« السابقةمتابعة »
work. I know not, by what impulse I was actuated. I had been educated by a strange man-a deep classical scholar, who had settled at Thyatira. He had been brought up at Oxford, and he ascribed living powers to all organised existences. The woods were to him endowed with spirits, the streams had intelligence, and the rocks the memory of witnesses bearing testimony: These fancies came thick upon me, and I went to my father, and laid my hand upon his
Forbear, father,” said I, “ there may be something unhallowed in disturbing the ancient channel of these solitary waters.” My father laughed, and again struck his pickaxe into the mound. It was a fatal stroke, for as he pulled out the weapon, the ground gave, as it were, a shudder, and presently after a groan was heard, as if the whole mound of earth was breaking up.
My father, by the stroke of his pickaxe, had cleft asunder an incrustation of sand, that formed as it were the bowl of the lake. The water rushed through and widened the seam with great violence. The mound, which dammed up the lake, had been formed by a gradual accumulation of fallen timber. The water through the rent insinuated itself among the mass; the mud and sand between the gathered trunks were washed away, and the mass lost its adhesion. In the course of a few minutes, Heaven knows by what strange aptitude, the stupendous mound began to
It became convulsed ; it roared with the throes of tearing asunder; the waters of the lake boiled up from the bottom ; I ran from the spot; my father and his friends stood aghast and terrified; birds were screaming from the woods below; I called to my father, and to all, for God's sake to follow me; I looked towards the lakeit seemed to me as if its calm level surface was taking the shape of sloping glass; I caught hold of the branch of a tree which grew on the rock where I had contemplated the scene the preceding evening ; I felt as it were the globe of the world sliding from under my feet; I exerted myself; I reached the rock ; every thing was reeling around me; I saw the hills and woods moving away. I shut my eyes in terror, and, covering my face with my hands, stretched myself on the rock, as if I lay at the foot of the angel of destruction. I heard a sound louder than thunder ; my senses were for a time stunned. What in the meantime happened I know not; but when I had fortitude enough to look around, I found myself on the ledge of an awful precipice - a black and cozy valley, herbless as a grave, where the lake had been; and for the mound where I had left my father and his labourers, a horrible chasm-devastation horrid as the roaring deluge was seen raging down the valley towards Thyatira. The sound lessened as I looked, and a silence succeeded, such as the raven of Noah found upon the earth when she went forth, banqueting on the abolished races of the old world.
AN HEIRESS IN JEOPARDY.
How much of human hostility depends on that circumstance-distance! If the most bitter enemies were to come into contact, how much their ideas would be chastened and corrected! They would mutually amend their erroneous impressions ; see much to admire and much to imitate in each other; and half the animosity which sheds its baneful influence on society would fade away and be forgotten. It was one day when I was about seven years old, after an unusual bustle in the family mansion, and my being arrayed in a black frock, much to my inconvenience, in the hot month of August, that I was told my asthmatic old uncle had gone off like a lamb, and that I was the heiress to ten thousand pounds per annum. This information, given with an air of infinite importance, made no very great impression upon me at the time; and in spite of the circumstances being regularly dwelt on by my French governess at Camden House after every heinous misdemeanour, I had thought little or nothing on the subject, till at the age of eighteen I was called on to bid adieu to Levizac and pirouettes, and hear my uncle's will read by my guardian.
It furnished me, indeed, with ample materials for thinking. Dr. Marrowfat’s face, neither human nor divine-I see it before me while I am writing -appeared positively frightful, while he recited its monstrous contents. It appeared that my father and uncle, though brothers, had wrangled
and jangled through life; and that the only subject on which they ever agreed was to support the dignity of the Vavasour family. That in a moment of unprecedented unison they had determined that, as the title fell to my cousin Edgar, and the estates to me, to keep both united in the family, we should marry. And it seemed whichever party violated these precious conditions was actually dependent on the other for bread and butter. When I first heard of this pious arrangement I blessed myself, and Sir Edgar cursed himself. A passionate, overbearing, dissolute young man, thought I, for a husband; for a husband of an orphan; of a girl who bas not a nearer relation than himself in the world ; who has no father to advise her, no mother to support her. A professed rake too : who will merely view me as an incumbrance on his estate; who will think no love, no confidence, no respect due to me; who will insult my feelings, deride my sentiments, and wither with unkindness the best affections of my nature! No-I concluded, as my constitutional levity returned--I have the greatest possible respect for guardians, revere their office, and tremble at their authority; but to make myself wretched merely to please them, no, no—I positively cannot think of it.
Well, Time, who is no respecter of persons, went on. The gentleman was within a few months of being twenty-one; and, on the day of his attaining age, he was to say whether it was his pleasure to fulfill the arrangement. My opinion, I found, was not to be asked. A rich and titled husband was procured for me, and I was to take
him and be thankful. I was musing on my singular situation, when a thought struck me.-Can I not see him and judge of his character, unsuspected by himself? This is the season when he pays an annual visit to my godmother,—why not persuade her to let me visit her incog? The idea, strange as it was, was instantly acted on, and a week saw me at Vale Royal, without carriage, without horses, without servants, to all appearance a girl of no pretensions, or expectations, and avowedly dependant on a distant relation.
To this hour, I remember, my heart beating audibly as I descended to the dinner-room, where I was to see for the first time the arbiter of my fate; and I never shall forget my start of surprise when a pale, gentlemanly, and rather reserved young man, in apparent ill health, was introduced to me as the noisy, dissolute, distracting, and distracted baronet. Preciously have I been hoaxed, thought I, as, after a long and rather interesting conversation with Sir Edgar, I, with the other ladies, left the room. Days rolled on in succession. Chance continually brought us together, and Prudence began to whisper, “ You had better return home.” Still I lingered—till one evening, towards the close of a long tête-àtête conversation, on my saying “ that I never considered money and happiness as synonymous terms, and thought it very possible to live on five hundred a year;" he replied, “ One admission more- -could you live on it with me? You are doubtless acquainted,” he continued, with increasing emotion," with my unhappy situation ;