Page images
PDF
EPUB

clergyman who performed the ceremony, with as they both said, of the comfort of society: a learned antiquarian digression relative to But-strange miscalculation ! she was a talker the church; then the setting out in procession; 100! They parted in a week. the marriage; the kissing; the crying; the And we have also parted. I am just rebreakfasting ; the drawing the cake through turning from escorting her to the coach, which the ring; and finally, the bridal excursion, is to convey her two hundred miles westward ; which brings us back again at an hour's end and I have still the murmur of her adieux to the starting-post, the weather, and the whole resounding in my ears, like the indistinct hum story of the sopping, the drying, the clothes- of the air on a frosty night. It was curious spoiling, the cold-catching, and all the small to see how, almost simultaneously, these evils of a summer shower. By this time it mournful adieux shaded into cheerful salutarains, and she sits down to a pathetic see- tions of her new comrades, the passengers in saw of conjectures on the chance of Mrs. the mail. Poor souls! Little does the civil Smith's having set out for her daily walk, young lad who made way for her, or the fat or the possibility that Dr. Brown may have lady, his mamma, who with pains and inconventured to visit his patients in his gig, and venience made room for her, or the grumpy the certainty that Lady Green's new house- gentleman in the opposite corner, who after inaid would come from London on the outside some dispute, was at length won to admit her of the coach.

dressing box,-little do they suspect what is With all this intolerable prosing, she is to befall them. Two hundred miles! and she actually reckoned a pleasant woman! Her never sleeps in a carriage! Well, patience acquaintance in the great manufacturing town be with them, and comfort and peace! A where she usually resides is very large, which pleasant journey to them! And to her all may partly account for the misnomer. Her happiness! She is a most kind and excellent conversation is of a sort to bear dividing. person, one for whon. I would do any thing in Besides, there is, in all large societies, an my poor power—ay, even were it to listen to instinctive sympathy which directs each in- her another four days. dividual to the companion must congenial to his humour. Doubtless, her associates deserve the old French compliment,

6. Ils ont tous un grand talent pour le silence.Parcelled out

ELLEN. amongst some seventy or eighty, there may even be some savour in her talk. It is the A VERY small gift may sometimes cause tete-d-tete that kills, or the small fire-side cir- great pleasure. I have just received a present

cle of three or four, where only one can speak, which has delighted me more than any thing and all the rest must seem to listen-seem! ever bestowed on me by friends or fortune. did I say? - must listen in good earnest. It is—but my readers shall guess what it is; - Hotspur's expedient in a similar situation of and, that they may be enabled to do so, I must

crying “ Hem! Go to,” and marking not a tell them a story. word, will not do here; compared to her, Charlotte and Ellen Page were the twin Owen Glendower was no conjurer. She has daughters of the rector of N., a small town the eye of a hawk, and detects a wandering in Dorsetshire. They were his only children, glance, an incipient yawn, the slightest move- having lost their mother shortly after their ment of impatience. The very needle must birth; and, as their father was highly conbe quiet. If a pair of scissors do but wag, nected, and still more highly accomplished, she is affronted, draws herself up, breaks off and possessed good church preferment with a in the middle of a story, of a sentence, of a considerable private fortune, they were reared word, and the unlucky culprit must, for civil- and educated in the most liberal and expensive ity's sake, summon a more than Spartan for- style. Whilst mere infants they had been titude, and beg the torturer 10 resume her uncommonly beautiful, and as remarkably torments" That, that is the unkindest cut of alike as occasionally happens with twin sisters, all!" I wonder, if she had happened to have distinguished only by some ornament of dress. married, how many husbands she would have Their very nurse, as she used to boast, could talked to death. It is certain that none of hardly tell her pretty “couplets" apart, so her relations are longlived after she comes to exactly alike were the soft blue eyes, the rosy reside with them. Father, mother, uncle, cheeks, the cherry lips, and the curly light sister, brother, two nephews, and one niece, hair. Change the turquoise necklace for the all these have successively passed away, coral, and nurse herself would not know Charthough a healthy race, and with no visible dis- lotte from Ellen. This pretty puzzle, this order-except-'but we must not be unchari- inconvenience, of which mammas and aunts table. They might have died, though she and grandmammas love to complain, did not had been born dumb :—“It is an accident that last long. Either from a concealed fall, or happens every day.” Since the disease of from original delicacy of habit, the little Ellen her last nephew, she attempted to form an faded and drooped almost into deformity. establishment with a widow lady, for the sake, I There was no visible defect in her shape, ex

cept a slight and almost imperceptible lame-, and elegant manners, and great conversational dess when in quick motion; but there was power, — quick, ready, and sarcastic. He the marked and peculiar look in the features, never condescended to scold; but there was the languor and debility, and above all, the something very formidable in the keen glance, distressing consciousness attendant upon im- and the cutting jest, to which poor Ellen's perfect furmation; and, at the age of twenty want of presence of mind frequently exposed years, the contrast between the sisters was her,-soinething from which she shrank into even more striking than the likeness had been the very earth. He was a good man too, and at two.

a kind father-at least he meant to be so, Charlotte was a fine, robust, noble-looking attentive to her health and comfort, strictly girl, rather above the middle height; her eyes impartial in favours and presents, in pocketand complexion sparkled and glowed with money and amusements, making no difference life and health, her rosy lips seemed made for between the twins, except that which he could smiles, and her glossy brown hair played in not help, the difference in his love. But, to natural ringlets round her dimpled face. Her an apprehensive temper and an affectionate manner was a happy mixture of the playful heart, that was every thing; and whilst Charand the gentle; frank, innocent, and fearless, lotte flourished and blossomed like a rose in she relied with a sweet confidence on every the sunshine, Ellen sickened and withered body's kindness, was ready to be pleased, like the same plant in the shade. and secure of pleasing. Her artlessness and Mr. Page lost much enjoyment by this unnaireté had great success in society, especially fortunate partiality; for he had taste enough | as they were united with the most perfect to have particularly valued the high endow

good-breeding, and considerable quickness and ments which formed the delight of the few talent. Her musical powers were of the most friends to whom his daughter was intimately delightful kind; she sang exquisitely, joining, known. To them not only her varied and acto great taste and science, a life, and freedom, curate acquirements, but her singular richness and buoyancy, quite unusual in that artificial of mind, her grace and propriety of expression personage, a young lady. Her clear and ring- and fertility of idea, joined to the most perfect ing notes had the effect of a milk-maid's song, ignorance of her own superiority, rendered her as if a mere ebullition of animal spirits; there an object of as much admiration as interest. was no resisting the contagion of Charlotte's In poetry, especially, her justness of taste and glee. She was a general favourite, and above quickness of feeling were almost unrivalled. all a favourite at home, – the apple of her She was no poetess herself, never, I believe, father's eye, the pride and ornament of his even ventured to compose a sonnet; and her house, and the delight and comfort of his life. enjoyment of high literature was certainly the The two children had been so much alike, keener for that wise abstinence from a vain and born so nearly together, that the pre- competition. Her admiration was really worth cedence in age had never been definitely set- having. The tears would come into her eyes, tled; but that point seemed very early to the book would fall from her hand, and she decide itself. Unintentionally, as it were, would sit lost in ecstasy over some noble pasCharlotte took the lead, gave invitations, re- sage, till praise, worthy of the theme, would ceived visiters, sate at the head of the table, burst in unconscious eloquence from her lips. became in fact and in name Miss Page, while But the real charm of Ellen Page lay in the her sister continued Miss Ellen.

softness of her heart and the generosity of her Poor Ellen! she was short, and thin, and character: no human being was ever so free sickly, and pale, with no personal charm but from selfishness, in all its varied and clinging the tender expression of her blue eyes and the forms. She literally forgot herself in her pure timid sweetness of her countenance. The and ardent sympathy with all whom she loved, resemblance to her sister had vanished alto- or all to whom she could be useful. There gether, except when very rarely some strong were no limits to her indulgence, no bounds emotion of pleasure, a word of praise, .or a to her candour. Shy and timid as she was, look of kindness from her father, would bring she forgot her fears to plead for the innocent, a sinile and a blush at once into her face, and or the penitent, or even the guilty. She was lighten it up like a sunbeam. Then, for a the excuser-general of the neighbourhood, passing moment, she was like Charlotte, and turned every speech and action the sunny side even prettier,—there was so much of mind, without, and often in her good-natured acuteof soul, in the transitory beauty. In manner ness hit on the real principle of action, when she was unchangeably gentle and distressingly the cunning and the worldly-wise and the shy, shy even to awkwardness. Shame and cynical, and snch as look only for bad mofear clong to her like her shadow. In com- tives, had failed. She had, too, that rare pany she could neither sing, nor play, nor quality, a genuine sympathy not only with speak, without trembling, especially when her the sorrowful, (there is a pride in that feeling, father was present. Her awe of him was a superiority, — we have all plenty of that,) inexpressible. Mr. Page was a man of con- but with the happy. She could smile with siderable talent and acquirement, of polished those who smiled, as well as weep with those

who wept, and rejoice in a success to which guests. Charlotte was certainly the most she had not contributed, protected from every amiable of enamoured damsels, for love with touch of envy, no less by her noble spirit than her was but a more sparkling and smiling by her pure humility: she never thought of form of happiness ;-all that there was of care herself.

and fear in this attachment fell to Ellen's lot; So constituted, it may be imagined that she but even she, though sighing at the thought was, to all who really knew her, an object of of parting, could not be very miserable whilst intense admiration and love. Servants, chil- her sister was so happy. dren, poor people, all adored Miss Ellen. She A few days after their arrival, we happened had other friends in her own rank of life, who to dine with our accomplished neighbours, had found her out-many; but her chief friend, Colonel Falkner and his sister. Our young her principal admirer, she who loved her with friends of course accompanied us; and a simithe most entire affection, and looked up to her larity of age, of liveliness, and of musical with the most devoted respect, was her sister. talent, speedily recommended Charlotte and Never was the strong and lovely tie of twin- Miss Falkner to each other. They became sisterhood more closely knit than in these two immediately intimate, and were soon almost charming young women. Ellen looked on her inseparable. Ellen at first hung back. “The favoured sister with a pure and unjealous de- house was too gay, too full of shifting comlight that made its own happiness, a spirit of pany, of titles, and of strange faces. Miss candour and of justice that never permitted her Falkner was very kind; but she took too much io cast a shade of blame on the sweet ohject notice of her, introduced her to lords and laof her father's partiality: she never indeed dies, talked of her drawings, and pressed her blamed him; it seemed to her so natural that to sing :—she would rather, if I pleased, stay every one should prefer her sister. Charlotte, with me, and walk in the coppice, or sit in on the other hand, used all her influence for the arbour, and one might read Spenser, while Ellen, protected and defended her, and was the other worked - that would be best of all. half tempted to murmur at an affection which Might she stay?"_" Oh surely! But Coloshe would have valued more if shared equally nel Falkner, Ellen, I thought you would have with that dear friend. Thus they lived in liked him ?” — “ Yes!" — " That yes sounds peace and harmony; Charlotte's bolder tem- exceedingly like no.” — Why, is he not alper and higher spirits leading and guiding in most too clever, too elegant, too grand a man? all common points, whilst on the more im- Too mannered, as it were! Too much like portant she implicitly yielded to Ellen's judg- what one fancies of a prince -- of George the

But, when they had reached their Fourth, for instance - too high and too contwenty-first year, a great evil threatened one descending? These are strange faults,” conof the sisters, arising (strange to say) from the tinued she, laughing — " and it is a curious other's happiness. Charlotte, the reigning injustice that I should dislike a man merely belle of an extensive and aflluent neighbour- because he is so graceful, that he makes me hood, had had almost as many suitors as feel doubly awkward -- so tall, that I am in Penelope; but, light-hearted, happy at home, his presence a conscious dwarf - so alive and constantly busy and gay, she had taken no eloquent in conversation, that I feel more than thought of love, and always struck me as a ever puzzled and unready. But so it is. To very likely subject for an old maid; yet her say the truth, I am more afraid of him than time came at last. A young man, the very of any human being in the world, except one, reverse of herself, pale, thoughtful, gentleman- I may stay with you — may I not; and read like, and melancholy, woned and won our fair of Una and of Britomart—that prettiest scene Euphrosyne. He was the second son of a where her old nurse soothes her to sleep? I noble house, and bred to the church ; and it may stay?" And for two or three mornings was agreed between the fathers, that, as soon she did stay with me; but Charlotte's influas he should be ordained, (for lie still wanted ence and Miss Falkner's kindness speedily some months of the necessary age,) and set- drew her to Holly-grove, at first shyly and tled in a family living held for him by a friend, reluctantly, yet soon with an evident though the young couple should be married. quiet enjoyment; and we, sure that our young

In the mean while Mr. Page, who had re- visiters could gain nothing but good in such cently succeeded to some property in Ireland, society, were pleased that they should so vary found it necessary to go thither for a short the humble home-scene. time; and, unwilling to take his daughters Colonel Falkner was a man in the very with him, as his estate lay in the disturbed prime of life, of that happy age which unites districts, he indulged us with their company the grace and spirit of youth with the firmness during his absence. They came to us in the and vigour of manhood. The heir of a large bursting spring-time, on the very same day fortune, he had served in the peninsular war, with the nightingale; the country was new fought in Spain and France, and at Waterloo, to them, and they were delighted with the and, quitting the army at the peace, had loiscenery and with our cottage life. We, on tered about Germany and Italy and Greece, our part, were enchanted with our young I and only returned on the death of his father,

ment.

two or three years back, to reside on the the merit of the unconscious possessor, profamily estate, where he had won “golden bably gone for ever. She had all the pretty opinions from all sorts of people.”. He was, marks of love at that happy moment when the as Ellen truly described him, tall and grace- name and nature of the passion are alike unful, and well-bred almost to a fault; remind- suspected by the victim. To her there was ing her of that beau-ideal of courtly elegance, ! but one object in the whole world, and that George the Fourth, and me, (pray, reader, do one was Colonel Falkner: she lived only in not tell!) me, a little, a very little, the least ' his presence; hung on his words; was restin the world, of Sir Charles Grandison. He less she knew not why in his absence; adopted certainly did excel rather too much in the his tastes and opinions, which differed from

mere forms of politeness, in cloakings and hers as those of elever men so frequently do bowings, and handings down stairs; but then from those of clever women; read the books

he was, like both his prototypes, thoroughly he praised, and praised them too, deserting imbued with its finer essence -- considerate, our old idols, Spenser and Fletcher, for his attentive, kind, in the most comprehensive favourites, Dryden and Pope; sang the songs

sense of that comprehensive word. I have he loved as she walked about the house; drew certainly known men of deeper learning and his features instead of Milton's in a portrait more original genius, but never any one whose which she was copying for me of our great powers were better adapted to conversation, poet,—and finally wrote his name on the marwho could blend more happily the most va- gin. She moved as in a dream-a dream as ried and extensive knowledge with the most innocent as it was delicious! — but oh, the playful wit and the most interesting and ami- sad, sad waking! It made my heart ache to able character. Fascinating was the word think of the misery to which that fine and that seemed made for him. His conversation sensitive mind seemed to be reserved. Ellen was entirely free from trickery and display – was formed for constancy and suffering - it the charm was (or seemed to be) perfectly was her first love, and it would be her last. natural : he was an excellent listener; and I had no hope that her affection was returned. when he was speaking to any eminent person Young men, talk as they may of mental at

-orator, artist, or poet, - I have sometimes tractions, are commonly the slaves of personal seen a slight hesitation, a momentary diffi- charms. Colonel Falkner, especially, was dence, as attractive as it was unexpected. It a professed admirer of beanty. I had even

was this astonishing evidence of fellow-feel sometimes fancied that he was caught ing, joined to the gentleness of his tone, the Charlotte's, and had therefore taken an opsweetness of his smile, and his studied avoid- portunity to communicate her engagement to ance of all particular notice or attention, that his sister. Certainly he paid our fair and first reconciled Ellen to Colonel Falkner. His blooming guest extraordinary attention! any sister, too, a charming young woman, as like thing of gallantry or compliment was always him as Viola to Sebastian, began to under- addressed to her, and so for the most part was stand the sensitive properties of this shrinking his gay and captivating conversation; whilst and delicate flower, which, left to itself, repaid his manner to Ellen, though exquisitely soft their kind neglect by unfolding in a manner and kind, seemed rather that of an affectionate

that surprised and delighted us all. Before brother. I had no hopes. the spring had glided into summer, Ellen was Affairs were in this posture when I was at as much at home at Holly-grove as with us; once grieved and relieved by the unexpected talked and laughed and played and sang as recall of our young visiters. Their father had freely as Charlotte. She would indeed break completed his business in Ireland, and was off is visibly listened to, either when speak- eager to return to his dear home, and his dear ing or singing; but still the ice was broken; children; Charlotte's over, too, was ordained, that rich, low, mellow voice, unrivalled in and was impatient to possess his promised pathos and sweetness, might be heard every treasure. The intended bridegroom was to evening, even by the Colonel, with little more arrive the same evening to escort the fair sis. precaution, not to disturb her by praise or no- ters, and the journey was to take place the tire, than would be used with her fellow-war- next day. Imagine the revulsion of feeling bler the nightingale.

produced by a short note, a bit of folded paper She was happy at Holly-grove, and we the natural and redoubled ecstasy of Charwere delighted; but so shifting and various lotte, the mingled emotions of Ellen. She are human feelings and wishes, that, as the wept bitterly : at first she called it joy — joy summer wore on, before the hay-making was that she should again see her dear father; over in its beautiful park, whilst the bees then it was grief to lose her Charlotte ; grief ! were still in its lime-trees, and the golden to part from ine; but, when she threw herself beetle lurked in its white rose, I began to in a farewell embrace on the neck of Miss lament that she had ever seen Holly-grove, Falkner, whose brother happened to be absent or known its master. It was clear to me, that for a few days on business, the truth appeared unintentionally on his part, unwittingly on to burst upon her at once, in a gush of agony hers, her heart was gone, — and, considering that seemed likely to break her heart. Miss

Falkner was deeply affected ; begged her to , cess?" 66 Will I! Oh! how sincerely! My write to her often, very often; loaded her with dear colonel, I beg a thousand pardons for unthe gifts of little price, the valueless tokens dervaluing your taste — for suspecting you of which affection holds so dear, and stole one preferring a damask rose to a blossomed myrof her fair ringlets in return. “This is the ile; I should have known you better.” And curl which William used to admire," said then we talked of Ellen, dear Ellen,-talked she: “have you no message for poor Wil- and praised till even the lover's heart was saliam ?”—Poor Ellen! her blushes spoke, and tisfied. I am convinced that he went away the tears that dropped from her downcast that morning, persuaded that I was one of eyes; but she had no utterance. Charlotte, the cleverest women, and the best judges of however, came to her relief with a profusion character that ever lived. of thanks and compliments; and Ellen, weep And now my story is over. What need to ing with a voice that would not be controlled, say, that the letter was written with the at last left Holly-grove.

warmest zeal, and received with the most The next day we too lost our dear young cordial graciousness — or that Ellen, though friends. Oh what a sad day it was! how shedding sweet tears, bore the shock of joy much we missed Charlotte's bright smile and better than the shock of grief, - or that the Ellen's sweet complacency! We walked twin sisters were married on the same day, at about desolate and forlorn, with the painful the same altar, each to the man of her heart, sense of want and insufficiency, and of that and each with every prospect of more than vacancy in our home, and at our board, which common felicity? What need to say this ? the departure of a cherished guest is sure to Or having said this, why should I tell what occasion. To lament the absence of Char- was the gist that so enchanted me? I will lotte, the dear Charlotte, the happiest of the not tell:- my readers shall decide according happy, was pure selfishness; but of the aching to their several fancies between silver favours heart of Ellen, my dear Ellen, I could not or bridal gloves, or the magical wedding cake bear to think — and yet I could think of no- drawn nine times through the ring. thing else, could call up no other image than her pale and trembling form, weeping and sobbing as I had seen her at Holly-grove; she haunted even my dreams. Early the ensuing morning I was called

WALKS IN THE COUNTRY. down to the colonel, and found him in the

THE COW SLIP BALL. garden. He apologized for his unseasonable intrusion; talked of the weather, then of the May 16th.— There are moments in life, loss which our society had sustained; blushed when, without any visible or immediate cause, and hesitated; had again recourse to the wea- the spirits sink and fall, as it were, under the ther; and at last by a mighty effort, after two mere pressure of existence: moments of unor three sentences begun and unfinished, con- accountable depression, when one is weary trived, with an embarrassment more graceful of one's very thoughts, haunted by images and becoming than all his polished readiness, that will not depart—images many and varito ask me to furnish him with a letter to Mr. ous, but all painful; friends lost, or changed, Page. • You must have seen," said he, co or dead; hopes disappointed even in their aclouring and smiling, " that I was captivated complishment; fruitless regrets, powerless by your beautiful friend; and I hope-I could wishes, doubt and fear and self-distrust, and have wished to have spoken first to herself, to self-disapprobation. They who have known have made an interest — but still if her affec- these feelings, (and who is there so happy as tions are disengaged—tell me, you who must not to have known some of them ?) will unknow, you who are always my friend, have I derstand why Alfieri became powerless, and any chance? Is she disengaged ?" “ Alas! Froissart duil; and why even needle-work, I have sometimes feared this; but I thought that most effectual sedative, that grand soother you had heard - your sister at least was and composer of woman's distrėss, fails to aware" —“Of what? It was but this very comfort me to-day. I will go out into the air morning-aware of what ?” “Of Charlotte's this cool pleasant afternoon, and try what that engagement." “Charlotte! It is of Ellen, will do. I fancy that exercise, or exertion of not her sister, that I speak and think! of any kind, is the true specific for nervousness. Ellen, the pure, the delicate, the divine! " Fling but a stone, the giant dies." I will That whitest and sweetest of flowers; the go to the meadows, the beautiful meadows! jasmine, the myrtle, the tuberose among wo- and I will have my materials of happiness, men," continued he, elucidating his similes Lizzy and May, and a basket for flowers, and by gathering a sprig of each plant, as he we will make a cowslip-ball.

“ Did you ever paced quickly up and down the garden walk see a cowslip-ball, my Lizzy ?''—"No."“ Ellen, the fairest and the best; your “Come away, then! make haste!

run, darling and mine! Will you give me a letter Lizzy!" to her father? And will you wish me suc And on we go fast, fast! down the road,

« PreviousContinue »