« PreviousContinue »
unmarried, I will remain a widow till death. And is it possible you can doubt one moment of my sincerity? or do you think that those affections can ever be placed on another, which were first fixed on you, from a convincing proof of your accomplishments and merit ? No, my dear, my fidelity to you shall remain as unspotted as this paper, before it was blotted with ink, and bedewed with tears. I know not how others love, but my engagements are for eternity. You desire me to put you in mind of your duty. "I know not of any faults, nor am I disposed to look for them. I doubt not but the religious education you have received in your youth, will enable you to resist the strongest tempations; and like that everlasting honour to the army, Colonel Gardiner, although not afraid to fight, yet you will be afraid to sin. However terrifying it may be to meet death in the field, yet it is far more awful to appear before a just God, whom we have offended by our iniquities. I have been reading Lyttleton's History of England, and that elegant author says, that at the battle of Hastings, which overthrew the Saxon monarchy, the Normans, although under arms all night, were yet fervent in their devotions, whilst the English, who thought themselves secure of victory, were spending the time in riot and drunk
But alas ! the next day exhibited a different scene.
The Normans became conquerors, after killing many thousands of the enemy : and such are commonly the fatal effects of debauchery. There is not one body of people in the world acacused of irreligion more than the military and from the very nature of their employment, none are more obliged to practise every Christian duty. They see thousands of their fellow-creatures hurried into eternity, nor do they know but the next
may be themselves. My dear Charles, never be ashamed of religion. A consciousness of your integrity will inspire you with real courage in the day of battle ; and if you should at last die in defence of the just rights of your country, the divine favour will be your comfort through eternity. In the meantime, my prayers shall constantly be for your safety and preservation, and my earnest hopes fixed on your happy return.
I have obtained leave of my parents to reside with your mother during the summer, which will at least be some consolation to me in your absence, Let me hear from you as often as possible, but never doubt of my fidelity. Consider me as already yours, and I am happy. Farewell, my dear, and may the wisdom of God direct you, and his providence be your guard, is the sincere prayer of her who prefers you before all the world.
LETTERS ON FRIENDSHIP.
LETTER CIV. The following Letter on Friendship was written by
a Gentleman lately deceased, and found amongst his Papers,
My Dear Friend, It was a strange notion of Pascal, that he would never admit any man to å share of his friendship. Had that great man been a misanthrope or an enemy to his fellow-creatures, I should not have been much surprised ; but as his love to mankind extended as far as either his knowledge or influence, it is necessary to consider his reasons for conduct apparently so strange. Pascal had such elevated notions of the Deity on the one hand, and so low an opinion of human nature on the other, that he thought, if he placed his affection on any created being, it would be a sort of insult to the Creator, and robbing him of that worship which was due to him alone. But whatever were the notions of that great man, yet there is such a thing as real friendship, and there is also a necessity for it. It is true indeed, that God is our only friend, and that on him our affections ought principally to be fixed. But those who are acquainted with human nature, well know that we are such a composition of flesh and spirit, that however we may wish to keep up an intercourse with the Deity, yet our inclinations are such, that we are more desirous of being conversant with those of our own species, to whom at all times we can be able to unbosom ourselves.
Friendship is as old as the first formation of society, and there is scarce one ancient writer now extant, who has not said something in praise of it. Of this we have a fine example in the story of David and Jonathan, as recorded in the second book of Samuel. In the same sacred oracles we are told that love is stronger than death, and even the great Redeemer of the world had a beloved disciple.
The pious and ingenious Dr. Watts has finely described friendship in one of his poems, which I doubt not but you have read.
Friendship, thou charmer of the mind, The brightest taoments mortals find,
And sharpest painz we feel. Fate has divided all our shares
of pleasure and of pain ; In love, the friendship and the cares Are mixed and join'd again.
Thou sweet deluding ill;
Beneath the eternal Fair.
The same ingenious author in another place says,
'Tis dangerous to let loose our love, But whatever the wise or learned may say, yet we know that man is a social being, and consequently has a capacity, and even a desire for friendship. Friendship is in its own nature so necessary, that I know not how a social being can exist without it. Are we by any providential occurence raised from poverty to affluence ? to whom can we communicate the delightful news but our friend? On the other hand, are we reduced from the highest pinnacle of grandeur to the most abject state of poverty ? to whom can we look for consolation but God and our friend ? Indeed there is not one state or condition in life where friendship is not necessary. What wretched mortals would men be, were they not endowed with so noble a principle !
Friendship is of a very delicate nature, and either the happiness or misery of both parties may in some sense, be said to depend on it. Friendship is somewhat like marriage, it is made for life, or as Cæsar said, “ T'he die is cast.” Mrs. Rowe, in one of her letters to the Countess of Hertford, says, “ Wh
I contract a friendship, it is for eternity;" her notions were already elevated, and the chief business of her life seems to have been in promoting the interest of her fellow-creatures. Friendship obliges the parties engaged to lay open their minds to each other ; there must not be any concealment. There is not an endearing attribute of the Deity, not an amiable quality in man, but what is included in the word friendship. Benevolence, mercy, compassion, &c. are only parts of it.
From all this we may learn, that great care ought to be had in the choice of friends : and should they unhappily betray the sacred trust reposed in them,
yet we ought not to pursue them with unrelenting fury.
In the course of my experience I remember two instances of the breach of friendship, which were attended with very different effects. Two gentlemen contracted a friendship for each other, which lasted some years ; at last one of them unhappily revealed a secret to his wife, who told it to the wife of the other, in consequence of which an unhappy division took place in the family of the latter. The injured person upbraided his friend with infidelity, told him of the fatal effects occasioned by this imprudence ; but (says he) although I cannot be your friend any longer, yet I will never be your enemy. My heart will pity you, whilst my hand shall be open to relieve your necessities. Such a declaration was consistent with the prudence of a man, and the piety of a Christian : but that of the other was of a nature totally opposite, and, in my opinion, truly diabolical. A difference of a similar nature happened, attended with the like circumstances ; but the injured person, instead of sympathizing with the weakness of his friend, pursued him with unrelenting cruelty, nor ever ceased until he had accomplished his ruin, and even triumphed over it. You may make what comments you please ; I can only assure you that both are facts.—How different, my friend, has our conduct to each other been ! during these thirty years no breach has ever happened; and it seems as new this day as at the beginning. As this is probably the last letter you will ever see in my hand-writing, accept of my sincere thanks for the many benefits I have received from your faithful admonitions, and your benevolent consolations : and when we meet in the region
of bliss, our happiness will then remain uninterrupted.
I am yours sincerely,