« PředchozíPokračovat »
though he could not speak them, were overcome, and the bashful reluctance of his daughter gave way to her belief of its use to her father. The sick man was wrapped in blankets and carried across the street to the English gentleman's. The old woman helped his daughter to nurse him there. The surgeon, who arrived soon after, prescribed a little, and nature did much for him; in a week he was able to thank his benefactor.
By this time his host had learned the name and character of his guest. He was a Protestant clergyman of Switzerland, called La Roche, a widower, who had lately buried his wife after a long and lingering illness, for which travelling had been prescribed, and was now returning home, after an ineffectual and melancholy journey, with his only child, the daughter we have mentioned.
He was a devout man, as became his profession. He possessed devotion in all its warmth, but with none of its asperity; I mean that asperity which men, called devout, sometimes indulge in. Mr., though he felt no devotion, never quarrelled with it in others. His gouvernante joined the old man and his daughter in the prayers and thanksgivings which they put up on his recovery; for she, too, was a heretic in the phrase of the village. The philosopher walked out, with his long staff and his dog, and left them to their prayers and thanksgivings. "My master," said the old woman, "alas! he is not a Christian, but he is the best of unbelievers." "Not a Christian!" exclaimed Mademoiselle La Roche; "yet he saved my father! Heaven bless him for 't; I would he were a Christian!" "There is a pride in human knowledge, my child,”
said her father, "which often blinds men to the sublime truths of revelation; hence opposers of Christianity are found among men of virtuous lives, as well as among those of dissipated and licentious characters. Nay, sometimes I have known the latter more easily converted to the true faith than the former, because the fume of passion is more easily dissipated than the mist of false theory and delusive speculation." "But Mr.-," said his daughter; "alas! my father, he shall be a Christian before he dies." She was interrupted by the arrival of their landlord. He took her hand with an air of kindness; she drew it away from him in silence, threw down her eyes to the ground, and left the room. "I have been thanking God," said the good La Roche, "for my recovery." "That is right," replied his landlord. "I would not wish," continued the old man hesitatingly, "to think otherwise; did I not look up with gratitude to that Being, I should barely be satisfied with my recovery as a continuation of life, which, it may be, is not a real good. Alas! I may live to wish I had died, that you had left me to die, sir, instead of kindly relieving me (he clasped Mr.'s hand); but when I look on this renovated being as the gift of the Almighty, I feel a far different sentiment; my heart dilates with gratitude and love to him; it is prepared for doing his will, not as a duty, but as a pleasure; and regards every breach of it, not with disapprobation, but with horror." "You say right, my dear sir," replied the philosopher; "but you are not yet re-established enough to talk much; you must take care of your health, and neither study nor preach for some time. I have been thinking over a scheme that struck me
to-day when you mentioned your intended departure. I never was in Switzerland; I have a great mind to accompany your daughter and you into that country. I will help to take care of you by the road; for, as I was your first physician, I hold myself responsible for your cure." La Roche's eyes glistened at the proposal; his daughter was called in and told of it. She was equally pleased with her father; for they really loved their landlord—not perhaps the less for his infidelity; at least that circumstance mixed a sort of pity with their regard for him: their souls were not of a mould for harsher feelings; hatred never dwelt in them.
They travelled by short stages; for the philosopher was as good as his word, in taking care that the old man should not be fatigued. The party had time to be well acquainted with one another, and their friendship was increased by acquaintance. La Roche found a degree of simplicity and gentleness in his companion which is not always annexed to the character of a learned or a wis man. His daughter, who was prepared to be afraid of him, was equally undeceived. She found in him nothing of that self-importance which superior parts, or great cultivation of them, is apt to confer. He talked of everything but philosophy or religion; he seemed to enjoy every pleasure and amusement of ordinary life, and to be interested in the most common topics of discourse: when his knowledge or learning at any time appeared, it was delivered with the utmost plainness, and without the least shadow of dogmatism. On his part he was charmed with the society of the good clergyman and his lovely daughter. He found in them the guileless manner of the earlièst
times, with the culture and accomplishment of the most refined ones. Every better feeling warm and vivid; every ungentle one repressed or overcome. He was not addicted to love; but he felt himself happy in being the friend of Mademoiselle La Roche, and sometimes envied her father the possession of such a child.
After a journey of eleven days, they arrived at the dwelling of La Roche. It was situated in one of those valleys of the canton of Berne, where nature scems to repose, as it were, in quiet, and has enclosed her retreat with mountains inaccessible. A stream that spent its fury in the hills above, ran in front of the house, and a broken waterfall was seen through the wood that covered its sides; below, it circled round a tufted plain, and formed a little lake in front of a village, at the end of which appeared the spire of La Roche's church, rising above a clump of beeches. Mr. enjoyed the beauty of the scene; but to his companions it recalled the memory of a wife and parent they had lost, The old man's sorrow was silent-bis daughter sobbed and wept. Her father took her hand, kissed it twice, pressed it to his bosom, threw up his eyes to heaven, and having wiped off a tear that was just about to drop from cach, began to point out to his guest some of the most striking objects which the prospect afforded. The philosopher interpreted all this; and he could but slightly censure the creed from which it arose.
They had not long arrived, when a number of La Roche's parishioners, who had heard of his return, came to the house to see and welcome him. The honest folks were awkward but sincere in their pro
fessions of regard. They made some attempts at condolence; it was too delieate for their handling, but La Roche took it in good part. "It has pleased God," said he; and they saw he had settled the matter with himself. Philosophy could not have done so much with a thousand words.
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 parishoners are wont to join it; a little rustic saloon serves for the chapel of our family, and such of the good people as are with us. If you choose rather to walk out, I will furnish you with an attendant; or here are a few old books that may afford you some entertainment within." By no means," answered the philosopher, "I will attend Mademoiselle at her devotions." "She is our organist," said La Roche: "our neighbourhood is the country of musical mechanism, and I have a small organ 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