The moment he received these tidings, Wilton replied to it with a feeling of joy and a hope of deliverance, which showed itself in every line of the details he gave. This letter was more fortunate than the others, and the Earl’s answer was received within a month. That answer, however, in some degree disappointed his young friend. Lord Sunbury praised his conduct much for accepting the situation which had been offered; but he tried to soothe him under the conduct of the Earl of Byerdale, while he both blamed that conduct and censured the Earl in severe terms, for having suffered the allowance which he had authorized him to pay to drop in so sudden and unexpected a manner. To guard against the recurrence of such a thing for the future, the Earl enclosed an order on his steward for the sum, with directions that it should be paid in preference to anything else whatsoever. At the same time, however, he urged Wilton earnestly not to quit the Earl of Byerdale, but to remain in the employment which he had accepted, at least till the return of a more sincere friend from the Continent should afford the prospect of some better and more agreeable occupation.
Wilton resolved to submit; and as he saw that the Earl was anxious upon the subject, wrote to him immediately, to announce that such was the case. Hope gave him patience; and the increased means at his command afforded him the opportunity of resuming the habits of that station in which he had always hitherto moved. In these respects, he was now perfectly at his ease, for his habits were not expensive; and he could indulge in all, to which his wishes led him, without those careful thoughts which had been forced upon him by the sudden straitening of his means. Such, then, was his situation when, towards the end of about three months, a new change came over his fate, a new era began in the history of his life.
How often is it that a new acquaintance, begun under accidental circumstances, forms an epoch in life? How often does it change in every respect the current of our days on earth—ay! and affect eternity itself? The point of time at which we form such an acquaintance is, in fact, the spot at which two streams meet. There, the waters of both are insensibly blended together—the clear and the turbid, the rough and the smooth, the rapid and the slow. Each not only modifies the manner, and the direction, and the progress of the other with which it mingles, but even if any material object separates the united stream again into two, the individuality of both those that originally formed it is lost, and each is affected for ever by the progress they have had together.