Imatges de pÓgina

most artificial contrivance, and seems to amuse herself with saying, at every turn and doubling of the story, Now you think you have me, but I shall take care to disappoint you." This method is, however, liable to the following inconvenience, that in the search of what is new, an author is apt to forget what is natural; and, in rejecting the more obvious conclusions, to take those which are less satisfactory. The trite and the extravagant are the Scylla and Charybdis of writers who deal in fi&tion. With regard to the work before us, while we acknowledge the extraordinary powers of Mrs. Radcliffe, fome readers will be inclined to doubt whether they have been exerted in the present work with equal effect as in the Romance of the Forest.–Four volumes cannot depend entirely on terrific incidents and intricacy of story. They require character, unity of design, a delineation of the scenes of real life, and the variety of well supported contrast. The Mysteries of Udolpho are indeed relieved by much elegant description and picturesque scenery ; but in the descriptions there is too much of sameness: the pine and the larch tree wave, and the full moon pours its lustre through almost every chapter. Curiosity is raised oftener than it is gratified; or rather, it is raised lo high that no adequate gratification can be given it; the interest is completely diffolved when once the adventure is finihed, and the reader, when he is got to the end of the work, looks about in vain for the spell which had bound him so strongly to it. There are other little defects, which impartiality obliges us to notice. The manners do not sufficiently correspond with the æra the author has chosen ; which is the latter end of the fixteenth century. There is, perhaps, no diret anachronism, but the style of accomplishments given to the heroine, a country young lady, brought up on the banks of the Garonne; the mention of botany; of little circles of infidelity, &c. give so much the air of modern manners, as is not counterbalanced by Gothic arches and antique furniture. It is possible that the manners of different ages may not differ so much as we are apt to imagine, and more than probable that we are generally wrong when we attempt to delineate any but our own; but there is at leaft a style of manners which our imagination has appropriated to each period, and which, like the costume of theatrical dress, is not departed from without hurting the feelings. --The character of Annette, a talkative waiting-maid, is much worn, and that of the aunt, madame Cheron, is too low and selfish to excite any degree of intereft, or justify the dangers her niece exposes herself to for Hier faké. We must likewise observe, that the adventures do not sufficiently point to one centre: we do not, however, atsempt to analyse the story; as it would have no other effect



than destroying the pleasure of the reader, we shall content ourselves with giving the following specimen of one of those picturesque scenes of terror, which the author knows so well

to work up:

• During the remainder of the day, Emily's mind was agitated with doubts and fears and contrary determinations, on the subject of meeting this Barnardine on the rampart, and submitting herself to his guidance, the scarcely knew whither. Pity for her aunt and anxiety for herself alternately swayed her determination, and night came, before she had decided upon her conduct. She heard the castle clock strike eleven-twelve-and yet her mind wavered. The time, however, was now come, when the could hesitate no longer : and then the interest she felt for her aunt overcame other considerations, and bidding Annette follow her to the outer door of the vaulted gallery, and there await her return, she descended from her chamber. The castle was perfectly still, and the great hall, where so lately she had witnessed a scene of dreadful contention, now returned only the whispering footsteps of the two solitary figures gliding fearfully between the pillars, and gleamed only to the feeble lamp they carried. Emily, deceived by the long Madows of the pillars, and by the catching lights between, often stopped, imagining the faw some person, moving in the distant obscurity of the perspective; and, as the passed these pillars, the feared to turn her eyes towards them, almost expecting to see a figure start out from behind their broad shaft. She reached, however, the vaulted gallery, without interruption, but unclosed its outer door with a trembling hand, and, charging Annette not to quit it, and to keep it a little

open, that the might be heard if the called, she delivered to her the lamp, which she did not dare to take herself because of the men on watch, and, alone, stepped out upon the dark terrace. Every thing was so flill, that the feared left her own light steps should be heard by the distant sentinels, and she walked cautiously towards the spot, where she had before met Barnardine, listening for a sound, and looking onward through the gloom in search of him.

At length, she was startled by a deep voice, that spoke near her, and the paused, uncertain whether it was his, till it spoke again, and she then recognized the hollow tones of Barnardine, who had been punctual to the moment, and was at the appointed place, resting on the rame

After chiding her for not coming sooner, and saying, that he had been waiting nearly half an hour, he desired Emily, who made no reply, to follow him to the door through which he had entered the terrace.

• While he unlocked it she looked back to that she had left, and observing the rays of the lamp stream through a small opening, was certain that Annette was still there. But her remote situation could little befriend Emily, after she had quitted the terrace; and, when



part wall.

Barnardine unclosed the gate, the dismal aspect of the paffage beyond, thewn by a torch burning on the pavement, made her shrink from following him alone, and she refused to go, unless Annette might accompany her. This, however, Barnardine absolutely refused to permit, mirgling at the same time with his refusal such artful circumstances to heighten the pity and curiosity of Emily towards her aunt, that she, at length, consented to follow him alone to the portal.

• He then took up the torch, and led her along the passage, at the extremity of which he unlocked another door, whence they defcended, a few steps, into a chapel, which, as Barnardine held up the torch to light her, Einily observed to be in ruins, and the immediately recollected a former conversation of Annette, concerning it, with very unpleasant emotions. She looked fearfully on the almoft roofiefs walls, green with damps, and on the Gothic points of the windows, where the ivy and the briony had long supplied the place of glass, and ran mantling among the broken capitals of fome columns, that had once supported the roof. Barnardine stumbled over the broken pavement, and his voice, as he uttered a sudden oath, was returned in hollow echoes, that made it more terrific. Emily's heart funk: but she still followed him, and he turned out of what had been the principle aisle of the chapel. “ Down these steps, lady,” said Barnardine, as he descended a flight, which appeared to lead into the vaults; but Emily paused on the top, and demanded, in a tremulous tone, whither he was conducting her.

“ To the portal,” said Barnardine.
“ Cannot we go through the chapel to the portal ?" said Emily.

“ No, Signora ; that leads to the inner court, which I don't choose to unlock. This way, and we shall reach the outer court presently."

Emily still hesitated ; fearing not only to go on, but, fince she had gone thus far, to irritate Barnardine by refusing to go further.

“ Come, lady,” said the man, who had nearly reached the bottom of the flight, “ make a little haste; I cannot wait here all night.”

“ Whither do these steps lead?” said Emily, yet pausing.

" To the portal," repeated Barnardine, in an angry tone, “I will wait no longer.” As he faid this, he moved on with the light, and Emily, fearing to provoke him by further delay, reluctantly followed. From the steps, they proceeded through a passage adjowing the vaults, the walls of which were dropping with unwhole. fome dows, and the vapours, that crept along the ground, made the torch burn so dimly, that Emily expected every moment to see it extinguifhed, and Barnardine could scarcely find his way. As they advanced, these vapours thickened, and Barnardine believing the torch was expiring, stopped for a moment to trim it. As he then retted againf a pair of iron gates, that opened from the passage,

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Emily faw, by uncertain flashes of light, the vaults beyond, ard, near her, heaps of earth, that seemed to surround an open grave. Such an object, in such a scene, would, at any time, have disturbed her; but now she was shocked by an instantaneous presentiment, that this was the grave of her unfortunate aunt, and that the treacherous Barnardine was leading herself to destruction. The obscure and terrible place, to which he had conducted her, seemed to justify the thought; it was a place suited for murder, a receptacle for the dead, where a deed of horror might be committed, and no vestige appear to proclaim it. Emily was so overwhelmed with terror, that, for a moment, she was unable to determine whạt conduct to pursue. She then considered, that it would be vain to attempt an escape from Barnardine, by flight, fince the length and the intricacy of the way The had passed, would soon enable him to overtake her, who was unacquainted with the turnings, and whose feebleness would not suffer her to run long with swiftness. She feared equally to irritate him by à disclosure of her suspicions, which a refusal to accompany him further certainly would do; and, since she was already as much in his power as it was possible she could be, if the proceeded, the, at length, determined to supprefs, as far as she could, the appearance of apprehension, and to follow filently whither he designed to lead her. Pale with horror and anxiety, the now waited till Barnardine had trinmed the torch, and, as her fight glanced again upon the grave, she could not forbear enquiring for whom it was prepared. He took his eyes from the torch, and fixed them upon her face without speaking. She faintly repeated the question, but the man, shaking the torch, passed on; and the followed, trembling, to a second flight of steps; having ascended which, a door delivered them into the first court of the castle. As they crossed it, the light shewed the high black walls around them, fringed with long grass and dank weeds, that found a scanty foil among the mouldering stones; the heavy buttrelles, with, here and there, between them, a narrow grate, that admitted a freer circulation of air to the court, the maily iron gates that led to the castle, whose clustering turrets appeared above, and, opposite, the huge towers and arch of the portal itfelf. In this scene the lazge, uncouth person of Barnardine, bearing the torch, formed a characteristic figure. This Barnardine was wrapt in a long dark cloak, which scarcely allowed the kind of half-boots, or sandals, that were laced upon his legs, to appear, and thewed only the point of a broad sword, wl.ich he usually wore, flung in a belt across his shoulders. On his head was a heavy flat velvet car, somewhat resembling a turban, in which was a short feather; the visage beneath it shewed strong features, and a courtenance furrowed with the lines of cunning, and darkened by habitual discontent.

\ The view of the court, however, reanimated Emily, who, as she crossed silently towards the portal, began to hope, that her own fears, and not the treachery of Barnardine, had deceived her. She


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looked anxiousy up at the first casement, that appeared above the lofty arch of the portcullis ; but it was dark, and the enquired, whether it belonged to the chamber, where Madame Montoni was confined. Emily spoke low, and Barnardine, perhaps, did not hear her question, for he returned no answer; and they, foon after, entered the postern door of the gate-way, which brought them to the foot of a narrow stair case, that wound up one of the towers.

6 Up this stair-case the Signora lies,” said Barnardine.
Lies!” repeated Emily faintly, as she began to ascend,
" She lies in the upper chamber," said Barnardine.

As they passed up, the wind, which poured through the narrow cavities in the wall, made the torch fare, and it threw a stronger gleam upon the grim and fallow countenance of Barnardine, and discovered more fully the desolation of the place—the rough stone walls, the spiral stairs, black with age, and a suit of ancient armour, with an iron visor, that hung upon the walls, and appeared a trophy of some former victory.

• Having reached a landing-place, “ You may wait here, lady," said he, applying a key to the door of a chamber, “ while I go up, and tell the Signora you are coming."

“ That ceremony is unnecessary," replied Emily, "my aunt will rejoice to see me.”

“ I am not so sure of that,” said Barnardine, pointing to the room he had opened : " Come in here, lady, while I step up.”

. Emily, surprised and somewhat fhocked, did not dare to oppose him further, but, as he was turning away with the torch, desired he would not leave her in darkness. He looked around, and, observing a tripod lamp, that stood on the stairs, lighted and gave it to Emily, who stepped forward into a large old chamber, and he closed the door. As the listened anxiously to his departing steps, sbe thought he descended, instead of ascending, the stan's; but the gufts of wind, that whistled round the portal, would not allow her to hear. distinctly any other sound. Still, however, the listened, and, perceiving no step in the room above, where he had affirmed Madame Montoni to be, her anxiety increased, though she considered, that the thickness of the floor in this strong building might prevent any found reaching her from the upper chamber. The next moment, in a pause of the wind, the distinguished Barnardine's step descend ing to the court, and then thought the heard his voice; but, the rising gust again overcoming other sounds, Emily, to be certain on this point, moved softly to the door, which, on attempting to open it, she discovered was fastened. All the horrid apprehensions, that had lately affailed her, returned at this inftant with redoubled force, and no longer appeared like the exaggerations of a timid spirit, but seemed to have been sent to warn her of her fate. She now did not çloubt, that Madame Montoni had been murdered, perhaps in this very chamber; or that she herself was brought hither for the same 3


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