Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Accept my humble lines, and let my verse, Shew that I bless the object of my birth, Let, sacred bcing, a son his feelings speak His gratitude, while tears flow down his cheek, For all thy pains and anxious cares endur'd For all thy blessings and thy gifts confer'd, As you beheld my rising stature grow, Through thy glad veins, a pang of joy did flow, As you did guide my infant heart to - truth, So did you turn to virtuous deeds my youth, Forever may thy name my soul inspire, And be thy happiness my chief desire, And may thy precepts ever be my joy, And I still be, your cver much lov’d boy.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

delight which he took in the contemplation of her endearing character, enabled the good old man to triumph, for some time, over sickness, terror, and misfortune.— By the assistance of Constantia, he struggled through several years of commercial perplexity ; at last, however, the fatal hour arrived, which he had so grievously apprehended ; he became a bankrupt, and resolved to retire into France” with a faint hope of repairing his ruined fortune, by the aid of connections which he had formed in that country. He could not support the thought of carrying Constantia among foreigners, in so . indigent a condition, and he thereore determined to leave her under the protection of her aunt, Mrs. Braggard, a widow lady, who, possessing a comfortable jointure, and a notable spirit of economy, was enabled to make a very considerable figure in a country townMrs. Braggard was one of those good women, wbo, by paying the most punctual visits to a catherdal, imagine they acquire an unquestionable right, not only to speak aloud their own exemplary virtues, but to make as free as they please with the conduct and character of every person, both within and with

[graphic]

out the circle of their acquaintance. Having enjoyed from her youth a very hale constitution, and not having injured it by any tender excesses, either of love or sorrow, she was, at the age of fifty-four, completely equal to all the business and bustle of the female world.— As she wisely believed activity to be a great source both of health and amusement, she was always extremely active in her own affairs, and sometimes in those of others.

She considered the key of her -store-room as her sceptre of dominion, and, not wishing to delegate her authority to any minister whatever, she was very far from wanting the society of her neice, as an assistant in the management of her house ; yet she was very ready to receive the unfortunate ‘Constantia under her roof, for the sake of the pleasure which would certainly arise to her, not indeed from the uncommon charms of Constantia's conversation, but from repeating herself, to every creature who visited at her house, “what a great friend she was to that poor girl.” Painful as such repetitions must be to a mind of quick sensibility, Constantia supported them with a modest resignation. There were circumstances in her present situation that galled her much more. Mrs. Braggard had an utter contempt, or rather a constitutional antipathy for literature and music, the darling amucsments of Con

stantia, and indeed the only occu

pations by which she hoped to soothe her agitated spirits, under the pressure of her various afflictions. Her father, with a tender solicitude, had secured to her a favourite harpsichord, and a small, but choice, collection of books.These, however, instead of proving the source of consolitary amusement, as he had kindly imagined, only served to increase the vexations of the poor Constantia, as she seldom attempted either to sing or to read, without hearing a prolix invective from her aunt, against musical and learned ladies.

Mrs. Braggard seemed to think that all useful knowledge, and all rational delight, are centered in a social game of cards ; and Constantia, who, from principles of gratitude and good nature, wished to accommodate herself to the humour of every person from whom she received obligations, assiduously endeavoured to promote the diversion of her aunt ; but having little or no pleasure in cards, and being somewhat unable, from uneasiness of mind, to command her attention, she was generally a loser, a circumstance which produced a very bitter oration from the attentive old lady, who declared that inattention of this kind was inexcu

[blocks in formation]

wretchedness of depending on the ostentatious charity of a relation, whose heart and soul had not the least affinity with her own. The conversation ended in a compromise, by which constantia obtained the permission of renouncing cards forever, on the condition, which she herself proposed, of never touching her harpsichord again, as the sound of that instrument was as unpleasant to Mrs.Praggard, as the sight of a card-table was to her unfortunate niece.

Constantia passed a considerable time in this state of unmerited mortification, wretched in her own situation, and anxious to the most painful degree, concerning the fate of her father. Perceiving there were no hopes of his return to England, she wrote him a tender and pathetic letter, enumerating all her afflictions, and imploring his consent to her taking leave of her aunt, and endeavouring to acquire a more peaceable mainteDance for herself, by teaching the rudiments of music to young ladies; an employment to which her talents were perfectly equal. To this filial petition she received a very extraordinary, and a very painful answer, which accident led me to peruse, a few years after the death of the unhappy father who wrote it.

It happened, that a friend requested me to point out some accomplished woman, in humble circumstances, and about the mid

dle season of life, who might be willing to live as a companion with a lady of great fortune and excellent character, who had the misfortune to lose the use of her eyes. Upon this application, I immediately thought of Constantia. My acquaintance with her had commenced before the marriage of her sister, and the uncommon spirit of generosity, which she exerted on that occasion, made me very ambitious of cultivating a lasting friendship with so noble a mind; but living at a considerable distance from each other, our intimacy lasted for several years by a regular correspondence. At the time of my friend's application, Constantia's letters had informed me that her father was dead, and that she had no prospects of escaping from a mode of life which I knew was utterly incompatible with her ease and comfort. I concluded, therefore, that I should find her most ready to embrace the proposal which I had to communicate, and I resolved to pay her a visit in person, for the pleasure of being myself the bearer of such welcome intelligence. Many years had elapsed since we met, and they were years that were not calculated to

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »