« 上一页继续 »
opening his heart to those who could feel with him. All that he said I cannot now remember; but, notwithstanding he emphatically declared that he believed she was suffering from nothing but nervous debility, he left a strong impression on my mind that Mrs. Fairfax was deranged. Questionable as might be the delicacy of entering on such a subject before a comparative stranger like myself, yet there was so much true manly feeling in all he uttered, and his face betrayed so earnest a sorrow, that I felt nothing but commiseration and respect. He concluded by saying that he was convinced his wife required further change. of scene, and declared his sudden resolution of starting the next day for the Continent.
The next day he and his wife departed; and as it is only of them that I write, I will chronicle none of the events which happened during the remainder of my stay at Wellesmere Manor.
About three years after, I received a communication from Thornton, which elucidated all the mysteries that had made me so uncomfortable. He told me that Mr. Fairfax-the brilliant, the gay, the agreeable -was immured in a private lunatic asylum, and was raving mad. He told me, too, what his heroic wife had at length confessed-how, knowing his terrible malady, she had, for years, lived on, expecting hourly some appalling tragedy, and with a superhuman strength of purpose had kept her dreadful secret to the last. It was not she who made the disclosure. By a
frantic attempt on his own life, he revealed what he so successfully laboured to hide for so long.
I do not mean to deny the terrible risk, both as to herself and all others, which Mrs. Fairfax incurred; but still I cannot help admiring so determined a heroism. Many woman have performed great deeds of valour on the impulse of the moment; but in very few will you find anything approaching to the calm endurance and puiet fortitude of Mrs. Fairfax.
THE FLIGHT OF ANGELS.
Written for a Monument to two English Children in the Protestant Burial Ground at Rome.
Two Pilgrims for the Holy Land
Two sinless angels, hand in hand,
We saw them take their heavenward flight,
But now we watch the golden path
And know that voice was not in wrath
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
THE time was when a name was everything. In England, for centuries after the Norman Conquest, the rich and powerful could be recognised by the name alone; for the members of that class were universally of foreign descent, and generally bore names of Norman origin. Bohun, Courtnay, Arundel, and De La Pole, betrayed a French extraction as plainly as Hereward, Godwin, and Siward told of Saxon blood and a debased condition.
But time has changed all this. Even in England a Norman name is not always a test of lofty birth, while names of Saxon derivation figure again among the titled, the wealthy, and the great. In our country, the fusion is even more complete ;-a republic, indeed, is a sad leveller of names. It is no rare occurrence to read, on some humble sign-board, a name that crossed to England in the time of the Conqueror. We have had our horse rubbed down by ostlers with names of knightly lineage; our shoes mended by coblers with names once borne by nobles; and anthracite stowed. in our cellar by coal-heavers, answering to names that appear conspicuously in Domesday Book, and stand foremost on the roll of Battle Abbey. Alas! for the degradation of names. Well may we ask "What's in a name?"
And yet, even in our day, a name has one advantage, for it reveals a person's race, if nothing else. We know that Smith is a Saxon, and that his ancestor, in some remote day, hammered hot iron, whatever airs he may take on himself now, or however grand are his present connexions. We know as indubitably that Fitzroy's progenitor was the son of a king, if that is any credit to him, and yet Fitzroy may now be digging cellars for a livelihood, driving a cart, or keeping a grog-shop. A Neville may be a clergyman and republican now, but his forefathers, or his name belies him, were knights and aristocrats once. The De Lisle, who bakes bread for us, may be some landless baker of the nineteenth century, but his great-great-grandfather, a dozen removes off, was most unquestionably a titled proprietor, with rights of advowson, fishery, mining, court-manorial, and perhaps of forestry. No one can persuade us that Stephenson is from the south of England, when his name reveals that his ancestor was some Scandinavian who settled north of the Humber; or that Owen is a Londoner, when his name betrays he is Welsh; or that O'Connor is a Saxon when he carries his Celtic origin in his name; or that Mac Ivor is a true Irishman when the Gael thrusts itself forward, in like manner, in the name. Intermarriage, among his ancestors, with other races, may even have obliterated every vestige of the great ancestral type; yet still we know his progenitor to have been a shaven Norman, a beer-imbibing Saxon, a piratical Dane, or a breechless Highlander, by that unmistakeable thing,
a name. Thus, there is meaning, after all, in the question, "What's in a name?"
Still more. There are names that tell of princely or other notable origin, as others betray the degradation of serfdom or disgrace. Cadwalader, or the chief of the Druids, is a royal name to all who understand the derivation or love the ancient race of Britain. But the name of Hind, be it borne by whom it may, merchant or mendicant, congressman or convict, betrays that, at one time, its owner was a villein purchaseable with the soil. Clark may be some illiterate oysterman now, but his ancestor once knew how to read and write, as we learn by his name, and at a time, too, when the accomplishment was a rarity. But Craven, though he may be as bold as a lion, cannot conceal from us that his distant progenitor was a coward, and gained his surname, perhaps, by running away at Crecy or Poictiers, Agincourt or Bannockburn. And so through the whole catalogue of names to be found in the Directory. We have often amused ourselves at a fashionable party, by standing in a quiet corner, and, as the name of each newcomer was announced, speculating on its origin, and, in fancy, calling up the figure of the ancestor from whom it sprung. In these vagaries of the imagination we have beheld satin or brocade give way to linsey-woolsey; and jewels on rounded arms to manacles on the ankle of a galley-slave.
To speculate thus on names affords, indeed, a wholesome moral lesson. It forces upon us the mutability of fortune. It teaches us that families have their rise