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able and natural that Harriet should wish to encourage it, especially as her father never made any secret of his strong prepossession in favour of the anti-Malthusian system of early marriages. But still it was a great nuisance to me: though I could not say so, because I knew the moment I raised an objection, Harriet would have sent Fanny away, and then, she would have been uncomfortable without her.
I remember travelling once in a stage-coach which runs from London—no matter whither,— with two remarkably nice young ladies:—the one in all the sparkling bloom of beauty; a sweet freshness glowed on her rosy cheeks, and love and laughter beamed in her radiant eyes; the other was pale and attenuated, her eyes were languid and downcast, and her weakness such, that she was literally lifted into the coach and laid, as it were, upon the seat opposite to that which her lively sister shared with me. She seemed to be kept alive only by cordial medicines, which were administered to her whenever we stopped to change horses. At the town where the rest of the passengers dined I got her some Eau de Cologne, and her sister bathed her temples, and the sick girl looked grateful, and even wept; the pretty sister looked grateful, too, and I became extremely anxious to know more of their history.
At one period, as the day advanced, and the termination of our journey approached, the invalid sank into a slumber, of which I took advantage to enquire the nature of her complaint. •
"Her case," said my fair companion, "is hopeless. She is returning to her native air, but it is rather to gratify a dying wish, than with any probability of success."
"What," said I, in a half-whisper, lest I should disturb the sleeper, "what is she suffering from?"
"The physicians," replied my companion, "say that her heart is affected."
"Ah!" said I, "aneurism?"
"No, Sir," said my fair friend, shaking her head, "a lieutenant."
I confess this non-medical description of the
young lady's disease, (partaking largely, to be sure, of "scarlatina,") startled me not a little. However, I looked at her with different eyes afterwards, and endeavoured to convince her sister of the deep interest which I took in both of them. At a particular point of the journey I left them, and shook hands with them, not without wishing to hear more of them at some future time.
It so happened that I did hear more of them; and, although anybody who hereafter reads my notes may not care to hear it, it is satisfactory to myself to know that the poor invalid recovered, and by the next year was perfectly restored to health. Whether she arrived at this happy conclusion by putting herself under a regimen or into a regiment, I did not ascertain. As far as the simple fact goes, there it is.
My sister-in-law Fanny did not appear to me at all a likely subject for a similar complaint— her present turn was to laugh at her lover. Every woman has her own tactics in the great business of female life; and Fanny sought to win by smiles—at least if winning were her object;—and I must say I never saw any man more resolved upon her eventually becoming Mrs. Merman than her reverend father, who was assiduously re-enacting the drama in which I and Harriet had unconsciously performed some months before.
These words bring me to a subject upon which I shall touch but lightly, because I may be disappointed; but as things look at present, it seems most probable that I shall attain to the dignity of a father "before four moons have filled their horns." A thousand new ties will then bind me to the world—a thousand new duties devolve upon me. Well! I have thus early in life seen enough of the world to qualify me for a guardian and guide. To be sure, if I should have a son, he will not require much of my "guiding" for some years to come, and then I may look more sternly at the world's "follies," and become a severe parent, as the young beau generally becomes an old sloven; but I think I shall be able to make my son, my friend,—a course of education most favourable to a boy who is born while his father is yet young.
There are, however, men—and I could point out a very remarkable instance—who cannot bring themselves to such a line of proceeding— who see in their sons, rivals for "golden opinions," and opponents in the race of life—who hear with no pleasure the shrewd remark, the pointed phrase, or witty observation of the youthful aspirant for fame and honour; but who, feeling as parents do towards their offspring, and would feel, if they lived to the age of Methuselah, that they are still children, endeavour to check and subdue the ebullitions of their genius, and keep them subject to themselves.
Towards daughters, the feelings of a father are totally different—no rivalry is to be feared there, consequently there is no jealousy. The more lovely, the more accomplished, and the more attractive a girl is, the more delighted is the fond father with her attractions. In some instances, mothers however are found somewhat