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CHAPTER XXIII.

A promising match ; and an old acquaintance very unpromising.

“Your mind shall no longer suffer by your person; nor shall your eyes, for the future, dazzle me into a blindness towards your understanding.

Steele.

“Restor'd to heaven and heaven's ways,
'Tis rapture that all woe repays !-Anon.

“ But this lies all within the will of God."

Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
And make a moral of the devil himself."

"Compare dead happiness with living wo.-Shakspeare.

The Reverend Mr. John Littlejohn, when he returned home from his accidental (and almost midnight) visit to Mrs. Williams, was filled with thoughts that had of late been strangers to him. They were not thoughts inimical to the holy functions he had been performing; and, indeed, they were intimately connected with the scene at the bed-side of the sufferer.

He found his father anxiously waiting for him, having sat up beyond his usual hour of retiring. Although he had every reason to suppose that his son was restored to a sane state of his reasoning faculties, yet the father could not forget the past, and every minute that the son overstaid the time of his expected return, caused a pang, such as none but a parent, who had suffered from such a cause, can conceive.

Saint Paul's clock struck twelve. The old man closed his book and crossed his spectacles on its cover.

He looked at his watch, although he knew that it agreed with the clock. He got up and traversed the room. He took up his book again, and tried to read. He snuffed the candles and wiped the glasses of his spectacles: still he could not read. He listened to catch the sound of every passing footstep on the pavement. He heard the approach of steps—“it is-no.” They pass. Another, and another. One step-the bell rings—the

impatient father flies to the door. It is his son—such as he wished to see him.

It is somewhat singular, but as true as the generality of this history, that all the principal personages concerned in it were sleepless on this night: some the whole night, others much beyond the usual time of sinking to rest. We have seen Spiffard and his merry companions; his unfortunate wife, his mother, and Miss Portland ; Mrs. Williams and Miss Atherton; all awake : Cooke and his faithful Yankee may have rested or not;. Williams was at Philedelphia, seeking pleasures adapted to his character; Mrs. Johnson, improving in health, slept soundly; and Henry, no longer a watchman, enjoyed the repose, not of the monarch on hiš couch of down, but of the ship-boy rocking on “ the high and giddy mast.” But return we to Courtlandt-street and the Littlejohns.

“I was in hopes, sir, that you were in bed and asleep. I fear, from appearances, that you have been made uneasy by my protracted absence at this time of night.”

"I ought not, perhaps, to have felt any uneasiness, but your late indisposition-"

“I believe, sir, that you need never be anxious in that respect again. And yet we cannot soon forget the past."

The father was silent. He pressed the hand of his son and tears filled his eyes; but he remained silent.

They entered the parlour, and the son proceeded.

“When I look back to the past it is like a horrid dream. But that which preceded the dream can never occur again. It appears to me that I have attained to a clear view of my duty to my Creator and his creatures, since the aberration of my intellect. And a clear view of man's duty presents a clear view of his interest. But I have seen one, even this night, within this hour, who, if her conduct is uniformly such as I have witnessed, would insure peace and sanity to all who came within the sphere her brightness illumines. A steady continuance in the right path to any one who could be fortunate enough to have her for a companion.” Thus frank was the accustomed intercourse between this son and father. There was, however, an evident excitement in the young clergyman which might have alarmed the old gentleman ; but the son went on to detail the incidents of the evening with so much collectedness, that, although he dwelt rather minutely on all that concerned one person, his father had no fears for his intellects. The young man inquired, rather earnestly, what he knew res

pecting the sister of Mrs. Williams. His father had never heard of the existence of such a person.

After a pause, the young priest said, “ she is a very fine woman. A very extraordinary woman.

" Mrs. Williams," said the father, 6 is said to have been a beauty; and her sister may be such

now, if

younger and" 66 She is not like her sister. Never could Mrs. Williams have been like her! she is all mind, soul, purity, piety ?”

66 And beautiful ?”

“ O no. Not according to the world's view of beauty : excepting the beauty of gracefulness and form. She has neither what I once thought youth, nor beauty. Her face is marked by the scars left on it by that disease which modern science has banished from the civilized world : yet her countenance is lovely, because animated by benevolence—her eyes beam with intelligence--and her lips, although colourless, are in form and expression perfect.' " Why, Thomas, I do not wonder that

you

staid so long," said the old man smiling.

“ I only staid for prayer, and to read to the unhappy Mrs. Williams, and for a few moments conversation with Miss Atherton."

“ Atherton ? True, I have heard that was the name of the family. Good night. I suppose we shall hear more of this wonder."

Next day the young clergyman left his father's door to visit Mrs. Williams, as he had promised, at the request of Miss Atherton, the previous night; the night of sleeplessness. The thought of seeing again that scarred and seamed face did not deter him. But he was always a “man of his word."

As he descended the steps he met Spiffard, and recognising him as the person he had seen with his father in the lunatic asylum, he bowed to him and passed on.

Spiffard looked at him as at a stranger. He did not think of the unhappy man he had visited on that occasion. The graceful figure and intelligent countenance of the person who saluted him, could not be reconciled to the remembrance of the sick, and haggard, and wild appearance, of that son he had seen ; and he could not forbear, almost as soon as he was admitted to the merchant's presence, saying, “ have you more than one son, sir?" 66 No-not now.

You must have met my son as you came in; but so happily changed that you did not recognise him. i Heaven has restored him to me, only made more dear to me by the trials he has passed and the sufferings we have both endured. I had another son, older than Thomas. He was even brighter in intellect and richer in every endowment of nature than this : he was pure, stainless, body and soul; brilliant and quick of apprehension, rich in knowledge, which flowed upon him as if by the attraction of love to its lover. But his ever active mind exhausted his perfect frame, and he fell dead at my feet, with the pen in his hand, and an unfinished essay on death spread open on his desk.”

“ I am sorry I have recalled the memory of past sorrow, sir."

0, we see the evils of the past as through a veil. The hard lines and sharp angles are lost. Their connection with our present existence is felt in mitigated sorrow, and sometimes as adding beauty to our hopes of the future, shedding sun-light through the mist on the distant prospect. Happily for man, the brighter passages of former days come out to his retrospection with additional brilliancy; and he possesses the power to linger on the review of them. The griefs we have sustained lose their poignancy; resignation to the will of God, founded upon the contemplation of his attributes and his works ; upon the events we have seen and and

upon the knowledge communicated to us by his word ; takes the sting from every evil, and from death itself. I thought when you accompanied me to the asylum of the deranged, and heard my remaining son utter the ravings of insanity, that the affliction was beyond bearing : yet that aberration of intellect now appears to me, at times, as a surety for a healthful state of mind and body for a long futurity. Certain it is he is made dearer to me, and I believe better, by his sufferings. O, how beautiful is the parable of the lost son restored !"

This conversation restored the hopes of Spiffard. He opened to the merchant the recesses of his sorrows. fessed the headlong rashness which had precipitated him into an engagement for life with one whose former life and private habits he had not made himself acquainted with. He confided to this man, whose benevolence he had witnessed, and whose wisdom he heard, the whole of his matrimonial sorrows, and exposed their cause. He expatiated upon the miseries he had witnessed in youth, as inflicted upon his father and his household. He blamed his own blind credulity in taking a woman to wife, however admirable, merely on the knowledge of her obvious talents, and apparent strength of intellect. He attri

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bnted bis reliance upon his wife's being above the reach of temptation, to that confidence he placed in the powers of her mind.

Mr. Littlejohn encouraged him to hope. Advised him to repress his feelings in his wife's presence, and remember that he had had too great confidence in himself. He conjured him to return home ; treat the erring one with kindness rather than passion or sternness. Examine himself, whether he had not, by negligence or want of confidence, irritated a quick and feeling temper. His conscience said, “ guilty ;' but, “ could I help it?" whispered something, perhaps self-love.

After a long conversation, in which Mr. Littlejohn played the friendly monitor, our hero resolved to return home, pour the balm of reconciliation and forgiveness into the wounded spirit, (for such he knew it must be) of the faulty creature he had left with harshness, and he went his way encouraged to hope that he yet might find a wife and a home.

As Spiffard was about to depart, the merchant, remembering the behaviour of the young comedian at Doctor Cadwallader's, on seeing Mrs. Williams, and now interested in what respected her, from his son's eulogiums on her sister, asked him if he had learned any thing more of Mrs. Williams since that evening.

“ Yes, sir, she is my aunt, the sister of my mother."

“ Your aunt? And the lady, now, attendiug upon her—is her sister."

“Her younger sister, sir, and consequently likewise my aunt; but no more like her elder ster than the morning star to Erebus. The likeness of Mrs. Williams to my mother, both in person and in the badges of weakness which were so apparent when I first saw her, occasioned feelings and conduct that must have appeared very extraordinary. This lady is an angel. She has, (her parents being dead) come to this country from motives of love and benevolence : and when her sister shall have departed this life, she will be without friends or family connexions, except in me.

Mr. Littlejohn did not pursue the subject further, and his young friend departed.

As Spiffard passed rapidly through Broadway on his return home, (or what he hoped once more to make a home,) he was much excited. He walked fast. All the apparent listlessness of the first part of the morning was gone. He no longer felt the lassitude resulting from a sleepless night, and many hours of extreme anxiety. All thoughts was determined to one ob

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