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The following exquisite scene is taken from the novel of Reginald Dalton,-a work which we should have reviewed in due form, had we not been tempted in our perusal of it, to mark so many passages for transcription, that we should greatly have exceeded our limits, if we had persisted in our first intention. The hero is a spirited English youth, of good family, of bright parts, and sound education. His history exhibits a variety of striking incidents; such as do not, indeed, happen every day, but which might happen to any one of like character, under similar circumstances. While at the University, he cherishes an ardent passion for the beautiful Ellen Hesketh, concerning whom he knows nothing distinctively' but that she is beautiful.
“ He found one of the gates” (of Godstowe Abbey) “unlocked, and stood within the wide circuit of those gray and mouldering walls, that still marks the limits of the old nunnery. The low moss-covered fruittrees of the monastic orchard, flung soft and deep shadows upon
the unshorn turf below : the ivy hung in dark slumbering masses from every ruinous fragment; the little rivulet, which winds through the guarded precincts, shrunk far within its usual bound, trickled audibly from pebble to pebble. Reginald followed its course to the archway, beneath which it gushes into the Isis-but there his steps were arrested.He heard it distinctly—it was but a single verse, and it was sung very lowly—but no voice, save that of Ellen Hesketh, could have poured out those soft and trembling tones.
“ He listened for a few moments, but the voice was silent. He then advanced again between the thick umbrageous trees, until he had come within sight of the chapel itself, from which, it seemed to him the sounds had proceeded. Again they were heard-again the same sweet and melancholy strain echoed from within the damp arches, and shook the stillness of the desolate garden. Here, then, she was, and it was to find her he had come thither; yet now a certain strange, mysterious, fearfulness crept over all his mind, and he durst not, could not, proceed.
á He lay down prostrate among the long grass, which, so deep was the shade above, yet retained the moisture of the last night's dew, and thence, gazing wistfully upon the low door of the dismantled chapel, he drank the sorrowful melody timidly, breathlessly, in pain, and yet in luxury.
“Again it was silent—a thousand perplexing agonizing thoughts hovered around and above him-he could not toss them away from himhe could not forget them. They were there, and they were stronger than he, and he felt himself to be their slave and their prisoner. But their fetters, though within view, had not yet chained up all his spirit; the gloom overhung, but had not overwhelmed him; the pressure had not squeezed him with all its iron strength. No—the sense of misery, the keenest of all, had communicated its feverish and morbid quickness to that which it could not expel-Love, timorous, hopeless love, had caught a sort of infectious energy, and the long suppressed flame glowed with a stern and desperate steadfastness, amidst the darkness which had deep
* By the Author of Valerius and Adam Blair, 3 vols. W. Blackwood, Edinburgh, and T. Cadell, London, 1824.
ened around its altars. Next moment, however, that energy was half extinguished in dejection ;—the flame still burnt intensely—but lowly as of old.
" " Alas !' he said to himself, “I shall never hear her again-am ruined, undone, utterly undone-blasted in the very opening-withered on the threshold ! Humiliation, pain, misery, lie before me, as surely as folly, madness, frenzy, wickedness, are behind—as surely as shame, burning, intolerable, shame, is with me now. Yet one feeling at least is pure-here I have worshipped innocence in innocence. Alas! it is here-here, above all—that I am to suffer! Miserable creature that I am! She is feeble, yet I have no arm to protect her; she is friendless, yet the heart that is hers, and hers only, dare not even pour itself at her feet. She is alone in her purity; I alone in sinful, self-created helplessness! Love, frenzy of frenzies, dream of dreams! what have I to do with love? Why do I haunt her footsteps? why do I pollute the air she breathes ?how dare I to mingle the groans of guilty despair with those tender sighs ? -Beautiful, spotless angel!--what have I to do in bringing my remorseful gloom into the home of your virtuous tears, your gentle sorrows !How shall I dare to watch with you—with you—beside the pillow of a good man's sickness ?-Shame! shame!-let me flee from him, from you from all but myself and my misery.'
“ He had started from his wet lair-he stood with a cheek of scarlet, an eye darkly flashing, and a lip of steadfast whiteness, gazing on the ivied ruin, like one who gazes his last. At that moment Ellen's sweet voice once more thrilled upon his ear. It seemed as if the melody was coming nearer--another moment, and she had stepped beyond the threshold. She advanced towards a part of the wall which was much decayed, and stood quite near the speechless and motionless youth, looking down upon the calm waters of Isis gliding just below her, and singing all the while the same air he had first heard from her lips.--Alas! if it sounded sorrowfully then, how deep was now the sorrow breathed from that subdued and broken warbling of
• The Rbine! the Rhine! be blessings on the Rhine!' She leaned herself over the low green wall, and Reginald heard a sob struggle against the melody. She grieves,' he said to himself-she grieves, she weeps !' and with that, losing all mastery of himself, he rushed through the thicket.
“Ellen, hearing the rustling of leaves, and the tramp of a hasty foot, turned towards the boy, who stopped short upon reaching the open turf. Her first alarm was gone, when she recognised him; and she said, a faint smile hovering on her lips," Mr. Dalton, I confess I was half frightened -How and whence have you come?' Ere she had finished the sentence, however, her soft eye had instinctively retreated from the wild and distracted gaze of Reginald-she shrunk a step backward, and re-echoed her own question in a totally different tone-Mr. Dalton, how are you here?-whence have you come ?-You alarm me, Mr. Dalton-your looks alarm me. Speak, why do you look so ?
“ • Miss Hesketh,' he answered, striving to compose himself, there is nothing to alarm you-I have just come from Witham—Mr. Keith told me you were here.'
“7 You are ill, Mr. Dalton--you look exceedingly ill, indeed, sir. You should not have left Oxford to-day.'
you think so!
“I am to leave Oxford to-morrow--I could not go without saying farewell."
“• To-morrow! But why do you look so solemn, Mr. Dalton ?-You are quitting college for your vacation?"
Perhaps for ever, Miss Hesketh--and
“ “O Mr. Dalton, you have seen my uncle--you think he is very badly, I see you do-you think you shall never see him again, I know
' « • No, 'tis not so ; he has invited me to come back with you now; and besides, Mr. Keith will get better-I hope, I trust, I am sure he will.' “6. You would fain deceive me,' said Ellen, and 'tis kindly meant.
Nay, indeed, ma'am, I hope Mr. Keith has seen the worst of his illness. You did well to bring him to this fine air, this beautiful place."
“ • A beautiful place it is, Mr. Dalton.'
“. It is Paradise, but I shall never see it again. I look for the last time upon it—and almost--almost for the last time-upon you.'
“ The young man shook from head to foot as these words were trembling upon his lips. She, too, threw her eyes on the ground, and a deep glow rushed ever her face; but that was chased instantly by a fixed and solemn paleness, and her gaze once more met his.
“ He advanced close to her (for hitherto he had not changed his position), and leaned for a moment over the broken wall. His hasty hand had discomposed some loose stones, and a fragment of considerable size plunged into the dark stream below. Ellen, thinking the whole was giving way, pulled him quickly backwards from the brink. He lost his balance, and involuntarily, and less by his own act than hers, he was on his knees before her. "Rise up, Mr. Dalton-I pray you
rise.' “I asked for nothing, Miss Hesketh, I hope for nothing, I expect nothing. But since I do kneel, I will not rise till I have said it, I love A you, Ellen-I have loved you long—I have loved you from the first hour I saw you. I never loved before, and I shall never love another.'
“ Mr. Dalton, you are ill-you are sick--you are mad. This is no language for me to hear, nor for you to speak. Rise, rise, I beseech you.'
*** Ellen, you are pale, deadly pale--you tremble, I have hurt you, wretch that I am I have wounded, pained, offended you."
“Pained, indeed,' said Ellen, but not offended. You have filled me with sorrow, Mr. Dalton-I give you that and my gratitude. More you do wrong in asking for; and if it had been otherwise, more I could not have given you.'
“ The calmness of her voice and words restored Reginald, in some measure, to his self-possession. He obeyed the last motion of her hand, and sprung at once to his feet. You called me mad, Miss Hesketh 'twas but for a moment.'
“ Ere he had time to say more, Miss Hesketh moved from the spot;and Reginald, after pausing for a single instant, followed, and walked across the monastic garden, close by her side—both of them preserved total silence. A deep flush mantled the young man's countenance all over--but ere they had reached the gate, that had concentrated itself into one small burning spot of scarlet upon either cheek. She, with downcast eyes, and pale as monumental marble, walked steadily and rapidly; while he, with long and regular strides, seemed to trample, rather than to tread the dry and echoing turf. He halted within the threshold of the
ruined archway, and said, in a whisper of convulsive energy, Hált, madam, one word more ere we part. I cannot go with you to Witham--you must say what you will to Mr. Keith. I have acted this day like a scoundrela villain--you called it madness, but I cannot plead that excuse. No, madam, there was the suddenness, the abruptness of frenzy in the ávowal--but the feeling had been nurtured and cherished in calmness, deliberately fostered, presumptuously and sinfully indulged. I had no right to love you; you behold a miserably weak and unworthy creature, who should not have dared to look on you. But 'tis done, the wound is here, and it never can be healed. I had made myself unhappy, but you have driven me to the desperation of agony. Farewell, madam, I had nothing to offer you but my love, and you did well to reject the unworthy gift-my love! You may well regard it as an insult. Forget the moment that I never can forget-Blot, blot from memory the hour when your pure ear drank those poisonous sighs? Do not pity me- I have no right to love--and pity !-- no, no-forget me, I pray you—forget me and my misery-And now, farewell once more--I am alone in the world. May God bless you-you deserve to be happy.'
“He uttered these words in the same deep whisper by which he had arrested her steps. She gazed on him while he spake, with an anxious
and a glowing cheek-- when he stopped, the crimson fleeted away all in an instant. Pale as death, she opened her white and trembling lips, but not a word could come. The blood rushed again over her cheek, brow and bosom, and tears, an agony of tears, streamed from her fixed and motionless eyes.
Reginald, clasping his forehead, sobbed out, “Thrice miserable! wretch! miserable wretch! I have tortured an angel!'-He seized her hand, and she sunk upon the
grass—he knelt over her, and her tears rained upon
his hands. • O God!' he cried, 'why have I lived for this hour?_Speak, Ellen-speak, and speak forgiveness.'
Forgiveness !' she said mock me not, Mr. Dalton! what have I to forgive ?'
Forgive the words that were wrung from me in bitterness of soul Forgive me-forgive the passionate, involuntary cries of my mad anguish.' “. Oh, sir, you grieve, you wound me!-you know not how you
I am a poor helpless orphan, and I shall soon have no friend to lean to.—How can I listen to such words as you spoken ?-I am grateful; believe my tears, I am grateful indeed.'
«• Grateful for the love of mercy, do not speak so—be calm, let me see you calm.'
How can I be calm ? what can I say? Oh, Mr. Dalton, it is your wild looks that have tortured me, for I thought I had been calm!-Oh, sir, I pray you, be yourself-do not go from me thus-I am young and friendless, and I know not what I should do or speak.—You, too, are young, and life is before you—and I hope happiness-indeed I hope so.'
« Nay, said Reginald, solemnly, not happiness—but I trust calmness to endure my misery. You may, but I cannot forget;' and with this his tears also fowed, for hitherto not one drop had eased his burning eye-lids.
“ Neither for a few moments said any thing—at last, Ellen rubbed aside her tears with a hot and rapid hand--and · Hear me,' she said,
hear me, Mr. Dalton. We are both too young-we are both inexperienced and we have both our sorrows, and we should both think of
other things. Go, sir, and do your duty in the world; and if it will lighten your heart to know, that you carry with you my warmest wishes for your welfare, do take them with you. Hereafter there may come better days for us both, and then perhaps—but no, no, sir, I know 'tis folly:
“She bowed her head upon her knees—he drew her hand to his lips, and kissed it, and wept upon it, and whispered as none ever whispered twice, and was answered with a silence more eloquent even than all the whispers in the universe.
• They sat together, their eyes never meeting, blushing,' weeping, one in sorrow and one in joy. Thoughts too beautiful for words, thoughts of gentlest sadness, more precious than bliss, filled them both, and gushed over and mingled in their slow calm tears.
“ An hour passed away, and there they were still speechless-the tears indeed had ceased to flow, and their cheeks had become as pale as their love was pure but the fulness of their young hearts was too rich for utterance--and all seemed so like a dream, that neither had dared, even by a whisper, to hazard the dissolving of the dear melancholy charm."
ANCIENT FUNERALS. Lucian, speaking of the funerals of the ancients, says, “ After the nearest relation has received a dead person, and closed his eyes,
his next business is to put a piece of money into his mouth to pay the ferryman of hell, who is Charon; but he never considers whether it be money that is current in that country, so that in my opinion he had better give him nothing than that he should be constrained to send it back again. After this ceremony
he washes the body of the dead person with warm water, as if there were no water below, or that he were to assist at a festival, at his first arrival. Besides this, he perfumes him, crowns him with flowers, and puts him on his best clothes, either because they fear he will die of cold by the way, or that otherwise he will not be treated according to his quality. All is accompanied with complaints and mourning, tears and sobs, to agree with the master of the ceremony, who orders all matters, and recites with such a mournful voice all his former calamities, that it would make them weep if they had never seen him. Then some tear their hair, others beat their breasts, or scratch their faces, some rend their clothes and cast dust upon their heads, or fall down upon the ground, or throw themselves against the walls. So that the dead man is the most happy of all the company, for while his friends and relations torment themselves, he is set in some eminent place, washed, cleansed, perfumed, and crowned, as if he were to go into company. When the body is laid upon the pile of wood to be burnt, some person opens his eyes, as if it were to make him look up to heaven, and having called him several times with a loud voice, his next relation sets fire to the pile of wood with a torch, turning his back upon it to shew that he does that service for the dead with regret.”