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ed without, for the most delicious paradise an eastern imagination ever painted.
It will thus readily be imagined, that the saddest day of our tutor's life was that on which he parted from this amiable family. He had here, he believed, spent the happiest moments of his existence; and instead of rejoicing that he had passed through one stage of his apprenticeship, he dwelt upon the past with pleasure, and looked forward to the future with pain.
Fortune, however, presented an insuperable obstacle to his spending his days in the inaction of private study; and he knew that he could neither gain, nor deserved to gain, the object of his affection, without establishing himself in life, by pursuing the course which had been originally chalked out to him. After, therefore, " pledging oft to meet again," he bade adieu to Daisybank, loaded with the blessings of the best of parents, and followed by the prayers of the best of daughters. He now paid a farewell visit to his parents, and after remaining with them a few days, he proceeded to Edinburgh, and for a short period felt his melancholy relieved, by the thousand novelties that attract the notice of a stranger in a great city. But this was only a temporary relief; and as he had no friend in whom he could confide, he soon felt himself solitary in the midst of thousands. Often, when the professor was expatiating upon the force of the Greek particles, his imagination was hovering over the abodes he had forsaken; and frequently it would have been more difficult for him to have given an account of the lectures he had been attending, than to have calculated the probability of what was passing at a hundred miles distance. But this absence and dejection at last wore off, and as he possessed good natural talents, and had been an industrious student formerly, he soon distinguished himself in his classes; and, before the usual period, was engaged as a tutor in one of the best families in Scotland.
This event formed another important era in his life. His prospects were now flattering, and as vanity did not fail to exaggerate them, he soon dropped a considerable portion of his humility, and began to regard himself as a young man of merit, to whom fortune was lavish of her favours. In his leisure hours he was exposed to mingle much in society; and as his manners and address were easy and engaging, scarcely a week elapsed that did not add to the number of his friends. The affections, when divided into many channels, cannot run deep in any; and probably, for every new acquaintance whom William honoured with his esteem, it required a sacrifice of friendship at the expence of love, and produced some abatement of that devotion of soul which accompanies every true and permanent attachment. At Daisy bank he had seen a simple favourite of the graces, but here he beheld the daughters of wealth and of fashion, surrounded with all the gloss of art, and soon began to waver in his attachment, and even to regard his engagement as little more than a youthful frolic. Still this temper of mind was not attained without many struggles between love and ambition, honour and interest; nor could he ever for a moment commune with himself, without feeling remorse for his inconstancy and ingratitude. He could not annihilate the conviction, that Miss Coventry was as faithful and
worthy as ever; and had she been present to appeal to his senses, it is probable he might have been preserved from the crime of apostacy. But these were fits of reflection and repentance which repetition soon deprived of their poignancy. The world returned with all its opiates and charms, to stifle in his bosom the feelings of honour, and obliterate every trace of returning tenderness. After this he became less punctual in his correspondence with Miss Coventry, and in place of anticipating the arrival of her letters as he was wont to do, he allowed them to be sent slowly to his lodgings, opened them without anxiety, and read them without interest. Of all this inconstancy, ingratitude, and neglect, the simple Mary remained a silent, though not unconcerned spectator. Kind and generous by nature, and judging of others by herself, she framed a thousand excuses for his negligence; and when he did condescend to write to her, answered him as she had been unconscious of any abatement in his attentions.
Matters remained in this uncertain state for the space of three long years, at least they seemed long to Miss Coventry, when William received his licence as a preacher. He now, therefore, thought of redeeming a pledge he had given to the minister of his native parish, to make his first public appearance in his pulpit; and after giving due intimation, he departed for the parish of with his best sermon in the pocket of his best coat. The account of his visit spread with telegraphic dispatch, long before telegraphs were invented, and was known over half the country many days before his arrival. This was another eventful day for his mother. She blessed Providence that she had lived to see the near fulfilment of her most anxious wish, and rising a little in her ambition, thought she could now die contented, if she should see him settled in a living of his own, and be greeted by her neighbours with the envied name of grandmother. As William was expected to dine with his parents on his way to the parsonage, or as it is called in Scotland, the manse of
-, great preparations were made for his reception, and for the appearance of the whole family at church on the following Sunday. Mrs Arbuthnot drew from the family-chest her wedding gown, which had only seen the sun twice during thirty summers; and her husband, for the first time, reluctantly applied a brush to his holiday suit, which appeared, from the antiquity of its fashion, to have descended, like the garments of the Swiss, through many successive generations of the Arbuthnots.
The little church of H- was crowded to the door, perhaps for the first time, long before the bellman had given the usual signals. Mr Coventry, though residing in a different parish, had made a journey thither with several of his family, for the purpose of witnessing the first public appearance of his friend. In this party was the amiable Mary, who took a greater interest in the event than any one-save the preacher-was aware of.
William on this occasion recited a well written discourse with ease and fluency, and impressed his audience with a high opinion of his talents and piety. Some of the elder of them, indeed, objected to his gestures and pronunciation, which they thought "newfangled" and theatrical; but they all agreed in thinking him a clever lad, and a
great honour to his parents. His mother was now overwhelmed with compliments from all quarters, which she received with visible marks of pride and emotion. Mr Coventry waited in the church-yard till the congregation had retired, to salute his friend, and invite him to spend a few days at Daisy bank. Mary, who hung in her father's arm, curtsied, blushed, and looked down. She had no well-turned compliment to offer on the occasion, but her eyes expressed something at parting, which once would have been sweeter to his soul than the applause of all the world beside.
Ambition from the beginning has been the bane of love. War and peace are not more opposite in their nature and effects than those rival passions; and the bosom that is agitated with the cares of the one, has little relish for the gentle joys of the other. William beheld in the person of Miss Coventry all he had been taught to regard as amiable or estimable in women; but the recollection of the respect that had been shown him by females of distinction, mixed with exaggerated notions of his own merit, made him undervalue those simple unobtrusive graces he once valued so highly, and think almost any conquest easy, after he had been settled in the rich living of B, which had been promised him by his patron.
On the following day he paid a visit to Daisybank, and received the most cordial welcome from a family who sympathized almost equally with his parents in his prospects and his advancement. During his stay there, he had frequent opportunities of seeing Miss Coventry alone, but he neglected, or rather avoided them all; and when rallied on the subject of marriage, declaimed on the pleasures of celibacy, and hinted with a good deal of insincerity, his intention of living single. Although these speeches were like daggers to the mind of her who regretted she could not rival him in inconstancy and indifference, they produced no visible alteration in her behaviour. Hers was not one of those minds in which vanity predominates over every other feeling, and where disappointment is commonly relieved by the hatred or resentment which it excites. Her soul was soft as the passion that enslaved it; and the traces of early affection are not easily effaced from a mind into which the darker passions have never entered.
William bade adieu to Miss Coventry without dropping one word upon which she could rear the superstructure of hope, and carried with him her peace of mind, as he had formerly carried her affections. From that hour she became pensive and melancholy, in spite of all her efforts to appear cheerful and happy. She had rejected many lovers for the inconstant's sake; but that gave her no concern. Her union with him had been long the favourite object of her life; and she could have patiently resigned existence, now that its object was lost. But she shuddered at the thought of the shock it would give her affectionate parents; for the softer feelings of our nature are all of one family, and the tenderest wives have ever been the most dutiful daughters.
It was impossible for Mary long to conceal the sorrow which consumed her. Her fading cheeks and heavy eyes gave daily indications of what her lips refused to utter. Her parents became deeply alarmed
at these symptoms of indisposition, and anxiously enquired into the cause of her illness; but her only answer was, that she felt no pain. The best physicians were immediately consulted upon her case, who recommended change of air and company; but all these remedies were without effect. The poison of disappointment had taken deep root in her heart, and defied the power of medicine.
Her attendants, when they found all their prescriptions ineffectual, began to ascribe her malady to its real cause, and hinted to her parents their apprehensions that she had been crossed in love. The good people, though greatly surprised at the suggestion, had too much prudence to treat it with indifference; and they left no means untried, consistent with a regard for the feelings of their child, to wile from her the important secret. At first, she endeavoured to evade their inquiries; but finding it impossible to allay their apprehensions without having recourse to dissimulation, she confessed to her mother her attachment to William, concealing only the promises he had made to her, and every circumstance that imputed to him the slightest degree of blame. At the same time she entreated them with the greatest earnestness, that no use might be made of a secret which she wished to have carried with her to the grave. This was a hard task imposed on her parents. They felt equally with herself the extreme delicacy of making the disclosure; but, on the other hand, they contemplated nothing but the probable loss of their child-an event, the bare apprehension of which filled their minds with the bitterest anguish. After many anxious consultations, Mr Coventry determined, unknown to any but his wife, to pay a visit to William, and ascertain his sentiments with regard to his daughter.
Upon his arrival at Edinburgh, he found that his friend had departed for the manse of B. with which he had been recently presented. This event, which in other circumstances would have given him the liveliest pleasure, awakened on this occasion emotions of a contrary nature, as he feared it would make his now reverend friend more elevated in his notions, and consequently more averse to an union to his daughHe did not, however, on that account conceal the real object of his journey, or endeavour to accomplish his purpose by stratagem or deceit. He candidly disclosed his daughter's situation and sentiments, requesting of his friend that he would open to him his mind with equal candour; and added, that although he held wealth to be an improper motive in marriage, and hoped that his daughter did not require such a recommendation, that in the event of this union, whatever he possessed, would be liberally shared with him.
On hearing of the situation of Miss Coventry, William became penetrated with the deepest remorse; and being aware that his affection for her was rather stifled than estranged, he declared his willingness to make her his wife. These words operated like a charm upon the drooping spirits of the father, who embraced his friend with ardour, and besought him immediately to accompany him home, that they might lose no time in making a communication which, he fondly hoped, would have a similar effect upon the spirits of his daughter.
They departed accordingly together, indulging in the pleasing hope,
that all would yet be well; but on their arrival at Daisy bank, they were seriously alarmed to hear that Miss Coventry had been considerably worse since her father left home. She was now entirely confined to her chamber, and seemed to care for nothing so much as solitude, and an exemption from the trouble of talking. As soon as she was informed of the arrival of their visitor, she suspected he had been sent for, and therefore refused to see him; but upon being assured by her mother, who found deceit in this instance indispensable, that his visit was voluntary and accidental, she at last consented to give him an interview.
On entering the room which had formerly been the family parlour, William was forcibly struck with the contrast it exhibited. Every object seemed to swim before his sight, and it was some moments before he discovered Miss Coventry, who reclined on a sofa, at the further end of the room. He advanced with a beating heart, and grasped the burning hand that was extended to meet him. He pressed it to his lips, and wept, and muttered something incoherent, of forgiveness and love. He looked doubtingly on Mary's face for an answer; but her eye darted no reproach, and her lips uttered no reflection. A faint blush, that at this moment overspread her cheek, seemed a token of returning strength, and inspired him with confidence and hope. It was the last effort of nature; and ere the blood could return to its fountain, that fountain had closed for ever. Death approached his victim under the disguise of sleep, and appeared divested of his usual pains and terrors.
William retired from this scene of unutterable anguish, and for a long period was overwhelmed with the deepest melancholy and remorse. But time gradually softened and subdued his sorrow, and, I trust, perfected his repentance. He is since married and wealthy, and is regarded by the world as an individual eminently happy. But amidst all his comforts, there are moments when he would exchange his identity with the meanest slave that breathes, and regards himself as the murderer of Mary Coventry. MACDIARMID.