Page images

of understanding, gained every possible advantage. Her youthful studies were of course soon over, domestic business succeeded, and all improvement in learning seemed impracticable: for although her mother had seen it proper to teach her children to read, she thought the practice of reading quite unnecessary An aspiring intellect will break through the greatest impediments, and my friend contrived to borrow and peruse secretly a few books, which added to an attentive observation of everything passing around her,formed her judgment to a height above her years. She attended with her family regularly at her parish church,and was early impressed by the sublimity of the prayers, &c. but this impression seemed merely the effect of taste, for a dislike to religion made her inattentive to the sermons which followed. This dislike was increased by the observations she was constrained to make on the temper of her mother, who professing to be religious took no pains in the management of one naturally very bad. Every day was embittered in some shape or other to her children from this circumstance; yet they witnessed her daily perusal of the Bible, and con stant attendance at church : in fact, the whole of her religion consisted in these two particulars, and the effects to be produced by reading and hearing were never considered.

From the unpleasant effects of his mother's temper her son was removed, by being early

placed out in life at a distance from her; but, alas ! the impression of the inefficacy of reading the Bible and attending church, which her conduct produced, was never effaced, and he lived to the age of fifty a despiser of religion, though a respectable and good moral character. Her eldest daughter died at the age of twenty. Though much afflicted at the death of her sister, the subject of this memoir experienced no serious impression from the event. She soon after attracted the notice of a young man, whose parents were of the baptist persuasion. His mind was seriously disposed, though perhaps his choice of a partner for life, whose character in this respect was so questionable, proved him less decided than he ought to have been. His zeal, however, was sufficiently strong to urge him to serious conversation with her, and from him she gained some information on religious topics. He avowed his attachment to the dissenting interest, and his expectation that his wife should accompany him to dissenting places of worship. To this my young friend made no objection, but when her mother was informed of the circumstance a total change took place in the affair; and strange as it will appear to the enlightened reader, who can love all those who “ love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,” of every sect and clime, this misguided and ill-judging parent opposed the connection on the ground of a difference in religion, thus mistak. ing the form for the essence.

The controversy ran high between the families, though the friends of the young man objected to the union only on the supposition that the young woman was possessed of no religion, and each party used their utmost influence to prevent its taking place. The friends and advisers on the female side prevailed. She believed from their representation, that the ground of difference was that of a true and false religion, and the argument used by Joshua Why halt you between two opinions ?" continually repeated as applicable on the present occasion appeared to her conclusive. Another statement of the consequences likely to

if she married a' dissenter, gained still more on her imagination : she was told that if she died the wife of one, the church service would not be read over her grave, and that no bell would toll for her ; added to these considerations, she possessed a high sense of the duty from children to parents, and a dread nearly bordering on superstition of the consequences of disobedience. The struggle of her mind was great, and being occasioned by these views of the subject, the resolution she took, was as amiable as it was uncommon. The young man quitted her with so deep a regret that it preyed on his constitution, naturally delicate, and he died of a decline about a year afterwards. Another year presented a new suitor

friend in a young man of good connections, and flourishing business as a taylor: he also was educated in dissenting principles, but avowed

to my

himself of no sect, seldom accompanied his parents to meeting, and assured the family he would attend the church of England in future. The bigotted mother now became as warm an advocate for this admirer, as she had been an opposer of the former, and her daughter could find no argument against the acceptance of him, but the consciousness that she did not feel the affection as she had done for her former lover. Had he been living the union would have been criminal, while to have yielded to the sentiment in the present case, would have been romantic. She married this person at the age

of twenty, and happiness probably would have attended her, had he continued in the habits of sobriety and industry, which he had hitherto done : but: she was now to prove the inefficacy of every prin.. ciple, but that of true religion towards forming a correct moral character. While her husband lived under his father's roof, his temptations had been few, but now he was at liberty to form new acquaintance, and new habits. He kept to his word of deserting his seat at meeting, but he took no: care to secure one at the parish church. Perhaps to the neglect of attendance on publie worship, most immorality may be traced, while that form is retained, a sense of shame remains, and few are so hardened as to divide their time between the church and the resorts of vice. He was handsome in his person, agreeable in his manners, and sensible in his conversation. These qualities, added


to an ambitious spirit, led him to look out for, and to be acceptable to, a line of acquaintance above his rank. Among them he acquired a taste for card-playing, and became by degrees a lover of gaming. His business by neglect was soon wholly lost, and his poor suffering wife was under the necessity of throwing herself and an infant son on the maintenance of her mother, and beneath her roof, before she had been inarried three years. Her only consolation in this state of dependance arose from the consciousness that her mother, more than herself, was answerable for the evil. Hitherto her husband had behaved with personal kindness towards her,

but under the pressure of conscious guilt, and disappointed hopes, his temper became morose and cruel.

He seldom called to see her but to vent ill language, and quarrel with herself and mother, though he could view them in no other light than the innocent victims of his imprudences. To drown reflection he had recourse to drinking. In the mean while his amiable wife, almost sunk under the weight of her affliction, considerably heightened by the evil of her mother's bad temper, which this disappointment of her fondest hope had increased; she has often declared that she believed she should have died of grief but for her affection for her little son, who at the early age of five years displayed a disposition and understanding peculiarly engaging, and became the source of constant relaxation to her mind. The only source of solid con

« PreviousContinue »