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from the heart at once, like the envenomed juice of the deadly “ Amaryllis disticha;” but is distilled drop by drop, like the precious perfumes which make fragrant the disembowelled monarchs of the east.
Lucy Forrester, too poor to be able to wait for me, married before my father's death secureủ to me the means of providing for her as she merited. She married in her own station, a young and amiable clergyman; and, no doubt, hearing of me as I am, she congratulates herself on her escape from such a dissipated monster; alas, forgetting that it was her loss, which made me so depraved; so much the better, for that remembrance inigh have uselessly embittered the happiness I knew she enjoyed, for I watched over her welfare, and promoted that happiness, al though she was unconscious of the hand from whence she received it.
I have beheld her once since her marriage, only once did I dare allow myself that felicity; I have heard the music of that voice again; but without her knowledge. I made a pilgrimage to the shrine of my early and only love, a few summers since, and hovered about the premises which contained my idol, with that sickness of the soul which only the wretchedly hopeless experience, when waiting to catch a glimpse of the treasure once within their grasp ; but, wrested from it for ever.
She came, at length, with her children, to walk in the shubberies; I was behind a hedge, crouching like a robber.
I heard her talking to her pretty ones, with that expansion of heart, which only a mother indulges in when conversing with her children unrestrainedly. How happy she appeared, how happy they seemed, how did she mingle instruction with amusement, how did she enter into their innocent gambols! Then, they came to seat themselves close to wher: I was; I overheard all they said ; how musical their voices ! like a nest of callow nightingales, they reverberated to my heart, and awoke a strange, long-forgotten gladness there, a memory of childhood, a sweet, pensive, prayerful memory; and I wept, but not for despair as formerly, I felt the better, the purer for those tears.
How did they multiply question on question, with that infantile prattling mauner, so winning, so endearing ,which shows the perfect confidence and affection of their artless bosoms ! How did she endeavour to satisfy them all, how inexhaustible her patience, how varied her information, how triumphant her pride at the abilities they displayed! I heard the kisses of reward she owed on them, I could not resist the temptation of contemplating such a picture, so, raising myself up as noiselessly as possible, I looked, for an instant, over the hedge; oh, how
lovely she had grown, how, in the maturity of domestic felicity, had she become embellished !
She held her youngest cherub in her arms, whilst the other was looking up in her face, with the holy earnestness of expression given by “Mantegua” to the infant St. John, in his magnificent picture of “La .adonna della Vittoria.”
How did my heart palpitate, as I almost shrieked out, thus might she have blessed and caressed my children ; how did I recall poor Byron's anguish of soul, when he first beheld his Mary's child; how did I repeat his pathetic lament, to express my own acute regret
When late I saw thy favourite child,
And they were all the world to me." Alas! alas ! although I could not actually embrace those precious children, I kissed and blessed them mentally, with a fervour only experienced by such a riven heart as mine ; and at such a moment. More than once I was on the eve of making my proximity known to her, moved by a restless desire to discover whether she had entirely forgotten me—whether she was so utterly indifferent now as to bear my presence with the calm, repelling dignity, which became the virtuous wife of another. But I quickly checked this morbid curiosity, as reason pointed out the folly, the absurdity of my wishing to penetrate the mystery of her heart, for of what avail to me, the real state of her feelings? Far preferable to think her indifferent; far preferable to think her too chaste, to dare to regret one whom she was forbidden, both by duty and religion, to love or lament, than to know for a certainty, that a latent sorrow did occasionally cloud the serenity of her mind, a memory of something bright and beautiful, like a child-dream long, long since vanished. For, although that knowledge might have made me dwell more passionately on her contem lation, it would have diminished its reverence, and it was the pride, the glory of my soul to esteem her unsullied in thought, in word, and in deed; as if by once having been beloved by her, I still retained a portion of my original purity, but only, alas, by reflection ! for, world-stained, polluted as I was, I felt myself too unworthy, too debased, to venture within the precincts her very breathing had perfumed, bad sanctified. Conscience whispering me, that I should but be as Lucifer, enter
ing that second Eden, to fill its gentle, beauteous Eve with terror and dismay. And I even, in imagination, beheld the angel Gabriel guarding it from all intrusion.
“ Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given
Or, Ithuriel, with his spear, his dreaded spear, ready to pierce the frail disguise of my perhaps too temporary return to virtue.
“ Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
To its own likeness—its former self-oh, would it could be 80! oh, would it could, then would she have beheld me as I was when loved by her, and meriting that love. I have never seen her since, but I hear that she is still beautiful, still happy, and that she has named her youngest child “ Harry.” God bless the boy ! he may, by that, remind his mother's prayers of me.
There is one part of that romantic and fondly-cherished ad. venture, on which I still meditate with indescribable complacency, and self gratulation, which is, that during the whole conversation with her babes, she never once alluded to their father.
It might have been purely accidental, no doubt, it was; but if I am superstitious in aught, it is in the intuition of spirits; and it soothes mine to fancy, that although she was not aware of it, an instinctive delicacy caused her to omit the mention of one so obnoxious to my feelings, my jealousy. How different has the style of this letter imperceptibly become, to what I intended at its commencement, but, the heart must relieve itself sometimes of the perilous stuff which weighs upon it, or it would be crushed.
This is the first time I have had courage to broach the subject to you, and it is quite wonderful how insensibly I have been led on to dilate upon it. It must be the sympathy of addressing a man, now subdued, like yourself, by a virtuous attachment, which, restoring me to truth and nature, renders me thus sweetly, thus dearly communicative. Yet, Melfont, with a heart so lacerated, what would the country be to me? reflection would be torture, solitude, death. I am not ignorant of the dissatisfaction attending a town life, its hopeless and endless search after variety, its sickening sameness, and monotony; but it is bustle and excitement, and they are absolutely necessary to me, and half the other men who are seen eagerly pursuing the
dame career of vice and dissipation; for, depend upon it, youthful disappointment is the foundation of aged, cold-hearted villany. I know it from fatal, blasting experience.
Could my father look forth from the gorgeous mausoleum in which his haughty remains were entombed, to awe the vulgar, but to corrupt there, like the meanest pauper's, in his unsculptured grave, and see the thing I am, how would be shudder! how would he tremble at having so impiously abused the paternal authority, as to ruin the soul and body of his son, to gratify that inordinate pride of birth, so condemnable in the sight of heaven! Could he mark my sunken eye, my feverish cheek, grasp my feverish hand, hear my hollow laugh, and dive into the dark recesses of my hollower heart, he would then learn, of a verity, the wretch that very pride hath made of his only child, the heir of his name, the inheritor of his possessions.
Could he know that that name was for ever disgraced, those possessions gone, gone piecemeal, to minister to the vile appetites of an insatiable debauchery; then, then would he indeed taste of the bitterness of death, then, then would he feel that he had exceeded the rights of nature, affection, power.
“ What floods of sorrow,
But,would he believe, even if his eyes witnessed my excesses, that they were the result of his tyrannic cruelty ? no! no! blind to his own faults, even to the grave, he would still flatter himself, that they originated alone from my own innate depravity; and that I was pre-ordained to be the profligate I am, whatever might have been my destiny. But, I refute the fallacious subtlety ; withı indignation refute it; conscious that was born with good principles, noble sentiments, ex ted honour, that I once recoiled at all that was base, mean and ignoble, that I once was worthy of a mother's blessing, a mother's prayers, a mother's kisses; that she, that chaste mother, could actually praise the cool, fragrant lips of the boy she embraced with such grateful and intense affection, without lying to her own heart, without lying to her God, for they were then as unsullied as the cherubs smiling on her now !
But a truce to this too tardy and tedious moralizing; revenons a nos moutons, or you will positively imagine that I have joined some fanatical sect, and am a candidate for the honour of an extemporaneous pulpit. En revanche, for supposing that the rising sun served me for a chandelle de veille,
because you were up with larks, milkmaids, and such vulgar ruralities, I will now suppose you at your primitive supper à la Romaine, of a snail and a salad, or like Horace, whom, by the bye, you do not resemble in any thing else, enjoying your mallows and chicory, it now being only six o'clock, P.m. I trust, however, in these degenerate days of la grippe, alias, cholera, you will prudently wash the horrid crudities down with copious draughts of punch à la Romaine, too.
With respect to blending mercy and candour together, as you request, in my critique on your poetic effusion, I can only say, I am no chemist, and do not understand the amalgamation of such antagonistic elements. I should fear an explosion if I even attempted it. It seems to me, that when Monsieur Cupidon inspired you to perpetrate such verses, he played you false; and that he, his mother, and the graces made merry at your expense ; mais, il faut tenir au vent; it is a delicate affair to touch upon; the coup d'essai of an amateur, is seldorn a chef d'ouvre, particularly, in celebration of his ladie-love ; for then, passion blinding reason, the rashest rhapsody passes for sense and seutiment. I therefore take the liberty of concluding, with a due deference to le petit Dieu d'amour, and his pupil, that the stanzas in question will not be generally classed among those addressed to the “ Marguerite des Marguerites,” the peerless Madame Marguerite Valois, la Dame de toutes pensées ; mais nous verrons the effect they will produce on your pearl of pearls. Remember, that in love with very young girls, the great card is perseverance; they are so monstrous hard to persuade they are worth being worshipped; they do not jump at conclusions like their seniors, their modesty always standing in the way of their innocent vanity; you must, therefore, take Tamerlane's ant as a model of the virtue so necessary for you to practise
Wishing you all imaginable success,
HARRY SPENDWELL. P. S. You, like the rest of my friends, still address me as the “ Honourable Harry, ” and I am glad you do; for, where is the use of a man taking up an empty, profitless title? No, no, let it sleep with my lordly father, in the tomb of all the Capulets, for me; with this reservation, however, that when any one is disposed to leave me a fortune, he must not forget all my titles, names, and so forth, for fear, by their omission, it should devolve to the crown, which, loyal as I am, I should consider a very particular bore! Not that I have the remotest expectancy of such a coup de bonheur.
N. B. Remember, " İts well to be off with the old love