Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

No. 105]

OR

Monthly Journal of Fashion.

LONDON, SEPTEMBER 1, 1839.

SHEEP-DOG.

A SKETCH FROM LIFE.

By the Author of 'Jerningham.'

"He had worth,
Poor fellow!-but a humorist in his way-
Alas! what drove him mad."
SHELLEY.

I shall never forget poor White. He was the junior classical master at Dr. R- -'s when I was a school-boy, and we honored him with the soubriquet of "Sheep-dog."

Undoubtedly the originator of this nick-name was an individual of no ordinary intelligence. "The Sheep-dog!" How striking is the application of the term; he who applied it was certainly a poet with a fine sense of metaphorical fitness. Now exists there, in the multitudinous ranks of things animate and inanimate, an object, sentient, or insensate, more fit than this as the type symbolical of an usher? "The Sheep-dog!" How finely it expresses the whipper-in to a pack of school-boys. The master is the shepherd, the usher the sheep-dog, and the congregation of school-boys is the flock.

I am not sure that this most poetical of nick-names did not originate in the bearer of it himself. I have a dim, flickering notion that the title was self-assumed. At all events poor White acknowledged the fitness of its application; and, as though he were impressed with an idea that the common duties of his calling did not sufficiently assimilate him to the guardian animal whose name he bore, he '| would at times, for he was of a playful disposition, assume the nature as well as the office of his canine prototype, running and barking after his flock as though in verity he had once been a sheep-dog, and that the metempsychosis had been imperfectly accomplished. I think that the fine qualities of his mind, delighting, like Mr. Square's, in "the fitness of things," caused him to rejoice, if not in his sobriquet, in the abstract beauty of its application. If they had called him anything else it would have fretted him; but to be called a sheep-dog-an antelope is more beautiful, a lion more noble, a swan more graceful than a sheep-dog; but to have called him an antelope, a lion, or a swan, would have been a lucus a non lucendo, a very pointed piece of irony indeed. The sheep-dog is ungainly in person as in manners: the roughest of its kind; but this mattered very little to White. Had he been a lawyer, a sailor, or an apothecary, the application of this nick-name would have maddened him-but as he was an usher in a school, he saw no reason why he should not be called "Sheep-dog." It pleased him to think that in his own humble person he strikingly exemplified the "fitness of things."

Poor White! If I were to live a thousand years—a millenium crowded with incident-I do not think that I should ever forget him. We used to say that he had once been a post-boy, which was not otherwise true, than that his parents had kept the post-office in Exeter, or in some other west

[VOL. 9.

's as a very

of England town. He came to Dr. R-
young man, with a truly Shakspearian knowledge of the
classics, he had "small Latin and less Greek;" but be had
a mine of pure gold within him, not less precious because
it was uncoined. The little that he knew was self-taught;
he had received no other than the commonest education,
but he had the will and the power to learn; he had the
germs of knowledge; he aspired nobly; and, putting forth
his strength, he grappled with his past ignorance until, in
a few months, the neglect and the idleness of his many
boyish years was atoned for by the day-and-night labours
of his intellect, now vigorous in its maturity. How beau-
tiful and how grand is the triumph of native power over
the antagonisms of circumstances, and yet how little was it
appreciated, nay, how scorned it was in White, the "Sheep
dog."

I do not think that there was a boy in the school who saw anything to admire in White; indeed, it was the fashion to despise him. Breathing a conventional atmosphere as we did, with all the self-inflation of peurile aristocrats, we tossed up our heads at the unfortunate "sheep-dog," and having voted that he was no gentleman, we tacitly agreed to victimize him. There was nothing actually ridiculous in the man, but we soon made him appear ridiculous. How we did this will be speedily divined by all who have ever been to school. Oh! numerous were the up-settings of his desk, always contrived so as to deluge its contents with ink, the supplementary pins and cobbler's-wax appended to his seat, the gratuitous insertions of many strange articles in the magazine of his coat-pockets, the caricatures and the doggrel verses concerning him written in all the likeliest places, the sucked oranges which would salute him on the face and be apologized for as intended for some one else; all these, and many more inflictions of a like nature, was he fated to endure. Not that he was unpopular, for he was neither cruel nor exacting; had he been so we should not have dared to treat him thus; but that he was ridiculous, at least we thought him so, and, like the frog pelters in the fable, it was fine fun to us although it was death to poor White.

Where the yoke has galled the hard-working animal there the flies are sure to settle. So it was with us; for as we knew that White was poor, we took pleasure in the destruction of his property. I think that in most boys there is a leven of inherent cruelty; but our conduct in this respect far exceeds the common fly-killing barbarity of juvenile tortures. Knowing that he was very poor, and that he was strenuously endeavouring to cultivate his mind, almost with one consent we agreed to destroy his property, and to interrupt his studies whenever it was in our power to do So. We thought that he was stingy and a sap; we did not like him to economize nor to study out of school-hours; the other masters did neither the one thing nor the other; the senior classical usher was in debt, and we thought him an uncommon fine fellow, for he subscribed half-a-guinea to the cricket-fund, whereas White only doled out half-acrown. And then he was "never dressed like a gentleman,"

we criticised his clothes most unmercifully, and declared that they were cut out with a spade; the head-usher wore Wellington boots, but White contented himself with those hybrid creations, which we call high-lows, and we used always to declare that they must have been made by Vulcan, for they were shapeless, iron-clouted things, and had the property of enduring for ever. Then again--and this was made a serious charge against him-White drank neither coffee nor tea; but consoled himself morning and evening with a doubtful beverage of a brown muddy aspect, which looked like a concoction of tobacco-juice and saw dust, and tasted--for sometimes poor White would present a portion of his second cup as a peace-offering to one of his tormentors-like a distillation of burnt crusts, and in those days we did not think it unpalatable; at all events, it was much better than our own sky-blue, and we were glad enough to partake ourselves of this mystic preparation, although we heartily despised White for drinking it in the place of a more approved beverage. We were great sticklers for legitimacy in those days, even in the article of coffee and tea.

But at length the great secret was discovered; a cylindrical tin case was found by one of the boys, and a label pasted thereupon betrayed the mysterious nature of the "Sheep-dog's" secession from established drinks. And the strange stuff, which, in its dilution, washed down White's daily meals; the dark, muddy, illegitimate compound, which so much offended our patrician sensibilities, was simply Hunt's Roasted Corn.

Now this we thought a most unheard-of prophanation, a wicked turning away from established rectitude, and poor White suffered accordingly. To patronize a radical, and to drink roasted corn! It was plain that White must have been a seditious person, a leveller, a dissenter, a freethinker, an enemy to the order of things--and who could say that he was not actually an atheist?

We never forgave White for saving his money and his time. He had time enough and money enough to be a better fellow, and as he had neither wife nor children we could not see any occasion for his husbandry. But still the "sheep dog," disregarding popular opinion, "bore up and steered right onward." He was patient under affliction, and in action persevering; the conscience supporting him throughout all. He seldom complained, he was generally cheerful, and he played with the little boys at times as though he were quite infantine himself. He had apparently very good health, and he was neither pale nor Cattenuated from study, and this was mainly because he adopted the plan of taking exercise at the same time that he studied. Up and down the play-ground he would walk rapidly with a book in his hand, committing whole pages of Greek primitives to memory; and then after a time, he would call a little boy to his side and say, "Hear me these." Then the usher and the pupil would change places, but White seldom missed a word, for he was endowed with extraordinary powers of memory, which seldom or never played him false. The lesson over, the sheep-dog would thrust his book into the capacious pockets of his green plaid robe du matin, and crying out "Catch me if you can;" he would run about the play-ground like mad, shouting and making grimaces as he went, to the no small diversion of the beholders.

At length a whisper ran through the school that poor White was actually mad. I was then one of the elder boys,

and I had long ago ceased from tormenting him. Indeed, I had begun by this time to respect him, for I had heard something about a widowed mother and a maiden sister, supported out of White's savings, and willingly accrediting the truth of this, admiration took the place of scorn in my young and compliant breast, and White became to mea hero. Somebody told me that White was mad, and I answered, "No more mad than you are.”

But I watched him, and it was very evident that though not actually mad, he was strange and flighty at times; he looked oddly, he said odd things, and when he was out in the playing fields he would drive his squad of little boys before him like a flock of sheep, barking all the way as he ran. He had studied too much; and, although there was little to apprehend, the boys were not wrong in saying that he was "cracked," slightly, very slightly, as I thought.Studious men, in their hours of recreations, are often the most singular; philosophers jump over chairs and play divers antics to divert themselves, and White was only thus wildly exuberant, when he disported himself, that he might shake off entirely the oppressiveness which results from an over-exertion of the brain. I feel myself at this very moment, a desire to rush into the streets shouting; yet, if I were to do so, I should doubtless be taken for a madman. It was next given out in the school that White was about to leave us. I asked him, and he confirmed the truth of the report; he was going to college-to a college in Wales, St. Mary's, I think--and the Bishop of had given him a promise of ordination. He had long desired to become a minister of the gospel, and for this, year after year, he had toiled with unremitting perseverance. "I have worked very hard for this," he said in a touching voice, which brought tears into my eyes-"and now do I think that I have heaped up money enough and knowledge enough to sustain me until I enter the haven towards which I have been steering so long."

It was now easy to account for the economy and the studiousness of the usher. That which had once been mysterious was now plain. That which had once been deemed ignominious was now looked upon as ennobling— the reprehensible became the laudable, and poor White became the fashion. The upper boys were kind to him, and they thrashed the lower boys who insulted him, and the sheep-dog, for the last few months of his sojourn at Dr. R's, was suffered to drink his roasted corn in peace, and to learn his Greek primitives in quietness.

But still I discarded not my belief in the story of the widowed mother and the maiden sister, whom White's savings maintained. I clung to it, for if it were a delusion it was a beautiful one, and worthy to be cherished.

So White, the "sheep-dog," left us, and another took his place in the school-room-a stylish young fellow, of good family and bad morals-a very indifferent classic, but a most unexceptionable cricketter.

And nothing was heard of poor White, until one morning, about a year after his departure, a weary traveller, unwashed and unshaven, his clothes covered with dust, and his feet forcing their way through his shoes, presented himself at Dr. R- -'s many-windowed mansion, and claimed to be immediately admitted. The servant who opened the door knew him not, and as her master was engaged she would have repulsed him, but the stranger was importunate; he said that he was wearied and foot-sore, that he had walked all the way from Exeter, and that now being hungry, athirst

and a beggar, he was much anxious to see Dr. R

—.

There was something singular in the aspect and in the demeanour of the stranger, which excited the attention and the alarm of the servant. There was a wildness in his eyes and an odd smile upon his face when he spoke, a mingled look of cunning and simplicity, which made the woman doubt whether the man she was conversing with were a knave or a fool, and this puzzled her-she was half afraid and half inclined to laugh, but she resolutely denied her master, and would have shut the door upon the applicant, had he not, perceiving her intentions, suddenly pushed it wide open, and running through the hall with a loud burst of laughter, rushed into one of the parlours, where he threw himself full-length upon a sofa, and cried aloud with the air of a monarch, "Send the Doctor to me !"

The frightened damsel obeyed this imperious mandate, and in a few minutes Dr. Rentered the apartment of which his strange visitor had taken forcible possession. "Good God!—Mr. White-" he exclaimed.

It was actually the poor sheep-dog-and there he lay in the presence of the shepherd, rabid, a hopeless maniac-the thread of his reason utterly broken-a thing to be pointed at and mocked. And all his noble aspirations, all his long-abiding hopes, his patience, his struggles, his travail, had ended in this at last.

He laughed when he saw Dr. Rcalled for wine, and declared positively that he had run all the way from Exeter-a distance of nearly a hundred miles— without once stopping to take breath. He pointed to his trowsers, which were rent at the knees, and exhibited his hands, which were sadly lacerated, and as he did this he laughed exultingly, repeating, "I tricked them, yes I tricked them," and he seemed to chuckle as he thought of some cunning act that he had himself recently committed. Then he talked about the boys, repeated the names of several who had formerly been under his care, and quoted some passages of Greek from the "Bacchanalians" of Euripides. "Don't you think, Doctor," he added, his voice subsiding from loud declamation into a subdued yet earnest tone of enquiry, "that Agave, when she got drunk, as you know, Doctor, she did, for there's no mincing the matter, she got beastly drunk-now don't you think-tell me candidly, for I wish your opinion--don't you think that she was very kind to her son Pentheus, in only tearing him to pieces ?"

9

Dr. Rwho had sent for a medical man, and who thought it best to humour the maniac, that he might commit no act of violence before the arrival of the physician, replied in a bland voice, "Oh! yes, Mr. White, very."

"I thought, Doctor, that you would say so; it was very kind in the mother, when she was beastly drunk, to kill her son outright, it was-a leg there and an arm there, a headless, and a limbless trunk, and all was over-but I, I live on still, Doctor! But won't you give me some winesome water then, for I am thirsty as Tantalus."

I almost wish that I had never commenced this story.If it were a fiction I should not care, for creating I may create at will; but this is, alas! too true: and as I have begun, so I must finish, in the truth.

But the truth is very painful to tell. Poor White, upon quitting Dr. R -'s (I am now retracing the path of my narrative, and speak of the time when he abandoned his ushership) immediately removed himself to St. Mary's.

There, existing upon his slender professional savings, he laboured on with unwearying perseverance. Exercising the most rigid economy, both of time and money,

"His faith, abiding the appointed time,"

he sustained his soul in the midst of privation. He had laid aside all selfishness; pleasure was to him a thing denied, and the only light which illumined his pathway was that of a quiet conscience, and the hope of ultimate rest. This light ought to have struck sunshine into his soul; but I question whether it did, for indeed it is a hard thing to journey onward day after day, night after night, treading under foot the fairest flowers of life and gathering no corn into the granary, companionless and without sympathy in the world, enjoying neither health nor riches, "Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure-" Indeed it is very hard

My pen seems to linger in this place, and I begin to generalize where I ought to proceed with my narrative. I set down a common-place instead of a fact; but the facts which I have to tell reflect no honour upon humanity.-Evil things I am now about to speak of things very hideous and debasing. I blush for mankind as I write them.

Poor White had a mother and a sister; they were his only relatives, and he supported them. I know not how he managed, for his receipts were very small, but he did support them-both the mother and the daughter. It was a noble thing for them he laboured, for them he studied night and day, for them he denied himself not merely the comforts, but indeed the necessaries of existence, for them he braved the contumely of the world, pining in solitude and despised. Many a night did he retire hungry to a bed but poorly supplied with coverlids-many a cold winter evening did be sit, with his only blanket pinned around his neck, for he had not wherewithal to buy fuel; and when he looked at his fireless grate he sighed not, but smiled pleasantly, and drawing his blanket closely around him, exclaimed"Well! I thank my God, that they are now sitting by a fire."

And with these thoughts did he sustain himself, crucifying all his desires, for a year. If any one had watched him closely throughout this time, it would have been said that sypmtoms of insanity, which first developed themselves at Dr. R- -'s, every day were becoming more apparent. Too much study, if not too much learning, had made this poor disciple mad. His sensitive mind, fearfully acted

upon

it as it was, by

"Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty,"

had given way beneath these repeated inflictions; for though he still looked forward and was strong in hope, his present was very cheerless-cold, hunger, and watching, combined with incessant intellectual exertion, had proved too strong for his reason to bear up against, and it tottered, it did not fall, for its hope sustained it; he thought of his mother and his sister, and these thoughts were for a time his salvation.

For a time-alas! that he should not have abided in this cheering faith to the end of his days; but it happened one day he was siezed with a desire of visiting his longdeserted home, and of embracing his mother and his sister. It was Christmas-time, and he thought that he might afford himself a holiday; so he started-upon foot be it remembered for Exeter, which was the home of his fathers. As he went along he pictured to himself his own delight and that of his grateful relatives, upon finding themselves once

M 2

again in the presense of each other, after so painful and so protracted a separation. He anticipated, with pleasant feelings of self-congratulation, their joy and their thanksgivings, their praises and their pride. He had not forewarned them of his coming, for it was his desire "to give them a surprise; and as he trudged, with brisk steps, along the hard, dry roads, the keen frosty air bracing his relaxed frame, his mind, full of hope, seemed to sympathize with his body and was braced also, the anticipation of delight acting upon it with an invigorating freshness; and ere he reached the confines of his native county he was a new man-a 'giant refreshed;' but it would have been better for him if he had died by the way-side ere he passed the borders of that county.

It was evening when the weary pedestrian traversed the narrow street which led to his little homestead. With a beating heart and a noiseless step he crossed the threshold and opened the door of the apartment, wherein he knew that his mother always sat. "Mother!" he said; but this was the only word he uttered, for he saw that which suddenly deprived him of speech, and where he stood there did he remain. He never passed the threshold of the

room.

He leant against the door-post, and his straining eyes beheld too plainly the fearful exhibition which was prepared to greet his return, after a long absence, to his home and to his kindred. There lay his mother and sister, stretched out on a carpetless floor, the little chamber which he had left so comfortable, denuded of almost all its furniture, and no spark of fire in the grate.

"And the mother and the sister, were they dead?" No; reader, much worse-they were drunk

Filthily drunk-the old woman and her daughter, wallowing like swine, and ever and anon belching out an inarticulate blasphemy, an empty gin-bottle on the table, a broken glass on the floor, and liquor spilt over both.

The old woman's cap had fallen off, and her loose grey hair, as she lay supine on the floor, was dabbling in a pool of liquor.

White uttered no word, but turned from the door and quitted the house, a hopeless maniac. The blow was too heavy for him to bear-so sudden and so horrible! He beheld-and the thread of his reason snapt, never again to be united. He had toiled, struggled, endured, and it had all come to this at last! He had suffered cold, hunger, fatigue; he had laboured night and day in solitude and penury; he had walked in tattered garments amongst men who pointed at him, and all for this; all that his mother and his sister might wallow in the filthiness of intoxication, and become like the beasts that perish!

They found him next morning in the High Street, and he was conveyed to a mad-house in the outskirts of the town.

Thence he escaped, I know not how, and he found his way up to SI have spoken of what happened there. Through the agency of Dr. R. he was removed subsequently to a lunatic asylum at FThe boys made a subscription for their quondum usher, and as though they were anxious to atone for their past contumely, they were uniformly liberal in their donations. I think that we raised upwards of fifty pounds to supply his wants in the asylum, but neither skill nor care could restore him; no glimpse of light was ever destined again to enter the dark

places of his brain. They pronounced him an incurable maniac.

When last I travelled through S

I enquired after him, and he was still alive, if that can be called life, which --but I cannot repeat what they told me—it is too horrible, too disgusting to be written.

There are many who can bear witness to the truth of this story.-Alas! poor White!

THE COQUETTE.

The prettiest villa in the vicinity of London belonged to Isabella Hervey. She was brilliantly beautiful, the possessor of an ample independent fortune, and the idol of a bachelor brother, who, many years her senior, had long supplied to her orphaned youth parental care and protection.

The crimson glow of a summer sunset burnished all the windows of her boudoir, gleamed through their light and graceful draperies, and made the sumptuous carpet, couches, and ottomans dimly visible; from this apartment, over which the spirit of enchantment seemed to preside, the eye passed through a beautiful vista formed by two consecutive drawing-rooms, in which the lights were being kindled for a throng of expected guests.

Just at this interval-this pause which was not peace, but seemed like it—Isabella glided slowly into the scene of which she was the sovereign. As she passed, the splendid mirrors reflected her form-a form fair as woman ever wore; a thousand odours greeted her with a voice of silent fragrance; and her harp, half hid in the recess of a window, through the gauzy veil of which gleamed clustering roses, whispered of melody as she went by.

But Isabella had now been many years a fashionable coquette: though still young, still, to the common and cursory eye, beautiful, still rich, still flattered and followed, she was not happy. All the freshness or rather all the sweetness of feeling was gone; little susceptibility was left her but to the impressions of pain.

This is one of the penalties that humanity pays for the abuse of the human powers; sensibility to pleasure it must surrender, sensibility to pain it cannot.

Isabella entered her boudoir with a letter in her handthat letter had disappointed her. Her satiated mental appetite now required the hyperbole of praise; she could not do without it, it was a condiment essential to the savour of all that was said to her; yet it did not give her pleasure, though its absence gave her pain.

Conscience, never utterly destroyed, and judgment, in her naturally acute, would each continually add something to rankle the wounds from which she suffered. Deficient flattery suggested fears about default, and then conscience would ask, 'Do you deserve faith, fealty, or firmness? Excessive flattery suggested suspicions of sincerity, and then judgment would exclaim, 'Is this daubing meet for a classic eye like your's?' But conscience, judgment, every high and noble thought, were flung aside as she hurried to the accustomed crowd, as if she had set her 'life upon a cast, and must stand the hazard of the die.'

Perhaps beauty is of all human power the most perfect ;

effortless, instantaneous in its action, it may say, with Cæsar, 'I came, I saw, I conquered.' Yet perhaps it is also the least fortunate kind of power, since it is most subject to corrupting influences during its rise and meridian, and suffers most intensely from moral reverses during its decline. But nature had not dowered Isabella merely with beautythe mental jewel was worthy of the material casket; energy and fine spirits also formed a part of her gifted nature, and these, in co-operation with a high, free, diligent cultivation of her powers, might have carried her to some point of greatness where she might have lived blessed and blessing as well as brilliant-whence she might have been exhaled to other heights in that region to which, rapt and reverent, imagination rises.

The principal characteristic of Isabella's mind was concentration; born in circumstances which strictly confined her to the woman-sphere,-vanity and wedlock,-she chose the field which the first offered her. With feelings free from every sordid taint, when she first entered the paltry arena in which art forms the means and marriage the meed, she was like a young Arab barb put upon a mill-wheel, who would circle it again and again like wildfire, till he destroyed himself and the dull instrument of his torture.

Virtually, not actually, her plan of action was prescribed to her, but the poisonous policy inculcated could not shape her course to mercenary conquest-her quarry was the heart. But, with the conqueror's ignorant and insatiable thirst for dominion, to win and waste was her bent:-like him, reckless and destructive, she remorselessly left to desolation, the region she had invaded and subjugated.

:

War is called a noble science-the soldier an ennobled being the ambuscade, the surprise, the assault, the carnage, which is the consummation of the whole, are all arrayed in the pages of history-in the columns of the 'Gazette;' and people, perverted by false impressions, see nothing but glory and greatness: now be the same compliment paid to the coquette; let her have, at least, one leaf from the soldier's chaplet.

It is constantly observed that we cannot say to the passions, Thus far shalt thou go and no farther;' but we say this to the intellect, and, strange to say, we are obeyed; how many minds do we see arrested in mid career, and coming to a stand at some point at which it is more difficult to pause than to pass onward.

As Isabella sunk upon a couch in her boudoir, she felt the wooing of the evening breeze, and she leaned her uneasy head towards the window to catch that gentle caress of kindly nature. A sweet inartificial song was warbled at the moment; Isabella looked out and saw a young peasant girl passing home from a neighbouring hay-field with an apron full of the new-mown grass. Isabella was touched with admiration. Taste, one of the diamond-sparks of spirit, is indestructible; it may be burned with us in the crucible of passion; it may be shattered with us by the mallet of misfortune; but let the calm hour come back, and there is taste bright as ever; let the day of prosperity return, gather up the fragments, and taste is still essentially the same.

The wide scene, the sweet scent, the happy songstress, the contrast presented to all within by all without, was gaining some influence on the mind of Isabella, when the prolonged summons of the pealing knocker induced her to draw in her head, and sink again upon the couch.

To a lady with spirits as much below par as were Isabella's,

the kind of visitor who first arrives is of infinite consequence. Some come, like an essence-box, with a reviving influence, with a pleasing smile and a playful sally; others appear as if they had a portable fog in the waistcoat-pocket, and there is no telling at what moment it may not burst forth. Some, possessed by a ceaseless volubility, discharge a cataract of words with the rapidity that Mr. Perkins's machine does bullets-only fortunately they are not all hits ; while others again speak so slow that they seem to wait for a Habeas Corpus to bring up every syllable they say.

Isabella's first visitor was unfortunately one of the latter description-you might put in a parenthesis of any length during a pause of his; he had lately returned from the continent, whence he had brought a foreign title, the better to enable him to catch a rich native wife; but he had left none of his tediousness in exchange, so that he had still plenty at the service of society. Isabella, when in conversation with this worthy Count, was like a rapid chess player engaged with a slow one; the former anticipates every move, and thus becomes a sort of sentinel at the board, rather than an antagonist at the game.

But Isabella was a disciplinarian, and besides she had not passed seven seasons in London without having learned how to manage bores and lions. By-the-bye, a strange sort of metamorphosis occurs in our metropolitan exhibitionrooms for the display of rare animals, for the lion of one season often becomes the bore of the next.

New arrivals soon rapidly succeeded each other, and, as the business of the evening called upon her, Isabella rose above the vapid tone which had possessed her. Still her restless spirit, craving for exercise it could not find, looked forth like an eagle for prey worthy of her power.

·

Many of such guests as come like shadows, so depart:' who are pledged to produce themselves at so many places the same night, and say nothing at any of them-for the sake, I suppose, of saying something of all of them,—had floated away, when a pale spectral person passed Isabella: rapidly he passed; but he left the spell of his dark deepseated eyes upon her. She lost him immediately in the crowd; but though others surrounded her, and continual claims were made on her attention, she could not banish the stranger's image.

The evening passed as such evenings usually do-the rooms got warm, if the people did not; some ices were carried about to other ices which sat still. There was

music, and singing, and talking in the midst of both, excruciating the nerves and feelings of the musician, and mortifying the vanity of the musical exhibitor. One exception to that rule occurred on that evening, towards the conclusion of the entertainment. A rapid prelude, which appeared a voluntary, was followed by a voice of so deep, sweet, and thrilling a tone, that the crowd became instinctively hushed, the spirit of passionate melody appeared present, and even the babbler dare not break the spell.

""

Forgotten quite-forgotten quite

The pang I cannot bear!

Oh, feel my brow; the death-drops now Are there'

The musician fell from the instrument. Full of power as that burst of song had been, it seemed his last, for he lay across the arms of those who had raised him, as if life were extinct.

'This way, this way,' exclaimed Mr. Hervey, Isabella's brother, 'bear him into the ante-room.'

« AnteriorContinua »