"Humph! I rather suspect she has some regular business."

"Quite likely," said Maurice, laughing heartily, "perhaps she is a bank clerk,—occupied from nine to three, you say,—just banking hours."

The Captain looked sternly in the young man's face, then uttering his emphatic "Fudge!" turned upon his heel, and whistling "A Frog he would a wooing go," sauntered out of the room, thoroughly disgusted with the whole race of modern young men.

The old gentleman's methodical habits of business had won for him the confidence of every one, and as an almost necessary consequence had involved him in the responsibility of several trusteeships. There were sundry old ladies and orphans whose pecuniary affairs he had managed for years with the punctuality of a Dutch clock. Before noon, on the days when their interest moneys were due, he always had the satisfaction of paying them into the hands of the owners. It was only for some such purpose that he ever left his post during business hours; but the claims of the widow and the fatherless came before those of the ledger, and he sometimes stole an hour from his daily duties to attend to these private trusts.

Not long after he had sought to awaken his young friend's suspicions respecting Mrs. Howard, one of these occasions occurred. At midday he found himself seated in a pleasant drawing-room, between an old lady and a young one, both of whom regarded him as the very best of men. He had transacted his business and was about taking leave, when he was detained to partake of a lunch; and, while he was engaged in washing down a biscuit with a glass of octogenarian Madeira, the young lady was called out of the room. She was absent about fifteen minutes, and when she returned, her eyes were full of tears. A pile of gold lay on the table, (the Captain would have thought it ungentlemanlike to offer dirty paper to ladies,) and taking a five-dollar piece from the heap, she again vanished. This time she did not quite close the door behind her, and it was evident she was conversing with some claimant upon her charity. Her compassiona£e tones were distinctly heard in the drawing-room, and when she ceased speaking, a remarkably soft, clear, liquid voice responded to her kindness. There was something in these sounds which awakened the liveliest interest in the old gentleman. He started, fidgeted in his chair, and at length fairly mastered by his curiosity, he stole on tiptoe to the door. He saw only a drooping figure, clad in mourning, and veiled from head to foot, who, repeating her thanks ^wr young benefactress, gathered

up a roll of papers from the hall table, and withdrew before he could obtain a glimpse of her face.

"What impostor have you been feeing now?" he asked, as the young lady entered the room, holding in her hand several cheap French engravings.

"No impostor, my dear sir, but a most interesting woman."

"Oh, I dare say she was very interesting and interested too, no doubt; but how do you know she was no swindler?"

"Because she shed tears, real teare."

"Humph! I suppose she put her handkerchief to her eyes and snivelled."

"No, indeed, I saw the big drops roll down her cheeks, and I never can doubt such an evidence of genuine sorrow; people can't force tears."

"What story could she tell which was worth five dollars?"

"Her husband, who was an importer of French stationary and engravings, has recently died insolvent, leaving her burdened with the support of two children and an infirm mother. His creditors have seized everything, excepting a few unsaleable prints, by the sale of which she is now endeavouring to maintain herself independently."

"Are the prints worth anything?"

"Not much."

"Then she is living upon charity quite as much as if she begged from door to door; it is only a new method of levying contributions upon people with more money than brains."

"The truth of her statement is easily ascertained. I have promised to visit her, and if I find her what she seems, I sfiall supply her with employment as a seamstress."

"Will you allow me to accompany you on your visit?"

"Certainly, my dear sir, upon condition that if you find her story true, you will pay the penalty of your mistrust in the shape of a goodly donation."

"Agreed! I'll pay if she turns out to be an object of charity. But that voice of hers,—I don't believe there are two such voices in this great city."

What notion had now got into the crotchety head of the Captain no one could tell; but he certainly was in wonderful spirits that day at dinner. He was in such good humour that he was even civil to Mrs. Howard, and sent his own bottle of wine to Harry Maurice. He looked a little confounded when Mrs. Howard, taking advantage of his "melting mood," challenged him to a game at backgammon, and it was almost with his old gruffness that he refused her polite invitation. He waited long enough to see her deeply engaged in chess with her young admirer, and then hurried away to fulfil his engagement with the lady who had promised to let him share her errand of mercy.

He was doomed to be disappointed, however. They found the house inhabited by the unfortunate Mrs. Harley; it was a low one-story

rear building, in Street, the entrance to

which was through a covered alley leading from the street. It was a neat, comfortable dwelling, and the butcher's shop in front of it screened it entirely from public view. But the person of whom they were in quest was not at home. Her mother and two rosy children, however, seemed to corroborate her story, and as the woman seemed disposed to be rather communicative, the old gentleman fancied he had now got upon a true trail. But an incautious question from him sealed the woman's lips, and he found himself quite astray again. Finding nothing could be gained, he hurried away, and entering his own door, found Mrs. Howard still deeply engaged in her game of chess, though she did look up with a sweet smile when she saw him.

A few days afterwards his young friend informed him that she had been more successful, having found Mrs. Harley just preparing to go out on her daily round of charity-seeking.

When suspicions are once aroused in the mind of a man like the Captain, it is strange how industriously he puts together the minutest links in the chain of evidence, and how curiously he searches for such links, as if the unmasking of a rogue was really a matter of the highest importance. The Captain began to grow more reserved and incommunicative than ever. He uttered oracular apothegms and dogmatisms until he became positively disagreeable, and at last, a3 if to show an utter aberration of mind, he determined to obtain leave of absence for a week. It was a most remarkable event in his history, and as such excited much speculation. But the old gentleman's lips were closely buttoned; he quietly packed a valise, and set out upon, what he oalled, a country excursion.

It was curious to notice how much he was missed in the house. Some missed his kindliness; some his quaint humorousness; some his punctuality, by which they set their watches; and Mrs. Howard seemed actually to feel the want of that sarcastic tone which made the sauce piquanle of her dainty food. Where he actually went no one knew, but in four days he returned, looking more bilious and acting more crotchety than over; but with an exhilaration of spirits that showed the marvellous effect of country air.

The day aftor his return, two men, wrapped in cloaks and wearing slouched hats, entered

the butcher's shop in Street. Giving s

nod in passing to the man at the counter, the two proceeded up stairs, and took a seat at one of the back windows. The blinds were carefully drawn down, and they seated themselves as if to note all that passed in the low, one-story building, which opened upon a narrow paved alley directly beneath the window.

"Do you know that we shall have a fearful settlement to make if this turns out to be all humbug?" said the younger man, as they took their station.

"Any satisfaction which you are willing to claim, I am ready to make in case I am mistaken ; but—look there."

As he spoke, a female wearing a large black cloak and thick veil entered the opposite house. Instantly a shout of joy burst from the children, and as the old woman rose to drop the blind at the vjjndow, they oaught jjight of the two merry littlo ones pulling at the veil and cloak of the mysterious lady.

"Did you sec ljciyface?" asked t]ie old man.

"No, it was turned away from the window."

"Then have patience for a while."

Nearly an hour elapjed, and then the door again opened to admit the egress of a person, apparently less of stature than the woman who had so recently entered, more drooping in figure, and clad in rusty and shabby mourning.

"One more kiss, mamma, and don't forget jh^e sugar-plums when you come back," cried one of the children./

The woman stooped to give the required kiss, lifting her veil as she did so, and revealing the whole of her countenance. A groan burst from the lips of one of the watchers, which was answered by a low chuckle from his companion; for both the Captain and Harry Maurice had recognised in the mysterious lady the features of the bewitching Mrs. Howard.

There is little more to tell. The question of "Who is she?" now needed no reply. Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Harley, and some dozen other aliases, were the names of an exceedingly genteel adventuress, who is yet vividly remembered by the charitable whom she victimized a few years since. She had resided in several large cities, and was drawing a very handsome income from her ingenuity. Her love of pleasure being as great as her taste for money-making, she devised a plan for living two lives at once, and her extreme mobility of feature, and exquisite adroitness, enabled her to carry out her schemes. How far she would have carried the affair with her young lover it is impossible to say, but the probability is that the "love affair" was only an agreeable episode "pour passer le terns," and that whatever might have been the gentleman's intentions, the lady was guiltless of ulterior views, ^^fe

The Captain managed the affair in his own way. He did not wish to injure the credit of the house, which he designed to call his home for the rest of his life, and therefore Mrs. Howard received a quiet intimation to quit, which she obeyed with her usual unruffled sweetness. Harry Maurice paid a visit to his mother and sister in the country, and on his return found it desirable to change his lodgings. The Captain kept the story to himself for several years, but after Maurice was married, and settled in his domestic habitudes, he

felt himself privileged to use it as a warning to all gullible young men, against bewitching widows, and mysterious fellow-boarders. Indeed, it has become the Captain's pet story, and whenever he is particularly good-humoured with a new-comer, (for he still holds his old place at the head of the table,) he invariably tells it, and as invariably adds: "Such things never happened in my young days;—there was no mistaking a real lady in old times, but now a bit of French frippery can deceive almost anybody."



Theri comes a conqueror from the field of war,

With the wreathed laurel fresh upon his brow; The high and holy cause he battled for

Has nobly won a lasting triumph now.

Twas his, in dust, the haughty Power to bow
That held in blood and chains his native land;

Happy indeed, victorious chief, art thou,
And happy they who proudly round thee stand,
Bearing the well-won spoils of thy victorious hand.

A frieudlcss outcast, and a fugitive,

Far from the lovely city of thy birth; Driven to a wild and desert land to live,

A weary, homeless wanderer on the earth:

Such was the grandeur of thy native worth, That they who once could even thy presence spurn,

Now in their time of pressing need come forth,
Anxious thy every purpose to discern,
And humbly suppliant for tby kind and quick return.

Thus in this various, ever-changeful life,
Tis well, with patient heart, on Time to wait

Till lulls to rest the elemental strife;
And never-failing Justice, soon or late,
Shall mete to every man his fitting fate.

It is not always wisdom to oppose
The pressing crowd set on by causeless hate;

Rest for a season till the night may close,
And the full light of day disperse or crush thy foes.

The bitter jest, the scorn, the scoff of men,

Once, blighting, fell upon thy hated name; It was a hissing and a byword then.

For on thee dark and deep reproaches came—

The bitter stigma of another's shame.
The injured, not the injurer, oft must bear

Vile Envy's rack, Detraction's cruel flame;
Yet to the victim, verging on despair,
Time slowly comos, but sure, his injuries to repair.

The victor chieftain hastens to his home.

How swells his bosom with a joyful pridel The ancient walls of that ancestral dome

The noblest of his earthly treasures hide:

No object else, beneath the heavens wide,
Was half so fondly, deeply dear to him;

That earnest love, by long affliction tried,
No joy might lessen, and no sorrow dim;
And they had drunk of each a cup filled to the brim.
8he takes the sounding timbrel in her hand,

And as the train with martial tread advances,
Comes forth to meet them with her maiden band,

With smiles and welcome words and graceful dances.

The cohort, bowing, lower their glittering lances,
And the fierce scowl that savage war puts on

Exchange for passion's swiftly-kindling glances,
Easy at pucJb^bm- as this to don,
When love is^Hbg here, and battle's strife is gone.

The beauteous maiden hastes to greet her sire :—
What sudden blackness gathers on his face?

He waves hi&jhand—the attendant train retire;
And, as he tottered to a resting-place,

He spake: "My daughter! thou hast brought me low.
That vow to God, would that I could retrace I"

Meekly she said: "My dearest father, no l
What thou hast sworn to God, that do thou even so.

"And as for me, I ask thee but this boon :—

Suffer me on the mountains to go forth,
To look once more upon the full-orbed moon,

As silently she circles round the earth.

Oft have I left the noisy halls of mirth, To wander there and watch her silver car;

And mark that light which came upon my birth,
Like a strange planet on the heavens far:
A dread, but glorious light, beams from that natal star.

"And in that awful grotto, where the light
Comes never on its darkness, I would ait,

Amid a deeper gloom than fills the night;
To see below unearthly shadows flit
Across the chamber of that fathomless pit,

Where all below Is dark as midnight's frown,
While all above, the starry lamps' are lit;

And the blue heaven above seems resting down,
With flashing gems inwove, a bright and glorious crown*

"Then by that rocky column let mo stand,
That heavenward rears its towering spire on high

Those tablets graven by the Almighty hand
Appear like records of eternity,

Spread out for ever to the All-seoing eye.
The history of each age, and every clime,
Seems in their mystic characters to He,

Defying all the ravages of time
Unread by mortal eye—inscrutable—sublime l

"And in those dreary forests of dark pine,
Whose giant shadows, on the cold earth flung,

Baffle the struggling sun-rays as they shine,
With feeble light, the mossy knolls among :—
There let me listen to the spirit-tongue,

That comes for ever, with its plaintive moan-
Thus be thy daughter's requiem sadly sung,

Through the dim forest windings, where alone
The wild and sorrowful wind shall sweep its organ tone.

"Think not, my father, that I shrink from death—
Life were dear to me, only for thy sake:

The thought, that 'tis for thee I yield my breath,
Shall from the fatal stroke its anguish take;
While Hope will whisper that I may awake,

Like a glad infant from its tranquil sleep,—
And from my burial robes the damp mould shake;

Then leaping forth upon the infinite deep,
Through the vast universe on tireless pinion sweep."

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

Wilt go with me, Cathella? I cannot choose bat plead, The seaward-sweeping breezes our birch canoe shall speed

O'er the azure-bosomed rivers, the tumultuous and grand,

Where the light step of the heron scarcely prints the sil

My rifle, ringing clearly where the branching antlers toss, Shall rouse the timid rabbit from his burrow in the moss,

And startle from the spice-brush, with panting breast, the hind,

While the prairie-steed sweeps by me with his mane upon the wind.

What joy to watch the trailing of the lithe and eager pack,

And to catch the deep-mouthed baying as they double on the track,

With my hunter straining forward where the sobbing herd are fled,

And the thin ice hung like feathers from the frozen boughs o'erhead. *

As I stoop to kiss the soft cheek whence the blushes ail are flown,

I can almost hear the beating of the heart beneath my own,

And I feel the white hand tremble, while the tearful eyes I see—

Wilt be content, Cathella, with the wilderness and me?



Most of the aneedotes of painters are exaggerations of some truths, and coloured beyond nature. Such is the history of our countryman West, by Galt the novelist, and such the major part of the anonymous paragraphs concerning native prodigies. Truth cannot be adorned by the plumes of fiction. It is with a different spirit—a more simple love of truth— that I record an aneedote of an American artist.

Without meddling with the disquisitions on innate or cultivated genius, it is certain that some persons are more observant of what they see, and remember more distinctly what they have seen, t"han others. This was the case with a young artist of New York, Mr. Francis W. Philip. He arrived in London whilst I was there in 1834, to prosecute his studies in painting, contrary to the wishes of his father, who desired him to co-operate with him in a more money-making business as a distiller. Young Philip sought my acquaintance, and I was gratified in rendering him some assistance; he was, therefore, much with my family, who were eharmed with his amiability, zeal, and talent. Having the privilege of Lord Grosvenor's Gallery, I took him there and to the National Gallery, in both of which, during an entire morning, his artistic soul feasted on the masterpieces which they contained. That day he dined with me, spent the afternoon in city excursions with my daughters, and remained with ns till midnight; making an engagement for another excursion the next morning at seven o'clock. In the morning, fearing that he might oversleep himself, I went to his lodgings in Buckingham Place—the same that I at first occupied in London—that AlUton, Morse, and King had previously occupied, and Sully afterwards—as if the Genius of Painting held her inspirations there. It was broad

| daylight, and he was fast asleep. I reluctantly awakened him; and, to account for his tardiness, he told me that the pictures of the Grosvenor and National Galleries had so occupied his mind as to prevent his sleeping, so relighting his lamp, he employed himself the remainder of the night in efforts to throw on canvass the impressions which had been so vividly painted in his imagination, and showed lie the proofs of it on a canvass, twenty-five by thirty inches, filled with sketches in oil colours, executed during the five hours after midnight, every one of which I recognised having seen with him the day before, the most remarkable for colour, shade, or form. They were generally about the size of one's hand, fresh from the brushes and palette, which I saw lying uncleaned on his table; and, in addition to these, an excellent reminiscence of a beggar girl, whom he had glanced at for a few moments as she sat crouched against the column of a door which we were passing the previous afternoon.

There are many authenticated instances of verbal memory, and it is known that the celebrated portrait painter Stuart possessed an extraordinary faculty of remembering and sketching faces; but this instance of young Philip is the most wonderful I have ever known. After remaining in London a few years, he returned to New York, where I saw him in his painting-room, which was furnished with every convenience for the cultivation of his art; but from the number of historical studies which he had begun, without pausing to finish any one, I feared that he was taxing his brain too severely. He died soon after, from mental excitement, a martyr to his love of art, leaving a young wife to lament his untimely death.

« 上一页继续 »