페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

and woman's strength, of the battle to be fought, and the mode in which the victory is to be won, than you ; yes, and at the game of life, she will checkmate you, before you know where you are. We e agree

with ore woman, who conters honour on her sex,-we mean Mrs. Jameson. Women are too prudent, too precocious, too worldlywise, they are brought up to it, they are not half romantic enough, they are in no danger of becoming bewildered by the creations of the novelist, of dying of broken hearts, of letting consumption prey on their damask cheeks; there are too many mothers like her of Locksley Hall.

“ With a board of petty maxims, preaching down a daughter's heart."

For romance, for passion, we must look to man.

Now, as Hazlitt says, that the heavens have gone further off, and become astronomical, woman has been toned down into the most un. exceptionable propriety.--As well as any old Hounsditch Jew, does she know how many shillings make a pound. And yet gorgeous women, here and there, dwelling apart, like stars, do shine out, and bless, and brighten earth. Here is a glorious

one:

Eyes not down dropt, nor over bright, but fed
With the clear pointed flame of chastity;
Clear without heat, undying, tended by
Pure vestal thoughts, in the translucent fane
Of her still spirit; locks not wide dispread,
Madonna-wise, on either side her head;
Sweet lips, whereon perpetually did reign
The summer calm of golden charity.
Were fixed shadows of thy fixed mood,

Revered Isabel, the crown and head,
The stately flower of female fortitude,

Of perfect wifehood, and pure lowlihead,
The intuitive decision of a bright

And thorough-edged intellect, to part
Error from crime, or prudence to withhold
The laws of marriage, charactered in gold,

Upon the blanched tablets of her heart,
A love still burning upward, giving light
To read those laws,-an accent very low
In blandishment, but a most silver flow

Of subtle-paced counsel in distress,
Right to her heart and brain, though undescried,

Winning its way, with extreme gentleness,
Thro' all the outworks of suspicious pride,-

A courage to endure, and to obey,–
A hate of gossip, parlance, and of sway,
Crown'd Isabel, thro' all her placid life,

The queen of marriage, a most perfect wife."
Of the many such who have hallowed life, time would fail us
to tell. Were it not for the

" Social lies, that warp us from the living truth,” there would be many more such. When men have not the moral courage to stand up against the

[ocr errors]

“ Social wants, that sin against the strength of youth,"

[ocr errors]

we must not blame woman, that rather than take the initiative, she prefers to float with the tide.

But we have again relapsed into seriousness, a fault that certainly cannot be charged against women as they are. Our subject is neither exhausted, nor as yet but glanced at. We have written “about it and about it," nor could we well do otherwise. The steam-engine, the icthyosaurus of the antideluvian age, the sea-serpent, the electric light,—these are subjects on which mortals can write, and so can we. Like Macbeth, we dare do all that may become a man. Even when Helen says to Festus :

“ Thou speakest me of visions, I would learn the nature of all spiritual things.”. we feel that we could murmur some reply, more or less perspicuous, but beyond our reach fully to comprehend, and distinctly to pourtray. In clouds through which no male eye can penetrate, amongst the mysteries of which the hour of its revelation has not yet arrived, must be placed women as they

are.

THE SECRETARY.

A NOVEL.

BY

THE AUTHOR OF “THE ROCK,"4"GUARDS, HUSSARS, AND INFANTRY,”—“THE BEAUTY OF THE RAINE,” ETC., ETC.

CHAPTER III.*

" Within that castle's wall was one

O'er whose fair cheek, nor summer sun,
Nor wintry blast had glided o'er,
But left it lovelier than before.
Sorrow had never spread her shade
To dim the eye of that young maid;
E'en childhood's trivial woes, soon flown,
To her were all alike unknown.
Her life had been as one bright day

Of joy, without a cloud of sorrow,
And, basking in its sunny ray,
Cast not a thought upon the morrow.”

Beauty of the Rhine.

We must now emerge from the polluted atmosphere indigenous to the vicinity of the prison, which, at the period we are describing, was yclept the King's Bench, and without further delay, introduce our readers to the occupant of a spacious drawing-room in Grosvenor-square.

The room in question was not only furnished with every comfort which the ingenuity of upholsterers could suggest, and the supineness of their customers allow them to force into the apartment, but an air of elegance and refinement pervaded the arrangement of each decoration, so as clearly to prove the good taste and discernment of some superior being.

Books, flowers, and music, formed the chief embellishments which met the eye on casting a glance around the room ; but articles of costly bijouterie, and every description of luxuriously formed couch, were there either to amuse the eye, or entice the weary frame to repose. One small lamp only

* Continued from page 333, vol. liv.

burnt in its silver cresset, and in consequence, the deeplyfringed velvet drapery of the curtains in the distance threw a much more gloomy aspect around the luxurious chamber than it was generally wont to exhibit. The fire burned somewhat low in the grate, and altogether, there was a chilly feeling in the atmosphere often experienced, but far from welcomed as agreeable, somewhat about ten or fifteen minutes preceding the hour of dinner.

Through the dim obscurity around, it would have been difficult to decide whether this delightful spot was at that moment inhabited or not; but a faint noise, occasioned by the door opening, produced a movement near the fire-place, immediately bringing to view the form of a young and beautiful creature, who, emerging from the warm shelter she had chosen, stood proclaimed, not only the temporary occupant, but evidently the presiding deity of the apartment.

“Ah, Dropmore, is that you ?” said or rather sang a voice, the sweetness of whose melody it would indeed have been difficult to have rivalled. “How late you are—surely it 'must be long past eight o'clock ! and here have I been left in solitary sadness, to build castles in the air, or form visionary gnomes and giants, out of the nearly consumed embers on the hearth, as best I could; or else to fall asleep, and dream away the reality of hunger. But badinage apart, where is my uncle, and what detains him at so unusually late an hour?

The person thus addressed readily advanced, and with evident pleasure, eagerly pressed the small white haud which was extended towards him, and, with the easy familiarity of a near relation, threw himself into a seat by the side of his fair questioner, and immediately entered on his apologies.

But first let us describe him. There are countenances occasionally to be met with, which, after a close perusal of every feature, the observer is compelled to acknowledge as faultless; yet how frequently does it happen, that, although each particle of the face when studied is unavoidably declared perfect, a slightly disagreeable expression, or mere curve of the lips, will so thoroughiy alter the general tenor, that instead of gazing with pleasure on the well-chiselled object, the beholder with draws his eyes with an invincible feeling of dislike.

It has often been asserted, that the qualities of the mind and general disposition may be gathered by analogy from the countenance. But surely, that would be but a very unfair mode of testing the good or evil propensities of the human race in general, since all who are doomed to wander through their period of existence in indisputable hideousness, meet with sufficient annoyances on that account, without having the ad.

ditional burden of possessing an equally misshapen disposition. Indeed, among one's acquaintance, who is there that cannot point out some friend, possessed of all the better qualities of the heart, yet at the same time, the owner of a most unprepossessing visage ?

Exactly in the mould first mentioned had Lord Dropmore's features been cast. Taken separately, they might well have been the envy of any aspirant for beauty; but collectively, the effect produced was certainly the reverse of pleasing. He was nevertheless much sought after and flattered, for which attentions he was greatly indebted to a quick and ready flow of wit, agreeable exterior, prepossessing manners, youth, and—what to ladies of a certain age, who have daughters at their disposal, was of far greater consequence-rank and expected riches.

The nobleman thus slightly sketched was the son of the Marquis of Blanchard, in whose house he and his cousin, Emily Beecher, anxiously awaited the presence of the owner. The marquis having ridden out early in the day, and not yet returned, naturally occasioned some uneasiness in those who were interested concerning him.

Minute succeeded minute, and yet he came not; and while the two cousins were vainly conjecturing what might possibly have occasioned the unusual delay, we will take the opportunity of introducing our readers to the fair heroine of our tale.

Emily Beecher was the only remaining child of Lord Henry Beecher, the brother of the Marquis of Blanchard. Her father had passed his earlier years in the army, and, as so frequently has been decreed among the scions of English nobility, was destined to end his career among the valiant and brave, and truly might it have been said of him,

“He died a valiant knight,

With sword in hand for England's right.” The mother of little Emily, thus early bereaved of a husband on whom she had fixed her young affections, not from interested motives, but from choice, was soon called to rejoin her partner in heaven, whom she had truly loved on earth.

Then it was that the marquis took his infant niece to his arms, and ever after regarded her as his child. Being but a few months younger than her cousin, the earlier days of the children had been passed almost without intermission in each other's society, and until imperious custom forced the young heir to Eton, Oxford, and the Continent, their separation never bad extended beyond a few days. After an absence abroad of between two and three

years,

Lord Dropmore had but recently returned home, impressed with the

April, 1819.--Vol. LIV. No. ccxvi.

[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »