图书图片
PDF

109

intelligence that her father was no more. He had been with him in his dying hour, and his i tears showed that he was not without affection i for his brother, and sympathy for his orphan 1 child. At her request he went for Mr. Baxter, > and listened with attention to the prayers and i exhortations of that man of Ood.

When the remains of the deceased had been committed to the tomb, it was plainly necessary for Alice to return with her uncle to his home. Nothing relating to her comfort was neglected; yet, between herself and those who were wont to meet there, a great gulf was fixed. She most not mention the dearest of earthly names. She must often hear contempt cast upon those whom she regarded as the choicest ones. She could hope for no communication with Hollis until peace was restored to England.

0EAFT1B IV.

Years rolled on. The armies of the King were destroyed by the powerful arm of Cromwell. The King is a prisoner to those who once owned him as their lord. He is at length called to an account for his crimes, and his head is laid upon the block. Terror fills the hearts of all who had sustained his pause.

Alice was sitting in her library, musing on the strange and sad events that had recently taken place, and striving to subdue her impatience for the coming of the hour that should bring to her presence the heart to which alone she looked for sympathy. Suddenly her uncle •ntered, bearing marks of excessive agitation. "My child," said he, "we are ruined. I shall no longer have a roof to shelter you. I shall soon be driven from the home of my ancestors."

"How so? Has the war been renewed, and is this part of the country to be the scene of bloodshed?"

"The successful rebels have resolved to confiscate the estates of all who have remained faithful to their sovereign."

"Is it possible?" said Alice. Sir Herbert placed before her an ordinance of Parliament, and an advertisement of forfeited estates. Among them was Elliston Hall.

Tears ran silently down her cheeks as she read the document. Sir Herbert wept aloud.

"There is one near the Lord-General," said she timidly, "who, if applied to, oould perhaps avert the storm."

"Never," said Sir Herbert, drying his eyes; ''I will never ask a favour of a rebel."

After a long silence, Alice struggled to say: "Will you permit me to do it?"

"No, no, none of my name shall stoop so far, were it to save me from the block. Let them do their worst."

That very night, ere Alice had laid her aching head upon her pillow, a messenger arrived, and plaoed a packet in her trembling hand. She broke the seal. It was a deed of sale from the commissioners charged with executing the ordinance of Parliament. It made over Elliston Hall to George Hollis. Another document conveyed it to Sir Herbert Elliston, "in consideration of kindness shown to Miss Alice Elliston." This last was in the handwriting, and bore the signature of Hollis.

Was it not strange that there was no word addressed to her? Surely he would come in person soon. She placed the documents in the hands of her uncle. He received them in silence, and never alluded to the subject again.

Days, weeks, months, and years rolled on, and George Hollis came not to claim his betrothed. Peace was restored, and under the vigorous rule of the Protector, prosperity returned to England throughout all her borders. A ministry such as England had never seen proclaimed a pure gospel, and Puritanism was everywhere in the ascendant. In all this Alice would have rejoiced, but for the sadness that oppressed her in consequence of the absence of all tidings of him for whose sake alone life had charms. Had the toils of war or the possession of honours caused him to forget one whose favour he had once declared was dearer to him than all the world? She looked into her own heart, and seeing there the impossibility of change, concluded that he could not fail to be true.

At length the conviction fastened itself upon her mind that he was no longer among the living. She would receive assurance of the fact, and then lie down and die. "Uncle," said she, "you have friends in London. Write to them that they make inquiries and inform you, if George Hollis be still alive."

There was something so firm and earnest in her manner, that Sir Herbert could not hesitate to follow her injunctions—for it was an injunction rather than a request.

In due time replies to Sir Herbert's letters were received. For a long time Hollis had not been seen in London, and no inquiries could elicit any information respecting him. "He is dead," said Alice. "He has gone to a better world, whero I shall soon join him."

The expression of grief that settled upon her countenance was so intense, that her friends shrunk from all attempts at consolation. She retired to her chamber, feeling that she should soon exchange it for the sepulchre.

Brown October again returned. Late in the evening a carriage drove rapidly to Elliston Hall, and two gentlemen alighted, and were , shown into the presence of Sir Herbert.

"I should know you, sir," said he with

knightly courtesy to the elder. "It is Mr. Baxter."

"Your recollection does not deceive you," said Baxter, who was now bending under the weight of increasing years and infirmities; "we have met before. This gentleman is the son of Colonel Hollis."

"He is welcome," said Sir Herbert, with

[graphic]

unexpected cordiality. "Alice believes you dead, and in consequence is scarcely—"

"May I see her without delay ?" said Hollis, unable to control his emotions. Sir Herbert led the way in silence to the library, in which Alice passed the greater portion of her time. He rapped on the door, and when a voice scarcely above a whisper, was heard within, ho made Hollis a sign to enter, and hurried away weeping like a child.

Alice was unable to rise, but extended her thin hand to welcome him, while a smile once more appeared upon her lips.

"I fully believed you were dead," said she, after they had for a long time wept in silence.

"You never believed me false?" "Never for a moment." Some hours later, Hollis returned to hie friends below. He found Sir Herbert highly pleased with Mr. Baxter—it was on account of his opposition to Cromwell, and his loyalty to the Stuarts.

"Well, my daughter," said Sir Herbert, as they were seated the next morning at the breakfasttable, "when will you be able to go with us to the church?"

Alice blushed, but made no objection to the proposition of Hollis, that their visit thither should take place on the morrow.

Mr. Baxter went with them, and scrupled not to use, to the great joy of Sir Herbert, who gave away the bride, a portion of the liturgy of the late established church.

The day after their marriage they set out for Hollis Hall, leaving Baxter as the guest of Sir Herbert. They travelled by easy stages, and when Alice had reached her new home, the bloom had, in some measure, returned to her cheek.

Very soon after she had become familiar with her new abode, the Protector laid aside, for a day, the cares of state, and paid a visit to his friend. He felt at home under the roof of Hollis, and his character appeared in its native simplicity, earnestness, and elevation. His conversation was chiefly respecting the Church of God, and the interests of the Protestant world. When he bado his friends farewell, it was with many pious counsels, and a fervent prayer for their prosperity.

"What think you of his highness?" said Hollis to his wife.

"A prince of heaven's own making," was the reply.

"One whose commands, having for their object the good of Christendom, were to be implicitly obeyed, though paleness was thereby cast upon the check of the loveliest woman in England?"

Alice was silent, but her expressive countenance did not indicate a negative reply.

[merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic]

Hannah More was the favourite of Dr. Johnson, the admired of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the witty and eloquent companion of Sheridan and Burke, the brave monitor of Walpole, the honoured counsellor of Porteus and Wilberforce, and the familiar fi iend of David Garrick; she was one of the most voluminous and successful writers of her time, extensively engaged in works of practical benevolence and educational reform. Of a woman so distinguished, of such fertile mind and such active industry, there is much more to be said than can be compressed within the limits of an article like this. A short sketch of her life and character will, however, though necessarily imperfect, be both interesting and useful.

8he was the youngest of the five daughters of Jacob More, a respectable village schoolmaster, and was born at Stapleton, in Gloucestershire, England, in the year 1745. Her remarkable talents developed themselves at an early age. When but seventeen she published a pastoral drama, The Search after Happiness, which was so well received that in a short time it went through three editions. One year afterward appeared her tragedy of The InftezibU Captive, and numerous other poetical works

from her pen followed. It is worthy of remark, however, that though all her poems evince much poetic merit, especially her dramatic ones, and though all were received with favour by the public, they are at the present time comparatively forgotten, and her enduring and enviable fame now rests almost altogether upon her prose works, which were principally the labours of her more mature years. About 1773 she made her entrance into society in London, where she was cordially received by the most distinguished men of the day. Of her first interview with Dr. Johnson, we have the following vivid sketch from the lively pen of one of her sisters.

"We paid another visit to Miss Reynolds; she had sent to engage Dr. Percy (Percy's Collection, now you know him), quite a sprightly modern, instead of a rusty antique, as I expected; he was no sooner gone than the most amiable and sprightly of women, Miss Reynolds, ordered the coach to take us to Dr. Johnson's very own bouse: yes, Abyssinian Johnson! Dictionary Johnson! Ramblers, Idlers, and Irene Johnson! Can you picture to yourselves the palpitation of our hearts as we approached his mansion. The conversation turned upon a new work of his just going to the press (the Tour to the Hebrides), and his old friend Richardson. Miss Reynolds told the Doctor of all our rapturous exclamations on the road. He shook his scientific head at Hannah, and said 'she was a silly little thing.' When our visit was ended, he called for his hat, as it rained, to attend us down a very long entry to our coach, and not Rasselas could have acquitted himself more en cavalier. We are engaged with him at Sir Joshua's on Wednesday evening—what do you think of us? I forgot to mention that not finding Johnson in his little parlour when we came in, Hannah seated herself in his great chair, hoping to catch a little ray of his genius: when he heard it, he laughed heartily, and told her it was a chair upon which he never sat. He said it reminded him of Boswell and himself, when they stopped at night, as they imagined, where the weird sisters appeared to Macbeth. The idea so worked on their enthusiasm, that it quite deprived them of rest. However, they learned the next morning, to their mortification, that they had been deceived, and were quite in another part of the country."

About two years afterward the same sister, after the publication of Hannah's "Sir Eldred of the Bower," alludes thus to the increased intimacy between her and the great man. "If a wedding should take place before our return, don't be surprised—between the mother of Sir Eldred and the father of my much-loved Irene; nay, Mrs. Montagu says if tender words are the precursors of connubial engagements, we may expect great things, for it is nothing but 'child,' 'little fool,' 'love,' and 'dearest.'" This friendship of Johnson thus pleasantly described, was not a transient feeling, not a momentary whim, but a settled and permanent affection, founded upon a right appreciation of

the talents and characters of Hannah and her sisters. There was perhaps nothing in comnexion with them which struck his mind more forcibly, than the perfect harmony and love which subsisted among them. Upon one occasion on parting with two of them, he thus characteristically alluded to it. "I love you both," he said—" I love you all five. I never was at Bristol—I will come on purpose to see you. What! five women live happily together! I will come and see you—I have spent a happy evening—God for ever bless you! you live livea to shame duchesses."

[graphic][graphic][merged small]

But though returning with warmth the kind feelings of all her distinguished friends, it was to Garrick that her heart clung most strongly, and from early womanhood to extreme old age her feelings of love and reverence for him knew no ebb. Only a few years before her death, and almost half a century after his dust had been laid in England's great "Abbey," to mingle with that of the most illustrious for ages, she spoke of him and his friendship in the most tender and affectionate terms. "Ah," she said, "if He had been alive, it would have been indeed a trial to have retired from the world." Alluding to his death, she said upon the same occasion,—" I should have liked to look upon his face once more, but they only showed me his coffin."

The last, or nearly the last of her published poems was entitled The Bas Blue, or Conversation. It was written to eulogize the Blue Stocking Club, a literary assembly that met at Mrs. Montagu's. This singular appellation, Blue Stocking, which was given to the club in consequence of one of its most admired members, Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, always wear

ing blue hose, has since been generally adopted in our language, as the distinctive family name of pedantie, or affectedly literary ladies. This poem was very highly complimented. Johnson called it a great performance. The following couplets may be quoted as a sample of its terse and spirited character :—

"In men this blunder still yon find,
All think their little set mankind."

"Small habits well pursued betimes
May reach the dignity of crimes."

Soon after the publication of "Bas Bleu," Hannah retired from the gay world, and went again to live with her sisters, who kept a flourishing boarding-school near Bristol. In 1788, appeared her first prose work, Thoughti on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society. This was followed three years afterward by an Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World. Her next important work was a series of political tales, advocating or instilling conservative doctrines, and designed as an antidote to the democratic sentiments which became prevalent at the time. These tales appeared in monthly numbers, and are said to have attracted so much attention, that there were sold upwards of a million of each. With respect to her other works, I must content myself with merely giving the titles and dates of publication of some of the principal, hoping it the same time, that some at least, of those who may honour this hasty memoir with a perusal, will make themselves better acquainted with many of them. Village Politics, about 1794; Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, 1799; Hints towards forming the Character of a Young Princess, 1805; Ccelebs in Search of a Wife, comprehending Observations on Domestic Ilabits and Manners, Religion and Morals, 1809 ; Practical Piety, or the Influence of the Religion of the Heact on the Conduct of Life, 1811; Christian Morals, 1812; Essay on the Characttr and Writings of St. Paul, 1815; Moral Sketches of Prevailing Opinions and Manners, Foreign and Domestic, with Reflections on Prayer, 1819. Coelebs in Search of a Wife, one of the best of her performances, was so popular that it ran through ten editions in the first year after its publication, and it has run through almost innumerable editions since. It is a remarkable fact that this master-piece of its kind, was written while the author was confined to her bed, with a disease which caused excruciating pain, and had afflicted her for a long time previously.

INSCRIPTION OX THE MONUMENT Op BISHOP PORTEU8.

"To Beildy Portecs, late Bishop of London. In grateful memory of long and faithful friendship.—II. M."

[graphic]
[merged small][graphic][merged small]

The great success of her works placed her pecuniarily in an independent position, enabling her to live at her ease, and to dispense liberal charities to the poor around her. About 1800, she and her sisters purchased a property of considerable extent, in Somersetshire, and built upon it Barley Wood Cottage, in which they afterwards resided for many years, and in view of which they now repose in Wrighton Churchyard. Among other interesting objects in the Barley Wood grounds are two monuments, one to Locke and one to Porteus. (See engravings.) The neighbourhood of this country residence soon became the scene of labours on the part of the sisters, even more honourable than all literary triumphs. Within a circuit of eight or ten miles of their new abode, a concurrence of unhappy circumstances had reduced large numbers of the inhabitants to a state of ignorance, almost inconceivable to an American, accustomed to the universal intelligence which pervades his own country. Among these, the sisters determined to endeavour to diffuse the blessings of education and religion. After many difficulties and vexations, not the least of which proceeded from the perverseness of the ignorant beings themselves, some of whom demanded pay for sending their children to school, they were so far successful that, "on the hills of Cheddar, they had the j gratification of witnessing the celebration of a i yearly festival, where upwards of a thousand

« 上一页继续 »