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The Victim of Sensibility.
THE VICTIM OF SENSIBILITY.
It was late- the company had retired, and Henry alone remained engaged in conrersation with Emily, the young and beautiful wife of Charles Fitzherbert. They had been dancing, and the weather, which was extremely sultry, added to the warmth of the exercise, and Henry led his partner to an adjoining room to enjoy the cool air,
To all the charms of outward beauty, Emily joined the far nobler advantages of a highly cultivated mind; a disposition mild, gentle and conciliating; and an affability of manner which endeared her to all around her. The air of playful innocence wbich dwelt upon her features bespoke the calm serenity which reigned within; and whilst the eye gazed enraptured on her light and fragile form, or traced the rerolutions of her mind in the emotions of her lovely countenance, the heart bowed in secret homage before the shrine of her virtue. She had been two years married to Fitzherbert, and during that period had fulfilled all the duties of an affectionate wife and a tender mother; one lovely boy blessed their union, in whom all their future hopes and wishes were centered.
From their earliest years Henry St. George and Charles Fitzherbert had been inseparable companions ; accident first united them in the bonds of friendship and that friendship was afterwards cemented by mutual pursuits. The disposition of Henry was wild and romantic-full of sensibilityardent in his attachments, and sincere in his friendship :more apt to be caught by exterior qualities, than those solid attainments which confer real advantage on their possessor. The enthusiasm of his character had been heightened by the pature of his education, and his polished mind and enlightened understanding bore ample testimony of the industry of his earlier years.
Fitzherbert, on the contrary, was possessed of that even ness of disposition which can contemplate with equal indifference the smiles or the frowns of fortune, a sound and solid urderstanding, and a mind improved by study and classical research. Possessed of a small but in. dependent fortune, he had purchased a handsome lodge in the most romantic part of the County Wicklow, and in the
The Victim of Sensibility.
bosom of domestic felicity, enjoyed more real happiness than is to be found in the bustle of fashionable life. In the latter part of the year 181— Henry took a small cottage in the neighborhood of his friend.
Fitzherbert had invited his sisters to spend a few weeks with him, and on their arrival he gave an entertainment to some of the neighboring gentry, at which Henry of course was present. Dancing was over about two o'clock, and the company had all retired, except Henry, who was leaning against the door of the drawing-room, conversing with Emily. As he was about to depart, he took from his pocket a small pistol, which he always carried in his nightly excursions, and was examining the pan to see if it contained a sufficiency of powder, when his finger accidentally touched the trigger and it went off!-the contents lodged in the breast of Emily, who was standing opposite to him, and she dropped dead at his feet!
Horror rivetted him to the spot-he stood like a motionless siatue, devoid of sense or feeling, gazing in stupid insensibility on the object before him, while her blood flowed in streams along the foor. Suddenly, however, recollecting himself be darted through the hall, and opening the door rushed into the shrubbery which surrounded the house. The report of the pistol brought up sereral of the domestics, and Fitzherbert flew from an adjoining apartment, when the first object that struck him was bis wife stretched on the ground weliering in blood! It were vain to attempt a description of the silent anguish depicted on the countenance of Fitzherhert, as he raised liis beloved Emily from the ground, and placing her on a couch, gazed on her once lovely face, shronded in the ghastly bue of death, and her beautiful features distorted by inward agony : -Surgical assistance was immediately sent for, but all in vain-the vital spark was extinct, and in one short moment all the hopes of Fitzherbert were blasted for ever!
Henry, in the mean time, fiew with the rapidity of lightning through the wood, until he reached the open country, when, flinging himself on the ground, he gave vent to his agony in stilled groans_madness was in his heart—and the burning fever of his brain precluded the relief of tears; the extreme sensibility of his disposition was shocked-he felt that the deed he had committed, though accidental, could never be repaired, and that his peace of mind was lost for ever. Stretched on the ground, in the delirium of his soul
The Victim of Sensibility.
he laid his head on the cold damp grass, and wished for death to end his sufferings. The night was dreary and dark. No, sound broke on the awful stillness, save the hoarse murmur of the night wind, whistling through the decaying foliage of the pines that lined the surrounding hills, or the distant roar of a rushing stream. The spectre of the departed saint seemed to flit before his eye, and in every breeze he fancied he heard the voice of Fitzherbert calling on him for his wife!
Having lain a considerable time almost insensible, he arose as the day began to dawn, and proceeded towards his own cottage with the dreadful instrument of destruction still grasped firmly in his hand. Entering the cottage unperceived by his domestic, who was yet in bed, he went to a drawer, and taking out some powder and a ball, deliberately loaded the fatal pistol, and placing it in his pocket, again rushed out.
The sun was rising-but its light was hateful to him ; he could no longer look on it as he was wont: from that spot on which he now stood, desolate and forlorn, he had gazed the preceding morn, with enthusiastic devotion, and marked the full orb of day, like a splendid glory, bursting on his awakened vision, while the gale that fanned his brow, wafted to Heaven the grateful homage of his heart. He could not look upon the scene; he fled and hid himself in the deep recesses of the wood. There, far from every human eye, with no tongue to soothe, no voice to calm his agitated heart, he spent the live long day; fixing his vacant gaze on the scenery around, or calling on the manes of her whom he had murdered! As the shades of night approached, he grew wilder and more desperate; the distant glens echoed to his voice, as he called on the name of Emily, and invoked the mercy of heaven!- then growing calm again, he exclaimed, “ Yes, I will see her before I die!" and he turned his footsteps towards the dwelling of the hapless Fitzherbert.
There all was silent-a lonely stillness reigned around the deserted walls, no lights glimmered in the windows, no sounds broke the awful sublimity of the scene. Stretched on a bed, in a room adjoining the hall, lay the corpse of the once lovely Emily; her blue eyes were closed in death, and her long fair bair half shaded her face ; the domestics were collected in the kitchen, the sisters of Fitzherbert, overwhelmed with sorrow, had retired to their room, while he himself was pacing the hall with hurried steps, pausing every moment, and pressing his hand to his forehead, as if to suppress the
Tbe Victim of Sensibility.
intense anguish that preyed upon his mind, when the halldoor suddenly opened, and Henry rushed in, bare-headed, covered with blood, and bearing in his face the marks of evident distraction. On seeing Fitzherbert, he dropped on his knees, and grasping his hand, cried with a tone of heartrending affliction, "Mercy-oh, mercy, Charles! can you forgive me?—the blood of the innocent victim is upon me I am a murderer, yet am I guiltless !-speak to me, oh, speak to me! By the remembrance of those days of happiness we have spent-by the unsullied friendship of our lives—by the pure spirit of that sainted being, I conjure you to forgive me!-İ am a lost abandoned wretch, the curse of Heaven is upon me, I live in madness—I die in despair-pity me--pity
Fitzherbert held his handkerchief to his face, to hide the conflicts of his mind-then turning to Henry with an aching heart, he endeavored to calm his agitation by assuring him of his forgiveness. The sisters of Fitzherbert, roused by the noise, came down to the hall, and attempted to pacify him by assuring him that she was not dead; but all in vain. He beat his burning brow, and tossed his arms with wild and frantic energy, calling on Emily to save him. “ Away!” he cried, as he flung the gentle Julia from him, who was endeavoring to lead bim to the parlour, “ away-there's poison in my touch, I shall murder thee-do you not see the glare of the basilisk in those eyes-do you not ?—but hush, look here, behold the blood which I have shed-1 who loved her--who should have protected her from destruction, tot dealt death myself-oh, misery-misery-is there no arm to rid a murderer of life? in mercy kill me!”
With mingled feelings of sorrow and compassion, Fitzherbert gazed on the ruined figure of his friend, and almost forgot his own griefs in consideration of what he suffered. His fine form was wasted by watching and fatigue, his sunken eyes looked dimly from their sockets, and the desolation of his despairing heart was depicted in his haggard features,
Where sensibility still wildly played,
Like lightning round the ruins it had made. He attempted to pacify him, and induce him to repose himself;—". Let me behold her once again,” he cried,
" and I shall be satisfied-1 wish to implore her forgiveness—to ask her to plead for me at the mercy seat--do not refuse me this last favor; you see I am calm--calm as the land through which the plague hath passed.”
Letter from Happab Hopeful.
Fitzherbert at first objected to admitting him, fearing that in the present state of his feelings the shock would be too great for him ; but seeing him obstinate, he at length_consented, and unlocking the door of the room where Emily lay, he motioned to him to enter. Henry in a moment rushed in, and closing the door after him, bolted it on the inside. By the light of a solitary candle which burned on a table, he discovered the lifeless body of Emily, laid out in the habili. ments of death! He dropped on his knees by the bedside, and taking her clay-cold hand, pressed it to his lips and forehead, as if to cool the fever that burned there. He spoke not-low, broken murmurs only broke from his lips; he seemed in the act of devotion-a few hurried words then fell from him, as if of supplication, and he laid his cheek on the icy hand of Emily.
In this state of temporary insensibility he remained for some time, till he was aroused by the voice of Fitzherbert, entreating him to come out; he made no answer, and the other apprehending some further danger, put his shoulder to the door, and with a slight effort burst it open ; at the same instant the report of a pistol was heard, and the first object that presented itself on his entrance, was the body of Henry extended on the floor, weltering in blood!
They were interred in the same graye--and while the principles of religion and morality must condemn this last act of infidel despair, many a feeling heart will mourn over the errors of humanity, and shed a tear on the grave of the unhappy suicide!
To the Editor of the Dublin Inquisitor.
I am one of that class of females, who, having witnessed the decline of their youth and beauty without changing their condition, must be content to pass the remainder of their days in that quiet state of “ single blessedness" which is often admired, sometimes pitied, and not unfrequently despised ; I am, in short, Mr. Inquisitor, what the world calls“ an old maid;" yet I am free from those visitings of spleen and