« VorigeDoorgaan »
enmity against God; and yet, during all this time, we were fully sensible that we had not obtained contentment, and were as yet strangers to happiness; nevertheless we longed for present enjoyment as earnestly as the covetous man longs for the Philosopher's Stone, by the attainment of which he hopes to become the master of riches superior to those which were amassed in the treasury of Crosus.
And although owing to the great dissimilarity of our ages, my aunt and I had our different ideas respecting how this object was to be obtained, yet our object was one, and that one was gentility; to be genteel, to associate with genteel people, to be in a certain rank, (that rank being a step above our means and pretensions,) was the great object of our desires and our efforts, to be a complete “gentlewoman,” as my aunt would have said, or to be “lady-like," as I should have said, for I chose to think my aunt's expression very obsolete, was, we decided, the end of a good education ; but in what consisted the real character of a lady I was perfectly ignorant, for though it may not be impossible for a worldly person to appear like a lady, taking the term in its usual acceptation, for a few hours in the day; yet I am certain that no one was ever able to support that character with anything like consistency at all hours, and in all companies, excepting such as are influenced by a spirit above that which is merely human ; hence would any one desire to see the finest exhibitions of polished manners, we must seek it in the society of those who are conformed to the likeness of the only perfect character, which was ever made manifest in an earthern vessel. My aunt and myself, through her instructions, were sufficiently acquainted with most artificial rules of politeness; these we were very careful to practise in our intercourse with our superiors; neither were we forgetful of them in the presence of our equals, when not of our own family; and occasionally we even thought it worth our while to be polite to our inferiors; but when at home, and without witnesses, how small was the restraint which we put upon ourselves. As my aunt got older, she naturally felt herself becoming weaker ; and as I became more greedy of the pleasures of youth, I could less endure the restraints which her infirmities must necessarily lay upon those who associated constantly with her.
How little therefore of tenderness was there in my manner to her, and how little of forbearance in hers to me; how little did we consult each others comfort; there was no composure in our narrow circle, no cheerfulness, no innocent gaiety, but, on the contrary, perpetual peevishness, complainings, and disputes ; and nothing ever seemed to enliven us excepting when some tale of scandal excited us ; on these occasions, and on few others, we were drawn together, and then we not seldom used to congratulate each other on our superior wisdom, discretion, and propriety of conduct. I cannot give my reader a better idea of the state in which we lived, than by describing one of the last days which we spent together, before those events took place which effected an almost entire change in the mode of our existence; but in relating what passed that day, I am aware that I shall expose myself to far greater blame than my aunt, for she was treating me as a child, and had a right to expect submission from me; the morning previous to this day I had been at a ball, and had returned a little before dawn, and it was past our usual hour when I sat down in a listless manner to make the breakfast. which was to consist of a single card-table, in our own parlour, the small excitement of which restored us to better tempers, though, whenever we had occasion to speak to each other, during that evening, in contradiction to the rules which we had laid down to ourselves, we always spoke with asperity, and exchanged the smiles and agreeable tones with which we were addressing our company, for looks of perfect coldness and indifference, and of short, if not sharp, forms of speech ; thus things went on till our last rubber, in the midst of which my poor aunt had so sudden and alarming a seizure as to terrify all present, and even to bring me in a certain degree to my senses. Medical advice was immediately procured, and my aunt carried to bed, where she remained for many days in such a state as made all her friends fear for her life.
After the first salutations had passed between me and my aunt, she remarked to me that she had a dreadful head-ache. “ Nervous," I replied carelessly. “Yes,” she added, “ owing to the noise of your chair-men. You were later by an hour than you ought to have been ; I lay awake for some time expecting you, and had just fallen into my first sleep, when you returned : pray what made you so late ?” “I was not later than other people," I replied, not raising my eyes from the tea-pot which I held in my hand. “Well, this is the last assembly for the winter, and I am heartily glad of it,” said my aunt. “And I am heartily sorry," I replied, “they have been exceedingly pleasant meetings.” “ Perhaps you have thought them quite as pleasant from my not being able to accompany you,” remarked my aunt. “ I am sure I never said so," I answered : then followed a silence of a few seconds. At length my aunt spoke again. “ I am harassed beyond measure by Sarah,” she remarked, “she is getting past her work, and can hardly do the regular things I require of her. She also makes sad complaints of you having so much running up and down stairs to fetch and carry for you; you are so exceedingly thoughtless." "What is the use of servants," I replied, (raising my voice), “if one is to wait upon oneself?” “ But you should consider her infirmities,” remarked my aunt. “ Put her in an alms-house," rejoined I, “if she is past her work. What is the use of keeping her ? and then you might get another who would suit you better.” “I do not know what I can do if I continue to be harassed as I am,” said my aunt; " and now this morning, after having been kept up so late last night, she is quite unhinged; and I want her to go to the painters, and that is not a business I can entrust to the lower servant; I do not see what can be done unless you will go yourself.” “ Really, aunt," I answered, " this is quite unreasonable, when I have been dancing all night, and am so tired this morning, to expect me to walk a mileand-a-half, just to carry a message." “ There is your friend, Miss What-do-you-call-her ?”' returned my aunt, “ coming this morning, she would walk with you." “And have I not work, aunt," I replied, “ which I must finish ; did not you yourself say that it must be done to-day ?” Here followed an argument which ended in my being obliged to give way, and undertake the walk, which, had it not been laid upon me as a task, would have been the mode of all others, which I should have chosen for spending the morning.
Having done my aunt's errand with the painter, and wasted the remainder of the time before dinner in a milliner's and confectioner's shop, I returned home too late for dinner, in a very ungracious state of mind.
My aunt, who was more unwell than I believed her to be, was extremely irritable on this occasion, and this meal passed in a continual exchange of reproofs on my aunt's side, and pert replies on mine, mixed up in my behaviour with down-right sullenness.
We parted soon after dinner to dress for a little evening party,
During the period in which my aunt was considered to be in danger, I was tolerably attentive to her; but when all cause of immediate alarm was at an end, and there was a fair prospect of recovery, and more especially when that irritability ensued which is often the effect of excessive weakness, and with which even in a religious state of mind the invalid finds it difficult to combat, I became weary of my duties as nurse, though they were then especially required, and being no longer able to endure my aunt's increased fretfulness, or sacrifice my own comfort for the necessary confinement of a sick room, I returned to my usual engagements and avocations.
My aunt made heavy complaints of my unkindness, which she had good cause to do, and my own conscience, seared as it was, was not altogether unaffected by her complaints, yet I heeded neither the one nor the other, but plunging more deeply into every diversion which offered, I endeavoured to find peace in as entire dissipation as my circumstances would possibly allow, without actually forfeiting that station in society which I had hitherto maintained.
(To be Continued.)
THE DRUNKARD'S END.
The wreck of the scholar, the Christian, and friend :
In the life-drowning bowl meet a permanent end." During the cold winter of 1832, business of an important nature called me through the northern section of Vermont. The way was long and dreary, the road frequently blocked with snow; and towards the close of a tempestuous afternoon, I gladly found myself approaching the humble inn of a small village. Giving my horse to an attendant, I hastily entered the house; and so much was I benumbed with cold, that I had been some moments before the fire, before I noticed that an assemblage of people present were then preparing for a funeral. As the clergyman addressed the throne of grace, I inferred, from his petitions for absent relatives, that it was a stranger for whom they were performing the last offices; and from the earnestness with which he implored the grace of God, to keep all present from the vice of intem
perance, I was led to think he had fallen its victim. After he had closed, the usual invitation was given for those present to look for the last time upon the face of the dead. With that instinctive curiosity so natural to us all, I too went forward to gaze upon this sad relic of mortality. I beheld the countenance of a young man, bloated and disfigured, and was turning away, when an indistinct recollection of having seen the face before, caused me to look again. I could not mistake. Though sadly marred, it was indeed my earliest and best friend that lay before me. So long and earnest was my gaze; so completely forgotten was every thing but him; that the undertaker was obliged to remind me that it was time for him to proceed in his duties. He had nearly closed the coffin, when I interrupted him, hardly conscious of what I said, “Oh, let me look once more upon the face of my friend,” He again made way for me, and after satisfying myself that it was indeed Henry L., I withdrew from the gaze of all, and gave vent to my feelings in the bitterest flood of tears I had shed since my childhood. My kind host soon interrupted me by asking, if I would not follow as mourner in the procession. I answered him, “Most certainly; my early friend shall not go unattended to his grave.” The simple preparations were soon made ; and as the hearse moved slowly on, my mind reverted to the time when I had known its occupant full of life and happiness. Oh, what an age of suffering and sin he must have endured, to cause so great a change. I knew him the darling “son of his mother, and she a widow,' enjoying all the comforts of life, in a pleasant New England village, where we were both at school. Together we had studied; together had rambled the fields in search of plants and minerals; had entered neighbouring counting-houses in the same city; and when I left it for commercial speculations in a distant country, our correspondence had for a time been frequent. But since my return to my native land, although I had repeatedly written, I had not heard a word from him. Yet rumour had told me that his habits were unsettled, if not dissipated.
As we deposited him in his lonely bed, I felt that I was again and for ever separated from him ; and when we turned from the grave yard, I know not that I should have felt more desolate, had I been the only created being in the universe. Night was fast closing upon us; the wintry wind sighed heavily around, and to my saddened heart the solitary room and cheerful fire of our inn were most welcome.
In the course of the evening I obtained from my landlord all the information in his possession relative to my friend. It seemed that he had been wandering about in the vicinity for several days; that he would sometimes ask the privilege of a seat by the fire, and a piece of bread to eat; that he was haggard and dejected in the extreme; and on the last day he was seen among them, as he was receiving a morsel from the hand of an old lady, he said to her, “You remind me of my mother.” “Your mother," said the good woman, “ Oh, how she must suffer for you.” This struck a thrilling chord in his soul. He rushed from the house toward a small pond, around which he was seen to linger ; and apparently watching his opportunity, when no one observed him, he plunged into the water, and in less than an hour was taken up
as you have seen to-day. “ He has left," added my informant, “ a bundle, in which were these two letters.” One was directed to his mother; the other to me. In mine he detailed, in simple yet affecting language, his sufferings since we parted, the gradual manner in which he had been led captive by intemperance, and the iron grasp with which it had held him. “Oh," added he, “ if you have a son, let him beware of the first drop.” Let "touch not, taste not, handle not,' be inscribed upon every thing that intoxicates; and if a motive is ever wanting to enforce his abstinence, remind him of your poor friend, Henry L.”
It is unnecessary to add, that the night was to me a sleepless one. Before commencing my journey in the morning, I visited his grave, and engaged my landlord to erect a humble stone upon it, that his friends, in journeying that way, might find where he was laid. I trans. mitted to his afflicted mother, from the nearest town, the letter he had left for her, together with my own knowledge of his death, and the deep sympathy I felt in her affliction ; although at the moment I wrote, I felt how utterly vain and worthless was all human sympathy in such agony of grief as her's must be ; how impotent the words of comfort would fall on a mother's ear, mourning over an only son, who had fallen into a drunkard's grave, and must inherit the drunkard's portion. Oh! is there not some young man, entering life with as fair prospects as his, who can take warning from his melancholy end, and be kept in the strait and narrow path of temperance ?
THE CLERGYMAN CONVERTED. [The following narrative has been sent to us from a source which justifies the fullest confidence as to its authenticity. For very obvious reasons all names of persons and places are omitted. We are sure that the result of reading it will be to encourage our readers to make vigorous efforts for the salvation of all with whom they come into contact.–Editor.]
Some years since a clergyman, whose gaieties and attachments to the pleasures of the chase rendered him altogether unfit for the sacred duties of the clerical office, paid his addresses to an amiable and interesting lady of highly respectable connexions, but who, like himself, was deeply in love with the pursuits of the fashionable world; their attachment was mutual and strong; it however pleased Him, who has the hearts of all in his hands, to lead her to one of his sanctuaries, where one of his faithful servants sought with earnestness the salvation of the flock committed to his care; the truths she heard arrested her attention, and a conviction of their importance, and the necessity of a personal interest in them remained, and left her not, till she became a humble suppliant for mercy, and till she found rest and peace at the footstool of the cross. With a mind thus awakened, she trembled at the consequences which might result from the union that was so near at hand, and she urged on the object of her affections the duty of seeking the same Saviour, the dangerous tendency of all his pursuits, the responsibilities of the office he had undertaken, and the consequences of infidelity to the