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ceiving that she was cruelly injured by every little necessary restraint imposed upon her. She perceived, too, so great a difference between her own female relatives and the heroines of romance, that to use a strong expression, she almost loathed the homely manners of her old grandmother, her grave aunts, and her indulgent mother. Such was the extravagant turn of her thoughts; and thus by passing from one diseased state of the mind to another, she, who was really surrounded with every
arthly comfort, became one of the most discontented persons on the face of the earth.
At this time she entirely lost the gayety of youth, and her conscience became partially troubled: for although dead to all spiritual concerns, her natural sense of right and wrong convinced her that she was living in sin. Řeligion therefore became a terror to her. Her mental improvements of every kind were now at an end, while her outward conduct and appearance were visibly influenced by the inward disorder of her mind.
We will here pause for a moment, and consider whether the state of Constantia, as I have described it, is a common one among young people. I cannot but fear that this state is very common among such as have been reared in indolence and self-indulgence: and hence the restlessness observable in many young persons, their incapacity of enjoying the present scene, their eager desire of novelty, the weariness they express in the society of parents and near connexions-symptoms which all must have noticed who have had much to do with young people, but which can only be understood by those, who using the light which Scripture affords, are by it enabled to investigate the dark and foul recesses of the human heart. To such, however, it would perhaps be needless to say, “ If you are parents, beware how you indulge that love of self in your offspring, which may hereafter reduce them to the condition of the miserable Constantia. It is true, you cannot change their hearts, you cannot renew their fallen nature; but you may accustom them to hear themselves spoken of as partakers of an evil nature, and as individuals of a condemned race. You may accustom them to hear, that he who takes honour to himself, is guilty of self-idolatry; and that he who seeks his own
indulgences, must needs be deficient in that love to his neighbour, which is the only satisfactory evidence that can be given of our love towards God. But since no earthly effort is sufficient to subdue and mortify sin, children should be early taught where to apply for help in time of need; even to that Holy Spirit who is ever willing to assist us."
But, to return to Constantia. She had attained her fourteenth year in the unhappy state which I have described ; while her friends, not understanding the errors of their own management, were almost ready to suppose that there was a certain something in her natural disposition more depraved than was common to children in general. On this subject the grandmother and aunts would converse in the bitterness of their hearts, frequently saying, with tears, “ Have we not done every thing for our child which the most careful parents could do? have we spared punishment? have we not endeavoured to season her mind with religious principles ? have we not as much as possible preserved her from evil company? Whence then has proceeded so extraordinary a degree of malignity and perverseness? Do we not see numbers of children who have been utterly neglected; who have been left with servants, with strangers, in large schools; nay, almost in the very streets; who in every respect are more promising than our poor Constantia ?"
But in this calculation, they did not consider that the Almighty often carries on a process of education under trials, afflictions, and adversity, by which the selfish passions of a child may be more effectually subdued, and his mind better prepared for the reception of right principles, than can be effected by the best directed education, when the outward circumstances of the pupil are easy and prosperous. What then can be expected, when self has been set up as the idol from childhood ; and when that individual of a family, who ought to be made of the least consequence, is allowed to feel himself a person of the greatest importance? But the minds of the poor grandmother and aunts not being well instructed on this subject, their discussions generally ended as they had begun, in sorrow and confusion.
While things were in this state, an uncle of Constar. tia's by the father's side, man of sense and priviciple, came to visit his niece, whom he had rot seeu for many years, during which interval he hai! been abroad. After a few days' acquaintance, it was agreed that he should be informed of the feelings of the elders of the family with regard to Constantia, and his advice solicited. The affair was accordingly stated to him according to their own ideas, to wit, that every thing had been done for his niece that it was possible for love or duty to dictate; but that the perverseness of her disposition had baffled all their efforts to render her in any degree what they wished.
Constantia's uncle could not deny what was asserted, although from the general result of his experience he imagined that there must have been some great error in an education which seemed to have so entirely failed. He did not doubt the good intentions of Constantia's friends, but he suspected some failure in their judgment. He requested to be allowed some hours for consideration upon the subject, before he gave his opinion; at the end of which time, he gave the result of his reflections. “I have a friend,” he said, “a widow lady, a Mrs. Garston, residing near town, of whom I have the highest opinion -not merely as a good woman, but as a woman of talents and experience, both of which have been exercised particularly in the management of young ladies. She is the mother of a large, well-ordered family, most of whom are married and settled well in the world. If this lady could be prevailed upon to take charge of Constantia for a few years, I think it would be the best thing we could do for her; and, indeed, if this plan is not adopted, I know not what else to propose.”
“What,” said Mrs. Kitty, “and send her quite from
“My dear,” said the grandmother, “if it is for her good to leave us, you surely would not refuse to part with her, from any selfish motive."
“But might not a governess in the house,” added Mrs. Kitty,"answer better than an entire separation? There are many clever young persons who would be glad of such a situation."
"If Constantia,” rejoined the uncle,“ is what you describe her to be, I will venture to say, that no young person in the kingdom is competent to the management of her. A young teacher may assist in the matter of accomplishments," proceeded the old gentleman; and thus, under the eye of an elder, who is skilful in matters of education, may be useful; but I must confess, that I much reprobate the modern custom of entrusting young people to the entire management of governesses only three or four years older than themselves. No young person has experience enough, or is sufficiently raised above the temptations attendant on youth, coolly and calmly to direct another aright, who is also entering into life, though perhaps a few years behind her. However," he added, "I do not wish to dictate ; I have already said more than I intended, and perhaps ought not to have meddled at all in this business.” So saying, the old gentleman took up his hat and walked into the garden, leaving Honoria and her daughters to discuss the matter under consideration, at their
leisure. The old lady was strongly for adopting the uncle's plan, and her daughters as much against it. However, after some warm discussions, the mother prevailed, and the uncle was requested to write to Mrs. Garston, for the purpose of soliciting her to receive Constantia. Mrs. Garston's answer soon arrived; it was addressed to the uncle, and expressed a wish to oblige him as an old friend, as well as a reluctance to decline any undertaking in which there was a probability of effecting any good. It is not necessary to repeat in this place the whole of this excellent lady's communication. Suffice it to say, that her letter was very satisfactory to the uncle, and not unpleasing to the grandmother: though Mrs. Kitty at first declared it impossible, that she should part with her darling child for any length of time, and that she feared from Mrs. Garston's style of writing, that she was a person of a very violent temper. Mrs. Kitty's opposition was however soon overruled; when it was agreed that on the uncle's return to town, he should take Mrs. Kitty and Constantia with him to Mrs. Garston's, as this lady lived in a beautiful village in Hertfordshire, at a small distance from London
I shall not expatiate upon the various feelings of the different members of the family, on their taking leave of Constantia, nor upon Mrs. Kitty's thousand anxieties about the books, clothes, &c. which were to be packed up: I will only say, that the whole family were in a ferment for more than a fortnight before the journey took place; and that every one either felt or expressed some sorrow on the occasion, excepting Constantia herself, who, although she shed a few tears at parting with her grandmamma, was so full of self-importance, and so elated by the hustle excited on her account, as left her no leisure to enter into any one's feelings but her own.
At the end of the second day from their leaving home, the travellers arrived at Mrs. Garston's neat little dwelling, situated in a garden pleasantly laid out, and commanding in front, the view of a fine beech wood, from the centre of which arose the Gothic tower of the village church. Mrs. and Miss Garston were drinking tea in an elegant little parlour before an open window adorned with flowers, when the visiters arrived. Mrs. Garston received the uncle as a very old friend, and welcomed Mrs. Kitty and Constantia with true Christian courtesy. Mrs. Garston was a tall woman of a dignified appearance; and although between fifty and sixty, and dressed quite like an aged woman and a widow, she had still a comely appearance, and a countenance in which sense and sweetness were blended together in no common degree. Miss Garston was just such a young woman as every Christian mother would wish her daughter to resemble; this sweet young lady uniting much composure of manner with feminine delicacy, and combining
uncommon sprightliness of manner with extreme gentleness of spirit.
During the evening, the uncle being present, every thing passed off well, and Mrs. Kitty could not help confessing to herself, that Mrs. Garston entirely answered the description given of her.
The next morning, after breakfast, the old gentleman proposed a walk to the young ladies, leaving Mrs. Kitty with Mrs. Garston.
Mrs. Kitty availed herself of this opportunity to recommend Constantia to the tender love of Mrs. Garston
VOL. II. B