Imatges de pÓgina

in which the preachers of the seventeenth century spiritualized all temporal incidents and occupations, or rather degraded doctrines of the highest and most reverent import, by the base comparisons and associations with which they dared to interweave them.


“ One man talked incessantly of the election of grace ;' his mind literally seemed not to have room for another idea; every sentence, if it did not begin, ended with the same phrase, and every subject only furnished matter for its introduction. Dr Thorpe's last sermon at Bethesda was spoken of in terms of high and merited panegyric.- Very true,' said he ; but—a - Did you think there was enough of election in it?' A late work of the same author (his clever pamphlet on the Catholic petition) was mentioned.--' But does he say any thing of election in it?'

There was no opportunity,' said Mr Wentworth.—' Then he should have made one—Ah, I would give very little for a book that did not assert the election of grace!' Once seated in his election-saddle, he posted on with alarming speed, and ended with declaring, that Elisha Coles on God's Sovereignty, was worth all the divinity that ever was written. • I have a large collection of the works of godly writers,' said he, turning to De Courcy, “ but not one work that ever was, would I resign for that of Elisha Coles.'-' Won't you except the Bible ? ' said De Courcy, smiling. _' Oh, yes—the Bible--ay, to be sure, the Bible, said the discomfited champion of election ; but still, you know,' —and he continued to mutter something about Elisha Coles on God's Sovereignty.

“ Another, who never stopped talking, appeared to De Courcy a complete evangelical time-keeper ;—the same ceaseless ticking sound;- the same vacillating motion of the head and body; and bis whole conversation turning on the various lengths of the sermons he had heard, of which it appeared, he was in the habit of listening to four every Sunday. • Mr Matthias preached exactly forty-eight minutes. I was at Mr Cooper's exhortation at Plunket-street in the evening, and it was precisely fifty-three minutes.'-' And how many seconds ?' said Mrs Wentworth, smiling-for she felt the ridicule of this.

“ Close to De Courcy were two very young' men, who were


comparing the respective progress they had made in the conversion of some of their relations. They spoke on this subject with. a familiarity that certainly made De Courcy start.-— My aunt is almost entirely converted,' said one. • She never goes to church now, though she never missed early prayers at St Thomas's for forty years before. Now,' with a strange sort of triumph, now, is your sister converted, as much as that? - Yes-yes-she is.' answered the other, eagerly; for she burned her week's preparation yesterday, and my mother's too along with it.'”— Vol. i. 64-67.

De Courcy in vain attempted to assimilate his conversation to that of the party, by quoting such religious works as were known to him. The chilling words “ Arminian” “ heterodox” were applied to those popular preachers whose sermons he ventured to quote; and even Celebs was appeal. ed to without effect, as he was given to understand that Hannah More, however apostolical in the eyes of Lord Orford, was held light in the estimation of the present system. Thus repulsed from the society of the gentlemen

“ When he arrived in the drawingroom, the same monotonous and repulsive stillness; the same dry circle (in whose verge no spirit could be raised) reduced him to the same petrifying medium with all around. The females were collected round the tea-table; the conversation was carried on in pensive whispers ; a large table near them was spread with evangelical tracts, &c. The room was hung with dark-brown paper; and the four unsnuffed candles burning dimly (the light of two of them almost absorbed in the dark baize that covered the table on which they stood), gave just the light that Young might have written by, when the Duke of Grafton sent him a human skull, with a taper in it, as an appropriate candelabrum for his tragedy writing.desk. The ladies sometimes took up these tracts, shook a head of deep conviction over their contents, laid them down, and the same stillness recurred. The very hissing of the tea-urn, and the crackling of the coals, was a relief to De Courcy's ears." - Vol. i. 69, 70.

Notwithstanding the gloom and spiritual pride in which she had been educated, the beauty and sweet disposition of Eva burned with pure and pale splendour, like a lamp in a sepulchre; and De Courcy nourished for her that desperate attachment with which youths of seventeen resign themselves to the first impression of the tender passion. He becomes in love-to pining, to sickness, almost to death ; and at length prevails upon his worthy and affectionate guardian to make proposals for him to the guardians of Eva. Mr and Mrs Wentworth both urge the utter impropriety of their countenancing a connexion between young persons so opposite in religious opinions ; but are gradually compelled to give ground, the former by consideration of De Courcy's worldly wealth, to which his religious opinions had not rendered him indifferent,—and his more amiable wife, by her compassion for the state of the young Eva, and her discovering that he had awakened sentiments in the breast of Eva corresponding to his own.

De Courcy is therefore received, on the footing of an acknowledged lover, into the house of the Wentworths, exposed, however, to the persecutions of the father and many of his visiters, who were resolved at all rates to achieve his conversion.

Charles at Arst yielded from timidity, or answered from complaisance, but at length found himself, by the pertinacity of the disputants, inextricably involved in the mazes of controversy. Every hour he was called on to discuss or to decide on points above human comprehension ; he was pressed with importunities about his spiritual state, which was represented to depend on his adopting the separate creed of every individual speaker, with

all its divisions and subdivisions, and shades of difference, that seemed to him to give to airy nothing ' a local habitation and a

.'"-P. 117.


Even when he turned from this persecution to Eva, he did not all times find the relief which he expected. Her purity, her inexperience, her timidity, and the absolute subjection of her mind to religious feeling exclusively, prevented her from understanding or returning the warmth of affection with which her lover regarded her. She was cold and constrained ; blamed herself for the slightest deviation into worldly passion and human feeling -in short, the person in the world least qualified to return the affection of an enthusiastic young Irishman. Her accomplishments were upon the same narrow and constrained scale as her feelings. She could discourse exquisite music, but not one earthly song; and the warm expressions of human passion which occurred in her evangelical hymns were only addressed to the Deity with an amorous pastoral feeling, which seemed to her lover equally unsuitable and nonsensical. Again, Eva, in her little sphere of enjoyments, cultivated drawing; but it was only that of flowers,-objects as pure, as fair, and as inanimate, we had almost said, as herself. To feelings of imagination and passion, she was equally averse and impassive; and such appeared to be the tranquil purity of her still and orderly existence, that De Courcy felt it almost criminal to strive to awaken her imagination, “ to delude her with the visions of fancy ;” and that it resembled the attempt of the fallen angels in Milton to “min

gle strange fire” with the lights of heaven. He did his best, however, and called in the aid of ancient and modern bards to enable him to dispute the too exclusive empire of heaven in her bosom.

Why are you so silent, Eva ?' he said, as they returned from the conventicle which the Wentworths frequented. I was thinking of that fine text.'— What was it?'—' What was it ?' said Eva, almost relinquishing his arm, from a feeling stronger and more unpleasant than surprise, for she had no idea of any one forgetting the text so soon. I have a bad memory -or a bad headach,' said De Courcy, trying to smile away her amazement, or, perhaps, I would rather hear it from your lips than those of that dark-browed sallow man.'—' It is little matter,' said Eva, from what lips we hear the truth. The text was, God is Love.' "-'Oh, Eva !' said De Courcy, under an impulse he could not resist, do we require any thing more than this dark-blue sky, this balmy air, those lovely stars that glitter like islands of light in an immeasurable ocean, and point out our destination amid its bright and boundless infinity, to tell us that God is Love?' Why must we learn it in the close and heated air of a conventicle, with all its repulsive accompaniments of gloomy looks, sombre habits, dim lights, nasal hymns ? Are these the interpreters the Deity employs as the intimations of his love ?'-. They are,' said Eva, awakened to an answer, but never thus awakened for more than a moment-'they are. For to the poor the gospel is preached, and they seldom feel any thing of the atmosphere but its inclemency,—to the sick, and they cannot encounter it,--to the unhappy, and they cannot enjoy it.'”. P. 142-144.

It was scarce possible that this conflict should have long continued, without the lover becoming colder, and more sensible to the various disagreeable points of his situation, or the beloved condescending to descend a few steps towards earth from the point of quietism which she occupied. De Courcy began to relax. Ball-rooms, billiard-tables, and theatres disputed the charms even of Eva's

« AnteriorContinua »