Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

down hours to moments,” but in the contemplation of such gentle scenes “ grow rich on that which never taketh rust.” At one of the corners of the inner ward stands the keep, now in ruins. The steps, as high as the first floor landing, being sufficiently perfect to enable the visitor to attain that post; the walls on each side are inscribed with many an “ obscure rude name.”

At some distance from the present castle, the foundations of other buildings, supposed to have been connected with it, may be traced in dry seasons when the herbage above them withers away.

SUBTERFUGE, My readers may possibly remember the mention of Miss Sheppard's homelike seminary in a former paper. It was truly a home; we lived together as sisters, calling each other by our christian names, while our kind instructress seemed like an elder sister with us. There, as I before said, I passed several happy years, experiencing all the advantages which commonly attend such establishments, and many which, I believe, are not so common. Among the latter was the constant superintendence of our resident clergyman, he being Miss Sheppard's eldest brother. The house which he occupied was at a short distance ; his wife, a most pleasant and superior young woman, was especially kind to young people, and his interesting little children were our universal favorites. If any of us merited reward, the highest that could be bestowed was a visit to the parsonage; while the dread of Mr. Sheppard's displeasure, was a more powerful restraint than the severest punishment that could have been devised. His happy mixture of kindness and authority-his quick penetration into our opening characters, and the promptness and energy with which he encouraged or reproved us, made the instruction we received from him sink deeply into our minds. How many of my present sentiments spring from the seed which was then sown! Diligently, indeed, did he impart right principles; fostering carefully every good impression, and detecting unsparingly every mean or crooked motive. Deceit, in all its actings, was his perfect abhorrence, and against every sort of subterfuge he declared open war. “I can be satisfied with no character,” he said, one day, “ that is not open and transparent. If we are disingenuous in youth, what shall we be as we advance in life?” A little circumstance which took place shortly after, enforced this lesson in a manner which I believe few of the young ladies have ever forgotten.

When Mr. Sheppard came to Wildenham, he established a Sunday school. Some young persons in the town became teachers, both in the boys and girls' school; and as four of our number were old enough to undertake such a charge, we were allowed to unite with them. In the employment we much delighted, and it was made an equal source of improvement to us and to our scholars; for being all young, our good pastor always assembled us one day in the week, and explained to us the scriptures and the lessons, which we in turn were to explain the following Sunday. He also enquired into the state of our classes; helping us by his advice, and if needful, by his interference. The head class enjoyed the benefit of Mrs. Sheppard's care, and the young teachers also reaped no small advantage from having her on the spot, to appeal to under any little emergency.

It was during a visit of some weeks, made by Mrs. Sheppard to a friend in Yorkshire, that the circumstance I have alluded to happened. The first Sunday after her departure, we were too late in leaving the school-room, and our minister, who made a great point of punctuality, was obliged to wait some minutes in the vestry. After service he requested that such an irregularity might never be repeated, and for two weeks we carefully complied. But on the third, through some unaccountable carelessness, we again failed. It was later than before; and Mr. S. not choosing to wait a second time, we found the service begun. Thoroughly ashamed we felt at our bustle in entering, while we expected also a reprimand sufficiently severe, to make us dread the conclusion of the sermon. Nor did our expectation exceed the reality; the children being dismissed, and the teachers detained, we received in full the reproof we had merited. This was the occasion, on which the opposite conduct of two of our number placed in striking contrast, the beauty of ingenuousness-the disgrace of subterfuge. Scarcely had Mr. Sheppard ceased speaking, when Cornelia Seddons, a young lady residing in the town, walked towards hij

She was the only child of a widowed mother, and had been brought up so indulgently, as scarcely to have met even a look of displeasure. Consequently reproof was more painful to her, than to any of us; yet, so generous were her feelings, that she could not suffer any portion of censure to rest upon them, which she thought belonged to herself. In a distinct, though timid voice, she therefore said . “I believe, sir, we are not all equally blameable; for my friends partly depended upon me, for information with respect to time."

“ Thank you, for so candid an avowal ;" replied her pastor, “ but why, then, did you mislead them ?"

“ The cause was simply this ;” said Cornelia, “though I do not for a moment name it as an excuse, (for I know the delay was very wrong); I had become interested myself in the chapter, and had succeeded in interesting the children, so I went on longer than I should have done."

“Well! you will be upon your guard in future. Are you sole regulator of the time?"

Cornelia either did not hear the question, or preferred not answering. So, looking in another direction, our friend enquired“ What is your usual arrangement ?"

“We depend on Mrs. Sheppard's class, sir," was the reply; “ because it takes the lead; only, in order to be doubly sure, we requested Miss Seddons to keep an eye upon the dial, as she sat in a position to see it.”

Mr. Sheppard turned towards Harriette Morpeth, the eldest of our young ladies, who had taken the charge of this same class; “ And what occasioned your error, Harriette ?"

Harriette hesitated for a moment, and then answered—“I find my watch was too slow, sir.”

“ It was a pity not to have ascertained that, since the movements of the school rested so much with you. Of course you were not aware of it?"

Harriette blushed, and said, “ I thought it was rather too slow,

sir."

“How much do you think it too slow ?” enquired Mr. Sheppard. “ About ten minutes," was the answer. “And how much did it prove to be ?” rejoined her pastor. “ Ten minutes, sir;" she replied.

“ That is highly disingenuous,” said Mr. Sheppard; “I cannot pass it over.” He stood silent and thoughtful for a few moments, and then turning, with much kindness, to our friend Cornelia, said,

“Though I have been exceedingly grieved by this morning's occurrence, your conduct, Miss Seddons, has increased both my esteem and regard. Allow me, now, to fix more strongly on your mind the importance of regularity, by referring you to the text

Let all things be done decently, and in order.' When Mrs. Sheppard returns, I hope we shall frequently have the pleasure of seeing you at the vicarage. To you, Harriette,” he added.-and his countenance assumed an expression of marked displeasure“ to you I am compelled to speak very differently. I must exercise your mind till you feel self-convicted, and see how you have erred. Write me an essay on those texts-Thou art a God who hast pleasure in uprightness, thou requirest truth in the inward parts.' I will not say more now lest I should be too severe; but to-morrow evening I shall spend an hour in the school-room, and then I expect you will read to as the essay, which by that time you will have had leisure to prepare. And now, young ladies, as a general and useful observation through life, let me advise you never to depend on others, but each upon herself; for so alone can you ensure correctness, and fulfil the expectations of those with whom you stand connected. Good morning!”

Miss Sheppard, as may be supposed, was not a little grieved at hearing these particulars; though the gentleness of her nature led her to take a much milder view of Harriette's fault, than her brother had done. “It was,” she observed, “highly reprehensible, and did certainly combine both the sin of dissimulation and the meanness of a false excuse. Yet I do hope,” she added, “ that it was occasioned rather by a defective view of truth, than by deliberate or premeditated deceit; especially as Harriette answered conscientiously when more closely questioned."

Mr. Sheppard shook his head and said, “ I do not think, Catherine, you give your pupils such defective views.” Through her intercession, however, he consented that Harriette, instead of reading her essay publicly in the school-room, should read it in the parlour to himself alone. And when she returned from this painful exercise, her kind friend procured her another mitigation. “We are truly grateful, dear Charles,” she said, as Mr. Sheppari

took his seat among us, “ for all your kind instructions; nor would I for a moment wish to soften any discipline that you may deem salutary; but I do think Harriette's contrition is so genuine, and she has felt your admonition so properly, that if you can feel satisfied to spare her now by permitting her to retire while you make such remarks as may promote our general benefit, we shall all thank you."

“That I will, most readily. The perfect docility, and yet deep feeling, that Harriette has manifested, are exceedingly hopeful; and I trust it will be very long before I again have to stand in the painful office of a reprover, to any of my young friends.” So saying, he held out his hand to Miss Morpeth, and shaking her's cordially, added—“Good night, Harriette ; I hope you can fully forgive the pain I have put you to.”

“I do not forgive, but thank you, sir,” was all the reply that Harriette felt able to make. When she had left the room, our kind pastor thus addressed us:-

“And now, my young friends, it is desirable that I should speak to you a little on the important subject of TRUTH. Too many think that if what they say is not absolutely false, that is sufficient, but my view is very different. Truth, to be lovely, must be simple, clear, and pure, untinged as a ray of perfect light. Words must be used in their plain, obvious meaning, not ambiguously, so as to produce a false impression, which we may let pass if it be not questioned, and disclaim if it be. No; this is any thing but truth; it is almost worse than direct falsehood, because it is more difficult to detect, and deceives doubly ;-deceives both ourselves and others. It is painful to see the degree of self-deception at which a mind may arrive, which has long been thus practised ; and the needless, degrading habit of contrivance, with which it sets about the simplest undertaking. Of course, I do not mean, that we should speak without consideration, and act without prudence. Feelings will sometimes arise, which it would be wrong to express; and circumstances which it would be improper to relate. But on such occasions we should resort to silence, not subterfuge; and the occasions themselves I believe to be less frequent than is generally supposed. Concealment and reserve, even when springing from an unexceptionable motive, fail oftener than their opposite qualities. There is something highly prepossessing in an artless

« ZurückWeiter »