Imagens das páginas

he is very good-natured and well. some evidence of stronger feeling than bred."

any which your present hasty discon. o Why do you not add, very rich tent indicates ? I would rather, howand fashionable?"

ever, not ask you this, but beg you to " Because riches and fashion have say no more to me on the subject. I but slight charms for me, as I fancied, must bear my lot as I can, and you Mr Edmonstone, that you must know." have in yours the inestimable blessing

« Once, at least, I, too, thought so; that you can hope to improve it by but as one is deceived in so many other your own exertion.” things, why not in that?"

They were now obliged to separate. " Now you must feel that you are Miss Lascelles occupied her former unjust, and I need not answer you.” seat, and, when asked again to dance

" Do you consider, Miss Lascelles, by some one else, declined on the plea to what miserable suspense and agi. of fatigue. Arthur looked dissatisfied tation our present position exposes and unhappy, and walked into another me?"

room, out of her sight. But soon " I do not know why you should after she again saw him one of a group complain more than 1. Surely my of four or five persons engaged in relation to my uncle and aunt is as eager conversation, of whoin he ap. anxious and unhappy as any thing peared to be the most earnest. She that you have to suffer. All suspense watched the play of his fine and intel. will be ended if you will agree to let ligent but restless features, and fancied me inform them of what has passed she could hear the words that accombetween us, and to abide by their de- panied the changes of his countenance. cision. That, you well know, would Had a deaf physiognomist seen him, at once extinguish every hope. What, he must have at once exclaimed,“ That then, can I say? Often and bitterly is one of the most eloquert of men!" have I repented that I ever let you Image after image, she well knew, by surprise me into an acknowledgment the looks of his companions as well as of my feelings. But, as I went so far his own, were gushing and sparkling astray, I must now only insist either from him; and she could almost dithat you agree on my confessing the vine the wide and picturesque views truth, or that you never speak to me of art, and history, and nature, and again but in the language of a friend individual life, which he was suggest. -at least, until better times."

ing or illustrating. But in his inter“ And can you promise me when vals of silence there was a look of those will come ?"

sadness and bewilderment about him, “ Surely that must depend upon and he stood at last, apparently, in yourself, or not, at least, on me. If reverie and indecision; till, with one your industry in your profession raises mournful glance towards Maria, he your worldly prospects, it may be pos- passed to the door, as if departing sible that my relations will listen, not, from the house. perhaps, with approbation, but with In the mean-time a lady, who had acquiescence, to our-to your wishes." been one of those conversing with

66 And if years pass away in the him, came to Miss Lascelles, and said, mean-time, and you continue to fre. “ Dear Maria, I do wish you had been quent such scenes as these, and to meet with me Mr Edmonstone has been daily the rich and the noble, is it not more brilliant than ever. I am sure possible that at the end of those years to-night even you, who admire so few I may see you the wife of another?" people, must have admired him."

The lady's cheek now flushed, and “ I thought I admired a great many she cast a sudden look at her partner, people. But what was he speaking and then turned slightly away and was of?" silent. A few moments afterwards she « Well, perhaps you do. But, at said," I am wrong to feel indignant least, there are so many things which at your question, when I remember the every body else is delighted with that instances I have seen of faithlessness you do not care for. Quite lately, in man and woman. But I will still you know, there were the Siamese ask you if you do not, think my will. Twins, and the man who played upon ingness to remain in my present pain. his chin, and the Hungarian Count ful and almost unworthy position is to who improvised the neighings and the go for nothing with you? Is it not words of command, and the trumpets of a regiment of cavalry all at once. ing, or was it, perhaps, the Siamese I thought it was quite acknowledged Twins ?” that you are so fastidious."

“Don't now, Maria," said the lady; « And which of these exhibitions “I am sure you know what I mean. was it that Mr Edmonstone's conver- But you are so provoking." And she sation most reminded you of? Was proceeded to give an account, in her it the chin-thumping, or the neigh. own way, of what Arthur had said.


In the mean-time, although it was holy being. Or I must attempt to still comparatively early in the even forget her and myself, in the vain dising, Arthur returned to his chamber. play of talents which, as I am placed, When he had shut himself in his small are useless for the true ends of life ; and dismal room, the impression of the and must chew my own disgust at the scene which he had left still remained vanity, which, while I speak, makes with him. The lively and graceful me derive pleasure from my own sefigures danced in fragments along the lected words and sparkling fancies, and dim wall, and bright eyes seemed from the wonder that these excite in looking at him out of the backs of the others." A door, nearly opposite him, books in the dingy bookcase. But it into another room, stood open, and was Maria who came to him the most looking up he saw the faint moonlight vividly, and stayed longest. He gazed fall through the window of this farther at the vacant space, and saw there the space. In this dull light it seemed to simple and classical knot of glossy him that a figure was standing with black hair, with its one pale flower eyes raised towards the heavens, with which so well became the high smooth tears faintly gleaming on her cheeks, forehead. Now, again, he saw the and her hands crossed meekly and quiet expressive features, in which the plaintively on her bosom. It was still eyes and lips appeared so full of intel- Maria whom he saw; but before a ligent and benignant meaning, which minute had passed the form and fea. they disdained to exhibit for the admi. tures melted softly into those of the ration of others. The fully formed dying woman whom he had that mornand thoroughly graceful person, with ing visited. She, too, grew fainter its long neck and slender hands, were and fainter, and seemed, as she vanishno less present to him, and he felt ed, mounting in the moonlight towards again, as he had often done before, the sky. that independently even of beauty, an H e turned sadly away, and, looking elegant and deeply cultivated woman, round him, saw on the table a paper in a word, a true lady, sums up and which he did not know of. He opened represents many ages of the world's it, and found a bill for a considerable mental progress.

sum which had been long due to a Yet of what avail, he thought, are tradesman ; a literary undertaking her many lovely and delightful quali. which would have supplied him with ties to me? Had I, indeed, the for- the means of discharging the debt had tune which I want, or the rank which, been for weeks neglected, while he on any other account, I would not dreamt and fretted over his unhappy accept, I might hope to gain the con- fate, and now he knew not whither to sent of her relatives and guardians. turn. In order to divert his thoughts But now what must I look to ? Years he took up an old book of Necromanof irksome worthless labour in the cy which he had been consulting, and dreariest of human studies; and then read a few pages full of strange transwhen life has become empty and un- formations and forgotten spells ; but joyous, and both our hearts are chilled nothing he now lighted on interested and closed, the remnant of me may, him till he came to the following pasperhaps, be united to all that will then sage. « Of a truth, there be many remain of Maria. O for the free and potent and secret arts born of the wits passionate life of nature, and poetry, of wise men, more than they have and love! Meanwhile, I must only thought good to divulgate through the now and then approach her like an world, as doubting of the discretion of evil spirit afraid to draw near to some purblind mortals in exercising such a right. Of which inference, doubtless, had been engaged by. Why, he musshrewd reasons may be noted in the ed, as he raised his head and looked use, say rather, the most blunt, pro- above the old round tower of the Temfane, and quadrupedal abuse of their ple Church-why should that which present small and poor prerogatives, we so much desire be placed beyond by mankind perpetrated and custom- our reach ? Is our nature then an ary. Thus, I doubt not to affirm, such endless contradiction? If I so long to truths in the main ocean of time lie be able to change my lot, why has not buried and drowned, or may from the system of things that gave me this thence, by brave and constant divers, longing, also given me the power to hereafter, pearl-wise, be fished up, as gratify it? And then, not himself bewould change the whole order and lieving the fancy he indulged in, he groundplot of men's lives, no less than began to paint the destiny that he a great and polite king changes the would select if he possessed the power compass and fashion of the barbarous of choice. At last he asked himself castles and pavilions in some strange the fatal question,–If I could thus city, by him new invaded and sub- change myself and all about me, should dued. Thus, by the manner of exam. I not lose Maria's love, which is given ple, may, perhaps, spells, charms, and to me, and not to any such figure as I amulets, be discovered, if not in the might wish to assume. But then the Eastern people now frequent, to turn demon answered, Ay, but if I could dust to gold, vinegar to nectar, clay also change so as to forget her, how and sordes to orient jewels, if dead and should I suffer? Is it not plain that mouldered stumps to make fruits grow my removal would be to her the chief divine and unmatchable : what know of blessings, as relieving her from the I? In a word, to make money plen- heavy perplexity in which she to-night tiful as men's modes of spending it; complained she is involved ? to sheathe lightnings even as we T his suggestion had too strong a sheathe Toledo-blades, and again draw hold upon his weakness. But at this them to the confusion of the enemies. moment, his reflections were broken of our lord the king (whom God pre. by an unexpected sound. It seemed serve !); to turn one man into another to him that he heard a faint sad note or into many. And herewith, perhaps, from the organ in the neighbouring when that seal of Solomon is found church. He listened, and it sounded again, and worn, where it would best again, sadder, but more distinct. He become, on the hand of our dread and walked round to the door, but now bounteous sovereign, to purge gross heard nothing, and after a minute or matter to spirit, and to make of men two of delay, was about to depart, angels; even so as of grubs and worms when the note sounded for the third come forth butterflies, and of noisome time. The deep, low arch, with its smoke and ashes, the divine and Para- pillar work and Gothic sculpture, was disaical Phoenix is begotten and pro- close at hand. He pushed the door ; ceedeth. But may those who attain it opened at his touch, and as he made to such skill of arts ever judiciously and a step forward into the dim and empty temperately practise and adumbrate space, slipped from his hand, and clostheir parts and wisdom, even as shall ed behind him. At this moment, the here be done; not openly and popu. clock struck twelve. The building is larly declaring, but rather keeping the now used only as a vestibule to the larlight of too resplendent truth in due gerchurch beyond, butis in itself a most films and veils concealed.”

curious and venerable monument, and When he had twice read this singu- contains the tombs of several knights lar and grotesque passage, he opened clad in armour, and with their legs his window and looked out. The stars crossed. There was now no sound were visible in the small spot of sky audible but his own footsteps as he which came within his survey, and walked across the wide area, and again there was still a faint light from the turned. While he paced the pavemoon. The night was calm, and he ment, his former confused and waverdescended from his room and walked ing thoughts pursued him still. At about the court. Here his former last, he exclaimed, half aloud, “ If so thoughts returned and mixed them. much of pain and self-reproach clings selves in a fantastic combination with inseparably to this miserable identity the strange magical images which he of mine, why cannot I cast it off,

and migrate into some new form of doubtless designed me to work. If being?'

you accept my ring, it must be used “ You can!" answered a low clear this night, or it will vanish from your voice, apparently close at hand. hand. If not, return to your dwelling,

Arthur was brave by temperament, and devote yourself to the duties which and his imagination had familiarised your present state imposes on you." him with innumerable kinds of dan- Arthur remembered his desolate ger. But he now staggered two or chamber, the hopeless manuscript, and three paces back, and looking round, unpaid bills, and the melancholy imsaw, not four yards from him, a human age of Maria, whom, for years, he figure. It was an old man in a long could not hope to make his own. He dress, the form of which was not dis held out his hand, received the ring, tinctly visible, while, in the twilight, and placed it on his finger. his white head and venerable features The night was now so much obscurstood out like those of a saint in some ed, that he could hardly see the figure early German picture. So have the of the old man. But he heard the more ancient artists often represented words, “ Remember, that if the preJoseph, the husband of Mary. sent hour passes before you have made

« Would you"-he said, in a sweet your choice, you will lose for ever the but melancholy voice—“in truth, ac- privilege you have obtained." cept the offer of exchanging, at your It now became altogether dark, and own pleasure, your own personal ex. Arthur felt that he was alone. He istence for that of other men ?”

remained in mournful perplexity overAfter a moment's pause, he answer. powered by the strangeness of the ed boldly, “ Yes."

event. But he still felt the ring up“I can bestow the power, but only on his finger, and knew that he was upon these conditions. You will be not dreaming. The moments flew able to assume a new part in life only on and on, and the quarter had struck once in every week. For the one hour twice since he received the ring, so after midnight on each Saturday, that that but a few minutes of the hour is, for the first hour of the new week, now remained. At last he began to you will remember all that you have consider that he must needs, at all been, and whatever characters you events, compose his mind, and come may have chosen for yourself. At the to some determination. But when he end of the hour, you may make a new endeavoured to decide what he should choice, but if then deferred, it will be do, what character he should choose again a week before the opportunity to assume, a thousand images seemed will recur anew. You will also be floating confusedly before him, and incapable of revealing to any one the none of them distinct enough to sepower with which you are gifted. cure his preferencc. He fancied that And if you once resume your present all the shapes he had ever seen flowbeing, you will never again be able to ing along the neighbouring streets of cast it off. If, on these terms, you the city were now with him in the old agree to my proposal, take this ring, church. But he could bring no one and wear it on the forefinger of your more vividly before his eyes than anoright hand. It bears the head of the ther. At length, a single figure sefamous Appollonius of Tyana. If parated itself from the crowd, he knew you breathe upon it at the appointed not how or why. He regarded it with hour, you will immediately become a mingled feeling of envy and dislike. any person whom you may desire to But, at this moment, he heard the prebe of those already existing in the age paratory jarring of the clock, and feelyou live in, and who in this age are ing spell-bound to use the ring, he alone possible."

raised his hand towards his face. The Arthur hesitated, and said, “Be- onyx head glowed with a spark of fire fore I assent to your offer, tell me in the darkness, and while he breathwhether you yourself would think me ed on it, and pronounced to himself, in wise to do so.”

a tremulous whisper, the name of Sir “ Young man, were I to choose Charles Harcourt, the sound of the again, my only choice would be to fill clock thrilled away. At the same in. the situation where nature brought stant, Arthur Edmonstone ceased to me forth, and where God, therefore, be conscious of existence. VOL. XLIV. NO. CCLXXVII.

2 v


Sir Charles Harcourt was a man collections, spaciousness, convenience, arrived at about half the term of dignity, picturesqueness, and the look threescore years and ten, but appear of a peaceful and beloved abode for ed rather younger than his age. He man. It was surrounded by a large was of middle size, and pleasing ap. park, of broken surface, and noble pearance, with features more regular timber, traversed by a swift and than expressive, and an air of much sparkling stream. There was beauty ease and politeness. Taste and refine- in its long avenues of elm and horsement had been the business of his life. chestnut, in its woods of oak and knolls His large fortune had been chiefly of beeches, in the smooth expanses of employed in the enjoyment and ac- verdure, and the colouring of the elecumulation of elegant luxuries. His vations adorned with fern, and palehouse was admirably arranged and flowered broom, and golden-tinted beautifully furnished. His pictures furze. There were swans upon the and other works of art always costly river, and antlered herds beneath the and striking, if not always of the foliage. About the house were terdeepest significance. The regularity races with flights of stairs, and founand completeness of his whole esta tains with quaint figures, and a pro. blishment and existence were noted fusion of the rarest and most pleasing even among the British aristocracy. flowers. And a large old-fashioned His parties were the highest models garden, which ran along one side of of good-breeding and cultivated re- the building, contained, among many laxation, combined with splendour other full-grown trees, cypresses, ceIn the manner of the host, with a per dars, and plane trees of great age, and petual self-consciousness that gave beds of rich bloom surrounding bronze something of coldness and reserve, or marble statues, and divided by there was also an unfailing walks of velvet green. Within the mand, and earnest though smooth house were great galleries, halls, and concern for others, which even if re- chambers, gorgeous with antique fur. garded as acting, such as from its niture, to which had been added what. unvarying consistency it could hardly ever of graceful and commodious mobe, was in its kind most attractive. It dern art devises, and containing a was not the elevated, the humane, not large collection of pictures. even the beautiful which he unceasing. In the evening of the day on which ly aimed at realizing ; but as much of Sir Charles arrived at Beechurst, all these as might be necessary to ren. several of his guests also reached it. der him the most popular, admired, They were persons of very different and flattered leader of English society. kinds. The most remarkable of them Every one felt in his company as if were Walsingham, an exquisite rather in a well-proportioned and lighted than a very popular poet, and Hast. gallery, surrounded with graceful and ings, a traveller, who had visited al. harmonious objects. They were only most every part of the world. With the few to whom it occurred that there these were two or 'three artists and could be any thing wanting in order men of letters, as many young men of to render the gallery a home.

rank and fortune, and a few ladies, On the next day but one after that friends, or whom she chose to call on which he had met Miss Lascelles so, of Miss Harcourt, Sir Charles's at the ball, he left London for his sister. Among these was numbered country seat, where he had invited a Maria Lascelles, who came under the party of friends to join himself and care of her aunt, Mrs Nugent. Her his sister, and Maria among them. mother had been sister to Mr Nugent. Beechurst was a stately Elizabethan Mrs Nugent was a cousin of Sir house, wanting, indeed, the majesty Charles Harcourt. The Mount, at of a Greek temple, and the religion of which the Nugents lived, was at the a Gothic cathedral, and the massive distance of but a few miles from grimness of a feudal castle ; but hav Beechurst. ing what befits a house, family re- Maria looked with a good deal of

« AnteriorContinuar »