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care or question of its nobler breeding. Was it a happy lamb ?
The decision does not signify. No lamb, since the beginning of time, has been called upon to choose between the company of its kind, and the fellowship of the lapdog; and till the end of it, no mother sheep will have occasion to determine whether her offspring shall be bred in the sheepfold or the lady's bower. While I was tracing the destiny of the innocent brute, I was really contemplating that of its mistress, and many others within my observation. For who that views reflectively the aspect of society in the presnt day, but must be struck with the en. deavour, visible throughout it, to thrust ourselves, to thrust our children, out of the place that Providence has designed them for, into some other that seems to be more happy, more elevated, or more honourable. To make them something that their fathers are not, to give them tastes and habits above their birthright, and procure for them other society than that of their equals? I believe it is a losing game, even to the calculators of this world : to the heirs of immortality, I am persuaded it is a sinful one, and as such, am induced to speak of it. This struggle to be thought, to seem, to be, whether we consider the stake that is played for, the means that are used, or the risk of the venture, is utterly opposed to the tone and principle of a Christian mind; and incompatible altogether with the requisitions of a holy life.
I know no better illustration of my meaning, than the situation and character of Julia Arnot. Her parents lived retired on a secure income of five hundred pounds a-year.
Whether originally acquired in trade, in arts of war, or arts of peace, I do not
know-nobody in the town of W—knew, and therefore it did not signify. Their income was sufficient for their habits of life, and was the certain inheritance of their only child. Moderate, retired, and religious in their habits, Heaven's blessing was on their store; and they had no desire for themselves beyond their picturesque cottage at the entrance of W—, their garden, their little grounds, and their cows. They had to spare, moreover. They had milk and broken victuals for the hungry, kind words for the afflicted, and pious counsel for the unwise. They were excellent and beloved ; there was no appearance of having fallen from a higher station ; neither was there lowness or rudeness, to betray a mean original. Julia, in this home, might have been the happiest of human beings. Every thing she could reasonably desire, everything, I must think, a Christian woman is justified in desiring, was within her reach. Nay-all things are by comparison; and in the little town of W-, among the ten children of the minister, and the seven daughters of the apothecary, and other expectants of like doubtful dividends, Julia Arnot, heiress of five hundred a year, was considered the first lady. And Julia, too, might have been first in better things than wealth. Providence had richly graced her ; she was good, and she was lovely; she was benevolent, and I would say, that she was pious—but God has said, “ If any man love the things of the world, the love of God is not in him.” The things of the world are many ; but if some may be more peculiarly called so than others, it must be those factitious advantages, the whole value of which depends on convention and the world's opinion. I would rather not say whether Julia Arnot was pious.
I must be brief, for I mean to draw a sketch, and not to write a story. These happy people had no bitter in their cup, but what they prepared for themselves, or rather for their child. They were cursedfor I can call it nothing else—with a desire to ele. vate her station in life, and place her in society above their own. Was this a blameable desire ? I know that the world will say it was not. I know that from one end of society to the other, from the humblest tradesman, who stints himself to bring up his sons to a profession, to the prosperous
merchant or banker who rolls along in his chariot, the elevation of our children is considered a legitimate object of parental care. There is another view of it, however, to the deep-searching eye of truth. If the higher paths of life be the safer ways to heaven ; if the distinctions of earth be badges of heaven's favour; if the exalted and admired of men be more sheltered from temptation, and more incited to holiness; then elevation in the scale is a legitimate object of desire. If precisely the contrary of this be the case; if God feeds the poor while the rich are sent empty away; if not many great, not many wise or learned, have been called ; if they who sow to the flesh are to reap a harvest of corruption; if honours are a temptation, and riches a snare; if He, in whose footsteps we desire to walk, chose to himself the lowest path, and chose his followers there, and left them there, and bequeathed lowliness and poverty for their inheritance, to the end of time; if this be so, how can the elevation of our children above the sphere in which providence has placed them, be a reasonable object of desire ?
Julia's parents thought it so. How it came first into their heads, I do not know ; unless it was at her christening, when Lord Macdugal, an early pa
tron of the family, stood godfather by proxy, and Macdugal was given her for a second name. In the same course of good or evil fortune, a certain Sir Peter Paulett lived with his family at a large place, within a few miles of W - His children were about the age of the little Julia; they looked at each other at church; they met with their nurses in the fields; and ultimately, when the Miss Pauletts were particularly good, they were allowed to have Julia Arnot home to play with them. The parents, instead of perceiving, as they might have done, the growth of ambition and vanity from these visits, began to perceive in them the destination of their Julia to a higher sphere of life. And why not? She would have an independence: as much as the usual fortune of a peer's daughter. By a little more frugality at home, they could give her a polished education. She could be sent to a fashionable school to make connexion with genteel girls; they could keep her up a little from the young people of the town; and no doubt she would continue to be noticed at the Hall when she grew up. If piety ever whispered, that at the fashionable school she would learn the tone and temper of the world they had renounced for her; that at the Hall she would learn tastes and desires their small competency would be insufficient to gratify; that the polish of her education might be at the cost of that holy simplicity she might have imbibed from their example; it was silenced by the plea, that she would have an extended sphere of usefulness; that the favour of God is not confined to station, and humble society can never be essential to the cultivation of religious principle. What, then, is humble society,--that thing, of all others, a parent may reasonably dread, and religiously avoid ? Is it not a thing of compari
son? Can any one be lowered by the society of their equals? The children of God-would that they always thought so—are out of their sphere in society, whenever they choose their fellowship with those who know Him not, however high may be their station above them.
Julia's parents did not think so. All these plans were executed, and strange to say, they all succeeded. Julia went to a fashionable school; she was clever, and gained credit; she was amiable, and gained friends; she formed friendship and correspondence with girls of rank and fortune superior to her own; she came back polished and accomplished; and she was received at the Hall, the favourite companion of the Miss Pauletts.
Was Julia a happy girl,—the happier for her separation from that circle which she seemed destined, from the circumstance of her family, to fill ? There were those who thought so. The young ladies of W thought so; and, mistaking the soreness of their own envy for wounds inflicted by another's pride, instead of friends by whom she might have been cherished, and whom she might have led to every good, they became her unprovoked enemies. The young gentlemen of W—thought so; and where equal fortunes might have promised suitable alliance, and permanent domestic happiness, it was impossible to suppose Miss Arnot would condescend. The parents—I am not sure what they thought by this time—a parent's eye is keen to read the bosom of a child—a Christian's eye is keen to perceive the punishment of his own errors. I can only relate what I witnessed.
Every day I witnessed the struggle between duty and feeling: between pride and circumstance; between the desire of being, and the consciousness of