Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

I must return to the Sisters, whom I left conversing together. “I cannot telliwhether you will think my present tale more amusing than the last,” said JANE; “but I will begin, and hope at least it will please you as well.-SUSAN BROWN was the daughter of a me. chanic, and the youngest of twelve children, who were the portion of a man rich in nothing but sons and daughters. As they grew up, they were all obliged to provide for themselves. SUSAN was a tall, strong, and healthy girl, and therefore her mother intended her, when of a proper age, to go out as a servant. She was sent, for a few years, to a little school in the neighbourhood, where all her brothers and sisters had been before her, under the care of an ancient governess, whose age certainly did not improve her original mode of tuition, which was, to teach the children who would learn without giving her any trouble, but never to discompose herself to make those attend who were idle and careless. SUSAN was of the latter class, (which was of course the most numerous one,) and excepting the repetition of two or three half-learned lessons, and reading, or rather spelling, a chapter in the Bible once a day, she did very little. The old lady could not see far off, even with the addition of her spec. tacles; and as SUSAN always sat in the most distant corner of the room, she generally employed herself in whispering to those around her, or in looking at the people who passed by, through the convenient loop holes, which time (aided by little fingers) had made in the dark-green window-blinds. Often, indeed, she had a more sensible comforter, as congenial to her taste as the former was to her sight, in the shape of an apple or sweetmeat; then, while sitting in an easy posture, eating her barley-sugar, the calm of her

[blocks in formation]

spirit frequently brought on delightful slumbers, from which, however, she was soon roused by her noisy companions. Is it possible any child can be so silly as Susan BROWN ? If any such read this paper, I would only wish that they might for a moment see themselves as they will appear when grown up into men or women: ignorant, foolish, idle children, will never make wise, sensible, industrious persons. I sincerely hope, however, that none of my young friends have ever known SUSAN's trilling and infantine joys by experience.

« This was not the way to improve; and as she did nothing but waste her time, her mother gave her a very serious lecture ; but she appeared almost unmoved under it : at last, after dropping a tear or two, she sobbed out, I never could learn :- I can't help it.' It seems she was believed, for her parents took her from school; and this first triumph of ignorance and indifference prepared the way for many following ones. I can't help it became the motto of her indolent mind through life.

"SUSAN was now set to learn household work at home, but this was very irksome to her; and while obliged to appear, at least, to be very busy, she often thought with regret of her quiet naps at school; yet by doing every thing about one half as thoroughly as it required to be done, she contrived to save herself as moch exertion as possible. When her mother observed this, she was very angry; but SUSAN would reply, "Tis of no use, mother, I can't help it. What she would not, her weak, fond parent believed she could not do, and generally finished her idle daughter's employments herself.

" At the age of fifteen a situation was procured for

her, and she entered upon it;-how well prepared you may easily conceive,-she did not care. Her first mistress was particularly neat in her person and house ; and in order to have a servant like herself had taken SUSAN Brown, thinking, as she was so young, she might train her up in her own way: but Mrs. MarTIN's plans were far too troublesome for Susan: to be obliged to have every meal on the table at the exact time, and to be ever careful not to break, soil, or damage any thing, were such intolerable fetters, that, rather than wear them, she returned home with the same childish apology to her displeased parents, -Mrs. MARTIN was too particular; I can't help it.'

6 SUSÁN gained a second place, which she ima. gined would exactly suit her, for her mistress was as untidy as herself; but here were other trials. She was often sent with messages, of which she generally forgot the most essential part. Once, having made a mistake in some important task of this kind, she was severely reprimanded, but thought to calm her angry mistress by saying, "My memory is so bad, Ma'am; but I can't help it.' This would not do, and she was quickly dismissed.

“ Two situations more were obtained for her; one she soon left because her temper was so bad, and (it seems) she could not help it.'-The other was in a serious family, and there she heard of that religion which, if sought and found, would have roused her sleeping spirit, and enabled her to do all things;' but it is to be feared, though she must have perceived her want of its holy and invigorating influence, that of this, as of lesser deficiencies, she said, or thought,

I cannot help it;'-for no effect was ever known to result from the instructions she received. What be

EMINENT BRITISH CHARACTERS.

: 165

came of Susan, after leaving this family, I do not know; but such habits, if persisted in, could only lead her to want and misery here, and still deeper woe hereafter. Let us leave the contemplation of so distressing a spectacle of human nature, but learn from it, that indifference to good is as baneful to ourselves as the pursuit of evil; and that fancying things to be impossible, makes them so."

0.

EMINENT BRITISH CHARACTERS.

No. I.

JOHN WICKLIFF. John WICKLIFF was born about the year 1324, in the parish of Wickliff, near Richmond, in Yorkshire, He was educated at Oxford, first in Queen's, and af. terwards in Merton College, of which he was Fellow. Having acquired the reputation of a man of great learning and abilities, in the year 1361 he was chosen master of Baliol Hall, and in 1365 constituted Warden of Canterbury College, by the founder, ARCHBISHOP SIMON DE ISLIP; but was, in 1367, ejected by the regulars, together with three secular fellows. He thought their proceedings arbitrary, and therefore appealed to the Pope; but, instead of his receiving redress, in 1370 the ejectment was confirmed. This disappointment doubtless confirmed his enmity to the see of Rome; for he had long before written against the Pope's exactions and corruptions of religion. How ever, his credit in the University continued; for having taken the degree of D.D., he read public lectures with great applause; in which he frequently exposed the impositions of the mendicant friars. About this time he published a defence of his Sovereign, EdWARD III., against the Pope, who had insisted on the homage to which his predecessor King John had agreed.* This defence was the cause of WICKLIPF's

* The following is the oath alluded to ; and which the abject spirit of John allowed to be imposed upon him by the Pope. ", JOHN, by the grace of God, King of England, and Lord of introduction at court, and of his being sent as one of the ambassadors, in 1374, to Bruges, where they met the Pope's nuncios, to settle several ecclesiastical matters relative to the papal authority. In the mean time, WICKLIFF was presented by the King to the rectory of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire; and in 1375, he obtained a prebend in the Church of West. bury in Gloucestershire. WICKLIFF continued hi. therto to oppose the papal authority without moles. tation; but in 1377, a bull was sent over to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to Courtney, Bishop of London, ordering them to secure this arch-heretic, and lay him in irons : the Pope also wrote to the King, requesting him to favour the Bishops in the prosecution; and he sent a bull to Oxford, commanding the University to give him up. Before these bulls reached England, EDWARD III. was dead, and WICKLIFF, protected by John, Duke of Lancaster, uncle to RichARD II., favoured by the Queen, and supported by the citizens of London, eluded the per. secution of Pope GREGORY IX., who died in 1378. In 1379, this intrepid reformer presented to Parlià. ment a severe paper against the power of the Pope, and the tyranny of the church of Rome; wrote against the papal supremacy and infallibity; and published a book on the truth of the Scriptures, intending to prepare the way for an English translation of them, in which he had made considerable progress. In 1381, he published Sixteen Conclusions, in the first of which he exposed the doctrine of Transubstantiation. These Conclusions being condemned by the Chancellor of Oxford, WICKLIFF appealed to the King and Parliament; but being deserted by the Duke of Lan. caster, he was obliged to make a confession at Oxford, Ireland, in order to expiate my sins, from my own free will, and the advice of my Barons, give to the church of Rome, to Pope INNOCENT and his successors, the kingdom of England, and all other prerogatives of the crown. I will be faithful to GOD, to the Church of Rome, to the Pope, my master, and pay him a tribute of a thousand marks; to wit, seven hundred for the kingdom of England, and three hundred for the kingdom of Ireland."-See Hume's History of England.

« VorigeDoorgaan »