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to the performance of which he had annexed the hope of so transcendant a reward : conscious that he could impose nothing upon mc so hard to do, or so painful to suffer, which such a prize would not infinitely overbalance, I had no other backwardness or apprehension as to his commands, but what sprung from the conviction, that after all my efforts I must ever remain unworthy of Constantia.
• I shall never forget Mr. Somerville's reply, nor the action which accompanied it. My good friend, said he (leaning over the arm of the chair, and kindly taking me by the hand) it is more than enough for å man to have made one such fatal error in his life as I have done, one such unhappy sacrifice to the false opinions of the world ; but though I have heartily repented of this error, I am not so far reformed, as to be without ambition in the choice of a husband for our Constantia; no, Sir, I am still as ambitious as ever, but I hope with better judgment and upon better principles; I will not bate an atom of virtue in the bargain I am to make ; I insist upon the good qualities of the heart and temper to the last scruple; these are the essentials which I rigidly. exact, and all these you possess : there are indeed other, many other, incidental articles, which you may, or you may not, superadd to the account; but I am contented to strike hands with you on the spot, though you shall never have set foot upon foreign soil-What says my daughter to this ?
When I cast my eyes upon the countenance of the most benevolent of women, and saw it turned expressively upon me, smiling throngh tears, joy palpitated at iny heart, whilst she delivered herseli as follows:-- I were of all beings most insensible, could I withhold my testimony to this gentleman's merits, or my entire assent to his alliance with my daughter ; but as I have ever repose: perfet confidence in her, and, as far as I was enabled, always consulted her wishes, I should be glad this question might be fairly and candidly referred to her un biassed judgment for decision : she is very young ; our friend here is neither old in years nor experience; both parties have time before them; should she be willing to hold off from the married state for a while, should she foresee advantages in our friend's undertaking a second tour with the same instructive associate, (whether into foreign countries or nearer home) let her be the judge of what is most likely to conduce to her future happiness in a husband, and as I am persuaded our friend here will practise no unfair measures for biassing her judgment, let him consult Constantia's wishes on the case, and as she determines so let him act, and so let us agree.
• With these instructions, which Mr. Somerville seconded, I hastened to Constantia, and without hesitation or disguise related to her what had passed and requested her decision. Judge (if it be possible to judge) of my transports, when that ingenuous, that angelic creature gave me a reply, that left no room to donbt that I was blest in the possession of her heart, and that she could not endure a second separation.
• I flew to Mr. Somerville ; I fell at the feet of Mrs. Goodison ; I interceded, implored, and was accepted. Nothing ever equalled the generosity of their behaviour. I am now to change my name to Somerville, at that worthy gentleman's express de. sire, and measures are already in train for that purpose. The same abilities, which I am indebted to for the good condition of my affairs, are employed in perfecting the marriage settlement, and the period now between me and happiness would by any other person but myself he termed a very short one.
on the very ove of being blest with
6 Thus am
the loveliest, the divinest object upon earth, and thus have I by the good counsel of my friends (in which number I shall ever reckon you) broke the shackles of that unmanly indolence, under which I was sinking apace into irretrievable languor and in. significance. Henceforward Icntreat you to regard me as a new man, and believe that with my name I have put off my infirmity. We are in daily ex. pectation of our friendly Abrahams, who is an Is. raelite indeed : your company would round our circle and complete the happiness of "Your ever affectionate
People have a custom of excusing the enormities of their conduct by talking of their passions, as if they were under the controul of a blind necessity, and sinned because they could not help it. Before any man resorts to this kind of excuse, it behoves him to examine the justice of it, and to be sure that these passions, which he thus attempts to palliate, are strictly natural, and do not spring either from the neglect of education or the crime of self-indulgence.
Of our infancy, properly so called, we either re. member nothing, or few things faintly and imper. fectly ; some passions however make their appear. ance in this stage of human life, and appear to be born with us, others are born after us; some follow us to the grave, others forsake us in the decline of age.
The life of man is to be reviewed under three pe. riods, infancy, youth, and manhood; the first in. cludes that portion of time before reason shews it. self; in the second it appears indeed, but being incompetent to the proper government of the creature, requires the aid, support, and correction of education ; in the third it attains to its maturity.
Now as a person's responsibility bears respect to his reason, so do human punishments bear respect to his responsibility : Infants and boys are chastised by the hand of the parent or the master; rational adults are amenable to the laws, and what is termed mischief in the first case, becomes a crime in the other. It will not avail the man to plead loss of reason by temporary intoxication, norcan he excuse himself by the plea of any sudden impulse of pas. sion, If a prisoner tells his judge that it is his na. ture to be cruel, that anger, lust, or malice, are inherent in his constitution, no human tribunal will admit the defence: yet thus it is that all people deal with God and the world, when they attempt to palliate their enormities, by pleading the upcon. troulable propensity of their natural desires, as if the Creator had set up a tyrant in their hearts, which they were necessitated to obey.
This miserable subterfuge is no less abject than impious; for what can be more degrading to a being, whose inherent attribute is free-agency, and whose distinguishing faculty is reason, than to shetter himself from the dread of responsibility under the humiliating apology of mental slavery? It is as if he should say— Excuse the irregularities of my conduct, for I am a brute and not a man; I follow instinct and renounce all claim to reason; my actions govern me, not I my actions ;-and yet the people to whom I allude, generally set up this plea in excuse for those passions in particular, which have their origin in that stage of life, when the hu
man mind is in the use and possession of reason; an imposition so glaring that it convicts itself; not. withstanding this it is too often seen, that whilst the sensualist is avowing the irresistibie violence of his propensities, vavity shall receive it not only as an atonement for the basest attempts, but as an expected tribute to the tempting charms of beauty; nay such is the perversion of principle in some men, that it shall pass with them as a recommendation eren of that sex, the purity of whose minds should be their sovereign grace and ornament.
The passion of fear seems coeval with our nature; if they who have our infancy in charge, suffer this passion to fix and increase upon us; if they augment our infant fears by invented terrors, and present to our sight frightful objects to scare us ; if they practise on our natural and defenceless timidity by blows and menaces, and crush us into absolute subjection of spirit in our early years, a human creature thus abused has enough to plead in excuse for cowardice ; and yet this, which is the strongest defence we can make upon the impulse of passion, is perhaps the only one we never resort to : In most other passions we call that constitution, which is only habit.
When we reflect upon the variety of passions, tó which the human mind is liable, it should seem as if reason, which is expressly implanted in us for their correction and controul, was greatly overmatched by such a host of turbulent insurgents; but upona closer examination we may find that reaa
many aids and allies, and though her anta. gonists are also many and mighty, yet that they are divided and distracted, whilst she can in all cases turn one passion against another, so as to counterbalance any power by its opposite, and make evil instruments in her hands conducive to moral ends :