Page images
PDF
EPUB

this scheme is defeated by Mr. Chisney running away with the lady. The story now draws near to a close: old Macdonald discloses to his son that Ellen Hesketh is the daughter of Sir Charles Catline, by the sister of the Vicar's wife, with whom he had eloped into Scotland, where, as mentioned in Mr. Keith's relation, Ellen was born. She is, therefore, the eldest daughter of Sir Charles Catline, and, of course, entitled to the Dalton estates. The young Cornet loves Ellen; but, having learnt that her affections are fixed upon Reginald Dalton, he, with an honourable and true generosity, writes to him just in time to prevent his voyage to India, and requests him to hasten to his father's house, where Ellen is. Sir Charles comes thither also, and, when old Macdonald tells him that he means to marry his son to Ellen, Sir Charles turns upon him, and acquaints him with a discovery he has made of a deed, by which the estates are so limited that the deceased Miss Dalton had no power to alienate them, and, therefore, Reginald would be entitled as the next heir. They propose, however, to accommodate the affair; but the plan of the Cornet disturbs their arrangement. Sir Charles is affected by the sight of Ellen: his heart, seared as it is by worldly craft, is not proof against the feelings of nature. Macdonald proposes her health—

"O, Macdonald," says Sir Charles, "what a day-what an evening-what an hour! O, sir, I am weary of myself and of the world. To see her!-and to see her as a stranger! O, Macdonald, my heart is And he sat down in his chair, and bowed his head upon the board, and sobbed.

[ocr errors]

"Macdonald was endeavouring to sooth him, whispering in his ear, when the Cornet burst abruptly into the room. He would have withdrawn on the instant, but his father beckoned him on. "Sir Charles, my dear Sir Charles," said he, here is your friend Thomas. you not speak to him?"

66

Will

Catline started, and gazed with a burning blush upon the young man, whose countenance also was covered with a glow of confusion. "Young man," said he, "advance. Here is no time for long stories -you see me you see all, young man. It is you that must speak to Ellen-to my daughter. Alas, my poor girl! will she ever look upon her father?"

"Nay, nay," says old Macdonald, we must not take things thus. All's well that ends well. We shall all see very happy days together yet; it will all be as it should be. Shake hands, now, shake hands, and be composed, and let us a' understand ilk other."

"Young gentleman," said Catline, taking the Cornet's hesitating hand, I fear you will scarcely do me justice; indeed, I can scarcely expect it."

"You recognize your daughter?" says Thomas, solemnly. "I do," says Sir Charles-"I do."

"And her rights as such?"

"Surely, surely. Oh, sir, spare me many words.

hands; spare me.”

I am in your

"I will join you again on the instant," said the young man, and darted out of the room.

'He remained absent for perhaps a quarter of an hour; it seemed to them as if an age had passed ere he returned.

'He led Ellen by the hand. Sir Charles rushed forward-the pale girl fell upon his breast.

The Cornet stood still for a moment; and then, clasping his hands together, ran up to his father. "O, sir," he whispered fervently, "you enjoy this-I see that you enjoy it!"

"My dear callant!-my dearest Thomas," was the answer, whispered as fervently as the address. He added, after a moment, "Every thing is right now, my dear lad. Leave them to themselves; let them take their time; no wonder if their hearts be full."

"Mine is full, too, sir," said Thomas. "Oh, sir, will you forgive me for having in some sort deceived you?"

"You deceive me, Tom?-'Tis impossible!"

"I have deceived you."

"When? how?"

“Ellen-O, sir, she could not love me. She loves Dalton-she was betrothed to him ere we met."

"Ha! mad boy, then all is undone,” and the old man shrunk back from his son, and a deadly paleness crept over his countenance. Thomas seized his hand, and pressed it to his lips.

"Be yourself, sir-be generous-be just-be a man-Dalton is here."

"Here!"

"He is here he knows all-I have told him every thing."

'The old man groaned, but withdrew not his hand from his son's grasp. The father and the son stood gazing upon each other's faces. "Let me go for him," says Thomas-" let me bring him in. Do the whole at once. Give him his bride and his birthright."

"The old man's hand relaxed its hold. Thomas ran out of the room, and the next moment Reginald Dalton was within it. The Cornet drew him towards Ellen, and, while her face was yet buried in her father's bosom, placed his hand in hers.

'Sir Charles raised his head, and uttered a single sharp cry, and would have sunk on the ground, had not Dalton propped him up. 66 Enough," said Sir Charles, with a voice of struggling agony"Enough, enough; 'tis all over. What is the world to me? I have deserved nothing, and I have nothing. Mr. Dalton, I see how it is. Ellen, my child, look up," and he yielded her; and Dalton, kneeling, received her from his hands.

"May God bless you!" said Catline, crossing her face with his hand- May you be happy in the world, as you deserve to be. I shall not see it, but I shall know it-that, even that, is more than enough. Mr. Macdonald, will you have the goodness to give all these papers to Mr. Dalton ?"

Macdonald drew very slowly a large parcel from his pocket, untied the strings with which it was fastened, and, unfolding the copy of Miss Dalton's will, placed it in Reginald's hand, saying, "Read it at once, sir-Read it, and be satisfied."

'Reginald took the paper, and, making Ellen sit down by her

father, advanced to the table, where the lights were, and began to read. He went over the whole while every body kept silence. Every know and then, as he was reading, he threw a glance upon the Cornet, as if to intimate that there had been some discussion between them, and that what he was now reading confirmed him in his own opinion. At last, when he had come to the end, he deliberately folded up the packet again, and delivered it to Sir Charles.

66 Why, sir?-why do you give this to me?"

"To whom else should I give it, sir? Mrs. Chisney is not here." "Mrs. Chisney!--Why do you trifle so?" interrupted old Macdonald-"Don't you see the omission of the name? Did not Tom you how it stood?"

tell

"I did," says the Cornet.

"Tis true," says Reginald-"I heard my friend's account of this matter; but he will bear me witness, that, from the first, I said it could not be as he thought it was. I can easily understand how he should have overlooked what I cannot."

'There was a pause for a moment.

"Come, gentlemen," Reginald resumed, "I have no wish to make speeches; you must understand all this at least as well as I do. Miss Dalton leaves her estate to Sir George Catline's daughter: she omits to mention the name indeed; but that was, and must have been, a mere clerical blunder, She says expressly, that the motive of her bequest is the particular love and favour for her dear niece.' What more need be? She meant Mrs. Chisney; and I am sure I told you so, Tom, from the beginning; I am sure that my Ellen would rather die than interfere with such a right upon such a quirk."

"A quirk ?" says Mr. Macdonald, senior.

"Yes, a mere quirk," resumes Dalton-"a most visible quirk. Sir Charles Catline, speak to your daughter-ask herself. We have all our old hopes entire, and they are neither less nor less dear than they used to be.”

Sir Charles sprung from his seat, cast a glowing eye upon Mr. Macdonald, and, taking a roll of parchment from his bosom, said, "Young man, generous young man, you have been tried abundantly. Read this, and be happy."

'Reginald hesitated. Macdonald whispered, "Ay, ay, 'tis all one thing-take it, man-take it, and be thankful."

'Reginald shook his head, but obeyed, and unfolded the scroll. It fell from his hand ere he had read many lines. He took it up again, and read it to an end; and then, clasping his hands together, said, "Now, indeed, am I happy. My father, my dear father, has his right at last. Who discovered this deed ?”

Sir Charles bowed. "I-I myself-very recently; and, once more, may God bless you!"

6 Reginald laid the scroll on Ellen's lap, and Sir Charles laid her unresisting hand within her lover's.'

Thus the tale concludes: it is by no means a first-rate production; it is, perhaps, unworthy of the powers of its author; but it is amusing, and is rather calculated to produce a good effect than many of the similar works which have proceeded from the same quarter.

230

ITALY, A POEM.

BY SAMUEL ROGERS.

A new edition of this very pleasing poem affords us an opportunity, of which we gladly avail ourselves, of directing the attention of our readers to it. The author has put in a most agreeable shape the feelings which were excited, and the remembrances which have been left, by his journey from Geneva to Florence; interspersing them occasionally with tales and anecdotes. Without aiming at the higher walks of poetry, the volume is interesting and delightful; and we shall prefer putting our readers in a way of judging for themselves to occupying them with our own remarks.

The gate of Geneva is thus remembered:

'Day glimmered in the east, and the white moon
Hung like a vapour in the cloudless sky,
Yet visible, when on my way I went,
Thy gates, Geneva, swinging heavily,
Thy gates so slow to open, swift to shut;
As on that Sabbath-eve when he arrived,*
Whose name is now thy glory, now by thee
Inscribed to consecrate (such virtue dwells
In those small syllables) the narrow street,
His birth-place-when, but one short step too late,
He sate him down and wept-wept till the morning;
Then rose to go-a wanderer thro' the world.

'Tis not a tale that every hour brings with it.
Yet at a City-gate, from time to time,

Much might be learnt; and most of all at thine,
London-thy hive the busiest, greatest, still
Attracting more and more. Let us stand by,
And note who passes. Here comes one, a youth,
Glowing with pride, the pride of conscious power,
A Chatterton-in thought admired, caressed,
And crowned like Petrarch in the Capitol;
Ere long to die-to fall by his own hand,
And fester with the vilest. Here come two,
Less feverish, less exalted-soon to part,
A Garrick and a Johnson; Wealth and Fame
Awaiting one-even at the gate, Neglect
And Want the other. But what multitudes,
Urged by the love of change, and, like myself,
Adventurous, careless of to-morrow's fare,
Press on-tho' but a rill entering the Sea,

Entering and lost! Our task would never end.'

His adventure at Bergamo, first with the little itinerant songsters, and then with the poet, is well told, and the latter with quiet humour which is very delightful:

The song was one that I had heard before,

But where I knew not. It inclined to sadness;
And, turning round from the delicious fare
My landlord's little daughter, Barbara,

Had from her apron just rolled out before me,
Figs and rock-melons-at the door I saw
Two boys of lively aspect. Peasant-like

[ocr errors][merged small]

They were, and poorly clad, but not unskilled;
With their small voices and an old guitar
Winning their mazy progress to my heart
In that, the only universal language.

But soon they changed the measure, entering on
A pleasant dialogue of sweet and sour,

A war of words, and waged with looks and gestures,
Between Trappanti and his ancient dame,

Mona Lucilia. To and fro it went;

While many a titter on the stairs was heard,
And Barbara's among them.

When 'twas done,

Their dark eyes flashed no longer, yet were speaking
More than enough to serve them. Far or near,
Few let them pass unnoticed; and there was not
A mother round about for many a league,

But could repeat their story. Twins they were,
And orphans, as I learnt, cast on the world;
Their parents lost in the old ferry-boat

That, three years since, last Martinmas, went down,
Crossing the rough Benacus.*

May they live
Blameless and happy-rich they cannot be,
Like him who, in the days of Minstrelsy,
Came in a beggar's weeds to Petrarch's door,
Crying without, “ Give me a lay to sing !"
And soon in silk (such then the power of song)
Returned to thank him; or like him, way-worn
And lost, who, by the foaming Adigè
Descending from the Tyrol, as Night fell,
Knocked at a city-gate near the hill-foot,
The gate that bore so long, sculptured in stone,
An eagle on a ladder, and at once

Found welcome-nightly in the bannered hall
Tuning his harp to tales of Chivalry

Before the great Mastino, and his guests,+

The three-and-twenty, by some adverse fortune,
By war or treason or domestic malice,

Reft of their kingly crowns, reft of their all,
And living on his bounty.

But who now

Enters the chamber, flourishing a scroll
In his right hand; his left at every step
Brushing the floor with what was once a hat
Of ceremony? Gliding on, he comes,
Slip-shod, ungartered; his long suit of black
Dingy and thread-bare, though renewed in patches
Till it has almost ceased to be the old one.

At length arrived, and with a shrug that pleads ""Tis my necessity!" he stoops and speaks, Screwing a smile into his dinnerless face.

"I am a Poet, Signor:-give me leave

To bid you welcome. Tho' you shrink from notice,

*Lago di Garda.'

+ Mastino della Scala, the Lord of Verona.'

« PreviousContinue »