Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

you and 'all the world ' have fallen. I thought you knew I was engaged to Charlotte Percy." "No, I did not; but now that I do know it," responded Worthington, seizing the claret-jug, " I beg to drink to your happiness and speedy union." "I am much obliged to you, Arthur,'' said the other, with a smile of peculiar significance, " for 1 am convinced of your sincerity; and, now that I have let you into a secret, which 1 thought every body knew, perhaps you will withdraw your plea, and go down to Dorking with us." "But what will my clients say?" was the inquiry. "Say," replied Harry, "why, that you are labouring in your vocation, and have only moved your cause from one court into another, resembling it, in one point at least, since the presiding divinity of each is represented as being blind."

Worthington appeared not to understand the innuendo, but proposed their joining the ladies in the drawing-room, where his vivacity and glee formed a striking contrast to the gravity of his demeanor at the dinner table; a change which, though contributing, in no trifling degree, to the amusement of the evening, was perfectly inexplicable to every one but Harry, who kept his own counsel upon the subject. About three weeks afterwards, as young Elphinstone, with his two sisters and Clara, was walking in the grounds at Dorking, they observed a horseman approaching in the direction of the cottage. "The man of briefs," exclaimed Harry, "and mounted on a real horse, as I live!" "Is there any thing very wonderful in that?" inquired one of his sisters: "I suppose you think no one can mount a horse but yourself, Mr Harry." "No, my love," he replied, " I am quite aware that it is possible for any man, with the assistance of a groom and a joint stool, to get upon the back of a horse, but it is not every person who can keep there. Have a care, sir," he continued, as he perceived Worthington, who had diverged from the road, riding up to a fence, by way of a short cut, "have a care, Ar thur; remember you are retained in 'Dobbs versus Jenkins,' and have no right to break yourneck without the plaintiff's permission." "Never fear," said his friend, as he cleared the fence; " I could ride almost before I could walk, and, though a little out of practice, am not to be brought up by a gooseberry bush."

While he was speaking, he rode up to the wicket, which opened from the meadow into the lawn, and, giving his horse to a servant, joined the party, from every individual of which he was welcomed, and not the least cordially by her whose form, from the first day in which he had seen her at her father's table, had never been absent from his mind.

It would be somewhat antiquated, in these days of refinement, to speak of love, with reference to rural life, and, therefore, I will nut shock the taste of my reader by quoting Shenstone on this occasion; the old poets, however, had a pretty notion of things in general, and, when celebrating the influence of romantic scenery in disposing the heart to the tender passion, they drew as largely, I doubt not, upon their experience as on their imagination. For my own part, had I forsworn matrimony, I would confine myself to the metropolis, and plunge fearlessly into society, under the conviction that a man may carry his heart, like his purse, in safety through a crowd, and yet be robbed of it in a retired lane, a shady copse, or a lonely common. Arthur Worthington, however, had not taken the vow of celibacy, and was well content to lose his own heart, provided he could obtain another in exchange. I know not the particular spot, or the precise terms, in which he made a declaration of the sentiments with which Clara Stanley had inspired him; I only know, that he sustained his reputation as an eloquent pleader, and gained a verdict from one whose gratitude and admiration he had previously excited by the generous and disinterested manner in which he had undertaken her cause, at a time when he believed her to be the betrothed of another.

SHE WAS A PHANTOM OF DELIGHT.

StiE was a Phantom of delight

When first she gleamed upon my sight;

A lovely Apparition, sent

To be a moment's ornament;

Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;

Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;

But all things else about her drawn

From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;

A dancing Shape, an Image gay,

To haunt, to startle, and way-Lay.

I saw her upon nearer view,

A Spirit, yet a Woman too!

Her household motions light and free,

And steps of virgin liberty;

A countenance in which did meet

Sweet records, promises as sweet;

A Creature not too bright or good

For human nature's daily food;

For transient sorrows, simple wiles,

Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eyes serene
The very pulse of the machine;

ABeing breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller betwixt life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate wil!,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill,
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warn to comfort and command;
And yet a Spirit still and bright
With something of an angel light.

Wordsworth.

A VOICE.

Oh! what a voice is silent. It was soft
As mountain-echoes, when the winds aloft—The gentle winds of summer meet in caves;
Or when in sheltered places the white waves
Are wakened into music, as the breeze
Dimples and stems the current: or as trees
Shaking their green locks in the days of June:
Or Delphic girls when to the maiden moon
They sang harmonious prayers or sounds that come
(However near) like a faint distant hum
Out of the grass, from which mysterious birth
We guess the busy secrets of the earth.
—Like the low voice of Syrinx, when she ran
Into the forests from Arcadian Pan:
Or sad CSnone's, when she pined away
For Paris, or (and yet twas not so gay)
As Helen's whisper when she came to Troy,
Half shamed to wander with that blooming buy:
Like air-touch'd harps in flowery casements hung;
Like unto lovers' ears the wild words sung
In garden bowers at twilight: like the sound
Of Zephyr when he takes his nightly round,
In May to see the roses all asleep:
Or like the dim strain which along the deep
The sea-maid utters to the sailor's ear,
Telling of tempests, or of dangers near:
Like Desdemona, who (when fear was strong
Upon her soul) chanted the willow song,
Swan-like before she perish'd: or the tone
Of flutes upon the waters heard alone:
Like words that come upon the memory
Spoken by friends departed; or the sigh
A gentle girl breathes when she tries to hid'
The love her eyes betray to all the world beside.

CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMED RIBBONMAN.

(an Owre True Tale.)

Mr * *

[had read the anonymous summons, but, from its general import, I believed it to be one of those special meetings convened for some purpose affecting the general objects and proceedings of the body. At least the terms in which it was conveyed to me had nothing extraordinary or mysterious in them, beyond the simple fact, that it was not to be a general, but a select meeting; this mark of confidence flattered me, and I determined to attend punctually. I was, it is true, desired to keep the circumstance entirely to myself, but there was nothing startling in this, for I had often received summonses of a similar import. I therefore resolved to attend, according to the letter of my instructions, " on the next night, at the solemn hour of midnight, to deliberate and act upon such matters as should, then and there, be submitted to my consideration." The morning after I received this message, I arose and resumed my usual occupations; but from whatever cause it may have proceeded, 1 felt a sense of approaching evil hang heavily upon me; the beats of my pulse were languid, and an undefinable feeling of anxiety pervaded my whole spirit; even my face was pale, and my eye so heavy, that my father and brothers concluded me to be ill; an opinion which I thought at the time to be correct; for I felt exactly that kind of depression which precedes a severe fever. I could not understand what I experienced, nor can I yet, except by supposing that there is in human nature some mysterious faculty, by which, in coming calamities, the approach throws forward the shadow of some fearful evil, and that it is possible to catch a dark anticipation of the sensations which they subsequently produce. For my part I can neither analyze nor define it; but on that day I knew it by painful experience, and so have a thousand others in similar circumstances.

It was about the middle of winter. The day was gloomy and tempestuous almost beyond any other I remember; dark clouds rolled over the hills about me, and a close sleet-like rain fell in slanting drifts that chased each other rapidly to the earth on the course of the blast The out-lying cattle sought the closest and calmest corners of the fields for shelter; the trees and young groves were tossed about, for the wind was so unusually high that it swept its hollow gusts through them, with that hoarse murmur which deepens so powerfully on the mind the sense of dreariness and desolation.

As the shades of night fell, the storm if possible increased. The moon was half gone, and only a few stars were visible by glimpses, as a rush of wind left a temporary opening in the sky. I had determined if the storm should not abate, to incur any penalty rather than attend the meeting, but the appointed hour was distant, and I resolved to be decided by the future state of the night.

Ten o'clock came, but still there was no change; eleven passed, and on opening the door to observe if there were any likelihood of it clearing up, a blast of wind mingled with rain, nearly blew me off my feet; at length it was approaching to the hour of midnight, and on examining a third time, I found it had calmed a little, and no longer rained.

I instantly got my oak stick, muffled myself in my great coat, strapped my hat about my ears, and as the place of meeting was only a quarter of a mile distant, I presently set out.

The appearance of the heavens was louring and angry, particularly in that point where the light of the moon fell against the clouds from a seeming chasm in them, through which alone she was visible. The edges of this were faintly bronzed, but the dense body of the masses that hung piled on each side of her, was black and impenetrable to sight. In no other point of the heavens was there any part of the sky visible; for a deep veil of clouds overhung the horizon, yet was the light sufficient to give occasional glimpses of the rapid shifting which took place in this dark canopy, and of the tempestuous agitation with which the midnight storm swept to and fro beneath.

At length I arrived at a long slated house, situated in a solitary part of the neighbourhood; a little below it ran a small stream, which was now swollen above its banks, and rushing with mimic roar over the flat meadows beside it. The appearance of the bare slated building in such a night was particularly sombre, and to those like me who knew the purpose to which it was then usually devoted, it was, or ought to have been, peculiarly so. There it stood, silent and gloomy, without any appearance of human life or enjoyment about, or within it: as I approached, the moon once more had broken out of the clouds, and shone dimly upon the glittering of the wet slates and window, with a death-like lustre, that gradually faded away as I left the point of observation, and entered the folding-door. It was the parish chapel.

The scene which presented itself here, was in keeping not only with the external appearance of the house, but with the darkness, the storm, and the hour,—which was now a little after midnight. About eighty persons were sitting in dead silence upon the circular steps of the altar; they did not seem to move, and as I entered and advanced, the echo of my footsteps rang through the building with a lonely distinctness, which added to the solemnity and mystery of the circumstances about me. The windows were secured with shutters on the jnside, and on the altar a candle was lighting, which

« AnteriorContinuar »