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has greatly erred—if his misconduct should prove the means of his being taken from your parental
As you pity the widow and fatherless, let me entreat you yet to retain him under
roof. Try him once more ; and my prayers shall be daily offered up that he may not offend again. I fear that I have been too indulgent to him, but I know that you will feel for my situation, and I trust that you will kindly accede to a request, made in the midst of tears and great anguish of heart. I am impatient to receive a reply in the affirmative.
“Tell my unhappy boy, if you please, that I am too much grieved at his conduct to write to him to-day—and tell him, also, that I feel I have placed him under one who will act, and who is able to act, the part of his lost father to him; and that I charge him, on pain of my heaviest displeasure, to render to you all due obedience. If he does not, he will suffer for it through lifeperhaps in eternity. Such a thought is, indeed, a bitter one ; my tears flow fast as I subscribe myself, with my best regards, yours,
6 MARTHA MARTIN.'
“Such is the letter of Mrs. Martin," continued our preceptor, “and such, as I said before, are the sentiments of the others. They all deplore the error of their sons in the most tender language, and they all earnestly request me to retain them under my care. I feel that if I do, I shall impose on myself no easy task. For the act of
running away imports a wandering and unsettled disposition, which experience has taught me is very difficult to correct. But shall I turn away my ears from the prayer of the widow ? I cannot. Boys, I do not ask you whether you wish to remain. Touched by your mothers' sorrows, I am willing to retain you in my school; but recollect that the doors and gates are open to you, and if you are disposed to run away again, go ! I will keep no one in my house by restraint. I wish to be loved and esteemed, not to be disliked and feared to be obeyed from a wish to please, rather than from the feeling of compulsion. Remember, I am no tyrant; but a parent; and as such I wish you to consider me. For where there is no love, there can be no true obedience. Let the past then be forgotten, or if it be remembered by you, let it only serve to remind you how
prone you are to err, and to drive you to a throne of grace, to pray that, for the future, you may not offend God, your parents, or your preceptor, by such conduct.
Your present and future happiness depends, in a great measure, upon your conduct now ; for the character of boys in general only shadows forth that which they will be when grown up to manhood.”
As Mr. White ceased, he shook hands cordially with the trio, and assured them that he considered them as part of his family. of them wept, but whether it was from sorrow for their offence, or that they were not going home, I cannot say. Certain it is, however, that they did not profit much by his advice. They did not attempt, it is true, to run away again ;
but of all the boys my master ever had placed under his care they proved to be among the most troublesome. Martin, in particular, caused him much anxiety, and his freaks demanded his utmost vigilance to check them. I have often wondered, indeed, that he did not dismiss him from his community ; and pondering over the subject, I could only account for his not doing so, by his being the son of a widow.
As it was, he retained Martin and the rest of the trio till their parents thought that they had completed their education, when they were removed.
This was before I left him, for although I was there before them, I was yet their junior. And perhaps this may be one reason why he was not so successful in forming their characters. I have often heard him say, that the branches of the vine cannot be trained too soon, and that if they are left to harden by time, it is difficult to give them their due shape and course : obviously meaning by this figure, that the time to commence the proper formation of the human mind is in the earlier
That season lost, irreparable mischief is done to the child and the world at large.
The manner in which our master parted with the trio was very different from that in which he usually parted with his scholars. There was not that warmth of affection seen in his countenance, nor were those breathings of certain hope as to the prospect of becoming useful members of society heard to drop from his lips. He evidently had his doubts upon the subject, as his parting words to Martin prove. Martin,” said he, "you are now going to leave me, after having
years of life.
been under my roof two years.
How much anxiety of heart you have caused me during that period words cannot express. No money, if I received ten times as much with you, could compensate for that anxiety. But money is not the reward I look for: that is but dust, and perisheth in the using My chief reward is the satisfaction of having formed a character which will prove a burning and a shining light to the world. I wish I could think, or even have the remotest hope, that it will be so with you. But, from your previous unstable conduct, I tremble. You have listened, indeed, to my counsels, and although you have not hitherto heeded them, you may in after life. That is a question which time only can decide. I hope I have done my duty, and I leave the issue in His hands who is all-wise and all-gracious. Martin, let these my parting words sink deep into your heart :-You have yet a widowed mother. As you would hope to smooth her dying pillow, take care that your conduct is that of a dutiful son. You have a God that takes note of all your actions : as you would hope to escape
anger, pray for grace, that you may be enabled to act aright.
You have a soul to be saved : as you value its immortal happiness, seek daily for pardon through the merits and atonement of our all-sufficient Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Martin dropped a tear or two as our preceptor concluded his admonitions, and I have every reason to believe that he ever held him in high estimation ; but I fear he did not profit by his instructions in the best sense of the word. I have met him several times, but his character, in
a great degree, reflects that which it was in youth. He is more steady, yet he is unstable still. As, however, I never fail to remind him of our good master, and of his sage advice, I hope yet to see him an improved character.
Concerning the other members of the trio, I have lost sight of them from the time they left school. I know not to what part of the world their steps may have been directed. But the final goal to all is certain, for that is the grave. My young readers, prepare for that in youth, and then you will be able to resign yourself to its cold shades without a sigh or tear of regret.