MEDITATIONS ON AN OLD HAT
TALK not to me of
the rewards attendant upon long attachments, and the gratitude
awaiting those who have served faithfully; I boldly assert that all,
or almost all, are glad to get rid of an old servant, and supply the
vacancy with a new one. In support of my assertion, I ask,
what object is universally more dreaded or despised than an old hat?
and, on the contrary, what is more treasured and honoured than a new
one? A new hat is carefully preserved from the "pelting of the
pitiless storm;" yea, even a gloomy cloud will drive its owner into
the nearest shelter, in order to keep its sleek covering and glossy
hue from being tainted by a single spot; and, when its master, at
last, reaches his home, how tenderly does he brush it with the
sleeve of his coat! With what an eye of minute curiosity does
he examine its every part, to see whether it has sustained the
slightest injury; and when, with a glad heart, he finds it still
faultless, how carefully does he place it in its paper tenement!
Alas! how different is the fate of an OLD hat!
After having, in its plenitude of youth and beauty, served as a
shield and guardian to the temple of the mind; after having,
perchance, by adding its strength to the thickness of its master's
skull, preserved him from the attack of some midnight ruffian; after
having protected and saved him harmless from the blows of the
drunken brawl, and the descending staves of the policemen; after
having, by its shining and fashionable appearance, gained him
admittance into the gayest circles of society I say, after having
performed these, and numberless other pieces of service, equally
important, when falling to decay, abroad it is exposed by its
ungrateful master to all the inclemencies of the seasons to the
rain, the blast, or the snow; and at home it is thrown carelessly
aside, and obliged to yield to the rude kicks and buffets of
unfeeling servants. Nay, sometimes, when its place has been
occupied by a spruce rival, it is forced again to appear on duty,
and exercise its functions throughout the dreariness of a rainy day,
while the new comer glides on and basks amidst the sunshine and
gladness of blue skies.
A man, with an old hat, steals along, in the broad light of
day, almost like an escaped convict, afraid of being recognised; and
would, if possible, never quit his own walls, except shrouded by the
murky night, that concealer of threadbare garments and cloak of evil
practices. A friend or acquaintance, on the opposite side of
the street, he pretends not to see, for fear he should be seen in
return, and have to cross to him, when all attempts to conceal the
defects of his upper covering he well knows would be in vain.
If a titter be heard in the street, while he is passing, he dares
not turn his head either to the one side or the other, for he
believes it to be at the expense of his hat, and consequently with a
face glowing with the ruby tint of shame and vexation, he quickens
his pace, muttering a curse on the supposed object of ridicule.
All the pretty females, with whom he is intimate, he shuns, as
though they were his mortal foes, and would rather go a mile out of
his road than run the risk of meeting one of them. Though,
when his "old hat was new," he was the most gallant of men, he now
dares venture nothing more, at furthest, than a sidelong glance at
the sweet forms and faces that pass over this lower world, like
earthly comets, lighting all susceptible hearts with the blaze of
passion. If he enter an inn, almost before he has passed the
door, his hat is in his hand; not through his extraordinary
politeness, but merely to hide it from observing eyes; he next looks
around the room for a retired corner, or dark nook, and, if he can
find one obscure enough, there the hat is deposited, but he would
rather place it UNDER the table than
ON it. He has generally met with some
illiberal remark from the vulgar, or some slight from a ci-devant
friend; therefore, if he has, by any means an opportunity (and he
will, on no account let an occasion slip) he rails at the ignorance
of the lower orders, and the pride of upstarts; then he forces a
laugh at the folly of being influenced by exterior appearances, and,
casting an anxious look to the corner where is deposited the article
that has occasioned this discourse, he sips his malt liquor, with
something of satisfaction at having thus given vent to the
bitterness of his feelings. When, however, the hat is in
reality unfit for any manner of service on the head, it is made to
serve the heel; for often does its thrifty master, annihilating
every vestige of its former shape, convert it into a sock.
Thus, to the last, does it still endeavour to preserve the
UNDERSTANDING; and thus, though soulless
itself, do its remains occupy a place betwixt TWO
SOLES the sole of the foot, and the sole of
Gentle reader! do not toss up thy nose and turn away with an
air of contempt from this little sketch of the vicissitudes of an
old hat, for even from so trifling a subject, thou mayest draw a
moral lesson for thine own conduct through life! Thou hast
seen how prone man is to despise in adversity those whom he has
honoured in prosperity; then let thy mind be prepared, and thy
spirit strengthened, to bear up against the evils of thy destiny,
instead of yielding tamely, like that which is senseless and
inanimate, to the scorn and contumely that may encompass thee.
Thou hast seen how the ruined hat, in its final and worst
misfortune, though to the mortification of its body, labours for the
good of the soma, and verily I say unto thee, "Go thou and do
OH, WELL I LOVE MY GENTLE MAID
Oh, well I love my gentle maid,
For she is young and fair;
Her eye is as the summer sky,
Like morn-clouds is her hair;
Her voice is tuneful as a bird's,
Her step is light and free,
And better far than all besides,
She dearly loveth me.
I chose my love from out the crowd
Of beauty and of youth;
I chose her for her loveliness,
I chose her for her truth;
I never cease to bless that hour,
When first I chanced to see
The graceful and the beauteous one
Who dearly loveth me.
'Tis not amid a festive group
My love doth seem most fair,
She best becomes the cheerful hearth,
And well I love her there;
For, oh, 'twas in her quiet home
A maid's sweet sanctuary
That first I won her sinless heart,
And knew her love for me.
It may be wrong I cannot brook
That each rude eye should greet
The brightness of her fawn-like glance,
Her form and features sweet;
Oh, no! I would that her dear charms
Should all mine own charms be,
I would not lose one glance of hers
Who dearly loveth me.
I do not think a wish of hers
To others e'er can stray
I know I am her dream by night,
Her thought throughout the day,
But as the miser hides his gold,
His soul's divinity,
So would I hide from eyes of man
The maid who loveth me.
'Tis sweet to know a treasure mine,
Which none besides can share;
'Tis sweet to think that beauty's lips
Are mov'd for me in pray'r;
'Tis sweet when she doth sooth my woe,
Or light my hours of glee
Oh, well I love the gentle maid
Who dearly loveth me.
well I remember the far-off time,
When I lov'd up the forest-tree to climb,
And toss on its branches to and fro,
Like a sprite whose home was the leafy bough;
Not a bird of the air, that floated by,
With its merry song, was more happy than I
So free was my spirit, so buoyant and light,
I deem'd I could follow the bird in its flight.
Like a wild-deer I flew up the steepest hill,
And cool'd my hot blood at the singing rill;
Or I leapt in the waters so cool and bright,
And the torrent stemm'd in my youthful might.
When the wind, like an untam'd horse, rush'd
I lov'd to be out in the whirling blast,
And perch'd on the brow of a craggy rock,
I laugh'd aloud at the tempest's shock.
By bubbling brook, and in leafy bow'r,
Full oft did I pass the enchanted hour,
Whilst mine eyes on the wond'rous page did pore,
That told of romantic, and magic lore;
Till I started up, with a swelling breast,
And deem'd me a warrior with lance in rest;
Or the lamp of Aladdin I held in my hand,
And its slaves were awaiting their master's
Those visions have pass'd, and I wander now,
With a sober pace, and a thoughtful brow;
I have drank of the fountains of living thought,
And the lore of the world have most dearly
But my heart leaps up with a thrill of joy,
When bounds before me some happy boy,
And I think of the days that have long since fled,
Like a mourner who sighs for the lost and dead.
fare thee well! heed not my sigh,
The offspring of a broken heart;
Mind not the dimness of mine eye,
Though from it burning tear-drops start;
Think not upon my sunken cheek,
Deem it consumption's slow decay;
Oh! look not on my form so weak,
Soon from the earth 'twill pass away.
I know thou art another's now,
Thou feelest now another flame,
Another claims thy lasting vow,
Whilst I alone am still the same
Yes, still I love, as true, as well,
As when I press'd thy cheek,
And thy bright eyes would fondly tell
The love thou could'st not speak.
Still can I gaze upon that face,
That beautiful and gentle eye,
That fairy form, so full of grace,
Those cheeks which shame the roses' dye:
That face still seems so free of guile,
That, doting still, again I seek
To find the glad, the sunny smile
Which us'd to dimple that soft cheek;
But 'tis in vain I see not there
The welcome there was wont to be
Thy blue eye still is bright, but where
Is that dear glance which beam'd on me?
As from the youthful dreamer's mind,
Visions of light and joy depart,
Passing, and leaving nought behind,
Save what is pictur'd on the heart:
So unto me, thy lost love be;
And should'st thou, in thy beauty's bloom,
When I am gone e'er think of me,
Oh! shed no tear upon my tomb,
Oh! sully not thy lovely eye,
Oh! wet not thou that cheek so fair,
But let this check thy bosom's sigh
I shall be free from earthly care;
Nor weep nor sigh, for I would not
Sorrow for me should ever dwell
With thee, though faithless but forgot
Be all my woes in this farewell!
LINES ON A TOMB,
THE INSCRIPTION OF WHICH WAS EFFACED
O house of death! thou
Thou marble palace of the dead,
Whom hast thou shut up in thy womb,
Thou monument of grandeur fled?
Vain was his hope who put his trust
In thee for lasting fame;
For thou art hast'ning to the dust,
Like him whose titled name
Was once emblazon'd on thy side,
Who on thee trusted, when he died,
To tell posterity his fame.
The lines have faded from thy brow,
He thought would tell his worth;
His pride and power, where is it now?
Gone to its parent earth!
On thee let pomp and wealth now gaze,
And tell them this their lot
To live awhile in hireling praise,
Then die, for aye forgot.
And thou, that still dost seem to say
Thou holdest more than common clay,
Thou too wilt quickly meet thy doom,
Thou relic of a once-proud tomb;
Crumbled to dust thou soon wilt lie,
No more wilt fix th' observing eye,
And the inquiring gaze will pass
O'er thee, as o'er a worthless mass.
Oh! woman's love's a holy light
And when 'tis kindled ne'er can die:
It lives though treachery and slight
To quench the constant flame may try.
Like ivy, where it grows, 'tis seen
To wear an everlasting green;
Like ivy, too, 'tis found to cling
Too often round a worthless thing!
OF all the
passions, there is none more holy, and less subject to change than
woman's love. It is an evergreen of the heart a flower
blooming in sun or tempest a thing imperishable amidst the
perishing. Though the object of woman's affection may prove
base and unworthy of her, still she wavers not, still she is
unchanged; clinging to him in prosperity and adversity. Man
may love fondly, devotedly, yet his love is subject to many
temporary cessations; in the absence of her to whom he has pledged
his faith, his thoughts often stray to others; he may toy with any
female who falls in his way, and, for the moment, forget both his
vows and her who claims them. With woman it is different: her
chamber is a sanctuary; home the sphere in which she moves; and
seldom does she depart from that sphere, unless under the protection
of him who has her plighted troth, the inspirer of her most secret
wishes, the being in whom is concentrated her sole hopes of earthly
happiness. Many a man indulges himself in what he terms little
acts of gallantry; that is, he conceives a slight attachment for
some young and amiable woman, he visits her, accompanies her in her
walks, and for awhile assiduously tenders every attention that is
required of a professed lover; then he grows tired, and deserts her.
This is the most cruel thing that any one can be guilty of: perhaps
he has won her love and it is not unlikely that such may be the
case, for woman's soul is much more easily awakened to that passion,
in the true sense of the word, than man's if so, what remedy has
she? none! She cannot drive away her painful sensations by
flying to scenes of gaiety; she cannot drown her sorrows in the flow
of the bottle; she cannot dissipate her cares by the bacchanalian
song and the midnight revel no, she retires to her chamber, and
pines in secret; still, however, wishing and cherishing hopes for
the false one's return, and ever doomed to find her wishes
fruitless, and her hopes terminating in disappointment.
I have said that woman's love is unchangeable; but I do not
mean to include in my assertion that portion of the sex who are a
kind of female coxcombs, and flirt and parley with every dashing
fellow they meet; and who, in reality, are incapable of loving
truly, and consequently cannot feel the effects of love. I am
here only speaking of that retired class of beings, who are brought
up under the eyes of their parents, and restrained from frequenting
those fashionable balls and assemblies where all sorts of frivolity,
wantonness, and debauchery, are practised without distinction, both
by men and women. I have known instances of eyes growing dim,
and cheeks fading, from blasted affection; and, at the present time,
I am well acquainted with a lovely girl, who is hastening to her
last abode, and the cause of her decay, I am convinced, proceeds
entirely from slighted love.
I shall just relate another case, which has fallen under my
observation. Such circumstances are often occurring, and the
world regards them as things of no import; if, however, this simple
record should interest one reader; if it should call forth the
gentle glow of pity in one breast, I shall have achieved my end, and
shall rest contented. Emma F ――― , and myself were playmates
in infancy, and our childish friendship increased with our years,
though it never grew into love. I have often heard it asserted
that friendship cannot exist between the sexes, without partaking of
a warmer feeling; but this assertion is untrue. I felt the
deepest interest in the welfare of Emma, yet I could have seen her
united to a deserving man, without a sigh, nay even with gladness.
She was my confidant; in her breast I deposited all my little
secrets, and her advice was my guide in the most important matters.
When about the age of eighteen, she was addressed by a young man of
the name of Elwin; he was of a good family, but I soon learned that
his fortune was small, and that he was exceedingly dissipated.
With grief I saw that the attachment he professed for Emma was
returned, and the first opportunity I met with, I acquainted her
with the reports I had heard, of his character. I was in hopes
this would have broken off their connection, instead of which I
found them together more frequently than before; and I could plainly
perceive that Emma strove to avoid me, and that her looks and manner
were colder to me, since our conversation on the subject of her
lover's demerits. His influence over her every day became
stronger. I had never been a favourite of his; and as I now
began to think that he was jealous of me, my visits were repeated at
longer intervals, until at last they were almost discontinued.
The day on which Emma attained her nineteenth year, was fixed for
their nuptials; a card of invitation was sent to me, and I attended.
My heart sickened, when I saw her clad in her costly bridal-robes,
and slightly indeed did I partake of the cheer, for my soul had a
secret foreboding that she was destined to a lot of misery.
Her beautiful countenance was lit up with smiles, and Elwin appeared
all mirth and happiness; but the endearments which he lavished on
his young bride, seemed to me to be constrained. I left the
scene of festivity at an early hour, and returned home sorely
oppressed in spirit.
In a few weeks after the marriage, I left my native town for
the metropolis. Twelve months had expired, when I again
entered the place of my birth, on a visit to my parents. I
took a circuitous route over the fields one that was dear to me
from early remembrances my way lay through the churchyard, and I
loitered, to look at the names of those who had sought their "long
home" since my departure. My attention was soon attracted to a
small white tomb, that seemed to be newly raised: I advanced towards
it, and read the words "Here lyeth the body of Emma Elwin." I
stood as if stupefied was she indeed dead? When I had beheld
her last, she was glowing with health and beauty, and was now cold
and inanimate as the earth I trod upon.
I learned that soon after the nuptial ceremony, Elwin had
thrown off the veil in which he had disguised his intentions; and no
sooner had he gained possession of his wife's fortune, than he
abandoned himself entirely to the most dissipated courses.
Night after night was he absent from his own dwelling, and night
after night did his youthful bride spend in sleeplessness and
sorrow. For some time he bore her reproaches and
expostulations in moody silence; at length, with the look of a
demon, he flung her from him, told her I had never loved her, and,
having obtained the object of his wishes, her fortune, he would no
longer brook a restraint upon his actions: then, with frantic
violence, he dashed from the room, and left the house. Emma
had fainted, and the noise occasioned by her fall summoned the
servants to her assistance she was conveyed to a bed, from which
she never arose.
I have wreath'd my lute
As if its tones could be
Blent with the odour of their breath,
Whilst it is wak'd for thee.
I know 'twas but a childish thought,
To deem the magic power,
To blend its sweets with strains of love,
Should dwell with simple flower.
'Twas but a childish thought, and yet
What meeter wreath could be
Than flowers whose hue is type of faith,
Whose beauty tells of thee?
I thought of thee as I twin'd around
My lute each living gem:
Thou wilt say, perchance, there are brighter
There are, but I chose not them.
And why? I will tell thee why, my love,
These deep blue buds I chose,
Nor pluck'd, as an emblem, the lily's cup,
Or the proud and queen-like rose.
'Twas a balmy eve, and the star-wrought sky
Like a festive temple seem'd,
When I wander'd, my dearest, to muse on thee,
O'er the paths where the flow'rets gleam'd.
I look'd on the lily, but chill and pale
Its silver leaflets lay
'Twas all too cold for affection's type,
And I turn'd from its beauties away.
I sought out the home of the crimson rose,
But the brightness of its bloom,
And the leaves which had courted the sunny
Had shrunk from the evening's gloom.
And I thought it not meet that my humble lute
'Mid the breath of the rose should flow,
For I could not deem that thy youthful heart
Would change in the hour of woe.
I found the spot where the violets grew,
By the light of their dewy eyes,
Which shone as I stood by their lowly bed,
And the incense of their sighs.
Oh, not like the rose did they woo the sun
In a glad and a smiling hour,
And shrink, like the false and treacherous heart,
When the shadows began to low'r.
They were still unchang'd when the darkness
And around my lute I twin'd
Their buds, as an emblem of thy truth,
And the heart where thou art shrin'd.
ON THE LOSS OF A TWIN-CHILD
child of love, I look for thee,
When night has chas'd the day;
Thy sister seeks her father's knee,
But thou thou art away:
Thy sister is but as a thing
That tells me of thy withering.
I hop'd to rear you as twin-flowers,
Both springing from one bed;
But thou the light of darkest hours,
My favourite one art dead:
The lonely bud still left to bloom,
Doth but remind me of thy doom.
I do not know how love doth start,
Yet when, at evening's fall,
I press'd thy form unto my heart,
I felt thou wert my all;
I saw thee innocent and fair,
And quite forgot my toil and care.
Oft does thy sister search around,
To find her playmate dear;
She looks but thou no more art found,
She calls thou can'st not hear;
And yet though thou no more art seen,
She scarce can tell what death may mean.
Few months have vanish'd since I heard
Thy accents form my name;
Oh, how I dwelt upon each word
That from thy young lips came;
I bless'd thee, and I had no fear
That I so soon should see thy bier.
Short time has pass'd since in my arms
Thou claim'dst a father's kiss,
And I did view thy infant charms
With all a father's bliss:
Alas! I dreamt not then that thou
So soon wouldst lie where thou dost now.
Sometimes when I have look'd upon
Thy sweetly playful face,
I've deem'd thou wert too fair a one
To dwell with earthly race,
Yet did not think so soon would roam
Thy soul from out its beauteous home.
So quick I thought thou would'st not fade,
So soon thy bloom be gone,
So very soon thy form be laid
Beneath the churchyard stone;
But life is like a taper's ray,
Which slightest breeze may waft away.
I do not weep to mourn thy fate,
For happier now thou art ;
I weep that I am desolate,
And that we are apart;
I weep that life still keeps me here,
From thee, and from thy blessed sphere.
I will not cherish my despair,
And mourn thy loss in vain,
But live in hope to meet thee where
We may not part again,
Where friend meets friend, and parent child,
Where joy by grief is ne'er defil'd.
THE HAUNTED STREAM
A GERMAN LEGEND
But he that was there in that secret spot,
Regarded the stream and the blossoms not:
He regarded the stream and the blossoms less,
For his glance was on brighter loveliness.
IN a small valley
near the Rhine stood the dwelling of Harold, the fisherman. His
family consisted of a wife and five children, three sons and two
daughters; and though it required all his industry to support them,
his heart was light, and he was content with such cheer as his
labour enabled him to obtain.
His eldest son, Arnaud, who was about
the age of fourteen, usually accompanied him in his fishing
excursions, and assisted him to draw his nets. Arnaud's chief
delight was to hear his father, whilst waiting for the filling of
the nets, recount the various legends of the valley, of which he
possessed an almost inexhaustible store. The tales which Arnaud used
to listen to with the greatest pleasure, and which he often
prevailed upon his father to repeat, were those which told of the
fairies, who were said to haunt the stream that flowed at a short
distance from the fisherman's dwelling. It was believed that at
certain times of the year, a bark glided along the stream, filled by
a group of fairies, who landed on the banks, and after amusing
themselves for some time on shore, betook them to their bark again,
and, floating to a particular part of the water, disappeared. "I
will endeavour to obtain a sight of these fairies," thought Arnaud;
and seeking the banks of the river, he would linger there for hours
together. Many a time would his heart beat fast and loud as he heard
a rushing sound, and hid himself amid the bushes, scarcely daring to
look up, until he was at once relieved and disappointed to find the
object of his alarm merely the noise occasioned by the flight of a
water-fowl. Still his patience did not forsake him; and though he
incurred his father's displeasure, when he returned home, for his
long absence, he murmured not, for he hoped he should soon be
recompensed for all his scoldings and disappointments by a sight of
those mysterious beings whom he so ardently longed to behold.
day, exhausted with watching, he laid himself down beneath the shade
of a spreading tree, and fell asleep, and dreamt of Fairyland.
Arnaud was a beautiful youth, and as he reclined in slumber, though
his bright blue eyes were closed, the flowing ringlets of his golden
hair, his fair and blooming cheeks, his graceful form, and
well-fashioned limbs, which the meanness of his dress could not
conceal, made him appear a being destined to move in a far superior
circle to that in which he had been brought up. He was awakened from
his romantic vision by a warm pressure on his lips. He started from
his sleep, and saw the loveliest creature his eyes had ever beheld. A female, whose charms were of the most dazzling description, bent
over him in an attitude of fondness and admiration. She was clad in
white drapery, interwoven with threads of silver; her zone was
inlaid with gold, and studded with precious stones, that shone like
so many stars. Strings of the finest pearl enwreathed her neck, and
gleamed amongst her dark tresses; but the lustre of the shining
stones was not so bright as her eyes, nor were the pearls as pure as
her neck and bosom. She held in her hand a chaplet of water-lilies,
and placing them around Arnaud's temples, she exclaimed, in a voice
of melody, "Beautiful mortal! thou beholdest in me one of the
fairies who haunt this place. My companions are diverting themselves
on the banks of the river, and I, having chosen this spot for my
gambols, was attracted by thy surpassing loveliness. Fairest of the
children of men, wilt thou not go with me? wilt thou not accompany
me to my own blessed regions, where sorrow comes not, and joy reigneth for ever in the hearts of the inhabitants? I will build
thee a bower of crystal; the floor shall be of coral, sprinkled with
pearls and rubies, and the windows shall be formed of the most
brilliant diamonds. Sweet son of the earth, wilt thou I not go with
Arnaud cast his eyes around, and beheld a numerous group of
those beings whom he had so long wished to see, some bounding along
the shore, and others diving beneath the waters. His glance again
rested on the fair form by his side, and as he gazed on its
unearthly beauty, his heart throbbed violently, and a throng of more
exquisite sensations than he had ever felt before took possession of
his soul: all thoughts of home vanished from his mind.
being," said he to the fairy, "if I look on and am near to thee, I
cannot fail to be happy: willingly, therefore, would I go with thee
to thine own country; but I fear thy companions will not consent
that a poor mortal like myself should be a partaker of their
"Fear not, my beloved," replied the fairy, "those of our
race know not what it is to give pain to each other, and the thing
which I request will not be denied. Remain here a few moments; I
will away and acquaint my sisters with my desire, and on my return
we will bound into our bark, and depart to the land of light and
When Arnaud was alone he almost repented of the promise he
had made, for the thoughts of home came to his heart, and with
difficulty he repressed his tears, as he pictured to himself the
grief his family would feel on his account. "They will assemble
round the hearth," thought he, "when the evening falls, and my
father will ask, 'Where is Arnaud?' My brothers and sisters will
repeat the question, and when they find that I come not, they will
search for me in the wood and by the stream, and their search will
be fruitless. My mother will weep, and she will say, ''If my son were
living, he would not be absent thus long; oh, Arnaud, dear Arnaud,
where art thou? Wilt thou return no more to the arms of thy mother? Alas, we mourn in vain my children, your brother must have perished
in the waters.'"
The fairy now returned with a countenance beaming
with joy. "Arouse thee, dearest," said she, "my friends have
consented that thou should'st be as one of us; already do they
prepare for their journey homewards, and soon wilt thou be far, far
from this dull earth, and the cares and pains which are the lot of
A band of fair creatures bounded lightly over the
green turf, with their shining tresses and loose drapery floating in
the wind. A shout of admiration burst from the group, as they gazed
on Arnaud, and they cried, "Truly, sister, this is a charming youth,
and not unworthy to dwell amongst us. Away, away, let us unfurl our
sails, for the breeze blows freshly. Follow us, sister, and bring
with thee the graceful stranger."
They sprang into their vessel, and
Arnaud and the fairies were borne rapidly along the stream for a few
minutes; then the fairies furled their sails, and the boat moved
slower. By degrees its motion grew almost imperceptible, and then it
became transfixed in the middle of the water. Arnaud gazed around
with astonishment, for the fairies seemed as though they intended to
proceed no further. "Shrink not," said the sweet voice of her who
was by his side, "the waves are about to close over us, but they
will harm thee not. From this spot will our boat descend to the land
The fairy enveloped him in a slight veil, and then the
bark sank into the stream. He felt no inconvenience from the water,
but breathed as freely as if he had inhaled the fresh breeze; whilst
by him swept innumerable creatures of the waves. In a short time;
though the vessel still descended at the same rate, he saw that they
were in a purer element, and the water through which they had passed
lay like a firmament above their heads. They now arrived at the
place of their destination; but who shall describe the effect
produced upon Arnaud by the enchanting scenes spread before him! The
most beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers, seemed to have been
culled from all parts of the earth, and transplanted to this fair
abode. Here were vine-covered valleys, there the peach tree bloomed
in all its luxuriance, and here the orange and the lemon trees,
loaded with golden fruitage. The sturdy oak, the spreading elm, and
the graceful willow, flung around their shadows. The blue-eyed
violet, the pale passion flower, the sweet-breathing honeysuckle,
the maiden-like rose, the silver clematis, and the white stars of
the jessamine, with numerous unknown and fragrant plants and
flowers, combined to render the place more lovely than any before
looked on by mortal eyes.
The name of the fairy whom Arnaud had first seen was Rosaura, which
word signifies 'air of roses,' and she was so called because of the
perfume of her breath. When Arnaud had gazed for awhile on the
things around him, Rosaura led him to her dwelling, which was
composed of the most brilliant spars. She brought him fruit, and he
ate and found it delicious; she pressed the juice from the bursting
grape, and the goblet out of which he drank was formed of a single
After he had refreshed himself, he wandered with the
beautiful Rosaura through the enchanting groves and valleys of
fairy-land. There were neither sun, moon, nor stars above them, yet
it was far more light than the sunniest day of earth, and the air
was far more pure. The trees and the flowers wore a brighter bloom,
and every object had a radiance thrown over it which belongs not to
the world of mortals. This happy country was never visited by
darkness nor storms, snow, nor rain; it felt not the chill breath of
winter, nor the oppressive heat of summer; but all was one continued
season of light and tranquillity. No wish was entertained which
might not be gratified; and there was a never-ending succession of
joy and festivity.
Arnaud soon became universally beloved by the
fairies, and each strove to find favour in his sight, and
endeavoured to contribute to his felicity. They were exempt from the
pains which attend on mortals, and they needed not rest or repose;
yet Rosaura would watch by the couch of Arnaud whilst he slumbered,
and imprint on his young cheek her warm kisses. In the groves large
and splendid diamonds were suspended from the trees, and shone like
stars amid the gloom. Their principal amusement was the dance, and
the music to which they danced was produced from sweet-toned harps,
whose melody was awakened by the wind. Sometimes they would strive
to excel each other in the race, and bound along like a troop of
startled fawns. The prize for which they usually contended was a
coronal of flowers, which was placed on the victor's brow by the
hand of Arnaud. There was no envy in these contests; there was no
ill-will borne by the vanquished; but each was as ready to rejoice
in the victor's success, as though she herself had been the
conqueror. Rosaura taught Arnaud to play upon the lute, and would
often accompany its music with the melody of her own voice. At other
times, a group of the fair dwellers in this romantic land would join
their voices together in some delightful air peculiar to themselves,
until the breeze became replete with sweet sounds, and the senses of
Arnaud were wrapt in a dream of ecstasy.
Innumerable were the
devices practised to amuse the favoured mortal thus placed amongst
them; but the human mind is not fitted for a state of uninterrupted
happiness. It is the alternate succession of joy and grief which
renders existence desirable; it is the remembrance of the past and
the uncertainty of the future which makes us cling to life with so
much tenacity. It is the mingling of hope and fear, the expectation,
and not unpleasing dread, of our coming years, "gloomy and
indistinct as feverish dream," which makes us wish to live on. With
Arnaud the memory of the past still lived; the future, however, no
longer formed a theme of conjecture to his mind. All would be a
scene of changeless and unchequered brightness; all would be calm,
all would be beautiful; yet there would be no interruption to the
calm, there would be no variation in the beauty, and as he who has
long dwelt beneath a tropic sun longs even for the chill blasts of
winter, so did his young heart soon yearn for his own native home,
with its changeful sky, at times frowning in gloomy grandeur, and at
others radiant with light and silvery clouds, floating over its
surface like winged heralds of heaven sent forth to speak of peace
Two years passed away, two years in an abode where pleasure was the
only study, where neither sickness nor fatigue interrupted the
revels of its inhabitants; where age weakened not their powers of
enjoyment, and where all was one continued round of harmony and
bliss. Things which at first sight excite our imagination, by being
ever before our eyes lose their power of charming. Beauty, when uncontrasted with deformity, palls upon the sense, and becomes
uninteresting from the very uniformity of its perfection. We are
only adapted to a state of earthly existence. To fit the soul for a
more celestial abode, it must be rid of its bodily encumbrance, it
must be divested of its fleshy clothing. If we analyze our feelings,
if we strictly review our hearts, we shall find that however strong
may be our belief in a future state of reward, however confident may be our anticipations of attaining it, we are still
loath to quit this
mortal life, this world of toil and suffering. Earthly ties still
bind us down, and the frail affections of our nature triumph over
the purer and more lofty aspirations of the spirit.
Arnaud had long
sighed for his former life. He knew himself to belong to a race of
beings inferior to those with whom he now dwelt. He was a favourite,
and loaded with caresses; yet their favour had become painful, their
caresses were coldly received, for he saw he was considered but as a
bird admired for the sweetness of its voice or the beauty of its
plumage; or as a pet lamb caressed by a gentle girl. He was loved,
but not with the love which mortal bears to mortal; he was loved,
but not as one on terms of equality with those who loved him. He
never for a moment could forget their superior natures; he was
convinced that his inferiority his very deficiency and want of
those qualities which formed their perfection the very
imperfectness of his nature caused him to be admired and caressed;
and I who could submit complacently to have his infirmities set up
as an idol of worship? Then he thought, too, of one he dearly loved,
of one who dearly loved him the young and fair-haired Madeline. She was the daughter of a neighbouring fisherman; they had been
companions almost from their birth, and often in their later years
the boy's arm had encircled her slender waist, and his lips pressed
her cheek, whilst he vowed that when he became a man fair Madeline
should be his bride. More beauteous than ever seemed her image now
as it came upon his lonely musings, and dearer far than kindred,
friends, or home did he feel she was to his youthful heart. When Rosaura gazed, spoke, or smiled in tenderness, he thought of the
look, the voice, the smile of Madeline, and felt that one glance,
one word, one smile of hers was worth all the joys that Fairyland
could afford him, and bitterly he sighed and pined for home and her.
Rosaura marked the change that had come over him, and when she asked
the cause, no answer did he give save "home!" Anxiously and
unceasingly did the fairy watch over him, and anticipate his wants;
but pale and sunken grew his features; he smiled not a worm was at
his heart, and ever and anon he murmured, "Home, home, home; oh,
bear me to my home again!" Sorely grieved was Rosaura to separate
from her favourite; yet she feared the young exile was dying; and
after fruitless efforts to cheer his drooping spirits, she consented
to his departure, on his promising, at the expiration of two months,
to return with her to Fairyland.
Reluctantly did the fairies, after
vain entreaties, prepare to transport the boy to earth again. They
loaded him with costly presents as tokens of their love; and at
parting, Rosaura's lips clung fondly unto his, as she placed around
his neck her farewell gift. It was a chain of pure and spotless
pearls, to which was attached a glittering diamond in the form of a
star. "Take thou," said she "my parting token, wear it next thy
heart, and when the diamond's light grows pale, thou wilt know that Rosaura is sorrowing for thy return." Lightly Arnaud sprang on shore
the boat sailed slowly back Rosaura mournfully waved her hand,
and then was hidden by the closing waters.
The day of Arnaud's return was indeed a day of rejoicing to those
who had so long wept over his loss. He seemed to re-appear amongst
them like one who had long slumbered with the dead, but, in pity to
their wailings, had left the land of spirits to revisit once more
his earthly companions, and gladden them by his presence. He told
the tale of his wondrous adventures, and numbers flocked to listen
to his strange narration; and when they seemed incredulous, he
produced his costly chain and star, and they believed him. The
mutual happiness of Madeline and her lover at meeting again may be
easily imagined. With what delight did she dwell upon his words, and
hear him vow that never in his absence had he forgotten his early
The youthful and beautiful pair were sitting one night under
the shade of a large tree, whose verdant and drooping branches
almost excluded the light of the full moon. At times, however, its
white and placid rays glanced brightly through the dark foliage; and
one fair star which the leaves had not shut out, fixed in its
sphere, an emblem of their love and beauty, seemed smiling sweetly
on them. A lovelier night was never gazed upon; and folded in each
other's arms, they felt no hearts could taste of bliss more pure
than that which now they tasted.
"And shall we never part again, and
wilt thou never leave me more?" murmured the low voice of Madeline.
"Never, my love;" replied her lover; "a few short years and thou shalt be my bride, and death alone again shall part us."
Arnaud," said the maiden, "thou knowest me but a mortal. Perchance,
ere long, thou wilt turn with indifference from a simple
peasant-girl and sigh for Fairyland, and her who loved thee there."
"Name not," exclaimed Arnaud, "name not the hated abode, nor her who
decoyed me to it. I would not sacrifice thy love for all the wealth
which that enchanted land contains. Rosaura and her gifts to me are
valueless, and we have parted never more to meet."
No sooner had he
uttered these words than a wild shriek of agony and despair rung in
his ears. He started to his feet, and beheld a white figure dart
past him with the swiftness of an arrow, and vanish from his sight.
The truth now flashed upon his memory. It was on this spot, at this
hour, that he had promised, on his parting from Rosaura, to meet her
again for the purpose of returning with her to Fairyland. Here had
she repaired, and here had she heard the words which rang in her
ears like a knell, and caused her to emit the loud and anguished cry
which told the death of hope. So much had Arnaud been engrossed with
his own happiness, that his promise had entirely faded from his
remembrance until the present moment. To prevent the possibility of
again encountering the fairy, he carefully avoided approaching the
place of appointment, and for a length of time forebore to leave his
parents' dwelling unless accompanied by Madeline or some of his
kindred, for he well knew, that unless he was alone the fairy would
Weeks, months, years passed away, and Arnaud began to regard
his sojourn in Fairyland as little more than a bright vision; nay,
he would almost have been tempted to doubt its reality, had he not
still held in his possession many valuable presents, and, above all,
the splendid star, which, when he gazed upon it, would often wax dim
and colourless. At times, too, in the stillness of night, when
all had retired to rest, his ears were greeted with strains of
plaintive music, and a voice which had of old been familiar to him,
sung the following words to a sweet and mournful air:
THE FAIRY'S SONG
Oh, come with me, my mortal love,
To our home of bliss below,
And rove through the lone and shadowy grove,
Where the gleaming waters flow.
Oh, come with me I will lead thee where,
By the diamond's starry light,
To the harps that are woke by the silent air,
Through the dance we take our flight.
We will wander where the flow'rets spring,
Which of old were so prais'd by thee;
I have shelter'd them e'en from the butterfly's wing,
And the kiss of the golden bee.
But the light of the diamond waxeth pale,
And the dance is unheeded now,
And the flowers, oh, their odours seem to fail
Beloved, why com'st not thou?
Dost thou still remember thy fairy maid?
Are the hours still unforgot,
When she pillow'd thy head in the vine-clad shade?
I ask, but thou answer'st not.
Dost thou stay to gaze on the sunny sky?
Our own, love, is far more bright;
Can the changeful moon, or the pale stars vie
With the Fairyland's cloudless light?
There is, joy, perchance, by thy father's hearth
Can it match with our ceaseless glee?
The maiden who loves thee may bind thee to earth
Not like mine clings her heart unto thee.
Wilt thou come? for the sail of our bark is set,
And I dare not longer dwell;
Wilt thou come, my beloved? I linger yet
Unkind one, I weep my farewell.
The last verse was repeated, until the voice died gradually
away in the distance. Arnaud, however, was proof against all
temptations, and when he attained his twenty-first year, he married
the maiden of his choice, the fair-haired Madeline, and never was he
heard to regret his lot.
After his marriage the fairy never disturbed his repose, and
he saw spring up around him a group of little beings who united in
their persons the loveliness of their parents. He lived to a
green and prosperous old age; and when the evening fire blazed
brightly, many a time did he repeat to his children his early
adventures, and thus was he accustomed to conclude his marvellous
narrative. "Oh, then, my children, content yourselves with the
blessings which fall to your lot, and yearn not after the things
which are wisely denied to you. Happiness depends not so much
upon external circumstances, as upon the temperament of the mind;
and the mind is too often restless and unsatisfied in whatever
situation the body may be placed. We are unfitted for a state
of perfect felicity, and should soon become as dissatisfied with
uninterrupted joy, as with a climate unvisited by clouds or rain.
Man is generally the author of his own misery, and is ever pining
for that which he has not; the poor peasant envies those who are
wealthy and great, and the rich and the great, in their turn, look
with envy on the seeming glad and healthy clown. We sum up the
sorrows of life, and forget its joys; we pass over the flowers, and
gaze upon the weeds. In whatever situation you are cast,
compare it impartially with that of others, and you will ever find
it possessed of some advantages. Keep to yourselves pure and
guiltless hearts; love virtue, and practise it for its own sake, and
not for the applause the profession of it may gain you from the
multitude; hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst, and you
cannot fail to be as happy as any of your fellow-mortals."
is young and fair,
With eyes, whose joyous rays
Are brighter far than diamonds are,
And lovelier to the gaze.
You may have look'd on eyes, whose hue
Was witching, and dissolving blue;
Or jet black eyes, whose dazzling fire
All those who saw must needs admire;
But woman's glances ne'er beam'd yet
More soft than those of Margaret.
Lily pale is Margaret's cheek,
And yet surpass'd by none;
For if for beauty's blush you seek,
It dwells that cheek upon.
Oh! who can look upon her smile,
And feel his soul unmov'd the while?
Or mark her lips of love unclose,
And give to view the shining rows
Of pearl in beds of coral set,
And not adore fair Margaret?
Margaret's hair, like streams of light,
Doth o'er her white neck flow,
And twines, in yellow ringlets bright,
Around her polish'd brow:
Each silken lock, each curling tress,
Glows like a star of loveliness;
Her voice is like a bow, whose dart
Is sure to sink into the heart:
Who once has seen, can ne'er forget,
Or cease to love young Margaret.
I think of thee in the
When others lie in dreams,
And the moon is raining on the earth
A shower of silver beams.
I think of thee when I see a star
On a quiet stream look down,
And flash again from its hidden depths,
Like a radiant golden crown.
I think of thee when I see its beams
Rush forth from their glorious sphere,
As though they lov'd their beauty to bathe
In the waters cool and clear.
I have thought that stream as a mirror might be,
That star a maiden fair,
Gazing in joy on her loveliness,
As it shone reflected there.
Or I have thought that fair star lov'd
The quiet stream's pure breast,
And guarded its slumbers through the night,
And kiss'd it into rest.
My faithful heart is as that stream,
A mirror sweet of thee;
Thy beauty lights its inmost depths
THOU art that star to me.
I LOVE THEE
I can but breathe, my gentle love,
In wild and simple song,
The name and beauty which should be
Borne deathlessly along.
I ask no laurel for the lyre
Which tells of love for thee:
'Tis but a record of the heart
A smile its guerdon be.
I love thee! in those few sweet words
A hidden magic lies;
And in my bosom, at their sound,
A thousand glad thoughts rise;
And, as the Patriarch beheld
His incense upwards spring,
E'en so one dear thought tells that thou
Smil'st on my offering.
I love thee! still those words shall be
The burthen of my lay
Thou art my star in sorrow's night,
My sun in pleasure's day.
I love thee! even the very place
Where thou do'st love to be;
All things thou lov'st to look upon
I love, because of thee.
I love thee! if, when far away,
I dwell on some sweet tone,
I listen but because the voice
Is like unto thine own;
And if I mark some sylph-like form
Move gracefully along,
'Tis but that it resembles hers
Who claims my heart and song.
I love thee for thy dove-like eyes,
And for each silken tress,
Thy rose-like cheek, and snow-white brow
Thy all of loveliness.
I love thee! and so deep the spell
Entwin'd around my heart,
That, e'er it cease to beat for thee,
Both love and life must part.
THE SECRET BRIDAL
THE marble walls
of the magnificent cathedral of Florence gleamed in the summer sun,
whose beams cast a dim and chastened light over the interior of the
stately pile, when two youths, each evidently the scion of some
noble and wealthy house, strode proudly up the aisle. With an easy
and confident air, dangling their plumed and jewelled caps
carelessly in their hands, they made their way to a seat, apparently
with no great intention of listening to the holy man who was then
addressing his flock. The elder and most confident of the two seemed
to be pointing out to his companion and expatiating on the various
specimens of art with which the walls of the building were adorned. Suddenly the younger cavalier, who at first appeared remarkably
attentive to his companion, lost all interest in his discourse, and
its objects, which he was previously surveying with much curiosity. It was some moments before the other perceived his inattentiveness,
and the earnestness with which his eyes were fixed upon a certain
part of the cathedral.
"In heaven's name, Eribert," said his friend,
"on what gazest thou so long and admiringly."
"Azzo," whispered the
other, "tell me, I pray thee, the name of yonder maiden."
friend," replied Azzo, smiling, "my acquaintance is not of so
general a character as to enable me to inform thee of the name of
each damsel who happens to meet thine eye."
"Looks she not more like
a saint," said Eribert, "than any of the creations of fancy that
surround us? Didst ever see a face so fair, a form so faultless?"
His companion answered only by a smile, and until the service was
concluded, and the congregation began to disperse, the youths sat in
silence, the younger never for a moment withdrawing his glance from
the object of his admiration. The instant she quitted her seat, he
started from his own, and hurried towards the door, but the pressure
of the retiring crowd barred his progress, and when he was able to
force a passage, she whom he sought had vanished he knew not where. After a considerable time spent in fruitless attempts to ascertain
the way she had taken, he was obliged to abandon his search, and
returned to his friend, not a little chagrined at his
disappointment. It was in vain that Azzo tried to banter his friend
out of his sudden prepossession in favour of an unknown damsel. He
remained, during the day, so unusually absent and gloomy, that his
companion, after resorting to all the means in his power to overcome
the melancholy of the enamoured youth, was fain to leave him to
himself, and seek resource from his apathy in the company of more
Eribert de Alberti was the only son and heir of an ancient and
wealthy house, and was, as only sons generally are, the idol of his
parents. He was now on a visit to his quondam school-fellow, the
dissipated, yet frank and open-hearted Azzo de Carrara. Eribert and
Azzo were sworn friends, and seldom, if ever before, had they found
each other's fellowship wearisome. Eribert had, until the present
moment, considered himself perfectly invulnerable to female charms,
and had always been the first to jest at the raptures of his too
susceptible friend, but he now felt that an unknown, and perhaps
worthless object though he could not bear to think that the latter
might be the case had cast a spell over his heart, from which he
strove in vain to free himself. For many days he was a constant
attendant at the cathedral, in the hope of again seeing the fair
unknown, but his visits were fruitless; though his eyes keenly
scrutinised each female countenance, he saw not that which was so
deeply graven on his heart.
Several weeks had elapsed, when as Eribert and his friend were one
day passing through the Palazzo del Duca, Azzo proposed that they
should call on a promising young painter who resided in the
neighbourhood, and whom he had lately rescued from poverty and taken
under his patronage. The artist had amply confirmed the judgment and
generosity of his patron by proofs of ability and excellence which
had already obtained numerous admirers. The two friends found the
painter busily employed with his pencil, and whilst he was pouring
forth expressions of gratitude to Azzo, his companion's gaze was
attracted by an unfinished portrait. An exclamation of delight burst
from him. He recognized the image of his long-sought enchantress. The artist replied to his eager enquiries, by informing him that he
knew the original of the picture by the name of Constance Durazzo,
and that she was the only child of a widow in respectable but not
affluent circumstances. One part of the information he received made
the young lover's heart bound with joy. The lady was in the habit of
coming to the artist's study alone, and the next day was appointed
for one of her visits.
Long before the time appointed for the maiden's arrival, Eribert was
at the artist's chamber. Wooing scenes are tedious; suffice it to
say that the youth became a successful suitor. He was now at the
height of happiness, but there was a mystery enveloping the birth of
Constance which he strove in vain to penetrate. She had resided,
from the period of her earliest recollection, in her present abode,
and with her present protectress, whom she had long thought her
mother, until a few years ago, she had learned that no relationship
existed between them. From her adopted mother she had obtained the
Eighteen years ago Madame Durazzo had lost her
husband, and was sitting one dull evening in her lonely mansion,
musing over her recent loss and the straitened circumstances in
which her husband's death had involved her, when she was informed
that a stranger wished to speak with her. She gave orders for his
admittance, and was surprised by the entrance of a young and
handsome man, apparently of rank and distinction. He informed her
that he had known her deceased partner, and had heard of his death,
and the embarrassments which that event had entailed upon her. If
Madame Durazzo was previously at a loss to account for the
stranger's visit, she was still more perplexed on seeing him
produce, from beneath the cloak in which he was enveloped, an
infant. He proceeded to state to her his business. He wished her to
take charge of the child, and adopt it as her own. If she consented
to his request, he would place in her hands any sum she might think
adequate for its future maintenance and her own remuneration. Its
true rank, and the name of its parents, she must ever remain in
ignorance of. He wished her in all respects to consider it as her own
offspring, to bestow upon it what name she thought proper, and to
bring it up in the belief that she was its mother.
Strange as this
proposal appeared to Madame Durazzo, when she saw the extreme
loveliness of the child, and thought of her own desolate state and
pecuniary embarrassments, and of the purposes to which the money
she would receive with the infant might be applied, she accepted of
the trust. The stranger immediately deposited in her hands double
the sum she demanded. He kissed the cheek of the smiling babe, and
she observed that a tear was trembling in his eye, but he turned
hastily away, and bade her farewell. She saw him no more. She
bestowed upon the child her own name of Constance; it had grown up
in beauty, and loving it as a mother, she had wished it ever to
regard her in that light, until in an unguarded moment, the secret
had escaped her lips beyond recall.
With this vague account Eribert was obliged to rest satisfied. The
idea of betraying the being whose young heart he had won, never for
a moment crossed his imagination, but he smiled at times to think
that he, the heir of an illustrious house, who had beheld with
indifference the proud and beauteous dames of his own rank, was now
devotedly attached to one whose name and true station in life was
unknown to him. He was well aware that his father, however indulgent
he might be to his minor follies, would never consent to his union
with one whose birth was involved in so much obscurity. It was in
vain that he attempted to reason himself out of his prepossession,
for when did love ever yield to reason's dictates? Each succeeding
day did but rivet his fetters more strongly, and convince him of the
futility of his endeavours to subdue his passion.
The time of his
returning home was rapidly approaching, and the struggle betwixt his
duty and his love must be brought to a close the victory was
love's. He determined to make Constance Durazzo his bride. There are
few female hearts which could resist the united attractions of rank,
wealth, and love. Constance yielded to his proposal of a secret
marriage. Madame Durazzo was a woman who worshipped rank as a
divinity, and in the weakness and vanity of her nature was
transported with delight at the thought of the beloved child of her
adoption becoming the wife of the heir of the Marquis de Alberti. It
was not likely, therefore, that she would offer any obstacle to the
completion of Eribert's wishes. On the contrary, her utmost
influence was used on his behalf, and the preparations for the union
were speedily completed.
The ceremony was to be performed in
private, and attended only by Madame Durazzo and one of her
neighbours. Eribert led the beautiful Constance to the altar. A
strange oppressive, and indefinable feeling came over the heart of Eribert as he led his intended bride up the dim aisle of the chapel
where the marriage was to take place. The priest commenced the
ceremony, and a sensation almost amounting to horror took possession
of the bridegroom. He felt like one about to take a part in some
unholy and accursed sacrifice, and as he looked on the downcast and
trembling Constance, his imagination pictured her as the victim. He
strove vainly to overcome these feelings, and he shuddered
involuntarily as the priest pronounced the closing benediction. Constance was, however, now his bride, and as he pressed her to his
breast, he fondly thought that, in spite of his previous ominous
sensations, his bliss would be both lasting and perfect.
appointed for his return to his parents had gone by, and as they
would no longer be pacified by his reiterated excuses, he was
compelled, shortly after his union, to bid his bride a reluctant
Proudly did the Marquis and Marchioness de Alberti embrace their
beloved son, but Eribert's thoughts were with his bride at Florence,
and he found some difficulty in evading the inquiries of his mother
who with the keen eye of maternal love soon saw that he met her not
with his usual expression of frank delight. Eribert shrank from the
idea of deceiving his parents, yet when he gazed on their dignified
forms, and saw the state with which they were surrounded, he felt
that it would be almost madness in him to expect their sanction to
his union. The secret, therefore, remained closely shut up in his
own breast. Slowly passed the time which he was obliged to spend at
the seat of his ancestors, ere he returned to his adored Constance. Several months had glided on, when availing himself of the absence
of his father, who had departed to visit a distant estate, he again
set out on his way to Florence. Attended only by a confidential
servant, he travelled with a lover's speed, and joyfully did he
enter the fair city in which he had treasured up his hopes.
Day had closed when Eribert arrived at the place of his destination,
and leaving his steed to the care of his attendant, he proceeded on
foot to his wife's habitation. He paced the well-known street with
rapid steps. The night was one of alternate gloom and brightness,
and a cloud had now veiled the face of the moon, but he perceived a
light burning in the home of Constance, and was in the act of
bounding over the street, when he beheld the dark figure of a man
muffled in a cloak emerging from the house. He started back in
astonishment, and retreating beneath the shade of a projecting
door-way, he watched unseen the man's movements. The stranger cast
around looks of anxious observation, and then glided stealthily
away. What did he there? Could Madame Durazzo be the object of his
visit if so why did he steal away in such a guilty manner? Perchance Constance at the thought a jealous fury fired his brain,
and he rushed after the figure. The person whom he pursued, on
hearing the advance of footsteps, stopped short, and turned suddenly
"Villain!" cried Eribert, "defend yourself!" and unsheathing
his sword, he dashed madly at the unknown, who drawing forth his own
weapon, vigorously repelled the attack. They struck at random, for
they were in darkness. By a chance thrust Eribert wounded the sword
arm of his opponent, whose weapon fell from his grasp. Eribert's
blade was aimed in the direction of his enemy's heart, when the moon
burst its shroud, and shone brightly on the combatants. Eribert's
hand sank powerless by his side he sprang back as from a spectre
he gazed upon his father!
For a few moments they stood in mute
astonishment. The silence was broken by the Marquis de Alberti. "What means this, sir!" said he, "have you turned spy or think you
I have lived too long, that thus you come upon me like a midnight
assassin boy would'st thou commit parricide?"
"By heavens, I knew
you not!" said Eribert, in horror and surprise.
"Follow me," said
Eribert obeyed in silence, and his father led the way
to an obscure house of entertainment. They entered a small room. The
Marquis locked the door, and sank exhausted on a chair. Eribert
would have assisted in binding up the wound he had inflicted, but
his aid was refused.
"Away!" cried the Marquis, "I seek no help from
an assassin explain this conduct, or you are henceforth no son of
"Father," said Eribert, "first tell me, in mercy I beseech
you tell me, what know you of Constance Durazzo?"
started from his seat with a pale and a shy countenance, and his lips
quivered with passion. His hand sought his sword, but the scabbard
"Death and hell!" he cried, "must I endure this, madman;
forbear, forbear tempt not thy father thus!"
subduing his emotion, he recovered his former cold and haughty
bearing, and thus addressed his son.
"Presumptuous boy, by what
right playest thou the spy upon my actions? How darest thou thus to
"Hear me," said Eribert, "father, hear me. In this
case, in this alone, I have a right to question you the right of
Constance Durazzo's husband!"
"Her husband!" groaned the Marquis and
fell senseless on the floor.
Eribert, utterly confounded, used every
means for his father's recovery, and he was at length restored to
consciousness. He gazed around, with a wild and haggard look, and
murmured "what horrid dream is this? ha! Eribert Great God! 'tis
He was again relapsing into insensibility, but, with a
powerful effort, he mastered his feelings, and retained his
faculties. "God, oh, God!" continued he, "the sins of the father are
indeed visited on his children. Answer me is Constance Durazzo thy
"Father, we are married."
"Then Heaven pardon thee, my child,
for THOU ART WEDDED TO THY SISTER!"
"My sister!" gasped Eribert,
convulsively"no, no, it cannot be father you rave trifle not
with me thus!"
"Listen to me," said the Marquis, "listen, whilst my
parched lips give utterance to a tale whose every word must sink
into thy soul, as though impressed upon thy brain with brand of
burning iron. Thou well know'st that a deadly feud subsisted betwixt
thy mother's father and mine own. The enmity of parents descends not
always to their offspring thy mother and myself saw, and loved
each other. We met often in secret, for we knew that our sires would
never consent to our union, and in an evil hour, when passion
triumphed over reason, thy mother fell from virtue. Oh, the agonies
I was destined to endure from that fatal indiscretion! More than a
year had elapsed, when I was informed that the effects of our stolen
interviews could no longer be concealed. Feigning an invitation from
a relative who resided at a distance from her father's residence,
thy mother contrived to leave her home for a time, and taking refuge
in a retreat I had provided for her near Florence, she gave birth to
an infant. I placed the child in the care of Madame Durazzo, with an
injunction that she would adopt it as her own. A short period after
this event, thy mother's father died, and as the enmity of my sire
extended not beyond the grave, with some difficulty I obtained his
consent to my union with the daughter of his deceased foe. Thy
mother and myself were united, but still I resolved to preserve the
reputation of my bride unsullied, and the offspring of our guilt
knew not her parents. Having completed the business which was the
cause of my present journey, I halted to-night, on my return
homewards, at Florence. An irresistible impulse led me to re-visit
the house of Madame Durazzo, and inquire from her the destiny of the
infant I had confided to her care. I found that it had grown up to
womanhood, rich in beauty and accomplishments. I enfolded the
innocent fruit of my crime in my arms, and bestowed upon it my
blessing. Constance (such I found was the name bestowed upon my
child) knelt before me, and earnestly entreated that I would at
least inform her of her parents' names and rank, but pride, and a
slavish fear of the world's censure, prevailed over the dictates of
my heart, and I was proof against her supplications. I tore myself
from her, and left the house."
After that night the Marquis de Alberti never again beheld his son,
who soon found in battle the death which he sought. The brief
remainder of the existence of the ill-fated Constance was terminated
in a convent.