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funeral, I set myself to question the woman who was the original cause of all this evil, and who was now so well that she could stand examination, without the charge of inhumanity being brought against me. It is impossible to say distinctly in what mood of mind she was, in reference to her evil doings against this family, unless we can suppose a spirit of malignant triumph compatible with a mixture of penitent remorse for the means used to gratify such a spirit. The burden of her confession was as follows:- In her early life, she was courted and seduced, under promise of marriage, by Dr Bonnington's father, who cast her off, and married another.
This set her upon thoughts of vengeance, and, as the most effectual way of embittering the life of her who had superseded her in his affections, she stole away her first-born son. In her deep purpose
she had concerted her measures coolly, and had taken provisions to a remote cave in a wood, whither she fled with the child, and where she abode for many weeks, without once leaving it, till the heat of
pursuit and search was over.
She then made her way to Glasgow, where, some months afterwards, as she was begging with the child by the river side, he was seen and coveted by Mrs Hastings, who had no children of her own. To this lady she willingly disposed of young Bonnington, under the name of Edward Bremner; declaring, of course, at the same time, that he was her own son. The conditions of this surrender were, that he should take the name of Hastings, and that she should be allowed to visit him at Mountcoin once every year; but that she was never to claim relationship with him, or mention his real name. After giving up the child, she had lived in Glasgow, without once leaving it, till lately, when, believing her health irrecoverably gone, she began to feel the terrors of conscience, and set out to seek Mrs Bonnington, that she might restore to her her long-lost child, if mother and son were yet alive. She was the more confirmed in her purpose, when, on making enquiries in the neighbourhood of the place where Mrs Bonnington formerly lived, she
learned how her fortunes had waned after the death of her husband, and by what an unhappy fate she had lost her children.
Such was the purport of the explanations given me by this wretched woman, who, while she professed penitence, could not altogether forbear expressions of triumph over her rival in early love; and whose last haste to bring mother and son together was, if chiefly to make reparation to Mrs Bonnington, yet not without a wish at the same time, as I was led to calculate from the circumstance of her midnight visit to Mrs Bonnington's bedside, mortally to stab that mother's peace, by shewing her that her son was a fratricide. I could not refrain from giving vent to my dignation against her. “But look at me now," she said, interrupting me,“ a homeless wretch-every way degraded. And what was I once? In hope, in station of life, in beauty, in innocence, equal to my rival. I had parents, and brothers, and sisters, who loved me; but they cast me off when I was betrayed to shame and ruin. Do you wonder, then, that I sought the satisfaction of vengeance ? Ha! and have I not won it? Answer me there !"
Without attempting to palliate the guilty rashness of my friend, Dr Arthur Bonnington, or the malignant vengeance of her who stole him away in boyhood, it must yet be acknowledged that the first cause of all this ill lay in the crime of his father, who spoilt this woman's young heart, and prepared it for its vindictive purpose--a crime which entailed wo on his own innocent family, and cut off his own lineal name from the earth. But thus it is, that the great Tribunal of Justice above “ of our pleasant vices makes whips to scourge us;" ay, and visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.
I may here remark, that Dr Bonnington caused this wretched woman to be attended in his own house with the utmost care, not sparing to procure for her the best medical skill which the neighbouring town could give; that ere long she completely recovered ; and that he dismissed her with a very considerable sum of money, enjoining her strictly, however, to quit that part of the country, and never presume again to appear in his sight.
On the third day after Mrs Bonnington's funeral, I prepared to leave Mountcoin.
“So," said Dr Bonnington, "you are going from me too? I am like a man left alone in a theatre when the bustle is over, the music and the company gone, and the lights burning low. Calvert, I am now literally left alone; and Darkness, I suppose, in this sorrowful house of mine, must be the burier of the dead. My mother has told me, too, that Wardrop himself is off this mortal stage ; so I have missed some little work which might have kept me for a while from the fearful thoughts that must now hunt me down. I am very glad, however, that the poor
dear child Emily believed herself in reality his wife; even though the marriage was a sham trick on his part. Madness itself, I think, shall not deprive me of that satisfaction. Yet Oh! my beautiful and sorely-hurt sister! my Emily Bonnington! my young-hearted preserver! She has left me for ever! And my mother has left her firstborn! And that boy Harry Bonnington, the most innocent, and most sadly wronged of us all! O! that I had known him as my brother but for one year! And God be my judge, would I not fold my arms and lie down in the dust of death for him, if again he might be let up in his shining youth to the sweet sunlight of this world! Day and night, day and night, shall I cry upon him, but he will never come to me at all! Calvert, Calvert, you have approached too near me; no one prospers or lives that has been with me but a day; I am accursed of God; you have touched the plague, and cannot live !"
About five months after his mother's death, I visited Dr Bonnington again at Mountcoin.
I shall be with you anon, Calvert,” was his first salutation to me as I entered the room where he was sitting.
66 One moment nowsuppose you are my brother Harry_well, where's the knife ?-Give me grace and leave now, and don't interrupt me for a little while, John Calvert. I shall soon see
it all. Or suppose I had not met Emily that night on the street.” And on he thus went, arranging and confusing, and again arranging circumstances, by which he might have been prevented slaying his brother— that fearful never-ending process, which by day and in the nightwatches keeps a man feverish and irritable, till whirling madness avermasters his dried brain—that process, which to the outcast spirits must be the very worst mode of Hell.
I shall proceed no farther with my unhappy record, but merely state that Dr Bonnington died within a year from the time when I first met him.
And now why have I entered upon this defence? Why have I opened the sacred cabinet of private friendship, and given the story of his life to the public ? Assuredly I have not done it merely to make up a tale for
“ knitters in the sun, And the free maids that weave the thread with bones.” But I have heard it foully hinted that my late friend, as a jealous rival, slew his own brother, &c. &c. And surely I have done right in thus publicly stating the main circumstances of his life, that his memory may never henceforth be cast out to the shameless dogs of Calumny and Disrespect.
Now I solemnly_swear, that I have set forth the
particulars of Dr Arthur Bonnington's life, partly as I witnesssed them myself, and partly as he communicated them to me, to the best of my
recollection : So help me God!
CLOSE OF THE YEAR. SPENCER does Usher of the White Rod to November
Next was November; he full gross and fat,
So sings the Bard of Mulla. And now what a comfortable fellow is this November, and how unlike that selfhanging and drowning which is laid to his charge! Why, the chap has just
been killing his pigs, and is as fat and greasy as Parson Trulliber. How his
glitters with ungodly dew!" Moreover, the season is sharp and wholesome for his blood ; and he has the exercise of planting his trees besides, to keep his appetite in trim. In addition to all this, his stackyard has just been thatched and his potatoes binged, and October has brewed a brown browst for him; so what has he to care for ? Really, a betterconditioned fellow, outwardly, than this November cannot well be imagined. He is the very Cock of the Calendar. And then what sports he has! To the moorlands with his greyhounds, over the thistly stubbles with his gun, to the high hoar echoing wood with his fox-hounds, off is he under the glint of morn, with a light heart and a pocket-pistol. The moon guides him home, and he sleeps in Elysium.
It seems to me, on looking back to my boyhood, that not a winter then passed without a magnificent snowstorm, and a month's frost as hard as the nether millstone. Then were the days of snow-battles, and of snow-men as large as Gog and Magog, staring afar with their
eyes of smithy danders, and slowly pining through half the spring in their discoloured consumption. Then were the days of raffles
among idle masons for a sow or an eight-day clock -pleasant to the boys who picked up the balls when the snow was gone, to run them into leaden pistols to fire on the thick-coming days of Salamanca, Vittoria, & Co. I was just going to sigh over the degeneracy of our modern Decembers, when there came a Frost, worthy of the most pucker-browed, blue-nosed of his ancestors that ever painted upon glass, or candied over a mill-wheel, bearded with icicles like a he-goat. An old withered chronicler, whose own face was as rough as a frosty droveroad, or the puddled passage of a cattle-admitting gate, remarked to me that we have not had such a black frost since the ninety-nine." Whether old Anno Domini be