תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

and also a matrimonial one, which she thought equally to be expected; for she was informed he had a daughter about my own age, to whom, if my fortune was really considerable, he would doubtless wish to unite me.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

He visited, according to permission, this Presbyterian guardian, Mr. W, and found him a truly exemplary man, devout, and patiently waiting for his last, his speedily approaching, mortal change. The interview between Celebs, this dying Presbyterian, his partner, and daughters, is highly entertaining and instructive. We have only to wish that the author, since he presents all his Episcopal families in an unfavourable light, excepting that of the teacher, had given us Presbyterians a less flattering sample of our denomination, by way of keeping our neighbours in good humour. The suspicion of the writer's being himself a Presbyterian, ridiculing some of the most exceptionable characters belonging to the establishment, would then have been less strong, and less detrimental to the benign influence which the novel is both intended and calculated to have.

These Presbyterian friends of young Cælebs must not be imagined, however, to be such great lords and ladies as all the Episcopal associates of the elder Calebs; for he was probably the noble one of the family, and inherited all the magnificence which Miss More thought fit to describe. The characters before us appertain to the common order of human beings; and are just like living and dying men.

Our readers will bear in mind, that neither of the daughters of Mr. W-was handsome; but Lucy, the cousin, was; with whom it was very natural that a handsome young man, who was destined, from his birth, in imagination, to be deceived, should be enamoured. Very injudiciously, as Celebs himself will have it, before he had finished his collegiate course, he ventured to entrust his future happiness to her hands, and explicitly avow an attachment, on which he had not reflected a single day. This was done, just as one of our American students would do, and hence among all the pupils at our theological schools, scarcely one can be found, who is not be

trothed before he has ascertained in what situation Providence will locate him, and even before he has read his first discourse to the people. These premature engage. ments often prepare the way for disappointments; and what is worse, procure for young clergymen the character of male coquettes. With his matrimonial overture to his cousin, Celebs acquainted Mr. W and received from him, through the hands of his daughter, because he was incapable of writing, the most wholesome advice.

From that which constitutes the principal part of most novels, we are happily delivered in this; and only learn of our candid youth and his fair one, that they talked and wrote like lovers, and as they generally talk in private, it may be presumed they are conscious that their conversations are not worth public attention.'

We learn too, that Celebs "received orders;' went a travelling with Lucy and her mother; visited a pleasant country parish; heard that the parish priest was dying; took measures to purchase the living; and soon was inducted into it. His female friends came with him, to take possession of the parsonage, by way of anticipation, and while he was becoming personally known to his clerk, and to the church-warden and the sexton-woman,' who desired him to have evening service because the one found the church with candles, and the other obtained many a candle end;' Miss Lucy was clandestinely procuring baneful romances from a tavern-keeper's wife, of no very honourable fame. His mortification was so great in being deceived by his fair cousin, that he told her, with some broad hints, that he loved Truth, especially in one whom he had selected for his bosom companion. This unpardonable affront, Lucy and her mother, being women of spirit, resented, by a hasty departure from the parsonage. Not long after Cælebs learned from the public papers, that his cousin was married to Mr. L, and had gone with him to his native Ireland. Disappointment produces many a hasty, ill-fated marriage, to be repented of through life.

The character of Cælebs now demands our attention. He seems to have become a minister from education and a fancy for the profession. For a long time he was rather prepossessed in favour of orthodoxy, and he preached his own sermons with so much spirit as to thump the dust out of his old pulpit cushion. He was popular, and collected his parishioners, who had long resembled scattered sheep: he proclaimed the ability and willingness of Christ to save, and the certainty that all believers shall be saved; but could not tell his hearers how men became united to Christ, nor did he proclaim the nature, necessity, and evidences of regeneration and sanctification. Hence many of his people entertained the delusive hope of Antinomians. His habits of thinking were all in favour of the evangelical ministers in the English establishment, but he was too indolent to imitate their practical piety. The theoretical part of religion was most acceptable to him; and his heart was ever exposed to immorality of emotion from the want of a well regulated understanding, and a mind savingly illuminated by the Spirit of God. Soon after Lucy deserted his parsonage, he read a pamphlet, which justified, from the example of the patriarchs, a plurality of wives, and led him to disregard the formality of legal matrimonial obligations. By a false theory his heart became so degraded, that he succeeded in corrupting the moral perceptions of an amiable daughter of a widow in his parish, who avowed herself a convert to the pernicious little book. The widowed mother died, and the daughter was persuaded to accept of the name and parsonage of Cælebs, without a ministerial blessing, or civil record of the fact. The young lady lived with him a year, but had no peace of mind, and then resolved to retire from her misguided pastor. In vain he attempt. ed to regain her society: and in vain he offered his hand, with all the public rites of matrimony. On leaving him, she wrote an admirable letter, which tended to awaken his mind to serious convictions of guilt, and apprehensions of danger. The shame and mental anguish of an immoral minister, even among a people who will tolerate fox-hunting, and the keeping of a mistress, which are not uncommon in England, are well described. Before he had returned home from the vain pursuit of his lost Maria, a servant met him, to invite him to the house of his aunt, and the couch of the dying Lucy; whom he

finds a saved sinner, well able to instruct him in the way of life and peace.

The story of Lucy is an affecting one. Her husband deceived her. When he took her to his family in Ireland, instead of a neat mansion and noble relatives, that he had promised her, she entered a cottage of poverty; and found only an interesting young Catholic lady, whom he introduced as his sister. This sister, she finally discovered to be the lawful wife of Mr. L–! Every thing which her iniquitous priest told her she believed; and even consented, since this ecclesiastic formed the scheme, that her husband, who had been discarded by his relatives, should obtain a fortune by a second, an illicit marriage. The new wife, she thought, would not be loved, but divorced. She loved her husband, bad as he was; and when she discovered, from a letter which he wrote to Lucy, that she had a rival in his affections, her fortitude failed her; she regretted her consent to the deception; obtained absolution for the past, and in hope of being forgiven in purgatory for her last action, committed suicide. The secret being disclosed to Lucy by a letter from the dying wife, she hastened from the house of her deceiver, and after much fatigue and exposure regained the protection of her mother. With a broken constitution, and a broken heart, she languished until her dissolution being: certain, her aunt forgave Cælebs, and permitted him to be called to the chamber, in which the pious child was to meet her end. A nurse, ridiculed as a Methodist, was the instrumental cause of her becoming savingly ac. quainted with the truth as it is in Jesus; and smoothed and solaced the pillow of death for her, until the god. mother of Celebs caused her to be banished from the house, for speaking to Lucy about her dissolution.

The young clergyman gained some knowledge, and some fortitude in the discharge of his duty, from the death-bed scenes of his friends; and particularly from learning that the grace of God found, at a subsequent season, even his godmother, and wholly transformed her character. This induced him to resolve, that he would seek the salvation of his poor disconsolate aunt, of whose spiritual improvement he had long since despaired. He Vol. I.

H

de

paid her a visit, and found that she also was soon to die. She desired the sacramental bread and cup at his hands; and he was enabled to decline administering the Lord's supper to his relative, until she would forgive the wretched Mr. L-, and give some evidence that she was voutly and religiously disposed.'

The character of his aunt, in life and death, is most admirably drawn. A more natural and striking picture of a self-righteous, ungodly formalist, we have never seen in any human composition. Lucy was her idol, and though Cælebs would not dispense to her the Supper, yet he was willing to visit Ireland, that he might procure for her a sight of her daughter's miniature, before her dissolution. He had an additional motive for going in pursuit of this dear memorial, in the apprehension that he might do good to the criminal destroyer of his cousin. He found Mr. L-, obiained the miniature, and sought to convince him of sin. Mr. L- was so far reformed as to be a lover of the beauty of virtue;' but could not receive the doctrines of the gospel. His love of virtue did not prevent his gambling, and receiving a mortal wound in an affair of honour. His only consolation in death was the doctrine of a purgatory, in which the punishment of his sins should not be everlasting.

On his return to his aunt, Celebs found her in the bed of her deceased daughter,' that she might die like Lucy,' and that her last end might be like hers. She was willing the young pastor should pray for her, but she was too weak to be prayed with.' She was perfectly willing to die, because she had no conviction of sin, feared nothing from divine justice, and was confident that she should meet and know her child. Cælebs could not undeceive her, could not shake her unfounded hopes; and she died as she had lived, a self-deceived sinner.

From this time Cælebs appears like a new man. He returns to his parishioners, and finds that his preaching from the fifth chapter of Matthew, is the means of transforming many of his hearers. Success animates him to fidelity; and in process of time, nothing seems wanting, but a virtuous wife from the Lord. Of whom can our readers think, that is so suitable for a middle-aged, or

« הקודםהמשך »