It is an old but true saying, that “troubles come soon enough without meeting them half way.” But I think my friend Mrs. Talbot had never chanced to hear this saying, old as it is; for she was extremely prone at all times to look only upon the dark side, and this habit was a source of much trouble to herself as well as her family. Mr. Talbot might properly have been called a well-to-do farmer. They were surrounded by an intelligent and interesting family; and a stranger, in taking a passing view of their home and its surroundings, would have been strongly inclined to think that happiness and contentment might be found beneath their roof; but a short sojourn in the dwelling alluded to, would certainly have dispelled the illusion. This Mrs. Talbot was possessed of a most unhappy disposition. She seemed to entertain the idea that the whole world was in league to render her miserable. It has often struck me with surprise, that a person surrounded with so much to render life happy should indulge in so discontented and repining a temper as did Mrs. Talbot. She was famous for dwelling at length upon her trials, as often as she could obtain a listener; and when I first became acquainted with her I really regarded her with a feeling of pity; but after a time I mentally decided that the greater part of her grievances existed only in her own imagination. She spent a large portion of her time in deploring the sins of the whole world in general, and of her own family and immediate neighbors in particular; while she looked upon herself as having almost, if not quite, attained to perfection.
I recollect calling one day upon Mr. Talbot; he was of a very social disposition, and we engaged for a short time in a lively conversation. Mrs. Talbot was present, and, strange to tell, once actually laughed at some amusing remark made by her husband. He soon after left the room, and her countenance resumed its usual doleful expression as she addressed me, saying, “I wish I could have any hopes of Mr. Talbot; but I am afraid the last state of that man will be worse than the first.” I questioned her as to her meaning; and she went on to tell me that her husband had once made a profession of religion; but she feared he was then in a “backslidden state,” as she termed it. I know not how this matter might have been; but during my acquaintance with Mr. Talbot I never observed any thing in his