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her beloved husband. The shock was most severe, and her health particularly delicate: she gave birth to one sweet babe, and followed him to the silent grave. That babe, the little lovely Jane, was soon pressed to the bleeding heart of her grandfather: in his house she found a happy home, crowned with every reasonable indulgence, and above all, with every spiritual advantage. Her advantages had not been lost upon her; she was now in the bloom of youth, the ardent, yet hum ble follower of the Redeemer; the dutiful, grateful, useful child of her revered parent; the mistress, and ornament of the vicarage, respected and beloved by all its servants. In the parish of Arundel, she was known as the friend of the aged, the comforter of the distressed, the helper of the sick and needy; the instructor of the young." While the cup of life is sweetened by such a treasure," her grandfather would sometimes say, 66 can I complain of any other ingredient ?"
But we have not yet mentioned the heaviest trial, which this venerable saint had been called to experience. Frances, his youngest daughter, had, entirely against his consent, married. a worldly man; nay, one who had even imbibed infidel principles. Sir George Wilmot was indeed rich and great: but what shall it profit if we gain the whole world and lose our own souls? Frances was always giddy and headstrong; the sweet but sober pleasures of true piety had no charms for her; and now, in the sad school where she had placed herself, her father had the grief to observe her mind becoming daily more hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; while a growing indifference to, and almost contempt of, religion, were too often manifested in her conduct. His spirit was sorely troubled yet would he still place prayer after prayer on the record of the Most High, whilst against hope he believed in hope, and sometimes encouraged himself by the thought, that these fervent petitions might perhaps be graciously answered, when the tongue that had uttered them, was silent in the tomb. No serious affliction had at present visited her; but he trusted, that should God in mercy send such a season, the Holy Spirit might employ it as a means to recal early instruction, and lead her in the day of adversity to consider.
Lady Wilmot had several children, but it did not suit her
gay and volatile disposition, to confine herself to their education. They were all sent to fashionable boarding-schools, and it was at the time when Eliza, the eldest, was considered sufficiently accomplished to take leave of her instructors, that she came, as has been already stated, to visit for a few weeks, her grandpapa and cousin.
Eliza Wilmot was naturally good-natured, lively, and possessed of sufficient talents to render her a useful and respectable member of society; but her talents had been neglected, and her sprightliness so perverted, as to become the cause of much evil. Vanity was her besetting failing, and the love of admiration often led to conduct, highly disingenuous, instead of that artless simplicity, which is one of the brightest ornaments of youth. She felt a constant desire to make the most of all her acquirements, and thought it a point of good manage. ment to gain credit for more than she possessed. The plan she had pursued at school nursed this deceitful propensity, and at the same time kept her from any serviceable, or creditable acquaintance with the things which she professed to learn. For if she could repeat lessons by rote, which she took no pains to understand, and her exercises were done with tolerable correctness, by herself or others, her instructors were satisfied, and this was all for which she felt concerned. Thus Eliza had acquired a smattering of every thing, and was grounded in nothing while habit had rendered serious application to any subject almost impracticable. She was in fact, a complete presumer, according to the sense that has been already annexed to the term. It is scarcely needful to say, that under the instruction of the good old vicar, Jane had grown up exactly the reverse: whatever she knew, she knew thoroughly-traced effects to their causes, and things to their principles Yet so humble and unobtrusive were her manners, and so remote from display, that Eliza had little idea of her mental, or acquired superiority, and in comparing herself with her cousin, actually placed the balance considerably in her own favour. She was much amused at the rustic simplicity, as she styled it, with which Jane smiled at her rhodomontade expressions, and longed for an opportunity to relate to the admiration of their country friends, some of those anecdotes, which, decorated by
her own variations, had often before been told with success :for it was a settled practice with Eliza, never by attending to correctness, to hinder the effect of her tales.
One morning shortly after her arrival, she went into Jane's room and found her reading. "What book have you there, cousin Jane?" she enquired.
"Scot's Life of Napoleon, dear."
"O what an undertaking! I have heard a great deal of that work, though I have never met with it. But surely you do not mean to wade through it all."
"O yes, I enjoy it exceedingly, I am very fond of history; and these events having happened almost within our own remembrance, the account of them is doubly interesting."
Eliza took some of the volumes; turned over page after page; read the titles of many of the chapters, and here and there an anecdote. She then threw the book upon the table, and joining her hands above her head, stretched herself, and sighed, and yawned, as she said, "Well, I must run round the garden, and see if I can find a pretty rose to draw from."
That afternoon, the family was engaged to dine with a Mr. and Mrs. Barker, a gentleman and lady in the neighbourhood, who were deeply attached to the vicar and his granddaughter. On this occasion, as Eliza glanced her eye over her cousin, she could not restrain a feeling of superiority, while contrasting the simplicity of Jane's appearance, with her own fashionable attire, and she thought within herself,—well, though I am almost lost in a London horizon, here, at least, I am likely to appear as a star of the first magnitude.
Now it so happened that a brother of Mr. Barker's was then staying with him. A young man, in his own opinion, extremely clever, and certainly possessed of that dangerons talent, from which a person is generally styled, very satirical. And as his sallies often raised a smile, he fancied his wit was the object of admiration, when, in fact, it more frequently excited fear and dislike. With his high opinion of himself, he combined a most unamiable contempt for others, and never would he lose the opportunity of making a pointed remark, from the consideration that it might wound the feelings of those with whom he was conversing. By this gentleman,
VOL. II. 3d SERIES,
when they met at tea, Eliza was seated, and in the course of some desultory conversation, he mentioned one or two of the publications of the day.
"I have lately met with a very interesting work," observed Eliza. "Scott's Life of Napoleon."
"Have you?" he answered, carelessly.
"I was very much amused," she continued, "with an anecdote I read in it this morning.” "On one of Bonaparte's expeditions, a hundred learned men were attached to his army, to examine the antiquities they might meet with, and to gain all the information they could, with respect to ancient arts and literature. Asses were provided for them to ride upon, and when it was needful to give battle, they were placed in the centre of a square, that no harm should come to them. But the appendage appeared so ridiculous, even in the eyes of the soldiers, that shouts of laughter would burst from them as they exclaimed, make room for the asses and the savans ;'"and they used to call the asses demi-savans.”
"I should think," added Eliza, turning with a smile to her auditor, no army before, ever comprehended such a division."
"Probably not," replied young Barker; appearing ignorant of the book, though he had diligently read the whole. "What character was Bonaparte performing then,-General, or Consul, or Emperor ?"
"I really cannot exactly recollect at what period of his life it took place: I dare say he was,-perhaps Consul."
"But that you may easily ascertain by remembering the country in which it occurred;-Egypt, Italy, or Russia, was it ?"
“I have not yet read the book,; I have only dipped into it here and there: therefore I was merely struck with the fact, without observing time or place."
"Then no doubt it was Russia," returned her companion, with an affected gravity, which only gave the more effect to his contemptuous smile. "The Russian expediton must have given a fine opportunity for examining celebrated antiquities, and throwing a light on ancient literature."
The faint and confused impression which remained on
Eliza's mind, of the geographical information she had received at school, ran quite counter to this assertion, and she felt persuaded Mr. Barker was laughing at her. She blushed deeply, but fearful of committing herself still further, said merely, with a tone which implied some resentment,
"I intend to peruse the work attentively, and then I shall be better able to stand an examination; at present I have but just skimmed a few pages."
O there is a great deal of valuable information often acquired in that way," rejoined the young man. "Without that system of skimming we should lose half the cream of conversation."
His brother, who had heard the discourse, and greatly disapproved that readiness, with which he delighted to discover and expose the failings of another, had been long endeavour. ing to catch his eye; at length he succeeded, and his own conveyed a most reproving glance. Edward's tantalizing spirit, however, was not to be so easily curbed. He enjoyed Eliza's company, and chose to misunderstand the nature of the reproof, as if it applied to the sentiment he had just uttered, rather than to his unkindness in uttering it at all. With increased archness of countenance, therefore, he answered the look aloud :
"Whipt cream I mean, of course: froth that is, is it not ?". This explanation completed Eliza's mortification. Even Jane, though she hoped the lesson might prove useful to her cousin, felt a glow of displeasure pass over her cheek, at the rudeness and illnature with which it had been given; and anxious to relieve her from so unpleasant a situation, she called her attention to some prints that were hanging in another part of the room.
Eliza returned home dissatisfied and irritable, but as she did not allude to the cause, Jane, of coure, said nothing on the subject. The next day, however, on going into her room, she found upon her table, the following note.
My dear child, I know you are so well assured of the deep anxiety I feel for your welfare, that I have no doubt you will receive, as a proof of my love, the few lines which I am intending to write to you.