Imagens da página

hold and embrace her son. All the rest of the family by turns succeeded to the embraces of their brother; and the eldest sise ter, who easily recollected the beloved companion of her youth, exhibited marks of the liveliest sensibility.

After the first tender greetings and enquiries were over , Charles briefly related to his parents the various events that had befallen him-softening, however, the distressful parts, lest he should renew sensations already too painful. He concluded with acquainting them, that all he had acquired was theirs—that he gave the whole to their disposal, and should only consider himself as a sharer with the rest of the children.

The generosity and filial piety of this pro. posal excited their warmest admiration and occasioned no small compunction in the father for his treatment of such a son.' He would not accept the offer in its full extent; but borrowing a considerable share of his son's property, associated him with himself in a mercantile concern , which enabled him to provide handsomely for the rest of the family, and to pass the rest of his days in ease and content.


In the West of England lived Mr. Spencer, a gentleman of handsome fortune, who was left a widower at an early age with one infant daughter. The only consolation he felt after the loss of a partner whom he entirely loved , was in the contemplation of the opening charms and graces of his little Maria , who soon promised to become all that he had so much admired in her deceased mother. He attended to her education with the utmost care and assiduity ; procuring her instructors of every kind, of approved merit, and often taking that pleasing office upon himself for which his good sense and kno@vledge eminently fitted him.

With these advantages she grew up lovely and accomplished in an uncommon degree; and seemed in every respect formed to complete the warmest wishes of a parent. He accordingly doated on her with the extremest fondness and formed no other desire or purpose in life than that of seeing her happily and honourably established.

In pursuit of this design he did not, like most parents, cast his eyes on wealth or rank. Convinced from impartial observation, that happiness in the conjugal state is only to be expected from a mutual confirmed relish for sober and rational felicity , the first and greastest requisite he looked for in a son-in-law was a mind formed to steady and habitual virtue. The character usually distinguished by the title of a man of pleasure was therefore the object of his most rooted aversion and dread.

Maria had received from nature that dubious gift, a heart of exquisite tenderness and sensibility. This, while it made her return her father's fondness with the war. mest filial affection, rendered her also liable to attachments of a stronger and more dangerous kind. Unpractised in the world she did not look at mankind with the discerning eyes of her father; and where she saw an amiable appearance, she was easily led to imagine that every thing else was correspondent

A young officer happened to be quartered in the town where she lived, who , to a most pleasing figure and address, added a manner and conversation the most specious and insinuating that could be conceived. He appeared all softness and refinement, at the time that his heart was vitiated by the loosest principles, and most confirmed habits of debauchery. Accident gave him an opportunity of commencing an acquaintance with Maria , before her father was aware of the danger to which she was exposed. The impression he made was too strong lo be eradicated, and although her father, as soon as he discovered the connexion , used every art of persuasion, and every exertion of parental authority to dissolve it, he was unable to succeed.


As Mr. Spencer constantly refused his consent to an union, the unhappy consequences of which he clearly foresaw, the lovers had no other resource to gratify their passion than an elopement. It was long before one educated in the habits and principles that had so carefully been implanted in Maria, could resolve upon so rash and guilty a step; but at length it was determined on and effected; and the unfortunate daughter was too late convinced of the dreadful exchange she had made, of the caresses of the most indulgent of parents , for the fugitive embraces of an abandoned and faithless husband.

Justly incensed as her father was, she durst not attempt to soften his resentment, which, founded upon an act of disobedience that overthrew all his dearest hopes, was likely to be steadfast and durable. After suffering a variety of misery, both in mind and body , in following a husband who treated her with brutal neglect, she buried him in a garrison abroad, and returned-to England in the utmost indigence the third year after her marriage , with a son about two years

old. She had the good fortune to meet with a comfortable asylum soon after her arrival, at the house of a lady who had been her mother's most intimate friend. By her, she was treated with all the kindness of a parent; and her benefactor, desirous of doing her still more essential service, resolved to attempt the arduous task of reconciling her to her father. As this lady's good sense - was

qual to her benevolence, she was sensible that in order to succeed in such an attempt, it was not adviseable to make a direct application , which would give resentinent anopportunity of being heard as well as na. tural affection; but first to awaken his paternal feelings, and then urge the suit while,

« AnteriorContinuar »