Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

· Emily! - Yes, sir; she has been gone hence formation or comfort, but, against the united some days, upon receipt of those letters you sent remonstrances of Sir George and my friend, set her.'-' Letters !' said I.-'Yes, sir, so she told out instantly for London, with a frantic uncerme, and went off in all haste that very night. tainty of purpose ; but there all manner of

" I stood aghast as she spoke ; but was able search was in vain. I could trace neither of them so far to recollect myself, as to put on the affec- any farther than the inn where they first put tation of calmness, and telling her there was up on their arrival; and, after some days' fruitcertainly some mistake in the affair, desired her less inquiry, returned home, destitute of every to leave me.

little hope that had hitherto supported me. The “ When she was gone, I threw myself into journeys I had made, the restless nights I had a chair, in that state of uncertainty which is of spent, above all, the perturbation of my mind, all others the most dreadful. The gay visions, had the effect which naturally might be expectwith which I had delighted myself, vanished in ed: a very dangerous fever was the consequence. an instant; I was tortured with tracing back from this, however, contrary to the expectation the same circle of doubt and disappointment. of my physicians, I recovered. It was now that My head grew dizzy, as I thought. I called the I first felt something like calmness of mind; servant again, and asked her a hundred ques. probably from being reduced to a state which tions, to 110 purpose ; there was not room even could not produce the exertions of anguish or for conjecture.

despair. A stupid melancholy settled on my “ Something at last arose in my mind, which soul : I could endure to live with an apathy of we call hope, without knowing what it is. I life: at times, I forgot my resentment, and wept wished myself deluded by it; but it could not at the remembrance of my child. prevail over my returning fears. I arose, and “Such has been the tenor of my days since walked through the room. My Emily's spinnet that fatal moment when these misfortunes bestood, at the end of it, open, with a book of gan, till yesterday, that I received a letter from music, folded down at some of my favourite a friend in town, acquainting me of her present lessons. I touched the keys; there was a vis situation. Could such tales as mine, Mr Harbration in the sound that froze my blood. I ley, be sometimes suggested to the daughters of looked around, and methought the family-pic- levity ; did they but know with what anxiety tures on the walls gazed on me with compassion the heart of a parent flutters round the child he in their faces. I sat down again, with an atloves; they would be less apt to construe into tempt at more composure; I started at every harshness that delicate concern for their concreaking of the door, and my ears rung with duct, which they often complain of as layimaginary noises !

ing restraint upon things, to the young, the “I had not remained long in this situation, gay, and the thoughtless, seemingly harmless when the arrival of a friend, who had accidentally and indifferent. Alas! I fondly imagined, that · heard of my return, put an end to my doubts, I needed not even these common cautions! my

by the recital of my daughter's dishonour. He Emily was the joy of my age, and the pride of told me he had his information from a young my soul!—Those things are now no more! gentleman, to whom Winbrooke had boasted of they are lost for ever! Her death I could have having seduced her.

borne ; but the death of her honour has added “ I started from my seat, with broken curses obloquy and shame to that sorrow which bends on my lips, and, without knowing whither I my gray hairs to the dust!" should pursue them, ordered my servant to load As he spoke these last words, his voice tremmy pistols, and saddle my horses. My friend, bled in his throat ; it was now lost in his tears! W however, with great difficulty, persuaded me to He sat with his face half-turned from Harley, compose myself for that night, promising to ac- as if he would have hid the sorrow which he felt. company me on the morrow to Sir George Win- Harley was in the same attitude himself; he brooke's in quest of his son.

durst not meet Atkins' eye with a tear; but The morrow came, after a night spent in a gathering his stifled breath, “Let me entreat state little distant from madness. We went as you, sir,” said he,“ to hope better things. The early as decency would allow to Sir George's. world is ever tyrannical ; it warps our sorrows He received me with politeness, and indeed com- to edge them with keener affliction: let us not passion ; protested his abhorrence of his son's be slaves to the names it affixes to motive or to conduct, and told me, that he had set out some action. I know an ingenuous mind cannot help days before for London, on which place he had feeling when they sting: but there are consiprocured a draft for a large sum, on pretence of derations by which it may be overcome: its finishing his travels; but that he had not heard fantastic ideas vanish as they rise; they teach from him since his departure.

us—to look beyond it." “ I did not wait for any more, either of in

* *

*

*

*

*

* *

* *

A plague on all rogues ! says honest Sam

Wrightson: I shall but just drink damnation to A FRAGMENT.

them to-night, in a crown's worth of Ashley's,

and leave London to-morrow by sunrise."-"I Shewing his success with the Baronet. shall leave it too,” said Harley; and so he ac

cordingly did. * * * The card he received was in the politest In passing through Piccadilly, he had obserstyle in which disappointment could be commu- ved, on the window of an inn, a notification of nicated: the Baronet“ was under a necessity of the departure of a stage-coach for a place in his giving up his application for Mr Harley, as he road homewards ; in the way back to his lodwas informed, that the lease was engaged for a gings, he took a seat in it for his return. gentleman who had long served his Majesty in another capacity, and whose merit had entitled him to the first lucrative thing that should be

CHAP. XXXIII. vacant.” Even Harley .could not murmur at such a disposal. “ Perhaps,” said he to him He leaves London.-Characters in a Stageself, “ some war-worn officer, who, like poor

Coach. Atkins, had been neglected for reasons which merited the highest advancement; whose ho. The company in the stage-coach consisted of nour could not stoop to solicit the preferment he a grocer and his wife, who were going to pay a deserved ; perhaps, with a family, taught the visit to some of their country friends; a young principles of delicacy, without the means of officer, who took this way of marching to quarsupporting it; a wite and children-gracious ters; a middle-aged gentlewoman, who had heaven! whom my wishes would have deprived been hired as housekeeper to some family in the of bread!"

country; and an elderly well-looking man, with He was interrupted in his reverie by some a remarkable old-fashioned periwig. one tapping him on the shoulder; and, on turn- Harley, upon entering, discovered but one ing round, he discovered it to be the very man vacant seat, next the grocer's wife, which, from who had explained to him the condition of his his natural shyness of temper, he made no gay companion at Hydepark-corner. “I am scruple to occupy, however aware that being glad to see you, sir,” said he; “I believe we driven backwards always disagreed with him.. are fellows in disappointment.” Harley start. Though his inclination to physiognomy had ed, and said, that he was at a loss to under- met with some rubs in the metropolis, he had stand him. “ Poh! you need not be so shy," not yet lost his attachment to that science: he answered the other; '' every one for himself is set himself, therefore, to examine, as usual, the but fair, and I had much rather you had got it countenances of his companions. Here, indeed, than the rascally gauger.” Harley still protest- he was not long in doubt, as to the preference; ed his igporance of what he meant. “Why, for, besides that the elderly gentleman, who sat the lease of Bancroft-manor : had not you been opposite to him, had features by nature more applying for it?"-" I confess I was,” replied expressive of good dispositions, there was someHarley; “ but I cannot conceive how you thing in that periwig we mentioned, peculiarly should be interested in the matter."-" Why, attractive of Harley's regard. I was making interest for it myself,” said he, He had not been long employed in these spe “ and I think I had some title: I voted for this culations, when he found himself attacked with same Baronet at the last election, and made that faintish sickness, which was the natural some of my friends do so too; though I would consequence of his situation in the coach. The not have you imagine that I sold my vote; no, paleness of his countenance was first observed I scorn it, let me tell you, I scorn it; but I by the housekeeper, who immediately made of thought as how this man was staunch and true, fer of her smelling-bottle, which Harley, howand I find he's but a double-faced fellow after ever, declined, telling, at the same time, the all, and speechifies in the House for any side he cause of his uneasiness. The gentleman on the hopes to make most by. Oh! how many fine opposite side of the coach now first turned his speeches, and squeezings by the hand, we had eye from the side-direction in which it had been of him on the canvas „ And if ever I shall be fixed, and begged Harley to exchange places so happy as to have an opportunity of serving with him, expressing his regret he had not you;-amurrain on the smooth-tongued knave! made the proposal before. Harley thanked him, and after all to get it for this pimp of a gauger." and, upon being assured that both seats were

- The gauger! there must be some mistake," alike to him, was about to accept his offer, said Harley; "he writes me, that it was enga- when the young gentleman of the sword, puta ged for one, whose long services-"“Services !” ting on an arch look, laid hold of the other's interrupted the other, “ you shall hear. Ser- arm. “ So, my old boy,” said he, “ I find you vices! Yes, his sister arrived in town a few have still some youthful blood about you, but, days ago, and is now sempstress to the Baronet. with your leave, I will do myself the honour of

sitting by this lady;" and took his place ac- and calmness together, and was rather less procordingly. The grocer stared him as full in the fuse of his oaths during the rest of the journey. face as his own short neck would allow ; and It is possible the old gentleman had waked his wife, who was a little round-faced woman, time enough to hear the last part of this diswith a great deal of colour in her cheeks, drew course ; at least (whether from that cause, or up at the compliment that was paid her, look that he too was a physiognomist) he wore a look ing first at the officer, and then at the house- remarkably complacent to Harley, who, on his keeper.

part, shewed a particular observance of him: This incident was productive of some dis- indeed they had soon a better opportunity of course ; for before, though there was sometimes making their acquaintance, as the coach arrived a cough or a hem from the grocer, and the offi- that night at the town where the officer's regicer now and then hummed a few notes of a song, ment lay, and the places of destination of their there had not a single word passed the lips of other fellow-travellers, it seems, were at no any of the company.

great distance; for next morning the old genMrs Grocer observed, how ill-convenient it tleman and Harley were the only passengers was for people, who could not bear to ride back- remaining. wards, to travel in a stage. This brought on a When they left the inn in the morning, Hardissertation on stage-coaches in general, and the ley, pulling out a little pocket-book, began to pleasure of keeping a chay of one's own ; which examine the contents, and make some correcled to another, on the great riches of Mr De- tions with a pencil. “ This,” said he, turning puty Bearskin, who, according to her, had once to his companion, " is an amusement with been of that industrious order of youths who which I sometimes pass idle hours at an inn: sweep the crossings of the streets for the conve- these are quotations from these humble poets, niency of passengers, but, by various fortunate who trust their fame to the brittle tenure of accidents, had now acquired an immense for windows and drinking glasses.”_" From our tune, and kept his coach and a dozen livery-serinns," returned the gentleman, “ a stranger vants. All this afforded ample fund for conver- might imagine that we were a nation of poets; sation, if conversation it might be called, that machines at least containing poetry, which the was carried on solely by the before-mentioned motion of a journey emptied of their contents : lady, nobody offering to interrupt her, except is it from the vanity of being thought geniuses, that the officer sometimes signified his approba- or a mere mechanical imitation of the custom of tion by a variety of oaths, a sort of phraseology others, that we are tempted to scrawl rhyme in which he seemed extremely conversant. She upon such places ?" appealed indeed frequently to her husband for “ Whether vanity is the cause of our becothe authenticity of certain facts, of which the ming rhymesters or not,” answered Harley, “it good man as often protested his total ignorance; is a pretty certain effect of it. An old man of but as he was always called fool, or something my acquaintance, who dealt in apophthegms, very like it, for his pains, he at last contrived to used to say, That he had known few men withsupport the credit of his wife without prejudice out envy, few wits without ill nature, and no to his conscience, and signified his assent by a poet without vanity; and I believe his remark noise not unlike the grunting of that animal is a pretty just one: vanity has been immemowhich in shape and fatness he somewhat resem- rially the charter of poets. In this the ancients bled.

were more honest than we are: the old poets The housekeeper, and the old gentleman frequently make boastful predictions of the imwho sat next to Harley, were now observed to mortality their works will obtain for them ; be fast asleep; at which the lady, who had ours, in their dedications and prefatory disbeen at such pains to entertain them, muttered courses, employ much eloquence to praise their some words of displeasure, and, upon the officer's patrons, and much seeming honesty to condemn whispering to smoke the old put, both she and themselves, or at least to apologize for their proher husband pursed up their mouths into a con- ductions to the world: but this, in my opinion, temptuous smile. Harley looked sternly on the is the more assuming manner of the two; for grocer : “ You are come, sir,” said he, “ to of all the garbs I ever saw Pride put on, that of those years when you might have learned her humility is to me the most disgusting.” some reverence for age: as for this young man, “It is natural enough for a poet to be vain," who has so lately escaped from the nursery, he said the stranger: “ the little worlds which he may be allowed to divert himself."-" Damme, raises, the inspiration which he claims, may sir," said the officer, “ do you call me young?" easily be productive of self-importance; though striking up the front of his hat, and stretching that inspiration is fabulous, it brings on egotism, forward on his seat, till his face almost touched which is always the parent of vanity.” Harley's. It is probable, however, that he dis- “ It may be supposed," answered Harley, covered something there which tended to paci. “ that inspiration of old was an article of relify him ; for on the lady's entreating them not gious faith ; in modern times it may be transto quarrel, he very soon resumed his posture lated, a propensity to compose ; and I believe it is not always most readily found where the we are taught to despise. Love, the passion poets have fixed its residence, amidst groves and most natural to the sensibility of youth, has lost plains, and the scenes of pastoral retirement. the plaintive dignity it once possessed, for the The mind may be there unbent from the cares unmeaning simper of a dangling coscomb; and of the world ; but it will frequently, at the same the only serious concern, that of a dowery, is time, be unnerved from any great exertion : it settled, even amongst the beardless leaders of will feel the languor of indolence, and wander the dancing-school. The Frivolous and the Inwithout effort over the regions of reflection.” terested (might a satirist say) are the character

“ There is at least," said the stranger, “ one istical features of the age; they are visible even in advantage in the poetical inclination, that it is the essays of our philosophers. They laugh at an incentive to philanthropy. There is a cer- the pedantry of our fathers, who complained of tain poetic ground, on which a man cannot tread the times in which they lived ; they are at pains without feelings that enlarge the heart: the to persuade us how much those were deceived ; causes of human depravity vanish before the they pride themselves in defending things as romantic enthusiasm he professes, and many they find them, and in exploding the barren who are not able to reach the Parnassian heights, sounds which had been reared into motives for may yet approach so near as to be bettered by action. To this their style is suited ; and the the air of the climate."

manly tone of reason is exchanged for perpetual “ I have always thought so," replied Harley; efforts at sneer and ridicule. This I hold to be “ but this is an argument with the prudent an alarming crisis in the corruption of a state ; against it: they urge the danger of unfitness when not only is virtue declined, and vice prefor the world.”

vailing, but when the praises of virtue are for" I allow it," returned the other; “ but I gotten, and the infamy of vice unfelt." believe it is not always rightfully imputed to They soon after arrived at the next inn upon the bent for poetry : that is only one effect of the route of the stage-coach, when the stranger the common cause. -Jack, says his father, is in- told Harley, that his brother's house, to which deed no scholar ; nor could all the drubbings he was returning, lay at no great distance, and from his master ever bring him one step fore he must therefore unwillingly bid him adieu. ward in his accidence or syntax: but I intend “I should like,” said Harley, taking his hand, him for a merchant.-Allow the same indul- « to have some word to remember so much gence to Tom.—Tom reads Virgil and Horace seeming worth by: my name is Harley.”—“I when he should be casting accounts; and but shall remember it," answered the old gentleman, t'other day he pawned his great-coat for an edi. “in my prayers; mine is Silton.” tion of Shakespeare.—But Tom would have And Silton indeed it was ! Ben Silton himbeen as he is, though Virgil and Horace had self! Once more, my honoured friend, farenever been born, though Shakespeare had died well !- Born to be happy without the world, to a link-boy; for his nurse will tell you, that that peaceful happiness which the world has not when he was a child, he broke his rattle, to dis- to bestow! Envy never scowled on thy life, nor cover what it was that sounded within it; and hatred smiled on thy grave. burnt the sticks of his go-cart, because he liked to see the sparkling of timber in the fire.—'Tis a sad case; but what is to be done ?Why,

CHAP. XXXIV. Jack shall make a fortune, dine on venison, and drink claret.-Ay, but Tom-Tom shall dine

He meets an old Acquaintance. with his brother, when his pride will let him; at other times, he shall bless God over a half- When the stage-coach arrived at the place of pint of ale and a Welsh-rabbit; and both shall its destination, Harley began to consider how go to heaven as they may.—That's a poor pros-, he should proceed the remaining part of his pect for Tom, says the father.-To go to hea- journey. He was very civilly accosted by the ven! I cannot agree with him.”

master of the inn, who offered to accommodate “Perhaps," said Harley,“ we now-a-days dis- him either with a post-chaise or horses, to any courage the romantic turn a little too much. Our distance he had a mind; but as he did things boys are prudent too soon. Mistake me not, I frequently in a way different from what other do not mean to blame them for want of levity or people call natural, he refused these offers, and dissipation; but their pleasures are those of set out immediately a-foot, having first put a hackneyed vice, blunted to every finer emotion spare shirt in his pocket, and given directions by the repetition of debauch ; and their desire for the forwarding of his portmanteau. This of pleasure is warped to the desire of wealth, as was a method of travelling which he was acthe means of procuring it. The immense riches customed to take ; it saved the trouble of proacquired by individuals have erected a standard vision for any animal but himself, and left him of ambition, destructive of private morals, and at liberty to chuse his quarters, either at an inn, of public virtue. The weaknesses of vice are or at the first cottage in which he saw a face he left us; but the most allowable of our failings liked : nay, when he was not peculiarly attract, ed by the reasonable creation, he would some supported by a sling, and lay motionless across times consort with a species of inferior rank, his breast. He had that steady look of sorrow, and lay himself down to sleep by the side of a which indicates that its owner has gazed upon rock, or on the banks of a rivulet. He did few his griefs till he has forgotten to lament them; things without a motive, but his motives were yet not without those streaks of complacency, rather eccentric: and the useful and expedient which a good mind will sometimes throw into were terms which he held to be very indefinite, the countenance, through all the incumbent and which, therefore, he did not always apply load of its depression." to the sense in which they are commonly under He had now advanced nearer to Harley, and, stood.

with an uncertain sort of voice, begged to know The sun was now in his decline, and the even, what it was o'clock; “ I fear,” said he, “ sleep ing remarkably serene, when he entered a hol- has beguiled me of my time, and I shall hardly low part of the road, which winded between the have light enough left to carry me to the end surrounding banks, and seamed the sward in of my journey.”-“Father!” said Harley, (who different lines, as the choice of travellers had by this time found the romantic enthusiasm directed them to tread it. It seemed to be little rising within him, “how far do you mean to frequented now, for some of those had partly go?"_" But a little way, sir," returned the recovered their former verdure. The scene was other ; “ and indeed it is but a little way I can such as induced Harley to stand and enjoy it; manage now: 'tis just four miles from the height when, turning round, his notice was attracted to the village, whither I am going.”—“ I am by an object, which the fixture of his eye on going thither too," said Harley; " we may the spot he walked had before prevented him make the road shorter to each other. You seem from observing.

· to have served your country, sir, to have served An old man, who, from his dress, seemed to it hardly too ; 'tis a character I have the highhave been a soldier, lay fast asleep on the ground; est esteem for.— I would not be impertinently a knapsack rested on a stone at his right hand, inquisitive; but there is that in your appearwhile his staff and brass-hilted sword were cross- ance which excites my curiosity to know someed at his left.

thing more of you : in the mean time, suffer Harley looked on him with the most earnest me to carry that knapsack.” attention. He was one of those figures which The old man gazed on him ; a tear stood in Salvator would have drawn ; nor was the sur- his eye. “ Young gentleman,” said he,“ you rounding scenery unlike the wildness of that are too good ; may Heaven bless you for an old painter's back-grounds. The banks on each man's sake, who has nothing but his blessing to side were covered with fantastic shrub-wood; give! but my knapsack is so familiar to my and at a little distance, on the top of one of shoulders, that I should walk the worse for them, stood a finger-post, to mark the directions wanting it; and it would be troublesome to you, of two roads which diverged from the point who have not been used to its weight.”_" Far where it was placed. A rock, with some dange from it,” answered Harley, “ I should tread the ling wild flowers, jutted out above where the lighter; it would be the most honourable badge soldier lay; on which grew the stump of a large I ever wore." tree, white with age, and a single twisted branch “ Sir," said the stranger, who had looked shaded his face as he slept. His face had the earnestly in Harley's face during the last part marks of manly comeliness impaired by time; of his discourse, “is not your name Harley ?" his forehead was not altogether bald, but its -“ It is,” replied he; “ I am ashamed to say hairs might have been numbered ; while a few I have forgotten yours.”—“You may well have white locks behind crossed the brown of his forgotten my face,” said the stranger;" tis a neck with a contrast the most venerable to a long time since you saw it; but possibly you mind like Harley's. « Thou art old," said he may remember something of old Edwards.”to himself; “ but age has not brought thee rest “ Edwards !" cried Harley, “ oh, Heavens !' for its infirmities : I fear those silver hairs have and sprung to embrace him; “ let me clasp those not found shelter from thy country, though that knees on which I have sat so often : Edwards ! neck has been bronzed'in its service. The I shall never forget that fire-side, round which stranger waked. He looked at Harley with the I have been so happy! But where, where have appearance of some confusion : it was a pain the you been? where is Jack? where is your daughlatter knew too well to think of causing in ano« ter ? How has it fared with them, when forther; he turned and went on. The old man re- tune, I fear, has been so unkind to you?" adjusted his knapsack, and followed in one of "'Tis a long tale," replied Edwards; “ but I the tracks on the opposite side of the road. will try to tell it you as we walk.

When Harley heard the tread of his feet be- “ When you were at school in the neighbourhind him, he could not help stealing back a hood, you remember me at South-hill : that glance at his fellow-traveller. He seemed to farm had been possessed by my father, grandbend under the weight of his knapsack ; he father, and great-grandfather, which last was a halted in his walk, and one of his arms was younger brother of that very man's ancestor, VOL. v.

2 c

« ElőzőTovább »