صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

sion of his own and endeavoured to bear it as he meant, with philosophy, he had, in truth, no philosophy that could render him calm to such losses. One daughter was now his only surviv ing child; and, while he watched the unfolding of her infant character with anxious fondness, he endeavoured, with unremitting effort, to counteract those traits in her disposition, which might hereafter lead her from happiness. She had discovered in her early years uncommon delicacy of mind, warm affections, and ready benevolence; but with these was observable a degree of susceptibility too exquisite to admit of lasting peace. As she advanced in youth, this sensibility gave a pensive tone to her spirits, and a softness to her manner, which added grace to beauty, and rendered her a very interesting object to persons of a congenial disposition. But St. Aubert had too much good sense to prefer a charm to a virtue; and had penetration enough to see that this charm was too dangerous to its possessor to be allowed the character of a blessing. He endeavoured, therefore, to strengthen her mind; to inure her to habits of self command; to teach her to reject the first impulse of her feelings, and to look, with cool examination, upon the disappointments he sometimes threw in her way. While he instructed her to resist first impressions, and to acquire that steady dignity of mind, that can alone counterbalance the passions, and bear us, as far as is compatible with our nature, above the reach of circumstances, he taught himself a lesson of fortitude; for he was often obliged to witness, with seeming indifference, the tears and struggles which his caution occasioned her.

In person, Emily resembled her mother; hav. ing the same elegant symmetry of form, the same delicacy of features, and the same blue

eyes, full of tender sweetness. But lovely as was her person, it was the varied expression of her countenance, as conversation awakened the nicer emotions of her mind, that threw such a captivating grace around her;

"Those tenderer tints, that shun the careless eye,
And, in the world's contagious circle die."

St. Aubert cultivated her understanding with the most scrupulous care. He gave her a general view of the sciences, and an exact acquaintance with every part of elegant literature. He taught her Latin and English, chiefly that she might understand the sublimity of their best poets. She discovered in her early years a taste for works of genius; and it was St. Aubert's principle, as well as his inclination, to promote every innocent means of happiness. A well informed mind, he would say, is the best security against the contagion of folly and of vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world without will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within. Thought and cultivation are necessary equally to the happiness of a country and a city life; in the first they prevent the uneasy sensations of indolence, and afford a sublime pleasure in the taste they create for the beautiful and the grand; in the latter they make dissipation less an object of necessity, and consequently of interest.

It was one of Emily's earliest pleasures to ramble among the scenes of nature; nor was it in the soft and glowing landscape that she most delighted; she loved more the wild wood walks, that skirted the mountain; and still more the mountain's stupendous recesses, where the silence

and grandeur of solitude impressed a sacred awe upon her heart, and lifted her thoughts to the GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. In scenes like these she would often linger alone, wrapped in a melancholy charm, till the last gleam of day faded from the west; till the lonely sound of a sheepbell, or the distant barking of a watch-dog, was all that broke the stillness of the evening. Then the gloom of the woods; the trembling of their leaves, at intervals in the breeze; the bat, flitting on the twilight; the cottage lights, now seen, and now lost- --were circumstances that awakened her mind into effort, and led to enthu siasm and poetry.

Her favourite walk was to a little fishing house, belonging to St. Aubert, in a woody glen, on the margin of a rivulet that descended from the Pyrenées, and, after foaming among their rocks, wound its silent way beneath the shades it reflected. Above the woods that screened this glen, rose the lofty summits of the Pyrenées, which often burst boldly on the eye, through the glades below. Sometimes the shattered face of a rock only was seen, crowned with wild shrubs; or a shepherd's cabin seated on a cliff, overshadowed by dark cypress or waving ash. Emerging from the deep recesses of the woods, the glade opened to the distant landscape, where the rich pastures and vine-covered slopes of Gascony gradually declined to the plains; and there, on the winding shores of the Garonne, groves, and hamlets, and villas-their outlines softened by distance-melted from the eye into one rich harmonious tint.

This, too, was the favourite retreat of St. Aubert, to which he frequently withdrew from the fervour of noon, with his wife, his daughter, and his books; or came at the sweet evening hour to welcome the silent dusk, or to listen for

the music of the nightingale. Sometimes, too, he brought music of his own, and awakened every fair echo with the tender accents of his oboe; and often have the tones of Emily's voice drawn sweetness from the waves, over which they trembled

It was in one of her excursions to this spot, that she observed the following lines written with a pencil on a part of the wainscot:


Go, pencil! faithful to thy master's sighs!
Go-tell the goddess of this fairy scene,

When next her light steps wind these wood walks green, Whence all his tears, his tender sorrows, rise!

Ah! paint her form, her soul-illumined eyes,
The sweet expression of her pensive face,
The lightening smile, the animated, graee--
The portrait well the lover's voice supplies;
Speaks all his heart must feel, his tongue would say:
Yet ah! not all his heart must sadly feel!
How oft the floweret's silken leaves conceal
The drug that steals the vital spark away!

And who that gazes on that angel smile,

Would feel its charm, or think it could beguile!

These lines were not inscribed to any person : Emily therefore could not apply them to herself, * though she was undoubtedly the nymph of these shades Having glanced round the little circle of her acquaintance without being detained by a suspicion as to whom they could be addressed, she was compelled to rest in uncertainty; an uncertainty which would have been more painful to an idle mind than it was to hers. She had no leisure to suffer this circumstance, trifling at first, to swell into importance by frequent remembrance. The little vanity it had excited (for the incertitude which forbade her to pre sume upon having inspired the sonnet, forbade her also to disbelieve it) passed away, and the incident was dismissed from her thoughts amid

her books, her studies, and the exercise of social charities.

Soon after this period, her anxiety was awaken. ened by the indisposition of her father, who was attacked with a fever; which, though not thought to be of a dangerous kind, gave a severe shock to his constitution. Madame St. Aubert and Emily attended him with unremitting care; but his recovery was very slow, and, as he advanced towards health, Madame seemed to decline.

The first scene he visited, after he was well enough to take the air, was his favourite fishing house. A basket of provisions was sent thither, with books, and Emily's lute: for fishing tackle he had no use, for he never could find amusement in torturing or destroying.

After employing himself, for about an hour, in botanizing, dinner was served. It was a repast, to which gratitude, for being again permitted to visit this spot, gave sweetness; and family happiness once more smiled beneath these shades. Monsieur St. Aubert conversed with unusual cheerfulness; every object delighted his senses. The refreshing pleasure from the first view of nature, after the pain of illness, and the confinement, of a sick chamber, is above the conceptions, as well as the descriptions of those in health. The green woods and pastures; the flowery turf; the balmy air; the murmur of the limpid stream; and even the hum of every little insect of the shade, seem to revivify the soul, and make mere existence bliss.

Madame St. Aubert, reanimated by the cheerfulness and the recovery of her husband, was no longer sensible of the indisposition which had lately oppressed her; and as she sauntered along the wood walks of this romantic glen, and conversed with him, and with her daughter, she often looked at them alternately with a degree of tender

« السابقةمتابعة »