Part 5 out of 16
And hear the surges roll above,
And through the waters view on high
The proud ships sail, and gay clouds move.
And oft at midnight's stillest hour,
When summer seas the vessel lave,
I love to prove my charmful pow'r
While floating on the moon-light wave.
And when deep sleep the crew has bound,
And the sad lover musing leans
O'er the ship's side, I breathe around
Such strains as speak no mortal means!
O'er the dim waves his searching eye
Sees but the vessel's lengthen'd shade;
Above--the moon and azure sky;
Entranc'd he hears, and half afraid!
Sometimes, a single note I swell,
That, softly sweet, at distance dies;
Then wake the magic of my shell,
And choral voices round me rise!
The trembling youth, charm'd by my strain,
Calls up the crew, who, silent, bend
O'er the high deck, but list in vain;
My song is hush'd, my wonders end!
Within the mountain's woody bay,
Where the tall bark at anchor rides,
At twilight hour, with tritons gay,
I dance upon the lapsing tides:
And with my sister-nymphs I sport,
Till the broad sun looks o'er the floods;
Then, swift we seek our crystal court,
Deep in the wave, 'mid Neptune's woods.
In cool arcades and glassy halls
We pass the sultry hours of noon,
Beyond wherever sun-beam falls,
Weaving sea-flowers in gay festoon.
The while we chant our ditties sweet
To some soft shell that warbles near;
Join'd by the murmuring currents, fleet,
That glide along our halls so clear.
There, the pale pearl and sapphire blue,
And ruby red, and em'rald green,
Dart from the domes a changing hue,
And sparry columns deck the scene.
When the dark storm scowls o'er the deep,
And long, long peals of thunder sound,
On some high cliff my watch I keep
O'er all the restless seas around:
Till on the ridgy wave afar
Comes the lone vessel, labouring slow,
Spreading the white foam in the air,
With sail and top-mast bending low.
Then, plunge I 'mid the ocean's roar,
My way by quiv'ring lightnings shewn,
To guide the bark to peaceful shore,
And hush the sailor's fearful groan.
And if too late I reach its side
To save it from the 'whelming surge,
I call my dolphins o'er the tide,
To bear the crew where isles emerge.
Their mournful spirits soon I cheer,
While round the desert coast I go,
With warbled songs they faintly hear,
Oft as the stormy gust sinks low.
My music leads to lofty groves,
That wild upon the sea-bank wave;
Where sweet fruits bloom, and fresh spring roves,
And closing boughs the tempest brave.
Then, from the air spirits obey
My potent voice they love so well,
And, on the clouds, paint visions gay,
While strains more sweet at distance swell.
And thus the lonely hours I cheat,
Soothing the ship-wreck'd sailor's heart,
Till from the waves the storms retreat,
And o'er the east the day-beams dart.
Neptune for this oft binds me fast
To rocks below, with coral chain,
Till all the tempest's over-past,
And drowning seamen cry in vain.
Whoe'er ye are that love my lay,
Come, when red sun-set tints the wave,
To the still sands, where fairies play;
There, in cool seas, I love to lave.
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such a sort,
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
that could be mov'd to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease,
While they behold a greater than themselves.
Montoni and his companion did not return home, till many hours after
the dawn had blushed upon the Adriatic. The airy groups, which had
danced all night along the colonnade of St. Mark, dispersed before
the morning, like so many spirits. Montoni had been otherwise
engaged; his soul was little susceptible of light pleasures. He
delighted in the energies of the passions; the difficulties and
tempests of life, which wreck the happiness of others, roused and
strengthened all the powers of his mind, and afforded him the highest
enjoyments, of which his nature was capable. Without some object of
strong interest, life was to him little more than a sleep; and, when
pursuits of real interest failed, he substituted artificial ones,
till habit changed their nature, and they ceased to be unreal. Of
this kind was the habit of gaming, which he had adopted, first, for
the purpose of relieving him from the languor of inaction, but had
since pursued with the ardour of passion. In this occupation he had
passed the night with Cavigni and a party of young men, who had more
money than rank, and more vice than either. Montoni despised the
greater part of these for the inferiority of their talents, rather
than for their vicious inclinations, and associated with them only to
make them the instruments of his purposes. Among these, however,
were some of superior abilities, and a few whom Montoni admitted to
his intimacy, but even towards these he still preserved a decisive
and haughty air, which, while it imposed submission on weak and timid
minds, roused the fierce hatred of strong ones. He had, of course,
many and bitter enemies; but the rancour of their hatred proved the
degree of his power; and, as power was his chief aim, he gloried more
in such hatred, than it was possible he could in being esteemed. A
feeling so tempered as that of esteem, he despised, and would have
despised himself also had he thought himself capable of being
flattered by it.
Among the few whom he distinguished, were the Signors Bertolini,
Orsino, and Verezzi. The first was a man of gay temper, strong
passions, dissipated, and of unbounded extravagance, but generous,
brave, and unsuspicious. Orsino was reserved, and haughty; loving
power more than ostentation; of a cruel and suspicious temper; quick
to feel an injury, and relentless in avenging it; cunning and
unsearchable in contrivance, patient and indefatigable in the
execution of his schemes. He had a perfect command of feature and of
his passions, of which he had scarcely any, but pride, revenge and
avarice; and, in the gratification of these, few considerations had
power to restrain him, few obstacles to withstand the depth of his
stratagems. This man was the chief favourite of Montoni. Verezzi
was a man of some talent, of fiery imagination, and the slave of
alternate passions. He was gay, voluptuous, and daring; yet had
neither perseverance or true courage, and was meanly selfish in all
his aims. Quick to form schemes, and sanguine in his hope of
success, he was the first to undertake, and to abandon, not only his
own plans, but those adopted from other persons. Proud and
impetuous, he revolted against all subordination; yet those who were
acquainted with his character, and watched the turn of his passions,
could lead him like a child.
Such were the friends whom Montoni introduced to his family and his
table, on the day after his arrival at Venice. There were also of
the party a Venetian nobleman, Count Morano, and a Signora Livona,
whom Montoni had introduced to his wife, as a lady of distinguished
merit, and who, having called in the morning to welcome her to
Venice, had been requested to be of the dinner party.
Madame Montoni received with a very ill grace, the compliments of the
Signors. She disliked them, because they were the friends of her
husband; hated them, because she believed they had contributed to
detain him abroad till so late an hour of the preceding morning; and
envied them, since, conscious of her own want of influence, she was
convinced, that he preferred their society to her own. The rank of
Count Morano procured him that distinction which she refused to the
rest of the company. The haughty sullenness of her countenance and
manner, and the ostentatious extravagance of her dress, for she had
not yet adopted the Venetian habit, were strikingly contrasted by the
beauty, modesty, sweetness and simplicity of Emily, who observed,
with more attention than pleasure, the party around her. The beauty
and fascinating manners of Signora Livona, however, won her
involuntary regard; while the sweetness of her accents and her air of
gentle kindness awakened with Emily those pleasing affections, which
so long had slumbered.
In the cool of the evening the party embarked in Montoni's gondola,
and rowed out upon the sea. The red glow of sun-set still touched
the waves, and lingered in the west, where the melancholy gleam
seemed slowly expiring, while the dark blue of the upper aether began
to twinkle with stars. Emily sat, given up to pensive and sweet
emotions. The smoothness of the water, over which she glided, its
reflected images--a new heaven and trembling stars below the waves,
with shadowy outlines of towers and porticos, conspired with the
stillness of the hour, interrupted only by the passing wave, or the
notes of distant music, to raise those emotions to enthusiasm. As
she listened to the measured sound of the oars, and to the remote
warblings that came in the breeze, her softened mind returned to the
memory of St. Aubert and to Valancourt, and tears stole to her eyes.
The rays of the moon, strengthening as the shadows deepened, soon
after threw a silvery gleam upon her countenance, which was partly
shaded by a thin black veil, and touched it with inimitable softness.
Hers was the CONTOUR of a Madona, with the sensibility of a Magdalen;
and the pensive uplifted eye, with the tear that glittered on her
cheek, confirmed the expression of the character.
The last strain of distant music now died in air, for the gondola was
far upon the waves, and the party determined to have music of their
own. The Count Morano, who sat next to Emily, and who had been
observing her for some time in silence, snatched up a lute, and
struck the chords with the finger of harmony herself, while his
voice, a fine tenor, accompanied them in a rondeau full of tender
sadness. To him, indeed, might have been applied that beautiful
exhortation of an English poet, had it then existed:
Strike up, my master,
But touch the strings with a religious softness!
Teach sounds to languish through the night's dull ear
Till Melancholy starts from off her couch,
And Carelessness grows concert to attention!
With such powers of expression the Count sung the following
Soft as yon silver ray, that sleeps
Upon the ocean's trembling tide;
Soft as the air, that lightly sweeps
Yon said, that swells in stately pride:
Soft as the surge's stealing note,
That dies along the distant shores,
Or warbled strain, that sinks remote--
So soft the sigh my bosom pours!
True as the wave to Cynthia's ray,
True as the vessel to the breeze,
True as the soul to music's sway,
Or music to Venetian seas:
Soft as yon silver beams, that sleep
Upon the ocean's trembling breast;
So soft, so true, fond Love shall weep,
So soft, so true, with THEE shall rest.
The cadence with which he returned from the last stanza to a
repetition of the first; the fine modulation in which his voice stole
upon the first line, and the pathetic energy with which it pronounced
the last, were such as only exquisite taste could give. When he had
concluded, he gave the lute with a sigh to Emily, who, to avoid any
appearance of affectation, immediately began to play. She sung a
melancholy little air, one of the popular songs of her native
province, with a simplicity and pathos that made it enchanting. But
its well-known melody brought so forcibly to her fancy the scenes and
the persons, among which she had often heard it, that her spirits
were overcome, her voice trembled and ceased--and the strings of the
lute were struck with a disordered hand; till, ashamed of the emotion
she had betrayed, she suddenly passed on to a song so gay and airy,
that the steps of the dance seemed almost to echo to the notes.
BRAVISSIMO! burst instantly from the lips of her delighted auditors,
and she was compelled to repeat the air. Among the compliments that
followed, those of the Count were not the least audible, and they had
not concluded, when Emily gave the instrument to Signora Livona,
whose voice accompanied it with true Italian taste.
Afterwards, the Count, Emily, Cavigni, and the Signora, sung
canzonettes, accompanied by a couple of lutes and a few other
instruments. Sometimes the instruments suddenly ceased, and the
voices dropped from the full swell of harmony into a low chant; then,
after a deep pause, they rose by degrees, the instruments one by one
striking up, till the loud and full chorus soared again to heaven!
Meanwhile, Montoni, who was weary of this harmony, was considering
how he might disengage himself from his party, or withdraw with such
of it as would be willing to play, to a Casino. In a pause of the
music, he proposed returning to shore, a proposal which Orsino
eagerly seconded, but which the Count and the other gentlemen as
Montoni still meditated how he might excuse himself from longer
attendance upon the Count, for to him only he thought excuse
necessary, and how he might get to land, till the gondolieri of an
empty boat, returning to Venice, hailed his people. Without
troubling himself longer about an excuse, he seized this opportunity
of going thither, and, committing the ladies to the care of his
friends, departed with Orsino, while Emily, for the first time, saw
him go with regret; for she considered his presence a protection,
though she knew not what she should fear. He landed at St. Mark's,
and, hurrying to a Casino, was soon lost amidst a crowd of gamesters.
Meanwhile, the Count having secretly dispatched a servant in
Montoni's boat, for his own gondola and musicians, Emily heard,
without knowing his project, the gay song of gondolieri approaching,
as they sat on the stern of the boat, and saw the tremulous gleam of
the moon-light wave, which their oars disturbed. Presently she heard
the sound of instruments, and then a full symphony swelled on the
air, and, the boats meeting, the gondolieri hailed each other. The
count then explaining himself, the party removed into his gondola,
which was embellished with all that taste could bestow.
While they partook of a collation of fruits and ice, the whole band,
following at a distance in the other boat, played the most sweet and
enchanting strains, and the Count, who had again seated himself by
Emily, paid her unremitted attention, and sometimes, in a low but
impassioned voice, uttered compliments which she could not
misunderstand. To avoid them she conversed with Signora Livona, and
her manner to the Count assumed a mild reserve, which, though
dignified, was too gentle to repress his assiduities: he could see,
hear, speak to no person, but Emily while Cavigni observed him now
and then, with a look of displeasure, and Emily, with one of
uneasiness. she now wished for nothing so much as to return to
Venice, but it was near mid-night before the gondolas approached St.
Mark's Place, where the voice of gaiety and song was loud. The busy
hum of mingling sounds was heard at a considerable distance on the
water, and, had not a bright moon-light discovered the city, with its
terraces and towers, a stranger would almost have credited the fabled
wonders of Neptune's court, and believed, that the tumult arose from
beneath the waves.
They landed at St. Mark's, where the gaiety of the colonnades and the
beauty of the night, made Madame Montoni willingly submit to the
Count's solicitations to join the promenade, and afterwards to take a
supper with the rest of the party, at his Casino. If any thing could
have dissipated Emily's uneasiness, it would have been the grandeur,
gaiety, and novelty of the surrounding scene, adorned with Palladio's
palaces, and busy with parties of masqueraders.
At length they withdrew to the Casino, which was fitted up with
infinite taste, and where a splendid banquet was prepared; but here
Emily's reserve made the Count perceive, that it was necessary for
his interest to win the favour of Madame Montoni, which, from the
condescension she had already shewn to him, appeared to be an
achievement of no great difficulty. He transferred, therefore, part
of his attention from Emily to her aunt, who felt too much flattered
by the distinction even to disguise her emotion; and before the party
broke up, he had entirely engaged the esteem of Madame Montoni.
whenever he addressed her, her ungracious countenance relaxed into
smiles, and to whatever he proposed she assented. He invited her,
with the rest of the party, to take coffee, in his box at the opera,
on the following evening, and Emily heard the invitation accepted,
with strong anxiety, concerning the means of excusing herself from
attending Madame Montoni thither.
It was very late before their gondola was ordered, and Emily's
surprise was extreme, when, on quitting the Casino, she beheld the
broad sun rising out of the Adriatic, while St. Mark's Place was yet
crowded with company. Sleep had long weighed heavily on her eyes,
but now the fresh sea-breeze revived her, and she would have quitted
the scene with regret, had not the Count been present, performing the
duty, which he had imposed upon himself, of escorting them home.
There they heard that Montoni was not yet returned; and his wife,
retiring in displeasure to her apartment, at length released Emily
from the fatigue of further attendance.
Montoni came home late in the morning, in a very ill humour, having
lost considerably at play, and, before he withdrew to rest, had a
private conference with Cavigni, whose manner, on the following day,
seemed to tell, that the subject of it had not been pleasing to him.
In the evening, Madame Montoni, who, during the day, had observed a
sullen silence towards her husband, received visits from some
Venetian ladies, with whose sweet manners Emily was particularly
charmed. They had an air of ease and kindness towards the strangers,
as if they had been their familiar friends for years; and their
conversation was by turns tender, sentimental and gay. Madame,
though she had no taste for such conversation, and whose coarseness
and selfishness sometimes exhibited a ludicrous contrast to their
excessive refinement, could not remain wholly insensible to the
captivations of their manner.
In a pause of conversation, a lady who was called Signora Herminia
took up a lute, and began to play and sing, with as much easy gaiety,
as if she had been alone. Her voice was uncommonly rich in tone, and
various in expression; yet she appeared to be entirely unconscious of
its powers, and meant nothing less than to display them. She sung
from the gaiety of her heart, as she sat with her veil half thrown
back, holding gracefully the lute, under the spreading foliage and
flowers of some plants, that rose from baskets, and interlaced one of
the lattices of the saloon. Emily, retiring a little from the
company, sketched her figure, with the miniature scenery around her,
and drew a very interesting picture, which, though it would not,
perhaps, have borne criticism, had spirit and taste enough to awaken
both the fancy and the heart. When she had finished it, she
presented it to the beautiful original, who was delighted with the
offering, as well as the sentiment it conveyed, and assured Emily,
with a smile of captivating sweetness, that she should preserve it as
a pledge of her friendship.
In the evening Cavigni joined the ladies, but Montoni had other
engagements; and they embarked in the gondola for St. Mark's, where
the same gay company seemed to flutter as on the preceding night.
The cool breeze, the glassy sea, the gentle sound of its waves, and
the sweeter murmur of distant music; the lofty porticos and arcades,
and the happy groups that sauntered beneath them; these, with every
feature and circumstance of the scene, united to charm Emily, no
longer teased by the officious attentions of Count Morano. But, as
she looked upon the moon-light sea, undulating along the walls of St.
Mark, and, lingering for a moment over those walls, caught the sweet
and melancholy song of some gondolier as he sat in his boat below,
waiting for his master, her softened mind returned to the memory of
her home, of her friends, and of all that was dear in her native
After walking some time, they sat down at the door of a Casino, and,
while Cavigni was accommodating them with coffee and ice, were joined
by Count Morano. He sought Emily with a look of impatient delight,
who, remembering all the attention he had shewn her on the preceding
evening, was compelled, as before, to shrink from his assiduities
into a timid reserve, except when she conversed with Signora Herminia
and the other ladies of her party.
It was near midnight before they withdrew to the opera, where Emily
was not so charmed but that, when she remembered the scene she had
just quitted, she felt how infinitely inferior all the splendour of
art is to the sublimity of nature. Her heart was not now affected,
tears of admiration did not start to her eyes, as when she viewed the
vast expanse of ocean, the grandeur of the heavens, and listened to
the rolling waters, and to the faint music that, at intervals,
mingled with their roar. Remembering these, the scene before her
faded into insignificance.
Of the evening, which passed on without any particular incident, she
wished the conclusion, that she might escape from the attentions of
the Count; and, as opposite qualities frequently attract each other
in our thoughts, thus Emily, when she looked on Count Morano,
remembered Valancourt, and a sigh sometimes followed the
Several weeks passed in the course of customary visits, during which
nothing remarkable occurred. Emily was amused by the manners and
scenes that surrounded her, so different from those of France, but
where Count Morano, too frequently for her comfort, contrived to
introduce himself. His manner, figure and accomplishments, which
were generally admired, Emily would, perhaps, have admired also, had
her heart been disengaged from Valancourt, and had the Count forborne
to persecute her with officious attentions, during which she observed
some traits in his character, that prejudiced her against whatever
might otherwise be good in it.
Soon after his arrival at Venice, Montoni received a packet from M.
Quesnel, in which the latter mentioned the death of his wife's uncle,
at his villa on the Brenta; and that, in consequence of this event,
he should hasten to take possession of that estate and of other
effects bequeathed to him. This uncle was the brother of Madame
Quesnel's late mother; Montoni was related to her by the father's
side, and though he could have had neither claim nor expectation
concerning these possessions, he could scarcely conceal the envy
which M. Quesnel's letter excited.
Emily had observed with concern, that, since they left France,
Montoni had not even affected kindness towards her aunt, and that,
after treating her, at first, with neglect, he now met her with
uniform ill-humour and reserve. She had never supposed, that her
aunt's foibles could have escaped the discernment of Montoni, or that
her mind or figure were of a kind to deserve his attention. Her
surprise, therefore, at this match, had been extreme; but since he
had made the choice, she did not suspect that he would so openly have
discovered his contempt of it. But Montoni, who had been allured by
the seeming wealth of Madame Cheron, was now severely disappointed by
her comparative poverty, and highly exasperated by the deceit she had
employed to conceal it, till concealment was no longer necessary. He
had been deceived in an affair, wherein he meant to be the deceiver;
out-witted by the superior cunning of a woman, whose understanding he
despised, and to whom he had sacrificed his pride and his liberty,
without saving himself from the ruin, which had impended over his
head. Madame Montoni had contrived to have the greatest part of what
she really did possess, settled upon herself: what remained, though
it was totally inadequate both to her husband's expectations, and to
his necessities, he had converted into money, and brought with him to
Venice, that he might a little longer delude society, and make a last
effort to regain the fortunes he had lost.
The hints which had been thrown out to Valancourt, concerning
Montoni's character and condition, were too true; but it was now left
to time and occasion, to unfold the circumstances, both of what had,
and of what had not been hinted, and to time and occasion we commit
Madame Montoni was not of a nature to bear injuries with meekness, or
to resent them with dignity: her exasperated pride displayed itself
in all the violence and acrimony of a little, or at least of an ill-
regulated mind. She would not acknowledge, even to herself, that she
had in any degree provoked contempt by her duplicity, but weakly
persisted in believing, that she alone was to be pitied, and Montoni
alone to be censured; for, as her mind had naturally little
perception of moral obligation, she seldom understood its force but
when it happened to be violated towards herself: her vanity had
already been severely shocked by a discovery of Montoni's contempt;
it remained to be farther reproved by a discovery of his
circumstances. His mansion at Venice, though its furniture
discovered a part of the truth to unprejudiced persons, told nothing
to those who were blinded by a resolution to believe whatever they
wished. Madame Montoni still thought herself little less than a
princess, possessing a palace at Venice, and a castle among the
Apennines. To the castle di Udolpho, indeed, Montoni sometimes
talked of going for a few weeks to examine into its condition, and to
receive some rents; for it appeared that he had not been there for
two years, and that, during this period, it had been inhabited only
by an old servant, whom he called his steward.
Emily listened to the mention of this journey with pleasure, for she
not only expected from it new ideas, but a release from the
persevering assiduities of Count Morano. In the country, too, she
would have leisure to think of Valancourt, and to indulge the
melancholy, which his image, and a recollection of the scenes of La
Vallee, always blessed with the memory of her parents, awakened. The
ideal scenes were dearer, and more soothing to her heart, than all
the splendour of gay assemblies; they were a kind of talisman that
expelled the poison of temporary evils, and supported her hopes of
happy days: they appeared like a beautiful landscape, lighted up by
a gleam of sun-shine, and seen through a perspective of dark and
But Count Morano did not long confine himself to silent assiduities;
he declared his passion to Emily, and made proposals to Montoni, who
encouraged, though Emily rejected, him: with Montoni for his friend,
and an abundance of vanity to delude him, he did not despair of
success. Emily was astonished and highly disgusted at his
perseverance, after she had explained her sentiments with a frankness
that would not allow him to misunderstand them.
He now passed the greater part of his time at Montoni's, dining there
almost daily, and attending Madame and Emily wherever they went; and
all this, notwithstanding the uniform reserve of Emily, whose aunt
seemed as anxious as Montoni to promote this marriage; and would
never dispense with her attendance at any assembly where the Count
proposed to be present.
Montoni now said nothing of his intended journey, of which Emily
waited impatiently to hear; and he was seldom at home but when the
Count, or Signor Orsino, was there, for between himself and Cavigni a
coolness seemed to subsist, though the latter remained in his house.
With Orsino, Montoni was frequently closeted for hours together, and,
whatever might be the business, upon which they consulted, it
appeared to be of consequence, since Montoni often sacrificed to it
his favourite passion for play, and remained at home the whole night.
There was somewhat of privacy, too, in the manner of Orsino's visits,
which had never before occurred, and which excited not only surprise,
but some degree of alarm in Emily's mind, who had unwillingly
discovered much of his character when he had most endeavoured to
disguise it. After these visits, Montoni was often more thoughtful
than usual; sometimes the deep workings of his mind entirely
abstracted him from surrounding objects, and threw a gloom over his
visage that rendered it terrible; at others, his eyes seemed almost
to flash fire, and all the energies of his soul appeared to be roused
for some great enterprise. Emily observed these written characters
of his thoughts with deep interest, and not without some degree of
awe, when she considered that she was entirely in his power; but
forbore even to hint her fears, or her observations, to Madame
Montoni, who discerned nothing in her husband, at these times, but
his usual sternness.
A second letter from M. Quesnel announced the arrival of himself and
his lady at the Villa Miarenti; stated several circumstances of his
good fortune, respecting the affair that had brought him into Italy;
and concluded with an earnest request to see Montoni, his wife and
niece, at his new estate.
Emily received, about the same period, a much more interesting
letter, and which soothed for a while every anxiety of her heart.
Valancourt, hoping she might be still at Venice, had trusted a letter
to the ordinary post, that told her of his health, and of his
unceasing and anxious affection. He had lingered at Tholouse for
some time after her departure, that he might indulge the melancholy
pleasure of wandering through the scenes where he had been accustomed
to behold her, and had thence gone to his brother's chateau, which
was in the neighbourhood of La Vallee. Having mentioned this, he
added, 'If the duty of attending my regiment did not require my
departure, I know not when I should have resolution enough to quit
the neighbourhood of a place which is endeared by the remembrance of
you. The vicinity to La Vallee has alone detained me thus long at
Estuviere: I frequently ride thither early in the morning, that I
may wander, at leisure, through the day, among scenes, which were
once your home, where I have been accustomed to see you, and to hear
you converse. I have renewed my acquaintance with the good old
Theresa, who rejoiced to see me, that she might talk of you: I need
not say how much this circumstance attached me to her, or how eagerly
I listened to her upon her favourite subject. You will guess the
motive that first induced me to make myself known to Theresa: it
was, indeed, no other than that of gaining admittance into the
chateau and gardens, which my Emily had so lately inhabited: here,
then, I wander, and meet your image under every shade: but chiefly I
love to sit beneath the spreading branches of your favourite plane,
where once, Emily, we sat together; where I first ventured to tell
you, that I loved. O Emily! the remembrance of those moments
overcomes me--I sit lost in reverie--I endeavour to see you dimly
through my tears, in all the heaven of peace and innocence, such as
you then appeared to me; to hear again the accents of that voice,
which then thrilled my heart with tenderness and hope. I lean on the
wall of the terrace, where we together watched the rapid current of
the Garonne below, while I described the wild scenery about its
source, but thought only of you. O Emily! are these moments passed
for ever--will they never more return?'
In another part of his letter he wrote thus. 'You see my letter is
dated on many different days, and, if you look back to the first, you
will perceive, that I began to write soon after your departure from
France. To write was, indeed, the only employment that withdrew me
from my own melancholy, and rendered your absence supportable, or
rather, it seemed to destroy absence; for, when I was conversing with
you on paper, and telling you every sentiment and affection of my
heart, you almost appeared to be present. This employment has been
from time to time my chief consolation, and I have deferred sending
off my packet, merely for the comfort of prolonging it, though it was
certain, that what I had written, was written to no purpose till you
received it. Whenever my mind has been more than usually depressed I
have come to pour forth its sorrows to you, and have always found
consolation; and, when any little occurrence has interested my heart,
and given a gleam of joy to my spirits, I have hastened to
communicate it to you, and have received reflected satisfaction.
Thus, my letter is a kind of picture of my life and of my thoughts
for the last month, and thus, though it has been deeply interesting
to me, while I wrote it, and I dare hope will, for the same reason,
be not indifferent to you, yet to other readers it would seem to
abound only in frivolities. Thus it is always, when we attempt to
describe the finer movements of the heart, for they are too fine to
be discerned, they can only be experienced, and are therefore passed
over by the indifferent observer, while the interested one feels,
that all description is imperfect and unnecessary, except as it may
prove the sincerity of the writer, and sooth his own sufferings. You
will pardon all this egotism--for I am a lover.'
'I have just heard of a circumstance, which entirely destroys all my
fairy paradise of ideal delight, and which will reconcile me to the
necessity of returning to my regiment, for I must no longer wander
beneath the beloved shades, where I have been accustomed to meet you
in thought.--La Vallee is let! I have reason to believe this is
without your knowledge, from what Theresa told me this morning, and,
therefore, I mention the circumstance. She shed tears, while she
related, that she was going to leave the service of her dear
mistress, and the chateau where she had lived so many happy years;
and all this, added she, without even a letter from Mademoiselle to
soften the news; but it is all Mons. Quesnel's doings, and I dare say
she does not even know what is going forward.'
'Theresa added, That she had received a letter from him, informing
her the chateau was let, and that, as her services would no longer be
required, she must quit the place, on that day week, when the new
tenant would arrive.'
'Theresa had been surprised by a visit from M. Quesnel, some time
before the receipt of this letter, who was accompanied by a stranger
that viewed the premises with much curiosity.'
Towards the conclusion of his letter, which is dated a week after
this sentence, Valancourt adds, 'I have received a summons from my
regiment, and I join it without regret, since I am shut out from the
scenes that are so interesting to my heart. I rode to La Vallee this
morning, and heard that the new tenant was arrived, and that Theresa
was gone. I should not treat the subject thus familiarly if I did
not believe you to be uninformed of this disposal of your house; for
your satisfaction I have endeavoured to learn something of the
character and fortune of your tenant, but without success. He is a
gentleman, they say, and this is all I can hear. The place, as I
wandered round the boundaries, appeared more melancholy to my
imagination, than I had ever seen it. I wished earnestly to have got
admittance, that I might have taken another leave of your favourite
plane-tree, and thought of you once more beneath its shade: but I
forbore to tempt the curiosity of strangers: the fishing-house in
the woods, however, was still open to me; thither I went, and passed
an hour, which I cannot even look back upon without emotion. O
Emily! surely we are not separated for ever--surely we shall live for
This letter brought many tears to Emily's eyes; tears of tenderness
and satisfaction on learning that Valancourt was well, and that time
and absence had in no degree effaced her image from his heart. There
were passages in this letter which particularly affected her, such as
those describing his visits to La Vallee, and the sentiments of
delicate affection that its scenes had awakened. It was a
considerable time before her mind was sufficiently abstracted from
Valancourt to feel the force of his intelligence concerning La
Vallee. That Mons. Quesnel should let it, without even consulting
her on the measure, both surprised and shocked her, particularly as
it proved the absolute authority he thought himself entitled to
exercise in her affairs. It is true, he had proposed, before she
left France, that the chateau should be let, during her absence, and
to the oeconomical prudence of this she had nothing to object; but
the committing what had been her father's villa to the power and
caprice of strangers, and the depriving herself of a sure home,
should any unhappy circumstances make her look back to her home as an
asylum, were considerations that made her, even then, strongly oppose
the measure. Her father, too, in his last hour, had received from
her a solemn promise never to dispose of La Vallee; and this she
considered as in some degree violated if she suffered the place to be
let. But it was now evident with how little respect M. Quesnel had
regarded these objections, and how insignificant he considered every
obstacle to pecuniary advantage. It appeared, also, that he had not
even condescended to inform Montoni of the step he had taken, since
no motive was evident for Montoni's concealing the circumstance from
her, if it had been made known to him: this both displeased and
surprised her; but the chief subjects of her uneasiness were--the
temporary disposal of La Vallee, and the dismission of her father's
old and faithful servant.--'Poor Theresa,' said Emily, 'thou hadst
not saved much in thy servitude, for thou wast always tender towards
the poor, and believd'st thou shouldst die in the family, where thy
best years had been spent. Poor Theresa!--now thou art turned out in
thy old age to seek thy bread!'
Emily wept bitterly as these thoughts passed over her mind, and she
determined to consider what could be done for Theresa, and to talk
very explicitly to M. Quesnel on the subject; but she much feared
that his cold heart could feel only for itself. She determined also
to enquire whether he had made any mention of her affairs, in his
letter to Montoni, who soon gave her the opportunity she sought, by
desiring that she would attend him in his study. She had little
doubt, that the interview was intended for the purpose of
communicating to her a part of M. Quesnel's letter concerning the
transactions at La Vallee, and she obeyed him immediately. Montoni
'I have just been writing to Mons. Quesnel,' said he when Emily
appeared, 'in reply to the letter I received from him a few days ago,
and I wished to talk to you upon a subject that occupied part of it.'
'I also wished to speak with you on this topic, sir,' said Emily.
'It is a subject of some interest to you, undoubtedly,' rejoined
Montoni, 'and I think you must see it in the light that I do; indeed
it will not bear any other. I trust you will agree with me, that any
objection founded on sentiment, as they call it, ought to yield to
circumstances of solid advantage.'
'Granting this, sir,' replied Emily, modestly, 'those of humanity
ought surely to be attended to. But I fear it is now too late to
deliberate upon this plan, and I must regret, that it is no longer in
my power to reject it.'
'It is too late,' said Montoni; 'but since it is so, I am pleased to
observe, that you submit to reason and necessity without indulging
useless complaint. I applaud this conduct exceedingly, the more,
perhaps, since it discovers a strength of mind seldom observable in
your sex. When you are older you will look back with gratitude to
the friends who assisted in rescuing you from the romantic illusions
of sentiment, and will perceive, that they are only the snares of
childhood, and should be vanquished the moment you escape from the
nursery. I have not closed my letter, and you may add a few lines to
inform your uncle of your acquiescence. You will soon see him, for
it is my intention to take you, with Madame Montoni, in a few days to
Miarenti, and you can then talk over the affair.'
Emily wrote on the opposite page of the paper as follows:
'It is now useless, sir, for me to remonstrate upon the circumstances
of which Signor Montoni informs me that he has written. I could have
wished, at least, that the affair had been concluded with less
precipitation, that I might have taught myself to subdue some
prejudices, as the Signor calls them, which still linger in my heart.
As it is, I submit. In point of prudence nothing certainly can be
objected; but, though I submit, I have yet much to say on some other
points of the subject, when I shall have the honour of seeing you.
In the meantime I entreat you will take care of Theresa, for the sake
Your affectionate niece,
EMILY ST. AUBERT.'
Montoni smiled satirically at what Emily had written, but did not
object to it, and she withdrew to her own apartment, where she sat
down to begin a letter to Valancourt, in which she related the
particulars of her journey, and her arrival at Venice, described some
of the most striking scenes in the passage over the Alps; her
emotions on her first view of Italy; the manners and characters of
the people around her, and some few circumstances of Montoni's
conduct. But she avoided even naming Count Morano, much more the
declaration he had made, since she well knew how tremblingly alive to
fear is real love, how jealously watchful of every circumstance that
may affect its interest; and she scrupulously avoided to give
Valancourt even the slightest reason for believing he had a rival.
On the following day Count Morano dined again at Montoni's. He was
in an uncommon flow of spirits, and Emily thought there was somewhat
of exultation in his manner of addressing her, which she had never
observed before. She endeavoured to repress this by more than her
usual reserve, but the cold civility of her air now seemed rather to
encourage than to depress him. He appeared watchful of an
opportunity of speaking with her alone, and more than once solicited
this; but Emily always replied, that she could hear nothing from him
which he would be unwilling to repeat before the whole company.
In the evening, Madame Montoni and her party went out upon the sea,
and as the Count led Emily to his zendaletto, he carried her hand to
his lips, and thanked her for the condescension she had shown him.
Emily, in extreme surprise and displeasure, hastily withdrew her
hand, and concluded that he had spoken ironically; but, on reaching
the steps of the terrace, and observing by the livery, that it was
the Count's zendaletto which waited below, while the rest of the
party, having arranged themselves in the gondolas, were moving on,
she determined not to permit a separate conversation, and, wishing
him a good evening, returned to the portico. The Count followed to
expostulate and entreat, and Montoni, who then came out, rendered
solicitation unnecessary, for, without condescending to speak, he
took her hand, and led her to the zendaletto. Emily was not silent;
she entreated Montoni, in a low voice, to consider the impropriety of
these circumstances, and that he would spare her the mortification of
submitting to them; he, however, was inflexible.
'This caprice is intolerable,' said he, 'and shall not be indulged:
there is no impropriety in the case.'
At this moment, Emily's dislike of Count Morano rose to abhorrence.
That he should, with undaunted assurance, thus pursue her,
notwithstanding all she had expressed on the subject of his
addresses, and think, as it was evident he did, that her opinion of
him was of no consequence, so long as his pretensions were sanctioned
by Montoni, added indignation to the disgust which she had felt
towards him. She was somewhat relieved by observing that Montoni was
to be of the party, who seated himself on one side of her, while
Morano placed himself on the other. There was a pause for some
moments as the gondolieri prepared their oars, and Emily trembled
from apprehension of the discourse that might follow this silence.
At length she collected courage to break it herself, in the hope of
preventing fine speeches from Morano, and reproof from Montoni. To
some trivial remark which she made, the latter returned a short and
disobliging reply; but Morano immediately followed with a general
observation, which he contrived to end with a particular compliment,
and, though Emily passed it without even the notice of a smile, he
was not discouraged.
'I have been impatient,' said he, addressing Emily, 'to express my
gratitude; to thank you for your goodness; but I must also thank
Signor Montoni, who has allowed me this opportunity of doing so.'
Emily regarded the Count with a look of mingled astonishment and
'Why,' continued he, 'should you wish to diminish the delight of this
moment by that air of cruel reserve?--Why seek to throw me again into
the perplexities of doubt, by teaching your eyes to contradict the
kindness of your late declaration? You cannot doubt the sincerity,
the ardour of my passion; it is therefore unnecessary, charming
Emily! surely unnecessary, any longer to attempt a disguise of your
'If I ever had disguised them, sir,' said Emily, with recollected
spirit, 'it would certainly be unnecessary any longer to do so. I
had hoped, sir, that you would have spared me any farther necessity
of alluding to them; but, since you do not grant this, hear me
declare, and for the last time, that your perseverance has deprived
you even of the esteem, which I was inclined to believe you merited.'
'Astonishing!' exclaimed Montoni: 'this is beyond even my
expectation, though I have hitherto done justice to the caprice of
the sex! But you will observe, Mademoiselle Emily, that I am no
lover, though Count Morano is, and that I will not be made the
amusement of your capricious moments. Here is the offer of an
alliance, which would do honour to any family; yours, you will
recollect, is not noble; you long resisted my remonstrances, but my
honour is now engaged, and it shall not be trifled with.--You shall
adhere to the declaration, which you have made me an agent to convey
to the Count.'
'I must certainly mistake you, sir,' said Emily; 'my answers on the
subject have been uniform; it is unworthy of you to accuse me of
caprice. If you have condescended to be my agent, it is an honour I
did not solicit. I myself have constantly assured Count Morano, and
you also, sir, that I never can accept the honour he offers me, and I
now repeat the declaration.'
The Count looked with an air of surprise and enquiry at Montoni,
whose countenance also was marked with surprise, but it was surprise
mingled with indignation.
'Here is confidence, as well as caprice!' said the latter. 'Will you
deny your own words, Madam?'
'Such a question is unworthy of an answer, sir;' said Emily blushing;
'you will recollect yourself, and be sorry that you have asked it.'
'Speak to the point,' rejoined Montoni, in a voice of increasing
vehemence. 'Will you deny your own words; will you deny, that you
acknowledged, only a few hours ago, that it was too late to recede
from your engagements, and that you accepted the Count's hand?'
'I will deny all this, for no words of mine ever imported it.'
'Astonishing! Will you deny what you wrote to Mons. Quesnel, your
uncle? if you do, your own hand will bear testimony against you.
What have you now to say?' continued Montoni, observing the silence
and confusion of Emily.
'I now perceive, sir, that you are under a very great error, and that
I have been equally mistaken.'
'No more duplicity, I entreat; be open and candid, if it be
'I have always been so, sir; and can claim no merit in such conduct,
for I have had nothing to conceal.'
'How is this, Signor?' cried Morano, with trembling emotion.
'Suspend your judgment, Count,' replied Montoni, 'the wiles of a
female heart are unsearchable. Now, Madame, your EXPLANATION.'
'Excuse me, sir, if I withhold my explanation till you appear willing
to give me your confidence; assertion as present can only subject me
'Your explanation, I entreat you!' said Morano.
'Well, well,' rejoined Montoni, 'I give you my confidence; let us
hear this explanation.'
'Let me lead to it then, by asking a question.'
'As many as you please,' said Montoni, contemptuously.
'What, then, was the subject of your letter to Mons. Quesnel?'
'The same that was the subject of your note to him, certainly. You
did well to stipulate for my confidence before you demanded that
'I must beg you will be more explicit, sir; what was that subject?'
'What could it be, but the noble offer of Count Morano,' said
'Then, sir, we entirely misunderstood each other,' replied Emily.
'We entirely misunderstood each other too, I suppose,' rejoined
Montoni, 'in the conversation which preceded the writing of that
note? I must do you the justice to own, that you are very ingenious
at this same art of misunderstanding.'
Emily tried to restrain the tears that came to her eyes, and to
answer with becoming firmness. 'Allow me, sir, to explain myself
fully, or to be wholly silent.'
'The explanation may now be dispensed with; it is anticipated. If
Count Morano still thinks one necessary, I will give him an honest
one--You have changed your intention since our last conversation;
and, if he can have patience and humility enough to wait till to-
morrow, he will probably find it changed again: but as I have
neither the patience or the humility, which you expect from a lover,
I warn you of the effect of my displeasure!'
'Montoni, you are too precipitate,' said the Count, who had listened
to this conversation in extreme agitation and impatience;--'Signora,
I entreat your own explanation of this affair!'
'Signor Montoni has said justly,' replied Emily, 'that all
explanation may now be dispensed with; after what has passed I cannot
suffer myself to give one. It is sufficient for me, and for you,
sir, that I repeat my late declaration; let me hope this is the last
time it will be necessary for me to repeat it--I never can accept the
honour of your alliance.'
'Charming Emily!' exclaimed the Count in an impassioned tone, 'let
not resentment make you unjust; let me not suffer for the offence of
'Offence!' interrupted Montoni--'Count, this language is ridiculous,
this submission is childish!--speak as becomes a man, not as the
slave of a pretty tyrant.'
'You distract me, Signor; suffer me to plead my own cause; you have
already proved insufficient to it.'
'All conversation on this subject, sir,' said Emily, 'is worse than
useless, since it can bring only pain to each of us: if you would
oblige me, pursue it no farther.'
'It is impossible, Madam, that I can thus easily resign the object of
a passion, which is the delight and torment of my life.--I must still
love--still pursue you with unremitting ardour;--when you shall be
convinced of the strength and constancy of my passion, your heart
must soften into pity and repentance.'
'Is this generous, sir? is this manly? can it either deserve or
obtain the esteem you solicit, thus to continue a persecution from
which I have no present means of escaping?'
A gleam of moonlight that fell upon Morano's countenance, revealed
the strong emotions of his soul; and, glancing on Montoni discovered
the dark resentment, which contrasted his features.
'By heaven this is too much!' suddenly exclaimed the Count; 'Signor
Montoni, you treat me ill; it is from you that I shall look for
'From me, sir! you shall have it;' muttered Montoni, 'if your
discernment is indeed so far obscured by passion, as to make
explanation necessary. And for you, Madam, you should learn, that a
man of honour is not to be trifled with, though you may, perhaps,
with impunity, treat a BOY like a puppet.'
This sarcasm roused the pride of Morano, and the resentment which he
had felt at the indifference of Emily, being lost in indignation of
the insolence of Montoni, he determined to mortify him, by defending
'This also,' said he, replying to Montoni's last words, 'this also,
shall not pass unnoticed. I bid you learn, sir, that you have a
stronger enemy than a woman to contend with: I will protect Signora
St. Aubert from your threatened resentment. You have misled me, and
would revenge your disappointed views upon the innocent.'
'Misled you!' retorted Montoni with quickness, 'is my conduct--my
word'--then pausing, while he seemed endeavouring to restrain the
resentment, that flashed in his eyes, in the next moment he added, in
a subdued voice, 'Count Morano, this is a language, a sort of conduct
to which I am not accustomed: it is the conduct of a passionate boy-
-as such, I pass it over in contempt.'
'In contempt, Signor?'
'The respect I owe myself,' rejoined Montoni, 'requires, that I
should converse more largely with you upon some points of the subject
in dispute. Return with me to Venice, and I will condescend to
convince you of your error.'
'Condescend, sir! but I will not condescend to be so conversed with.'
Montoni smiled contemptuously; and Emily, now terrified for the
consequences of what she saw and heard, could no longer be silent.
She explained the whole subject upon which she had mistaken Montoni
in the morning, declaring, that she understood him to have consulted
her solely concerning the disposal of La Vallee, and concluding with
entreating, that he would write immediately to M. Quesnel, and
rectify the mistake.
But Montoni either was, or affected to be, still incredulous; and
Count Morano was still entangled in perplexity. While she was
speaking, however, the attention of her auditors had been diverted
from the immediate occasion of their resentment, and their passion
consequently became less. Montoni desired the Count would order his
servants to row back to Venice, that he might have some private
conversation with him; and Morano, somewhat soothed by his softened
voice and manner, and eager to examine into the full extent of his
Emily, comforted by this prospect of release, employed the present
moments in endeavouring, with conciliating care, to prevent any fatal
mischief between the persons who so lately had persecuted and
Her spirits revived, when she heard once more the voice of song and
laughter, resounding from the grand canal, and at length entered
again between its stately piazzas. The zendaletto stopped at
Montoni's mansion, and the Count hastily led her into the hall, where
Montoni took his arm, and said something in a low voice, on which
Morano kissed the hand he held, notwithstanding Emily's effort to
disengage it, and, wishing her a good evening, with an accent and
look she could not misunderstand, returned to his zendaletto with
Emily, in her own apartment, considered with intense anxiety all the
unjust and tyrannical conduct of Montoni, the dauntless perseverance
of Morano, and her own desolate situation, removed from her friends
and country. She looked in vain to Valancourt, confined by his
profession to a distant kingdom, as her protector; but it gave her
comfort to know, that there was, at least, one person in the world,
who would sympathize in her afflictions, and whose wishes would fly
eagerly to release her. Yet she determined not to give him
unavailing pain by relating the reasons she had to regret the having
rejected his better judgment concerning Montoni; reasons, however,
which could not induce her to lament the delicacy and disinterested
affection that had made her reject his proposal for a clandestine
marriage. The approaching interview with her uncle she regarded with
some degree of hope, for she determined to represent to him the
distresses of her situation, and to entreat that he would allow her
to return to France with him and Madame Quesnel. Then, suddenly
remembering that her beloved La Vallee, her only home, was no longer
at her command, her tears flowed anew, and she feared that she had
little pity to expect from a man who, like M. Quesnel, could dispose
of it without deigning to consult with her, and could dismiss an aged
and faithful servant, destitute of either support or asylum. But,
though it was certain, that she had herself no longer a home in
France, and few, very few friends there, she determined to return, if
possible, that she might be released from the power of Montoni, whose
particularly oppressive conduct towards herself, and general
character as to others, were justly terrible to her imagination. She
had no wish to reside with her uncle, M. Quesnel, since his behaviour
to her late father and to herself, had been uniformly such as to
convince her, that in flying to him she could only obtain an exchange
of oppressors; neither had she the slightest intention of consenting
to the proposal of Valancourt for an immediate marriage, though this
would give her a lawful and a generous protector, for the chief
reasons, which had formerly influenced her conduct, still existed
against it, while others, which seemed to justify the step, would not
be done away; and his interest, his fame were at all times too dear
to her, to suffer her to consent to a union, which, at this early
period of their lives, would probably defeat both. One sure, and
proper asylum, however, would still be open to her in France. She
knew that she could board in the convent, where she had formerly
experienced so much kindness, and which had an affecting and solemn
claim upon her heart, since it contained the remains of her late
father. Here she could remain in safety and tranquillity, till the
term, for which La Vallee might be let, should expire; or, till the
arrangement of M. Motteville's affairs enabled her so far to estimate
the remains of her fortune, as to judge whether it would be prudent
for her to reside there.
Concerning Montoni's conduct with respect to his letters to M.
Quesnel, she had many doubts; however he might be at first mistaken
on the subject, she much suspected that he wilfully persevered in his
error, as a means of intimidating her into a compliance with his
wishes of uniting her to Count Morano. Whether this was or was not
the fact, she was extremely anxious to explain the affair to M.
Quesnel, and looked forward with a mixture of impatience, hope and
fear, to her approaching visit.
On the following day, Madame Montoni, being alone with Emily,
introduced the mention of Count Morano, by expressing her surprise,
that she had not joined the party on the water the preceding evening,
and at her abrupt departure to Venice. Emily then related what had
passed, expressed her concern for the mutual mistake that had
occurred between Montoni and herself, and solicited her aunt's kind
offices in urging him to give a decisive denial to the count's
further addresses; but she soon perceived, that Madame Montoni had
not been ignorant of the late conversation, when she introduced the
'You have no encouragement to expect from me,' said her aunt, 'in
these notions. I have already given my opinion on the subject, and
think Signor Montoni right in enforcing, by any means, your consent.
If young persons will be blind to their interest, and obstinately
oppose it, why, the greatest blessings they can have are friends, who
will oppose their folly. Pray what pretensions of any kind do you
think you have to such a match as is now offered you?'
'Not any whatever, Madam,' replied Emily, 'and, therefore, at least,
suffer me to be happy in my humility.'
'Nay, niece, it cannot be denied, that you have pride enough; my poor
brother, your father, had his share of pride too; though, let me add,
his fortune did not justify it.'
Emily, somewhat embarrassed by the indignation, which this malevolent
allusion to her father excited, and by the difficulty of rendering
her answer as temperate as it should be reprehensive, hesitated for
some moments, in a confusion, which highly gratified her aunt. At
length she said, 'My father's pride, Madam, had a noble object--the
happiness which he knew could be derived only from goodness,
knowledge and charity. As it never consisted in his superiority, in
point of fortune, to some persons, it was not humbled by his
inferiority, in that respect, to others. He never disdained those,
who were wretched by poverty and misfortune; he did sometimes despise
persons, who, with many opportunities of happiness, rendered
themselves miserable by vanity, ignorance and cruelty. I shall think
it my highest glory to emulate such pride.'
'I do not pretend to understand any thing of these high-flown
sentiments, niece; you have all that glory to yourself: I would
teach you a little plain sense, and not have you so wise as to
'That would indeed not be wisdom, but folly,' said Emily, 'for wisdom
can boast no higher attainment than happiness; but you will allow,
Madam, that our ideas of happiness may differ. I cannot doubt, that
you wish me to be happy, but I must fear you are mistaken in the
means of making me so.'
'I cannot boast of a learned education, niece, such as your father
thought proper to give you, and, therefore, do not pretend to
understand all these fine speeches about happiness. I must be
contented to understand only common sense, and happy would it have
been for you and your father, if that had been included in his
Emily was too much shocked by these reflections on her father's
memory, to despise this speech as it deserved.
Madame Montoni was about to speak, but Emily quitted the room, and
retired to her own, where the little spirit she had lately exerted
yielded to grief and vexation, and left her only to her tears. From
every review of her situation she could derive, indeed, only new
sorrow. To the discovery, which had just been forced upon her, of
Montoni's unworthiness, she had now to add, that of the cruel vanity,
for the gratification of which her aunt was about to sacrifice her;
of the effrontery and cunning, with which, at the time that she
meditated the sacrifice, she boasted of her tenderness, or insulted
her victim; and of the venomous envy, which, as it did not scruple to
attack her father's character, could scarcely be expected to withhold
from her own.
During the few days that intervened between this conversation and the
departure for Miarenti, Montoni did not once address himself to
Emily. His looks sufficiently declared his resentment; but that he
should forbear to renew a mention of the subject of it, exceedingly
surprised her, who was no less astonished, that, during three days,
Count Morano neither visited Montoni, or was named by him. Several
conjectures arose in her mind. Sometimes she feared that the dispute
between them had been revived, and had ended fatally to the Count.
Sometimes she was inclined to hope, that weariness, or disgust at her
firm rejection of his suit had induced him to relinquish it; and, at
others, she suspected that he had now recourse to stratagem, and
forbore his visits, and prevailed with Montoni to forbear the
repetition of his name, in the expectation that gratitude and
generosity would prevail with her to give him the consent, which he
could not hope from love.
Thus passed the time in vain conjecture, and alternate hopes and
fears, till the day arrived when Montoni was to set out for the villa
of Miarenti, which, like the preceding ones, neither brought the
Count, or the mention of him.
Montoni having determined not to leave Venice, till towards evening,
that he might avoid the heats, and catch the cool breezes of night,
embarked about an hour before sun-set, with his family, in a barge,
for the Brenta. Emily sat alone near the stern of the vessel, and,
as it floated slowly on, watched the gay and lofty city lessening
from her view, till its palaces seemed to sink in the distant waves,
while its loftier towers and domes, illumined by the declining sun,
appeared on the horizon, like those far-seen clouds which, in more
northern climes, often linger on the western verge, and catch the
last light of a summer's evening. Soon after, even these grew dim,
and faded in distance from her sight; but she still sat gazing on the
vast scene of cloudless sky, and mighty waters, and listening in
pleasing awe to the deep-sounding waves, while, as her eyes glanced
over the Adriatic, towards the opposite shores, which were, however,
far beyond the reach of sight, she thought of Greece, and, a thousand
classical remembrances stealing to her mind, she experienced that
pensive luxury which is felt on viewing the scenes of ancient story,
and on comparing their present state of silence and solitude with
that of their former grandeur and animation. The scenes of the
Illiad illapsed in glowing colours to her fancy--scenes, once the
haunt of heroes--now lonely, and in ruins; but which still shone, in
the poet's strain, in all their youthful splendour.
As her imagination painted with melancholy touches, the deserted
plains of Troy, such as they appeared in this after-day, she
reanimated the landscape with the following little story.
O'er Ilion's plains, where once the warrior bled,
And once the poet rais'd his deathless strain,
O'er Ilion's plains a weary driver led
His stately camels: For the ruin'd fane
Wide round the lonely scene his glance he threw,
For now the red cloud faded in the west,
And twilight o'er the silent landscape drew
Her deep'ning veil; eastward his course he prest:
There, on the grey horizon's glimm'ring bound,
Rose the proud columns of deserted Troy,
And wandering shepherds now a shelter found
Within those walls, where princes wont to joy.
Beneath a lofty porch the driver pass'd,
Then, from his camels heav'd the heavy load;
Partook with them the simple, cool repast,
And in short vesper gave himself to God.
From distant lands with merchandise he came,
His all of wealth his patient servants bore;
Oft deep-drawn sighs his anxious wish proclaim
To reach, again, his happy cottage door;
For there, his wife, his little children, dwell;
Their smiles shall pay the toil of many an hour:
Ev'n now warm tears to expectation swell,
As fancy o'er his mind extends her pow'r.
A death-like stillness reign'd, where once the song,
The song of heroes, wak'd the midnight air,
Save, when a solemn murmur roll'd along,
That seem'd to say--'for future worlds prepare.'
For Time's imperious voice was frequent heard
Shaking the marble temple to its fall,
(By hands he long had conquer'd, vainly rear'd),
And distant ruins answer'd to his call.
While Hamet slept, his camels round him lay,
Beneath him, all his store of wealth was piled;
And here, his cruse and empty wallet lay,
And there, the flute that chear'd him in the wild.
The robber Tartar on his slumber stole,
For o'er the waste, at eve, he watch'd his train;
Ah! who his thirst of plunder shall control?
Who calls on him for mercy--calls in vain!
A poison'd poignard in his belt he wore,
A crescent sword depended at his side,
The deathful quiver at his back he bore,
And infants--at his very look had died!
The moon's cold beam athwart the temple fell,
And to his sleeping prey the Tartar led;
But soft!--a startled camel shook his bell,
Then stretch'd his limbs, and rear'd his drowsy head.
Hamet awoke! the poignard glitter'd high!
Swift from his couch he sprung, and 'scap'd the blow;
When from an unknown hand the arrows fly,
That lay the ruffian, in his vengeance, low.
He groan'd, he died! from forth a column'd gate
A fearful shepherd, pale and silent, crept,
Who, as he watch'd his folded flock star-late,
Had mark'd the robber steal where Hamet slept.
He fear'd his own, and sav'd a stranger's life!
Poor Hamet clasp'd him to his grateful heart;
Then, rous'd his camels for the dusty strife,
And, with the shepherd, hasten'd to depart.
And now, aurora breathes her fresh'ning gale,
And faintly trembles on the eastern cloud;
And now, the sun, from under twilight's veil,
Looks gaily forth, and melts her airy shroud.
Wide o'er the level plains, his slanting beams
Dart their long lines on Ilion's tower'd site;
The distant Hellespont with morning gleams,
And old Scamander winds his waves in light.
All merry sound the camel bells, so gay,
And merry beats fond Hamet's heart, for he,
E'er the dim evening steals upon the day,
His children, wife and happy home shall see.
As Emily approached the shores of Italy she began to discriminate the
rich features and varied colouring of the landscape--the purple
hills, groves of orange pine and cypress, shading magnificent villas,
and towns rising among vineyards and plantations. The noble Brenta,
pouring its broad waves into the sea, now appeared, and, when she
reached its mouth, the barge stopped, that the horses might be
fastened which were now to tow it up the stream. This done, Emily
gave a last look to the Adriatic, and to the dim sail,
that from the sky-mix'd wave
Dawns on the sight,
and the barge slowly glided between the green and luxuriant slopes of
the river. The grandeur of the Palladian villas, that adorn these
shores, was considerably heightened by the setting rays, which threw
strong contrasts of light and shade upon the porticos and long
arcades, and beamed a mellow lustre upon the orangeries and the tall
groves of pine and cypress, that overhung the buildings. The scent
of oranges, of flowering myrtles, and other odoriferous plants was
diffused upon the air, and often, from these embowered retreats, a
strain of music stole on the calm, and 'softened into silence.'
The sun now sunk below the horizon, twilight fell over the landscape,
and Emily, wrapt in musing silence, continued to watch its features
gradually vanishing into obscurity. she remembered her many happy
evenings, when with St. Aubert she had observed the shades of
twilight steal over a scene as beautiful as this, from the gardens of
La Vallee, and a tear fell to the memory of her father. Her spirits
were softened into melancholy by the influence of the hour, by the
low murmur of the wave passing under the vessel, and the stillness of
the air, that trembled only at intervals with distant music:--why
else should she, at these moments, have looked on her attachment to
Valancourt with presages so very afflicting, since she had but lately
received letters from him, that had soothed for a while all her
anxieties? It now seemed to her oppressed mind, that she had taken
leave of him for ever, and that the countries, which separated them,
would never more be re-traced by her. She looked upon Count Morano
with horror, as in some degree the cause of this; but apart from him,
a conviction, if such that may be called, which arises from no proof,
and which she knew not how to account for, seized her mind--that she
should never see Valancourt again. Though she knew, that neither
Morano's solicitations, nor Montoni's commands had lawful power to
enforce her obedience, she regarded both with a superstitious dread,
that they would finally prevail.
Lost in this melancholy reverie, and shedding frequent tears, Emily
was at length roused by Montoni, and she followed him to the cabin,
where refreshments were spread, and her aunt was seated alone. The
countenance of Madame Montoni was inflamed with resentment, that
appeared to be the consequence of some conversation she had held with
her husband, who regarded her with a kind of sullen disdain, and both
preserved, for some time, a haughty silence. Montoni then spoke to
Emily of Mons. Quesnel: 'You will not, I hope, persist in
disclaiming your knowledge of the subject of my letter to him?'
'I had hoped, sir, that it was no longer necessary for me to disclaim
it,' said Emily, 'I had hoped, from your silence, that you was
convinced of your error.'
'You have hoped impossibilities then,' replied Montoni; 'I might as
reasonably have expected to find sincerity and uniformity of conduct
in one of your sex, as you to convict me of error in this affair.'
Emily blushed, and was silent; she now perceived too clearly, that
she had hoped an impossibility, for, where no mistake had been
committed no conviction could follow; and it was evident, that
Montoni's conduct had not been the consequence of mistake, but of
Anxious to escape from conversation, which was both afflicting and
humiliating to her, she soon returned to the deck, and resumed her
station near the stern, without apprehension of cold, for no vapour
rose from the water, and the air was dry and tranquil; here, at
least, the benevolence of nature allowed her the quiet which Montoni
had denied her elsewhere. It was now past midnight. The stars shed
a kind of twilight, that served to shew the dark outline of the
shores on either hand, and the grey surface of the river; till the
moon rose from behind a high palm grove, and shed her mellow lustre
over the scene. The vessel glided smoothly on: amid the stillness
of the hour Emily heard, now and then, the solitary voice of the
barge-men on the bank, as they spoke to their horses; while, from a
remote part of the vessel, with melancholy song,
The sailor sooth'd,
Beneath the trembling moon, the midnight wave.
Emily, meanwhile, anticipated her reception by Mons, and Madame
Quesnel; considered what she should say on the subject of La Vallee;
and then, to with-hold her mind from more anxious topics, tried to
amuse herself by discriminating the faint-drawn features of the
landscape, reposing in the moon-light. While her fancy thus
wandered, she saw, at a distance, a building peeping between the
moon-light trees, and, as the barge approached, heard voices
speaking, and soon distinguished the lofty portico of a villa,
overshadowed by groves of pine and sycamore, which she recollected to
be the same, that had formerly been pointed out to her, as belonging
to Madame Quesnel's relative.
The barge stopped at a flight of marble steps, which led up the bank
to a lawn. Lights appeared between some pillars beyond the portico.
Montoni sent forward his servant, and then disembarked with his
family. They found Mons. and Madame Quesnel, with a few friends,
seated on sofas in the portico, enjoying the cool breeze of the
night, and eating fruits and ices, while some of their servants at a
little distance, on the river's bank, were performing a simple
serenade. Emily was now accustomed to the way of living in this warm
country, and was not surprised to find Mons. and Madame Quesnel in
their portico, two hours after midnight.
The usual salutations being over, the company seated themselves in
the portico, and refreshments were brought them from the adjoining
hall, where a banquet was spread, and servants attended. When the
bustle of this meeting had subsided, and Emily had recovered from the
little flutter into which it had thrown her spirits, she was struck
with the singular beauty of the hall, so perfectly accommodated to
the luxuries of the season. It was of white marble, and the roof,
rising into an open cupola, was supported by columns of the same
material. Two opposite sides of the apartment, terminating in open
porticos, admitted to the hall a full view of the gardens, and of the
river scenery; in the centre a fountain continually refreshed the
air, and seemed to heighten the fragrance, that breathed from the
surrounding orangeries, while its dashing waters gave an agreeable
and soothing sound. Etruscan lamps, suspended from the pillars,
diffused a brilliant light over the interior part of the hall,
leaving the remoter porticos to the softer lustre of the moon.
Mons. Quesnel talked apart to Montoni of his own affairs, in his
usual strain of self-importance; boasted of his new acquisitions, and
then affected to pity some disappointments, which Montoni had lately
sustained. Meanwhile, the latter, whose pride at least enabled him
to despise such vanity as this, and whose discernment at once
detected under this assumed pity, the frivolous malignity of
Quesnel's mind, listened to him in contemptuous silence, till he
named his niece, and then they left the portico, and walked away into
Emily, however, still attended to Madame Quesnel, who spoke of France
(for even the name of her native country was dear to her) and she
found some pleasure in looking at a person, who had lately been in
it. That country, too, was inhabited by Valancourt, and she listened
to the mention of it, with a faint hope, that he also would be named.
Madame Quesnel, who, when she was in France, had talked with rapture
of Italy, now, that she was in Italy, talked with equal praise of
France, and endeavoured to excite the wonder and the envy of her
auditors by accounts of places, which they had not been happy enough
to see. In these descriptions she not only imposed upon them, but
upon herself, for she never thought a present pleasure equal to one,
that was passed; and thus the delicious climate, the fragrant
orangeries and all the luxuries, which surrounded her, slept
unnoticed, while her fancy wandered over the distant scenes of a
Emily listened in vain for the name of Valancourt. Madame Montoni
spoke in her turn of the delights of Venice, and of the pleasure she
expected from visiting the fine castle of Montoni, on the Apennine;
which latter mention, at least, was merely a retaliating boast, for
Emily well knew, that her aunt had no taste for solitary grandeur,
and, particularly, for such as the castle of Udolpho promised. Thus
the party continued to converse, and, as far as civility would
permit, to torture each other by mutual boasts, while they reclined
on sofas in the portico, and were environed with delights both from
nature and art, by which any honest minds would have been tempered to
benevolence, and happy imaginations would have been soothed into
The dawn, soon after, trembled in the eastern horizon, and the light
tints of morning, gradually expanding, shewed the beautifully
declining forms of the Italian mountains and the gleaming landscapes,
stretched at their feet. Then the sun-beams, shooting up from behind
the hills, spread over the scene that fine saffron tinge, which seems
to impart repose to all it touches. The landscape no longer gleamed;
all its glowing colours were revealed, except that its remoter
features were still softened and united in the mist of distance,
whose sweet effect was heightened to Emily by the dark verdure of the
pines and cypresses, that over-arched the foreground of the river.
The market people, passing with their boats to Venice, now formed a
moving picture on the Brenta. Most of these had little painted
awnings, to shelter their owners from the sun-beams, which, together
with the piles of fruit and flowers, displayed beneath, and the
tasteful simplicity of the peasant girls, who watched the rural
treasures, rendered them gay and striking objects. The swift
movement of the boats down the current, the quick glance of oars in
the water, and now and then the passing chorus of peasants, who
reclined under the sail of their little bark, or the tones of some
rustic instrument, played by a girl, as she sat near her sylvan
cargo, heightened the animation and festivity of the scene.
When Montoni and M. Quesnel had joined the ladies, the party left the
portico for the gardens, where the charming scenery soon withdrew
Emily's thoughts from painful subjects. The majestic forms and rich
verdure of cypresses she had never seen so perfect before: groves of
cedar, lemon, and orange, the spiry clusters of the pine and poplar,
the luxuriant chesnut and oriental plane, threw all their pomp of
shade over these gardens; while bowers of flowering myrtle and other
spicy shrubs mingled their fragrance with that of flowers, whose
vivid and various colouring glowed with increased effect beneath the
contrasted umbrage of the groves. The air also was continually
refreshed by rivulets, which, with more taste than fashion, had been
suffered to wander among the green recesses.
Emily often lingered behind the party, to contemplate the distant
landscape, that closed a vista, or that gleamed beneath the dark
foliage of the foreground;--the spiral summits of the mountains,
touched with a purple tint, broken and steep above, but shelving
gradually to their base; the open valley, marked by no formal lines
of art; and the tall groves of cypress, pine and poplar, sometimes
embellished by a ruined villa, whose broken columns appeared between
the branches of a pine, that seemed to droop over their fall.
From other parts of the gardens, the character of the view was
entirely changed, and the fine solitary beauty of the landscape
shifted for the crowded features and varied colouring of
The sun was now gaining fast upon the sky, and the party quitted the
gardens, and retired to repose.
And poor Misfortune feels the lash of Vice.
Emily seized the first opportunity of conversing alone with Mons.
Quesnel, concerning La Vallee. His answers to her enquiries were
concise, and delivered with the air of a man, who is conscious of
possessing absolute power and impatient of hearing it questioned. He
declared, that the disposal of the place was a necessary measure; and
that she might consider herself indebted to his prudence for even the
small income that remained for her. 'But, however,' added he, 'when
this Venetian Count (I have forgot his name) marries you, your
present disagreeable state of dependence will cease. As a relation
to you I rejoice in the circumstance, which is so fortunate for you,
and, I may add, so unexpected by your friends.' For some moments
Emily was chilled into silence by this speech; and, when she
attempted to undeceive him, concerning the purport of the note she
had inclosed in Montoni's letter, he appeared to have some private
reason for disbelieving her assertion, and, for a considerable time,
persevered in accusing her of capricious conduct. Being, at length,
however, convinced that she really disliked Morano and had positively
rejected his suit, his resentment was extravagant, and he expressed
it in terms equally pointed and inhuman; for, secretly flattered by
the prospect of a connection with a nobleman, whose title he had
affected to forget, he was incapable of feeling pity for whatever
sufferings of his niece might stand in the way of his ambition.
Emily saw at once in his manner all the difficulties, that awaited
her, and, though no oppression could have power to make her renounce
Valancourt for Morano, her fortitude now trembled at an encounter
with the violent passions of her uncle.
She opposed his turbulence and indignation only by the mild dignity
of a superior mind; but the gentle firmness of her conduct served to
exasperate still more his resentment, since it compelled him to feel
his own inferiority, and, when he left her, he declared, that, if she
persisted in her folly, both himself and Montoni would abandon her to
the contempt of the world.
The calmness she had assumed in his presence failed Emily, when
alone, and she wept bitterly, and called frequently upon the name of
her departed father, whose advice to her from his death-bed she then
remembered. 'Alas!' said she, 'I do indeed perceive how much more
valuable is the strength of fortitude than the grace of sensibility,
and I will also endeavour to fulfil the promise I then made; I will
not indulge in unavailing lamentation, but will try to endure, with
firmness, the oppression I cannot elude.'
Somewhat soothed by the consciousness of performing a part of St.
Aubert's last request, and of endeavouring to pursue the conduct
which he would have approved, she overcame her tears, and, when the
company met at dinner, had recovered her usual serenity of
In the cool of the evening, the ladies took the FRESCO along the bank
of the Brenta in Madame Quesnel's carriage. The state of Emily's
mind was in melancholy contrast with the gay groups assembled beneath
the shades that overhung this enchanting stream. Some were dancing
under the trees, and others reclining on the grass, taking ices and
coffee and calmly enjoying the effect of a beautiful evening, on a
luxuriant landscape. Emily, when she looked at the snow-capt
Apennines, ascending in the distance, thought of Montoni's castle,
and suffered some terror, lest he should convey her thither, for the
purpose of enforcing her obedience; but the thought vanished, when
she considered, that she was as much in his power at Venice as she
could be elsewhere.
It was moonlight before the party returned to the villa, where supper
was spread in the airy hall, which had so much enchanted Emily's
fancy, on the preceding night. The ladies seated themselves in the
portico, till Mons. Quesnel, Montoni, and other gentlemen should join
them at table, and Emily endeavoured to resign herself to the
tranquillity of the hour. Presently, a barge stopped at the steps
that led into the gardens, and, soon after, she distinguished the
voices of Montoni and Quesnel, and then that of Morano, who, in the
next moment, appeared. His compliments she received in silence, and
her cold air seemed at first to discompose him; but he soon recovered
his usual gaiety of manner, though the officious kindness of M. and
Madame Quesnel Emily perceived disgusted him. Such a degree of
attention she had scarcely believed could be shewn by M. Quesnel, for
she had never before seen him otherwise than in the presence of his
inferiors or equals.
When she could retire to her own apartment, her mind almost
involuntarily dwelt on the most probable means of prevailing with the
Count to withdraw his suit, and to her liberal mind none appeared
more probable, than that of acknowledging to him a prior attachment
and throwing herself upon his generosity for a release. When,
however, on the following day, he renewed his addresses, she shrunk
from the adoption of the plan she had formed. There was something so
repugnant to her just pride, in laying open the secret of her heart
to such a man as Morano, and in suing to him for compassion, that she
impatiently rejected this design and wondered, that she could have
paused upon it for a moment. The rejection of his suit she repeated
in the most decisive terms she could select, mingling with it a
severe censure of his conduct; but, though the Count appeared
mortified by this, he persevered in the most ardent professions of
admiration, till he was interrupted and Emily released by the
presence of Madame Quesnel.
During her stay at this pleasant villa, Emily was thus rendered
miserable by the assiduities of Morano, together with the cruelly
exerted authority of M. Quesnel and Montoni, who, with her aunt,
seemed now more resolutely determined upon this marriage than they
had even appeared to be at Venice. M. Quesnel, finding, that both
argument and menace were ineffectual in enforcing an immediate
conclusion to it, at length relinquished his endeavours, and trusted
to the power of Montoni and to the course of events at Venice.
Emily, indeed, looked to Venice with hope, for there she would be
relieved in some measure from the persecution of Morano, who would no
longer be an inhabitant of the same house with herself, and from that
of Montoni, whose engagements would not permit him to be continually
at home. But amidst the pressure of her own misfortunes, she did not
forget those of poor Theresa, for whom she pleaded with courageous
tenderness to Quesnel, who promised, in slight and general terms,
that she should not be forgotten.
Montoni, in a long conversation with M. Quesnel, arranged the plan to
be pursued respecting Emily, and M. Quesnel proposed to be at Venice,
as soon as he should be informed, that the nuptials were concluded.
It was new to Emily to part with any person, with whom she was
connected, without feeling of regret; the moment, however, in which
she took leave of M. and Madame Quesnel, was, perhaps, the only
satisfactory one she had known in their presence.
Morano returned in Montoni's barge, and Emily, as she watched her
gradual approach to that magic city, saw at her side the only person,
who occasioned her to view it with less than perfect delight. They
arrived there about midnight, when Emily was released from the
presence of the Count, who, with Montoni, went to a Casino, and she
was suffered to retire to her own apartment.
On the following day, Montoni, in a short conversation, which he held
with Emily, informed her, that he would no longer be TRIFLED with,
and that, since her marriage with the Count would be so highly
advantageous to her, that folly only could object to it, and folly of
such extent as was incapable of conviction, it should be celebrated
without further delay, and, if that was necessary, without her
Emily, who had hitherto tried remonstrance, had now recourse to
supplication, for distress prevented her from foreseeing, that, with
a man of Montoni's disposition, supplication would be equally
useless. She afterwards enquired by what right he exerted this
unlimited authority over her? a question, which her better judgment
would have with-held her, in a calmer moment, from making, since it
could avail her nothing, and would afford Montoni another opportunity
of triumphing over her defenceless condition.
'By what right!' cried Montoni, with a malicious smile, 'by the right
of my will; if you can elude that, I will not inquire by what right
you do so. I now remind you, for the last time, that you are a
stranger, in a foreign country, and that it is your interest to make
me your friend; you know the means; if you compel me to become your
enemy--I will venture to tell you, that the punishment shall exceed
your expectation. You may know _I_ am not to be trifled with.'
Emily continued, for some time after Montoni had left her, in a state
of despair, or rather stupefaction; a consciousness of misery was all
that remained in her mind. In this situation Madame Montoni found
her, at the sound of whose voice Emily looked up, and her aunt,
somewhat softened by the expression of despair, that fixed her
countenance, spoke in a manner more kind than she had ever yet done.
Emily's heart was touched; she shed tears, and, after weeping for
some time, recovered sufficient composure to speak on the subject of
her distress, and to endeavour to interest Madame Montoni in her
behalf. But, though the compassion of her aunt had been surprised,
her ambition was not to be overcome, and her present object was to be
the aunt of a Countess. Emily's efforts, therefore, were as
unsuccessful as they had been with Montoni, and she withdrew to her
apartment to think and weep alone. How often did she remember the
parting scene with Valancourt, and wish, that the Italian had
mentioned Montoni's character with less reserve! When her mind,
however, had recovered from the first shock of this behaviour, she
considered, that it would be impossible for him to compel her
alliance with Morano, if she persisted in refusing to repeat any part
of the marriage ceremony; and she persevered in her resolution to
await Montoni's threatened vengeance rather than give herself for
life to a man, whom she must have despised for his present conduct,
had she never even loved Valancourt; yet she trembled at the revenge
she thus resolved to brave.
An affair, however, soon after occurred, which somewhat called off
Montoni's attention from Emily. The mysterious visits of Orsino were
renewed with more frequency since the return of the former to Venice.
There were others, also, besides Orsino, admitted to these midnight
councils, and among them Cavigni and Verezzi. Montoni became more
reserved and austere in his manner than ever; and Emily, if her own
interests had not made her regardless of his, might have perceived,
that something extraordinary was working in his mind.
One night, on which a council was not held, Orsino came in great
agitation of spirits, and dispatched his confidential servant to
Montoni, who was at a Casino, desiring that he would return home
immediately; but charging the servant not to mention his name.
Montoni obeyed the summons, and, on meeting Orsino, was informed of
the circumstances, that occasioned his visit and his visible alarm,
with a part of which he was already acquainted.
A Venetian nobleman, who had, on some late occasion, provoked the
hatred of Orsino, had been way-laid and poniarded by hired assassins:
and, as the murdered person was of the first connections, the Senate
had taken up the affair. One of the assassins was now apprehended,
who had confessed, that Orsino was his employer in the atrocious
deed; and the latter, informed of his danger, had now come to Montoni
to consult on the measures necessary to favour his escape. He knew,
that, at this time, the officers of the police were upon the watch
for him, all over the city; to leave it, at present, therefore, was
impracticable, and Montoni consented to secrete him for a few days
till the vigilance of justice should relax, and then to assist him in
quitting Venice. He knew the danger he himself incurred by
permitting Orsino to remain in his house, but such was the nature of
his obligations to this man, that he did not think it prudent to
refuse him an asylum.
Such was the person whom Montoni had admitted to his confidence, and
for whom he felt as much friendship as was compatible with his
While Orsino remained concealed in his house, Montoni was unwilling
to attract public observation by the nuptials of Count Morano; but
this obstacle was, in a few days, overcome by the departure of his
criminal visitor, and he then informed Emily, that her marriage was
to be celebrated on the following morning. To her repeated
assurances, that it should not take place, he replied only by a
malignant smile; and, telling her that the Count and a priest would
be at his house, early in the morning, he advised her no further to
dare his resentment, by opposition to his will and to her own
interest. 'I am now going out for the evening,' said he, 'remember,
that I shall give your hand to Count Morano in the morning.' Emily,
having, ever since his late threats, expected, that her trials would
at length arrive to this crisis, was less shocked by the declaration,
that she otherwise would have been, and she endeavoured to support
herself by the belief, that the marriage could not be valid, so long
as she refused before the priest to repeat any part of the ceremony.
Yet, as the moment of trial approached, her long-harassed spirits
shrunk almost equally from the encounter of his vengeance, and from
the hand of Count Morano. She was not even perfectly certain of the
consequence of her steady refusal at the altar, and she trembled,
more than ever, at the power of Montoni, which seemed unlimited as
his will, for she saw, that he would not scruple to transgress any
law, if, by so doing, he could accomplish his project.
While her mind was thus suffering and in a state little short of
distraction, she was informed that Morano asked permission to see
her, and the servant had scarcely departed with an excuse, before she
repented that she had sent one. In the next moment, reverting to her
former design, and determining to try, whether expostulation and
entreaty would not succeed, where a refusal and a just disdain had
failed, she recalled the servant, and, sending a different message,
prepared to go down to the Count.
The dignity and assumed composure with which she met him, and the
kind of pensive resignation, that softened her countenance, were
circumstances not likely to induce him to relinquish her, serving, as
they did, to heighten a passion, which had already intoxicated his
judgment. He listened to all she said with an appearance of
complacency and of a wish to oblige her; but his resolution remained
invariably the same, and he endeavoured to win her admiration by
every insinuating art he so well knew how to practise. Being, at
length, assured, that she had nothing to hope from his justice, she
repeated, in a solemn and impressive manner, her absolute rejection
of his suit, and quitted him with an assurance, that her refusal
would be effectually maintained against every circumstance, that
could be imagined for subduing it. A just pride had restrained her
tears in his presence, but now they flowed from the fulness of her
heart. She often called upon the name of her late father, and often
dwelt with unutterable anguish on the idea of Valancourt.
She did not go down to supper, but remained alone in her apartment,
sometimes yielding to the influence of grief and terror, and, at
others, endeavouring to fortify her mind against them, and to prepare
herself to meet, with composed courage, the scene of the following
morning, when all the stratagem of Morano and the violence of Montoni
would be united against her.
The evening was far advanced, when Madame Montoni came to her chamber
with some bridal ornaments, which the Count had sent to Emily. She
had, this day, purposely avoided her niece; perhaps, because her
usual insensibility failed her, and she feared to trust herself with
a view of Emily's distress; or possibly, though her conscience was
seldom audible, it now reproached her with her conduct to her
brother's orphan child, whose happiness had been entrusted to her
care by a dying father.
Emily could not look at these presents, and made a last, though
almost hopeless, effort to interest the compassion of Madame Montoni,
who, if she did feel any degree of pity, or remorse, successfully
concealed it, and reproached her niece with folly in being miserable,
concerning a marriage, which ought only to make her happy. 'I am
sure,' said she, 'if I was unmarried, and the Count had proposed to
me, I should have been flattered by the distinction: and if I should
have been so, I am sure, niece, you, who have no fortune, ought to
feel yourself highly honoured, and shew a proper gratitude and
humility towards the Count, for his condescension. I am often
surprised, I must own, to observe how humbly he deports himself to
you, notwithstanding the haughty airs you give yourself; I wonder he
has patience to humour you so: if I was he, I know, I should often
be ready to reprehend you, and make you know yourself a little
better. I would not have flattered you, I can tell you, for it is
this absurd flattery that makes you fancy yourself of so much
consequence, that you think nobody can deserve you, and I often tell
the Count so, for I have no patience to hear him pay you such
extravagant compliments, which you believe every word of!'
'Your patience, madam, cannot suffer more cruelly on such occasions,
than my own,' said Emily.
'O! that is all mere affectation,' rejoined her aunt. 'I know that
his flattery delights you, and makes you so vain, that you think you
may have the whole world at your feet. But you are very much
mistaken; I can assure you, niece, you will not meet with many such
suitors as the Count: every other person would have turned upon his
heel, and left you to repent at your leisure, long ago.'
'O that the Count had resembled every other person, then!' said
Emily, with a heavy sigh.
'It is happy for you, that he does not,' rejoined Madame Montoni;
'and what I am now saying is from pure kindness. I am endeavouring
to convince you of your good fortune, and to persuade you to submit
to necessity with a good grace. It is nothing to me, you know,
whether you like this marriage or not, for it must be; what I say,
therefore, is from pure kindness. I wish to see you happy, and it is
your own fault if you are not so. I would ask you, now, seriously
and calmly, what kind of a match you can expect, since a Count cannot
content your ambition?'
'I have no ambition whatever, madam,' replied Emily, 'my only wish is
to remain in my present station.'
'O! that is speaking quite from the purpose,' said her aunt, 'I see
you are still thinking of Mons. Valancourt. Pray get rid of all
those fantastic notions about love, and this ridiculous pride, and be
something like a reasonable creature. But, however, this is nothing
to the purpose--for your marriage with the Count takes place
tomorrow, you know, whether you approve it or not. The Count will be
trifled with no longer.'
Emily made no attempt to reply to this curious speech; she felt it
would be mean, and she knew it would be useless. Madame Montoni laid
the Count's presents upon the table, on which Emily was leaning, and
then, desiring she would be ready early in the morning, bade her
good-night. 'Good-night, madam,' said Emily, with a deep sigh, as
the door closed upon her aunt, and she was left once more to her own
sad reflections. For some time she sat so lost in thought, as to be
wholly unconscious where she was; at length, raising her head, and
looking round the room, its gloom and profound stillness awed her.
She fixed her eyes on the door, through which her aunt had
disappeared, and listened anxiously for some sound, that might
relieve the deep dejection of her spirits; but it was past midnight,
and all the family except the servant, who sat up for Montoni, had
retired to bed. Her mind, long harassed by distress, now yielded to
imaginary terrors; she trembled to look into the obscurity of her
spacious chamber, and feared she knew not what; a state of mind,
which continued so long, that she would have called up Annette, her
aunt's woman, had her fears permitted her to rise from her chair, and
to cross the apartment.
These melancholy illusions at length began to disperse, and she
retired to her bed, not to sleep, for that was scarcely possible, but
to try, at least, to quiet her disturbed fancy, and to collect
strength of spirits sufficient to bear her through the scene of the
Dark power! with shudd'ring, meek submitted thought
Be mine to read the visions old
Which thy awak'ning bards have told,
And, lest they meet my blasted view,
Hold each strange tale devoutly true.
COLLINS' ODE TO FEAR
Emily was recalled from a kind of slumber, into which she had, at
length, sunk, by a quick knocking at her chamber door. She started
up in terror, for Montoni and Count Morano instantly came to her
mind; but, having listened in silence for some time, and recognizing
the voice of Annette, she rose and opened the door. 'What brings you
hither so early?' said Emily, trembling excessively. She was unable
to support herself, and sat down on the bed.
'Dear ma'amselle!' said Annette, 'do not look so pale. I am quite
frightened to see you. Here is a fine bustle below stairs, all the
servants running to and fro, and none of them fast enough! Here is a
bustle, indeed, all of a sudden, and nobody knows for what!'
'Who is below besides them?' said Emily, 'Annette, do not trifle with
'Not for the world, ma'amselle, I would not trifle for the world; but
one cannot help making one's remarks, and there is the Signor in such
a bustle, as I never saw him before; and he has sent me to tell you,
ma'am, to get ready immediately.'
'Good God support me!' cried Emily, almost fainting, 'Count Morano is
'No, ma'amselle, he is not below that I know of,' replied Annette,
'only his excellenza sent me to desire you would get ready directly
to leave Venice, for that the gondolas would be at the steps of the
canal in a few minutes: but I must hurry back to my lady, who is
just at her wits end, and knows not which way to turn for haste.'
'Explain, Annette, explain the meaning of all this before you go,'
said Emily, so overcome with surprise and timid hope, that she had
scarcely breath to speak.
'Nay, ma'amselle, that is more than I can do. I only know that the
Signor is just come home in a very ill humour, that he has had us all
called out of our beds, and tells us we are all to leave Venice
'Is Count Morano to go with the signor?' said Emily, 'and whither are
'I know neither, ma'am, for certain; but I heard Ludovico say
something about going, after we get to terra-firma, to the signor's
castle among some mountains, that he talked of.'
'The Apennines!' said Emily, eagerly, 'O! then I have little to
'That is the very place, ma'am. But cheer up, and do not take it so
much to heart, and think what a little time you have to get ready in,
and how impatient the Signor is. Holy St. Mark! I hear the oars on
the canal; and now they come nearer, and now they are dashing at the
steps below; it is the gondola, sure enough.'
Annette hastened from the room; and Emily prepared for this
unexpected flight, as fast as her trembling hands would permit, not
perceiving, that any change in her situation could possibly be for
the worse. She had scarcely thrown her books and clothes into her
travelling trunk, when, receiving a second summons, she went down to
her aunt's dressing-room, where she found Montoni impatiently
reproving his wife for delay. He went out, soon after, to give some
further orders to his people, and Emily then enquired the occasion of
this hasty journey; but her aunt appeared to be as ignorant as
herself, and to undertake the journey with more reluctance.
The family at length embarked, but neither Count Morano, nor Cavigni,
was of the party. Somewhat revived by observing this, Emily, when
the gondolieri dashed their oars in the water, and put off from the
steps of the portico, felt like a criminal, who receives a short
reprieve. Her heart beat yet lighter, when they emerged from the
canal into the ocean, and lighter still, when they skimmed past the