Billeder på siden

as soon as I had seen his remains decently interred, and had placed my aged mother under the care of a relation, whom he had named for that purpose, I should take the tour of Europe, in order to join, to the knowledge of books, what is commonly called, the knowledge of men and the great world. With this view, he recommended it to me to visit the most remarkable cities and universities, and to make my observations upon the different characters and manners of men, their state and condition with respect to learning and commerce, their modes of government, religion, customs, and the like. To qualify me for this, and keep me untainted from the vices of the world, during my peregrination in it, he gave me the most wholesome instructions for my conduct, a copy of which I shall insert in some of my succeeding essays, for the common benefit of all young travellers, into whose hands they may fall; and happy will it be for them, if they make the same good use of his wise precepts, which, by the kind providence of heaven, I have been enabled to make..

While my father was thus bestowing his counsels on me, as his last and most valuable legacy, repeating and enforcing them by every motive of duty and interest, he felt his spirits begin to fail, and nature warning him of his approaching dissolution. He feebly raised his head, gave his left hand to me, and his right he stretched out to his weeping wife. He fixed his eyes upon us, commended us to the blessing of God, and himself to the mercies of his Redeemer. Immediately he sunk back, uttered a gentle groan,

and expired-as he had lived-a good christian and an affectionate man!

As soon as I had paid the tribute due to his memory, and endeavoured to dry up the tears of my disconsolate mother, I set out on my tour, always remembering one part of his advice to me, namely; "to maintain a respectful behaviour to every people "I should come among; to divest myself of preju"dices; to be cautious of blaming national and esta"blished customs; to keep my sentiments of men " and things generally in my own bosom, and treasure them up in order to be mellowed by time and "a more comprehensive acquaintance with the world, "for my future conduct in life."


What countries I visited, and what observations I gathered, cannot be the subject of this paper. I shall only observe, that during my travels, the memo


of my deceased father, and the disconsolate state of my aged mother, left at so great a distance from me, would often steal across my thoughts; and give a damp to all those joys, which youth and good company and the constant variety of agreeable scenes, would otherwise have inspired. This contributed not a little to hasten my return, and procured me the appellation of a gloomy and reserved man, through all the countries I passed.

Having regained the land of my nativity, which was in two years from the time of my setting out, I flew to throw myself at the feet of my aged parent, determined never to part from her again, but to make it my business to administer to her declining years all the comfort in my power. My sudden and unex

pected return was to her the first interval of weary woe, which she had known since my father's death

"Amaz'd, and scarce believing what she saw,

"Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam
"Of setting life shone on her evening hours."

I found her placed in a most agreeable rural retreat, in a good neighbourhood; and perceived in myself but little inclination to exchange it, for the noise and bustle of active life. I lived with her for the space of twelve months and upwards, without any remarkable incident of good or bad fortune. I was happy in discharging the tender offices of duty to my indulgent parent, and thought of nothing further.

At length, however, chance introduced me to the acquaintance of a young lady, that lived at a few miles distance from me in the country. There is a kind of fatality in matters of love, which reason strives in vain to account for, or philosophy to centroul. I had travelled through many countries, and been conversant with many of the fair, graced with every accomplishment of body and mind. And though I had not beheld them with indifference, yet I had been a stranger to every thing that could bear the name of love. But, when I beheld Amelia (for that was the name

of my fair country acquaintance) feelings new and uncommon rose in my struggling bosom. The first glance of her eye shot instant through my whole frame. Methought I discovered in her a soul congenial to my own, and a thousand presageful thoughts crouded into my busy imagination." Most lovely "fair!" (said I to myself) what gracefulness appears

[ocr errors]

" in thy carriage! what dignity in thy mien! what " innocence and smiling softness in thy look! what "unclouded serenity on thy brow! how seemingly "void of affectation! all appears with thee the gift of happy nature, flowing spontaneous from a heart "unconscious of guile, and that has no wish to hide! "What a treasure have I found, if the inward temper "of thy soul but corresponds to this external har66 mony of features and symmetry of parts! how "happy, if heaven has but made thee kind and good, "as it has formed thee exquisitely fair and lovely!"

Upon a nearer acquaintance with her, my fondest expectations were even exceeded. I was soon convinced that nature had not been less liberal in adorning her mind, than her body. She possessed a solid understanding, improved by education; a sprightliness of fancy, corrected by good-breeding; her innocence not yet impaired by the arts of dissimulation; and her heart breathing that simplicity of manners, and candor of disposition, peculiar to the rural life. In a word, I became her instant captive, and approving reason fixed my chain. For, as it had always been my firm resolve never to barter my happiness away, in base exchange for gold; so it had been my constant purpose, whenever I could be blest with the prospect of a partner capable of entering into the delicacies of conversation, and participating in a rational scheme of happiness, then freely to offer, and freely to receive, the mutual heart.

Such a one I found my Amelia to be. With every day's returning sun, my passion for her grew, refining more and more into the most perfect

esteem, unbribed by wealth and undebased by selfregard. Nor was my suit rejected by her. Oft would she lend a patient ear to my tale of love, and, melting in mutual softness, sigh consent. At length, in the awful presence of deepest night, hand locked in hand, and kneeling in holy reverence, we pledged eternal faith; calling on earth and air and sea and skies, things visible and invisible, and the almighty parent of all, to witness our vows; that neither chance nor time, nor aught but the inexorable hand of death, should ever divide between us. And, on this subject, we bound ourselves to the most inviolable secrecy, for a time; none being privy to our meeting but one trusty servant, attendant on Amelia, who had waited at some distance.

But alas! in evil hour, the busy tongue of calumny had whispered something to my disadvantage; which gained too easy access to my Amelia's ear. Her pride and certain false notions of duty were set against me; while her love and her honour burned sevenfold stronger in my behalf. behalf. One unlucky accident succeeded upon another, which heightened the mistake, and rendered our story more intricate and distressing than aught that is fabled in all the volumes of romance. Time, no doubt, would have unravelled matters, and fully acquitted me in my fair-one's eye. This had indeed begun to be the case-but ah! too late. The struggle of contending passions had already affected her tender frame. The roses withered on her cheek; the living lustre fled from her eye; she sickened and soon was blest with a happy exit into the regions of eternal day; while, with her last breath, she pro

« ForrigeFortsæt »