MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.

It will, I presume, be allowed that no human character, which we have the opportunity of studying with equal minuteness, had fewer faults mixed up in its texture.  The grand virtue of fortitude, the basis of all others, was never displayed in higher perfection than in him; and it was, as perhaps true courage always is, combined with an equally admirable spirit of kindness and humanity.  His pride, if we must call it so, undebased by the least tincture of mere vanity, was intertwined with a most exquisite charity, and was not inconsistent with true humility.  If ever the principle of kindliness was incarnated in a mere man, it was in him; and real kindliness can never be but modest.  In the social relations of life, where men are most effectually tried, no spot can be detected in him.  He was a patient, dutiful, reverent son; a generous, compassionate, tender husband; an honest, careful, and most affectionate father.  Never was a more virtuous or a happier fireside than his.  The influence of his mighty genius shadowed it imperceptibly; his calm good sense, and his angelic sweetness of heart and temper, regulated and softened a strict but paternal discipline.  His children, as they grew up, understood by degrees the high privilege of their birth; but the profoundest sense of his greatness never disturbed their confidence in his goodness.  The buoyant play of his spirits made him sit young among the young; parent and son seemed to live in brotherhood together; and the chivalry of his imagination threw a certain air of courteous gallantry into his relations with his daughters, which gave a very peculiar grace to the fondness of their intercourse.

Perhaps the most touching evidence of the lasting tenderness of his early domestic feelings was exhibited to his executors, when they opened his repositories in search of his testament, the evening after his burial.  On lifting up his desk we found arranged in careful order a series of little objects, which had obviously been so placed there that his eye might rest on them every morning before he began his tasks.  These were the old-fashioned boxes that had garnished his mother’s toilet when he, a sickly child, slept in her dressing-room; the silver taper-stand which the young advocate had bought for her with his first five-guinea fee; a row of small packets inscribed with her hand, and containing the hair of those of her offspring that had died before her; his father’s snuff-box and pencil-case; and more things of the like sort, recalling the “old familiar faces.”  The same feeling was apparent in all the arrangement of his private apartment.  Pictures of his father and mother were the only ones in his dressing-room.  The clumsy antique cabinets that stood there—­things of a very different class from the beautiful and costly productions in the public rooms below—­had all belonged to the furniture of George’s Square.  Even his father’s rickety washing-stand, with all its cramped appurtenances, though exceedingly

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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