“ When my occasions took me into France, towards the close of the late reign, the clergy, under all their forms, engaged a considerable part of my curiosity.

“ They seemed to me beyond the clerical character, liberal and cpen; with the hearts of gentlemen, and men of honour. They seemed to me rather a superior class of men, amongst whom you would not be surprised to find a Fenelon."










sunshine of fortune ;-in the cold nipping frost of

disappointment, sickness, or connubial strife, they DORRIFORTH, bred at St. Omer's in all the scho- will forsake the house of care, although the very lastic rigour of that college, was, by education and fabric which they may have themselves erected.” the solemn vows of his order, a Roman Catholic Here the excruciating anguish of the father overpriest : but, nicely discriminating between the phi- came that of the dying man. losophical and the superstitious part of that cha- “In the moment of desertion,” continued he, racter, he adopted the former only, and possessed “which I now picture to myself, where will my qualities not unworthy of the first professors of child find comfort? That heavenly aid which reChristianity. Every virtue which it was his vo- ligion provides, and which now, amidst these agocation to preach, it was his care to practise ; nizing tortures, cheers with humble hope my afwas he in the class of those of the religious, who, flicted soul; that she will be denied." by secluding themselves from the world, fly from It is in this place proper to remark, that Mr. the merit they might acquire in reforrning man- Milner was a member of the church of Rome, but kind : he refused to shelter himself from the temp- on his marriage with a lady of Protestant tenets, tations of the layman by the walls of a cloister ; they mutually agreed their sons should be educatbut sought for, and found that shelter within the ed in the religious opinion of their father, and their centre of London, where he dwelt, in his own pru- daughters in that of their mother. One child only dence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

was the result of their union; the child whose future He was about thirty, and had lived in the metro- welfare now occupied the anxious thoughts of her polis near five years, when a gentleman, above expiring father. From him the care of her educahis own age, but with whom he had in his youth tion had been withheld, as he kept inviolate his procontracted a sincere friendship, died, and left him mise to her departed mother on the article of rethe sole guardian of his daughter, who was then ligion, and therefore consigned his daughter to a eighteen.

boarding school for Protestants, whence she reThe deceased Mr. Milner, on his approaching turned with merely such ideas of piety as ladies of dissolution, perfectly sensible of his state, thus fashion, at herage, mostly imbibe. Her little heart, reasoned with himself before he made the nomi- employed in all the endless pursuits of personal nation :-“I have formed no intimate friendship accomplishments, had left her mind without one during my whole life, except one—I can be said ornament, except such as nature gave; and even to know the heart of no man, except the heart of they were not wholly preserved from the ravages Dorriforth. After knowing his, I never sought made by its rival, Art. acquaintance with another—I did not wish to les- While her father was in health he beheld, with sen the exalted estimation of human nature which extreme delight, his accomplished daughter, withhe had inspired. In this moment of trembling ap- out one fault which taste or elegance could have prehension for every thought which darts across imputed to her ; nor ever inquired what might be my mind, and more for every action which soon I her other failings. But, cast on a bed of sickness, must be called to answer for; all worldly views and upon the point of leaving her to her fate, those here thrown aside, I act as if that tribunal, before failings at once rushed on his thought and all the which I every moment expect to appear, were now pride, the fond enjoyment he had taken in beholdsitting in judgment upon my purpose. The care ing her open the ball, or delight her hearers with of an only child is the great charge which in this her wit or song, escaped his remembrance; or, not tremendous crisis I have to execute. These earth- escaping it, were lamented with a sigh of compasly affections that bind me to her by custom, sym. sion, or a contemptuous frown at such frivoloug pathy, or what I fondly call parental love, would qualifications. direct me to consult her present happiness, and “ Something essential,” said he to himself, leave her to the care of those whom she thinks her “ must be considered something to prepare her dearest friends; but they are friends only in the for an hour like this. Can I then leave her to the charge of those who, themselves never remember the ridicule, but even the appellation of an old such an hour will come ? Dorriforth is the only maid.

to those of religion, and pious faith to native honour, death of Mr. Horton ; nor upon that event bad will protect without controling, instruct without he thought it necessary, notwithstanding his retyrannizing, comfort without Hattering; and, per- ligious vow of celibacy, to fly the roof of two haps in time, make good by choice, rather than such innocent females as Mrs. Horton and her by constraint, the tender object of his dying friend's niece. On their part, they regarded him with all sole care."

that "respect and reverence which the most reliDorriforth, who came post from London to visit gious flock shows to its pastor ; and his friendly Mr. Milner in his illness, received a few moments society they not only esteemed a spiritual, but a before his death all his injunctions, and promised temporal advantage, as the liberal stipend he alto fulfil them. But, in this last token of his friend's lowed for his apartments and board enabled them perfect esteem, he still was restrained from all au- to continue in the large and commodious house thority to direct his ward in one religious opinion, which they had occupied during the life of Mr. contrary to those her mother had professed, and in Horton. which she herself had been educated.

Here, upon Mr. Dorriforth's return from his “ Never perplex her mind with any opinions journey, preparations were commenced for the that may disturb, but cannot reform"—were his reception of his ward; her father having made latest words; and Dorriforth’s reply gave him en- it his request that she might, for a time at least, tire satisfaction.

reside in the same house with her guardian, reMiss Milner was not with her father at this ceive the same visits, and cultivate the acquaintaffecting period :-some delicately nervous friend, ance of his companions and friends. with whom she was on a visit at Bath, thought

When the will of her father was made known proper to conceal from her not only the danger of

to Miss Milner, she submitted, without the least his death, but even his indisposition, lest it might reluctance, to all he had required. Her mind, at alarm a mind she thought too susceptible. This

that time impressed with the most poignant sorrefined tenderness gave poor Miss Milner the al- row for his loss, made no distinction of happiness most insupportable agony of hearing that her

that was to come ; and the day was appointed, father was no more, even before she was told he with her silent acquiescence, when she was to was not in health. In the bitterest anguish she

arrive in London, and there take up her abode, flew to pay her last duty to his remains, and per

with all the retinue of a rich heiress. formed it with the truest filial love,—while Dorri

Mrs. Horton was delighted with the addition forth, upon important business, was obliged to re

this acquisition to her family was likely to make turn to town.

to her annual income, and style of living. The good-natured Miss Woodley was overjoyed at the expectation of their new guest, yet she herself could not tell why—but the reason was, that her kind heart wanted a more ample field for its be

nevolence; and now her thoughts were all pleasDORRIFORTH returned to London heavily afflicted ingly employed how she should render, not only for the loss of his friend ; and yet, perhaps, with the lady herself, but even all her attendants, haphis thoughts more engaged upon the trust which py in their new situation. that friend had reposed in him. He knew the The reflections of Dorriforth were less agreelife Miss Milner had been accustomed to lead ; ably engaged-Cares, doubts, fears, possessed his he dreaded the repulses his admonitions might mind and so forcibly possessed it that, upon possibly meet ; and feared he had undertaken a every occasion which offered, he would inquisitask he was too weak to execute—the protection tively endeavour to gain intelligence of his ward's of a young woman of fashion.

disposition before he saw her ; for he was, as yet, Mr. Dorriforth was nearly related to one of our a stranger not only to the real propensities of her first Catholic peers ; his income was by no means mind, but even to her person ; a constant round confined, but approaching to affluence ; yet such of visits having prevented his meeting her at her was his attention to those in poverty, and the mo- father's, the very few times he had been at his deration of his own desires, that he lived in all the house since her final return from school. The careful plainness of economy. His habitation was first person whose opinion he, with all proper in the house of a Mrs. Horton, an elderly gentle- reserve, asked concerning Miss Milner, was Lady woman, who had a maiden niece residing with her, Evans, the widow of a baronet, who frequently not many years younger than herself. But al- visited at Mrs. Horton's. though Miss Woodley was thirty-five, and in per- But that the reader may be interested in what son exceedingly plain, yet she possessed such Dorriforth says and does, it is necessary to give cheerfulness of temper, and such an inexhaustible some description of his person and manners. fund of good nature, that she escaped not only His figure was tall and elegant, but his face, ex


cept a pair of dark bright eyes, a set of white teeth, and a graceful arrangement in his clerical curls of brown hair, had not one feature to excite admiration-yet such a gleam of sensibility was diffused over each, that many persons admired his visage as completely handsome, and all were more or less attracted by it. In a word, the charm, that is here meant to be described, is a countenance -on his you read the feelings of his heart-saw all its inmost workings--the quick pulses that beat with hope and fear, or the gentle ones that moved in a more equal course of patience and resignation. On this countenance his thoughts were portrayed ; and as his mind was enriched with every virtue that could make it valuable, so was his face adorned with every expression of those virtues ;-and they not only gave lustre to his aspect, but added an harmonious sound to all he utlered; it was persuasive, it was perfect eloquence; whilst in his looks you beheld his thoughts moving with his lips, and ever coinciding with what he said.

With one of those expressions of countenance, which revealed anxiety of heart, and yet with that graceful restraint of all gesticulation, for which he was remarkable, even in his most anxious concerns, he addressed Lady Evans, who had called on Mrs. Horton to hear and to request the news of the day : “Your ladyship was at Bach last spring-you know the young lady to whom I have the honour of being appointed guardian.Pray,”—

He was earnestly intent upon asking a question, but was prevented by the person interrogated.

“Dear Mr. Dorriforth, do not ask me any thing about Miss Milner--when I saw her she was very young: though indeed that is but three months ago, and she can't be much older now.”

“ She is eighteen,” answered Dorriforth, colouring with regret at the doubts which this lady had increased, but not inspired.

“And she is very beautiful, that I can assure you,” said Lady Evans.

“ Which I call no qualification,” said Dorriforth, rising from his chair in evident uneasi

she ;

thing to happen just as she wished (for neither an excellent education, the best company, nor long experience had been able to cultivate or brighten this good lady's understanding,)“ Nay,” said she, “I am sure, Mr. Dorriforth, you will soon convert her from all her evil ways.”

“Dear me,” returned Lady Evans, “ I am sure I never meant to hint at any thing evil--and for what I have said, I will give you up my authors if you please ; for they were not observations of my own; all I do is to mention them again.”

The good-natured Miss Woodley, who sat working at the window, an humble, but an attentive listener to this discourse, ventured here to say exactly six words; “ Then don't mention them any more.”

“Let us change the subject,” said Dorriforth.

“ With all my heart,” cried Lady Evans ; “ and I am sure it will be to the young lady's advantage.”

“ Is Miss Milner tall or short ?" asked Mrs. Horton, still wishing for farther information. “Oh, tall enough of all conscience,” returned

“ I tell you again that no fault can be found with her person.”

“But if her mind is defective”-exclaimed Dorriforth, with a sigh

“That may be improved as well as the person,” cried Miss Woodley.

“No, my dear,” returned Lady Evans, “I never heard of a pad to make straight an ill shapen disposition.”

“Oh, yes,” answered Miss Woodley, “good company, good books, experience, and the misfortunes of others, may have more power to form the mind to virtue than”

Miss Woodley was not permitted to proceed, for Lady Evans rising hastily from her seat, cried, “I must be gone-I have a hundred people waiting for me at home-besides, were I inclined to hear a sermon, I should desire Mr. Dorriforth to preach, and not you.”

Just then Mrs. Hillgrave was announced." And here is Mrs. Hillgrave,"' continued she" I believe, Mrs. Hillgrave, you know Miss Milner, don't you? The young lady who has lately lost her father."

Mrs. Hillgrave was the wife of a merchant who had met with severe losses: as soon as the name of Miss Milner was uttered, she lifted up her hands, and the tears started in her eyes.

“There !” cried Lady Evans, “I desire you will give your opinion of her, and I am sorry I cannot stay to hear it.” Saying this, she curtsied and took her leave.

When Mrs. Hillgrave had been seated a few minutes, Mrs. Horton, who loved information equally with the most inquisitive of her sex, asked the new visitor_"If she might be permitted to know why, at the mention of Miss Milner, she had seemed so much affected ?"

This question exciting the fears of Dorriforth,


“But where there is nothing else, let me tell you, beauty is something."

“Much worse than nothing, in my opinion,” returned Dorriforth.

“But now, Mr. Dorriforth, do not, from what I have said, frighten yourself, and imagine your ward worse than she really is. All I know of her, is merely, that she's young, idle, indiscreet, and giddy, with half a dozen lovers in her suite ; some coxcombs, others men of gallantry, some single, and others married.”

Dorriforth started. " For the first time of my life,” cried he with a manly sorrow, “I wish I had never known her father." “ Nay,” said Mrs. Horton, who expected every



« VorigeDoorgaan »