« PreviousContinue »
loved music, painting, poetry. M. Vanmeister's was the most choice collection of pictures; his library contained the rarest books: for mutual affection, for lettered ease, for refined taste, none were so conspicuous as this favoured pair.
In the midst of their prosperity the merchant was seized with a malignant fever: his wife, although herself in a situation which required care, nursed him with unremitting tenderness. Nor day nor night did she leave him for a moment: from her hand alone did he receive nourishment, or medicine: all that art and love could minister was tried in vain: he breathed his last in her arms; and in a few short days, she found herself hurled from the summit of earthly bliss into the depths of despair.
Having watched him to the last, she resolved not to quit the remains of him she loved, till the grave should close over his earthly clay; and we were told that the shrouded form we saw among the mourners was that of the young widow herself.
Oh! how my heart bled for her! To have tasted of unalloyed happiness, and to have had the cup dashed from her lips!
We could not resist following the procession, though, of course, at a considerable distance; nor could I withdraw my eyes from the young creature, who, without any previous apprenticeship to sorrow, was now bowed down under its most severe inflictions. Her step was firm it seemed as if the energy of her mind inspired the exhausted frame; as if she would not allow the over-wrought body to sink, until she had accomplished the last sad duty by which she might prove her soul's devotion. to him she loved.
They disappeared; and the bell ceased to toll: after a time, it again sounded, and the mournful group re-appeared. She now leaned on the arm of a friend;-she tottered, and seemed scarcely able to sustain herself and the precious burden she bore.
We had returned to our hôtel, and the hostess told us, that in vain her friends had
attempted to persuade her that such an effort might be too much for one in her condition. She replied, that among the poor, those who felt the most deeply shrank not from paying this last token of respect to those nearest and dearest to them; and she asked why her delicate nurturing should render her mind incapable of the same exertion. They feared to agitate her by opposition; and she was allowed to have her way.
I felt awed as the stricken deer slowly passed by the window of our hôtel, her head enveloped, her form concealed; but, through her weeds, one could perceive, by the weary, labouring step, how nearly the frame was sinking under the task imposed upon it.
Yes-if one views things aright, all conspire to prove that this is a world of trial,-that we are placed here to suffer, and to become purified, that all earthly bliss is fleeting,-and that this state of existence is but the preparation for another. Should we not, then, be grateful, if the trials appointed for our purification are sent to us in gradation, so that
we become inured to our burden,-if we are allowed time to prepare ourselves for the blow that awaits us? Worse to be thus suddenly wrenched from bliss, than never to have tasted it! Even when first I became assured of my poor cousin Henry's affections, I trembled for his health; and I never felt confident enough of happiness to know the fulness of disappointment.
Mechlin, August 21st.-The Savilles have taken up their abode in the same hôtel. How disagreeable! The last time we were together was at Elversham; and Caroline Saville used to watch me with an envious eye, every time Lord George spoke to me.
The sight of her reminds me of the time when I was the chosen-one,-when she was asked to play, or sing, that, under cover of her music, he might converse with me,—when he advocated dancing, that, after a quadrille with her, he might waltz with me,-when he proposed the excursion to the ruins of which she had spoken in such raptures, to secure a drive in the back seat of the phaeton with me.