Imágenes de páginas








A FRAGMENT. HER florid health was softened into a tint so delicate and tender, as to give to her transparent skin the loveliness of a blooming rose. Her bright and silken tresses were tastefully disposed beneath a head-dress most becoming. A silk robe was so shaped as to display the symmetry of her graceful and slender form to every advantage. Her swanlike neck, rivalling the snow in whiteness, was in part covered with a high boddice, partly thrown baek, so as modestly to display the throat and bosom. ..

.... Her voice---soft and dulcet. The Duke could not resist her fascination-conceal the tender emotions she excited-nor restrain his admiration. His words were eloquence. She was essential to his happiness she, the sole possessor of his heart-his affections.

Lydia was not unsusceptible. The gentle, persuasive accents of the Duke_his air, so grand, so easy-his actions, noble, generous, and honourable.

The heart-full, unutterably full-yielded entire acquiescence-tears of love, joy, and happiness, reciprocally flowed.

Anthems-solemn and sublime-filled the temple with a richness and harmony—the most captivating-swelling--and then dying away in grand mellifluous celestial cadences.

They ascended the altar--their feelings of love and constancy were ratified.

She, the general attraction--the soft timidity, the most delightful bashfulness, the rosy blushes, that suffused her cheeks—the joy and tenderness that beamed in her downcast eyes, were, unitedly, divinely beautiful ; while the manly dignity, gracefulness of carriage, and affability of deportment, of the Duke, were equally enviable.

The ceremony passed-state and grandeur, enchanting bliss, awaited them; peals of bells, bands of music, dancing, minstrelsy, and universal joy, closed the scene

-all invoking blessings on the happy pair.—A jovial FRIAR retiring from the scene, in allusion to the Bride's laughter and its influence, rapturously and spontaneously exclaimed, Elle ha très bien ceste


Ce doux parler, ce cler tainct, ces beaux

yeux ;
Mais, en effect, ce petit ris follastre,
C'est à mon gre, ce qui lui sied le mieux;
Elle en pourroit les chemins et les lieux,
Où elle passe, à plaisir inciter:
Et si ennuy me venoit contrister,
Tant que par mort fust ma vie abbatuë,
Il ne faudroit, pour me resusciter,

Que ce ris là, duquel elle me tuë.
Yes, that white neck, too beautiful by half,
That voice, that tint, those eyes, all do her honour;
And yet, in truth, that little giddy laugh
Is what, in my mind, sits the best upon her:
Good God! 'twould make the very streets and ways,
Through which she passes, break into a pleasure.
Did melancholy come to mar my days,
And kill me in the lap of too much leisure,
No spell were wanting from the dead to raise me,

But only that sweet laugh, with which she slays me. The admirers of our JOHNSONIAN PERIODS, will excuse this lutonic sentimental incident., -ED.



our way.

I was spending the winter at Paris in the year 17—, when I received letters from my family, who had retired into Italy, requiring my immediate presence there. With reluctance I prepared for this journey; it was one that would have afforded me the most pleasing gratification under any ether circumstance, than that of quitting a metropolis, whose gaieties I had anticipated with much pleasure, and which I was just beginning to enjoy. Neither was the season of the year the best adapted for travelling, it being the depth of winter: the decree was altogether so much against my inclination, that I could not but think it a little savouring of the tyrannical.

The winter was remarkably severe, and our progress was most provokingly slow, owing to the badness of the roads, which the snow had rendered, in many places, impassable. However, we at length reached the foot of the Alps, over which the postillions were positive we might make

I had determined to rest for the evening at the first house of accommodation that presented itself, and had been nearly two hours in momentary expectation of meeting with one. It was with some alarm that I perceived an expression of doubt lingering in the postillion's features, as we ascended, or rather attempted to ascend, a very difficult pass. Danger environed us on every side, and I was now perfectly aware that the postillion had mistaken the road. He was at last so completely benumbed with the cold, as to lose his station, and fall powerless in the snow. Having placed him within the carriage, every thing near convinced me of the horror of our situation. The moon, which, till then, had been shining brightly, was now enveloped by a passing cloud, which obscured the atmosphere. The horses had proceeded many miles beyond their intended stage, and, as I had perceived long before, were much wearied. The cold at length became so intense, that the limbs of one became so stiffened, as to be rendered nerveless. The other, on a sudden, made a desperate plunge; a tremendous crash ensued, followed by a rustling noise : the carriage undoubtedly fell from a considerable height: the last thing that I can call to my recollection was the severity of the cold, which thrilled through every vein till life seemed departing.

The first impression that lingers on my memory, is that of a warmth from some object, which I had neither power nor sense to discern. It lay on my breast, and, in my bewildered imagination, I hoped it was some compassionate spirit exerting its genial influence over me.

When I came to myself, I found that I was extended, buried in the snow, with a gourd, containing a small quantity of liquor; from whence I was at a loss to imagine. I looked around for my carriage, but could discover no traces either of that or of the ill-fated postillion and horses. For a long time I endeavoured, in vain, to convey the liquor in the gourd to my mouth; for my hunger and thirst were most excruciating; and it was not without much perseverance that

my frost-bitten fingers performed their office. I felt considerably revived by the dram, but my inclination to sleep was so predominant, that although I was aware death was the forfeit, I could not forego the temptation,

I remember nothing more till I found myself in a small room, more resembling a cell than a bed-chamber. The bed and the furniture were re

markably plain, and, saving a picture of the crucifixion, there was nothing that approached to ornament. I remained in a state of stupid wonder for a length of time, endeavouring in vain to recall my scattered ideas, till a venerable old man, habited as a monk, entered the room. I attempted to speak, but found my tongue cleaved, as it were, to the roof of my mouth. I then made an essay to rise; but I seemed to have no command whatever over my limbs, which remained cold and torpid. Bewildered by the singularity of my situation, and my mind remaining much disordered, I conceived myself labouring under the spell of an enchantment: when the old man beckoned me to be quiet, and administered a cordial; at the same time gently chafing my limbs.

I remained in this state several days, visited constantly by this man and a younger one, of whom I shall speak hereafter. I was at length so far recovered, as to be able to inquire into the cause of my being there: the good father unravelled the mystery by informing me, that I had been found by one of the dogs of St. Bernard, and was then within the hallowed walls of its charitable monastery.

I slowly but gradually improved, and my observations became more inquisitive and acute; in particular they were directed towards the younger man, whom I before mentioned as having constantly attended on me. Never shall I forget the noble expression of his features, which told of high birth and exalted station. He was seemingly about five or six-and-thirty, and singularly handsome; his head would have made a fit model for a sculptor, who wanted the union of grace, beauty, and dignity. Shaven as it was in the crown, and enveloped in his cowl, it presented the appearance of a breathing Italian picture. He was rather above the middle height, and, although disfigured by his garb, seemed most exquisitely proportioned. But it was not these charms that threw so wild an air of romance around him; it was the settled thoughtfulness, the deep though subdued melancholy, which was visible in his countenance, that excited my sympathy. He attended me constantly, and treated me with the utmost tenderness; oftentimes he fell on his knees, and prayed with a feryour beyond expression, till large drops stole down his features. Then he lifted his imploring eyes towards heaven, and they seemed illuminated above mortality. “ Virtue,” says Virgil, " is more acceptable when it appears in a pleasing form ;” and I thought it was not presumptuous in me to hope, that that Being who looks down upon us all with an equal and indulgent eye, would grant the supplications of one, who seemed born to command, and formed to reign over the rest of his species, now prostrate before him, in the utmost humility, invoking his mercy. My faith assured me his prayers were heard ; for, by degrees, I completely recovered the use of my limbs, although I was left with but a small remnant of strength.

I had often made inquiries respecting my earthly saviour, as I called him, but could never obtain a satisfactory reply. At last I was informed he was the Count V- , the descendant of one of the noblest families in Italy, who had given up (in the holy father's words) his title, his spacious domains, all earthly ties, and all earthly vanities, for the love of God, and the good of the holy Mother Church. The cause they knew not, unless it were (as they believed) out of love of religion, and disgust of the world. Although previously accustomed to every indulgence that luxury, wealth, and rank could bestow, no brother was so severe on himself, and yet so benevolent towards the rest of mankind, as my extraordinary benefactor.

This was all the venerable father could inform me, and which, so far from abating my curiosity, inflamed it tenfold.

By degrees I was able to set up in my chamber, and was glad to make use of the books that the library of the monastery afforded. The Count, or, as he was called now, Father Eugene, to my great satisfaction, frequently took a share in my studies. The topics of conversation at first generally sprang from the books we had been perusing; but when we entered into more general subjects, I was amazed, as well as delighted, with the depth and penetration of his remarks; they were, at the same time, brilliant and comprehensive; and, although invariably tinged with a sorrowful complexion, they evidently sprang from a mind of extraordinary natural and acquired powers. I was then very young, and enthusiastic to a high degree; and although he appeared wedded to a monastic life, I had the vanity to suppose he was not less pleased than myself in shaking off some of its monotony.

The similarity in many respects of our tastes, dispositions, and sentiments, created a close sympathy in our breasts. I at length ventured to inquire of him the events of his past life, and the reasons of his forsaking a world, which would have held him as its brightest ornament. For a while he seemed agonized with what was passing in his mind, till at length, bursting from the cell with an extravagance that was unusual with him, he exclaimed, “ To-morrow you shall know all.”

The regret I felt for the distress 1 evidently had occasioned him, could not abate the tumult his promise had created. That night I did not rest. I had scarcely paid my morning orisons, before I found Father Eugene by my side. After he had affectionately inquired after my health, I reminded him of his promise. His countenance underwent a slight change, and he addressed me to the following effect :

“ Your curiosity I observe is awakened, at the circumstance of an individual, so munificently endowed by fortune, cut off from the social haunts of man, and buried in the recesses of a monastery.

“ I am a descendant of an ancient and noble family, and my parents thought themselves justified in entertaining the greatest expectations of me. At my father's death, which happened about my


year, I became the sole anxiety of a fond but ill-judging mother. She beheld, with enthusiastic delight, the advancement I made in every kind of knowledge and accomplishment, and felt fully satisfied that the name of V · would not only descend untarnished, but would acquire greater fame from its inheritance by her son. How these bright hopes were blasted; how these fond desires remained ungratified, through one act of folly and crime, you shall hear.

“ I had scarcely reached my five-and-twentieth year, before it was thought politic, on account of my family, rank, affluence, and—as all vanity now has fled my personal accomplishments, that an alliance should take place between me and some distinguished female. The highest honours were within my grasp; a princess might have been mine, had I aspired so high. But my heart and affections had long been plighted to a more lowly individual, who at that time lived as an bumble confidante with the Countess, my mother. She was the daughter of a deceased friend of my father's, of a noble though decayed family, and, at the death of her surviving parent, had consented to reside under my mother's roof, where our ill-fated intimacy was formed. - I will not speak of her beauty, although she was possessed of all that words can possibly convey. Flom

[ocr errors]

rence” Here his utterance became choked, but after some agitation he proceeded : “ Pardon, signor, this weakness; 'tis for the first time these ten long years that that word has escaped these lips, and it brings with it a tide of regretful and agonizing recollections.

“ With a mind as exalted as her person was beautiful, no wonder I became deeply enamou

noured; nor was I less esteemed; for the innocent girl loved me with all the enthusiastic ardour and boundless faith which inspire a woman's first affection. The time passed away like a dream to me, but not to others. It was the wonder of all, particularly of the Countess, that I did not avail myself of the flattering prospects that were open to me.

A year in this delusive rapture passed away, till the reason of my aversion to matrimony was whispered to my mother. She became alarmingly incensed with the innocent cause, whose charms had created in me so great an apathy towards the rest of her sex, and carried her resentment to its fullest extent by discarding her.

“ The despised and insulted Florence took refuge in the house of a lady of distinction, who had been a friend of the family, though hitherto at enmity with mine; and she was received with exultation. Indignant at the cruelty of the Countess, I no longer was reser

served, but told her my intention of making the innocent girl the future partner of my life and honours.

“I cannot describe the rage and disappointment of my mother when she heard of my determination. She was fully aware of the depth of my

affection, and the firmness of my resolution when fixed on any particular point; she had immediate recourse to some fiendish advisers, and eventually obtained her end.

They saw that my affection for Florence was the life-spring of my existence, and that nothing but the darkest treachery could abate it. Every means was taken--every artifice employed, to shake my

confidence in my dearest hope, but for a while without effect : but at length I fell a dupe to the most horrid of machinations.

“ It was at first darkly hinted to me, that Florence's conduct was not so circumspect as I imagined: the foul charge 1 spurned with indignation; it could never, I thought, remain for an instant in my breast. But there it lay darkly hid, unknown to me. I thought all that I harboured for her was the tenderest wish for her welfare, and when a feeling of doubt came over my mind, I imputed it to the lively feeling of my affection.

“ Moved by the gross falsehoods that were invented at her expense, by degrees my belief in her purity began to be undermined ; and although to suspect her of infidelity seemed to harrow my heart, it maddened me when I thought she was less reserved to others than she was to me: as my confidence in her virtue decreased, my desires became more tumultuous.

“Oh God! that the chastest and purest of feelings should be turned, by the machinations of the worst of mankind, to the most depraved and abandoned ! Poor infatuated girl, innocent and pure as thou wast, with only the crime of loving a wretch beyond bounds, who was determined to betray thee, that thou shouldst become the victim of deceit and treachery! “The impulses of an unrestrained passion completely mastered my rea

I could not bear the thought of sharing my name with one, of whose purity a doubt existed; nor yet could I be restrained from the possession of those charms which were not withheld from others. No, I had resolved it should not be so, and I made use of the affection she had for me,

for so


base a purpose.

« AnteriorContinuar »