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more than usually confused, and said every thing which she had better have left unsaid, and did much to
“ Make the worse appear the better cause.” Those ill-conducted arguments might have been fatal (humanly speaking) to the principles of the young people, had not Emily at that time been too young to understand their purport, and Christopher in a state indisposing him to receive any thing favourably which proceeded from his father.
I might describe several of these arguments, but shall content myself with entering into the minutio of one only.
The subject on which the major argued was, what he called the native perfection of the human character; asserting that the mind of man, in infancy, resembled a sheet of paper, perfectly pure and white, and that it would undoubtedly remain such if man could be preserved from the contagion of evil example. He was stimulated to proceed by Mrs. Courtney's symptoms of growing displeasure, betrayed by her raised eyebrows, and the flush in her cheeks, falsely asserting the evil effects of laws and religion on society; indulging in a high-flown description, in the style of St. Pierre, of the virtues of savages, of the innocence of cannibals, and the integrity of Hottentots. He had proceeded for some time in this way, when Mrs. Courtney interrupted him with a deep sigh, or rather groan, exclaiming, “ Why, major! it perfectly astonishes and confounds me to hear you talk at this rate!-a man of your sense, and one who has been so much in the world, to talk of the heart of man being like a sheet of white paper, when you must have seen in your travels so much that is sinful among your fellow-creatures !"
“ All the consequence, my good lady,” replied the major calmly, “ of evil example and false principles. It is evil company, my dear madam, you may depend upon it;evil company, evil example, bad government, and superstition, make men what they are. Could you but visit the wilds of America, or of Africa, you would see man as he should be; simple, open, generous, hospitable; following the pure dictates of his natural feelings; full of sympathy, tenderness, affection; all that is amiable; all that is rational."
“ What!" said the old lady,“ am I then to understand that all moral evil is but the effect of example ?"
“Of example, madam,” repeated the major:“of example and imperfect control.”
“ And not," said Mrs. Courtney,“ the consequence evil nature and a depraved heart ?”
“ Undoubtedly not,” said the major, opening his toothpick-case, and applying its contents to its usual purpose.
“ Then, sir," said the old lady,“ you do not believe in the fall of man, and his consequent corruption?”
“I believe,” replied the major, "all that is necessary for a philosopher and a wise man to believe, and reject all which such a one should reject."
“ Then, sir,” said Mrs. Courtney, “you and I can never agree." And the pink hue arose higher in the old lady's cheek, extending itself over her forehead and the upper part of her nose.
The major smiled, called to Wietlesbach to bring him a glass of bitters, and remarked, that he was sorry that so entire a disagreement should subsist between Mrs. Courtney and the wiser part of mankind.
Mrs. Courtney was on the point of making some vehement retort, and perhaps of telling the major that she was no longer disposed to harbour one under her roof who could treat her with so much contempt, and who could utter sentiments so contrary to religion, when the gentle Emily, who still but little understood the cause of her grandmother's displeasure, ran in between her two parents, and with one glance of her modest eye recalled the old lady to reflection, and brought her again to the resolution of bearing all rather than be parted from her child.
The major had resided in Mrs. Courtney's family little more than one year and a half, when the young people were deprived of their excellent friend and protectress by death. I could say much of their distress on the occasion; but as this may be readily imagined, I proceed to observe, that the situation of Christopher was rendered so painful by the loss of Mrs. Courtney, that, soon after her funeral, he summoned courage to tell his father, that he hoped he would decide upon some plan for removing him from home, and settling him in the world. To this request the major gave only a hesitating answer; telling
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his son that he would think of these matters by and by, though he could not as yet conceive what he was fit for, brought up as he had been by an old woman, and prepared only for the company of such.
It may be asked, what motive a father could possibly have for thus conducting himself towards an only son; but the truth of the matter was, that the major was a lover of money, and though he never denied himself any indulgence whatever, yet he could not think of parting with so much as was needful for placing his son in a good situation; and he had too much pride to allow him to think of any thing inferior for his child.
The major was not rich; and he had been much mortified on opening Mrs. Courtney's will, to find that she had left the bulk of her property to Emily, not to be touched till she was of age, with a considerable sum to Christopher upon the same conditions, but not a shilling to himself, Poor Christopher had therefore chosen an evil moment, while his father was smarting under this disappointment, to press his suit; and the consequence to himself was only a renewal of mortification.
After Mrs. Courtney's death, the major remained some months in the house of his late mother-in-law, being undetermined whither next to go; at the same time expressing great disgust at his situation, which ill suited a man of his habits.
During this period, poor Christopher became more and more dissatisfied with his father's treatment, which was peculiarly calculated to gall a high-spirited young man.And then it was that Emily, now thirteen years of
felt increasingly the loss of her grandmother. She was still the darling and pride of her father; nevertheless, she had sense enough to discern that his conduct towards her brother was decidedly wrong, and strength and quickness of feeling sufficient to sympathize in all his trials. Many times,
when she saw him in a state of high irritation, she would sooth and console him. “ Dear Christopher" she
“ do not doubt that our father loves you; and I love you-your own Emily loves you. Remember, also, that you
have a Father in heaven who knows all your troubles, and he will comfort you. Pray, dear Christopher, be patient.”
“But to stay here, year after year,” the brother would reply, “ idling my time away, while other young men are gaining an independency; and then to be called an idle fellow—a daurien-a Miss Molly-it is what I cannot bear. No, Emily, I will run away, and go to sea, or enlist as a soldier."
This declaration always wrung the heart of Emily; and on these occasions she used to employ all the eloquence of tears and sobs to remove his resolution.
At length, on some high provocation from the selfish father, the unhappy young man fixed his determination so decidedly, that he resolved not to subject himself again to the pleadings of his Emily, for he felt that he could not resist them.
There was nothing so dear on earth to Christopher as his sister; and whenever he indulged the hope of future happiness in this life, it arose from the prospect of living with his Emily; and, surely, if he cherished what was romantic, or fanciful, in these visions of future days, we should pardon him, considering his youth, and recollecting that the earlier part of his life was spent on the borders of the Lac de Leman, the region of all that is attractive in nature. But the time was arrived when this unfortunate youth was resolved to leave his sister, and with her, as he believed, to leave all that made his life desirable. His intentions were to take a small bundle of linen, and proceed on foot to the next port, where he doubted not he might be received on board some ship as a common sailor. What were his further views I know not, and perhaps he hardly knew himself: but how to separate himself from Emily, this was the question; and when could he resolve to part to meet no more?
For several days after he had made up his uittle bundle of linen, and arranged all his plans, he tried to see his sister for the last time, but tried in vain. In the morning he resolved to leave her in the evening, and in the evening he determined to put off his departure till the next morning. Thus day wore away after day till a whole week had passed. At length, on occasion of some new excitement, he made his final resolution; but still the difficulty existed, how was he to part from Emily?
Full of this sad thought, he one afternoon left his fa
ther's presence, and wandered, scarcely knowing whither he was going, into the coppice which had been the scene of his most happy boyish hours. Here he had enjoyed the society of his friend, the amiable Harrington; and here he had watched the growth of Emily, from lisping infancy to her present blooming period. Here he had often received the gentle endearments of her who now slept in the dust; and here he had indulged in all the glowing schemes and hopes of ardent youth. Every tree, every mossy bank, nay, every aged stump, or tender sapling, had its effect upon Christopher; and even the remoter views, caught through the openings of the wood, were all connected in his mind with some affecting recollection of past days.
There, on that bed of moss, beneath that hollow tree, he and his friend had made a hermitage for Emily, and adorned it with bits of broken glass and petrifactions. There, in that bush, he had pointed out a bird's nest to her, and had gone with her to feed the little nestlings. And in a third place, he had made a swing for her between two trees, and could recollect how she had once fallen from the swing, and excited his extreme alarm lest she should have received any injury.
Onward he walked, full of sorrow, and trying to subdue every rising recollection which might shake his resolution to depart for ever from this place, till he came to a favourite corner of the coppice, where, a few years past, under the shelter of a spreading oak, he and his friend had erected a hut, with infinite labour, to which the name had been given of. Emily's Bower.' A few stakes still remained of their past labour, and a small part of the ill-constructed roof was still attached to the trunk of the oak, although several winters had passed since it had been wholly neglected.
The site of this bower had been chosen because it commanded a view of the hill and pool before mentioned, to which objects Christopher was particularly attached, because he fancied some resemblance in the arrangement of these objects to a scene he recollected in Switzerland; not aware that the most lovely scenes in England are not at all comparable to the glories of that most wonderful and enchanting country. Nevertheless, these imperfect resemblances had amused the mind of our warm-hearted youth,