Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

In the following brief passage a painful truth is very eloquently expressed!

"Oh! indeed it wears the spirit to be neglected abroad, and to meet with no sympathy at home. Man needs support either on the one side or the other; but if the world despise him, and his own particular circle make a mock of him, his must be a strong spirit indeed, if, in time, it is not utterly broken.

In the third volume, to which we are now referring, there are several very beautiful passages. The history of Anstruther is deeply affecting, and wrought up with great power. We can scarcely imagine any description of a perfect community of thought and feeling finer than that contained in the subjoined passage:

We spake to one another unreservedly. We revealed our inmost souls to one another. All our long pent-up feelings now gushed forth in a stream of words. Each was to each like the prophet's rod, which smote the rock and drew forth water. We could comprehend-fully comprehend the secretest workings of one another's souls. Emotions, which we had long conceived to be unintelligible to any but ourselves, were now described by the one and immediately understood by the other. There was a bond of sympathy between us. We felt, as we conversed, that we needed nothing-not even our most morbid sensibilities. We feared not to behold, on the other's face, a smile of sarcasm, or a look of cold indifference. Heart communed with heart; and we mutually said, "I have never revealed myself to any as to you?"

"We had both suffered very much from the imperfect sympathies of all around us. How delicious, therefore, was it to meet with a kindred spirit, before whom we could pour our souls freely when our beings overflowed with emotion. Now did we embody, in words, all our most delicate sensations-feelings which, we thought, would have been for ever unexpressed, now found their way into language. All our hopes, our fears, our desires, our joys, and our sorrows, were Tevealed to the other; and what delight in the revealing!

"We were by nature similar. In Mary Penruddock I beheld a feminine incarnation of myself. Do not mistake me, Gerard; she was as far above me in the scale of morality, as the sun is above the moon, and yet elementally we were alike. The fruits were different, but the trees were the same. She had grown in a different soil; she had been nurtured by other hands; she had been watched more carefully, and tended more assiduously; she had not been exposed to the winds of circumstance and the blights of temptation as I had; she was pure, and I was corrupt; she like a river at its course, unsullied and untainted, I, like the same river when it had passed through many cities and collected impurity from them all.

In this same history of Anstruther there is a very powerful description of the evils resulting from that strange caprice and perversity of human nature which leads a parent to prefer one child to another. Anstruther is misled by this caprice into the ill-treatment of the being he had idolized, and actually imagines her nature to have become malevolent when it was really most affectionate. The passage describing his conduct, and its result, is one of exceeding power: it is perfectly heart-rending, but not, we feel persuaded, at all exaggerated or out of nature.

"In proportion as I doated upon my two younger children, did I loathe and abhor their elder brother. The one passion seemed to spring out of the other, and they kept pace in their subsequent development. But to her first-born did the mother still cling the more tenaciously, as I thought, for my hatred of him. And then another unclean spirit began to tear my diseased soul. I thought that Mary loved the deformed child solely from a spirit of opposition; that she caressed him, and was kind to him to work my annoyance; that she derived a malicious pleasure from praising the amia. ble qualities of the boy in my presence, and always endeavoured to conciliate my affections in his behalf, at those very seasons when I was most exasperated against him. The effect of this monamania was, that in time I became a brute, and treated my poor wife— my saint-like Mary — with barbarity.

"But still would she appeal to me in behalf of my first-born. Fully confiding in the justice of her cause; no unkindness could shake her resolution. She was the unshrinking advocate of the persecuted, and the helpless. I might frown upon her, but she was not to be shaken; oh! thou plessed martyr in a righteous cause, 1 look upon my hands and they are incarnadined.

"One day-one dreadful day-now, at length, I have come to the crisis of my history,-the merciless dæmon was at work in my bosom. I was in one of my most turbulent moods, when Mary entered my study with her favorite deformity-my study, where it had never been before !where I had peremtorily forbidden it to be brought. She came there, with a book in her hand, to shew me the marvellous progress that the child had made in his studies. She came to taunt me, as I thought, with the moral worth and the intellectual beauty of the little monster, and to upbraid me for setting up matter above mind, for thinking more of the shell than of the kernel. She did say something about this, but there was exceeding mildness in the words that she employed, and

[ocr errors]

exceeding gentleness in the tones, which uttered them. But they were enough to lash my spirit into a whirlpool of passionate excitement, Never before had the exacerbation of my feelings been so intense as they were at that moment. I scarcely knew what I did! I was insane! I uttered a terrific imprecation, dashed the book, that I had been reading, to the ground, struck the child with the palm of my hand on the face, so violently that be howled with anguish, and then thrust the 'mother and her deformed favourite, with frantic energy, out of my chamber!

"I locked the door, and I picked up the book that I had been reading, but I found that I could not read. So I rang the bell, ordered a horse to be saddled, and was soon scouring the country, in one of those terrific fevers of excitement, which rapidity of motion alone can allay. When I returned, I sate myself down again to my desk, but the book which I had been reading was gone; and in its place I found a small slip of paper, marked with the hand-writing of my wife.

"She had taken the book, Gerard; it was the last thing she had seen me touch, and she took it as a memorial, for she had fled. Yes, Gerard, the wife of my bosom had gone from me, taking with her our three children. She did not, she could not mean to desert me altogether: she had gone, as a warning, as a lesson to me; terrible the warning, and long-abiding the lesson; for on that night, Gerard, a storm arose. I saw it rising from my chamber window, I saw the heavens blackening, and I heard the winds howling; then thought I of my wife and children, and trembled.

"I knew that the vessel in which she had sailed, for I had visited the quay, hoping that I might stay the progress of the fugitives, was but a small craft, and I trembled for its safety. It was indeed, a dreadful night, and 1 trembled. The thunder roared, and I thought that it was the voice of God speaking to me, and bidding me to despair. I did not attempt to sleep. I did not lay my head upon the pillow. I sate by the open widow, watching the storm, and ever and anon in a voice of agony, beseeching God to pacify the elements. But be hearkened not, Gerard; he hear kened not, and the vessel perished in the storm; my wife and my children were drowned in the great waters; my idols were all broken."

This is very tragical; but there are few such exciting and distressing passages in the work, its general characteristic is composure, not excitement.

We have already shewn, in our notice of Jerningham, that the author excels in the delineation of a love scene. That we quoted was highly wrought and altogether exceedingly beautiful, and in keeping with the very excitable actors in it.

The scene of Gerard's love-making to Ella, is one of simple beauty and pathos :

I was left alone with Ella, on that morning. Seating myself beside the beloved one, I took her little hand into mine, and looking upon it smilingly, I said, "Ella, methinks that this small white hand is an index of high birth.”

Ella blushed; and then, looking into my face, she said, with a sweet smile, though her face wore a thoughtful aspect," Often does an index indicate falsely. There is no rule without an exception."

"Oh! but small white hands are very certain tests of aristocracy. Napoleon, and Byron, and Ali Pasha, have all been of this opinion."

"A trick of their self-love," returned Ella. "I dare say, that they had white hands themselves."

"But tell me now, Ella, would it make you happy, if it were proved, beyond all doubt, that you are the daughter of a great man."

"I am an orphan," returned Ella, thoughtfully.

"And, therefore, you could not grieve to find that you have a parent living."

Ella cast down her eyes, but answered not, and I continued, "Methinks, you would change

a dead parent for a living one. Better to rejoice over a treasure found, than to grieve over one lost."

"I do not understand you," said Ella.

"Do you ever attempt to look into the future; do you ever speculate upon your probable destiny?

"Michael and I together have talked over our plans; but as yet we have made no definite arrangements. Sir Reginald has promised to get him employment, and wherever he goes, I will go; his home will be my home, and his people my people."

"But you will not dwell with him all your life long."

"And why not?" asked Ella, looking up into my face with an expression of beautiful sim

"Because, peradventure, you might find another friend, with whom you would rather live all your days, than with Michael."

"What other friend, Gerard? I think that I must be very dull this morning, for I do not understand half of what you say,"

"Perhaps, it is that I am obscure. But, tell me, is there no one in the world, whom you love even better than Michael?

Ella spoke not; but the blush, which my question elicited, was an answer more significant than


"Tell me, Ella," and I took her hand into mine, "is there no one whom you love better than Michael?"

"I am fatherless and motherless," said Ella.

"But the love of kindred is not always the strongest. Ella, dear Ella!" and I passed my arm around her waist, "is there no one beside your brother, whom you would be content to live with to the end of your days?"

Ella answered not; her head drooped, and slightly her frame trembled.

"Do not be angry with me, Ella, for asking you these strange questions. Indeed, indeed, I am not sporting with you. Tell ine, my sweet girl, is your brother Michael dearer to you than all the world beside? Is there no one for whose sake you would leave him? Is there no one dearer to you than Michael? And as I said this, I drew the young maiden closer to my side, and bending down, I looked into her eyes with an expression of supplicating fondness.

Oh! such a look of ten

Ella lifted up her head, and silently she turned her face towards me. derness and love was there. I no longer desired that she should speak.

She laid her head upon my shoulder, and the only word that she uttered was, "Gerard!"

We were happy; but for a few brief minutes. Such joy as this could not last. The dream was soon over; and Ella Moore was the first to awake into consciousness.

"Gerard," she said, in a decisive tone of all the powers of her mind to aid her in this

Suddenly she withdrew herself from my embrace. voice, with a supernatural effort of strength, collecting extremity," Gerard, this must not, this ought not to be. We can never be to one another more than we are now; already I fear that we are to much. Forgive me that I have ever dared to regard you with any other feelings than of humble respect and gratitude. You are far above me in rank, and education, riches, everything; I am fit only to be the handmaid of such as you are. I am nothing but a poor cottage girl, and I am not to selfish as to desire that you should demean yourself by thinking of me as being any other than a lowly dependent upon your bounty. I know that you are generous and devoted; I know that you would willingly set aside what the world calls the distinction of society; but I love you too well to suffer this sacrifice to be made on my account. We had better part; we had better dwell asunder. It is decreed that we are to move in different spheres. Michael will labour for me, and protect me; we are not ever likely to cross one another in the paths of life. A few days will divide us for ever. Forget that you have ever known me. My prayers will ever be lifted up for your safety; my blessing will ever be upon your head. Forgive me, that I have spoken thus plainly; I fear that my words have caused you anguish ; but believe me that I have no other desire but the advancement of your happiness and welfare. Mr. Doveton, it would be better for us both that I should leave this place with all speed; it would be better-” but she could not utter one word more She had no longer any strength to support her. The trial was too great; it was an effort beyond her nature that she was struggling to make. She could not subdue her rising emotions; they overcame her thoroughly at last, and, hiding her face between hier hands, she burst into a paroxysm of tears.

Then presently she rose from her seat, and moved towards the door; I followed her, and gently taking her by the hand, I prevented her sudden retreat. "Yet, stay, Ella; but a few words more ere we part; sit down and dry our tears, for that which has caused them to flow so plentifully exists but in your own mind. Ella you are my equal, and more than my equal, What was it that you told me in the spring, about the cushions of green velvet ?

"A foolish fancy of mine," said Ella, dashing away her tears as she spoke.

"Nay, Ella, it was no foolish fancy, but a remembrance of that which once was-of a time when you were a dweller in a splendid mansion -a child born to wealth and station. Ella, did I not tell you when we parted upon the green hill behind your cottage, that I would put forth my whole strength in the endeavour to clear up this strange mystery? I have kept my promise; I have laboured diligently, and a great success has attended my labours. Now, sweetest, listen to what I have to tell you. Already does Michael know the truth. You are neither an orphan nor a cottage maiden, but the daughter of Mr. Anstruther, my friend."

The death scene of Anstruther is pourtrayed with much pathos, and the conclusion is very impressively wrought up. The discovery to which the dying man alludes, is that of the Moores being his children, for whom he had so long

mourned as lost.

"My imagination is very fertile," I answered, "and in my mind a possibility is soon magnified into a probability-a probability into a conviction. The likeness of Ella to your wife, and of Michael to yourself, together with their possession of your miniature, does furnish a chain, though a very slender one-a chain of presumptive evidence. Besides this, Michael tells me that he distinctly remembers, in his early childhood, a great storm at sea."

"More proof! more proof! the light is beginning to dawn upon me; I doubt not but that it will blaze forth anon. Bring them to me, Gerard, for methinks that there is a strong instinct within us which teacheth us to know our own children. If they be mine, I doubt not but that I shall know them bring them to me, or reveal at once all the hidden knowledge, which lies darkly within you, for I am as certain as I am of my own wickedness, that you know much more than you are willing to reveal. Do not be afraid of exciting me; I can bear anything-anything that you can tell me. Whatever you say, Gerard, will no more affect me than the wind does a frozen lake."

"Edwin, was the name of the vessel, which went down with your children, the Emerald ?”

"It was, it was," gasped Anstruther. "How knew you this, Gerard? I told you not-I told you not the name of the vessel."

"No; but I once knew a man, who was on board of it-"

"A man who was on board the Emerald when she perished ?" asked Anstruther, with an energy which he could not control, for he was in a fever of perilous excitement.

"Yes," I answered, "he was saved. Providence watched over him, and he was saved."

Alone-escaped he alone?

"No; not alone, with him a woman and three little children."

"And the woman?"

"Was Mrs. Moore !"

"Merciful God, I thank thee! Then I am not a childless man."

[ocr errors]

He sunk back with his head upon the pillow, and his hands clasped across his breast. And thus he lay for some minutes supine and motionless, his lips alone moving a little.

I thought that the wretched man was praying, so I did not utter a word.

But presently he turned his face towards me, and said, in a low voice, "You are not making a mock of me, I hope."

"God forbid, Edwin, that I should be so cruel a tormentor. I have with me an affidavit made by this very man. I did not tell you all I knew at once, thinking that it would be too much for you; but I have proof, clear and decisive, beyond all shadow of doubt. Michael and Elia are the children of your loins! Have you strength to listen to what I can read to you; the statements in this paper? I fear that already you are exhausted; you had better try and compose yourself to sleep."

"Sleep, Gerard! Do you think that I could sleep, with my children, my long-lost children beneath the roof, and I not yet having seen them-not yet having pressed them to my bosom! No, no, Gerard, read that paper; let me know, beyond all question, that my children are living; prove it to me incontestably, and then bring them to me that I may bless them."

And in a voice as clear and distinct as I could summon to my assistance, I read the eventful deposition of Paul Phillips to the end.

Anstruther interrupted me not. He turned his face towards me, and it was pale and rigid as white marble; his eyes were fixed intently upon me; his lips pressed closely together, his hands clutched the coverlid of the bed.

He spoke not, he moved not, whilst I read, and when I had done reading, he changed not his position for some minutes, and I thought that he was senseless. But anon he raised his hand to his forehead, and faintly articulated, "Is that all?"

"I have read the deposition to the end."

"And it is signed-attested upon oath -made before a Justice of the Peace ?"

"It is "

"Then bring me my children;" and the sick man's voice was loud and exceeding shrill; "bring me my children that I may bless them! And hark you, Gerard, do not say that I am dying, but send directly for and ***, all the first physicians in London; tell them that 1 have mines of wealth, and that they shall have all if they can but save me. I must not, 1 will not die yet to die now, oh! horrible, Gerard; to think that my bark, after braving many tempests,


implore you suffer me yet a little while to live, for their sakes, not for my own: they are good and holy, and pure, and innocent, they have not bowed down to idols. I ask as one deserving nothing -but God is merciful, and I am sore-stricken. Oh! any thing but this-any thing but death at this moment. I ask but for life; let it be a life of pain, poverty, disease-let me live a leper-only let me live, and I will—fool that I am to think of bargaining with the Most High!

"But why sit you there? continued the sick man, raising his voice to a still higher tone, "why sit you there? do you hear me not? Bring me my children, Gerard; I say, bring me my children. For fifteen years I have b en as a childless man, and now God has given me back my children. Bring them to me, Gerard; for my time is short; I cannot spare a minute of this great happiness -the joy of looking upon my children. But hark you, do not say that I am dying; I am not dying -no, no-it is impossible that I should die at the threshold -the very threshold of my sweet home."

I left the sick-chamber with a quaking heart, and hurried immediately to my uncle: Rapidly I told him of all that had past between Anstruther and myself. The tears glistened in Mr. Pemberton's eyes, as he said to me, "The father must be obeyed; we can keep him no longer from his children."

Together my Uncle Pemberton and I went to prepare Michael and Ella for the interview. They were sitting side by side, and Michael was endeavouring to allay the fears of his sister—whispering words of hope into her ear, though his heart misgave him all the time.

My uncle repaired to Anstruther's chamber, desiring us to follow him in a few minutes. He went thither hoping to strengthen the dying man with the sweet medicine of prayer. I sate down beside Ella and said, "Fear not ;" but Ella trembled from head to foot. Michael's face too was pale as a spectre's. The few minutes that we waited below, appeared to us like so many hours.

But at length the time passed, and I led Michael and Ella to the chamber of their dying parent. My hand shook like the hand of one palsey-stricken as I laid it upon the handle of the door.

We entered. Anstruther would have sprung from his bed, but that the strong arm of my uncle restrained him. "My children! my long lost children!" he cried aloud in a shrill voice," I implore you not to keep me from my children," and sitting upright in his bed, he stretched out his lean arms.

Michael and Ella rushed towards the bed, and, in a moment, they were in the embrace of their father. First one and then the other he kissed with frantic energy. He pressed them to his bosom; then he gazed at them passionately; he laughed, and he wept aloud. Then he kissed them again and again, and passed his fingers through their hair, and ever anon and uttered such broken sentences

as these.

“My children--my long lost children-my Edwin. Yes, your name is Edwin, not Michael -and your name is Mary-yes, Mary-your mother's name was Mary-and you have your mother's face. There now, my sweet child-look up, for I would gaze upon your face you have blue eyes and golden hair like your mother-you are weeping-nay, don't weep-laugh, laugh as I do-you ought to rejoice for you have found a parent-as I rejoice having found my children, my long-lost, beautiful children. Oh! I am so proud of you-how lovely you are both. We will be so happy, so happy, Edwin. I have a fine house and beautiful gardens, and we will have such merrymaking at the Abbey-we will have bonfires and illuminations, and fire-works-and prayers too, prayers, Mary-thanksgivings, for God is merciful. He has given me back my children, and we must not forget Him-we must not be ungrateful to God. And, Gerard, too-where is Gerard? -Mary, you love Gerard-we shall have points and bride-laces' anon-ha, ha!-we will have such doings at the Abbey-now kiss me, my sweet Mary-and do not hide your beautiful face. Proofs indeed! oaths and affidavits !-you are the very image of your mother-I should have known you any where as my child-the parental instinct is strong.-But speak to me-why are you silent? lift up your voice, Mary-I wish to hear the music of your voice."

But all that the young maiden could say was " Father !-my dear father!"

"Ah! that voice! I should have known it in a chorus of a thousand; it is the same sweet voice that gladdened me with its music in the summer of my youth. Can you sing, Mary? Your mother used to sing to me, and you shall sing to me-oh! how happy we shall be! But, hark ye, my sweet children, we must not love overmuch. God is a jealous God, and idolatry is a grievous sin. I have a great pain about my heart, and there is something burning me, like a fire, in my brain-but I am not ill, you must not think that I am ill; I shall live to a good old age, for God has given me back my children, and I am no longer a solitary man. Gerard, give me some wine, you know it is my old medicine, besides, I must drink to my children-you will not— why you think that I am ill-I feel strong as a giant, and I shall come down to dinner to-day."

But the sick man, though he boasted of his strength, was utterly exhausted, and slowly and faintly his words came forth. He sunk back, with his head upon the pillow, but he still held Ella by the hand. There had been an unnatural brilliancy in his eyes, but now they were dim and glassy; there had been a hectic flush on his cheeks, but now they were utterly hueless. Everything betokened approaching death. The supernatural energy which had supported him was gone, and he now lay weak and powerless upon the bed, scarcely able to uplift his hand.

But still he continued to speak, though his voice was exceedingly low, "I wish that you would give me some wine-I wish that you had given it to me when I asked for it, for I am weak

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »