« 이전계속 »
morning about this time, and finding him pacing about his chamber in a very melancholy mood. He welcomed me with more than his usual cordiality; and dismissing his attendant, said, "Doctor, did you ever hear me speak in Parliament!" I told him I had not.
"Then you shall hear me now; · and tell me candidly what sort of an advocate you think I should have made-for I have serious thoughts of turning my attention to the bar. I'll suppose myself addressing the jury on my own case-and you must represent the jury. Now!"
He drew a chair and table towards a corner of the room,-mounted on it, having thrown a cloak over his shoulders, and commenced. Shall I be believed, when I declare that as far as my judgment goes-I listened on that occasion, for nearly an hour, to an orator? He spoke, of course, in the third person; and stated in a simple and most feeling manner, his birth, education, fortune, family, marriage his Parliamentary career -in short, his happiness, prosperity, and pride. Then he represented the contemptuous indifference with which he treated the first communications about the attack meditated upon his title and property, as well as the consternation with which he subsequently discovered the formidable character of the claim set up against him. He begged me-the jury to put myself in his place; to fancy his feelings and proceeded to draw a masterly sketch of the facts of the case. He drew a lively picture of the secret misery he had endured his agony lest his wife should hear of the disastrous intelligence-his sleepless nights and harassing days -the horrid apprehension of his adversary's triumph-the prospect of his own degradation-his wife-his child's beggary-till I protest he brought tears into my eyes. But, alas! at this point of his history, he mentioned his discovery of the mode of turning tallow into wax--and dashed off into an extravagant enumeration of the advantages of the speculation! There, before me, stood confessed the madman-violent and frantic in his gestures, haranguing me, in my
own person, on the prodigious wealth that would reward the projector and had I not risen to go, he would probably have continued in the same strain for the remainder of the day! I had purposed calling that evening on Lady Anne-but I gave up the idea. The image of her insane husband would be too fresh in my mind. I felt I could not bear to see her, and think of him. What a lot was mine
thus alternating visits between the diseased in mind, and the diseased in body-and that between husband and wife-over whom was besides impending the chance, if not proba bility, of total ruin! Oh, Providence
mysterious and awful in thý dis pensations among the children of men!-who shall enquire into thy purposes, who question their wisdom or beneficence !
My heart misgives me, however, that the reader will complain of be ing detained so long amongst these scenes of monotonous misery→I would I had those of a different character to present to him!-Let me therefore draw my long narrative to a close, by transcribing a few extracts from the later entries in my journal.
Saturday, November 5, 18-This was the day appointed for the trial of the important cause which was to decide the proprietorship of the title and possessions of Sir Henry Harleigh. Much interest was excited, and the court crowded at an early hour. Six of the most distinguished counsel at the bar had taken their seats, each with his ponderous load of papers before him, in the interest of Sir Henry, and three in that of his opponent. A special jury was sworn; the Judge took his seat; the cause was called on; the witnesses were summoned. The plaintiff's junior counsel rose to open the pleadings-after having paused for some time for the arrival of his client's attorney, who, while he was speaking, at length made his appearance, ex
cessively pale and agitated. The plaintiff had been found dead in his bed that morning having been carried thither in a state of brutal intoxication, the preceding night, from a tavern-dinner with his attorney and witnesses. He died single, and there of course was an end of the whole matter that had been attended with such direful consequences to Sir Henry and his lady. But of what avail is the now established security of his title, rank, and fortune to their unhappy owner?-an outcast from society from home-from family from the wife of his bosom
even from himself! What signified the splendid intelligence to Lady Anne perishing under the pressure of her misfortunes? Would it not a thousandfold aggravate the agonies she was enduring? It has been thought proper to intrust to me the difficult task of communicating the news to both parties, if I think it advisable that it should be done at all. What am I to do ?-What may be the consequence of the secret's slipping out suddenly from any of those around Lady Anne? About the Baronet I had little apprehension; I felt satisfied that he could not compre bend it that whether he had lost or won the suit was a matter of equal moment to him!
As I had a patient to visit this morning, whose residence was near Somerfield, I determined to take that opportunity of trying the effect of the intelligence on Sir Henry. It was about two o'clock when I called, and I found him sitting by the fire, reading one of Shakspeare's plays. I gradually led his thoughts into a suitable train, and then told him, briefly, and pointedly, and accurate ly, his own history-up to the latest incident of all-but as of a third person, and that a nobleman. He listened to the whole with profound interest.
God bless me !" he exclaimed, with a thoughtful air, as I concluded "I surely must have either heard or read of this story before!-You don't mean to say that it is fact? That it has happened lately?"
"Indeed I do, Sir Henry," I replied, looking at him earnestly. "And are the parties living? Lord and Lady—?”
VOL. XXXV. NO, CCXVII.
"Both of them-at this moment→→ and not ten miles from where we are now sitting!"
"Indeed!" he replied, musingly that's unfortunate!" "Unfortunate, Sir Henry!" I echoed, with astonishment.
Very-for my purpose. What do you suppose I bave been thinking of all this while?" he replied, with a smile. "What a subject it would be for a tragedy!--But, of course, since the parties are living, it would never do! Still I cannot help thinking that something might be made of it! One might disguise, and alter the facts."
"It is a tragedy of very real life!" I exclaimed, with a deep sigh..
"Indeed it is!" he replied, echoing my sigh" it shews that fact often transcends all fiction does it not? Now, if this had been the plot of a tale, or novel, people would have said how improbable ! how unnatural ? 22 je
Aye, indeed they would, Sir Henry." said I, unable to keep the tears from my eyes. af 2100
"Tis affecting," he replied, his eyes glistening with emotion; adding, after a moment's pause, in a somewhat tremulous tone" Now, which of the two do you most pity, Doctor Lord or Lady Mary
Both scarceb know which, most." 499d3 to 191521625 sideb "How did they bear the news, by the way, do you know?" he enquired, with sudden interest.
"I believe Lady Mary is in too dangerous circumstances to be told of it. They say she is dying!"
"Poor creature! What a melancholy fate! And she is young and beautiful, you say?”.
"She is young, but not now beautiful, Sir Henry!"
"I wish it had not been all real!" he replied, looking thoughtfully at the fire. "What would Shakspeare have made of it! It would have been a treasure to the writer of King Lear! And how, pray, did Lord
receive the intelligence.Stop," said he, suddenly,—“ stopHow can one imagine Shakspeare to have drawn the scene? How would he have made Lord behave ? Let me see-an ordinary writer could make the madman roar, and stamp,
and rave-and perhaps be at length sobered with the news--would not he ?"
Very probably, Sir Henry," I replied faintly.
"Ah, very different, I imagine, would be the delineation of that master painter! Possibly he would make the poor madman listen to it all, as to a tale of another person! He would represent him as charmed with the truth and nature of the invention-poor, poor fellow-commiserating himself in another! How profound the delusion! How consummately true to nature! How simple, but how wonderfully fine, would be the scene under SHAKSPEARE'S pencil!" continued Sir Henry, with a sigh, folding his arms on his breast, leaning back in his chair, and looking thoughtfully into the fire.
Why, you are equal to Shakspeare yourself, then, my dear Sir Henry."
"What!—what do you mean?" said he, starting and turning suddenly towards me with some excitement, rather pleasurable, however, than otherwise-"Have I, then”— "You have described it EXACTLY as it happened!"
"No! Do you really say so? How do you know it, my dear Doctor ?" said he, scarce able to sit in his chair, his countenance, brightening with delight.
"Because I was present, Sir Henry; I communicated the intelligence," I replied, while every thing in the room seemed swimming round
Ha, ha, ha!" attempting a laugh, that mocked him with its faintness; "but really you do tell me such horrid tales, and look so dreadfully expressive while you are telling themthat-that-upon my soul-I cannot bear it! Pho! how hot the room is! Let us throw open the window and let in fresh air!" He rose, and I with him. Thank God, he could not succeed, and I began to breathe freely again. He walked about, fanning himself with his pocket-handkerchief. He attempted to smile at me, but it was in vain; he became paler and paler, his limbs seemed to stagger under him, and I had scarce time to drop him into a chair, before he fainted. I summoned his keeper to my assistance, and, with the ordinary means, we soon restored Sir Henry to consciousness.
"Ah! is that you?" he exclaimed, faintly smiling, as his eye fell upon the keeper. "I thought we had parted long ago! Why, where have you, or rather where have I been ?"
At length, with the aid of a little wine and water, he recovered his self-possession.
Heigh-ho! I shall be fit for nothing all the day, I am afraid! So I shall go and play at chess with the king. Is his majesty at liberty ?"
My soul sunk within me; and seeing he was uneasy at my stay, I took my leave; but it was several hours before I quite recovered from the effects of perhaps the most agitating scene I ever encountered. I found it impossible to pay my promised visit to Lady Anne that evening. One such interview as the above is enough, not for a day, but a life; so I despatched a servant on horseback with a note, stating that I should call, if possible, the next evening.
Sunday, Nov. 6.-I determined to call upon Sir Henry to-day, to see the effect, if any, produced by our yesterday's conversation. He had just returned from hearing Dr Y-— read prayers, and was perfectly calm.
There was no alteration in his manner; and one of the earliest observations he made was, "Ah, Doctor, how you deceived me yesterday!What could I be thinking of, not to know that you were repeating, in another shape, the leading incident in-absolutely!-ha, ha!—my own
tale of The Pedigree!' 'Tis quite inconceivable how I could have forgotten it as you went on; but I have gained some valuable hints! I shall now get on with it rapidly, and have it at press as soon as possible. I hope it will be thought worthy by the world of the compliments you took occasion to pay me so delicately yesterday!"
I took my leave of him, in despair.
On reaching Hall, in the evening, I found that the news, with the delivery of which I fancied my self specially and exclusively char. ged, had by some means or other found its way to her ladyship at an early hour in the afternoon of the preceding day. She had been but slightly agitated on hearing it; and the first words she murmured, were a prayer that the Almighty would make the intelligence the means of her husband's restoration to reason; but for herself, she expressed perfect resignation to the Divine will, and a hope that the consolations of religion might not be withdrawn from her during the little interval that lay between her and hereafter. Surely that pure prayer, proceeding from the depths of a broken heart, through guileless lips, found favour with her merciful Maker. Surely it was his influence that diffused thenceforth serenity and peace through the chamber of the dying sufferer; that extracted the keen thorn of mental agony; that healed the broken spirit, while it gently dissolved the elements of life-kindling, amid the decaying fabric of an earthly tabernacle, that light of faith and hope which shines
"Most vigorous, when the body dies!"
Come hither a moment, ye that doubt, or deny the existence of such an influence; approach with awful steps this deathbed chamber of youth, beauty, rank-of all loveliness in womanhood, and dignity in station-bither! and say, do you call THIS "the deathbed of hope-the young spirit's grave?" Who is it that hath rolled back from this sacred chamber door the boisterous surges
of this world's disquietude, and "bidden them that they come not near ?"
It was true that Lady Anne was dying, and dying under bitter circumstances, as far as mere earthly considerations were concerned; but was it hard to die surrounded by such an atmosphere of " peace that passeth understanding?"
I found my sweet patient surrounded by her sisters, and one or two other ladies, propped up with pillows in a sort of couch, drawn before the fire, whose strong light fell full upon her face, and shewed me what havoc grief had made of her once beautiful features. She was then scarcely eight-and-twenty; and yet you might have guessed her nearly forty! The light with which her full eyes once sparkled had passed away, and left them sunk deep in their sockets, laden with the gloom of death. Her cheeks were hollow, and the deep bordering of her cap added to their wasted and shrunken appearance. One of her sisters-a very lovely womanwas sitting close beside her, and had always been considered her image; alas, what a woful disparity was now visible!
Lady Sarah, my patient's youngest sister, was stooping down upon the floor, when I entered, in search of her sister's wedding-ring, which had fallen from a finger no longer capable of filling it. "You had better wind a little silk about it," whispered Lady Anne, as her sister was replacing it on the attenuated, alabaster-hued finger from which it had dropped. "I do not wish it ever to be removed again. Do it, love!" Her sister, in tears, nodded acquiescence, and left the room with the ring, while I seated myself in the chair she had quitted by her sister's side. I had time to ask only a few of the ordinary questions, when Lady Sarah reappeared at the door, very pale, and beckoned out one of her sisters to communicate the melancholy intelligence, that moment received, that their father, the old Earl, who had travelled up from Ireland, though in an infirm state of health, to see his dying daughter, at her
earnest request,-had expired upon the road! In a few minutes, all present had, one by one, left the room, in obedience to similar signals at the door, and I was left alone with Lady Anne.
68 Doctor," ," said she, calmly, "I am afraid something alarming has happened. See how they have hurried from the room! I observed Sarah, through that glass," said she, pointing me to a dressing-glass that stood so as to reflect whatever took place at the door. "Are you aware of any thing that has happened?" I solemnly assured her to the contrary, She sighed-but evinced not the slightest agitation.
I hope they will tell me all; whatever it is, I thank God I believe I can bear it! But, Doctor," she pursued in the same calm tone, "whatever that may be, let me take this opportunity of asking you a question or two about-Sir Henry, When did you see him?" I told her
"Have you much hope of bis case?"-I hesitated.
"Pray, Doctor, be frank with a dying woman!" said she, with solemnity.
Heaven will unsafe
me strength to bear may have to tell me!-How is it?" "I-I-fear-that at present-at least, he is no worse, and certainly far more tranquil than formerly."
"Does he know of the event of Saturday? How did it affect him?" "But little, my lady. He did not seem quite to comprehend it." She shook her head slowly, and sighed. "I hope your ladyship has received consolation from the intelligence?"
Alas, what should it avail me! But there is my child. Thank God, he will not now be a beggar! Heaven watch over his orphan years!" I thought a tear trembled in her eye, but it soon disappeared. Doctor," she added, in a fainter tone even than before, for she was evidently greatly exhausted, " one word more! I am afraid my weakness has from time to time occasioned you much trouble-in the frequent attempts I have made to see my husband-my poor lost Henry!" She paused for several seconds. "But the word is spoken from on high; I shall never see him again on this side the grave! I have written a letter to him,
which I wish to be delivered to him after I shall be no more, providedhe be capable-of-of" again she paused. "It is lying in my port-feuille below, and is sealed with black. It contains a lock of my hair, and I have written a few lines-but nothing that can pain him. Will you take the charge of it?" I bowed in respectful acquiescence. She extended her wasted fingers towards me, in token of her satisfaction. I can give the reader, I feel, no adequate idea of the solemn, leisurely utterance with which all the above was spoken. In her manner there was the profound composure of consciously approaching dissolution. She seemed beyond the reach of her former agitation of feeling-shielded, as it were, with a merciful apathy. I sat beside her, in silence, for about a quarter of an hour. Her eyes were closed, and I thought she was dozing. Presently one of her sisters, her eyes swollen with weeping, stepped softly into the room, and sat down beside her.
"Who is dead, love?" enquired Lady Anne, without opening her eyes. Her sister made no reply, and there was a pause. "He would have been here before this, but for"- muttered Lady Anne, breaking off abruptly, Still her sister made no reply. Yes-I feel it; my father is dead!" exclaimed Lady Anne, adding, in a low tone, "if I bad but strength to tell you of my dream last night! Call them all in-call them all in; and I will try, while I have strength," she continued, with more energy and distinctness than I had heard during the evening. Her eye opened suddenly, and settled upon her sister.
"Do not delay-call them all in to hear my dream!" Her sister, with a surprised and alarmed air, hastened to do her bidding.
They imagine I do not see my father!" exclaimed Lady Anne, her eye glancing at me with sudden brightness." There be is- he wishes to see his children around him, poor old man!" A faint and somewhat wild smile lit her pale features for a moment. "I hear them on the stairs
they must not find me thus. I am getting cold!" She suddenly rose from her chair, drew her dress about her, and walked to the bed. Her maid that moment entered, and as