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to tell whether Greece was in the Old or New World. Oh! my sweet mamma, do not shake your head, and look so gravely at me, I know what you are thinking, that mere knowledge is not every thing. Granted, mother dear, but what have they to atone for this deficiency ?”
Why do you always run on in this wild way, Emily, you do not allow your better judgment to speak at all."
« Because I am so afraid it would take part against me," she laughed out. “But surely, I have not grieved you, my dearest mamma,” she added, as Mrs. Benton looked even more sadly upon her; “do not be angry with your poor silly child. Hark! there is another ring! now see how very good I will be."
Whilst Emily is exerting her conversational powers to the utmost to entertain the visitors who had now been announced, we will introduce her a little more formally to our readers.
She was at this time about seventeen years of age; the early part of her life had been "spent at a school where she had been blessed with highly superior, as well as truly Christian instruction, and aided by naturally fine powers of mind, she was, perhaps, more intellectually cultivated than most of her age. Her affections were strong; when once she loved, it was with an ardency and an entireness which seemed to defy change, but her interest was not easily excited in others, not that she would have been backward in any scheme of benevolence, but she did not seek “ to love and be beloved” by all who came within the sphere of her acquaintance. She chose rather to devote her whole heart to the few Christian friends whom she had gained, than to allow the little streams of kindness to flow in a thousand channels around her. Now that she had returned to her home, her friends were left behind, and she never thought of seeking others in the fresh society amongst which she was thrown. One had “no mind,” another “no heart," and so she condemned all; and sought no reciprocation of sympathy with any of her new associates; she preferred rather to retire into herself, and as she sometimes said, “to conjure up by-gone happiness, and to revel, amid the bright scenes of the past, the delightful past." And she had no desire to share any feeling with those now surrounding her, beyond the limits of her own home. Was this right?
"Many thanks, my dear girl, for your prompt compliance with
my wish,” said Mrs. Benton, when they were again alone; "you see that you can attempt to interest and amuse even those who may not in every way be congenial to you; but I do sincerely wish that you had a higher motive to friendly courtesy, than a mere desire to please your mother."
"Few motives are more inviting, or more strong, my precious mamma, but will you tell me all you think on this subject, for I do wish to be right, indeed I do, though I fear you must often doubt it.”
“I believe you, my child; I truly believe that your prevailing desire is to be right; but you have not yet learned how much of daily self-denial in little things is necessary to the attainment of this object; I will gladly enter fully into this subject with you, but under one condition, Emily, that you will give serious atten, tion to it, and not consider it merely as a trivial matter to be joked away, for I assure you it appears to me very differently; I must not now stay, but when we can find leisure, will you promise me this sober hearing ?”
Emily promised; and the same evening when they were seated at their work, she reminded her mamma of the agreement they had made, adding, that she was impatient to be condemned. Mrs. Benton smiled, and said, “First, then, my dear child, may I ask you what makes you so exclusive in your friendship?"
“That is soon answered, dearest mamma, because I can find so few friends."
“I did not exactly mean friends, Emily, I do not expect you to find many who can strictly be included in that term; but why do you so studiously endeavor to narrow the circle of your acquaintance, and by your chilling manners, almost to tell those you know, that their society is most unpleasing to you, or, at least, that you feel towards them the utmost indifference?"
“Honestly, dear mamma, it is because there are so very few worth knowing."
“Will you explain yourself, my love ?"
“I mean that hardly any one we ever see, appears to me capable of improving us in any way. I see no pleasure or advantage to be gained by cultivating their acquaintance, and since you wish me to speak plainly, mamma, I must say that it would rejoice me exceedingly to drop it. It seems an entire
waste of time, to spend it in intercourse with beings so weakminded, for instance, as those unfortunate Miss Linleys, whose sole happiness evidently consists in knowing who are invited to every party in the neighbourhood; who go, and who stay at home; with a variety of equally profitable knowledge; and I cannot find one reason for keeping up an acquaintance which can produce no good, and may only tend to weaken and lower the tone of our own minds, or at least of mine. But I see my arguments do not satisfy you, mamma, do tell me what you think of them ?"
“ I think, my Emily, that I can trace in all you have said, this sentiment, 'Stand by, for I am holier than thou.' I see a plain violation of that Divine precept~' In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself;' and if your opinions are at variance with Scripture, you would not, I am sure, desire that I should approve them.” Mrs. Benton paused, but as Emily was silent, she again proceeded. “ Since you returned home, my beloved child, I have watched and mourned over this pride of yours; I have often thought of the lines which you repeated years ago
'Pride, ugly pride, sometimes is seen,
With you, Emily, it has taken a form which is so deceptive, that to yourself and others it may look like wisdom; you have had great advantages and powers to improve them, and now you * turn these very blessings into a curse, by despising those who have not been equally privileged. Selfishness, too, has made you interested only in those who could minister either to your own amusement or gratification, and you have allowed yourself to view all but this chosen few as objects of total indifference, and then, my child, you have deceived yourself into believing that this
sprung from a wish for improvement. Do not think this a harsh judgment, my beloved Emily, but I must be plain with you. It has deeply pained me to see you reject as unworthy, affection which might have been yours, simply because those who would have given it, did not seem exactly congenial to your own mind.
You have slighted influence which might have been turned to good account.”
“Oh! my dear mamma, pray spare me : I little imagined that evil could arise to others from my conduct."
“I believe you, my love, but do not shrink from this retrospect, however painful you may feel it. You know that to overcome error we must first clearly perceive it; but I will now give you another view of the subject. Many of those whom you have passed by as beneath your notice, are, perhaps, in reality, vastly your superiors. It does not require brilliant talents, my child, to be great in the kingdom of heaven. Oh! no, not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.' You know the passage, Emily, do study it carefully. Some of those whose quietness you have set down to tameness of spirit, and as you call it a 'milk-and-watery' kind of character, are truly meek and humble disciples of the lowly Saviour. I yesterday, heard a most affecting story of the sufferings which have changed poor Miss L. in three short years, from a buoyant and enthusiastic girl, into the still and almost lifeless thing which you ridiculed yesterday; her spirit was broken, and I sometimes fear lest the same means should be found necessary to humble you ; but I must tell you her history some other time. I want you now to think of yourself.”
“ To hate and despise myself, mamma,” cried Emily, bursting into an agony of tears, “as the most proud, and selfish, and unchristian being that ever lived."
“Be calm, my love ; you are lost thus, either in one extreme or another. I entreat that you will seriously examine your own heart, and pray that the cause of the evil may be removed; but now let us for a moment speak of this morning's occurrences. You were vexed and irritated at being called from interesting occupations to sit with the Miss Linleys, and whilst with them your countenance plainly said that it was a most irksome duty, and not a pleasure, to entertain them. It was natural to feel momentary disappointment at the interruption, but had you remembered that you are not to please yourself, but to please your neighbour, for his good to edification ; that in honor you are to prefer one another, and to honor all men; had you thought on the example of Him, whom I do trust you, at least, desire to follow, and who, when young children came to him, thought it no intrusion, but reproved those who would have sent them away ; you would have forgotten this slight annoyance. Oh! Emily, if our blessed Saviour had waited to find society He could enjoy on earth before he mingled with men, what would have become of us ? This is a long lecture, my sweet child, but it comes from your mother's heart,” she said, kissing the weeping girl ; “I will only now give you one short motto, which plainly tells us how we should treat all. I think I quoted it this morning. •Be courteous.' I saw it somewhere remarked, that ‘complaisance is the offspring of benevolence, the tiny daughter of kindness,' and it is most true. Do cultivate this spirit, my love, for it will add greatly both to your happiness and usefulness; try to take a real interest in all that relates to your fellow-man, and especially seek to benefit and be benefited by your young acquaintances; and you will soon find that which is at first a hard duty, become a source of much pleasure, and profit, too, my Emily, though you may be inclined to question it; for, as it has been often said, if we did but search for it, we might learn something from all we meet: but I will add no more, my child, I think you see your fault, and you know where to seek for strength to enable you to overcome it.”
We add no more; but that if hitherto any of our young readers have, like Emily, turned with distaste and disgust from all who have not exactly reached their own standard of excellence, we earnestly beg of them to examine into the cause of this want of interest in their fellow-beings, and to aim after that universal benevolence and courtesy, which is a distinguishing feature of the gospel of Christ. There is no occasion to urge the maxims of the world's politeness when we have before us in the pages of the revealed will of God, so plain a command as this, ‘Be courteous.'"
WHO MAKETH THEE TO DIFFER? Jest not openly at those that are simple, but remember how much thou art bound to God who hath made thee wiser. Ralegh.