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CAROLINE DE LISLE.
There is in faithful woman's love.
Such pure uevoledness to one,
The tyrant passion reigns alone.
The hopes, those cherub smiles of heaven,
Much in return where all is given.
It was in the month of July, 182— whatever year the reader pleases, that the library of Heathdale rectory was occupied by two persons. The elder was a young man of six-and-twenty, on whose very expressive countenance, though then deeply shaded by sorrow, it was impossible to gaze without admiration. His hand retained that of his companion, a young female, whose face boasted that indefinable something, which no regularity of feature—no brilliancy of complexion—could have improved. Yet the lively animation of her deep blue eye was tempered down into softness, and, indeed, into sorrow, as it turned upon her companion.
They were two youthful lovers about to enter that terrible path of anxiety, that touchstone of sincere affection, separation. Edward Belgrave was going to join his regiment in London. Caroline de Lisle was to remain at home to mourn—to weep, though not without hope, over his absence.
'Your tears, dearest,' said the young soldier, whilst his own fell fast, 'insult my affection; surely we have parted before, and met again; why, why indulge this deep regret? Do you doubt my affection V
'No, Belgrave,' replied Caroline,' believe me I do not. But when I consider you are about to be exposed to the temptations of a dissipated metropolis, and a dangerous profession, can you be surprised if my hopes of happiness in you should be mixed with trembling? You will, you may,' added she, seeing a shade pass over his eloquent countenance,' you may tiaoet with others, whose beauty, talent, or fortune, may cause you to think less favourably of your village girl than I know you do at present. I will pardon you, dear Edward, should this be the case—if from yourself I learn there has been a change in your sentiments. But as you hope for happiness, treat me, I implore you, with honourable candour.'
'Caroline,' replied Belgrave, earnestly, 'I am no stranger to many of the most exalted of your sex. Yet I can truly say, the affection I bear you can never be obliterated. Your image is interwoven in my heart, and the temple must indeed be broken ere the idol which it holds can be removed. I love you purely for yourself: will not this assurance satisfy you?'
'It ought,' returned Caroline, smiling through her tears; 'but I have a presentiment that it will be long ere we meet again—that both have to drink deeply of the cup of affliction.
* Alas! 'tis hapless woman's fate,
Her sad, too common, lot,
To die and be forgot;
'Ob! hush these melancholy forebodings,' interrupted Belgrave,' for be assured this can never be your case. Courage, my dear girl; consider, you are the betrothed bride of a soldier; do not, then, give way to idle fears : you always told me you were proud of your military bounty-men, and that the martial music stirred up the patriot in your bosom.'
* Ah, Belgrave,' returned Caroline, 'a woman who loves is but a poor patriot; but I will not indulge in fruitless sorrow. The time of your departure draws very near: your favourite song before you go.'
'And this little tress, also,' he replied, as he severed one of her beautiful curls from her head. 'This precious curl, which was an iustant ago a part of yourself—'
Caroline smiled; and Belgrave led her to the harp, Vol. II. Oct. 1829. f
and she sung, with great sweetness and feeling, the beautiful melody,' Go where glory waits thee.'
The song was just concluded, when the chaise drove to the door. Again and again Belgrave clasped to his bosom the being he then so fondly loved. His tears fell on her cheeks.
'May God bless and preserve you, my beloved girl!' he fervently exclaimed; 'for my sake be careful of your precious health, and believe, if sincere affection can be found in man, you wiM find me true.'
For several months Caroline continued to receive the most affectionate letters from her lover; but at length the anxiety of her mind, caused by the severe illness of her only, and tenderly beloved, brother, began to undermine her health, and but three days had he been committed to the tomb, when she was seized with an indisposition so painful and alarming that her life was despaired of. Woman is not the creature of self. Though the presence of Belgrave would have proved a solace to the wounded bosom of Caroline, she knew it would be incompatible with his duty to leave town at that time; and anxiously considering the wonted susceptibility of his feelings on her account, she forbore to inform him of her illness. She hoped a few months would enable him to visit Heathdale, and she prayed her life might be protracted till his return.
Dark, very dark, must be those shades which cloud the hopes of youth.
Suddenly Belgrave ceased to correspond with her. She had answered his last affectionate letter with the sincerity she deemed it to have been written with. Woman's pride and delicacy would not suffer her to complain to him of his negligence, and three months elapsed in that'hope deferred,' which indeed 'maketh sick the heart.' At length the dismayed Caroline heard the horrible tale of her lover's depravity—heard what at first she could scarcely believe—that he was the slave of vice. -.
She could have borne any other calamity but the knowledge of his unworthiness. Those who have never been in similar situations cannot understand her feelings; and those who have, need no harrowing description to remind them of what they know too well.
When Belgrave first quitted Heathdale his affection for his destined bride was devoted, disinterested, and sincere, and for months her letters were his consolations in absence; but the gaities of the proud metropolis, joined to a rather dissolute profession, too soon interested him. He was induced to visit those destroyers of health and fortune—the gaming-houses. He lost—he became involved in debt: his early principles —his pride—revolted from this degradation: to drown the whispers of his outraged conscience he plunged still deeper into dissipation, and became the dupe of an infamous woman. Despised, and much embarrassed in his circumstances, be was compelled to sell his commission; and, ahandoned by his false friends, he, in desperation, fled from England, and became a fugitive.
That Belgrave was a weak young man was evident from his conduct; but the mental monitor was still unsubdued within him ; and if ever conscience made life hateful to any human being, Edward Belgrave was the man. 'Offences will come ; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.' He felt the truth of that awful denunciation. The image of Caroline was still remembered: he had even attempted to write to her, but what could he say? Could he tell her he had ruined her happiness and his own? Could he confess his crimes? Were they fit to meet the eye of a woman whose strict principles he well knew? Could he inform the being whose warm affections he possessed, that he had fallen into licentious and degrading vice? No; he could not bear she should know from himself that he was so unworthy her regard. • Never, Caroline,' he would exclaim, passionately, as he flung aside his pen,'never shall you know from me what I amfrom another you must learn this horrible tale. I only want your death, poor gentle girl, caused by mv cruelty, and then the cup of my affliction will be full*.' Ps
Too selfish to humble himself to the woman who possessed his fondest esteem, he lei her still languish in dreadful anxiety respecting his fate.
At length he returned to England, hankrupt alike in foitune, character, and peace. One of his former friends presented him with a commission in a regiment about to sail for India. This friend was in Bath, and there Belgrave joined him.
He had only been two days in Bath when he was requested to accompany the family to the theatre, to see an opera written by a nephew of Colonel Aubvey's. The wretched will fly from scene to scene, hoping, * though vainly, to forget.' That evening Belgrave had begun a letter to Caroline, in which he informed her of his prospects —of his crimes—and of his repentance. 'If,' he continued, 'I succeed in my undertaking, I will once more venture to see you: I will ask you to forgive the wretch who in interrupting your happiness has ruined his own, but I will not meet you now, lest I be tempted to demand more than pardon; and though you have found me to be infamous and selfish, I will not ask you again to bind yourself to me. Caroline, if you marry, may you be happy—'
Thus far had he written when he was called from his agonizing task: he had rather have remained at home to finish it. But Belgrave never could withstand solicitation, and he accompanied Colonel Aubrey to the theatre. The opera interested him, and he confined his whole attention to the stage, till his friend desired him to notice a young lady whose transcendent beauty attracted the admiration of the whole house. He did; and allowed the full superiority of her charms, when in turning away his eyes they fell on au adjacent box. He started: he beheld Caroline de Lisle; but how altered! The bland and joyous expression of that once blooming countenance was vanished. She was much thinner, and that air of deep abstraction so evident gave proof all was not inward peace.
'And this is my work,' he mentally exclaimed; 'I