Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

excelled all. Foremost in battle, wisest in counsel, his name was renowned in the Holy Wars.

In the chapel attached to the now ruined castle of De Romelie might have been observed, some years since, the effigy of the glorious knight, where, laid in the peace of the tomb, his military insignia by his side, his hands laid upon his bosom, his legs crossed, and his faithful dog extended at his feet, he seemed to rest in tranquillity from the toils of warfare, surrounded by the tombs of many another knight of that proud name,“ whom death nor danger could dismay.”

In the lapse of centuries the possessions of the olden times have changed, and the descendants of Sir Alured de Romelie, forced by imperious circumstances to retire into comparative obscurity, at length relinquished all hope of recovering their ancient feudal property in the north of England, lost during the Commonwealth. With diminished property—no longer knights and “ barons bold in tower and hall”—the De Romelies have for some generations resided on a small estate in Wales, enjoying the tranquillity of a country life, devoted to literature, and still more to the great object of promoting the comfort and improvement of the people around them.

Retirement did not destroy, though it might restrain, the pride which the renown of their ancestors had excited. Many an interesting tradition was attached to the old family portraits, and many a romantic tale of adventures with the fell Saracen did Constance de Romelie hear from her grandfather, in whose cheeks the chivalrous blood mounted, while, with unwonted ardour, he detailed to her those “ deeds of high emprise” which she delighted in hearing.

However the constant perusal of chivalrous romance might injure the mind, and produce an over-wrought imagination, the effect is essentially different when the inspiriting details of noble self-command, of high-principled honour, of generosity to the fallen enemy, of devotedness to religion and truth,-in short, where a contempt of everything base is handed down from parent to child.

Our virtue should undoubtedly be firmly fixed on the foundation of religion; yet, however firmly the edifice may be based in that truth which shines throughout eternity, our nature is so imperfect, that the buttresses, if we may so use the term, supplied by the high characters of our ancestors, must materially aid in preserving our virtue and our self-respect. They may be compared to the beautiful flying buttress, which, though not solid, gives both ornament and support to the lofty Gothic building, for they at once elevate and embellish the character.

He who can look back on a long descent unstained by crime or dishonour, and ennobled by manly daring, will surely feel a noble ambition to preserve, untarnished, the name and glory of his family.

CHAPTER II.

Time, meanwhile, from day to day,
Fixes deeper Virtue's seat,
Whence in long succession gay
Blossoms many a lively shoot;
Meek obedience following still,
Frank and glad, a master's will;
Modest candour hearing prone
Any judgment save its own.

ANON.

owner.

[ocr errors]

The present residence of the De Romelies was Clarens Court, the sole property which remained to the family of their once extensive possessions. It was situated in the Vale of Usk, rich in natural beauty, and embellished by the taste of its

Enjoying the power of disposing of their time—a blessing which retired life only can give—and in circumstances sufficiently comfortable to preclude anxiety, though not economy, -Mr and Mrs de Romelie devoted themselves to intellectual pursuits, and to the education of their daughters, in which Mr de Romelie's father took an active part.

That enlargement of mind which enables us to discern “ the good and fair which Nature's wisdom made,” and directs “ man's forward and reverted” view from narrow prejudice to the extended knowledge that philosophy offers to our search, was theirs in a peculiar degree, and was one of the principal sources of the happiness of the family.

In the education of Constance, each had their particular department, but none performed their task with more energy and studious anxiety than the venerable grandfather, whose mental and bodily strength appeared unimpaired by his great age.

To awaken the mind of Constance to inquiry—to form her memory and judgment—was the duty which he had taken on himself, and the occupation in which he delighted; while her father and mother also contributed their instruction towards the attainment of those perfections in mind and manners which they would have solicited, had any good fairy offered, as in times of yore, to gift her at her birth.

The acquirements of Constance far surpassed those of the few young ladies in the neighbourhood ; but her disposition was so amiable, and she bore her superiority so meekly, that affection, and ambition to imitate her, were the only feelings excited in their hearts with regard to her. Did they wish to be informed—she was the person to whom her companions applied; and no one was surprised at that acknowledgment of her superiority. Though held up as an example to them, she was dear to all ; and though in many respects her pursuits and employments were vastly superior to theirs, she freely joined in the amusements and trifles which occupy the young. Her paintings and her proficiency in music shewed how well she had been instructed by her mother as well as by her masters; but her humility shewed her amiable disposition.

Her accomplishments were only secondary merits. Moral principle was fixed in her heart, and was combined with a strong desire to contribute to the happiness of all around her.

She was the kindest of daughters to her three parents ;their nurse in illness, their companion at all times ;-qualified to join with them in deep study or in lighter pursuits, animated, useful, ready to adapt herself to her grandfather's love of learned research,—to join her father in his rural pursuits, and his large philosophical views,—to read with himor to work for him at his writings, his accounts, or any of his various occupations ; - while to her mother she was the tender and dutiful daughter, loving to be the companion of her walks, to imitate her feminine virtues and benevolent exertions for the relief of the distressed, to lend her aid in all homely occupations, and, though perhaps the most difficult sacrifice of pleasure to duty, frequently to employ herself, and that without disgust, in dull needlework. Her good mother, though skilled herself in

every

feminine accomplishment, considered it a necessary part of female education; and, while many foolishly imagined it a waste of time and talents when she was occupied in making or repairing her clothes, Constance herself saw the advantage of it, and cheerfully devoted a part of her time to an employment which she knew was suited to her sex.

Knowledge is no burden ; and she had perhaps abundant

ز

reason, in some parts of her subsequent life, to rejoice in her excellent mother's good sense.

But how could any creature do so much ? How could she have time to study, to be useful to others, to learn so many ornamental accomplishments, and attain such excellence in all ?

Reader ! Constance de Romelie was an early riser. As to face,—the beauty which depends on countenance cannot be described. Those who have seen Constance will recollect her graceful figure, and that

“ The rose with faint and feeble streak
So slightly tinged the maiden's cheek,
That you had said her hue was pale.
But if she faced the summer gale,
Or spoke, or sung, or quicker moved,
Or heard the praise of those she loved,
Or when of interest was express'd
Aught that waked feeling in her breast,
The mantling blood, in ready play,

Rivall’d the blush of rising day.” Such was the young friend of Lady Dulwich, when removed from all the innocent pleasures and occupations of the country, to embark on the stormy and uncertain sea of fashionable life.

How little the knowledge of the world can compensate for the loss of such tranquil happiness !

Mrs de Romelie, who did not fully concur in her husband's views on this occasion, fancied that experience of the world might prove an inadequate exchange for her daughter's present happy ignorance of its follies ; but her remonstrances were in vain ; he was determined that Constance should have the power of judging of the comparative value of the agitation, turmoil, and selfishness of London life, contrasted with that of calm repose which she had hitherto only known.

“ How sorry Constance must have felt, to leave happy Clarens Court for smoky, foggy London !” some simple readers exclaim ; nevertheless it must be confessed that her first emotion, on hearing of her father's intention, was not that of regret ; the delights of Clarens Court were known and valued by her, but London and all its varieties of sights and amusements excited her curiosity, and she thought of them with lively interest. But another and a deeper feeling soon arose to cloud over the buoyant joy of youth at this unexpected intelligence, it was the apprehension that the change to a town life, evidently made on her account, might materially injure the health of her beloved grandfather, and her

« ElőzőTovább »