« 上一頁繼續 »
lips I dared not articulate his name. Theher into silence. She had discernment, and servants did not seem to be conscious that any perhaps guessed in some measure, the cause extraordinary event had happened, and all of so strong an emotion. Urged, therefore, by things appeared in their usual state of quiet. prudence or by curiosity, she called no assistThus the night passed, and three succeeding || ance, but endeavoured to recal me to the redays and nights, in all which time I heard collection of my miseries by the common neither of my husband nor of the man who methods. On recovering from my swoon, I had usurped his rights. This frightful calm found my head reposed on her bosom, and her was at length broken by a tempest. tears bedewing my face. This tenderuess unlocked my whole soul; my woes were too poignant to admit of concealment, and they were all poured out before her.
"On the fourth morning, my father, my dear father, eutered my apartment, with a countenance expressive of unusual sorrow. He took my hand, however, with the utmost tenderness; and, by the softness of his tones, removed the terror which bad seized me on his appearance. He told me he had a deep affliction to prepare me for; and tried to fortify my mind with every argument of religion and submission before he revealed it. In this dreadful suspense I uttered not a word, y mind was on the rack with horrid expectation. "At length the mill-stone crushed me. He informed me that, three days before, my husband had joined the rebel army, and that he was amongst the first victims of the battle. The effect which this intelligence had on me, was little short of madness. I did not weep, but I grew furious. I called myself my husbaud's murderer, demanded justice on myself, and talked of circumstances which, though true, passed on those about me as the effects of sudden frenzy: Those violent perturbations ended in a fever, from which it was my punishment to recover.
"My failing spirits," said the poor narrator, "will not permit me to continue in a regular thread; I must pass over many events to tell you that this friend prevailed on me to accom. pang her to England. Her husband was a loyalist, mine had been one, and the rebels made this a pretext to rob me of all my posses sions: too light a punishment for crimes so deep! I left America without daring to mention such a design to my father; I could not bear to stab him with the intelligence: and I could still less bear to remain on a spot where every object kept my dishonour and wretchedness alive: yet I wrote to him from the first port, and confessed all my criminality, with a view to make his mind yield to the propriety of my absence, and to lessen his regret for the loss of a child whom he could no longer think worthy of his love.
"On my arrival in England, my friends carried me to a northern county, where I resided with them almost two years in tolerable tranquillity. My tears were frequently poured before the Almighty for my past offences; but they were tears which always left me more peaceful and serene. This quiet state was at length interrupted by the passion of the man under whose protection I lived. My friend had unwisely informed her husband of my former guilt, and he received the intelligence with malicious pleasure; he now considered that I had no right to defend myself from his addresses on principles of honour, having once outraged them; and he had the cruelty to tell me so. On my expressing horror at such a declaration, he had the brutality to add, that my affected niceness was an ill return for his benevolence in having supported me, aud that, if I chose to cherish such ungrateful senti
"With shame I acknowledge, that as my health returned, my passion revived. I now considered myself at liberty, and had no doubt but my tender, passionate lover, panted for the hour in which he could throw himself at my feet and make amends for my sufferings by uniting himself to me. Days and weeks glided away, and he appeared not. At first I considered him as sacrificing to decorum; but at the end of two mouths I could no longer resist enquiring of a lady who visited me, when she had seen the object of all my thoughts. She answered with great unconcern, that he had hardly been seen at all for the last month, for that he was so much attached to a lady whose husband was then in England, that he never spent an hour out of her house; that he boasted every where of his passion, and of his hap-ments, it must be under some other roof. piness; and had told his friends he doated on her to such distraction, that he had half resolved to give up his country and his profession, and become an American planter.
"How long my frien might have continued this interesting detail I know not, had not my suddenly falling senseless at her feet shocked
"His roof I instantly quitted, though a stranger in the kingdom, and known to no human being in it, out of the little circle in which we resided; but to remain there would have been as if I did not wish to fly from the enemy who pursued me; and I certainly owed it to his wife, to leave a situation in which I
was every hour exposed to the danger of his
"Yes, thy woes are over," said the young Lord, who now turned from the window; "thy woes are over! But, oh! Caroline, where will end the anguish which now seizes my soul! Behold the author of all thy afflictions, thy husband's murderer, thy murderer, aud the murderer of thy father!"
"Damned unfeeling wretch" exclaimed the youth at the window, who till now seemed attentive only to what passed in the street, though the restlessness of his motions, and now and then a heavy sigh, gave his friend room to suspect him of more tenderness than belonged to his character.
The sudden force of this execration had a visible effect on the dying lady, but neither she nor the gentleman who had been listening to her melancholy tale had time to notice it; for the door directly opened, and disclosed the nurse tottering under the weight of the venerable patient whom they had first visited. With ghastful eyes he surveyed the lovely creature, already on the threshold of death. He stretched his arm towards her, uttered a deep cry, and falling on the bed expired.
"My father, my father!" exclaimed the lady, clasping her hands with a wild air, and bending over the corpse; "but I shall join thee, my woes are at an end!"
The lady started from her father's corpse, she fixed her eyes on him with the most horrible expression, and tried to speak, but death had already rendered rigid the organs ofspeech; his chill band was on her heart, she struggled a few moments, and then, without having ut
Pause here and behold the two friends! Both young, both equally the favourites of health and of fortune. They had arisen in the morning fresh as the sun, when through the portals of the east he first glances his golden beams. The day was before them, their actions were to be chosen. Oue of them passed its opening hours in indolence, in fully, in vapidity and expence; the hour of noon beholds him a conscious murderer, an accumulator of crimes, a wretch bowed down with the sense of his own iniquities. The other began his day like a favourite son of heaven; his heart was filled with benevolence; wherever he went his steps, like the steps of the spring, gave hope, joy, and consolation. Having feasted his mind with his own beneficence, he retires from the woes he had contributed to lessen; he is prepared to taste the pleasures which lay before him, to refine them, and to possess them with a zest of which the pallid libertine can form no idea; he is indeed an epicure, a voluptuary of the first order!-Ye sous of pleasure copy the portrait!
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF MISS SEWARD.
THE liberal attainments of this lady, and getic language. The animation of her counte ber devotion to poetry, have long rendered hernance, and the brilliant lustre of her eye, gave name celebrated in the lettered world; whilst a most forcible expression of feeling and intelber amiable manners, hospitality, and highly ligence to her words and actions. Conscious cultivated conversation, caused her to be uni- of her ability, she freely displayed herself in a versally sought after, and respected. Perhaps manner equally remote from arrogance and afno person ever possessed in a greater degreefectation. Her mind and information were the colloquial power of pleasing than Miss Se- accessible to all; and no one ever parted from ward. To a minute and accurate acquaint-her dissatisfied with himself, or without the ance with the English classics, she added an inexhaustible fund of local and literary anecdote. Naturally eloqueat, she communicated her knowledge in the choicest, and most ener
desire to renew his visit. In familiar conversation she greatly excelled; and in reading, more particularly poetry, she was uncommonly spirited and correct. fier doors were at all
times open with liberal hospitality, and to diffuse cheerfulness and happiness over her domestic, and social circles, was the endeavour of her life. Of infant genius and merit, wherever she met them, she was the warm encourager and zealous friend. Her hand was ever extended in active benevolence towards the distressed, and her heart most readily paid the tribute of overflowing pity, to the tale of misery. In her intercourse with society no woman had less pride.
been fondly attached from her childhood, and her warm imagination naturally became emulous of distinction in her favourite pursuit. But Miss Seward's genius was not of a class to strike out new models of poetic excellence; and her natural good taste had been perverted, She was deficient in fertility of invention; wanted new and forcible combinations of thought to accomplish such a task. All her attempts at originality evaporated in turgid obscurity and pompous inflation. We frequently meet in her poetry with nervous lines, and sometimes with beautiful stanzas ; but neither the pleasing vein of easy flowing verse, nor the more happy inspiration of graceful energy, ever accompany her long. We seldom see her thoughts clothed in the dignified simplicity of nature, but usually find them loaded with factitious and ill assorted ornaments. Her prose bears pretty much the same character with her poetical compositions. They abound in sparkling sentences, poetical images, and high sounding epithets; but want arrangement and precision. It is understood that she has left the whole of her works as a legacy to Mr. Scott, the northern poet, with a view to their publication in a collected edition, with her life and posthumous pieces; several of which the present writer has heard her name. But of all her works, her epis tolary correspondence must be the most desirable. She had all her life an extensive acquaintance, and especially with men of literature. Her talents and disposition peculiarly fitted her for a species of writing free from the trammels and constraint of regular composition. It is from this source that the nature of her genius, and the powers of her mind may be fairly appreciated; where, although intermixed with much tinsel and alloy, will doubtless be discovered no common portion of sterling metal. In her remarks upon the writings of her contemporaries, always a
Such, divested of the fulsome praise which designing flatterers lavished upon her writings and genius, was the amiable and intelligent Miss Seward. Her merits were peculiarly her own; the spontaneous offspring of a good heart, and a liberally endowed mind. Her errors arose from a glowing imagination, joined to an excessive sensibility, cherished, instead of being repressed, by early habits and education. At the time Dr. Darwin came first to reside in Lichfield, Miss Seward was about thirteen or fourteen years of age. The circle which the Doctor drew around him, for ten or twelve years from that period, was composed of young men of acknowledged talents, and of ardent speculative minds; whose spirits, too buoyant for the beaten track of knowledge, soared to explore the yet untrodden paths of science, and give new systems to an astonished world. To turn aside the smooth current of nature, and to despise established usages, were the principles upon which they conducted their researches. Their visionary pursuits were dignified with the application of philosophy; but were evidently more calculated to gratify their own passions and propensities, than to promote the improvement of mankind. Variety and originality were the objects of their admiration, to which they sacrificed without remorse, reason, and common sense. Among those persons were Mr. Day, who, from Miss Seward's own account of him, was a capricious wild enthusiast; Mr. Edg-favourite topic of communication with her worth and Sir Brooke Boothby.—Doctor Darwin promoted and encouraged their idle schemes, and gave consequence to their speculations, by the reputation of his genius, and the variety of his talents. In this coterie Miss Seward's early impressions were formed. In the daily habit of hearing new and ingenious hypotheses, she became enamoured of novelty, and sighed for the meed of fame, in which she was encouraged and flattered by the gallantry of her admirers. Possessed of a ductile mind, and a romantic disposition, she fed with avidity upon the intellectual variety thus placed before her. To poetry she had
friends, she was fond of displaying much acute criticism. Her judgment in the selection of the poetic beauties of others, was for the most part chaste, and correct; qualities which in her own compositions seem to be sacrificed to empty sound and vain show. Had the taste, and exquisite feeling of this lady, been reared and cultivated with care and prudence, it is highly probable that she would have ranked among the first favourites of the muses; instead of which, the candid and unprejudiced must acknowledge that her poetic fame canuot long survive the remembrance of her friends, and the partiality of her personal admirers.
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The plowman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me. Now fades the glimm'ring landscapes on the sight
And all the air a solemn stillness holds, Save where the beetle wheels his drony flight, And drowsy tiuklings full the distaut folds; Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-trees shade, [heap, Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, The swallow twitt'ring from the straw built shed,
The cock s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, No naore shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their teams afield; How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke.
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
The short and simple annals of the poor. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow`r, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await, alike, th' inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise. Where thro' the long-drawn isle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. Continued from No. 43.]—No. XLIV.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath; Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust, Or flatt'ry sooth the dull cold ear of death? Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire: Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to extacy the living lyre. But knowledge to their eyes the living page, Rich with the spoils of Time, did n'er unroll: Chill penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul. Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air. Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little-tyrant of his field withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest : Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
And read their history in a nation's eyes, Their lot forhade: nor circumscrib'd alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd,
Forbade to wade thro' slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind; The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride
With incense kiudled at the Muse's flame. Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, Their sober wishes never learu'd to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. Yet even these bones from insult to protect, Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd | Hard by yon wood, now smiling, as in scorn,
The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralist to die. For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind? On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires: Ev'n from the tomb, the voice of nature cries,|| Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted files.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate. Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn,
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn; There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that bubbles by.
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove;
The next with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow thro' the church-yard path we saw him
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown; Fair Science frown'd not on bis humble birth, And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompence as largely send:
Nor farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, There they alike in trembling hope repose) The bosom of his Father and his God.
ODE ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CAT,
"Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Gaz'd on the lake below.
Her conscious tail her joy declar'd;
She saw, and purr'd applause.
The hapless nymph with wonder saw
She stretch'd in vain to reach the prize:
Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Eight times emerging from the flood,
Some speedy aid to send.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes,