Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

perhaps the hours that to me appeared intermi-, too harshly of her impatience - it might be imnable all too short for her engrossing supplica- piety. She knew it was very wrong, but she tion. But, oh, it was a solemn thing to lie could not help it. awake through those dismal hours, hearing, Alas, even my theoretical philosophy gave amidst the buffetings of the storm and plashing way before the strong reality of ber grief! and rains, the sadder sound of mental suffer- at length I could only mingle my tears with ing, which no human hand could alleviate. hers, and pray that her sufferings, whatever

Never did I feel more grateful for the dawn their nature, might be alleviated. I have often of a new day than when the glare of the stormy thought since, how sadly her story evidenced clouds told me the shadows of the night had that the Power that orders all things knows vanished; and then, too, either overcome with best what is good to be granted and what with. natural weariness, or fearful that the ears she held—sbe gained her prayer, only to render tenhad imagined sealed in the darkness of night fold more bitter the stern course of retributive should become cognizant of her distress, the justice, that, in this case, even a kingly voice poor lady's voice died away, and I trusted that failed to turn aside. While I still sat, vainly for a time unconsciousness brought her a tem- endeavouring, to lead her mind from the disporary relief from her affliction. She had de tresses that absorbed it, the postman's rap sired to be called by a certain hour; and I brought a sudden hectic to her cheek that faded took care that breakfast, in its most inviting to ashy paleness as I placed in her hand a letter form, should meet her upon leaving her apart- | bearing an official seal. I saw that its contents, ment. But the full heart has no appetite; and though probably expected, very much excited though (in order to save the presence of ser- her, for her hands shook while reading it, and vants)-for the night she had passed was deeply a sort of nervous tremor was in her voice when, evidenced in her worn and pallid aspect-I a moment or two afterwards, she begged my made breakfast for her myself (an attention she | assistance in making some slight alterations in felt, and thanked me for), she did nothing but her dress, already, I thought, unusually elegant trifle with a morsel of dry toast; and after two for the time of day. or three ineffectual attempts to swallow it, Two hours, perhaps, passed away-no doubt pushed aside the cup, into which her tears had to her of the most intense anxiety, for I could fallen, and, with a look that seemed to say, hear her ceaseless footsteps to and fro the “You see I try to do as you wish me, and I room, as she sought, by restlessness, to rethank you very much; but 'tis impossible,” lieve the perturbation of her mind—and then a turned away and wept. Now, who could look | handsome equipage drew up at the door, and a on at this sort of thing, and yet withhold the gentleman, who did not give his name, alighted, words of sympathy-it might be consolation, and a moment after, came down-stairs with the that the heart is longing to pour out? I waited lady on his arm, and they drove off at a rapid till the overflow of her tears had in a ineasure rate. I never saw her after : hour after hour relieved her, and then I expressed, what she passed by-night came back-but the lady did must have before observed, my real anxiety at not return, nor the next day, nor the next. her distress. I pointed out to her, as one! I am afraid I must plead guilty to a large older than herself, and more accustomed to share of that innate love of scandal that is genetread the red-hot ploughshares of affliction, that rally attributed to my sex. I thought over the difficult lesson to the inexperienced in human affair in every point of view that my poor suffering the necessity of resignation ; for well worldly imagination could devise, and I blush I knew, that in the agony I had unintentionally to say, I arrived at a very Mrs. Candour-like witnessed the preceding night, there was no conclusion. There was something so inexplicasubmission-it was the wrestling of a strong ble in her being alone, and unattended-in her spirit for the mastery of its own will-one resto exceeding mental distress-in the anxiety she less cry for mercy, but not for strength to bear, had evidenced about the coming of that letter should that mercy be denied. And here I (for she asked frequently at what hours letters struck on the master-chord of her grief ; and were delivered)-her emotion at receiving it, the passionate burst that followed I shall never her anxiousness about her appearance-ang forget.

more than all, the hurried way in which she had “Yes,” she said, “all ordinary sorrows ad- gone off with her anonymous visitor-I began mitted of resignation; but there were some to think that my first fears were correct,--that trials that the heart could not bear unbroken, the lady had eloped, and that I was, in a mea. and bers was one of them-it was too dreadful sure, a party concerned. Then, too, it first

--time could not soften the blow, nor its cer- occurred to me that I was not sure of her identainty bow her to its endurance. It must not tity; for though she had introduced herself as be. God had promised to hear prayer, and she the daughter of my friend, she had never men. would not cease to importune till her's was tioned her husband's name, nor was there any granted.” Alas! so dreadfully did grief prey address on her trunk to enable me to advise on her mind, that I almost dreaded for her with him on the subject. I knew not what to senses; yet I remarked, though sorrow is gene- | do; there was her travelling dress, and wa rally so communicative, that she never once and other trinkets, and to address the color alluded to its cause. She would tell me by and on the affair was a very delicate and unplease by; and in the meantime, I was not to think 'task; besides, I felt convinced, that, if anytosus

of this kind had occurred, on his part, at least, , the terrors of death by days and nights of ago. some attempt would have been made to recover nizing anticipation, but these were sufficient to her, so I determined to wait patiently for time enable the devoted wife to plan and execute her to unravel the apparent incongruities of the intrepid effort to redeem him. affair. Alas! all too soon I learnt the melan- Tearing berself from his embrace, and without choly story.

even trusting her relatives with her design, lest Not much more than a fortnight after the their hopelessness and timidity should overrule circumstances I have described-at all events, it, she wrote to secure the aid of powerful friends while they were still fresh in all their inexplica- at the court of St. James's, to procure her an bleness—I was told that a person from Scotland audience of her then majesty, Queen Charlotte, desired to see me; and a respectable-looking and strong in the courage of despairing love, old man, whom I at once recognised as the unprotected and unattended, set off for London. confidential servant of Colonel Singleton ipany! And this was the mystery my narrow heart years before, followed my intimation for him to bad so grossly interpreted! How well I could be shown in. I cannot say that I felt any sur- (now understand the bitterness of her sorrowprise at the subdued air and dejected manner the passionate agony of her supplications! But of the old man, for I had fully made up to continue my story. Introduced to the presmy mind to the story of his young lady's dis- ence of her majesty, to cast herself at her feet, grace, and I knew it would fall as heavily upon to pour forth the strong and affecting expressions the faithful servant as if she had been his own that the emergency of the occasion, and the anchild. Never can I sufficiently hate the uncha- guish of her soul dictated, was the natural action ritable judgment of my illiberal heart, or forgive of impulse; her youth-her earnestness-and myself the injustice of my suspicion. It is one the sight of her distress, so wrought upon the of those stories that occasionally gives to the royal wife, that though she refused to interfere page of truth the roinance of fiction, and one to with the king's decision, as regarded her husishich I feel it impossible to do justice. It is band's fate, she herself led the unhappy lady to the heart alone that can fill up such recitals. the door of the royal closet, and commanded Poor Forbes told it to me with a bowed down the page in waiting to admit her, satisfied that head, and with accents broken by emotion. no influence was so likely to affect his majesty's

Without entering into details that filled the determination as the natural eloquence of such papers of the period, and the lips of every one, a pleader. Roused by this solecism in courtly it is merely necessary to state, that an after-din- etiquette, the king turned to the intruder, who, ner quarrel had occurred between Major Came- with the instinctive action of supplication, was ron, the busband of the unfortunate lady, and already kneeling at his feet; and, regardless of a brother officer, with whom he was dining; the royal mandate to rise, her woman's heart some objectionable expression had been used, supplying her with the strong and affecting which the major insisted on his friend's retract- fluency of grief, she maintained her humble ing, but which the other as pertinaciously re attitude-her unconnected, but heart-stirring fused to withdraw. Heated by wine and anger appeal – till the resolution of the monarch -for it is but charitable to believe that neither merged in the compassion of the man, and he of them was sensible at the time-a challenge granted to her persevering devotion the mercy ensued, which the major insisted on putting to that a strict sense of justice had hitherto denied. the issue on the spot; and they fought with She rose, enriched by the gift of a life a thouclosed doors, and without seconds, although his sand times more precious than her own. antagonist was heard to say—“This is not fair, Timanthes, when he hid the counterance of Cameron ; let us have witnesses.” But the Agamemnon-- to the expression of which he felt vindictive feeling of the moment usurped the his inability to do justice-only copied the explace of every other consideration in the breast pedient of nature, who throws the veil of tears of the angry man, and their conflict went on. and silence over all emotions in excess. What It has escaped me now whether they made use words could have expressed to the sympathizing of swords or pistols, but whatever the weapon, sovereign the joy of those streaming tears-the only a few moments elapsed, till the major came passionate gratitude that hovered, but found no forth alone, sobered, and a murderer!

voice, on the uplifted and trembling lips-or In those times, when duelling was an every- | the touching homage of her woman's form, day occurrence, it must have been the peculiar | bowing itself more lowly to bless than it had atrociousness of this case that induced the rigo- done to supplicate! Moved, almost, as painrous measures that followed. Major Cameron fully by the sight of her scarcely-supportable was immediately apprehended, and at the then happiness as he had been by her excessive grief, sitting assizes, convicted of the murder, and the king hurried her from the apartment, and sentenced to death-a sentence so unlooked for placing in her hand the instrument of her husby his friends, that his wife and father-in-law | band's safety, bade her remember, that till it were in court ready to receive him on his ac- was presented, her object was not achieved. quittal. Only a few days, and these the result With this sentence sobering her imagination, of instant and important interest, intervened and quickening ber resolves, without a moment's between his condemnation and the period of delay, or even making the necessary alterations execution, for the law was not then so merciful in her attire, the anxious wife stepped into the As at present, if, indeed, it be a mercy to lengthen I carriage that had been prepared for her, and, accompanied by the friend who had taken her that stony silence! See, the executioner from my house, set off for Scotland. Relays of hastens to detach his victim-but, ah! too late, horses had been ordered at the different inns the heart is yet warm, but the cistern is broken along the road, and the douceur of a guinea at the wheel—the life of her life quenched! promised to the postilions for every mile effected “Yes, madain," said the old man, in conclu. in the hour above the ordinary rate of travelling. sion, when he could again trust his voice to Yet uncalculated impediments seemed to throw speak, “I took her away without a tear or themselves in the way; and as the foaming groan, and apparently unconscious of all she horses dashed into Edinburgh, on the inorning witnessed; nor is there a hope of her recovery. appointed for her husband's execution, the sul- | It is the ductor's opinion that she will pass len tolling of the death-bell was the first sound away in this state of mental lethargy. And iny that met her agonized ear, and she knew that poor old master has never lifted up his head the very moments of his life were counted. since.

On, on, the carriage struggled through the crowded streets, where every moment fresh obstacles occurred to retard its progress-now, a line of vehicles already blocked the road, and

A SCENE FROM ENGLISH HISTORY. there, an unseen barrier effectually prevented entrance; throngs of people filled every ave. nue to the place of execution; and, for the first

BY ELIZABETH TOWNBRIDGE. time, the half-frantic woman began to feel that even yet he might be lost to her. Throwing Within the Tower two royal boys are sleeping down the glasses, she implored the people, with

Youth's slumber calm ; the most piteous accents, to make way; but The soft, sad night-wind, round the old walls creeping, some, coarsely conceiving her object was to obtain

Breathes peace and balm : a better view of the awful exhibition, only closed No sound is heard within that silent chamber, more completely the approach, while others,

No stealthy tread judging by the spattered state of the postilions Tells that the hideous form of murderous danger and carriage, and the patches of froth on the

Lurks near their bed ! chests of the panting horses, that the unfortunate | Clasped in each other's arms the youthful Princes

Lie face to face; lady was some relative hurrying to obtain a parting interview with the miserable prisoner,

Their long-fringed eyelids hide the kingly glances

Of York's proud raceassured her that the attempt was useless—there

A picture soft it is, of childish beauty, was no forcing a way through the crowd. Mad- /^!

So still and fair. dened by her fears, she sprang from the carriage, | Around them falls, like a rich golden booty. and uttering the word “Reprieve !" in the most

Their long, bright hair ; thrilling accents, with the document of her hus. That “sugar-breath” their red, ripe lips unclosing, band's deliverance in her uplifted hands, ran

Comes calm and deep. through the dense throng, who instinctively But deeper still will soon be their reposing separated, right and left, to admit her a passage.

In death's cold sleep: Her youth, the elegance of her appear- | For lo! they start-awake, or still but dreaming ance, just as she had quitted the presence of

Who near them stands, royalty, and more than all, the vehement anguish | High o'er their heads is held a bright torch gleaming expressed in her countenance, affected even the

In ruflian hands. rugged hearts that composed that curious as

Where art thou now, oh great, heroic father, semblage; and the feelings of the mob, ever in

Thy babes to shield ? extreme, suddenly became as interested in the

Or surer vengeance dost thou wait for, rather,

On Bosworth Field ! safety of the condemned as they had been anx.

| Oh, fallen Queen! oh, wretched, heart-wrung mother, ous for his execution. The cry of “Reprieve !"

Bow low thy head : was caught up, and shouted as with one voice

Those murderous hands thy two sweet sons doth by the hoarse-throated multitude; but it was

smothermet by the frightened shriek of women ; and

Thy boys are dead! died away in one huge groan as the figure of a Oh, brother falsc! oh, kinsman hard and cruel ! man was suddenly seen to dangle from the gib

Doth not that crown, bet; and after one frightful drawing up of the Blood-stained in golden rim and glittering jewel, limbs, remained lax and motionless, except for

Weigh thy head down? the oscillation of the fatal rope. Still the mise Unnatural ambition ! foul thing accursed ! rable wife rushed on. Now she is at the foot

Hell-peopling sin ? of the scaffold, forcing her way, by means of the

Each natural link, each bond of kindred, burst

Thy soul within, useless mandate, through the armed and inter

Wading through blood thine own, as though but water, cepting soldiery-now she is tottering up its

A throne to gain! rude steps, and now beside the group of witness.

Lost with thy life ’mid the promiscuous slaughter ing functionaries, and the ruffian-looking execu

Of Bosworth's plain, tioner, in his hideous mask and revolting habit. In Fate's relentless hands the scoff'd-at plaything, Can consciousness maintain that rigid compo

The flung-by means. sure a thousand times more terrible than the Sleep well, avenged young duke, and fair boy-king, wildest outbreak of despair that ghastly aspect!

Now Richmond reigns!

[ocr errors]

odo hold

AN HISTORIC BATTLE-GRO U N D.

The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea,
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might yet be frce.

Dox JUAN.

The breakfast party at the Hôtel d'Angleterre, , itself utterly unable to stem the torrent of of Athens, on a bright morning in November, brigandage, at that time devastating the whole 185—, was composed of gay and pleasure-seek- continent of Greece, and especially the neighing individuals, representing each portion of the bourhood of the capital. Our ardour was, it globe. The conversation, which was carried on must be confessed, a little damped by the in French, had become general, and the battle- strange and, I doubt not, maliciously exaggefield of Marathon baving been early introduced rated tales which were freely repeated around as a subject of interest, we were naturally led us. It was suggested that our numbers and to a comparison between the character of the arms would be a sufficient protection. ancient Greeks and that of the present unworthy' “Ma sono assassini,"'* whispered a pale-faced, representatives of the once powerful republic. I timid-looking Italian. We were almost all strangers in Athens ; only “Bah, bah!" replied, in the same language, one opinion, however, prevailed as to the utter a fiery young Englishman, "saremo anche noi and unaccountable degeneracy of the modern assassini, se sia, necessario.'+ The argument Greeks : our views were, nevertheless, keenly was unanswerable; but I could not help smiling combated by the only Greek gentleman of the at the different spirit evinced by the hardy Saxon party, who, warmly espousing the cause of his and the puny Neapolitan. Anxious as I felt countrymen, declared that to misgovernment for the coming of the morrow, in order to start and oppression alone the temporary degradation on our interesting expedition, I found but little of the Hellenic race was to be attributed, and difficulty in passing the remainder of the day. expressed the most decided conviction that his The stranger in the classic capital of Greece can country would, ere long, rise from the ashes of never feel at a loss for occupation of thought. its former greatness, and shine forth once more Turn which way be will, some glorious remnant among the nations of Europe. We might have of the past is sure to arrest bis wandering steps. repeated the words of Byron, whose memory is On the day in question, I paid a visit to La still dear in Greece :

Lanterne de Diogène, a beautiful little marble

temple, a perfect gem of symmetry and taste. * But what is left the poet here!

This exquisite work of art, which is the smallest For Greeks a blush--for Greece a tear.” of all the Athenian monuments, has been exca

vated from the midst of a surrounding heap of Generously considering, however, the weakness rubbish, the accumulation of centuries: thus of our adversary, we willingly turned the con its beauty is perhaps enhanced by the Althy versation to the noble courage and devoted and poverty-stricken aspect of the neighbourpatriotism displayed by his forefathers on the hood, in the centre of which it rises, ike an plains of Marathon. Our friend, a gentleman

oasis in the desert. It is a circular temple, like and agreeable person, soon recovered his

| built on à quadrangular base; the projecting good-humour, and obligingly volunteered to be and richly-chased roof is supported by futed our cicerone on the following day to the inte

pillars, whose graceful capitals of Corinthian resting spot we had been discussing. The offer

architecture are surmounted by a broad band, met with a ready and universal acceptance; and

representing numerous figures of men and the arrangement of all minor details having been dolphins; the intervals between the pillars are handed over to our host, it was decided that we built up with square-cut pieces of marble, withshould start the following morning after break out windows. It is therefore difficult to assign fast. An unexpected difficulty, however, pre- a use for so diminutive an abode, scarcely sented itself : the lonely and wooded region larger, internally, than an ordinary-sized sentrythrough wbich it was necessary to pass was said | box. Having made a hasty sketch of this to be infested by numerous bands of robbers, lovely specimen of ancient architecture, I rewhose daring and repeated attacks upon tra- turned to my hotel, in order to make some slight vellers had lately become the subject of serious additions to my costume, ere I appeared at the consideration and general alarm, not only to the inhabitants of the country, but also to the weak * But they are murderers. and corrupt government of Athens, which found! † We also will be murderers, if necessary.

fashionable promenade of the day, which, it was some distance lay through a rocky and perfectly expected, would be honoured by the presence of uncultivated tract of mountain country, with King Otho and his beautiful Queen. On little vegetation save the arbutus and a few reaching the spot, I found a military band of stunted trees which skirted our path. A more about sixty performers, playing an air from likely or better adapted spot for an attack on Verdi's beautiful opera of “ Ernani,” with asto- the unwary traveller could not be imagined; nishing taste and execution. Among the high, rocky inequalities rose on every side, loungers there was a pretty good sprinkling of behind which the concealed brigand could in the native aristocracy, and a large preponde- perfect safety level his rusty fire-lock at the unrance of military men. The absence of every- suspecting victim. thing even resembling beauty among the gentler "In fact it is here,” said our guide, a fine, portion of the company was most remarkable; intelligent old Greek, who spoke four languages it was therefore with unmixed pleasure that I with the greatest facility, " that we may expect beheld an open English barouche, drawn by a an attack from these mountain robbers, should pair of heavy German horses, which made its such be our destiny," Greeks and Turks being appearance among the expectant throng. I was ever fatalists. “There, Signori," he continued, at no loss to recognize their majesties; the “ do you mark yon high and irregular mass of silent, though seemingly willing respect with grey rock which rises from the midst of the which they were saluted, told me plainly enough low brushwood, almost entirely surrounding it? that I was in the presence of royalty; and I never pass the spot without a shudder," inuch as I had heard of the beauty and graceful muttered the old man. dignity of the Queen, I was not disappointed. “Why, why?" anxiously inquired his hearers, She was apparently under thirty years of as we pushed our horses closer to his side. age; her clear white complexion and fair hair « Because there, many years ago, the greatest proclaimed her German origin, while the beauty misfortune that can happen to a guide befell me, of her features, and a certain air of aristocratic God knows, without any blame on my part; superiority, joined to the frankest affability of 'tis a sad story, gentlemen. Some twenty years manner, made her, what she certainly was, the back I was passing this very spot in the service most beautiful queen in Europe.

of two English gentlemen; the elder, a man of King Otho's extreme plainness of features about forty years of age, was bent upon visiting was redeemed by his manly figure and striking the field of Marathon, while the younger deportment, set off to the best advantage by the thought only of the fun and probable adventure picturesque costume of his adopted country, which might befall them in the trip, which was which he invariably wore, consisting of a short at that time really dangerous. I had done my jacket of the lightest blue, richly embroidered | best, Signori, to dissuade them from their pur. with silver, and the pure white fustanella, with pose, for tbe country was then even more inbrocaded gaiters of silver and blue, while the fested than now by lawless bands of robbers, simple yet graceful fez which covered his head who spared neither sex nor age if their cupidity gave a quiet and pleasing finish to the whole. were once aroused. In vain did I represent The departure of the royal pair was the signal all this to the headstrong travellers.” for a dispersion, upon which I returned to my "We will carry neither gold nor ornaments hotel and excellent table d'hôte.

about us, exclaimed impetuously the younger ; By eight o'clock the following morning we nothing but our good English weapons, and were all mustered. Our party consisted of nine woe to the robber who dares to stop our path. gentlemen, armed like highwaymen, and two "Yes, yes, gentlemen,' I replied: 'but these guides, while an abundant supply of edibles same English arms would be a prize to the having been early forwarded to the heights of mountain robber, for which he would willingly Marathon, left us nothing to desire in the way peril both body and soul.' of creature comforts. The weather was charm- «<« Let him do so,' quietly observed the elder, ing, and the pure and invigorating air of Greece we go at all risks. caused our spirits to mount to the highest “I could say no more; so in an evil hour we pitch of hilarity. The city of Athens, with its started on horseback; all went well with us till noble Acropolis and neighbouring mountains, we reached the locality we are now approaching. formed one of the most beautiful sights I had | I had warned my employers to be on the lookever beheld, as, towering in our rear, we bade out, and as if my words had been prophetic, them a temporary farewell. The first half of at that moment a ferocious - looking figure our journey, for about seven miles, was uninte- stepped from behind yon rock, arıned to the resting enough, performed as it was en voiture, teeth, and spoke to us in the Greek language, and right glad we were to arrive at a miserable “What says the villain ?' angrily inquired Greek farm-house, where horses were waiting to the younger gentleman, while a look of quiet convey us to our journey's end. We were soon and determined resistance took possession of mounted; my horse, every inch a devil, was the countenance of his friend, as he cocked most unruly, and to make the matter worse, his his rifle, and reined in his horse. bridle, a single rein, with a very powerful bit, “' He says,' I replied, 'that you must diswas far from trustworthy, and threatened at mount, lay down your arms, watches, and every pull to separate in two. Our way for money, and then place yourselves with your

« AnteriorContinuar »