Part 9 out of 10
been violet hunting,' said Cadurcis, stooping down and plucking up a
handful of flowers. 'Do you remember our violets at home, Venetia?
Do you know, Venetia, I always fancy every human being is like some
object in nature; and you always put me in mind of a violet so fresh
and sweet and delicate!'
'We have been exploring the happy valley,' said Lord Cadurcis to Lady
Annabel, 'and here is our plunder,' and he gave her the violets.
'You were always fond of flowers,' said Lady Annabel.
'Yes, I imbibed the taste from you,' said Cadurcis, gratified by the
He seated himself at her feet, examined and admired her work, and
talked of old times, but with such infinite discretion, that he did
not arouse a single painful association. Venetia was busied with her
father's poems, and smiled often at the manuscript notes of Cadurcis.
Lying, as usual, on the grass, and leaning his head on his left arm,
Herbert was listening to Captain Cadurcis, who was endeavouring to
give him a clear idea of the Bosphorus. Thus the morning wore away,
until the sun drove them into the villa.
'I will show you my library, Lord Cadurcis,' said Herbert.
Cadurcis followed him into a spacious apartment, where he found a
collection so considerable that he could not suppress his surprise.
'Italian spoils chiefly,' said Herbert; 'a friend of mine purchased
an old library at Bologna for me, and it turned out richer than I
imagined: the rest are old friends that have been with me, many of
them at least, at college. I brought them back with me from America,
for then they were my only friends.'
'Can you find Cabanis?' said Lord Cadurcis.
Herbert looked about. It is in this neighbourhood, I imagine,' he
said. Cadurcis endeavoured to assist him. 'What is this?' he said;
'I should like to read Plato at Athens,' said Herbert. 'My ambition
now does not soar beyond such elegant fortune.'
'We are all under great obligations to Plato,' said Cadurcis. 'I
remember, when I was in London, I always professed myself his
disciple, and it is astonishing what results I experienced. Platonic
love was a great invention.'
Herbert smiled; but, as he saw Cadurcis knew nothing about the
subject, he made no reply.
'Plato says, or at least I think he says, that life is love,' said
Cadurcis. 'I have said it myself in a very grand way too; I believe I
cribbed it from you. But what does he mean? I am sure I meant nothing;
but I dare say you did.'
'I certainly had some meaning,' said Herbert, stopping in his search,
and smiling, 'but I do not know whether I expressed it. The principle
of every motion, that is of all life, is desire or love: at present;
I am in love with the lost volume of Cabanis, and, if it were not
for the desire of obtaining it, I should not now be affording any
testimony of my vitality by looking after it.'
'That is very clear,' said Cadurcis, 'but I was thinking of love in
the vulgar sense, in the shape of a petticoat. Certainly, when I am in
love with a woman, I feel love is life; but, when I am out of love,
which often happens, and generally very soon, I still contrive to
'We exist,' said Herbert, 'because we sympathise. If we did not
sympathise with the air, we should die. But, if we only sympathised
with the air, we should be in the lowest order of brutes, baser than
the sloth. Mount from the sloth to the poet. It is sympathy that makes
you a poet. It is your desire that the airy children of your brain
should be born anew within another's, that makes you create;
therefore, a misanthropical poet is a contradiction in terms.'
'But when he writes a lampoon?' said Cadurcis.
'He desires that the majority, who are not lampooned, should share his
hate,' said Herbert.
'But Swift lampooned the species,' said Cadurcis. 'For my part, I
think life is hatred.'
'But Swift was not sincere, for he wrote the Drapier's Letters at the
same time. Besides, the very fact of your abusing mankind proves that
you do not hate them; it is clear that you are desirous of obtaining
their good opinion of your wit. You value them, you esteem them, you
love them. Their approbation causes you to act, and makes you happy.
As for sexual love,' said Herbert, 'of which you were speaking, its
quality and duration depend upon the degree of sympathy that subsists
between the two persons interested. Plato believed, and I believe with
him, in the existence of a spiritual antitype of the soul, so that
when we are born, there is something within us which, from the instant
we live and move, thirsts after its likeness. This propensity develops
itself with the development of our nature. The gratification of the
senses soon becomes a very small part of that profound and complicated
sentiment, which we call love. Love, on the contrary, is an universal
thirst for a communion, not merely of the senses, but of our whole
nature, intellectual, imaginative, and sensitive. He who finds his
antitype, enjoys a love perfect and enduring; time cannot change it,
distance cannot remove it; the sympathy is complete. He who loves an
object that approaches his antitype, is proportionately happy, the
sympathy is feeble or strong, as it may be. If men were properly
educated, and their faculties fully developed,' continued Herbert,
'the discovery of the antitype would be easy; and, when the day
arrives that it is a matter of course, the perfection of civilisation
will be attained.'
'I believe in Plato,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'and I think I have found my
antitype. His theory accounts for what I never could understand.'
In the course of the evening Lady Annabel requested Lord Cadurcis and
his cousin to take up their quarters at the villa. Independent of the
delight which such an invitation occasioned him, Cadurcis was doubly
gratified by its being given by her. It was indeed her unprompted
solicitation; for neither Herbert nor even Venetia, however much
they desired the arrangement, was anxious to appear eager for its
fulfilment. Desirous of pleasing her husband and her daughter; a
little penitent as to her previous treatment of Cadurcis, now that
time and strange events had combined to soften her feelings; and won
by his engaging demeanour towards herself, Lady Annabel had of mere
impulse resolved upon the act; and she was repaid by the general air
of gaiety and content which it diffused through the circle.
Few weeks indeed passed ere her ladyship taught herself even to
contemplate the possibility of an union between her daughter and
Lord Cadurcis. The change which had occurred in her own feelings and
position had in her estimation removed very considerable barriers to
such a result. It would not become her again to urge the peculiarity
of his temperament as an insuperable objection to the marriage; that
was out of the question, even if the conscience of Lady Annabel
herself, now that she was so happy, were perfectly free from any
participation in the causes which occasioned the original estrangement
between Herbert and herself. Desirous too, as all mothers are, that
her daughter should be suitably married, Lady Annabel could not shut
her eyes to the great improbability of such an event occurring, now
that Venetia had, as it were, resigned all connection with her native
country. As to her daughter marrying a foreigner, the very idea was
intolerable to her; and Venetia appeared therefore to have resumed
that singular and delicate position which she occupied at Cherbury in
earlier years, when Lady Annabel had esteemed her connection with Lord
Cadurcis so fortunate and auspicious. Moreover, while Lord Cadurcis,
in birth, rank, country, and consideration, offered in every view of
the ease so gratifying an alliance, he was perhaps the only Englishman
whose marriage into her family would not deprive her of the society of
her child. Cadurcis had a great distaste for England, which he seized
every opportunity to express. He continually declared that he would
never return there; and his habits of seclusion and study so entirely
accorded with those of her husband, that Lady Annabel did not doubt
they would continue to form only one family; a prospect so engaging to
her, that it would perhaps have alone removed the distrust which she
had so unfortunately cherished against the admirer of her daughter;
and although some of his reputed opinions occasioned her doubtless
considerable anxiety, he was nevertheless very young, and far from
emancipated from the beneficial influence of his early education. She
was sanguine that this sheep would yet return to the fold where once
he had been tended with so much solicitude. When too she called to
mind the chastened spirit of her husband, and could not refrain from
feeling that, had she not quitted him, he might at a much earlier
period have attained a mood so full of promise and to her so cheering,
she could not resist the persuasion that, under the influence of
Venetia, Cadurcis might speedily free himself from the dominion of
that arrogant genius to which, rather than to any serious conviction,
the result of a studious philosophy, she attributed his indifference
on the most important of subjects. On the whole, however, it was with
no common gratification that Lady Annabel observed the strong and
intimate friendship that arose between her husband and Cadurcis. They
were inseparable companions. Independently of the natural sympathy
between two highly imaginative minds, there were in the superior
experience, the noble character, the vast knowledge, and refined taste
of Herbert, charms of which Cadurcis was very susceptible Cadurcis had
not been a great reader himself, and he liked the company of one whose
mind was at once so richly cultured and so deeply meditative: thus he
obtained matter and spirit distilled through the alembic of another's
brain. Jealousy had never had a place in Herbert's temperament; now he
was insensible even to emulation. He spoke of Cadurcis as he thought,
with the highest admiration; as one without a rival, and in whose
power it was to obtain an imperishable fame. It was his liveliest
pleasure to assist the full development of such an intellect, and to
pour to him, with a lavish hand, all the treasures of his taste, his
learning, his fancy, and his meditation. His kind heart, his winning
manners, his subdued and perfect temper, and the remembrance of the
relation which he bore to Venetia, completed the spell which bound
Cadurcis to him with all the finest feelings of his nature. It was,
indeed, an intercourse peculiarly beneficial to Cadurcis, whose career
had hitherto tended rather to the development of the power, than the
refinement of his genius; and to whom an active communion with an
equal spirit of a more matured intelligence was an incident rather to
be desired than expected. Herbert and Cadurcis, therefore, spent their
mornings together, sometimes in the library, sometimes wandering in
the chestnut woods, sometimes sailing in the boat of the brig, for
they were both fond of the sea: in these excursions, George was in
general their companion. He had become a great favourite with Herbert,
as with everybody else. No one managed a boat so well, although
Cadurcis prided himself also on his skill in this respect; and George
was so frank and unaffected, and so used to his cousin's habits, that
his presence never embarrassed Herbert and Cadurcis, and they read or
conversed quite at their ease, as if there were no third person to
mar, by his want of sympathy, the full communion of their intellect.
The whole circle met at dinner, and never again parted until at a late
hour of night. This was a most agreeable life; Cadurcis himself, good
humoured because he was happy, doubly exerted himself to ingratiate
himself with Lady Annabel, and felt every day that he was advancing.
Venetia always smiled upon him, and praised him delightfully for his
In the evening, Herbert would read to them the manuscript poem of
Cadurcis, the fruits of his Attic residence and Grecian meditations.
The poet would sometimes affect a playful bashfulness on this head,
perhaps not altogether affected, and amuse Venetia, in a whisper, with
his running comments; or exclaim with an arch air, 'I say, Venetia,
what would Mrs. Montague and the Blues give for this, eh? I can fancy
Hannah More in decent ecstasies!'
'It is an odd thing, my dear Herbert,' said Cadurcis to his friend, in
one of these voyages, 'that destiny should have given you and me the
'Masham!' said Herbert, smiling. 'I tell you what is much more
singular, my dear Cadurcis; it is, that, notwithstanding being our
tutor, a mitre should have fallen upon his head.'
'I am heartily glad,' said Cadurcis. 'I like Masham very much; I
really have a sincere affection for him. Do you know, during my
infernal affair about those accursed Monteagles, when I went to the
House of Lords, and was cut even by my own party; think of that, the
polished ruffians! Masham was the only person who came forward and
shook hands with me, and in the most marked manner. A bishop, too! and
the other side! that was good, was it not? But he would not see his
old pupil snubbed; if he had waited ten minutes longer, he might have
had a chance of seeing him massacred. And then they complain of my
abusing England, my mother country; a step-dame, I take it.'
'Masham is in politics a Tory, in religion ultra-orthodox,' Herbert.
'He has nothing about him of the latitudinarian; and yet he is the
most amiable man with whom I am acquainted. Nature has given him a
kind and charitable heart, which even his opinions have not succeeded
'Perhaps that is exactly what he is saying of us two at this moment,'
said Cadurcis. 'After all, what is truth? It changes as you change
your clime or your country; it changes with the century. The truth of
a hundred years ago is not the truth of the present day, and yet it
may have been as genuine. Truth at Rome is not the truth of London,
and both of them differ from the truth of Constantinople. For my part,
I believe everything.'
'Well, that is practically prudent, if it be metaphysically possible,'
said Herbert. 'Do you know that I have always been of opinion, that
Pontius Pilate has been greatly misrepresented by Lord Bacon in the
quotation of his celebrated question. 'What is truth?' said jesting
Pilate, and would not wait for an answer. Let us be just to Pontius
Pilate, who has sins enough surely to answer for. There is no
authority for the jesting humour given by Lord Bacon. Pilate was
evidently of a merciful and clement disposition; probably an
Epicurean. His question referred to a declaration immediately
preceding it, that He who was before him came to bear witness to the
truth. Pilate inquired what truth?'
'Well, I always have a prejudice against Pontius Pilate,' said Lord
Cadurcis; 'and I think it is from seeing him, when I was a child,
on an old Dutch tile fireplace at Marringhurst, dressed like a
burgomaster. One cannot get over one's early impressions; but when you
picture him to me as an Epicurean, he assumes a new character. I fancy
him young, noble, elegant, and accomplished; crowned with a wreath and
waving a goblet, and enjoying his government vastly.'
'Before the introduction of Christianity,' said Herbert, 'the
philosophic schools answered to our present religious sects. You said
of a man that he was a Stoic or an Epicurean, as you say of a man now
that he is a Calvinist or a Wesleyan.'
'I should have liked to have known Epicurus,' said Cadurcis.
'I would sooner have known him and Plato than any of the ancients,'
said Herbert. 'I look upon Plato as the wisest and the profoundest of
men, and upon Epicurus as the most humane and gentle.'
'Now, how do you account for the great popularity of Aristotle in
modern ages?' said Cadurcis; 'and the comparative neglect of these, at
least his equals? Chance, I suppose, that settles everything.'
'By no means,' said Herbert. 'If you mean by chance an absence of
accountable cause, I do not believe such a quality as chance exists.
Every incident that happens, must be a link in a chain. In the present
case, the monks monopolised literature, such as it might be, and they
exercised their intellect only in discussing words. They, therefore,
adopted Aristotle and the Peripatetics. Plato interfered with their
heavenly knowledge, and Epicurus, who maintained the rights of man to
pleasure and happiness, would have afforded a dangerous and seducing
contrast to their dark and miserable code of morals.'
'I think, of the ancients,' said Cadurcis; 'Alcibiades and Alexander
the Great are my favourites. They were young, beautiful, and
conquerors; a great combination.'
'And among the moderns?' inquired Herbert.
'They don't touch my fancy,' said Cadurcis. 'Who are your heroes?'
'Oh! I have many; but I confess I should like to pass a day with
Milton, or Sir Philip Sidney.'
'Among mere literary men,' said Cadurcis; 'I should say Bayle.'
'And old Montaigne for me,' said Herbert.
'Well, I would fain visit him in his feudal chateau,' said Cadurcis.
'His is one of the books which give a spring to the mind. Of modern
times, the feudal ages of Italy most interest me. I think that was a
springtide of civilisation, all the fine arts nourished at the same
'They ever will,' said Herbert. 'All the inventive arts maintain a
sympathetic connection between each other, for, after all, they are
only various expressions of one internal power, modified by different
circumstances either of the individual or of society. It was so in
the age of Pericles; I mean the interval which intervened between
the birth of that great man and the death of Aristotle; undoubtedly,
whether considered in itself, or with reference to the effects which
it produced upon the subsequent destinies of civilised man, the most
memorable in the history of the world.'
'And yet the age of Pericles has passed away,' said Lord Cadurcis
mournfully, 'and I have gazed upon the mouldering Parthenon. O
Herbert! you are a great thinker and muse deeply; solve me the
problem why so unparalleled a progress was made during that period
in literature and the arts, and why that progress, so rapid and so
sustained, so soon received a check and became retrograde?'
'It is a problem left to the wonder and conjecture of posterity,' said
Herbert. 'But its solution, perhaps, may principally be found in the
weakness of their political institutions. Nothing of the Athenians
remains except their genius; but they fulfilled their purpose. The
wrecks and fragments of their subtle and profound minds obscurely
suggest to us the grandeur and perfection of the whole. Their language
excels every other tongue of the Western world; their sculptures
baffle all subsequent artists; credible witnesses assure us that their
paintings were not inferior; and we are only accustomed to consider
the painters of Italy as those who have brought the art to its highest
perfection, because none of the ancient pictures have been preserved.
Yet of all their fine arts, it was music of which the Greeks were
themselves most proud. Its traditionary effects were far more powerful
than any which we experience from the compositions of our times. And
now for their poetry, Cadurcis. It is in poetry, and poetry alone,
that modern nations have maintained the majesty of genius. Do we equal
the Greeks? Do we even excel them?'
'Let us prove the equality first,' said Cadurcis. 'The Greeks excelled
in every species of poetry. In some we do not even attempt to rival
them. We have not a single modern ode, or a single modern pastoral. We
have no one to place by Pindar, or the exquisite Theocritus. As for
the epic, I confess myself a heretic as to Homer; I look upon the
Iliad as a remnant of national songs; the wise ones agree that the
Odyssey is the work of a later age. My instinct agrees with the result
of their researches. I credit their conclusion. The Paradise Lost is,
doubtless, a great production, but the subject is monkish. Dante is
national, but he has all the faults of a barbarous age. In general the
modern epic is framed upon the assumption that the Iliad is an orderly
composition. They are indebted for this fallacy to Virgil, who called
order out of chaos; but the Aeneid, all the same, appears to me an
insipid creation. And now for the drama. You will adduce Shakspeare?'
'There are passages in Dante,' said Herbert, 'not inferior, in my
opinion, to any existing literary composition, but, as a whole, I will
not make my stand on him; I am not so clear that, as a lyric poet,
Petrarch may not rival the Greeks. Shakspeare I esteem of ineffable
'And who is Shakspeare?' said Cadurcis. 'We know of him as much as we
do of Homer. Did he write half the plays attributed to him? Did he
ever write a single whole play? I doubt it. He appears to me to have
been an inspired adapter for the theatres, which were then not as
good as barns. I take him to have been a botcher up of old plays.
His popularity is of modern date, and it may not last; it would have
surprised him marvellously. Heaven knows, at present, all that bears
his name is alike admired; and a regular Shaksperian falls into
ecstasies with trash which deserves a niche in the Dunciad. For my
part, I abhor your irregular geniuses, and I love to listen to the
little nightingale of Twickenham.'
'I have often observed,' said Herbert, 'that writers of an unbridled
imagination themselves, admire those whom the world, erroneously,
in my opinion, and from a confusion of ideas, esteems correct. I am
myself an admirer of Pope, though I certainly should not ever think of
classing him among the great creative spirits. And you, you are the
last poet in the world, Cadurcis, whom one would have fancied his
'I have written like a boy,' said Cadurcis. 'I found the public bite,
and so I baited on with tainted meat. I have never written for fame,
only for notoriety; but I am satiated; I am going to turn over a new
'For myself,' said Herbert, 'if I ever had the power to impress my
creations on my fellow-men, the inclination is gone, and perhaps the
faculty is extinct. My career is over; perhaps a solitary echo from my
lyre may yet, at times, linger about the world like a breeze that has
lost its way. But there is a radical fault in my poetic mind, and I am
conscious of it. I am not altogether void of the creative faculty, but
mine is a fragmentary mind; I produce no whole. Unless you do this,
you cannot last; at least, you cannot materially affect your species.
But what I admire in you, Cadurcis, is that, with all the faults
of youth, of which you will free yourself, your creative power is
vigorous, prolific, and complete; your creations rise fast and fair,
like perfect worlds.'
'Well, we will not compliment each other,' said Cadurcis; 'for, after
all, it is a miserable craft. What is poetry but a lie, and what are
poets but liars?'
'You are wrong, Cadurcis,' said Herbert, 'poets are the unacknowledged
legislators of the world.'
'I see the towers of Porto Venere,' said Cadurcis directing the sail;
'we shall soon be on shore. I think, too, I recognise Venetia. Ah! my
dear Herbert, your daughter is a poem that beats all our inspiration!'
One circumstance alone cast a gloom over this happy family, and that
was the approaching departure of Captain Cadurcis for England. This
had been often postponed, but it could be postponed no longer. Not
even the entreaties of those kind friends could any longer prevent
what was inevitable. The kind heart, the sweet temper, and the lively
and companionable qualities of Captain Cadurcis, had endeared him to
everyone; all felt that his departure would occasion a blank in
their life, impossible to be supplied. It reminded the Herberts also
painfully of their own situation, in regard to their native country,
which they were ever unwilling to dwell upon. George talked of
returning to them, but the prospect was necessarily vague; they
felt that it was only one of those fanciful visions with which an
affectionate spirit attempts to soothe the pang of separation. His
position, his duties, all the projects of his life, bound him to
England, from which, indeed, he had been too long absent. It was
selfish to wish that, for their sakes, he should sink down into a mere
idler in Italy; and yet, when they recollected how little his future
life could be connected with their own, everyone felt dispirited.
'I shall not go boating to-day,' said George to Venetia; 'it is my
last day. Mr. Herbert and Plantagenet talk of going to Lavenza; let us
take a stroll together.'
Nothing can be refused to those we love on the last day, and Venetia
immediately acceded to his request. In the course of the morning,
therefore, herself and George quitted the valley, in the direction
of the coast towards Genoa. Many a white sail glittered on the blue
waters; it was a lively and cheering scene; but both Venetia and her
companion were depressed.
'I ought to be happy,' said George, and sighed. 'The fondest wish
of my heart is attained. You remember our conversation on the Lago
Maggiore, Venetia? You see I was a prophet, and you will be Lady
'We must keep up our spirits,' said Venetia; 'I do not despair of our
all returning to England yet. So many wonders have happened, that I
cannot persuade myself that this marvel will not also occur. I am sure
my uncle will do something; I have a secret idea that the Bishop is
all this time working for papa; I feel assured I shall see Cherbury
and Cadurcis again, and Cadurcis will be your home.'
'A year ago you appeared dying, and Plantagenet was the most miserable
of men,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'You are both now perfectly well and
perfectly happy, living even under the same roof, soon, I feel, to be
united, and with the cordial approbation of Lady Annabel. Your father
is restored to you. Every blessing in the world seems to cluster round
your roof. It is selfish for me to wear a gloomy countenance.'
'Ah! dear George, you never can be selfish,' said Venetia.
'Yes, I am selfish, Venetia. What else can make me sad?'
'You know how much you contribute to our happiness,' said Venetia,
'and you feel for our sufferings at your absence.'
'No, Venetia, I feel for myself,' said Captain Cadurcis with energy;
'I am certain that I never can be happy, except in your society and
Plantagenet's. I cannot express to you how I love you both. Nothing
else gives me the slightest interest.'
'You must go home and marry,' said Venetia, smiling 'You must marry an
'Never,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'Nothing shall ever induce me to
marry. No! all my dreams are confined to being the bachelor uncle of
'Well, now I think,' said Venetia, 'of all the persons I know, there
is no one so qualified for domestic happiness as yourself. I think
your wife, George, would be a very fortunate woman, and I only wish I
had a sister, that you might marry her.'
'I wish you had, Venetia; I would give up my resolution against
'Alas!' said Venetia, 'there is always some bitter drop in the cup of
life. Must you indeed go, George?'
'My present departure is inevitable,' he replied; 'but I have some
thoughts of giving up my profession and Parliament, and then I will
return, never to leave you again.'
'What will Lord ---- say? That will never do,' said Venetia. 'No; I
should not be content unless you prospered in the world, George. You
are made to prosper, and I should be miserable if you sacrificed your
existence to us. You must go home, and you must marry, and write
letters to us by every post, and tell us what a happy man you are. The
best thing for you to do would be to live with your wife at the abbey;
or Cherbury, if you liked. You see I settle everything.'
'I never will marry,' said Captain Cadurcis, seriously.
'Yes you will,' said Venetia.
'I am quite serious, Venetia. Now, mark my words, and remember this
day. I never will marry. I have a reason, and a strong and good one,
for my resolution.'
'What is it?'
'Because my marriage will destroy the intimacy that subsists between
me and yourself, and Plantagenet,' he added.
'Your wife should be my friend,' said Venetia.
'Happy woman!' said George.
'Let us indulge for a moment in a dream of domestic bliss,' said
Venetia gaily. 'Papa and mamma at Cherbury; Plantagenet and myself at
the abbey, where you and your wife must remain until we could build
you a house; and Dr. Masham coming down to spend Christmas with us.
Would it not be delightful? I only hope Plantagenet would be tame. I
think he would burst out a little sometimes.'
'Not with you, Venetia, not with you,' said George 'you have a hold
over him which nothing can ever shake. I could always put him in an
amiable mood in an instant by mentioning your name.'
'I wish you knew the abbey, George,' said Venetia. 'It is the most
interesting of all old places. I love it. You must promise me when you
arrive in England to go on a pilgrimage to Cadurcis and Cherbury, and
write me a long account of it.'
'I will indeed; I will write to you very often.'
'You shall find me a most faithful correspondent, which, I dare say,
Plantagenet would not prove.'
'Oh! I beg your pardon,' said George; 'you have no idea of the
quantity of letters he wrote me when he first quitted England.
And such delightful ones! I do not think there is a more lively
letter-writer in the world! His descriptions are so vivid; a few
touches give you a complete picture; and then his observations, they
are so playful! I assure you there is nothing in the world more easy
and diverting than a letter from Plantagenet.'
'If you could only see his first letter from Eton to me?' said
Venetia. 'I have always treasured it. It certainly was not very
diverting; and, if by easy you mean easy to decipher,' she added
laughing, 'his handwriting must have improved very much lately. Dear
Plantagenet, I am always afraid I never pay him sufficient respect;
that I do not feel sufficient awe in his presence; but I cannot
disconnect him from the playfellow of my infancy; and, do you know, it
seems to me, whenever he addresses me, his voice and air change, and
assume quite the tone and manner of childhood.'
'I have never known him but as a great man,' said Captain Cadurcis;
'but he was so frank and simple with me from the very first, that I
cannot believe that it is not two years since we first met.'
'Ah! I shall never forget that night at Ranelagh,' said Venetia, half
with a smile and half with a sigh. 'How interesting he looked! I loved
to see the people stare at him, and to hear them whisper his name.'
Here they seated themselves by a fountain, overshadowed by a
plane-tree, and for a while talked only of Plantagenet.
'All the dreams of my life have come to pass,' said Venetia. 'I
remember when I was at Weymouth, ill and not very happy, I used to
roam about the sands, thinking of papa, and how I wished Plantagenet
was like him, a great man, a great poet, whom all the world admired.
Little did I think that, before a year had passed, Plantagenet, my
unknown Plantagenet, would be the admiration of England; little did I
think another year would pass, and I should be living with my father
and Plantagenet together, and they should be bosom friends. You see,
George, we must never despair.'
'Under this bright sun,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'one is naturally
sanguine, but think of me alone and in gloomy England.'
'It is indeed a bright sun,' said Venetia; 'how wonderful to wake
every morning, and be sure of meeting its beam.'
Captain Cadurcis looked around him with a sailor's eye. Over the
Apennines, towards Genoa, there was a ridge of dark clouds piled up
with such compactness, that they might have been mistaken in a hasty
survey for part of the mountains themselves.
'Bright as is the sun,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'we may have yet a
squall before night.'
'I was delighted with Venice,' said his companion, not noticing his
observation; 'I think of all places in the world it is one which
Plantagenet would most admire. I cannot believe but that even his
delicious Athens would yield to it.'
'He did lead the oddest life at Athens you can conceive,' said Captain
Cadurcis. 'The people did not know what to make of him. He lived in
the Latin convent, a fine building which he had almost to himself,
for there are not half a dozen monks. He used to pace up and down the
terrace which he had turned into a garden, and on which he kept all
sorts of strange animals. He wrote continually there. Indeed he did
nothing but write. His only relaxation was a daily ride to Piraeus,
about five miles over the plain; he told me it was the only time in
his life he was ever contented with himself except when he was at
Cherbury. He always spoke of London with disgust.'
'Plantagenet loves retirement and a quiet life,' said Venetia; 'but he
must not be marred with vulgar sights and common-place duties. That is
the secret with him.'
'I think the wind has just changed,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'It seems
to me that we shall have a sirocco. There, it shifts again! We shall
have a sirocco for certain.'
'What did you think of papa when you first saw him?' said Venetia.
'Was he the kind of person you expected to see?'
'Exactly,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'So very spiritual! Plantagenet said
to me, as we went home the first night, that he looked like a golden
phantom. I think him very like you, Venetia; indeed, there can be no
doubt you inherited your face from your father.'
'Ah! if you had seen his portrait at Cherbury, when he was only
twenty!' said Venetia. 'That was a golden phantom, or rather he looked
like Hyperion. What are you staring at so, George?'
'I do not like this wind,' muttered Captain Cadurcis. 'There it goes.'
'You cannot see the wind, George?'
'Yes, I can, Venetia, and I do not like it at all. Do you see that
black spot flitting like a shade over the sea? It is like the
reflection of a cloud on the water; but there is no cloud. Well, that
is the wind, Venetia, and a very wicked wind too.'
'How strange! Is that indeed the wind?'
'We had better return home,' said Captain Cadurcis I wish they had not
gone to Lavenza.'
'But there is no danger?' said Venetia.
'Danger? No! no danger, but they may get a wet jacket.'
They walked on; but Captain Cadurcis was rather distrait: his eye was
always watching the wind; at last he said, 'I tell you, Venetia, we
must walk quickly; for, by Jove, we are going to have a white squall.'
They hurried their pace, Venetia mentioned her alarm again about the
boat; but her companion reassured her; yet his manner was not so
confident as his words.
A white mist began to curl above the horizon, the blueness of the day
seemed suddenly to fade, and its colour became grey; there was a swell
on the waters that hitherto had been quite glassy, and they were
covered with a scurfy foam.
'I wish I had been with them,' said Captain Cadurcis, evidently very
'George, you are alarmed,' said Venetia, earnestly. 'I am sure there
'Danger! How can there be danger, Venetia? Perhaps they are in port by
this time. I dare say we shall find them at Spezzia. I will see you
home and run down to them. Only hurry, for your own sake, for you do
not know what a white squall in the Mediterranean is. We have but a
And even at this very instant, the wind came roaring and rushing with
such a violent gush that Venetia could scarcely stand; George put his
arm round her to support her. The air was filled with thick white
vapour, so that they could no longer see the ocean, only the surf
rising very high all along the coast.
'Keep close to me, Venetia,' said Captain Cadurcis; 'hold my arm and I
will walk first, for we shall not be able to see a yard before us in a
minute. I know where we are. We are above the olive wood, and we shall
soon be in the ravine. These Mediterranean white squalls are nasty
things; I had sooner by half be in a south-wester; for one cannot run
before the wind in this bay, the reefs stretch such a long way out.'
The danger, and the inutility of expressing fears which could only
perplex her guide, made Venetia silent, but she was terrified.
She could not divest herself of apprehension about her father and
Plantagenet. In spite of all he said, it was evident that her
companion was alarmed.
They had now entered the valley; the mountains had in some degree kept
off the vapour; the air was more clear. Venetia and Captain Cadurcis
stopped a moment to breathe. 'Now, Venetia, you are safe,' said
Captain Cadurcis. 'I will not come in; I will run down to the bay at
once.' He wiped the mist off his face: Venetia perceived him deadly
'George,' she said, 'conceal nothing from me; there is danger,
imminent danger. Tell me at once.'
'Indeed, Venetia,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'I am sure everything will
be quite right. There is some danger, certainly, at this moment; but
of course, long ago, they have run into harbour. I have no doubt they
are at Spezzia at this moment. Now, do not be alarmed; indeed there
is no cause. God bless you!' he said, and bounded away. 'No cause,'
thought he to himself, as the wind sounded like thunder, and the
vapour came rushing up the ravine. 'God grant I may be right; but
neither between the Tropics nor on the Line have I witnessed a severer
squall than this! What open boat can live in this weather Oh! that I
had been with them. I shall never forgive myself!'
Venetia found her mother walking up and down the room, as was her
custom when she was agitated. She hurried to her daughter. 'You must
change your dress instantly, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel. 'Where is
'He has gone down to Spezzia to papa and Plantagenet; it is a white
squall; it comes on very suddenly in this sea. He ran down to Spezzia
instantly, because he thought they would be wet,' said the agitated
Venetia, speaking with rapidity and trying to appear calm.
'Are they at Spezzia?' inquired Lady Annabel, quickly.
'George has no doubt they are, mother,' said Venetia.
'No doubt!' exclaimed Lady Annabel, in great distress. 'God grant they
may be only wet.'
'Dearest mother,' said Venetia, approaching her, but speech deserted
her. She had advanced to encourage Lady Annabel, but her own fear
checked the words on her lips.
'Change your dress, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel; 'lose no time in
doing that. I think I will send down to Spezzia at once,'
'That is useless now, dear mother, for George is there.'
'Go, dearest,' said Lady Annabel; 'I dare say, we have no cause for
fear, but I am exceedingly alarmed about your father, about them: I
am, indeed. I do not like these sudden squalls, and I never liked this
boating; indeed, I never did. George being with them reconciled me to
it. Now go, Venetia; go, my love.'
Venetia quitted the room. She was so agitated that she made Pauncefort
a confidant of her apprehensions.
'La! my dear miss,' said Mistress Pauncefort, 'I should never have
thought of such a thing! Do not you remember what the old man said
at Weymouth, "there is many a boat will live in a rougher sea than a
ship;" and it is such an unlikely thing, it is indeed, Miss Venetia. I
am certain sure my lord can manage a boat as well as a common sailor,
and master is hardly less used to it than he. La! miss, don't make
yourself nervous about any such preposterous ideas. And I dare say you
will find them in the saloon when you go down again. Really I should
not wonder. I think you had better wear your twill dress; I have put
the new trimming on.'
They had not returned when Venetia joined her mother. That indeed she
could scarcely expect. But, in about half an hour, a message arrived
from Captain Cadurcis that they were not at Spezzia, but from
something he had heard, he had no doubt they were at Sarzana, and he
was going to ride on there at once. He felt sure, however, from what
he had heard, they were at Sarzana. This communication afforded Lady
Annabel a little ease, but Venetia's heart misgave her. She recalled
the alarm of George in the morning, which it was impossible for him to
disguise, and she thought she recognised in this hurried message and
vague assurances of safety something of the same apprehension, and the
same fruitless efforts to conceal it.
Now came the time of terrible suspense. Sarzana was nearly twenty
miles distant from Spezzia. The evening must arrive before they could
receive intelligence from Captain Cadurcis. In the meantime the squall
died away, the heavens became again bright, and, though the waves were
still tumultuous, the surf was greatly decreased. Lady Annabel had
already sent down more than one messenger to the bay, but they brought
no intelligence; she resolved now to go herself, that she might have
the satisfaction of herself cross-examining the fishermen who had been
driven in from various parts by stress of weather. She would not let
Venetia accompany her, who, she feared, might already suffer from the
exertions and rough weather of the morning. This was a most anxious
hour, and yet the absence of her mother was in some degree a relief to
Venetia; it at least freed her from the perpetual effort of assumed
composure. While her mother remained, Venetia had affected to read,
though her eye wandered listlessly over the page, or to draw, though
the pencil trembled in her hand; anything which might guard her from
conveying to her mother that she shared the apprehensions which had
already darkened her mother's mind. But now that Lady Annabel was
gone, Venetia, muffling herself up in her shawl, threw herself on a
sofa, and there she remained without a thought, her mind a chaos of
Her mother returned, and with a radiant countenance, Venetia sprang
from the sofa. 'There is good news; O mother! have they returned?'
'They are not at Spezzia,' said Lady Annabel, throwing herself into a
chair panting for breath; 'but there is good news. You see I was right
to go, Venetia. These stupid people we send only ask questions, and
take the first answer. I have seen a fisherman, and he says he heard
that two persons, Englishmen he believes, have put into Lerici in an
'God be praised!' said Venetia. 'O mother, I can now confess to you
the terror I have all along felt.'
'My own heart assures me of it, my child,' said Lady Annabel weeping;
and they mingled their tears together, but tears not of sorrow.
'Poor George!' said Lady Annabel, 'he will have a terrible journey to
Sarzana, and be feeling so much for us! Perhaps he may meet them.'
'I feel assured he will,' said Venetia; 'and perhaps ere long they
will all three be here again. Joy! joy!'
'They must never go in that boat again,' said Lady Annabel.
'Oh! they never will, dearest mother, if you ask them not,' said
'We will send to Lerici,' said Lady Annabel.
'Instantly,' said Venetia; 'but I dare say they already sent us a
'No!' said Lady Annabel; 'men treat the danger that is past very
lightly. We shall not hear from them except in person.'
Time now flew more lightly. They were both easy in their minds. The
messenger was despatched to Lerici; but even Lerici was a considerable
distance, and hours must elapse before his return. Still there was the
hope of seeing them, or hearing from them in the interval.
'I must go out, dear mother,' said Venetia. 'Let us both go out. It
is now very fine. Let us go just to the ravine, for indeed it is
impossible to remain here.'
Accordingly they both went forth, and took up a position on the coast
which commanded a view on all sides. All was radiant again, and
comparatively calm. Venetia looked upon the sea, and said, 'Ah! I
never shall forget a white squall in the Mediterranean, for all this
It was sunset: they returned home. No news yet from Lerici. Lady
Annabel grew uneasy again. The pensive and melancholy hour encouraged
gloom; but Venetia, who was sanguine, encouraged her mother.
'Suppose they were not Englishmen in the boat,' said Lady Annabel.
'It is impossible, mother. What other two persons in this
neighbourhood could have been in an open boat? Besides, the man said
Englishmen. You remember, he said Englishmen. You are quite sure he
did? It must be they. I feel as convinced of it as of your presence.'
'I think there can be no doubt,' said Lady Annabel. 'I wish that the
messenger would return.'
The messenger did return. No two persons in an open boat had put into
Lerici; but a boat, like the one described, with every stitch of
canvas set, had passed Lerici just before the squall commenced, and,
the people there doubted not, had made Sarzana.
Lady Annabel turned pale, but Venetia was still sanguine. 'They are
at Sarzana,' she said; 'they must be at Sarzana: you see George was
right. He said he was sure they were at Sarzana. Besides, dear mother,
he heard they were at Sarzana.'
'And we heard they were at Lerici,' said Lady Annabel in a melancholy
And so they were, dear mother; it all agrees. The accounts are
consistent. Do not you see how very consistent they are? They were
seen at Lerici, and were off Lerici, but they made Sarzana; and George
heard they were at Sarzana. I am certain they are at Sarzana. I feel
quite easy; I feel as easy as if they were here. They are safe at
Sarzana. But it is too far to return to-night. We shall see them at
breakfast to-morrow, all three.'
'Venetia, dearest! do not you sit up,' said her mother. 'I think there
is a chance of George returning; I feel assured he will send to-night;
but late, of course. Go, dearest, and sleep.'
'Sleep!' thought Venetia to herself; but to please her mother she
'Good-night, my child,' said Lady Annabel. 'The moment any one
arrives, you shall be aroused.'
Venetia, without undressing, lay down on her bed, watching for some
sound that might give her hope of George's return. Dwelling on every
instant, the time dragged heavily along, and she thought that the
night had half passed when Pauncefort entered her room, and she
learnt, to her surprise, that only an hour had elapsed since she had
parted from her mother. This entrance of Pauncefort had given Venetia
a momentary hope that they had returned.
'I assure you, Miss Venetia, it is only an hour,' said Pauncefort,
'and nothing could have happened. Now do try to go to sleep, that is
a dear young lady, for I am certain sure that they will all return in
the morning, as I am here. I was telling my lady just now, I said,
says I, I dare say they are all very wet, and very fatigued.'
'They would have returned, Pauncefort,' said Venetia, 'or they would
have sent. They are not at Sarzana.'
'La! Miss Venetia, why should they be at Sarzana? Why should they not
have gone much farther on! For, as Vicenzo was just saying to me, and
Vicenzo knows all about the coast, with such a wind as this, I should
not be surprised if they were at Leghorn.'
'O Pauncefort!' said Venetia, 'I am sick at heart!'
'Now really, Miss Venetia, do not take on so!' said Pauncefort; 'for
do not you remember when his lordship ran away from the abbey, and
went a gipsying, nothing would persuade poor Mrs. Cadurcis that he was
not robbed and murdered, and yet you see he was as safe and sound all
the time, as if he had been at Cherbury.'
'Does Vicenzo really think they could have reached Leghorn?' said
Venetia, clinging to every fragment of hope.
'He is morally sure of it, Miss Venetia,' said Pauncefort, 'and I feel
quite as certain, for Vicenzo is always right.'
'I had confidence about Sarzana,' said Venetia; 'I really did believe
they were at Sarzana. If only Captain Cadurcis would return; if he
only would return, and say they were not at Sarzana, I would try to
believe they were at Leghorn.'
'Now, Miss Venetia,' said Pauncefort, 'I am certain sure that they are
quite safe; for my lord is a very good sailor; he is, indeed; all the
men say so; and the boat is as seaworthy a boat as boat can be. There
is not the slightest fear, I do assure you, miss.'
'Do the men say that Plantagenet is a good sailor?' inquired Venetia.
'Quite professional!' said Mistress Pauncefort; 'and can command a
ship as well as the best of them. They all say that.'
'Hush! Pauncefort, I hear something.'
'It's only my lady, miss. I know her step,'
'Is my mother going to bed?' said Venetia.
'Yes,' said Pauncefort, 'my lady sent me here to see after you. I wish
I could tell her you were asleep.'
'It is impossible to sleep,' said Venetia, rising up from the bed,
withdrawing the curtain, and looking at the sky. 'What a peaceful
night! I wish my heart were like the sky. I think I will go to mamma,
'Oh! dear, Miss Venetia, I am sure I think you had better not. If you
and my lady, now, would only just go to sleep, and forget every thing
till morning, it would be much better for you. Besides, I am sure if
my lady knew you were not gone to bed already, it would only make her
doubly anxious. Now, really, Miss Venetia, do take my advice, and just
lie down, again. You may be sure the moment any one arrives I will let
you know. Indeed, I shall go and tell my lady that you are lying down
as it is, and very drowsy;' and, so saying, Mistress Pauncefort caught
up her candle, and bustled out of the room.
Venetia took up the volume of her father's poems, which Cadurcis had
filled with his notes. How little did Plantagenet anticipate, when he
thus expressed at Athens the passing impressions of his mind, that,
ere a year had glided away, his fate would be so intimately blended
with that of Herbert! It was impossible, however, for Venetia to lose
herself in a volume which, under any other circumstances, might have
compelled her spirit! the very associations with the writers added
to the terrible restlessness of her mind. She paused each instant
to listen for the wished-for sound, but a mute stillness reigned
throughout the house and household. There was something in this deep,
unbroken silence, at a moment when anxiety was universally diffused
among the dwellers beneath that roof, and the heart of more than one
of them was throbbing with all the torture of the most awful suspense,
that fell upon Venetia's excited nerves with a very painful and even
insufferable influence. She longed for sound, for some noise that
might assure her she was not the victim of a trance. She closed her
volume with energy, and she started at the sound she had herself
created. She rose and opened the door of her chamber very softly, and
walked into the vestibule. There were caps, and cloaks, and whips, and
canes of Cadurcis and her father, lying about in familiar confusion.
It seemed impossible but that they were sleeping, as usual, under the
same roof. And where were they? That she should live and be unable to
answer that terrible question! When she felt the utter helplessness of
all her strong sympathy towards them, it seemed to her that she must
go mad. She gazed around her with a wild and vacant stare. At the
bottom of her heart there was a fear maturing into conviction too
horrible for expression. She returned to her own chamber, and the
exhaustion occasioned by her anxiety, and the increased coolness of
the night, made her at length drowsy. She threw herself on the bed and
She started in her sleep, she awoke, she dreamed they had come home.
She rose and looked at the progress of the night. The night was waning
fast; a grey light was on the landscape; the point of day approached.
Venetia stole softly to her mother's room, and entered it with a
soundless step. Lady Annabel had not retired to bed. She had sat up
the whole night, and was now asleep. A lamp on a small table was
burning at her side, and she held, firmly grasped in her hand, the
letter of her husband, which he had addressed to her at Venice, and
which she had been evidently reading. A tear glided down the cheek of
Venetia as she watched her mother retaining that letter with fondness
even in her sleep, and when she thought of all the misery, and
heartaches, and harrowing hours that had preceded its receipt, and
which Venetia believed that letter had cured for ever. What misery
awaited them now? Why were they watchers of the night? She shuddered
when these dreadful questions flitted through her mind. She shuddered
and sighed. Her mother started, and woke.
'Who is there?' inquired Lady Annabel.
'My child, have you not slept?'
'Yes, mother, and I woke refreshed, as I hope you do.'
'I wake with trust in God's mercy,' said Lady Annabel. 'Tell me the
'It is just upon dawn, mother.'
'Dawn! no one has returned, or come.'
'The house is still, mother.'
'I would you were in bed, my child.'
'Mother, I can sleep no more. I wish to be with you;' and Venetia
seated herself at her mother's feet, and reclined her head upon her
'I am glad the night has passed, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, in a
suppressed yet solemn tone. 'It has been a trial.' And here she placed
the letter in her bosom. Venetia could only answer with a sigh.
'I wish Pauncefort would come,' said Lady Annabel; 'and yet I do not
like to rouse her, she was up so late, poor creature! If it be the
dawn I should like to send out messengers again; something may be
heard at Spezzia.'
'Vicenzo thinks they have gone to Leghorn, mother.'
'Has he heard anything!' said Lady Annabel, eagerly.
'No, but he is an excellent judge,' said Venetia, repeating all
Pauncefort's consolatory chatter. 'He knows the coast so well. He says
he is sure the wind would carry them on to Leghorn; and that accounts,
you know, mother, for George not returning. They are all at Leghorn.'
'Would that George would return,' murmured Lady Annabel; 'I wish I
could see again that sailor who said they were at Lerici. He was an
'Perhaps if we send down to the bay he may be there,' said Venetia.'
'Hush! I hear a step!' said Lady Annabel.
Venetia sprung up and opened the door, but it was only Pauncefort in
'The household are all up, my lady,' said that important personage
entering; ''tis a beautiful morning. Vicenzo has run down to the bay,
my lady; I sent him off immediately. Vicenzo says he is certain sure
they are at Leghorn, my lady; and, this time three years, the very
same thing happened. They were fishing for anchovies, my lady, close
by, my lady, near Sarzana; two young men, or rather one about the same
age as master, and one like my lord; cousins, my lady, and just in the
same sort of boat, my lady; and there came on a squall, just the same
sort of squall, my lady; and they did not return home; and everyone
was frightened out of their wits, my lady, and their wives and
families quite distracted; and after all they were at Leghorn; for
this sort of wind always takes your open boats to Leghorn, Vicenzo
The sun rose, the household were all stirring, and many of them
abroad; the common routine of domestic duty seemed, by some general
yet not expressed understanding, to have ceased. The ladies descended
below at a very early hour, and went forth into the valley, once the
happy valley. What was to be its future denomination? Vicenzo returned
from the bay, and he contrived to return with cheering intelligence.
The master of a felucca who, in consequence of the squall had put in
at Lerici, and in the evening dropped down to Spezzia, had met an open
boat an hour before he reached Sarzana, and was quite confident that,
if it had put into port, it must have been, from the speed at which it
was going, a great distance down the coast. No wrecks had been heard
of in the neighbourhood. This intelligence, the gladsome time of day,
and the non-arrival of Captain Cadurcis, which according to their mood
was always a circumstance that counted either for good or for evil,
and the sanguine feelings which make us always cling to hope,
altogether reassured our friends. Venetia dismissed from her mind the
dark thought which for a moment had haunted her in the noon of night;
and still it was a suspense, a painful, agitating suspense, but only
suspense that yet influenced them.
'Time! said Lady Annabel. 'Time! we must wait.'
Venetia consoled her mother; she affected even a gaiety of spirit;
she was sure that Vicenzo would turn out to be right, after all;
Pauncefort said he always was right, and that they were at Leghorn.
The day wore apace; the noon arrived and passed; it was even
approaching sunset. Lady Annabel was almost afraid to counterorder the
usual meals, lest Venetia should comprehend her secret terror; the
very same sentiment influenced Venetia. Thus they both had submitted
to the ceremony of breakfast, but when the hour of dinner approached
they could neither endure the mockery. They looked at each other, and
almost at the same time they proposed that, instead of dining, they
should walk down to the bay.
'I trust we shall at least hear something before the night,' said Lady
Annabel. 'I confess I dread the coming night. I do not think I could
'The longer we do not hear, the more certain I am of their being at
Leghorn,' said Venetia.
'I have a great mind to travel there to-night,' said Lady Annabel.
As they were stepping into the portico, Venetia recognised Captain
Cadurcis in the distance. She turned pale; she would have fallen had
she not leaned on her mother, who was not so advanced, and who had not
'What is the matter, Venetia!' said Lady Annabel, alarmed.
'He is here, he is here!'
'No, George. Let me sit down.'
Her mother tried to support her to a chair. Lady Annabel took off her
bonnet. She had not strength to walk forth. She could not speak. She
sat down opposite Venetia, and her countenance pictured distress to so
painful a degree, that at any other time Venetia would have flown to
her, but in this crisis of suspense it was impossible. George was in
sight; he was in the portico; he was in the room.
He looked wan, haggard, and distracted. More than once he essayed to
speak, but failed.
Lady Annabel looked at him with a strange, delirious expression.
Venetia rushed forward and seized his arm, and gazed intently on his
face. He shrank from her glance; his frame trembled.
In the heart of the tempest Captain Cadurcis traced his way in a sea
of vapour with extreme danger and difficulty to the shore. On his
arrival at Spezzia, however, scarcely a house was visible, and the
only evidence of the situation of the place was the cessation of an
immense white surf which otherwise indicated the line of the sea, but
the absence of which proved his contiguity to a harbour. In the thick
fog he heard the cries and shouts of the returning fishermen, and
of their wives and children responding from the land to their
exclamations. He was forced, therefore, to wait at Spezzia, in an
agony of impotent suspense, until the fury of the storm was over and
the sky was partially cleared. At length the objects became gradually
less obscure; he could trace the outline of the houses, and catch a
glimpse of the water half a mile out, and soon the old castles which
guard the entrance of the strait that leads into the gulf, looming
in the distance, and now and then a group of human beings in the
vanishing vapour. Of these he made some inquiries, but in vain,
respecting the boat and his friends. He then made the brig, but could
learn nothing except their departure in the morning. He at length
obtained a horse and galloped along the coast towards Lerici, keeping
a sharp look out as he proceeded and stopping at every village in his
progress for intelligence. When he had arrived in the course of three
hours at Lerici, the storm had abated, the sky was clear, and no
evidence of the recent squall remained except the agitated state
of the waves. At Lerici he could hear nothing, so he hurried on to
Sarzana, where he learnt for the first time that an open boat,
with its sails set, had passed more than an hour before the squall
commenced. From Sarzana he hastened on to Lavenza, a little port, the
nearest sea-point to Massa, and where the Carrara marble is shipped
for England. Here also his inquiries were fruitless, and, exhausted
by his exertions, he dismounted and rested at the inn, not only for
repose, but to consider over the course which he should now pursue.
The boat had not been seen off Lavenza, and the idea that they had
made the coast towards Leghorn now occurred to him. His horse was so
wearied that he was obliged to stop some time at Lavenza, for he could
procure no other mode of conveyance; the night also was fast coming
on, and to proceed to Leghorn by this dangerous route at this hour was
impossible. At Lavenza therefore he remained, resolved to hasten
to Leghorn at break of day. This was a most awful night. Although
physically exhausted, Captain Cadurcis could not sleep, and, after
some vain efforts, he quitted his restless bed on which he had laid
down without undressing, and walked forth to the harbour. Between
anxiety for Herbert and his cousin, and for the unhappy women whom he
had left behind, he was nearly distracted. He gazed on the sea, as if
some sail in sight might give him a chance of hope. His professional
experience assured him of all the danger of the squall. He could not
conceive how an open boat could live in such a sea, and an instant
return to port so soon as the squall commenced, appeared the only
chance of its salvation. Could they have reached Leghorn? It seemed
impossible. There was no hope they could now be at Sarzana, or Lerici.
When he contemplated the full contingency of what might have occurred,
his mind wandered, and refused to comprehend the possibility of the
terrible conclusion. He thought the morning would never break.
There was a cavernous rock by the seashore, that jutted into the water
like a small craggy promontory. Captain Cadurcis climbed to its top,
and then descending, reclined himself upon an inferior portion of it,
which formed a natural couch with the wave on each side. There, lying
at his length, he gazed upon the moon and stars whose brightness he
thought would never dim. The Mediterranean is a tideless sea, but the
swell of the waves, which still set in to the shore, bore occasionally
masses of sea-weed and other marine formations, and deposited them
around him, plashing, as it broke against the shore, with a melancholy
and monotonous sound. The abstraction of the scene, the hour, and the
surrounding circumstances brought, however, no refreshment to the
exhausted spirit of George Cadurcis. He could not think, indeed he did
not dare to think; but the villa of the Apennines and the open boat in
the squall flitted continually before him. His mind was feeble though
excited, and he fell into a restless and yet unmeaning reverie. As
long as he had been in action, as long as he had been hurrying along
the coast, the excitement of motion, the constant exercise of his
senses, had relieved or distracted the intolerable suspense. But this
pause, this inevitable pause, overwhelmed him. It oppressed his spirit
like eternity. And yet what might the morning bring? He almost wished
that he might remain for ever on this rock watching the moon and
stars, and that the life of the world might never recommence.
He started; he had fallen into a light slumber; he had been dreaming;
he thought he had heard the voice of Venetia calling him; he had
forgotten where he was; he stared at the sea and sky, and recalled
his dreadful consciousness. The wave broke with a heavy plash that
attracted his attention: it was, indeed, that sound that had awakened
him. He looked around; there was some object; he started wildly from
his resting-place, sprang over the cavern, and bounded on the beach.
It was a corpse; he is kneeling by its side. It is the corpse of his
cousin! Lord Cadurcis was a fine swimmer, and had evidently made
strong efforts for his life, for he was partly undressed. In all the
insanity of hope, still wilder than despair, George Cadurcis seized
the body and bore it some yards upon the shore. Life had been long
extinct. The corpse was cold and stark, the eyes closed, an expression
of energy, however, yet lingering in the fixed jaw, and the hair
sodden with the sea. Suddenly Captain Cadurcis rushed to the inn and
roused the household. With a distracted air, and broken speech and
rapid motion, he communicated the catastrophe. Several persons, some
bearing torches, others blankets and cordials, followed him instantly
to the fatal spot. They hurried to the body, they applied all the rude
remedies of the moment, rather from the impulse of nervous excitement
than with any practical purpose; for the case had been indeed long
hopeless. While Captain Cadurcis leant over the body, chafing
the extremities in a hurried frenzy, and gazing intently on the
countenance, a shout was heard from one of the stragglers who had
recently arrived. The sea had washed on the beach another corpse: the
form of Marmion Herbert. It would appear that he had made no struggle
to save himself, for his hand was locked in his waistcoat, where, at
the moment, he had thrust the Phaedo, showing that he had been reading
to the last, and was meditating on immortality when he died.
END OF BOOK VI.
It was the commencement of autumn. The verdure of summer still
lingered on the trees; the sky, if not so cloudless, was almost as
refulgent as Italy; and the pigeons, bright and glancing, clustered on
the roof of the hall of Cherbury. The steward was in attendance; the
household, all in deep mourning, were assembled; everything was in
readiness for the immediate arrival of Lady Annabel Herbert.
''Tis nearly four years come Martinmas,' said the grey-headed butler,
'since my lady left us.'
'And no good has come of it,' said the housekeeper. 'And for my part I
never heard of good coming from going to foreign parts.'
'I shall like to see Miss Venetia again,' said a housemaid. 'Bless her
'I never expected to see her Miss Venetia again from all we heard,'
said a footman.
'God's will be done!' said the grey-headed butler; 'but I hope she
will find happiness at home. 'Tis nigh on twenty years since I first
nursed her in these arms.'
'I wonder if there is any new Lord Cadurcis,' said the footman. 'I
think he was the last of the line.'
'It would have been a happy day if I had lived to have seen the poor
young lord marry Miss Venetia,' said the housekeeper. 'I always
thought that match was made in heaven.'
'He was a sweet-spoken young gentleman,' said the housemaid.
'For my part,' said the footman, 'I should like to have seen our real
master, Squire Herbert. He was a famous gentleman by all accounts.'
'I wish they had lived quietly at home,' said the housekeeper.
'I shall never forget the time when my lord returned,' said the
grey-headed butler. 'I must say I thought it was a match.'
'Mistress Pauncefort seemed to think so,' said the housemaid.
'And she understands those things,' said the footman.
'I see the carriage,' said a servant who was at a window in the hall.
All immediately bustled about, and the housekeeper sent a message to
The carriage might be just discovered at the end of the avenue. It was
some time before it entered the iron gates that were thrown open for
its reception. The steward stood on the steps with his hat off, the
servants were ranged in order at the entrance. Touching their horses
with the spur, and cracking their whips, the postilions dashed
round the circular plot and stopped at the hall-door. Under any
circumstances a return home after an interval of years is rather an
awful moment; there was not a servant who was not visibly affected.
On the outside of the carriage was a foreign servant and Mistress
Pauncefort, who was not so profuse as might have been expected in her
recognitions of her old friends; her countenance was graver than of
yore. Misfortune and misery had subdued even Mistress Pauncefort. The
foreign servant opened the door of the carriage; a young man, who was
a stranger to the household, but who was in deep mourning, alighted,
and then Lady Annabel appeared. The steward advanced to welcome her,
the household bowed and curtseyed. She smiled on them for a moment
graciously and kindly, but her countenance immediately reassumed a
serious air, and whispering one word to the strange gentleman, she
entered the hall alone, inviting the steward to follow her.
'I hope your ladyship is well; welcome home, my lady; welcome again to
Cherbury; a welcome return, my lady; hope Miss Venetia is quite well;
happy to see your ladyship amongst us again, and Miss Venetia too, my
lady.' Lady Annabel acknowledged these salutations with kindness, and
then, saying that Miss Herbert was not very well and was fatigued with
her journey, she dismissed her humble but trusty friends. Lady Annabel
then turned and nodded to her fellow-traveller.
Upon this Lord Cadurcis, if we must indeed use a title from which he
himself shrank, carried a shrouded form in his arms into the hall,
where the steward alone lingered, though withdrawn to the back part
of the scene; and Lady Annabel, advancing to meet him, embraced his
treasured burden, her own unhappy child.
'Now, Venetia! dearest Venetia!' she said, ''tis past; we are at
Venetia leant upon her mother, but made no reply.
'Upstairs, dearest,' said Lady Annabel: 'a little exertion, a very
little.' Leaning on her mother and Lord Cadurcis, Venetia ascended the
staircase, and they reached the terrace-room. Venetia looked around
her as she entered the chamber; that scene of her former life,
endeared to her by so many happy hours, and so many sweet incidents;
that chamber where she had first seen Plantagenet. Lord Cadurcis
supported her to a chair, and then, overwhelmed by irresistible
emotion, she sank back in a swoon.
No one was allowed to enter the room but Pauncefort. They revived her;
Lord Cadurcis holding her hand, and touching, with a watchful finger,
her pulse. Venetia opened her eyes, and looked around her. Her
mind did not wander; she immediately recognised where she was, and
recollected all that had happened. She faintly smiled, and said, in a
low voice 'You are all too kind, and I am very weak. After our trials,
what is this, George?' she added, struggling to appear animated; 'you
are at length at Cherbury.'
Once more at Cherbury! It was, indeed, an event that recalled a
thousand associations. In the wild anguish of her first grief, when
the dreadful intelligence was broken to her, if anyone had whispered
to Venetia that she would yet find herself once more at Cherbury, she
would have esteemed the intimation as mockery. But time and hope will
struggle with the most poignant affliction, and their influence is
irresistible and inevitable. From her darkened chamber in their
Mediterranean villa, Venetia had again come forth, and crossed
mountains, and traversed immense plains, and journeyed through many
countries. She could not die, as she had supposed at first that she
must, and therefore she had exerted herself to quit, and to quit
speedily, a scene so terrible as their late abode. She was the very
first to propose their return to England, and to that spot where she
had passed her early life, and where she now wished to fulfil, in
quiet and seclusion, the allotment of her remaining years; to
meditate over the marvellous past, and cherish its sweet and bitter
recollections. The native firmness of Lady Annabel, her long exercised
control over her emotions, the sadness and subdued tone which the
early incidents of her career had cast over her character, her
profound sympathy with her daughter, and that religious consolation
which never deserted her, had alike impelled and enabled her to bear
up against the catastrophe with more fortitude than her child. The
arrow, indeed, had struck Venetia with a double barb. She was the
victim; and all the cares of Lady Annabel had been directed to soothe
and support this stricken lamb. Yet perhaps these unhappy women must
have sunk under their unparalleled calamities, had it not been for the
devotion of their companion. In the despair of his first emotions,
George Cadurcis was nearly plunging himself headlong into the wave
that had already proved so fatal to his house. But when he thought of
Lady Annabel and Venetia in a foreign land, without a single friend in
their desolation, and pictured them to himself with the dreadful news
abruptly communicated by some unfeeling stranger; and called upon,
in the midst of their overwhelming agony, to attend to all the
heart-rending arrangements which the discovery of the bodies of the
beings to whom they were devoted, and in whom all their feelings were
centred, must necessarily entail upon them, he recoiled from what he
contemplated as an act of infamous desertion. He resolved to live, if
only to preserve them from all their impending troubles, and with the
hope that his exertions might tend, in however slight a degree, not
to alleviate, for that was impossible; but to prevent the increase
of that terrible woe, the very conception of which made his brain
stagger. He carried the bodies, therefore, with him to Spezzia, and
then prepared for that fatal interview, the commencement of which we
first indicated. Yet it must be confessed that, though the bravest
of men, his courage faltered as he entered the accustomed ravine. He
stopped and looked down on the precipice below; he felt it utterly
impossible to meet them; his mind nearly deserted him. Death, some
great and universal catastrophe, an earthquake, a deluge, that would
have buried them all in an instant and a common fate, would have been
hailed by George Cadurcis, at that moment, as good fortune.
He lurked about the ravine for nearly three hours before he could
summon up heart for the awful interview. The position he had taken
assured him that no one could approach the villa, to which he himself
dared not advance. At length, in a paroxysm of energetic despair, he
had rushed forward, met them instantly, and confessed with a whirling
brain, and almost unconscious of his utterance, that 'they could not
hope to see them again in this world.'
What ensued must neither be attempted to be described, nor even
remembered. It was one of those tragedies of life which enfeeble the
most faithful memories at a blow shatter nerves beyond the faculty of
revival, cloud the mind for ever, or turn the hair grey in an instant.
They carried Venetia delirious to her bed. The very despair, and
almost madness, of her daughter forced Lady Annabel to self-exertion,
of which it was difficult to suppose that even she was capable. And
George, too, was obliged to leave them. He stayed only the night. A
few words passed between Lady Annabel and himself; she wished the
bodies to be embalmed, and borne to England. There was no time to be
lost, and there was no one to be entrusted except George. He had to
hasten to Genoa to make all these preparations, and for two days he
was absent from the villa. When he returned, Lady Annabel saw him, but
Venetia was for a long time invisible. The moment she grew composed,
she expressed a wish to her mother instantly to return to Cherbury.
All the arrangements necessarily devolved upon George Cadurcis. It
was his study that Lady Annabel should be troubled upon no point. The
household were discharged, all the affairs were wound up, the felucca
hired which was to bear them to Genoa, and in readiness, before he
notified to them that the hour of departure had arrived. The most
bitter circumstance was looking again upon the sea. It seemed so
intolerable to Venetia, that their departure was delayed more than one
day in consequence; but it was inevitable; they could reach Genoa in
no other manner. George carried Venetia in his arms to the boat, with
her face covered with a shawl, and bore her in the same manner to the
hotel at Genoa, where their travelling carriage awaited them.
They travelled home rapidly. All seemed to be impelled, as it were,
by a restless desire for repose. Cherbury was the only thought in
Venetia's mind. She observed nothing; she made no remark during their
journey; they travelled often throughout the night; but no obstacles
occurred, no inconveniences. There was one in this miserable society
whose only object in life was to support Venetia under her terrible
visitation. Silent, but with an eye that never slept, George Cadurcis
watched Venetia as a nurse might a child. He read her thoughts, he
anticipated her wishes without inquiring them; every arrangement was
unobtrusively made that could possibly consult her comfort.
They passed through London without stopping there. George would not
leave them for an instant; nor would he spare a thought to his own
affairs, though they urgently required his attention. The change in
his position gave him no consolation; he would not allow his passport
to be made out with his title; he shuddered at being called Lord
Cadurcis; and the only reason that made him hesitate about attending
them to Cherbury was its contiguity to his ancestral seat, which he
resolved never to visit. There never in the world was a less selfish
and more single-hearted man than George Cadurcis. Though the death of
his cousin had invested him with one of the most ancient coronets in
England, a noble residence and a fair estate, he would willingly have
sacrificed his life to have recalled Plantagenet to existence, and to
have secured the happiness of Venetia Herbert.
The reader must not suppose, from the irresistible emotion that
overcame Venetia at the very moment of her return, that she was
entirely prostrated by her calamities. On the contrary, her mind had
been employed, during the whole of her journey to England, in a silent
effort to endure her lot with resignation. She had resolved to bear up
against her misery with fortitude, and she inherited from her mother
sufficient firmness of mind to enable her to achieve her purpose. She
came back to Cherbury to live with patience and submission; and though
her dreams of happiness might be vanished for ever, to contribute as
much as was in her power to the content of that dear and remaining
relative who was yet spared to her, and who depended in this world
only upon the affection of her child. The return to Cherbury was a
pang, and it was over. Venetia struggled to avoid the habits of an
invalid; she purposed resuming, as far as was in her power, all the
pursuits and duties of her life; and if it were neither possible, nor
even desirable, to forget the past, she dwelt upon it neither to sigh
nor to murmur, but to cherish in a sweet and musing mood the ties and
affections round which all her feelings had once gathered with so much
enjoyment and so much hope.
She rose, therefore, on the morning after her return to Cherbury, at
least serene; and she took an early opportunity, when George and her
mother were engaged, and absent from the terrace-room, to go forth
alone and wander amid her old haunts. There was not a spot about the
park and gardens, which had been favourite resorts of herself and
Plantagenet in their childhood, that she did not visit. They were
unchanged; as green, and bright, and still as in old days, but what
was she? The freshness, and brilliancy, and careless happiness of her
life were fled for ever. And here he lived, and here he roamed, and
here his voice sounded, now in glee, now in melancholy, now in wild
and fanciful amusement, and now pouring into her bosom all his
domestic sorrows. It was but ten years since he first arrived at
Cherbury, and who could have anticipated that that little, silent,
reserved boy should, ere ten years had passed, have filled a wide and
lofty space in the world's thought; that his existence should have
influenced the mind of nations, and his death eclipsed their gaiety!
His death! Terrible and disheartening thought! Plantagenet was no
more. But he had not died without a record. His memory was embalmed
in immortal verse, and he had breathed his passion to his Venetia in
language that lingered in the ear, and would dwell for ever on the
lips, of his fellow-men.
Among these woods, too, had Venetia first mused over her father;
before her rose those mysterious chambers, whose secret she had
penetrated at the risk of her life. There were no secrets now. Was
she happier? Now she felt that even in her early mystery there was
delight, and that hope was veiled beneath its ominous shadow. There
was now no future to ponder over; her hope was gone, and memory alone
remained. All the dreams of those musing hours of her hidden reveries
had been realised. She had seen that father, that surpassing parent,
who had satisfied alike her heart and her imagination; she had been
clasped to his bosom; she had lived to witness even her mother yield
to his penitent embrace. And he too was gone; she could never meet him
again in this world; in this world in which they had experienced such
exquisite bliss; and now she was once more at Cherbury! Oh! give her
back her girlhood, with all its painful mystery and harassing doubt!
Give her again a future!
She returned to the hall; she met George on the terrace, she welcomed
him with a sweet, yet mournful smile. 'I have been very selfish,'
she said, 'for I have been walking alone. I mean to introduce you to
Cherbury, but I could not resist visiting some old spots.' Her voice
faltered in these last words. They re-entered the terrace-room
together, and joined her mother.
'Nothing is changed, mamma,' said Venetia, in a more cheerful tone.
'It is pleasant to find something that is the same.'
Several days passed, and Lord Cadurcis evinced no desire to visit his
inheritance. Yet Lady Annabel was anxious that he should do so, and
had more than once impressed upon him the propriety. Even Venetia
at length said to him, 'It is very selfish in us keeping you here,
George. Your presence is a great consolation, and yet, yet, ought you
not to visit your home?' She avoided the name of Cadurcis.
'I ought, dear Venetia.' said George, 'and I will. I have promised
Lady Annabel twenty times, but I feel a terrible disinclination.
'To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,' murmured Venetia to
herself, 'I scarcely comprehend now what to-morrow means.' And then
again addressing him, and with more liveliness, she said, 'We have
only one friend in the world now, George, and I think that we ought to
be very grateful that he is our neighbour.'
'It is a consolation to me,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'for I cannot remain
here, and otherwise I should scarcely know how to depart.'
'I wish you would visit your home, if only for one morning,' said
Venetia; 'if only to know how very near you are to us.'
'I dread going alone,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'I cannot ask Lady Annabel
to accompany me, because--' He hesitated.
'Because?' inquired Venetia.
'I cannot ask or wish her to leave you.'
'You are always thinking of me, dear George,' said Venetia, artlessly.
'I assure you, I have come back to Cherbury to be happy. I must visit
your home some day, and I hope I shall visit it often. We will all go,
soon,' she added.
'Then I will postpone my visit to that day,' said George. 'I am in
no humour for business, which I know awaits me there. Let me enjoy a
little more repose at dear Cherbury.'
'I have become very restless of late, I think,' said Venetia, 'but
there is a particular spot in the garden that I wish to see. Come with
Lord Cadurcis was only too happy to attend her. They proceeded through
a winding walk in the shrubberies until they arrived at a small
and open plot of turf, where Venetia stopped. 'There are some
associations,' she said, 'of this spot connected with both those
friends that we have lost. I have a fancy that it should be in some
visible manner consecrated to their memories. On this spot, George,
Plantagenet once spoke to me of my father. I should like to raise
their busts here; and indeed it is a fit place for such a purpose;
for poets,' she added, faintly smiling, 'should be surrounded with
'I have some thoughts on this head that I am revolving in my fancy
myself,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'but I will not speak of them now.'
'Yes, now, George; for indeed it is a satisfaction for me to speak of
them, at least with you, with one who understood them so well, and
loved them scarcely less than I did.'
George tenderly put his arm into hers and led her away. As they walked
along, he explained to her his plans, which yet were somewhat crude,
but which greatly interested her; but they were roused from their
conversation by the bell of the hall sounding as if to summon them,
and therefore they directed their way immediately to the terrace. A
servant running met them; he brought a message from Lady Annabel.
Their friend the Bishop of ---- had arrived.
'Well, my little daughter,' said the good Masham, advancing as Venetia
entered the room, and tenderly embracing her. The kind-hearted old man
maintained a conversation on indifferent subjects with animation for
some minutes; and thus a meeting, the anticipation of which would have
cost Venetia hours of pain and anxiety, occurred with less uneasy
Masham had hastened to Cherbury the moment he heard of the return of
the Herberts to England. He did not come to console, but to enliven.
He was well aware that even his eloquence, and all the influence of
his piety, could not soften the irreparable past; and knowing, from
experience, how in solitude the unhappy brood over sorrow, he fancied
that his arrival, and perhaps his arrival only, might tend in some
degree at this moment to their alleviation and comfort. He brought
Lady Annabel and Venetia letters from their relations, with whom he
had been staying at their country residence, and who were anxious that
their unhappy kinsfolk should find change of scene under their roof.
'They are very affectionate,' said Lady Annabel, 'but I rather think
that neither Venetia nor myself feel inclined to quit Cherbury at
'Indeed not, mamma,' said Venetia. 'I hope we shall never leave home
'You must come and see me some day,' said the Bishop; then turning to
George, whom he was glad to find here, he addressed him in a hearty
tone, and expressed his delight at again meeting him.
Insensibly to all parties this arrival of the good Masham exercised a
beneficial influence on their spirits. They could sympathise with his
cheerfulness, because they were convinced that he sympathised with
their sorrow. His interesting conversation withdrew their minds from
the painful subject on which they were always musing. It seemed
profanation to either of the three mourners when they were together
alone, to indulge in any topic but the absorbing one, and their utmost
effort was to speak of the past with composure; but they all felt
relieved, though at first unconsciously, when one, whose interest in
their feelings could not be doubted, gave the signal of withdrawing
their reflections from vicissitudes which it was useless to deplore.
Even the social forms which the presence of a guest rendered
indispensable, and the exercise of the courtesies of hospitality,
contributed to this result. They withdrew their minds from the past.
And the worthy Bishop, whose tact was as eminent as his good humour
and benevolence, evincing as much delicacy of feeling as cheerfulness
of temper, a very few days had elapsed before each of his companions
was aware that his presence had contributed to their increased
'You have not been to the abbey yet, Lord Cadurcis,' said Masham to
him one day, as they were sitting together after dinner, the ladies
having retired. 'You should go.'
'I have been unwilling to leave them,' said George, 'and I could
scarcely expect them to accompany me. It is a visit that must revive
'We must not dwell on the past,' said Masham; 'we must think only of
'Venetia has no future, I fear,' said Lord Cadurcis.
'Why not?' said Masham; 'she is yet a girl, and with a prospect of a
long life. She must have a future, and I hope, and I believe, it will
yet be a happy one.'
'Alas!' said Lord Cadurcis, 'no one can form an idea of the attachment
that subsisted between Plantagenet and Venetia. They were not common
feelings, or the feelings of common minds, my dear lord.'
'No one knew them both better than I did,' said Masham, 'not even
yourself: they were my children.'
'I feel that,' said George, 'and therefore it is a pleasure to us all
to see you, and to speak with you.'
'But we must look for consolation,' said Masham; 'to deplore is
fruitless. If we live, we must struggle to live happily. To tell you
the truth, though their immediate return to Cherbury was inevitable,
and their residence here for a time is scarcely to be deprecated, I
still hope they will not bury themselves here. For my part, after the
necessary interval, I wish to see Venetia once more in the world.'
Lord Cadurcis looked very mournful, and shook his head.
'As for her dear mother, she is habituated to sorrow and
disappointment,' said Masham. 'As long as Venetia lives Lady Annabel
will be content. Besides, deplorable as may be the past, there must be
solace to her in the reflection that she was reconciled to her husband
before his death, and contributed to his happiness. Venetia is the
stricken lamb, but Venetia is formed for happiness, and it is in the
nature of things that she will be happy. We must not, however, yield
unnecessarily to our feelings. A violent exertion would be unwise, but
we should habituate ourselves gradually to the exercise of our duties,
and to our accustomed pursuits. It would be well for you to go to
Cadurcis. If I were you I would go to-morrow. Take advantage of my
presence, and return and give a report of your visit. Habituate
Venetia to talk of a spot with which ultimately she must renew her
Influenced by this advice, Lord Cadurcis rose early on the next
morning and repaired to the seat of his fathers, where hitherto his
foot had never trod. When the circle at Cherbury assembled at their
breakfast table he was missing, and Masham had undertaken the office
of apprising his friends of the cause of his absence. He returned to
dinner, and the conversation fell naturally upon the abbey, and the
impressions he had received. It was maintained at first by Lady
Annabel and the Bishop, but Venetia ultimately joined in it, and with
cheerfulness. Many a trait and incident of former days was alluded to;
they talked of Mrs. Cadurcis, whom George had never seen; they settled
the chambers he should inhabit; they mentioned the improvements
which Plantagenet had once contemplated, and which George must now
'You must go to London first,' said the Bishop; 'you have a great deal
to do, and you should not delay such business. I think you had better
return with me. At this time of the year you need not be long absent;
you will not be detained; and when you return, you will find yourself
much more at ease; for, after all, nothing is more harassing than the
feeling, that there is business which must be attended to, and which,
nevertheless, is neglected.'
Both Lady Annabel and Venetia enforced this advice of their friend;
and so it happened that, ere a week had elapsed, Lord Cadurcis,
accompanying Masham, found himself once more in London.
Venetia was now once more alone with her mother; it was as in old
times. Their life was the same as before the visit of Plantagenet
previous to his going to Cambridge, except indeed that they had no
longer a friend at Marringhurst. They missed the Sabbath visits of
that good man; for, though his successor performed the duties of the
day, which had been a condition when he was presented to the living,
the friend who knew all the secrets of their hearts was absent.
Venetia continued to bear herself with great equanimity, and the
anxiety which she observed instantly impressed on her mother's
countenance, the moment she fancied there was unusual gloom on the
brow of her child, impelled Venetia doubly to exert herself to appear
resigned. And in truth, when Lady Annabel revolved in her mind the
mournful past, and meditated over her early and unceasing efforts
to secure the happiness of her daughter, and then contrasted her
aspirations with the result, she could not acquit herself of having
been too often unconsciously instrumental in forwarding a very
different conclusion than that for which she had laboured. This
conviction preyed upon the mother, and the slightest evidence of
reaction in Venetia's tranquilised demeanour occasioned her the utmost
remorse and grief. The absence of George made both Lady Annabel and
Venetia still more finely appreciate the solace of his society. Left
to themselves, they felt how much they had depended on his vigilant
and considerate attention, and how much his sweet temper and his
unfailing sympathy had contributed to their consolation. He wrote,
however, to Venetia by every post, and his letters, if possible,
endeared him still more to their hearts. Unwilling to dwell upon
their mutual sorrows, yet always expressing sufficient to prove that
distance and absence had not impaired his sympathy, he contrived, with
infinite delicacy, even to amuse their solitude with the adventures of
his life of bustle. The arrival of the post was the incident of the
day; and not merely letters arrived; one day brought books, another
music; continually some fresh token of his thought and affection
reached them. He was, however, only a fortnight absent; but when he
returned, it was to Cadurcis. He called upon them the next day, and
indeed every morning found him at Cherbury; but he returned to his
home at night; and so, without an effort, from their guest he had
become their neighbour.
Plantagenet had left the whole of his property to his cousin: his
mother's fortune, which, as an accessory fund, was not inconsiderable,
besides the estate. And George intended to devote a portion of this to
the restoration of the abbey. Venetia was to be his counsellor in this
operation, and therefore there were ample sources of amusement for the
remainder of the year. On a high ridge, which was one of the beacons
of the county, and which, moreover, marked the junction of the domains
of Cherbury and Cadurcis, it was his intention to raise a monument to
the united memories of Marmion Herbert and Plantagenet Lord Cadurcis.
He brought down a design with him from London, and this was the
project which he had previously whispered to Venetia. With George for
her companion, too, Venetia was induced to resume her rides. It was
her part to make him acquainted with the county in which he was so
important a resident. Time therefore, at Cherbury, on the whole,
flowed on in a tide of tranquil pleasure; and Lady Annabel observed,
with interest and fondness, the continual presence beneath her roof
of one who, from the first day she had met him, had engaged her kind
feelings, and had since become intimately endeared to her.
The end of November was, however, now approaching, and Parliament
was about to reassemble. Masham had written more than once to Lord
Cadurcis, impressing upon him the propriety and expediency of taking
his seat. He had shown these letters, as he showed everything, to
Venetia, who was his counsellor on all subjects, and Venetia agreed
with their friend.
'It is right,' said Venetia; 'you have a duty to perform, and you must
perform it. Besides, I do not wish the name of Cadurcis to sink again
into obscurity. I shall look forward with interest to Lord Cadurcis
taking the oaths and his seat. It will please me; it will indeed.'
'But Venetia,' said George, 'I do not like to leave this place. I am
happy, if we may be happy. This life suits me. I am a quiet man. I
dislike London. I feel alone there.'
'You can write to us; you will have a great deal to say. And I shall
have something to say to you now. I must give you a continual report
how they go on at the abbey. I will be your steward, and superintend
'Ah!' said George, 'what shall I do in London without you, without
your advice? There will be something occurring every day, and I shall
have no one to consult. Indeed I shall feel quite miserable; I shall
'It is quite impossible that, with your station, and at your time of
life, you should bury yourself in the country,' said Venetia. 'You
have the whole world before you, and you must enjoy it. It is very
well for mamma and myself to lead this life. I look upon ourselves as
two nuns. If Cadurcis is an abbey, Cherbury is now a convent.'
'How can a man wish to be more than happy? I am quite content here,'
said George, 'What is London to me?'
'It may be a great deal to you, more than you think,' said Venetia. 'A
great deal awaits you yet. However, there can be no doubt you should
take your seat. You can always return, if you wish. But take your
seat, and cultivate dear Masham. I have the utmost confidence in his
wisdom and goodness. You cannot have a friend more respectable. Now
mind my advice, George.'
'I always do, Venetia.'
Time and Faith are the great consolers, and neither of these precious
sources of solace were wanting to the inhabitants of Cherbury. They
were again living alone, but their lives were cheerful; and if Venetia
no longer indulged in a worldly and blissful future, nevertheless, in
the society of her mother, in the resources of art and literature, in
the diligent discharge of her duties to her humble neighbours, and in
cherishing the memory of the departed, she experienced a life that was
not without its tranquil pleasures. She maintained with Lord Cadurcis
a constant correspondence; he wrote to her every day, and although
they were separated, there was not an incident of his life, and
scarcely a thought, of which she was not cognisant. It was with great
difficulty that George could induce himself to remain in London; but
Masham, who soon obtained over him all the influence which Venetia
desired, ever opposed his return to the abbey. The good Bishop was not
unaware of the feelings with which Lord Cadurcis looked back to the
hall of Cherbury, and himself of a glad and sanguine temperament, he
indulged in a belief in the consummation of all that happiness for
which his young friend, rather sceptically, sighed. But Masham was
aware that time could alone soften the bitterness of Venetia's sorrow,
and prepare her for that change of life which he felt confident
would alone ensure the happiness both of herself and her mother. He
therefore detained Lord Cadurcis in London the whole of the sessions
that, on his return to Cherbury, his society might be esteemed a novel
and agreeable incident in the existence of its inhabitants, and not be
associated merely with their calamities.
It was therefore about a year after the catastrophe which had so
suddenly changed the whole tenor of their lives, and occasioned so
unexpected a revolution in his own position, that Lord Cadurcis
arrived at his ancestral seat, with no intention of again speedily
leaving it. He had long and frequently apprised his friends of his
approaching presence, And, arriving at the abbey late at night, he was
at Cherbury early on the following morning.
Although no inconsiderable interval had elapsed since Lord Cadurcis
had parted from the Herberts, the continual correspondence that had
been maintained between himself and Venetia, divested his visit of the
slightest embarrassment. They met as if they had parted yesterday,
except perhaps with greater fondness. The chain of their feelings
was unbroken. He was indeed welcomed, both by Lady Annabel and her
daughter, with warm affection; and his absence had only rendered him
dearer to them by affording an opportunity of feeling how much his
society contributed to their felicity. Venetia was anxious to know his
opinion of the improvements at the abbey, which she had superintended;
but he assured her that he would examine nothing without her company,
and ultimately they agreed to walk over to Cadurcis.
It was a summer day, and they walked through that very wood wherein
we described the journey of the child Venetia, at the commencement
of this very history. The blue patches of wild hyacinths had all
disappeared, but there were flowers as sweet. What if the first
feelings of our heart fade, like the first flowers of spring,
succeeding years, like the coming summer, may bring emotions not less
charming, and, perchance, far more fervent!
'I can scarcely believe,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'that I am once more
with you. I know not what surprises me most, Venetia, that we should
be walking once more together in the woods of Cherbury, or that I ever
should have dared to quit them.'
'And yet it was better, dear George,' said Venetia. 'You must now
rejoice that you have fulfilled your duty, and yet you are here again.
Besides, the abbey never would have been finished if you had remained.
To complete all our plans, it required a mistress.'
'I wish it always had one,' said George. 'Ah, Venetia! once you told
me never to despair.'
'And what have you to despair about, George?'
'Heigh ho!' said Lord Cadurcis, 'I never shall be able to live in this
'You should have brought a wife from London,' said Venetia.
'I told you once, Venetia, that I was not a marrying man,' said Lord
Cadurcis; 'and certainly I never shall bring a wife from London.'
'Then you cannot accustom yourself too soon to a bachelor's life,'