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I believe my father was glad to see me : but when we conversed together, and I appeared destitute of that flightiness which I formerly possessed, he said he could not think what was the matter with me.
Pray, cried he, whither do you go, to church or meet. ing?
I answered, that I had been at both, but that I chiefly went to meeting with my aunt.
To meeting with your aunt ? replied he contemptuously. I assure you, Miranda, those who leave the church, and preach in conventicles, are all of them villains, who make it their study to turn people's heads. I am sorry you have so little of your father in you as to go and hear them. I never was in one of their places in my life. Your aunt indeed married one of this sort of people ; à very honest man, I must confess, so that I did not so much wonder at her going to the meeting: but as Mr. Worthington is dead, and the reason of her leaving the church no longer exists, I am amazed that she, who is a sensible woman in other respects, should continue to have any thing to do with such people.
I believe, Sir, said I, Mr. Worthington did not desire her to leave the church, but left it w holly to her own option. I have heard her say that, at first, she only went now and then occasionally, until it pleased God to open
O Eusebia, my poor parent burst here into a loud laugh, turning my expression of God's opening her eyes into ridicule. Alas, how sad a thing is it to be ignorant, both of our misery and the remedy! He perceived, by my tears, that his laughter was no pleasing thing to me, and cried out, Fy, fy, Miranda, I did not think such an enthusiastical expression, would have come from your mouth. My child, all canting and whining about religion is a mere farce. If we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, that is all, that is all; God requires no more.
“ 'Bout modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
And yet, Sir, replied I, the church of Rome, to which Mr. Pope, the author of those lines, was the greatest bigot, has murdered her millions on account of their faith. This, I think bears a pretty near resemblance to fighting. And there is another church, Sir, that has shown herself to be her true daughter, by treading in the same steps as long as she could. The liberty which dissenters enjoy at this day they have no cause to thank the clergy for.
Faith, girl, said my father, your answer is more to the purpose than I could have expected. I believe, indeed, that priests of all religions are the same. All I say is this: every one ought to go where he was brought up. In London, I acknowledge, some genteel people go to the meeting; so that I do not so much blame you for going with your aunt; but in the country, Miranda, none go to meeting but beggars, the very lowest of the people, except in our great towns, where a few tradesmen are of that persuasion; but even there you scarcely ever see any genteel people among them. Mr. Pink, indeed, and his family, went to meeting when they lived in a market-town; but since he came to reside upon his estate, he has always gone to church. I asked Miss Pink one day the reason her father and mother did not go to mceting now. Be. cause, replied she, none but beggars go to meeting here. And a very good reason, I think; as it would be out of character for Mr. Pink to associate with such low people, in a place not much better than a barn, and to hear a des: picable mechanic. · O Eusebia, I could formerly have heard such discourse with pleasure: but now. I was filled with the most poignant grief. In answer to my father, I begged him to give me his thoughts on this passage in the word of God: For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called ; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God
chosen'; yea, and things which are not; to bring to nought things that are : that no flesh should glory in his presence.
Of what use is it to quote Scripture, cried my father ; Scripture may be quoted for any thing.
After this private conversation, my father said to my aunt, when we were at tea, I hope, Madam, you will be so obliging as to accompany my daughter and me to the play. The tragedy of Macbeth will be acted at Drury-lane. I admire Shakspeare ; he was the most original genius in the world; and in his fairies and witches he never had, and probably never will have an equal.
I am willing, Sir, replied my aunt, that he should have all the honour which accrues from excelling in the invention of such sinful amusements.
I tell you what, Madam, said my father, I would rather go to see a play written by that immortal bard, than to hear the best sermon that ever was preached, and there
would be more to be learned by it. But the question is, · will you oblige me and go with us?
Indeed I will not, replied she; nor will I consent that my niece shall go while she is under my care. When she is in the country she may do as she pleases. .
Nay, Madam, answered my father, when she is in the country, she shall do as I please. I am afraid, sister, you have filled her head so full of religion, that it will be the cause of many a quarrel between us ; for I shall insist upon her being as she used to be.
I assure you, brother, replied my aunt, it will be in vain to expect it. Your daughter was a thoughtless creature, and lived without the fear of God. Now she has learned to fear him, who, after he has killed, is able to cast into hell: and I dare say she would rather suffer the greatest evil than go to a playhouse, or do any thing deliberately to offend God.
So then, Madam, cried my father, raising his voice, (! perceived he was angry,) you have taught her, I observe, to set me at defiance; but we shall see when she is at home who will be the greatest coward, she or 1. My
daughter knew that I abhorred pretenders to religion, as I hate toads or vipers; and yet she must become one of those whining hypocrites. I must say I hate them, and shall for ever hate them.
I was bathed in tears, as I well might, at a conversation so truly alarming: but, wiping my eyes and falling upon my knees, I implored my dear parent not to desire me to offend my Creator. In every matter wherein I could conscientiously oblige him, I promised to be obedient without reserve.
Well, Miranda, cried my father, angrily, you may either go or stay : I shall ask you no more.
My aunt replied, that she was certain I would gladly do all, or even more than he could desire, where I could do so without breaking the divine commands.
At this my father laughed, and desired to know which of the commandments was broken by going to a play?
The whole of the moral law, replied she, is comprised in love to the Author of our being, and in love to our neighbour. But it cannot be said of those who delight in such vanities that their conversation is in heaven, or that they have any knowledge of, or true love to God. And if by our example we countenance our neighbour in sin, it cannot be said that we have any true love to him. So that to frequent those indecent assemblies
Come, come, sister, interrupted my father, a sermon once a weck is more than sufficient, except it be a very short one indeed. I have no doubt but as honest men as any in the kingdom frequent the theatre constantly ; and if I fare as well as they, I dare say I shall not be very baddy off.
As soon as my father had said this, he ordered his man to call a coach, and went away without asking me to accompany him. But he has since been very cross when he has been here, which has not been often ; for he has a suit depending in chancery, so that a good deal of his time has been taken up with his attorney and counsel.
We shall be in the country in a few days, with the di.
vine permission, when I hope to have the pleasure of seeing my dear friend. But I fear that if bonds and imprisonments do not await me, as they frequently have done the servants of Jesus Christ, I shall suffer a great deal“ from my dear parent, who only does as I should now have done, if the mercy of God had not prevented.
Pray remember our love to Thomas and his wife. My aunt desires you will correspond with her after I am gone, and also continue your narrative. She was so kind as to intreat my father to let me stay ; to which he only answered, In my humble opinion, sister, she has been here too long already, except she had studied the fifth commandment as well as the rest. My dear Eusebia, I am your most affectionate friend,
And companion in affliction,
From Miss Eusebia Neville to Mrs. Worthington.
DEAR MADAM, YOUR
OUR niece's account of what she has suffered, and of what she is likely to suffer, from her parent, has made me low-spirited, as I fear it is only a prelude to my own trials. I expect my father and sister, and father Albino, will be at home next week, at which time I intend to visit my dear Miranda, if I hear that she is arrived at Barnivell. I expect no more comfort at the Abbey, since I dare not any longer conform to that idolatrous worship wherein I was educated.
It is your desire, Madam, that I should continue my narrative. This I will gladly do, or any thing else wherein I can oblige Mrs. Worthington
I have already related how much I was affeoted with reading the examinations and martyrdom of Mr. Philpot