« AnteriorContinuar »
For the EUROPEAN MAGAZINE. for which he has po relish, and to acDanger of complying too much with quiesce io, if not to support, opinions
CUSTOM, exemplified in the CHARAC- and practices which are equally repug. TER of DissIMULUS.
napt to his feelings and his judgment; duty of every member to sacrifice which is any thing but his own, and to a certain portion of his individual li- appear to be every thing but what he berty, in order to secure that of the really is. cominunity at large; so, in private life, This pliability of temper leads him it is equally incumbent upon every into a thousand ridiculous distresses, member of society to suffer his own Dissimulus is invited to spend an opinions to give way, in a measure, evening with a set of good fellows ; be to the general laws of established cus readily accepts the iuvitation from a tom. But this maxim bolds good only dread of giving offence by a refusal ; to a certain extent, to exceed which, is though were he to consult his own itto verify tbe observation of a judicious climation, he would as soon think of writer on ethics," that custom is like spending his evening in one of the cells the fatal blast tbat destroys the bud of at Bedlam. hape and expectation; and therefore The accustomed forms of introduce we ought not to yield to any thiog but tion, accompanied by the usual vumber what carries its evidence with it, or im- of nothings expressed on those occaplicitly submit to custom, where the sions, having been gone through, Dissi. judgweot does not wholly approve.”
mulus takes his seat anongst his jolly It is dithcult to decide whether the coinpanions, the bottle is briskly cireumao is most deserving of our pity or coq. lated, and Dissimulos swallows off his tempt, who, gifted with the powers of bumper with an air of great seeming saratiocination, and enlightened by a libe tisfaction, smacks his lips, and joins ral education, voluntraily sacrifices his in the general commendation of the principles and opinions at the shrine of quality and flavor of the wine, though, ignorance or stupidity, and from a sub. iu reality, a dose of ipecacuanha would survient acquiescence with custom, is be equally grateful to his palate. induced to lend his suffrage to the voice As the wine circulates, my friend's of folly, and to drown his senses in the natural taciturnity wears off, he be. maudlin delirium of intoxication.
more and more exlilirated, Yet, that such instances of imbeci. * None laoghs louder, or clubs a smutJity are to be met with in characters not tier tale;” none sings a merrier catch, otherwise deficient of understanding, a or lends a hand more willing to his cup; very cursory insight inlo life and made lill at length, from the narcotic effects ners will demonstrate.
of the potent liquor, he fall's into a kind Dissimulus is a man whose turn of of apoplexy, and tinally sinks under the mind is daturally serious, and even sa table, whilst his companions pronounce turojne, for whom society has few bis eulogium, in drunkeu vociferations charms, and to whom the ordinary of " Ad----d good fellow!". commerce of mankind is oppressive and To have establi bed his claim to this disyuting. His ruling passion is the meritorious and respectable appellation, love of ease, and be has no real enjoy.. is all that Dissimulus has gained, or is inent beyond the verge of contemplative likely to gain, by living at continual va. life: he loves to look behind the riance with binself: his life is made up seenes, but is a verse to taking a part on of follies committed at night, and rethe great theatre of the world.,
pened of in the morning; of" resoluUufortunately, however, or perhaps iions formed in the moming, only to be fortunately for Dissimulus, his station broken Uirough at night, and thus, in life is such as to allow bin but fow through a culpable and pusill.nimous opportunities of gratifying his appetile surrender of his own betier judgmenit, for seclusion, and indulging in that to comply with the customs, the vices, home contemplation which is his su. and ibe caprices of others, is Dissiinulús preme delight.
doomed to pass through life, without Engaged in an active profession, for acquiring the esteem of the viriuous which he is by nature výery way :
and sensible part of mankind, and (what qualified, aud obliged to assiciale with is at leust of equal imporlance) without men of the world, whuse dispositions being able to secure the approbation of are entirely opposite to his own, he is bis own couscience. R. A. D. compeiled to participale of pleasures
ÉXTRACTS FROM À LAWYER'S whence we looked down into the arena PORTFOLIO. of a vast kitchen, where only a few
The white cows were now feeding. (Continued from page 12.)
gallery where we stood afforded another T an early period of my life, I was cheerless prospect over the neglected
requested by a respectable attor- park, from a balcony filled with lichens bey to accompany hin on his profes- and coarse wall-flowers, creeping among sional visit to a lady in very peculiar a few roses, now almost as wild. circumstances. Our journey brought Only some mildewed volumes of us at the close of day to a ruined farm. Froissart's Chronicle, and an ancient yard and forsaken church, which formed, folio of beraldry, occupied the libraryto my great surprise, the entrance of an shelves ; but a long series of family extensive park. A grove of limes and portraits, from the date of Magna overgrown, hawthorns brushed the sides Charta, remained in decayed frames of my postchaise, till a' broad pond on the walls. 'Some traces of gaudy fed by a leaden Hercules compelled our splendor and aristocratic pomp still postillion to make a detour over un appeared in these portraits, which ren. Sbora grass, which brought us cir. dered the next scene more touching. cuitously to the wide and rudely Our attendant, inaking us a sign of sculptured front of the mansion. In- silence, opened a pair of folding doors, stead of ascending an enormous flight and discovered a roon profoundly dark, of steps to the hall, we passed under except where a single candle in a massy neath them to what might be called the silver candelabra stood on a table before sub-house or basement, where a grey the mistress of the mansion. She was porter received us sitting in his aotique wrapped in black velvet, with a mournchair with two lean 'mastiffs chained ing hood drawn over a face of singular near bim, and a prim dame busied in length and ghastliness, rendered more polisbing the vast brass dogs and bra. fearful by the dim glare of eyes whose zen hearth, where a pile of yule-logs glassy, fixture indicated their unconwas hoarded. She led us through a sciousness. Almost wholly deprived of saloon decorated with immense mir. sight, shie was capable of no enjoynient, fors, tables inlaid with ivory, and gilded except the feeble light of one candle, window-shulters, while the plaister hung and of feeling continually the splendid crombling from the walls, and a few candlestick which supported it. At this bats and swallows fluttered in the cor- sad spectacle of helpless misery, clinging Ders, where rich Indian jars and cabi to the relics of uvavailing grandeur, it nets stood uncovered. Among six or was impossible to remain unmoved. seren peedless doors, she found one A sigh or a sudden motion reached which opened into a long suite of her ear, which bliodness made pecuToons, whose panpels were of ebony Jiarly watchful, and ber tremulous carved in superb compartments, which shriek, her faint effort to grasp the the barbarous taste of former owners silver candlestick, and the passied mo. had painted white. Through the vista lion of ber shrivelled lips, expressed formed by these dreary chambers, we the agony of imputent avarice and sussaw the naked arches and broken win: picion too piteously to be borne. I dows of a gothic ball-room, which, was turning to leave the room, wben as our guide inforined us, would be the lean old nan' we had noticed in soon converted into a garden. A fer the ball emerged from a dark corner shrubs and creeping flowers were al. near his mistress, and uttering some ready clustered among the pillars with sounds which she appeared to underpicturerque and touching effect. At stand, beckoned the attorney and my the farther end of this ruin we dis- self to advance. My friend addressed cerned the remains of a deserted cha- the miserable woman in a tone of cour. pel. contrasting the light architecture of tesy; and perceiving that she listened the ball-room as mournfully as the dim without seeming displeased, reminded desolation of the other apartments op ber of the purport of his coming posed their relics of splendor. But our " To make my will !" she replied, walk did not end bere ;-an unexpected in a tone which resembled the 'echo staircase led us to a gallery in which in a vault--" 0 yes ! I reinember several doors opened, not into other but there is nothing now to give but chambers, but among the groined arches this !” And drawing the candlestick which sustained a vauhed roof, from closer, with a faughi more inelauchuly Europ. Mag. Vol. LXXIII. Feb. 1818.
than a groan, she covered ber face, lats of this family tradition with earand spoke no more.
nest expressions of his hope that the The old man approached, and whis. dying woman might be induced to siga pered that these symptoms always pre some testamentary deed, restoring the ceded a long fit of obstinate silence. wreck of the estate to the descendants We followed him into another chamber, of its lineal possessor, if any such surwhere refresbment was provided, and he vived. When he found me firm in
His absence allowed me to ex- asserting that the motive could not press my thoughts oo the incompetence justify the means, even had the wreck of any testament executed by this deso heen greater than a dilapidated house late and debilitated woman, and my and barren park, he alleged the pro. abhorrence to the office of witness or priety of obtaining at least some legacy dictator. My attorney interrupted me, for the aged dowestics who had been by begging my remembrance of her faithful to their trust. history, which a few words will com Accustomed to look on the skeleton prisc.
of human nature, I saw inuch to sus. Fifty years before the period I am pect, and little to admire, in these describing, this inapsion was inhabited domestics. They had probably some by an ancient English barovet and bis hope of reversionary benefit, and her wifo, whose domestic bappiness required dotage permitted sufficient opportu. no addition except an heir. But the pities of plunder among the rich relics lady was childless, and filled up the in the mansion. The old man, who yacant place in her affections by edu. appeared to act as porter, steward, and cating an orphan girl of good family, confidential valet, had some instincbut no fortune. She was the reputed tive sense of my suspicion, and eviheiress of her foster-parents till sixteen' dently requited it. He obtruded bin. years after her adoption, when her self repeatedly during our conference, patroness gave birth to a s00. The eying us with sullen atlention, and happy father died soon after, leaving often pausing to catch our words, un. his heir to the guardianship of his der pretence of renewing, the scanty wife, wbose estates were at her own fire and refreshment. All these cir. disposal. Their spoiled and volatile cumstances confirmed my opposition boy was not qualified to guard against to the views of thc attorney in bis the slow, constant, and smooth craft of favour, and even created some lit. his competitor. The disparity between tle doubt of the latter's disinterest. his age and her's prevented any union cdness, We agreed, however, in the of interests, and bis indifference, per- propriety of inquiring, whether the haps, increased envy to hatred. His mistress of the mansion lad reco. mother died suddenly, bequeatbing all vered herself sufficiently to admit us. to Melicent, ber adopted daughter, and she was better, we were told, but be quitted England in desperate poverty. deferred our visit till the next moraMelicent becaine a wife, and the miserable ing. My companion went to rest, mother of children who resembledcher- and I, determining not to sleep in this self. Her selfishness could not baffle mysterious house, found an old illu. their rapacity, and in her sixtieth year, minated romance, and dozed over it in the wretchedness of unpitied imbeci on a couch beside bim.
Long after lity, they left her to vegetate in this midnight, a light, but very distinguishruined niansion, the last rempant of her able, footstep passed our chamberimmense estate. The few acres coin-. door, as if descending from the lady's. prised in the forlorn park which sur. My vigilant suspicious fixed this cir. rounds it, would have been insufficient cumstance in my mind ; and when, to afford maintenance to a decent bouse at the appointed hour on the following bold, had not one of her female ser morning, our admission was again postvants and an old man chosen to remain poped, I urged my companion to be with her gratuitously. Eleven years pereniptory. The female servant thon bad passed sioce she came to this retire. confessed that her mistress could not be meot, and her situation was an object of found. We instantly eutered ber apartwondering curiosity to the vulgar, but of ment, and continued our search through solemn compassion to those who ob- all that adjoined it; followed by her wo. served the progress of retributive jus. man and the old man, to whom I made tice.
no scruple in expressing my astonishMy companion repeated the partiou. ment at a flight whier her debility
rendered almost incredible. At our supposed to bave received no salary, entrance into her usual sitting-room, and professed to live in this ruin rather I inquired for the massy silver can from attachment to the last than the delabra, which had also disappeared present possessors.—“ These last partifrom its place there. Both professed culars," I said, “ would have more ignorance, but at that instant the lean effect in the old illuminated romance porter's face contained the darkest which amused us last night than in symptoms of guilt. It was one of those a lawyer's brief. Can you doubt the faces which an honest man bardly dares fate of the silver 'candlestick, or the peruse, and cannot venture to trans- meaning of those malignant glances late. A long chin resting on his breast, which her porter cast upon us," if he a dose resembling an eagle's claw, and had any personal attachment to his eyes which had the quickness but not wretched inistress, his countenance the lustre of a viper's, and now shrunk tells me it must have arisen from past to the same size, composed bis me fellowship in guilt, or expectation of morable countenance. 1. We have not future recompense." looked yet," said he, in a tremulous To avoid farther debate on a point voice, is into the ball-room.” This which created opposite opinious, my part of the mansion, as I have already friend renewed his inquisition into clos said, was fallen into ruins, and filled sets and desks, while I pursued mine with shrubs and flowers which he had among the shelves of the library. We placed there for his mistress's amuse were both thus engaged, when the obment. l'he memory of this circum. ject of my suspicious presented him. stance softened me in his favour, and self. He had smoothed his grey hair, we followed him to its farthest recess, and it commanded my respect till they where, near the broken door of the were justified. " Sir," be began, adchapel which adjoined it, we found dressing himself to the attorney, I the unhappy lady lying on her face, have no claims here-nothing is owing already stiff and cold in death. There to me, but before I leave this house, were uo tokens of violence about her I could wish-I came to beg one book person, which was wrapped only in a as a memorial of it"-and he fixed his dlight night-dress, and the cold damps eyes on a large mildewed volume, which of midnight acting on an exposed and my companion immediately took from debilitated frame might have hastened its shelf, and was going to give a when ber decease. The silence . which pre reading the purport of my looks, be vailed among us in the remains were bade him wait till to-morrow. The deposited in a fitter spot, arose less man's glance at me as he withdrew was a from surprise tban' froid unwillingness compound of anger, contempt, and to communicate our thoughts. When chagrin, which induced me to examine alone in the library, my attorney asked the volume closely. It was a manu, what remained to be done : - Cer- script selection of literary anecdotes, tainly to acquaint this womali's rela- parity vritten by a female, and partly tives with her end, and to detain these by a bold masculine hand. In the latpeople till their conduct can be exa ter style were several citations on submined. We are not justified in coo- jects connected with jurisprudence, in versing, here till seals are placed on which the first possessor of this mansion every depositary in the house.” This had gained high rank. One leaf care
suggestion was obeyed; and as some fully doubled dowo contained Gesner's · testamentary arrangement seemed to pleasant story of a conscientious attor
have been cootemplated, we deemed ney perplexed by discovering a will ourselves authorized to search. Va- which disinherited some poor relarious useless papers and antique toys tives. " Gesner's procurator was an were hoarded in the drawers and cabi- Utopian,” said my legal friend, wrinkDets, but neither plate nor jewels re- ling up his nose. Such fine sentimaioed. This my companion attempted ments are fit for the chiotz and tassels, to explain, by stating, ibat the deceased but vot for the firm pillared posts of an lady had been stripped of nearly all honest man's bed." Then putting on by her tharkless relatives, and had sub- his spectacles, be viewed three large sisted many years on the produce of chests of sarcophagus form, each very tbc sew acres wbich enclosed her man- appropriately decorated with the family sion. Her mag-scrvant, he added, was crest, a long-tailed demon, which in*
dimmer and lonelier hour might have said, by chests of a sarcophagus form, caused some · superstitious terrors. filled with family-archives. A few were " And I tell you plainly," he added, unlocked, and seemed to have been « that if I found a forgotten will among lalely opened. Perceiving traces of a these stores of ancient archives, aliene spade aud mattock among the shrubs in ating this superannuated woman's the ruined ball.room, 1 searched every wealth from her natural heirs, I should spot with useless diligence : but in the not scruple to leave it where I had roofless and forsaken chapel, among found it.”_" By this rule,” said I, beaps of broken timber and decayed “ if a Scotchmad was required by the velvet, stood a chest of the same sincomical law which France bas lent Scot- gular sarcophagus-shape. It opened laod, to restore his wife's dowry to her without difficulty, and underneath an relatives at her dealb, how would you enormous roll of faded parchment we advise him to act ?"-" I should say as perceived the silver candelabra,-“ Are others have said it is too great a mis- your prejudices abated now?” said my fortune to lose a wife and ber money companion, triumphantly-" The mitoo-let hiin keep it by the law of serable woman expired near this chest, the land if he can, and if not, by the law and the cobwebs which adhered to her of Nature."-" Yet you live by the law hands and garments assure me that the of the land ?" I replied, smiling.--"No last effort of her life was an attempt to maller, Counsellori-Human feeling is gratify the sole passion that governed it, older than the law, and ought in some by hiding her last treasure."--" I have cases to be preferred."-"Well, I grant no thougbts of the candlestick pow !" I that man's judgment was the laws ori- replied “ thougb it has proved as usegin; but the law is the result of many fui as an old dervise's seven-branched judgments, and therefore should be These parchments are the title. more weighty than an individual's. deeds of the estate this folio is her Honest Gesner said wisely, I should will, devising it to the heir of her late Jike one or two peighbours of your benefactress--She has left ample hoards liberal opinions, but I should not be of money and jewels, all indicated here, safe in a town where every-body and all reserved for him. Burn your thought as you do.'”—" Why, what blank parchments, brother Quitam, and harm would have been done if I had let us look for the legatee."- My honest guided this avaricious dotard's band attorney did not wait for the command to sigo a retributive act of justice? -- he vanished with a long laugh of de. -The law would not cancel an equi- light, and returned leading in the mea. table act, though performed by a luda- gre old man.-" Now, Counsellor, cons tic."-"It rests neither with you nor gratulate the lineal representative of me," I replied, “ to measure the equity this family on his integrity and bis or decide the means of retribution. indemnification. He quitted this roof, Both may be procured without our and refused any boon from his enemy interference. I see nothing here which while she seemed affluent, but returned could gratify this siøgular old wan; to it when it was desolate, and gave and a few crown-pieces would be more bread to its miserable mistress, though useful to him than a collection of antjo poor and infirm himself when she quated references."—" If they are so seemned penniless. He only boped to viseless," said my companion, angrily, die under bis father's roof, but it has " I might have been pardoned for deli- returned to its right owner.”—“ What verivg them to a person wbo would would have been his fate,” said ), value them as the hand-writing of the smiling, “ if you had fabricaled « dend."-"
"For that reason, and to find will ??". him a more valuable memorial,” I re I have no comment to make on these plied, this book seeins an inducement facis. My prejudice and suspicion form io renew our search. Some of the pages the chief feature in ing narrative. May to which these potes refer have been those who peruse it find all their own torn out, and they may be worth find- dispersed by circumstances as felici. ing:"– My friend understood the biot; tous !- And may those who doubt the and havmig secretly determined to se advance of justice beware how they cure the person of this mysterious old attempt to expedile it by iniquity. man, 1 followed through ihe long suite of rooms occupied, as bas been already
(To be continued.)