« PreviousContinue »
TOWN AND COUNTRY CLERGYMEN.
the very top
There are few who have reached it a high honour to have been per. their grand climacteric without ha- mitted to appear in his presence. ving renounced many of their early Still more uncertain are our schemes opinions, and viewed men and things for promoting the happiness of our in a very different light from that posterity; the father starves himself, in which they appeared to the ju- that his son may die of a surfeit; venile mind; and there are perhaps the mother destroys her daughter's still fewer, at that stage of life, who, health by empirical cosmetics, to imwere it in their power to retrace their prove her beauty ;-Mary Queen of steps, would pursue exactly the same Scots was left heiress to a crown track on the journey. But that know which conducted her to the scaffold; ledge which we derive from expe- -the Earl of Chesterfield wrote four rience comes generally too late to be large volumes for the instruction of applied to any efficient purpose ; our his son, whom the fond father exchoice of a profession, or a business, pected to see the most accomplished has been made, and it is too late tó gentleman of his age, and the dis, change; and our habits have been so appointed parent had the mortificalong formed, that, in the quaint style tion to find him turn out a fool. So of the proverb, they have become true is the couplet of Burns second nature. Although it must The best-laid schemes of mice and men be confessed that too many adopt
Gang aft a-gley. no plan, but pass recklessly forward, or rather allow themselves to be im These reflections occurred to me, pelled by their passions, which are when glancing over the obituary of often excited by trivial circumstan. an old Magazine, in which the death ces; yet it must also be admitted, of my friend, the Reverend Andrew that specious theories for the regu. Baxter, was recorded. Of this man lation of our conduct, however plau. I think myself warranted in saying, sible they may appear, and however that whatever might be his foibles, obstinately they may be maintained, they were the errors of the head, often fail in producing the expected rather than of the heart. Andrew result. The effeminate slave of Plea, had, from his earliest years, a most sure, and the mad votary of Ambi- insatiable thirst for learning; he tion, often find the paths which they was an excellent classic at twelve, tread lead to objects very different and went to College in his fifteenth froin those which were anticipated. year, where he pursued his studies Mark Antony, in the arms of Cleo with unremitted assiduity, and al. patra, thought not of suicide, after most unrivalled success. Early in being betrayed and deserted by those the first session he formed an acin whom he had confided. Did quaintance with Francis Halliday, Charles V., when dictating to the a student, also in his noviciate. As Sovereigns of Europe, calculate upon both were intended for the church, closing life by counting his beads in there was much similarity in their a cloister ? Buonaparte, when lead. studies; Francis was at least two ing five hundred thousand warriors years older than Andrew, and of into Russia, never imagined that he course had reflected more upon his was pursuing the direct road to an future progress in life. Both, like insulated rock in the Indian Ocean, race-horses nearly matched, pressed where he was to be doomed to writhe hard on each other in their progresunder the petty insults and caprice sive studies; but they were generous of a satellite of power, who, a short rivals, influenced by no passion less while before, would have reckoned dignified than a laudable emulation.
Yet although both seemed to pur- Andrew, although most fully consue the same path, the objects they vinced that man was formed by Nahad in view were essentially differe ture for some particular study or ent. Andrew courted Knowledge, be pursuit, knew no better way of discause he sincerely loved her; Franeis covering her intentions, than by prized Learning, only as the ladder waiting till they developed themby which he might climb to wealth selves, not by bumps on the pericraand honour in the world. Still, with nium, but by the slow progress of these incongruities in their disposi- youth displaying a liking and decitions, a growing intimacy took place sive partiality for some one particular between them; they visited each pursuit. From this doctrine Francis other during the vacation, and at differed in toto; for he maintained, the commencement of next Session that unless when some of the physitook lodgings together.
organs were defective, there were Their professional studies were very few instances where Nature had now less fatiguing, and they had not imparted powers, requiring only more leisure for excursions in the persevering application, to attain a regions of fancy, or in disputing with proficiency, even arrive at excellence, each other, for which they had an in any art or science. He affirmed, ample field; as they not only dif- in the most unqualified manner, that fered from each other on many to- for any thing that Nature had to do pics, but on some subjects held opic in the business, Shakespeare and nions diametrically opposite. For Newton might have changed places, instance, Andrew held the Latin that Wolfe might have compiled adage of poëta nascitur non fit, in its Johnson's Dictionary, and the Leximost unlimited sense, considering it cographer triumphed at Quebec. as of universal application. Had These opposite opinions led to many the system of Gall and Spurzheim a long argument, but never produ. been then broached, he would have ced conviction ; for Andrew would been among the first proselytes, and exclaim with Pope, would have beat the Baronet and the Lecturer hollow, both with ar
One science only will one genius fit ; guments and illustrations; although
So vast is art, so narrow human wit; the system has so direct á tendency and would then add, that we might to materialism, that he would have as well plant the weeping willow on found some difficulty in reconciling the highest ridge of Arthur's Seat, it to the general orthodoxy of his and the English oak in the middle creed. But amidst his abstract spe- of the moss of Kincardine, as do culations, it never occurred to him, violence to Nature, by attempting to that genius could be made palpable, make a philosopher of him whom she and the fingers could decide on the had destined for a hero, and vice properties of the mind ; but one versâ. little circumstance seems to have To this Francis replied, that poetry escaped the observation of Phreno- was not proof, and similes were sologists, although known to every old phistical arguments; yet to answer woman in the country, namely, that him in his own way, it was not long a child's head is very often rubbed ago since that exotic and beautiful and pressed, till it assumes another tree, the larch, was reared in a greenshape; this is particularly the case house, being imagined too delicate for with a hollow which runs across the our climate; but we now find it in crown, often very large in young rich luxuriance on the hill and in children ; and where it continues so the vale, as if it were indigenous to through life, it is generally affirmed the soil; and he closed his argument that the arch of wisdom has been thus, that what we reckoned innate neglected in infancy; this is surely propensity in boys, was nothing more doing violence to Nature; and how than the effect of early and accidenshall the disciples of Spurzheim tal associations; as boys in seaporte judge whether she or the nurse has towns often become sailors, while filled up the worse than barren ca. those in the interior of the country vities in the skull? But this is di- never think of it. gressing; let me return.
To this Andrew. would reply, that Pope “lisped in numbers;" and that that such a love was the fever of the Sir Richard Arkwright, originally a brain, the child of Fancy nursed by barber, even after his marriage, Folly; and that the chances were an would leave a gentleman in the suds, hundred to one, that a union, foundlay down his razor, and draw dia- ed on such a visionary basis, would grams and wheels with chalk on the never produce domestic happiness. pannels of his shaving-shop, till his That, in as far as he was capable of wife, concluding that he was going judging, every love, or liking, not out of his senses, and taking counsel sanctioned by prudence, ought to be with her next-door neighbour, a pru. considered as a disease, and cured as dent, pains-taking tailor, he, like the speedily as possible. That if the seat curate with Don Quixote, advised of Wisdom were allowed to be in the her to take away the cause, and the head, and that of Feeling in the effect would cease. In compliance heart, the qualities which might with this sage advice, all the barber's attract a lover were often very difwheels and models were, one morn- ferent from those which would coning before he got up, blazing in a tinue to please a husband. Courtbonfire, when, instead of losing time ship might be an affair of feeling ; in scolding or beating
his rib, he pa- but in marriage, the judgment and tiently and perseveringly set to work common sense should always be contill the whole were replaced. These, sulted. Human life, not being an and many other instances of the elysium of uninterrupted felicity, but triumphs of genius, were urged by a shifting scene of cares and rational Andrew, who concluded by affirme enjoyments, woman was not to be ing, that, should he ever have a son, considered as a toy, to smile, fondle, he would allow him to make his own and talk sentimental nonsense, but choice of the path he was to follow to perform the more important duties through life. Francis, with equal of a prudent housewife and careful information, and not less obstinacy, mother. Hence, marriage was an act adhered to his former opinion; and which required cool and cautious dedeclared his fixed resolve, that should liberation ; for which reason, a pruhe ever be a father, he would deter- dent man would avoid falling in love, mine what business his son should as he would shun the contagion of an follow while the child was in lead- infectious fever. He who resolved to ing-strings, and make him pursue marry, would look around him for a that course of education best adapt- woman of plain common sense, of a ed to qualify him for his destined good, or at least respectable family; employment
and although fortune was not to be Their opinions about love and considered as a sine qua non, yet it marriage were not less opposed to should form a very desirable appeneach other ; Andrew affirmed, that dage. A match thus founded would love was wholly an affair of the produce esteem, the only soil in heart; that there was a delicacy and which that rational love could spring purity in a first love that no sub- the fruit of which was domestic hapo sequent passion could inspire; and piness. that in marriage, every consideration Andrew heard all this with indif. about future happiness, founded on ference, bordering on contempt ; for the cold, calculating principles of his imagination was soaring in airy what was often named prudence, was dreams, as far elevated above the reno other than mean, selfish cunning, gion of common sense as the other unworthy of the name of love, and was sunk below the true dignity of never found a place in the heart man, in the mire of grovelling selfglowing with that passion in its ge- ishness. nuine and spotless purity. In a word, During the last session that Anthe heart and feelings only should be drew attended college, he boarded in consulted : if worldly wisdom were a family consisting of a widow and allowed to interfere, it operated like her daughter. The mother had a a blighting frost, or a worm in the small annuity, her daughter was a rose, withering the bud before it had milliner and fashionable dress-maker; expanded into blossom. Opposed to and, as an addition to their income, this romantic theory, Francis argued, they received one or two respectable
boarders. Miss Lindsay had received he had visited Miss Lindsay every & fashionable education, and Nature year, and she continued to fan the had endowed her with a handsome flame, but prudently avoided coma stature and fine face: she sung with ing under any promise to one whose delicate feeling, and played on the future establishment in life was so spinnet with good taste, (piano-fortes precarious. However, the tutor had were not then in fashion.) From the given such complete satisfaction to nature of her business, she had oc his employer, that the incumbent of casion to see several ladies above her a parish of which he had the patronown rank, and caught many of their age dying, the tutor received a preamiable weaknesses, with a tolerable sentation to the kirk. No sooner was share of sentimental affectation, he settled, than, “ faithful to his which rendered her still more attrac- former fires,” the now Reyerend An. tive in the eyes of Andrew, whose drew Baxter flew on the wings of imagination had always invested a love, and again, with respectful tenwoman worthy of being beloved derness, but greater confidence, presswith a fascinating delicacy and re- ed his suit. To reward such wellfined sensibility, resembling what tried and unshaken constancy, Miss Miss Lindsay now exhibited ; and Lindsay, now, with delicate sensibie before the close of the session he lity, was deeply in love. It was the first Smild, sigh'd, and blush'd, as willing to attack, and his mind was so suscep
be woo'd ; tible, that it tingled in every vein. And in a languid whisper breathed conHis enthusiasm shed around it a halo of such imaginary purity and trans I saw the happy couple, as they porting ecstacy, that his heart was visited at my father's during the intoxicated with an ideal and volup- honey-moon. He had a manly and tuous draught of his own creation. graceful air; she was slender, but Although his every look and action beautifully elegant in form and staplainly indicated the state of his ture, with a mild but melting lustre heart, he had not ventured to whise in her eye, and a blush of winning per the tender tale ; for he held her softness suffusing her cheek; and virgin delicacy in such esteem, or they seemed a couple mutually love rather such idolatrous adoration, that ing and beloved. he shrunk from the disclosure. But Fortune, although a little more Miss Lindsay was not blind, nor was tardy in conferring her favours, had her heart invulnerable; it also-'was not forgotten Halliday, who, in about wounded, although not so deeply; a year after the settlement of his and it depended on contingencies friend, obtained a crown presentawhether the wound admitted of cure. tion to a charge in a country town However, she contrived to give An- within a few miles of the manse ocdrew a fair opportunity, and soon cupied by his former College chum. led bim to an explicit declaration of From what has been already stated of his sentiments, to which she replied Francis, it will not be supposed that with fascinating blushes and maid- his heart was very susceptible of the enly modesty, which gave new viru- tender passion ; indeed, he was too lence to the poison, and, without prudent to entangle himself in the kindling hope, had no tendency to toils of Love. However, now that nurse despair. It was only when he he was sure of a competency for life, was about to leave town, that, as he it was necessary to have a housekeepfondly, pressed her trembling hand, er, and he believed no one would she acknowledged a respect for him, act so faithfully as one who had an which might probably in time ripen interest in the economy and prospeinto a softer and more delicate feel. rity of his establishment, and that ing, but she was inclined to keep must be a wife. But as it was proboth her heart and hand disengaged bable that this appendage to his houseas long as possible.
hold would also bring the addition Soon after being licensed, Andrew of other claimants on their protection, was engaged as tutor in a gentle. he deemed it prudent, if possible, to man's family, where he continued obtain a partner whose fortune, added three years. Faithful to his first love, to his stipend, might enable them to
make a better provision for their pro- each other, all of turf, in which were geny. After having been repulsed interspersed snow-drops, crocuses, in his addresses to the daughter of a daisies, and other flowers. The gará country squire, and next thing to jilt- den was separated from the house by ed by the rich banker's widow, who, a clean paved court, and bounded by after some deliberation, preferred a low wall, decorated with a light and cheerful scarlet to gloomy black, he neat wooden railing. The parson had at last wooed, and won the heart of observed our approach, and, accord. a farmer's daughter, with a fortune ing to the good old fashion of the of one thousand pounds.
times, which indicated a hearty wel. New pursuits led me from that come, met us on our egress from the quarter of the country, to which I garden. After exchanging complireturned after an absence of seven ments, I had time to observe a cherry. years. Soon after my arrival, I was tree spread out on the front-wall of invited, along with my father's fa- the house ; the window of the mi. mily, to dine at the manse with Mr nister's study, as I could perceive Baxter. "I am glad of this invita- from the number of books and a tion,” said I ;“ Mrs Baxter was, and small portable desk on the table, was still must be, a fine woman; her fie richly festooned on the outside with gure was elegantly graceful, and her woodbine and roses ; a box of mig. face the index of a meek and cheer- nionette occupied the outer sill, and ful mind.” My mother smiled, but a swallow's nest was stuck in the made no reply. The manse was upper corner. situate near the bottom of a sloping We were now conducted to the bank, the garden in front stretched drawing-room, and I was introduced to the margin of a rivulet, clear as to Mrs Baxter. I do not know that rock crystal, which murmured on the I ever felt equal surprise on so trimossy rocks in a narrow glen; the vial an occasion; I have already exstream was overshaded by shrubs, pressed what she appeared to me under which the vernal primrose when I last saw her, but her face and bloomed, while the blushing wild form were now so metamorphosed, rose on the bank, and the pendulous that I could scarcely persuade myself fox-glove on the cliffs, gave beauty to that it was the same person before the summer; while finches, thrushes, me. I like to see a matron em-bonand blackbirds, with their melody, point, but Mrs Baxter was corpuwaked the echoes around. We ap- lent and unwieldy; when she sat proached the manse by a little gate, down, the sopha might be said to which opened on the rivulet; our groan with her weight; the rose path leading through the garden, on which, seven years ago, bloomed more each side of which was a rustic are sweetly on her cheek, from the delibour, covered with honeysuckle, eg- cate whiteness with which it was lantine, and clematis, so that, from surrounded, had now not only astheir situation, either sun or shade sumed a deeper and less pleasing tint, could be enjoyed. Across the bottom but had banished the lily from every of the garden run a smooth and part of her face and neck that was closely-shorn velvet walk, which ex- visible; not merely her complexion, hibited evident marks that it was the but also her features were changed, goodman's retreat, both for exercise and neither for the better; her voice and contemplation ; it was bounded was also strangely disagreeable, for on the outside by a high and imper. by affecting a languid sensibility, she vious hedge of evergreen holly, and endeavoured to modulate her voice on the other with a variety of shrubs accordingly, and it seemed to me as and flowers; from this, a trim gravel an unnatural but abortive effort of walk, bordered with boxwood, led to ventriloquism. Four children were a circular green in the middle of the now introduced ; the eldest a boy, I garden, in the centre of which stood was told, in his seventh year ; the å sun-dial constructed by the par- youngest not as many months, and in son, with this motto, Tempus cılax the nurse's arms; for Mr Baxter said rerum; it stood on a narrow mound, her health had become so delicate, raised to a considerable height, and that she had nursed only her first surrounded by three terraces above child. When the infant began to