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Melville to himself-*MAY HE preserve me from turning aside to folly!"
“ Well Robert,” said Freeman, “ now for your answer, were you not at chapel last night?”
“ I was—and intend to go still-young as I am, and unused as I have hitherto been to hear religion derided, I trust your conversation and your example will never produce in my mind any other sentiments than those of disgust and pity-disgust at your sins, and pity that you are so misled. I have been taught my duty, and am not only convinced of the inportance of religion, but that such conduct and language as I have heard this morning are totally incompatible with its principles and precepts."
Freeman. “ An oracle, a perfect oracle ! parson Melville,
we thank you for your sermon; old Whitefield could not have done it better-llem.”
(Mr. Le Monde enters and the clerks retire to their desks.)
“ Good morning, gentlemen, I see you are taking it leisurely-Robert, I am glad to see you at your books. Industry is the way to wealth. Make out the invoices with care, pay attention to your writing, and avoid mistakes. Peter! (calls the Porter) be sure to see the goods for Hull safe on board the vessel to-day-Pray, Mr. Freeman, has the bill on Lorimer's house been paid ?-Elworthy, how is your
mother? I heard a bad account of her health last night. I fear she is sinking, Sir, sipking fast. Poor dear woman ! she has never fully recovered the shock of your father's death. He was a fine character indeed ; an honest, upright, pious, man--a little too strict, perhaps, but no one could contradict him ; he always proved what he said by the Scriptures, and I believe he was right. I hope, Mr. Elworthy, you will follow his instructions, and imitate his conduct-he died very happy-I shall never forget his last words to me; “take care of my son-keep him, my dear friend, from the evils of London' (walks about much agitated.) I have taken a great charge upon me. Pray, Henry, take care of yourself, and pray to the Almighty. A young man may soon go astray in the metropolis, and, indeed, in every other place, especially if he do not avoid dissipated characters."
Elworthy knew this, and that by painful experience. He was the only son of a worthy ininister, who was suddenly taken from his labours to enjoy that rest which remains for the people of God. His widow, a woman'of piety and intelligence, educated her fatherless child with care and assiduity. She took him with her to the house of God, and conscientia ously initiated him in the principles of religion. As he grew up he appeared thoughtful and steady, but having been placed at a public school by the kindness of Mr. Le Monde, he formed an acquaintance with a youth whose conversation and conduct produced a lamentable change in the manners of Elworthy. His mother perceived the alteration-she reasoned with him--wept over him-prayed for him, and obtained a promise of future amendment; but his principles had received a violent shock-his love for religion declinedhe was restless in the house of God-obstinate, conceited, and refractory at home, and fres quently staid out till a late hour. These things affected the already wounded spirits of Mrs. Elworthy, and she determined to place him in some situation where his conduct would be checked. But the limited income of her late husband had not allowed him to lay by any thing for sickness or old age, or for the support of his widow in case of his death. A few friends had raised a sum, the interest of which enabled her just to live, but she had no premium to offer, and she knew not where to find a friend who would take her son without one.
In this situation she applied to Mr. Le Monde, who very kindly offered to receive young Elworthy into his counting house for a term of years, which offer the mother gladly accepted.
Le Monde had many amiable qualities : he was the son of a Protestant Refugee, who came over to England in consequence of the Papal persecutions against true religion, and conjured his son to tread in his footsteps. The injunctions of the father were adhered to, so far as profession was concerned. Le Monde contended warmly for the Protestant faith, and attended public worship on the Lord's day regularly. He and Elworthy were juvenile friends, and their friendship continued till the death of the latter. But Le Monde was a bustling man of the world. Increase of business was his chief desire, and increasing gains his supreme delight.
He was one of those whose
Hopes and portion lie below,
- Tis all they seek.” Mrs. Le Moude was a pleasant agreeable woman, but her inind was a perfect vacuum. She could talk of caps, gowns, laces, and jellies, form a window curtain with taste, and lay out a table with elegance, discourse on the beauty or deformity of her female friends with much good nature, but beyond this she was nothing; her children were taught to dress and undress dolls, look at the pretty pictures in books, and break their new toys that they might have others; but “the im
provement of the mind” was never attended to; it was a system not likely to be introduced.
Elworthy expressed the great delight he enjoyed in this family, for, in fact, he did as he pleased when the hours of business were over he considered himself his own master, and went out and returned as he thought proper. Freeman, a young man of very corrupt principles and dissolute conduct, soon cast his eyes on Elworthy, and determined to ensnare him and make him his prey. He began by instilling into his mind doubts as to the authenticity of the bible, public worship, prayer, a future state, &c. but he did this, like an infidel, cautiously, and by degrees. He then took him to see the theatre, that he might form an idea of it! Invited him to a supper after the play was finished-took him into the country to spend the Lord's day with a few respectable friends, all without any expense to Elworthy! At length Freeman triumphed; Elworthy left off prayer, laid aside his bible, forsook the house of God, laughed at religion, derided the enthusiasts, loudly declaimed against 'the saints' in the House of Commons, and joined with the inhuman and brutal in praising pugilism as promoting manliness and couruge.