페이지 이미지

this change, after the ardour formerly expressed for the very object whose loss I now contemplate as a subject for serious and heartfelt self-congratulation. I think I hear you exclaim, in that caustic tone, which cuts as sharply as Damascus sabre,

“Jesu Maria! what a deal of brine
Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline !
Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
Of an old tear, that is not washed off yet.”

I deserve your taunts, and will submit to them with all humility; indeed, ought I not to do penance for being allured, even transitorily, by the meretricious affectations of a creature so hacknied as Lady Blanche, one who so truly defined herself as selfish, heartless and insincere?

Oh! when I think of the contrast her peerless sister now affords, when I think that a few seasons in the destroying haunts of fashion may make her the same; I tremble with indefinable anxiety, I sicken at the idea of her purity being sullied by its hot and fetid breathings which, like the transparency of a Venetian mirror, is dimmed by the slightest contact, the faintest respiration.

How, when the dreadful hour comes, when her innocence is unveiled to the gaze of libertinism ; when her beauty is exposed, as it were, for sale, when her every feature, her every gesture, becomes a mark for competition, and her retiring coyness is gradually exchanged for the daring audacity awakened by the consciousness of her eagerly contested charms, shall I hover over her; shall I, unperceived, and unsuspected, perform the part of a guardian Ariel, to save her from the Calibans she will encounter!

Would, I could offer her the shelter of this adoring bosom at once, without the fear of rejection ; but the bare possibility of refusal terrifies me beyond all expression. I must bridle my rash impatience; I must ingratiate myself gently and imperceptibly into her timid heart; I must win her love, without startling her fear, or dazzling her senses,-I must make myself her friend before I attempt to become her lover.

I must for a long, long time, satisfy myself with her sweet idea ; and as a proof how completely I am under its charming dominion I send you a poetic midnight musing, the first I ever essayed, so, in your critique be merciful, but still candid; for, I am fully aware, that I cannot boast with Ovid

"Et quod tentabam scribere, versus erat”

[ocr errors]

whatever I tried to write, was verse ;

verse; nor with Pope, who

“ lisped in numbers.” Still, I have seen better-modesty forbids my saying worse—but, slow comes the verse that real love inspires, as you may now judge.

Oh, costly gem! might I but string

Thee to my heart's prized, Marguerite ;
Propitious fortune could not bring

To man, a destiny more sweet.
O pearl of price !- priceless pearl !

Could I but call such jewel mine,
All other gifts, enchanting girl,

Of Antium's goddess, I'd resign,
The pearl, which Gresham's founder drank,

To show what England could afford;
Or Cleopatra's, in her prank,

To honour reft Octavia's lord.
The costly one Servilia gave

To Cæsar, whom she dearly loved ;
Though, nought for him, at that time, save

The deadliest hate, her brother moved,
Or e'en that one of Catifa,

Which Pliny mentions with amaze,
The marvel of Arabia,

Meet for its proudest monerch's gaze.
My soul thee ranks beyond all these,

Thou pearl, comparison above :
A gem, the heartless miser fees :

To homage beauty, and to love !

I think you will agree with me, when I opine, that I cannot do better than conclude this really unconscionably long epistle with the above very verdant, alias, green, production; which, when commenced, I positively had no intention of so immoderately elongating ; but, as Sterne justly observes,“ let no man say he will write a duodecimo; matter grows under one's hands,” particularly, in the present pardonable case, mon ami.

Here I am in a "fix,” until Lord Bondeville and his cbarming daughters return to town; so, if you have any compassion, write by the following post; and as often besides, as you have leisure, ever, dear Spendwell,

Yours Faithfully,

Melfont. I am not used to call you “my lord,” yet.


“ All other passions have their hour of thinking,
And hear the voice of reason. This alone
Breaks at the first suspicion into frenzy,
And sweeps the soul in tempests."

Francis's “ Constantine."


Lady Blanche Lorraine, to Miss Janet Macalpin. Ma chère Janet.-Io sono infelice, far, far more so, than can imagine; every thing, in fact, conspires against me. It was not enough that papa should choose to have the gout, and be ordered out of town, just at the commencement of the season; and that I was prevented, in consequence, being present at the first “réunion” at Ilmack's, which is really what I call, avoir du malheur, with a vengeance; but, in addition to that, I have every reason to fear I have lost all chance of securing Lord Melfont, who followed me like a shadow to Edmondthorpe. Not, that I have the slightest penchant for him individually, entre-nous, excepting that which every sensible woman must naturally have for a man with an unincumbered income of twelve thousand per annum; and sufficiently handsome and elegant not to make one ashamed to accept the spending of it.

I have now been presented four years; I have figured in all conceivable and inconceivable costumes at fancy balls; I have dazzled the eyes of the vulgar, and abashed the modest, in every printshop window; I have been bepraised to nauseating in annuals and magazines, and I have had stimulating hints thrown out to the tardy and reluctant, in the fashionable papers, of my approaching marriage; and, get mortifying as the confession is, beautiful as I am universally acknowledged to be, I have never had the remotest shadow of an offer-never could flatter my. self, even in the height of my egregious pride and vanity, with having ensnared any one, until I thought Lord Melfont safe in my tramwels ;-and how I slaved to secure him; how I laboured to captivate! how I toiled to enchant, studying his tastes, affecting his sentiments,-pretending a reciprocity of feeling, agreeing in all his opinions, and sacrificing all to him, even to the caprices of temper, so indomitable in me generally; and all for nothing, worse than nothing; for I really am horrified, lest the wretch supposing me in earnest should actually imagine me attached to him, irrevocably attached, and feel a sort of humilia

ting compunction for his desertion. That would provoke me indeed, beyond endurance ; for, fancy me an object of pity to him whom I thought to lead submissively in chains for ever!

No doubt, mia cara, you will be astonished that I should apprehend this failure, after the sanguine hopes I expressed in my former letters,—I will, therefore, give you my reason for that fear ; then you can judge for yourself how far I ought to consider it likely to be verified. You already know his devotion to me for months past,--how nothing but his absolute declaration was wanting to assure me of my triumph; hé bien ! of that I was confident, in fact, it was hovering on his lips only a few honrs since, when the sudden entrance of my sister Marguerite put it to flight. Never was a man so eblouié at the sight of a girl before! he was perfectly confounded; she certainly did look most lovely, I must admit, her whole appearance quite au naturel, with her hands filled with wild flowers, and her dress the very beau ideal of rural simplicity. What a strange thing even a high-bred girl is, in the unformed ignorance -of country life, -in the unschooled artlessness of her real character! Yet, I have a faint, a very faint impression on my memory of having once been precisely as Marguerite is now ; seeking with the avidity of a cowherd's daughter, for violets and primroses, and thinking a run in the woods the acme of human felicity. How disgraceful of parents such as ours, to allow such proceedings — surely their duty points out à more watchful restraint, a more refined training ! Bah, what fashionable parent ever thinks of so obsolete a virtue as duty ? it disappeared with our great grandmothers, and their hoops and farthingales !

There are some men who have what I term a morbid admiration for unsophisticated nature, and Lord Melfont is one of them, I am convinced; for never was it so strikingly, so eloquently depicted, as on his animated and glowing countenance, as he followed my sister's every movement as she fitted, rather than walked, arranging her simple flowers about the room ; scarcely leaving an impression on the rich Axminster carpet, so light, so whispering were her aerial footfalls.

Had she not been my sister, had I not been jealous of her, I should have participated in his admiration; I could scarcely resist yielding to the influence of her wondrous loveliness, her inimitable grace, her unstudied elegance, and naïveté, as it was; I never observed how beautiful she was before, what exquisite hands she had, nor yet how splendid her complexion

must have improveil amazingly of late, or my own jealousy embellished her with charms surpassing all I ever beheld. She resembled a bud, which one scarcely notices in its crude unattractive greenness, on the previous eve; but, which,

was; she

in the full meridian of the following day, challenges our spontaneous wonder, when, in glorious bloom, it has expanded to the sunbeam, gratefully reposing on its fragrant and blushing bosom.

I felt, in contemplating her, in all the freshness of the spring of beauty, overwhelmed with the same desponding regret, as that which weighed so mortally on the spirits and energies of Corinne, at the sight of the young and lovely Lucile-“Elle se compara dans sa pensée avec elle, et se trouva tellement inférieure, elle s'exagéra tellement, s'il était possible de se l'exagérer, le charme de cette jeunesse, de cette blancheur, de ces cheveux blondis, de cette innocente image du printemps de la vie, qu'elle se sentit presque humiliée de lutter par le talent, par l'esprit, par les dons acquis, enfin, ou du moins perfectionnés, avec ces grâces prodiguées par la nature elle-même."

You may believe I struggled to hide those feelings, you may believe, I hurried the sorceress out of the room as fast as I possibly could, without absolutely betraying the jealousy, gnawing, like the vulture of Tityus, at my very vitals ; mais, hélas, e’êtait trop tard !-the spell was wrought, the enchantment done, the victim was in the magic circle, from which, like the scorpion girt by fire, was no escape, save by self-immolation.

In vain, after her departure, I endeavoured to re-awaken him from his delirium of delight, his reverie of almost celestial bliss ; to recall the power I had exercised over his imagination, I will not say heart, so shortly before. I rallied him on his abstraction, but it roused him not; I flew to my harp and warbled plaintively-“Una furtiva lagrima," but, he suffered me to dry it unsympathising!y; “Questo silenzio amico," but he broke it not; at last, I bethought me of his favourite ballad,

“ There's a bower of roses by Bendemeer's stream,

And the nightingale sings round it all the day long,
In the time of my childhood 'twas like a sweet dream,

To sit in the roses and hear the bird's song." Oh! would you loved those roses now! he exclaimed, in a voice, which a writer d'école Minerve, would designate of the deepest pathos. So I do, I replied, starting up, and plucking a. beautiful moss-rose, from the stand in my window, which I playfully presented to him, repeating emphatically Byron's exquisite and appropriate lines.

This rose to calm my brother's cares
A message from the bulbul bears;
It says to-night he will prolong
For Selim's ear his sweetest song.

« 이전계속 »