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tion of the phrase, “It was not always so." My uncle then replied, “ No, my friend, it is not with you as in months that are past, when the candle of the Lord shone upon your tabernacle ; but when the mournful sense of your own privation overwhelms your mind, endeavour to think of her you
loved and have lost, as adopting the same expression, 'It was not always so ;' but with what different feelings !
• Once she was mourning here below,
And wet her couch with tears,
With sins, and doubts, and fears.' But it is not so now, and will not be so again for ever ; nor will it be always so with you :
Yet a season, and you know
Happy entrance will be given,
And earth exchanged for heaven.'' The good man seemed to admit the consolatory thought, and we left him somewhat soothed and cheered by Christian sympathy. Yes, and under many a trial since, when half disposed to murmur, or at least uselessly to regret that things are not now with me as they once were, I have found comfort in reflecting that, in an opposite sense, neither are they so with those once most dear to me; and in indulging a humble hope that they will not always be so with me, but that God himself shall wipe away all tears, Rev. xxi. 4.
After taking our leave of Mr. Lee, we called at a stationer's shop, where my uncle wished to make some purchases. The counter was attended by an active, obliging, and very ladylike woman, whom
my uncle accosted with the respectful familiarity of an old friend, making particular inquiries after her health, and that of her family ; to all of which she replied in a tone of dignified cheerfulness, and in
uncle to walk in and see Mr. Willis, to which he consented. “ Allow me,” she said, “to lead the
is rather dark and narrow, but the parlour to which it leads is snug and comfortable.” We followed, and were introduced to Mr. Willis, a middle-aged man, but who appeared feeble and an invalid. The room, though small, was genteel and comfortable, and every article of furni· ture good of its kind, and arranged with perfect
neatness, and even elegance. The conversation of both Mr. and Mrs. Willis was intellectual and polished. It was evident that they possessed highly cultivated minds, and were familiar with the refinements of society. An interesting conversation about a scene on the banks of the Rhine, which it appeared my uncle and Mr. and Mrs. Willis had visited together, was interrupted by the shop-bell, at the sound of which Mrs. Willis promptly but quietly withdrew. She presently returned, and apologized for her abrupt departure, adding, with an expression between a sigh and a smile, “ The shop-bell is now the call of duty. It was not always so.” She paused a moment; and then, as if rebuking herself for the most distant approach to a murmuring feeling, she continued, “ But it is better as it is. We were never more comfortable than at present. My dear Charles is daily improving in health and spirits : our house is convenient, airy, and cheerful, though not spacious : our dear children are already placed in excellent situations; Emily, as governess in a family, and the two young
men in mercantile houses. It is a privation to be separated from them ; but it is all for good. The encouragement we meet with in business affords reason to hope that it will sufficiently provide for our own support; and here the evening of our days may be spent very happily, though not exactly in the sphere to which we have been accustomed. Οι circumstances really call for the exercise of lively gratitude and cheerful dependence. Surely goodness and mercy have followed us, and shall follow us, all the days of our lives; and, best of all, we hope to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,” Psa. xxiii. 6.
My uncle afterwards told us, that the Willises, from living in the highest style of mercantile opulence, had been suddenly reduced to their present humble circumstances ; the parents to keep a small shop in a country town, and the young people to employ their talents and accomplishments in gaining a maintenance. “But,” said he,
they bear the vicissitude well, especially that
excellent woman whom we have just seen.
Her Christian magnanimity and accommodating energy of character are truly admirable. She now presides at her counter, or arranges her little parlour, with as much dignity, grace, and cheerfulness, as she formerly displayed in stepping into her carriage, or presiding in her drawing-room. In each varying circumstance she exemplifies and adorns the Christian character, and evidently appears as one whose resources are from on high, and whose home is in heaven.
The next person whom we heard adopting the phrase, “ It was not always so," seemed to be actuated by a very different spirit. With him, it was an expression of unjust reproach, and a wish
to cast upon others the blame of uneasiness resulting from his own misconduct. Indolent and selfish in the extreme, he neglected his business, gave himself
up to sloth, and cared only for the self-indulgence of the present moment. His wife, an industrious, kind-hearted body, exerted herself to the utmost to keep things together, and to provide for him comforts which he little deserved. He greedily appropriated whatever was set before him, or whatever he could lay his hands upon, little caring by whose labour it was procured, provided it was not his own. In return, he dealt out insults and abuse to those who laboured to serve him. When his wife was toiling for his support, he upbraided her for not joining him in his frivolous waste of time. Worn down with anxiety and labour to supply his deficiencies, she was reproached with being less handsome and less sprightly than he once thought her. Every day of his life he threw the house into confusion, and then complained of its want of order. He was perpetually misplacing his own things, and those that were not his own; and when they were missed, would accuse those around him of having stolen them. If a book or other article were lent to him, or intrusted to his care, when it was reclaimed, he became furious against the owner for wishing to deprive him of that which was his only comfort. By his violence and moroseness, mingled sometimes with the most disgusting levity and nonsense, he made himself odious to those around him, and then blamed them for not seeking his society, but, as far as they could, pursuing their several avocations and pleasures apart from him. He wearied out all his friends, and then upbraided them with fickleness and treachery. He
habitually lived at variance with his conscience, and then complained that he was not happy. He frequently adopted, as the expression of his murmuring spirit against the dispensations of Providence, or of his unjust reproaches of his fellow-creatures, “ It was not always so.” This person sometimes uttered his complaints to my Uncle Barnaby, who clearly saw into the true cause of all his troubles, (as indeed any one possessed of common sense might easily do,) and generally gave him a little plain dealing, such as would be more salutary than pleasant. “ It was not always so, Mr. Scott !” said my
uncle. “No, I dare say not ; when you cultivated better feelings, and were more concerned about discharging your duty to others, you no doubt found more peace in your own mind and enjoyed more peace with others. A contented mind is a continual feast; but content never dwells with indolence and selfishness. He that would be loved must render himself loveable. He that would have friends must show himself friendly. Do you complain of others ? Ask yourself what you have done to make them happy. Do you complain that the consolations of God are small with you ? Look within, and inquire whether there is not some secret thing with you; for 'there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked," ” Isa. lvii. 21.
We met with two instances in which the phrase was adopted as the expression of cheerful gratitude. A poor widow, who, by my uncle's benevolent exertions, had been rescued from deep distress and parochial dependence, and put in a way of supporting her family by her industry, welcomed her benefactor with a heart overflowing with gratitude. She showed him the progress of her work, the stock of