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LADY OF THE MANOR;
A SERIES OF CONVERSATIONS
SUBJECT OF CONFIRMATION.
INTENDED FOR THE USE OF
THE MIDDLE AND HIGHER RANKS
BY MRS. SHERWOOD,
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET,
BY THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS THROUGHOUT THE
LADY OF THE MANOR.
Second Conversation on the Lord's Prayer_" Lead us
not into Temptation."
“I HAVE promised you, my dear young people,” said the lady of the manor, when next the party met, “to furnish you with a story on the subject of temptations. I shall now fulfil my engagement, without any other preface than to remind you, that our Lord's expression, 'Lead us not into temptation,' by no means asserts that the Almighty tempts us, for we are tempted and drawn aside by our own evil inclinations. (See James i. 13, 14.) I will now leave my little history to speak for itself.”
The Beautiful Estelle. “An interval of quiet, and a space for reflection on the past, after the experience of many and various tossings on the tempestuous sea of life, being permitted me, ere my departure from the present scene of things, I am inclined to avail myself of it, in order to arrange certain papers which have long lain by me, relative a lady, with whose history my own is intimately connected, and to furnish such additions to her narrative as few are so able to supply as myself; my motive for so doing not being to afford amusement to the idle reader, but to hold up a warning to youth, and to show the very dreadful effects of a presumptuous and self-confiding spirit. There are no promises contained in Scripture for the consolation of the proud; whereas we are assured that God will guide those in judgment who are meek, and that he will teach his way to such as are gentle. (Psalm xxv. 9.)
A high and independent spirit appears to have been the original cause of every affliction which I am about to record ; and the occasions of humbling this spirit were as the rending of the rocks and the stilling of the raging sea.
But not to anticipate.-I must commence by informing my reader that I am a minister of the reformed church, and formerly, that is, before the fatal period of the general and systematic dissemination of infidelity on the continent, was the cúre of a small parish in the Pays de Vaud, and had the superintendence of a little congregation in one of those lovely and solitary valleys of the Alps, which, through many long ages of papal darkness and tyranny, had afforded a place of retreat to those who, retaining a more pure doctrine, could not be tolerated under the reigning form of ecclesiastical government.
“In this valley the humble inhabitants had preserved a degree of Christian simplicity which would not have disgraced the apostolic ages, till the middle of the last century; not only shut out from the rest of the world by the Midi and the Mordi, but by lesser mountains, rocks, and precipices, forests and wilds, peculiarly their own, which, rendering the approach more difficult, seemed almost to preclude the visits of affluent strangers.
“The people in my small parish were poor, living on the produce of their flocks, herds, and beehives, abiding in thatched dwellings, and looking up to their pastor as the first of human beings. Though now so far removed from this abode, in which I have experienced so many peaceful days, yet I still fancy I see the wooden spire of the village church, elevated above the trees, and surrounded by the humble dwellings of the peasants, the thatched roofs of some of which were only visible; the hills, with their many irregular peaks and table lands, rising in the background. The spot, indeed, was lovely, and is fixed for ever on the tablet of my memory.
“But even this sequestered region—this region which possessed so few attractions for a worldly-minded individual, was, at length, visited by some who made it their business to spread the poison of infidelity and false philosophy, and who at length too well succeeded in doing
that which the utmost rancour of popish violence could not effect.
“I was not a young man when I was appointed to this situation. I succeeded, in my minista y, a venerable pastor of the family of the holy and faithful John Claude, who, at the time of the persecution occasioned by the revocation of the Edict of Nantz, was obliged to forsake his country, and seek an asylum in remote regions.
"My predecessor, Erasmus Claude, was born and educated in England. He was by no means so poor as the ministers of our Swiss churches generally are.
He was a man of decided piety, and possessed an accurate and deep knowledge of Scripture; but had a romantic and enthusiastic turn of mind, which rendered him less fit for those duties in which plain sense is a powerful auxiliary.
“Erasmus Claude had married an elegant and beautiful woman, such as we do not often see among the wives of the pastors of the Alpine villages; but she had died early, leaving her husband with one daughter, who afterwards became so distinguished for her personal attractions, that she was generally known by the name of The Beautiful Estelle.
“I have seen a portrait of this young lady, taken at the time when she must have been in the height of her beauty: she was represented in the character of a shepherdess; the idea having been probably taken from the pastoral Florian, whose favourite shepherdess is Estelle.
“If this picture was a faithful portraiture of the lady, I can conceive nothing more beautiful than she must have been, and cannot wonder at the admiration which she is said to have excited.
“Much has been said of the transient nature of beauty; and the charms of youth have been compared, not only to the flowers which presently fade, but to the glories of the morning and the tints of the rainbow, which disappear while the eye is resting upon them. The beauty of the human face, when that face is illumined by intellectual worth, however, surpasses the beauties of form as much in duration as in degree; and there are certain expressions of the countenance which even old age can