« PredošláPokračovať »
and she was driven as much by necessity as inclination, to pour forth her sorrows to her young son. However, it must be confessed, she dwelt quite as pathetically on the loss of her fine house and fine furniture, fine horses and fine carriages, as on the loss of that husband to whom she was indebted for all her finery. She was a weak woman—too highly elated in prosperity, too easily depressed by adversity-not considering that both are situations of trial; that there is but one path which leads to eternal life, and so we gain it, the consideration is trivial, whether it be beneath the garish sunbeams of the one, or groping our tearful way through the dark shadows of the other. But lessons of true humility, or useful exertion, were never taught by the precepts, or examples, of Mrs. Wilson; and Walter, till her death, which occurred when he was about fifteen, had done little, save repine at the cruelty of fortune, or form wild schemes of future success and grandeur, which neither his temperament, nor habits, seemed in the least calculated to realize. He was proud, passionate, and visionary, and though not idle, a very reluctant boy, whenever manual labor was included in his tasks. These were the dark shades of his character. Now for the sunny side ; and that I like to portray far the best. His feelings were just like his countenance,
-open, ingenuous, noble; his heart quick as the flash of his dark eye, in the cause of the oppressed ; and tender as the smile that played on his lip, while gazing on the faces of those
he loved. And he possessed that surest pledge of virtue in the dependant, a grateful mind; joined with a sense of honor so scrupulous, that he would have died rather than betrayed a trust reposed in him, or violated a promise voluntarily given. It was on the right direction of these qualities, that his grandfather, a cautious, shrewd old citizen, who had fought in the battles of the revolution, and assisted in the formation of more than one constitution designed for the government of freemen, built his hopes of the future success of the destitute orphan. But how to manage him judiciously was the question. He had never been subjected to much restraint, and his spirit would spurn at the contumely and wrongs the poor are often exposed to receive from the rich. He was naturally romantic, cad had not been inured to steady exertion, and would probably be discouraged if a life of labor was proposed as the only means by which greatness might be achieved. His grandfather had a friend, an old-fashioned farmer like himself, and moreover rich and without sons, who offered to take the boy. It was an excellent place, if plenty of food, and plenty of work, good instruction, and pious examples, are considered of primary importance in the education of the young. The grandfather thought them so.—Walter was not so easily satisfied ; but, finally, gratitude to his relative, who had so long supported him, made him yield to his wishes, and consent to dwell with Mr. Ezekiel Clark, for the space of three years. If in that time his objections to the occupation of agriculture should not be removed, his grandfather promised to aid him to prepare himself for something more consonant to his wishes. It is impossible, in this limited sketch, to analyze the motives which induced the old gentleman thus to dispose of Walter, whom he loved as tenderly as he ever did one of his own sons. No doubt the reader, if a young lady, thinks his destination very vulgar—wonders why he was not sent to college, or at least, placed behind some counter ; and, all interest in the hero at an end, prepares to turn to some more amusing article. If she does, she will lose the description of as fair a girl as herself, besides one or two love scenes.
It was about seven o'clock in the evening of the last day of November, 1803, that the family of Mr. Ezekiel Clark was summoned to the sitting room to attend family duties. This was two hours earlier than the usual season for the evening devotions, but all knew the reason of the call, and assembled without delay. There, in an oldfashioned armed chair, before a fire that seemed calculated for the meridian of Lapland, sat Mr. Ezekiel Clark; at his right hand stood a three legged table, on which lay the “big ha' Bible," well worn, and beside it, a small, neat edition of the holy scriptures, apparently
Mr. Clark was advanced in years, sixty or upwards, a tall, spare, yet vigorous looking man, and in his youth, probably handsome; but now his face was marked with the deep lines of care and sorrow, while his thick, overhanging eyebrows, gave an austere cast to his countenance, which was much increased by his habitual gravity. With her chair nestled close to his side, and her hand reclining on his knee, sat his daughter, his only one, and a fairer girl could not be found in all the country.
I dislike full length descriptions of beauty. Who does not know that a handsome woman must have a fair complexion, bright eyes, ruby lips, and all the et cætera of loveliness, requisite to take captive the affections of lordly man? These choice gifts had been showered upon the fair Fanny—(that was her name ; had she ever attended a boarding school, it would probably have been novelized into Frances ; but the advantages of a fashionable education she never had enjoyed, and so I shall call her as her father always called her-Fanny ;) with a prodigality that marked her for a favorite of nature ; yet I cannot be positive of the color of her hair, whether it was black, brown, or chestnut.
The qualities of her mind and temper demand more particular scrutiny. She was the youngest of eight children that a beloved wife had borne to Mr. Clark. The others all died young ; and as these human blossoms, one by one, were withered, the heart of the mother sunk beneath her grief. She died of a lingering consumption, and the little Fanny, then but five years old, only remained to console her father. It might naturally be supposed she would be much indulged—but it was not
Mr. Clark was a genuine descendant of the pilgrims, pious even to enthusiasm, and
pursuing what he deemed the path of duty, with a resolution that savored of sternness. Strict in family duties, and family government, even to rigidness, he would have thought it an infringement of the decalogue, to have indulged with his child in that playful hilarity which good people now deem so innocent and laudable. But Fanny loved her father with a reverence so deep, so grateful, that all his commands were pleasant. She even watched to anticipate his wishes, and although, had she followed the impulses of her own happy and buoyant heart, she would have sung and danced from morning till night; yet whenever she caught her father's voice, hers sunk to soft murmurs ; and when she heard his step, her own was demure as a quaker's. Yet it was not that he did not love her sweet tones ; they thrilled every fibre of his heart, and often charmed him even to tears '—but he did not dare indulge his tender and delighted feelings, he so feared he should idolize her ; he so trembled lest he should lose her. He was like the miser who can only count his gold in secret, lest some one beholding his treasure, should rob him of the precious deposit. He always prayed for her, but he never caressed her ; even when she drew her chair so close to his, and looked
in his face with such confiding fondness, he did not smile upon her. But she knew he loved her, and to retain and merit his affection, was her study and pride. O, she was a sweet girl ! as gay as a swallow, yet gentle as a dove-persevering, and yet