Изображения страниц

illustrations, which taught patience under suffering, or reminding them of those consoling truths which shed light and life into the heart of man, when sorrow and bereavement render this world a gloom and a void.

Captain de Bohun was unfortunately one of those individuals the worst fitted for the endurance of a calamity like this ; his previous life had been spent as a life which confers no moral discipline to the heart—as a life which is pursued by selfish and unreflecting men. His time bad either been passed in useless torpitude, in the pursuit of vain objects or empty pleasures; his employments had been as valueless as the amusements of Aeropus or Biantes; he might have often sought occupation for his hours, so did Domitian in killing flies. An existence wasted in following the sports of the field, was a reproving reflection to meditate upon when age, and bereavement, and other calamities were now darkening his hearth. Years thus devoted were now to come to his mental view like chastening spirits of the past, and wormwood was his portion in the chalice, instead of the nectar of pleasure. Enlarged notions and generous sentiments he had not; subtlety and acuteness were rather the characteristics of the man. It is true he had not been guilty of flagrant errors, nor set a vicious example to others; he passed for a correct person in society,went regularly to church, punctually distributed beef and potatoes at Christmas, and passed current as a respectable man of the world. But this was a trial which proved the worthlessness of wordly knowledge and mere wordly reliance. Well had it been for him if he could have summoned to his heart those consolatory recollections that we can have no lasting peace, no permanency of happiness here, and that there is but one balm to really soothe the wounded spirit, and heal the broken heart. Well had it been for him if the silent upbraidings of conscience did not now add torture to an affliction in itself too prostrating. Melancholy thought-Moreton—the young, the brave, the generous Moreton—the handsome soldier-the heir of Elleringay-the last of a long and honoured line, had been cut down as a flower in his pride--was now a clod of the valley. A stately oak of Bashan had fallen; the pitcher had been broken at the fountain !

In due course of time the stage waggon deposited at the Cross-roads. Inn, an unusually large and heavy chest, addressed to Captain de Bohun. The worthy landlord and two or three others, who were required to lower this goodly sized package from the vehicle, were amazed at its weight, and exceedingly curious to know what it contained, and various speculations were made as to its contents, in that spirit of prying curiosity common to the dwellers in remote districts. That evening Simon and the Corporal conyeyed it to Elleringay. Soon the truth was told. Opening it, poor Moreton'twas the plain and substantial receptacle of of thy perishing dust! A simple inscription told the brief tale of him whase remains the sanctity of friendship had forwarded, to be compounded with their kindred clay!

Three days subsequently the funeral took place. Bright and lovely was the morning all nature smiling as if in mockery at man, on which the mournful cortège slowly passed along the winding avenue to the village church. The body was born to its last resting place on the shoulders of these trusty domestics, who did now and had belonged to the family. The tenants showed their respect by joining in the procession, the young looked onin quietstare, the old lamented in unfeigned sorrow, not an eye in Elleringay had forgot to weep, andeven the strong-minded rector, when he pronounced the solemn words, Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust! felt the fountain of his heart burst open, and his quick falling tears mingled with others that freely were flowing. The sable coffin lay lowered in that gloomy chamber where the fretting passions of the world can never come, where the weary cease from their labours, the once distracted in calmness repose; and all that remained of youth and god-like form, of vigorous arm and warrior step, the last of an honoured race, now slept with the ashes of his ancestors !


-That house where nut-brown draughts inspired, Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retired; Where village statesmen talk'd with look profound, And news much older than their ale went round.”


AUTUMNAL days were waxing to a close, the trees becoming leafless, and the pastures bare, when, one evening, the schoolmaster of Elleringay and Farmer Fallow were comfortably ensconsed over the sea-coal fire at the Plough. The village dominie had been holding terse arguments on parliamentary measures, in which, by-the-bye, he was scarcely at all contradicted in his presages, and worthy Fallow had eloquently dilated



« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »