Page images

duty, you will say, ought to be paramount to every other consideration; and a promise voluntarily made should be strictly kept. Granted : but you will also acknowledge, that circumstances will sometimes occur to prevent the fulfilment of the most sacred obligations. In the present instance, I have been overruled by the earnest solicitations of friends here, the continuance of fine weather, and the all-powerful attractions of a country life: you will therefore forgive me when I say, that my heart has been divided between home and my present residence. You know, mamma, that I was never the firmest in a resolve; but, really, on the present occasion, I have found myself more than ordinarily weak: I have allowed myself to be overcome by what I fear will be considered but trifling inducements, when compared with the gratification to be experienced from a strict performance of duty : though, were you present with me, I should not despair of convincing you that there is sufficient here to palliate, if not to absolve me from the error. The richness and beauty of the scenery—the serenity of the atmosphere--the unceasing kindness of friends all seem to echo, ‘go not yet,' and compel me, however unwillingly, to yield to their powerful solicitations.

" I know not what my beloved friends will say, when they learn that I have preferred a country ramble to their good company. Methinks I see them now, seated as usual in our snug parlour, and pouting at my empty chair, with little Arthur wondering · how she could do so!' Well, they must pout and wonder still; but I feel assured, that if they also could become participaters in my present enjoyments, (and I wish from my heart that they could) I should stand acquitted of any studied neglect, and receive their forgiveness for what I have done.

" To make amends, however, for the disappointment I am likely to occasion, I would fain give an account of how I have disposed of my time, while resident here : but I despair of conveying to you an idea of one half of the satisfaction I have experienced from my various rambles, the beauties of nature at this season being far too striking to be transferred to paper. I have been much in the open air ; and enjoyed the seasons of the day (if I may 80 express myself), in a greater degree than I ever did before. I have sallied forth when

---- "The morning shines
Serene in all its dewy beauties bright ;'

watched the sun's progress, as he advanced like a giant in his course ; observed the influence of his meridian. strength in perfecting the productions of the earth; and seen with pleasure,

The fruit, the flower,
Earth, heaven, the sea, and oh ! the heart of man,
And all that comes within His mighty plan,
Fling back the glance in joy.'

And when at eve my eyes have followed his setting grandeur, I have been impressed with a pleasing, soothing melancholy, and freely indulged in those contemplations which a scene so solemn invariably inspires. But no art, “the pencil or the pen,' can express the agreeable sensations occasionally felt from a view of external nature. Its mild and soothing influence tranquillizes the passions, invigorates our affections, and elevates our minds to thoughts of an important and pleasing description. This is well described in that passage of the poet, to which you have often referred me:

Nature never did betray
The heart that loves her ; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy; for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed

With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings !',

“ To this sentiment, mamma, I feel more than ever inclined to bestow my unequivocal assent. I know not whether the admiration I feel for the study and contemplation of natural objects, arises from the slight knowledge I have gained of botanical science, (for which I am indebted to my beloved Maria), but I certainly never received so much real enjoyment from a few weeks' residence in a place so decidedly rural, as I have in the present instance. I often used to wonder how a country life could be made at all supportable; but I have now discovered the secret : taste and observation are the chief requisites, I find—which, with the addition of a small portion of industry, will ensure for the possessor unfailing delights while young, and I doubt not will prove equally interesting in after years, by alleviating the wearisomeness and solitude attendant on old age. But, mamma, I am chatting to you, while I should be preparing for another walk with my friend. I hear her bell, which tells me she is ready. Please to give my love to papa, sister, and brother,-as also to my cousins and young friends; and tell Maria that I shall expect a full account from her of the next evening's Conversation. “ With a daughter's love and regard,

“ I remain,


The reading of this letter had the desired effect of satisfying the party, that. Angelina was not without a

reasonable excuse for her absence. Indeed, though human life has now become so artificial, yet scenes of nature, and changes of those scenes, always charm; and it only required an imaginary change of locality, for each of the party to find an apology for the absent one.

William now commenced the evening's Conversation by explaining, according to the plan adopted in the beginning, the name of the month. He stated that September was the original, as it is the present name of this month, although it received different appellations at different periods, from succeeding emperors, after the example of Julius and Augustus. Domitian styled it Germanicus, to commemoratė a victory over the Catti, a German nation. It was afterwards called Antoninus, in honour of Antoninus Pius; and by Commodus, Herculeus, in token of his pretended descent from Jupiter. But this being the seventh in the Julian calendar, its name is from the words septem, seven, and imber, rain; as the rains usually commence in this month. It was called by the Saxons Gerst Monath, and Hærfest Monath ; the first from barley, and the second from the harvest.

Mr. CONSTANCE. I am pleased to observe, William, that your chronological studies have a tendency to increase your historical knowledge; indeed, these streams of human intelligence, Chronology and History, owe their origin to one common source; and it is only when united, that their productive, fertilizing influence is fully exhibited in the cultured mind.

William received his uncle's compliment with becoming modesty, and proceeded to observe, that the 1st of September is dedicated to St. Giles, of whom there are given several extravagant accounts. It is however certain, that he was born at Athens, where he disposed of his patrimony in charitable uses, and came to France in the year 715. He lived two years with Cæsarias, bishop of Arles ; and

afterwards retired into solitude, feeding upon herbs, and the milk of a hind, which providentially came for his support. He was discovered in his seclusion by the then king of France, who, pleased with his unaffected piety and sanctity of manners, erected an abbey for him at Nismes, of which he was constituted abbot. He died in the year 795, aged eighty years, and was interred in his own abbey.

CHARLES. Is he not considered the patron of cripples?

WILLIAM. Yes, he is : and one of his extravagancies was in his refusal to be cured of an accidental lameness? MARIA. Why did he refuse to be cured ?

WILLIAM. Because he conceived, that by retaining his affliction, a constant check would be given to his pride, while it afforded an opportunity of mortifying himself.

MR. CONSTANCE. Many churches and hospitals have been dedicated to St. Giles; who, although an undoubted enthusiast, possessed many noble qualities of heart. The church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, is built at that entrance to the city of London where cripples used to ask alms ; a custom very common before the conquest. The churches, therefore, dedicated to the memory of this saint, were generally situate at the extremities of the city.

WILLIAM. The 2nd of September is the anniversary of the dreadful fire of London, which happened in the year 1666; is it necessary that we enter into the particulars of it, or shall we pass on to the next day?

Mr. Constance. You had better state what you have gleaned relating to it; though I should wish you to confine yourself to a statement of the loss, as I have it in my power to read a few extracts from a rare and quaintly written tract, which was published in the year 1667, and which contains a minute account of the conflagration, with its effects upon the inhabitants.

WILLIAM. Perhaps, Sir, you had better favour us with

« PreviousContinue »