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the hand of time has not been able altogether to efface, some irretrievable sorrow, that leaves its shadow for ever on the
When life's first fairy stage is past,
LANGHORNEFables of Flora.
Retrospections. What a happy privilege would it be for man to 'have the power, after a certain number of years of wandering here and there in the long track of the past, resting on the spots of happiness he has enjoyed,
and culling the blossoms he has crushed or neglected! Memory, it is true, furnishes us with a pair of wings, like the worm that has become a butterfly ; but these either carry us at such a distance above the objects we regret, that we only see them, without the possibility of tasting them, or else brings us back to them, only to find their hues faded, and their perfume exhaled.
Early days of youth! oh, did but man know all the freshness, the zest, that pertains to ye, how would he treasure up every joy that time, in passing, scatters from his horn of plenty, and, like a gleaner, would follow after his scythe, to gather the flowers he mows before they wither! But Nature only lends us her blessings; and though she kindly trusts us with them, one after another, she soon recals the loan of each; nor can they ever be tasted again, when once they have passed away from us. In almost everything once gone forward, we can never return.
Such, however, is not the case with the novelist; he can skip backwards and forwards in the field of time, and has the enviable privilege of carrying on at once the past and the present. But this very privilege, as is sometimes the case, may prove embarrassing, and difficult to be managed; for though he can easily fly back himself, it is not always so easy to take along with him the thoughts of his readers to that precise point where he wishes to pause.
Be it then remembered, that at the time Mr. Melville left England for France, lady Mary Burton was resident with her aunt, lady Anne Milsome, near Ilfracombe; and be it known, that shortly after the departure of lord Burton from Sturford Abbey, the seat of lady Delmont, the ladies Jane and Cecilia Evelyn also quitted it to return to their father, the earl of Ainsfield, who was at that time in London.
The remonstrance of lord Burton had so far produced an effect on lady Jane, that she made her conduct more circum
spect towards captain Malcolm. But the mischief was already done on both sides ; he was more attached to her than she thought, and she was more attached to him than she would allow. She had not, however, been long in London, before captain Malcolm found it necessary to be there also, and their intimacy recommenced in full force. The course of it, however, was interrupted for a time, by the news of lady Mary Burton's being suddenly attacked by a violent fever, and that lady Anne had found it necessary to send for two physicians from London:
Lady Jane was sincerely attached to her cousin; their tempers and minds assimilated in many points, and she looked upon her much more as a sister than she did upon lady Cecilia. The first tidings which were conveyed to her suddenly shocked lady Jane not a little, and she proposed immediately to go down to her cousin herself.
“But the fever,” said lady Cecilia; “it is most likely contagious.”
“Oh, I am not afraid,” answered lady Jane; “I shall not catch it, I am sure.",
But however, lord Ainsfield for several days opposed her going, and consented to it at last with great reluctance, upon find: ing her bent on doing so.
On her arrival, she found lady Mary considerably better in fact, out of danger. But fully appreciating the kindness of her coming, Mary exerted herself to appear more cheerful than she really was; for of late, even before her illness, she had lost much of her good spirits, and a violent fever, which had left her very weak, could not be supposed to have raised them.
“ Well, my beautiful Mary,” said lady Jane, the first day her cousin could come down to the drawing-room, “and so you are perfectly contented to live here all your life, in a state of society as degree worse than solitude, surrounded by empty fields and country squires, like a fair saint