was in reality in a very ill-humour : not only she thought, as she gazed at Augusta, and ran over in her mind all the titled beaux that were expected, that she ought, to use her own words, to become “my lady,” but she had met with a signal failure in an attempt she had made to induce Ellen to consider the propriety of making a few conquests and a good match. She had hinted at a belief that Sir Peter admired her, and that a little encouragement would bring him to the point ; and, to her horror and dismay, she had heard that she would consider an offer from a man her sister had rejected as an affront rather than a compliment, that she had no wish to marry at all, preferred a single life, and, in short, sheltered herself under all the unanswerable arguments which made Mrs. Lindsay decide that she was a total and obstinate fool—that she never had had an offer, and never would, and would inevitably be a forlorn and despised old maid.

Annie was very pretty as a Saxon maid of honour; and Miss Tibby, in her white satin

cap and feather, a sprinkling of powder on her front, her jacket trimmed with swansdown, and a “sma' basket-hoop,” looked as quaint as any of the professed “ characters."

The party had taken tea before Augusta appeared; but, when she did appear, all uttered an exclamation of surprise and admiration. Rebecca herself, at the lists of Ashby, could not have looked more beautiful.

The consciousness of her triumph lighted her dark eyes, and wreathed her scarlet lips with smiles. Her slightly aquiline nose, her long dark locks, “ each, in its little spiral of twisted curls,” the regal style of her beauty, the proud form which the Jewish maiden's garb, invested with the interest of royalty in bonds, and the exquisite complexion, set off by the gems and bright colours of her antique and richly-embroidered dress—all presented to the outward eye a bright incarnation of the poet's loveliest dream. But the impassioned, melancholy, musing mind, the warm, unworldly, and devoted heart of Judah's daughter-how were they contrasted by the frivolous and

coquettish fashionable, whose first love was a poor vanity, whose utmost ambition was to glitter the ball-room's queen, and whose highest aim was a good match !

No; in the calm and placid Ellen there was more, far more of the lofty nature of Rebecca! Sublime Rebecca ! visions of faultless loveliness glow through many a poet's page; we admire, and we forget; but thou standest alone in thy august and captive beauty, immortalised in every mind that has been brightened by thy image! How mighty the magic that could make thee, the scorned, the insulted daughter of Israel, the idol of a world, the empress of the mind! And yet not undisputed empress ; for it is a strange thing that the two heroines of romance, most unlike in all outward appliances, but yet who call forth something of the same reverential affection, are the Rebecca of Ivanhoe and the Clarissa of Richardson. The one is the highest triumph of poetic, and the other of domestic pathos. Strikingly unlike to the casual observer, on a close investigation, we trace the same unselfish tenderness, the same lofty purity of thought, the virtue that could dare death, but not disgrace; the sorrow that captivates sympathy, and the melancholy fate which makes interest eternal !

Julian, as he gazed at his beautiful cousin, felt very proud of the preference of a creature who looked so lofty and impassioned, and he was too much fascinated to remark that her chief object of attraction was a pier-glass, and that, after a protracted toilet, she was still engrossed by her turban, her feather, her ringlets, and her jewels.

“How do you like my dress, Miss Tibby?” asked Mrs. Lindsay.

“I canna mak you ony compliment on it, my dear; I dout na it's very expensive and costly, and a' that, wi' sae much gold and siller ; but you look, for a' the warld, like ane o' the figures on my Chinese fan, or on the tea-caddie given me by Donald o' the brae.”

“ Indeed, my dear Miss Tibby, you have paid me a very high compliment. My object is to look like one of those figures."

“ Then your ambition is gratified: but, as I said before, both you and your daughters, as weel as Annie there, were welcome to the pattern o' my straw hot, or scarlet jacket, or any thing else I had by me fit for a fancyball.”

“Thank you, dearest Miss Tibby. Another time, perhaps, we may be obliged to

[ocr errors]

“ I doot it, my dear! in these times, young folk are na much given to listen to their elders ; it was na sae in my younger days.”

Julian stood near Augusta, whispering a thousand lover-like nothings, and Augusta's eyes were downcast; but she was examining her embroidered slipper, in which her small foot looked to great advantage, and the graceful flow of her amber satin robe.

De Villeneuve was complimenting Ellen and Annie; Miss Tibby was bridling and settling her hoop; and Mrs. Lindsay was fastening on a gold paper star, which was falling from its sphere. Much discontented with the whole affair, her only consolation

« 前へ次へ »