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allow his wife a gallopade with an elegant officer. In this so sensible scarcity of ladies, almost the whole attention of the guests is directed to the card-tables. The natives too manifest great fondness for play. The part of General Damremont at his soirées is almost exclusively confined to the reception of visitors as they enter, to whom he always addresses a few civil words. The general is a man of portly, corpulent, martial figure, but with rather vulgar features. Madame Damremont's extremely spare form contrasts with that of her stately husband ; she is a kind, amiable woman, without much pretension to beauty. It is generally believed here that she takes a very active part in political matters, and her opinion is said to have great influence on the affairs of our colony.
ON HEARING A MISSEL-THRUSH SINGING IN DECEMBER
AT THE DAWN OF MORNING.
Sweet bird ! whose wild and heart-subduing lay
A. F. C.
Oct.VOL. LIV. NO. CCXIV.
CASTLES IN THE AIR.
BY MISS TWISS.
That poverty is a real evil it would be absurd to deny, and that it is the parent of many other evils, moral no less than physical, experience teaches, and will for ever teach us. Not only that poverty which stands between its victims and the common comforts, almost necessaries of life, is thus pregnant with sorrow and sin; but that too which closes the access to every elegant enjoyment, and binds down to petty cares and worldly anxieties the time, the thoughts, the whole spirit. But to believe that the reverse of all this must in itself be happiness, is to have little experience, indeed, of life with all its varieties of pain and disappointment of blighted hopes-of unavailing repentance! Some, who have never known what it is to possess riches, believe that the power of dispensing them must and does bring happiness; but in vain does “ the widow's heart sing for joy,” if no chord in the breast of her benefactor echoes to the sound of her rejoicings, if he feel that there are evils much worse than poverty! If personal regret have thus closed his heart to sympathy, he may be beneficent, but the blessings of beneficence do not return upon
him. I am just returned to my native country after an absence of many years, during which my pursuit was wealth, my pleasure building castles in the air. I was sent to India while yet too young to have formed any other ties than those of kindred, and it was to home and all its dear inhabitants that my thoughts continually reverted. Besides my parents, I left a brother and two sisters : the first, some years older than myself, was to inherit the small remnant of that once ample estate, which by successive proprietors had been dismembered of every alienable part, and which now,
my father's time, was become barely sufficient to maintain his family, and keep up that appearance which seemed indispensable for the descendant of so long a line of ancestors. Strange! that, feeling as he did the cramping weight of the chain, whose“ iron had entered into his soul,” he should from pride have condemned his son to the same galling yoke! But of his anxieties I was too young to judge; I only knew my father was poor, and the remedy for this evil seemed almost within my grasp ; for, even during my passage to the East, I reconciled myself to banishment by building castles in the air, which were to have " a local habitation” in a few years; for in a few years I expected to return, rich-beyond the dreams of an alchymist. Already, as I paced the deck, I imagined what i would say when I bestowed affluence on each individual of my family; I framed their answers too, glowing with gratitude, and my own replies, full of assurances that no acknowledgments were due to me who had but sought my own happiness in thus gratifying my affections.
At first I wrote by every opportunity, but soon I was sent up the country, and, as I thought, wholly occupied by business; various accidents prevented me from receiving many of those letters which were addressed to me from home, and the vividness of colouring faded a little from those domestic scenes which were pictured on my memory still. Years passed away, and I was yet nearly as far as ever from the wealth I had imagined almost waiting my acceptance; but still I toiled on contentedly, and still built castles in the air. Occasionally their structure was varied,
as the intelligence I received new modified my plans; but still I built, and thus employed I never felt forlorn, even separated as I was from society. What was there in real life equal to my bright visions of ideal happiness? I had always resolved not to marry in India ; I loathed the notion of buying a wife—even if I could have paid the price--and one of my dearest phantasies was, that I should find at my return some amiable, nay, perfect friend of my sisters', who would be prepared to like, and whom I should win to love me.
Long absence and unfrequent communication weakened however by degrees the sympathies which originally actuated my fancy, and I now became anxious to accumulate riches, rather to gratify my pride than my better feelings. Engaged in various speculations, I travelled much in parts of India where Europeans rarely ventured, and at length all intercourse with my family was broken off. The letters that were written, and they, from my neglect, became fewer and fewer, “ short and far between,” often did not reach me; and if they did, and if I even went so far as to think of answering them, I checked the impulse, for I considered that, after so long a silence, it would be strange to write without making any remittance, without so much as sending presents to my sisters, and I systematically and steadily abstained from every expense that could be avoided, in order the sooner to acquire a large fortune; and return, as I often assured myself, to make all my family happy. So I neglected them all in the mean time; and at last, believing me dead, they wholly desisted from writing. “ What surprise, what delight it will be," said I sometimes to myself, “ when I arrive unexpectedly at Hillery Court with all the luxury and splendour of immense wealth!” And I was resolved to make some short stay in London, that I might procure servants, horses, carriages, all the “pride, pomp, and circumstance" befitting the restorer of his race to wealth and grandeur. Years, many, many years passed away before I was satisfied with the extent of my possessions ; for still there were new modes of increasing them, and still I thought I would wait the issue of but this one speculation. Another and another suggested itself, and all succeeded, so that I might for ever have gone on acquiring real riches, and building imaginary castles, my sole and constant recreation, had not my health, yielding to the influence of the climate, and of almost unabating toil, reminded me that ere long, perhaps, it would be too late to enjoy what I had been so anxiously providing as the means of enjoyment. I took the alarm, and, winding up all my affairs as expeditiously as possible, embarked for England, with a fortune that, however selfishly accumulated, I determined should be liberally expended. In London, money procures, almost instantaneously, nearly all it can ever procure, and I was soon ready to depart for Worcestershire, the herald of my own return. Very many years had passed since I quitted Hillery Court. I knew that my brother had married, that my father was dead, and that my younger sister had been adopted by a widowed aunt, but I knew little more. I expected, as a matter of course, to find my brother living in the house of his forefathers : poor, indeed, I knew he must be, but then the greater would be his joy at seeing me. Of his wife I did not like to think at all-I knew he had married an opera-dancer ; but then, as she had lived ever since beneath my father's roof, I hoped she might have acquired the tastes and habits of my mother and sisters. They, I concluded, were
married; and I contemplated settling near the elder, Venetia, of whom I retained a deeper recollection than of the little Arabella, and who had been my constant correspondent, while yet any correspondence was maintained. My early plans of marrying I had nearly abandoned : I had begun to believe that, surrounded by the young and gay descendants of my brother and sisters, I should enjoy more freedom and more pleasure than in a union to which I could not help suspecting interest might be the principal motive.
All visions of the future vanished and yielded to the past, as I approached the small village that skirted the fields, once the park of Hillery. I tried in vain to recognise the scenes of my early pleasures ; all were changed! I thought I had remembered accurately a clump of trees on the left side of the road-it appeared to me to have changed its place--I saw it on the right! The cottages were gone! there were houses, and shops, and names, and signs, all strange to me; and pained, confounded, with a presentiment of evil, I leaned back to see no more. The carriage entered the avenue--what had been the avenue-for the aged lime-trees which used to stretch their vast branches quite across the wide road, and fill the air with odours (that I remembered with regret, even among the roses of Persia), were all cut down, and on each side of the approach was a green wire fence, and a gay border of flowers. The whole place, as I looked around, seemed highly cultivated; the hedges too had been taken away, and the fields were park again-paddock rather, for where were now the fine old trees that formerly threw their deep shadows on the grass-where was now the rookery whose cawings had so long and so often echoed in my far distant ear-imaginary, indeed, as the edifices I was raising in my fancy, but distinct as, when soothed by their actual sound, I first in boyhood gave myself up to the day-dreams that have beguiled my later life?
As I approached the house, to which I perceived a new portico had been affixed, with pillars utterly discordant from the ancient structure, I saw a carriage drive across from the stables; it was new and gay,
but the liveries were not those of the Walsinghams, and I began to fear that none of my name and race now dwelt in their patrimonial domains. I intended, when I began this account, to tell at length my successive disappointments, but I cannot: suffice it to say, in few words, that my brother's son lived indeed at Hillery, but lived in the abode of his ancestors dependent on a rich wife, whose name of Curtis he had been required to assume. His father, my ill-fated brother Berkeley, had been obliged to resign this last relic of his family possessions, and accept in its stead a small annuity hardly sufficient to maintain himself, his wife, and his daughter. I found him out; he rejoiced at my return, and I thought that some of my hopes might yet be fulfilled; if I could not restore dignity I might bestow happiness. But, alas ! sorrow and disappointment had preyed first on his spirits, then on his health, and his was indeed " a life that lives not, and a death that dies not.” Even his decay I imputed to myself, for it was the blight of all expectation that had destroyed him. He had married every way most imprudently, and had been obliged to accept his father's offer of affording him and his wife a home beneath the paternal roof, for a separate establishment was not to be thought of. He had accepted it with the presentimentsoon, too soon verified—that his wife, accustomed to the alternation of
needy expedients and wasteful profusion, to change of place and variety of associates, would be little fitted to partake in the calm domestic occupations to which necessity confined his mother and sister. All this disquiet, much of it at least, I might have obviated by enabling my father to redeem some part of his deeply-mortgaged estate, and thus make a provision, however limited, for my brother and his family. Numerous children increased the pressure of distress and the internal divisions of the household, for Mrs. Berkeley Walsingham resented as an usurpation of her rights any attempt to check the evil propensities of her children, all of whom she had lost except her eldest son and one daughter, her spoiled idol, when my poor father died, leaving to Berkeley the weight of cares that had rendered his own life so wearisome, to my mother her little jointure, to Venetia nothing, except his blessing, for he had nothing else to leave, but he recommended her to me in the event of my being again heard of. Poor Berkeley was soon plunged into still decper difficulties by the extravagant follies of his wife and daughter, and, just when his son Everard, who had entered the army, wrote an account of his approaching marriage, the last narrowed spot of his inheritance was about to be foreclosed by the holder of the mortgage he had been obliged to grant in order to escape imprisonment. His son, his only son, redeemed the estate, but the name was departed for ever; Hillery Court was no longer the abode of a Walsingham, and poor Berkeley seemed to feel this wound to his pride almost as deeply as his poverty and his broken health. I found him living in the adjacent village, the inhabitant of a small house, whose weed-entangled garden spoke desolation and neglect, himself apparently in almost the last stage of a consumption, feeble, meagre, sad; but there were the features I remembered-how soon to be stiffened in death the voice that sounded familiar to my ear--how soon to be silenced in the grave !
I offered, promised everything that wealth could obtain, and he did not reject my offers; he only said, “ It is too late !” and I felt that it was so. How my heart smote me! My mother had been dead but a short time, and Venetia was gone to live with my younger sister Arabella, who had lately inherited a large fortune from the aunt who had adopted her in her childhood. To them I hastened as soon as I had made such arrangements as rendered my brother's situation less comfortless. But he had a coarse, hard, low-minded wife, whom he had married for her beauty, and who had accepted him because she thought the eldest son of an ancient family was a prize well worth securing. Both had lived a life of repentance—both had felt the weight, the galling weight, of the chain they had forged for themselves; both were for ever mortified by the unkindness and neglect of their son and their son's wife; but this I learnt only from her, he uttered no complaintsonly his heart broke. Their daughter, their Charlotte, was the vulgar, forward, unfeeling copy of her mother; and for her faults, too, I blamed myself, for, had I put it in my brother's power to withdraw her from an example so mischievous, and indulgence so unbounded as her mother's, she might have been a very, very different creature. I now,
however, did all that could be done, and, without revisiting Hillery departeddeparted, I think, for ever--from the scenes of my earliest, most cherished recollection—all how changed! I travelled towards Audley Place, the estate which Arabella had inherited, almost dreading an interview with