Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THE OAKWOODS OF OAKWOOD;

OR, THE DAYS OF WILLIAM THE THIRD.

CHAPTER V.-A MEETING IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY. “ Youth is a perpetual intoxication, it is the fever of reason."--ROCHEFOUCAULT.

THERE are moments in life when we are his companion, left the painter to purmore swayed by impulse and emotion, sue his way to the city alone. than by reason, principle, or common Prenez garde, Monsieur Oakwood,” sense ; when a chance word, a trivial said Sir Godfrey, as they parted, “take incident, or a casual meeting determines care of dat pretty face, it may lead you our career for a period, and diverts from into de devil of a mess, ah! sare, betheir ordinary and regular course the ware of de women.” And, with a thoughts, the feelings, and the actions shrug and a smile, he trotted on through of our lives. It was a moment such as Cheapside, while Oakwood turned his this, an incident so trivial, and a meet- horse's head towards Westminster. ing so unexpected, which had just occur. As he approached the Abbey, that red to Reginald Oakwood ; who, im- most splendid and enduring monument petuous, rash, and thoughtless, yielded of church architecture in its palmiest to the impulse of the moment without days, he caught sight of the carriage much consideration, and separating from which had conveyed the strangers from

the scene of their disaster, and throwing She seemed to muse a moment over his bridle rein to his page, he dismount- the proposal, and accepted it. ed and proceeded on foot to the grand “ You know neither my name or conold edifice. Passing the carriage, which dition ; however I am not equally ignowas empty, he entered the Abbey at rant of yours, Monsieur St. VictorPoets' Corner, where but few of the il- nay, start uot at my knowledge; I heard lustrious dead, whom “storied urn and your page address you so, as I recovered animated bust' now recal to our remem- from my faint. brance, had then found a resting place. Reginald paused a moment, uncertain

The interior was nearly deserted, here whether he should undeceive the lady and there, occasional figures would be or not as to his real name, but captiseen flitting about, like dusky shadows, vated with the air of romance already but the general stillness and quietude of thrown round the adventure, and not the place was scarcely broken by a foot- unwilling to add to it, he resolved to fall; the mellowed light of the evening encourage her mistake, as he replied, sun, softened and subdued by the pictur- “Ah! madam, how can one hope to ed windows and gray arcades of shade, elude a lady's observation." streamed gloriously in, lighting up tomb “However, sir, if I consent to go with and tablet, statue and altar, with its you to the ball to-night, no effort must holy radiance. The clanging noise of be made by you to attempt to discover Reginald's footsteps on the pavement, who or what I am, and should I be acand the jingle of his spurs, caused the companied, I rely on your honour, to attention of the few who were in the ask no questions of my companion." Abbey to be directed towards him, and “If a lady, none." in one of the faces which turned to “ Then a lady it shall be, but at what gaze at him, he recognised the elder of hour shall we be there ?" the ladies of his late adventure.

As she spoke, a figure which had for Approaching her with a graceful some time seemed immovable beside bow, he inquired after her safety and one of the pillars, glided from his stathat of her friend, after the accident; tion and approached them, hurriedly, but vainly looked around him for the and laying his hand on the arm of the beautiful unknown.

lady, drew her aside and whispered in “I must return you," replied the her ear a moment. It was the same lady, “my warmest thanks for saving tall stranger whom we have already met my life at the risk of your own; and I in the adventure in Cheapside. The am sure that”-here she paused a mo- conference was a short one; the lady ment_" that my husband, if he were started for a moment, and then turning here, would add his to mine."

to Reginald, informed him that circum“ I must disclaim, madam,” said Re- stances would now prevent her being ginald,“ all merit in the matter, for who present at the ball. "May I request would not risk a life, like mine, to save you, however,” she added, “to deliver a beauty like yours.”

into the hands of Churchill this packThe lady laughed musically. “Ah, et," and, drawing from her pocket, a sir cavalier, you are a courtier and can large letter, she presented it to Regicompliment us to our faces; I thought nald. that the age of gallantry was past, but Chagrined and vexed though he was you seem to revive it. But,” she added, at the unexpected turn affairs had taken, it will you inform me whether the king he accepted the commission, and after be at Whitehall still or not?"

being entreated by the lady to take the '" At Whitehall still, madam, with earliest and most private opportunity of her majesty; there will be a court ball delivering the letter, as it contained imto-night, at which he will be present.” portant intelligence, he prepared to take

“Would I could be there !" said the his leave, when he perceived Sir Godstranger, “but that is impossible.” frey Kneller entering the Abbey, and

“Impossible! to you, madam. Oh, at the same moment, the beautiful unno! Beauty never seeks admittance in known joined the party from Henry the vain at Whitehall. Should you wish to Seventh's chapel. see the ball, a gallery is at your dispo- She blushed as she caught sight of sal, as I have the honour to be in wait Reginald, and extending her hand to ing on his majesty."

him, thanked him most warmly for his

late assistance, and was proceeding, the reply, as Sackville paced up and when the gentleman of the party hur- down the chapel. “If, flighty and rash riedly left the two ladies alone with the as he is, we can romance sufficiently to young courtier, and at the saine mo- cover our designs, he will be a blind tool ment, Sir Godfrey approached them. in our hands as long as we want him ;

Whether it was that the elder of the but no more of this. I leave London ladies still suffered from the effects of to-night for the Hague; Lady Sackville the accident, or did not wish to be re- and Florence remain here." cognised, she dropped her veil over her “ And vhere is de pretty Mistress face, and requested St. Victor to con- Oakwood ?" duct them to their carriage, and merely “ Gone to the Hague with her brobowing to Sir Godfrey, left the Abbey ther ; the Princess wishes her to be

Kneller stood for a moment alone, as there. Adieu, Sir Godfrey ; when we if in meditation, when he was joined by meet again, it will be under a different the tall stranger still muffled in his sovereign." cloak, who, giving him a signal, drew While Sackville and Kneller were him into Henry the Seventh's chapel, conversing in the chapel, Reginald had and closed the door after him.

conducted the strangers to their car« Ah! Sir Arthur," said the painter, riage, still ignorant of their name and " you are too rash to venture to dis rank; but yielding to the usual thoughtcountry now; de king will have you in lessness of his disposition, and captivated de tower, if you are caught.”

by the beauty of the younger lady, he “ Too old a fox to be caught easily, offered to accompany them to their rehowever, Kneller. I have taken care sidence, as their guardian did not apof my safety, but a word with you-how pear. Lady Sackville, for it was that do matters go on at Whitehall?”

lady who was now assisting her hus" All right, Sir Arthur, de king is band's intrigues at the court, assented, still obstinate, and the nobles willing." and Reginald seated himself with a

“Then the blow must be soon struck," throb of pleasure by the side of the said Sir Arthur Sackville musingly, for lovely Florence, and in gay and animatit was that daring intriguer and states- ed conversation passed the time, until man who now stood in the Abbey of they arrived near Whitehall. Lady Westininster, in the very centre of the Sackville was not aware that Monsieur king's power," then, Kneller, the Prince St. Victor, whom she supposed was a of Orange must soon sail.”

French attaché of her majesty's, was Sir Godfrey was an adherent, though the same person as Reginald Oakwood, a concealed one, of William of Orange, and her inquiries after him, though and as such rendered valuable service guarded, amused and yet puzzled Regiat the court ; but yet he was unpre- nald exceedingly. He could not imapared for the announcement which gine who Lady Sackville was, to take Sackville now made of the intended de- such an interest in him, never having scent on England, and eagerly inquired met or seen her before ; and though for particulars. After Sackville had vague remembrances of beautiful eyes given him a few general answers, he like the sunny orbs of Florence, floated explained that, with his wife and daugh- before his mind, as of something seen ter, he had landed in the South of and loved in childhood, yet he could not England after leaving Ireland, and that recollect distinctly where, when, or how Henry Oakwood had gone direct to the they had beamed on him. How often Hague.

in life do we experience this sensation, "Take care, Kneller, and let not that this consciousness of knowledge, indisyoung Reginald know I was here ; it tinct and imperfect, of faces, scenery, might ruin our cause, as Lady Sack- and incidents, mind pictures of early ville has entrusted to him an important infancy, when observation had just letter from the Prince to Churchill, awakened, though intellect still slept. which he has undertaken to deliver, At Whitehall they parted, Lady not knowing what it is.”

Sackville, again reminding Reginald of “ You vill never vin dat boy over, Sir his promise to deliver the letter at ouce Arthur.”

to Churchill, and giving him as a sou." He will be moro useful as he is, if venir of the adventure, a small ring we can mystily lim sufficiently," was with the word “Fidelity.”

“ I know” she said, “ how enthusias. more did you prize and value the muddy tically you are attached to the king, let glove, which lay on your manly heart this inspire you with the sentiment of in many a midnight watch and battleloyalty whenever you gaze on it, and field, in years after, fond memorial of also let it be a remembrance of me." the F. $., who now turned her blue eyes

“ How highly I shall prize it, madam, upon you, with a look which made you time alone can show."

hers for ever. Ah ! Reginald Oakwood, how much

(To be continued.)

Z

AMERICAN OPINIONS ON SLAVERY.

It is a remarkable instance of the com- ricans at a much higher price per head parative wisdom and humanity of mo- than the West Indians were forced to dern times, that, deeply seated as sla- accept; for the compensation which our very is in the social systein of the United Parliament voted was very inadequate; States, the opinion is yet very general and the American slaveholders being that it ought not to be and cannot be represented in the legislatures, would be perpetual. They are, however, a small able to insist on receiving the full minority who wish for a sudden or value of what they regard as their proviolent overthrow of the system ; the perty. It needs no proof that those great majority of thinking Americans states where the slaves number half the are in favour of leaving its extinction to population, could not raise the necessary the slow but sure operation of natural funds for their emancipation; and even causes.

if the non-slave-bolding states were to The abolition of slavery in the Bri- unite in the work, we doubt whether a tish West Indies is frequently regarded nation of twenty millions could afford to as a proof of its practicability in the pay the price of the freedom of three United States. But a little knowledge millions of slaves. of the circumstances of the two coun. For the loss of property consequent tries will show that the proof is the other on emancipation, would not be compenway. It was not the Colonial Legisla- sated by paying the full market price tures, but the Imperial Parliament, of the slaves. In a country where abunthat abolished West Indian slavery, dance of labour is to be had for hire, and paid for its abolition ; and there is the value of a slave is in proportion to no power in America that stands in the the greater cheapness of his labour than same relation to the legislative bodies that of a freeman ; and where free laof the separate states that Parliament bour is cheaper than that of slaves, a does to those of the West Indian Colo- slave can have no value at all, and slanies, for Congress is prohibited by the very will not pay. It is this cause constitution from interfering with the which, at an early period, abolished internal affairs of the states. Had any slavery throughout the west of Europe. West Indian legislature abolished sla. But in the cotton and sugar-growing very within its jurisdiction, this might districts of the United States, free labe regarded as a proof that the ame- bour is not to be had in sufficient quanrican States might do the same ; but tities at any price. The position of the such is not the case. Congress cannot planters, if deprived of their slaves, abolish slavery, and the states will not. would be like that of a farmer deprived

We may add, that the states cannot. of his horses, and unable to purchase or In the event of emancipation, it would hire any others; the loss he would susbe necessary to compensate the owners tain would be far greater than the marof slaves ; and the slave-holding states ket price of the horses. could not raise money for that purpose. But, it may be said, the emancipated The emancipation of 800,000 of slaves slaves would be willing to work for hire. in our colonies cost twenty millions ster- This opinion is not borne out by facts. ling; and there are nearly four times In those parts of the West Indies where that number of slaves in the United population is dense, as in Barbadoes States. It would be necessary, inore- and Antigua, the cinancipated slaves over, to pay for the slaves of the Ame- have become day labourers ; but where

population is scanty and land abundant, - Opinions seem to vary as to whether as in Jamaica and Guiana, they prefer it is possible to employ the European to settle on little patches of land, and race in field labour on the shores of the raise produce enough for their own sub- Gulf of Mexico. Everywhere, except in sistence; and there can be no doubt the rice-swamps, the whites form a that they would do the same in the great proportion of the population; and United States, where the greater part in New Orleans, notwithstanding its of the land remains still uncultivated. pestilential climate, they are a large

Were free labour obtainable in suffi. majority. They are employed at all cient quantities, the question between kinds of work except field labour : they free and slave labour would be one fell timber and inake railways. But merely of cost; and there can be little we doubt whether it has been proved doubt that the former would be found that they are able to become a permathe cheaper. A slave in America nent labouring population in so hot a may, we doubt not, be fed, clothed, and climate, and transmit the vigour of lodged, for a less sum than the wages their race undiminished to their childof a freeman ; but the labour of the ren. One generation is not enough to freeman is more efficient, and his em- test the capabilities of a race : and a ployer saves the interest on the pur- very large proportion of the free labourchase-money of the slave. The opinion ing population of the southern states is is very general in the United States, of foreign origin. Irishmen are emthat, if free labour could be had, it would ployed in making railways and at all be cheaper than that of slaves. Sir kinds of earth-works : men from KenCharles Lyell,* from whom we take this tucky and Maine in felling timber, statement, inentions a planter, near There is a large native white populaNew Orleans, who tried to do without tion, but it does not mainly consist of slaves, and hired Irish and German la. labourers ; the hard work of the counbourers ; but his project was defeated try being left to strangers and slaves. by a strike for wages in the middle of The climate of the northern coast of harvest. Had free field-labourers been the Gulf of Mexico is as hot in summer abundant, others might have been en- as that of the West Indies ; but in wingaged, and the experiment might have ter and spring it is healthy and delightbeen successful. The neighbourhood of ful, resembling the spring and summer New Orleans being in the heart of the of our own country ; and it is then that slave country, and having a climate the population is most active, for then which is injurious to the white though the cotton crop is harvested, and has to not to the negro race, was a most unfa- be shipped, and the rivers are swollen vourable place for such an experiment; and become easily navigable. For these but the substitution of free for slave various reasons a large proportion of labour is going on in Maryland, Vir- the population of the cities consists ginia, and other parts of the slavehold. merely of winter residents, who spend ing states, where the climate is favour- the summer in the more healthful cliable to the health of the European race. mate of the north. These migratious The New Englanders, after leading the are as yet confined to the city populaway in the settlement of the magoifitions ; but we have seen it suggested in cent country between the Allegbanies an American work,t that when the and the Missisippi, are now beginning to various lines of railway which are to buy out the planters of Virginia and connect the southern with the northern Maryland, and to cultivate the country states are finished, and when it be. by means of free labour. This process comes possible to travel from Philadel. will, no doubt, be accelerated by the im- phia or Cincinnati into the heart of the mense immigration of Europeans which cotton country in a day or two, and at is now going on into the United States. the cost of a few dollars, the rural laThe slaves, whose labour is thus dis bourers of the northern states will then placed, are removed to the South, to come every year to gather the cotton of grow cotton or sugar, without any fear, the south, and will supersede slave laas yot, of the competition of freemen. bour to a vast extent. In the northern

* A Second Visit to the United States, by Sir Charles Lyell.

+ Cincinnati in 1851, by Charles Cist. Cincinnati, 1851.

« НазадПродовжити »