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did not or would not perceive it, and he sailed without showing me any preference. In six months he returned; and whether it was that he was told of by others, or at last perceived, my feelings towards him, he joined the crowd of suitors, made a proposal in his off-hand manner, as if he was indifferent as to my reply, and was accepted. My father, to whom he communicated the intelligence as carclessly as if he were talking about freight, did not approve of the match.
Very well,' replied he, 'I shall say no more; as long as a man has a ship, he does not want a wife.' He returned and stated what had passed, and my
father also spoke to me.
I was self-willed and determined, and my father yielded. We were married; and I certainly had no reason to complain of my husband, who was very kind to me. But I was jealous of, what do you
think? of his ship! for he cared more for it than he did for me: and three months after our marriage, notwithstanding all my tears and entreaties, and the expostulations of my father, he would sail again. He offered to take me with him, and I would gladly have gone;
my father would not listen to it. He sailed, and I never saw him again ; his vessel, with all hands, foundered, with many others, in a heavy gale. The news did not arrive until many
months afterwards; and I had not been a mother more than six weeks when I found that I was a widow. I have passed all this over quickly, Jack, because it is of less moment — my trials had not commenced.
“ The loss of my husband, as may be supposed, only endeared my child the more to me, and I wept him as he smiled upon me in his cradle. My father
had reverses in his business, but those I cared littlo for. He did, however : he had been the richest man in the town, he was now comparatively poor; his pride was crushed; it broke his heart, and he died; the whole of his assets at the winding up of his affairs not exceeding ten thousand pounds. This was, however, quite enough, and more than enough, for me. I thought but of one object -- it was my darling boy; he represented to me all I had lost ; in him I saw my husband, father, and everything. I lived but for him. He was my idolatry, Jack. I worshipped the creaturo instead of the Creator.
“As he grew up, I indulged him in everything ; lic never was checked; I worried myself day and night to please him, and yet he never was pleased. He was so spoilt that he did not know what he wanted. He was a misery to himself and all about him, except to me, who was so blinded by my love. As he advanced to manhood, his temper showed itself to be violent and uncontrollable; he was the terror of others, and prudent people would shake their heads and prophesy. He would not submit to any profession; the only wish that he had was to go to sea, and that was my terror. I implored him on my knees not to think of it, but in vain ; at first he used to threaten when he wanted money for his extravagancies, and it was a sure way to obtain it; but one day I discovered that he had quitteci the port without saying farewell, and that he had sailed in a vessel bound to the coast of Africa. А short letter and a heavy bill was received from Portsmouth, and I did not hear of him for two years.
I was heartbrokon, but not weaned from him; I counted the days for his return. At last he came -browned by the climate, full of oaths, savage in his bearing, and occasionally referring to scenes which made mu shudder. But he was my son, my only son, and I loved him as much as ever. He was now but seldom at home, for he lived almost at the gaming-tables; if he came to me, it was to extort money, and he never failed. I sold out my property to support his extravagance, and by degrees it was rapidly diminishing. I begged him, I entreated him to be more prudent; but he laughed, and promised to return me all the first lucky hit he should make; but that lucky hit never came, and at last I had but two thousand pounds left. This I positively refused to part with, the interest of it was barely sufficient for my wants; I asked no more, - but I expostulated and I reasoned with him in vain. He only begged me for five hundred pounds; if I sold the money out, he would tell me where I might have a good interest for the fifteen hundred pounds as I now received for the two thousand pounds. He begged and entreated me, he kissed, and he even wept;
I could not withstand his importunities. I sold out the money, and gave him the sum he wanted; the fifteen hundred pounds I put by in my desk, to invest as he had pointed out. That very night ho forced the lock, took out the money, and left me without a sixpence in the world.”
“ What a villain!" exclaimed I.
Yes, you may say so, Jack; but who made him such a villain, but his foolish, doting mother? Had I done him justice, had I checked him when young, had I brought him up as I ought to have done, he might
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now have been a happiness and a blessing to his mother. I was the person to blame, not he; and many years of anguish have I lamented my folly and my wretchedness."
"You loved him too much, mother; but it was a fault on the right side.”
“No, Jack, that is an error of yours; it was a fault on the wrong side. There is no credit to a mother in loving her children, for she cannot help it. natural instinct implanted in the mother's heart by the Almighty, and in following this instinct we do no more than the beasts of the field. The duty of a mother is to check that feeling as far as it interferes with the happiness and well-doing of her children ; and it is her duty to do so, and to punish herself in correcting her children. Jack, it is a selfish feeling which induces mothers to spoil their children.”
“At all events, my mother has never spoilt me,” replied I.
“No, Jack, she has not; but observe the conscquence. You said just now that excessive tenderness was a fault on the right sido : now, how completely have you proved the contrary! I do not intend to your
mother's conduct towards you; she has been unkind to you in your childhood, and has never shown the affection that a mother ought; but is not her fault a fault on the right side? Jack, you recollect my saying “what a difference,' when you told me what
had done for your mother; I then referred to my son and to you.
I indulged him in everything, sacrificed everything, and he robbed me and left me a beggar. Your mother has been severe upon you, and
yet the first time you have the means of showing yor duty, you give her all the money you have in the world. Your mother may not be right, Jack, but I was dreadfully wrong, and the result has proved it.”
“Well, mother, go on, pray.”
“My story is now soon told. I struggled on how I could, for more than two years, by selling my furniture and a few ornaments : then the blow came. When I heard it, I would not remain in town; I left for London, picked up my living how I could and where I could, till at last I came down here. Time was as a dream; reflection was too painful. I felt that it was all my fault—all my own doing. My heart became hardened, and continued so till I loved you, Jack; and now I have better feelings, at least I think so.”
But, mother, what was the blow? Is he dead?" “ Yes, Jack, dead - dead on the gibbet. He was hanged for piracy, at Port Royal, Jamaica. — Jack," said Nanny, seizing my hand, and pressing it in her long fingers, “ this is a secret; recollect, a secret deep as the grave; promise me, as you hope for heaven!"
"I do, mother, as I hope for heaven."
“Now, Jack, leave me. Good-bye. You will come and see me when you return, and never bring this subject up again. Bless you, my child! bless you!"
I left poor old Nanny with her faco buried in her apron; and it was in a very melancholy mood that I returned home; I could not help thinking of the picture in the spelling-book, where the young man at the gallows is biting off the ear of his mother, who, by her indulgence, had brought him to that disgrace.