Изображения страниц

in the neighbourhood, I found reason corps destined to co-operate in a disto applaud the line of conduct I had tant expedition, by joining which he pursued, for (setting aside the idea of boped to reap glory, and escape the a mutual attachment, which I confess sight of his country's humiliations. never occurred to my imagination) Political opinions, as well as the gentruth obliges all who know them to tleness of his manners and refinement confess, that few French officers are, in of his pursuits, tended to estrange him manners or principles, such as a pa- from the society of his companions in rent of ordinary prudence would wish captivity, and the recent loss of his to introduce into his family.

mother, by increasing his despondence, A young Italian, however, recently increased my sympathy for a grief so enrolled under the French standard, natural and unaffected. The early formed a striking exception to the lessons of this lamented parent had, Í petulance, the brutality, or the cox- was happy to perceive, proved as yet a combry of his French companions, complete antidote against the infidelity and powerfully interested me by his of his companions, while the good sensa expressive countenance, his deep de- of an enlightened mind escaped the jection, and the exquisite skill and opposite weakness of superstition. taste which (though with evident re Foreseeing (as I thought) from all luctance, conquered only by his desire these observations, little danger to the to oblige) he occasionally displayed mind or morals of my child, from an in the bewitching music of his coun- occasional intercourse, which promised try. Till I met Ludovisi, I entertain- many advantages towards the compleed the popular error, that Italian mu- tion of her education in those points sic, calculated for the exhibition of most difficult to be supplied at a dismere science and execution, (and in- tance from London, I ventured to give deed too often in England perverted Ludovisi first a particular, and then to that soie object,) was little fitted to a general invitation, bis delicacy and affect the heart, and to express its every reserve in availing himself of which, emotion, from the effusions of an irre- confirmed my favourable opinion. sistible gaiety, to the accents of the most Music and Italian literature were of contagious melancholy. But when, af course the chief topics in these preliter dissolving a breathless auditory into minary visits, and I perceived with tears by one of those simple national parental pride, that my daughter's airs, tbe melancholy cadences of which proficiency in both astonished, as well too well recalled his absent country, as interested Ludovisi, and paved the he suddenly chased these emotions and way for a request as delicately made his own by the playful strains of a as it was gratefully acquiesced in, that beacarolle, I first owned the power of he would devote to their perfection a a music which has no rival in the little of that redundant leisure of which world; and, perhaps, naturally enough he feelingly complained. conceived the wish of imparting to the Although little entitled to claim the exquisite voice of my Constance, some praise of penetration or sagacity, I newhat of this magical influence. vertheless think I should have been

With this view I studied the cha- struck with anything like those sudracter of the young Italian, and found den prepossessions which young peoin his conversation abundant proofs ple, thus thrown together, have someof a liberal education, and an amiable times conceived for each other: but disposition. His family, he rather in no such symptoms were visible. Difcidentally than ostentatiously men- ference of country, of religion, and of tioned, was among the noblest in Ve. fortune, made Ludovisi at first consirona, but reduced by a series of mis der his young pupil merely as the fortunes, and particularly by the op- daughter of one, who, by rousing him position of his father to the French from solitude and dejection, had a usurpation, to comparative indigence. claim upon his gratitude ; while ConOn the death of Signor Ludovisi, stance passed from the shyness, with and after all efforts to preserve Italy which her retired education made her from the French yoke bad failed, the regard every stranger, insensibly to a young man, to contribute to the com- degree of innocent confidence and fafort and support of his surviving pa- miliarity, which the unassuming manrent, had been induced, reluctantly, ners of her preceptor were particularto accept a commission in an Italian ly calculated to inšpire. Lulled into

security by this apparent indifference, There are instances in the lives of and delighted with the progress Con- all men, especially those who, like stance hourly made under one, who myself, are the slaves of impulse, in handled the pencil with the ease, if which they seem to step out of themnot the correctness of a master,-who selves, to act a foreign character, and, spoke French and Italian with equal in so doing, communicate to all with fluency,--and whose lessons and ex whom they come in contact, a portion ample soon enriched her powerful and of their own inconsistency. Knowing flexible voice with those charms of me as you do, it would scarce surprise taste and feeling so seldom acquired you to have heard, that, melted by the out of Italy,- I gave myself up to distress of two young and ingenuous visions of parental pride and exulta- lovers, and conscious of my own culpation.

ble negligence, I had yielded an immeMonths rolled on in a species of diate consent to a union, repugnant pleasing dream, from which all seem to my opinions and destructive of my ed spontaneously to awake, when the dearest hopes. This, at least, would return of peace, and consequent resti- have been consistent and characteristution of prisoners, rendered a separa- tic folly. The obvious course pointed tion apparently inevitable. The feel out by reason, was by paternal remonings which I myself experienced in strances, and an appeal to those sentilooking forward to Ludovisi's depar- ments of honour which as yet Ludoture, (for which, to do him justice, he visi had never forfeited, to wean both immediately prepared,) were suffi- parties from an attachment, hitherto ciently painful to have taught me to unavowed, and the ineligibility of appreciate those of Constance, the sup- which it would have been easy to depression of which was, I have now no monstrate. But by an inexplicable doubt, the cause of a dangerous and fatality, I threatened when I should lingering illness, during which the have persuaded, and irritated instead sympathy of Ludovisi was my only of conciliating. My injudicious atconsolation. Though this event re tack drew from Ludovisi an indignant tarded his return to the continent, avowal of a passion, which under other (now rendered no longer compulsory, circumstances he had determined to by the immediate reduction of the su bury in eternal silence ; and my pernumerary corps to which he had daughter, whom one soothing expresbelonged,) yet a suspicion of the true sion would probably have melted into cause of my daughter's illness, as well tearful acquiescence, derived from my as the light it had thrown on the state harshness a determination, of which of his own heart, taught this naturally neither she nor myself believed her honourable young man to withdraw to be capable. She confessed to me, gradually from a society which he had (what she then for the first time connot yet strength of mind wholly to re fessed to herself,) that daily and hourlinquish. His visits became short and ly intercourse with an amiable and constrained, and his health, which the accomplished young man had insensiclimate of England had before affect- bly ripened into a solid and unalteraed, seemed also to decline. These ble attachment, and seriously, though circumstances, and the hints of offi- tremblingly asked, whether I was precious neighbours, at length roused me pared to sacrifice to prejudices of from my infatuation, and, like all country and fortune that happiness, those who have great reason to be which í had ever fondly assured her it angry with themselves, I preferred was the object of my life to promote. discharging the weight of my indig- Here again Constance, in exchanging nation on the comparatively innocent the tenderness of supplication fora tone accomplices of my folly, with a vio of deliberate firmness, which I conlence foreign to my nature, and totally strued into undutifulness, equally misat variance with all my previous un took her interests; and my answer limited indulgence. I reproached my was calculated to extinguish every daughter and Ludovisi with abusing hope of my concurrence to a union, my facility to destroy my peace, and of which I bitterly enumerated the concealing an attachment, which, till disadvantages. I thus imprudently defied its strength, Silenced but not convinced, awed had never been, on either side, em but not softened, Constance was roubodied in language.

sed from the state of mute dejection

into which my severity had plunged loved Italy, which, as a residence, he her, by the recital of the injurious was for her sake willing to renounce. treatment I had lavished on her lover, These particuwars I learned from a and which he bore with a dignified letter which Constance wrote to a mildness on which I now reflect with young female friend, the sole compashame. After a few days passed in a nion of her childhood, whom, with state of mutual constraint and es commendable discretion, she had fortrangement, contrasting but too forci- borne to implicate in her disobedience. bly with our former unreserved cone For me, she left a few lines expressive fidence, we were surprised by a visit of the warmest filial affection, deplofrom my sister, who, as if possessedwith ring the fatal necessity of choosing bethe same evil genius, already sworn to tween a temporary sacrifice of my fadestroy our peace, completed by her vour, and the eternal surrender of the indiscreet asperity the triumph of happiness of her future life; and enpassion over duty in the mind of my treating that forgiveness which a semisguided daughter. From the hour- cret presentiment seemed to say would ly sarcasms of her aunt, from a pater- be granted and received with equal nal severity she had never before for a transport. She concluded by a fermoment experienced, from the already vent hope, that by an immediate anrejected, and now more than ever dis- swer, addressed to the care of a mutual tasteful assiduities of her cousin, is it friend, I would tranquillize her mind, much to be wondered that a child of and obviate, by opening my arms to seventeen, deprived by seclusion even the most affectionate of children, the of the scanty experience of her years, necessity of her following the fortunes should escape, to shelter herself in a of her husband to his native country. lover's arms, from a storm which her So little had I been prepared for this knowledge of my temper must have decisive step, that all other emotions taught her to look upon as temporary? were at first lost in painful surprise. Ludovisi yet lingered in the neigh- This would in all probability, had I bourhood, and conceiving himself been left alone, soon have given place emancipated by my injustice from to those relentings of parental tenderthose restraints which the laws of hos- ness, on which my hitherto idolized pitality and gratitude had formerly child had perhaps rather too obviousimposed, soon prevailed on Constance ly relied ; but that circumstance, careto take the fatal step, and trust to fully commented on by my indignant time and paternal tenderness for a re sister, conspired with her own stern conciliation.

suggestions to make me ashamed of an In so doing, I find myself compel- immediate compliance with my poor led to allow that no sordid or interest- child's request. With a stoicism, on ed motive actuated one, whom, had I which I now look back with wonder, I thought otherwise, it would have been suffered some time to elapse without hard, indeed, to forgive. With pre- dispatching those conciliatory words, mature reason, and uncommon steadi- which would have saved me much ness, Ludovisi unites somewhat of the subsequent suffering. My daughter characteristic insouciance of his coun- (as I learned from my correspondent try, which permitted him as little to in London) flew, immediately on her calculate the advantages, as to appre- return from Scotland, to seek those ciate the evils, of the step he had in consolatory tidings which it was not view. Feeling that equality in birth then in his power to afford, and his (chiefly indispensable in Italian mar- description of the agonies into which riages) placed him on a level with his she was thrown by the disappointbeloved, he only rejoiced to hear that ment of hopes so sanguine, inflicted a small legacy, which my daughter pangs yet more severe upon her father. could immediately claim, joined to a It was, however, some consolation to remittance he had received of the tri learn, that the affectionate letter which fling reversion accruing to him from I wrote, as soon as Nature gained the the death of his mother, would place ascendency, must have reached her, them above immediate want, and al as it was taken away in her name from low him, in the event of my remain the banker's, though she was too much ing inexorable, to gratify his national agitated again to call in person-Yet pride by showing his bride that be its tenor was such, as to make it mat

ter of surprise, as well as regret, that no application had been made to him she should, after its receipt, have per- for money, by the thoughtless and severed in flying from a parent, whose disinterested enemy of my peace. The arms were thus but too readily open sum indeed, insignificant as it was, with ed to receive her !—I lingered on a which they started, could not yet be exfew anxious days in London, and then, hausted.--Italy, I know, must be their as you know, followed to Paris, where ultimate object, and thither, of course, I fondly hope, should I not succeed I now bend my steps, with slender in traeing them, at least to receive, hopes from aught but time and reflecforwarded from home, such a dutiful tion, which must, sooner or later, bring and consolatory answer as my letter my repentant child to my feet. was calculated to call forth. In it, I At Geneva, where I must pass a day had inclosed a letter of credit, both on or two among the surviving relations my banker in town and on the most of my poor Louise, I shall have me respectable foreign houses, (though lancholy recollections in abundance. the latter, I flattered myself, would be Would to God they might be gladdensuperfluous,) so that I felt easy on the ed by tidings of all she has left to ate score of her pecuniary comforts—I had tach'me to life! boped, on arriving in Paris, that this

Yours ever, might have afforded some clue to their

E. Selwyx. motions, but I found from Lafitte that



Geneva, July 18, How shall I communicate to you, when the hollow sarcasms of Voltaire, my dear friend, the various emotions and the eloquent sophistry of Rousseau, which swelled my bosom on re-en exposed at this their shrine the prins tering Geneva, connected as is every ciples of youth to an ordeal, which few, feature of its lake and mountains with alas ! had steadiness entirely to resist. the gloomiest and happiest periods of The cold derision of the apostle of inmy existence, with (what seems, in- fidelity made little impression on my deed, an inversion of the order of na- mind, but the impassioned eloquence ture) the sorrows of my youth, and of the champion of suicide and equality the happiness of my maturer life! too often made the “worse appear the

There are, in every man's history, better reason.” I read and worshipped, passages, which he would fain oblite- until I had created an ideal world. rate even from his own memory, and In the midst of these dangerous which, viewed even through the vista reveries, I becaine of age, and was of years, fill his bosom with remorse, summoned to England to take possesand crimson his cheek in solitude sion of my estate. Inexperienced as I Follies, though their remembrance was, I soon discovered that my guar. may excite wholesome repentance, it dian, a wily man of law, who had can seldom be profitable to relate; but availed himself of my father's declimy youth was darkened with errors ning years to abuse his confidence, had far more singular and inexcusable than enriched himself at my expense, to an those which fashion sanctions and or extent which made acquiescence imdinary youth indulges. On this spot, possible. To the law I' triumphantly and this alone, where every dash of resorted, with all the confidence the the midnight wave recalls the strange justice of my claims could inspire ; but history, do I for the first time feel my trustee had, by his professional prompted to impart to you events, knowledge, entrenched himself behind which, while they exhibit in a stronger technical barriers, impervious to the light the weakness and inconsistency attacks of truth and reason ; I lost my of your friend's character, may give cause, and the laws of my country him a deeper claim on that compassion became, in my eyes, contrivances to which his recent griefs demand. sanction crime and defy punishment.

You are already aware that I was I had an only sister, whom I recoleducated at Geneva, and at a period lected but as a lovely child, and whom

my fancy had invested with the pere passion, are (whatever may be said to fections of a Julie. Judge with what the contrary) more common in other renewed indignation I viewed the countries than in England; but I fear trammels of an artificial civilization, that in the number of those proceed when I learned that strong measures ing from mere weariness of life, our had been adopted by the aunt to whose foggy atmosphere must ever retain its care she was consigned, to prevent her “bad eminence.” I paid my debts, forming a connexion unsuitable in the settled my estate on my sister and her eyes of a prejudiced aristocracy ! unborn babe, and at the age of three

I heard with exultation that she had and-twenty, left England with a fixed escaped to unite her destiny with that purpose (I shudder while I write it) of ber lover, and flew as soon as the to put an end to my existence on thé decision of my law-suit left me at spot where self-destruction had first liberty, to the retreat where I expect- been consecrated as a virtue! ed to find the happiness of the golden I travelled to Geneva with more age! A few weeks had sufficed to than English rapidity, by the way of awaken my poor Bella from her dream Flanders and Alsace; determined that of passion, and to rob her hero of those neither the fascinations of Paris, nor qualities with which romance and op- the beauties of the Rhine, should diposition had alone invested him. I had vert me from my gloomy purpose. hastened to sanction with my presence The French Revolution had for sometheir stolen vows, and came only in time been going on, and like all the time to arrange the conditions of a sepa- young, and many of the oldest and ration which the peace of my poor de wisest of that period, I had hailed it luded sister rendered indispensable. as a renovation of the human race. Disappointed in the amount of her Its horrors were, however, beginning fortune, the native brutality of his to belie these fond anticipations, and character soon took place of ill. tales of blood and misery from every feigned tenderness; to free her from quarter, added social calamity to pripersecution, I purchased a commission vate dejection. Geneva was too well for the unworthy object of her child, leavened with democratical principles ish partiality, and retired with her to and speculative infidelity, not to folHerefordshire, to enjoy in my paternal low the example; and political conmansion that seclusion which hervulsions, (like the waves of her own wounded feelings made desirable. lake,) the more formidable from the

Here we remained for some time; narrow sphere within which they but, disgusted with the bluntness of raged, desolated that flourishing and our rustic neighbours, and their rude industrious commonwealth. I arrived efforts to console and amuse us, I flew just in time to witness the sad fruits for variety to the dissipation of Lon- of anarchy, in the exile and ruin of don, leaving my sister under the care many I had loved and honoured ; and of her now reconciled aunt, to enjoy to see coldness, distrust, and poverty, the only alleviation her sorrows ad usurp the place of cordiality and joy, mitted in the prospect of becoming a under the lately hospitable roofs of mother.

Geneva. But I was at this period Like all those who resort to dissi- too selfish for sympathy, and I avail. pation, neither from the irresistible ed myself of the public distress, to force of passion, nor the insensible shun all my former acquaintance, and control of habit, but experimentally, fortify my resolution to quit a world to “ minister to a mind diseased," I so fertile in misery. To a mind in plunged headlong into the vortex; this peculiar and irritable state, the drinking and playing, not because slightest incident will sometimes prove either gave me the slightest pleasure, the single drop which the cup can no but because I had heard them extollo longer bear without overflowing. A ed as specifics against pain.

favourite French servant, who had atIn my case, however, the remedy tended me from the time I first came proved worse than the disease; and I abroad, with every demonstration of awoke from a six-months' revel with affectionate fidelity, availed himself of shattered nerves, a drained purse, and the relaxation lately introduced into a settled despondency of mind, which the code of morality, and of the vicieven now I shudder to look back nity to the frontiers of his own ungoupon. Suicides, from disappointed verned country, to decamp with t! VOL. XXI.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »