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A Love Story
"My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,
And bear my spirit back again
Over the earth, and through the air,
A wild bird and a wanderer."
This Work Is Respectfully Inscribed, by A Grateful Friend.
The author of these pages considered that a lengthened explanation might
be necessary to account for the present work.
He had therefore, at some length, detailed the motives that influenced
him in its composition. He had shown that as a solitary companionless
bushman, it had been a pleasure to him in his lone evenings
"To create, and in creating live
A being more intense."
He had expatiated on the love he bears his adopted country, and had
stated that he was greatly influenced by the hope that although
"Sparta hath many a worthier son than he,"
this work might be the humble cornerstone to some enduring and highly
The author however fortunately remembered, that readers have but little
sympathy with the motives of authors; but expect that their works should
amuse or instruct them. He will therefore content himself, with giving a
quotation from one of those old authors, whose "well of English
undefined" shames our modern writers.
He intreats that the indulgence prayed for by the learned Cowell may be
accorded to his humble efforts.
"My true end is the advancement of knowledge, and therefore have I
published this poor work, not only to impart the good thereof, to those
young ones that want it, but also to draw from the learned, the supply
of my defects.
"Whosoever will charge these travails with many oversights, he shall need
no solemn pains to prove them.
"And upon the view taken of this book sithence the impression, I dare
assure them, that shall observe most faults therein, that I, by gleaning
after him, will gather as many omitted by him, as he shall shew
committed by me.
"What a man saith well is not, however, to be rejected, because he hath
some errors; reprehend who will, in God's name, that is, with sweetness,
and without reproach.
"So shall he reap hearty thanks at my hands, and thus more soundly help
in a few months, than I by tossing and tumbling my books at home, could
possibly have done in some years."
A Love Story
"It was a vast and venerable pile."
"Oh, may'st thou ever be as now thou art,
Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring."
The mansion in which dwelt the Delmes was one of wide and extensive
range. Its centre slightly receded, leaving a wing on either side.
Fluted ledges, extending the whole length of the building, protruded
above each story. These were supported by quaint heads of satyr, martyr,
or laughing triton. The upper ledge, which concealed the roof from
casual observers, was of considerably greater projection. Placed above
it, at intervals, were balls of marble, which, once of pure white, had
now caught the time-worn hue of the edifice itself. At each corner of
the front and wings, the balls were surmounted by the family device--the
eagle with extended wing. One claw closed over the stone, and the bird
rode it proudly an' it had been the globe. The portico, of a pointed
Gothic, would have seemed heavy, had it not been lightened by glass
doors, the vivid colours of which were not of modern date. These
admitted to a capacious hall, where, reposing on the wide-spreading
antlers of some pristine tenant of the park, gleamed many a piece of
armour that in days of yore had not been worn ingloriously.
The Delme family was an old Norman one, on whose antiquity a peerage
could have conferred no new lustre. At the period when the aristocracy
of Great Britain lent themselves to their own diminution of
importance, by the prevalent system of rejecting the poorer class of
tenantry, in many instances the most attached,--the consequence was
foreseen by the then proprietor of Delme Park, who, spurning the
advice of some interested few around him, continued to foster those
whose ancestors had served his. The Delmes were thus enabled to
retain--and they deserved it--that fair homage which rank and property
should ever command. As a family they were popular, and as individuals
At the period we speak of, the Delme family consisted but of three
members: the baronet, Sir Henry Delme; his brother George, some ten
years his junior, a lieutenant in a light infantry regiment at Malta;
and one sister, Emily, Emily Delme was the youngest child; her mother
dying shortly after her birth. The father, Sir Reginald Delme, a man of
strong feelings and social habits, never recovered this blow. Henry
Delme was barely fifteen when he was called to the baronetcy and to the
possession of the Delme estates. It was found that Sir Reginald had been
more generous than the world had given him credit for, and that his
estates were much encumbered. The trustees were disposed to rest
contented with paying off the strictly legal claims during Sir Henry's
minority. This the young heir would not accede to. He waited on his
most influential guardian--told him he was aware his father, from
hospitality and good nature, had incurred obligations which the law did
not compel his son to pay; but which he could not but think that equity
and good feeling did. He begged that these might be added to the other
claims, and that the trustees would endeavour to procure him a
commission in the army. He was gazetted to a cornetcy; and entered life
at an age when, if the manlier traits are ready to be developed, the
worthless ones are equally sure to unfold themselves. Few of us that
have not found the first draught of life intoxicate! Few of us that have
not then run wild, as colts that have slipped their bridle!
Experience--that mystic word--is wanting; the retrospect of past years
wakes no sigh; expectant youth looks forward to future ones without a
shade of distrust. The mind is elastic--the body vigorous and free from
pain; and it is then youth inwardly feels, although not daring to avow
it, the almost total impossibility that the mind should wax less
vigorous, or the body grow helpless, and decay.
But Sir Henry was cast in a finer mould, nor did his conduct at this
dangerous period detract from this his trait of boyhood. He joined his
regiment when before the enemy, and, until he came of age, never drew on
his guardians for a shilling. Delme's firmness of purpose, and his after
prudence, met with their due reward. The family estates became wholly
unencumbered, and Sir Henry was enabled to add to the too scanty
provision of his sister, as well as to make up to George, on his
entering the army, a sum more than adequate to all his wants. These
circumstances were enough to endear him to his family; and, in truth,
amidst all its members, there prevailed a confidence and an unanimity
which were never for an instant impaired. There was one consequence,
however, of Sir Henry Delme's conduct that _he_, at the least, foresaw
not, but which was gradually and unconsciously developed. In pursuing
the line of duty he had marked out--in acting up to what he knew was
right--his mind became _too_ deeply impressed with the circumstances
which had given rise to his determination. It overstepped its object.
The train of thought, to which necessity gave birth, continued to
pervade when that necessity no longer existed. His wish to re-establish
his house grew into an ardent desire to aggrandize it. His ambition
appeared a legitimate one. It grew with his years, and increased with
Many a time, on the lone bivouac, when home presents itself in its
fairest colours to the soldier's mind, would Delme's prayer be embodied,
that his house might again be elevated, and that his descendants might
know _him_ as the one to whom they were indebted for its rise. Delme's
ambitious thoughts were created amidst dangers and toil, in a foreign
land, and far from those who shared his name. But his heart swelled high
with them as he again trod his native soil in peace--as he gazed on the
home of his fathers, and communed with those nearest and dearest to him
on earth. Sir Henry considered it incumbent on him to exert every means
that lay in his power to promote his grand object. A connection that
promised rank and honours, seemed to him an absolute essential that was
worth any sacrifice. Sir Henry never allowed himself to look for, or
give way to, those sacred sympathies, which the God of nature hath
implanted in the breasts of all of us. Delme had arrived at middle age
ere a feeling incompatible with his views arose. But his had been a
dangerous experiment. Our hearts or minds, or whatever it may be that
takes the impression, resemble some crystalline lake that mirrors the
smallest object, and heightens its beauty; but if it once gets muddied
or ruffled, the most lovely object ceases to be reflected in its waters.
By the time that lake is clear again, the fairy form that ere while
lingered on its bosom is fled for ever.
Thus much in introducing the head of the family. Let us now attempt to
sketch the gentle Emily.
Emily Delme was not an ordinary being. To uncommon talents, and a mind
of most refined order, she united great feminine propriety, and a total
absence of those arts which sometimes characterise those to whom the
accident of birth has given importance. With unerring discrimination,
she drew the exact line between vivacity and satire, true religion and
its semblance. She saw through and pitied those who, pluming themselves
on the faults of others, and imparting to the outward man the ascetic
inflexibility of the inner one, would fain propagate on all sides their
rigid creed, forbidding the more favoured commoners of nature even to
sip joy's chalice. If not a saint, however, but a fair, confiding, and
romantic girl, she was good without misanthropy, pure without
pretension, and joyous, as youth and hopes not crushed might make her.
She was one of those of whom society might justly be proud. She obeyed
its dictates without question, but her feelings underwent no debasement
from the contact. If not a child of nature, she was by no means the
slave of art.
Emily Delme was more beautiful than striking. She impressed more than
she exacted. Her violet eye gleamed with feeling; her smile few could
gaze on without sympathy--happy he who might revel in its brightness!
If aught gave a peculiar tinge to her character, it was the pride she
felt in the name she bore,--this she might have caught from Sir
Henry,--the interest she took in the legends connected with that name,
and the gratification which the thought gave her, that by her ancestors,
its character had been but rarely sullied, and never disgraced.
These things, it may be, she had accustomed herself to look on in a
light too glowing: for these things and all mundane ones are vain; but
her character did not consequently suffer. Her lip curled not with
hauteur, nor was her brow raised one shadow the more. The remembrance of
the old Baronetcy were on the ensanguined plain,--of the matchless
loyalty of a father and five valiant sons in the cause of the Royal
Charles,--the pondering over tomes, which in language obsolete, but
true, spoke of the grandeur--the deserved grandeur of her house; these
might be recollections and pursuits, followed with an ardour too
enthusiastic, but they stayed not the hand of charity, nor could they
check pity's tear. If her eye flashed as she gazed on the ancient
device of her family, reposing on its time worn pedestal, it could melt
to the tale of the houseless wanderer, and sympathise with the sorrows
of the fatherless.
"Oh that the desert were my dwelling place,
With one fair spirit for my minister;
That I might all forget the human race,
And, hating no one, love but only her."
A cheerful party were met in the drawing room of Delme. Clarendon Gage,
a neighbouring land proprietor, to whom Emily had for a twelvemonth been
betrothed, had the night previous returned from a continental tour. In
consequence, Emily looked especially radiant, Delme much pleased, and
Clarendon superlatively happy. Nor must we pass over Mrs. Glenallan,
Miss Delme's worthy aunt, who had supplied the place of a mother to
Emily, and who now sat in her accustomed chair, with an almost sunny
brow, quietly pursuing her monotonous tambouring. At times she turned to
admire her niece, who occasionally walked to the glass window, to caress
and feed an impudent white peacock; which one moment strutted on the
wide terrace, and at another lustily tapped for his bread at ne of the
"I am glad to see you looking so well, Clarendon!"
"And I can return the compliment, Delme! Few, looking at you now, would
take you for an old campaigner."
The style of feature in Delme and Clarendon was very dissimilar. Sir
Henry was many years Gage's senior; but his manly bearing, and dark
decided features, would bear a contrast with even the tall and elegant,
although slight form of Clarendon. The latter was very fair, and what we
are accustomed to call English-looking. His hair almost, but not quite,
flaxen, hung in thick curls over his forehead, and would have given an
effeminate expression to the face, were it not for the peculiar flash of
the clear blue eye.
"Come! Clarendon," said Emily, "I will impose a task. You have written
twice in my album; once, years ago, and the second time on the eve of
our parting. Come! you shall read us both effusions, and then write a
sonnet to our happy meeting. Would that dear George were here now!"
Gage took up the book. It was a moderately-sized volume, bound in
crimson velvet. It was the fashion to keep albums _then_. It glittered
not in a binding of azure and gold, nor were its momentous secrets
enclosed by one of Bramah's locks. The Spanish proverb says, "Tell me
who you are with, and I will tell you what you are." Ours, in that album
age, used to be, "Show me your scrap book, I will tell you your
character." Emily's was not one commencing with--
"I never loved a dear gazelle!"
and ending with stanzas on the "Forget-me-not." It had not those
hackneyed but beautiful lines addressed by Mr. Spencer to Lady Crewe--
"I stay'd too late: forgive the crime!
Unheeded flew the hours;
For noiseless falls the foot of Time.
That only treads on flowers."
Nor contained it those sublime, but yet more common ones, on Sir John
Moore's death; which lines, by the bye, have suffered more from that
mischief-making, laughter-loving creature, Parody, than any lines we
know. It was not one of these books. Nor was it the splendid scrap book,
replete with superb engravings and proof-impression prints; nor at all
allied to the sentimental one of a garrison flirt, containing locks of
hair of at least five gentlemen, three of whom are officers in the army.
Nor, lastly, was it of that genus which has vulgarity in its very
title-page, and is here and there interspersed with devilish imps, or
caricatured likenesses of the little proprietress, all done in most
infinite humour, and marking the familiar friendship, of some half-dozen
whiskered cubs, having what is technically called the run of the house.
No! it was a repository for feeling and for memory, and, in its fair
pages, presented an image of Emily's heart. Many of these were marked,
it is true; and what human being's character is unchequered? But it was
blotless; and the virgin page looks not so white as when the contrast of
the sable ink is there.
Clarendon read aloud his first contribution--who knows it not? The very
words form a music, and that music is Metastasio's,
Se trovi il caro oggetto,
Digli che sei sospiro
Ma non gli dir di chi,
Se mai t'incontri in lei,
Digli che pianto sei,
Ma non le dir qual' eiglio
Crescer ti fe cosi."
"And now, Emily! for my parting tribute--if I remember right, it was
Gage read, with tremulous voice, the following, which we will christen
I will not be the lightsome lark,
That carols to the rising morn,--
I'd rather be some plaintive bird
Lulling night's ear forlorn.
I will not be the green, green leaf,
Mingling 'midst thousand leaves and flowers
That shed their fairy charms around
To deck Spring's joyous bowers.
I'd rather be the one red leaf,
Waving 'midst Autumn's sombre groves:--
On the heart to breathe that sadness
Which contemplation loves.
I will not be the morning ray,
Dancing upon the river's crest,
All light, all motion, when the stream
Turns to the sun her breast.
I'd rather be the gentle shade,
Lengthening as eve comes stealing on,
And rest in pensive sadness there,
When those bright rays are gone.
I will not be a smile to play
Upon thy coral lip, and shed
Around it sweetness, like the sun
Risen from his crimson bed.
Oh, no! I'll be the tear that steals
In pity from that eye of blue,
Making the cheek more lovely red,
Like rose-leaf dipp'd in dew.
I will not be remember'd when
Mirth shall her pageant joys impart,--
A dream to sparkle in thine eye,
Yet vanish from thy heart.
But when pensive sadness clouds thee,
When thoughts, half pain, half pleasure, steal
Upon the heart, and memory doth
The shadowy past reveal.
When seems the bliss of former years,--
Too sweet, too pure, to feel again,--
And long lost hours, scenes, friends, return,
Remember me, love--then!
"Ah, Clarendon! how often have I read those lines, and thought--but I
will not think now! Here come the letters! Henry will soon be busy--I
shall finish my drawing--and aunt will finish--no! she never _can_
finish her tambour work. Take my portfolio and give me another
contribution!" Gage now wrote "The Return," which we insert for the
When the blue-eyed morn doth peep
Over the soft hill's verdant steep,
Lighting up its shadows deep,
I'll think of thee, love, _then!_
When the lightsome lark doth sing
Her grateful song to Nature's King,
Making all the woodlands ring,
I'll think of thee, love, _then!_
Or when plaintive Philomel
Shall mourn her mate in some lone dell,
And to the night her sorrows tell,
I'll think of thee, love, _then!_
When the first green leaf of spring
Shall promise of the summer bring,
And all around its fragrance fling,
I'll think of thee, love, _then!_
Or when the last red leaf shall fall,
And winter spread its icy pall,
To mind me of the death of all,
I'll think of thee, love, _then!_
When the lively morning ray
Is dancing on the river's spray,
And sunshine gilds the joyous day,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
And when the shades of eve steal on,
Lengthening as life's sun goes down,
Like sweetest constancy alone,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
When I see a sweet smile play
On coral lips, like Phoebus' ray,
Making all look warm and gay,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
When steals the tear of pity, too,
O'er a cheek, whose crimson hue
Looks like rose-leaf dipp'd in dew,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
When mirth's pageant joys unbind
The gloomy spells that chain my mind,
And make me dream of all that's kind,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
And when pensive sadness clouds me,
When the host of memory crowds me,
When the shadowy past enshrouds me,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
When seems the bliss of former years,--
Too sweet, too pure, to feel again,--
And long lost hours, scenes, friends, return,
I'll think of thee, love, _then_!
"Hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven."
"Away! there need no words or terms precise,
The paltry jargon of the marble mart,
Where pedantry gulls folly: we have eyes."
We are told by the members of the silver-fork school, that no tale of
fiction can be complete unless it embody the description of a dinner.
Let us, therefore, shutting from our view that white-limbed gum-tree,
and dismissing from our table tea and damper, [Footnote: _Damper_.
Bushman's fare--unleavened bread] call on memory's fading powers, and
feast once more with the rich, the munificent, the intellectual
Dinner! immortal faculty of eating! to what glorious sense or
pre-eminent passion dost thou not contribute? Is not love half fed by
thy attractions? Beams ever the eye of lover more bright than when,
after gazing with enraptured glance at the coveted haunch, whose fat--a
pure white; whose lean--a rich brown--invitingly await the assault. When
doth lover's eye sparkle more, than when, at such a moment, it lights on
the features of the loved fair one? Is not the supper quadrille the most
dangerous and the dearest of all?
Cherished venison! delicate white soup! spare young susceptible bosoms!
Again we ask, is not dinner the very aliment of friendship? the hinge on
which it turns? Does a man's heart expand to you ere you have returned
his dinner? It would be folly to assert it. Cabinet dinners--corporation
dinners--election dinners--and vestry dinners--and rail-road
dinners--we pass by these things, and triumphantly ask--does not _the_
Ship par excellence--the Ship of Greenwich--annually assemble under its
revered roof the luminaries of the nation? Oh, whitebait! called so
early to your last account! a tear is all we give, but it flows
spontaneously at the memory of your sorrows!
As Mr. Belliston Graeme was much talked of in his day, it may not be
amiss to say a few words regarding him. He was an only child, and at an
early age lost his parents. The expense of his education was defrayed
by a wealthy uncle, the second partner in a celebrated banking house.
His tutor, with whom he may be said to have lived from boyhood--for his
uncle had little communication with him, except to write to him one
letter half-yearly, when he paid his school bill--was a shy retiring
clergyman--a man of very extensive acquirements, and a first rate
classical scholar. After a short time, the curate and young Graeme
became attached to each other. The tutor was a bachelor, and Graeme was
his only pupil. The latter was soon inoculated with the classical mania
of his preceptor; and, as he grew up, it was quite a treat to hear the
pair discourse of Greeks and Romans. A stranger who had _then_ heard
them would have imagined that Themistocles and Scipio Africanus were
stars of the present generation. When Graeme was nineteen, his uncle
invited him to town for a month--a most unusual proceeding. During this
period he studied closely his nephew's character. At the end of this
term, Mr. Hargrave and his young charge were on their way to the
classical regions, where their fancy had been so long straying. They
explored France, and the northern parts of Italy--came on the shores of
the Adriatic--resided and secretly made excavations near the
amphitheatre of Polo--and finally reached the Morea. Not a crag,
valley, or brook, that they were not conversant with before they left
it. They at length tore themselves away; and found themselves at the
ancient Parthenope. It was at Pompeii Mr. Graeme first saw the
beautiful Miss Vignoles, the Mrs. Glenallan of our story; and, in a
strange adventure with some Neapolitan guides, was of some service to
her party. They saw his designs of some tombs, and took the trouble of
drawing him out. The young man now for the first time basked in the
sweets of society; in a fortnight, to Mr. Hargrave's horror, was
rolling in its vortex; in a couple of months found himself indulging
in, and avowing, a hopeless passion; and in three, was once again in
his native land, falsely deeming that his peace of mind had fled for
ever. He was shortly, however, called upon to exert his energies. The
death of his uncle suddenly made him, to his very great surprise, one
of the wealthiest commoners of England. At this period he was quite
unknown. In a short time Mr. Hargrave and himself were lodged
luxuriously--were deep in the pursuit of science, literature, and the
belle arte--and on terms of friendship with the cleverest and most
original men of the day. Mr. Graeme's occupations being sedentary, and
his habits very regular, he shortly found that his great wealth enabled
him, not only to indulge in every personal luxury at Rendlesham Park,
but to patronise largely every literary work of merit. In him the needy
man of genius found a friend, the man of wit a companion, and the
publisher a generous customer. He became famous for his house, his
library, his exclusive society. But he did not become spoilt by his
prosperity, and never neglected his old tutor.
Our party from Delme were ushered into a large drawing-room, the sole
light of which was from an immense bow window, looking out on the
extensive lawn. The panes were of enormous size, and beautiful specimens
of classique plated glass. The only articles of furniture, were some
crimson ottomans which served to set off the splendid paintings; and one
table of the Florentine manufacture of pietra dura, on which stood a
carved bijou of Benvenuto Cellini's. Our party were early. They were
welcomed by Mr. Graeme with great cordiality, and by Mr. Hargrave with
some embarrassment, for the tutor was still the bashful man of former
days. Mr. Graeme's dress shamed these degenerate days of black stock and
loose trowser. Diamond buckles adorned his knees, and fastened his
shoes. His clear blue eye--the high polished forehead--the deep lines of
the countenance--revealed the man of thought and intellect. The playful
lip shewed he could yet appreciate a flash of wit or spark of humour.
"Miss Delme, you are looking at my paintings; let me show you my late
purchases. Observe this sweet Madonna, by Murillo! I prefer it to the
one in the Munich Gallery. It may not boast Titian's glow of colour, or
Raphael's grandeur of design,--in delicate angelic beauty, it may yield
to the delightful efforts of Guido's or Correggio's pencil,--but surely
no human conception can ever have more touchingly portrayed the
beauteous resigned mother. The infant, too! how inimitably blended is
the God-like serenity of the Saviour, with the fond and graceful
witcheries of the loving child! How little we know of the beauties of
the Spanish school! Would I could ransack their ancient monasteries, and
bring a few of them to light!
"You are a chess player! Pass not by this check-mate of Caravaggio's.
What undisguised triumph in one countenance! What a struggle to repress
nature's feelings in the other! Here is a Guido! sweet, as his ever are!
He may justly be styled the female laureat. What artist can compete with
him in delineating the blooming expression, or the tender, but lighter,
shades of female loveliness? who can pause between even the Fornarina,
and that divine effort, the Beatrice Cenci of the Barberini?"
The party were by this time assembled. Besides our immediate friends,
there was his Grace the Duke of Gatten, a good-natured fox-hunting
nobleman, whose estate adjoined Mr. Graeme's; there was the Viscount
Chambery, who had penned a pamphlet on finance--indited a folio on
architecture--and astonished Europe with an elaborate dissertation on
modern cookery; there was Charles Selby, the poet and essayist;
Daintrey, the sculptor--a wonderful Ornithologist--a deep read
Historian--a learned Orientalist--and a novelist, from France; whose
works exhibited such unheard of horrors, and made man and woman so
irremediably vicious, as to make this young gentleman celebrated, even
in Paris--that Babylonian sink of iniquity.
Dinner was announced, and our host, giving his arm very stoically to
Mrs. Glenallan, his love of former days, led the way to the dining-room.
Round the table were placed beautifully carved oaken fauteuils, of a
very old pattern. The service of plate was extremely plain, but of
massive gold. But the lamp! It was of magnificent dimensions! The light
chains hanging from the frescoed ceiling, the links of which were hardly
perceptible, were of silver, manufactured in Venice; the lower part was
of opal-tinted glass, exactly portraying some voluptuous couch, on which
the beautiful Amphitrite might have reclined, as she hastened through
beds of coral to crystal grot, starred with transparent stalactites. In
the centre of this shell, were sockets, whence verged small hollow
golden tubes, resembling in shape and size the stalks of a flower. At
the drooping ends of these, were lamps shaped and coloured to imitate
the most beauteous flowers of the parterre. This bouquet of light had
been designed by Mr. Graeme. Few novelties had acquired greater
celebrity than the Graeme astrale. The room was warmed by heating the
pedestals of the statues.
"Potage a la fantome, and a l'ourika."
"I will trouble you, Graeme," said my Lord Chambery, "for the fantome. I
have dined on la pritanniere for the last three months, and a novel soup
is a novel pleasure."
Of the fish, the soles were a la Rowena, the salmon a l'amour. Emily
flirted with the wing of a chicken saute au supreme, coquetted with
perdrix perdu masque a la Montmorenci, and tasted a boudin a la
Diebitsch. The wines were excellent--the Geisenheim delicious--the
Champagne sparkling like a pun of Jekyll's. But nothing aroused the
attention of the Viscount Chambery so much as a liqueur, which Mr.
Graeme assured him was new, and had just been sent him by the Conte de
Desir. The dessert had been some time on the table, when the Viscount
addressed his host.
"Graeme! I am delighted to find that you at length agree with me as to
the monstrous superiority of a French repast. Your omelette imaginaire
was faultless, and as for your liqueur, I shall certainly order a supply
on my return to Paris."
"That liqueur, my dear lord," replied Mr. Graeme, "is good old cowslip
mead, with a flask of Maraschino di Zara infused in it. For the rest,
the dinner has been almost as imaginaire as the omelet. The greater part
of the recipes are in an old English volume in my library, or perhaps
some owe their origin to the fertile invention of my housekeeper. Let
us style them a la Dorothee."
"Capital! I thank you, Graeme!" said his Grace of Gatten, as he shook
his host by the hand, till the tears stood in his eyes.
The prescient Chambery had made a good dinner, and bore the joke
philosophically. Coffee awaited the gentlemen in a small octagonal
chamber, adjoining the music room. There stood Mr. Graeme's three
favourite modern statues:--a Venus, by Canova--a Discobole, by
Thorwaldson--and a late acquisition--the Ariadne, of Dannecker.
"This is the work of an artist," said Mr. Graeme, "little known in
this country, but in Germany ranking quite as high as Thorwaldson.
This is almost a duplicate of his Ariadne at Frankfort, but the
marble is much more pure. How wonderfully fine the execution! Pray
notice the bold profile of the face; how energetic her action as she
sits on the panther!"
Mr. Graeme touched the spring of a window frame. A curtain of crimson
gauze fell over a globe lamp, and threw a rich shade on the marble.
The features remained as finely chiselled, but their expression was
They adjourned to the music-room, which deserved its title. Save some
seats, which were artfully formed to resemble lyres, nothing broke the
continuity of music's tones, which ascended majestically to the lofty
dome, there to blend and wreath, and fall again. At one extremity of
music's hall was an organ; at the other a grand piano, built by a German
composer. Ranged on carved slabs, at intermediate distances, was placed
almost every instrument that may claim a votary. Of viols, from the violin
to the double bass,--of instruments of brass, from trombones and bass
kettledrums even unto trumpet and cymbal,--of instruments of wood, from
winding serpents to octave flute,--and of fiddles of parchment, from the
grosse caisse to the tambourine. Nor were ancient instruments wanting.
These were of quaint forms and diverse constructions. Mr. Graeme would
descant for hours on an antique species of spinnet, which he procured from
the East, and which he vehemently averred, was the veritable dulcimer. He
would display with great gusto, his specimens of harps of Israel; whose
deep-toned chorus, had perchance thrilled through the breast of more than
one of Judea's dark-haired daughters. Greece, too, had her
representatives, to remind the spectators that there had been an Orpheus.
There were flutes of the Doric and of the Phrygian mode, and--let us
forget not--the Tyrrhenian trumpet, with its brazen-cleft pavilion. But by
far the greater part of his musical relics he had acquired during his stay
in Italy. He could show the litui with their carved clarions--the twisted
cornua--the tuba, a trumpet so long and taper,--the concha wound by
Tritons--and eke the buccina, a short and brattling horn.
Belliston Graeme was an enthusiastic musician; and was in this peculiar,
that he loved the science for its simplicity. Musicians are but too apt
to give to music's detail and music's difficulties the homage that
should be paid to music's self: in this resembling the habitual man of
law, who occasionally forgetteth the great principles of jurisprudence,
and invests with mysterious agency such words as latitat and certiorari.
The soul of music may not have fled;--for we cultivate her
assiduously,--worship Handel--and appreciate Mozart. But music _now_
springs from the head, not the heart; is not for the mass, but for
individuals. With our increased researches, and cares, and troubles, we
have lost the faculty of being pleased. Past are those careless days,
when the shrill musette, or plain cittern and virginals, could with
their first strain give motion to the blythe foot of joy, or call from
its cell the prompt tear of pity. Those days are gone! Music may affect
some of us as deeply, but none as readily!
Mr. Graeme had received from Paris an unpublished opera of Auber's.
Emily seated herself at the piano--her host took the violin--Clarendon
was an excellent flute player--and the tinkle of the Viscount's guitar
came in very harmoniously. By the time refreshments were introduced,
Charles Selby too was in his glory. He had already nearly convulsed the
Orientalist by a theory which he said he had formed, of a gradual
metempsychosis, or, at all events, perceptible amalgamation, of the
yellow Qui Hi to the darker Hindoo; which said theory he supported by
the most ingenious arguments.
"How did you like your stay in Scotland, Mr. Selby?" said Sir
"I am a terrible Cockney, Sir Henry,--found it very cold, and was very
sulky. The only man I cared to see in Scotland was at the Lakes; but I
kept a register of events, which is now on the table in my
dressing-room. If Graeme will read it, for I am but a stammerer, it is
at your service."
The paper was soon produced, and Mr. Graeme read the following:--
"A stranger arrived from a far and foreign country. His was a mind
peculiarly humble, tremblingly alive to its own deficiencies. Yet,
endowed with this mistrust, he sighed for information, and his soul
thirsted in the pursuit of knowledge. Thus constituted, he sought the
city he had long dreamingly looked up to as the site of truth--Scotia's
capital, the modern Athens. In endeavouring to explore the mazes of
literature, he by no means expected to discover novel paths, but sought
to traverse beauteous ones; feeling he could rest content, could he meet
with but one flower, which some bolder and more experienced adventurer
might have allowed to escape him. He arrived, and cast around an anxious
eye. He found himself involved in an apparent chaos--the whirl of
distraction--imbedded amidst a ceaseless turmoil of would-be knowing
students, endeavouring to catch the aroma of the pharmacopaeia, or dive
to the deep recesses of Scotch law. He sought and cultivated the
friendship of the literati; and anticipated a perpetual feast of soul,
from a banquet to which one of the most distinguished members of a
learned body had invited him. He went with his mind braced up for the
subtleties of argument--with hopes excited, heart elate. He deemed that
the authenticity of Champolion's hieroglyphics might now be permanently
established, or a doubt thrown on them which would for ever extinguish
curiosity. He heard a doubt raised as to the probability of Dr. Knox's
connection with Burke's murders! Disappointed and annoyed, he returned
to his hotel, determined to seek other means of improvement; and to
carefully observe the manners, customs, and habits of the beings he was
among. He enquired first as to their habits, and was presented with
scones, kippered salmon, and a gallon of Glenlivet; as to their manners
and ancient costume, and was pointed out a short fat man, the head of
his clan, who promenaded the streets without trousers. Neither did he
find the delineation of their customs more satisfactory. He was made
nearly tipsy at a funeral--was shown how to carve haggis--and a fit of
bile was the consequence, of his too plentifully partaking of a
superabundantly rich currant bun. He mused over these defeats of his
object, and, unwilling to relinquish his hitherto fruitless
search,--reluctant to despair,--he bent his steps to that city, where
utility preponderates over ornament; that city which so early encouraged
that most glorious of inventions, by the aid of which he hoped, that the
diminutive barks of his countrymen might yet be propelled, thus
superseding the ponderous paddle of teak, He here expected to be
involved in an intricate labyrinth of mechanical inventions,--in a
stormy discussion on the comparative merits of rival machinery,--to be
immersed in speculative but gigantic theories. He was elected an
honorary member of a news-room; had his coat whitened with cotton; and
was obliged to confess that he knew of no beverage that could equal
their superb cold punch. Our philosopher now gave himself up to despair;
but before returning to his own warm clime, he sought to discover the
reason of his finding the flesh creep, where he had deemed the spirit
would soar. He at length came to the conclusion that we are all slaves
to the world and to circumstances; and as, with his peculiar belief, he
could look on our sacred volume with the eye of a philosopher, felt
impressed with the conviction that the history of Babel's tower is but
an allegory, which says to the pride of man,
"'Thus far shall ye go, and no farther.'"
The Brahmin's adventures elicited much amusement. In a short time,
Selby was in a hot argument with the French novelist. Every now and
then, as the Frenchman answered him, he stirred his negus, and hummed a
"I'd be a butterfly."
Natus in flosculo."
"Not in those visions, to the heart displaying
Forms which it sighs but to have only dream'd,
Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seem'd;
Or, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek
To paint those charms which, imaged as they beam'd,
To such as see thee not, my words were weak;
To those who gaze on thee, what language could they speak?"
Delme had long designed some internal improvements in the mansion;
and as workmen would necessarily be employed, had proposed that our
family party should pass a few weeks at a watering place, until these
were completed. They were not without hopes, that George might there
join them, as Emily had written to Malta, pressing him to be present
at her wedding.
We have elsewhere said, that Sir Henry had arrived at middle age,
before one feeling incompatible with his ambitious thoughts arose. It
was at Leamington this feeling had imperceptibly sprung up; and to
Leamington they were now going.
Is there an electric chain binding hearts predestined to love?
Hath Providence ordained, that on our first interview with that being,
framed to meet our wishes and our desires--the rainbow to our cloud, and
the sun to our noon-day--hath it ordained that there should also be
given us some undefinable token--some unconscious whispering from the
heart's inmost spirit?
Who may fathom these inscrutable mysteries?
Sir Henry had been visiting an old schoolfellow, who had a country seat
near Leamington. He was riding homewards, through a sequestered and
wooded part of the park, when he was aware of the presence of two
ladies, evidently a mother and daughter. They sate on one side of the
rude path, on an old prostrate beech tree. The daughter, who was very
beautiful, was sketching a piece of fern for a foreground: the mother
was looking over the drawing. Neither saw the equestrian.
It was a fair sight to regard the young artist, with her fine profile
and drooping eyelid, bending over the drawing, like a Grecian statue;
then to note the calm features upturn, and forget the statue in the
breathing woman. At intervals, her auburn tresses would fall on the
paper, and sweep the pencil's efforts. At such times, she would remove
them with her small hand, with such a soft smile, and gentle grace, that
the very action seemed to speak volumes for her feminine sympathies.
Delme disturbed them not, but making a tour through the grove of beech
trees, reached Leamington in thoughtful mood.
It was not long before he met them in society. The mother was a Mrs.
Vernon, a widow, with a large family and small means. Of that family
Julia was the fairest flower. As Sir Henry made her acquaintance, and
her character unfolded itself, he acknowledged that few could study it
without deriving advantage; few without loving her to adoration. That
character it would be hard to describe without our description
appearing high-flown and exaggerated. It bore an impress of loftiness,
totally removed from pride; a moral superiority, which impressed all.
With this was united an innate purity, that seemed her birthright; a
purity that could not for an instant be doubted. If the libertine gazed
on her features, it awoke in him recollections that had long slumbered;
of the time when his heart beat but for one. If, in her immediate
sphere, any littleness of feeling was brought to her notice, it was met
with an intuitive doubt, followed by painful surprise, that such
feeling, foreign as she felt it to be to her own nature, could really
have existence in that of another.
Thank God! she had seen few of the trickeries of this restless world, in
which most of us are struggling against our neighbours; and, if we could
look forward with certainty, to the nature of the world beyond this, it
is most likely that we should breathe a fervent prayer that she should
never witness more.
Her person was a fit receptacle for such a mind. A face all softness,
seemed and _was_ the index to a heart all pity. Taller than her
compeers,--in all she said or did, a native dignity and a witching
grace were exquisitely blended. She was one not easily seen without
admiration; but when known, clung Cydippe-like to the heart's mirror, an
image over which neither time nor absence possessed controul.
The Delmes resided at Leamington the remainder of the winter, which
passed fleetly and happily. Emily, for the first time, gave way to that
one feeling, which, to a woman, is the all-important and engrossing one,
enjoying her happiness in that full spirit of content, which basking in
present joys, attempts not to mar them by ideal disquietudes. The Delmes
cultivated the society of the Vernons; Emily and Julia became great
friends; and Sir Henry, with all his stoicism, was nourishing an
attachment, whose force, had he been aware of it, he would have been at
some pains to repress. As it was, he totally overlooked the possibility
of his trifling with the feelings of another. He had a number of sage
aphorisms to urge against his own entanglement, and, with a moral
perverseness, from which the best of us are not free, chose to forget
that it was possible his convincing arguments, might neither be known
to, nor appreciated by one, on whom their effect might be far from
At this stage, Clarendon thought it his duty to warn Delme; and, to his
credit be it said, shrunk not from it.
"Excuse me, Delme," said he, "will you allow me to say one word to you
on a subject that nearly concerns yourself?"
Sir Henry briefly assented.
"You see a great deal of Miss Vernon. She is a very fascinating and a
very amiable person; but from something you once said to me, it has
struck me that in some respects she might not suit you."
"I like her society," replied his friend; "but you are right. She would
_not_ suit me. _You_ know me pretty well. My hope has ever been to
increase, and not diminish the importance of my house. It once stood
higher both in wealth and consideration. I see many families springing
up around me, that can hardly lay claim to a descent so unblemished I
speak not in a spirit of intolerance, nor found my family claim solely
on its pedigree; but my ancestors have done good in their generation,
and it is a proud thing to be 'the scion of a noble race!'"
"It may be;" said Clarendon quietly, "but I cannot help thinking, that
with your affluence, you have every right to follow your own
inclination. I know that few of my acquaintances are so independent of
Sir Henry shook his head.
"The day is not very distant, Gage, when a Dacre would hardly have
returned two members for my county, if a Delme had willed it otherwise.
But there is little occasion for me to have said thus much. Miss Vernon,
I trust, has other plans; and I believe my own feelings are not enlisted
deep enough, to make me forget the hopes and purposes of half a
It was some few days after this, when Emily had almost given up looking
with interest to the postman's visit, that a letter at last came,
directed to Sir Henry; not indeed in George's hand-writing, but with
the Malta post mark. Delme read it over thoughtfully, and, assuring
Emily that there was nothing to alarm her, left the room to consider
By the way, we have thought over heartless professions, and cannot help
conceiving that of a postman, (it may be conceit!) the most callous and
unfeeling of all. He is waited for with more anxiety than any guest of
the morning; for his visits invariably convey something new to the mind.
He is not love! but he bears it in his pocket; he cannot be friendship!
but he daily hawks about its assurances. With all this, knowing his
importance, aware of the sensation his appearance calls forth, his very
knock is heartless--the tones of his voice cold. Feeling seems denied
him; his head is a debtor and creditor account, his departure the
receipt, and time alone can say, whether your bargain has been a good or
a bad one. He has certainly no assumption--it is one of his few good
traits; he walks with his arms in motion, but attempts not a swagger;
his knock is unassuming, and his words, though much attended to, are
few, and to the point. Why, then, abuse him? We know not, but believe it
originates in fear. An intuitive feeling of dread--a rushing
presentiment of evil--crosses our mind, as our eye dwells on his
thread-bare coat, with its capacious pockets. News of a death--or a
marriage--the tender valentine--the remorseless dun--your having been
left an estate, or cut off with a shilling--fortune, and misfortune---
he quietly dispenses, as if totally unconscious. Surely such a man--his
round performed--cannot quietly sink to the private individual. Can such
a man caress his wife, or kiss his child, when he knows not how many
hearts are bursting with joy, or breaking with sorrow, from the tidings
_he_ has conveyed? To our mind, a postman should be an abstracted
visionary being, endowed with a peculiar countenance, betraying the
unnatural sparkle of the opium-eater, and evincing intense anxiety at
the delivery of each sheet. But these,--they wait not to hear the joyful
shout, or heart-rending moan--to know if hope deferred be at length
joyful certainty, or bitter only half-expected woe. We dread a postman.
Our hand shook, as we last year paid the man of many destinies his
demanded Christmas box.
The amount was double that we gave to the minister of our corporeal
necessities--the butcher's boy--not from a conviction of the superior
services or merit of the former, but from an uneasy desire to bribe, if
we could, that Mercury of fate.
The letter to Sir Henry, was from the surgeon of George's regiment. It
stated that George had been severely ill, and that connected with his
illness, were symptoms which made it imperative on the medical adviser,
to recommend the immediate presence of his nearest male relative.
Apologies were made for the apparent mystery of the communication, with
a promise that this would be at once cleared up, if Sir Henry would but
consent to make the voyage; which would not only enable him to be of
essential service to his brother, but also to acquire much information
regarding him, which could only be obtained on the spot. A note from
George was enclosed in this letter. It was written with an unsteady
hand, and made no mention of his illness. He earnestly begged his
brother to come to Malta, if he could possibly so arrange it, and
transmitted his kindest love and blessing to Emily.
Sir Henry at once made up his mind, to leave Leamington for town on the
morrow, trusting that he might there meet with information which would
be more satisfactory. He concealed for the time the true state of the
case from all but Clarendon; nor did he even allude to his proposed
It was Emily's birth-day, and Gage had arranged that the whole party
should attend a little fete on that night. Sir Henry could not find it
in his heart to disturb his sister's dream of happiness.
"Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!
If, in your bright leaves, we would read the fate
Of men and empires,--'tis to be forgiven,
That, in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you."
The night came on with its crescent moon and its myriads of stars: just
such a night as might have been wished for such a fete. It was in the
month of April. April dews, in Britain's variable clime; are not the
most salubrious, and April's night air is too often keen and piercing;
but the season was an unusually mild one; and the ladies, with their
cloaks and their furs, promenaded the well-lighted walks, determined to
be pleased and happy.
The giver of the fete was an enterprising Italian. Winter's
amusements were over, or neglected--summer's delights were not
arrived; and Signor Pacini conceived, that during the dull and
monotonous interval, a speculation of his own might prove welcome to
the public and beneficial to himself. To do the little man justice, he
was indefatigable in his exertions. From door to door he wended his
smiling way,--here praising the mother's French, there the daughter's
Italian. He gained hosts of partisans. "Of course you patronise
Pacini!" was in every one's mouth. The Signor's prospectus stated,
that "through the kindness of the steward of an influential nobleman,
who was now on the continent, he was enabled to give his fete in the
grounds of the Earl of W----; where a full quadrille band would be in
attendance, a pavilion pitched on the smooth lawn facing the river,
and a comfortable ball room thrown open to a fashionable and
enlightened public. The performance would be most various, novel, and
exciting. Brilliant fireworks from Vauxhall would delight the eye, and
shed a charm on the fairy scene; whilst the car would be regaled with
the unequalled harmony of the Styrian brethren, Messrs. Schezer,
Lobau, and Berdan, who had very kindly deferred their proposed return
to Styria, in order to honour the fete of Signor Pacini."
As night drew on, the mimic thunder of carriages hastening to the scene
of action, bespoke the Signor's success. After the ninth hour, his
numbers swelled rapidly. Pacini assumed an amusing importance, and his
very myrmidons gave out their brass tickets with an air. At ten, a
rocket was fired. At this preconcerted signal, the pavilion, hitherto
purposely concealed, blazed in a flood of light. On its balcony stood
the three Styrian brethren,--although, by the way, they were not
brethren at all,--and, striking their harmonious guitars, wooed
attention to their strains. The crowd hurried down the walk, and formed
round the pavilion. Our party suddenly found themselves near the
Vernons. As the gentlemen endeavoured to obtain chairs for the ladies, a
crush took place, and Sir Henry was obliged to offer his arm to Julia,
who happened to be the nearest of her party. It was with pain Miss
Vernon noted his clouded brow, and look of abstraction; but hardly one
word of recognition had passed, before the deep voices of the Styrians
silenced all. After singing some effective songs, accompanied by a
zither, and performing a melodious symphony on a variety of Jew's-harps;
Pacini, the manager, advanced to address his auditors, with that air of
smiling confidence which no one can assume with better grace than a
clever Italian. His dark eye flashed, and his whole features irradiated,
as he delivered the following harangue.
"Ladies and gentlemen! me trust you well satisfied wid de former
musical entertainment; but, if you permit, me mention one leetle
circonstance. Monsieur Schezer propose to give de song; but it require
much vat you call stage management: all must be silent as de grave. It
ver pretty morceau."
The applause at the end of this speech was very great. Signor Pacini
bowed, till his face rivalled, in its hue, the rosy under-waistcoat in
which he rejoiced.
Schezer stepped forward. He was attired as a mountaineer. His hat
tapered to the top, and was crowned by a single heron feather. Hussars
might have envied him his moustaches. From his right side protruded a
couteau de chasse; and his legs were not a little set off by the
tight-laced boots, which, coming up some way beyond the ancle, displayed
his calf to the very best advantage.
The singer's voice was a fine manly tenor, and did ample justice to the
words, of which the following may be taken as a free version.
"Mountains! dear mountains! on you have I passed my green youth; to me
your breeze has been fragrant from childhood. When may I see the chamois
bounding o'er your toppling crags? When, oh when, may I see my
The minstrel paused--a sound was heard from behind the pavilion. It was
the mountain's echo. It continued the air--then died away in the
softest harmony. All were charmed. Again the singer stepped
forward--the utmost silence prevailed--his tones became more
impassioned--they breathed of love.
"Thanks! thanks to thee, gentle echo! Oft hast thou responded to the
strains of love my soul poured to--ah me! how beautiful was the
Again the echo spoke--again all were hushed. The minstrel's voice rose
again; but its tones were not akin to joy.
"Why remember this, deceitful echo? War's blast hath blown, and hushed
are the notes of love. The foe hath polluted my hearth--I wander an
exile. Where, where is Mary?"
The echo faintly but plaintively replied. There were some imagined that
a tear really started to the eye of the singer. He struck the guitar
wildly--his voice became more agitated--he advanced to the extremity of
"My sword! my sword! May my right hand be withered ere it forget to
grasp its hilt! One blow for freedom. Freedom--sweet as was the
lip--Yes! I'll revenge my Mary!"
Schezer paused, apparently overcome by his emotion. The echo wildly
replied, as if registering the patriot's vow. For a moment all was
still! A thundering burst of applause ensued.
The mountain music was succeeded by a sweep of guitars, accompanying a
Venetian serenade, whose burthen was the apostrophising the cruelty of
"la cara Nina."
It was near midnight, when all eyes were directed to a ball of fire,
which, rising majestically upward, soared amid the tall elm trees. For a
moment, the balloon became entangled in the boughs, revealing by its
transparent light the green buds of spring, which variegated and cheered
the scathed bark. It broke loose from their embrace--hovered
irresolutely above them--then swept rapidly before the wind, rising till
it became as a speck in the firmament.
This was the signal for Mr. Robinson's fireworks, which did not shame
Vauxhall's reputation. At one moment, a salamander courted notice; at
another, a train of fiery honours, festooned round four wooden pillars,
was fired at different places, by as many doves practised to the task.
Here, an imitation of a jet d'eau elicited applause--there, the
gyrations of a Catherine's wheel were suddenly interrupted by the rapid
ascent of a Roman candle.
Directly after the ascent of the balloon, Emily and Clarendon had
turned towards the ball room. Julia's sisters had a group of laughing
beaux round their chairs,--Mrs. Glenallan and Mrs. Vernon were
discussing bygone days,--and no one seemed disposed to leave the
pavilion. Sir Henry, in his silent mood, was glad to escape from the
party; and engaging Julia in a search for Emily, made his way to the
crowded ball room. He there found his sister spinning round with
Clarendon to one of Strauss's waltzes; and Sir Henry and his partner
seated themselves on one of the benches, watching the smiling faces as
they whirled past them. It was a melancholy thought to Delme, how soon
Emily's brow would be clouded, were he to breathe one word of George's
illness and despondency. The waltz concluded, a quadrille was quickly
formed. Miss Vernon declined dancing, and they rose to join Emily and
Clarendon; but the lovers were flown. The ball room became still more
thronged; and Delme was glad to turn once more towards the pavilion. The
party they had left there had also vanished, and strangers usurped their
seats. In this dilemma, Miss Vernon proposed seeking their party in the
long walk. They took one or two turns down this, but saw not those for
whom they were in search.
"If you do not dislike leaving this busy scene," said Sir Henry, "I
think we shall have a better chance of meeting Emily and Clarendon, if
we turn down one of these winding paths."
They turned to their left, and walked on. How beautiful was that night!
Its calm tranquillity, as they receded from the giddy throng, could not
but subdue them. We have said that the moon was not riding the heavens
in her full robe of majesty, nor was there a sombre darkness. The purple
vault was spangled thick with stars; and there reigned that dubious,
glimmering light, by which you can note a face, but not mark its blush.
The walks wound fantastically. They were lit by festoons of coloured
lamps, attached to the neighbouring trees, so as to resemble the pendent
grape-clusters, that the traveller meets with just previous to the
Bolognese vintage. Occasionally, a path would be encountered where no
light met the eye save that of the prying stars overhead. In the
distant vista, might be seen a part of the crowded promenade, where
music held its court; whilst at intervals, a voice's swell or guitar's
tinkle would be borne on the ear. There was the hum of men, too--the
laugh of the idlers without the sanctum, as they indulged in the
delights of the mischievous fire-ball--and the sudden whizz, followed by
an upward glare of light, as a rocket shot into the air. But the hour,
and the nameless feeling that hour invoked, brought with them a subduing
influence, which overpowered these intruding sounds, attuning the heart
to love and praise. They paced the walk in mutual and embarrassed
silence. Sir Henry's thoughts would at one time revert to his brother,
and at another to that parting, which the morrow would assuredly bring
with it. He was lost in reverie, and almost forgot who it was that leant
thus heavily upon his arm. Julia had loved but once. She saw his
abstraction, and knew not the cause; and her timid heart beat quicker
than was its wont, as undefined images of coming evil and sorrow, chased
each other through her excited fancy. At length she essayed to speak,
although conscious that her voice faltered.
"What a lovely night! Are you a believer in the language of the stars?"
This was said with such simplicity of manner, that Delme, as he turned
to answer her, felt truly for the first time the full force of his
attachment. He felt it the more strongly, that his mind previously had
been wandering more than it had done for years.
There are times and seasons when we are engrossed in a train of deep and
unconscious thought. Suddenly recalled to ourselves, we start from our
mental aberration, and a clearer insight into the immediate purposes and
machinery of our lives, is afforded us. We seem endowed with a more
accurate knowledge of self; the inmost workings of our souls are
abruptly revealed--feeling's mysteries stand developed--our weaknesses
stare us in the face--and our vices appear to gnaw the very vitals of
our hope. The veil was indeed withdrawn,--and Delme's heart
acknowledged, that the fair being who leant on him for support, was
dearer--far dearer, than all beside. But he saw too, ambition in that
heart's deep recess, and knew that its dictates, unopposed for years,
were totally incompatible with such a love. He saw and trembled.
Julia's question was repeated, before Sir Henry could reply.
"A soldier, Miss Vernon, is particularly susceptible of visionary ideas.
On the lone bivouac, or remote piquet, duty must frequently chase sleep
from his eyelids. At such times, I have, I confess, indulged in wild
speculations, on their possible influence on our wayward destinies. I
was then a youth, and should not now, I much fear me, pursue with such
unchecked ardour, the dreams of romance in which I could then
unrestrainedly revel. Perhaps I should not think it wise to do so, even
had not sober reality stolen from imagination her brightest pinion."
"I would fain hope, Sir Henry," replied Julia, "that all your mind's
elasticity is not thus flown. Why blame such fanciful theories? I cannot
think them wrong, and I have often passed happy hours in forming them."
"Simply because they remove us too much from our natural sphere of
usefulness. They may impart us pleasure; but I question whether, by
dulling our mundane delights, they do not steal pleasure quite
equivalent. Besides, they cannot assist us in conferring happiness on
others, or in gleaning improvement for ourselves. I am not quite
certain, enviable as appears the distinction, whether the _too_
feelingly appreciating even nature's beauties, does not bear with it its
"Ah! do not say so! I cannot think that it _should_ be so with minds
properly regulated. I cannot think that _such_ can ever gaze on the
wonders revealed us, without these imparting their lesson of gratitude
and adoration. If, full of hope, our eye turns to some glorious planet,
and we fondly deem that _there_, may our dreams of happiness _here,_ be
perpetuated; surely in such poetical fancy, there is little to condemn,
and much that may wean us from folly's idle cravings.
"If in melancholy's hour, we mourn for one who hath been dear, and sorrow
for the perishable nature of all that may here claim our earthly
affections; is it not sweet to think that in another world--perhaps in
some bright star--we may again commune with what we have _so_
loved--once more be united in those kindly bonds--and in a kingdom where
those bonds may not thus lightly be severed?"
Julia's voice failed her; for she thought of one who had preceded her to
"the last sad bourne."
Delme was much affected. He turned towards her, and his hand
As he spoke, darker, more worldly thoughts arose. A fearful struggle,
which convulsed his features, ensued. The world triumphed.
Julia Vernon saw much of this, and maiden delicacy told her it was not
meet they should be alone.
"Let us join the crowd!" said she. "We shall probably meet our party in
the long walk: if not, we will try the ball room."
Poor Julia! little was her heart in unison with that joyous scene!
By the eve of the morrow, Delme was many leagues from her and his
Restless man, with travel, ambition, and excitement, can woo and almost
win oblivion;--but poor, weak, confiding woman--what is left to her?
In secret to mourn, and in secret still to love.
"Adieu! adieu! My native land
Fades o'er the ocean blue;
The night winds sigh--the breakers roar--
And shrieks the wild sea mew.
Yon sun that sets upon the sea,
We follow in his flight:
Farewell awhile to him and thee!
My native land! good night!"
We have rapidly sketched the denouement of the preceding chapter; but it
must not be forgotten, that Delme had been residing some months at
Leamington, and that Emily and Julia were friends. In his own familiar
circle--a severe but true test--Sir Henry had every opportunity of
becoming acquainted with Miss Vernon's sweetness of disposition, and of
appreciating the many excellencies of her character. For the rest,
their intercourse had been of that nature, that it need excite no
surprise, that a walk on a gala night, had the power of extracting an
avowal, which, crude, undigested, and hastily withdrawn as it was, was
certainly more the effusion of the heart--more consonant with Sir
Henry's original nature--than the sage reasonings on his part, which
preceded and followed that event.
On Delme's arrival in town, he prosecuted with energy his enquiries as
to his brother. He called on the regimental agents, who could give him
no information. George's military friends had lost sight of him since he
had sailed for the Mediterranean; and of the few persons, whom he could
hear of, who had lately left Malta; some were passing travellers, who
had made no acquaintances there, others, English merchants, who had met
George at the Opera and in the streets, but nowhere else. It is true,
there was an exception to this, in the case of a hair-brained young
midshipman; who stated that he had dined at George's regimental mess,
and had there heard that George "had fallen in love with some young
lady, and had fought with her brother or uncle, or a soldier-officer, he
did not know which."
Meagre as all this information was, it decided Sir Henry Delme.
He wrote a long letter to Emily, in which he expressed a hope that both
George and himself would soon be with her, and immediately prepared for
Ere we follow him on his lonely journey, let us turn to those he left
behind. Mrs. Glenallan and Emily decided on at once leaving Leamington
for their own home. The marriage of the latter was deferred; and as
Clarendon confessed that his period of probation was a very happy one,
he acquiesced cheerfully in the arrangement. Emily called on the
Vernons, and finding that Julia was not at home, wrote her a kind
farewell; secretly hoping that at some future period they might be more
nearly related. The sun was sinking, as the travellers neared Delme. The
old mansion looked as calm as ever. The blue smoke curled above its
sombre roof; and the rooks sailed over the chimneys, flapping their
wings, and cawing rejoicefully, as they caught the first glimpse of
their lofty homes. Emily let down the carriage window, and with sunshiny
tear, looked out on the home of her ancestors.
There let us leave her; and turn to bid adieu for a season, to one, who
for many a weary day, was doomed to undergo the pangs of blighted
affection. Such pangs are but too poignant and enduring, let the
worldly man say what he may. Could we but read the history of the
snarling cynic, blind to this world's good--of him, who from being the
deceived, has become the deceiver--of the rash sensualist, who plunging
into vice, thinks he can forget;--could we but know the train of
events, that have brought the stamping madman to his bars--and his
cell--and his realms of phantasy;--or search the breast of her, who
lets concealment "feed on her damask cheek"--who prays blessings on
him, who hath wasted her youthful charms--then mounts with virgin soul
to heaven:--we, in our turn, might sneer at the worldling, and pin our
fate on the tale of the peasant girl, who discourses so glibly of
crossed love and broken hearts.
Sir Henry Delme left England with very unenviable sensations. A cloud
seemed to hang over the fate of his brother, which no speculations of
his could pierce. Numberless were the conjectures he formed, as to the
real causes of George's sickness and mental depression. It was in vain
he re-read the letters, and varied his comments on their contents. It
was evident, that nothing but his actual presence in Malta, could
unravel the mystery. Sir Henry had _one_ consolation; how great, let
those judge who have had aught dear placed in circumstances at all
similar. He had a confidence in George's character, which entirely
relieved him from any fear that the slightest taint could have infected
it. But an act of imprudence might have destroyed his peace of
mind--sickness have wasted his body. Nor was his uncertainty regarding
George, Delme's only cause of disquiet. When he thought of Julia
Vernon, there was a consequent internal emotion, that he could not
subdue. He endeavoured to forget her--her image haunted him. He
meditated on his past conduct; and at times it occurred to him, that
the resolutions he had formed, were not the result of reason, but were
based on pride and prejudice. He thought of her as he had last seen
her. _Now_ she spoke with enthusiasm of the bright stars of heaven;
anon, her eye glistened with piety, as she showed how the feeling these
created, was but subservient to a nobler one still. Again, he was
beside her in the moment of maiden agony; when low accents faltered
from her quivering lip, and the hand that rested on his arm, trembled
from her heart's emotion.
Such were the bitter fancies that assailed him, as he left his own, and
reached a foreign land. They cast a shadow on his brow, which change of
scene possessed no charm to dispel. He hurried on to France's capital,
and only delaying till he could get his passports signed, hastened from
Paris to Marseilles.
On his arrival at the latter place, his first enquiries were, as to the
earliest period that a vessel would sail for Malta. He was pointed out a
small yacht in the harbour, which belonging to the British government,
had lately brought over a staff officer with despatches.
A courier from England had that morning arrived--the vessel was about to
return--her canvas was already loosened--the blue Peter streaming in the
wind. Delme hesitated not an instant, but threw himself into a boat, and
was rowed alongside. The yacht's commander was a lieutenant in our
service, although a Maltese by birth. He at once entered into Sir
Henry's views, and felt delighted at the prospect of a companion in his
voyage. A short time elapsed--the anchor was up--the white sails began
to fill--Sir Henry was once more on the wide sea.
What a feeling of loneliness, almost of despair, infects the landsman's
mind, as he recedes from an unfamiliar port--sees crowds watching
listlessly his vessel's departure--crowds, of whom not one feels an
interest in _his_ fate; and then, turning to the little world within,
beholds but faces he knows not, persons he wots not of!
But to one whose home is the ocean, such are not the emotions which
its expanse of broad waters calls forth. To such an one, each plank
seems a friend; the vessel, a refuge from the world and its cares.
Trusting himself to its guidance, deceit wounds him no more--
hollow-hearted friendship proffers not its hand to sting--love
exercises not its fatal sorcery--foes are afar--and his heart, if not
the waves, is comparatively at peace. And oh! the wonders of the deep!
Ocean! tame is the soul that loves not thee! grovelling the mind that
scorns the joys thou impartest! To lean our head on the vessel's side,
and in idleness of spirit ponder on bygone scene, that has brought us
anything but happiness,--to gaze on the curling waves, as impelled by
the boisterous wind, we ride o'er the angry waters, lashed by the sable
keel to a yeasty madness,--to look afar upon the disturbed billow,
presenting its crested head like the curved neck of the war
horse,--_then_ to mark the screaming sea bird, as, his bright eye
scanning the waters, he soars above the stormy main--its wide tumult
his delight--the roaring of the winds his melody--the shrieks of the
drowned an harmonious symphony to the hoarse diapason of the deep! All
these things may awake reflections, which are alike futile and
transitory; but they are accompanied by a mental excitement, which land
scenes, however glorious, always fail to impart.
Delme's voyage was not unpropitious, although the yacht was frequently
baffled by contrary winds, which prevented the passage being very
speedy. During the day, the weather was ordinarily blustering, at times
stormy; but with the setting sun, it seemed that tranquillity came; for
during the nights, which were uncommonly fine, gentle breezes continued
to fill the sails, and their vessel made tardy but sure progress. Henry
would sit on deck till a late hour, lost in reverie. _There_ would he
remain, until each idle mariner was sunk to rest; and nothing but the
distant tread of the wakeful watch, or the short cough of the helmsman,
bespoke a sentinel over the habitation on the waters. How would the
recollections of his life crowd upon him!--the loss of his parent--the
world's first opening--bitter partings--painful misgivings--the lone
bivouac--the marshalling of squadrons--the fierce charge--the
excitement of victory, whose charm was all but flown, for where were the
comrades who had fought beside him? These things were recalled, and
brought with them alternate pain and pleasure. And a less remote era of
his life would be presented him; when he tasted the welcome of home--saw
hands uplifted in gratitude--was cheered by a brother's greeting, and
subdued by a sister's kiss. But there _was_ a thought, which let him
dwell as he might on others, remained the uppermost of all. It was of
Julia Vernon, and met him as a reproach. If his feelings were not of
that enthusiastic nature, which they might have been were he now in his
green youth, they were not on this account the less intense. They were
coloured by the energy of manhood. He had lost a portion of his
self-respect: for he knew that his conduct had been vacillating with
regard to one, whom each traversed league, each fleeting hour, proved to
be yet dearer than he had deemed her.
In the first few days of their passage, the winds shaped their vessel's
course towards the Genoese gulf. They then took a direction nearly
south, steering between Corsica and Sardinia on the one hand--Italy on
Delme had an opportunity of noting the outward aspect of Napoleon's
birth-place; and still more nearly, that of its opposite island, which
also forms so memorable a link in the history of that demi-god of modern
times. How could weaker spirits deem that _there_, invested with
monarchy's semblance, the ruler of the petty isle could forget that he
had been master of the world?
How think that diplomacy's cobweb fibre could hold the eagle, panting
for an upward flight?
They fearfully misjudged! What a transcendent light did his star give,
as it shot through the appalled heavens, ere it sunk for ever in
The commander of the yacht pointed out the rock, which is traditionally
said to be the one, on which Napoleon has been represented--his arms
folded--watching intently the ocean--and ambition's votary gleaning his
moral from the stormy waves below. As they advanced farther in their
course, other associations were not wanting; and Delme, whose mind,
like that of most Englishmen, was deeply tinctured with classic lore,
was not insensible to their charms. They swept by the Latian coast.
Every creek and promontory, attested the fidelity of the poet's
description, by vividly recalling it to the mind. On the seventh day,
they doubled Cape Maritime, on the western coast of Sicily; and two
days afterwards, the vessel neared what has been styled the abode of
Calypso, the island of Gozzo. As they continued to advance, picturesque
trading boats, with awnings and numerous rowers, became more
frequent--the low land appeared--they were signalled from the
palace--the point of St. Elmo was turned--and a wide forest of masts
met the gaze. The vessel took up her moorings; and in the novelty of
the scene, and surrounding bustle, Sir Henry for a time rested from
misgivings, and forgot his real causes for melancholy. The harbour of
Malta is not easily forgotten. The sun was just sinking, tinging with
hues of amber, the usually purple waters of the harbour, and bronzing
with its fiery orb, the batteries and lofty Baraca, where lie entombed
the remains of Sir Thomas Maitland. Between the Baraca's pillars,
might be discerned many a faldette, with pretty face beneath, peering
over to mark the little yacht, as she took her station, amidst the more
gigantic line of battle ships.
The native boatmen, in their gilded barks with high prows, were seen
surrounding the vessel; and as they exerted themselves in passing each
other, their dress and action had the most picturesque appearance. Their
language, a corrupted Arabic, is not unpleasing to the ear; and their
costume is remarkably graceful. A red turban hangs droopingly on one
side, and their waistcoats are loaded with large silver buttons, the
only remains of their uncommon wealth during the war, when this little
island was endowed with a fictitious importance, it can never hope to
resume. Just as the yacht cast anchor, a gun from the saluting battery
was fired. It was the signal for sunset, and every flag was lowered.
Down came in most seaman-like style the proud flag of merry England--the
_then_ spotless banner of France--and the great cross, hanging
ungracefully, over the stout, but clumsy, Russian man of war. All these
flags were then in the harbour of Valletta, although it was not at that
eventful time when--the Moslem humbled--they met with the cordiality of
colleagues in victory.
The harbour was full of vessels. Every nation had its representative.
The intermediate spaces were studded by Maltese boats, crowded with
passengers indiscriminately mingled. The careless English soldier, with
scarlet coat and pipe-clayed belt--priests and friars--Maltese women in
national costume sat side by side. Occasionally, a gig, pulled by man of
war's men, might be seen making towards the town, with one or more
officers astern, whose glittering epaulettes announced them as either
diners out, or amateurs of the opera. The scene to Delme was entirely
novel; although it had previously been his lot to scan more than one
The arrival of the health officers was the first circumstance that
diverted his mind from the surrounding scene. There had been an epidemic
disease at Marseilles, and there appeared to be some doubts, whether, as
a precaution, some quarantine would not be imposed. The superintendent
of quarantine was rowed alongside, chiefly for the purpose of regulating
this. The spirited little commander of the yacht, however, was not at
all desirous of any such arrangement; and after some energetic appeals
on his part, met by cautious remonstrances on the part of the other,
their pratique was duly accorded.
During the discussion with the superintendent, Sir Henry had enquired
from the health officer, as to where he should find George, and was
informed that his regiment was quartered at Floriana, one of Valletta's
suburbs. In a short time a boat from the yacht was lowered, and the
commander prepared to accompany the government courier with his
dispatches to the palace.
Previous to leaving the deck, he hailed a boat alongside--addressed the
boatmen in their native language--and consigned Sir Henry to their
charge. Twilight was deepening into night as Delme left the vessel. The
harbour had lost much of its bustle; lights were already gleaming from
the town, and as seen in some of the loftiest houses, looked as if
suspended in the air above. Our traveller folded his cloak around him,
and was rowed swiftly towards the shore.
The Young Greek.
"But not in silence pass Calypso's isles,
The sister tenants of the middle deep."
* * * * *
"Her reign is past, her gentle glories gone,
But trust not this; too easy youth, beware!
A mortal sovereign holds her dangerous throne.
And thou mayst find a new Calypso there."
Night had set in before Sir Henry reached the shore. The boatmen, in
broken, but intelligible English, took the trouble of explaining, that
they must row him to a point higher up the harbour, than the landing
place towards which the commander's gig was directing its course, on
account of his brother's regiment being quartered at Floriana. Landing
on the quay, they took charge of Delme's portmanteau, and conducted him
through an ascending road, which seemed to form a part of the
fortifications, till they arrived in front of a closed gate. They were
challenged by the sentinel, and obliged to explain their business to a
non-commissioned officer, before they were admitted.
This form having been gone through, a narrow wicket was opened for their
passage. They crossed a species of common, and, after a few minutes'
walk, found themselves in front of the barrack. This was a plain stone
building, enclosing a small court, in the centre of which stood a marble
bason. The taste of some of the officers had peopled this with golden
fish; whilst on the bason's brim were placed stands for exotics, whose
fragrance charmed our sea-worn traveller, so lately emancipated from
those sad drawbacks to a voyage, the odours of tar and bilge water.
On either side, were staircases leading to the rooms above. A sentry was
slowly pacing the court, and gave Delme the necessary directions for
finding George's room. Delme's hand was on the latch, but he paused for
a moment ere he pressed it, for he pictured to himself his brother lying
on the bed of sickness. This temporary irresolution soon gave way to the
impulse of affection, and he hastily entered the chamber. George was
reading, and had his back turned towards him. As he heard the footsteps,
he half turned round; an enquiry was on his lip, when his eye caught
Henry's figure--a hectic flush suffused his cheek--he rose eagerly, and
threw himself into his brother's arms.
Ah! sweet is fraternal affection! As boys, we own its just, its
proper influence; but as men--how few of us can lay our hands on our
hearts, and in the time of manhood feel, that the thought of a
brother, still calls up the kindly glow which it did in earlier
years. Delme strained his brother to his heart, whilst poor George's
tears flowed like a woman's.
"Ah, how," he exclaimed, "can I ever repay you for this?"
The first burst of joyful meeting over--Sir Henry scanned his brother's
features, and was shocked at the apparent havoc a few short years had
wrought. It was not that the cheek--whose carnation tint had once drawn
a comment from all who saw it--it was not that the cheek was bronzed by
an eastern sun. The alabaster forehead, showed that this was the natural
result, of exposure to climate. But the wan, the sunken features--the
unnatural brilliancy of the eye--the almost impetuous agitation of
manner--all these bespoke that more than even sickness had produced the
change:--that the mind, as well as body, must have had its sufferings.
"My dear, dear brother," said Henry, "tell me, I implore you, the
meaning of this. You look ill and distressed, and yet from you I did not
hear of sickness, nor do I know any reason for grief." George smiled
evasively; then, as if recollecting himself, struck his forehead. He
pressed his brother's arm, and led him towards a room adjoining the one
in which they were.
"It were in vain to tell you now, Henry, the eventful history of the
last few months; but see!" said he, as they together entered, "the
innocent cause of much that I have gone through."
Sir Henry Delme started at the sight that greeted him. The room was
dimly lighted by a lamp, but the moon was up, and shed her full light
through part of the chamber. On a small French bed, whose silken linings
threw their rosy hue on the face of its fair occupant, lay as lovely a
girl as ever eye reposed on.
The heat had already commenced to become oppressive; the jalousies and
windows were thrown open. As the night breeze swept over the curtains,
and the tint these gave, trembled on that youthful beauty; Delme might
well be forgiven, for deeming it was very long since he had seen a
countenance so exquisitely lovely. The face did indeed bear the stamp of
youth. Delme would have guessed that the being before him, had barely
attained her fifteenth year, but that her bosom heaved like playful
billows, as she breathed her sighs in a profound slumber. Her style of
beauty for a girl was most rare. It had an almost infantine simplicity
of character, which in sleep was still more remarkable; for awake, those
eyes, now so still, did not throw unmeaning glances.
Such as these must Guarini have apostrophised, as he looked at his
"Occhi! stelle mortale!
Ministri de miei mali!
Se chiusi m'uccidete,
Or, as Clarendon Gage translated it.
"Ye mortal stars! ye eyes that, e'en in sleep,
Can thus my senses chain'd in wonder keep,
Say, if when closed, your beauties thus I feel,
Oh, what when open, would ye not reveal?"
Her beauty owed not its peculiar charm to any regularity of feature; but
to an ineffable sweetness of expression, and to youth's freshest bloom.
Hafiz would have compared that smooth cheek to the tulip's flower. Her
eye-lashes, of the deepest jet, and silken gloss, were of uncommon
length. Her lips were apart, and disclosed small but exquisitely formed
teeth. Their hue was not that of ivory, but the more delicate though
more transient one of the pearl. One arm supported her head--its hand
tangled in the raven tresses--of the other, the snowy rounded elbow was
She met the eye, like a vision conjured up by fervid youth; when, ere
our waking thoughts dare to run riot in beauty's contemplation--sleep,
the tempter, gives to our disordered imaginations, forms and scenes,
which in after life we pant for, but meet them--never!
George put his finger to his lips, as Delme regarded her--kissed her
silken cheek, and whispered,
"Acme, carissima mia!"
The slumberer started--the envious eye-lid shrouded no more its lustrous
jewel--the wondering eyes dilated, as they met her lover's--and she
murmured something with that sweet Venetian lisp, in which the Greek
women breathe their Italian. But, as she saw the stranger, her face and
neck became suffused with crimson, and her small hand wrapped the snowy
sheet round her beauteous form.
Sir Henry, who felt equally embarrassed, returned to the room they
had left; whilst George lingered by the bedside of his mistress, and
told her it was his brother. Once more together, Sir Henry turned
"For God's sake," said he, "unravel this mystery! Who is this young
"Not now!" said his brother, "let us reserve it for to-morrow, and talk
only of home. Acme has retired earlier than usual--she has been
complaining." And he commenced with a flushed brow and rapid voice, to
ask after those he loved.
"And so, dearest Emily will soon be married. I am glad of it; you speak
so well of Gage! I wish I had stayed three weeks longer in England, and
I should have seen him. We shall miss her in the flower garden, Henry!
Yes! and every where else! And how is my kind aunt? I forgot to thank
her when I last wrote to Delme, for making Fidele a parlour inmate!--and
I don't think she likes dogs generally either!--And Mrs. Wilcox! as
demure as ever?--Do you recollect the trick I played her the last April
I was at home?--And my favourite pony! does _he_ still adorn the
paddock, or is he gone at last? Emily wrote me he could hardly support
himself out of the shed. And the old oak--have you railed it round as I
advised? And the deer--Is my aunt still as tenacious of killing them? I
suppose Emily's pet fawn is a fine antlered gentleman by this time. And
your charger, Henry--how is he? And Mr. Sims? and the new green house?
Does the aviary succeed? did you get my slips of the blood orange? have
the Zante melon seeds answered? And the daisy of Delme, Fanny Porter--is
she married? I stole a kiss the day I left. And so the coachman is dead?
and you have given the reins to Jenkins, and have taken my little fellow
on your own establishment? And Ponto? and Ranger? and my friend Guess?"
Here George paused, quite out of breath; and his brother, viewing with
some alarm his nervous agitation, attempted to answer his many queries;
determined in his own mind, not to seek the explanation he so much
longed for, until a more favourable period for demanding it arrived. The
brothers continued conversing on English topics till a late hour, when
Henry rose to retire.
"I cannot," said George, "give you a bed here to-night; but my servant
shall show you the way to an hotel; and in the course of to-morrow, we
will take care to have a room provided for you. You must feel harassed:
will nine be too early an hour for breakfast?"
It was a beautiful night, still and starry. Till they arrived in the
busy street, no sound could be heard, but the cautious opening of the
lattice, answering the signal of the guitar. Escorted by his guide,
Delme entered Valletta, which is bustling always, even at night; but was
more than usually so, as there happened to be a fete at the palace. As
they passed through the Strado Teatro, the soldier pointed out the
Opera-house; although from the lateness of the hour, Rossini's melodies
were hushed. From a neighbouring cafe, however, festive sounds
proceeded; and Delme, catching the words of an unfamiliar language,
paused before the door to recognise the singer. The table at which he
sat, was so densely enveloped in smoke, that it was some time before he
could make out the forms of the party, which consisted of some jovial
British midshipmen, and some Tartar-looking Russians. One of the Russian
officers was charming his audience with a chanson a boire, acquired on
the banks of the Vistula, His compatriots were yelling the chorus most
unmercifully. A few caleche drivers, waiting for their fares, and two or
three idle Maltese, were pacing outside the cafe, and appeared to regard
the scene as one of frequent occurrence, and calculated to excite but
little interest. His guide showed Delme the hotel, and was dismissed;
and Sir Henry, preceded by an obsequious waiter, was introduced to a
spacious apartment facing the street.
It was long ere sleep visited him. He had many subjects on which to
ruminate; there were many points which the morrow would clear up. His
mind was too busy to permit him to rest.
When he did, however, close his eyes; he slept soundly, and did not
awake till the broad glare of day, penetrating through the Venetian
blinds, disclosed to him the unfamiliar apartment at Beverley's.
"'Mid many things most new to ear and eye,
The pilgrim rested here his weary feet."
As Sir Henry Delme stepped from the hotel into the street, the sun's
rays commenced to be oppressive, and, although it was only entering the
month of May, served to remind him that he was in a warmer clime. The
scene was already a bustling one. The shopkeepers were throwing water
on the hot flag stones, and erecting canvas awnings in front of their
doors. In the various cafes might be seen the subservient waiters,
handing round the small gilded cup, which contained thick Turkish
coffee, or carrying to some old smoker the little pipkin, whence he was
to light his genial cigar. In front of one of these cafes, some
English officers were collected, sipping ices, and criticising the
relieving of the guard. Turning a corner of the principal street, a
group of half black and three-parts naked children assaulted our
traveller, and vociferously invoked carita. They accompanied this
demand by the corrupted cry of "nix munjay"--nothing to eat,--which
they enforced by most expressive gestures, extending their mouths, and
exhibiting rows of ravenous-looking teeth. The caleche drivers, too,
were on the alert, and respectfully taking off their turbans, proffered
their services to convey the Signore to Floriana. Delme declined their
offers, and, passing a draw-bridge which divides Valletta from the
country, made his way through an embrasure, and descending some half
worn stone steps--during which operation he was again surrounded by
beggars--he found himself within sight of the barracks. Acme and George
were ready to receive him. The latter's eye lit, as it was wont to do,
on seeing his brother, whilst the young Greek appeared in doubt,
whether to rejoice at what gave him pleasure, or to stand in awe of a
relation, whose influence over George might shake her own. This did
not, however, prevent her offering Delme her hand, with an air of great
frankness and grace. Nor was he less struck with her peculiar beauty
than he had been on the night previous. Her dress was well adapted to
exhibit her charms to the greatest advantage. Her hair was parted in
front, and smoothly combed over her neck and shoulders, descending to
her waist. Over her bosom, and fastened by a chased silver clasp, was
one of the saffron handkerchiefs worn by the Parganot women. A jacket
of purple velvet, embroidered with gold, fitted closely to her figure.
Round her waist was a crimson girdle, fastened by another enormous
broach, or rather embossed plate of silver. A Maltese gold rose chain
of exquisite workmanship was flung round her neck, to which depended a
locket, one side of which held, encased in glass, George's hair braided
with her own; the other had a cameo, representing the death of the
patriot Marco Bozzaris.
"Giorgio tells me," said she, "that you speak Italian, at which I am
very glad; for his efforts to teach me English have quite failed. Do you
know you quite alarmed me last night, and I really think it was too bad
of George introducing you when he did;" and she placed her hand on her
lover's shoulder, and looked in his face confidingly. In spite of the
substance of her speech, and the circumstances under which Delme saw
her, he could not avoid feeling an involuntary prepossession in her
favour. Her manner had little of the polish of art, but much of nature's
witching simplicity; and Sir Henry felt surprised at the ease and
animation of the whole party. Acme presided at the breakfast table, with
a grace which many a modern lady of fashion might envy; and during the
meal, her conversation, far from being dull or listless, showed that she
had much talent, and that to a quick perception of nature's charms, she
united great enthusiasm in their pursuit. The meal was over, when the
surgeon of the regiment was announced, and introduced by George to Sir
Henry. After making a few inquiries as to the invalid's state of health,
he proposed to Delme, taking a turn in the botanical garden, which was
immediately in front of their windows.
Sir Henry eagerly grasped at the proposition; anxious, as he felt
himself, to ascertain the real circumstances connected with his
brother's indisposition. They strolled through the garden, which was
almost deserted--for none but dogs and Englishmen, to use the expression
of the natives, court the Maltese noon-day sun,--and the surgeon at once
entered into George's history. He was a man of most refined manners, and
a cultivated intellect, and his professional familiarity with horrors,
had not diminished his natural delicacy of feeling. His narrative was
George Delme's bosom companion had been an officer of his own age and
standing in the service, with whom he had embarked when leaving England.
Their intercourse had ripened into the closest friendship. George had
met Acme, although the surgeon knew not the particulars of the
rencontre,--had confided to his friend the acquaintance he had made--and
had himself introduced Delancey at the house where Acme resided. Whether
her charms really tempted the friend to endeavour to supplant George,
or whether he considered the latter's attentions to the young Greek to
be without definite object, and undertaken in a spirit of indifference,
the narrator could not explain; but it was not long before Delancey
considered himself as a principal in the transaction. Acme, whose
knowledge of the world was slight, and whose previous seclusion from
society, had rendered her timidity excessive, considered that her best
mode of avoiding importunities she disliked, and attentions that were
painful to her, would be to speak to George himself on the subject.
By this time, the latter, quite fascinated by her beauty and
simplicity, and deeming, as was indeed the fact, that his love was
returned, needed not other inquietudes than those his attachment gave
him. The pride of ancestry and station on the one hand--on the other,
a deep affection, and a wish to act nobly by Acme--caused an internal
struggle which made him open to any excitement, nervously alive to any
wrong. He sought his friend, and used reproaches, which rendered it
imperative that they should meet as foes. Delancey was wounded; and
as _he_ thought--and it was long doubtful whether it _were_
so--_mortally_. He beckoned George Delme to his bedside--begged him to
forgive him--told him that his friendship had been the greatest source
of delight to him--a friendship which in his dying moments he begged
to renew--that far from feeling pain at his approaching dissolution,
he conceived that he had merited all, and only waited his full and
entire forgiveness to die happy. George Delme wrung his hands in the
bitterness of despair--prayed him to live for his sake--told him, that
did he not, his own life hereafter would be one of the deepest
misery,--that the horrors of remorse would weigh him down to his
grave. The surgeon was the first to terminate a scene, which he
assured Delme was one of the most painful it had ever been his lot to
witness. This meeting, though of so agitating a nature, seemed to have
a beneficial effect on the wounded man. He sunk into a sweet sleep;
and on awaking, his pulse was lower, and his symptoms less critical.
He improved gradually, and was now convalescent. But it was otherwise
with George Delme. He sought the solitude of his chamber, a prey to
the agonies of a self-reproaching spirit. He considered himself
instrumental in taking the life of his best friend--of one, richly
endowed with the loftiest feelings humanity can boast. His nerves
previously had been unstrung; body and mind sank under the picture his
imagination had conjured up. His servant was alarmed by startling
screams, entered his room, and found his master in fearful
convulsions. A fever ensued, during which George's life hung by a
thread. To this succeeded a long state of unconsciousness,
occasionally broken by wild delirium.
During his illness, there was one who never left him--who smoothed his
pillow--who supported his head on her breast--who watched him as a
mother watches her first-born. It was the youthful Greek, Acme Frascati.
The instant she heard of his danger, she left her home to tend him. No
entreaties could influence her, no arguments persuade. She would sit by
his bedside for hours, his feverish hand locked in hers, and implore him
to recover, to bless one who loved him so dearly. They could not part
them; for George, even in his delirious state, seemed to be conscious
that some one was near him, and, did she leave his side, would rise in
his bed, and look around him as if missing some accustomed object. In
his wilder flights, he would call passionately upon her, and beg her to
save his friend, who was lying so dead and still.
For a length of time, neither care nor professional skill availed.
Fearful was the struggle, between his disease, and a naturally hardy
constitution. Reason at last resumed her dominion. "I know not," said
the surgeon, "the particulars of the first dawning of consciousness. It
appears that Acme was alone with him, and that it was at night. I found
him on my professional visit one morning, clear and collected, and his
mistress sobbing her thanks. I need perhaps hardly inform you," said the
narrator, "that George's gratitude to Acme was vividly expressed. It was
in vain I urged on her the propriety of now leaving her lover. This was
met on both sides by an equal disinclination, and indeed obstinate
refusal; and I feared the responsibility I should incur, by enforcing a
separation which might have proved of dangerous consequence to my
patient. Alas! for human nature, Sir Henry! need it surprise you that
the consequences were what they are? Loving him with the fervency of one
born under an eastern sun--with the warm devotion of woman's first
love--with slender ideas of Christian morality--and with a mind
accustomed to obey its every impulse--need it, I say, surprise you, that
the one fell, and that remorse visited the other? To that remorse, do I
attribute what my previous communication may not have sufficiently
prepared you for; namely, the little dependence to be placed on the tone
of the invalid's mind. Reason is but as a glimmering in a socket; and
painful as my professional opinion may be to you, it is my duty to avow
it; and I frankly confess, that I entertain serious apprehensions, as to
the stability of his mind's restoration. It is on this account, that I
have felt so anxious that one of his relations should be near him.
Change of scene is absolutely necessary, as soon as change of scene can
be safely adopted. Every distracting thought must be avoided, and the
utmost care taken that no agitating topic is discussed in his presence.
These precautions may do much; but should they have no effect, which I
think possible; as a medical man, I should then recommend, what as a
member of his family may startle you. My advice would be, that if it be
ultimately found, that his feelings as regard this young girl, are such
as are likely to prevent or impede his mind's recovery; why I would then
at once allow him to make her any reparation he may think just.
"To what do you allude?" enquired Sir Henry.
"Why," continued the surgeon, "that if his feelings appear deeply
enlisted on that side of the question, and all our other modes have
failed in obtaining their object; that he should be permitted to marry
her as soon as he pleases. I see you look grave. I am not surprised you
should do so; but life is worth preserving, and Acme, if not entirely to
our notions, is a good, a very good girl--warm-hearted and affectionate;
and it is not fair to judge her by our English standard. You will
however have time and scope, to watch yourself the progress and extent
of his disorder. I fear this is more serious than you are at present
aware of; but from your own observations, would I recommend and wish
your future line of conduct to be formed. May I trust my frankness has
not offended you?"
Sir Henry assured him, that far from this being the case, he owed
him many thanks for being thus explicit. Shaking him by the hand,
he returned to George's room with a clouded brow; perplexed how to
act, or how best discuss with his brother, the points connected
with his history.