Page images
PDF
EPUB

whispered “farewellissued from her lips, her closing eye gazed fondly on him,--and even in death, the placid smile which sat upon her griefworn face, seemed to express what she had during life so powerfully displayed-Enduring Affection.

THE CONSCIENTIOUS HAIR-DRESSER.

Thy will be done, be done by me!” he said,
And to the gathering storm bow'd low his head;
And still unchang’d, e'en while the tempest pour'd
Its deluge on him.-Humbly he ador'd
The hand which smote him ; for his uprais'd eye
Look'd there for succour, while his ceaseless cry,
* Thy will be done,” his heart and tongue employ.-
It was ;—and plenty fill'd his heart with joy.

“THOUGH he slay me, yet will I trust in him," broke from the lips of a solitary being, as he threw his eyes round his cheerless and almost naked apartment. “ All must be well in his hand who knows the end from the beginning, although I cannot form an opinion even what may yet befal me, or where my affliction will end.” A low and uneasy moan, from a remote part of his room, broke

up

the soliloquy. He turned instantly towards it, with the utmost anxiety. All was again still. poor Isabel, -she suffers: this is, indeed, the climax of woe.” All the feelings of a father rose at the instant, and prevented further utterance :

“ My poor,

[ocr errors]

a long deep sigh escaped him, as if the wretched existence he possessed was breaking up. A silent tear stole down his pale cheek, and, folding round him the tattered remains of a once fashionable surtout, in a subdued tone, he softly ejaculated, “Thy will be done.” Gradually he became completely absorbed in his own reflections, and, as if unconscious of all existence, sat "mute, but not melancholy.” The seat which he occupied was an easy-and had once been an elegant arm chair. The splendid bronze and gold which originally adorned it, frequent use had worn off, while the rich purple-covered cushion which afforded in days lang syne so comfortable a lounging place, that the application of Cowper's elegant description might have been made to it,

“ First necessity invented stools, Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs,”

furnished evidence, amounting to ocular demonstration, that the tooth of time had played foully with it. Here, however, he sat, great even amidst desolation. The time-worn shreds which covered his attenuated frame, were more honourable than the ermined purple which enveloped the bodies of Caligula, Domitian, or Nero. His right leg was thrown across his left knee, while his elbow, being supported by one arm of his chair, enabled him to rest his head on the palm of his right hand with tolerable composure.

Daylight was fast declining: already a thick haze might be observed rising from the calm bosom of the sea, and contracting the circle of light, when a distant sound of a bugle announced to the inhabitants of Brighton, that one of their daily coaches was entering. Presently, the rattling din, as it rolled furiously over the paved road, fell upon the ears of the hero of my tale, rousing him from his somewhat lengthened reverie. His premises were situated at only a few yards distance from the coach-office; and as a pole of ample length and dimensions pointed from the sign of his door, like a painted horn on the osfrontis of a pictorial unicorn, towards the ærial regions, explanatory of his profession, such individuals as required the adjustment of their hair, or the smoothing of the lower parts of their beau de visage, after some hours' travel, were, by this means, informed of handy accommodation, with ease and economy.

Calculating upon the possibility that he might soon be called upon to exercise his perfuming or decorating art over the cranium of some newlyarrived visitant, he rose from his reclined position, and as he did so, a gentleman of prepossessing appearance entered his humble abode, and intimated his wish to engage his immediate attendance.

Who may hope to do justice to the task of portraying the feelings of a well-informed and delicate mind, while struggling with, or held by the iron grasp of poverty? The cruel scorn, or cold and unfeeling disdain with which such are too frequently met by their fellow men, is crushing to the spirit; and as if some dark crime stood connected with their poverty, which would be discovered by making their wants known, they choose rather to drag on an existence of wretchedness and want, than hazard the additional torture of their minds, by meeting the “proud man's contumely.” Poor Gilbert Waltingham felt, at the period in question, all that imagination can conceive, on the subject of poverty. The gentleman had already taken his seat, and preparations had been someway proceeded in, when, in consequence of a heavy cloud, which threw its shading influence over the town, the evening had suddenly closed in, and there was not light sufficient to enable Gilbert to perform the required operation without endangering the chin, or the jugular vein of the stranger. For a moment or two, the rising purpose to which it appeared unfeeling necessity had driven him, stuck, like Macbeth's “ Amen," in his throat. He took up his razor, and then laid it on the table again,resumed it, -struck it several times briskly on the palm of his hand,-advanced towards the gentleman, as if meditating the performance of some foul purpose, and then retired. The singularity and embarrassment of his manner, attracted the stranger's attention. Without, however, expressing anything like alarm, he requested Monsieur Barbier to proceed. Thus called upon, he was compelled to the distressing alternative of requesting the loan of a halfpenny, to purchase a taper, before

« PreviousContinue »