’On Friday last, a most interesting and instructive lecture on the Rise and Progress of the Institution of Chivalry was delivered at the Mechanics’ Institute, in this city, by Augustus Mills, Esq. This young gentleman, from whose elegant talents and uncommon eloquence we should augur no ordinary career in whatever profession may be honoured with his attention, enlarged upon the barbarous manners of the wild untutored hordes among whom the proud pageantry of pretended faith, false honour, and affected punctilio, had its rise. He traced it through its gilded course of blood and carnage, stripped of the fantastic and delusive mantle which romance delights to fling over its native deformity, to the present time, when the general civilization and protection enjoyed in this enlightened age, has left nought but the grim shadow of the destructive form which harassed and menaced our trembling ancestors. We are happy to observe that increasing attendance at the Mechanics’ Institute of Abbeychurch, seems to prove that the benefits of education are becoming more fully appreciated by all classes. We observed last Friday, at the able lecture of Mr. Mills, among a numerous assemblage of the distinguished inhabitants and visitors of Abbeychurch, Miss Merton, daughter of Sir Edward Merton, of Merton Hall, Baronet, together with the fair and accomplished daughters of the Rev. H. Woodbourne, our respected Vicar.’
‘I shall certainly contradict it,’ continued Mr. Woodbourne, while Elizabeth was becoming sensible of the contents of the paragraph; ’I did not care what Higgins chose to any of my principles, but this is a plain fact, which may be believed if it is not contradicted.’
‘O Mamma, have not you told him?’ said Elizabeth faintly.
‘What, do you mean to say that this is true?’ exclaimed Mr. Woodbourne, in a voice which sounded to Elizabeth like a clap of thunder.
‘Indeed, Papa,’ said she, once looking up in his face, and then bending her eyes on the ground, while the colour in her checks grew deeper and deeper; ’I am sorry to say that it is quite true, that we did so very wrong and foolishly as to go. Helen and Lucy alone were sensible and strong-minded enough to refuse to go.’
Mr. Woodbourne paced rapidly up and down the room, and Elizabeth plainly saw that his displeasure was great.
‘But, Mr. Woodbourne,’ said her mamma, ’she did not know that it was wrong. Do you not remember that she was not at home at the time that Socialist was here? and I never told her of all that passed then. You see it was entirely my fault.’
‘Oh! no, no, Mamma, do not say so!’ said Elizabeth; ’it was entirely mine. I was led away by my foolish eagerness and self-will, I was bent on my own way, and cast aside all warnings, and now I see what mischief I have done. Cannot you do anything to repair it, Papa? cannot you say that it was all my doing, my wilfulness, my carelessness of warning, my perverseness?’