Imatges de pÓgina
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“ The old magnificence of the castle, a rude and vast pile, interested me for the two first days.

“ It stands on the verge of a precipice, which overshadows a smooth-flowing river. Masses of venerable trees surround it on the other three sides, from the midst of which huge towers, with their coronals of battlements, and cloaks of ivy, look down upon the

green and bowery villagery of the valley, with the dark aspect of necromancy, and the veteran scowl of obdurate renown. It is indeed a place full of poesy and romance. The mysterious stairs, and the long hazy galleries, are haunted by the ever-whispering spirits of echo and silence; and the portraits and tapestries of the chambers make chivalry come again.”

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Now, considering how much has been of late said about old castles, we think there is a great merit indeed, in conveying, in a few and appropriate phrases, the poetical ideas connected with the subject.

At B- Castle he meets a Mr Oakdale, in whom he recognises the stranger of the sea-coast, and considering it as certain that he must be connected with the mysteries of his own fate, he forms, together with his young companion, a scheme to penetrate into the secret. This is disconcerted by the duke, Sydenham's father, who imparts to his son information to be carefully concealed from the party principally concerned. The effect on their boyish intimacy is natural and well described. Upon Sydenham's return from the interview with the duke,

A spell was invoked upon his frankness; and while he appeared in no measure less attached, yea, even while he showed a deeper feeling affection for me (for I often caught him looking at me with pity, till his eyes overflowed), it was but too evident that he stood in awe of my unhappy destiny, and beheld the spectre which ever followed me,—the undivulged horror, of which

my conscious spirit had only the dim knowledge, that dread and bodements sometimes so wonderfully and so inexplicably give.”

The author is removed successively to Eton, and to Oxford ; but (which seems rather improbable), although indulged in a large scale of expense, he receives no communication respecting his real fortune or rank in society. An eclaircissement on this point is prematurely forced forward, by one of those chances which govern human life. While he witnesses the play of Hamlet, the incidents of which sympathize with the gloomy forebodings of his own spirit, and with the recollections of his infancy, his eye suddenly falls on Mr Oakdale ; and the emotions which that mysterious person evinces, press upon him the conviction that his own history resembled that of Hamletom“ Shakspeare,” he exclaimed to Sydenham, who, notwithstanding his reserve, was still his companion, “ has told me that my father was murdered.”

Sydenham grew pale, and lay back in his chair in astonishment.

Nay more,' cried I, he has told me that the crime was caused by my mother.'

Sydenham trembled and rose from his seat, exclaiming, 'Is this possible ?'

"• Yes, and you have known it for years, and that Mr Oakdale is the adulterous assassin ?'"

This discovery brings forth an explanation, which is undertaken by his maternal uncle, as he proves to be, General Oglethorpe. The author proves to be the heir of two considerable estates, and of those mansions which had impressed their appearance so strongly on his infantine imagina

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tibn. His father had been killed or desperately hurt by Mr Oakdale, who had fled ; his guilty mother had gone into farther irregularities. The veteran exacted a promise that he would never enquire after his mother; and, after a visit to his maternal seat, and to the ancient residence of his father, the young man agrees to his uncle's proposal that he should go abroad for some years.

“ Those who look to freits," says the old Scottish proverb, with the sagacity which we boast as national, “ freits (that is omens) will follow them.” The morbid sensibility of young Oglethorpe—for such we suppose is his name, though never distinctly mentioned-detects allusions to his own misfortunes in incidents which he meets with on the road, and even in the fantastic rack of clouds which drive along the sky. The reasoning of a person who is disposed to read references to his own fate in what passes in heaven, or in earth around him, is poetically given in the following passage :

Surely it is the very error of our nature, a fantasy of human pride, to suppose that man can be wisely ruled by his reason. Are not all our sympathies and antipathies but the instructions of instinct—the guide which we receive direct, original, and uncorrupted from Heaven ?

“ It may be, that we cannot, like choughs and ravens, and the other irrational and babbling oracles of change-being so removed by habit from the pristine condition of natural feelingpredict from our own immediate sensations, the coming of foods and of thunder-storms, nor scent, like the watch-dog, the smell of death, before the purple spot or the glittering eye have given sign of the fatal infection ; but have we not an inward sense that is often gladdened and saddened by influences from futurity, as the strings of the harp are prophetical of the mood and aspect

of

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to-morrow? Shakspeare has exquisitely described his belief in this philosophy

The southern wind
Doth play the trumpet to his purposes,
Aud by his hollow histling in the leaves,

Foretells a tempest and a bluat’ring day.' And I believe myself to be possessed of the faculty whose power consists of this hereafter sort of discernment ;-Sydenham used to call it my genius."

The subject of our tale is detained at Hamburgh, by an acquaintance formed with an English officer of rank, General Purcel, and his lady, but chiefly by the charms of their daughter Maria. The beauty and accomplishments of this young lady, and still more the delicacy of her health, and the apparent frail tenure on which she holds these gifts, are calculated to make a deep impression on the heart of the youthful visionary, whose temperament was as melancholy as his feelings were tender. Of course he becomes the lover of Maria, but experiences the strongest and most startling opposition on the part of Mrs Purcel, who, seeming on the one hand much, and even passionately attached to her daughter's admirer, declares herself, on the other, vehemently opposed to his suit. She is prevented from giving the grounds of her objections by some of those interruptions which are usually employed in romances to prolong the embarrassments of the dramatis persona, and which perhaps are not in the present case very artificially interposed. Considering, as it proves to be the case, that Mrs Purcel was the guilty mother of the hero of the tale, and thus witnessed

the dreadful scene of her son making love to her daughter, it is impossible that she could have left to chance an explanation of such tremendous importance. So, however, it is; and General Purcel conceiving the objections of his wife to be founded on some frivolous aversion, or yet more capricious, and perhaps guilty, attachment to the lover of Maria, gives his consent to their private marriage. General Oglethorpe is written to for his approbation. Instead of answering the letter, the veteran comes to town, to explain, doubtless, the fearful mystery, but expires ere he can discharge the task. The private marriage is then resolved on, and is in the act of proceeding in the very church where the body of the deceased General Oglethorpe had been just interred.

“ That such an unnatural mixture of irreconcilable rites should ever have been consented to by a creature so full of tenderness and of such unparalleled delicacy as Maria, is not the least wonder in our dismal story; but she was fastened to the same chain by which I was drawn on. It was thought by us that the horrible stratagem of joining the funeral and the wedding together would never be suspected by Mrs Purcel.”

But Mrs Purcel had heard the intelligence. She bursts on the ceremony, and astounds them by the outcry, “ Brother and sister-brother and sister !"

“ I heard no more," continues the ill-fated narrator ; " the edifice reeled around me and there is a hiatus in my remembrance-a chasm in my life." The melancholy tale concludes thus :

Ten years have passed since that dreadful morning, and I have never opened my lips to enquire the issues of the event; but one day, about two years ago, in visiting the English ceme

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