« AnteriorContinuar »
to my room that night, I thought over the various passages in my life. What might I have been if Providence had not watched over me? When neglected in my youth, in a situation which exposed ine to every temptation, had not Old Anderson been sent as a guardian to keep me in the right path, to instruct me, and to give me that education, without which my future success might have turned out a disadvantage instead of a source of gratitude. In Bramble, again, I had met with a father, to supply the place of one who was not in a situation to do his duty to me, or forward me in life. In Old Nanny I had met with a kind friend, one who, at the same time that she would lead me right, was a warning to me from her sufferings. To Mrs. St. Felix I was equally indebted - and had I not been permitted to pay the debt of gratitude to both of them? Even my mother's harshness, which appeared at first to my short-sightedness to have been so indefensible, was of great advantage to me, as it had stimulated me to exertion and industry, and pointed out to me the value of independence. Was I not also most fortunate in having escaped from the entanglement with Janet, who, had I married her, would, in all probability, have proved an useless, if not a faithless helpmate; and still more so, in finding that there was, as it were, especially reserved for me the affection of such a noble, rightminded creature as Bessy ? My life, commenced in rags and poverty, had, by industry and exertion, and the kindness of others, step by step progressed to competence, and every prospect of mundane happiness. Had I not, therefore, reason to be grateful, and to feel that there had been a little cherub who had watched over the life of Poor Jack? On my bended knees I acknowledged it fervently and gratefully, and prayed that, should it please Heaven that I should in after life meet any reverse, I might bear it without repining, and say, with all humility, “ Thy will and not mine, O Lord, be done!”
How bright was the next morning, and how cheerful did the dancing waves appear to me! —and Bessy's eyes were radiant as the day, and her smiles followed in rapid succession; and Bramble looked so many years younger —he was almost too happy to
smoke - it was really the sunshine of the heart which illumined our cottage. And thus did the few days pass, until Anderson and my father made their appearance. They were both surprised at Bessy's beauty, and told me so: they had heard that she was handsome, but they were not prepared for her uncommon style; for now that her countenance was lighted up with joy, she was indeed lovely.
“ Well, Tom," observed my father, “there's only one thing which surprises me.” “ What is that?”
Why, how, with such a fine craft in view, you could ever have sailed in the wake of such a little privateer as —
but I must not mention her - never mind, don't answer me that; but another question — when are you going to be spliced ?”
Very soon, I hope ; but I really don't exactly know: all I can say is, the sooner the better.”
“And so say I. Shall I bring up the subject on the plea of my leave being only for ten days?"
“Yes, father, I wish you would, as it is really a good reason to allege for its taking place immediately."
Tom, my dear boy,” said Old Anderson, “ from what I can perceive, you have great reason to be thankful in having obtained this young woman for your future partner in life. I admire her exceedingly, and I trust in Heaven that you will be happy."
“ I ought to be," replied I, “ and grateful also, particularly to you, to whom, under Providence, I am so much indebted.”
If the seed is sown upon good ground, it will always yield a good harvest, Tom. You are a proof of it, so thank Heaven, and not me. I wish to tell you what your father has mentioned to me. The fact is, Tom, he is in what may be called a false position at Greenwich. He is a pensioner, and has now sufficient not to require the charity, and he thinks that he ought not to avail himself of it, now that you have made him independent; but if he leaves the Hospital and remains at Greenwich, he and your mother would not agree well together; they are very good friends at a certain distance, but I do not think, with her high notions, that they
could ever live together in the same house. He says that he should like to live either with you or near you; and I think myself, now that he is become so very steady a character, it does require your consideration whether you ought not to permit him. He will be a very good companion for Bramble, and they will get on well together. I do not mean to say that it might not be more agreeable if he were to remain at Greenwich, but he is your father, Tom, and you should make some sacrifice for a parent.”
“ As far as I am concerned, Anderson, I most gladly consent. Bramble is to live with us -- that is arranged, and if no objections are raised by others, you may be sure of my acceding, and indeed, if objections should be raised, of persuading all I can.”
“ You can do no more, Tom,” replied Anderson ; “nor can more be expected.”
This point was very satisfactorily arranged. Bramble and Bessy both gave their cheerful consent, and it was settled that as soon as we had a house to receive him, my father should quit Greenwich, and live with us. The arguments of my father, added to the persuasions of Bramble and me, had their due weight, and on the 13th of September, 1807, Bessy and I exchanged our vows, and I embraced her as my own.
If the reader will refer back to the first part of this narrative, he will find that I was born in the year 1786 ; and as I am writing this in the year 1840, I am now 54 years old. I was but little more than 21 when I married : I have, therefore, the experience of 32 years of a married life; but I will not anticipate. I ended the last chapter with my own happy union; I must now refer to those events which followed close upon that period.