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MY FRIEND'S MANUSCRIPT.

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BY MRS. SEDGWICK, AUTHOR OF 'EDUCATION OF YOUNG LADIES,' ETC.

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STRANGE that all who dwell in the Temple of Nature should not be worshippers of Nature's God! Strange that all who live in this beautiful world, should not remember that they are treading His courts, and be mindful to have clean hands and pure hearts.' Such were, I conjectured, the thoughts of my friend, Henry Foster, as I found him one evening, just at sunset, leaning over his gate, and viewing the beautiful landscape which lay spread out before him.

Stanley,' said he, as I approached, - how is it that we all think so little of the mystery of our being, and are so little moved by the idea that we are inhabitants of the Universe ? The child who builds his house of cobs, and digs his mimic wells, and the man for whom thrones are erected, and palaces reared, seem equally wrapped up in their own petty individuality, and occupied with the little scene in which they

We go through our daily rounds of pleasure or business — watch the changes of the seasons we interest ourselves in the concerns of the neighborhood, and now and then extend our observation beyond it — but we are as insensible as the trees themselves to the grand circumstances of our being. Grovelling in the dust, we forget that we are travelers in the skies — that our earth was perhaps one of the morning stars' that 'sang together, when all the sons of God shouted for joy' — that ever since, it has held on its course in company with a heavenly host, sharing the benefit of the wonderful laws which regulate them, and making a part of their glorious community. There is, to my mind,' he added, his fine eye kindling with enthusiasm, ‘something peculiarly grand and touching in the single fact of the mariner's compass pointing always to the North star, which seems to me intended as a proof that there is some invisible union between our world and the rest of nature: 't is like holding a sort of intelligence - a mysterious communion — with its remoter limits.'

He would have proceeded, but he saw a smile on my lips, which checked him for a moment.

* Ah, Stanley, you think me a dunce- a madman !

• You mistake entirely,' I replied : shadows of thoughts like these have often Aitted across my own mind; and when, by the wand of your eloquence, you called them up - embodying and presenting them in clearness before me — I smiled as I should have done at recognising an old acquaintance: we are indeed a dull race.'

• Yes,' replied my friend, “what our Saviour said to the Pharisees, when they wished him to rebuke his disciples for their loud tributes of praise, that if these held their peace, the very stones would cry out,' might be applied to us. We are mute, while every thing in Nature hath a voice, and day unto day uttereth speech. The mountains look forth a meaning, and the winds whisper it, while the woods wave in assent - it is painted on the cl reflected from the bosoms of the streams, breathed from the flowers, and sung by the birds — which is more full of high and holy import than the best thoughts of most of the race of man. What the Arab said when he was asked where he perceived the evidences of a God — that he traced Him by every thing he

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saw, as he traced an animal by its footsteps in the sand — is one of the finest comments upon the book of Nature that was ever made.'

And yet,' I replied, 'though it is thus that the Deity holds intercourse with us, it is a symbolical language he uses, which, though so significant, so beautiful, does not satisfy us like the living voice. There is a hand-writing on the wall of the firmament, as distinctly visible as that which made the knees of Belshazzar smite together; but in constantly beholding it, we forget that it was traced by the finger of God.' • I know it — I have felt what you express

- and have often longed for a more intimate and direct manifestation of the Deity, like that with which He favored the ancient patriarchs; but Moses was obliged to veil his face to the glory which was revealed, and to hide himself when the Lord passed by. Our flesh is the veil to us; and I am inclined to think that God sometimes makes his presence felt as sensibly as our weak nature can bear, and finds means to speak to his children in tones of love or pity, sympathy or reproof, which penetrate their inmost souls.

Just at this period of our conversation, a little child of three years, her face flushed with health and happiness, came running toward us with a bunch of flowers in her hand. •Father,' she exclaimed, do look at these beautiful flowers. I must kiss you for them. I just got them off the bed you made for me.' So saying, she sprang into her father's arms.

He pressed her in a long embrace to his bosom, and seemed a good deal touched.

• It is God, your heavenly Father, that makes the flowers grow, my darling,' he said to her, 'and I only give you the privilege of calling them your own.

*I am sure I think he is very good then,' she replied; “I must be his good little child, and I won't cry because the flowers fade, as little Susan Bacon did.'

She then bounded away again, her father following her with one of those looks which fasten on the object it pursues. When she was quite out of sight, he observed : 'God speaks to me through that child; through her he addresses me in language that sometimes melts my soul within me - sometimes rouses, strengthens, elevates my spirit

. At her birth, I felt that she brought me a message from my Maker — that she was a blessing sent by a Father's hand — that through her, he bade me be mindful of my high calling as an immortal being - as an intelligent creature, to whom the inspiration of the Almighty had given understanding' - whose existence was now so linked with that of others, that there was no assignable limit to my responsibility; and at the same time that I felt a new and oppressive conviction of duty, it was heightened by the encouragement with which it was accompanied. I looked upon my child, and felt that I could make any effort, practice any self-denial, in the cultivation of that virtue which would descend, by rightful inheritance, to her. Since her mother's death, I have of course felt all this more deeply ; I have no longer a divided heart.'

Here his voice failed him — but in the exercise of a self-control, which his excitable and enthusiastic nature rendered peculiarly necessary, he soon recovered himself.

Stanley,' said he, 'pardon me; our conversation has insensibly led

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me to express myself upon subjects to which I do not often allude. But even in our comparatively short acquaintance, I have experienced so much of your sympathy — I have had so much familiar, agreeable intercourse with you, such as circumstances have for some time denied me from every other source, and have found such harmony in our tastes and sentiments, that I have often felt myself impelled to disclose my most secret feelings — and they escape from me as naturally as the pent up stream rushes out when the obstruction is removed.'

Mr. Foster had resided in our village but little more than two years, and previous to that time I had never known him. When he came among us, he had recently returned from England, and brought with him his wife, then in a declining state of health, and a few months afterward she died. He had few relations in this country, but was bound to it by the tie of birth. This fact I knew — but of the particulars of his history I was wholly ignorant, except as he would incidentally mention some of them in our conversations. After that which I have just detailed, he begged me to go in; we passed the evening together — and when I came away, he said to me: I believe you do not

, to this day, know much of my history; I have been amusing my lonely hours with recalling its prominent circumstances, and weaving them in the form of a narrative. I wanted to preserve some particulars which I feared might fade from my memory, if I should live to advanced life, and also to secure to my daughter some memorial of her parents, in the event of my removal from her by death, while her mind is yet in its infancy, and equally unable to comprehend the past, or retain her impressions of the present. Here is my manuscript; and though, when the idea first suggested itself, I felt a great repugnance to showing it, that is now overcome by the constantly increasing pleasure which I derive from your friendship, and the reflection, that when you know more of me, I shall have more of your sympathy. My life has been marked by no extraordinary circumstances - but I may venture to hope, that to

I a friend these simple reminiscences will not be altogether uninteresting.'

I thanked him as well as I could, for so touching a mark of confidence, and hurried home as eagerly as if I had been going to see a long absent friend.

I read the manuscript with deep interest. The sacred deposit was left in my hands. My friend died, not many years after, and with the permission of his daughter it is now made public.

THE MANUSCRIPT. My paternal ancestors came to New-England with its early settlers, but those on the maternal side did not join the infant colony, until a much later period. My parents resided in one of the New-England villages, and had, by right of inheritance, sufficient property to secure their independence, and enable them to live very pleasantly: My mother gave birth to a large family of children; but all excepting my sister and myself — the two youngest — died in infancy. —

. • My sister was two years older than myself. She had a peculiar degree of refinement of character and purity of taste, accompanying an ardent imagination and a warm, generous heart. From my con

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stant and intimate association with her, and from our secluded manner of life, it chanced, perhaps, that I had always rather a sentimental, romantic cast of character - as much so as is consistent with great cheerfulness, and even vivacity. There was nothing melancholy in my temperament, but I loved to steal away and watch the moon rising from the summit of a noble mountain, which was one of the de land-marks of home, and advancing in silent majesty to mid-heaven, and to roam in the woods, and through the fields alone, in a sort of reverie, or with my darling sister, whose taste in these respects accorded with mine. I was fond of books, and, as a school-boy, never found it a task to study, except in the spring, when its soft winds first began to steal over us, and its gay sounds announced the approaching jubilee. Then I felt a sort of fellowship with Nature, which prompted me to forsake all things else for communion with her, and forget for the time that I belonged to a different order, in her kingdom, from the birds or the lambs

• My mother was a woman of a devotional character - most excellent and exemplary; but her mode of conveying religious instruction was in conformity with the usage of the times, rather than with her own unbiassed judgment, and therefore very injudicious. She presented the image of the Deity to the mind, invested with the gravity and austerity of a judge, rather than with the tenderness and benevolence of a parent; she produced such a sentiment toward Him as is felt toward a friend who, though thoroughly excellent in character, is nevertheless cold in his feelings, and severe in his judgments. The effect of this mode of teaching was, however, somewhat counteracted for the time, by my own cheerful, confiding disposition, together with the thoughtlessness incident to the early period of life — while any doubts which might have arisen as to the justice of such a view of the character of God were prevented, by the feeling of entire deference with which I regarded a course of instruction that had my mother's sanction, for whom I felt a respect amounting to reverence.

She was of a timid, tender nature distrustful of herself. She cherished a self-condemning spirit. She was so thoroughly conscientious - she had such a high sense of duty, and such a low estimate of her moral capacity — that the responsibilities which must always weigh upon a reflecting mind became too momentous to be sustained without injury to her health, which was greatly impaired many years previous to her death.

Sometimes, in looking back upon my early life, I reflect with pain upon my frequent indulgence, in her presence, of a merry, vivacious spirit; and then again, when I recollect how sometimes my childish pranks and gay conceits would chase away the melancholy of her countenance, and light up a smile there, that smile gleams on me as a bright and beautiful light in the gloomy distance, the dusky regions of the past.'

*As we emerged from childhood, my sister and myself had a private teacher, whose mode of instruction was in many respects judicious. It inspired us with a love of general literature and useful knowledge. We had both a decided taste for poetry and classic lore, and I have thought that there might have been something in the peculiarly picturesque situa. tion of our father's house, and the beautiful scenery that surrounded it, which had a tendency to cherish a taste of this kind, and to inspire a

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love of Nature, and an intimate feeling of companionship with her, which have never forsaken me, and which have constituted a great deal of the happiness of my life. Even in the intelligent part of creation, an exterior of loveliness is an attraction whose influence is always felt. Unless there is something engaging to the eye in the beings who surround us, we are apt to disregard them, until chance reveals a hidden merit; and why may it not be thus with Nature, that when she presents herself to our daily and familiar observation, in purest loveliness, we feel a charm - a tie that binds us forever ?

*Of my scholastic attainments I had nothing to boast; and at the age of fifteen, I was sent to one of the best schools that had yet been established in our youthful country. It was only a day's ride from our village, but I suffered a pang at parting, that those only can know who have lived so entirely at home as to sympathize with the feeling which I had, that I belonged to the soil, and that it was like being plucked up by the roots, to tear myself away. The spirit of youth is, however, proverbially elastic, and mine did not long yield to this depression. I soon found myself in a new scene, whose novelty was not its only recommendation. The gentleman to whose care I was intrusted, and in whose family I lived, was one of those benevolent, fatherly men, whose presence alone is sufficient to constitute a home-scene ; and I had the good fortune to be associated with some young men who were finespirited, intelligent lads. I became an ambitious student, and the sunshine of my life was unclouded, except by occasional intimations, conveyed in my letters, of the increased ill health of my mother. I have since wondered that these did not disturb and alarm me more. only account for my infatuation from the fact, that before having had any experience of the serious afflictions of life, the youthful spirit is nearly as insensible to the possibility of their occurrence, as is the child, just learning to walk, to the dangers which attend it at every step.

At length, however, toward the close of an afternoon, when I had retired to my room for the purpose of writing to my mother, I heard the rumbling of a wagon in the yard, and was directly informed that a man in the kitchen wished to speak with me. My heart instantly began to beat with violence, and my limbs to tremble, though I hardly knew why. But when, in going down the stairs, I caught, through the

open door, a glimpse of a well-known face — that of a faithful domestic of my father, who had lived with us until his hair had become gray I was unable to proceed a step farther, and sank upon the floor. I shall never forget the good creature's sympathy. He passed his arm around me, and raised me up with one hand, while with the other he brushed a tear from his eye. * Mr. Harry,' said he, we will set directly off, and can ride some ways to-night, so that you may yet see your mother, and get her blessing. As he said this, I sprang to my room, and in five minutes we were on our way home.

* As soon as I was seated in the wagon, I opened a letter which he handed me from my father, saying that my mother had been suddenly seized with a paralytic affection, and that its symptoms were of a very dangerous nature, but that still he did not utterly despair of her recovery. The travelling was very bad; with all the exertion we could make, we did not reach home till the hour of twilight the next evening — and

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