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“Well, mamma, I really cannot quite understand there being much self-denial where people are very cheerful.”
w That is, you think a low degree of self-denial, more estimable than a high one. I am glad you have given me an opportunity of speaking on this subject, because it is one about which many young people, and indeed older ones, too, make sad mistakes. They think that to give a kind action its full value, it should be made evident that it is the last thing in the world that they wished to do; such people are generally very exacting, and are quite disappointed if they perform any little service for another, without receiving their thanks for it. This makes them appear very officious, for as they take care that they will do nothing without its being known that it is they who have done it, they make a parade of all their little services, never doing them beforehand, but waiting till the moment when they are wanted ; thinking, in fact, not of the comfort of others, but of the praise they shall receive for contributing to it.”
“Then, mamma, it must be very difficult to find who are really self-denying people, because if they do not make it manifest that they are giving up something, we are apt to suppose that they are doing what they like best.”
"When we feel ourselves to be misunderstood, my dear child, we willingly acknowledge the wisdom of the injunction "Judge not that ye be not judged.” Nothing is more difficult than for one human being to form an estimate of another's character, We see actions, and we can judge whether they in themselves are right or wrong, but there are few cases in which we can ascertain the true motives that cause them; and I often wonder whether more people are on the whole blamed for doing right, or praised for doing wrong. Depend upon it, the highest attainment of self-denial, is to appear to be without it. To have the mind so regulated as to conform to duty, whatever it may be, with alacrity, and not to compensate for the performance of what appear to be acts of kindness, by a complaining spirit, and a grumbling tone of conversation.”
“Well, mamma, I really cannot think Miss Ward better than Miss Townley, for though she might at one time give up a good deal, yet I think she is used to it now; and I think if she did not really like the kind of life she leads, she could not look so composed and happy."
“Mrs. Gordon's arguments failed to shake her daughter's opinion, and she was grieved to see that from that time Emma made a parade of many little courtesies which she had been accustomed to render in an unobtrusive manner But at length the time came when Emma's feelings totally changed. Mrs. Gordon was seized with a sudden, but not a short illness; and while she lay in a state approaching to insensibility, Emma felt a peace and satisfaction in rendering her all the fond attentions that the most fervent affection could dictate, which she had never experienced in the days when she anticipated thanks for every little effort on her part. At length she had the unspeakable happiness of seeing her beloved mother slowly but truly recovering, and was once more able to enjoy conversation with her."
“How tenderly you have watched over me, my Emma," said Mrs. Gordon, on one occasion; "you have indeed shown selfdenial, for you have given up every thing for me, and my greatest pain has often arisen from my inability to thank you for all you have done."
“Oh, no, no! dearest mamma. I understand a great many things now, that I used not do before you were ill, and I never can believe again, that there can be self-denial in doing anything for a person you love. Why, it has been my greatest happiness to wait upon you, and I sometimes feel almost sorry to find you getting so much better, as to be gradually shaking off my services. “I like Miss Ward best now, mamma,” she added in a whisper.
“And which do our readers like best? Much, very much depends, while the character is forming, upon the models which are almost unconsciously selected for imitation. Wordsworth has truly said
“We live by admiration, hope, and love,
In dignity of being we ascend." How important then does it become, that the standard of ex. cellence should be a high one; that our admiration and our love should be fixed on qualities which are genuine and praiseworthy. And when we feel that our best efforts for others are either unobserved, or misunderstood, let us think of Him who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and of the return He met with. Let us count over the daily blessings we receive (if we can,) and ascertain the amount of thankfulness we are in the habit of rendering for them, and then contrast it with the amount we expect from our fellow-creatures for what we do for them, and we shall wonder at our exacting spirit, for it will generally be found, that in proportion as a person is grateful, the less does he complain of the want of gratitude in others."
A VISIT TO OLNEY.* Business having lately called us into the northern district of the county of Buckingham, we resolved to fulfil an intention, long cherished, of visiting the small town of Olney, one of the meanest and most insignificant of English market-towns, but hallowed for ever in the affections of every admirer of genius, as the residence for so many years of Cowper, who has immortalised the scenery in its neighbourhood in his poems, and not less the daily life of its inhabitants in his letters.
Olney is five miles distant from Newport Pagnell, which again is nearly four miles distant from the Wolverton station of the London and Birmingham Railway. The portion of the country thus intersected by the iron-way forms a sort of peninsular triangle, protruding itself between the two adjoining counties of Bedford and Northampton. Of this triangle, Olney forms the apex, being in part the most northerly town in Bucks, But the interest of the district to the lovers of Cowper's gentle spirit, begins at Newport Pagnell. This is a respectable country town of about 5000 inhabitants, with several good inns in it, and a fine old church, in the gothic style, situated with even more than the usual attention to the picturesque which is usually displayed in the sites of English churches. Newport church stands upon a natural terrace, on the left bank of the river Ouse, towards which stream the churchyard gently slopes down. A row of tall trees fringe the river brink, and disclose at intervals, through their foliage, the quiet stream flashing in the sun-light. The southern
We copy this graphic and interesting sketch, to the correctness of which we can bear personal testimony, from that well-known and favorite periodical, “ Hogg's Weekly Instructor” for September. It forms a pleasing and appropriate pendant to “ Cowper's Rhyming Epistle," given in our last Magazine, at page 413.-ED.
wall of the church is covered with the Chinaaster rose, which being, at the time we visited it, in full bloom, imparted to the whole place a singularly pleasing effect.
But the Cowperian feature in Newport is an unpretending house in the main street, about two stories high, and holding out, in its exterior features, no sign that would attract the notice of a stranger. This was the residence of the Rev. William Bull, Independent minister at Newport Pagnell, a friend of Newton, who, on his leaving that part of the country, introduced him to Cowper, and between whom a friendship, distinguished by all the warmth and strength of Cowper's affections, soon sprang up. The Independent minister was a man after Cowper's own heart-a man of considerable erudition, with an active fancy, and a vein of quiet humour, which was sure to recommend itself to the author of "John Gilpin.” By way of eking out a salary, which must at all times have been scanty, Mr. Bull took a few pupils into his house as boarders, with a view to prepare them for the dissenting ministry. Out of this humble beginning has since arisen an institution of some note among the English Dissenters, being in fact one of their academies for the education of their pastors. The college at Newport Pagnell has been much extended of late years, and several eminent ministers now flourishing in the Independent denomination, have received their education there. The extension of the college has caused the extension of the premises, but these additions have been all in the rear of the old house; in front it maintains the same appearance as when Mr. Bull resided in it, and when Cowper, footsore and weary with his walk from Olney, came, by appointment, to dine with the minister, who had forgotten all about the invitation, and had dispatched his wife some miles into the country. Between two such spirits, however, ceremony was not wanting, and these little cross purposes, no doubt, only served to enhance the mirth and enjoyment of their meeting. In the back of the house, however, things are altered. Long unsightly brick buildings, intended, we suppose, as the private apartments of the students, rear their heads and appear to occupy altogether the place of the small garden, which, at great labour and expense, Mr. Bull had reduced into something like cultivation, and where, Cowper tells us, he took him, after the dinner above alluded to, and shewed him his favorite seat, “ where
he sits and smokes, with his back against one brick wall, and his nose against another.” The chapel of which Mr. Bull was the minister is still farther in the rear of the house, and is a large and commodious place of worship.
The Ouse, on leaving Newport, takes a bend to the north, forming an arc of some compass between that town and Olney, of which the highway may be described as the chord. The road presents nothing of much interest, until, about halfway, the crest of some considerable rising ground is gained, whence the first view of Olney, with its tall church-spire conspicuous in the land. scape, bursts upon the view. The fertile vale of the Ouse lies at your feet, and a country, beautiful indeed, and rich in suggestions of plenty and comfort, but possessed of few bold or striking features, is spread out before the spectator. It is, in fact, the opposite ridge to that on which Merton is situated, and would have afforded to the poet as good materials as those which the view from the above furnished him, when he drew that fine description of woodland scenery which occurs in the first book of the “Task.” With expectations heightened from this first view of the poet's home, we hastened forward, and on reaching the bottom of the hill, we were able to extract another reminiscence of Cowper from a sign-post that pointed out the road to Clifton.
Clifton is a neighbouring parish, on the opposite side of the river to Olney, and was for some time the residence of Lady Austen, a woman whose name will always be associated with Cowper, along with Mrs. Unwin and Lady Hesketh. She it was who first incited him to the writing of the “Task," and gave him the sofa for his subject. We had no time to visit this place, and therefore turned in the opposite direction, through the rich meadows that led to Olney. A short time brought us to the bridge-no longer the one
“ That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood it for that, it is well known, was, even in the days of Cowper himself, considered a nuisance from its old age and decay, and many allusions are made to it in his letters, where we find an attempt was made to assess the Olney people for its renewal, which
† See our last year's volume, page 481, where an engraving and account of this bridge are given.