« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the dear old gentleman to announce the melancholy event in the newspaper, and to say on the subject whatever I deemed proper. Strange, that it should have fallen on me to eulogize one from whom I had, for four years, received not only total neglect, but inhuman injury! who cared so little about me and six children, that we were left by her to starve and endure all the demoralizing effects of want and wretched poverty. Yet, equally strange it is, that my stepmother, in her other relations of life, was entitled to just and great praise. She was an affectionate mother to her own children, and so excellent a wife, that she ruled her husband, while she appeared to be his handmaid. As a neighbour she was beloved, for in disposition she was ever ready to serve and oblige; as a relative she was kind to. her needy kindred ; as a friend she was firm and faithful; and as a mistress, obedience alone secured her liberal treatment, and drew forth all the benevolence of her heart. She had supported a character free from imputation, and sustained the repute of a loyal wife during her husband's ten years' absence in America. Yet such is the deceitfulness of the human heart, that while in all other
points of view she deserved praise, in what respected the child of the man she loved, by a former wife, she merited censure. I leave you to account for this, and proceed in conclusion.
Again seated in my comfortable little parlour, refreshed by good cheer after the fatigue of our journey, with one of my chubby little dears on each knee, their mother, and our four other children near me, round a cheerful fire, you cannot picture, amongst the monarchs of this world, a man with sensations more delightful than mine. What do I say? Amongst the monarchs! Nothe cares and troubles of pomp and state were not inmates of my breast; and though every man is a king in his own house, yet my enjoyment was unconnected with power. Harmony and love gave a charm to my home which is indescribable. Past sufferings and surmounted difficulties gave the highest zest to the cheerful view I took of my present condition. In prospective all was clear and serene: indeed, in neither of the three tenses could I perceive aught that constituted a rational ground of uneasi
“ I have,” thought I now, “ enough and a little to spare, with experience to know its value,
and judgment, well schooled in adversity, not to misapply it. May God fill my heart with gratitude and humility!"
In this temper of mind I imparted to, my wife the news of our accession to the wealth of Peter L-, Esq. I was hurt, however, upon finding that she was better pleased with the power this increase would give her of outshining our aristocratical neighbours, who had treated us with some haughtiness, than with the real comforts bestowed on a large family by competence; and I took occasion to destroy pride and vanity, which I clearly saw would quickly spring up in her mind, if left flourishing in the hot-bed of prosperity.
My dear,” said I, “ we have often, in the hour of affliction, prayed earnestly to God for wisdom rather than riches. Now, then, having wealth, let us honour the liberality of Heaven by showing that we know how to use it with moderation. Our fortune, though largely sufficient for comfort and happiness, falls far short of the means which many have with whom we associate. No man is rich but by comparison; for he whoʻspends more than his income, whatever it may be, is in
reality poor, and a debtor. Let us, therefore, not bring upon ourselves the fate of the frog in the fable, by bursting happiness we possess, in foolish imitation of vain fashion, to the size of which we never swell.
You see it is the rock upon which all our acquaintances wreck themselves. Mrs. Jones, whose husband has only three hundred a year, must imitate the suppers of Mrs. Crozier, whose income is full fifteen hundred. The consequence is as clear as a result in The Rule of Three Direct--as three is to one, so is fifteen to five. Think of this, and act according to the rationality it prescribes. No, my love, we will do what is consistent with our circumstances, regardless of the nonsensical sneer of the world. Let us live far within our means, that we may have the power of expanding our hearts with the luxury of doing some good; and that when we go naked out of this cold world, we may be warmed with recollecting the shivering creatures we clothed from our superfluity, and the starving fellow men we cheered from the economy of our table. In short, let us, as far as we can, set an example of
moderation and usefulness, and quit every charm of this transitory scene without regret, and with the approbation of our own hearts.
Indeed, my short sermon had the desired effect. We agreed to keep our good fortune a profound secret. And this was an object I had greatly at heart; for, though it is the way of the world to sanction the belief that we are richer than we are, I have always considered it advantageous to be thought poorer. In the one case, you ever fall short of expectation, and incur a charge of disappointment; in the other, you have the power of surprising by liberality, and of warming hearts into gratitude by exceeding their hopes. You also
prove the sincerity of your friends, and the charity of your enemies. Have you a daughter ? Let her be thought poor, and no fortune-hunter will court her beauty. She will become the property of some honest heart, and you will have the means of rewarding disinterested affection, and of making mutual love bloom in the sun-beams of plenty
Moreover, and in addition to what I have urged