Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

12. He was a devout man, as became his profession. He possessed devotion in all its warmth; but with none of its asperity; I mean that asperity which men, who are called devout, sometimes indulge. The philosopher, though he felt no devotion, never quarrelled with it in others. His governant joined the old man and his daugh ter in the prayers and thanksgivings which they put up on his recovery; for she too was a heretic, in the phrase of 'the village.

13. The philosopher walked out with his long staff and his dog, and left them to their prayers and thanksgivings. "My master," said the old woman, "alas! he is not a christian, but he is the best of unbelievers.”. christian!" exclaimed Mademoiselle La Roche, " yet he saved my father! Heaven bless him for it; I would he were a christian.

"Not a

14. "There is a pride in human knowledge, my child," said her father, "which often blinds men to the sublime truths of revelation; hence there are opposers of christianity among men of virtuous lives, as well as among those of dissipated and licentious characters. Nay, sometimes I have known the latter more easily converted to the true faith than the former; because the fume of passion is more easily dissipated than the mist of faise theory and delusive speculation." "But this philosopher," said his daughter, "alas! my father, he shall be a christian before he dies."

15. She was interupted by the arrival of their landlord-He took her hand with an air of kindness-she drew it away from him in silence; threw down her eyes to the ground, and left the room. "I have been thanking God," said the good La Roche, " for my recovery." "That is right," replied his landlord. "I should not wish," continued the old man, hesitatingly, "to think otherwise; did I not look up with gratitude to that Being, I should barely be satisfied with my recovery, as a continuation of life, which, it may be, is not a real good."

16. "Alas! I may live to wish I had died; that you had left me to die, sir, instead of kindly relieving me (clasping the philosopher's hand) but when I look on this renovated being as the gift of the Almighty, I feel a far different sentiment. My heart dilates with gratitude and love to him. It is prepared for doing his will, not as a duty, but as a pleasure; and regards every breach of it, not with disapbution, but with horror."

17. "You say right my dear sir," replied the philosopher; but you are not yet re-established enough to talk much; you must take care of your health, and neither study nor preach for some time. I have been thinking over a scheme that struck me to day, when you mentioned your intended departure. I was never in Switzerland; I have a great mind to accompany your daughter and you into that country. I will help to take care of you by the road, for as I was your first physician I hold myself responsible for your cure."

18. La Roche's eyes glistened at the proposal; his daughter was called and told of it. She was equally pleased with her father; for they really loved their landlord; not perhaps the less for his infidelity; at least that circumstance mixed a sort of pity with their regard for him. Their souls were not of a mould for harsher feelings-hatred never dwelt with them.

19. They travelled by short stages; for the philosopher was as good as his word, in taking care that the old man should not be fatigued. The parties had time to be well acquainted with one another, and their friendship was increased by acquaintance. La Roche found a degree of simplicity and gentleness in his companion, which is not always anexed to the character of a learned or a wise man.

20. His daughter, who was prepared to be afraid of him, was equally undeceived. She found in him nothing of that self-importance which superior parts, or great cultivation of them is apt to confer. He talked of every thing but philosophy and religion; he seemed to enjoy every pleasure and amusement of ordinary life, and to be interested in the most common topics of discourse.-When his knowledge or learning at any time appeared, it was delivered with the utmost plainness; and without the least show of dogmatism.

21. On his part he was charmed with the society of the good clergyman and his lovely daughter. He found in them the guiless manners of the earliest times, with the culture and accomplishments of the most refined ones.-Every better feeling, warm and vivid; every ungentle one, repressed or overcome. He was not addicted to love'; but he felt himself happy in being the friend of Mademoiselle La Roche; and sometimes envied her father the possession of such a child.

22. After a journey of eleven days they arrived at the dwelling of La Roche. It was situated in one of those vallies in the Canton of Berne, where nature seems to repose in quiet, and has enclosed her retreat with mountains inaccessible.

23. A stream that spent its fury in the hills above, ran in front of the house, and a broken water fall was seen through the woods that covered its sides. Below, it circled round a tufted plain, and formed a little lake in front of a village, at the end of which appeared the spire of La Roche's church, rising above a clump of beeches.

ent;

24. The philosopher enjoyed the beauty of the scene; but to his companions it recalled the memory of a wife and parent they had lost. The old man's sorrow was silhis daughter sobbed and wept. Her father took her hand, kissed it twice, pressed it to his bosom, threw up his eyes to heaven; and having wiped off a tear that was just about to drop from each, began to point out to his guest some of the most striking objects which the prospect afforded. The philosopher interpreted all this; and he could but slightly censure the creed from which it arose.

25. They had not been long arrived, when a number of La Roche's parishoners who had heard of his return, came to the house to see and welcome him. The honest folks were aukward but sincere, in their professions, of friendship. They made some attemps at condolence; it was too delicate for their handling; but La Roche took it in good part. "It has pleased God," said he; and they saw he had settled the matter with himself. Philosophy could not have done so much with a thousand words.

25. It was now evening, and the good peasants were about to depart, when a clock was heared to strike seven, and the hour was followed by a particular chime. The country folks, who came to welcome their pastor turned their looks towards him at the sound; he explained their meaning to his guest. "That is the signal," said he, "for our evening exercise. This is one of the nights of the week in which some of my parishoners are wont to join in it; a little rustic saloon serves for the chapel of our family, and such of the good people as are with us; if you choose rather to walk out, I will furnish you with an attendant; or re are a few old books which may afford you some enment within."

[ocr errors]

27. "By no means," answered the philosopher; "I will attend Mademoiselle at her devotions." "She is our organ ist," said La Roche 66 ; our neighborhood is the country of musical mechanism, and I have a small organ, fitted up for the purpose of assisting our singing." "It is an additional inducement," replied the other, and they walked into the room together.

28. At the end stood the organ mentioned by La Roche; before it was a curtain, which his daughter drew aside, and, placing herself on a seat within, and drawing the curtain close, so as to save her the aukwardness of an exhibition, began a voluntary, solemn and beautiful in the highest deglee. The philosopher was no musician, but he was not altogether insensible to music. This fastened on his mind more strongly, from its beauties being unexpected.

29. The solemn prelude introduced a hymn, in which, such of the audience as could sing, immediately joined. The words were mostly taken from holy writ; it spoke the praises of God, and his care of good men. Something was said of the death of the just; of such as die in the Lord. The organ was touched with a hand less firm-it pausedit ceased—and the sobbing of Mademoiselle was heard in its stead.

30. Her father gave a sign for stopping the psalmody, and rose to prayer. He was discomposed at first, and his voice faultered as he spoke; but his heart was in his words, and its warmth overcame his embarrassment. He addressed a being whom he loved, and he spoke for those he loved. His parishoners caught the ardor of the good old man, even the philospher felt himself moved, and forgot, for a moment, to think why he should not.

31. La Roche's religion was that of sentiment, not theory, and his guest was averse to disputation; their discourse did not therefore lead to questions concerning the belief of either: yet would the old man sometimes speak of his, from the feelings of a heart impressed with its force, and wishing to spread the pleasure he enjoyed in it.

32. The ideas of his God and his Savior, were so congenial to his mind, that every emotion of it naturally awakened them. A philosopher might have called him an enthusiast; but if he possessed the fervor of enthusiasts, he was guiltless of their bigotry. "Our father who art in heav en?" might the good old man say-for he felt it-and all mankind were his brethren.

33. "You regret, my friend," said he, to the philoso pher, when my daughter and I talk of the exquisit pleasure derived from music; you regret your want of musical powers and musical feelings; it is a department of soul, you say, which nature has almost denied you, which from the effects you see it have on others, you are sure it must be highly delightful.

3. "Why should not the same thing be said of religion? Trust me, I feel it in the same way, an energy, an inspiration, which I would not lose for all the blessings of sense, or enjoyments of the world; yet so far from lessening my relish of the pleasures of life, that I feel it heightens them all.

35. "The thought of receiving it from God, adds the blessing of sentiment to that of sensation, in every good thing which I possess; and when calamities overtake me, and I have had my share, it confers a dignity on my affliction, and so lifts me above the world. Man, I know, is but a worm, yet methinks I am allied to God!" It would have been inhuman in our philosopher to cloud, even with a doubt, the sunshine of his belief.

56. His discourse, indeed, was very remote from metaphysical disquisition or religious controversy. Of all men I ever knew, his ordinary conversation was the least tinctured with pedantry, or liable to dissertation. With La Roche and his daughter, it was perfectly familiar.

37. The country round them, the manners of the village, the comparison of both with those of England, remarks on the work of favorite authors, on the sentiments they conveyed, and the passions they excited, with many other topics, in which there was an equality, or alternate advantage, among the speakers, were the subjects they talked of.

38. Their hours too of riding and walking were many, in which the philosopher, as a stranger, was shewn the remarkable scenes and curiosities of the country. They would sometimes make little expeditions to contemplate, in different attitudes, those astonishing mountains, the cliffs of which, covered with eternal snows, and sometimes shooting into fantastic shapes, form the termination of most of the Swiss prospects.

39. Our philosopher asked many questions, as to their natural history and productions. La Roche observed the sublimity of the ideas, which the view of their stupendous

« AnteriorContinua »