Page images

and Miss Montague; but the two following letters-though not on subjects so defined as the former ones—seem to contain observations which may possibly prove interesting and useful. If those already given have been acceptable, the present communication will, no doubt, be welcomed also; if not, the assurance of its being the closing extract will, it is hoped, yield sufficient satisfaction.

From Mrs. Arnold to Miss Montague.

MY DEAR ELLEN,--We were truly glad to hear of your recovery. Mr. Montague's letter brought us also some other pleasing information; it says, he expects to be near Ambledon shortly; we conclude he will not be near without visiting it, and that he will not come alone; we therefore promise ourselves the pleasure of seeing you both,-a happiness of which we trust you will not hastily deprive us.

I rejoice with you, my love, in all your present happiness and future hopes; I rejoice too that you have that enhancer of every enjoyment, a thankful heart. It is sweet to see our heavenly Father's hand mixing the ingredients of our cup with equal tenderness and wisdom, to trace his smile in them while they are continued, and his love when they are removed. O how desirable is it to sit loose to the things of time and sense; to weep as though we wept not; to rejoice as though we rejoiced not; to buy as though we possessed not; and to use this world as not abusing it, remembering that its fashion passeth away. Do you not sometimes find it difficult, in seasons of prosperity, to bear in mind the uncertainty of earthly delights, and to have your conversation in heaven, looking forward to that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. My thoughts have been forcibly turned into this channel of late by the affecting reverses which have happened to a young friend, who is now staying with me. She was brought up with large expectations, and her lot seemed cast among the children of affluence; but riches have made to themselves wings and fled away, and she will now

gladly employ those accomplishments, which were intended for her ornament, as the means of obtaining an honorable subsistence, and of contributing to the necessities of her mother and younger sisters. I admire the meekness with which she bows, and the independence with which she raises, her head; together with her evenness of spirit and cheerful resignation.

But my chief motive for mentioning the subject here, is to request that if among the circle of your friends you hear of a desirable situation as governess, you would have the kindness to inform me. I wish my friend to be placed with a lady of consistent piety; of a character free from caprice, so that she may know what line of conduct will give satisfaction; and of that delicacy of mind which is considerate towards the feelings of others, not fancying that because a person is in a dependent situation, her comfort is unimportant, and her wishes to be disregarded, of course I mean her reasonable wishes. I do exceedingly disapprove the want of kindness and respect, which is often manifested by parents towards the instructors of their children. One might suppose they would never trust such an important charge to any who are not deserving of their esteem; if then they merit it, why do they not receive it? The effect upon the young pupils themselves is most lamentable, for what influence can be acquired over them if respect and affection be not first secured; and can we expect these creatures of imitation to look up, where they see their relatives look down? At the same time it must be acknowledged, that much of the evil results from the negligent, mercenary manner in which many instructresses perform their offices; and I must in justice say, I have seen instances not a few, where consistency and true worth on their side have produced all that consideration which talents, education, and feeling demand. I trust it will be my friend's happiness to meet with such a home. I think you may say she eminently possesses the qualifications of a teacher. Her simple, and in my opinion, elegant manners, as far removed from affectation as from awkwardness, are admirably fitted to regulate their behaviour. She has a mixture of sweetness and dignity in her character, well calculated both to win and to awe; and is herself thoroughly grounded in those branches of knowledge

which she undertakes to impart. Above all, her piety is solid and influential; her views of scriptural truth clear; and her abilities for explaining them as superior, as her desire for the benefit of her pupils will be ardent and sincere ; but I am enlarging far more than I intended; to a mother the subject is so interesting, that I have been insensibly led on.

If you will not think me encroaching, I have another favor to ask. I have often given you my poor opinions in compliance with your wishes; I should now very much like to have your's upon the expediency of reading works of imagination. Even good men differ widely, and I never could get my sentiments exactly defined. A few remarks therefore on this topic will be really valuable to me.

My husband unites in kind regards with

Your sincerely affectionate friend,


From Miss Montague to Mrs. Arnold.

MY DEAR FRIEND,-My father begs me to unite his thanks with my own, for your very kind invitation. If nothing unforeseen prevent, we shall with much pleasure accept it, about three weeks hence. I cannot tell you how much I anticipate the pleasure of spending a few weeks in your abode; enjoying the society of any beloved friends, and seeing the early spring advance in all its rural beauties.

Will Miss be still with you? The account you give of her has deeply interested me. I feel a strong desire to rank her among the number of my friends; at present I have not been able to hear of any advantageous situation. How honorable is it to religion, when its professors, with a smile of serenity, can see their earthly prospects fading away; and rejoice in God as their satisfying portion, though deprived of all the temporal advantages they formerly possessed. Did you ever notice the following lines in Southey's Roderick? I was struck with them when reading that work. I write from memory, but believe they are correct.

"Methinks if you would know

"How visitations of calamity

"Affect the pious soul, 'tis shewn you there.

"Look yonder at that cloud, which through the sky
"Sailing alone, doth cross in its career

"The rolling moon. I watch'd it as it came,

"And deem'd the deep opaque would blot her beams:

"But, melting like a wreath of snow, it hangs

"In folds of wavy silver round; and clothes
"The orb in richer beauties than her own;

"Then passing, leaves her in her light serene."

Has not such been the effect with respect to your friend? And how often does the trial of the Christian's faith redound to the praise, and honor, and glory of Him who bestows it.

Youth and inexperience may well make me shrink from stating my opinions upon any topic; I have no objection, however, to give you those of my revered mother on the subject to which you allude. In a letter which she wrote me when I was upon a visit to my aunt, she says, "Never, my child, proceed with any book if you find it to be of an immoral tendency; such are all those which would invest sinful passions with the charm of interest, and hide the deformity of vice under the specious name of venial failings, or youthful indiscretions. Let no splendor of ideas, or elegance of language, induce you to peruse works, the effect of which would be to throw down the distinctions of right and wrong in your mind, and to undermine the barriers of virtue. The venom of an asp as she glides under beautiful foliage, is not more deadly than the poison of licentiousness concealed amidst the beauties of poetry; it is equally insinuating and ensnaring; yet I am far from discountenancing efforts of the imagination. There are many poems, tales, and works of fiction, which may be read both with pleasure and profit. They enlarge and refine the mind; gain easy access for valuable instruction; and are as powerful auxiliaries to a good, as to a bad cause; but even with respect to these, my Ellen needs a caution. Confine the perusal of them, except you have some particular reason for deviating from your rule, to your hours of recreation. Do not let them take the place of more solid reading. I think in the present day the mind is too much accustomed to amusement,

and too little to application; a circumstance which directly tends to render it trifling and enervated. If you find yourself less disposed than formerly to relish solid instruction, written in a clear and sensible manner, without the borrowed aids of fancy, it is high time to be on your guard. I wish you never to pass a day in which your thoughts are not exercised, and your knowledge increased; your judgment strengthened, and your character in some measure formed by the authors whom you have the privilege of consulting."

Such, my dear friend, were the sentiments of one who never formed an opinion without much deliberation. My own experience would alone, I believe, have discarded every novel from my library; for while the generality are so similar and nonsensical, that scarcely any thing could induce me to read them, the few I have met with of a superior kind are so fascinating, that nothing but a sense of duty draws me from them when I am once engaged; and then my mind is sadly dissipated, quite unhinged for its usual employments; I dare not, therefore, trust myself with what, I am conscious, would occupy my time and thoughts too much. Possibly, however, all persons may not be equally open to this inconvenience ; yet I cannot see the consistency of coming out from a world that lieth in wickedness, if we bring that same world into our closets in a still more ensnaring form; more ensnaring because divested of those attendants which, in real life, frequently cause mortification and disgust.

With kind regards for the present, and pleasant expectation of seeing you soon, I remain, my dear friend,

Your's most affectionately,


S. S. S.


"IT is proper that I, a candidate for eternity, should invite my thoughts to the topic of a new period of time, and look back on the year for ever departed. Many graves have been opened, but none for me. Still am I the living to praise Him whose goodness and mercy I gratefully avow, and to whom I desire to consecrate anew, myself, my all." Thus said Prudens

« PreviousContinue »