Page images
PDF
EPUB

ertheless, the more Lord de Clifford was adored, the more he obstinately persisted in thinking that the count's visits were a great deal too frequent, and his face a great deal too young, and much too handsome for an old friend; in short, beginning to suspect that there was truth in the Chevalier de Parny's assertion.

“ Que les sermons sont un mensonge,

Que l'amour trompe tôt ou tard,
Que l'innocence n'est qu'un art,

Et que le bonheur n'est qu'un songe,” he had serious thoughts of becoming moral and breakoff that liaison.

Miles Datchet had been a week at Naples previous to Lord de Clifford's arrival. His lordship was profuse in thanks, as far as words went, for his success with Miss MacScrew; though Major Nonplus put in his claim for some of them by then confessing that he had written to Miss MacScrew, and attributing her change of conduct entirely to the force and urgency of his appeal--not that he meant to say that Datchet was not a monstrous clever fellow; he had experience of that before now; for, when he knew him in the Commissariat in Spain, in 1823, he used to convert all the Empecinado's pigs into Bayonne hams in the most miraculous manner. The dowager, too, was well satisfied with Datchet, or, rather, with the letter he had brought her from Mr. Tymmons, stating that Hoskins was gradually taming; that Rushworth farm was draining and re-thatching, and, consequently, that Farmer Jenkins was silenced at last. “Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate,” was the feeling of Lord de Clifford when he heard that the Lees were un.. manageable, and that the plot about Richard Brindal had utterly failed; it was too bad that he, who had been “ foaming a patriot” all his life in the hope of “subsiding a poet," could not effectually crush or cajole that miserable family so as to prevent the chance of their being troublesome to him at the next election; but doubtless he, with his mother's assistance, would be able to construct some other plot for that purpose before the time arrived.

Datchet had also been the bearer of good tidings to Saville--no less than letters containing his father's consent to his marriage with Fanny. At any other time

this would have occasioned them unalloyed happiness; but now, in spite of it, Fanny appeared to have a gloom over her spirits for the first time in her life. The fact is, that in her close attendance on her sister during her late illness, she had discovered the cause of it; and though she had always deeply felt for Julia's unhappy lot, yet she thought, and thought rightly, that she had never been utterly and irremediably wretched till now. Of her principles she did not for a moment entertain a single doubt; but she saw that they would be preserved at the expense of her life.

Saville's love and pride might both have been wounded by Fanny's depression of spirits, at the time when every obstacle to their union had been removed, had he not, from his own observation of the alteration that had taken place in Lord Cheveley before his departure from Venice, been led to suspect the position in which he and Lady de Clifford stood towards each other; and although he had too much delicacy to hint at it to Fanny, yet it enabled him perfectly not only to understand, but to sympathize, in her unwonted gloom.

Lady de Clifford was sitting one morning, as usual, at the window, a few days previous to their return to England, with Fanny in the room, affecting to draw, but in reality watching any change in her sister's face, when little Julia ran into the room; but checking herself at the sight of her mother's pale and suffering face, she walked gently up to her on tiptoe, and, throwing her arms round her neck, said, “Dear mamma, I have never yet shown you the pretty bracelets Lord Cheveley left for me the day he went away; that nasty day, I hate it;" and the child held up a pair of emerald and diamond bracelets, the design of which was a wreath of myrtle, the leaves done in emeralds, and the blossoms and buds in brilliants and rubies. Seeing her eyes fixed on the bracelets, and imagining the train of thought they were likely to awaken, Fanny threw down her pencil.

“Come, Julia,” said she, “the day is so lovely that I must insist on your taking a drive; here have we been for a whole month or more ; in a few days we return to England; and yet you have not once gone to see your old favourite, the point that stretches out by Baja, at the end of the Strada Nuova. I'll give up my ride to-day; and so, casa, you must positively drive with me."

So saying, Fanny rang the bell.

“What sort of a day is it out ?" inquired she of the servant, who answered,

“ Very fine, ma'am." 6 Any wind ?"

“Not much, ma'am; and the little there is is very warm."

“ Very well, then, order the open carriage round directly; and tell Beryl to bring Lady de Clifford's bonnet and shawls here immediately, and Luton to bring mine"

“May I go, mamma ?" said little Julia, earnestly. “I do not think I am able to go, love."

“When, when am I to take a drive with my mamma again, then ?" pouted the little girl ; " for I am so tired of walking in the Villa Reale, or driving alone on the Campo with Mademoiselle d'Antoville; and then that horrid great tall Count Campobello always comes and teases me, and talks Neapolitan to me that I cannot understand. Do, do, dear mamma, go out to-day and take me with you?”

What mother ever yet resisted the “do, do," of a child, when there was no harm in acceding to iť ? So Lady de Clifford allowed Beryl to put on her things; and leaning on Fanny, while Julia took possession of her other hand, she suffered them to lead her to the carriage.

- Deep indeed must be the gloom which the balm and beauty of a Neapolitan day does not chase away; but it did not chase away Lady de Clifford's; for there is a prostration of strength that accompanies deep affliction, which, while it partially annihilates our corporeal nature, seems to give additional vitality to our minds, till it overwhelms us with a painful sense of our own identity, and destroys the influence of external objects.

“Which way would you rather go, dearest ?" asked Fanny; “through Pausilippo, and so on to Fujase, or on the Strada Nuova ?"

“ Whichever way you like, love,” replied Lady de Clifford, with a mournful smile; “ for I am not such an epicure as the Neapolitan galley-slave, who, at his execution, called for a glass of water, and, when it was brought to him, reproached the priest with Padre, non è nevata.'”

At all events, this speech was used, for it struck a

chill to poor Fanny's heart, from the reckless and desponding tone in which it was uttered. During the rest of the drive all her efforts to arouse and amuse her sister were equally fruitless; and seeing that the air appeared to exhaust rather than revive her, they returned home.

Time, which robs, alone can restore, thought Fanny, as she silently and sorrowfully ascended the large, dirty staircase at the Victoria that led to her own room; but Fanny was wrong. Time may heal, but it never restores ; for our first feelings are like Venice glasses, which, once destroyed, can never be cemented; and the fragments are shunned by our best friends (?) as useless, if not dangerous.

:

:

:

:

[ocr errors]

The sixth of December, 184, was an eventful night at Naples. Vesuvius poured forth its burning flood in mightier torrents than it had done for years. The dear, good old Archbishop of Torento's favourite black cat

Otello” died, and Mr. Herbert Grimstone, who (as we have before stated) was a Homeopathist, had nearly killed himself by accidentally taking the poisonous viat. icum intended to be consumed in three months at “ one fell swoop!” “ The why, the where, what boots it now to tell” of how all this happened; yet surely, as a young gentleman who set such a value upon himself, though his life was by no means proportioned to his assurance, must be of some value to others, we will relate it. Major Nonplus, that "head and front” of ev. erybody's “offence,” had deputed Mr. Wood to send him from Sicily three pipes of Marsalla; but as, in England, Marsalla is “of no account,” he determined, though no conjuror, to convert it into sherry, and in order to give it a fine flavour of the Borraccha, he deposited half a pair of boots in each butt. When he deemed that it had acquired a twang that even a Spaniard would mistake for Xeres, he persuaded, or, rather, overpersuaded Herbert, in an evil hour, to taste what he called some very fine sherry that he was taking over for his friend Lord Cramwell. Now everybody knows that two of a trade can never agree, and the poison called wine is incompatible with that calling itself Homeopathy. And although foxglove has attained a high place in medicine, and often has a hand in curing certain diseases, yet dogskin, especially when transformed into old boots, could not be expected, when interfering with the Homeopathic system, to do anything but put its foot into it. Consequently, shortly after Herbert had retired to rest, he felt so exceedingly ill that he darted out of bed like a shot in search of one of his powders, and, deceived by the treacherous glimmer of the rushlight, he made the just recorded fatal mistake. But soon the violent ringing of his bell summoned first his servant, who in his turn brought a physician and a stomach-pump, and eventually his mother, brother, Saville, and Major Nonplus, to the rescue. Great was the shock his tender parent received on entering the room at beholding what she thought her son's headless trunk standing perpendicularly against the wall! But it was only the clothes he had taken off, the shoulders, breast, arms, hips, and calves of which being thoroughly well padded, became a practical noun substantive, and stood alone. On the mantelpiece appeared a sort of embryo apothecary's shop, so full was it of vials, pillboxes, lint, plasters, and boxes of Seidlitz-powders. A great many shawls lay upon the arm of the sofa, and in the centre of it was an air cushion. The toilet still breathed more of the laboratory than of the perfumer's. For stethoscopes and respirators jostled eau mignionne and crème de sultanne. But the chaos of the writing-table at once proclaimed the man of genius. Here lay a glove-box despoiled of half its contents; there two or three cambric pocket-handkerchiefs, soaking up some ink which, in the vivida vis anima, had been spilled. At one corner were the allegories of Apuleius and the Dialogues of Plato, buried under a ream of the Westminster Review, while at another was the De rerum Naturå of Lucretius, wedged in between Locke on Civil Government and Reid on the Mind. The rest of the table was occupied with modern French novels and plays, especially that of “Ahel dans le costume du temp!" But surmounting his invaluable work on Timbuctoo was a half-written pamphlet, with “ Ne Hercules quidem adversus duos” for its motto, and the Greek word kaos, or “the people,” to whom certainly the whole affair would be Greek, occurring in every fourth line, but with that versatility which genius ever possesses; on the opposite page he had commenced a French madrigal, beginning,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »