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victim ; or speak of the providence that assigned her so hard à portion, but in terms of grateful acknowledgment. But habit had rooted in her temper what it had written on her features; she was still fretful and still irritable. This everybody saw, and everybody complained of; and nobody liked poor Mabel. The parents of this family, in which she resided, knew her story and her worth ; bore with her ill-humours, and tenderly administered to her sufferings. My young friends, I am sorry to say, showed no such consideration. Cousin Mabel was the object of their supreme contempt, and the perpetual subject of their mirth.
As the Listener is a person perfectly unknown, the ladies had no suspicion such a one was amongst them; and I had again to hear myself produced, quoted, and extolled, whenever the girls thought they had reason to complain of their cousin's peevishness. “ I wish she was away,” said Susan one day to Emily; "she is the plague of the house. If she is ill, I cannot think why she does not die. I'm sure nobody would miss her.” Susan did not know that Mabel had been all that day in the abodes of misery, spending her feeble powers in giving ease and consolation to the afflicted; paid with the widow's blessing and the orphan's smiles, and followed by many an artless prayer that her days might be prolonged. “I think," said Emily one night to Susan, “ cousin Mabel is a great hypocrite. The Listener says if people are religious, they should be good-humoured. Did you observe what a fit of ill-humour she took this afternoon about nobody knows what—something I said that did not please her? One cannot be always thinking of what one says, for fear of putting people in a fret.” Emily did not know that Mabel, conscious of having sinned that day before God, by
the indulgence of a fretful and impatient temper, was at that moment in tears and on her knees, imploring Heaven to subdue an evil, for which her greatest grief was that it dishonoured religion; and entreating that her young cousins, the objects of her pious solicitude, however they might despise her for her infirmities, might not be prejudiced against religion on her account.
Emily and Susap saw the exterior only. Once a-day or twice a day, or as often as may be, they saw a look of impatience, or heard a fretful word, or were put aside from their purposes by a complaint of annoyance; and though they neither quarrelled with their cousin, nor directly opposed her, twenty times a-day they hurt her feelings by sideway glances, broad hints, playful annoyances, and unnecessary trials of her temper; to amuse themselves, or, as they were pleased to say, to cure her of being so touchy. Emily and Susan thought their cousin had a selfish heart, considering only her own inconvenience, putting everybody out of the way because she was sick. They did not see how often Mabel's eyes
filled with tears at their remarks, when no words escaped her; how often she suffered acute pain from heat, or cold, or noise, because she would not cross their inclinations; how often, while they were playfully trying to excite her temper, her eyes were uplifted to Heaven for help to restrain it.
Emily and Susan never suspected that their own hearts were selfish, when in the enjoyment of such abundant blessings, health, strength and spirits ; limbs that had never ached, and hearts that had never known a care; they thought it not worth while to spare the feelings or study the convenience of a poor child of sorrow, blighted and withered
at the first dawn of life, with nothing to support her since, and sweeten her existence now, but the love of God, and the kindness of those about her. The being of whose temper they were so impatient, and whose religion they in consequence presumed to doubt, with her small powers and enfeebled frame, conferred more benefits on humanity in one month than they in all their years. God had more thanks for her afflictions than ever he had had for their prosperity: and she, with every thing mental and physical to contend against, had made more sacrifices, and put more constraint upon herself for their pleasure, than they, with every thing at command, had done for hers.
Leaving these, my particular friends, to speak to others, who I hope may be as much so, though I do not know it—let me add, that if it be our duty, as it is, to subdue as much as possible and control our natural defects of temper, it is not less—nay, it is far more—the duty of the young, the light-hearted, and the happy, to bear with and excuse, and by all means to spare, the defects of temper they perceive in others. Spoiled, perhaps, by an education not of their own choosing ; soured, perhaps, by injuries not of their deserving; or subjected by the hand of Heaven to some organic disease, of which mind as well as body is the victim ; little does the lively, healthful spirit know what these may suffer, from the restless humour that consumes their peace, from the disease that causes it, from the influence of external things upon their frame, and above all, from a consciousness of the wrong they are doing! Did we know what it is, after nights of sleeplessness, to arise to some charge to which, perhaps, our spirits are unequal; to find every nerve affected by the vapours of the morning ; to feel every word that is
spoken jar upon our senses as upon some fretted sore; to go wearily, though willingly, through the day's work, struggling in vain against the evil humours that assail us ; and to lie down at night, defeated, and ashamed, and self-reproached, for the day's impatience and ill-humour; we should learn a lesson, which as yet perhaps we know not; and, it may be, more than one: for while we learned forbearance, and indulgence, and compassion, we should not unlikely learn more gratitude to Heaven than we ever have yet felt; and instead of taking merit to ourselves for what was nature's gift, be confounded and ashamed that we have used it so selfishly, and so thoughtlessly possessed it.
Then crown'd again, their golden harps they took,
But a month ago, I was invited to pass a fortnight at the house of an old and valued friend of my mother's, whom I had never seen. Her letters, however, breathed the tone of true piety; and as I was informed she had, though early left a widow, brought up a son and daughters in an exemplary manner, I had very little doubt but that my visit would prove very satisfactory. When I arrived at the pleasant mansion of Mrs. Rivers, I found only the female part of the family at home. I was welcomed by her and her daughters with real cordiality; I was much pleased with the lady of the house, and I thought the young ladies elegant and amiable. In the time which elapsed before dinner, they were busily engaged in working for the poor; and I found by their conversation, that they were deeply interested for the spiritual as well as temporal welfare of their poor dependents. I also discovered that they were well informed and accomplished; not by their quoting all the books they could remember, or by their