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pccted return was to her the first interval of wearywoe, which she had known since my father's death—
"Amaz'd, and scarce believing what she saw,
u Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam
"Of setting life shone on her evening hours."
I found her placed in a most agreeable rural retreat, in a good neighbourhood; and perceived in myself but little inclination to exchange it, for the noise and bustle of active life. I lived with her for the space of twelve months and upwards, without any remarkable incident of good or bad fortune. I was happy in discharging the tender offices of duty to my indulgent parent, and thought of nothing further.
At length, however, chance introduced me to the acquaintance of a young lady, that lived at a few miles distance from me in the country. There is a kind of fatality in matters of love, which reason strives in vain to account for, or philosophy to centroul. I had travelled through many countries, and been conversant with many of the fair, graced with every accomplishment of body and mind. And though I had not beheld them with indifference, yet I had been a stranger to every thing that could bear the name of love.
But, when I beheld Amelia (for that was the name of my fair country acquaintance) feelings new and uncommon rose in my struggling bosom. The first glance of her eye shot instant through my whole frame. Methought I discovered in her a soul congenial to my own, and a thousand presageful thoughts crouded into my busy imagination.—" Most lovely "fair!" (said I to myself) what gracefulness appears "in thy carriage! what dignity in thy mien! what "innocence and smiling softness in thy look! what "unclouded serenity on thy brow! how seemingly "void of affectation! all appears with thee the gift of "happy nature, flowing spontaneous from a heart "unconscious of guile, and that has no wish to hide! "What a treasure have I found, if the inward temper "of thy soul but corresponds to this external har"mony of features and symmetry of parts! how "happy, if heaven has but made thee kind and good, "as it has formed thee exquisitely fair and lovely!"
Upon a nearer acquaintance with her, my fondest expectations were even exceeded. I was soon convinced that nature had not been less liberal in adorning her mind, than her body. She possessed a solid understanding, improved by education; a sprightliness of fancy, corrected by good-breeding; her innocence not yet impaired by the arts of dissimulation; and her heart breathing that simplicity of manners, and candor of disposition, peculiar to the rural life. In a word, I became her instant captive, and approving reason fixed my chain. For, as it had always been my firm resolve never to barter my happiness away, in base exchange for gold; so it had been my constant purpose, whenever I could be blest with the prospect of a partner capable of entering into the delicacies of conversation, and participating in a rational scheme of happiness, then freely to offer, and freely to receive, the mutual heart.
Such a one I found my Amelia to be. With every day's returning sun, my passion for her grew, refining more and more into the most perfect esteem, unbribed by wealth and undebased by selfregard. Nor was my suit rejected by her. Oft would she lend a patient ear to my tale of love, and, melting in mutual softness, sigh consent. At length, in the awful presence of deepest night, hand locked in hand, and kneeling in holy reverence, we pledged eternal faith; calling on earth and air and sea and skies, things visible and invisible, and the almighty parent of all, to witness our vows; that neither chance nor time, nor aught but the inexorable hand of death, should ever divide between us. And, on this subject, we bound ourselves to the most inviolable secrecy, for a time; none being privy to our meeting but one trusty servant, attendant on Amelia, who had waited at some distance.
But alas! in evil hour, the busy tongue of calumny had whispered something to my disadvantage; which gained too easy access to my Amelia's ear. Her pride and certain false notions of duty were set against me; while her love and her honour burned sevenfold stronger in my behalf. One unlucky accident succeeded upon another, which heightened the mistake, and rendered our story more intricate and distressing than aught that is fabled in all the volumes of romance. Time, no doubt, would have unravelled matters, and fully acquitted me in my fair-one's eye. This had indeed begun to be the case—but ah! too late. The struggle of contending passions had already affected her tender frame. The roses withered on her cheek; the living lustre fled from her eye; she sickened and soon was blest with a happy exit into the regions of eternal day; while, with her last breath, she pronounced the name of " Theodore! my generous in"jured Theodore!"
The same messenger, that brought me the heavy tidings of her death, saw my pious hands closing the eyes of my indulgent mother, worn gradually out with age and its concomitant infirmities. Oh! severe destiny! what was the world to me now, and all it contained, since that for which I chiefly lived in it was fled—forever fled from my sight! what could I do?
".„,...,.,, In hallow'd earth,
"I saw them shrouded, bid eternal peace
"Their shades receive; and, with the truest tears,
"That ever love or tender duty paid,
"Their sacred dust bedew'd"—
These last offices discharged, I resigned myself to grief total and extreme;—grief that refused consolation, and grief that felt no pause! I secluded myself from the face of day, and knew no change of time nor of place, save when at eve I paced darkling along, through graves, and shades, and sickly damps, to mingle woes with the bird of night.
Thus did I pass my hours, and saw many a moon rising and setting, waning and waxing, beneath my sorrow. But time, at length, with lenient hand, began to infuse his balm, and a pensive sadness succeeded in the room of anxious despair. Reason gradually resumed her throne, and lifted my eye to the sovereign dispenser of all good—" Wretch that "I am!" said I! "Have I been repining against the "righteous judge of heaven and earth? have I been "arraigning his wise dispensations who cannot err, "and still does what is best on the whole? will my "grief be of any avail to reverse the will of fate? can "it affect his unalterable decrees? can it recall the "past, or bid the clay from the tomb resume its "ancient form? Oh! no: most awful heaven!—Then "to submit to thy dread providence (alas! too long "neglected) be now my whole care! That heart, "which thy chastenings have weaned from the "world, be it henceforth forever devoted to thee! "Receive it back as a distressed wanderer, return"ing at length to its only refuge and hope! It has "now but few avocations to lead it astray! To live "and to die, dependent upon thy most holy will, is "all I have left to do, in the state of my pilgrimage "here."
A mild and pensive melancholy, fruitful of wisdom and philosophic thought, succeeded to these reflections. I immediately began to consider how I should best wear out the remainder of my days, agreeable to the resolutions I had taken. I had now laid aside all thoughts of the ministry. For to bear the scofls and insults of wicked men, to struggle against the torrent of vice and infidelity, and to be at continual variance with dissimulation and folly; were oflices, however honourable in themselves, which would have but ill suited with that retired thoughtfulness and mild serenity of soul, to which I had been so lately restored; and from which I was determined never to suffer myself to be drawn aside any more. Besides this, I had observed that a conscientious discharge of duty, and a bold publication of the ever