Imágenes de páginas

« On these occasions Lord Haverfield would work upon her feelings till her emotions became passions. He would call her • Citizeness Clara,' and the words never failed in their effect.

“ Lord Haverfield was one of those who delight in the study of character. There was something of novelty in that of Clara, which he occasionally amused himself by developing.

“ Aurelia and Clara had one day entered the library, in search of a book, believing Lord Haverfield to be absent, when they, unexpectedly, found his lordship deep in the study of a new publication.

“ Clara, with an extreme earnestness, leaned over the shoulder of Lord Haverfield to catch the title of the book.

“I knew I should interest you,' said Lord Haverfield, 'the title is expressive enough-To your tents, oh Israel !

“I see! I see !' Clara exclaimed, and what do you think of it, my lord ?'

“I think of it as every man attached to the government under which he lives must think of it; as every man who prizes the happiness of a quiet life, and the safety of the nearest and dearest relationships of life, must think of it. Every word of these pages is like the drops of poison distilled froni the upas-tree!'

“Rather call it the medicine meet for distempered minds,' returned Clara, roused into animation, the probe of the surgeon, severe in its application, but friendly and necessary in its purpose !

“ Rather call it the narrow-minded views, the party-spirited vindictiveness of an ill-organized and malevolent mind.'

“ • Call it no such thing, Lord Haverfield !' boldly and positively exclaimed Clara, call it the anxious effort of an enlarged and liberal spirit, zealous for the preservation of its fellow-beings.'

And for this liberal and zealous spirit, the writer will soon most surely receive his reward.' “ How, my lord ?'

" But his inartyrdom, as it will be termed, will be cheered by the wild eulogies, the headlong zeal of his partisans.'

" " His martyrdom?'

« « And when in the confinement of a prison, he will be consoled and supported by the consciousness of suffering for duty's sake.'

“• Explain to me, Lord Haverfield, explain!' exclaimed Clara, with breathless eagerness.

“ • A confinement in a cell in Newgate, and a trial for sedition.'

" " Lord Haverfield! Lord Haverfielu! through your instrumentality?' and Clara's features almost writhed, and her form was agitated into a species of frenzy.

Partly through my instrumentality; wholly with my approval; and the democrat-'

« • Lord Haverfield, you have destroyed us !' shrieked Clara. “Newgate Newgate! That democrat, as you call him, is my father!'”

This is the author's conception of the true aristocratic mode of answering a pamphlet, namely, turning the prison key on the author. Bolts and bars are irrefragable logic. In answer to pleadings for mercy the lord says

6 "It was not Mr. Keith, but the seditious libeller I have pursued; not the individual, but his conduct; and though I, perhaps, might have shrunk, had I been aware of the fact, yet I cannot repent having done my duty, although done in igno


What an exquisite notion of duty, to set about correcting a man's opinions by locking up his body! the mode aristocratic ! Clara having in vain implored the lord for a remission of punishment, visits her father in gaol, and consoles him in a peculiar manner, probably derived from her conversation with aristocrats. Mr. Keith is destitute of that class of friends called “ respectable," and which, in the early struggles with despotism, will always be found skulking from any manifestation of their sympathies, or discovery of their opinions, which may expose them to the resentment of the powerful. He states this circumstance to his



daughter lamenting that in consequence of it he cannot procure her the protection he would have desired, upon which the young lady forthwith begins to distrust the truth of opinions which are not professed by persons of money or rank, or, as she insolently terms it, respectability and honour.” For the same reason, eighteen centuries ago, the lady would have refused to believe in Christianity, whose converts were the lowly, and not persons of “ respectability and honour.” Mr. Keith, unless a prodigious blockhead, could not have wanted an answer to this

The property of the public was not protected by the oligarchical government, but a system of swindling, under false pretences, was in course of practice, which some had not the wit to perceive the effect of, and others not the courage to oppose ; while many were engaged in the interest of the thieves by a share in the plunder. The poor, who must always first experience the mischiefs of misrule under a pseudoconstitutional Government, will always also be the first to demand the redress of grievances, which, from their state of weakness, they are least able to bear. All reformations begin from below, and mount up.

Clara makes herself so disagreeable to her incarcerated parent, that he desires her to go home and not to trouble him again in his duresse. She begs him to retract; but he angrily repeats “ Go ;” and this amiable daughter's “indignation rekindling,” she takes him at his word, and departs: but after the goal door is shut upon her, she repents, and asks readmission. The prison is, however, shut for the night.

“ Her eager and impatient summons was, however, regarded. "Who is there? What do you want?' asked a rough voice from within.

“I want to see my father!' almost inarticulately shrieked poor Clara. Only for a moment! only for a moment!'

“We've got no fathers here to-night,' responded the man; “you must wait till tomorrow, and then maybe we may see if we can find him.'

“ I will give you, I will give you—' hastily exclaimed Clara, as she eagerly searched her person

«6 What?'

«. Alas! I have nothing to-night, but I will bring you all I have in the world tomorrow.'

“« Then come to-morrow!' said the man, with a brutal laugh.

666 Only let me in to-night, and I will give you—' Clara's hand rested on the string of a locket, which she at that moment remembered.

“ Not if you would give me a thousand pounds !' said the man."

Upon this she makes a row at the door, collects a mob, and a riot ensues ; in the midst of which she is led off by a man, who takes her into a public house, and proposes to treat her to gin, which she heroically spurns. Her liberal escort, however, ultimately sees her safe home. We pass over an immense heap of nonsense, (in which a lord plays the citizen of the French revolutionary fashion, and prates of equality, and makes successful experiment of a fire-proof house, by having a heap of combustibles burnt in it, while he and Clara are shut up in the third story,) to an attack which is made by the mob on the house of the tyrant and spendthrift, Lord Haverfield.

6. Hark! What noise is that?'
6 Carriages rattling in the distance.'
«« No! No!'

«« No. Now I listen again, it is a sound of many voices. Some low quarrel too frequent, you know, to excite any alarm.'

“No! no! Listen listen !'roused from her grief, and listening breathlessly, said Clara. " It comes nearer and nearer. It swells stronger and stronger.

It is the sound of a multitude.'

6It is! It is!' Clara exclaimed. She rushed to the window. The living stream swelled on-reached the house-became stationary.

“ Clara gave one low stifled shriek. She saw at a glance why they were there.'

6. They pause before us,' said Lady Haverfield. • What can they mean? what do they seek?'

A loud din; terms of execration ; groans, and hisses, rose from the mob.

“ Clara clasped her hands in agony. "Lady Haverfield, we shall bring ruin upon you!'

66 Be comforted, be comforted,' said Lady Haverfield ; but the lip that uttered the word was blanched by terror.

« Keith and liberty! Keith and liberty !' shouted a multitude of voices, Keith for ever! Hurra!'

«Haverfield! Haverfield !' shouted the crowd; and the name was followed by long loud hissings.

«• He has shut up old John Keith in Newgate! The friend of the people! The friend of liberty! Beat down his nest! Full down his house! Down with it: Down with it! Batter and burn it! Vile Aristocrat! Pull down! Pull down !'

“ Lady Haverfield and Clara heard these expressions, and many other such, rising louder than the confusion. They beheld a mob extending as far as they could see, spreading into the distance, of wild and infuriated appearance, threatening devastation and ruin. Many were armed ; some with sticks, pokers, tongs, and shovels ; many with the implements of their trade; many more with domestic utensils ; others with stones and brick-bats.

Clara saw it all-all the danger that threatened them, and became nearly detestable in her own sight. She was sick at heart, at thoughts of the distinctions she had once so strenuously supported ; and detested the cause that could produce such discord. She was almost an object of odium to herself when she reflected that these were her own and her father's partizans and friends. It was to such a standard as this they would equalize Lord and Lady Haverfield; or, if not equalize, crush them beneath. At that moment, distracted and agitated as she was, Clara wholly and for ever abjured her creed.

“ She looked on Lady Haverfield, and saw that she shared her terrors. Her lips were as pale as her brow; and though she did not speak, and stood composedly, it was not difficult to see that her heart was not the less agitated.

“ Clara would have spoke, but the words died away upon her lips. She tried again, but the low sound was drowned in the vociferations that arose from below. The name of Keith was echoed amid a thousand plaudits, while that of Haverfield was coupled with execrations, groans, and hisses.

“ How gladly would Clara now have exchanged the applauses that followed the name she bore for the deepest opprobrium. Virulent abuse would have been the most soothing balm her heart could have received : it was, indeed, the only thing that could in any degree restore her self-complacency. The praise of some is the worst censure. It was this praise which crushed, disgraced, and degraded Clara ; because she felt that she had deserved it.

Her shame overcame her fear. For a moment she forgot it, and stood like a self-convicted criminal, not daring to raise her eyes to Lady Haverfield's face.

“ She was roused by a large brick-bat, that dashed through the pane of plate-glass, and sent it in shivers over their persons. The rude messenger itself did yet further mischief; it glanced by Clara, rending her arm as it passed her.

“ It was a strange, but it was a true feeling, that Clara looked on the torn flesh, and felt the smart, with a sort of pleasure.

« « You are hurt, Clara,' said Lady Haverfield anxiously. 6. " It is nothing, nothing. It is well it was I. If it had been you! More may

Dear Lady Haverfield, let us leave the front of the house, and retire to the back apartments.'

“Lady Haverfield suffered Clara to lead her. She sat down in silence; Clara stood motionless before her.

“ Again they heard the loud shout, the wild confusion, followed by a volley of stones that crushed and shivered the spacious windows, and strewed the carpet with the fragments of the glass. The work of ruin and devastation was going wildly forward. Every moment the sound of some fresh destruction, some new act of frenzy reached them.

« « It is the work of our own hands! We alone have done this! We alone are answerable for it! Oh! Lady Haverfield, Lady Haverfield! this is the return for all your kindness to us! It is thus we repay you! You never can, you never ought to forgive us!'


"My poor child, you know not what you say. You know not of what you accuse yourself. Your alarm deranges your ideas. Compose yourself.'

“No! no! I know, you know, that these madmen would have been working quietly at home but for

«« « You have made mistakes, Clara. All of us make mistakes at times.'
“Oh! we have done worse-worse.'
« « Well, well, my love, this is not a time-

6.0, yes! this is the time to repent them—this moment, when I see you thus terrified and afflicted, and know that we are the cause!'

“ It was at this moment that Matherson, my lord's gentleman, Mrs. Chambers, and the whole household, burst into the room ; for fear had destroyed ceremony, and on that impulse they all rushed into their lady's presence.

« « How would your ladyship have us act ? What would your ladyship have us do ?' Matherson asked.

“Advise me, Matherson.'

“ " I scarcely know how, my lady. I was in hopes that breaking our windows would have satisfied the rascals; but it seems not.'

• Will they proceed to further violence ?' « « They threaten us, my lady.'

“ It was now that a hope of giving some assistance entered the heart of Clara. She felt the necessity of exertion; and it came like new life within her. She dried her tears; rose up from Lady Haverfield's feet, where she had wildly thrown herself; collected her powers and strength ; and seemed at once a renovated and new creature.

“ In the first place, Matherson, send one of the men out by the back way for assistance ; but first let us go and secure all the lower windows. Mrs. Chambers, remain with your lady : Matherson, you and the rest come with me.'

“ Clara darted out of the room, and ran down the hall stairs. Matherson followed her, in surprise ; for he, indeed every body, knew how intimately she was connected with the party of their assailants; and they could not comprehend, or believe, that she could seriously mean to oppose them. Clara, however, hastened down. She was the first to approach the windows; and though saluted with imprecations, and as. sailed by more dangerous weapons from the crowd without, at the expense of some severe bruises and contusions, she resolutely persisted in barring and bolting with her own hands, till, with the assistance of Matherson, every one of them was secured, as well as, under such circumstances, was possible.

“And now,' said Clara, " which of you will go out by the back way, and fly to procure us aid? In half an hour effective help might be here, if we can keep safe for that time.'

«6 « Twenty of the Blues,' said Matherson, would disperse this rabble in five minutes ; but if not, would cut them to pieces in other five.'

“ Matherson had emphasized these words. Cut them to pieces,' strongly.

« Clara answered to them quickly, hastily, ' Cut them to pieces, say you? Let them! Yet,' and her voice faltered, 'poor wretches, who set them on? On whom is their blood-on-on-But if we do not-Let them! Let them !'”

Ay! cut them to pieces ! tender lady, sweet amiable friend of the aristocrats !

The profligate lord who has tyranically deprived her father of liberty she afterwards protects in her gentle arms against violence ; but the mob, who would deprive the lord of his house, furnished at the expense of his creditors, and kept in luxuries in defiance of honesty, she would incontinently have “ cut in pieces !And this is the sort of stuff put forth in honour of the aristocracy! These are the conceptions designed to present them en beau.

The house is gutted and fired, Clara seized by the rioters, and carried in triumph through the street. Lord Haverfield comes in the midst of the enraged mob, but saves himself from their violence by simply “drawing himself up,” and looking grand.

"Set me down 1 set me down!' shrieked Clara ; and her supporters, now that the novelty was somewhat over, or that a newer novelty had presented itself, did instantly lower their burden, and Clara once more stood upon terra-firma.

“ With an exertion of strength that afterwards surprised herself, she made her way throngh the crowd. It yielded to her on each side as she advanced, and Lord Haverfield, one of the great ministerial leaders, and Clara Keith, the daughter of the imprisoned Jacobin, stood before each other in the presence of thousands.

[ocr errors]

“ Again Lord Haverfield looked upon her with that cold disdainful air that spoke to Clara’s heart reproaches more bitter than words, and again was his eye carried on, as though the sight of her were distasteful.

“ Clara would have spoken, would have urged him to forsake his evident inten. tion of penetrating to his ruined house ; but his look withered her ; her lips closed, and her eyes drooped.

“ All this had passed rapidly. Hitherto, Lord Haverfield's determined air had preserved the little circle vacant around him; no man's hand had been raised against him. But at this moment Clara saw a menacing arm raised at him ; she threw herself before him, and received the missile on her own brow.

66 Why this, Miss Keith ?" said Lord Haverfield. “Ah! my lord,' cried Clara, « leave, I beseech you, leave this horrid scene.'

“ Shall I return you your own advice, Miss Keith ? or will it be presumption to recommend you to withdraw from a scene so little suited to the delicacy of your sex?'

« «Presumption! It is I who am presumptuous; but it is anxiety for your safety, which makes me so. My lord, if it is not now too late, retire.

Why should you press forward to — ?' and Clara turned her eyes towards that burning pile.

“ Lord Haverfield's eye followed hers, and for a moment rested on the ruins of his house and property; and then it turned back upon her. Not a word was spoken by the lip, but the eye said much.

« « My lord,' said Clara, if you would spare me your mother's curse, save yourself! for her sake, I beseech you !

« « For your own sake,' he replied, speaking earnestly and quickly ; ' for your own sake, leave me, Clara : leave mel danger surrounds me!'

« I will share it.'

6 " Leave him! leave him!' again many a rough voice wildly exclaimed. her from him! Dash him away! Leave him! leave him!'

" " Never! never!'

«• Does she hold with him ? Is she a turncoat! Does she hold with him for put. ting her father in prison, and keeping him there? Her own old father, that's worth a bushel of lords; and all for the sake of an aristocrat! a lord ! a tyrant! a robber! a persecutor! There's a pretty daughter! there's a fine lord ! give it them, my boys! give it them!'

“ These, and a thousand other terms of opprobrium and reproach, were lavished on Clara and Lord Haverfield ; and they gave her a sort of extravagant pleasure, even while they menaced her with destruction ; yet, in the midst of her danger, they restored to her her self-complacency.

“She forgot, that in sharing Lord Haverfield's danger she doubled it. She had thrown herself upon his protection, when there seemed scarcely a hope that he would be able to protect himself; and she now hung weeping upon bis arm in childish helplessness.

“Look up, Clara,' said Lord Haverfield; and, with the submission of a child, Clara obeyed him. “Exert yourself, Clara,' he said, when he saw that she regarded him in his first request ; 'exert yourself for a few moments, and let us see if Providence will protect us through our peril.'

“ Lord Haverfield drew himself up to the full height of his commanding figure. He looked undauntedly round, with an eye that seemed to say, who shall dare oppose me ?-and whether there is in rank that secret pre-eminence, or whether it was, that undaunted courage, asserting its own superiority, crushes down with its bold front all weaker opponents, we know 'not ; but certain it is, that, awed, either by his rank or manner, the crowd parted as he waved his hand for it to do so ; and he led Clara through the avenue thus formed, while not a stone was thrown, or hurt attempted on them; but they passed quietly and slowly on for the space of a few yards, and then Lord Haverfield supported Clara up the broad steps of the house of Lord George Syndford, and she leaned upon his arm, while he knocked and rang at the door without hurry or precipitation, and very much in his usual manner of doing so.

“ His manner had overborne the crowd around him. Courage conquers more by its presence than by its deeds. It has far less to do than cowardice; while it commands obedience, it involuntarily enforces respect.

“ It was a sort of admission that he was now in safety from the crowd, when, as he stood boldly facing them on the steps of Lord George Syndford's house, they seemed to demand, as a kind of ransom, one small concession. • Take off your hat! take off your hat!' was the cry.

“ Lord Haverfield would not. He stood covered before them. “A wide spreading murmur arose, threats, menaces ; still he stood calmly before

« AnteriorContinuar »