« AnteriorContinuar »
so, Matilda conquered all external emotion, at a meeting which was not howarer without influence on her after-fate.
“With perfect calmness she began questioning Ormsby as to his unexpected arrival. But his feelings were much less tractable,-excited as they had been, not only by the exclamation of Matilda, but by the momentary expression of her lovely face, glowing with matchless sensibility. It had seemed to him like the transient glimpse of another and a better world. In vain he tried to force himself into common topics,-to account for his being there,--to stammer out a common-place compliment on meeting her,-to bestow some hackneyed praise on her drawing, which he still held in his band. At last he exclaimed, It's all in vain,-I may form resolutions in solitude, in a crowd I may maintain them; but in a meeting like this I can but be-myself! Pardon this language,--this unwarrantable, but involuntary, trespass on your tranquillity. Pity and forget me! then pressing her hand for an instant to his lips, he rushed into the garden.
" It had been a scene of such bewildering emotion, such unexpected interest,previously so utterly unforeseen,--so rapid in its development, --so abrupt in its termination,--that Matilda, wandering unconsciously forth, and finding herself again in her carriage, felt, when first roused by the servant inquiring for orders, like one awakened from the confusion of a dream; but as hastily replying, Home, home,' she threw herself back in the carriage, every thing that had passed recur. red in all the agitating consciousness of reality, and her feelings now burst forth with a vehemence redoubled by previous restraint.”
The concealment of this interview from all her friends is the first false step taken by Matilda. She felt dissatisfied with herself for it, although her only motive was to spare the feelings of Ormsby. The worst effect of it was, that it accustomed her mind to associate his image with the necessity of disguise. At Milan they meet again : but it is not until they arrive in Rome, that accidental circumstances place them so near each other as to endanger the hitherto unsullied innocence of Matilda. Sir James, yielding to a fit of that irascibility, which our countrymen are so fond of displaying abroad, picked a quarrel with a Roman tradesman, which might have been fatal to his life, had he not been defended hy Ormsby, who happened to be in the shop. In the affray, Ormsby was desperately wounded: he was afterwards taken to Sir James's residence, and placed under the care of Matilda! Many weeks elapsed before his bodily recovery was effected: but, in the mean time, the disease of his mind, as might be expected, was fully communicated to that of Matilda. Her husband had not as yet conceived any suspicions as to the real state of her heart.
An excursion was fixed for the Pamphyli Doria gardens by Sir James and the Hobsons: Lady Matilda having been detained at the sculptor's, sitting for her bust, Ormsby was appointed to call for her.
“To this Ormsby could not consent more readily than did the Baronet; and Matilda, being already from home, was not a party consulted. When Ormsby alone, therefore, attended her at the sculptor's, she certainly did not think it necessary to volunteer any fictitious objection to an arrangement in which her opinion had never been asked. To the Pamphyli Doria therefore they went, and there they were left long to loiter alone on this, the last day which remained to them of that unrestrained intercourse in which circumstances bad recently permitted them to indulge.
“The time and place seemed not only peculiarly to harmonize with the state of their mutual feelings, but to be even emblematical of the deceitful dangers of their relative situation. It was one of those delicious days when nature's self seems new; and here, on this favoured spot, whose refined solitudes are purposely elevated above the grosser cares of the lower world, its sunshiny smile tempts a lingering stay, and soothes into oblivion of all but the present pleasure. But, alas! maluria's deadly poison hovers in every balmy breath that whispers love, and destruction lurks beneath the budding hopes of each opening flower.
"Matilda and Ormsby bad lingered long near one of those lonely fountains which adorn some of the varied vistas of the gardens. Even 'm his eyes she had never looked more lovely. The simple attire to which, as best suited to a statuary's, classical taste, she had confined ber morning's toilet, was peculiarly calculated to invest her perfect form with an almost aërial grace; whilst the tranquil indulgence of the softer feelings of her nature gave a matchless expression of tenderness to her angelic features. But as she bent her eyes towards him who occupied all her thoughts, and met his adoring gaze, she felt suddenly struck with the change which his recent severe illness had made in his fine manly beauty; and it recalled her mind from the calm enjoyment of the present moment, and enforced the re. collection, of how much of their late re-union they had owed to sickness and to suffering,-how, in his sunken eye and faded cheek, the traces of the melancholy origin of their transitory pleasure were left to survive the advantages they had de. rived from so unwelcome a cause.
“ Touched with these reflections, as she leant on the marble balustrade, and shook, as she struggled for composure, her purposely averte i head, a few drops which had gath red in her full dark eye fell unbidden,--mingli in their sullen fall, with the playful patter of the merry fountain over which she was bending.”
Those tears were the ominous precursors of her fate. Ormsby lost all sense of restraint, and revealed the passion that preyed upon him. Matilda confessed that the love she once plighted to him never was another's, that her home had become cheerless to her, that her peace of mind was broken, and she resolved to part with him on the spot, never to see him more. It was in this situation, and thus earnestly engaged, that they were seen by Sir James and his friends. A remark or two, slightly thrown out by one of his party, suddenly kindled his jealousy, and being confirmed in his suspicions by a discovery of the unfortunate meeting between the two lovers at Geneva, he resolved on hurrying away Matilda from Rome immediately. On the journey to Florence she “ had to submit to every species of, ill treatment, short of actual violence, which a vulgar mind and an unfeeling nature, under the irritation of supposed injury, could inflict.” Ormsby madly followed them to Florence, obtained a stolen interview with Matilda, who, “ unable any longer to bear the barbarity of her husband, or to resist the ardour of her lover, faltered out her faint consent to an immediate elopement;" and in a few days they were at Naples.
“ During the whole of their prosperous flight, light and buoyant as the bark that bore them were the bearts of the fugitives, and boundless as the bright expanse of sunshiny waters around seemed their happiness. At the conclusion of the voyage, they exchanged the comparative confinement and restraint of their vessel, for ever-varied rambles through the lonely environs of Sorrento ; where, in that most beautiful corner of the most beautiful bay in the world, they had taken a villa for the summer. Here, whilst days untold swelled into weeks, and weeks that passed unheeded made up months,-eternal as the smiling skies above, and fruitful as the teeming earth on which they trod, still seemed their love. But not more certain was the revolution of the seasons, than this delicious dream to have an end."
Matilda, perhaps, under her circumstances, would never have formed a wish to quit this solitude. But Ormsby soon began to find that he had other interests than those of the heart to attend to. VOL. VII. No. 42. --Museum,
He received letters from his mother, his lawyer, his steward, his political friends, consulting him upon points which recalled him to the business of every-day life, from the romance in which his feelings had been hitherto bewildered. What a volume of instruction is contained in the following passage! What a picture of that happiness which flows from illegitimate affection! How charming the contrast between the two guilty lovers and the “ light-hearted peasants,” whose daily industry secured their innocence !
“As they pursued their usual evening stroll through the vineyards, whose ripe burthens overhung the sloping banks, and almost touched the waters, Matilda could not but remark how much absorbed he was in his own reflections; and she at length thus broke the unusually protracted silence.
“ « How I do hate letters! True, i barclly ever had a pleasant one. Strange as it may seem, I do not think that I ever in my life received one from you, Ormsby.'
“Do you wish me to give you a speedy opportunity of experiencing that pleasure?" said Ormsby, siniling.
“Oh! do not talk so, even in jest. I cannot bear to contemplate such a thing as possible.""
Ormsby tore the letters, and threw the scraps into the sea. « The spot on which this little incident occurred was the loveliest of all the lovely scene around, and, for this reason, hal often been the limit of their even. ing ramble. The beautiful banks of the little inlet, on one side of which they were seated, were crowned with a profusion of myriles, acacias, and other sweet plants, which irresistibly tempted to linger within the precincts of the double enjoyment of their fragrant shade.—The vineyard-path on the other side of the bay, traversed only by the light-bearted peasants, as they returned from their work, carolling some of the wild and gay melodies of their native dialect, gave occasional animation to tlie scene, without at all interfering with its secluded charm. On the broad extent of waters beyond, the setting sun had marked his track of liquid fire, such as no pen, and the pencil only of Claude, can describe.
“I know not whether it was from the peculiar stillness of the atmosphere, and the more than usually glass-like surface of the sea, (which will sometimes convey sound to an almost incredible distance,) but it was the first time Ormsby had remarked, that from hence they could catch the 'busy hum of men,' and the rumbling of the carriages on the evening-promenade at Naples. There was something in his tone and manner in making this observation, which struck Matilda's sensitive mind as implying a wish to be there ;-and in a moment her part was taken."Ormsby,' she said, “you wish to change the scene.- For myself, Heaven knows with you I could remain for ever in this earthiy paradise ;-that is, with you wholly and entirely, in mind as well as person. But never through mistaken kindness attempt to disguise from me any desire you may have; for if you are but happy, all places are the same to me. I can have no wish, no hope, but to please you; and my worst fear is to be felt as a constraint on your inclinations.'
“ Ormsby warmly protested, in reply, that he had no wish for change that no one could be happier than he. And so at the moment he felt. But in a week they had removed to Naples!”
Matilda soon found at Naples that she must shut herself out completely from the world, or appear in it in a character equally novel and painful to her feelings. Every attempt made by Ormsby to restore her to her rank in society, which he hoped was not altogether impracticable under “the peculiar circumstances” of her case, was followed only by fresh mortifications. Among these, the most painful arose from the assumption of a notoriously infamous woman, in visiting the fallen Matilda upon terms of perfect equality!
At length Ormsby was informed that Sir James had taken legal steps for the purpose of obtaining a divorce; and he proceeded to England, in order to facilitate a measure which would enable him to legitimatize his union with Matilda,-a consummation now rendered doubly desirable. Her residence, in the mean time, was fixed in a small and retired villa in the neighbourhood of Nice, where she found some consolation in the friendship of a Mrs. Sydney. The divorce was completed, and a day was fixed for the return of Ormsby, by a felucca, from Genoa, where he was to embark, as the speediest mode of reaching her. That was a day of anxious expectation to Matilda. The morning was calm. She walked out to a remote promontory, in order to catch the earliest view of the friendly sail. Suddenly a tempest arose. A vessel appeared in sight, rocked by the wild winds which raised the waves mountain-high. In a moment it was a wreck at her feet, and every soul on board perished. She was found senseless, and conveyed home. The following day she unconsciously and prematurely became a mother. The concluding scene is agonizing.
“ When Mrs. Sidney entered Lady Matilda's room, she found her supported by pillows in her bed-the windows opened wide-her beautiful hands clasped as in prayer-and the big tears chasing each other down ber colourless cheek.
so Dearest friend,' she said, I have been very-very faint-but soon I shall meet my love again. . I feel it here,' pressing her breast—and most grateful to my heart is the sensation of death. Nay, look not so-for I shall see him-God is merciful-a broken and contrite spirit will he not reject.'
*** Dearest Lady Matilda,' interrupted her friend, do not give way to these agitating anticipations of death. I know there is no cause for alarm. But Lord Ormsby you will see, and that soon.'
“« He's here-he's alive-he is not lost-I read it in your eyes.-Ormsby, my love-Oh, my God, let me live to see him again!' cried Matilda, as, exhausted by the effort, she sunk fainting on the pillow.
“It was in Ormsby's arms that she was restored to consciousness; it was from his trembling hands she received the restoratives her weakened frame required; and even the stern, relentless band of death was for a moment stayed by the renewed energies that strongest of human passions inspired; and for a time nothing was felt save the all-engrossing happiness of their re-union.
“My child—our child-Ormsby, have you seen it ” said Matilda, as Mrs. Sydney placed the infant by its mother's side.
“Dearest child !' said Ormsby, kissing it, -Oh my Matilda, what a treasure it will be to us! how will our happiness grow with its growth.'
“. Our happiness!-Oh, Ormsby-give me air-I am very faint-but do not leave me.'
“Leave you! -Oh, that I had never left you for one moment!-how could any thing persuade me to tear myself one instant away from my only treasure ?
". Say not so-Do not now repine, my love-I trust that good has come out of this evil-Ormsby, I feel that I am more fit to die—nay, start not.-Had I basked ever in the sunshine of thy presence, many sad and salutary reflections had been withered and lost. Then think of the dear Emily-her well-merited happiness is cheaply purchased even by death.'
“ Is there no advice?' said Ormsby: 'pray compose yourself-you wear your gentle frame—these emotions are too much for you. Ormshy said true.-She was now utterly exhausted; but it was not with the pleasurable emotions she had experienced only too late. If any thing could have prolouged her fleeting existence, it would have been the happiness she now enjoyed. But her spirit was Muttering on the verge of eternity, and a few hours must see it wing its inevitable flight.
“ And is there, then, no perfect love in this world” sighed Mrs. Sydney; * must these dear ones part, just when they might in innocence bave together
lived to repent their past transgressions? But thy will be done !Oh, that instead -a being so sad and lonely as myself had been fated to leave them behind me!'
“ There were moments during the remainder of the evening when Matilda's eyes shone so brilliantly, and her voice sounded so sweetly, that Ormsby and Mrs. Sydney almost indulged a hope that she might be spared to them; but the me. dical man conceived it his duty at once to check such vain and fruitless expecta. tion. He solemnly assured them that she could bardly live through the night, and that he much feared the child, too, could not survive.
“ Matilda overheard, in part, this opinion; and pressing the unconscious infant to her breast, she exclaimed, “Oh! 'tis too much to hope, even from Infinite Mercy, that my sins may so far be pardoned that I may be rendered even as this innocent.'
" « Nay,' said Mrs. Sydney, “remember with confidence, that the same Divine authority from which we learn, that of such is the kingdom of Heaven, tells us that there is even more joy over one sinner that repenteth.'
“ Through all that wretched night, Matilda's life was only prolonged by the con. stant circulation of air through the apartment, and as the darkness and damp gradually dispersed, the shades of death seemed to gather and thicken around her devoted head. The refreshing fragrance of earliest morning played in vain about her livid lips, just struggling to emit the last mortal breath that would ever min. gle with the rival sweetness of the air. The first rays of the rising sun shone un. seen upon her glassy eye, about to close for ever against the reviving light of day -it closed-and the sufferer and her sufferings were no more.
“When Ormsby awoke from the stupor of despair to the full sense of his utter desolation, he found that his helpless infant bad also closed its ephemeral existence, and that he was thus utterly bereaved at once of every outward trace, of every living record, of his late guilty connexion.
“ After a time, he sought some relief to his feelings in active service in the cause of the Greeks; but even in the most eventful moments of his after-life, that would sometimes obtrude itself, which was never absent from his solitary pillow, -the image of his poor Matilda, as, heart-broken and repentant, he had seen her on the evening preceding the fatal catastrophe which had left him alone in the world.”
The author tells us, in the commencement of the volume, that, in early life, “ Matilda's religious education had been neglected.' His tale is a sad, yet beautiful, commentary on this text. [Ibid.
PRESENT SYSTEM OF EDUCATION.
(Continued from p. 341.) In thus slenderly examining the question of the dead languages, we have not discussed that opinion which holds forth the study of languages, as such, to be the proper and the only exercise of youth. We will begin by admitting it. The study of a language shall be, if grammarians please, the best method of cultivating the mind, and it shall be the only occupation in which the unformed mind can be trained; but if there is any other gain to follow, it is but consistent with good policy, with common economy, to attempt to obtain it.
By acquiring Greek and Latin, presuming that they were actually acquired, the collateral gain which follows is the improvement of the literary taste, and the opening of the stores contained in those languages. One of these questions
we have already discussed, and we have pretty clearly shown that not one in a thousand reads a