Youth's Magazine,  3rd ser. 4 (1831), 230–38.

Second Causes



Short Fiction


Causation, Disease, Providence

    Charles Athelstone blames himself and his sister for exposing his friend, Henry, to typhus fever, since it occurred as an unintended result of their virtuous actions. Their mother observes that 'it depends very much on the state of his constitution, whether he may have taken the complaint; and, above all, it depends on the will of Him, whose superintending Providence orders all events' (232). She admonishes Charles: 'You judge of actions, not by their real nature, but from some consequences quite foreign [....] And, with similar inconsistency, you acknowledge all things to be under the controlling influence of a Being, "infinite in wisdom, power, and love," and yet keep your eye so fixed on second causes, as to be wretched when they turn out contrary to your desires' (233). Mrs Athelstone suggests that her son pray for his friend, and rest assured of divine providence. A brief note at the end of the tale records that 'the fears of Charles, respecting his friend, were not realized' (238).

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