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room was filled with the gentry of the neighbourhood, or every person who had wealth and respectability to entitle him to rank as one of the aristocracy. The ladies were served by the gentlemen with wine and cakes, after tea and coffee; and about one o'clock a supper table was covered, and a comfortable repast spread for the whole company, whose sedateness of manner and assumed sadness of deportment formed a striking contrast to the revelry and folly of the noisy scene before sketched. Beyond this parlour my father secluded himself in his library, or office, where he sat musing upon the sudden occurrence which in a few hours had disarranged his hopes and prospects, and filled his peaceful mansion with riot, sorrow, and seeming grief; affording a curious observer, such as I account myself, an opportunity of witnessing a display of country manners, nearly the same as we read of in history, two hundred years ago. All the sleeping rooms, situated up stairs, were prepared for the ladies to retire into occasionally, and enjoy the refreshment of slumber; but, during the whole night, carriages were coming and going, so that it was altogether a scene of bustle not easily described.
At two o'clock on the following day, the population for five miles round assembled to accompany the deceased to her long home. The crowd was prodigious. All the rooms in the house were thronged with friends and acquaintances ;
the lawn was covered with a deep mass of the peasantry; and horsemen, gigs, jaunting-cars, and carriages lined the avenues and roads as far as the eye could reach. Except from the waving black plumes of the hearse, which, outside of the house, told the tale of death, it might have been supposed a congregation of joy ; so little general interest does the death of an individual, remarkable only in a private point of view, excite. Every one had something to laugh at and talk about, foreign from the cause of assembling. Many had come, not out of respect to the lady's memory, but for the purpose of enjoying the sight and the treat usual on such occasions. Adherence to this good old custom makes a funeral appear like a feast. Kegs of whiskey were distributed among the crowd outside, and some of the frieze-coated lovers of a drop had changed their places to deceive the dram-servers so often, that they were fitter for their beds than for a procession. Inside the house, large joints of meat covered the tables, with choice wines, and every thing to gratify appetite.
At length the deceased was placed in her coffin, carried by her nearest relatives to the hearse, borne to the church, where her life was eulogized as free from reproach, and all that was mortal of her committed to the silent and gloomy mansion of the dead. Over her grave I breathed a sigh of pity and forgiveness, but I could not shed a tear. A big one had rolled from my eye when I heard the agonizing shriek of my sisters, as their mother's body left my father's door. I have often observed, however, that children's grief soon subsides. The young heart is too light to sink and remain long under the pressure of sorrow. Upon our return to my father's, we found him and his daughters calm and resigned, prepared to join us at dinner, and able to enjoy the miscellaneous conversation of the table.
It is a curious experiment to examine any family, or little circle of society, closely. What hidden springs we discover moving every breast! How many suspicions we detect destroying happiness! We have to lament instead of to rejoice, over every grouped picture of humanity. Where shall we find that charity which suffers long and is kind ? We see so much in practice contrary to what Christianity is in theory, that we are convinced the beautiful morality of our blessed religion is å fine portrait of what we should be, yet one which no group of human beings has ever yet been. My father was not sufficiently softened by his loss to forgive those whom he considered his enemies. He deeply resented the meanness of a neighbour, with whom he had had a deadly quarrel, for presuming to come to the funeral, and thought more of punishing him for his attention, than of the kind. ness that forgiveth wrongs. Instead of praising my wife for coming to condole with him, he blamed her, and attributed her motive to self interest. Well, he was condemned himself by others as thoughtlessly; for my stepmother's brothers, because my fher did not assist in paying marks of affection to his wife's remains, privately said he felt none, and otherwise scandalized him. Indeed, two of his daughters expressed the same feeling, because he smiled over his glass after dinner on the day of their mother's funeral. Yet one of these very sorrowful girls convinced me, the same night, that she thought and grieved more sometimes for the postponement of her marriage, than for her mother's decease; and the other, by her strictures on the light conduct of Captain 's very pretty and accomplished daughters, led me to conclude that her grief had not entirely absorbed her envy. I must not, however, forget the beam in my own eye. I thought my brother-inlaw's looks were jet black, when I took the place at dinner opposite my father, which would have been occupied by him, had I been absent, and which indeed he offered to take in my presence. In short, I thought that he wished me in my stepmother's place.