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piness in a partial indulgence of evil passions, of which increasing misery is the inevitable consequence.” The
young ladies, on hearing these remarks, looked as if some new light had broken in upon them. Indeed the discourse to which they had been listening was of so novel a character to them, that they could not comprehend its exact tendency; which the lady of the manor perceiving, said, “My dear young people, in order to give you a better idea of the subject on which we have been to-day conversing, viz. what I think ought to be the state of mind and the private thoughts of a young person, I shall read you a little narrative which I met with some time ago in manuscript. But before I begin this story, I have one or two desultory remarks to make, or rather cautions to give you.
“ In general, my dear young friends, all confidential discourse with persons of your own age is to be avoided. If you must have a confidant, a mother or aunt is the properest person. But if such do not offer, you have a Friend on high, a faithful and all-wise Friend, who has both wisdom to counsel and power to protect you. Generally speaking, be in the habit of consulting your fellow-creatures less, and your Maker more.
The confidential interviews of young persons are generally filled up with disclosures of things which ought never to be mentioned, and discourses upon subjects which greatly tend to the increase of improper feelings.
“Another caution I would give you, is, to avoid as much as possible those situations in which you are obliged to change your companions at the hour of rest; and likewise to lay aside the too common custom of spending half the hours devoted to rest in conversation with your bedfellows. I consider the silent hours of the night, when all about us is still, as especially belonging to God, and which are particularly calculated, if properly used, for the advancement of the soul in its heavenly course. Be jealous therefore and watchful over yourselves at these seasons; and let them all be seriously devoted to your God. Take the advice of the royal Psalmist in this respect, who says, Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with
your own heart upon your bed, and be still. (Psalm “I have often thought," continued the lady of the
manor, “ what an amazing progress every Christian might make in the way of godliness, if he would but rightly employ these silent and solemn hours; if he would then labour (with the divine help) to bring his mind into that state, in which he would wish to be found when he shall be required to stand in the presence of his Maker, there to give an account of the deeds done in the body.
“ How often,” added the lady of the manor, “ do we complain of not having time to engage in the duties of prayer and meditation: when, if we would make the best of even those intervals, which the most busy life affords as well as the most calm, it is astonishing how much might be accomplished. But I fear that too many young persons, instead of sanctifying these hours, allow them to be more polluted by sinful thoughts than any other portion of the day. Since, however, on these subjects a hint may be sufficient for those who are well disposed, I will now proceed to my story.”
THEODOSIA; OR, THE WILL CONTROLLED. On the western banks of the Rhone there is a beautiful chain of mountains called the Cevennes, whose towering heights in some places seem to touch the clouds, while at others they are intersected with deep valleys, whose shadowy horrors are deepened by groves of chesnut, laurustinus, and evergreen oaks.
At the foot of one of these mountains, and more than half embosomed in a thick wood, there has stood, for some ages past, a superb chateau which was formerly the chief seat of the Counts of one of the most noble families of France. This family, the initials of whose name have only reached us, as appears from record, stood high in favour at court; and on this account its
representatives resided much in the capital, being in the habit of leaving their estates almost entirely under the care of an intendent or steward. This superintendent did not reside in the chateau itself, but in a farmhouse not a quarter of a mile from it; and whereas the chateau was situated on a gentle elevation, the farmhouse was placed in a deep valley, where a brook tumbling from ihe mountains poured its crystal stream over a pebbled channel.
Those who have travelled on the Continent may have seen many a sample of architecture not unlike that which this farm-house presented, and which indeed bore a near resemblance to such as were half a century ago very frequently to be met with in England. But as the fashions of this world speedily pass away, few such are now to be found, excepting in those remote situations to which modern taste has not yet extended its renovating influ
It was a large black-timbered mansion, extending round a court, irregularly built and uncouthly adorned with grotesque and frowning figures carved in wood; its high roof and turreted corners carrying the imagination back to those elder times, when even the dwellings of royalty were but clumsily ornamented.
The court of this mansion was well stored with all manner of poultry; and thither large flocks of sheep and herds of cows were brought at night from their mountain pastures, to be there protected from the wolves with which the neighbouring forests were known to abound.
At the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV. at which period my narrative commences, the chateau was inhabited by Reginald Pierre, Count of L- ; who, having spent his youth at court, had retired in his old age to his estates, where he married a very young woman in hopes of living to see an heir to his possessions and honours.
At the same time the stewardship was occupied by a respectable man, named Basil, who had been some years married to a daughter of one of the pastors of the Waldenses, and saw himself the happy father of four fine boys, whom their mother, a truly pious and excellent woman, was training up in the fear and nurture of the Lord. Basil, by associating with the Waldenses, had been led to renounce the popish religion, and to adopt the tenets of these holy people; and as his renunciation of popery was publicly known, it failed not to produce him many enemies. Nevertheless, his upright conduet as a steward, and his kindness to the poor, had rendered hiin so necessary to his lord, and so much beloved by those who depended upon him, that his enemies had not the power to injure him on account of his religion.
When the old Count de L- had been married a few months, hopes were given him that his lady would soon
present him with what he so anxiously desired, namely, a son to inherit his estates and titles, and thus prevent their descending to a distant brauch of the family. With these hopes, so soothing to his pride, he comforted bimself till the time of the child's birth, when, unfortunately, instead of a son, it proved to be a daughter.
The count was greatly disappointed; but the people about himn consoled him by remarking, that as his wife was young she might have many more children, and that no doubt he would soon bave the pleasure of embracing an heir to his estates and honours.
In this manner they reconciled the count to his disappointment; and that so effectually, as very tenderly to attach him to his little daughter, to whom he gave the name of Eleanor.
When this little girl was somewhat more than one year of age, it was announced to the count that he might shortly expect the birth of a second child. This he persuaded himself would prove a son; and in this belief, as the time of the birth of the child approached, he actually made preparations for a public rejoicing throughout his domains. But, alas, the long expected period, when it arrived, did not bring the happiness so ardently looked for. The child was born, and proved to be a girl; and a few hours after the birth of this unwelcome infant, the eyes of its inother were closed in the sleep of death.
When this double disaster reached the ears of the unhappy husband, he shut himself up in his closet, uttering the exclamations of a frantic man; nor could he be prevailed upon to give any orders either respecting the unfortunate infant or the remains of the mother. He had not been in the habit of making God his friend: his Saviour had not been the companion of his solitary hours; he could not say of him, This is my beloved, and this is my friend. (Cant. v. 16.) Consequently on this occasion he found himself deprived of hope; without refuge and without support. O, my readers, if you have not already done so, lose no time in acquainting yourselves with God, who is the Saviour of all that trust in him. Make him your friend and your counsellor, the guide of your steps, and the inseparable companion of your way. By night on thy bed seek him as. one whom thy soui loveth: scek him though you find him not immediately. (Cant. iii. 1.) He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Prov. xviii. 24.)
While the poor count remained shut up in his closet a prey to despair, the greatest confusion reigned in the chateau; where no one would presume to take upon himself the responsibility of ordering what was to be done.
Basil was shortly sent for; but it so happened, that his assistance could not be procured before the lapse of several hours. For it had been so ordered by the Alinighty, that, a few days before these events took place at the chateau, Blanche, the wife of Basil, had brought him a little daughter who lived only two days; during which time she had been admitted into the visible Church of Christ, having received the sign and seal of baptism from her pious grandfather, the pastor of whom I before spoke. Basil, with his two elder sons, was at this very time engaged in committing his infant to the dust from which she came: for dust we are, and unto dust we must return. Therefore, when the servants at the chateau sent in haste for Basil, he was not to be found at home; and several hours must necessarily pass before he could return from the burying-place of the Waldenses among the mountains, to which he had carried his infant.
In the mean time, the sad news of what had happened at the chateau was carried to Blanche; who was then lying in her bed lamenting the loss of her baby. Yet was her grief chastened by Christian principles and sweetened by that hope which bereaved parents who have given up their children in faith are allowed to entertain, that in the last day they shall again behold their beloved little ones; for they know whom they have believed, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which they have committed unto him against the last day. (2 Tim. i. 12.)
Blanche was much affected by the sad tidings from the chateau, and eagerly asked after the baby-whether it looked well-whether it would take food -- with a thousand other questions which none but those who have the feelings of a tender mother would think of asking. But receiving little satisfaction, she became silent, and lay pondering a scheme in her mind which she did not impart to any one till her husband's return.