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LETTER XVI. From the Laily, after marriage, to her Cousin, unmarried.
Dear Cousin, I have now changed my name, and, instead of liberty, must subscribe wife. What an awkward expression, say soine! how pleasing, say others! but let that be as it inay, I have been married to my dear Charles these three months, and I can freely acknowledge that I never knew happiness till now. To have a real friend to whom I can communicate my secrets, and who, on all occasions, is ready to sympathise with me, is what I never before experienced. All these benefits, my dear cousin, I have met with in my beloved husband. His principal care seems to be, to do every thing possible to please me; and is there not something called duty incuinbent on me? perhaps you will laugh at the word duty, and say that it imports something like slavery; but nothing is more false; for even the life of a servant is as pleasant as any other, when he obeys from motives of love instead of fear. For my own part, my dear, I cannot say that I am unwilling to be obedient, and yet I am not commanded to be so by my husband. You have often spoken contemptuously of the marriage state, and I believe your reasons were, that inost of those whom
you knew were unhappy : but that is an erroneous way of judging. It was designed by the Almighty, that men and women should live together in a state of society, that they should become mutual helps to each other; and if they are blessed with children, to assist each other in giving thein a virtuous education. Let me therefore beg that my dear cousin will no longer despise that state for which she was designed, and which is calculated to make her happy. But then, my dear, there are two sorts of mea you must studiously avoid, I inean misers and rukes. The first will take every opportunity of abridging your necessary expenses, and the second will leave you nothing for a subsistence. The first, by his penuriousness, will cause you to suffer froin imaginary wants: the second, by his prodigality, will make you a real beggar. But your own good sense will point out the propriety of what i have mentioned. Let me beg that you will come and spend a few weeks with us; and if you have any taste for rural and domestic life, i doubt not but you will be pleased.
I am your affectionate cousin.
From Miss Middleton to Miss Pemberton, giving her the
melancholy account of her Sister's death. Dear Miss Pemberton, Just as I was setting out for Worcestershire, in order to follow my sister, who, you know, has been some time there, I received a letter from my aunt, acquainting me that she was taken ill last Friday, and died in two days after. Yes, that lately so much admired, that splendid beauty, is now reduced to a cold lump of clay; for ever closed are those once sparkling eyes; hushed is that voice that gave so much delight; those limbs which art had ransacked to adorn, have now no other covering than a simple shroud, and in a few days will be confined within the narrow compass of a tomb. Ah, what is life! what all the gaudy pride of youth, of pomp, of grandeur! what the vain adoration of a fattering world! Delusive pleasures, Aeeting nothings, how unworthy are you of the attention of a reasonable being !-- You know the gay manner in which we have always lived, and will, no doubt, be surprised to find expressions of this kind fall from my pen, but, my dear Pemberton, hitherto iny life has been a dream; but I am now, thank heaven, awake. My sister's fate has aroused me from my lethargy of mind, made me see the ends for which I was created, and reflect that there is no time to be lost for their accomplishinent. Who can assure me, that in an hour, a moment, I may not be as she is? And if so, oh, how untit, how unprepared to meet my audit at the great tribunal! In what a strange stupidity have I passed fourteen or fifteen years! (for those of iny childhood are not to be reckoned). I always knew that death was the portion of mortality, yet never took the least care to arm against the terrors of it. Whenever I went a little journey I provided myself with all things necessary; yet, have I got nothing ready for that long last voyage, I must one day take into another world. What an infatuation to be anxious for the minutest requisites for ease and pleasure, in a dwelling where I proposed to stay a few weeks, or months perhaps, yet wholly regardless of what was wanting to my felicity in an eternal state of being! Reason, just kindled, shudders at the recollection of that endless train of follies I have been guilty of. Well might the poor Beriothia feel all their force; vain, gay, unthinking as myself, I tremble at the bare imagination of
those ideas which her last moments must inspire; for I now faithfully believe, with Mr. Waller, thai,
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,
Who stand upon the threshold of the new. Whether it was the suddenness of her fate, or a letter she wrote to me not two hours before her death, I know not, that has made the alteration in me; but this I am certain, that I can never enough acknowledge the goodoess of that Divine Power, without whose assistance it could not have been brought about.
· I shall inake no apology for this melancholy epistle, be. cause I am very sensible, that whatever concern you may feel for my sister, it will be greatly alleviated by finding I am become at last a reasonable creature. I enclose you the letter she sent, to the end you may judge with what kind of sentiments she left this world. It seems evident she felt much contrition for the past ; let us hope that her application to divine mercy was not too late. I am, dear miss, Your most afflicted humble servant,
Enclosed in the foregoing. Miss Middleton's Letter to her Sister, written a fere hours
before her death. My dear Sister, Before this can possibly reach you, the unchanging fiat will be passed upon me, and I shall be either happy or miserable for ever. None about me pretend to flatter me with the hopes of seeing another morning. Short space to accomplish the mighty work of eternal salvation! Yet I cannot leave the world without admonishing, without conjuring you to be more early in preparing for that dreadful hour, you are sure not to escape, and know not how shortly it may arrive. We have had the saine sort of education, have lived in the same manner; and though accounted very like, have resembled each other more in our follies than our faces. Oh, what a waste of time have we not both been guilty of! To dress well has been our study; parade, equipage, and admiration, our ambition; pleasure our avocation, and the mode our god! How often, alas, have I faned in idle chat, that sacred name by whose inerits alone I hope to be forgiven! How often bave I sat and heard his
miracles and sufferings ridiculed by the false wits of the age, without feeling the least emotion at the blasphemy! Nay, how often have I myself, because I heard others do so, called in question that futurity I now go to prove, and am already convinced of! One moment, methinks, I see the blissful seats of paradise unveiled; I hear ten thousand myriads of myriads of celestial forms tuning their golden harps to songs of praise, to the unutterable name. The next a scene all black and gloomy, spreads itself before me, whence issue nought but sobs, and groans, and horrid shrieks. My fluctuating imagination varies the prospect, and involves me in a sad uncertainty of my eternal doom. On one hand beckoning angels sinile upon me, while on the other, the furies stand prepared to seize my fleeting soul. Methinks I dare not hope, nor will the Rev. Dr. G-suffer me to despair; he comforts me with the promises in Holy Writ, which, to my shame, I was unacquainted with before; but now I feel thein balın to my tormented conscience. Dear, dear sister, I must bid you eternally adieu! I have discharged my duty in giving you this warning. Oh, may my death, which you will shortly hear of, give it that weight I wish and pray for! you are the last object of my earthly cares. I have now done with all below, shall retire into myself, and devote the few moments allowed me, to seek that penitence, without which, even the gracious promises of the Gospel will be unavailing. I die,
Your sincere friend,
Mrs. Rowe to the Countess of Hertford. Madam, When I begin a friendship, it is for immortality. This confession, I own, is enough to put you in sone terror that you are never like to drop my conversation in this world, or the next; but I hope I shall improve in the realms of light, and get a new set of thoughts to entertain you with at your arrival there, which, for the public interest, I wish may be long after I am sleeping in the dust; and perhaps mine will be the first joyful spirit that will welcome you to the immaterial coasts, and entertain you with one of the softest songs of paradise at your arrival. Mr. Rollie would
think these all great chimeras and gay visions; but how much more so are all the charming scenes on earth?
As the fantastic images of night,
And vain designs the laughing skies deride. • You will think, Madam, I am resolved you shall remember your latter end, whoever forgets it. I suppose you will expect the next picture I send you will be Time, with a scythe and an hour-glass; but really the saine mementos of mortality are necessary to people like you in the height of greatness, and the full bloom of youth and beauty. If I go on, you will think me in the height of the vapours, and the persection of the spleen; but in all the variety of my temper, I ain Your Ladyship’s most humble servant,
Eliz. Rowe. I admire the verses you enclosed, and am surprised at the author.
From Mrs. Rowe to the Countess of Hertford.
(Written the day before her death.) Madam, This is the last letter you will ever receive from me; the last assurance I shall give you, on earth, of a sincere and stedfast friendship; but when we meet again, I hope it will be in the heights of inmortal love and ecstasy. Mine perhaps may be the glad spirit to congratulate you on your safe arrival to the happy shores. Heaven can witness how siacere my concern for your happiness is ; thither I have sent my ardent wishes that you may be secured from the flattering delusions of the world ; and, after your pious example bas been a long blessing to mankind, may calmly resign your breath, and enter the confines of unmolested joy. I am now taking my farewell of you here, but it is a short adieu, with full persuasion that we shall soon meet again. But, oh, in what elevation of happiness! In what enlargement of mind, and what perfection of every faculty! What transporting reflections shall we make on the advantages of which we shall be eternally possessed! To him that loved us, and washed us in his blood, shall we ascribe immortal glory, dominion, and praise for ever ; this is all my salva tion, and my hope. That name in whom the Gentiles