Графични страници
PDF файл

" I think so.

her teens, was by no means antiquated. Of her wit, I will not say much, for whatever it was, she showed it not here ; it was all lost and overlaid by a love of romance, by which she too was bit, and which, in fact, was what occasioned the step which ruined her.” “She is, then, ruined ?” said I.

But listen. While her brother, over whose house she had presided, was abroad, she resided with an aunt, on old and infirm lady, who, during the summer, shut herself up with her niece in a monotonous park in Gloucestershire; and in this park, where she had full liberty to range, Lady Harriet one eventful morning met this young sw

swain reading aloud to himself.

It was poetry, and he read well. He seemed confused at seeing her-shut the book in a hurry-feared he was a trespasser—was taken by the beauty of the park—a stranger that lodged in the village—et cetera, et cetera. The lady was pleasedthought it an adventure ; said that reading out aloud in a park to one's self must be very delightful; in fine, gave him leave to repeat his walk whenever he pleased, and went home and told her aunt that she had met a love of a man, who, she was sure, had a most beautiful mind. The next day they met again, and again after that. They found they had both of them beautiful minds, akin of course to one another, and how much was that above the dross of the world! Besides, though Lady Harriet was not richly endowed, she was her own mistress, and told him so.

“Upon this hint he spake," and was accepted before either of them had inquired after their means of

subsistence-a thing Mr. Baggs said he spurned ;which was lucky, for the honest clerk, his father, could not give him a pound. The old aunt could oppose nothing to this ; but it was a sad blow to Lord Castleton, when he returned to England.

His pride was hurt, and his anxiety for his sister alarmed. He urged all that could be so well urged against the measure-poverty, disparity of condition, loss of caste, ultimate misery.

But in vain; her eyes were still blinded, her honour pledged, and the Lady Harriet Longueville became Lady Harriet Baggs.”

66 Yet the result is to come,” said I.

“ It is not happy, as you may suppose. Lord Castleton, at first resentful, paid his sister her £8,000, upon the interest of which, with her husband, she subsisted as well as she could for some months, exchanging her brother's fine mansion, of which she no longer could do the honours, for a lodging, neither very large nor very clean, in which, however, she expected to be visited by her friends. They came once, saw her husband, pitied her, took leave, and never came again. Lord Castleton, relenting, received her sometimes by herself, and sometimes with her husband, whose high pretensions and forwardness by no means conciliated him, but for whom, to keep them from starving, he obtained a small place, upon which they now barely exist.

“ Her society is almost already reduced to the aunts, sisters, and cousins, of Mr. Baggs, remarkable only for familiar vulgarity, and who, transported to call an earl's daughter their relation, never leave her to the

solitude she now courts, as her only relief; and the certainty of finding her surrounded with these coarse people keeps off the very few friends who would still wish to notice her.

" Thus exiled from all she most lovedlost to her former state, and despoiled of all that can cheer her (for her husband has long ceased to do so)-she drags on a melancholy existence, in which her only subject for meditation is unceasing self-blame. When last I saw her, it was in a small, dirty, and mean house, near her brother's, who often feeds her from his larder. She has a child much neglected, from perpetual sorrow; her husband can neither give her consequence nor receive it from her; and her spirit is so broken, that she seems to have lost the desire as well as power to retrieve her condition. My tale is done.”

“ And a melancholy one,” observed I; “enough to terrify a bolder man than I; and yet I cannot help thinking that I am not Mr. Baggs.”

I said this firmly, as if it was in answer to his


“ And pray, as to essentials, in what are you different ?” asked my tutor, looking very tutor-like indeed. “ I am a De Clifford,” answered I,

66 and not a Baggs."

“ Aye, there it is,” returned he, with almost anger.

"I wish the name were at the bottom of the sea, for it is perpetually haunting you as if the very ghost of your ancestor Sir William.

"The times have been
That when the brains were out the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,

And push us from our stools.' “ So it is with you. You have not a word to say for yourself; you are beaten as flat in the argument as the Lords Clifford were killed regularly in battle some hundred years ago; yet you make them rise again, to push me from my stool. As if the name would give you an estate, or make your father other than a farmer.”

“ My father is a grand juryman, in the county of York,” said I, “as well as Mr. Hastings, and not a lord mayor's official.”

" And why not add that he is the son-in-law of à Saxon duke, of a sovereign house, and that Mr. Hastings sells his own corn in Weatherby market. Upon my word, my Lord De Clifford, you are a very

great fool."

With these words he left me,




What is the cause, Laertes,
That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?

SHAKSPEARE.--Hamlet. PETULANT as I dare say I have appeared in the course of these memoirs, I was not in the least affronted with my kinsman-tutor for the appellation he gave me at the end of the last chapter. On the contrary, he had not been gone ten minutes, before the musing I fell into, the consequence of his portentous story, made me very much inclined to think he was right.

This musing lasted during the greater part of the day; and I fell into as many resolutions as humours, -according as love for Bertha, indignation at her brother, prudence, or a spirit of independence, became uppermost. At one time I arrayed myself in stoicism, and would be a Cato; at another, I was all dignity and Clifford-pride towards the whole family of Foljambe Park. But this soon gave way before the sweet beauty and frankness of Bertha, who had never shewn pride to any one.

In the end this pre

« ПредишнаНапред »