« ZurückWeiter »
It was now evening, and the good peasants were about to depart, when a clock was heard to strike seven, and the hour was followed by a particular chime. The country folks, who had come to welcome their pastor, turned their looks towards him at the sound; he explained their meaning to his guest. . That is the signal,' said he, - for our
evening exercise ; this is one of the nights of the
week in which some of my parishioners are wont • to join in it ; a little rustic saloon serves for the • chapel of our family, and such of the good people • as are with us ;-if you chuse rather to walk out, • I will furnish you with an attendant ; or here are a few old books that
you some enter• tainment within.'— By no means,' answered the philosopher; · I will attend Ma’moiselle at her de. i votions.' - She is our organist,' said La Roche; ' our neighbourhood is the country of musical me• chanism ; and I have a small
fitted up for • the purpose of assisting our singing.'--'Tis an • additional inducement, replied the other; and they walked into the room together. At the end stood the organ mentioned by La Roche ; before it was a curtain, which his daughter drew aside, and, placing herself on a seat within, and drawing the curtain close, so as to save her the awkwardness of an exhibition, began a voluntary, solemn and beautiful in the highest degree. Mr. - was no musician, but he was not altogether insensible to music; this fastened on his mind more strongly, from its beauty being unexpected. The solemn prelude introduced a hymn, in which such of the audience as could sing immediately joined; the words were mostly taken from holy writ; it spoke the praises of God, and his care of good men. Something was said of the death of the just, of such as die in the Lord. The organ was touched with a hand less firm ;paused, it ceased and the sobbing of Ma’moiselle Ra Roche was heard in its stead. Her father gave a sign for stopping the psalmody, and rose to pray, He was discomposed at first, and his voice faltered as he spoke; but his heart was in his words, and his warmth overcame his embarrassment. He addressed a Being whom he loved, and he spoke for those he loved. His parishioners catched the ardour of the good old man; even the philosopher felt himself moved, and forgot for a moment, to think why he should not.
La Roche's religion was that of sentiment, not theory, and his guest was averse from disputation ; their discourse, therefore, did not lead to questions concerning the belief of either ; yet would the old man sometimes speak of his, from the fulness of a heart impressed with its force, and
wishing to spread the pleasure he enjoyed in it. The ideas of his God, and his Saviour, were so congenial to his mind, that every emotion of it naturally awaked them. A philosopher might have called him an enthusiast; but, if he possessed the fervour of enthusiasts, he was guiltless of their bigotry. « Our • Father which art in heaven !' might the good man say—for he felt it—and all mankind were his brethren.
• You regret,' my friend,' said he to Mr. • when my daughter and I talk of the exquisite
pleasure derived from music, you regret your want • of musical powers and musical feelings; it is a • department of soul, you say, which nature has al
most denied you, which, from the effects you see
it have on others, you are sure must be highly de• lightful. Why should not the same thing be said • of religion ? Trust me I feel it in the same way,
an energy, an inspiration, which I would not lose • for all the blessings of sense or enjoyments of the ' world; yet so far from lessening my relish of the
pleasures of life, methinks I feel it heighten them
all. The thought of receiving it from God, adds • the blessing of sentiment to that of sensation in
every good thing I possess, and when calamities overtake meand I have had
share it • confers a dignity on my affliction,
-so lifts me « above the world. Man, I know, is but a worm,
-yet, methinks I am then allied to God!'-It would have been inhuman in our philosopher to have clouded, even with a doubt, the sunshine of this belief.
His discourse, indeed, was very remote from metaphysical disquisition, or religious controversy. Of all men I ever knew, his ordinary conversation was the least tinctured with pedantry, or liable to dissertation. With La Roche and his daughter, it was perfectly familiar. The country round them, the manners of the village, the comparison of both with those of England, remarks on the works of favourite authors, on the sentiments they conveyed, and the passions they excited, with many other topics in which there was an equality, or alternate advantage, among the speakers, were the subjects they talked on. Their hours too of riding and walking were many, in which Mr.
as a stranger, was shewn the remarkable scenes and curiosities of the country. They would sometimes make little
expeditions to contemplate, in different attitudes, those astonishing mountains, the cliffs of which, covered with eternal snows, and sometimes shooting into fantastic shapes, form the termination of most of the Swiss prospects. Our philosopher asked many questions as to their natural history and productions. "La Roche observed the sublimity of the ideas which the view of their stupendous summits, inaccessible to mortal foot, was calculated to inspire, which naturally, said he, leads the mind to that being by whom their foundations were laid. They are not seen in Flanders !' said Ma’moiselle with a sigh... That's an odd re. • mark,' said Mr.
smiling. She blushed, and he inquired no farther.
'Twas with regret he left a society in which lie found himself so happy; but he settled with La Roche and his daughter a plan of correspondence ; and they took his promise, that, if ever he came within fifty leagues of their dwelling, he should travel those fifty leagues to visit them.
N' 44. SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 1779.
Conclusion of the Story of La Roche.
About three years after, our philosopher was on a visit at Geneva'; the promise he made to La Roche and his daughter, on his former visit, was recalled to his mind,' by the view of that range of mountains, on a part of which they had often looked together, There was a reproach, too, conveyed along with the recollection, for his having failed to write to either for several months past.
The truth was, that indolence was the habit most natural to him, from which he was not easily roused by the claims of correspondence either of his friends or of his enemies; when the latter drew their pens in controversy, they were often unanswered as well as the former. While he was hesitating about a visit to La Roche, which he wished to make, but found the effort rather too much for him, he received a letter from the old man, which had been forwarded to him from Paris, where he had then fixed his residence. It contained a gentle complaint of Mr. -'s want of punctuality, but an assurance of continued gratitude for his former good offices ; and, as a friend whom the writer considered interested in his family, it informed him of the approaching nuptials of Ma’moiselle La Roche, with a young man, a relation of her own, and formerly a pupil of her father's, of the most amiable dispositions, and respectable character. Attached from their earliest years, they had been separated by his joining one of the subsidiary regiments of the Canton, then in the service of a foreign power. In this situation, he had distinguished himself as much for courage and military skill, as for the other endowments which he had cultivated at home. The term of his service was now expired, and they expected him to return in a few weeks, when the old man hoped, as he expressed it in his letter, to join their hands, and see them happy before he died.
Our philosopher felt himself interested in this event; but he was not, perhaps, altogether so happy in the tidings of Ma’moiselle La Roche's marriage, as her father supposed him.-Not that he was ever a lover of the lady's; but he thought her one of the most amiable women he had seen, and there was something in the idea of her being another's for ever, that struck him, he knew not why, like a disappointment. After some little speculation on the matter, however, he could look on it as a thing fitting, if not quite agreeable, and determined on