Слике страница
PDF
ePub

re

her merit, soon after, his heart. · They Mr. Thornhill was going to be married to were married : he rose to the highest posts; Miss Wilmot, for whom I always susthey lived long together, and were happy. pected he had a real passion, though he But the felicity of a soldier can never be took every opportunity before me to called permanent : after an interval of express his contempt both of her person several years, the troops which he com- and fortune. This news only served to manded having met with a repulse, he was increase poor Olivia's affliction : such a obliged to take shelter in the city where he flagrant breach of fidelity was more than had lived with his wife. Here they suffered her courage could support. I was a siege, and the city at length was taken. solved, however, to get more certain inFew histories can produce more various formation, and to defeat, if possible, the instances of cruelty than those which the completion of his designs, by sending my French and Italians at that time exercised son to old Mr. Wilmots, with instructions upon

each other. It was resolved by the to know the truth of the report, and to victors, upon this occasion, to put all the deliver Miss Wilmot a letter, intimating French prisoners to death; but particularly Mr. Thornhill's conduct in my family. the husband of the unfortunate Matilda, as My son went in pursuance of my direche was principally instrumental in pro- tions, and in three days returned, assuring tracting the siege. Their determinations us of the truth of the account; but that were, in general, executed almost as soon he had found it impossible to deliver the as resolved upon. The captive soldier was letter, which he was therefore obliged to led forth, and the executioner with his leave, as Mr. Thornhill and Miss Wilmot sword stood ready, while the spectators were visiting round the country. They in gloomy silence awaited the fatal blow, were to be married, he said, in a few days, which was only suspended till the general having appeared together at church the who presided as judge should give the Sunday before he was there, in great signal. It was in this interval of anguish splendour, the bride attended by six and expectation that Matilda came to take young ladies, and he by as many gentle. her last farewell of her husband and de- Their approaching nuptials filled liverer, deploring her wretched situation, the whole country with rejoicing, and and the cruelty of fate, that had saved her they usually rode out together in the from perishing by a premature death in grandest equipage that had been seen in the river Volturna, to be the spectator of the country for many years. All the still greater calamities. The general, who friends of both families, he said, were was a young man, was struck with surprise there, particularly the Squire's uncle, Sir at her beauty, and pity at her distress; but William Thornhill

, who bore so good a with still stronger emotions when he heard character. He added, that nothing but her mention her former dangers. He was mirth and feasting were going forward ; her son, the infant for whom she had en- that all the country praised the young countered so much danger. He acknow. bride's beauty, and the bridegroom's fine ledged her at once as his mother, and fell person, and that they were immensely at her feet. The rest may be easily sup: fond of each other, concluding, that he posed: the captive was set free, and all could not help thinking Mr. Thornhill the happiness that love, friendship, and one of the most happy men in the world. duty, could confer on each, were united.” Why, let him, if he can,” returned I:

In this manner I would attempt to but, my son, observe this bed of straw amuse my daughter : but she listened with and unsheltering roof; those mouldering divided attention; for her own misfortunes walls and humid floor; my wretched body engrossed all the pity she once had for thus disabled by fire, and my children those of another, and nothing gave her weeping round me for bread: you have

In company she dreaded contempt; come home, my child, to all this; yet and in solitude she only found anxiety. here, even here, you see a man that Such was the colour of her wretchedness, would not for a thousand worlds exchange when we received certain information that situations. Oh, my children, if you

men.

ܪ

ease.

could but learn to commune with your papa was so fond of; your sister Sophy own hearts, and know what noble com- has already obliged us. Do, child; it pany you can make them, you would will please your old father."

She comlittle regard the elegance and splendour plied in a manner so exquisitely pathetic of the worthless. Almost all men have as moved me : been taught to call life a passage, and When lovely woman stoops to folly, themselves the travellers. The similitude

And finds too late that men betray,

What charm can soothe her melancholy? still may be improved, when we observe

What art can wash her guilt away? that the good are joyful and serene, like

The only art her guilt to cover, travellers that are going towards home; To hide her shame from every eye, the wicked but by intervals happy, like To give repentance to her lover, travellers that are going into exile.

And wring his bosom, is-to die. My compassion for my poor daughter, As she was concluding the last stanza, overpowered by this new disaster, inter- to which an interruption in her voice from rupted what I had further to observe. I

sorrow gave peculiar softness, the appear. bade her mother support her, and after ance of Mr. Thornhill's equipage at a a short time she recovered. She ap- distance alarmed us all, but particularly peared from that time more calm, and I increased the uneasiness of my eldest imagined had gained a new degree of daughter, who, desirous of shunning her resolution ; but appearances deceived me: betrayer, returned to the house with her for her tranquillity was the languor of sister. In a few minutes he was alighted over-wrought resentment. A supply of from his chariot, and making up to the provisions, charitably sent us by my kind place where I was still sitting, inquired parishioners, seemed to diffuse new cheer- after my health with his usual air of fulness among the rest of the family, nor familiarity. “Sir,” replied I, “your prewas I displeased at seeing them once more sent assurance only serves to aggravate sprightly and at ease. It would have the baseness of your character; and there been unjust to damp their satisfactions, was a time when I would have chastised merely to condole with resolute melan- your insolence for presuming thus to choly, or to burden them with a sadness appear before me. But now you are safe; they did not feel. Thus, once more the for age has cooled my passions, and my tale went round, and the song was de calling restrains them.” manded, and cheerfulness condescended “I vow, my dear sir,” returned he, “I to hover round our little habitation.

am amazed at all this ; nor can I under

stand what it means ! I hope you don't CHAPTER XXIV.

think your daughter's late excursion with Fresh Calamities.

me had anything criminal in it?” The next morning the sun arose with Go," cried I ; “thou art a wretch, a peculiar warmth for the season, so that poor, pitiful wretch, and every way a liar : we agreed to breakfast together on the but your meanness secures you from my honeysuckle bank; where, while we sat, anger ! Yet, sir, I am descended from a my youngest daughter at my request family that would not have borne this ! joined her voice to the concert on the And so, thou vile thing, to gratify a mo. trees about us. It was in this place my mentary passion, thou hast made one poor poor Olivia first met her seducer, and creature wretched for life, and polluted a every object served to recall her sadness. family that had nothing but honour for But that melancholy which is excited by their portion ! objects of pleasure, or inspired by sounds “If she or you," returned he, "are of harmony, soothes the heart instead of resolved to be miserable, I cannot help it. corroding it. Her mother, too, upon But you may still be happy; and whatthis occasion, felt a pleasing distress, and ever opinion you may have formed of me, wept, and loved her daughter as before. you shall ever find me ready to contribute “Do, my pretty Olivia," cried she, “let to it. We can marry her to another in a ys have that little melancholy air your short time; and, what is more, she may

66

sence.

keep her lover beside ; for I protest I "If so," returned he, “depend upon it shall ever continue to have a true regard you shall feel the effects of this insolence; for her.”

and we shall shortly see which is the I found all my passions alarmed at this fittest object of scorn, you or me.”—Upon new degrading proposal ; for though the which he departed abruptly. mind may often be calm under great in- My wife and son, who were present at juries, little villany can at any time get this interview, seemed terrified with apwithin the soul, and sting it into rage. prehension. My daughters also, finding

Avoid my sight, thou reptile !” cried I, that he was gone, came out to be informed nor continue to insult me with thy pre- of the result of our conference, which,

Were my brave son at home, he when known, alarmed them not less than would not suffer this; but I am old and the rest. But as to myself, I disregarded disabled, and every way undone." the utmost stretch of his malevolence :

“I find,” cried he, "you are bent upon he had already struck the blow, and obliging me to talk in a harsher manner now I stood prepared to repel every than I intended. But as I have shown new effort, like one of those instruments you what may be hoped from my friend- used in the art of war, which, however ship, it may not be improper to represent thrown, still presents a point to receive what may be the consequences of my the enemy. resentment. My attorney, to whom your We soon, however, found that he had late bond has been transferred, threatens not threatened in vain ; for the very next hard ; nor do I know how to prevent the morning his steward came to demand my course of justice, except by paying the annual rent, which, by the train of accidents money myself ; which, as I have been at already related, I was unable to pay. some expenses lately previous to my in. The consequence of my incapacity was tended marriage, is not so easy to be done. his driving my cattle that evening, and And then my steward talks of driving for their being appraised and sold the next the rent : it is certain he knows his duty; day for less than half their value. My for I never trouble myself with affairs of wife and children now therefore entreated that nature. Yet still I could wish to me to comply upon any terms, rather than serve you, and even to have you and your incur certain destruction. They even daughter present at my marriage, which begged of me to admit his visits once is shortly to be solemnized with Miss more, and used all their little eloquence Wilmot; it is even the request of my to paint the calamities I was going to charming Arabella herself, whom I hope endure, -—the terrors of a prison in so you will not refuse."

rigorous a season as the present, with the “Mr. Thornhill," replied I, “hear me danger that threatened my health from once for all : as to your marriage with the late accident that happened by the any but my daughter, that I never will fire. But I continued inflexible. consent to; and though your friendship “Why, my treasures,” cried I, “why could raise me to a throne, or your re- will you thus attempt to persuade me to sentment sink me to the grave, yet would the thing, that is not right? My duty has I despise both. Thou hast once wofully, taught me to forgive him ; but my conirreparably deceived me. I reposed my science will not permit me to approve. heart upon thine honour, and have found Would you have me applaud to the world its baseness. Never more, therefore, ex- what my heart must internally condemn ? pect friendship from me. Go, and possess Would you have me tamely sit down and what fortune has given thee-beauty, flatter our infamous betrayer; and, to riches, health, and pleasure. Go, and avoid a prison, continually suffer the more leave me to want, infamy, disease, and galling bonds of mental confinement ?

Yet, humbled as I am, shall No, never! If we are to be taken from my heart still vindicate its dignity; and this abode, only let us hold to the right; though thou hast my forgiveness, thou and wherever we are thrown, we can stilí shalt ever have my contempt,"

retire to a charming apartment, when we

sorrow.

can look round our own hearts with undermine her constitution, one of the intrepidity and with pleasure !"

officers who had a horse kindly took her In this manner we spent that evening behind him ; for even these men cannot Early the next morning, as the snow had entirely divest themselves of humanity. fallen in great abundance in the night, My son led one of the little ones by the my son was employed in clearing it away, hand, and my wife the other, while I and opening a passage before the door. leaned upon my youngest girl, whose tears He had not been thus engaged long, when fell, not for her own, but my distresses. he came running in, with looks all pale, We were now got from my late dwelling to tell us that two strangers, whom he about two miles, when we saw a crowd, knew to be officers of justice, were making running and shouting behind us, consisting towards the house.

of about fifty of my poorest parishioners. Just as he spoke they came in, and ap- These, with dreadful imprecations, soon proaching the bed where I lay, after seized upon the two officers of justice, previously informing me of their employ- and swearing they would never see their ment and business, made me their prisoner, minister go to gaol while they had a drop bidding me prepare to go with them to the of blood to shed in his defence, were county gaol, which was eleven miles off. going to use them with great severity,

"My friends," said I, “this is severe The consequence might have been fatal, weather in which you have come to take had I not immediately interposed, and me to a prison; and it is particularly with some difficulty rescued the officers unfortunate at this time, as one of my from the hands of the enraged multitude. arms has lately been burnt in a terrible My children, who looked upon my delivery manner, and it has thrown me into a now as certain, appeared transported with slight fever, and I want clothes to cover joy, and were incapable of containing me, and I am now too weak and old to their raptures. But they were soon unwalk far in such deep snow; but, if it deceived, upon hearing ‘me address the must be so

poor deluded people, who came, as they I then turned to my wife and children, imagined, to do me service. and directed them to get together what “What! my friends,” cried I, "and is few things were left us, and to prepare this the way you love me? Is this the immediately for leaving this place. I manner you obey the instructions I have entreated them to be expeditious; and given you from the pulpit? Thus to fly desired my son to assist his eldest sister, in the face of justice, and bring down who, from a consciousness that she was ruin on yourselves and me? Which is the cause of all our calamities, was fallen, your ringleader? Show me the man that and had lost anguish in insensibility. I has thus seduced you. As sure as he encouraged my wife, who, pale and lives he shall feel my resentment. Alas! trembling, clasped our affrighted little my dear deluded flock, return back to the ones in her arms, that clung to her bosom duty you owe to God, to your country, in silence, dreading to look round at the and to me. I shall yet perhaps one day strangers. In the meantime my youngest see you in greater felicity here, and condaughter prepared for our departure, tribute to make your lives more happy. and as she received several hints to use But, let it at least be my comfort, when I dispatch, in about an hour we were ready pen my fold for immortality, that not one to depart.

here shall be wanting.'

They now seemed all repentance, and, CHAPTER XXV.

melting into tears, came one after the No situation, however wretched it seems, but other to bid me farewell. I shook each has some sort of comfort attending it.

tenderly by the hand, and leaving them We set forward from this peaceful neigh my blessing, proceeded forward without bourhood, and walked on slowly. My meeting any further interruption. Some eldest daughter being enfeebled by a slow hours before night, we reached the town, fever, which had begun for some days to or rather village, for it consisted but of a

few mean houses, having lost all its former “That's unfortunate," cried he, “.

as you opulence, and retaining no marks of its are allowed here nothing but straw, and ancient superiority but the gaol.

your apartment is very large and cold. Upon entering, we put up at an inn, However, you seem to be something of a where we had such refreshments as could gentleman, and, as I have been one myself most readily be procured, and I supped in my time, part of my

bed-clothes are with my family with my usual cheerfulness. heartily at your service.” After seeing them properly accommodated I thanked him, professing my surprise for that night, I next attended the sheriff's at finding such humanity in a gaol in misofficers to the prison, which had formerly fortunes ; adding, to let him see that I was been built for the purposes of war, and a scholar, “That the sage ancient seemed consisted of one large apartment, strongly to understand the value of company in grated, and paved with stone, common to affliction, when he said Ton kosmon aire, both felons and debtors at certain hours ei dos ton etairon; and, in fact,” continued in the four-and-twenty. Besides this, I, “what is the world if it affords only every prisoner had a separate cell, where solitude ?he was locked in for the night.

“You talk of the world, sir,” returned I expected, upon my entrance, to find my fellow-prisoner ; "the world is in its nothing but lamentations and various dotage; and yet the cosmogony or creasounds of misery; but it was very different. tion of the world has puzzled the philo. The prisoners seemed all employed in one sophers of every age. What a medley of common design, that of forgetting thought opinions have they not broached upon the in merriment or clamour. I was apprised creation of the world ! Sanchoniathon, of the usual perquisites required upon these Manetho, Berosus, and Ocellus Lucanus, occasions, and immediately complied with have all attempted it in vain. The latter the demand, though the little money I has these words, Anarchon ara kai atehad was very near being all exhausted. intaion to pan, which implies”—“I ask This was immediately sent away for liquor, pardon, sir,” cried I, "for interrupting so and the whole prison was soon filled with much learning; but I think I have heard riot, laughter, and profaneness.

all this before. Have I not had the pleaHow," cried I to myself, “shall men sure of once seeing you at Wellbridge so very wicked be cheerful, and shall I be fair, and is not your name Ephraim Jenkinmelancholy? I feel only the same con- son?” At this demand he only sighed, finement with them, and I think I have I

suppose you must recollect,” resumed more reason to be happy.”

I, “one Doctor Primrose, from whom you With such reflections I laboured to be bought a horse ?" come cheerful; but cheerfulness was never He now at once recollected me; for the yet produced by effort, which is itself pain- gloominess of the place and the approachful." As I was sitting, therefore, in a ing night had prevented his distinguishing corner of the gaol, in a pensive posture, my features before. “Yes, sir," returned one of my fellow-prisoners came up, and, Mr. Jenkinson, “I remember you persitting by me, entered into conversation. fectly well ; I bought a horse, but forgot It was my constant rule in life never to to pay for him. Your neighbour Flamavoid the conversation of any man who borough is the only prosecutor I am any seemed to desire it : for if good, I might way afraid of at the next assizes; for he profit by his instruction ; if bad, he might intends to swear positively against me as be assisted by mine. I found this to be a a coiner. I am heartily sorry, sir, I ever knowing man, of strong unlettered sense, deceived you, or indeed any man ; for you but a thorough knowledge of the world, see,” continued he, showing his shackles, as it is called, or, more properly speaking, what my tricks have brought me to." of human nature on the wrong side. He "Well

, sir," replied I, “your kindness asked me if I had taken care to provide in offering me assistance when you

could myself with a bed, which was a circum- expect no return shall be repaid with my stance I had never once attended to. endeavours to soften, or totally suppress

« ПретходнаНастави »