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In the following pages, actual hypocrisy is not the subject treated of, because that odious vice has already been held up sufficiently to contempt. It is intended rather to separate the essentials of religious conduct from its excrescences to distinguish feeling from imagination,--to contrast the hypochondriacal fanaticism of a disordered fancy, with the purifying influence of an enlightened faith,—to show how frequently well-intentioned persons “ know not what manner of spirit they are of,”—how the Christian temper may be substantially contravened, while its dictates are professedly obeyed, and how the language of Scripture may be perversely misquoted to support a line of conduct, which its benign and gentle principles uniformly condemn. An endeavour has also been made to illustrate the

pernicious consequences of an undue prominence in education given to ornamental above useful acquirements, when both proportionably to their relative importance might be combined in the same system. Even in the present life, all the glitter of brilliant accomplishments will be but a poor compensation for the misery of ill-regulated feelings, and of incapacity for mental exercise. To provide resources of constant happiness within, is incomparably more important than to derive a transient and occasional gratification from exciting external applause.

Many good and worthy persons have objected to the elucidation of evangelical truth by fictitious narrative. They forget that if the Christian character could thus be represented as it is described in Scripture, rather than as, unhappily, it is too frequently exhibited in the world, much prejudice and opposition might be prevented. The mild, the persuasive, the dignified demeanor inculcated and inspired by the grace of God would be more readily appreciated; while the austerity of disposition, the aversion to controul, the proneness to interference, the affected language, the discontent, the self-complacency, and the positiveness, which so frequently assume the holy name of religion, being discountenanced as they deserve, would impede no longer that all-important cause which they are professedly eager to advance. Nor let it be forgotten that our Divine Teacher himself, has sanctioned by his use of parables, the employment of imaginary histories to illustrate and enforce religious duty.

Nothing places abstract truth more vividly before the mind, than to see it represented acting and conversing in real life. No doubt higher honour may be acquired, and more extensive benefit conferred in the graver and more serious departments of composition; yet, to attain some degree of usefulness by the humblest work of fiction, must be ranked among the objects of legitimate ambition, however faint or unfounded may be the hope of success.

THESE pages were revised and corrected by a venerated parent, now no more. His opinion was frequently expressed, and repeated in his last sickness, that none of his family ought ever to publish anonymously. It is in compliance with his desire, that the authoress has ventured to acknowledge her work, and to prefix to this volume a name, which must have been entirely insignificant and unknown, but for its connexion with her distinguished and lamented father, SIR JOHN SINCLAIR.




And even while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting, asks if this be joy.


THERE never were two ladies more fitted to adorn the fashionable world in Edinburgh, than Lady Fitz-Patrick and Lady Howard, who both usually came, with their families, in November, to spend a part of the winter at their town residences in Moray Place. Every body knew them, and they knew every body; their equipages, their jewels, their houses, and their establishments were beyond the possibility of competition or criticism ; and if each person's happiness were really to be measured by the opinion and report of others, we need only repeat what was daily remarked in every boudoir and drawing-room where their names were mentioned, that nothing could be more fortunate or more enviable than they both were, as they appeared to have taken out a patent for avoiding all the ordinary vexations and discomfitures of life. These ladies were sisters,


and their chief object in coming to Edinburgh, when our story begins, was to give a last polish to the education of their two eldest daughters, who were now at an age to require what is emphatically termed a finishing ; few mothers being of opinion with the good divine, who remarks that the education of man can never be finished during the present state of existence. The boys of both families were scattered all over England at various public and preparatory schools, from whence they only returned, to riot during the holidays at home; but Eleanor Fitz-Patrick and Matilda Howard having both recently attained the age of sixteen, were now far advanced in education, according to the views which were entertained on the subject by their respective mothers, whose methods and ideas, however, were as widely at variance on the management of children, as on every other subject where fashion had established no certain and despotic law.

Lady Fitz-Patrick had once been the most celebrated beauty of her day, and having preserved her sylph-like figure and bright hazel eyes, lighted up with the assistance of rouge, she still maintained an opinion, that to feel young was the same as to be young; therefore her costume was as juvenile as ever. She disdained the use of caps or turbans, but wore her dark hair dressed with jewels, and piqued herself upon leading the “ best dressed life” in the world of fashion, where existence itself seemed to her a joyous carnival of continued and uninterrupted festivity. Her whole time and thoughts were engrossed in preparing to receive visitors, and in attracting admiration when they

She was all fascination for strangers, but unfortynately the more nearly people were connected with her, the less she cared for their good opinion,--her heart might be compared to a well-frequented hotel, where the last comers were always the most welcome, her conversation, her music, her dress, and her smiles were all put on, like her


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