« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
played over the ancient Gothic turrets, I felt an indescribable emotion pass rapidly over my mind, as I stayed to contemplate the short and simple annals of the poor, and mourned to think
“ For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care ;
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share."
Nor could I refrain from an intruding thought on human vanity, when I beheld the merry youths sporting over the sepulchres of their ancestors, heedless of what to me appeared the solemnity of the spot, and perhaps ridiculing my“ brown study,” as I steadfastly contemplated their ivy-mantled church ; and, pondering over the narrow homes of the departed dead, forgot, for an instant, the world and its cares.
I had scarcely shaken off the thoughts produced by my late contemplation, ere I came upon a scene that was little calculated to inspire lighter reflections, and will long remain vividly imprinted on my memory. Not many yards from the road, from which it was separated by a garden, laid out with the greatest taste, and arranged in the most beautiful, simple order, and close adjoining a path which led over the fields to the Rectory, appeared a handsome little cottage, fancifully adorned with windows in the Gothic style, around which, and the whole front of the cottage, a large, full-blooming vine wound its tendrils, clustering with fruit, and bending beneath the weight of the grapes, that shed a purple hue all around them, as they were glanced upon by the moonbeam. I had often heard the inhabitants of this cottage mentioned with respect, and even with tender affection, by their neighbours, as being persons of the most amiable character, and who, in addition to this, had a strong claim upon the sympathy and solicitude of all who knew
the tale of their sorrows and misfortunes, by which they appeared to have been reduced from a state of affluence to one almost of poverty. But lately they had been enabled, by the death of a wealthy relation, to purchase this humble, yet delightful residence, which they had rendered still more beautiful by their own taste and industry, and were now gliding down the stream of life in calm tranquillity, that was unruffled except by an intrusive thought of the past. The family only consisted of an aged couple and one daughter : of the misfortunes of the former I had heard but an imperfect sketch: to the mournful tale of the latter I had often listened with tears. During the sunshine of their prosperity, and while yet in early life, she had been betrothed to a young man of the most cultivated talents, and amiable disposition ; and, in short, to sum up his good qualities, he was well worthy the tenderest affection of one who doted on him like Maria Congreve. When he was a child, he had the misfortune to lose his beloved parent, the familiar friend of the family of his intended. His guardians were entirely subservient to the will of his mother, and objected, on this account, to his marrying till he came of age, of which but one year was wanting, merely because his mother, from some caprice, was averse to the connexion. It was but a short time to stay, but it was too long for his ardent impetuous feelings; he could not bear every day to be allowed to raise the cup to his lips, but forbidden to taste ; he could not endure to look upon his love, and still, still be unable to call her his
The suspense was dreadful, and he resolved to tear himself from his tantalizing situation, and tranquillize his mind (if that were possible), by travelling. As the hour of separation drew nigh, he was almost tempted to give way to his foreboding fears, and give up the project. Would to Heaven he had ! Suffice to say, he at length summoned up courage to take leave of his Maria. It were impossible for me to describe that scene, which his mother beheld with calm indifference, while her son, wrung with agony as he parted from, and supported in his arms the fainting and dearest object of his soul, rushed from the house, and his native land, to return no more; for, at some town, near the banks of the Wolga, surrounded by foreigners, and far distant from any medical assistance, he fell a victim to an epidemical disease, common to those countries, and resigned his last breath in the arms of a friend that accompanied him. The ship that was to have wafted him back to happiness and the arms of his Maria, was the sad messenger of his death; and the sun that was to have risen on her a blooming bride, beheld her that day arrayed in the garb of bitterest woe. Few that were acquainted with Maria expected to see her much longer a survivor on earth; but her understanding and fortitude enabled her to withstand the violence of the shock, and she still lived, though scarcely to this world; she flitted before the eyes of men, like the shade of a beauteous angel: her thoughts, her soul, was with God, and with him whom death hath torn for a short time, to unite to her again in Heaven.
Such is the outline of the tale of Maria Congreve: it may not interest my readers, as described by my pen ; but it often has drawn from me a tribute of sorrow, while related by her former friends; and, as she this evening was sitting, with her parents, on the lawn, in front of the cottage, it were impossible not to view the group with feelings of the strongest emotion. The old man was reading in the Bible, with his daughter on one side of him, and her mother on the other. I was concealed by the hedge, but near enough to hear him, and catch the sound of his deeply-impressive voice, which, breaking through the solemn silence that reigned all around, had an effect on me never to be forgotten : it chained me to the spot like enchantment; and, as his careworn, but yet highly-interesting, features were lit up with the pure, Þright
emanation of religious enthusiasm, which
seemed to illumine his whole countenance with an etherial halo, I stood gazing on him as a being of a superior order, through whose lips breathed the true voice and spirit of the Deity; and I could have humbled myself at his feet, and worshipped his gray hairs. At this moment, his wife bestowed upon him a look of endearment expressive of the past, as if she recalled those days when they knew not sorrow or calamity; and then, raising her eyes slowly up to heaven, appeared, by the tremulous motion of her lips, to be uttering a short and fervent prayer of supplication for her husband and daughter. I hesitated, as I turned a trembling glance on that lovely sufferer ; but that glance riveted my enchantment; the air of meek, gentle resignation that beamed in mellowed softness over the most beautiful, interesting features, ever allotted to woman, savoured not of earth. She was dressed with perfect simplicity and neatness, but without any ornament: her long unconfined hair flowed in graceful ringlets over her shoulders, and divided in front, partly discovered a forehead of
whiteness; the rest was concealed by her hand, on which her head rested, as she cast a pensive vacant glance upon the countenance of her father. On a sudden he unconsciously read a passage that touched upon the string of her sorrows; her tender frame trembled for a moment, and then, gently sliding one hand into her bosom, she drew from thence a portrait. I was not long in conjecturing whose that portrait could be, as she leant over it at first with intense, but melancholy delight; and then, with scarcely a perceptible motion, pressed it to her lips ; then looked at it again, and appeared lost to all around her, while absorbed in the contemplation of his features, who in fancy stood before her. At this moment a hollow blast rustled through the trees, and the sound of approaching thunder was heard dying away in the distance. The old man hastily shut his book; and, turning round to summon his daughter, beheld her gazing on the portrait.
He instantly checked himself, and became mute as death: but it was too late ; his movement had broken the chain of her thoughts; the dream of her imagination was over: she once more kissed those beloved features, and then, replacing the portrait in her bosom, sank down in prayer, with her eyes clasped in patient devotion over her bosom, and her still bright eye suffused with the rising tear, that all her fortitude could not suppress. The old man insensibly kneeled down by the side of her ; but it was too heart-rending a scene to view any longer :-I drew my hat over my eyes, and hastily returned homewards; and never, never will that Satur.day Evening fade from the recollection of
Feb. 5.—Transcribed some lines from an Elegy which I have had in my drawer for some time, and from which I intended to have made an extract in my last ScrapBook.
In vain for me the flow'ret rears its head,
The warbling linnet pours her song in vain ;
I shall not listen to the song again.
In vain mild Spring dispels the wintry blast,
In vain the streams in babbling murmurs flow;
And there is nothing left to me--but woe.