« FöregåendeFortsätt »
my farm was situated. I was naturally desirous of paying them every attention in my power, but I soon found that a direct order had been given by their mother, prohibiting even a single visit on their part. This was not, by any means, the worst feature of the transaction ; for, in justification of herself, my stepmother had represented us in odious colours. All that she had said was communicated to our immediate neighbours; and, for a long time, the erroneous opinion it produced prevented those attentions which would have been paid to us as respectable strangers. In short, we had to endure our afflictions in solitude. When appearances are against us, the misjudging world is easily deceived: it was natural for those who knew the character of my father, to conclude that he would not neglect his son's family without just
I at length felt it my duty to endeavour to remove animosity from his mind. Accordingly, I wrote to him in the strongest language of love and duty, apologising for any thing wrong in my conduct; and, without in the slightest degree arraigning his, I earnestly requested that we might some
times meet, and that an intercourse of love might be kept up between our families. To my letter I received no answer ; but, a considerable time after, his brother attorneys invited me to a party where he was present; and, as I considered the idea to have originated with my father, I accepted their attention with great pleasure. My father received me with à seeming return of affection; but his inquiries concerning my family were cold and constrained. I saw that his mind was prejudiced. However, he accepted an invitation which I offered to the body, and they all dined with me at my house. In the course of the evening, my father's constraint seemed to vanish, and he once more paid my dear kindhearted wife affectionate attention. Thus I considered that every cloud which blackened the horizon of my domestic enjoyments was on the point of being dispersed. When I had an opportunity of being alone with the dear old man, so much joy did my heart feel on this happy change in his behaviour, that I fell upon his neck, and kissing his forehead, expressed my gratitude in tears. Alas ! all my hopes were without foundation; for, soon after, upon paying him a visit, I had the mortification to discover a renewed distance of manner, and coldness of temper. This I ascribed to a stimulated revival of his prejudices. Indeed, when we began to converse upon the subject of our future intercourse, and on my expressing an anxious wish to see him often at my house, he forgot his mildness, and exclaimed, “I can never associate with that woman,"--meaning my affectionate and unoffending wife,-“ who has deprived me of your society."
I was shocked at his remark, knowing that the charge which it embraced was without foundation in truth. Believing the injurious impression to have been forced upon my father's mind by gross nisrepresentations, I warmly vindicated my wife, arguing strongly on the ground of its being the interest of herself and children, that harmony should exist between him and me. I informed him, how anxiously she had cautioned me against separating from him ; how deeply, when she found her advice unavailing, she had always deplored my rashness. I conjured him to pardon me for referring the cause of our quarrel to my stepmother; observing, that it had not been my intention to allude to the subject, nor should I have revived the painful remembrance of the past, had he not made an allegation against my wife. I reminded him, too, of his own foreknowledge of the jealousy and ill will that existed in his family against mine; strengthening what I advanced by the remark, that had my
wife been as inoffensive as the lamb in the fable, she would have been accused and convicted. He seemed to admit the possibility of error in the construction which he had put upon certain occurrences; and I left him in the belief that I had effected a favourable change in his heart.
Three years rolled past, and my distresses were increasing. My children were growing up; they required education, and the sound elasticity of my mind became relaxed in its tone. I had represented my circumstances to my father in vain; he pleaded the badness of the times, and the difficulty of getting in his rents; expended a thousand pounds in additions to his house, and left me to sink. In short, I began to see all things black around me, and to accuse man and Providence of injustice. Insanity, I believe, would have succeeded despair, for my melancholy seemed to be aggravated by a combination of misfortunes, had I not been roused to hope by the able discourses of Dr. Malcom, an eloquent Presbyterian clergyman of Newry.
My father had altogether withdrawn his cheerful countenance from every thing belonging to me, and his example was followed by all his depending relations. Captain True, and Nannette, whose friendship I have described in “ Fifteen years in India,” were residing in some part of France. My sympathizing friend, Frank Stanley, upon his return to England, had married most happily, it is true, but, anxious to push on in the army, he had gone with his regiment to Gibraltar, where, it was reported, he had died of an inflammatory fever. I had no society but that of my own family; all comfort from without seemed at an end ; and
my domestic felicity was disturbed by my beloved wife sinking into a state of melancholy and ill health. Perhaps this rescued me, for my exertions to save her aroused the latent energies of my mind. I grieved no longer, I felt no more for myself, and I am confident, that in exchanging one sorrow for another, even of equal intensity, there is relief. The state of weakness, however, to which grief had