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ness that in a fresh place success would be certain. How often in after-life has that sanguine spirit, which clung to him to his last hour, made me tremble and shiver. I had seen him so often disappointed, that it seemed to me that what he expected could never come to pass; and such, I think, is the natural effect produced on all around by an over-sanguine spirit. Even Hope has never been so truly characterized as by the great poet in his fine personification, “ Fear and trembling Hope;" and I saw the other day a beautiful copy of the celebrated picture known as Guido's Hope, in which the expression is that of intense melancholy. That lovely face looked as if listening to prognostics that were not. to be fulfilled.
Well, we removed to Lyme Regis. The house my father took there was, as commonly happens to people whose fortunes are declining, far more splendid than any we had ever inhabited, indeed the very best in the town. It was situated about the middle of the principal street, and had been during two or three seasons some twenty years before rented by the great Lord Chatham for the use of his two sons, the second Earl and William Pitt, at the time that we occupied it Prime Minister of England. Hayley, in his Autobiography, mentions having seen the youths there. The house, built of the beautiful gray stone of the Isle of Portland, had a great extent of frontage, terrninating by large gates surmounted by spread eagles, probably the crest of some former proprietor. An old stone porch, with benches on either side, projected from the center, covered, as was the whole front of the house, with tall, spreading, wide-leafed myrtle, abounding in blossom, with moss-roses, jessamine, and passion-flowers. Behind the buildings, extended round a paved quadrangle, was the drawing-room, a splendid apartment, of which the chimney-piece was surinounted by a copy in marble of Shakspeare's tomb in Westminster Abbey, looking upon a little lawn surrounded by choice evergreens, particularly the bay, the cedar, and the arbutus, and terminated by an old-fashioned green-house and a filbert-tree walk, from which again three detached gardens sloped abruptly down to one of the clear dancing rivulets of that western country, reflecting in its small broken stream a low hedge of myrtle and roses. In the steep declivity of the central garden was a grotto, over-arching a cool, sparkling spring, while the slopes on either side were car. peted with strawberries and dotted with fruit-trees. One droopa
ing medlar, beneath whose pendant branches I have often hidden, I remember well.
Dearly as I have loved my two later homes, I have never seen any thing like that garden. It did not seem a place to be sad in; neither did the house, with its large, lofty rooms, its noble oaken stair-cases, its marble hall, and the long galleries and corridors, echoing from morning to night with gay visitors, cousins from the North, friends from Hampshire and Berkshire, and the ever-shifting company of the old watering-place. One incident that occurred there—a frightful dangerma providential escapeI shall never forget.
There was to be a ball at the Rooms, and a party of sixteen or eighteen persons dressed for the assembly were sitting in the dining-room, at dessert. The ceiling was ornamented with a rich running pattern of flowers in high relief, the shape of the wreath corresponding pretty exactly with the company arranged round the oval table. Suddenly-whether from the action of the steam of the dinner upon the plaster, or from the movement of the servants in the room, or from some one passing quickly overhead, was never discovered—but in one instant, without the slightest warning, all that part of the ceiling which covered the assembled company became detached, and fell down in large masses upon the table and the floor. It seems even now all but miraculous how such a catastrophe could occur without injury to life or limb-for the portions of molded plaster, although much broken in their descent, were thick and heavy, and the height of the apartment very considerable ; but except the bald head of one venerable clergyman, which was a little scratched, the only things damaged were the flowers and feathers of the ladies, and the crystal and china, the fruits and wines of the dessert. I myself caught instantly in my father's arms, by whose side I was standing, had scarcely even time to be frightened, although after the danger was over, our fair visitors of course began to scream.
My own nurseries were spacious and airy. But next to the magnificent room in which my grandfather's fine library was arranged, and which, save a very few favorite volumes, remained there, to be disposed in the chances of an auction, next to the book-room, always my favorite haunt in every house, the place which I most affected was a dark paneled chamber on the first floor, to which I descended through a private door by half a dozen
stairs, so steep, that, still a very small and puny child betreen cight and a half to nine and a half, and unable to run down them in the common way, I used to jump from one step to the other. This chamber was filled with such fossils as were then known, for the great landslip at Charmouth had not then laid bare the geological treasures of the place. Still it was rich in specimens of petrifactions of various kinds, in glittering spars, in precious-looking ores, in curious shells and gigantic sea-weeds; come the cherished products of my own discoveries, and some broken for me by my father's little harnmer from portions of rock that lay beneath the cliffs under which almost every fine day we used to ramble hand in hand.
Sometimes we would go toward Charmouth, with its sweeping bay passing under the church and church-yard, perched so high above us, and already undermined by the tide; at another, we bent oùr steps to the Pinny cliffs on the other side of the harbor, those dark beetling cliffs from whose lofty tops little streams of fresh water fell in slender cascades, finding their narrow way across the sands to the sea; the beautiful Pinny cliffs, where, about a mile and a half from the town, an old landslip had deposited a farrn-house, with its outbuildings, its garden, and its orchard, tossed half-way down among the rocks, contrasting so strangely its rich and blossoming vegetation, its look of home and of confort, with the dark rugged masses above, below, and around. Sometimes, at high water, we paced the old pier called the Cob, to which Miss Austen has since given such an interest. And sometimes we turned inland, and ascended the hill to UpLyme, with its tufted orchards and its pretty streamlets. I used to disdain those streamlets in those days with such scorn as a small damsel fresh from the Thames and the Kennett thinks herself privileged to display. “They call that a river here, papa! Can't you jump me over it?” quoth I, in my sauciness. About a month ago I heard a young lady from New York talking in some such strain of Father Thames. “It's a pretty little stream,” said she, “but to call it a river!" and I half expected to hear a complete reproduction of my own impertinence, and a request to be jumped from one end to the other of Caversham bridge.
Once, too, from the highest story of our own house, I saw that fine and awful spectacle, a great storm. My father took me from my bed at midnight, that I might see the grandeur and the glory
of the tempest, the spray rising to the very tops of the cliffs, pale and ghastly in the lightning, and hear the roar of the sea, the moaning of the wind, the roll of the thunder, and, arnong them all, the fearful sound of the minute-guns, telling of death and danger on that iron-bound coast.
This was the one exception to the general brightness of that lovely bay, and it passed by me like a dream. For the most part, all was beauty on every side ; the sunshine seemed reflected from the rich valleys and the glorious sea ; and the people of the little port, the thriving peasantry, and the bustling seamen, had a peculiar air of cheerfulness and comfort. It was a strange place to be sad in.
And yet sad I was. Nobody told me, but I felt, I knew, I had an interior conviction, for which I could not have accounted, that in the midst of all this natural beauty and apparent happiness, in spite of the company, in spite of the gayety, something was wrong. It was such a foreshowing as makes the quicksilver in the barometer sink while the weather is still bright and clear.
And at last the change came. My father went again to London; and lost-I think, I have always thought so--more money; all, perhaps, except that positively settled upon my mother, ana a legacy of rather smaller amount left to me by the maiden sister of the angry cousin. Then, one by one, our visitors departed ; and my father, who had returned in haste again, in equal haste left home, after short interviews with landlords, and lawyers, and auctioneers; and I knew I can't tell how, but I did know—that every thing was to be parted with, and every body paid.
That same night two or three large chests were carried away through the garden, by George and another old servant, and a day or two after, my mother and myself, with Mrs. More, the good housekeeper, who lived with my grandfather before his marriage, and one other maid-servant, left Lyme in a hack chaise. We were to travel post. But in the general trouble nobody had remembered that some camp was breaking up between Bridport and Dorchester, so that when we reached the latter town we found, to our consternation, that there was neither room for us at any inn, nor chaise, nor horses to pursue our journey. All that could be done for us, after searching through the place, was a conveyance in a vehicle which was going seven or eight miles our way, and from whence there was a prospect of our getting on
in the morning. This machine turned out to be a sort of tilted cart, without springs, and the jolting upon the Dorsetshire roads fifty-five years ago was doubtless something sufficiently uncomfortable. The discipline of travel teaches people to think little of temporary inconveniences now-a-days, and doubtless many a fine lady would laugh at such a shift. But it was not as a temporary discornfort that it came upon my poor mother. It was her first touch of poverty. It seemed like a final parting from all the elegances and all the accommodations to which she had been used. I never shall forget her heart-broken look when she took her little girl upon her lap in that jolting caravan (so, for the more grace, they called the vehicle), nor how the tears stood in her eyes when we were turned all together into our miserable bed-room when we reached the road-side ale-house, where we were to pass the night, and found ourselves, instead of the tea we so much needed, condemned to sup on stale bread and dirty cheese, as people who arrive in tilted carts have been and will be to the end of the world.
The next day we resumed our journey, and reached a dingy, comfortless lodging in one of the suburbs beyond Westminster Bridge. What my father's plans were I do not exactly know; probably to gather together what disposable money still remained after paying all debts from the sale of books, plate, and furniture at Lyme, and thence to proceed (backed up by his greatly lessened income) to practice in some distant town. At all events London was the best starting-place, and he could consult his old fellow-pupil and life-long friend, Dr. Babington, then one of the physicians to Guy's Hospital, and refresh his medical studies with experiments and lectures, while determining in what place to be. stow himself.
In the mean while his spirits returned as buoyant as ever, and so, now that fear had changed into certainty, did mine. In the intervals of his professional pursuits he walked about London with his little girl in his hand ; and one day (it was my birth-day, and I was ten years old) he took me into a not very tempting-looking place, which was, as I speedily found, a lottery office. An Irish lottery was upon the point of being drawn, and he desired me to choose one out of several bits of printed paper (I did not then know their significance) that lay upon the counter :