distant yet awed respect with which he treated him?"

"I was too much confused by the news of his sudden departure, to notice either the stranger or the manner in which he was treated. There is, I grant, an air of mystery around the affair, which I cannot fathom; but this is no valid cause of suspicion, as many of the most brilliant passages in the history of adventurous life have emerged out of scenes equally inexplicable and confounding."

"It is not my wish, my dear Charlotte, as you well know, to disturb your happiness; nor do I feel inclined to injure the reputation of Mr. Murry: but I cannot see you advancing towards the precipice of danger, without feeling anxious to recover you. That you should think and talk as you now do, is perfectly natural, because your passions have gained an ascendancy over your judgment, and you look at recent occurrences through an inverted medium, which deceives you. But it has just struck me, that there is one circumstance stated in the letter, which will clear up the mystery in which you suppose the affair is involved."

Indeed! what is that?"

"The writer states not only his arrest, but that he had not sufficient money to discharge the arrears that were due at his lodgings; and adds, that these facts are now the topic of general conversation. If this be false, the whole may be false; but if true, I think the point is decided. Shall I go and make a few calls, when most likely, if it be as stated, I shall hear something?"

"Yes, do. If he has deceived me, he must be -but I cannot utter any reproachful terms-It

eannot be."

Miss Hutchinson stepped out, and after gaining


the information which she expected to receive, she returned, and found Mrs. and Miss with whom they had formed a slight acquaintance durring their visit at Teignmouth, sitting with Miss Lester. As they knew of the intimacy which subsisted between her and Mr. Murry, they had called to congratulate her on the danger which she had escaped, and gave her a detailed history of his life. She listened with apparent indifference, yet said she was much obliged by the kind interest they took in her welfare.

After they withdrew, she took the notes, and letters she had received from him, and after tearing them to atoms, pronounced him unworthy her notice. Having done this she turned to her friend Miss Hutchinson and said,

"I shall now leave Teignmouth with less regret than I anticipated; but time alone will be able to disengage my mind, from the illusive associations and impressions which I have been cherishing with such romantic ardour. I have read of the treachery of man, as well as of his honour, but now I feel it, and it is a strange feeling. I long thought that the dark shades of his picture, were the fictitious colourings of the faithless painter; but now, I perceive that the beauteous lights are the false touches of his pencil. He is called the lord of the creation, but is he not the great Apollyon of our bliss ? I shall suffer for my credulity, but I will not die a martyr to the treachery which has deceived me."

"I am happy to hear you, my dear Miss Lester, express such noble sentiments; and I doubt not but you will very soon regain that mental composure which you enjoyed before this affair took place. I have been thinking that as you would not like to mix with our friends who converse on scarcely any

other subjects, that the sooner we leave Teignmouth, the more agreeable to your feelings."

"Leave! yes, to-morrow if possible; but as that cannot be the case, let us fix on a very early. day."

She immediately wrote off to her parents, to say, that they might expect to see her in the beginning of the next week; and having made arrangements, they took leave of their friends; and departed for home on the following Monday morning.

There is no reading which has such a pernicious effect on the female mind as the works of fiction; because they generally give false views of the human character, and imperceptibly induce her to anticipate some strange incidents in the history of her life, as necessary to complete and embellish it. Hence from the notions she is taught to imbibe, she is precluded from paying attention to the common place maxims of prudence and circumspection, on which her honour and her happiness depend; and not unfrequently has bitterly to deplore the existence of those circumstances, which, when they first rose before her imagination she hailed as the precursors of her bliss. To this species of composition, which is certainly very bewitching in its attractions, we may attribute much of the evil and the misery which prevail in society: and though I will not go so far as to say that it invariably leads its impassioned admirers to ruin, yet it invariably vitiates the moral taste, and pre-disposes the mind to yield to those impressions and solicitations which the base destroyers of female felicity generally employ to accomplish their unhallowed purposes. And though I feel no disposition to proscribe all works of imagination, yet too much care cannot be exercised in making the selection for the gratifica



tion and improvement of the young; as to their influence, in consequence of the deep and powerful interest which they generally excite, they are often more indebted for their sentiments, their principles and their tendencies, than to the instructions which they derive from the facts of history, or the grave maxims of didactive wisdom.

Miss Hutchinson consented to remain with her friend a few weeks after her return home; as she was anxious by her personal attentions to counteract the effect which recent circumstances had very obviously produced, and supposing that the public amusements of the city would prove a very powerful auxiliary, she enticed her to the theatre and the concert, where amidst the fascinating scenes which strike the eye, and the sounds of harmony which fall on the ear, she imagined that the treachery of Teignmouth would be forgotten. But she was disappointed. The wound was too deep to be healed by these fantastic expedients. The silly actors performed their silly parts; and the soul-reviving music sent forth its sweetest notes, which excited the transient emotion of pleasure, and the sympathetic smile without restoring the vivacity of her spirits, or preventing the bloom of health fading from her countenance.

"I feel," said Miss Lester, when solicited by her friend to accompany her to a public ball, “that I have been looking at the world through a false medium, and allowing myself to be beguiled by imaginary scenes of bliss. I was led to form a high estimate of man, but he has deceived me; and I was led to suppose that real happiness was to be found amidst the gaieties of life, but I now find that this is a delusion. Time, I have no doubt, will bring back that mental peace, which I have allow

ed another to disturb; but I must seek for it in the calm retreat of sober thought and useful employments, rather than on the parade of fashionable life. To my late reading, which, by its magic charm stole away my senses, and shut up my mental sight, I attribute all my woes; and as I have now discerned the illusion which it threw over my imagination, I will betake myself to a purer source of instruction and amusement."

"I am happy, my dear Charlotte, that you are come to such a decision. You know my opinion of the character and of the tendency of works of fiction. Some few may be read with advantage, but by far the greatest number are most fatal in their influence. If they do not actually corrupt the mind, they impose on it. They strew the path of life with flowers that never grew; they scent its air with a fragrance that has never been emitted; they combine events and incidents in a regular train of history which never came to pass; delineate characters which have no prototype in the social system; and hold up before us a scene of bliss, which they sketch from fancy, and thus, by misleading the judgment, they lead us to anticipate a mode of existence, which, when we have made the experiment, we find cannot be realized."

"This, my dear Maria, you have told me before; but I did not credit it. I thought you had received a melancholy tinge, and consequently threw too dark a colouring on the picture of real life. But now I feel, that your statement is correct. I will descend from the aerial regions of fancy, and live in real life. But to do this I must cherish suspicion in my own breast, a passion I once abhorred as mean and despicable. Man is fallen in my estimation; yes, and he never will

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