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easily have been done) that long list of worthies, whose names were not enrolled by the English historian, of the same party and principles, Sir Charles would not in this early stage of life have fallen into one great error; which was that of associating the idea of religion with hypocrisy, piety with grimace, and zeal for Christianity with some sinister view to interest or notoriety. . When he read the sufferings and integrity of the martyrs, he was indeed struck with admiration, and began to suspect that the principle must be very good, which could produce the latter quality in such a wonderful degree, and that even supernatural aid must have been imparted, to support them under the tortures they were destined to suffer. This last sentiment however was soon obliterated by the historian's mode of relation; for he accounted for their constancy in what he would have termed a more rational manner. An uncommon share of natural fortitude, a persuasion of the truth of their principles, and a desire of partaking the fame conferred on martyrdom, were the only supports he could allow them to have received. To use the words of a Christian poet :
- 6 History, so warm on meaner themes,
The perusal of the rise and fall of the Roman empire, two years afterwards, confirmed in the mind of our young student the prepossessions he had already imbibed against Christianity; for this historian, like the former, had thrown a veil over her beauties, and exhibited only the deformities of her professed disciples. On this occasion Sir Charles thus addressed himself to Mr. D---,“ How unfortunate, sir, has it been for mankind in general to have imbibed religious sentiments? How much blood-shed would have been spared, and how many dissentions prevented, had no system of religious notions ever entered into the imagination of men. I have read, in the Spectator of Mr. Addison, high encomiums upon Christianity, but they appear to me to be very ill-founded. I see little more to admire in that system than in some others. What is your opinion, sir, on this subject?”
Mr. D--- would gladly have been excused this pointed interrogation from his pupil, for in truth he could not have proposed one, on any branch of learning or science, to which he would have felt himself so unable to return an answer. It was a subject he had scarcely ever taken into consideration. Having never formed any particular relia gious opinions for himself, he had troubled his mind but little about those which others might form, and had devoted the whole of his attention,
to what appeared to him of much greater importance, the acquisition of mere worldly literature. This simple question of Sir Charles, which might have been answered in one short sentence, namely you have taken your views of the Chris tian religion from the wrong source; read your Bible and then judge of its superiority over other systems, appeared to Mr. D--- a most perplexing one. He paused for some time, and then answered to the following effect. “ You may have obberved, that on the subject of religion I have never yet given.you my opinion. I wished you to form your own unbiased and impartially. It is a favourite sentiment of mine, that no religious prejudices should be instilled into the youthful mind. On this complicated and intricate subject, you are yet too young to judge with accuracy. I must however observe, it is my opinion, that the Christian system is superior in excellence to any other. You will, as you advance in years and judgment, be able to distinguish between the extravagantencomiums bestowed upon it by the zealot, and the total disregard in which it is held by the sceptic. Perhaps neither of these parties consider the subject in a just pointof view.
However unsatisfactory this reply might have proved to a mind more advanced to maturity, and more earnest for information, it was suffi
ciently conclusive to Sir Charles. He was well content to wait for those years to arrive, when he should be, as Mr. D--- imagined, more competent to the investigation of revealed truth, and all curiosity on the subject in a few days entirely subsided.
To those who know much of the fashionable world, it will not appear surprising, that among all Sir Charles's relatives and acquaintances not one was to be found capable of informing him on religious subjects, had he been disposed to have sought information from them. It is a truth much to be lamented, that every theme may be discussed in genteel company, except religion. Thus by general consent' dismissed from their notice, how is it possible for the youthful mind to be informed, or to suppose it a subject worthy of investigation. - We are now going to introduce a person among Sir Charles's inferiors, eminently qualified for the task of imparting religious information, in which his superiors, and equals were alı so deplorably deficient.
. CHAP. II.
The deceased Baronet's Behaviour to a faithful
Servant, and the grateful Return made by the Dependant to his Benefactor. The Opinion of a Youth of fifteen upon a Book he had never read : a Conversation in consequence. A new Object of Study, and Sir Charles Bright's Departure for the University.
DOBERT Trusty was an honest farmer, and
1 one of the late baronet's, tenants. Although he was industrious and frugal in all his expenditures, the smallness of his farm, and the numerous family to be maintained from its profits, occasioned him many pecuniary difficulties, and obliged him, though with the utmost reluctance, to seek a situation for his eldest son from under his own immediate care and inspection. He, upon this occasion, applied to his landlord for his assistance, in procuring some respectable station for his beloved Roger. Sir Charles Bright, who had always admired the appearance of the youth, immediately. offered one in his own family---that of assistant gardener. At the same time assuring his tenant that should the