Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

DISCIPLINE.

CHAP. XII.

Oh my fate!
That never would consent, that I should see
How worthy thou wert both of love and duty,
Before I lost you ;
With justice, therefore, you may cut me off,
And from your memory wash the remembrance
That ere

like to some vicious purpose,
Which in your better judgment you repent of,
And study to forget.

MASSINGER.

was

3

mer sun.

The morning shone bright with a sum

The trees, though now rich in foliage, were still varied with the fresh hues of spring. The river flashed gaily in the sunbeam ; or rolled foaming from the prows of stately vessels which now veered as in conscious grace, now moved onward as in power without effort, bearing wealth and plenty from distant lands. What heart, that is not chilled by misery, or hardened by guilt, is insensible to the charms of renovated nature? What human heart exults not in the tokens of human power? Mine rejoiced in the splendid scene before me; but it was the rejoicing of the proud, always akin to boasting. “ How richly," I exclaimed,

has the Creator adorned this fair dwel. ling of his children! A glorious dwelling, worthy of the noble creatures for whom it was designed ;-creatures whose courage braves the mighty ocean,—whose power compels the service of the elements,—whose wisdom scales the heavens, and unlocks the springs of a moving universe! And can there be zealots whose gloomy souls behold in this magnificent frame of things, only the scene of a dull and toilsome pilgrimage, for beings wayworn, guilty, wretched?"

In these thoughts, and others of like reasonableness and humility, I reached the dwelling of

my

friend. It was a low thatched cottage, standing somewhat apart from a few scattered dwellings, which scarcely de

served the name of a village. I had seen it in my childhood, when a holiday had dismissed me from confinement, and it was associated in my mind with images of gaiety and freedom. Alas! those images but illaccorded with its present aspect. It looked deserted and forlorn. She, by whose taste it had been adorned, was now a prisoner within its walls. The flowers which she had planted, were blooming in confused luxuriance. The rose-tree which she had taught to climb the latticed porch, now half-impeded entrance; and the jessamine which she had twined round her casement, now threw back its dishevelled sprays as if to shade her death-bed. The carriage stopped at the wicket of the neglected garden ; and I, my lofty thoughts somewhat quelled by the desolateness of the scene, passed thoughtfully towards the cottage, along a walk once kept with a neatness the most precise, now faintly marked with a narrow track which alone repressed the disorderly vegetation.

The door was opened for me by Miss Mortimer's only domestic, a grave and reverend-looking person, with silver gray hair, combed smooth under a neat crimped coif, and with a starched white handkerchief crossed decently upon her breast. Nor were her manners less a contrast to those of the flippant gentlewomen to whose attendance I was accustomed. With abundance of ceremony, she ushered me up stairs; then passing me with a low courtesy and a few words of respectful apology, she went before me into her mistress's apartment, and announced my arrival in terms in which the familiar kindness of a friend blended oddly with the reverence of an inferior. Miss Mortimer, with an exclamation of joy, stretched her arms fondly towards me. Prepared as I was for an alteration in her appearance, I was shocked at the change which a few weeks had effected. A faint glow flushed her face for a moment, and vanished. Her eyes, that were wont to beam with such dove-like softness, now shed an ominous brilliance. The hand which she extended towards me, scarcely seemed to exclude the light, and every little vein was perceptible in its sickly tran

« PředchozíPokračovat »