صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

fore pray write to me under cover to my friend the Admiral. Yours ever,.

IIENRY CONSTANT.'

. When I had returned this letter to Calliope, she résumed her parrative in the following words :• The joy this letter gave me set my spirits in such a. flow, that in the habit I was of writing verses, I could not bring my thoughts to run in humble prose, but giving the reins to my fancy filled at least six sides with rhapsodies in verse ; and not content with this, and foolishly conceiving that niy poem would appear at least as charming to Henry, as the flattery of my own sex had persuaded me it was to them, I enclosed a fair copy and sent it to him in a packet by the stage coach: the next return of the post brought me this fatal letter I received last night.

6 Madame • Though there cannot be in this world a task so paiusul to me, as what I am now about to perform, yet I think it an indispensible point of honour to inform my late most lovely and beloved Nancy, that if I am to suppose her the author of that enors mous bundle of verses I have received from her hand, it is the last favour that hand must bestow upon her unhappy llenry.

My education you know z for it was formed under your most excellent father; I served with him from a child, and he taught me, not indeed the knack of making verses, but what I hope has been as useful to my country, the duties of an officer. Being his daughter, I had flattered myself you would not like me the less for following his profes. sion, or for being trained to it under his instruction.

But alas! Nancy, all these hopes are gone. My ignorance would only disgrace you, and your wit would make me contemptible; since you are turned poetess, how can my society be agreeable? If those verses you have sent me are all your own making, you must have done little else since we parted, and if such are to be your studies and occupations, what is to become of all the comforts of a husband? How are you to fulfil the duties of a mother, or manage the concerns of a family? No, no; may heaven de. fend me from a learned wife! I am too proud to be the butt of my own table; too accustomed to com. mand, to be easily induced to obey ; let me ever live a single man, or let the wife I chuse be modest, unpretending, simple, natural in her manners, plain in her understanding ; let her be true as the compass I sail by, and (pardon the coarseness of the allusion) obedient to the helm as the ship I steer ; then, Nancy, I will stand by my wife, as I will by my ship, to the latest moment I have to breathe. For God's sake what have women to do with learning? But if they will step out of their own profession and write verses, do not let them step into ours to chusc husbands; we shall prove coarse messmates to the muses.

I understand so much of your poctical epistic, as to perceive that you are in the family of Sir Theodore and Lady Thimble: three days of such society would make me forswcar matrimony for ever. To the daughter of my friend I must for ever speak and act as a friend; suffer me then to ask if any man in his senses will chuse a wife from such a school? Oh grief to think! that one so natural, so sincere and unaffected as was my Nancy, could be the companion of such an ugly petticoated pedant as Lady Thimble, such a tame hen-pecked son of a taylor as Sir Theodore !

. As for the volume of versés you sent me, I dare say it is all very fine, but I really do not comprehend three lines of it; the battles you describe are what I never saw by sea or land, and the people who fight them such as I have never been accus. tomed to serve with ; one gentleman 1 perceive there is, who combats stoutly against love; it is a good moral, and I thank you for it; cost what it may, I will do my best to imitate your hero.

Farewell,
I must be only your most faithful friend,"

• HENRY CONSTANT.'

NUMBER VII.

CALLIOPE has favoured me with the following let, ter ; it is dated from the house of a worthy clergyman, a friend of her father's, who with an exeinplary wife lives upon a small country vicaragc in primitive simplicity, where that afflicted young lady took shelter.

SIR, < After you left me at Lady Thimble's, I scized the first moment, that the anguish of my mind per. mitted me to make use of, to put myself in readiness for taking my final leave of that family, and, ac. cording to the plan we had concerted, came without delay to this place, where, if any thing could have given absolute peace to my mind, the consola. tion of these excellent people, and the serenity of the scene must have done it. As it was, I felt my afflictions lighten, uy self-reproach became less bit. ter, and, whilst the vanity, which flattery had inspired me with, has been cured by their admoni, tions, the doubts that infidelity had raised have been totally removed, and truth made clear to my eternal comfort and conviction. Had it not been for this, I should have been given up to despair ; for as I heard no more from Captain Constant, I was con. vinced he had renounced me for ever; in the mean time I wrote many letters, but sent none to him ; some of these letters were written in a high tone, most of them in an humble one, and in one I gave a loose to passion and despair in expressions little short of phrensy; all these I constantly destroyed, for as I had not the heart to write angrily to him, so I dreaded to appear mean in his eyes, if I was too plaintive ; nay I was not sure, since his fortune had become so superior to mine, but I might lay myself open to a charge of the most despicable nature.

• Thus my time passed, till yesterday morning, upon observing the house in one of those bustles, which the expectation of a visitor creates in small families, I found my good hostess deeply engaged with her pastry, and having myself become a con. siderable adept in the art under her tuition, I was putting in yself in order to assist her in her prepara. tions, when turning to me with a smile, which seemed to spring from joy as well as benevolenceCome, my dear child,' says she, I have been at work this hour; and if you had known it was to entertain a friend of your father's, I am persuadec. you would not have let me been so long beforehanci with you.'-I asked her who it was she expected

No matter,' she replied, " fall to your work, and do your best, like a good girl, for your mistress's credit as well as your own.'--The significant look, with which she accompanied these words, sct iny heart into such a flutter, that my hands no

Yol. XXXVIII.

longer obeyed me in the task I undertook, till hav. ing spilt the milk, overthrown the eggs, and put every thing into the same confusion with myself, I burst into a fiood of tears, which ended in a strong lysteric fit. My screams brought the good man of the house and every body in it to my assistance ; but judge of my condition, betwixt joy, astonishment, and terror, when the figure of my beloved Constant presented itself to my eyes; my God! bo exclaimed, and started back aghast, then sprung to my assistance, and, clasping me in his arms, lifted me at once from the floor and ran with me into the parlour, where there was à couch--my life! my soul! was all he could say, for he was like a man beside himself with fright and agony, till I recovered; this was at last effected by a plentiful relief of tears, and then I found myself alone with my beloved Henry, my head reclined upon his neck, and him supporting my whole weight in his arms, whilst he knelt on one knee at my feet; no sooner had I recollected myself, than the blood, that had been driven from my cheeks during my fit, rushed back again with violence and covered me with blushes. Henry's transports now became as vehe. ment as his terrors had been, and loosing his hold of me for a moment, whilst he fixed his eyes upon me with an ardour, that confounded me so as almost to deprive me of speech or motion, he again caught me in his arms, and pressing me eagerly to his breast, almost smothered me with caresses. He then quitted me altogether, and throwing himself on his knees at my feet, entreated me to forgive him, if he had offended me; he had been distracted between joy and terror, and scarce knew what he had done ; he proceeded to account for the motives of his conduct towards me, both when he wrote the letter to me from Plymouth, and for every moment

« السابقةمتابعة »