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Ten years of school-life came to an end in 1844. Anne is now sixteen. A few months after her release from school, we find the diligent student deep in “Rousseau's Confessions.” When, upon one occasion,
, Annie was studying Jean Jacques, walking upon the Terrace at Highgate Cemetery, the Vicar put in a rather unexpected appearance. After the usual salutation, Clericus asked, “What is your book Miss
, Burrows?” Realizing the situation, Annie replied, almost inaudibly, “ Rousseau's Confessions,” of which the last word only caught the parson's ear. «cSt. Augustine's Confessions.' Ah! good reading ; very good book,
A letter written to Julia Newton by Annie Burrows when seventeen, is the first utterance of hers that comes
to us :
"July 21st, 1845. “ How long it is, dearest Julia, since I have heard from you, and still longer since you have from me. Indeed I should have written sooner, but not knowing your direction in France, thinking my letters were not worth the postage, and daily expecting your return, I consoled myself with the prospect of your paying us a long visit, and delayed writing till I feel quite ashamed to do so, lest you should have thought me very unkind. And now, dearest, we shall not meet probably till about November, as I am staying in Essex, and have three long visits to pay in different parts of the country ; but we will keep up a regular correspondence; indeed I will try to be a good girl, and write often, and in return I shall expect such an interesting journal from you of all
HER FIRST LETTER.
you have seen, heard, and thought while on the Conti
Have I asked too much in saying, what you think as well as see? Nay, that is the most interesting part to your friend.
“Did you enjoy the trip quite as much as you expected ? It is the height of my ambition to travel through Italy, Switzerland and Germany. And yet I don't know either-I sometimes think I derive more pleasure in reading descriptions of lovely scenery by authors I very much admire. You see it, as it were, through the medium of their brilliant imaginations; and a tide of interesting, of beautiful associations, invest it with a thousand charms, which, if I gazed on it myself, my dull intellect would fail to supply.
Very likely what I have just written is nonsense. Whenever I try to write what I feel, I am quite at a loss how to express myself; but tell me if you understand what I mean; have you ever thought the same?
“I am staying at a very pretty, retired place, within sight of the sea; and we have delightful water parties and picnics. In an excursion of this kind, I fell into the water the other day, and a tall gentleman on the top
However, they soon hauled me out again. “ Rhoda and I have already commenced correspondence, and she tells me she is going to be confirmed. Poor girl, she is very pleased. I never will be confirmed with my own consent. If I am forced, I must submit; but I trust I shall escape.
No sooner had Annie left school than the sister made herself a perfect companion to the brother ; giving up her time wholly to him when he was at home; and if
“ Johnny" is late in returning from the law-office or opera, Annie will sit up to chat with the amusing, goodnatured brother. “ Play me something, Annie,” was a frequent request, readily granted then, as in after years such a request would be by Anne Gilchrist to her children and friends. My school-friend told me that there were many little things that she, as a sister, could advise her brother in.'
Wholly unprepared was Annie for the terrible blow that followed eight years after her father's death. In the sister's nineteenth year, that only brother, so full of promise, from whom she had never been separated for long together, was snatched away by a malignant fever (16th July, 1847); and the sister was not allowed even the sad satisfaction of seeing her brother from the time that he was taken ill to the day of his death. The loss of her“ angel brother” put the sun out of her sky for many a day. The suddenness of the shock, too, stunned her : and the thought of death so environed Annie that she owned to a surprise, “ at finding any young man of her acquaintance alive.”
Six months after the death of John T. Burrows, Annie wrote to her friend Julia’ from 1o, Heathcote Street-a house which Mrs. Burrows rented of Mrs. James Gilchrist. The former had moved from Highgate in the Michaelmas of 1846, in order that her son might the better be enabled to study law.
"Do write soon, dear Annie,' is the closing petition of your letter ; and what shall Annie say to make you forgive her having allowed three weeks to slip away before answering you? In truth, dear Julia, I feel
reluctant to enter into the discussion you wish : not because my interest in the subject has diminished; on the contrary, it increases greatly ; but because it is one on which I am conscious that my mind is in a state of darkness and perplexity. And I have suffered lately, too, from such almost unconquerable depression. However, I will try and begin the New Year better ; indeed, I do not give way to it, and can always disguise it from those who surround; but I could not do so in writing to my friend.
“I feel deeply grateful for the warm, true affection that prompts your anxiety about my views of religion. May I speak freely, dearest? It seems to me that such anxiety betrays a want of confidence in the power of truth and in the goodness of God. Can you believe that one who earnestly and humbly seeks the truth, will be permitted to embrace vital error ?
“I cannot help thinking you attach too much importance to creeds and doctrines. They are mere definitions, after all ; and definitions are better calculated to circumscribe truth, and bring it down to the narrow level of our half-awakened understandings, than to raise our minds to deep, elevated, life-giving comprehension of it; and this, I feel persuaded, is not bestowed upon us at once by the Creator, but is to be earned slowly, by years of labour, by struggling resolutely to crush the evil and develop the good that is in us. "To me, I confess, it
I seems a very considerable thing just to believe in God; difficult indeed to avoid honestly, but not easy to accomplish worthily, and impossible to compass to perfection. A thing not lightly to be professed, but rather humbly
sought; not to be found at the end of any syllogism, but in the inmost fountains of purity and affection ; not the sudden gift of intellect, but to be earned by a loving and brave life. It is, indeed, the greatest thing allowed to mankind, the germ of every lesser greatness.' The greatest thing allowed to mankind. Oh, this is so true! The soul pants to worship God. Could it but catch a glimpse of its Creator, it would at once be filled with love and adoration, with joy unspeakable, mingled with awe and deep humility, with love to man, with divine energy, and with the thirst for perfection.
“ You ask me if I believe in the doctrine of man's total depravity? I do not. I believe that there is much evil in the human heart, and also much that is good ; that the Creator has endowed it with noble capabilities; and the Scriptures are full of blessed promises of light and strength from above to those who seek it earnestly.
“The Gospels, the Psalms and Job, I read, but not the Epistles yet: they are so hard of interpretation.
“It pains me to hear from your lips such a doctrine as this : “That the least guilty of men deserve a doom so dreadful, that eternity will not exhaust their punishment;' whilst at the same time you confess that we are born with an irresistible tendency to sin. I can find no warrant in the Gospels for such a belief.
“I think, dear Julia, we start with a different aim ; those who take your view of religion (the Calvinists) think that our sole object is to get to Heaven and escape damnation ; and this necessarily results from their view of human nature and of God. But to me it seems, that