Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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of those borrowed ornaments, pleaded his beauty, as a title
to the preference in dispute. Immediately the birds agreed
to divest the silly counterfeit of all his borrowed plumes ;
and, more abashed than the parrot, he secretly slunk

The peacock, proud of native beauty, now flew into the
midst of the assembly. He displayed before the sun his
gorgeous tail. ' Observe (said he) how the vivid blue of the
sapphire glitters in my neck; and when thus I spread my tail,
a gemmy brightness strikes the eye from a plumage varied
with a thousand glowing colours.' At this moment, a night-
ingale began to chaunt forth his melodious lay ; at which
the peacock, dropping his expanded tail, cried out, * Ah !
what avails my silent unmeaning beauty, when I am so far
excelled in voice by such a little ruffet-feathered wretch as
that ! ' And, by retiring, he gave up all claim to the con-
tended-for preference.

The nightingale was so delighted with having got the
better of the peacock, that he exerted his little voice ; and
was so lost in the conceit of his own melody, that he did not
observe a hawk, who flew upon him, and carried him off" in
his claws.

The eagle then declared, ' that as the peacock's envy had
taken away all his claim, so no less had the nightingale's
self-conceit frustrated all his pretensions; for those who are
so wrapped up in their own perfections as to mind nothing
but themselves, are for ever liable to all sorts of accidents.'
And, besides, it was plain, by the exultation the nightingale


expressed on his imagined victory over the peacock, that he
would have been equally dejected on any preference given
to another.

And now the owl, with an afifected gravity and whooting
voice, pleaded his well-known wisdom ; and said, ' He
doubted not but the preference would be granted to him
without contest, by all the whole assembly for what was so
likely to produce happiness as wisdom ?' The eagle de-
clared, ' that, if his title to wisdom could be proved, the
justice of his claim should be allowed; and then asked him,
how he could convince them of the truth of what he had
advanced?' The owl answered, 'that he would willingly
appeal to the whole assembly for their decision in this point;
for he was positive nobody could deny his great superiority
as to wisdom.' Being separately asked, they most of them
declared, that they knew no one reason, either from his
words or actions, to pronounce him a wise bird ; though it
was true that, by an affected solemnity in his looks, and by
frequent declarations of his own, that he was very wise, he
had made some very silly birds give him that character; but,
since they were called upon to declare their opinions, they
must say that he was ever the object of contempt to all
those birds who had any title to common understanding.
The eagle then said, ' He could by no means admit a plea,
which as plainly appeared to be counterfeit as were the
jay's borrowed feathers.' The owl, thus disappointed, flew
away, and has ever since shunned the light of the sun, and
has never appeared in the daytime, but to be scorned and
wondered at.'

It would be endless to repeat all the several pleas brought
by the birds, each desiring to prove that happiness ought
to be his own peculiar lot. But the eagle observing that
the arguments made use of to prove their points were chiefly
drawn from the disadvantages of others rather than from
any advantage of their own, told them, ' There was too
much envy and malice amongst them, for him to pronounce
any of them deserving or capable of being happy; but I
wonder, says he, why the dove alone is absent from this


meeting V 'I know of one in her nest hard by (answered
the redbreast), shall I go and call her?' No (says the
eagle), since she did not obey our general summons, 'tis
l^laiff she had no ambition for a public preference; but I
wil^ take two or three chosen friends, and we will go softly
to her nest, and see in what manner she is employing her-
self; for, from our own observations upon the actions of any
one, we are more likely to form a judgment of them, than
by any boasts they can make.'

The eagle was obeyed ; and, accompanied only by the
linnet, the lark, the lapwing, and the redbreast, for his
guide, he stole gently to the place where the dove was
found hovering over her nest, waiting the return of her
absent mate ; and thinking herself quite unoboerved,

* Wliile o'er her callow brood she hung.
She fondly thus address'd her young :

' Ye tender objects of my care,
Peace ! peace ! ye little helpless pair.
Anon ! he comes, your gentle sire,
And brings you all your hearts require ;
For us^ his infants and his bride,
For us, with only love to guide,
Our lord assumes an eagle's speed,
And, like a lion, dares to bleed :
Nor yet by wintry skies confin'd,
He mounts upon the rudest wind.
From danger tears the vital spoil,
And with affection sweetens toil.
Ah ! cease, too venl'rous, cease to dare ;
In thine, our dearer safety spare.
From him, ye cruel falcons stray ;
And turn, ye fowlers, far away,
— All-giving Pow'r, great source of life,
Oh ! hear tlie parent, hear the wife :
That life thou lendcst from above,
Though little, make it large in love.
Oh ! bid my feeling heart expand
To ev'ry claim on ev'ry hand,
To those, from whom my days I drew,

* These verses are a quotation from that tender fable of the Sparrow
and the Dove, in the ' Fables for the Female Sex.'


To these in whom those days renew,

To all my kin, however wide,

In cordial warmth as blood allied.

To friends in steely fetters twin'd

And to the cruel not unkind ;

But chief the lord of my desire,

My life, myself, my soul, my sire,

Friends, children, all that wish can claim.

Chaste passion clasp, and rapture name.

Oh ! spare him, spare him, gracious Pow'r :

Oh ! give him to my latest hour.

Let me my length of life employ.

To give my sole enjoyment joy.

His love let mutual love excite ;

Turn all my cares to his delight.

And ev'ry needless blessing spare,

Wherein my darling wants a share.

— Let one unruffled calm delight

The loving and belov'd unite ;

One pure desire our bosoms warm ;

One will direct, one wish inform ;

Through life one mutual aid sustain ,

In death one peaceful grave contain.

While, swelling with the darling theme.

Her accents pour'd an endless stream.

The well-known wings a sound impart

That reach'd her ear, and touch'd her heart.

Quick dropp'd the music of her tongue.

And forth, ^vith eager joy, she sprung.

As swift her ent'ring consort flew.

And plum'd, and kindled at the view.

Their wings, their souls, embracing, meet.

Their hearts with answ'ring measure beat,

Half lost in sacred sweets, and bless'd

With raptures felt, but ne'er express'd.

' Strait to her humble roof she led
The partner of her spotless bed ;
Her young, a flutt'ring pair, arise.
Their welcome sparkling in their eyes.
Transported, to their sire they bound,
And hang, with speechless action, round.
In pleasure wrapt, the parents stand,
And see their little wings expand ;
The sire his life sustaining prize
To each expecting bill applies ;
There fondly pours the wheaten spoil,
With transport giv'n, though von with toil j


While, all collected at the sight,
And silent through supreme delight,
The fair high heav'n of bliss beguiles,
And on her lord and infants smiles.'

The eagle now, without any hesitation, pronounced the
dove to be deservedly the happiest of the feathered kind ;
and, however unwilling the rest of the birds were to assent to
the judgment given, yet could they not dispute the justice
of the decree.

Here Miss Jenny ceased reading, and all the little com-
pany expressed by their looks, that they were overjoyed at
the eagle's determination ; for they had all in their own
minds forestalled the eagle's judgment, of giving the pre-
ference to the dove. ' Now, my good children (said Mrs.
Teachum), if you will pass through this life with real plea-
sure, imitate the dove ; and remember that innocence of
mind, and integrity of heart, adorn the female character,
and can alone produce your own happiness and diffuse it
to all around you.'

Our little company thanked their governess for her fable ;
and, just at that instant, they heard a chariot drive into the
court, and Mrs. Teachum went out to see what visitor could
be arrived so late in the evening, for it was near eight

They all remained in the room where their governess left
them ; for they had been taught never to run out to the
door, or to the windows, to look at any strangers that came,
till they knew whether it was proper for them to see them
or not.

Mrs. Teachum soon returned with a letter open in her
hand, and remained some little time silent, but cast on
every one around such a tender and affectionate look, the
tear almost starting from her eye, that the sympathising
sorrow seemed to spread through the whole company, and
they were all silent and ready to cry, though they knew not
for what reason. ' I am sorry, my little dears (said Mrs.
Teachum), to give your tender bosoms the uneasiness I
fear the contents of this letter will do, as it will deprive you


of that your hearts so justly hold most dear.' And, so say-
ing, she delivered to Miss Jenny Peace the following letter : —

' To Miss Jenny Peace,

' Monday night, June 24.

' My dear niece,— I arrived safe at my own house, with
your cousin Harriet, last Saturday night, after a very tedious
voyage by sea, and a fatiguing journey by land. I long to
see my dear Jenny as soon as possible, and Harriet is quite
impatient for that pleasure.

' I have ordered my chariot to be with you tomorrow
night; and I desire you would set out on Wednesday
morning, as early as your inclination shall prompt you to
come to

' Your truly affectionate aunt,

'M. Newman.

' I have writ a letter of thanks to your kind governess for
her care of you.'

It is impossible to describe the various sensations of INIiss
Jenny's mind on the reading this letter. Her rising joy at the
thoughts of seeing her kind aunt safely returned from a long
and tedious voyage, was suppressed by a sorrow which could
not be resisted, on parting with such dear friends and so
good a governess; and the lustre which such a joy would
have given to her eye, was damped by rising tears. Her
heart for some time was too full for utterance. At last,
turning to her governess, she said, ' And is the chariot
really come to carry me to my dear aunt ? ' Then, after a
pause, the tears trickling down her cheeks, ' And must I so
soon leave you, madam, and all my kind companions?'
Mrs. Teachum, on seeing Miss Jenny's tender struggles of
mind, and all her companions at once bursting into tears,
stood up, and left the room, saying, ' She would come to
them again after supper.' For this prudent woman well
knew, that it was in vain to contend with the very first
emotions of grief on such an occasion, but intended at her
return, to show them how much it was their duty and interest
io conquer all sorts of extravagant sorrow.


They remained some time silent, as quite struck dumb
with concern, till at last Miss Dolly Friendly, in broken
accents, cried out, ' And must we lose you, my dear Miss
Jenny, now we are just settled in that love and esteem for
you, which your goodness so well deserves ? '

Miss Jenny endeavoured to dry up her tears, and then
said, 'Although I cannot but be pleased, my dear com-
I)anions, at every mark of your affection for me, yet I beg
that you would not give me the pain to see that I make so
many dear friends unhappy. Let us submit cheerfully to
this separation (which, believe me, is as deeply felt by me
as any of you), because it is our duty so to do ; and let me
entreat you to be comforted by reflecting, how much my
good aunt's safe return must be conducive to my future wel-
fare ; nor can you be unhappy, while you continue with so
good a governess, and persist in that readiness to obey her
which you have lately shown. She will direct who shall
preside over your innocent amusements in my place. I will
certainly write to you, and shall always take the greatest
delight in hearing from each of you, both while you con-
tinue here, and when your duty and different connections
shall call you elsewhere. We may some, and perhaps all of
us, happen often to meet again; and I hope a friendship
founded on so innocent and so good a foundation as ours
is, will always subsist, as far as shall be consistent with our
future situations in life.'

Miss Jenny's friends could not answer her but by sobs and
tears ; only little Polly Suckling, running to her, clung about
her neck and cried, ' Indeed, indeed. Miss Jenny, you must
not go ; I shall break my heart if I lose you : I'm sure we
shan't, nor we can't, be half so happy when you are gone,
though our governess were ten times better to us than she is.'

Miss Jenny again entreated them to dry up their tears,
and to be more contented with the present necessity ; and
begged that they would not let their governess see them, at
her return, so overwhelmed in sorrow; for she might take it
unkindly, that they should be so afflicted at the loss of one
person, while they still remained under her indulgent care
and protection.


It was with the utmost difficulty that Miss Jenny refrained
from shedding tear for tear with her kind companions; but
as it was her constant maxim to partake with her friends all
her pleasure, and to confine her sorrows as much as possible
within her own bosom, she chose rather to endeavour, by
her own cheerfulness and innocent talk, to steal insensibly
from the bosoms of her little companions half their sorrow ;
and they began to appear tolerably easy.

After supper Mrs. Teachum returned ; and, seeing them
all striving who should most conceal their grief, for fear of
giving uneasiness to the rest, yet with a deep dejection
fixed in every countenance, and little Polly still sobbing
behind Miss Jenny's chair, she was so moved herself with
the affecting scene, that the tears stole from her eyes, and
the sympathising company once more eased their almost
bursting hearts by another general flow of melting sorrow.

' My dear children (said Mrs. Teachum), I am not at all
surprised at your being so much concerned to part with
Miss Jenny. I love her myself with a motherly aff"ection
(as I do all of you, and shall ever continue to do so while
you so well deser\'e it); and I could wish, for my own sake,
never to part with her as long as I live; but I consider
that it is for her advantage ; and I would have you all re-
member, in her absence, to let her example and friendship
fill your hearts with joy instead of grief. It is now pretty
late in the evening, and as Miss Jenny is to set out very
early in the morning, I must insist upon shortening your
pain (for such is your present situation), and desire you
would take your leave of this your engaging friend.'

They none of them attempted to speak another word, for
their hearts were still too full for utterance; and Miss Jenny
took every one by the hand as they went out of the room,
saluted them with the tenderest affection, mingling tears
with those which flowed from every streaming eye ; and,
wishing them all happiness and joy till their next meeting,
they all, with heavy hearts, retired to rest.

Miss Jenny returned the warmest and most grateful ac-
knowledgments to her good governess, for all her care of
her; and said, * I shall attribute every happy hour, madam,


that I may hereafter be blessed with, to your wise and kind
instructions, which I shall always remember with the highest
veneration, and shall ever consider you as having been to
me no less than a fond and indulgent mother.'

Mrs. Teachum kept Miss Jenny in the room with her no
longer than to assure her how sincerely she should regret
her absence \ and confessed how much of the regularity and
harmony of her school she owed to her good example, her
sweetness of temper, and conformity to rules.


Although Miss Jenny Peace did not return any more to
school, yet she ever gratefully remembered the kindness of
her governess, and frequently corresponded with all her
companions. And as they continued their innocent amuse-
ments and meetings in the arbour, whenever the weather
would permit, there was no day thought to be better em-
ployed than that in which they received a letter from their
absent instructive friend, whose name was always mentioned
with gratitude and honour.

Mrs. Teachum continued the same watchful care over any
young persons who were entrusted to her management; and
she never increased the number of her scholars, though
often entreated so to do. All quarrels and contentions were
banished her house ; and if ever any such thing was likely
to arise, the story of Miss Jenny Peace's reconciling all her
little companions was told to them; so that Miss Jenny,
though absent, still seemed (by the bright example which
she left behind her) to be the cement of union and harmony
in this well-regulated society. And if any girl was found to
harbour in her breast a rising passion, which it was difficult
to conquer, the name and story of Miss Jenny Peace soon
gained her attention, and left her without any other desire
than to emulate Miss Jenny's virtues.

In short, Mrs. Teachum's school was always mentioned
throughout the country as an example of peace and har-
mony ; and also, by the daily improvement of all her girls,
it plainly appeared how early young people might attain


great knowledge, if their minds were free from foolish anxi-
eties about trifles, and properly employed on their own
improvement; for never did any young lady leave Mrs.
Teachum, but that her parents and friends were greatly
delighted with her behaviour, as she had made it her chief
study to learn always to pay to her governors the most
exact obedience, and to exert towards her companions all
the good effects of a mind filled with benevolence and love.




As I had nothing particular to do, I took a walk one
morning as far as St. James's Park, where meeting with a
lady of my acquaintance, she invited me to go home with
her to breakfast ; which invitation I accordingly complied
with. Her two daughters had waited for her a consider-
able time, and expressed themselves to have been much dis-
turbed at her stay. They afterwards fretted at the heat of
the weather; and the youngest happening accidentally to
tear her apron, she bewailed it the succeeding part of the
day with so much appearance of vexation, that I could not
help showing some degree of astonishment at her conduct :
and having occasion afterwards to mention Miss Placid, I
added that she was the most agreeable girl I had ever

Miss Eliza, to whom I was speaking, said, that she had
long wished to hear something farther concerning that young
lady, as her mamma very frecjuently proposed her as an ex-
ample, without mentioning the particulars of her conduct ;
but as I was so happy as to be favoured with her intimacy,
she should be glad to hear a recital of those excellencies
which acquired such universal approbation.

In compliance with this request I wrote the following
sheets, and dispatched them to Miss Eliza, and by her
desire it is that they are now submitted to the world; as
she obligingly assured me, that her endeavours to imitate
the calm disposition of the heroine of this history had
contributed so much to her own happiness, and increased
the good opinion of her friends, that she wished to have so


amiable an example made public for the advantage of others.
I shall therefore present these memoirs to the world, just as
they were sent to my young friend, and sincerely wish they
may meet with as favourable a reception from the more
general, as they did from a private, perusal.

The high opinion, my dear Eliza, which you entertain of
Jemima Placid would, I assure you, be much increased
upon a more intimate knowledge of her worth. The sweet-
ness of her temper has made her the object of particular
estimation amongst all her acquaintance; and I had the
happiness to be admitted of that number at a very early
period of her life. Mr. Placid is a clergyman of distin-
guished merit, and has been for many years the vicar of
Smiledale. The situation of the parsonage is truly beautiful;
but the income of the living is not very considerable; so, as
the old gentleman has two sons with the young Jemima to
provide for, it is necessary to be rather frugal in his ex-
penses. Mrs. Placid was remarkably handsome in her
youth, but the beauty of her person has been much im-
paired by a continued state of ill health, which she supports
with such a degree of cheerful fortitude, as does honour to
human nature. As she has had the advantage of a liberal
education, and been always accustomed to genteel company,
her conversation is uncommonly agreeable; and her daugh-
ter has derived from her instructions those engaging qualities,
which are the most valuable endowments a parent can
bestow. The eldest son, whose name is Charles, is about
three years, and William, the youngest, near a year and a
half older than his sister. Their dispositions are not in all
respects so gentle as hers, yet, on the whole, they form the
most agreeable family I have ever known.

When Jemima was about six years old, her mamma's
health rendered it necessary she should take a journey to
Bristol; and it being out of her power to have her daughter
with her, she left her with an aunt, whose name was Piner,
and who had two daughters a few years older than their
cousin. Miss Placid, who had never before been separated
from her mamma, was severely hurt at the thought of leaving
home; but as she was told it was absolutely necessary, she


refrained her tears, for fear of increasing the uneasiness
which her mamma experienced.

At last the day arrived, when her uncle (whom I before
forgot to mention) with his wife came to dinner at Smiledale,
with an intention of conducting Jemima back with them.
She was in her papa's study at the time they alighted ; and
could not help Aveeping at the idea of quitting her friends,
and throwing her arms around her brother William's neck,
silently sobbed forth that grief she wanted power to restrain.
The poor boy, Avho loved his sister with great tenderness,
was nearly as much affected as herself, and could only, with
affectionate kisses, evel"y now and then exclaim, ' Don't cry
so, Jemima ! pray don't ! We shall soon meet again, my
love; pray don't cry!' W'hen she had relieved her little
heart with this indulgence of her sorrow, she wiped her eyes,
and walked slowly upstairs to have on her frock. ' So
your aunt is come, miss % ' said Peggy, as she set down the
basin on the table to wash her hands. Poor Jemima was
silent ' I am sorry we are going to lose you, my dear,' added
she, as she wiped the towel over her forehead. Peggy's hand
held back her head, and at the same time supported her
chin, so that her face was confined and exposed to observa-
tion. She wanted to hide her tears, but she could not ;
so at last, hastily covering herself with the maid's apron, and
putting her two hands round her waist, she renewed the
sorrow which she had so lately suppressed.

Peggy was very fond of her young lady, as indeed was
every servant in the house ; but there was a good woman,
who went in the family by the name of Nurse, for whom
Jemima had a still greater attachment. She had attended
Mrs. Placid before her marriage, had nursed all her children
from their births, and Jemima was the darling of her heart.
As she entered the room at this time, she took the weeping
girl into her lap, and wept herself at the reflection, that it
was the first time in her life she had slept without her ! ' And
so pray, my dear,' said she, ' take care of yourself, and when
you go to bed, mind that they pin your nightcap close at
toi), odierwise you will get cold ; and don't forget to have
your linen well aired ; for it is very dangerous, love, and


many a person has caught a cold which has terminated in a
fever by such neglect. Sweet child ! I do not like to trust
it from me/ added she, hugging her still closer, and smother-
ing her face in a check cotton handkerchief which slae wore

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 20 of 43)