« 前へ次へ »
cated his feelings to his friends. Julia caught bis enthusiasm, and her father smiled. It was a favourite scene of hers; she had often viewed it, and as often admired it, but she had not known half its beauties till
“ I hope your robin is well this morning,” said Melmoth to her, as they were returning to the house. « Very well, sir,” she replied, colouring ; “ but I did not know that my little friendly visitor had the honour of your acquaintance." “ My daughter," interrupted Mr Hartop, “ has a great affection for the feathered race, and they seem to return it almost with equal warmth. She has at this time a little family of blackbirds under her protection, and she visits them, I believe, every morning with the greatest anxiety for their welfare." As he said these words, they observed a cat playing with something on the grass plat at a small distance, and Julia stepped up just in time enough to see her favourite blackbirds expire at her feet. 6. Here they are," said she, bending over them with her hands clasped, “ here they are indeed !" As she spoke, she looked up, and her heart's soft tear was in her eye. Melmoth felt it stream over his senses. He had all the milk of human kindness in his bosom ; but at that moment he felt something more than the simple impulse of humanity within him ; and the impression he then received was never lost. As he turned round to conceal his emo. tion, he saw the cat sitting behind a shrub just by, and contemplating with the greatest composure, the little scene of distress which she had occasioned. Resentment for a moment flushed his cheek, and he took up a stone from the walk to throw at her. - You must not, indeed you must not,” said Julia, warmly; "she only pursued the dictates of nature.” As she said these words, she raised her hand to his arm, which was lifted in the action, and the tears which stood trembling on her eyelids, forced their way down her cheeks ; pity's finest strings were then touched ; and with her soft and silver sounds, the harsh discordant notes of revenge are never in unison. Melmoth shed a tear upon the stone, and dropped it to the ground.
Mr Hartop stood silent all the while. He looked first at the birds, then at Julia, then at Melmoth, and then at the birds again ; his heart was too full to allow him to speak—it ran over through his eyes.
How long this scene lasted, I cannot tell ; if it had been in my power, it should have lasted for ever— I would have fixed it on the can
The conversation at breakfast became warm and interesting ; literature and music were the principal topics.
Julia was not silent on either : she discovered a delicacy and correctness of taste, which astonished Melmoth.
" The study of music,” said he, « while it sweetly soothes the sense of hearing, touches the soul, and elevates and refines its nature. persuaded there never was a poet who had not a taste for it; though I cannot go so far as a French writer, who affirmed that he who is insensible to its effects, has but half a soul.”
- Shakespeare's celebrated assertion is not bolder,” said Mr Hartop; " but I think I can confute all by a single instance.
Garrick had no ear for music!”
“ The Italians,” said Julia, " are enthusiasts in the art; and the French seem to have imbibed their spirit. The fine nerves of Rousseau were tremblingly alive to its powers ; and his extreme fondness for it, I have heard, appears in almost every page of his works. Indeed those who have touched the springs of pity with the finest hand, have generally presented the idea of music to the mind in their most affecting scenes. Marmontel has given to Fonrose his hautboy; Julia de Rubigne has her harpsichord ; and Maria de Moulines has her lute.”
66 I don't know a sweeter poem in the language," returned Melmoth, 66 than the Minstrel. It breathes a spirit of melancholy enthusiasm, which captivates the mind irresistibly. The character of Edwin is drawn with exquisite taste, and exhibits some of the most romantic scenes in nature. The idea of reclining at a distance from the village dance, soothed with the soft notes warbling in the wind,' is inexpressibly beautiful. No less so is the reflection that it suggests :
Is there a heart that music cannot melt?
His petition in favour of the singing birds is sweetly pathetic :
66 let them ne'er with artificial note,
Julia's eye brightened as he repeated these lines ; but the unhappy end of her blackbirds had thrown an air of sadness over her features, which all her efforts could not dissipate. It had stamped upon her countenance,
" That expression sweet of melancholy, Which captivates the soul.”
and as Melmoth was acquainted with its amiable cause, it operated on his feelings with peculiar energy,
The heart of Julia was all attuned to gentle emotions; and whenever the faded form of sorrow met her eye, the tear of sympathy trembled in it. I have seen her set out in a morning on her little errands of charity to the poor of the village. She entered every cottage with such a smile of sweetness, and listened to every tale of family distress with such a look of tender concern, that my heart dilated at the sight. I would not have exchanged my feelings on that occasion for those of any one under heaven, but herself. Though united to her by no closer bond than that of humanity, I felt a pride, an honest pride, in the connection ; I felt a dignity in my nature, which I had never known before.
In the evening they sailed on the lake, the surface of which was just ruffled enough to show it was alive. A cormorant was flying over it, and fishing ; and on the banks, which are steep, and shagged with wild shrubs, hung a few goats. Here and there a grotesque mass of rocks projected boldy over the water, with a little shining torrent falling from its brow; and often through the precipices appears a smooth green lawn, embosomed in old woods, which climb half way up the moun. tain's side, and discover above them a broken line of craggs that crown the scene. All these objects were inverted on the blue surface of the lake ; and no sooner had the boat pushed off from the shore, than they started into motion. The rocks, and woods, and mountains, passed by in silent succession on each side, and changed their figure at every yard. The rays of the setting sun gave a glow to the landscape, and Melmoth threw an air of enchantment over it with the soft notes of his flute. Our voyagers were delighted with their expedition. They coasted every island, and looked into every bay. Every stroke of the oar pointed out new beauties, and inspired new ideas. The spirit of pleasure left not a single second of vacancy, and evening had overshadowed them with her last and deepest shade before they landed.
When Melmoth retired to his chamber, and reviewed the little inci. dents of the past day, the exquisite sensibility of Julia thrilled his heart. He took out his pocket-book, and penciled on a slip of paper the following lines :
'Twas then a blackbird and its mate
Two chirpers soon reward their care,
Returning through a shrubbery mead,
In vain they feebly flutter'd round,
“ Whither, ah, whither shall we fly!
When he had finished, he thought something was still wanting; he had not paid a compliment to Julia. He cut his pencil again and again, but it would not do ; the string was too fine to touch upon. He went to bed in despair.
In the morning when he took his leave, he presented the paper to Julia. She read the title, and put it into her bosom, with a smile. But that smile betrayed a secret she wished to have concealed. It for. ced a tear down her cheek.
Spirits of love and sympathy! Inspirers of all the soft affections ; of all that is beautiful in feeling, and elevated in thought! Ye alone can tell, yę who can awake such thrilling harmony from that sweet instrų. ment-the human soul.--ye alone can tell what fine, what exquisitely fine cement' unites congenial natures ; what magnetic principles operate
It was not till three years after, when Melmoth returned from making the tour of Europe, that he had an opportunity of revisiting his friends. He had written to them several times on his travels, but he had never received any answer, and he concluded that his letters had miscarried. Interesting as were all the various scenes which had passed under his eye during that interval, they had not once diverted his thoughts from the beloved object of their contemplation : Julia mingled in every idea ; he had passions, sighs, sentiments, and sensations only for Julia. As soon as he arrived in London, he obtained his father's consent to ask her hand, and instantly set off for Westmoreland. It was towards the close of the third day, when he reached the banks of the lake, and he ordered the post-chaise to drive to the by-path, intending to walk up to the house through the shrubbery, that he might surprize them the more agreeably,
When he opened the wicket, he was presented with a scene embellished with all the beauties of the spring. The lilaç was in full blow, and the laburnum dropped its golden clusters in a grand profusion ; while the softer blossoms of the apple and the almond appeared above the rest, and were finely relieved by the fresh verdure of the foliage. Melmoth recognized every object with the feelings of a friend. Every tree and shrub recalled to his mind the ideas they had inspired, when he first walked under the shade, and he bade them welcome with as much ardour as if they had been animate. He looked down, as he passed, at the bench on which he sat when the voice of his Julia first broke upon his ear; and his heart exulted as he looked. But his impatience would not suffer him to indulge the idea. He had a thousand things to say, a thousand little incidents which he had treasured up in his memory, to tell of. Every minute seemed an age which did not bring the interview along with it, and he quickened his pace at every step. When he came to the house he found a servant sitting in the porch, and he enquired eagerly if Mr Hartop was within. “ No, sir,” she replied, “ he has just gone to speak over his daughter's grave.” “ Whose grave ?” interrupted Melmoth, in a faltering voice. « Miss Julia, sir; she died last week of a consumption,—the gate opens to the churchyard.”
Melmoth felt the intelligence in every nerve. It was as the cold
point of a dagger at his heart. He did not utter a word in reply; his feelings would not let him ; he stood motionless as a statue, gazing on vacancy, and lost in the sensations which harrowed up his soul. All the fond hopes, which he had cherished so long, were now extinguished, and in the very moment when he expected their completion. He walked up to the gate, but he could not open it; it led to a scene which he knew would quite unman him--he let the latch fall, and burst into tears.
An interval of reason succeeded it was an interval of patience, hu. mility, and hope_but it was short. The frenzy of his soul returned ; he burst the gate open, and rushed violently through.
As he hurried along the path that winded among the tomb-stones, his eye looked round involuntarily for the objects it most dreaded to fix on; and it soon found them. A number of mourners had ranged them. selves in a little circle round a grave on one side—it was an interesting group--and Melmoth drew near to examine the weeping figures which composed it. They were villagers, whose families Julia had been enabled by her father to keep from want, and who had asked leave to pay this last tribute of gratitude to her memory. Mr Hartop stood advanced a few paces before the rest, with the volume of inspiration in his hand. There was a manly resignation expressed in his countenance, and a firmness in the tone of his voice, which shamed Melmoth for his weakness-except now and then, when a tear stole down his cheek, and melted his accent. He had lost all that was dear to him in this world, and his soul was now ready to take its flight. A good man, struggling with adversity, and rising amidst all its efforts to depress him, is an object on which angels may look down with delight, and which the Divine Being must contemplate with peculiar complacency.
As soon as the funeral service was over, and the mourners had departed, Melmoth stepped up to the grave, and looked eagerly in. The frantic wildness of his air struck the sexton, who was preparing to throw the earth into it; and he stood fixed in silent astonishment, with his foot lifted up on his spade. Melmoth kept bending over, with his eye chained to the inscription on the lid of the coffin. Within it were the remains of one whom he had chosen from the rest of the world she was indeed his world. he had seen her walk-her eyes, now for ever closed, had once and who could not have interpreted their language had once conversed tenderly with his. The thought cut him to the soul - he could not bear it and he walked hastily away--but he had not gone ten paces before his strength failed him, and he turned back to take another look. He was too late the sexton had already fallen to work, and the coffin was to be seen no more, for the last spadeful of earth had covered it. A tear started into his eye at the disappointment
- he looked wistfully at the man a moment, but had not the heart to reproach him for it every feeling within him was turned to tenderness ; he fetched a deep sigh, and walked slowly away, weeping as he walked.
In his return to the parsonage, he met some of the mourners who had been conducting Mr Hartop home, and he commanded firmness enough to enquire the particulars of an event, the sudden dislosure of which had so unhinged him. Mr Hartop, they said, had been confined