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In one of Mr. Kenyon's charming volumes, there is a slight and graceful poem, addressed to Mary Anning, of Lyme Regis, the first discoverer of the Saurian remains for which that picturesque coast is now so famous, which has for me an interest quite distinct from literature or geology. In that old historical town, so deeply interwoven with the tragedy of Monmouth and the triumph of William III., that old town so finely placed on the very line where Dorsetshire and Devonshire meet, I spent the eventful year when the careless happiness of childhood vanished, and the troubles of the world first dimly dawned upon my heartfelt in' its effects rather than known-felt in its chilling gloom, as
we feel the shadow of a cloud that passes over the sun on an April day.
My dear mother, the only surviving child of a richly beneficed clergyman, had been for her station and for those times what might be called an heiress, and when she married my father, brought him, besides certain property in house and land, a portion in money of eight-and-twenty thousand pounds. He himself, the younger son of an old family, with a medical education as good as the world could afford, a graduate of Edinburgh, a house pupil of John Hunter, and personally all that attracts the sexclever, handsome, young and gay, had won her heart almost without design when he came to settle to his profession in the little Hampshire town where after the death of both parents she had taken up her abode, and was easily persuaded by friends more worldly wise than he to address himself to a lady who, although ten years his senior, had every recommendation that heart could desire -- except beauty. So they married. She full of confiding love refused every settlement beyond two hundred a-year pinmoney, out of his own property, on which he insisted; and he justified her choice by invariable kindness and affection, an affection that knew no intermission from her wedding-day to the day of her death, and by every manly and generous quality, excepting that which is so necessary to stability and comfort in this work-a-day world—the hornely
quality called prudence. Independent to a fault, frank in speech and rash in act, a zealous and uncompromising Whig, in those days when Whiggery was sometimes called sedition and sometimes treason, he first ruined his fair professional prospects in a place where he was known and loved, by plunging into the fervent hatreds of a hotly contested county election; and then, when he had removed into Berkshire, contrived by some similar outbreak to affront and alienate a rich cousin, of whom my mother was the declared heir, and who, after being violently angry with her for marrying, and with me for being a girl, had been propitiated by my bearing the magic name of Russell; and might perhaps have again relented had he not died within a few months, just after leaving his money to a child whom he had never seen, who had not even the baptismal Russell to recommend him. Then in his new residence he got into some feud with that influential body the corporation; and whether impatient of professional restraints, or of the slow progress of a physician's fortunes, he attempted to increase his own resources by the aid of cards (he was unluckily one of the finest whist-players in England), or by that other terrible gambling, which
so many forms, and bears so many names, but which even when called by its milder term of speculation, is that terrible thing gambling still; whatever might be the manner of the loss--or
whether, as afterwards happened, his own largehearted hospitality and too-confiding temper were alone to blame for the detail was never known to me, nor do I think it was known to
mother; he did not tell, and we could not ask-whatever the actual cause, it seems to me certain that about this time nearly all of his own paternal property, except the reserved pin-money, and much of my mother's fortune, was in some way sunk.
Under these circumstances, just as a remarkable cure was beginning to make his medical talent advantageously known, he resolved to remove to Lyme, feeling with characteristic sanguineness that in a fresh place success would be certain. How often in after life has that sanguine spirit, which cling to him to his last hour, made me tremble and shiver. I had seen him so often disappointed, that it seemed to me that what he expected could never come to pass; and such, I think, is the natural effect produced on all around by an over-sanguine spirit. Even Hope has never been so truly characterized as by the great poet in his fine personification, "Fear and trembling Hope;" and I saw the other day a beautiful copy of the celebrated picture known as Guido's Hope, in which the expression is that of intense melancholy. That lovely face looked as if listening to prognostics that were not to be fulfilled.
Well, we removed to Lyme Regis. The house
my father took there was, as commonly happens to people whose fortunes are declining, far more splendid than any we had ever inhabited, indeed the
very best in the town. It was situated about the middle of the principal street, and had been during two or three seasons some twenty years before rented by the great Lord Chatham for the use of his two sons,
the second Earl and William Pitt, at the time that we occupied it Prime Minister of England. Hayley, in his Autobiography, mentions having seen the youths there. The house, built of the beautiful grey stone of the Isle of Portland, had a great extent of frontage, terminating by large gates surmounted by spread eagles, probably the crest of some former proprietor. An old stone porch, with benches on either side, projected from the centre, covered, as was the whole front of the house, with tall, spreading, wide-leafed myrtle, abounding in blossom, with moss-roses, jessamine, and passion-flowers. Behind the buildings, extended round a paved quadrangle, was the drawing-room, a splendid apartment, of which the chimney-piece was surmounted by a copy in marble of Shakespeare's tomb in Westminster Abbey, looking upon a little lawn surrounded by choice ever-greens, particularly the bay, the cedar, and the arbutus, and terminated by an old-fashioned greenhouse and a filbert-tree walk, from which again three detached gardens sloped abruptly down to one of the clear dancing rivulets of that western country,