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- The Man of Feeling - 20/20 -


think but in those regions which I contemplate, if there is any thing of mortality left about us, that these feelings will subsist;- -they are called,--perhaps they are--weaknesses here;--but there may be some better modifications of them in heaven, which may deserve the name of virtues." He sighed as he spoke these last words. He had scarcely finished them, when the door opened, and his aunt appeared, leading in Miss Walton. "My dear," said she, "here is Miss Walton, who has been so kind as to come and inquire for you herself." I could observe a transient glow upon his face. He rose from his seat--"If to know Miss Walton's goodness," said he, "be a title to deserve it, I have some claim." She begged him to resume his seat, and placed herself on the sofa beside him. I took my leave. Mrs. Margery accompanied me to the door. He was left with Miss Walton alone. She inquired anxiously about his health. "I believe," said he, "from the accounts which my physicians unwillingly give me, that they have no great hopes of my recovery."- -She started as he spoke; but recollecting herself immediately, endeavoured to flatter him into a belief that his apprehensions were groundless. "I know," said he, "that it is usual with persons at my time of life to have these hopes, which your kindness suggests; but I would not wish to be deceived. To meet death as becomes a man, is a privilege bestowed on few.--I would endeavour to make it mine;-- nor do I think that I can ever be better prepared for it than now: - -It is that chiefly which determines the fitness of its approach." "Those sentiments," answered Miss Walton, "are just; but your good sense, Mr. Harley, will own, that life has its proper value.--As the province of virtue, life is ennobled; as such, it is to be desired.- -To virtue has the Supreme Director of all things assigned rewards enough even here to fix its attachment."

The subject began to overpower her.--Harley lifted his eyes from the ground--"There are," said he, in a very low voice, "there are attachments, Miss Walton"--His glance met hers.--They both betrayed a confusion, and were both instantly withdrawn.--He paused some moments--"I am such a state as calls for sincerity, let that also excuse it--It is perhaps the last time we shall ever meet. I feel something particularly solemn in the acknowledgment, yet my heart swells to make it, awed as it is by a sense of my presumption, by a sense of your perfections"--He paused again--"Let it not offend you, to know their power over one so unworthy--It will, I believe, soon cease to beat, even with that feeling which it shall lose the latest.--To love Miss Walton could not be a crime;--if to declare it is one--the expiation will be made."--Her tears were now flowing without control.--"Let me intreat you," said she, "to have better hopes--Let not life be so indifferent to you; if my wishes can put any value on it--I will not pretend to misunderstand you--I know your worth--I have known it long--I have esteemed it--What would you have me say?--I have loved it as it deserved."--He seized her hand-- a languid colour reddened his cheek--a smile brightened faintly in his eye. As he gazed on her, it grew dim, it fixed, it closed--He sighed and fell back on his seat--Miss Walton screamed at the sight- -His aunt and the servants rushed into the room--They found them lying motionless together.--His physician happened to call at that instant. Every art was tried to recover them--With Miss Walton they succeeded--But Harley was gone for ever.

CHAPTER LVI--THE EMOTIONS OF THE HEART

I entered the room where his body lay; I approached it with reverence, not fear: I looked; the recollection of the past crowded upon me. I saw that form which, but a little before, was animated with a soul which did honour to humanity, stretched without sense or feeling before me. 'Tis a connection we cannot easily forget:- I took his hand in mine; I repeated his name involuntary;--I felt a pulse in every vein at the sound. I looked earnestly in his face; his eye was closed, his lip pale and motionless. There is an enthusiasm in sorrow that forgets impossibility; I wondered that it was so. The sight drew a prayer from my heart: it was the voice of frailty and of man! the confusion of my mind began to subside into thought; I had time to meet!

I turned with the last farewell upon my lips, when I observed old Edwards standing behind me. I looked him full in the face; but his eye was fixed on another object: he pressed between me and the bed, and stood gazing on the breathless remains of his benefactor. I spoke to him I know not what; but he took no notice of what I said, and remained in the same attitude as before. He stood some minutes in that posture, then turned and walked towards the door. He paused as he went;--he returned a second time: I could observe his lips move as he looked: but the voice they would have uttered was lost. He attempted going again; and a third time he returned as before.--I saw him wipe his cheek: then covering his face with his hands, his breast heaving with the most convulsive throbs, he flung out of the room.

THE CONCLUSION

He had hinted that he should like to be buried in a certain spot near the grave of his mother. This is a weakness; but it is universally incident to humanity: 'tis at least a memorial for those who survive: for some indeed a slender memorial will serve;-- and the soft affections, when they are busy that way, will build their structures, were it but on the paring of a nail.

He was buried in the place he had desired. It was shaded by an old tree, the only one in the church-yard, in which was a cavity worn by time. I have sat with him in it, and counted the tombs. The last time we passed there, methought he looked wistfully on the tree: there was a branch of it that bent towards us waving in the wind; he waved his hand as if he mimicked its motion. There was something predictive in his look! perhaps it is foolish to remark it; but there are times and places when I am a child at those things.

I sometimes visit his grave; I sit in the hollow of the tree. It is worth a thousand homilies; every noble feeling rises within me! every beat of my heart awakens a virtue!--but it will make you hate the world--No: there is such an air of gentleness around, that I can hate nothing; but, as to the world--I pity the men of it.

Footnotes:

{16} The reader will remember that the Editor is accountable only for scattered chapters and fragments of chapters; the curate must answer for the rest. The number at the top, when the chapter was entire, he has given as it originally stood, with the title which its author had affixed to it.

{61} Though the Curate could not remember having shown this chapter to anybody, I strongly suspect that these political observations are the work of a later pen than the rest of this performance. There seems to have been, by some accident, a gap in the manuscript, from the words, "Expectation at a jointure," to these, "In short, man is an animal," where the present blank ends; and some other person (for the hand is different, and the ink whiter) has filled part of it with sentiments of his own. Whoever he was, he seems to have caught some portion of the spirit of the man he personates.


The Man of Feeling - 20/20

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