Abbildungen der Seite

“My poor cousin Jane saw instantly in what a desperate state I was ; indeed Love had seized me with a giant's clutch. I was bound, enchained like a slave, and had not a word, a look, that was not his. I did struggle a little, it is true, in the toils ; but I only worked myself into a fever, and did not free myself a joint. My noble cousin herself put an end to my wrestlings and my fever together, by telling me, as she attended, like an angel as she is, by my bed-side, 'That she saw how matters stood; that she could endure to lose me, rather than see me wretched, and that she was resolved to change places with her dear Georgiana, and be her bridesmaid, instead of claiming such service from her.'

“O how selfish a passion is love when it springs not from the divine seed! I was well, I was in an ecstasy in a moment. Lady Jane was a heroine, a martyr ; she herself handed to me the ring at the altar, which made her friend, my adored Georgiana, my wife. But was I happy? O Mrs. Griffiths ! as well might one expect figs from brambles, as happiness from so poisoned a source. The Marchioness never loved me; I felt her coldness, almost her abhorrence of me, in every burning pulse of my impassioned being : I flew to wine to console me; that disgusted her the more. I heard the gentle sigh of Jane Urquhart, at witnessing my disappointment; I compared her exalted passion to my own selfish one, to the apathy of my idolised bride, who, strange to say, fully appreciated the sacrifice her friend had made, and loved her with an intensity, a constancy, I would have given worlds to share. The Marchioness and I had no children; and the insult she received in the presencechamber from one whom I will never acknowledge as a relation, made me furious ; added to this--are you not aware of it, Mrs. Griffiths? my beloved wife has a malady that makes her still more anxious to avoid me than before ; you must know that she has a cancer, which, if she will not submit to a surgical operation, must be fatal to her."

“ Under all these circumstances, with an exclusive and powerful attachment to myself, believing herself to be, as far as she is concerned, in heart and soul my wife, for she has sworn never to wed another; with the full sanction, nay, the urgent wishes of the Marchioness, can you wonder that circumstances have taken place such as you now know? We are all to be pitied; none more than myself. The Marchioness is perhaps the happiest of the three; any thing that draws attention to other than herself from me is a source of comfort to her; yet is my love for her undiminished, and my generous, my devoted cousin, dear as she is to me, as the mother of my boy, my future heir (for such he undoubtedly will be) and the most enthusiastic of lovers and of friends, still holds but the second place in my heart. O that she, my wife, felt for me but one tithe of the boundless affection that Jane Urquhart cherishes for her ungrateful cousin !"

“ You must perceive," continued his lordship, after a pause, “ the necessity there is for preserving an inviolable secrecy in all these matters; the reputation of a noble-minded and almost broken-hearted young lady of rank, hangs upon it: but I will exact no promise; I have no right to do so; nor will I insult your principles by offering you a bribe. If humanity, pity, woman's sympathy, are not powerful enough to chain your tongue, I am well persuaded money will not effect it. And now I will no longer detain you : keep that little vellum book; when

you purpose to speak aloud of all these mysteries" (and he smiled painfully), “send it me back in a cover ; I shall fully understand you.” I was sorry to see the Marquis

L d supply himself with another glass of undiluted alcohol, as I left the library musing on all the strange combinations that human life presents to us. There are so many complicated wheels in the great machine-so many that are new, coming into play every hour, and the still greater number that refuse to do the work allotted for them, that we cannot wonder that there is a new pattern to the web the destinies are weaving from the actions and deficiences of man, that astonishes those who gaze upon it. Let no one say, “ This is improbable :” or go still further, and exclaim, “All this is fiction !” be assured, that fancy cannot give that variety of huesthat breadth and exactness of outline, fit for angels and men to contemplate, that human life itself presents.

To avoid suspicion, it was immediately and publicly announced, that the Marchioness L- d had presented her lord with “a son and heir." No mention was made of the other poor little thing, lying like a cropped snow-drop in its cradle, with the signet of death upon it; and as it had not yet gone out to the domestics or the public, that the lady had borne twins, as it was first proposed, it became the business of the surgeon, and Mrs. Cottrell, the confidential woman of the ladyconfidential, indeed !--for it was her duty to attend on, and dress the secret insidious disease that was undermining the life of one of the fairest of God's creatures—it became their business to dispose of the fairy blossom of mortality, so little cared for here, in some quiet nook, where its frail tenement could become dust again at leisure. It was carried out at midnight, cradle and all, which supplied to it, I believe, the place of coffin, and it was interred in - church-yard. I have never heard that its spirit complained of the want of a mahogany box, with silver nails on it, to complete its destiny. The immortal spirit laughs at the cerements of the grave, and all the mockery of funeral pomp. Happy infant! its accounts on earth were soon audited! Its balance sheet of life soon cast up! It had passed through the valley of the shadow of death, even at the very portal of life! Often do I think of this spotless child, as I dressed it in its splendid robe for the last timethat robe which was its shroud!

It was thought advisable that Lady Jane Urquhart, for the sake of appearances, should show herself in the drawing-rooms as soon as we dared to venture her there, and that she should receive in the name of the Marchioness, her friend, all the flood of grandees that poured in to congratulate and make enquiries for the health of that lady, and the little heir. O what compliments were heaped upon the head of the little unconscious babe! and how fatigued looked the real mother of that child, as one set of fluttering females gave way to another. If it had gone on long in this way, the “ Monthly Nurse,” from the golden fees scattered upon her, might have retired as they say, “to live upon her fortune;" but even the Marquis, stolid as he was in all things save his love for his Georgiana, at length surmised that his poor cousin might a second time become a martyr in his cause, so he ordered his great fat porter to admit no more company for the next fortnight, on the pretext that the noise of carriages disturbed the Marchioness. The last lady, N.S. VOL. I.


however, who insisted on admittance, on the plea of looking at the bonnie bairn,” and drinking caudle—then the fashion-was a lady of Scotch extraction, and a great rival in the world of fashion, and at Court, to the fair and delicate Marchioness. She was perfectly her antithesis, yet had her admirers and partisans in equal number amongst both sexes; all London high life was divided between them, and the milliners were gaining fortunes by displaying “the L- d bonnet," or “the Mac Gregor cap,” for such was the name of the rival candidate for public notoriety.

The Marchioness Mac Gregor would not be repulsed: she forced herself into the small Turkish saloon, fluted with rose-coloured silk, where Lady Jane Urquhart, quite exhausted, had thrown herself down upon the divan or ottoman to repose.

"Wha's here?" cried the handsome, but corpulent lady, in broad Scotch, “not my leddie in the stra I see, but my winsome Jeannie, wie a face as whit as a curd in a clout! Bonnie lassie, ha you done the fash and a' the wark for my leddie, your cannie friend ? ha you borne the bairn yoursel' to spare her a' the pain o't?" and the Marchioness Mac Gregor laughed immoderately at her own fun, little thinking how near her random shot had been to the bull's eye. I thought Lady Jane would have fainted, and was obliged to come to her rescue.

Mental anxiety, my lady," said I, addressing the buxom marchioness, “is as exhausting as bodily pain. Lady Jane has never left her friend's apartment for a single moment until this morning, since her confinement.”

“ Then she is but a Solon goosie for her pains,' exclaimed the highland ladie adjusting her tartan scarf-“ She 's watched a' the bluid awa frae her cannie features ; she maun tak a ride wi' me across the parks, and steal a wee bit o' colour fra the winds—there, bring her cloaks, and a' that.

“Not this morning, my dear madam,” faintly urged Lady Jane “ Mrs. Griffiths, have the kindness to hand me that bottle of eglantine, it will revive me.”

“O you patronise that winsome scent do you, Jeannie, woman ?" asked the marchioness, pouring over her own embroidered cambrics nearly half a bottle of White's noted essence of that name, so much in request by the Queen and all the ladies of the court; “ Weel, my darling, na compulsion ; fade awa, sae it please you into a snaw-drap, but let me see the wee bit o'a chield; I aught to knaw somewhat o' bairn's-flesh, sin I ha' had a dozen o'sic ware.”—

The little “ Earl" was accordingly shewn, and of course admired; a very Proteus was he, for in the eyes of the talkative goodhumoured lady, he was like a hundred persons in succession-like His Majesty, like the heir apparent; then the lord-chancellor ; then honourable T. C. member for F- ; then a judge; then Mr. Skeffington ; then Mr, Monk Lewis ; lastly, he had a touch of the Marquis his father, and a smile (an Æolian smile forined by the winds, I fear) of his dear bonnie mither and her friend too. “How strange ! Leddie Jeannie 's pale as a ghostie.".

After all these discoveries, the jolly Caledonian departed, taking another pour of eglantine, con amore, from the bottle, sans façon, making Ler kerchief perfectly wet with the precious aromatic.

I have given one description of a superb christening in my former story, of “Serjeant Chatterton." What is so dull as "a twice told tale?" - I have therefore nothing further to say, than that the king and queen, by proxy, stood for this little fortunate infant; that I had a hundred-pound note sent to me by their Majesties, in compliment to mine office, which Mrs. Cottrell insisted upon sharing with me, and I very readily conceded to her, considering what constant trouble she had with attending to the secret malady of her lady, and how very little in consequence my services were needed by her ;-but I received from the Marquis a pocket book on my departure, with a much handsomer present in it, and a note in his own hand-writing laying himself, and the whole of the late history, entirely at my mercy. I have survived the Marquis the Marchioness, and the Lady Jane Urquhart ; and I feel myself quite at liberty to disclose thus far this narrative. Indeed, the present Marquis, the very child of whom I have been writing, fully sanctions this my story of his birth, and of the mysteries of L---d House,

THE PRIORESS'S TALE, FROM CHAUCER. The intention of the translator of this, perhaps, best specimen of the simple unadorned pathos of Chaucer, was, to bring the language of the father of English poetry two centuries nearer that of his present readers : to make the muse of Chaucer speak the tongue of Spenser. In so doing, it has been the aim of the present versifier to preserve all the quaint force of the original, disencumbering it from the obscurity of the ancient text. As the charm of this " well of English undefiled," consists chiefly in simplicity and vigour, to the preservation of which no style later than that of Spenser is adapted, he has retained the language of that most luxuriantly imaginative of all our poets, to soften the rugged simplicity of his less fanciful predecessor. Whether the attempt has been successful or not, the judicious reader must decide.

It was not till the translator had finished his essay, and subjected it to the editor of the New Series of the Monthly Magazine, that he knew from that gentleman that he had been forestalled in his experiment by no less a poet than Mr. Wordsworth. The present renderer had no knowledge of any other version but one in prose, certainly, however ably executed, not likely to be successfully revived. In fact, he thought he came new to the subject. His allusion is only to this particular story : had he been otherwise informed, he should have stopped at the commencement; but as it is, however incompetent to a rivalry with the eminent master in the art, before alluded to, he is yet proud to have been his unwilling companion in admiration and devotion to so choice a spirit of the old English muse.

J. A. G.
“ Well said, by Corpus Domini !" quoth our host,
Now long may'st thou sail cheerly by the coast,
Thou, gentle master, gentle mariner,
And to the monk full many a like good year.
Ha! ha! my sides do ache: Saint Austin save
Our franks and wives from such a cunning knave.

Right wittily he fooled both man and wife-
No monk shall be my cousin, on my life !

" But now, consider we, of all this rout Who next shall pass the merry tale about :". And with that word he doff'd his cap, and said (All courteously, as she had been a maid), “ My lady Prioress, by your good leave, An' it your gentle pleasure do not grieve, I would demand a tale of your sweet telling, If I might find in you accordance willing. Vouchsafe you us the boon, my lady dear." “ Gladly," quoth she, and said, as ye shall hear :

PRIORESS'S TALE. 1 O Lord, our Lord, how wondrously thy name,

In this wide world is spread abroad (said she) : For not alone thy praise, like incense flame,

Is offer'd up by men of high degree;

But by the lips of prattling infancy
Thy bounty hath been sung: ev'n at the breast

Babes have grown wise, and (lisping) thee confest. 2 Wherefore to honour thee as best I may,

And that white Lily-flower which thee did bearWhich thee did bear, yet is a maid alway,

A tale of verity I will declare:

Not that t' exalt her name I hope, or dare Attempt-herself but next unto her Son,

Where sinners may for help or refuge run. 3 O mother-maid, where maid and mother vie,

(As bush unburnt-burning in Moses' sight) Who ravishèdst down from the Deity

The Holy Ghost, that did upon thee 'light,

Charmed by humility's mysterious might,
The Father's fulness glad conceiving thence

Teach me to tell this tale with reverence, 4 Lady, thy bounty and magnificence

Thy virtue and submission-of these may No human tongue declare the sacred sense;

For often, Lady, ere to thee men pray,

Thy free benignity prevents their way;
The light of thy pure prayer ere ours be meant,

For us pre-winning thy dear Son's consent. 5 Thus all infirm, O blissful queen! my skill

In fitting phrase to laud thy worthiness,
That I the weight thereof sustain but ill :

For, as a child of twelve months old, or less,

That scarcely can a babbling sound express, Right so fare I; and hence thy guidance seek, That so my song aright of thee may speak.

« ZurückWeiter »