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[1077] ‘I love him so well, I will try to teach him moderation. If I can help it, he shall not feed on bitter ashes, nor try these paths of avarice and ambition.’ It made me feel very strangely to hear him talk so to my old self. What a gulf between! There is scarce a fibre left of the haughty, passionate, ambitious child he remembered and loved. I felt affection for him still; for his character was formed then, and had not altered, except by ripening and expanding! But thus, in other worlds, we shall remember our present selves.

Margaret's constancy to any genuine relation, once established, was surprising. If her friends' aim changed, so as to take them out of her sphere, she was saddened by it, and did not let them go without a struggle. But wherever they continued ‘true to the original standard,’ (as she loved to phrase it) her affectionate interest would follow them unimpaired through all the changes of life. The principle of this constancy she thus expresses in a letter to one of her brothers:—

Great and even fatal errors (so far as this life is concerned) could not destroy my friendship for one in whom I am sure of the kernel of nobleness.

She never formed a friendship until she had seen and known this germ of good; and afterwards judged conduct by this. To this germ of good, to this highest law of each individual, she held them true. But never did she act like those who so often judge of their friend from some report of his conduct, as if they had never known him, and allow the inference from a single act to alter the opinion formed by an induction from years of intercourse.

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