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answer; and the only reply which she has given (and she feels justified in giving it), is to say, that in depicting character, in the endeavour to shew its developement, the same as in the outpourings of the heart, she has still studied nature, and to the best of her ability attempted to copy after nature's works.
Many characters in these and in her former writings (though introduced under fictitious names and events) have had living models, from which she has painted with freedom; but still, she trusts, without any unworthy or ungenerous motives. And she has sometimes been amused by the observations of critics, who have not unfrequently ascribed to fancy a sketch that was made from real life, and, vice versa, have pronounced to be facts and no fictions the coinages of her own brain.
The truth is, and the experience of many years of authorship fully warrants her venturing to make the observation, that where an author takes truth as a basis for fiction, and mingles his own observations of nature, and the feelings of his own heart, with the creations of his fancy, it is not easy to trace the line of demarcation, or to detect the precise bounds where truth ends and fiction begins. If it were otherwise, the writer would be but a mere bungler in his craft, and would produce but an awkward piece of patchwork at the best. Nor is it any disparagement to the judgment and acumen of a critic that he should be at fault under such circumstances, and therefore sometimes fall into error; since those who paint from nature must, of necessity, frequently have to deal with marvellous inconsistencies; sometimes with such as would never have entered into the brain of the novelist in his wildest “imaginings :" nature herself alone presenting such fantastic stores in her inexhaustible combinations of good and bad, of the great and the little, the noble and the mean, the sane and the insane (for there are more mad people in the world than can with expediency be placed under wholesome discipline for the recovery of their reason), in all the orders, classes, and degrees of the great family of mankind.
A. E. B.
The Vicarage, Tavistock,
Dec. 5th, 1838.
TRIALS OF THE HEART.
I often think of South Wales: indeed, the time I passed in that charming country, with a party of my nearest relatives, I have always ranked amongst the most agreeable days of my early life. We commenced our tour by a visit to Bristol; where Redcliffe Church, and Chatterton, and the Rowley poems, furnished us with subjects of interest during our stay in the birthplace of that “marvellous boy,” as he is so truly called by a poet who was born in the same city. Clifden and the hot-wells likewise afforded us several pleasing rambles; and we soon crossed the water for Chepstow, where we staid some time, and employed ourselves in sketching, and in many a delightful excursion on the banks of the Wye, in the woods of Pierce-field, in visiting Tintern Abbey, and exploring every corner of the old castle.
The weather being fine, we determined to proceed by sea to Swansea, in South Wales. We had a glorious passage down the Bristol Channel, passed the Steep and Flat Holmes, and finally landed, by moonlight, at that most enchanting spot, Britton Ferry. As it is not my object to give any particular account of these places, I shall merely state that we remained a considerable time at Swansea; rambling during our sojourn there to the Vale of Neath, one of the most beautiful valleys in these kingdoms, and took Caerleon, Newport, Cardiff, etc. in our return to town. During our visit to South Wales, whilst we were residing at
we became acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Hwas the regular curate of the place; and, as the rector generally resided at a living he held elsewhere, the whole of the
duty, in the parish and the church, devolved on this gentleman. Welsh livings are too poor to make Welsh curacies other than the poorest of their kind; and this was the case in the present instance, so that, notwithstanding the clergyman, of whom I now speak, added something to his income by private tuition, he had extreme difficulty to maintain, with common respectability, himself and his two daughters: his wife was dead. These young ladies were far above the ordinary run of girls in the neighbourhood; they had been remarkably well educated, and possessed, the eldest in particular, great talents for music, vocal and instrumental; they sang duets very delightfully together. I was told that before their father had obtained private pupils, they had, for two or three seasons, sang at the concerts at Bath for their support. But some over nice persons, who thought only of the publicity of their exertions, and not of their necessity, made so many objections to such a mode of life in a clergyman's daughters, that as soon as he could possibly maintain them at home, he took them from Bath, and they lived with him, when I knew them, in a way that excited my respect as well as compassion; for, whilst they literally did the work of household drudgery in the morning, in the evening they would entertain their father by reading, or singing and playing to him their delightful duets,
The Rev. Mr. H- — was a man of considerable learning and knowledge, and a very agreeable companion. His information was extensive; and he was ever ready to communicate whatever he knew without ostentation or pedantry. He was very learned in the native language of the Welsh; a curious investigator of the antiquities of that people, and had employed himself for years in collecting whatever remained of the poems
and traditions of the bards: he was a most valuable acquaintance for one who travelled in Wales, with a desire to gain whatever knowledge he could collect of the history, customs, literature, etc. of the country. These topics were frequently brought forward; but sometimes our reverend friend would revert to his early life, his college career, and his companions at the University of Oxford.
From him I learnt some circumstances that in the following narrative I shall present to my readers. The principal character, whom I have called Charles Edwards, was the most intimate friend of the clergyman in question; they were fellow students at Oxford. I am sorry to add, that the Rev. Mr. H-- is now dead.
I was one day walking on the beach at Swansea, alone, enjoying the fresh sea breeze, and watching the beautiful