« НазадПродовжити »
after the death of her mother, and addressed to a cousin, a dear friend of Elinor's who was then on the point of being married to Mr. Beaumont, of . Staffordshire, and had invited Elinor to assist at her nuptials. I will transcribe it with minute fidelity.
ELINOR CLARE TO MARIA LESLIE.
Widford, July the -, 17—. HEALTH, Innocence, and Beauty, shall be thy bridemaids, my sweet cousin,. I have no heart to undertake the office. Alas! what have I to do in the house of feasting?
Maria ! I fear lest my griefs should prove obtrusive. Yet bear with me a little I have recovered already a share of my former spirits.
I fear more for Allan than myself. The loss of two such parents, within so short an interval, bears very heavy on him. The boy hangs about me from morning till night. He is perpetually forcing a smile into his poor pale cheeks--you know the sweetness of his smile, Maria.
· To-day, after dinner, when he took his glass of wine in his hand, he burst into tears, and would not, or could not then, tell me the reason-afterwards he told me he had been used to drink Mamma's
health after dinner, and that came into his head and
made him cry." I feel the claims the boy has upon • me-I perceive that I am living to some end—and the thought supports me.
Already I have attained to a state of complacent feelings-my mother's lessons were not thrown away upon her Elinor.
In the visions of last night her spirit seemed to stand at my bed-side—a light, as of noon day, shone upon the room-she opened my curtainsshe smiled upon me with the same placid smile as in her life-time. I felt no fear. “Elinor,” she said, “for my sake take care of young Allan,”—and I awoke with calm feelings.
Maria ! shall not the meeting of blessed spirits, think you, be something like this ?- I think I could
now behold my mother without dread—I would ask pardon of her for all my past omissions of duty, for all the little asperities in my temper, which have so often grieved her gentle spirit when living. Maria ! I think she would not turn
from me. Oftentimes a feeling, more vivid than memory, brings her before me-I see her sit in her old elbow chair,her arms folded upon her lap-a tear upon her cheek, that seems to upbraid her unkind daughter for some inattention—I wipe it away and kiss her honoured lips.
Maria! when I have been fancying all this, Allan will come in, with his poor eyes red with weeping, and, taking me by the hand, destroy the vision in a moment.
I am prating to you, my sweet cousin, but it is the prattle of the heart which Maria loves. Besides, whom have I to talk to of these things but you, you who have been my counsellor in times past, my companion, and sweet familiar friend. Bear with
a little-I mourn the “ cherishers of my infancy."
I sometimes count it a blessing, that my father did not prove the survivor. You know something of his story. You know there was a foul tale current-it was the busy malice of that bad man, S-, which helped to spread it abroad-you will recollect the active good nature of our friends Wand T-; what pains they took to undeceive people--with the better sort their kind labours prevailed; but there was still a party who shut their ears. You know the issue of it. My father's great spirit bore up against it for some time-my father never was a bad man
-but that spirit was broken at the last—and the greatly injured man was forced to leave his old paternal dwelling in Staffordshire--for the neighbours had begun to
point at him.-Maria! I have seen them point at him, and have been ready to drop.
In this part of the country where the slander had not reached, he sought a retreat-and he found a still more grateful asylum in the daily solicitudes of the best of wives.
“ An enemy hath done this,” I have heard him say—and at such times my mother would speak to him so soothingly of forgiveness, and long-suffering, and the bearing of injuries with patience; would heal all his wounds with so gentle a touch ;—I have seen the old man weep like a child.
The gloom that beset his mind, at times betrayed him into scepticism--he has doubted if there be a Providence! I have heard him say, “God has built a brave world, but methinks he has left his creatures to bustle in it how they may.”
At such times he could not endure to hear my mother talk in a religious strain. He would say, - Woman, have done—you confound, you perplex me, when you talk of these matters, and for one day at least unfit me for the business of life.
I have seen her look at him-O GOD, Maria! such a look ! it plainly spake that she was willing to have shared her precious hope with the partner of her earthly cares--but she found a repulse
Deprived of such a wife, think you the old man could have long endured his existence? or what consolation would his wretched daughter have had to offer him, but silent and imbecile tears?
My sweet cousin, you will think me tediousand I am so—but it does me good to talk these matters over. And do not you be alarmed for me—my sorrows are subsiding into a deep and sweet resignation. I shall soon be sufficiently composed, I know it, to participate in my friend's happiness.
Let me call her, while yet I may, my own Maria Leslie! Methinks I shall not like you by any other name.
Beaumont! Maria Beaumont! it hath a strange sound with it, I shall never be reconciled to this name—but do not you fear-Maria Leslie shall plead with me for Maria Beaumont.
And now, my sweet Friend,
I find in my collection several letters, written soon after the date of the preceding, and addressed all of them to Maria Beaumont.--I am tempted to make some short extracts from these- my tale will