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idleness. My faults were great and many. I might have been thankful, and satisfied at least; instead of which, I was full of complaints and discontent.”
“ Alas!" cried the gentleman, " which of us is free from that fault? How few are truly sensible of the blessings they enjoy, and how trilling a vexation oftentimes proves sufficient to draw forth the bitterest complaints, even from those who with their lips indeed acknowledge that this life was not intended to be a state of perfect happiness, and that its afflictions are a salutary means of preparation for that better world, in which trial and sorrow shall be no more."
“Weare, indeed, Sir,” said the stranger, "all weak and sinful creatures, but few in that respect have been so much to blame as I was. But I will
with my story. My company was generally courted, on account of my prospects, by the young men of my acquaintance; and in the course of a few years I married the sister of one of them, who by the death of her father had come into the possession of several thousand pounds not long before I married her. What could induce her to think of narrying me I cannot imagine. I suppose it must have been to the persuasion of her friends that I was indebted for so inestimable treasure as she proved to me. My father made us a handsome allowance, and we established ourselves in a pretty cottage in the outskirts of the town. Wealth, affluence, and domestic comfort were now mine, but I was far from happy. I had no necessary occupation to give a relish to those hours of leisure and amusement, which, for want of it, hung heavy on my hands. Instead, however, of suspecting the real cause of the uneasiness I felt, I quarrelled with every thing áround me; and, in the midst of abundance, that contentedness of spirit was wanting, which is of itself a continuab feast. My wife waś a pattern of female excellence, mild, sensible, and forbearing ; The Stranger.
361 she submitted with entire patience to the fretful 'waywardness of my disposition, and endeavoured to arouse in me a spirit of activity, and persuade me to forsake a course of life, which was neither profitable por right. To her remonstrances I generally returned an impatient answer ; but I never knew an irritable expression escape her lips. I never saw the frown of displeasure overcast her engaging countenance. What comfort I did enjoy, therefore, I owed to her amiable disposition. Judge then, Sir, what must have been my anguish at the prospect of losing her. She was never strong, but, during several years, her health continued in nearly the same state. At the end of that time, a material alteration for the worse became visible; but I apprehended no danger until the medical man who attended her gave
me to understand that her end was fast approach-7. ing. I was thunderstruck by the intelligence: the
calmness of her manner had completely deceived me as to her actual state : but I found that she was fully acquainted with it herself, and that her composure arose from that Christian resignation, and trust in God, which never forsook her under any circumstances. With respect to herself, her mind continued perfeetly tranquil to the last, but her anxieties for my welfare, temporal and eternal, increased, as the moment of our final separation drew near, and it was at the end of a long conversation on that subject, that she fell back on her pillow; her voice faultered, and she closed her eyes in peace for ever! This was the severest cala inity I have known; but it was not the only one I was destined to experience. Not many days before the death of my wife, a report reached me that my brother-in-law, who had always been a careless extravagant man, had absconded: my wife's fortune was all placed in his hands, and I soon discovered, that, in the wreck of his property, every farthing
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of her's was lost. She was spared all knowledge of the circumstance, and my thoughts were then too deeply engrossed by the greater evil, to dwell upop one of comparatively small importance : besides, I saw no necessity to concern myself much about it, considering my father's riches, and the liberality, that, in pecuniary matters, I had always experienced from him. In calculating upon that, I was nevertheless in this instance mistaken; his kindness began to fail, just at the time when I most needed it, for which I was at a loss to account, until he informed me that he was about to contract a second marriage with a young woman who was on a visit to a family of his acquaintance in the town. She was a mere adventurer; clever and artful ; and it was evident to all, but my father himself, that his wealth was the only object of her regard. They were married; and, from that hour, I date the decline of my father's affection for me. Another son was born, and my father soon gave me to understand that he could no longer allow me more than half of the sum that I had been accustomed to receive; and, shortly afterwards, that was reduced to a still smaller pit
“ What !” exclaimed Mr. Wilson, “and had you ng friend to interfere in your behalf, and to oppose such shameful injustice ?
« I had friends," said the Stranger," who kindly attempted it, but their influence was of no avail when opposed to the will of my mother-in-law. Before the second reduction of my allowance, I had removed to a distant part of the kingdom, where provisions were to be had at a cheaper rate. Į had now full leisure to meditate on my past conduct. I say how guilty I had been, and resolved, with God's grace assisting me, to amend my life according to his holy word. The advice and example of my. mented wife came forcibly to my remembrance; and inclination, no less than necessity, impelled
308 me to adopt a different course. At my time of life, with every thing to learn, I saw no chance of sueceeding in any sort of trade. I had therefore no choice but that of taking a little farm, in the hope; that, by diligence and attention, I might at last attain to some knowledge of this business. I borrowed a small sum to begin with ; and five and twenty years have now elapsed since I first engaged in that employment; but, besides paying off my debt, I have never been able to do more than just supply myself with the necessaries of life, and should not always have done that, without the belp of the small sums which I received from my father, antil the time of his death, some months ago. No account of the event itself, or of the state of his afs fairs, was sent to me till within the last few weeks; when a letter from his lawyer acquainted me that my name was not mentioned in his will, and that his property, which had been considerably diminished by the extravagance of my halfbrother, was left equally divided between him and his mother. This I own was an unexpected stroke to me. I had not seen my father for several years, for my company had long ceased to afford him any pleasure, so I thought it best to discontinue the visits I before occasionally made him, and as he lived to a great age, and his faculties were a good deal impaired before his death, it is probable that no recollection of me was left on his mind. I cannot however help suspecting some unfairness towards me, and it is with a view to learn the truth, and, if possible, to obtain redress, that I have undertaken the journey in which it has pleased God that your humane and charitable exertions, and those of my kind host and hostess, should be the means of preserving me from perishing. My prospects of success are more than doubtful, but, whatever my future destiny may be, “ I have learnt in whatsoever
state I am, therewith to be content:"—the decrees of the Almighty must be right, and He who has supported me through long years of adversity, by whom our lot. in life is cast, and under whose controul are all its events, will yet provide for me in such a manner as his good Providence knows to be
Here ended the Stranger's history.-On the morrow 'he pursued his journey, but not until, amidst expressions of the liveliest gratitude on his part, and good will on that of Mr. Wilson, the latter had obtained from him a promise to return, in case he should: fail in attaining the object of it.—He did fail completely, for the will was so worded, that nothing could be claimed by him as a right, and his unfeeling relatives turned a deaf ear to all his entreaties. He then traced back his steps to the vil. lage which contained the hospitable mansion of Mr. Wilson; and, in a comfortable habitation provided for him by his benevolence, he, some years afterwards, in the presence of his benefactor, breathed his last, blessing and praising God, whó, though he had tried him in the furnace of affliction, had nevertheless not cast him away in the time of age, nor forsaken him when his strength failed : who, in exchange for the deceitful pleasures of this life, had blessed himn with peace of mind, and, who, when every earthly hope failed, raised him up a friend to soothe the infirmities of his declining years, and enabled him with the eye of faith, and perfect trust in his Redeemer's merits, to look forward to those joys
hath not seen, por ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man to conceive,?!
A.Z -May, 1825.