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No. 43. TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 1779.
Continuation of the Story of La Roche. They travelled by short stages ; for the philosopher was as good as his word, in taking care that the old man should not be fatigued. The party had time to be well acquainted with one another, and their friendship was increased by acquaintance. La Roche found a degree of simplicity and gentleness in his companion, which is not always annexed to the character of a learned or a wise man. His daughter, who was prepared to be afraid of him, was equally undeceived. She found in him nothing of that self-importance which superior parts, or great cultivation of them, is apt to confer. He talked of every thing but philosophy or religion ; he seemed to enjoy every pleasure and amusement of ordinary life, and to be interested in the most common topics of discourse; when his knowledge or learning at any time appeared, it was delivered with the utmost plainness, and without the least shadow of dogmatism.
On his part, he was charmed with the society of the good clergyman and his lovely daughter. He found in them the guileless manner of the earliest times, with the culture and accomplishment of the most refined ones. Every better feeling, warm and vivid ; every ungentle one, repressed or overcome. He was not addicted to love; but he felt himself happy in being the friend of Mademoiselle La Roche, and sometimes envied her father the possession of such a child.
After a journey of eleven days, they arrived at the dwelling of La Roche. It was situated in one of those valleys of the canton of Berne, where nature seems to repose, as it were, in quiet, and has enclosed her retreat with mountains inaccessible.- A stream, that spent its fury in the hills above, ran in front of the house, and a broken water-fall was seen through the wood that covered its sides; below, it circled round a tufted plain, and formed a little lake in front of a village, at the end of which appeared the spire of La Roche's church, rising above a clump of beeches.
Mr. — - enjoyed the beauty of the scene; but to his companions it recalled the memory of a wife and parent they had lost.—The old man's sorrow was silent; his daughter sobbed and wept. Her father took her hand, kissed it twice, pressed it to his bosom, threw up his eyes to heaven; and having wiped off a tear that was just about to drop from each, began to point out to his guest some of the most striking objects which the prospect afforded. The philosopher interpreted all this; and he could but slightly censure the creed from which it arose.
They had not been long arrived, when a number of La Roche's parishioners, who had heard of his return, came to the house to see and welcome him. The honest folks were awkward, but sincere, in their professions of regard. They made some attempts at condolence; it was too delicate for their handling; but La Roche took it in good part. “It has pleased God,' -said he; and they saw he had settled the matter with himself.-- Philosophy could not have done so much with a thousand words.
It was now evening, and the good peasants were about to depart, when a clock was heard to strike
seven, and the hour was followed by a particular chime. The country folks, who had come to welcome their pastor, turned their looks towards him at the sound; he explained their meaning to his guest. . That is the signal,' said he, "for our evening exercise; this is one of the nights of the week in which some of my parishioners are wont to join in it; a little rustic saloon serves for the chapel of our family, and such of the good people as are with us;- if you choose rather to walk out, I will furnish you with an attendant; or here are a few old books that may afford you some entertainment within.'-' By no means,' answered the philosopher; I will attend ma’moiselle at her devotions.' - She is our organist,' said La Roche; ' our neighbourhood is the country of musical mechanism; and I have a small organ fitted up for the purpose of assisting our singing « 'Tis an additional inducement,' replied the other; and they walked into the room together. At the end stood the organ mentioned by La Roche; before it was a curtain, which his daughter drew aside, and, placing herself on a seat within, and drawing the curtain close, so as to save her the awkwardness of an exhibition, began a voluntary, solemn and beautiful in the highest degree. Mr. - was po musician, but he was not altogether insensible to music; this fastened on his mind more strongly, from its beauty being unexpected. The solemn prelude introduced a hymn, in which such of the audience as could sing immediately joined; the words were mostly taken from holy writ; it spoke the praises of God, and his care of good men. Something was said of the death of the just, of such as die in the Lord.
-The organ was touched with a hand less firm ;it paused, it ceased; and the sobbing of Ma’moiselle La Roche was heard in its stead. Her father gave
a sign for stopping the psalmody, and rose to pray. He was discomposed at first, and his voice faltered as he spoke; but his heart was in his words, and his warmth overcame his embarrassment. He addressed a Being whom he loved, and he spoke for those he loved. His parishioners catched the ardour of the good old man; even the philosopher felt himself moved, and forgot, for a moment, to think why he should not.
La Roche's religion was that of sentiment, not theory, and his guest was averse from disputation; their discourse, therefore, did not lead to questions concerning the belief of either; yet would the old man sometimes speak of his, from the fulness of a heart impressed with its force, and wishing to spread the pleasure he enjoyed in it. The ideas of his God and his Saviour were so congenial to his mind, that every emotion of it naturally awaked them. A philosopher might have called him an enthusiast; but, if he possessed the fervour of enthusiasts, he was guiltless of their bigotry. “Our Father which art in heaven !' might the good man say--for he felt it -and all mankind were his brethren.
"You regret, my friend,' said he to Mr. s when my daughter and I talk of the exquisite pleasure derived from music, you regret your want of musical powers and musical feelings; it is a department of soul, you say, which nature has almost denied you, which, from the effects you see it have on others, you are sure must be highly delightful. Why should not the same thing be said of religion? Trust me I feel it in the same way, an energy, an inspiration, which I would not lose for all the blessings of sense, or enjoyments of the world ; yet so far from lessening my relish of the pleasures of life, methinks I feel it heighten them all. The thought of receiving it from God adds the blessing of sentiment to that of sensation in every good thing I possess, and when calamities overtake me--and I have had my share- it confers a dignity on my affliction, so lifts me above the world.--Man, I know, is but a worm,-yet, methinks I am then allied to God! It would have been inhuman in our philosopher to have clouded, even with a doubt, the sunshine of this belief.
His discourse, indeed, was very remote from metaphysical disquisition, or religious controversy. Of all men I ever knew, his ordinary conversation was the least tinctured with pedantry, or liable to dissertation. With La Roche and his daughter it was perfectly familiar. The country round them, the manners of the village, the comparison of both with those of England, remarks on the works of favourite authors, on the sentiments they conveyed, and the passions they excited, with many other topics in which there was an equality, or alternate advantage, among the speakers, were the subjects they talked on. Their hours too of riding and walking were many, in which Mr. - , as a stranger, 'was shown the remarkable scenes and curiosities of the country. They would sometimes make little expeditions to contemplate, in different attitudes, those astonishing mountains, the cliffs of which, covered with eternal snows, and sometimes shooting into fantastic shapes, form the termination of most of the Swiss prospects. Our philosopher asked many questions as to their natural history and productions. La Roche observed the sublimity of the ideas which the view of their stupendous summits, inaccessible to mortal foot, was calculated to inspire, which naturally, said he, leads the mind to that Being by whom their foundations were laid. They are not seen in Flanders !' said