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I HAVE now brought my reader to the last chapter of my Lady of the Manor. Years have passed away since this series was commenced; and many of those for whom it was originally undertaken have passed from childhood into youth, and become themselves heads of families, and parents. These volumes, too, commenced in scenes of deep retirement and obscurity, have passed into remote regions of the earth; and their contents are diffused past recall among multitudes of immortal creatures, who are all more or less influenced by their contents.
If then these volumes have been the channels of sacred instructions; if the writer has been assisted through this series of stories to convey the truth, and nothing but the truth, to her readers, the end for which she undertook them is fulfilled, and she has had her reward. But if they have been the mediums of error, she has lost her aim, and her object has entirely failed. Nor could she, in this case, consider the highest meed of human praise as the smallest compensation for her trouble, while conscious of having failed in her higher and nobler aims.
And having said thus much, she proceeds to wind up her history, and to give her last account of the manorhouse, and of those with whom it is connected.
It was on the eve of the day of the Confirmation that the last meeting took place at the manor-house; and many were the tears shed when the party broke up. The lady of the manor embraced each of the young people, and again and again prayed for the divine blessing upon them: but she could not promise them other meetings
and other lectures such as they had employed aforetime; for she daily looked for the return of her sons, with their tutor; and she knew that many engagements and duties would be consequent on their return.
The morning broke upon the village with the songs of birds and ringing of bells; the sun shone clearly; and all was gay and gladsome. Were not the feasts of the Jews occasions of delight ? and were they not the appointed types of seasons of rejoicing in the latter days? And wherefore should we not be gay, and happy too, and warm and open-hearted to all about us, on our high days of religious festivity ? And what occasion could be more delightful than that which then offered itself? The young people of the village—the sons and daughters of each family—the blooming and beautiful ones of each household-were to be taken within the gate of the King's court, to take their oath of allegiance; and the minister of the King was to receive them, and accept their vows in his Royal Master's name. And, through the indefatigable cares of the lady of the manor and of Mr. Vernon, there was, by the divine blessing, such a spirit of loyalty (to carry on our simile) diffused among the young people who were to assemble that day, as is seldom found in so large a society at one time; and this spirit of unanimity, obedience, and love, shone so brightly on their youthful countenances, that a sort of lustre seemed to be reflected on the congregation, which every one felt, though some knew not how to account for it. But, indeed, it will always be found, that, where there is the true and devout exercise of religious feelings, there is also a peace and gladness of heart which imparts a glory and happiness to all who partake of it.
When all were assembled in the church, the bishop (who was one, indeed, who might be called the eye and the light of his diocese) thus addressed the candidates for confirmation:
“Do ye here in the presence of God and of this congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your baptism; ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons, and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and to do all those things
which your godfathers and godmothers then undertook for you?"
To which every one audibly answered, “I do."
The bishop then added, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” " Answer. Who made heaven and earth.
Bishop. Blessed be the name of the Lord. “ Answer. Henceforth, world without end. “ Bishop. Lord, hear our prayers. “ Answer. And let our cry come unto thee."
The whole congregation then united in prayer, as follows:
Almighty and ever-living God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins; strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace; the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength; the spirit of knowledge and true godliness ; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear; und now and for ever. Amen.”
After this prayer, the young people were made to neel round the altar; and the bishop laid his hand on each, saying these words : “Defend, O Lord, this thy servant with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom.- Amen."
This being done, the bishop said, “The Lord be with “ Answer. And with thy spirit.”
Then followed the Lord's prayer, with two more prayers, and the Blessing.
After the episcopal benediction, the assembly broke up; and the young people, as had been agreed upon, walked up with the lady of the manor to the beloved manor-house, where they were to dine.
It was after having taken an early dinner, that the lady of the manor proposed a walk in the shrubbery with the young people; and there they sat down in a beautiful root-house, which commanded a view of the
surrounding country. Before them was the park, where many a deer with branching horns and dappled coat, was feeding, under the shade of trees which had flourished in the same place beyond the memory of the oldest inhabitants of the village. Across a dingle, where was an abundant stream of pure water, the front of the manor-house was partially seen; and, more remotely, the tower of the village church, rising above the woods; and, to add to the delights of the place, the air was mild, and perfumed with the breath of many flowers.
“Let us think, in this happy and peaceful scene,” said the lady of the manor, “of what has been done to-day.You, my beloved ones, have solemnly bound yourselves to the service of the one only and true God; and He has accepted your vows, and received you into his family;(for surely I may not question the desire which you all entertained that your service might be rendered sincere ?) and, in being thus received into the family of God, you have already become entitled to the benefits of children. And what are these benefits? They are a participation in the nature, the happiness, the honour, and dignity of the parent. A good father never receives any pleasure, but he calls his children to partake of it; he enjoys no advantage, of which he does not desire his children to have a share. If he finds his children to be unworthy, he does all that in him lies to make them otherwise; he uses reproof and chastisement, he adapts his instruction to their capacities, and he comforts and soothes them in their affliction.
“If, then, my dear young friends, we have this day received the blessing in faith, and have been enabled sincerely to devote ourselves this day to our God, all will surely be well with us in the end ; though we may, and surely shall, have our troubles, our chastisements, and our corrections, while in the flesh; but all will be done in love, and we shall assuredly find peace at the last.And now,” added the lady, “may the Almighty bless you, and give us a happy meeting in the world to come !"
She could add no more, for she was affected to tears; in which she was joined by all who were present; and how long these tears might have continued to flow we
know not, had not the party been startled by the sound of approaching quick steps. They all looked eagerly in the direction whither the sound seemed to come; and, the next moment, two noble-looking youths appeared, glowing with joy and health. They were the sons of the lady of the manor, and were just arrived from the Continent; having hurried from the sea-port before their tutor and their servant, to embrace their mother a few hours sooner.
Those who delight in doing good to the children of others will assuredly be blessed in their own; (that is, if they have not neglected the nearer for the more remote duty,) and the lady of the manor was supremely blessed in her sons--these young men being all that the most affectionate and enlightened parent could desire. The young ladies would all have withdrawn on the occasion; but it was not permitted. “You shall all partake in my joy, my beloved ones," said the lady of the manor;" for you were my comfort and delight in my bereaved state. Come with us, therefore, to the house; and; when my dear sons are refreshed, we will all join in one chorus of thanksgiving and praise."
Several years are passed since the events above related took place; but, from late accounts, I find that the lady of the manor is still living, and is now surrounded by her children's children-her two sons having been married some years since; the elder, who lives with her at the mansion house, to Miss Emmeline; and the younger, who chose a military life, in imitation of his father, to Miss Sophia, the youngest, though not the least beloved, of the pupils of the lady of the manor.
The remainder of the young party who used to attend the instructions of the lady of the manor are dispersed in various directions; many being married, and some dead; but all, as I have been assured, having given evidence that the labours of their respected instructress have been by no means thrown away upon them.