Imágenes de páginas

When we had got within half a mile of Moulins, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, i discovered poor Maria sitting under a poplar—she was fitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her hand-a small brook ran at the foot of the tree.

I bid the postillion go on with the chaise to Moulinsand La Fleur to bespeak my fupper-and that I would walk after him.

She was dreffed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a filk net. She had superadded likewise to her jacket, à pale green ribband, .which fell across her shoulder to her waist; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithJess as her lover, and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle ; as I looked at her dog, the drew him towards her with the string—“Thou shalt not leave me, Sylvio,said fhe. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered them, the tears trickled down her cheeks.

I sat down close by her; and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell, with my handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own--and then in hers—and then in mine—and then I wiped hers again--and as I did it, I felt such indescribable emotion within me, as I am sure could not be accounted for from any combinations of matter and motion.

I am pofitive I have a soul; nor can all the books with which materialists have pestered the world ever convince me of the contrary.

When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if she remembered a tall thin person of a man who had sat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before? She said, she was much unsettled at that time; but remembered it upon two accounts-that ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her


goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft- she had washed it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever fince in her pocket to restore it to him in case the should ever fee him again, which, the added, he had half promised her. As she told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me fee it; she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril--on opening it, I saw an S marked in one of the corners.

She had fince that, fhe told me, strayed as far asRome, and walked round St Peter's once and returned back-that the found her way alone acrofs the Apenines—had travelled over all Lombardy without mo ney-and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes-how she had borne it, and how she had

got fupported, the could not tell but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.

Shorn, indeed! and to the quick, faid I; and was thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee: thou shouldst eat of own bread, and drink of my own cup I would be kind to thy Sylvio-in all thy weakneffes and wanderings I would seek after thee and bring thee back-when the fun went down, I would say my prayers; and when I had done thou shouldst play the evening fong upon thy pipe, nor would the incense of my facrifice be worfe accepted for entering heaven along with that of a bro. ken heart.

Nature melted within me, as I uttered this; and Ma. ria observing, as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of use, would needs go wash it in the stream.-.And where will you dry it, Maria ? said I-I will dry it in my bofom, faid the

-it will do me good. And is

your heart still so warm, Maria ? said I. I touched upon the string on which hung all her forrows-fhe looked with wistful diforder for fome time in

my face; and then, without saying any thing, took her pipe, and played her service to the Virgin. The



rose up.

ftring I had touched ceased to vibrate--in a moment or two Maria turned to herfelf-let her pipe fall, and

And where are you going, Maria ? faid I. - She faid, to Moulins. Let us go, said I, together.-Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string to let the dog follow-in that order we entered Moulins.

Though I hate falutations and greetings in the market place, yet when we got into the middle of this, I stopped to take my last look and last farewell of Maria.

Maria, though not tall, was nevertheless of the first order of fine forms- affliction had touched her looks with fomething that was fcarce earthly-fill she was feminine and so much was there about her of all that the heart wishes, or the


looks for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza's out of mine, the should not only eat of my bread and drink of my own cup, but Maria fhould lie in my bofom, and be unto me as a daughter. Adieu, poor luckless maiden ;

-imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journieth on his way, now pours into thy wounds- -that Being who has twice bruised thee, can only bind them up for ever


The Want of Piety arises from the Want of


IT ,

free from natural defects and acquired corruption, feels no less a tendency to the indulgence of devotion, than to virtuous love, or to any other of the more refined and elevated affections. But debauchery and excess contribute greatly to destroy all the susceptible delicacy with which nature usually furnishes the heart; and, in the general extinction of our better qualities, it is no wonder that so pure a sentiment as that of piety should be one of the first to expire.

It is certain that the understanding may be improved in a knowledge of the world, and in the arts of succeeding in it, while the heart, or whatever constitutes the seat of the moral and sentimental feelings, is gradually receding from its proper and original perfection. Indeed experience seems to evince, that it is hardly poffible to arrive at the character of a complete man of the world, without losing many of the most valuable fentiments of uncorrupted nature. A complete man of the world is an artificial being; he has discarded many of the native and laudable tendencies of his mind, and adopted a new system of objects and propensities of his own creation. These are commonly gross, coarse, fordid, selfish, and sensual. All, or either of these attributes, tend directly to blunt the sense of every thing liberal, enlarged, disinterested; of every thing which participates more of an intellectual than of a sensual nature. When the heart is tied down to the earth by luft and avarice, it is not extraordinary that the eye should be seldom lifted up to heaven. To the man who spends the Sunday (because he thinks the day fit for little else) in the counting-house, in travelling, in the tayern, or in the brothel, those who go to church appear


as fools, and the business they go upon as nonsense. He is callous to the feelings of devotion ; but he is tremblingly alive to all that gratifies his senses or promotes his interest.

It has been remarked of those writers who have attacked Christianity, and represented all religions merely as diversified modes of superstition, that they were indeed, for the most part, men of a metayphysical and a difputatious turn of mind, but usually little distinguished for benignity and generosity. There was, amidst all their pretensions to logical fagacity, a cloudinefs of ideas, and a coldness of heart, which rendered them very unfit judges on a question in which the heart is chiefly interested ; in which the language of nature is more expressive and convincing, than all the dreary subtleties of the dismal metaphysicians. Even the reasoning faculty, on which we so greatly value ourselves, may be perverted by excessive refinement; and there is an abstruse, but vain and foolish philosophy, which philosophises us out of the noblest parts of our noble nature. One of those parts of us is our instinctive fense of religion, of which not one of those brutes which the philosophers most admire, and to whose rank they wish to reduce us, is found in the flightest degree to participate.

Such philosophers may be called, in a double sense, the enemies of mankind. They not only endeavour to entice man from his duty, but to rob him of a most exalted and natural pleasure. Such, surely, is the pleasure of devotion. For when the soul rises above this little orb, and pours its adoration at the throne of celestial Majesty, the holy fervour which it feels is itself a rapturous delight. Neither is this a declamatory representation, but a truth felt and acknowledged by all the sons of men; except those who have been defective in sensibility, or who hoped to gratify the pride or the malignity of their hearts, by lingular and pernicious speculation.

« AnteriorContinuar »