페이지 이미지


but descent in common with Quinilla-She

a blunt, rightminded, cheerful woman ; clear in perception (where her partialities did not interfere) and resolute in action ; tenacious of her family, and her sister's beauty. The spontaneous kindness of her nature gave an expression of honest interest to her countenance, and a friendly accent to her true-hearted idiomatic style of speech. To superficial observers she appeared merely an outspoken thrifty person :-even I used for many years to wonder how so polished a man as my uncle, Edward Fitzgerald, should have chosen so unintellectual a partner; but I have long learned to value her rectitude of mind beyond the proudest gifts of genius.

And now stand forth ye gentler images to spiritualize my canvass—ye fair and sweet creations, whose childish faces come to me in dreams, whose griefs and joys and warm affections are, as it were, entwined;with my identity. And surely we were shrined each in the other's heart, my sisters, even from

Those chequered days of babyhcod,
When mirth would tread on melancholy,
And they would seem companions.

Which of you, mates of my thoughtless years, which of you, first, in maiden drapery, shall live upon my sketch-leaf?–If I choose the mirthful, the pensive gently advances her entreating face ;-if I choose the serious, the cherub head, bright with frolic's essence, is waved reproachfully. Come then Marion, my own dear Marion, come.

I cannot well determine in what Marion's beauty lay ; whether in feature, look, or tone. You saw the face was lovely, but could not explain why you wished to treasure it in memory, and call it forth at will to gaze at, for many besides Marion have had cloudless eyes of deep deep blue, bright hair, aud dimpled cheeks, The beholder was

ever doubtful in what her witchery consisted ; before you could observe the regularity of feature you were taken by the life and spirit of the face; but at every thought this spirit seemed to change. - You loved its sprightliness—'twas gone !-its pensiveness—’twas lost in smiles of arch defiance, petulance, or derision.

The beauty of Helen, my younger sister, was more intelligible ;-a tranquil countenance,

features of a Spanish cast, dark eyes, not sparkling, but singularly penetrating.-An air of diffidence tempered the gravity of her demeanour; this diffidence, however, was occasionally blended with a defensive pride which, when excited, kept down the blushes of timidity. Marion, with all her light-hearted sauciness, was a very coward; the mere accent of severity depressed her ; but Helen, when justly roused, would forget her usual self in the earnestness of expostulation.

The sisters' characters in other points, too, might puzzle the observer. The elder, quick to resent, and sometimes humourously perverse, could be frightened even into a surrender of her judgment; the younger, careless and yielding in minor points, if convinced that opposition was essential, would manifest a resolute tenacity little expected from one who in the smoother scenes of life was bashfully averse to observation and display. The lot of the one should have been cast in fondness and sunshine; the other was a high-minded crcature with a capacity for enjoyment in any sphere of action.

Their tastes and pursuits could as little have been inferred from their outward seeming as their characters. Whatever was marvellous in tradition and mystical in nature Marion's sentiments were akin to; she was insatiate of witch-spun stories, of tales that embody the romantic spirit of chivalry, and revelled in the Runic legends bequeathed by the bards who had accompanied our Northern invaders. Helen's enthusiasm was more subdued, her tastes graver, and I had coaxed her into the paths of scholastic erudition ; but while she did homage to the genius, she either could not understand, or would not subscribe to, the sublime assumptions of the early philosophers. She ridiculed my veneration for mad patriots and visionary republics, and insisted that if I continued to bewilder myself with flimsy subtleties I should lose the faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong, and also my reverence for those high ordinances which forbade the abominations so freely practised by my heroes and enacted by my legislators.—But these debates were held in after years; it is in the May-time of girlhood that I now portray my sisters.

For a long time I as little doubted the entity of my mythologie dames and heroes as of my beloved historians and philosophers; and believed as steadfastly in Minos as in Herodotus. Of the world's system and its substances, of the laws which regulate the universe, I knew just as much as those rhapsodists inculcated, who made the planets a chromatic hurly-burly, and the earth a rocking-horse fortuitously formed of dancing atoms; and of the world's modern usages and practices I had just as much idea as a resuscitated Pythagorean might be imagined to possess.

My uncle and my tutor-both were combined in one—was as enamoured of my old scholiasts as myself, though not perhaps as intimately persuaded of the truth and justness of their systems. The world had so ill treated him or some one dear to him, that to shut out its very name he had immured himself in a wild glen near the South-western coast of Ireland. There, severed by almost trackless mountains from the din of public life, he gradually lost even the impressions which communion with busier scenes had made. In proportion

« 이전계속 »