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element of boisterous good-fellowship, on which bis disappointment had thrown them. His only remaining resource of hope, in the failure of worldly prospects, was the confidence of securing that universal regret and esteem which he might reasonably cherish; as the neglected genius—the baffled philanthropist-the victim of generosity-the friend of the ever open heart, and gate, and hand.
Mr. Vaughan's ruin was mainly owing to his generously becoming security for the discharge of the debts of others, his flattering friends and guests, who, like those of the Athenian prodigal, wounded our Welsh Timon to the quick, by selfish ingratitude. A great reverse of fortune equally exposes the sufferer to obloquy with sudden elevation. No sooner did the popular owner of Dunraven become poor, than the most natural results of his unhappiness under the change were viewed severely by his neighbours, and received an evil interpretation. Thus, as his moody melancholy inclined him to walk the beach beneath his tower, shut in betwixt the rock-walls and a raging sea from human intrusion, and this often on a dismal evening, it began to be whispered that “the poor lord” was on the look out for a wreck. The simple kind-hearted old servant reported to his master this ungenerous surmise. Vaughan answered not a word, but the wrong sunk into his soul. “What!" said he, as soon as he was again alone on his desolate walk, “ have I studied and striven, and sacrificed time and health in projects to save my fellow-creatures? Am I now a ruined man by stepping between affected friends and the prison which justly should have buried them alive for their unprincipled folly? Have I done all this to be taunted with barbarous wishes against my species, for the meanest motives? Have I outwatched the stars in that very turret over my head on the cliff in devising how to prevent death in shipwreck, and can I not now roll my eye over the world of waters, sick of this world--of man, the ingrate; but my heart's mere sickness and despair, before it harboured a thought against him, must be construed into the foulest of designs ? Do they make me a wrecker? And these unjust, unreasoning beings, are those that I thought myself blest to save! Saviour of the world! and what a world didst Thou die for! Hear me! My mind's ardours and labours despised and lost; my heart's yearnings toward my kind, though strong, to my utter ruin, not even repaid by a poor acknowledgment. I swear henceforth no pleadings
of that pity I have felt so strongly, and which all now deny me to have felt, shall evermore thwart my fortunes, should their redemption rest on my possession of that prime worldly good_a heart of stone!”
That night a vessel, without a soul on board, was stranded on the manor of Dunraven; a very valuable portion of cargo was saved, sufficient to improve considerably the resources of its lord. Avarice, if it might so be called, became next the ruling passion, or rather fury, of his anchorless mind, still not without a latent foundation which allied it to the amiable passions ; for it was the keen desire to redeem from mortgage as much as possible of the estate for his expatriated son, which made him avaricious. A mind of great reach and fulness of sentiment, if not under sound regulation, is far more ready to overwhelm the moral character with guilt, than one of meaner powers and unsentimental to grossness: as a fine and brimming river, whose constant filling of its channel fattens all its banks till they bloom all with flowers and shine with greener grasses, is ready, at every swell of its tide, to bury all that richness of beauty which it fed, and leave nothing on its retiring but the sand and river-wrack in its place.
The valuable wreck which chance had made his own was henceforth for ever in his mind's eye, prompting the desire of a second; and he who had been so indignant at the charge of but watching for ships endangered, at last stooped to the crime of causing by false lights and other devices, the calamities he was once so delighted to avert!
There lived in a sea-side hovel, near Dunraven, a desperate character, once a smuggler, who having lost a hand, which was supplied with an iron claw fastened to the stump, a formidable instrument, obtained the name of Mat. of the Iron Hand. This man bore so evil a name among the country people, that he was best pleased to lead a solitary life on the shore, shut out by the high rocks from human haunts, and a population that hated and feared him. He was reported to screw on occasionally a dirk to his iron substitute for the member he had lost, for deeds of horror during shipwreck; and it was remarked, as of ill omen, that the lord of Dunraven manor, who, in his magisterial office, had more than once inflicted the penalties of the law on this ruffian, was now in frequent intercourse with him, in that wild and sad solitude betwixt rock and sea, that shut them in by themselves, only observed occasionally by per
sons peeping down over the edge of the cliff above. As their mutual aversion was not concealed, it was justly inferred that some common interest of a dark and secret nature must exist to thus associate them. That interest consisted in a share of the profit derivable from wrecks, which Matthew enjoyed as the reward of his vigilance in beguiling ships to the strand.
One evening, as the “poor lord” sate listening to the harp of his old servant, in that wild wave-worn receptacle of his forlorn misanthropy, the sky presented a singular aspect. The sun, which had been invisible all day, broke out at its setting, and hung like a globe of fire on the edge of the sea, discovering by that red background a very distant sail, which showed like a spot on its disk. Dreary and massive clouds still vaulting the whole prospect, gave a grandly wild effect to this peep of dying glory. Every far off cliff, and every grey cottage that dotted the mountain banks in their darkolive sombreness of line, now gleamed out visible in the strong relief of that murky yet illuminated sky, unnatural of tint, like a sky of brass, while those whitened homes of men, as the sun sunk and the dark of gathering night came on, gave the idea of scattered tombs in an evening desert of Arabia, so dun and desolate was the heathy view below, and that metallic glare above.
The faithful harper is said to have retained the gentleness of his calling, and interposed to prevent that deadly fraud and cruelty practised by him of the iron hand by his influence with his master, but in vain. This evening, as a sail was in view, the one-handed recluse exhibited his figure standing at the edge of the sea betwixt them and that sun, and the harper took occasion thence to darkly hint the judgment which awaited the sin of wrecking, till silenced by the sudden fury of Mr. Vaughan. Then it was a sudden wild crying of two voices came on the wind from a rock called the Swincher, which lies a short distance out at sea close to Dunraven, and are covered by the waves at high water. The two elder sons of Mr. Vaughan had rowed thither, as was their custom, in a small boat, had fastened it insecurely, the sea was coming round them in a springtide, and it was now first they discovered that their boat was gone! The wretched father saw it far out, a dancing speck on the waters, his sons crying out to him in vain for help which no mortal could render, their wild and desperate appeal, audible by fits above the deep and hollow roaring of
the sea, becoming higher every moment, and answered, in the desperation of helpless affection, with all fond epithets and words equally wild and vain. The children of Vaughan now formed to him the world : his philanthropy, which began with grasping all mankind, ended in that little circle of existence, but glowed there still with concentrated force, while all besides was apathy or misanthropy.” “I will swim out to the boat-I can-I will-I see it yet! said the wild father, tearing off his clothes, though the boat was distant half a mile of heavy sea, and the poor boys stood visible, breast deep in water, holding by one of the crags. “ Patience-keep hold—firm, firm—and we'll save you ! !” he shouted, as if they could hear his shout. A few words of theirs did reach the shore: “We drown--oh father, father! --the boat, the boat!" came in the pauses of the sea's breaking at the feet of the father, who ran deep into the water, and stretched his arms madly toward the fatal rock, till pulled back by the few persons that the accident had drawn to the shore. As the wretched man struggled with those who forced him through the surf to land, a wilder cry, doleful but short, made him turn his head suddenly—and nothing was there but tumbling waves, where the rock had stood out and his sons had cried distractedly.
« Gonegone !” he said, letting his arms drop, which had been outstretched to them. “Curse your mercy-let me drown too -let me go to my boys, my drowning boys-drowning, smothering-now, now, now?” vociferated the lost father, sinking exhausted into the arms of his old weeping harper and two supporting bystanders.
“You are a father yet,” said the old man; “you must live for poor William, the little one: remember your least, your helpless one."
Mysterious Providence, perhaps in retribution, had already snatched that little one beyond the father's love, and above the need of his help. In the confusion of this catastrophe, every inmate and neighbour having been attracted from the castle, the poor child had fallen into a vessel of wort left by persons brewing, and was found drowned.
When the father, on asking for his little one, became aware of his triple loss, the added calamity seemed to act like a desperate cure on his former frantic grief. He raved no more, but, like one stricken with a palsy, sate dumb and tearless, looking on vacancy. With an instinctive effort under the hysterical strangling of pent-up grief, he at last
tottered down to the wild beach, and seated himself in the surf-beat alcove of rock once more, tearing open his bosom's covering for air.
Night now settled over the sea; the vessel, still dimly visible, hovering on the coast, and the aged servant saw with horror the sudden bursting forth of a fire on the beach, which he knew was kindled by Mat. of the Iron Hand to decoy that ill-fated ship to destruction. Though the false beacon was distant, he could descry the limping gaunt figure of the ruffian pass and repass before the red glare; or stand, a dark body alone against the whiter flame, the smokevolume curling above his head, resembling the figure of a martyr at the stake. Such was the general dread and odium this solitary wretch had inspired, that few of the mountaineers chose to intrust themselves within reach of his ponderous hand and imagined dagger, even for the hope of booty, where the dark, the fog of mist and spray, the roaring of waters, and confusion of a shipwreck, would render it easy for him to stun or stab a victim, and precipitate him into the boiling surge's sweep, instantaneously, without detection. Hence it had happened that more than one wreck had occurred where he alone approached the edge of the sea, and all others stood aloof up under the jutting rocks.
After having just witnessed three deaths inflicting three deadly wounds on the heart of that wretched father, and each by drowning, as if in proof of the retributive justice of an angry God, pitying the perils of the seaman peculiarly exposed to that form of violent death, the old harper shut his eyes in very horror at that spectacle, and, rousing his stupified lord, implored him not farther to tempt the fearful judgments of heaven ; to command the instant extinction of that false light, which might at that moment be hanging over some anxious father's heart expecting a home-bound child--a curse and an agony equal to that under which his own then lay bleeding. Vaughan looked wildly upon him, aroused by his earnestness—then at the dreary illumination of the coast-the grim form moving before the background of fog, with its tint of blood, as the wrecker, looking dimly gigantic, moved in the red cavern-hollow formed by the resinous flame of firs, like some foul magician in his circle, or the fouler spirit raised there to do his bidding. “Fool!” he thundered suddenly, “I am a father yet! God's judgment, it may be, has stopped at once this night three channels in which my blood was flowing, and left but one—that