페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

they universally wished me to under- commencement of our acquaintance, take my late father's business, sanc- the situation I had so ardently wished tioned by the approbation of my mo- for, was attained ; and for six years ther, I unhesitatingly consented. of my life I enjoyed as large a por

To support that amiable parent and tion of felicity as is compatible with her two daughters, and render them the various trials attached to this independent of future contingencies, mortal state. It is true, there were was the constant aim of my practice, times when I thought my Emma raAnd the ultimate hope of my wishes; ther too volatile; but if I ventured to and in the space of nine years, I had remark it to her, tears of contrition the happiness of succeeding. Anxious would start into her eyes, which I as I was to partake of conjugal feli-wiped away with pangs of remorse for city, yet until my mother and sisters having occasioned them, greater than were provided for, I resolved never to the powers of language can deattempt it, but the moment I had re- scribe! alized a sufficient sum to insure them About this period, a school-fellow a competence, I considered myself at of mine returned from India, laden liberty to study my own happiness. with riches, but impoverished in As my friends were acquainted with | health. He immediately wrote to my wish apon this subject, each ap- consult me as a physician, and to peared desirous of recommending : give me the pleasing intelligence of and at length one of them introduced bis arrival as a friend. Though we me to a young lady, whose manners had passed three years at the same were peculiarly attractive and insinu- school, he was by several my junior; ating. Though she was not strictly in consequence of which, I had acted beautiful, she possessed what the poet in the double capacity of preceptor thinks more attractive, “the mind and friend, for as a boy he had been illum'd face;" with an eye so full of peculiarly inattentive and indolent. expression, that her sensations might Still there had been a something in be discovered without the aid of his manners which interested my feelspeech.

ings, and I was pleased at the pros1 saw-I heard-and I was enchant- pect of renewing our acquaintance; ed;-in short, I was as desperately in and having consulted my wife, imlove as any boy of nineteen; I reason-mediately replied to his letter, entreated myself into the conviction that the ing that without loss of time he would disparity of our ages was merely pro- become our guest. per, for I was thirty-two, and she I was delighted at beholding the was just out of her teens. Every eagerness with which my Emma made succeeding interview increased my domestic arrangements for my friend's attachment, and I had the gratification accommodation, considering them as of perceiving that my pointed atten- a compliment paid to myself, and still tions were most flatteringly received; further was I gratified by the kind and in course of time, I made a formal de- affectionate reception she gave him. claration, and had the happiness of His debilitated state of health for a receiving an assurance of her es- length of time required the utmost atteem.

tention ; and though Emma, from the My Emma's father, who was a commencement of our union, had left respectable clergyman, candidly in the chief arrangement of our domestic formed me it was impossible for him concerns to the faithful creature who to bestow any fortune upon his child, had superintended my family before as the trifling sum he could save out our marriage, yet whatever nutriment of a confined income, he regularly laid I ordered for my patient, she invariby for the future support of his wife. ably made in his apartment. Singular This intelligence, instead of diminish- | as this circumstance was, it only ing, seemed to increase my attachment; tended to raise her in my opinion :-I was actually charmed at the idea What an angel of compassion, thought of being able to supply the object of I, should I have to nurture me, if I were my affection with the elegancies of ill!—for if she displays such humanity life, and to raise her to a state of to a being for whom she has no attachaflluence far beyond what she had ment, how refined would be her attenhitherto enjoyed.

tion to the object of her tenderness! At the end of six months from the At length I could not help fancying

1185
Melancholy Effects of Seduction.

1186 there was a reserve in my wife's man- piece of impertinence; but at length, ners towards me; in short, an in- darting upon him a look which condefinable something about her which veyed astonishment and indignation, I could not comprehend. She at- I insisted instantly upon knowing to tempted, it is true, to appear pleased whom he alluded ? I perceived by his if I returned unexpectedly, but that countenance he was aware of his impleasure was always intermixed with prudence; but as I had long been disa degree of embarrassment. My satisfied with his behaviour, I resolved friend had recovered his health. Oh, not to be the dupe of artifice or apolet me not pervert that sacred title! logies, and taking my wife's unreCharles D- · had for some weeks luctant hand, I said, “From you

alone, been perfectly well; yet never even Emma, will I condescend to hear binted an intention of departing, an explanation of these singular cirthough it could not be my society cumstances.” which attracted him, for my practice

As I conducted her out of the room, was so extremely extensive, that I I could not avoid observing that she scarcely entered my house from morn- cast an imploring look upon the object ing until evening. I was unhappy of my resentment;-my feelings were without knowing wherefore, and con-wound up to an excess of agony, sequently dejected; I even observed known only to those who have loved that my old housekeeper appeared as to the excess of fondness which I did; uncomfortable as myself; and though but having at length succeeded in Emma had been accustomed to treat tranquillizing them, I informed her her rather as a friend than a domestic, that the slightest attempt at evasion or I had long perceived a sort of haughty deception, would eternally destroy her imperiousness in her mode of speak- own and my happiness. ing.

Directing towards me one of those Coming home much earlier one glances which used to dissolve my evening than usual, and, from some soul in tenderness, and at the same person going out at the same moment, time grasping my trembling hand, she not knocking, my feelings were wrought said,“ My dearest Henry, why will up, upon entering the parlour, at see-you, for a mere trifle, thus violently ing Emma in tears, and Charles pacing agitate yourself ?" Trifle !I reup and down, evidently violently peated in a tone of bitterness,—“is it agitated.

a trifle to be insulted by the man, who “ For heaven's sake, Emma,” I ex- to my skill and kindness owes his exclaimed in a tone of impatience, yet istence? Yet name him not, but at the same time taking her tenderly candidiy inform me why I found you by the hand, who, or what, can have in tears, and D- in the violent occasioned the agitation which I now agitation which I witnessed ?” “Every witness? I have long, long, observed, thing will I explain, and I trust satisthough I never mentioned it, that factorily, if you will but be patient," some secret sorrow preys upon your replied Emma. I nodded assent, and spirits ; speak, then, my love, surely she proceeded nearly in the following your husband has a right to your most words :-“ Charles and myself had unbounded confidence.

just taken our wine after dinner, “ When you keep people in the when Thomas informed him that á house,” (said the sychophant I had gentleman wished to speak with him incautiously admitted,) “who pre- at the door ; whom I instantly desired sume to insult the mistress of it, and him to conduct into the room. The who, in fact, are little better than spies, stranger proved to be a brother officer, upon that mistress's behaviour, you recently returned to England : in concannot surely be astonished that her sequence of which, I immediately feelings should be wounded by your ordered a fresh supply of wine to be want of confidence ;” “ yet if I were Mrs. brought up; and after remaining about L-” (he added, elevating his voice half an hour with them, retired to the still higher,) “ by heaven, she should drawing-room, having first invited the not remain in the house another mo

young officer to take tea and coffee ment." Such a variety of conflicting with us. This, however, he refused, in sensations crowded upon my imagi- consequence of a prior engagement; nation, that for several moments I was and when Charles entered the drawincapable of making any reply to this ing-room, I perceived his countenance

66

unusually flushed, and thoughtlessly I likewise that the monster who has began joking him upon it, which I am dared to infringe upon the laws of now aware I ought not to have done. delicacy, remains not another night He drank a basin of strong tea, which under this roof.” seemed to restore him; yet I still per- As I had rung the bell in spite of ceived his spirits unusually elevated, Emma'ssuggestions, Dennis, as I and when the tea-things were remov- closed the sentence, entered the room; ed, he insisted upon my instructing Dennis,” said I, “let me in the him in the art of making love, when, first place thank you for going so catching me in his arms, he swore I opportunely into the room; for who was an angel, and the idol of his affec-knows but the monster, flushed with tions! At that fatal moment the faith wine, as I am told he was, might have ful Dennis entered, as he was in the blasted my happiness, and Emma's very act of pressing me to his bosom,- reputation! She has candidly explainwhen, with that warmth which proves ed every circumstance to me; yet after the sincerity of her attachment, she conduct so notorious, I cannot suffer called him a designing villain, and him to remain another vight in my threatened to make you acquainted house; but as I am too much agitated with the scene she had witnessed, the to write to him, I wish you to carry very moment you came home.” “We my message down." have both been to blame, I acknow- * That will be unnecessary, sir," ledge, my dearest Henry,” (she add- replied Dennis ; “ for the moment you ed,) " but 0, great God! if from quitted the parlour, he rang for his thoughtlessless and folly I have lost servant, and gave him orders to carry your confidence and affection, how his portmanteau to the George.' shall I execrate the being who, from From the moment she entered the the effect of inebriety, has occasioned room, my wife's beseeching eyes were me such an irreparable misfortune; fixed upon ber, with looks which too for until this fatal evening, angels evidently implored silence; but the might have witnessed every part of cries of my youngest child at that our conduct!”

moment attracted both her's and its After pausing a few moments, I re- mother's attention; and in a frame of plied in a solemn accent, We have mind which no language can do justice both been censurable, Emma; I, in in- to, I continued pacing op and down viting to my house a young man with the apartment. whose present principles I was unac- A thundering rap at the door roused quainted ; and you, in treating him with my attention-it proved a summons the affectionate familiarity of a bro- from a patient sixteen miles off, who ther. My home has long been render- was dangerously ill; and resolving not ed uncomfortable by the assumed au- again to see my wife until I had some thority of this intruder; yet delicacy private conversation with my houseand hospitality prevented me from keeper, I threw myself into the car. even hinting a wish for his removal; riage in a state of wretchedness, desirhowever, as he has thought proper to ing the man not to sit up for me, as I offer you the grossest of all insults, I should not return until the following certainly shall unceremoniously desire morning. Though I found my patient him to be gone ; and as that worthy very ill, yet I did not consider him in creature Dennis witnessed the dar- absolute danger; and though a bed ing effrontery of his behaviour, I think was prepared for me, the agitation of it right she should know you have ex- my mind would not allow me to enter plained to me every circumstance.” As it; in short, I found myself reduced to I said this, I rose, for the purpose of such a situation, that I must be a ringing the bell to require her pre stranger to rest, until I had conversed sence; when Emma, with an appear- with Dennis. ance of alarm which roused a thou- The morning was beautiful; the insand apprehensions, said, “Surely, valid in a calm slumber; and between my Henry, it is wrong to make a con- the hours of three and four I resolved fidant of a servant !It is necessary to return. On reaching the back of my for my repose, Emma," I replied in a own premises, rather before six o'clock, decided accent," that Dennis should I was astonished at beholding a farmknow you have neither forfeited my ing looking fellow, slyly lurking about confidence, nor lost my affection; and the back part of the house, and evi

[ocr errors]

1189
Melancholy Effects of Seduction.

1190 dently watching the window of Emma's me something, which leads me to imafavourite servant. So intently was he gine the old Jezebel entertained susemployed, that he evidently neither picions before this evening. heard the carriage, nor saw me spring “ Farewell, for a short time, my out of it; in consequence of which, I adored Emma; if separated long from had seized him by the collar before the idol of my affections, I should he was able to move. I pretended to actually detest and loathe existence, believe him to be a robber, though at and justly may I subscribe myself that moment I would have given all your's, until death shall divide us, the money in my pocket to have prov

“ CHARLES Ded him to be such ; when, falling upon Whilst perusing this decided proof his knees, be assured me he was only of my wretchedness and dishonour, I the bearer of a letter to one of my ser- was seized with an overwhelming vants, at the same time taking it from faintness, and for some moments achis pocket, to prove the truth of his tually believed myself dying. So assertions. This blighting scroll was completely had my faculties been abdirected to Mary Collins, my wife's sorbed, from the moment I beheld the personal attendant; but judge, ye who hand-writing, as to make me totally forcan, what must have been my sensa- get the person who brought it; but tions during the perusal of it.

upon looking round, I easily disco“ Fearing, my adored Emma, that vered he had taken to his heels whilst your husband might question us sepa- I was reading it. Had a single doubt rately, prudence suggested the idea of remained in my mind respecting my avoiding it; and under pretence of hav- dishonour, to no human being would ing been insulted by his behaviour, I I have imparted my wretchedness; went to the George, ordering my ser- but, after the convincing proof I had vant to follow with my luggage. Oh, of their guilt, it appeared to me that Emma! too dearly beloved Emma, the consolations of friendship could how have I destroyed our mutual alone preserve me from destruction ; happiness by the madness of a mo- and having paced my garden for about ment! What can I say, what can I an hour, in a state of torture too do, dearest of women, to restore tran- exquisite for description, I hastened quillity to that agitated breast? to unburden my full heart to my most

“ Dennis must be bribed, my angel; intimate acquaintance. -suppose you offer her a thousand

Though duelling was my abhorguineas, and joyfully will I pay them, rence, yet it struck me that I should if they can but restore my adored be branded with cowardice, unless I Emma to bappiness. I write this from resorted to the general practice; howMary's kind-hearted mother's; and in ever, I resolved, in this instance, to be that very little room, where I first guided by my friend's judgment. tasted ecstatic bliss. Oh, Emma! Happily for me, he saw the circumevery thing in it reminds me of your stance in a point quite different to dear condescending compliance with my that which my tortured imagination wishes!

had presented. “How,” said he, “my “How impatiently do I long to friend, can you answer to your conknow how the bashaw conducted him- science the adopting a plan which self; yet surely my Emma will not may deprive your lovely children of tamely be insulted, but fly to the arms the protection of a parent? or what of him, whose whole life will be de- gratification could you expect to feel voted to the ensuring of her happiness! from precipitating that wretch into Knowing that the destroyer of my the presence of his Maker, with all his peace will not return until to-morrow, unrepented-of crimes upon his head ?" the trusty Richard has promised to By arguments like these, the symdeliver this letter to his sister at an pathizing Colebrooke dissuaded me early hour in the morning; for oh, my from adopting a measure which anadored angel, you know not the agony guish, amounting to phrenzy, had dicof my sensations, or how impatiently tated; and after forming a variety of I long to know how you acted ; for if plans, I dispatched the enclosed letter he was satisfied that the scene Dennis to the faithless being, who had so witnessed was the effect of intoxica- cruelly blasted my happiness. tion, I have only to play the part of a

“ To Mrs. penitent; yet Mary's mother has told “ Though the secret is divulged, and no doubt of your guilt remains, the insidious underminer of my happiyet your husband cannot descend to ness. censure or reproaches; for as un- Though I am persuaded that by bounded tenderness could not bind, it is describing our sorrows their poignancy not likely that reproof would have the becomes diminished, yet a motive less power of reclaiming!

interested, Mr. Editor, has induced me “ Yet, Emma, too dcarly loved Em to make the public acquainted with ma, in mercy to your children, shun private griefs, for I trust that the anthe society of your undoer! Do not, guish I still endure, may act as a for God's sake, do not openly pro- warning to other husbands, not to exclaim to the world that you are the pose their wives to the artifices of a victim of seduction! The arms of man of intrigue. I ought to have reyour respected father will be open to flected that there was a material difreceive you ; but in the state of mind ference in our ages ; I ought to bave I now am, it is impossible for me to perceived, that with the handsome see you! Oh Emma-deluded Em face and elegant form of my insidious ma, what a cruel, what an unnatural friend, mine could not bear a comdeed have you committed ! Your parison ; and, above all, I ought to angelic children !--the very thought have discovered by his general conof th unmans me; dear helpless versation, that his religious principles innocents, once so fondly loved ;--but were not sufficiently strong to deter alas! now.cruelly stigmatized by the him from the commission of vice. Yet being from whom they derived their blinded, I doubtless was, by the existence!

strength of my attachment, and the Inclosed you will find a bill for perfect confidence I placed in the one hundred pounds, and you will re- purity of my wife ;-a wise totally unceive another every six months; and worthy of my affection, and who has once more let me conjure you to seek completely blasted the future happithe protection of your excellent parent: ness of my life. use your own time, but be assured I I am, sir, your obedient servant, cannot enter my house until you are

HENRY gone. May that Being whose laws, moral and sacred, you have impiously trampled upon, not only pardon your A transgressions, but impress your heart ALEXOWNA, with fervent contrition.

GREAT, ENPEROR OF RUSSIA. “ HENRY By the same servant, I sent a letter CATHARINA ALEXOWNA was born at to Dennis, entreating her to super- Ringen, a small village near Derpat intend my dear babes until I came

or Dorpt, in Livonia, about the year home, and desiring her to leave her 1691, and was heir to no other inheritown apartment, and take her station ance, than the virtues and frugality of in the nurse's room, under the idea her parents. Her father being dead, that Emma might be inclined to take she lived with her afflicted mother in with her one, or all my children. Hav- their cottage covered with straw; and ing submitted both epistles to the both, though very poor, were very perusal of Colebrooke, he pointed out contented. Here, retired from the the impossibility of Dennis being able gaze of the world, by the labour of to prevent my wife from taking the her hands she supported her parent, children; and with the true zeal of a who was incapable of supporting herfriend, offered to go privately, and re

self. While Catharina spun, her momain in the library until my wife was

ther would sit by, and read some book gone.

of devotion : thus, when the fatigues It was noon before I was sufficiently of the day were over, both would sit composed to pen these epistles; and down contentedly by their fire-side, Charles had contrived, during that and enjoy the frugal meal with vacant period, to make the partner of his festivity. guilty pleasures acquainted with what Though her face and person were had happened ; and in less than an models of perfection, yet her whole hour after the receipt of my letter, a

attention seemed bestowed upon her postchaise conducted the lost Emma mind : her mother taught her to read, to the destroyer of her honour, and and an old Lutheran minister instruct

SHORT

HISTORY

WIFE

OF
OF

CATHARINA PETER THE

« 이전계속 »