« 上一頁繼續 »
222 THE COUSIN OF THE MARRIED, AND THE COUSIN OF THE DEAD.
of one upon whom fortune had so lavished her favours, he entered the church and piously knelt down among the mourners. V- had on his only black coat, and he was immediately taken for one of the friends of the deceased; and after the ceremonies in the church, was offered a place in one of the funeral carriages. The occasion was too opportune to be neglected, and he gladly jumped into the wished-for vehicle.
On the way a thousand ideas passed through his imagination. He thanked heaven for having furnished him with the means to fulfil, in so economical a manner, the recommendation of his physician. He accompanied the corpse to the grave-saw the coffin laid in the tomb, and on leaving the church, he found the coach in waiting, and the coachman ready to convey him home.
Since that event V became the willing assistant of all public interments; and what was, at first, only useful as a means of exercise, grew to be for him a pleasure and a delight. He went to a funeral as others went to a theatre, to a ball, or to a festival. He daily read the lists of deaths in the city, and these lists were to him a journal, and the only one for which he conceived there was any use. Still more, he had taken lodgings opposite the dwelling of the undertaker, and every morning he crossed the street to converse with him, and obtain information relative to the burials of the day. He put on his blue surtout or his black dress, according to the rank and fortune of the deceased, the expenses of the funeral, &c., and for all grand ceremonies he wore crape on his arm. V-came now generally to be known by the title of the "Cousin of the Dead." For fifteen years he had not missed a single funeral that could be reached. His views were too liberal to adopt party feelings; he assisted to inter Bellart and Manuel, Talma and the Bishop of Beauvais, a female follower of St. Simon and the lady superior of the Convent of Minimes. He once presented to the Chamber of Deputies, a petition for a law interdicting the embalming of infants, by which the number of funeral processions is considerably lessened.
The Cousin of the Dead possessed a remarkably expansive sensibility, and an extraordinary quantity of sympathy for the afflictions of others. He felt the grief of a bereaved mother, the sorrow of a childless father, with the poignancy of reality. Many a legator, in noticing his grief at the grave, has taken him for a disinherited relative; many a mother has been gratified to see him shed tears over her favourite son, and many a husband, on losing a beloved wife, has been astonished at his emotions over her remains. He composed funeral orations for all illustrious persons; the burial place was his life and his world. At times, struck with the appearance of anguish depicted on his countenance, the friends of the dead have desired him to be the principal mourner.
· Augustus Leger."
One day, during the burial of a person of considerable importance, the Cousin of the Dead was observed to shed an unusual abundance of tears. One of the mourners approached him, and desired that he would make a few appropriate remarks on the individual whose remains they had just deposited in the cold earth.
"The tomb," said he, in obedience to the call, "is again about to enclose the remains of a distinguished citizen." He stopped for a moment, and inquired, in a low tone of voice, the name of the deceased. He was answered,
Augustus Leger," he resumed, "was a man, grave and austere. His long life was but a combined series of virtuous and benevolent acts. He was entirely devoted to the holy, the legitimate cause of
He was a regicide!
“The rights of the sovereign people. His disinterestednessHe was a usurer!
"His laudable economy, his aversion to luxury, his unassuming and modest deportment, had gained for him universal esteem. But still more worthy of admiration were his virtues in private life-his patience, his humanity, and his devoted and unchangeable attachment to the wife of his bosom, the lady of his choice."
He had been divorced !
"For his children he cherished the most affectionate and tender regard."
He had driven them from his home!
"Virtuous friend! May the earth rest lightly on thy coffin !"
"THERE is a voice I shall hear no more;
They have gone like the blush of a summer morn--
"There were eyes, that late were lit up for me,
"Oh, once the summer to me was bright-
Then earth was an Eden and thou its guest;]
A sabbath of blessings was in my breast:
"Now thou art laid in that voiceless hall,
THE PEDLAR'S STORIES.
NO. III. THE ORDEAL.
A FEW miles, after losing sight of the Trysting Tree, and having gained the summit of a hill of very considerable pretensions in the way of magnitude and elevation, the pedlar said, "I never arrive at this spot,"-pointing to the ledge of a mass of granite that jutted out upon the margin of the road, and offered an inviting seat to the wayfarer,--" provided the weather be kindly, without making a halt, giving my nag a rest, and allowing my own eyes to feast themselves upon the varieties around far and wide." The hill in question may be said to form one of the outposts of the Highlands, or a halfway station between the bleak and towering mountains to the north and westward, and the rich, highly cultivated, and comparatively champaign country to the east and southward,-till the scenes fade into dimness and indefinite forms in the vicinity of the capital of Caledonia, and in the districts which thence stretch in a western and southern direction. Indeed in the subjacent expanse, the points and elements constitute one of the finest imaginable panoramas, scattered and crowded with the profusion of Omnipotence, as well as with innumerable tokens of the handiwork and beautyloving fancy of man; while in the opposite line of vision the grandest of backgrounds is provided by means of Alpine formations, whose vast shoulders seem to press upon each other in the distant perspective with a prodigious rivalry, and whose blue and peaked turrets seem as if to strive which shall have the honour of most truly piercing the skies and nearing the vaults of heaven. But the fillings up-the details,—the thousand things, each but minor in the scale of boundless magnificence to the entire picture! Soan with something like deliberation the most prominent particulars within the eye's range on the Lowland side; and then the links of the Forth and the widening Frith,-the castellated town and swarming village,-the field of Bannockburn, and many a battle-field of romantic story, arrest the gaze
with multitudes of subordinate subjects, all rife with interest and endlessly suggestive. Nor deem you, when the look is turned to what present themselves on the other hand, that there is any lack of theme or the springtides for thought. In the cloudcaps and the mists that hover on the bosom of yonder pinnacled mountain, you imagine of the lovely lakes that sleep below, or the givings out of the ever-heaving ocean, which, were you planted on the peak, would seem to roll at your feet, and to be almost within the reach of a giant's leap. And oh! the souls that are bred in these Alpine regions, who hear voices in the mist, and who interpret the roar of the deep! Far from the turmoil, din, and dust of the trafficking city,-dwelling in the sequestered valley, or the crevices of the majestic rock, or poised in the thunder's gateway, dream you that no marvellous things are evoked and transacted there; or that, familiar with the most sudden variations of sunshine and gloom, of cataract and storm, that there are no inbred mysteries of mind,—no romance of life, no outgoings significant of a primitive people, worthy to be regarded? Yes, the poetry of the landscape, however variegated and noble, is but a feeble and dull emanation when compared with the moral and the actual in human experience,-with the vicissitudes and destinies of the immortal and ever-living. No matter how even may have been the tenour of the man's path,-how insignificant his name and station in the world's reckoning, the history of but one of his days' longing, doing, and answerable account, immeasurably transcends the importance and the contrasts of the choicest scenery that ever occupied the picturing of pen and pencil.-Such are the sentimentalities, in a paraphrased shape, which preceded the Pedlar's Story of "The Ordeal."
"Look yonder," said Simon, "where the glancing sun is answered by the glitter and sparkle of windows, not to be matched by the brilliancy of diamonds except in respect of continuance; in that house, which with its garden and lawn,-its clumps of trees,-its tidy walks and neat fences, pitched as the whole are on the lowest slope of the very hill we stand on, dwelleth a man, whose character, taste, and comforts are such as might almost have tempted me to exchange, ay, in every matter, my lot and con dition from first to last with him. One may shrewdly judge of the individua from what is seen about his dwelling; it is such a spot as would raise the wish just to be dropped in its midst. And yet, mayhap, you would not like to face all the trials and dangers he has gone through. But I'll endeavour to make you acquainted with the nature of some of them.
"A pair of young men, of nearly the same age, natives of the same parish in a neighbouring shire, and bosom friends, took it into their heads, that they would try their fortune in some line or other which might seem more