Page images
PDF
EPUB

they happen to go the wrong way, they give a great imagined if they had not been suggested; and deal of trouble. There are others, it may be add- which, if they had passed through the mind, ought ed, who have the inclination and ability to do never to have been adopted by the lips. much good, who yet, by their rashness or ill-humor, Yet Martha's youthful friendships were any

thing produce such a fearful proportion of mischief as to rather than dull. In her presence, the trifling titmake it at least doubtful whether we are better with ier, the vacant giggle, and the noisy rattle, were or without their exertions. Those are the truly es- not found; but the smile of benevolence, the loob timable characters in every community of every of innocence, and those elevated and beautiful exscale who, in doing good, do no evil; who have pressions which beam on the countenance of youth, energy, but whose energy is reined and regulated when raised by great and serious objects, richly by discretion.

supplied their place. She was cheerful without Martha, as the sister of an unmarried minister, lightness, and serious without sadness. She was became a centre to the female portion of a consi- not always talking of religion in a few set threadderable congregation. This was a situation of use- bare phrases; but religion always influenced her fulness, but it was also one of difficulty; and, at her conversation, whatever might be its object; and her age, and with her susceptibilities, it was not so sur- deep reverence and love of religion was rather prising that she should be zealous to do good her- perceived in the temper with which she treated of self, and promote good works in others, as that her common and temporal things, than by any wordy zeal should be attempered by prudence, and accord- declarations of its pre-eminent excellence. ing to knowledge. Yet this excellence was hers in She was slow to take offence. She never made a a high degree. She was the friend of the young, friend an offender for a hasty word, or a dubious the comforter of the aged, a favorite with all. The expression of countenance or conduct. She was fresh and kindly impressions formed by her first in- not ready to misconstrue motive, or to watch for troduction to new connections were never effaced; the frailties of others. She was sensible of the vathey were improved and strengthened by increasing riations of friendly feeling, but she did not allow intercourse. It may be said of her, through the herself to be governed by them. Trifles light as whole term of her communion with a circle made air were never allowed to come between her and up of such different ages, habits, and tempers, that her companions, to distress her by feverish jeashe never lost a friend or made an enemy. Now, lousies, and her friend by endless explanations. though undoubtedly friends may be lost, and ene- She looked not to the single word, or look, or act, mies formed, not only without the fault, but by the but to the uniforin character; she dwelt not on the very excellences of an individual; yet, in the ab- momentary feeling, which the individual might resence of these evils, there may surely be found a gret as deeply as herself; she considered the acpresumptive argument in favor of discreet deport- knowledged and ruling principles of conduct. She ment. As no subject enters more completely into always put the best construction on doubtful acthe happiness of every-day existence, it may be pro- tions; and became the apologist of an accused fitable to descend to particulars.

party, where it was not evident that the conduct Martha was guided in forming her friendships by had been intentionally and morally wrong. So far the perception of real piety. This arose not merely as she was personally concerned, it may truly be from a persuasion that the heart which is not true said that she never took offence except where ofto God, could not be true to her, but chiefly from her fence was intended; and then, while she retired inability to participate in a mutual sympathy where from one who was unfit for friendship, it was done piety was wanting. Pious herself, she could not with reluctance and pity, not with resentment. have free and intimate communion with those who If cause for offence arose, as more or less it will, were otherwise minded. With all her young com- Martha always sought a prompt and candid explanapanions she was kind, courteous, and communica- tion. If, on the one hand, she did not permit her tive, hoping to win them to better thoughts and feel- friendship to be affected by those infirmities which ings; but it was only with those who were under a are discovered by the best and wisest; on the other powerful religious influence that she could feel en- hand, she would not allow her affections to canker tirely happy, because they only were prepared to and decline under wounds which, though not acunderstand and value the predominant desires, knowledged, were deeply felt. If she could conhopes, and fears of her spirit.

quer an unfavorable impression, she did; if she În other society, too, she was jealous of her safety. could not, she revealed her thoughts to her friend. She had seen many hopeful young characters tá- In this delicate act she was entirely governed by tally blighted by vain, trifling, ill-chosen compa- the scriptural directions-she spoke to the person nions; and she had too lowly an opinion of herself concerned-aione—and in confidence. Her opinion to suppose that she might stand securely where of the impropriety of another never reached the others had fallen. She always considered that, with individual second-hand; she never debilitated the such persons, there was even more likelihood of her best motives to candid acknowledgment by exposing receiving an injury than bestowing a benefit; and the wrong before witnesses; and the party knew this made her circumspect over herself in the very that what was said would not be afterward ungeneact of doing good to others, while she sought repose rously repeated to uninterested auditors. only on the bosom of those who, with herself, were In these exercises of the heart, the spirit was in seeking and exercising confidence beneath the sha- harmony with the act itself. It was most kind, and dow of the Almighty's wings.

meek, and modest. She was the most gentle of reMartha always entered into society with the seri- provers. If ever any had occasion feelingly 10 ous desire of promoting her own and others' improve-adopt the words of the Psalmist on the subject, it ment. Friendship with her was not a selfish com- must have been those who received admonition pact, by which she sought the gratification of selfish from her lips :-"Let the righteous smite me, and it passions, without pausing to inquire whether it was shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, and it right or delicate to do so; it was a talent put into shall be an excellent oil which shall not break my her hand, which was to be justly appreciated and head.” used, lest the trust should be violated. Her inter- Scarcely need it be remarked that such a person course, therefore, never degenerated into idle gos-was ready, most ready to forgive. She not only exsiping or mysterious confidence. She never at pressed herself to be so, but she took care to throw tempted to bind others to herself by tempting them no obstacles in the way of acknowledgment, when io foolish confessions, which would never have been it was necessary. There was no assumption-no my

sense of superiority—110 supposed license to tell a I cannot induce myself to bring these remarks to friend a thousand unwelcome truths. She pre- a close without making a brief quotation from he scribed no terms-insisted on no severe and hum- most intimate friend at this period. They apply bling conditions. She never put the high-minded not so much to her particular friendships as to her question, “How many times a day shall I forgive general acquaintances; and may serve to show

brother ?" She disliked the very name of for- how far she was from limiting her anxieties and giveness, as it necessarily involved somewhat of regard to a select and favorite few of her own age superiority. But with the name almost never on and sentiments. her lips, the disposition was always awake in her heart; and, had occasion required it, she could “ In your sister, even at the early age of sixteen, have as readily exercised it seventy as seven times I noticed what I have found in very few of any age a day. It was invariably enongh if the conduct or or standing in the Christian profession--a tenderexpression implied sorrow, without the formal ut- ness of the character of others, and an affectionate terance of it; and even in such indications, she manner of administering reproof when necessary. was so sincerely distressed, that it would have been “She would often observe to me, “Some say that difficult to ascertain from appearances, who had love is blind; but I think real love opens the eyes. done and who received an injury.

If I love a person, I desire others to love her ioo. The act of forgiveness was as complete as it was I am therefore apt to watch closely the conduct of delicate. She allowed no subsequent event to re- my friend; and when I discover the appearance of vive any thing which had been submitted to ex- any thing wrong, I wish it to be seen and avoided : planation, and on which she had expressed satis- for I consider that others, who know less of my faction. She could not always act up to the letter friend's good qualities than I do, may not be disposof the maxim, “Forgive and forget;" but she did ed to put so favorable a construction on the oppomore, she conformed to its spirit. She strove not site ones.' to remember; and she never suffered what might “When sometimes noticing the improprieties of remain on her memory to influence her temper, or professing characters, she would feel most keenly to become matter of allusion, in any present misun on the subject, and would devise a number of little derstanding

expedients by which they might be led to see their Where character was at all concerned, it was a error, without putting them to needless pain and rule with Martha not to listen to rumor and report. embarrassment. Many,' she would remark, 'do She knew that Rumor had a hundred tongues, and not know what they occasion the world to say of that at least fifty of them were false. Character them and of religion. If we could let them know with her was a sacred thing, and she could not al- what others are so really to say of them, I am sure low herself to alter the good opinion she had form- they would alter their conduct. But wisdom and ed of any one, without the strongest and best esta- tenderness inust be exercised, especially by young blished reasons. She knew that many actions could persons towards older ones, or we shall lose the end noi be judged of rightly without knowing more at which we were aiming, and dishonor Him whom than she could possibly know of attending circum- we meant to serve. One thing we can always dostances; and that envy and malignity were ever we can pray for them.' too ready to give a coloring to such actions, till “This act she was never backward to perform. what was innocent appeared to be inconsistent, and I have often witnessed the fervor of her prayers for what was merely inconsistent to be sinful. She those who did not in all things adorn the doctrine shrunk from the whisperer, the tale-bearer, the of the gospel. Whenever she heard an individual slanderer, and the flatterer, as from beings unfit for spoken against, however unknown to her, she was friendship, and most injurious to social happiness ever prepared to offer some supposition in favor of and religious confidence. The hint, the insinua- the accused; either the party accusing might be tion, the proffered secret against the character of misinformed,' or 'there might be many things in another, which contribute so much to begin or ce- extenuation,' or at least, it should be mentioned to ment the friendships of half the world, were never the individual, that an opportunity might be given well received by her; and those who offered them for explanation.' Fere pitied for a meanness and degradation, of "Sometimes she would take this duty upon herwhich they were too little conscious.

self, if others would not. Her concern was in this As she would not credit report, so she would not case to convince the parties that she had a sincere essist its circulation, even when too truly founded. interest in their welfare, and a deep sense of their She could find no pleasure in feeding on the defects excellences. 'Perhaps,' she would say, 'I am too of others; they were always seen with pain. If scrupulous;' or 'I am not sufficiently acquainted she might, she would close her eyes upon them; with the motives which actuate you;' or I have and happy was she if she could draw a veil over been misinformed;' or 'I am really too young to them from the eyes of others. It was a rule with be capable of forming a right judgment. But I was her, that if she could say no good of an individual, afraid that others might think the worse of you for she would not unnecessarily speak evil. She also it; and I should be grieved to hear any one speak aumired the rule of Bishop Beveridge, which is as of you with disrespect. She had often the joy of delicate as it is generous—"never to praise any one seeing that her efforts were not in vain; and even in his presence, nor to blame any one in his ab- where the admonition was despised, I scarcely know sence." That she might the more fully act upon an instance in which they were displeased with the these and similar maxims, she generally soughi to admonisher.” converse rather of things than of persons-an excellent precaution, though less needed, perhaps, in In the pursuit of this simple but too unusual line her case than that of most other persons. No one of conduct, it is not to be told what good she efotended less in word than she. I believe she never fected, what evil she prevented; what fires of anger designedly uttered one sentence for which any hu- and ill-will she extinguished, which might otherman being was the worse. A considerable proof wise have preyed on the comfort and harmony of of this assertion is, that throughout a very exten- many a household; what jealousies, and en vyings, sive and entirely confidential correspondence, con- and heart-burnings, and strifes, she contributed to taued for many years, and treating of many per- destroy in the very birth, which otherwise might Sons and vicissitudes, there is not to be found one have lived to roam over the fair enclosures of ciDassionate, resentful, or uncharitable observation. vilized society, seeking whom they might devour.

Those will best conceive of the effect of her quiet forgiven her five hundred; nor, though she was alexertions, who are best acquainted with human ways offending, could she with confidence ask for lite, and have soberly considered, with the most re- pardon, but as she was prepared to pardon those flective of men, “How great a matter a little fire who had trespassed against her. kindleth.” If the whisperer and the calumniator, Charity was the companion of her humility, and those plausible but noxious reptiles in the garden they reciprocally strengthened each other. This of social intercourse, are able to "separate between was indeed the paramount excellence of her chachief friends,” and to break up their mutual and racter, and it subdued all things to itself. It had happy connections into two opposing and conflicting cast out fear and enabled her " to lay aside all maparties; what shall be said of the advantages con- lice, and all pride and hypocrisy and envy, and all terred by the individual, who in one instance suc- evil-speaking,” that she might have her conversaceeds in neutralizing the poison which would work tion in the world in simplicity, and without offence. so disastrously, and by a steady example teaches It never allowed her to wait, in her social intercourse, others, less wary of the consequences, so to do? for the recurrence of the cold, half-forgotten rule of

In seeking to advance social happiness, Martha conduct; it spontaneously suggested all that was forinsensibly promoted her own. The blessing of the giving, candid, and compassionate. The incompapeace-maker came upon her. She was cherishing rable sketch of this grace in its excellence, nature, a habit most favorable to her own peace and enjoy- and importance by the hand of the apostle Paul, was ment. By accustoming herself to dwell on what is with her a most favorite portion of Scripture. It bright, and generous, and pitiful, and kind in hu- was, in fact, a study to her. If her charity was man life, she was preparing numerous and inex- ever in danger of failing through manifold irials, haustible sources of satisfaction and delight; while she studied it, that the feeble grace might be conthose who habituate themselves to watch for what firmed; if she was ever subject to the world's ridiis bad in human character, and to feed on it with cule for wha!. it might consider the tameness of her secret and envious appetite, are fostering a demon spirit, she had recourse to it and was justified; and, in their bosom, which shall eventually seal their at all times, her admiration of it would dispose her eyes to the loveliness they would not see, and haunt to dwell on this lovely picture with insatiable pleatheir imaginations with pictures of evil, only evil, sure. Indeed she dwelt upon it till she was greatly and evil continually!

changed into the same image. She suffered long Good arose to her not simply from those acts of and was kind; she envied not; she vaunted not mental discipline; she ultimately found herself sur herself, and was not puffed up. She did not berounded by friends, who reflected upon her some have herself unseemly; sought not her own; was thing of her own kindly feeling. She was amiable, not easily provoked; thought no evil; rejoiced not and therefore beloved; she was discreet, and there in iniquity, but rejoiced in the truth. She bore all fore trusted ; ske was modest, and therefore praised; things; believed all things; hoped all things; enshe was pious, and therefore esteemed. Indeed dured all things. She had faith, hope, and charity she had a remarkable power to excite and engage but the greatest of these three was CHARITY. attachment; and was as remarkably successful in It is easy to imagine how well these admirable the use of it. There seemed to be nothing about dispositions are adapted to work the effects which her to awaken the fears of the jealous, or to agitate are here ascribed to them; how powerful they are in the bile of the malignant. The rough and the gen- exciting esteem, conciliating affection, and creating tle, the sensitive and the reflective, all thought well influence—the influence of genuine goodness. Withof her, and spoke as they thought; and those who out these, the most acute sagacity will fail to weave intimately knew her had but one sentiment—it was the ties of a disinterested and imperishable friendthe uniform, abiding, progressive sentiment of sin- ship; and with them, and with little else, we shall cere affection.

find in our utmost need, if not many friends, at It is of importance to remark, that the conduct in least some one friend, whose heart has answered to social life described throughout this chapter was our heart, and who shall be as “a brother born for dictated rather by the heart than the head. Martha adversity, and a friend who loveth at all times.” owed nothing in her friendships to artful policy, wordy professions, or violent protestations; yet she did not neglect the voice of sober judgment or the

CHAPTER XIII. maxims of tried prudence. On the contrary, she always deferred to them; she was in the habit of

TRIALS. 1812-13. consulting the Proverbs of Solomon on her relative Where is the one point in human existence on deportment; and she constantly spoke of them as which any child of Adam can place his finger and unfolding invaluable principles of moral conduct, say, Then I was happy? When the stream of life mixed with such rich and sagacious views of human is gliding most pleasantly along, there will still be nature as to make them an indispensable manual to found some under-current crossing its progress; those who would “cleanse their way” through a and which, if not seen foaming on the surface, is polluted and polluting world.

too surely felt troubling its inward tranquillity. But it was the qualities of the heart which at- The period on which we are pausing might be tracted the hearts of others towards her; and so far considered a most happy one in the life of Martha. as I can venture on distinguishing them, it was She was esteemed by her connections, beloved by eminently effected by her humility and love. her friends, the delight of her relations; she dwelt

Humility was not merely admitted to be a cardi- among those she loved, and made them the happier nal virtue in her creed; it was a disposition she by her presence; she was pursuing with success her diligently sought to cultivate; and it was the influ- own improvement, and promoting to her uttermost ence of this grace that produced so much of gentle- the good of others; she was free from what are usuness, candor and forbearance. She always strove to ally denominated worldly cares, and living in blessthink of others as better than herself; of herself as ed sympathy with things unseen and eternal: what the least of all saints, and the most ungrateful of then could now arise to give her uneasiness and offenders. She could not be severe on the frailties vexation ? of another, for she was frail. She could not de- Apart from those sources of painful reflection claim against the mote in her brother's eye, for a which were previously open to her, she suffered beam was in her own. She could not refuse to for- much during this period from an unexpected termigive her debtor his fifty pence, for she had been nation of her earliest and most intimate friendship. The intercourse was closed at the request of her | endure other and secret sorrows. It was by this parents; and that request originated in a convic- friendship alone that she could seek relief under tion that the two young friends were not exactly those anxieties of the heart which, in defiance of suited to each other.

her, would occasionally oppress her spirits; and in In acting on such a conviction, it is scarcely ne- earlier days it had been eminently useful. She had cessary to say that blame is not to be imputed to insensibly weaned herself from making any alluany one of the parties. It is readily understood sions to the subject with her friend, on which she that two young persons may be of excellent charac- bad forbidden herself to think; and probably had ter and principles, and yet not be so adapted to each the opportunity for free intercourse been continued, other as to produce their common benefit and feli- it would not again have been so employed. But, city. There may be a difference of age, or of iem- such is the waywardness of human nature, immeper, or of habit, or of taste; there may be too much diately the opportunity appeared to be lost, it was susceptibility or too little; they may both run into imagined to be indispensable; the foolish heart, one extreme, and so increase their mutual hazard, which with liberty to speak would have had noor they may run each to opposite extremes, and so thing to tell, seemed ready to burst for utterance the chafe each other's disposition. Any of these vari- moment utterance was denied. ations, trifling as they seem, may be so exercised as About this time I was going to C- for a few to render an intimacy injurious which would other weeks; and finding Martha more indisposed than wise be most advantageous; and it must be admit- usual, which we all ascribed to exertion rather ted that, though parents may sometimes err in than anxiety, I determined to separate her from forming a judgment of these, they are, generally her engagements by taking her with me. We speaking, best qualified to make a candid and kind again, therefore, started as fellow-travellers to a opinion; and that they are discharging some of the place which, I considered, was interesting to her highest trusts to their offspring in interposing a only by pleasing associations. mild authority, on the suggestions of their best and When we are sincerely desirous of administering calmest, discretion.

to the comfort of a friend, how little are we able! Supposing this measure to be as wise and salu. what we present as balm may work as poison! I tary as it was meant to be, it did not affect Martha was now unconsciously conveying my sister to a the less severely. It was her first friendship; and spot which, in any circumstances, must have awakit was formed at a time when her susceptible heartened painful recollections, and which, in existing knew no disappointment, was checked by no con circumstances, was likely to nourish them in a dantrol; it had been cemented by a thousand mutual gerous degree: recollections which, had I known acts of love, of piety, and of confidence. No later of their being, I should have sought to wither and friendship had power to weaken her interest in this eradicate. original one; it stood out in her view as chief of However, we journeyed on, refreshed in our prothem all. It was now also regarded with particular gress; and seeking, by a good word or a good book, tenderness, as her friend was exposed to great re- to cast some profitable seed by the way. Martha lative afflictions. The idea of relinquishing her at was evidently out of spirits, but I considered they all was opposed to her earliest and strongest at- would improve daily. They however sensibly ditachments; but the thought of appearing to give minished as we approached towards our destination. her up when she most needed the proofs of sympa- She lost her pleasure in conversation; if it was thy and fidelity deeply wounded her generosity. continued, it was with a constraint the more visible

The difficulty of this service was not at all di- to me as I had seldom observed it. When she was minished by any perception of its propriety. For not actually directing her looks to me, the light of the present, Martha could not view the subject cheerfulness forsook her features, and they settled through the same medium as her parents; and the down into dejection. I was induced to think somemost, therefore, she could do was to obey a com- thing pressed on her mind, and yet I could not imamand the reason for which she could no: rightly gine what; nor could I bring myself to put the appreciate. This was a great trial to her submis- question lest, she should be embarrassed in refusing sion, and she sustained it worthily, but not without a reply. My thoughts took the complexion of hers, very sore affliction. Throughout her correspond- and I became somewhat moody and silent. ence nothing of the kind seems to have given her When the clouds of heaven are predisposed to equal distress; while her distress is unmixed with weep, the mere firing of a gun, or ringing of a bell, one word of complaint.

will supply the occasion. I happened to break one The keen edge of our sufferings is often given by of our intervals of pensiveness, by making some our own hand. Martha thought she could not bring remark on the uncertainty of human hopes. Marothers to perceive how valuable this friendship was tha made no answer; and on turning my eye upon to her, and therefore she scarcely tried. Had she her, I saw the big and heavy tears falling from her fully communicated the amount of her feelings on lids. As they were thus detected, she lost her mothe subject, her parents, in balancing one thing tive for suppressing them, and they flowed long against another, might have reconsidered their deci- and freely. sion; or had her attachment not been, as it undoubt- A tear is sometimes the very best introduction we edly was, excessive, she might have felt there was can have to a delicate subject. Martha found her some weight in their conclusion : but as it was, she tears had prepared me to hear of something of had to drink her cup in all its bitterness, while none which I was ignorant, and she therefore hastened but herself knew that it was so bitter. She afterwards to unbosom herself of her secret. Every thing it reviewed the subject in truer and calmer lights, and was needful to know, in order to form a correct employed the errors of her experience for the right judgment, she told in brief and modest words; and conduct of others.

then alluded to the anxieties and conflicts which The spirit is frequently willing when the flesh is had arisen from it, and the pain she had felt in not weak. Martha's mind 'readily submitted to the finding resolution to name it before. yoke of parental authority, but her physical powers And why," I exclaimed, "did you not name were not so adequate to the effort. Those powers this before ?" had been much shaken before, and this event once “ Because I feared I should lose your good opimore unsettled them. It not only affected her by nion-I feared you would despise me.” the real loss of an endeared friendship, but by its “ Despise you!" I replied hastily;"no—I despise imaginary influence in strengthening her mind to him whom"

Her countenance checked my speech; no anger be excited, they were working to a most successful was visible there, and I felt I was in danger of issue. And when I reflected that all this was done wounding whom I desired to heal.

alone, and in youth, and against warm passions, “And why," I continued, " did you consent to injured nerves, and occasional fits of depression; come with me to this place ?' We would have gone that she had resolutely preferred exercise and ocin another direction had I known it."

cupation to a seducing retirement and listless “I thought in your company I could bear it, and I revery; that she had listened to the claims of the wished to try. And so I can. It is all over now," understanding, and resisted the clamors of the said she, compressing the muscles of the face, and heart; that she had overcome her own sorrows, brushing away the pendent tear.

and had exerted herself to mitigate and heal those But the tears were rebuked too soon, and another, of others; that at the very time she was the life and another, and another came. Need I be ashamed and joy of her family, her heart was often full unto to say that mine too were started, and that we wept breaking; and that from her cheerful labors of love silently together on our solitary way?

often retired to gather up her tears, and then returnThe effect of this communication was altogether ed to smile again benevolently on all around her; beneficial to my sister's mind. It provided vent to I was filled with admiration, and even with astoher feelings at a time when circumstances had made nishment! It gave me new views of my sister's it peculiarly desirable; and it allowed her to com- character. “Can it be possible ?" I was ready to municate generally without fear or restraint. She say; “can there be such irrepressible energy with had now no point of reserve which insensibly fet- such tenderness of heart ?". I was prepared to betered her intercourse on other subjects, lest they lieve Martha might be trained to this, but could might unawares open a passage to it. Her spirit hardly conceive of it as already existing. Those was free, her heart was open and at ease. She felt only who have been enabled to bear up against the she had again one friend with whom she could con- ennui of disappointed hope, the bitterness of defer, if conference should be necessary: and this des-ceived confidence, and the temptations of a wounded troyed the power of imagination on her mind. Strict spirit, 10 feed luxuriously and in solitude on its own and close as our intercourse had been, it became griefs, and to do this in a steady course of disintemore dear and intimate than ever. Pruned and rested exertions for thc happiness of others, can mortified in other directions, her affections seemed rightly judge of the sacrifices that were made, or to gather more fondly round her brother; and the of the power necessary to make them. living and heartfelt intercourse of this short pe- But the lessons we learn in the school of afflicriod, with the manifest complacency she had in it, are tion are generally quickly and well learned. The among those simple but touching occurrences in the hear is softened, and it receives easily, and retains life of our friendships which are not to be forgotten. indelibly, the proposed impression. Martha had

For myself, I believe the very first impression on not merely been exposed to affliction, but to afflic: this disclosure was that of alarm. I could not in tion of peculiar pungency and power.

It bad moment look at the affair as a thing of months and placed her in a most trying and critical situation ; years; I could not distinguish time. The danger but a situation which was made subservient to her of which I had just heard I could hardly conceive improvement. Her attention was carried more of as past; it was like hearing of a friend's decease closely to herself; she watched the workings of her in a foreign land: one cannot at once think of it heart; she witnessed some of those tempestuous as occurring six months since. I had lived long conflicts of passion which reveal in a glance more enough to observe many a young heart, too young of the depths of human character than an age of and too confiding to suspect danger, entangled, common feeling. She saw her weakness, feli her abused, disappointed, and withering away beneath danger, and detected more clearly her constitutional the preying sense of unuttered wrong. I was aware infirmities. She became more jealous of herself, that if ever Martha were likely to prove weak and resolved to resist the pleadings of selfishness. in trial, it would be in such a one, from a disposi- She commenced the struggle; she persevered, and tion so guileless, affectionate, and almost impene- she was now rising from it, not merely to comparatrable to any kind of suspicion. It had therefore tive peace and security, but attended with the richbeen my desire to give more vigor to her mind by est spoils of conquest. cultivation, that it might balance the strength of her There was an addition made to her confidence. affections before she should be exposed to any of She felt, not as he who resolves to fight, but as he those snares which too surely await the unwary, who returns from the battle won. Her armor had from the hand of folly, of inconsideration, or of been tried, and it had been found adequate to her wickedness. What, then, was my surprise and protection. She was inspired with more of indemisgiving, when I found she had been exposed to pendence. She had leaned on herself, and had been the very dangers I deprecated, while I thought her deceived; had leaned on others, and they had failperfectly secure; and that she had been called to ed her; and now, like some tender plant denied the make her defence, all unprepared, as I conceived support natural to them, her character shot out the her to be, for the conflict !"

more vigorously, and asked nourishment of theskies. These emotions, however, were transitory, and Her habits of self-control were exercised and gave place to those of wonder and admiration. strengthened. The sensibilities which she was

was now furnished with a true key to her deport- tempted to indulge, and which she could scarcely ment. I saw that she had been exposed to the very think so dangerous as in fact they were, had aptrials I most dreaded ; that they had come on her peared before her in new forms. She deeply felt in so specious a form as to authorise her hope and ihe necessity of subduing and regulating them.confidence; that she had suffered from them most The effort was made, and it was successful. It was severely ; but that she had not been subdued or car- the ascendency of principle over passion. It brought ried away by her distress; that alone she had strug- with it not only the good I am noticing, but gave a gled with the difficulty of her situation; that she had tone and coloring to the entire character. not sunk into selfish despondency, but looked round The moment in which the claims of principle are for the means of deliverance; and that she had ac- triumphant over those of passion is a point of time tually adopted the best which wisdom itself could in the history of character the most interesting and suggest. perceived that those pursuits which I auspicious. "It contributes largely to the formation had considered as preventive she was employing as or settlement of the mind, and brings with it the remedial; and that though temporary feeling would elements of all that is good or exalted. Passion

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »