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THE

LADY OF THE MANOR,

fc.

CHAPTER XXVI.

Third Conversation on our Duty towards our Neighbour.'

ON OUR DUTY TOWARDS OUR SUPERIORS, OR THOSE

PERSONS WHO HAVE THE ADVANTAGE OVER US IN WORLDLY MATTERS,

The lady of the manor having again assembled her young people, proceeded to read to them the third warrative which had been promised, prefacing her lecture by the following remarks. " In the last two narratives which I have read to you, my dear young friends, as well as in that which I am about to read, it is possible you may perceive what will have the appearance of unnecessary repetition, a frequent reference to the great and important principle of humility. But let it be remembered, that this virtue is the basis of all our relative duties, whether to equals, inferiors, or superiors; and therefore the possession of such a quality, and the means of obtaining it, namely, by the operation of God's Spirit upon the heart, cannot be too seriously impressed upon us; the more especially, as the baneful evit of selfishness will lose its power in proportion to the influence which this lovely grace shall exercise over

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us; while the fruits of love, and joy, and peace, will obtain, in the place of those malevolent passions that injure and disgrace us.

The lady then took up her manuscript, and read as follows.

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The Dominion of Endy. It was precisely at the period in which I entered my eighteenth year, that I was indulged with the pleasure of accompanying my parents in a long-projected visit to a friend residing in Westmoreland.

We left our home in the month of June, and as we proceeded northward, we were regaled in every valley and on every plain with the breach of new-mown grass, and with the songs of village maidens, who appeared to rejoice in their escape from the distaff, and in the permission to dwell a while amidst the green fields, and to taste the delights of rural life.

It is not, however, my present purpose to trouble my readers with an account of the various adventures which we encountered in our transit over at least two-thirds of the

green and fragrant disk of our little island; nor to !ell how my mother and I were terrified by a baker's boy, whom we mistook for a bighwayman, not having at first observed his panniers through the gloom of twilight: but, passing these things over as unimportant, I shall take the liberty of conveying my friends, without further preface, to the end of our journey.

The persons for whom all these labours and terrors of the journey had been encountered by my mother, were an ancient couple without children, and the last of a highly respectable family, the ancestors of whom were traced as far back as the reign of Elizabeth.

The mansion in which they resided was nearly coeval with the first of the family, who had risen from the obscure mass of the ignoble vulgar; and, from the period of its first erection, had undergone few external changes. This building was a perfect specimen of that irregularity of architecture, in which our ancestors seemed to delight, no two rooms or two windows being in a straight line with each other, various gable ends and little turrets appearing in dif

ferent directions, staring, frowning, and jutting forth towards all quarters of the compass, and suggesting an idea rather of a number of old buildings joined together, than of a single house. The composition of this edifice was of nak timber, with lath and plaster ; the timbers were all painted black and curiously carved; and the large masses of chimneys, which shot up spirally towards the heavens, were decorated at their bases with fancy work in brick, and were now blackened with smoke. This edisice was surrounded with a garden, encircled with a high wall, which entirely excluded the prospect, beautiful as it was, (for the estate was situated in one of the finest valleys of Westmoreland,) from all the lower rooms; but, iu exchange for the more distant beauties which were excluded, it formed a protection for the rich abundance of fair and fruitful trees which enriched the parterres of the garden.

Four summer-houses, with pepper-box turrets, adorned the four corners of the wall; and these, together with a lofty cupola at the top of the house, containing a clock, whose bell might be heard at a very considerable distance, were accounted, by my father's old friend, as the most distinguishing ornaments of the house.

It was at the period of life in which the imagination is commonly stronger than the judgment, that I was introduced into this scene, and I was not a little delighted at finding myself suddenly surrounded with objects of a nature so entirely different to all that I had ever seen in the little town in which I had been brought up, and where my father had been considered a man of importance, because his grandfather had built the house in which we lived, and bad inclosed the court in its front with handsome iron railings, and placed a stone figure of some magnitude in a niche above the hall door! But how did all

ideas of my father's dignity and the antiquity of my family shrink into nothing, as I was led to my sleeping-room, the first night, through a long gallery, where all the possessors of Inglewood Hall (for such was the name of the mansion of which I am speaking) were ranged in long order against the wall' on each side; every patriarch, or head of the family, for the time being, accompanied by his help.meet, and, in many cases, by a numerous progeny of sons and daughters, all portrayed with more or less skill, but in the fashions of the times, and in some instances possessing fine features and noble physiognomies.

Late as it was, and weary as I was with my journey, I could have lingered long in this gallery, had not the lady of the mansion, who would on no account dispense with the form of shewing me to my chamber the first night, requested me to postpone my curiosity for the present, promising to take me over the house the next day, and shew me all that was worthy of regard within it. It was necessary to submit to this decision: I accordingly went on with my dignified companion, and having threaded many mazes, and passed through many wide chambers, I shortly found myself in a comfortable room, hung with tapestry, and containing a small bed in an alcove. Being left in this place, I soon fell asleep, but awoke with the dawn of day, and found my spirits in a state of too much excitement to sleep again.

Having explored my room, and examined the figures on the hangings, which were of the finest Gobelyn, though considerably faded, and which represented ancient halls and castles, knights in armour, ladies and squires, I was proceeding to take a view through the stone-framed window at the end of the chamber, when my attention was arrested by a glimmering light, appearing through a part of the tapestry, where I presently discovered a door, nicely fitted into the wall, and greatly concealed by the general covering.

Here was a new subject for my curiosity: but much as I desired to see what was beyond the door, I might, perhaps, bave been better pleased had I met with some difficulty in opening it. However, this was not to be. There was a wooden button on the frame, which I had scarcely touched, before the mysterious door yielded to my hand, and the next moment I found myself in a large light closct, hung also with tapestry, having a fire-place with a massily carved chimney-piece, and containing an old harpsichord, a little book-case, standing on claw feet and inclosing several volumes, a round mahogany table with a ledge, several chairs, and a few old music-books neatly ranged upon the instrument. But what chiefly attracted my attention in this litule chamber (which, though not so mysterious a one as I could have wished, I doubted not, had some peculiar history belonging to it) was a portrait which occupied a great portion of one side of the room. This painting represented a lady dressed in black, and in the fashion which prevailed about the middle of ihe last century, before the ill-fated Queen of France had introduced those preposterous forms of dress which produced a total revolution in the human form. The figure was a fine one; the face had been remarkably handsome, though the lady I should judge to have been considerably advanced in years before the resemblance was taken.

When I first looked at this picture, I thought I observed considerable sternness in the countenance, but on further examination I rather changed my opinion, and fancied I observed the lines of sorrow traced on the features, together with a degree of tenderness, which seemed, as it were, to contend with natural strength and sternness. The hand which wrought this portrait was, undoubtedly, a skilful one.

I looked for a while on the picture, and then on every surrounding object. “This lady," I thought, “probably, when alive, occupied this chamber; those were, perhaps, her books; that might have been her musical instrument; she, perhaps, used to sit on that chair, and spread her work on that table;—but where is she' now? Where are those with whom she associated- her neighbours, her friends, her servants ? For whom did she wear that black dress ? Whom did she love? whom did she regret? What were her thoughts ? what were her acts ?" There is something very affecting in being brought into close contact with the dead. It is possible to reflect without powerful emotion on the destruction of whole countries by an earthquake-on the sinking of whole fleets at sea-on the dying away of generation after generation-on the depopulation of ancient cities, and the extinction of the noblest families;- but who could have visited Herculaneum, and entered into the very domicile of the ancient Romans, and contemplated the skeleton of the mother embracing that of the infant, without deep and lasting feelings of sympathy and tenderness?

Having gazed on every thing within the room, I walked to the window and opened the casement; for I felt a faintness which I partly attributed to a confined air which is often found in old buildings, in which the work of decay

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