Imágenes de página

derived from a source the most unquestionably correct. What I am about to state in this brief memorial I know to be strictly, literally true ; and if the tale draw tears of tender sympathy in the past sufferings of our departed sister, let it also open every lip in thanksgiving to God and to the Lamb, who, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, so beautifully fitted her for her present inheritance among the saints in light.

The Lady Flora Hastings was, from a very early age, deeply impressed with the importance of vital religion; and so far as opportunity allowed it, she availed herself of the helps afforded in seeking far better things than rank and affluence could bestow. Witness among others the touching testimony given when, with dying hand, she delivered to her fond brother a little Bible, the gift of her mother, requesting him to restore it to that beloved parent with the assurance that, from the age of seven years, when she received it from her, it had been her best treasure; and, she added, her sole support under all her recent aflictions. Naturally retiring, timid, sensitive, modest even to a painful degree, she wrapped up in her own bosom many a thought that it would have gladdened pious friends to hear her utter; and the habit of deep abstraction, while thus meditating, sometimes occasioned among those who knew her not aright, a most injurious surmise-they called it pride! Her meek and quiet spirit was as far removed from worldly pride as any child of Adam's can be.

Brought up in intimate association with the highest in the land, Lady Flora formed a strong attachment to her royal mistress, the mother of her future Queen, in whose household she held an honourable appointment: and this attachment deepened in proportion as its value became enhanced to its object. Many sorrows pierced that royal lady, and among the more recent was the early death of Lady Mary Stopford; an event that called for redoubled attentions on the part of Lady Flora, who loved with filial affection one who never failed to manifest a maternal tenderness for her. In this we have a clue to the solution of many questions, as to why did Lady Flora, while alive to spiritual impressions, continue a partaker in pleasures wherein those who live are by scripture declared to be dead? To her they brought no enjoyment: far rather would she have devoted herself to the Lord's service in a secluded path of usefulness; but He who giveth no account of his • matters saw good to leave his dear child where a furnace was being heated for the trial of her faith and the consummation of her eternal bliss.

Lady Flora's happiest hours were passed in meditation on God's word, in prayer, and in efforts to promote every good work brought ander her notice. Some beautiful productions of her pen I have seen, which shew the heavenward tending of her thoughts, and a clearness of apprehension concerning the love of God in Christ to her soul, such as the natural heart never conceived. Still the excess of her retiring modesty sbrank from every semblance of display; and while striving to perform her difficult duties in the path wherein she found herself, she walked before God in lowliness of heart, and knew no delight apart from communion with him.

Such was Lady Flora Hastings; and such she had long been, at the time when the storm fell upon her.

I know every particular of that fearful storm, and in relating them I seek not to perpetuate the memory of wrongs which were fully and unreservedly forgiven by their gentle victim : still less would I fling a reproach where every British Christian is bound by God's command to yield honour: but the fierceness of the fiery trial, under which the quiet sufferer sank, does so exceedingly magnify the grace of God which upheld her throughout, and overspread her wounded spirit with joy and peace in believing, that all shall be told-truly told, upon the onimpeachable authority already alluded to.

· Lady Flora Hastings had always been of a strong constitution, and vigorous as any other young person in her rank of life. Of late she had felt the progress of some disease affecting the liver, but not so as to occasion great uneasiness. She placed herself at length under the medical treatment of Sir James Clark, her Majesty's physician, and was by him ordered strong tonics with a very generous diet. A slight external swelling had become perceptible, of which, if any one noticed it, Sir James could satisfactorily state the cause, and explain the appearance. On one occasion, never to be forgotten, he entered the apartment of his patient, and without circumlocution addressed her in these words, . It is supposed you are with child...

Astounded, shocked, at an announcement, the grossness of which could only be paralleled by its frightful injuriousness, the noble lady warmly repelled the charge; adding that her accuser would not have ventured to address such language to a woman in the streets. The assertion was, however, re-iterated; and she was told that the ladies of the

court would not be satisfied without a medical examination. Leaving this shaft to rankle in the bosom of the victim, the messenger departed; and a communication was forthwith made to the Duchess of Kent, in the name of the Sovereign, forbidding the appearance of Lady Flora Hastings in public, until the step alluded to should have been taken. The Duchess warmly vindicated her young friend, and protested that no such degradation should be inflicted on her; but this objection was overruled by the Lady Flora herself.

Immediately on being left alone, she had betaken herself to most fervent prayer; and wbile humbled before God, bad reviewed the position in which her own reputation was placed, together with the solemn duty which she owed to a noble brother, to a family of beloved sisters, to a widowed mother, to whom such an aspersion on her child would be a deathblow, and to the memory of a father whose gallant deeds had given him a claim of no common magnitude on England, and on England's monarch ; and above all to the honour of that Name which many knew that she devoutly professed. Like a frightened dove she looked around for shelter, but found none : her mother's bosom was the earthly resting-place she would have flown to; but far away in her native north that dear mother abode, unconscious of her child's piercing distress: her brother was nigh, but she trembled to arouse the spirit of a Hastings with such an appeal : her sisters-she was the elder, and to her they looked for the continuance of all that they had hitherto revered in her. No, she had no refuge, poor trembler! no refuge below : so she cast her burden on the Lord, and with a magnanimity, before which every vaunt of female heroism shrinks into nothingness, this maintainer of a family's honour declared herself ready for the degrading, disgusting, infamous outrage which she was informed must be submitted to on the following day.

Mothers! I would appeal to you; but what mother's heart could brook the bare idea, as she looks on her own gentle, modest, girl, shrinking even from the eye of man, and pictures such a proceeding, enforced far from her sheltering arm, among strangers and enemies; ay, and with that very person appointed to officiate, whose coarse address had so wantonly harrowed the feelings, while it aimed a mortal stab at the fair fame of the maiden! No, I will make no appeal; but there is an awful declaration in God's own word—may those who have exposed themselves to its menace, by timely repentance avert the impending blow! “Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in anywise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry: and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."

Lady Flora passed, as she afterwards declared, the whole of the intervening time in prayer to her covenant God. The terrible hour approached ; and who do my readers think was chosen by her to be present as a female companion? Did she ask to lay her agonized head on the kind bosom of her maternal friend, the royal Duchess ? Did she seek the comforting and soothing presence of her dear brother's wife of a married sister of her own-or of any among the hundreds of noble British matrons who would at a word have flown to supply the place of

« AnteriorContinuar »