“You are right,” replied I; “then I pray you to read to me from the Bible.”
Susannah made no reply, but resumed her seat, and selecting those chapters most appropriate to my situation, read them in a beautiful and impressive tone.
Pride and love at issue—the
latter is victorious—I turn Quaker
and recommence my old profession.
If the reader will recall my narrative to his recollection, he must observe, that religion had had hitherto but little of my thoughts. I had lived the life of most who live in this world; perhaps not quite so correct in morals as many people, for my code of morality was suited to circumstances; as to religion, I had none. I had lived in the world, and for the world. I had certainly been well instructed in the tenets of our faith when I was at the Asylum, but there, as in most other schools, it is made irksome, as a task, and is looked upon with almost a feeling of aversion. No proper religious sentiments are, or can be, inculcated to a large number of scholars; it is the parent alone who can instil, by precept and example, that true sense of religion, which may serve as a guide through life. I had not read the Bible from the time that I quitted the Foundling Hospital. It was new to me, and when I now heard read, by that beautiful creature, passages equally beautiful, and so applicable to my situation, weakened with disease, and humbled in adversity, I was moved, even unto tears.
Susannah closed the book and came to the bedside. I thanked her: she perceived my emotion, and when I held out my hand she did not refuse hers. I kissed it, and it was immediately withdrawn, and she left the room. Shortly afterwards Ephraim made his appearance. Cophagus and his wife also came that evening, but I saw no more of Susannah Temple until the following day, when I again requested her to read to me.
I will not detain the reader by an account of my recovery. In three weeks I was able to leave the room; during that time, I had become very intimate with the whole family, and was treated as if I belonged to it. During my illness I had certainly shown more sense of religion than I had ever done before, but I do not mean to say that I was really religious. I liked to hear the Bible read by Susannah, and I liked to talk with her upon religious subjects; but had Susannah been an ugly old woman, I very much doubt if I should have been so attentive. It was her extreme beauty—her modesty and fervour, which so became her, which enchanted me. I felt the beauty of religion, but it was through an earthly object; it was beautiful in her. She looked an angel, and I listened to her precepts as delivered by one. Still, whatever may be the cause by which a person’s attention can be directed to so important a subject, so generally neglected, whether by fear of death, or by love towards an earthly object, the advantages are the same; and although very far from what I ought to have been, I certainly was, through my admiration of her, a better man.