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"I shall now proceed to speak of one whose character was as directly the reverse of mine as it is possible to suppose any character could be. This was my daughter, the lovely Lydia Howard, as she was not seldom called in the higher circles to which she was introduced when at a proper age. Even in very early infancy this child was remarkably beautiful; and her beauty was of so delicate and modest a description, that the longer it was looked upon the more admirable it appeared. She was exceedingly fair, and generally pale; but when in the smallest degree excited, a delicate blush mantled in her cheek, and added new perfections to her charming countenance. She was naturally reserved and timid; and under a mother such as I have described myself to be, her character had no opportunity of unfolding itself to those about her. Therefore, during the earlier period of her life, little more could be said of her than that she was entirely inoffensive. Sometimes indeed, and for a few minutes, her natural sensibility and warmth of feeling would appear, as I once especially remember on the death of an infant in whom she had taken great interest, whose little grave I accidentally heard her address with a tenderness and pathos which at once discovered the strength of her feelings and the elegance of her mind.
"This my dear child was about ten years of age when Mr. Berrington was established in his office as her tutor. Mr. Berrington at that time had just entered into deacon's-orders, having obtained extraordinary honours at the University, and being equally distinguished by the politeness of his manners and the agreeableness of his conversation.
"I was by no means myself a cultivated woman; nevertheless I had some idea of the distinction which a cultivated mind gives to an elegant young woman. I therefore requested Mr. Berrington to communicate to my daughter every possible advantage of this kind: and indeed I myself in general very officiously presided on these occasions, not seldom, as I have since thought, interrupting him with many impertinences.
"The instructions which Mr. Berrington gave his little pupil were, no doubt, excellent, if I may judge by their effect on her mind. He taught her to read French and Italian, with which languages he was well acquainted; and as much Greek as enabled her to read the New Testament in the original with facility. He made her acquainted with history, both sacred and profane; and taught her to write elegantly. These were the leading points of his instructions; and though he seldom gave her a lesson expressly upon religion, which he had, no doubt, some reasons for not doing, yet he so insensibly blended Christianity with all his instructions, that he had formed her principles relative to these matters, at a time when I had reason to suppose her nearly ignorant of any thing but the outward forms and general outlines of the Christian religion.
"I have before mentioned that I was a great observer of forms; accordingly, when Lydia was between fourteen and fifteen, thinking it right that she should be confirmed, I wrote to a relation of my late husband, who was high in the Church, for the purpose of consulting him upon the subject.
"He replied, that the young lady having attained the age appointed by the Church for such ordinance, there could be no doubt that it ought now to be attended to; but that the young lady should previously be examined in the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments, as the Church required.
"Having received this letter, I, who always did every thing with much ceremony, caused Mr. Berrington to be sent for, and taking him into my dressing-room, delivered my opinion to him at some length, enlarging, no doubt, upon the obligation under which all parents lie of bringing their children at a due age to be confirmed. I then read my friend's letter to him, and requested, or rather, laid my commands upon him, to prepare my daughter for the ceremony. tMr. Berrington, who I have much reason to suppose bore my frequent insolence entirely on account of the regard he had for his pupil, promised to obey my commands, and immediately began the work of preparation.
"It happened, during the few first days of these examinations, that I was unable to be present, being engaged by a visitor of high rank, to whom I thought particular attention was due, this lady being no other than a dowa ger duchess, of whom I shall have occasion to speak more hereafter. However, as it never suited my ideas of propriety to leave Mr. Berrington alone with my daughter, I ordered Miss Chelmsford, my Lydia's governess, to attend at these seasons; while, to maintain the character of a very watchful and prudent mother, I thought it necessary, after the first examination, to question her on what she had heard Mr. Berrington say to my daughter.
Vol. ii. N
"' I did not hear any thing about the Creed, Madam, or the Lord's Prayer,' she replied. 'On the contrary, Mr. Berrington ran as far from these subjects as he well could, and spoke of things which happened before the beginning of the world.'
"' Extraordinary!' I said. 'Whatcan you mean V
"In reply to this, she blundered and stammered, making everything she endeavoured to explain appear totally ridiculous, as uneducated persons are apt to do when meddling with what they do not understand: so I dismissed her with a charge to be more attentive another day.
"Miss Chelmsford's next report was more consistent; and as she was assisted by certain Articles of the Church to which Mr. Berrington had made a reference, I was led to comprehend, that the young divine was instructing my daughter on the alarming points of election, of grace, of the depravity of man's nature, and the necessity of regeneration. As excellent a Church-woman as I supposed myself to be, the Articles of the Church itself were not sufficient to reconcile me to these doctrines. However, as the duchess was to leave me the next day, I resolved to conceal my uneasy feelings, and succeeded so far as to appear all composure till I saw her Grace's carriage drive from the door. I then hastened to the room were Mr. Berrington was with Lydia, and there seated myself at the table, with my knotting-shuttle in my hand, quietly waiting till I should hear something at which I might take offence.
"Mr. Berrington had a Book of Common Prayer in his hand, and the first expression I heard him use was to this effect:—' All the prayers and services in this book, you must observe, Miss Howard, are intended for the use of those persons who, according to the words of our Articles, "having been called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season, have, through grace, obeyed the call and been justified freely"—persons who, knowing themselves to be sinners, have seen the need of an entire change of heart; who having cast away all self-confidence, and been led to put their whole trust in the merits of Christ, are enabled to use with the heart, as well as the tongue, the language of the Church, confessing themselves miserable sinners, and appropriating to themselves all the comfortable promises and assurances of salvation interspersed throughout our Liturgy.'
"'The language of our Common Prayer-Book,'continued Mr. Berrington, 'is the proper language of the children of God. The ordinances of religion are intended for their comfort only; and that peculiar service on which we are meditating, may, from its very name, be understood only as an office for strengthening and confirming those who are already in the right way. The proper preparation therefore for confirmation, should consist in a serious examination of our actual state, especially as it regards the following points: viz. whether we have already been called to Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost; whether we are regenerated, or have received a new nature; and whether by our holy lives we give the requisite proofs of this our renewal unto holiness.'
"' Amazing, Mr. Berrington!' I said in the plenitude of my folly; 'did any one ever hear such sentiments as you have just uttered?'
"' Madam,' said he, with his usual composure,'I have said nothing but what our Liturgy and Articles will fully confirm.'
"'Will they,' said I,'confirm your assertion, that none but the saints, the converted, and the pious, have any business at church V
"Mr. Berrington pleaded, that he had made no such assertion; but had simply said, that, as the prayers of the Church, and its other forms, speak the language of converted men, those who are not so should be informed of this circumstance, lest, by a confident application, of the promises contained in that ritual, they should thereby appropriate to themselves those consolations which belong not to their condition.
"'And pray, Sir,' asked I, 'who is to judge what individuals in a congregation are fit to apply these consolations to themselves, and who are not V
"'No man,' replied Mr. Berrington, 'is competent to form this judgment; and of this our reformers were so fully aware, that they prepared their Liturgy under the supposition that all who make a part of the visible Church are members also of the invisible.'
"' Well, Sir,' I said, 'these opinions are perfectly new to me; neither do I see the need of troubling my daughter with them at this time.'
"'Consider, my dear Madam,' he replied, 'that your daughter, being judged by the Church of a proper age to take upon herself her baptismal vow, ought at this time to be led to a serious review of her spiritual state: and inasmuch as I am convinced that many young people have been misled by the very circumstance of their being continually addressed by their ministers in the congregation as believers, I have taken some pains to explain to Miss Howard, that, although the minister is obliged to address her in public, with the rest of his people, as a child of God;—that although, when baptized, thanksgivings were made on her account in these words; "We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit;"—and that although she has been taught to repeat this sentence of the Church Catechism; "In my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven;"—yet, notwithstanding all this, that it is still possible she may be an unchanged character, and no otherwise a Christian than in name and outward circumstances.'
"I was going to speak, and with no small degree of heat and probably of insolence, when Lydia gave me one of those beseeching looks, which, harsh and imperious as I was, I often found irresistible.
"' Excuse me, Madam,' said Mr. Berrington, 'if I may seem to be searching my pupil too deeply. But I ask