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PART IV.

MRS. MANSFIELD arrived at Shrewsbury after an easy journey of two days, and, at one of the principal inns, found the uncle of her late husband in a still worse state than she expected, though the servant who attended her had represented his master as in some danger. He had for some time been confined to his bed, and the excessive lowness of his spirits made him believe himself worse than his phy sicians would allow him to be. The coming of his niece, however, appeared to afford him some comfort; for h:ving always attributed his recovery from the illness which attacked him in the house of his nephew, to her unwearied care and tenderness, he thought it possible that the same happy consequence might follow from her attention to him on the present occasion.

The melancholy state in which Mr. Mansfield lay, was doubly oppressive to him, as in the days of youth and health he had anxiously avoided every thing which could lead him to a thought of death. Though advanced in life, he had hoped it was still far distant from him, and now that it seemed to approach, he was filled with terror and dismay. The good Widow could not converse with him as she had done with her beloved husband, when labouring under far severer bodily sufferings, of the gracious purpose for which they were doubtless sent by the Father of mercy, and that, however painful a last illness might be, a good man would be enabled to endure it patiently, and even with thankfulness, by the joyful hope of its removing him from a world of sin and sorrow, and opening to him the gates of everlasting life.

Such discourse as this, which is soothing and delightful to the mind of the dying Christian, as it assists bim to look steadily forward to the unseen state, was painful and distressing to this worldly. minded man. Nothing but a hope of recovery seemed in the least to revive him ; capable as his niece was of assisting him to prepare for a change which in the common course of things could not be long delayed, even if it did not immediately take place, he had no wish to benefit by her piety and good sense.

He well knew that her ideas of what the Christian character required, stood so much higher than he hitherto had, or in future should be willing to aspire to the practice of, that he feared to hear her speak upon the subject; for though he was at times full of terror with the apprehensions of what would be his condition in that unknown world, upon the very borders of which he seemed to stand, his faculties were for the most part so benumbed by bis disorder, that he had no power even to intend a future change of conduct, if he should be again restored to health; and all that he at present desired, was as much as possible to drive the subject from his thoughts. He had always believed religion to be a gloomy, melancholy thing; and those who have been so unhappy as to form this false notion of piety, and have banished it from their days of youth and health, must, like Mr. Mansfield, feel the misery of wanting its firm support in the weakness of declining years, and in the anguish and weariness of a sick bed.

To find her uncle in this deplorable state of mind, though little more than she feared from her former knowledge of his character, was very painful to the good Widow; but she plainly saw that it was not then a time to atteinpt more than to lessen, as far as it was possible, his bodily sufferings; and in this she succeeded much beyond her hopes. During the first week, she hardly left him day or night, and he felt such confidence and satisfaction in what she did, and

was so ready to comply with all the directions of the doctors, given through her, that à considerable degree of amendment took place, and he was soon after pronounced out of danger. This gave the sincerest pleasure both to uncle and niece; to the first because he had, for the present, escaped from an event which he dreaded even to think of; and to the latter, as she hoped the fears and terrors he had so lately felt, would dispose him to such a change of conduct, as would lessen the probability of their return, upon a similar occasion.

As soon as Mr. Mansfield was sufficiently recovered to be removed with safety, she prevailed upon him to go into private lodgings in an airy part of the town, near the quarry, in which delightful walk she often indulged herself with a solitary stroll. She would gladly have been excused from the regular airings in his carriage, which her uncle took twice a day; but as he was desirous of her company, she would not refuse it to him. On one of these occasions, as they drove by the hospital and school, which was endowed by a person of the name of Millington, for the benefit of a certain number of the aged and the young, “What a pleasure is it,” said she, “ to look upon a building like this, where old age and poverty are comforted, and the young instructed and enabled to earn their bread with honesty and credit."

Mr. Mansfield. I do not like the way of getting to heaven by endowing schools and hospitals when we die. It is cheating our relations, and giving away nothing that we ourselves can use.

Lady. I agree with you, dear Sir, that the truly liberal man is he who spares from his own present expenses, to relieve the necessities of others. That alone can be called true, Christian charity, or real generosity. But if my fortune were large, and my heirs well provided for, the manner of my disposing of it would depend much upon their characters.

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Village Dialogues.

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Mr. Mansfield. Then I suppose if they were gay, fashionable people, and lived in a handsome style, you would cut them off with a shilling, and leave all that you are worth to the poor.

Lady. I should indeed be most unwilling that my fortune, whether great or small, should go to furnish second courses, superfluous horses and carriages, superb dresses, or any other expences of the like kind; as it would add nothing to the happiness or respectability of its owner, but as far as it went, serve to spread and increase the fatal infection of that vanity and luxury which already overflow the land. Therefore if my nearest relations were of that description, I would inquire for some who were worthier, if more distant; and if I had no such kindred, I would look out amongst my acquaintances for some, whose conduct had proved that they merited more of this world's goods, than fortune had bestowed upon them, and I should think myself fully justified in leaving a large part of my property to these ; and to all charitable and pious institutions to which I contributed, I should hold it my duty, if I believed my heirs not likely to continue them, to leave such a sum of money, as would prevent their suffering any loss by my death.

Mr. Mansfield. Then if your daughter had married a man of fortune, and lived in splendour, I suppose you would have disinherited her as far as it was in your power.

Lady. If the Almighty had spared my darling child, it would have been far from my wish to see her in the situation that you mention. The disposal of a large property, particularly in early life, is a hard trial of virtue; yet, young as she was, such were her dispositions and principles, that I am persuaded, if left to herself, she would have felt it as a trust, a stewardship, to be one day strictly accounted for. But had she been married to a man who chose to spend a large income in vanity and selfish grati

fications, it might have been otherwise ; my child might have been

dazzled by the false glare of worldly grandeur, and flattered for a time into a forgetfulness of her superior duties : but had it been so, I should not have thought it right to deprive her of the inheritance of her parents; though I might think myself at liberty to bestow liberal legacies where I thought they would be likely to promote real goodness, and add to virtuous happiness.

Mr. Mansfield. Your ideas and sentiments remind me of your husband's father; he used to talk as you do now.

But, my dear madam, what great good can it do, for one person, and one who has little power or influence, thus to set up her own opinions and order her conduct, in opposition to all the world. Suppose you go on thus during your whole life, wearing your widow's weeds, and giving up all the pleasures, and nearly all the comforts which your rank requires ; who will be the gainers by these great sacrifices on your part? a few poor thankless men and women, who will be idle because you give so much, and abuse you because you give no more.

Lady. The chief good that I hope to do, I own, respects myself. My own is principally the present pleasure, and the future advantage. By following as closely as I can the will of God, as made known to me by his Son and Messenger, Jesus Christ, I secure to myself “ that peace of mind, which passeth all understanding," which in my happy days increased my felicity a hundred fold, and in the heavy afflictions with which I have since been visited, has supported, and I may almost say, made me victorious over every sorrow. For, deprived as I am of a husband who was my guide, my teacher, my support and comforter, and of a darling child, who was the delight and solace of my widowed hours,-I am not unbappy, I have still my heavenly Father, who gave me all those blessings, which for wise and good reasons he has now thought proper to withdraw. I feel that he is always

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