Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

nance.

residence, where every thing reminded him of Annette. In one corner of the saloon her picture was still hanging, beautiful, as when first he saw her. Her favourite harp had been untouched during his long absence, and the breeze whispered mournfully among the chords. As he listened to its melancholy music, the thought of past times rushed back upon his soul, and he threw himself upon his couch in a restless agony of spirit. At daybreak, he was roused from his gloomy reveries by the approach of the confessor whom he had seen on the preceding night. He came with a message from Annette, who was desirous of seeing her seducer before she died. The guard appointed for the execution was stationed at the great gates of the prison as be entered, and the hollow sound of the death-bell smote heavily on his heart. The prisoner met him at the entrance of the dungeon. She was arrayed in a deep suit of black, and the flush of haughty majesty had faded from her counte

“ I sent for you,” she said, “ that I might bid you a last farewell, and inform you of the sincerity of my repentance. The confessor has lately visited me, and his exhortations have turned my thoughts to hearen. It is that alone which now consoles me in my dying moments, and assures that we shall yet meet again. Forgive me, love, if yesterday I distressed you; I have but a few hours to live, and they shall be spent in prayer for you. But stay-I have a mother, and it is on her account that I was desirous of seeing you. Be kind to her, Manuel, when I am gone, and remember that she has now no protector but yourself. She will need your support, and will often talk with you of her lost Annette. The cottage too-let it ever remain unaltered, and moulder to earth as a memorial of its former tenants. Let the scenes I orice loved be still visited, and my name be sometimes recalled with affection. · Let"

The dungeon clock now struck the hour of eight, and the muffled drums of the prison guards announced the preparations for the execution. Annette started at the sound, and requesting to be left alone with Don Manuel, dictated the following lines to her mother.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

now.

" Dearest mother,- In the closing hour of existence, the thought of your suffering weighs heavily upon iny heart. I see, I feel, your grief; but to assuage in some degree your sorrows, have gained a faithful friend, who will cherish

you
when I am gone.

Then
weep

not for me; I leave you but for awhile, to be reunited in a better world. But oh! dearest mother, it is a cruel stroke for one so young as I am to sleep in the dark night of the tomb, where there is no sweet sunshine to enliven, no cheering voice to awaken me to happiness. I have now but a few words to add, and shall then bid farewell. The stranger who will deliver you this letter was the first object of my youthful attachment. He seduced my mind from virtue, but even that is forgiven

Then speak not harshly to him, lest in the bitterness of the moment he curse the memory of Annette. Farewell.”

It was now nine o'clock, the hour appointed for the execution. The guard re-entered the dungeon, and bade Annette prepare to ascend the scaffold. With a firm, composed step, she moved towards the platform which was erected in front of the prison. Don Manuel followed by her side, and as she ascended the fatal steps wrung her hand in an agony of affection. A numerous crowd was assembled below, and the heavy sound of the deathbell increased the gloom of the spectators. The prisoner advanced ; she gave the fatal signal, and in an instant was stretched dead at the feet of her seducer. With trembling steps he raised her from the ground—but life was extinct. A smile was on her countenance in death, but the hectic glow was succeeded by a deadly paleness.

In an ecstasy of suffering, Don Manuel now prepared to obey the last wishes of poor Annette. He left Seville on the instant, and arrived at the once loved “ Vale of Solitude.” It was evening when he reached the cottage, the scene of his early happiness. He entered; an old lady was stationed at the entrance in an attitude of deep devotion : her Bible lay beside her, and a por trait of Annette was on the table. She started at the noise of his footsteps, and with some difficulty recalled

[ocr errors]

*

his features to her mind. “ I am not now,” she feebly said, as you once knew

me,

Don Manuel: I am a poor wretched creature, whose days are nuinbered in the land. I do not desire to upbraid you, for your own feelings must be sufficient torture.” On perusing the letter of her daughter, she continued, “ Annette has forgiven you, and I cannot withhold my commiseration. All I request of you is, that when I am numbered with the dead, as I soon must be, you will bury me in the same grave with my child." Don Manuel promised obedience, and slowly retired from the apartment. Worn down with anxieties, and fearful of future temptations, he at last resolved to enter the convent of the Carmelites, and pass the remainder of his days in solitude. He died in a short time after his entrance, and at his own particular request was buried in the little garden of the cottage.

I was but a boy* when these circumstances occurred, but the remembrance is indelibly imprinted on my memory. The story was told to me by an old Carmelite monk, who was well acquainted with the narrative. The peasants too had heard the tale, and would often hymn the death-dirge of the lovers on their mellow mountain pipes. But years have rolled on, and the remembrance of poor Annette is fading from the minds of the villagers. You may sometimes meet with an old cottager who knew her when she was a child, and who loves to recall her to his mind with fondness : but these instances are seldom, and in a short time will be entirely forgotten.

When I was last in the neighbourhood of the “ Vale of Solitude," I paid a visit to the cottage of Annette. It was overgrown with henbane and with nightshade, and afforded a melancholy epitome of past happiness. I paused; an utter stillness reigned around, save when the raven screamed his death-song. I entered the room where Annette had once lived. I saw the harp which was once hers, and was monldering in silent decay: the spider had wove his web among the chords; and the whole scéne spoke of gloomy desertion. As I gazed on

* The author is supposed to speak in his own person.

the ruined dwelling, the past rushed over my soul, and I wept in excess of melancholy. I knelt me down in silent adoration, and offered up a prayer for the repose of the departed. The sun was sinking in the west as I turned my steps instinctively to the spot where Don Manuel slumbered : it was in a little nook at the extremity of the garden, unnoticed by epitaph or elegy: a wild rose was blooming on the, sod, and a few withered leaves from the hanging cypress were strewed upon the grave. The last rays of the setting sun shone sweetly on the tomb, and lightened up for a moment the vivid feelings of my heart. “Sleep sweetly," I exclaimed as I departed, "sleep sweetly, spirit of former days; for the most glorious object in nature pays thee his farewell visit ere he sinks into the embrace of Thetis.''

TO
Waen all around grew drear and dark,
And reason half withheld her

ray,
And hope but shed a dying spark,

Which more misled my lonely way;
In that deep midnight of the mind,

And that internal strife of heart,
When dreading to be deem'd too kind,

The weak despair, the cold depart;-
When fortune changed, and love fled far,

And hatred's shafts flew thick and fast-
Thou wert the solitary star

Which rose and set not to the last.
Oh, blest be thine unbroken light

That watch'd me as a seraph's eye,
And stood between me and the night,

For ever shining sweetly nigh!
And when the cloud upon us came,

Which strove to blacken o'er thy ray--
Then purer spread its gentle flame,

And dash'd the darkness all away.

Still may thy spirit dwell on mine,

And teach it what to brave or brook ;
There's more in one soft word of thine

Than in the world's defied rebuke.
Thou stood'st, as stands a lovely tree,

Whose branch unbroke, but gently bent,
Still waves with fond fidelity

Its boughs above a monument.
The wind might rend, the skies might pour,

But there thou. wert, and still wouldst be;
Devoted in the stormiest hour

To shed thy weeping leaves o'er me.
But thou and thine shall know no blight,

Whatever fate on me may fall ;
For Heav'n in sunshine will requite

The kind, and thee the most of all.
Then let the ties of baffled love

Be broken-thine will never break;
Thy heart can feel, but will not move

Thy soul, though soft, will never shake.
And these, when all was lost beside,

Were found and still are fix'd in thee;
And bearing still a breast so tried,
Earth is no desert-ey'n to ine.

Lord Byron.

TOMBSTONE WAREHOUSE;

OR, MAGASIN DES MODES MONUMENTALS, AT PARIS,

IN 1819.

A LADY, well known in the fashionable circles of Paris, lately lost by death a relative who had been domiciliated with her for some years, and who, being in some measure a dependent, took all the drudgery of housekeeping arrangements off her hands. Though an Englishman, I happen to stand on the footing of a particular friend in this family; and having, for several

« НазадПродовжити »