Page images
PDF
EPUB

ihose ideas which her last moments must inspire; for I now faithfully believe, with Mr. Waller, that,

Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,

Who stand upon the threshold of the new, Whether it was the suddenness of her fate, or a letter she wrote to me not two hours before her death, I know not, that has made the alteration in me; but this I am certain, that I can never enough acknowledge the goodness of that Divine Power, without whose assistance it could not have been brought about.

I shall inake no apology for this melancholy epistle, because I am very sensible, that whatever concern you may feel for my sister, it will be greatly alleviated by finding I am become at last a reasonable creature. I enclose you the letter she sent, to the end you may judge with what kind of sentiments she left this world. It seems evident she felt much contrition for the past; let us hope that her application to divine mercy was not too late. I am, dear miss, Your most afflicted humble servant,

C. MIDDLETON.

LETTER XVIIJ.

Enclosed in the foregoing. Miss Middleton's Letter to her Sister, written a few hours

before her death. My dear Sister, Before this can possibly reach you, the unchanging fiat will be passed upon me, and I shall be either happy or miserable for ever. None about me pretend to flatter me with the hopes of seeing another morning. Short space to accomplish the mighty work of eternal salvation! Yet I cannot leave the world without admonishing, without conjuring you to be more early in preparing for that dreadful hour, you are sure not to escape, and know not how shortly it may arrive. We have had the same sort of education, have lived in the same manner; and though accounted very like, have resembled each other more in our follies than our faces. Oh, what a waste of time have we not both been guilty of! To dress well has been our study; parade, equipage, and adıniration, our ambition; pleasure our avocation, and the mode our god! How often, alas, have I profaned in idle chat, that sacred name by whose inerits alone I hope to be forgiven! How often bave I sat and heard his miracles and sufferings ridiculed by the false wits of the age, without feeling the least emotion at the blasphemy! Nay, how often have I myself, because I heard others do so, called in question that futurity I now go to prove, and am already convinced of! One moment, methinks, I see the blissful seats of paradise unveiled; I hear ten thousand myriads of myriads of celestial forms tuning their golden harps to songs of praise, to the unutterable name. The next a scene all black and gloomy, spreads itself before me, whence issue nought but sobs, and groans, and horrid shrieks. My fluctuating imagination varies the prospect, and involves me in a sad uncertainty of my eternal doom. On one hand beckoning angels sinile upon me, while on the other, the faries stand prepared to seize my fleeting soul. Methinks I dare not hope, nor will the "Rev. Dr. G-suffer me to despair; he comforts me with the promises in Holy Writ, which, to my shame, I was unacquainted with before; but now I feel them balın to my tormented conscience. Dear, dear sister, I must bid you eternally, adieu! I have discharged my duty in giving you this warning. Oh, may my death, which you will shortly hear of, give it that weight I wish and pray for! you are the last object of my earthly cares.

I have now done with all below, shall retire into myself, and devote the few moments allowed me, to seek that penitence, without which, even the gracious promises of the Gospel will be unavailing. I die,

Your sincere friend,
And most affectionate and departing sister,

BERINTHIA.

LETTER XIX. Mrs. Rowe to the Countess of Hertford. Madam, When I begin a friendship, it is for immortality. This confession, I own, is enough to put you in soine terror that you are never like to drop my conversation in this world, or the next; but I hope I shall improve in the realms of light, and get a new set of thoughts to entertain you with at your arrival there, which, for the public interest, I wish may be long after I am sleeping in the dust; and perhaps mine will be the first joyful spirit that will welcome you to the immaterial coasts, and entertain you with one of the softest songs of paradise at your arrival. Mr. Rollie would

think these all great chimeras and gay visions; but how much more so are all the charming scenes on earth?

As the fantastic images of night,
Before the op'ning morning take their light;
So ranish all the hopes of men :

And vain designs the laughing skies deride. You will think, Madam, I am resolved you shall remember your latter end, whoever forgets it. I suppose you will expect the next picture 1 send you will be Time, with a scythe and an horr-glass; but really the same mementos of mortality are necessary to people like you in the height of greatness, and the full bloom of youth and beauty. If I go on, you will think me in the height of the vapours, and the persection of the spleen; but in all the variety of my temYour Ladyship’s most humble servant,

Eliz. Rowe. I admire the verses you enclosed, and am surprised at the author.

per, I ain

LETTER XX.

From Mrs. Rowe to the Countess of Hertford.

(Written the day before her death.) Madam, This is the last letter you will ever receive from me; the last assurance I shall give you, on earth, of a sincere and stedfast friendship; but when we meet again, I hope it will be in the heights of inmortal love and ecstasy. Mine perhaps may be the glad spirit to congratulate you on your safe arrival to the happy shores. Heaven can witness how siacere my concern for your happiness is ; thither I have sent my ardent wishes that you may be secured from the flattering delusions of the world ; and, after your pious example has been a long blessing to mankind, inay calmly resign your breath, and enter the confines of unmolested joy. I am now taking my farewell of you here, but it is a short adieu, with full persuasion that we shall soon meet again. But, oh, in what elevation of happiness! In what enlargement of mind, and what perfection of every faculty! What transporting reflections shall we make on the ndvantages of which we shall be eternally possessed ! To him that loved us, and washed us in his blood, shall we ascribe immortal glory, dominion, and praise for ever; this is all my salva tion, and my hope. "That name in whom the Gentiles trust, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed, is now my glorious, my unfailing confidence. In his worth alone I expect to siand justified before infinite purity and justice. How' poor were my hopes, if I depended on those works, which my vanity, or the partialiiy of men have called good; and which, if examined by divine purity, would prove perhaps but specious sins! The best actions of my life would be found defective if brought to the test of that unbleinished holiness, in whose sight the heavens are not clean. Where were my hopes, but for a Redeemer's merit and atonement! How desperate, how undone my condition! With the utmost advantages I could boast, I should step back and tremble at the thoughts of appearing before the unblemished Majesty! What harmony dwells in the name of the blessed Saviour! celestial joy and immor. tal life are in the sound. Let angels set to him their golden harps; let the ransomed nations for ever magnify him. What a dream is mortal life! What shadows are all the objects of mortal sense! All the glories of mortality, my much beloved friend, will be nothing in your view at the awful hour of death, when you must be separated from this lower creation, and enter on the borders of the imninortal world.

Something persuades me this will be the last farewell in this world. Heaven forbid it should be an everlasting farewell

. May that divine protection, whose care I implore, keep you stedfast in the faith of Christianity, and guide your steps in the strictest paths of virtue. Adieu, my most dear friend, until we meet in the paradise of God.

ON THE CHOICE OF A HUSBAND.

ON
your

conduct in the choice of a husband depends your future happiness or misery, at least in this world, if not in the next. Sobriety, prudence, and good vature; a virtuous disposition, a good understanding, and a prospect of being above the reach of want, ought never to be dispensed with in this matter: where the man is defective in any of these, the woman is to be pitied.

The man of pleasure is as much to be avoided as the illiterate clown; how agreeable soever he may appear to you abroad, he never can be long, so at home; his happiness is only to be found in variety: the inconstancy of his mind, and the unevenness of his temper, make all his hours une easy, which are not spent in some one diversion or another; in short, he is ever melancholy when he is not merry. A wise man would wish to marry his daughter to a man of understanding, and other circumstances equal : there is certainly no comparison between a man of liberal education, and one who has not had that advantage. The unvaried conversation of the latter, soon becomes insipid to a sensible woman; she is disappointed to find, too late, nothing more agreeable therein, than in the coinmon chit-chat of her own sex; and it is happy if the loss of her esteem is not soon followed by that of her 'love: but the reflections of the former will ever furnish hin with some new and pleasing discourse; his conversation will improve her mind, refine her taste, and better ber judgment. T'he female who makes choice of a man of this turn, and with the qualities before mentioned, has certainly happiness in her power; and it ought to be her study to secure it by cheerfulness, neatness, modesty, and a constant endeavour to please. The reason of too many unhappy marriages, is frequently owing to the taking more pains to gain, than to keep the heart of the man you admire; whereas the latter requires all your prudence. Too much familiarity, the least neglect of the rules of decency, either in dress or behaviour, and other such seeming trifles, frequently lose it, past recovery. These reflections have been produced by the conduct of a female whose portrait is drawn in the following short narrative.

AMANDA was a female who to good sense, a fine person, and a great generosity of temper, joined affability, a remarkably engaging sprightliness, a quick sensibility both of favours and affronts, and a heart susceptible of every tender impression : her spirits were indeed rather too great for the delicacy of her constitution, and, more through education than nature, she was rather too fond of dress and diversions: foibles which a sensible man would easily improve into virtues; into neatness and cheerfulness at home.

Blessed with these accoinplishments, Amanda had many admirers : among the number, two only seemed to have any chance; these were Clerimont and Philander. · Clerimont had a good person, a liberal education, a genteel profession, an unblemished character, and a moderate fortune, which by his prudence and economy, was rather improved thao lessened, notwithstanding he made with it a genteel

« PreviousContinue »