Page images

naturally become his favourite amusement, sat himself down on the floor opposite to her.

One party absorbed in deep and sorrowful reflections, the other in great but not hopeless solicitudeboth were silent for a considerable time : at length Mrs. Lewis said, “Come, child, you have been up nearly two hours ; get your breakfast.”

“ Presently, mother; I have nearly finished my picture, but cannot move till I have done it.”

In about ten minutes Ludovico arose, and presented to his mother a coarse, but not ill-conceived picture of herself and the babe, which she approved of very much, though she pointed out some improvements, which he readily adopted ; then dispatching his breakfast in great haste, but not till he had prevailed on his mother to take hers also, he resumed his employment. As his celerity increased by practice, in the middle of the day he found that he had made six pictures of his mother, upon as many halfsheets of paper ; and he now began to mount them upon press-paper, which he begged from the master of the lodgings, who was a clothier, and used it in the pressing of his cloth; having done this, he drew lines round them, which he filled with Indian ink, and thus finished them in a tidy manner ; but all this was accompanied with the same air of secrecy with which it was begun; and scarcely could the afflicted mother refuse a smile at the important and mysterious air assumed by her industrious boy,


whom she had always encouraged in pursuing whatever he engaged in with perseverance and ardour, as the never-failing means of ultimate success.

In the course of the afternoon, the person whom she had engaged to take her little parcel of gloves came for them; and as she was not quite prepared, Ludovico stepped out unperceived while she detained him. After this business was over, she was somewhat surprised that he did not return; but cluding that he was contriving to get more presspaper from the master of the house, was not sorry for an absence that would be beneficial to him ; but when evening came, and upon inquiry she found that he had not been below, and was certainly out of the house, she became extremely uneasy, and felt more bitterly than ever the full extent of her wretched situation—thus trebly bereft of her comforts.

During all the distress which Mrs. Lewis had experienced since she left the happy, though humble roof of her father, she had never yet acquainted her parents with more of her real situation than was absolutely necessary, feeling, that to make them farther informed of her unhappiness would be only increasing their burthen, without lightening her own; though she was well aware that the utmost relief they could render her would be speedily accorded. It now struck her that her poor boy, deprived of the company of his brother, would be placed to the greatest advantage under the roof of his grandfather, who, she doubted not, would afford him the protection he so much wanted at this time ; and she was debating in her own mind on the necessity of the step, and struggling to overcome the dread she felt of parting with a child so inexpressibly dear, when the door was suddenly opened by Ludovico, who, with an air of wildness in his countenance, ran to the spot where she sat, fell on his knees before her, and laying his face on her lap, burst into tears,—at the same time seizing her hand, which he devoured with kisses, he placed in it a crown piere, and two shillings.

My child ! my dear boy! wbo gave you this



• Oh, mother ! mother ! 1 have sold them all,all my pictures. At first I was sadly ashamed, when I went out and stood in the market-place : but as people came to me and asked me what I would take for them, I said a shilling a-piece ; so two women came and bought each one ; and then a man, who sold toys, came and put this crown in my hand, and took the other four away with him, and told me to paint a dozen more before next Tuesday, and he would buy them all-and-and-is not this good news, mother ?”

Indeed, my love, it is : but why do you cry, Ludovico ?”

Oh, mother, I cannot help it : yesterday I was so very wretched, because poor Raphael was dead ;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and father and you looked so unhappy, I could not help wishing it would please God to take me too, and I cried for exceeding great sorrow : but now I feel as if I had much rather live and be a comfort to you : and since I have sold my little pictures, it has made me so happy, I feel my heart swelling quite full, very full of joy."

Again the boy wept, and his mother, straining him to her fond heart, which rose to heaven in silent gratitude for such a gift, wept also.

After a long pause, Ludovico, recovering serenity, cheerfully said, “ Who knows, dear mother, but I I have a genius, and may one day be a great man ? I am sure if I have, I shall always thank God for giving it to me, for your sake and the baby's, and poor father's sake too. Oh, I wish that Raphael had lived, if it had been only till to-day, that he might have felt as I do just now.”

Agnes was loth to repress the generous hopes and ennobling enthusiasm which, at this moment, so evidently enlivened the heart of her amiable child ; but she felt it her duty to impress, in this hour of awakened feeling—this early outset in the life of a child, forced by circumstances to premature reflection and exertion, the necessity of justly estimating his own powers, and the nature of the path he seemed appointed to tread. Taking both his hands in hers as he still knelt at her feet, with a look of great tenderness, but deep solemnity, she said, “ My dear

child, God has given to you and to all men talents ; by the prudent and persevering, who not only use but improve them, every thing really desirable may always be attained; but without industry, and the proper application of that industry, no natural gift can possibly avail them. Therefore, though it is only just and right that you should thank God for enabling you to be of use to your parents, and praise Him, who is indeed the giver of every good and perfect gift; seeking with humility and diligence for his blessings on your endeavours, and his direction in all your pursuits ; yet remember, it is foolish and presumptuous to expect success, even in a good cause, otherwise than as He has appointed : and it is His will that we attain all real advantages, both for this world and that which is to come, by earnestly endeavouring to obtain them by vigilance.”

“ But then, what does my father mean by saying so often that Genius conquers all things : and telling me about so many great men who had genius ?'”

“ The great men he speaks of, having a decided preference for some particular art or science, pursued with unceasing diligence every means which was likely to contribute to their attainment; this preference is called taste, and united with this perseverance, it produced that superiority which became genius. Do you understand me, my dear?”

“ Perfectly, mother ; for I remember when Raphael was making a kite, he could not do it at all ;

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »