Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

be some

HARLEY'S DEATH.

MACKENZIE. “There are some remembrances (said Harley) which rise involuntarily on my heart, and make me almost wish to live. I have been blessed with a few friends, who redeem my opinion of mankind. I recollect, with the tenderest emotion, the scenes of pleasure I have passed among them; but we shall meet again, my friend, never to be separated. There are some feelings which perhaps are too tender to be suffered by the world. The world in general is selfish, interested, and unthinking, and throws the imputation of romance, or melancholy, on every temper more susceptible than its own. I cannot but think in those regions which I contemplate, if there is any thing of mortality left about us, that these feelings will subsist ;—they are called -perhaps they are—weaknesses here ;-but there

may better modifications of them in Heaven, which may deserve the name of virtues.” He sighed as he spoke these last words. He had scarcely finished them, when the door opened, and his aunt appeared, leading in Miss Walton. “ My dear (said she,) here is Miss Walton, who has been so kind as to come and inquire for you herself.” I could perceive a transient glow on his face. He rose from his seat. If to know Miss Walton's goodness (said he) be a title to deserve it, I have some claim." She begged him to resume his seat, and placed herself on the sofa beside him. I took my leave. His aunt accompanied me to the door. He was left with Miss Walton alone. She inquired anxiously after his health. “I believe (said he) from the accounts which my physicians unwillingly give me, that they have no great hopes of my recovery."-She started as he spoke ; but recollecting herself immediately, endeavoured to flatter him into a belief that his apprehensions were groundless. “I know (said he) that it is usual with persons at my time of life to have these hopes which your kindness suggests ; but I would not wish to be deceived. To meet death as becomes a man, is a privilege bestowed on few: I would endeavour to make it mine :-nor do I think, that I can ever be better prepared for it than now :-'tis that chiefly which determines the fitness of its approach.” “ Those sentiments," answered Miss Walton, “ are just ; but your good sense, Mr. Harley, will own, that life has its proper value.—As the province of virtue, life

is ennobled ; as such, it is to be desired.—To virtue has the Supreme Director of all things assigned rewards enough even here to fix its attachments.”

The subject began to overpower her.-Harley lifted his eyes from the ground -" There are (said he, in a low voice) there are attachments, Miss Walton.”— His glance met her's — they both betrayed a confusion, and were both instantly withdrawn.He paused some moments- -“ I am (he said) in such a state as calls for sincerity; let that alone excuse it—it is, perhaps, the last time we shall ever meet. I feel something particularly solemn in the acknowledgment; yet my heart swells to make it, awed as it is by a sense of my presumption, - by a sense of your perfections.”—He paused again “Let it not offend you, (he resumed), to know their power over one so unworthy. My heart will, I believe, soon cease to beat, even with that feeling which it shall lose the latest.- To love Miss Walton could not be a crime;—if to declare it, is one, the expiation will be made.” Her tears were now flowing without controul.—“Let me intreat you (said she) to have better hopes — let not life be so indifferent to you; if my wishes can put any value upon it, I will not pretend to misunderstand you — I know your worth - I have long known it ;-I have esteemed it--what would

you

have say

?-I have loved it, as it deserved !” He seized her hand :

a languid colour reddened his cheek - - a smile brightened faintly in his eye. As he gazed on her, it grew dim, it fixed, it closed — he sighed, and fell back on his seat. — Miss Walton screamed at the sight - his aunt and the servants rushed into the room— they found them lying motionless together.-His physician happened to call at that instant-every art was tried to recover them—with Miss Walton they succeeded—but Harley was gone for ever !

me

LA ROCHE.

MACKENZIE. The celebrated historian and philosopher, Mr. H—, resided for some time at a small town in France. One morning, while he sat busied in those speculations which afterwards astonished the world, an old female domestic, who served him for a housekeeper, brought him word, that an elderly gentleman and his

way

daughter had arrived in the village, the preceding evening, on their to some distant country, and that the father had been suddenly seized in the night with a dangerous disorder, which the people of the inn, where they lodged, feared would prove mortal : that she had been sent for, as having some knowledge in medicine, the village surgeon being then absent; and that it was truly piteous to see the good old man, who seemed not so much afflicted by his own distress, as by that which it caused to his daughter.-Her master laid aside the volume in his hand, and broke off the chain of ideas it had inspired. His night-gown was exchanged for a coat, and he followed his gouvernante to the sick man's apartment.

'Twas the best in the little inn where they lay, but a paltry one notwithstanding. Mr. H— was obliged to stoop as he entered it. On a sick bed, at one end, lay the old man he came to visit ; at the foot of it sat his daughter. She was dressed in a clean white bed-gown; her dark locks hung loosely over it as she bent forward, watching the languid looks of her father. Mr. H- and his housekeeper had stood some moments in the room, without the young lady's being sensible of their entering it. Mademoiselle !" said the old woman at last, in a soft tone.She turned, and showed one of the finest faces in the world. It was touched, not spoiled with sorrow; and when she perceived a stranger, whom the old woman now introduced to her, a blush at first, and then the gentle ceremonial of native politeness, which the affliction of the time tempered but did not extinguish, crossed it for a moment, and changed its expression. 'Twas sweetness all, however, and philosopher felt it strongly. It was not a time for words; he offered his services in a few sin.

“ Monsieur lies miserably ill here,” said the gouvernante; “if he could possibly be moved any where." If he could be moved to our house,” said her master. He had a spare bed for a friend, and there was a garret room unoccupied, next to the gouvernante's. It was contrived accordingly. The scruples of the stranger, who could look scruples, though he could not speak them, were overcome, and the bashful reluctance of his daughter gave way to her belief of its use to her father. The sick man was wrapt in blankets, and carried across the street to the English gentleman's. The old woman helped his daughter to nurse him there. The surgeon, who arrived soon after, prescribed a little, and nature did much for him; in a week he was able to thank his benefactor.

cere ones.

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

By that time his host had learned the name and character of his guest. He was a Protestant clergyman of Switzerland, called La Roche, a widower, who had lately buried his wife, after a long and lingering illness, for which travelling had been prescribed, and was now returning home, after an ineffectual and melancholy journey, with his only child, the daughter we have mentioned.

It happened one day, that the philosopher walked out, with his long staff and his dog, and left his gouvernante, and the old man and his daughter, to their prayers and thanksgivings.“My master," said the old woman,

“ alas ! he is not a Christian; but he is the best of unbelievers."- '- Not a Christian !”- exclaimed Mademoiselle La Roche, -"yet he saved my

father ! heaven bless him for it! I would he were a Christian !“ There is a pride in human knowledge, my child,” said her father, “ which often blinds men to the sublime truths of revelation." _" But Mr. H," said his daughter, “ alas ! my father, he shall be a Christian before he dies."-She was interrupted by the arrival of their landlord.He took her hand with an air of kindness :—She drew it away from him in silence; threw down her eyes to the ground, and left the room. "I have been thanking God," said the good La Roche, "for my recovery."-" That is right, my dear Sir," replied the philosopher; “ but you are not yet re-established enough to talk much — you must take care of your health, and neither study nor preach for some time. I have been thinking over a scheme that struck me to-day, when you mentioned your intended departure. I never was in Switzerland ; I have a great mind to accompany your daughter and you into that country.--I will help to take care of you by the road; for as I was your first physician, I hold myself responsible for your cure." La Roche's eyes glistened at the proposal ; and his daughter was equally pleased with her father.

They travelled by short stages; for the philosopher was as good as his word, in taking care that the old man should not be fatigued. The party had time to be well acquainted with one another, and their friendship was increased by acquaintance. La Roche found a degree of simplicity and gentleness in his companion, which is not always annexed to the character of a learned, or a wise man. His daughter, who was prepared to be afraid of him, was equally undeceived. She found in him nothing of that self-importance which superior parts, or great cultivation of them, is apt to confer.

On his part, he was charmed with the society of the good clergyman and his lovely daughter. He found in them the guileless manner of the earliest times, with the culture and accomplishment of the most refined ones. Every better feeling, warm and vivid ; every ungentle one, repressed or overcome. He was not addicted to love; but he felt himself happy in being the friend of Mademoiselle La Roche, and sometimes envied her father the possession of such a child.

After a journey of eleven days they arrived at the dwelling of La Roche. It was situated in one of those valleys of the canton of Berne, where nature seems to repose, as it were, in quiet, and has inclosed her retreat with mountains inaccessible.A stream, that spent its fury in the hills above, ran in front of the house, and a broken water-fall was seen through the wood that covered its sides; below, it circled round a tufted plain, and formed a little lake in front of a village, at the end of which appeared the spire of La Roche's church, rising above a clump of beeches.

Mr. H— enjoyed the beauty of the scene: but to his companions, it recalled the memory of a wife and parent they had lost. The old man's sorrow was silent; his daughter sobbed

Her father took her hand, kissed it twice, pressed it to his bosom, threw up his eyes to heaven; and having wiped off a tear that was just about to drop from each, began to point out to his guest some of the most striking objects which the prospect afforded. The philosopher interpreted all this : and he could but slightly censure the creed from which it arose.

They had not been long arrived, when a number of La Roche's parishioners, who had heard of his return, came to the house to see and welcome him. The honest folks were awkward, but sincere, in their professions of regard.— They made some attempts at condolence ;- it was too delicate for their handling ; but La Roche took it in good part. “It has pleased God,”. said he: and they saw he had settled the matter with himself.

- Philosophy could not have done so much with a thousand words !

It was now evening, and the good peasants were about to depart, when a clock was heard to strike seven, and the hour was followed by a particular chime. The country people, who

and wept.

« AnteriorContinuar »