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her conscience with Leighton and Baxter: but she must have recourse to the sceptics to feed her intellect; hah! hah! These folks are wiser than the world takes them for, after all : more knaves than fools. If she cannot smuggle a libertine infidel or two into heaven, she will want to come back again to enjoy the exercise of opinion, and freedom of thought !”
I leave it with you and your readers to determine whether our Christian lady had or had not provoked this unholy sarcasm. If she herself should read it, it may not be useless to her to know the issue of her conversation.
O! how sharp the pain
ANOTHER LETTER TO THE LISTENER.
I FEEL strongly that nothing but looking at and handling the vanities and gayeties of this world, can enable us to see through and believe their lightness. Could I imagine myself educating a child ; a task so awful as to make one shrink with distrust from every plan ever yet laid down, because of the imperfection of all; I could not answer to myself for the effect it seems to me would be produced by shutting out the world's excitements from a young
and active mind. Having once given that mind a high standard, by which to judge itself and others, I should dread it as most dangerous to debar it of the bitter, but useful, fruits of experience in folly. Had it been so with me, I am persuaded, that at this moment, although past the age of twenty-five, I should have a restless craving, an admiring, and yet unacknowledged wish, to be initiated, that would be a thousand times more hurtful than the temporary delight and permanent indifference that arise out of a close acquaintance with them. I was brought early into the world, and early into a state of responsibility and power, that both restrained and
excited me in no common degree; my vanity was continually gratified, and I had keen delight in the indulgence of my tastes : but with all this, and in the midst of a family party in whom I was blessed indeed, I found myself writing down, out of the fulness of conviction, “ that this life considered without reference to another, was a gift more fraught with pain than pleasure.” I never, even in the stillness of darkness, in the thunder-storm, or the extreme of sorrow, have that strong persuasion of the immediate coming of death and judgment, which arises in
mind when I am in a gay crowd; even when I seem, and am, a flattered, pleased, and animated actor in that crowd, still the thought that every one of that number will soon moulder in the grave, haunts me, until I am ready to say aloud, “ The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised.” When I look at others in the world, I think no one feels like me ; and when I look into myself, I feel as if everybody must have the same impressions. It may sound like the extreme of vanity, but I am persuaded, that to judge of others by ourselves is the truest charity: who that has heart and mind enough to feel any thing, will not acknowledge, that not only their most sinful, but their highest, purest, most delicate, and spiritual thoughts, are those which never pass their lips, and scarcely appear in their lives, because they lack the opportunity of proving them, or feel they would be misinterpreted! They are reserved for one only eye, and we seem what others seem to us. Oh ! let us believe, that such is the true state of almost all these seeming worldlings; nor think, that when the secrects of all hearts are laid open, we alone have in that fearful store some which we need not tremble to unfold! But it may be I have overlooked what
would be the safeguard against even the wish to wander from the straight and narrow way. knowledge, with the truest conviction, the necessity of “stretching nature on the cross of Christ ;" but it must be, humanly speaking, a voluntary crucifixion; or it will but wither that nature it is our duty to exalt and refine to the highest ends. I know I seem to write and think arrogantly of human nature, my own of course included; and yet it is to its folly and vileness that I trust as the antidote to its influence. And now, I remain your friend, &c.
When I received the above paper, I was by the sea-side. I read it attentively, and, having folded it up, thoughtfully pursued my walk. I passed the fisherman at the water's edge, waiting the flowing of the tide; but not idly. His children were helping him to unfold and mend his nets, and two or three were wading through the water to unmoor the boat, and steer it as he directed them. I saw, in the hollow of the cliff
, a group of gipsies, boiling the turnips they had stolen the night before. These, too, were training their children to their own calling. The little brats lay squalling and fighting on the pathway; the father bade them, with a fearful oath, to cease their brawling, and draw him some sticks from a neighbouring fence. I came to the door of a large barn: a clean and decent husbandman was thrashing out the corn; and his son, with the same hard features as himself, the same nailed boots, and tidy roundabout, was at his side, helping with a lighter flail, the father's labours. I reached the mansion of nobility : I saw the heir, with his reverend tutor at his side, the future dignitary, pro
bably, of the church, engaged in such pursuits, and receiving such accomplishments, as would become the master of that proud domain.
“These people are all in the wrong, then,” I said. “ Each one is preparing his children to follow his own calling, and fill the station of his fathers, the destiny for which he seems designed. But they take the wrong methods. The honest labourer should apprentice his boy to the rude waters, and let him spend his childhood amid the animating perils of the sea, that he may be fit, in manhood, for the sober drudgery of the day's work, and love the safety of the shore. The fisherman, he should send his brats among yonder trampers, to be reared in idleness, villany, and theft, that they may learn the value of an honest calling, and be fitted for the exertions of laborious life. And the young nobleman, he, methinks, should serve apprenticeship to all. In the coarse labours and habits of the husbandman, he should
prepare himself for the refinements of his condition, and in the miseries of vicious idle. ness, get experience of the beauty and happiness of moral elevation. How else should they have a choice? How, but in the experience of vice, can they learn its miseries ; of idleness, its consequences; of coarseness, its disgusts? What, in short, should make a human being fit for any station, but bringing him up in bitter experience of its opposite ?"
When I read the above letter first, I thought my excellent correspondent was in a worse condition than poor Hodge. She seemed to have taken her thistles into great admiration ; and though she had gathered of them hitherto but fading flowers and thorns, was disposed to believe, since the roots were under ground, they might after all be very good