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very conducive to health, but they were not healthy; the fact is, they lived too sparingly, for their father had left much less than had been expected, and they were obliged to keep up appearances, as they still visited the first families in the neighbourhood. By living together they had very much assimilated in manners; they all had the same sharp shrill voice, and the same short, snappy, not snappish, manner of speaking.
When I called on them I had not dined, but I suppose they had, for they asked me to stay and drink tea with them; though 1 should have preferred dinner to tea, yet for the sake of such old acquaintance, I was content to let that pass. They pressed me very much to take a glass of wine, and I yielded—but afterwards I repented it. Single elderly ladies are very much imposed on in the article of wine; ill luck to those who cheat them! Then we had tea. I knew the old cups and saucers again, and the little silver tea-pot, and the little silver cream-jug, and the sugar-tongs, made like a pair of scissars; I was glad to see the tea-urn, for it helped to warm the room. The tea made us quite communicative; not that it was strong enough to intoxicate, quite the contrary, it was rather weak, I should also have been glad of some more bread and butter, but they handed me the last piece, and I could not think of taking it, so it went into the kitchen for the maid, and I did not grudge it her, for she seemed by the way to be not much better fed than her mistresses. She was a neat respectable young woman.
After tea we talked again aboutold times, and I gave several broad hints and intimations that I should like to hear their respective histories; in other words, I wished to know how it was that they had all remained single; for the history of an old maid is the narrative of her escapes from matrimony. My intimation was well received, and my implied request was complied with. Mary, as the eldest, commenced:
"I believe you remember my friend Mr M—?"
"I do so; and is he living?"
"He is, and still single."
I smiled, and said, " Indeed!" The lady smiled not.
"Yes," continued the narrator, "he is still living andstill single. I have occasionally seen him, but very seldom of late years. You remember, I dare say, what a cheerful companion he was, and how very polite. He was quite of the old school, but that was only as regarded his external manners. In his opinions he partook too much of the new school. He was one of the liberal party at Cambridge; and though he was generally a very serious and good man, he perplexed his head with some strange notions, and when the time came that he should take orders, he declined doing so, on account of some objections which he had to some of the Thirty-nine Articles. Some people have gone so far as to say, that he was no better than a Socinian, though I do not believe he was ever so bad as that. Still, however, it would never do for the daughter of a clergyman to marry a man who had any doubts concerning any of the Thirty-nine Articles. We did all in our power to convince him that he was wrong, and he did all in his power to convince us that he was right; but it was all to no purpose. Indeed, he seemed to consider himself a kind of martyr, only because we talked to him. He argued most ingeniously to show, that exact conformity of opinion was not essential to happiness. But I could not think it correct to marry a man who had any doubts concerning the Articles; for, as my father very justly observed, when a man once begins to doubt, it is impossible to say where it will end. And so the matter went on from year to year, and so it remains still, and so it is likely to remain to the end of the chapter. I will never give up the Thirty-nine Articles."
All the sisters said that she was perfectly right; and then Martha told her story, saying, "It was just about the time that you were visiting Littleton that Mr B—, who had long paid me very particular attention, made me an offer. Mr B— was not a man of firstrate talents, though he did not want for understanding; he was also tolerably good humoured, though occasionally subject to fits of violence. His father, however, most strenuously objected to the match, and from being on friendly terms with us he suddenly dropped our acquaintance, and almost persecuted us. My father was a man of high spirit, and could not patiently brook the insults he received, and I have every reason to believe that thereby his days were shortened. In proportion, however, as the elder Mr B— opposed our union, the affection of the younger seemed to increase, and he absolutely proposed a marriage in Scotland, but my father would never allow a daughter of his to be married otherwise than by the rites of the church of England. At length old Mr B— died, and then it was thought that we should be married; but it was necessary to wait a decent time after the old gentleman's death, in which interval the young squire, whose attentions had diminished of late, went up to London, where he married a widow with a large fortune. They are now living separately." "You were faithful to your first loves," I observed. "But I," said Anna, "have a different story to tell. I had four offers before I was nineteen years of age; and I thought that I was exercising great judgment and discrimination in endeavouring to ascertain which wasmostworthy of my choice; so I walked, and talked, and sang, and played, and criticised with all in their turn ; and before I could make up my mind which to choose, 1 lost them all, and gained the character of a flirt. It seems very unfortunate that we are placed under the necessity of making that decision which must influence our whole destiny for life, at that very period when we least know what life is.""It is inexpedient," said I, "to entertain several lovers at once.""I found it inexpedient," said Elizabeth, "to entertain several lovers in succession. My first lover won my heart by flute playing. He was a lieutenant in the navy, visiting in the neighbourhood. My father disapproved the connexion, but I said that I would not live without him, and so a consent was extorted; but, alas! my flute player's ship was ordered to the West Indies, and I heard of him no more. My next lover, who succeeded to the first rather too soon in the opinion of some people, was a medical man, and for a marriage with him a reluctant consent was obtained from my father; but before matters could be arranged, it was found that his business did not answer, and he departed. Another succeeded to the business, and also to my affections, and a third reluctant consent was extorted; but when the young gentleman found that the report of my father's wealth had been exaggerated, he departed also; and in time I grew accustomed to these disappointments, and bore them better than I exptcted. I might perhaps have had a husband, if I could have lived without a lover."
So ended their sad stories; and after tea we walked into the garden. It was a small garden, with'four sides and a circular centre, so small, that as we walked round we were like the names in a round robin, it was difficult to say which was first. I shook hands with them at parting, gently, for fear of hurdng them, for their fingers were long, cold, and fleshless.--The next time I travelled that way theywere all in their graves, and not much colder than when I saw them at the cottage.
ODE TO AN INDIAN GOLD COIN.
WRITTEN IN CHERICAL, MALABAR.
Slave of the dark and dirty mine!
What vanity has brought thee here?
So bright, whom I have bought so dear?
The tent-ropes flapping lone I hear.
The jackal's shriek bursts on mine ear
By Cherical's dark wandering streams,
Where cane-tufts shadow all the wild, Sweet visions haunt my waking dreams
Of Teviot loved while still a child,
Of castle rocks stupendous piled By Esk or Eden's classic wave,
Where loves of youth and friendships smiled, Uncursed by thee, vile yellow slave!
Fade, day-dreams sweet, from memory fade!
The perish'd bliss of youth's first prime, That once so bright on fancy play'd,
Revives no more in after-time.
Far from my sacred natal clime, I haste to an untimely grave;
The daring thoughts that soar'd sublime Are sunk in ocean's southern wave.
Slave of the mine! thy yellow light
Gleams baleful as the tomb-fire drear — A gentle vision comes by night
My lonely widow'd heart to cheer:
Her eyes are dim with many a tear, That once were guiding stars to mine;
Her fond heart throbs with many a fear! I cannot bear to see thee shine.
For thee, for thee, vile yellow slave,
I left a heart that loved me true! I cross'd the tedious ocean-wave,
To roam in climes unkind and new.
The cold wind of the stranger blew Chill on my wither'd heart: the grave
Dark and untimely met my view— And all for thee, vile yellow slave I
Ha! comest thou now so late to mock
A wanderer's banish'd heart forlorn, Now that his frame the lightning shock
Of sun-rays tipt with death has borne 'i
From love, from friendship, country, torn, To memory's fond regrets the prey,
Vile slave, thy yellow dross I scorn!— Go mix thee with thy kindred clay!
John LsvuttN. THE MISERS OF ANTWERP.*
The story and fate of the two misers of Antwerp are now nearly forgotten; a tradition rather than a true history. Even the celebrated picture which represents these men tells no more of their story than a sign-post does respecting the country it designs; but like this it is a good starting-post. From curiosity respecting this picture, I have been enabled to make out the following particulars of their lives and subsequent fate. If less appaling than the wholesale butcheries of modern times, it was once considered a tale of fearful interest.
It was in a narrow street turning out of the Rue de la Mer, that a house had remained untenanted for many years, from a reputation it had very generally acquired of being haunted. Ill-fame had done its worst upon the building, and had exorcised all good and cheerful spirits from the building: its many stories of broken windows, with their high gable ends, alone attesting it had once been of some importance. About the period of the commencement of our story, it again received inmates, but of a nature perfectly suited to its present gloomy appearance. Two old men were allowed to occupy an unfurnished apartment and its adjoining closet. Some compassionate neighbours bestowed a straw mattress and a little covering, pitying, perhaps, the ill-sorted union of old age and beggary; this, together with a small stove, a saucepan, a lamp, two chairs, soon despoiled of their backs to convert into fuel, a deal table, a large wooden trunk, and small iron chest, were all these new comers added for the comfort of their home.
The habits of these men, abiding in a house supposed to be haunted, strangers too in the good town of Antwerp, occasioned for a while much curious remark and observation; but even the active principle of curiosity will die of inanition; and their unvarying daily history at length silenced and baffled suspicion. In the course of time the very oddity that had occasioned remark seemed natural and appropriate. It was not known by what train of circumstances, and their corresponding action on the mind, these two brothers—for such was the legal as well as characteristic relationship between them—had adopted the gentlemanly vice of avarice; or if from early youth it had been their natural tendency, moulded into character by the thousand accidents that fashion men's minds. In the town of Antwerp they were never otherwise Known than as men of penurious habits, about whom there hung some mystery, by many supposed to be the mystery of wealth.
* From " The Keepsake," 1833.