« PreviousContinue »
ment powerful, and her imagination delicate; that she applauded not before she understood, nor simpered forth thanks for those indiscriminate compliments which appear to convey politeness, but which originate in contumely and disdain. Thus in a little hour, to the eyes of Conway, Maria breathed a phoenix. He had not seen her nose.
Man is a weathercock; the child of caprice, the offspring of inconstancy. At the moment Conway was on the eve of confessing that the charms of Maria's conversation, the sublimity of her conceptions, and the unaffected ingenuity of her manners, had won his unalterable affection; at that very moment his opinion changed, and he no longer thought her conversation charming, her conceptions sublime, or her manners unaffectedly ingenuous. He had seen her nose.
He bit his lips, made his bow, and departed. Maria perceived the sudden revolution in the apostate's sentiments, and accounted for it with correctness. She wished she had not withdrawn the 'kerchief from her face; it was an unfortunate removal; her nose, she was convinced, would be her ruin. She wept; for, although she was too cautious to be in love with him to distraction, she felt a something, a palpitation, a mantling of the blood around the heart, which whispered her that the gentleman's departure thus indisposed, was vexatious. "Why," exclaimed she, "why did my mother long for mulberries !" It was an unfilial apostrophe; and had her parent desired the tail of a hippopotamus, she could not have uttered more.
Conway's disposition was not an irrascible one, since he never anathematized the cook when the beef was over-roasted, though the fault was without remedy, nor cursed the housemaid to the depth of hell, when she cut him the upper side of the loaf, though no one could be fonder of kissing-crust than he; but in spite of his placidity, on quitting Maria, he vehemently exclaimed, "Did ever mortal see such a nose! Did ever mortal see such an one! She has humour and ease; her ways are ways of pleasantness; she enjoys that Gaiete de cœur which I admire, and that—intolerably red nose which I cannot admire for my life. Among the variety that exists, why in the name of wonder did she choose that ?" As this was reasoning like a maniac, it were not uncharitable to suppose him in love.
That there is but one good reason for being in love, namely, the impossibility to avoid it, is an idea so truly good in itself, that, had it not sprung from my own pericranium, I should have attributed it to the most venerable antiquity, and classed it for wisdom, with the nosce teipsum of Thales, the nihil nimis of Cleobulus, the nosce tempus of Pittacus, and the nil admirare of Horace.
Fortunately for Cupid, business recalled Conway to Mr Hargrave's, and fortunately for Maria, his visit ended in an invitation at pleasure. The wise profit by every acquisition; "among the evils of life," says the gloomy Johnson, "we have to number the mutability of friendship." Conway, sensible that invitations were given and forgotten with little solicitude, visited Mr Hargrave without delay. But, alas! what an alteration in his manner! he spoke without trepidation, and listened without curiosity; lounged unceremoniously upon the sofa, and buttered his toast with fashionable freedom. The day is lost, said Maria.
It was the very idea which struck upon the mind of Conway. I am in love," said he, "it is not with Maria. On my first visit her opinions were judicious, and in unison with my own; but now they are diametrically opposed to mine, and, what is passing strange, she is perpetually wrong-I invariably right: I will think of her no more.' So saying, he thought of her every step that separated him from the house; thought of her as he entered his own door; thought of her as he undressed himself; dreamed of her, and awoke in the morning, exclaiming, "I will think of her no more."
He was then engaged at Lloyd's. "The man who neglects his business in pursuit of pleasure," said he, "grasps at the end before he has obtained the means, and is an idiot!"-With this golden aphorism at his lips, he turned his back upon the city, and hastened to Maria !!
As he journeyed on, he suddenly rested his chin upon the palm of his hand; and neglectful of the mockery of butchers' boys, "What am I doing?" said he aloud; "if I marry her what will the world say? what will the city say? what will Miss Pin, Miss Caustic, and Miss Wagtail say?"" Pray, who is Mrs Conway ?-How admirable his picture of detraction !—The illegitimate daughter of my Lady Catamaran's butler !".
Thus pleasurable were the excursions of Conway's imagination; and if the scene had not been broken by his arrival at Mr Hargrave's, he would inevitably have meditated himself into perpetual bachelorship. As acquaintance had now ascended to friendship, he sat down, without teazing his host by impolite ceremony; and indeed no one could accuse him of too great attention to forms and regulations, for, absorbed in thought, he placed the kettle upon the table, and the tea-pot on the fire; poured the milk upon his roll, spread the butter upon the cloth, and mixed the sugar with the salt.-Maria's heart danced with gladness: "I do really believe," said she, the rogue has forgotten my red-odious word, remain for ever unutterable !"
She was mistaken; the next day Conway circumambulated the metropolis for a recipe to remove stains. "Are they in your cravats ?" "No."" In your boot-tops ?" "No."" In your reputation ?" "No."-" In the name of Satan, where then?" "Satan be praised, in Maria's nose."—It would have convulsed the sides of Crassus, who laughed but once in his life; or those of Heraclitus, who lived without laughing.
"That man is not born for happiness," said Conway, condemning bis own irresolution; "nothing more pointedly displays than thisthat he suffers every trifle to obstruct it.—Gracious powers! when the cup is replete with blessings, how do we stand ?-Idiots like, gazing at the delicious draught untasted! and why ?-truly a red nose floats upon the surface. Blockhead that thou art! what if it were huge as Hecla ?".
From what useless struggles would it exempt us, could we withdraw the curtain of fate, and ascertain, at once, the journey we are to travel! In contempt of himself, Conway loved; not but the fall of stocks, the rise of winds, the mortality of a favourite lap-dog, or the tedious vitality of a rich aunt, gave a temporary check to his love, by producing a
fit of the spleen; he then saw nothing through the mist of partiality, and Maria's nose glowed with renovated redness.
By continually dwelling on a subject, we forget it: it becomes familiar; familiarity produces inattention; and inattention sinks into indifference. So it happened to Conway; he had a half consciousness that Maria had some defect-but of what denomination he endeavoured in vain to remember, and, as he sought what he had little inclination to find, it is not to be admired at that his inquiry was ineffectual. His visits at Mr Hargrave's now, began and ended with the day. He wondered why he did not marry, and, profoundly ignorant of his battles against himself, generously exclaimed, "Love should be unconstrained that is not given, which is not given willingly."
When a man once wonders that he is unmarried, he soon ceases to be a bachelor. The irrevocable knot was tied.
As the fond couple quitted the church, a young idler exclaimed, "Goodness, gracious! only see what a huge red nose !"" Red nose!" echoed Conway: "Red nose !" said he, repeating the words a second time; what can the blockhead mean ?". ANON.
BOCCACCIO has been censured as having, in some degree, outraged both human feeling and probability, in his pathetic story of "The Pot of Basil." The sad circumstance we are about to relate, which yet has a sweetness underneath, redeeming its horror, affords proof that the great novelist had neither miscalculated the power of female affection, nor that deep principle of our nature, by which a lofty emotion purifies and hallows its object. Among the various scenes of misery which characterized the ghastly mistakes of the French Revolution, occurred the following.-A young female, who had been present at the execution of her lover, followed his body to the spot where, together with those of other victims, it was to be interred. She there endeavoured, by a bribe of a hundred louis, to procure from the grave-digger the head; and having obtained his promise, returned afterwards, alone and trembling, to the ground, where she received and carefully enfolded it in her veil. Nature, however, was less powerful than love. This unfortunate girl, exhausted by the struggles she had encountered, fell at the corner of the street St Florentin, and revealed to the terrified view of the spectators, the burthen she had hitherto so carefully concealed. She was sent before the revolutionary tribunal, the members of which regarded as a crime, an act which ought to have moved them with pity. She was soon after led to the scaffold, enchanted with the hope of finding, in a better world, the object she had so passionately loved in this.
LITERARY POCKET BOOK.
THE ABBEY OF CLUNEDALE.
From Drake's "Literary Hours."
Queen of every moving measure,
Only for the smiling guests
At natal or at nuptial feasts?
THE last rays of the setting sun yet lingered on the mountains which surrounded the district of ; when Edward de Courtenay, after two fatiguing campaigns on the plains of Flanders, in one of which the gallant Sidney fell, re-entered his native village towards the end of August, 1587. He had lost his father a few months before his departure for the continent, a loss which had occasioned him the most severe affliction, and had induced him thus early in life to seek amid the din of arms, and the splendour of military parade, a pause from painful recollection. Time, however, though it had mitigated the first poignant emotions of grief, had not subdued the tender feelings of regret and sorrow, and the well-known objects of his early childhood and his opening youth, associated as they were with the salutary precepts and fond affection of the best of parents, awakened in his mind a train of melancholy, yet soothing thoughts, as with slow and pausing steps he moved along the venerable avenue of trees, which led to his paternal mansion. Twilight had by this time wrapt every object in a veil of pleasing obscurity; all was hushed in the softest repose, and the massiness of the foliage under which he passed, and the magnitude and solitary grandeur of his Gothic halls, impressed the imagination of Edward with deep sensations of solemnity and awe. Two grey-headed servants, who lived for near half a century in the family, received their young master at the gate; and whilst the tears trickled down their withered cheeks, expressed with artless simplicity their joy, and blessed the return of the son of their ancient benefactor.
After some affectionate inquiries concerning the neighbouring vil
lagers, and the families of these old men, Edward expressed his intention of walking to the Abbey of Clunedale, which lay about a mile distant from the house; his filial affection, the pensive retrospect of events endeared to memory, the sweetness and tranquillity of the evening, and that enthusiasm so congenial to the best emotions of the heart, gave birth to the wish of lingering a few moments over the turf which cover ed the remains of his beloved parent. Scarce, however, had he intimated this resolution, when the ghastly paleness which overspread the countenances of his domestics, and the dismay that sat upon their features, assured him that something extraordinary was connected with the determination he had adopted, and, upon enquiry, his terrified servants informed him, though with some confusion and reluctance, that, for some months past, they and the country round had been alarmed by strange sights and noises at the Abbey, and that no one durst approach the place after sun-set. Edward, smiling at the superstitious fears of his attendants, which he attributed solely to their ignorance and their love for the marvellous, assured them he entertained no apprehensions for the event, and that he hoped shortly to convince them that their alarm was altogether unfounded. Saying this, he turned into the great avenue, and striking off to the left, soon reached the river on whose winding banks a pathway led to the Abbey.
This venerable structure had been surrendered to the rapacity of Henry the Eighth in 1540, and having been partly unroofed during the same year, had experienced a rapid decay. It continued, however, along with the sacred ground adjoining to it, to be a depository for the dead, and part of the family of the Courtenays had for some centuries reposed in vaults built on the outside of the great west entrance of the church.* In a spot adjacent to this ancient cemetery lay also the remains of the father of Edward, and hither filial piety was now conducting the young warrior, as the gathering shades of evening dropped their deep grey tints on all around.
The solemn stillness of the air, the tremulous and uncertain light through which every object appeared, the soothing murmur of the water, whose distant track could be discovered only by the white vapour which hovered on its surface, together with the sedate and sweeping movement of the melancholy owl, as it sailed slowly and conspicuously down the val ley, had all a natural tendency to induce a state of mind more than usually susceptible of awful impressions. Over Edward, predisposed to serious reflection by the sacred purport of his visit, they exerted a power
The following extract may be of service in pursuing our story. "Ecclesiastical Buildings, or Abbeys, consisted generally of the great Church, a Refectory, a Chapter-House, and a Cloys ter, with the necessary accommodations of Kitchen, Dormitory, &c. The Church was usually in the form of a cross, in the centre of which rose the tour.-From east to west it was always considerably longer than from north to south. The great west end was the place of entrance into the church; here, therefore, the greatest degree of ornament was bestowed, both on the portal and the window over it. The lateral walls were strengthened by buttresses which always diminished as they rose, and between every two windows was a buttress. Within, the insulated columns ran in rows, corresponding with the buttresses without.-As a cross affords two sides to each of many squares, one of these was usually completed, and the other two sides were supplied, the one by the cloyster, which was frequently carried in length from north to south, and the other by the refectory, and the chapter-house, which stood at right angles with this cloyster, and parallel to the body of the church from east to west. The cloyster was sometimes carried into length, and sometimes surrounded a square court; over the cloyster was the customary place for the dormitory. None of the parts of the abbey at all approached to the height of the church." MASON'S NOTES on the English Garden.