, the young people,

[ocr errors]

looking at each other with apprehension, seemed to inquire if they were to consider this as a sort of valedictory address; as they knew well that the next day was the time appointed for the confirmation: and more than this, they knew that the sons of the lady of the manor were expected in the beginning of the week, if not sooner, and that other occupations would then engage the attention of the excellent lady. Still, however, they could not bear the thought of finally dissolving their assembly; and they all expressed their regret, and with one voice petitioned for the renewal of their pleasure, and for one more story.

The lady of the manor was not less willing than the young people thus to employ another day; and while she assured them that she hoped the friendship thus commenced between them might only be interrupted by death, she promised what they asked ; and intimated her intention of finishing her series of narratives by one in which she would give them an example of a female character, in which every Christian grace shone forth in its fairest form; an example which she trusted might be imitated by them when the days of infancy were past, and the beloved guides of their youth were no longer at hand to admonish them of every deviation from the right way.

" The effect of female influence on society in general," she observed, “shall be the subject of the narrative which I select; and I humbly pray that such influence may never be perverted by any female now present."

The lady then produced her manuscript, and read as follows.

Female Influence. Had any one told me, some years since, that I should become a writer, and, what is more, a writer on such a subject as I now have chosen, I should have smiled with incredulity, and should have thought the person greatly deceived who should venture to utter such a prediction: but, with the advance of years, such an entire revolution has, by the divine blessing, passed upon my feelings, that I now hate what I once loved ; and what I once de

lighted in, I now look upon with unfeigned abhorrence. What this change is, some of my readers will, no doubt, have guessed already; to others, perhaps, it may remain a doubt till they arrive at the conclusion of my narrative.

I do not choose to give the real name of my family, nor its titles. I am a peer of the realm, and so much am compelled to tell my reader; and, if he pleases, he may henceforth suppose that my first title is Roxeter, and my second Bellamy; that my family name is Westfield, and my Christian name Theodore. So much for empty names.

I now proceed to say, that I am the only son of an earl, and that my chief seat is in a part of England most remarkable for its beauty. My mother, of whom I remember little, was the younger daughter of a marquis, of whose family I never knew much. I have one sister: she is considerably older than myself. I shall have occasion to say much respecting this sister during the course of my narration.

My father, for several years before his death, was very deeply engaged in politics, and my mother much occupied by a town life. My parents spent the greater part of each year in London; and, as they seldom carried us thither, my childhood and youth, till I was old enough to be entered in the University, was spent for the most part, at my father's principal seat, a place which it is my pleasure to call Hartland Hall.

This is a noble old mansion, situated, as old houses commonly are, in a valley, and encompassed by a magnificent park; which includes as fine pasture and woodland, and as great a variety of hill and dale, of home and distant prospect, as any piece of ground of the same extent in the United Kingdom.

My father kept an establishment at the Hall; and there a handsome table was provided for my tutor and my sister's governess; which last was a formal maiden lady of about fifty years of age, strongly marked by the small-pox, and otherwise far from well-looking; having been expressly chosen on account of these properties by my mother, who entertained the common notion, that

an ordinary looking woman was not liable either to vanity or indiscretion.

This remarkable personage was in attendance on my sister as soon as I can recollect any thing: but so slight an impression did she make on my mind, that I cannot say at what time she took her departure; but not, I believe, till her pupil had caused her to feel that her authority was wholly at an end.

But if my sister's governess was a mere automaton, a sort of breathing machine without a mind, not so was my tutor, Mr. Helmly. Seldom, I believe, has a more dangerous man found means to enter a family, and make himself acceptable to its master, than this man was when my father chose him for my preceptor; and gave to him, soon after, the rectory of Hartland. He had passed through a regular education, and taken his degree of master of arts. He was an accomplished scholar, had a fine flow of language, and was possessed of a ready and a wicked vein of humour. He had been a traveller too -had seen Rome and Naples—and could talk of Switzerland, Venice, and Paris. He understood virtu, and knew the names of the celebrated artists of the Flemish and Italian schools. He could preach moral sentiments, and sing profligate songs; and he could go through all the established forms, with a saint-like aspect, in a place of worship; and, when returned to the house, lay aside all regard for religion, nay, all decent mention of it, with as much ease as he divested himself of his gown and band.

There is, perhaps, scarcely a period in the English history when vital religion was at so low an ebb as from the time of Charles the Second till the crisis of its revival towards the latter part of the eighteenth century. During that period, piety was seldom thought of as a qualification for a tutor or a governess; while wit and talents seemed to form a tolerable excuse, even in a clergyman, for profane or profligate language.

The present age is, at least, more correct and consistent in its taste; and the worst of persons in this polished country are disgusted with profanity and profligacy in the sacred profession. I was certainly very

son.

unfortunate in my tutor, and I have often wondered how my father, who was a man of honourable character, could have been so blind as he was to the person whom he had chosen as the preceptor of his son.-But so it was: and the consequences will appear to be such as might be expected.

My sister, of whom I have yet said little, was between seven and eight years older than myself, and probably, from the knowledge I have since had of her character, would not have condescended to have cultivated my regard in the degree she did, had she not been early taught that I, as the only son, was to be the stay and support of the family dignity; for the honours and many of the lands, in case of my death, would have passed into another branch of the family. She was named Julianna, after her mother, and was a fine woman, though, perhaps, had she been in low life, she might have been thought somewhat masculine in her appearance; yet her carriage was noble, and her voice peculiarly sweet and full. She was an adept also in adorning her per

I never knew a woman who dressed so well. She sat upon a horse with unu al grace; and danced remarkably well. While we were children, it was often said, that Lord Bellamy ought to have been the girl, and Lady Julianna the boy: for I was so fair a youth, had such fine auburn hair, such bright blue eyes, and such a ruddy complexion, that it was feared i should have been what is called a pretty man; a misfortune which I, however, escaped, by the manliness of my figure; though, after all, I was, perhaps, more of an Adonis than was favourable to my welfare in the society of the other sex.

In writing his own life, a man, if he has any modesty, or wishes to be thought to have any, must feel a little awkward when he is, or has been, particularly distinguished by any good quality or accomplishment, and it becomes necessary for him to state it; but as this superiority of person, in which I prided myself more than on my birth or fortune, had a considerable influence over my life, circumstances require me to mention it; and to say that for many years of my life I valued the external comeliness which I certainly possessed in a re

« EelmineJätka »