Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

sensations, and they confessed the passion which consumed them.

The sun was now high in heaven—the clouds of the morning had ascended to the loftiest Alps--and the mists,

into their airy elements resolved, were gone. As the god of day advanced, dark valleys were suddenly illuminated, and lovely lakes brightened like mirrors among the hills—their waters sparkling with the fresh breeze of the morning. The most beautiful clouds were sailing in the air-some breaking on the mountain tops, and others resting on the sombre pines, or slumbering on the surface of the unilluminated valleys. The shrill whistle of the marmot was no longer heard, and the chamois had bounded to its inaccessible retreat. The vast range of the neighbouring Alps was next distinctly visible, and presented to the eyes of the beholders 'glory beyond all glory ever seen.

“ In the mean time a change had taken place in the feelings of the mountain pair, which was powerfully strengthened by the glad face of nature. The glorious hues of earth and sky seemed indeed to sanction and rejoice in their mutual happiness. The darker spirit of the brother had now fearfully overcome him. The dreaming predictions of his most imaginative years appeared realized in their fullest extent, and the voice of prudence and of nature was inaudible amidst the intoxication of his joy. The object of his affection rested in his arms in a state of listless happiness, listening with enchanted ear to his wild and impassioned eloquence, and careless of all other sight or sound.

“ She, too, had renounced her morning vows, and the convent was unthought of and forgotten. Crossing the mountains by wild and unfrequented paths, they took up their abode in a deserted cottage, formerly frequented by goat-herds and the hunters of the roe. On looking down, for the last time, from the mountain top, on that delightful valley in which she had so long lived in innocence and peace, the lady thought of ber departed mother, and her heart would have died within her, but the wild glee of the brother again rendered her

insensible to all other sensations, and she yielded to the sway of her fatal passion.

“ There they lived, secluded from the world, and supported even through evil by the intensity of their passion for each other. The turbulent spirit of the brother was at rest—he had found a being endowed with virtues like his own, and, as he thought, destitute of all his vices. The day-dreams of his fancy had been realized, and all that he had imagined of beauty, or affection, was embodied in that form which he could call his own.

“On the morning of her departure the dreadful truth burst upon the mind of her wretched husband. From the first arrival of the dark-eyed stranger, a gloomy vision of future sorrow had haunted him by day and by night. Despair and misery now made him their victim, and that awful malady which he inherited from his ancestors was the immediate consequence. He was seen, for the last time, among some stupendous cliffs which overhung the river, and his hat and cloak were found by the chamois hunters at the foot of an ancient pine.

“ Soon, too, was the guilty joy of the survivors to terminate. The gentle lady, even in felicity, felt a load upon her heart. Her spirit had burned too ardently, and she knew it must, ere long, be extinguished. Day after day the lily of her cheek encroached upon the rose, till at last she assumed a monumental paleness, unrelieved save by a transient and hectic glow. Her angelic form wasted away, and soon the flower of the valley was no more.

“ The soul of the brother was dark, dreadfully dark, but his body wasted not, and his spirit caroused with more fearful strength. The sounding cataract haunted him like a passion. He was again alone in the world, and his mind endowed with more dreadful energies. His wild eye sparkled with unnatural light, and his raven hair hung heavy on his burning temples. He wandered among the forests and the mountains, and rarely entered his once-beloved dwelling, from the win,

dows of which he had so often beheld the sun sinking in a sea of crimson glory.

“ He was found dead in that same pass in which he had met his sister among the mountains ; his body bore no marks of external violence, but his countenance was convulsed by bitter insanity.”—Blackwood's Magazine.

THE DYING WORDS OF ELIZABETH WELLINGTON, An unfortunate woman who was found under a hay

rick, in a field near the great north road between London and Edinburgh.

It was in one of the bitter nights during the severe winter of the year seventeen hundred and ninety-four, that the passengers of a stage-coach travelling to the north, were alarmed by groans which seemed to proceed from a field adjoining to the road.

The coachman could not be prevailed on to stop til! he reached the top of a hill, which he was at the moment ascending; he then agreed that if something was given him to drink, he would wait while they went to see from whence the groans proceeded.

The travellers immediately alighted, and the guard, taking one of the coach lamps in his hand, walked back with them into the field; their search for some time was vain, but approaching a hay-rick at which cattle were feeding, a groan more feebly uttered again was heard : following the sound, they were at once interested and distressed by the object presented to their view.

Lying at length under shelter of the rick, in a dark and dismal night, apparently exhausted by hunger, fatigue, and cold, thinly clothed, with a form and countenance which had once been pleasing, they discovered a female, almost frozen to death.

After gently raising her head, and rubbing her claycold limbs till a little warmth was perceived, they conveyed down her throat, with some difficulty, a small

quantity of cordial, from a pocket case of one of the company.

Some faint signs of life at length appearing, encouraged them to persevere in their humane work; they then wrapped her in a great coat, and carried her to the coach, in which, having previously agreed to · pay the fare, they were permitted to place her.

As the poor creature recovered, the change of situation was explained to her, when she thanked her deliverers for their kind offices, but, attempting to speak further, fainted away.

The motion of a heavy coach was too much for her weak condition, and the benevolent persons to whom Providence had assigned her, determined to set her down at the first public-house they passed, and to direct that proper care should be taken.

It was not long before they stopped to change horses, and leave some of the passengers. The mistress of the house was called, who readily assisted in rendering every service in her power; but notwithstanding all their endeavours, they clearly saw that the hand of death was on the unfortunate stranger.

Convinced also by her own feelings of the approach of that awful moment, which we all dread, though so few of us prepare to meet it, she earnestly entreated that a minister of the gospel might be sent for without delay.

The clergyman of the parish soon arrived. After examining the state of her soul, he opened to her the treasures of everlasting life, as contained in the Holy Scriptures, and poured on her wounded spirit the precious balm of comfort and condolence. He joined with her in prayer and supplication, and she received at his hands the restorative sacramental cup; of hope grounded on repentance, and mercy through an interceding Redeemer.

Though her mind was composed, her strength failed, and the fainting fits returned ; but proper medicines being given by an apothecary of the village, after a short repose, she seemed a little better, and was very

anxious to say something to the company collected in the chamber; conscious, that if the present opportunity was lost, her lips, in a short time, would be for ever closed.

Desiring her benefactors to draw nearer the bed, she addressed them in the following words, as well as her weak state permitted, and soon after resigned her breath:

“ The kindness I have experienced at your hands it is not in my power, but I hope the Almighty will repay. You must naturally be desirous to know something of a forlorn wretch, in whose behalf you have so warmly interested yourselves, and whom, in the unjustifiable anguish of despair, I was tempted to consider as deserted by God and man; but the worthy minister has convinced me that OURS IS A GOD OF MERCY, and the treatment I have experienced from you also proves that although this is

à wicked world, there are many worthy characters, who imitate their Creator in this glorious attribute.

“ I was born of poor but honest parents in a northern county: myself and an elder sister were the whole of their family. My father did not repine at that state of life in which Providence had placed him, when after providing for the wants of the day, by labour, he retired to his fire-side in the evening, and found his wife and children clean and contented.

“ I was caressed from my infancy by a widow lady who lived retired in our parish, on a small income, having seen better days. As I grew up, her regard for me increased: she taught me to read and write, and impressed early on my mind religious principles.

“ Though my understanding was improved, and my ideas enlarged beyond what falls to the lot of most young women of my condition, I cannot help imputing to my acquaintance with this excellent woman the misfortunes of my future life. I spent the greatest part of the day with her, and whilst my sister was assisting my mother in the work of the house, and qualifying herself to perform the duties of a mother and a wife, I was

« НазадПродовжити »