Page images
PDF
EPUB

*

in accordance with the waywardness of the carnal mind; instead of arraigning the wisdom and mercy of the divine government in rebellious murmurings, his conduct was marked by a holy resignation to the hand that afflicted him ; knowing that chastisement and love are inseparably connected, in relation to all those whose trust is reposed in God their Saviour. For thus speaks the adorable Jehovah himself,—“ As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore and repent.

While, therefore, Mr. Gracelove felt his human sorrows as a man, he endured them with the fortitude and the faith of a Christian. His grief for the loss of an ample fortune arose not from considerations of a selfish nature ; from the consciousness that personal comforts and luxuries must from that moment be greatly curtailed, if not absorbed ; but it was when he regarded his beloved wife, to whom he had been united but three short years, and who was then carrying in her bosom the second pledge of their faithful affections, that the tear would silently glisten in his eye, and the hardly-suppressed emotions gather round his heart.

On these occasions, the sweetest sympathies of a mind highly spiritualized in the invisible things of a better world, as were those of Mrs. Gracelove, were ever ready to unite with the conjugal and parental yearnings of her attached husband. “Her faith,” she would say, and her firm assurances in the

ine promises, were not for an instant shaken by the adverse circumstances in which their affairs were involved. An infallible wisdom was working an intelligent and beneficent result, though they could not see, as with the eye of Providence, the end from the beginning; and from the seeming evil' would be educed a good continually increasing, from time into eternity, throughout an 'infinite progression.' “ Should our faith, too feeble at the best,” she would con

* Rev. iii. 19.

66

tinue, “ ever incline us to unholy doubting or despondency, we should remember, to our unspeakable comfort, that all things work together for good to them that love God :* and also, that 'He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.'”+

Such sentiments as these ever found a responsive echo in the breast of her beloved husband; and whether originating at any time with himself, or emanating from the piety of his dear wife, were alike refreshing to his heart. He would solace himself, at these moments, by contrasting his own still enviable condition with the unexampled afflictions of the suffering and patient Job.

“What are my sorrows,” he would say, compared with his, on whom all the vials of Satan's malignant wrath were, by the permissive, mysterious providence of God, poured out in agonizing fury? Though my property is lost to me, yet is my wife, my child, my health, my strength, wonderfully preserved; while the utterly bereaved patriarch was doomed to the destruction of all—sons and daughters, houses and lands, flocks and herds, health of body, and peace of mind — all swept away in one overwhelming desolation. Nay, more than this," he would say,—while regarding his wife with the tenderest affection, -"I am blessed with the consolations of one who is, indeed, a helpmate to me in all my trials and adversities; instead of having, like Job, to wring out from the 'cup of trembling' that bitterest drop-an infidel and blaspheming wife !"

To proceed, however, with the narrative, I must inform my reader, that the affairs of the worthy Mr. Gracelove were, at length, brought to a more satisfactory settlement than had been at first anticipated. Every creditor of the house was paid his demands in full, without diminution or compromise ; even to the extent of those debts which were not legal obligations, but which the conscience of this honest merchant told him were equally claims of justice in the sight of Him who judges all things, although incapable of being enforced in a court of law.

* Rom. viii. 28.

t Ibid. verse 32.

The wreck of his fortune, thus honestly distributed, still left a subsistence, though scanty, to Mr. Gracelove and his family; kindly assisted as he was by the frank and generous exertions in his behalf, of those friends whom admiration of his strict integrity had called round him in his hour of need.

His affairs being at length finally arranged, to the entire and grateful satisfaction of all his commercial friends and creditors, he was on the point of again commencing his mercantile pursuits, when, by the death of a maternal uncle, he unexpectedly found himself in possession of a valuable and beautiful estate in the county of Cumberland. The property consisted of four hundred acres of land in the lovely and fertile vale of the Derwent; to which was attached the villa already described, and which had formed the abode of the deceased bachelor

This providential turn of prosperity now changed altogether the proposed plan of renewed commercial engagements; and having a taste for rural occupations, and some knowledge of farming, Mr. Gracelove at once determined to devote his future life to the cultivation and improvement of his estate. Shortly afterwards, therefore, he removed, with his family, to the peaceful retirement to which my reader has been so recently introduced.

Having thus afforded an insight into the earlier life of the master of the household, impartial justice requires that we should indulge in a brief retrospection of the former life of its amiable mistress. The memorial of her is short and simple. She was one of a family of twelve children, whom her father, the Rev. Edward Stanley, a pious clergyman in a retired village of Yorkshire, contrived to bring up and educate, assisted by the exemplary management and economy of his wife, on a stipend of not more than four hundred a-year. A wisely-ordered expenditure here united with an absolute necessity; and the result was, that though little could be saved there was

enough and to spare ;" thus proving the truth of the proverb—when people are willing to be guided by its wisdom-that “nature is simple and her wants are few.”

In proportion as the worthy incumbent knew that he had but little patrimony to bequeath to his numerous offspring, except the odour of a good name, did he exert every endeavour to accomplish their minds and inform their hearts. For this purpose his acquirements were as ample as his zeal was unremitting; and while he presided over the education of all, he consigned his daughters, in a great measure, to the literary care of his talented wife, whose proficiency in various branches of useful and polite knowledge was quite competent to so responsible a charge. With regard to the boys, they were trained up for the various professions, and for business; and the girls for teachers and governesses.

These excellent parents were unwearied in their Christian zeal to lay the basis of their children's future prosperity in religious principles. The reverend pastor laboured incessantly to impress on the minds of his domestic flock the sacred truth, that the love of God and strict obedience to his commandments were the best preparations for a successful course in life, as they were the happiest tokens of a departing spirit in death. Always illustrating his advice by the undeniable sanctions of scripture, he continually directed their attention, among numerous other references, to that emphatic declaration of the apostle, in his first epistle to Timothy—“God

liness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.*

Under a tuition so extremely judicious, can it be wondered at that all the children, without a single exception, turned out well; that they became, in after life, both ornamental and useful members of society ? For after their honoured parents had been permitted to see the fruits of their anxious cares, in the matured graces and accomplishments of their offspring and were at length gathered to their graves in peace, the sons, by the exertion of professional skill, and the daughters by the establishment of a respectable seminary for young ladies, were enabled to support themselves with credit and with comfort. It was not, therefore, with an uninspired pen that the Royal Psalmist expressed himself, when he said, “I have been young, and now am old ; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." +

It was in the year previous to the death of this worthy clergyman that Mr. Gracelove, who had been long acquainted with the family, united his fate with Mary, his third daughter. His own fortune was then ample and increasing, and rendered it quite unnecessary, as a matter of prudence, to seek for an augmentation of it in marriage. Besides, he felt that there was something" more precious than rubies;" that there was a treasure “ better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold;"I and that this, the best of earthly treasures, was possessed by him in the person of the lovely and accomplished Mary Stanley.

Mrs. Gracelove was, indeed, the charm of her husband's life, the attractive grace of his home of content and love. She was to him as a sunbeam gleaming through the window of his cottage, and casting its mild radiance on every object around. Her heart was the abode of a sincere and fervent charity, in its * 1 Tim. iv. 8.

+ Ps. xxxvii. 25. | Prov. iii. 14, 15.

« PreviousContinue »