Page images
[ocr errors]

forded a favourite occupation and amusement to Mrs. Melford. Nelfon, after taking a few turns in this diminutive garden, finding himself rather chilled by the air of the evening, retreated again into the little room he had paffed, intending to wait there till Amelia departed; but the partition between the parlours being extremely flight, he overheard the tender confeffion of Amelia, and was hurried towards her by an irrefiftible impulfe, in the manner already defcribed.

Amelia pleaded her fenfe of past obligations, and wifhed to take a peaceful leave of her patronefs ; but the fubmitted to the urgent entreaties of Nelfon, and remained for a few weeks under the roof of Mrs. Melford, when he was united at the altar to the man of her heart. Nelfon had the double de, light of rewarding the affection of an angel, and of punishing the malevolence of a fiend: he an nounced in perfon to Mrs. Worm. wood his intended marriage with Amelia, on the very night when that treacherous old maid had amuf ed herself with the hope of deriding her gueft; whofe return fhe was eagerly expecting, in the moment Nelfon arrived to fay, that Amelia would return no more.

"Mrs. Melford was the first who recovered from the kind of trance, into which our little party had been thrown by their general furprife; and the enabled the tender pair, in the profpect of whofe union her warm heart exulted, to regain that eafy and joyous poffeffion of their faculties, which they loft for fome little time in their mutual embarraffment. The applaufe of her friend, and the adoration of her lover, foon taught the diffident Amelia to think lefs feverely of herself. The warm heated Mrs. Melford declared, that these occur rences were the work of heaven. "That, replied the affectionate Nelfon, I am most willing to allow; but you must grant, that heaven has produced our prefent happiness by the blind agency of a fiend; and, as our dear Amelia has too gentle a fpirit to rejoice in beholding the malignity of a devil converted into the torment of its poffeffor, I must beg that he may not return, even for a fingle night, to the houfe of Mrs. Wormwood."

"The furprise and mortification of Mrs. Wormwood arofe almost to frenzy: fhe racked her malicious and inventive brain for expedients to defeat the match, and circulated a report for that purpofe, which decency will not allow me to explain. Her artifice was detected and defpifed. Amelia was not only married, but the most admired, the moft beloved, and the happiest of human beings; an event which preyed fo inceffantly on the fpirit of Mrs. Wormwood, that the fell into a rapid decline, and ended, in a few months, her mifchievous and unhappy life, a memorable example, that the most artful malignity may fometimes procure for the object of its envy that very happiness which it labours to prevent!"

[blocks in formation]


[From the fame Work.]


ELETINA is the accomplished daughter of opulent parents. Her mother died when he was very young; her fa ther, a man of a feeling and liberal mind, devoted himfelf entirely to the education of his two lovely children, Meletina and her brother, who, being nearly of an age, and equal in all the best gifts of nature, grew up together in the tendereft affection. It happened that Meletina, now turned of twenty, was on a distant vifit, at the houfe of a female relation, when he heard that her father, whom he loved moft tenderly, was attacked by a very dangerous diforder. The poor girl haftened home in the moft painful anxiety, which was converted into the bittereft diftrefs, by her finding, on her return, that her father was dead, and her brother confined by the malignant diftemper, which he had caught in his inceffant attendance on the parent they had loft. The utmoft efforts were used to keep Meletina from the chamber of her brother; but no entreaties could prevail on her to defert the only furviving object of her ardent affection, and, de fpifing the idea of her own dan ger, he attended the unhappy youth, who was now del rious, with fuch tender affiduity, that he would not permit him to receive either nourishment or medicine from any hand but her own. The purity of her confiitution, or the immediate care of Providence, preferved the generous Meletina from infection, and heaven granted to her carneft prayers the endangered

life of her brother; but his reco, very feemed to be rather defigned as a trial of her fortitude than as a reward of her tenderness. his bodily health was restored to him, but his mental faculties were deftroyed. The unhappy Meletina, in the place of a lively young friend, and a generous protefior, found only a poor babbling idiot, whofe fituation appeared to her the more deplorable, becaufe, though he had utterly loft a folid and a brilliant understanding, he seemed to retain all his benevolent aff ctions. By one peculiarity which attended him, fhe was fingularly affected; and perhaps it made her refolve on the extraordinary facrifice which he has offered to his calamity. The peculiarity I fpeak of was this: he not only discovered great fatisfaction in the fight of his lifter, though utterly unable to maintain a rational converfation with her; but if the left him for any confiderable time, he began to exprefs, by many wild geftures, extreme agitation and anxiety, and could never be prevailed on to touch any food, except in the prefence of Mele ina. Many experiments were tried to quiet his apprehenfions on this point, and to relieve his fifer from fo inconvenient and fo painful an attendance. These experiments did not fucceed; but two medical friends of Meletina, who took a generous interest in her health and happiness, engaged to correct this peculiarity in her poor fenfelefs brother, and convinced her, that for his fake, as well as her own, he ought to acquiefce in

fome painful expedients for this purpofe. Her understanding was indeed convinced by their humane and judicious arguments, but her heart foon revolted against them; and, after two or three fevere but unfuccessful attempts to correct the obftinate habit of the affectionate idiot, fhe determined to irritate him no farther, but to make an entire facrifice of her own convenience and pleasure to the tranquillity of this unfortunaté being. She felt a tender and melancholy delight in promoting his peace and comfort; but the time now arrived, in which the force and purity of her fifterly attachment was exposed to a trial perhaps as fevere as ever woman fuftained. A year and fome months had now elapfed fince the deceafe of her father, when a young foldier of family and fortune, who had made a deep impreffion on her youthful heart, returned to England from a distant campaign. He was just recovered of a wound, which had detained him abroad, and returned home in the ardent hope of being completely rewarded for all his toils and futterings, by the poffeffion of his lovely Meletina. She received him with ail the frankness and warmth of a fincere and virtuous affection; but, after they had given to each other a long and circumftantial account of their past diftreffes, the answered his eager propofal of immediate marriage by declaring, that the thought it her duty to renounce her fair profpect of connubial happinefs, and to devote herself entirely to that unfortunate brother, who exifted only by her inceffant attention: the enumerated the many reafons that inclined her to fuch a painful facrifice, with all the fimple and pathetic eloquence of angelic virtue. Her lover, who poffeffed

that melting tenderness of heart, which often accompanies heroic courage, liftened to all her argu ments with a filent though paffionate admiration, and, intlead of attempting to detach her thoughts from the deplorable condition of her brother, he offered to relinquish his own active pu fuits, to engage with her in any plan of fequeftered life, and to take an equal part in the fuperintendance of that hapless being, who had fo just a title to their compaffion and their care. This generous offer overwhelmed the tender Meletina. For fome time he could answer it only by weeping; but they were tears of mingled agony and delight. At last he replied, "My excellent friend, I fhall now, and at all times, have the franknefs to avow, that you are extremely dear to me, and that I feel, as I ought to do, the uncommon proof which you are now giving me of the purest affection; but I must not suffer the kindnefs and generosity of your heart to injure your happiness and glory. I must not be your wife. The peculiarity of my fituation calls for fo painful a facrifice; but great facrifices have great rewards; I feel that I fhall be fupported by the noble pride, not only of dif charging my duty, but of preferv. ing your tender efteem, which I fhould certainly deferve to forfeit, as well as my own, if I did not re folutely decline your too generous propofal." The affectionate young foldier endeavoured to fhake her refolution, by every argument that the truth and ardour of his paffion could poflibly fugget. Meletina was inflexible; and the utmoit that her lover could obtain, was a pro mife, that if, by attention and time, fhe fucceeded in her hope of reftoring the intellects of her bro ther



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ther, fhe would complete the fcene of general happiness, which that joyful event would occafion, by the immediate acceptance of that hand, which she now rejected only from the juft fcruples of genuine affection. Having thus fettled their very delicate contest, they parted. The foldier rejoined his regiment; but, in fpite of military diffipation, continued for a long time to write very tender letters to the generous Meletina. At last, however, whether his paffion was diminished by its defpair of being gratified, or whether the purity of a chafte attachment is incompatible with a martial life, while he was engaged in dangerous and distant fervice, he was deeply involved in a very perplexing illicit intrigue, which would probably have given him many years of difquietude, had not the chance of war put an early period to his life: a mufket-ball paffed through his body; but he lived long enough to write an affectionate parting letter to Meletina, in which he confeffed his frailties, extolled her angelic purity of heart, and entreated her to do, what he folemnly affured her he did himself, confider both the time and the manner of his death, not as a misfortune, but a bleffing. Meletina lamented him when dead, as fhe had loved him living, with the most faithful tendernefs; the mourned for him as for a husband; and, though many years have elapfed fince his deceafe, a grey filk is to this day her

conftant apparel. Nor is there any oftentation in this peculiarity of her drefs; for her attendance on her brother is ftill fo uniform, that the never appears in public, and indeed is never abfent from her own house more than two or three hours at a time. From habit, and the affectionate caft of her temper, she takes a pleasure in the petty childish plays by which her hapless companion is amufed; and, so far from finking herfelf into a state of indolence or apathy the poffeffes great delicacy of manners, and all the ftrength and luftre of a refined undertanding. She is now turned of fifty; and, though her countenance, when he is filent, has an air of mild and touching melancholy, her converfation is animated and chearful. As her brother pleafes himself by the habit of rif ing and going to rest with the lark, he has the long winter evenings entirely to herself; and at this feafon fhe has a great fhare of focial enjoyment, by receiving the vifits of her felected friends. To thefe fhe is remarkably open and unreferved, and has a peculiar pleasure in talking over the extraordinary occurrences of her early life. This circle indeed is fmall, though it is justly esteemed an honour to share the friendship of Meletina, and those who poffefs it have the happinefs of knowing perhaps the most fingular and most interefting of an cient virgins."



XCEPT the reafons for a change be invincible, to live and to die in the public profeffion of the religion in which one was born and bred. To avoid all prephane

talk and intricate debates on facred topics. To endeavour to get the better of the intrufions of indolence of mind and body, those certain harbingers of enfeebling age. Ra


[ocr errors]

the race of competition, or to be in another's way. To avoid being joftled too much in the ftreet, being overcome by the noife of the carri ages, and not to be carried even by curiofity itfelf into a large croud. To firive to embody that dignified fentiment, "to write injuries in duft, but kindneffes in marble." Not to give the reins to conftitutional impatience, for it is apt to hurry on the first expreffions inta the indecency of fwearing. To recollect, that he who can keep his own temper may be mafter of another's. If one cannot be a ftoic, in bearing and forbearing, on every trying occafion, yet it may not be impoffible to pull the check-ftring against the morofencfs of fpleen or the impetuofity of pee vifhnefs, Anger is a fhort madnef. Not to fall in love, now on the precipice of threefcore, nor expect to be fallen in love with. A connexion between fummer and winter is an improper one. Love, like fire, is a good fervant, but a bad mafter. Love is death, when the animal fpirits are gone. To contrive to have as few vacant hours upon one's hands as poffible, that idleness, the mother of crimes and vices, may not pay its vifit. To be always doing of fomething, and to have fomething to do. To fill up one's time, and to have a good deal to fill up, for time is the materials that life is made of. If one is not able by fituation, or through the neceffity of raifing the fupplies within the year, or by habit (for virtue itself is but habit) to do much oftentatious good, yet do as little harm as poffible. To make the best, and the most of every thing. Not to indulge too much in the luxury of the table, nor yet to underlive the conftitution. The gout, rheuma tifm, and dropfy, in the language of

ther to wear out, than to ruft out. To rife early, and as often as poffible to go to bed before midnight. Not to nod in company, nor to indulge repofe too frequently on the couch in the day. To wafte as little of life in fleep as may be, for we shall have enough in the grave. Not to give up walking; nor to ride on horfeback to fatigue. Experience, and a late medical opinion, determine to ride five miles every day. Nothing contributes more to the prefervation of appetite, and the prolongation of life. Cheyne's direction to the valetudinary, "to make exercife a part of their religion," to be religiously obferved. To continue the practice of reading, purfued for more than fifty years, in books on all fubjects; for variety is the falt of the mind as well as of life. Other people's thoughts, like the best converfation of one's companions, are generally better and more agree. able than one's own. Frequently to think over the virtues of one's acquaintance, old and new. To admit every cheerful ray of funfhine on the imagination. To avoid retrospection on a paft friendfhip, which had much of love in it, for memory often comes when the is not invited. To try to think more of the living and lefs of the dead; for the dead belong to a world of their own. To live within one's income, be it large or little. Not to let paffion of any fort run away with the understanding. Not to encourage romantic hopes nor fears. Not to drive away hope, the fovereign balm of life, though he is the greatest of all flatterers. Not to be under the dominion of fuperftition or enthufiafm. Not wilfully to undertake any thing for which the nerves of the mind or the body are not strong enough. Not to run

« PreviousContinue »