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I have a particular engagement;" stammered Herbert.
"Ah, I thought old Thompson had been at you; but you must give him the go-by for once."
“I cannot, indeed,” replied Herbert in a rueful tone.
“But you must, I tell you;"--and so he did; for it was more terrible by half to be called “old Thompson's shadow," than to break an engagement, and the sabbath into the bargain. He was brave enough to do the latter, but he had not courage to bear the former. So the day, the first of a long series of mis-spent sabbaths-was passed in pleasure-seeking. A steamboat conveyed the young men to Richmond ; and the beautiful trees and green grass of Richmond hill—so like his own dear native village scenery, and so unlike the
grim blackness of London — reconciled poor Herbert to the violence done to his deadened conscience. Strange that the thoughts of home stirred up by country scenes, should not have reminded him of sabbath employments at home. Perhaps they did; but he soon got rid of the unwelcome guests.
Incited by one evil companion especially, and by others in a less degree, Herbert soon learned to mock at sin, and to laugh at his former scruples as unmanly and absurd. Having allowed himself to be tempted to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and to stand in the way of sin. ners, he at length sat in the seat of the scornful, Psa. i. 1. Three years of pleasure-seeking and sabbath-breaking had hardened his heart against the reproaches of conscience, and made him indifferent to all beside, so that he stood well in the
opinion of his unworthy false friends. And yet there were times when Herbert was not at ease with himself, when he would have given much to recal the past, when he had some faint wishes, at least, that he had given heed to the admonition, “ If sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” But the chains of habit were around him, and the allurements of evil were becoming stronger and stronger.
“Drink, drink, my boy, and drown your care!" Herbert had already drank enough to bewilder his brain; but not half enough to drown his care. He had that on his mind at this particular time which defied the power of wine and song. His irregularities had, that day, drawn upon him the severest rebukes of his employer; and the threat of dismissal was hanging over his head. He had received a letter from home, in which his father affectionately
remonstrated with him respecting some improprieties which had reached his ears ; and urging him, by all the hopes which had once been formed of him, to forsake the paths of false pleasure, and return to the God of his mercies.
“I will return," was Herbert's first resolution, on reading that letter. “I will spend this evening alone, and in prayer.”
The evening came, and found him in a tavern, with two of his dissolute companions. It would be cowardly-so reasoned the evil principle in his heart-to quail beneath the frowns of a precise old fellow like his employer, or to be melted into tenderness by a few soft words in a letter: besides, if he were to show signs of such weakness, should he not be laughed at? He would bear any thing rather than that.
But Herbert had another cause for anxiety, which will presently appear.
“ Drink, and drown your care," repeated one of his friends, seeing that he passed the bottle without filling his glass.
“I believe I have had enough,” replied poor Herbert.
“Not a bit of it; why, you look like a rated hound. What can be the matter with you ?"
Herbert stammered out part of his trouble. •
“Is that all ?” said his tempter. “Then let us drink the old fellow's health in a bumper. Off with it, man. And suppose you do lose your situation; there are as good to be got, and better too, for asking. Look at me, now; why, when he slipped me off so unbandsomely, all I had to do, was to step into the next street: better salary, more liberty, more life, and all