"It is more likely that the stars should err," returned the Englishman, "than that the human heart should correct itself of error: adieu!"
He left the room, and proceeded along a passage that led to the outer door. Ere he reached it, another door opened suddenly, and the face of Lucilla broke forth upon him. She held a light in her hand; and as she gazed on the Englishman, he saw that her face was very pale, and that she had been weeping. She looked at him long and earnestly, and the look affected him strangely; he broke silence, which at first it appeared to him difficult to do.
"Good night, my pretty friend," said he: "shall I bring you some flowers to-morrow?"
Lucilla burst into a wild eltritch laugh; and abruptly closing the door, left him in darkness.
The cool air of the breaking dawn came freshly to the cheek of our countryman; yet, still, an unpleasant and heavy sensation sat at his heart. His nerves, previously weakened by his long commune with the visionary, and the effect it had produced, yet tingled and thrilled with the abrupt laugh and meaning countenance of that strange girl, who differed so widely from all others of her years. The stars were growing pale and ghostly, and there was a mournful and dim haze around the moon.
"Ye look ominously upon me," said he, half aloud, as his eyes fixed their gaze above; and the excitement of his spirit spread to his language: "ye on whom, if our lore be faithful, the Most High hath written the letters of our mortal doom. And if ye rule the tides of the great deep, and the changes of the rolling year, what is there out of reason or nature in our belief that ye hold the same sympathetic and unseen influence over the blood and heart, which are the character (and the character makes the conduct) of man?" Pursuing his soliloquy of thought, and finding reasons for a credulity that afforded to him but little cause for pleasure or hope, the Englishman took his way to St. Sebastian's gate.
There was, in truth, much in the traveller's character that corresponded with that which was attributed and destined to one to whom the heavens had given a horoscope answering to his own; and it was this conviction rather than any accidental coincidence in events, which had first led him to pore with a deep attention over the vain but imposing prophecies of judicial astrology. Possessed of all the powers that enable men to rise; ardent, yet ordinarily shrewd; eloquent, witty, brave, and, though not what may be termed versatile, possessing that rare art of concentrating the faculties which enables the possessor rapidly and thoroughly to master whatsoever once arrests the attention, he yet despised all that would have brought these endowments into full and legitimate display. He lived only for enjoyment. A passionate lover of women, music, letters, and the arts, it was society, not the world, which made the sphere and end of his existence. Yet was he no vulgar and commonplace epicurean: he lived for enjoyment; but that enjoyment was mainly formed from elements wearisome to more ordinary natures. Reverie, contemplation, loneliness, were at times dearer to him than the softer and more Aristippean delights. His energies were called forth in society, but he was scarcely social. Trained from his early boyhood to solitude, he was seldom weary of being alone. He sought the crowd, not to amuse himself, but to observe others. The world to him was less as a theatre on which he was to play a part, than as a book in which he loved to decipher the enigmas of wisdom. He observed all that passed around him. No sprightly cavalier at any time; the charm that he exercised at will over his companions was that of softness, not vivacity. But amidst that silken blandness of demeanour, the lynx eye of Remark never slept. He penetrated character at a glance, but he seldom made use of his knowledge. He found a pleasure in reading men, but a fatigue in governing them. And thus, consummately skilled as he was in the science du monde, he often allowed himself to appear ignorant of its practice. Forming in his mind a beau ideal of friendship and of love, he never found enough in the realities long to engage his affection. Thus, with women he was considered fickle, and with men he had no intimate companionship. This trait of character is common with persons of genius; and, owing to too large an overflow of heart, they are frequently considered heartless. There is always, however, danger that a character of this kind should become with years what it seems; what it soon learns to despise. Nothing steels the affections like contempt.
The next morning an express from England reached the young traveller. His father was dangerously ill; nor was it expected that the utmost diligence would enable the young man to receive his last blessing. The Englishman, appalled and terror-stricken, recalled his interview with the astrologer. Nothing so effectually dismays us, as to feel a confirmation of some idea of supernatural dread that has already found entrance within our reason; and of all supernatural belief, that of being compelled by a predecree, and thus being the mere tools and puppets of a dark and relentless fate, seems the most fraught at once with abasement and with horror.
The Englishman left Rome that morning, and sent only a verbal and hasty message to the astrologer, announcing the cause of his departure. Volktman was a man of excellent heart; but one would scarcely like to inquire whether exultation at the triumph of his prediction was not with him a far more powerful sentiment than grief at the misfortune to his friend!
THE YOUTH OF LUCILLA VOLKTMAN.—A MYSTERIOUS CONVERSATION.—THE RETURN OF ONE UNLOOKED FOR.
Time went slowly on, and Lucilla grew up in beauty. The stranger traits of her character increased in strength, but perhaps in the natural bashfulness of maidenhood they became more latent. At the age of fifteen, her elastic shape had grown round and full, and the wild girl had already ripened to the woman. An expression of thought, when the play of her features was in repose, that dwelt upon her lip and forehead, gave her the appearance of being two or three years older than she was; but again, when her natural vivacity returned,—when the clear and buoyant music of her gay laugh rang out, or when the cool air and bright sky of morning sent the blood to her cheek and the zephyr to her step, her face became as the face of childhood, and contrasted with a singular and dangerous loveliness the rich development of her form.
And still was Lucilla Volktman a stranger to all that savoured of the world; the company of others of her sex and age never drew forth her emotions from their resting-place:—
"And Nature said, a lovelier flower On earth was never sown * * * * * Myself will to my darling be Both law and impulse; and with me The girl, in rock and plain, In earth and heaven, in glade and bower, Shall feel an overseeing power To kindle or restrain.
The stars of midnight shall be dear To her; and she shall lean her ear In many a secret place; Where rivulets dance their wayward round, And beauty, born of murmuring sound, Shall pass into her face."
These lines have occurred to me again and again, as I looked on the face of her to whom I have applied them. And, remembering as I do its radiance and glory in her happier moments, I can scarcely persuade myself to notice the faults and heats of temper which at times dashed away all its lustre and gladness. Unrestrained and fervid, she gave way to the irritation of grief of the moment with a violence that would have terrified any one who beheld her at such times. But it rarely happened that the scene had its witness even in her father, for she fled to the loneliest spot she could find to indulge these emotions; and perhaps even the agony they occasioned—an agony convulsing the heart and whole of her impassioned frame—took a sort of luxury from the solitary and unchecked nature of its indulgence.
Volktman continued his pursuits with an ardour that increased—as do all species of monomania—with increasing years; and in the accidental truth of some of his predictions, he forgot the erroneous result of the rest. He corresponded at times with the Englishman, who, after a short sojourn in England, had returned to the Continent, and was now making a prolonged tour through its northern capitals.
Very different, indeed, from the astrologer's occupations were those of the wanderer; and time, dissipation, and a maturer intellect had cured the latter of his boyish tendency to studies so idle and so vain. Yet he always looked back with an undefined and unconquered interest to the period of his acquaintance with the astrologer; to their long and thrilling watches in the night season; to the contagious fervour of faith breathing from the visionary; his dark and restless excursions into that remote science associated with the legends of eldest time, and of
"The crew, who, under names of old renown, Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train, With monstrous shapes and sorceries, abused Fanatic Egypt and her priests."
One night, four years after the last scene we have described in the astrologer's house, Volktman was sitting alone in his favourite room. Before him was a calculation on which the ink was scarcely dry. His face leant on his breast, and he seemed buried in thought. His health had been of late gradually declining; and it might be seen upon his worn brow and attenuated frame, that death was already preparing to withdraw the visionary from a world whose substantial enjoyments he had so sparingly tasted.
Lucilla had been banished from his chamber during the day. She now knew that his occupation was over, and entered the room with his evening repast; that frugal meal, common with the Italians—the polenta (made of Indian corn), the bread and the fruits, which after the fashion of students he devoured unconsciously, and would not have remembered one hour after whether or not it had been tasted!
"Sit thee down, child," said he to Lucilla, kindly;—"sit thee down."
Lucilla obeyed, and took her seat upon the very stool on which she had been seated the last night on which the Englishman had seen her.
"I have been thinking," said Volktman, as he placed his hand on his daughter's head, "that I shall soon leave thee; and I should like to see thee protected by another before my own departure."
"Ah, father," said Lucilla, as the tears rushed to her eyes, "do not talk thus! indeed, indeed, you must not indulge in this perpetual gloom and seclusion of life. You promised to take me with you, some day this week, to the Vatican. Do let it be to-morrow; the weather has been so fine lately; and who knows how long it may last?"
"True," said Volktman; "and to-morrow will not, I think, be unfavourable to our stirring abroad, for the moon will be of the same age as at my birth—an accident that thou wilt note, my child, to be especially auspicious towards any enterprise."
The poor astrologer so rarely stirred from his home, that he did well to consider a walk of a mile or two in the light of an enterprise.—"I have wished," continued he, after a pause, "that I might see our English friend once more—that is, ere long. For, to tell thee the truth, Lucilla, certain events happening unto him do, strangely enough, occur about the same time as that in which events, equally boding, will befall thee. This coincidence it was which contributed to make me assume so warm an interest in the lot of a stranger. I would I might see him soon."
Lucilla's beautiful breast heaved, and her face was covered with blushes: these were symptoms of a disorder that never occurred to the recluse.
"Thou rememberest the foreigner?" asked Volktman, after a pause.
"Yes," said Lucilla, half inaudibly.
"I have not heard from him of late: I will make question concerning him ere the cock crow."
"Nay my father!" said Lucilla, quickly: "not tonight: you want rest, your eyes are heavy."
"Girl," said the mystic, "the soul sleepeth not, nor wanteth sleep: even as the stars, to which (as the Arabian saith) there is also a soul, wherewith an intent passion of our own doth make a union—so that we, by an unslumbering diligence, do constitute ourselves a part of the heaven itself!—even, I say, as the stars may vanish from the human eye, nor be seen in the common day—though all the while their course is stopped not, nor their voices dumb—even so doth the soul of man retire, as it were, into a seeming sleep and torpor, yet it worketh all the same—and perhaps with a less impeded power, in that it is more free from common obstruction and trivial hindrance. And if I purpose to confer this night with the 'Intelligence' that ruleth earth and earth's beings, concerning this stranger, it will not be by the vigil and the scheme, but by the very sleep which thou imaginest, in thy mental darkness, would deprive me of the resources of my art."
"Can you really, then, my father," said Lucilla, in a tone half anxious, half timid,—"can you really, at will, conjure up in your dreams the persons you wish to see; or draw, from sleep, any oracle concerning their present state?"
"Of a surety," answered the astrologer; "it is one of the great—though not perchance the most gifted—of our endowments."
"Can you teach me the method?" asked Lucilla, gravely.
"All that relates to the art I can," rejoined the mystic: "but the chief and main power rests with thyself. For know, my daughter, that one who seeks the wisdom that is above the earth must cultivate and excite, with long labour and deep thought, his least earthly faculty."
Here the visionary, observing that the countenance of Lucilla was stamped with a fixed attention, which she did not often bestow upon his metaphysical exordiums; paused for a moment; and then pursued the theme with the tone of one desirous of making himself at once as clear and impressive as the nature of an abstruse science would allow.
"There are two things in the outer creation, which, according to the great Hermes, suffice for the operation of all that is wonderful and glorious—Fire and Earth. Even so, my child, there are in the human mind two powers that affect all of which our nature is capable—reason and imagination. Now mankind,—less wise in themselves than in the outer world—have cultivated, for the most part, but one of these faculties; and that the inferior and more passive, reason. They have tilled the earth of the human heart, but suffered its fire to remain dormant, or waste itself in chance and frivolous directions. Hence the insufficiency of human knowledge. Inventions founded only on reason move within a circle from which their escape is momentary and trivial. When some few, endowed with a just instinct, have had recourse to the diviner element, imagination, thou wilt observe, that they have used it only in the service of the lighter arts, and those chiefly disconnected from reason. Such is poetry and music, and other delicious fabrications of genius, that amuse men, soften men, but advance them not. They have—with but rare exceptions—left this glorious and winged faculty utterly passive in the service of Philosophy. There, reason alone has been admitted, and imagination hath been carefully banished, as an erratic and deceitful meteor. Now mark me, child: I, noting this our error in early youth, did resolve to see what might be effected by the culture of this renounced and maltreated element; and finding, as I proceeded in the studies that grew from this desire, by the occult yet guiding writings of the great philosophers of old, that they had forestalled me in this discovery, I resolved to learn, from their experience, by what means the imagination is best fostered, and, as it were, sublimed.
"Anxiously following their precepts—the truth of which soon appeared—I found that solitude, fast, intense reverie upon the one theme on which we desired knowledge, were the true elements and purifiers of this glorious faculty. It was by these means, and by this power, that men so far behind us in lesser lore achieved, on the mooned plains of Chaldea and by the dark waters of Egypt, their penetration into the womb of Event;—by these means, and this power, the solitaries of the Gothic time not only attained to the most intricate arcana of the stars, but to the empire of the spirits about, above, and beneath the earth; a power, indeed, disputed by the presumptuous sophists of the present time, but of which their writings yet contain ample proof. Nay, by the constant feeding, and impressing and moulding, and refining, and heightening, the imaginative power, I do conceive that even the false prophets and the evil practitioners of the blacker cabala clomb into the power seemingly inconceivable—the power of accomplishing miracles and prodigies, and to appearance belie, but in truth verify, the course of nature. By this spirit within the flesh, we grow from the flesh, and may see, and at length invoke, the souls of the dead, and receive warnings, and hear omens, and girdle our sleep with dreams.
"Not unto me," continued the cabalist, in a lowlier tone, "have been vouchsafed all these gifts; for I began the art when the first fire of youth was dim within me; and it was therefore with duller and already earth-clogged pinions that I sought to rise. Something, however, I have won as a recompense for austere abstinence and much labour; and this power over the land of dreams is at least within my command."
"Then," said Lucilla, in a disappointed tone, "it is only by a long course of indulgence to the fervour of the imagination, and not by spell or charm, that one can gain a similar power?"
"Not wholly so, my daughter," replied the mystic; "they who do so excite, and have so raised the diviner faculty, can alone possess the certain and invariable power over dreams, even without charms and talismans; but the most dull or idle may hope to do so with just confidence (though not certainty) by help of skill, and by directing the full force of their half-roused fancy towards the person or object they wish to see reflected in the glass of Sleep."
"And what means should the uninitiated employ?" asked Lucilla, in a tone betokening her interest.
"I will tell thee," answered the astrologer. "Thou must inscribe on a white parchment an image of the sun."
"As how?" interrupted Lucilla.
"Thus!" said the astrologer, drawing from among his papers one inscribed with the figure of a man asleep on the bosom of an angel. "This was made at the potential and appointed time, when the sun was in the Ninth of the Celestial Houses, and the Lion shook his bright mane as he ascended the blue mount. Observe, that on the figure must be written thy desire—the name of the person thou wishest to see, or the thing thou wouldst have foreshown: then having prepared and brought the mind to a faith in the effect—for without faith the imagination lies inert and lifeless—this image will be placed under the head of the invoker, and when the moon goeth through the sign which was in the Ninth House of his nativity, the Dream will glide into him, and his soul walk with the spirit of the vision."
"Give me the image," said Lucilla, eagerly.
The mystic hesitated—"No, Lucilla," said he, at length; "no, it is a dark and comfortless path, that of prescience and unearthly knowledge, save to the few that walk it with a gifted light and a fearless soul. It is not for women or children—nay, for few amongst men: it withers up the sap of life, and makes the hair grey before its time. No, no; take the broad sunshine, and the brief but sweet flowers of earth; they are better for thee, my child, and for thy years than the fever and hope of the night-dream and the planetary influence."
So saying, the astrologer replaced the image within the leaves of one of his books; and with prudence not common to him, thrust the volume into a drawer, which he locked. The fair face of Lucilla became clouded, but the ill health of her father imposed a restraint on her wild temper.
Just at that moment the door slowly opened, and the Englishman stood before the daughter and sire. They did not note him at first. The solitary servant of the sage had admitted him; he had proceeded, without ceremony, to the well-remembered apartment.
As he now stood gazing on the pair, he observed with an inward smile, how exactly their present attitudes (as well as the old aspect of the scene) resembled those in which he had broken upon them on the last evening he had visited that chamber; the father bending over the old, worn, quaint, table; and the daughter seated beside him on the same low stool. The character of their countenances struck him, too, as wearing the same ominous expression as when those countenances had chilled him on that evening. For Volktman's features were impressed with the sadness that breathed from, and caused, his prohibition to his daughter; and that prohibition had given to her features an abstraction and shadow similar to the dejection they had worn on the night we recur to.
This remembered coincidence did not cheer the spirits of the young traveller; he muttered to himself; and then, as if anxious to break the silence, moved forward with a heavy step.
Volktman started at the sound; and looking up, seemed literally electrified by this sudden apparition of one whom he had so lately expressed his desire to see. His lips muttered the intruder's name, one well known to the reader (it was the name of Godolphin) and then closed; but Lucilla sprang from her seat, and, clasping her hands joyously together, darted forward till she came within a foot of the unexpected visitor. There she abruptly arrested herself, blushed deeply, and stood before him humbled, agitated, but all vivid with delight.
"What, is this Lucilla?" said Godolphin admiringly: "how beautiful she is grown!" and advancing, he saluted, with a light and fraternal kiss, her girlish and damask cheek: then, without heeding her confusion, he turned to the astrologer, who by this time had a little recovered from his amaze.
THE EFFECT OF YEARS AND EXPERIENCE.—THE ITALIAN CHARACTER.
Godolphin now came almost daily to the astrologer's abode. He was shocked to perceive the physical alteration four years had wrought in his singular friend; and, with the warmth of a heart naturally kind, he sought to contribute to the comfort and enjoyment of a life that was evidently drawing to a close.
Godolphin's company seemed to give Volktman a pleasure which nothing else could afford him. He loved to converse on the various incidents that had occurred to each since they met; and, in whatsoever Godolphin communicated to him, the mystic sought to impress upon his friend's attention the fulfilment of an astrological prediction.
Godolphin, though no longer impressed with a belief in the visionary's science, did not affect to combat his assertions. He had not, in his progress through life, found much to shake his habitual indolence in ordinary affairs; and it was no easy matter to provoke one of his quiet temper and self-indulging wisdom into conversational dispute. Besides, who argues with fanaticism?
Since the young idealist had left England, the elements of his character had been slowly performing the ordination of time, and working their due change in its general aspect. The warm fountains of youth flowed not so freely as before the selfishness that always comes, sooner or later, to solitary men of the world, had gradually mingled itself with all the channels of his heart. The brooding and thoughtful disposition of his faculties having turned from romance to what he deemed philosophy, that which once was enthusiasm had hardened into wisdom. He neither hated men nor loved them with a sanguine philanthropy; he viewed them with cool and discerning eyes. He did not think it within the power of governments to make the mass, in any country, much happier or more elevated than they are. Republics, he was wont to say, favoured aristocratic virtues, and despotisms extinguished them: but, whether in a monarchy or republic, the hewers of wood and the drawers of the water, the multitude, still remained intrinsically the same.
This theory heightened his indifference to ambition. The watchwords of party appeared to him ridiculous; and politics in general—what a great moralist termed one question in particular—a shuttlecock kept up by the contention of noisy children. His mind thus rested as to all public matters in a state of quietude, and covered over with the mantle of a most false, a most perilous philosophy. His appetites to pleasure had grown somewhat dulled by experience, but he was as yet neither sated nor discontented. One feeling at his breast still remained scarcely diminished of its effect, when the string was touched—his tender remembrance of Constance; and this had prevented any subsequent but momentary attachment deepening into love. Thus, at the age of seven and twenty, Percy Godolphin reappears on our stage.
There was a great deal in the Italian character that our traveller liked: its love of ease, reduced into a system; its courtesy; its content with the world as it is; its moral apathy as regards all that agitates life, save one passion—and the universal tenderness, ardour, and delicacy which, in that passion, it ennobles itself in displaying. The commonest peasant of Rome or Naples, though not perhaps in the freer land of Tuscany, can comprehend all the romance and mystery of the most subtle species of love; all that it requires in England the idle habits of aristocracy, or the sensitive fibre of genius, even to conceive. And what is yet stranger, the worn-out debauches, sage with an experience and variety of licentiousness, which come not within the compass of a northern profligacy, remains alive to the earliest and most innocent sentiments of the passion. And if Platonism in its coldest purity exist on earth, it is among the Aretins of southern Italy.
This unworldly refinement, amidst so much worldly callousness, was a peculiarity that afforded perpetual amusement to the nice eye and subtle judgment of Godolphin. He loved not to note the common elements of character; whatever was most abstract and difficult to analyse, pleased him most. He mixed then much with the Romans, and was a favourite amongst them; but, during his present visit to the Immortal City, he did not, how distantly soever, associate with the English. His carelessness of show, and the independence of a single man from burdensome connexions, rendered his income fully competent to his wants; but, like many proud men, he was not willing to make it seem even to himself, as a comparative poverty, beside the lavish expenses of his ostentatious countrymen. Travel, moreover, had augmented those stores of reflection which rob solitude of ennui.
MAGNETISM.—SYMPATHY.—THE RETURN OF ELEMENTS TO ELEMENTS.
Daily did the health of Volktman decline; Lucilla was the only one ignorant of his danger. She had never seen the gradual approaches of death: her mother's abrupt and rapid illness made the whole of her experience of disease. Physicians and dark rooms were necessarily coupled in her mind with all graver maladies; and as the astrologer, wrapt in his calculations, altered not any of his habits, and was insensible to pain, she fondly attributed his occasional complaints to the melancholy induced by seclusion. With sedentary men, diseases being often those connected with the Organisation of the heart, do not usually terminate suddenly: it was so with Volktman.
One day he was alone with Godolphin, and their conversation turned upon one of the doctrines of the old Magnetism, a doctrine which, depending as it does so much upon a seeming reference to experience, survived the rest of its associates, and is still not wholly out of repute among the wild imaginations of Germany.
"One of the most remarkable and abstruse points in what students call metaphysics," said Volktman, "is sympathy! the first principle, according to some, of all human virtue. It is this, say they, which makes men just, humane, charitable. When one who has never heard of the duty of assisting his neighbour, sees another drowning, he plunges into the water and saves him. Why? because involuntarily, and at once, his imagination places himself in the situation of the stranger: the pain he would experience in the watery death glances across him: from this pain he hastens,—without analysing its cause, to deliver himself.
"Humanity is thus taught him by sympathy: where is this sympathy placed?—in the nerves: the nerves are the communicants with outward nature; the more delicate the nerves, the finer the sympathies; hence, women and children are more alive to sympathy than men. Well, mark me: do not these nerves have attraction and sympathy—-not only with human suffering, but with the powers of what is falsely termed inanimate nature? Do not the wind, the influences of the weather and the seasons, act confessedly upon them? and if one part of nature, why not another, inseparably connected too with that part? If the weather and seasons have sympathy with the nerves, why not the moon and the stars, by which the weather and the seasons are influenced and changed? Ye of the schools may allow that sympathy originates some of our actions; I say it governs the whole world—the whole creation! Before the child is born, it is this secret affinity which can mark and stamp him with the witness of his mother's terror or his mother's desire."
"Yet," said Godolphin, "you would scarcely, in your zeal for sympathy, advocate the same cause as Edricius Mohynnus, who cured wounds by a powder, not applied to the wound, but to the towel that had been dipped in its blood?"
"No," answered Volktman: "it is these quacks and pretenders that have wronged all sciences, by clamouring for false deductions. But I do believe of sympathy, that it has a power to transport ourselves out of the body and reunite us with the absent. Hence, trances, and raptures, in which the patient, being sincere, will tell thee, in grave earnestness, and with minute detail, of all that he saw, and heard, and encountered, afar off, in other parts of the earth, or even above the earth. As thou knowest the accredited story of the youth, who, being transported with a vehement and long-nursed desire to see his mother, did, through that same desire, become as it were rapt, and beheld her, being at the distance of many miles, and giving and exchanging signs of their real and bodily conference."
Godolphin turned aside to conceal an involuntary smile at this grave affirmation; but the mystic, perhaps perceiving it, continued yet more eagerly:—
"Nay, I myself, at times, have experienced such trance, if trance it be; and have conversed with them who have passed from the outward earth—with my father and my wife. And," continued he, after a moment's pause, "I do believe that we may, by means of this power of attraction—this elementary and all-penetrative sympathy, pass away, in our last moments, at once into the bosom of those we love. For, by the intent and rapt longing to behold the Blest and to be amongst them, we may be drawn insensibly into their presence, and the hour being come when the affinity between the spirit and the body shall be dissolved, the mind and desire, being so drawn upward, can return to earth no more. And this sympathy, refined and extended, will make, I imagine, our powers, our very being, in a future state. Our sympathy being only, then, with what is immortal, we shall partake necessarily of that nature which attracts us; and the body no longer clogging the intenseness of our desires, we shall be able by a wish to transport ourselves wheresoever we please,—from star to star, from glory to glory, charioted and winged by our wishes."
Godolphin did not reply, for he was struck with the growing paleness of the mystic, and with a dreaming and intent fixedness that seemed creeping over his eyes, which were usually bright and restless. The day was now fast declining, Lucilla entered the room, and came caressingly to her father's side.
"Is the evening warm, my child?" said the astrologer.
"Very mild and warm," answered Lucilla.
"Give me your arm then," said he; "I will sit a little while without the threshold."
The Romans live in flats, as at Edinburgh, and with a common stair. Volktman's abode was in the secondo piano. He descended the stairs with a step lighter than it had been of late; and sinking into a seat without the house, seemed silently and gratefully to inhale the soft and purple air of an Italian sunset.
By and by the sun had entirely vanished: and that most brief but most delicious twilight, common to the clime, had succeeded. Veil-like and soft, the mist that floats at that hour between earth and heaven, lent its transparent shadow to the scene around them: it seemed to tremble as for a moment, and then was gone. The moon arose, and cast its light over Volktman's earnest countenance,—over the rich bloom and watchful eye of Lucilla,—over the contemplative brow and motionless figure of Godolphin. It was a group of indefinable interest: the Earth was so still, that the visionary might well have fancied it had hushed itself, to drink within its quiet heart the voices of that Heaven in whose oracles he believed. Not one of the group spoke,—the astrologer's mind and gaze were riveted above; and neither of his companions wished to break the meditations of the old and dreaming man.
Godolphin, with folded arms and downcast eyes, was pursuing his own thoughts; and Lucilla, to whom Godolphin's presence was a subtle and subduing intoxication, looked indeed upward to the soft and tender heavens, but with the soul of the loving daughter of earth.
Slowly, nor marked by his companions, the gaze of the mystic deepened and deepened in its fixedness.
The minutes went on; and the evening waned, till a chill breeze, floating down from the Latian Hills, recalled Lucilla's attention to her father. She covered him tenderly with her own mantle, and whispered gently in his ear her admonition to shun the coldness of the coming night. He did not answer; and on raising her voice a little higher, with the same result, she looked appealingly to Godolphin. He laid his hand on Volktman's shoulder; and, bending forward to address him,—was struck dumb by the glazed and fixed expression of the mystic's eyes. The certainty flashed across him; he hastily felt Volktman's pulse—it was still. There was no doubt left on his mind; and yet the daughter, looking at him all the while, did not even dream of this sudden and awful stroke. In silence, and unconsciously, the strange and solitary spirit of the mystic had passed from its home—in what exact instant of time, or by what last contest of nature, was not known.
A SCENE.—LUCILLA'S STRANGE CONDUCT-GODOLPHIN PASSES THROUGH A SEVERE ORDEAL.—EGERIA'S GROTTO, AND WHAT THERE HAPPENS.
Let us pass over Godolphin's most painful task. What Lucilla's feelings were, the reader may imagine; and yet, her wayward and unanalysed temper mocked at once imagination and expression to depict its sufferings or its joys.
The brother of Volktman's wife was sent for: he and his wife took possession of the abode of death. This, if possible, heightened Lucilla's anguish. The apathetic and vain character of the middle classes in Rome, which her relations shared, stung her heart by contrasting its own desolate abandonment to grief. Above all, she was revolted by the unnatural ceremonies of a Roman funeral. The corpse exposed—the cheeks painted—the parading procession, all shocked the delicacy of her real and reckless affliction. But when this was over—when the rite of death was done, and when, in the house wherein her sire had presided, and she herself had been left to a liberty wholly unrestricted, she saw strangers (for such comparatively her relatives were to her) settling themselves down, with vacant countenances and light words, to the common occupations of life,—when she saw them move, alter (nay, talk calmly, and sometimes with jests, of selling), those little household articles of furniture which, homely and worn as they were, were hallowed to her by a thousand dear, and infantine, and filial recollections;—when, too, she found herself treated as a child, and, in some measure, as a dependant,—when she, the wild, the free, saw herself subjected to restraint—nay, heard the commonest actions of her life chidden and reproved,—when she saw the trite and mean natures which thus presumed to lord it over her, and assume empire in the house of one, of whose wild and lofty, though erring speculations—of whose generous though abstract elements of character, she could comprehend enough to respect, while what she did not comprehend heightened the respect into awe;—then, the more vehement and indignant passions of her mind broke forth! her flashing eye, her scornful gesture, her mysterious threat, and her open defiance, astonished always, sometimes amused, but more often terrified, the apathetic and superstitious Italians.
Godolphin, moved by interest and pity for the daughter of his friend, called once or twice after the funeral at the house; and commended, with promises and gifts, the desolate girl to the tenderness and commiseration of her relations. There is nothing an Italian will not promise, nothing he will not sell; and Godolphin thus purchased, in reality, a forbearance to Lucilla's strange temper (as it was considered) which otherwise, assuredly, would not have been displayed.
More than a month had elapsed since the astrologer's decease; and, the season of the malaria verging to its commencement, Godolphin meditated a removal to Naples. He strolled, two days prior to his departure, to the house on the Appia Via, in order to take leave of Lucilla, and bequeath to her relations his parting injunctions.
It was a strange and harsh face that peered forth on him through the iron grating of the door before he obtained admittance; and when he entered, he heard the sound of voices in loud altercation. Among the rest, the naturally dulcet and silver tones of Lucilla were strained beyond their wonted key, and breathed the accents of passion and disdain.
He entered the room whence the sounds of dispute proceeded, and the first face that presented itself to him was that of Lucilla. It was flushed with anger; the veins in the smooth forehead were swelled; the short lip breathed beautiful contempt. She stood at some little distance from the rest of the inmates of the room, who were seated; and her posture was erect and even stately, though in wrath: her arms were folded upon her bosom, and the composed excitement of her figure contrasted with the play, and fire, and energy of her features.
At Godolphin's appearance, a sudden silence fell upon the conclave; the uncle and the aunt (the latter of whom had seemed the noisiest) subsided into apologetic respect to the rich (he was rich to them) young Englishman; and Lucilla sank into a seat, covered her face with her small and beautiful hands, and—humbled from her anger and her vehemence—burst into tears.
"And what is this?" said Godolphin, pityingly.
The Italians hastened to inform him. Lucilla had chosen to absent herself from home every evening; she had been seen, the last night on the Corso,—crowded as that street was with the young, the profligate, and the idle. They could not but reprove "the dear girl" for this indiscretion (Italians, indifferent as to the conduct of the married, are generally attentive to that of their single, women); and she announced her resolution to persevere in it.
"Is this true, my pupil?" said Godolphin, turning to Lucilla: the poor girl sobbed on, but returned no answer. "Leave me to reprimand and admonish her," said he to the aunt and uncle; and they, without appearing to notice the incongruity of reprimand in the mouth of a man of seven-and-twenty to a girl of fifteen, chattered forth a Babel of conciliation and left the apartment.
Godolphin, young as he might be, was not unfitted for his task. There was a great deal of quiet dignity mingled with the kindness of his manner; and his affection for Lucilla had hitherto been so pure, that he felt no embarrassment in addressing her as a brother. He approached the corner of the room in which she sat; he drew a chair near to her; and took her reluctant and trembling hand with a gentleness that made her weep with a yet wilder vehemence.
"My dear Lucilla," said he, "you know your father honoured me with his regard: let me presume on that regard, and on my long acquaintance with yourself, to address you as your friend—as your brother." Lucilla drew away her hand; but again, as if ashamed of the impulse, extended it towards him.
"You cannot know the world as I do, dear Lucilla," continued Godolphin; "for experience in its affairs is bought at some little expense, which I pray that it may never cost you. In all countries, Lucilla, an unmarried female is exposed to dangers which, without any actual fault of her own, may embitter her future life. One of the greatest of these dangers lies in deviating from custom. With the woman who does this, every man thinks himself entitled to give his thoughts—his words—nay, even his actions, a license which you cannot but dread to incur. Your uncle and aunt, therefore, do right to advise your not going alone, to the public streets of Rome more especially, except in the broad daylight; and though their advice be irksomely intruded, and ungracefully couched, it is good in its principle, and—yes, dearest Lucilla, even necessary for you to follow."
"But," said Lucilla, through her tears, "you cannot guess what insults, what unkindness, I have been forced to submit to from them. I, who never knew, till now, what insult and unkindness were! I, who——" here sobs checked her utterance.
"But how, my young and fair friend, how can you mend their manners by destroying their esteem for you? Respect yourself, Lucilla, if you wish others to respect you. But, perhaps,"—and such a thought for the first time flashed across Godolphin—"perhaps you did not seek the Corso for the crowd but for one; perhaps you went there to meet—dare I guess the fact?—an admirer, a lover."
"Now you insult me!" cried Lucilla, angrily.
"I thank you for your anger; I accept it as a contradiction," said Godolphin. "But listen yet a while, and for give frankness. If there be any one, among the throng of Italian youths, whom you have seen, and could be happy with; one who loves you and whom you do not hate;—remember that I am your father's friend; that I am rich; that I can——"
"Cruel, cruel!" interrupted Lucilla and withdrawing herself from Godolphin, she walked to and fro with great and struggling agitation.
"Is it not so, then?" said Godolphin, doubtingly.
"No, sir: no!"
"Lucilla Volktman," said Godolphin, with a colder gravity than he had yet called forth, "I claim some attention from you, some confidence, nay, some esteem;—for the sake of your father—for the sake of your early years, when I assisted to teach you my native tongue, and loved you as a brother. Promise me that you will not commit this indiscretion any more—at least till we meet again; nay, that you will not stir abroad, save with one of your relations."
"Impossible! impossible!" cried Lucilla, vehemently; "it were to take away the only solace I have: it were to make life a privation—a curse."
"Not so, Lucilla; it is to make life respectable and safe. I, on the other hand, will engage that all within these walls shall behave to you with indulgence and kindness."
"I care not for their kindness!—for the kindness of any one; save——"
"Whom?" asked Godolphin, perceiving she would not proceed: but as she was still silent, he did not press the question. "Come!" said he, persuasively: "come, promise, and be friends with me; do not let us part angrily: I am about to take my leave of you for many months.
"Part!—you!—months!—O God, do not say so!"
With these words, she was by his side; and gazing on him with her large and pleading eyes, wherein was stamped a wildness, a terror, the cause of which he did not as yet decipher.
"No, no," said she, with a faint smile: "no! you mean to frighten me, to extort my promise. You are not going to desert me!"
"But, Lucilla, I will not leave you to unkindness; they shall not—they dare not wound you again."
"Say to me that you are not going from Rome—speak; quick!"
"I go in two days."
"Then let me die!" said Lucilla, in a tone of such deep despair, that it chilled and appalled Godolphin, who did not, however, attribute her grief (the grief of this mere child—a child so wayward and eccentric) to any other cause than that feeling of abandonment which the young so bitterly experience at being left utterly alone with persons unfamiliar to their habits and opposed to their liking.
He sought to soothe her, but she repelled him. Her features worked convulsively: she walked twice across the room; then stopped opposite to him, and a certain strained composure on her brow seemed to denote that she had arrived at some sudden resolution.
"Wouldst thou ask me," she said, "what cause took me into the streets as the shadows darkened, and enabled me lightly to bear threats at home and risk abroad?"
"Ay, Lucilla: will you tell me?"
"Thou wast the cause!" she said, in a low voice, trembling with emotion, and the next moment sank on her knees before him.
With a confusion that ill became so practised and favoured a gallant, Godolphin sought to raise her. "No! no!" she said; "you will despise me now: let me lie here, and die thinking of thee. Yes!" she continued, with an inward but rapid voice, as he lifted her reluctant frame from the earth, and hung over her with a cold and uncaressing attention: "yes! you I loved—I adored—from my very childhood. When you were by, life seemed changed to me; when absent, I longed for night, that I might dream of you. The spot you had touched I marked out in silence, that I might kiss it and address it when you were gone. You left us; four years passed away: and the recollection of you made and shaped my very nature. I loved solitude; for in solitude I saw you—in imagination I spoke to you—and methought you answered and did not chide. You returned—and—and—but no matter: to see you, at the hour you usually leave home; to see you, I wandered forth with the evening. I tracked you, myself unseen; I followed you at a distance: I marked you disappear within some of the proud palaces that never know what love is. I returned home weeping, but happy. And do you think—do you dare to think—that I should have told you this, had you not driven me mad!—had you not left me reckless of what henceforth was thought of me—became of me! What will life be to me when you are gone? And now I have said all! Go! You do not love me: I know it: but do not say so. Go—leave me; why do you not leave me?"
Does there live one man who can hear a woman, young and beautiful, confess attachment to him, and not catch the contagion? Affected, flattered, and almost melted into love himself, Godolphin felt all the danger of the moment but this young, inexperienced girl—the daughter of his friend—no! her he could not—loving, willing as she was, betray.
Yet it was some moments before he could command himself sufficiently to answer her:—"Listen to me calmly," at length he said; "we are at least to each other dear friends nay, listen, I beseech you. I, Lucilla, am a man whose heart is forestalled—exhausted before its time; I have loved, deeply, and passionately: that love is over, but it has unfitted me for any species of love resembling itself—any which I could offer to you. Dearest Lucilla, I will not disguise the truth from you. Were I to love you, it would be—not in the eyes of your countrymen (with whom such connexions are common), but in the eyes of mine—it would be dishonour. Shall I confer even this partial dishonour on you? No! Lucilla, this feeling of yours towards me is (pardon me) but a young and childish phantasy: you will smile at it some years hence. I am not worthy of so pure and fresh a heart: but at least" (here he spoke in a lower voice, and as to himself)—"at least I am not so unworthy as to wrong it."
"Go!" said Lucilla; "go, I implore you." She spoke, and stood hueless and motionless, as if the life (life's life was indeed gone!) had departed from her. Her features were set and rigid; the tears that stole in large drops down her cheeks were unfelt; a slight quivering of her lips only bespoke what passed within her.
"Ah!" cried Godolphin, stung from his usual calm—stung from the quiet kindness he had sought, from principle, to assume—"can I withstand this trial?—I, whose dream of life has been the love that I might now find! I, who have never before known an obstacle to a wish which I have not contended against, if not conquered: and, weakened as I am with the habitual indulgence to temptation, which has never been so strong as now;—but no! I will—I will deserve this attachment by self-restraint, self-sacrifice."
He moved away; and then returning, dropped on his knee before Lucilla.
"Spare me!" said he in an agitated voice, which brought back all the blood to that young and transparent cheek, which was now half averted from him—"spare me—spare yourself! Look around, when I am gone, for some one to replace my image: thousands younger, fairer, warmer of heart, will aspire to your love; that love for them will be exposed to no peril—no shame: forget me; select another; be happy and respected. Permit me alone to fill the place of your friend—your brother. I will provide for your comforts, your liberty: you shall be restrained, offended no more. God bless you, dear, dear Lucilla; and believe," (he said almost in a whisper), "that, in thus flying you, I have acted generously, and with an effort worthy of your loveliness and your love."
He said, and hurried from the apartment. Lucilla turned slowly round as the door closed and then fell motionless on the ground.
Meanwhile Godolphin, mastering his emotion, sought the host and hostess; and begging them to visit his lodging that evening, to receive certain directions and rewards, hastily left the house.
But instead of returning home, the desire for a brief solitude and self-commune, which usually follows strong excitement, (and which, in all less ordinary events, suggested his sole counsellors or monitors to the musing Godolphin), led his steps in an opposite direction. Scarcely conscious whither he was wandering, he did not pause till he found himself in that green and still valley in which the pilgrim beholds the grotto of Egeria.
It was noon, and the day warm, but not overpowering. The leaf slept on the old trees that are scattered about that little valley; and amidst the soft and rich turf the wanderer's step disturbed the lizard, basking its brilliant hues in the noontide, and glancing rapidly through the herbage as it retreated. And from the trees, and through the air, the occasional song of the birds (for in Italy their voices are rare) floated with a peculiar clearness, and even noisiness of music, along the deserted haunts of the Nymph.
The scene, rife with its beautiful associations, recalled Godolphin from his reverie. "And here," thought he, "Fable has thrown its most lovely enduring enchantment: here, every one who has tasted the loves of earth, and sickened for the love that is ideal, finds a spell more attractive to his steps—more fraught with contemplation to his spirit, than aught raised by the palace of the Caesars or the tomb of the Scipios."
Thus meditating, and softened by the late scene with Lucilla, (to which his thoughts again recurred), he sauntered onward to the steep side of the bank, in which faith and tradition have hollowed out the grotto of the goddess. He entered the silent cavern, and bathed his temples in the delicious waters of the fountain.
It was perhaps well that it was not at that moment Lucilla made to him her strange and unlooked-for confession: again and again he said to himself (as if seeking for a justification of his self-sacrifice), "Her father was not Italian, and possessed feeling and honour: let me not forget that he loved me!" In truth, the avowal of this wild girl; an avowal made indeed with the ardour—but also breathing of the innocence, the inexperience—of her character—had opened to his fancy new and not undelicious prospects. He had never loved her, save with a lukewarm kindness, before that last hour; but now, in recalling her beauty, her tears, her passionate abandonment can we wonder that he felt a strange beating at his heart, and that he indulged that dissolved and luxurious vein of tender meditation which is the prelude to all love? We must recall, too, the recollection of his own temper, so constantly yearning for the unhackneyed, the untasted; and his deep and soft order of imagination, by which he involuntarily conjured up the delight of living with one, watching one, so different from the rest of the world, and whose thoughts and passions (wild as they might be) were all devoted to him!
And in what spot were these imaginings fed and coloured? In a spot which in the nature of its divine fascination could be found only beneath one sky, that sky the most balmy and loving upon earth! Who could think of love within the haunt and temple of
"That Nympholepsy of some fond despair,"
and not feel that love enhanced, deepened, modulated, into at once a dream and a desire?
It was long that Godolphin indulged himself in recalling the image of Lucilla; but nerved at length and gradually, by harder, and we may hope better, sentiments than those of a love which he could scarcely indulge without criminality on the one hand, or, what must have appeared to the man of the world, derogatory folly on the other; he turned his thoughts into a less voluptuous channel, and prepared, though with a reluctant step, to depart homewards. But what was his amaze, his confusion, when, on reaching the mouth of the cave, he saw within a few steps of him Lucilla herself!
She was walking alone and slowly, her eyes bent upon the ground, and did not perceive him. According to a common custom with the middle classes of Rome, her rich hair, save by a single band, was uncovered; and as her slight and exquisite form moved along the velvet sod, so beautiful a shape, and a face so rare in its character, and delicate in its expression, were in harmony with the sweet superstition of the spot, and seemed almost to restore to the deserted cave and the mourning stream their living Egeria.
Godolphin stood transfixed to the earth; and Lucilla, who was walking in the direction of the grotto, did not perceive, till she was almost immediately before him. She gave a faint scream as she lifted her eyes; and the first and most natural sentiment of the woman breaking forth involuntarily,—she attempted to falter out her disavowal of all expectation of meeting him there.
"Indeed, indeed, I did not know—that is—I—I—" she could achieve no more.
"Is this a favourite spot with you?" said he, with the vague embarrassment of one at a loss for words.
"Yes," said Lucilla, faintly.
And so, in truth, it was: for its vicinity to her home, the beauty of the little valley, and the interest attached to it—an interest not the less to her in that she was but imperfectly acquainted with the true legend of the Nymph and her royal lover—had made it, even from her childhood, a chosen and beloved retreat, especially in that dangerous summer time, which drives the visitor from the spot, and leaves the scene, in great measure, to the solitude which befits it. Associated as the place was with the recollection of her earlier griefs, it was thither that her first instinct made her fly from the rude contact and displeasing companionship of her relations, to give vent to the various and conflicting passions which the late scene with Godolphin had called forth.
They now stood for a few moments silent and embarrassed, till Godolphin, resolved to end a scene which he began to feel was dangerous, said in a hurried tone:—
"Farewell, my sweet pupil!—farewell!—May God bless you!"
He extended his hand, Lucilla seized it, as if by impulse; and conveying it suddenly to her lips, bathed it with tears. "I feel," said this wild and unregulated girl, "I feel, from your manner, that I ought to be grateful to you: yet I scarcely know why: you confessed you cannot love me, that my affection distresses you—you fly—you desert me. Ah, if you felt one particle even of friendship for me, could you do so?"
"Lucilla, what can I say?—I cannot marry you."
"Do I wish it?—I ask thee but to let me go with thee wherever thou goest."
"Poor child!" said Godolphin, gazing on her; "art thou not aware that thou askest thine own dishonour?"
Lucilla seemed surprised:—"Is it dishonour to love? They do not think so in Italy. It is wrong for a maiden to confess it; but that thou hast forgiven me. And if to follow thee—to sit with thee—to be near thee—bring aught of evil to myself, not thee,—let me incur the evil: it can be nothing compared to the agony of thy absence!"
She looked up timidly as she spoke, and saw, with a sort of terror, that his face worked with emotions which seemed to choke his answer. "If," she cried passionately, "if I have said what pains thee—if I have asked what would give dishonour, as thou callest it, or harm, to thyself, for give me—I knew it not—and leave me. But if it were not of thyself that thou didst speak, believe that thou hast done me but a cruel mercy. Let me go with thee, I implore! I have no friend here: no one loves me. I hate the faces I gaze upon; I loathe the voices I hear. And, were it for nothing else, thou remindest me of him who is gone:—thou art familiar to me—every look of thee breathes of my home, of my household recollections. Take me with thee, beloved stranger!—or leave me to die—I will not survive thy loss!"
"You speak of your father: know you that, were I to grant what you, in your childish innocence, so unthinkingly request, he might curse me from his grave?"
"O God, not so!—mine is the prayer—be mine the guilt, if guilt there be. But is it not unkinder in thee to desert his daughter than to protect her?"
There was a great, a terrible struggle in Godolphin's breast. "What," said he, scarcely knowing what he said,—"what will the world think of you if you fly with a stranger?"
"There is no world to me but thee!"
"What will your uncle—your relations say?"
"I care not; for I shall not hear them."
"No, no; this must not be!" said Godolphin proudly, and once more conquering himself. "Lucilla, I would give up every other dream or hope in life to feel that I might requite this devotion by passing my life with thee: to feel that I might grant what thou askest without wronging thy innocence; but—but—"
"You love me then! You love me!" cried Lucilla, joyously, and alive to no other interpretation of his words. Godolphin was transported beyond himself; and clasping Lucilla in his arms he covered her cheeks, her lips, with impassioned and burning kisses; then suddenly, as if stung by some irresistible impulse, he tore himself away; and fled from the spot.
THE WEAKNESS OF ALL VIRTUE SPRINGING ONLY FROM THE FEELINGS.
It was the evening before Godolphin left Rome. As he was entering his palazzo he descried, in the darkness, and at a little distance, a figure wrapped in a mantle, that reminded him of Lucilla;—ere he could certify himself, it was gone.
On entering his rooms, he looked eagerly over the papers and notes on his table: he seemed disappointed with the result, and sat himself down in moody and discontented thought. He had written to Lucilla the day before, a long, a kind, nay, a noble outpouring of his thoughts and feelings. As far as he was able to one so simple in her experience, yet so wild in her fancy, he explained to her the nature of his struggles and his self-sacrifice. He did not disguise from her that, till the moment of her confession, he had never examined the state of his heart towards her; nor that, with that confession, a new and ardent train of sentiment had been kindled within him. He knew enough of women to be aware, that the last avowal would be the sweetest consolation both to her vanity and her heart. He assured her of the promises he had received from her relations to grant her the liberty and the indulgence that her early and unrestrained habits required; and, in the most delicate and respectful terms, he inclosed an order for a sum of money sufficient at any time to command the regard of those with whom she lived, or to enable her to choose, should she so desire (though he advised her not to adopt such a measure, save for the most urgent reasons), another residence. "Send me in return," he said, as he concluded, "a lock of your hair. I want nothing to remind me of your beauty; but I want some token of the heart of whose affection I am so mournfully proud. I will wear it as a charm against the contamination of that world of which you are so happily ignorant—as a memento of one nature beyond the thought of self—as a surety that, in finding within this base and selfish quarter of earth, one soul so warm, so pure as yours, I did not deceive myself, and dream. If we ever meet again, may you have then found some one happier than I am, and in his tenderness have forgotten all of me save one kind remembrance.—Beautiful and dear Lucilla, adieu! If I have not given way to the luxury of being beloved by you, it is because your generous self-abandonment has awakened within a heart too selfish to others a real love for yourself."
To this letter Godolphin had, hour after hour, expected a reply. He received none—not even the lock of hair for which he had pressed. He was disappointed—angry, with Lucilla—dissatisfied with himself. "How bitterly," thought he, "the wise Saville would smile at my folly! I have renounced the bliss of possessing this singular and beautiful being; for what?—a scruple which she cannot even comprehend, and at which, in her friendless and forlorn state, the most starched of her dissolute countrywomen would smile as a ridiculous punctilio. And, in truth, had I fled hence with her, should I not have made her through out life happier—far happier, than she will be now? Nor would she, in that happiness, have felt, like an English girl, any pang of shame. Here, the tie would have never been regarded as a degradation; nor does she, recurring to the simple laws of nature, imagine than any one could so regard it. Besides, inexperienced as she is—the creature of impulse—will she not fall a victim to some more artful and less generous lover?—to some one who in her innocence will see only forwardness; and who, far from protecting her as I should have done, will regard her but as the plaything of an hour, and cast her forth the moment his passion is sated!—Sated! O bitter thought, that the head of another should rest upon that bosom now so wholly mine! After all, I have, in vainly adopting a seeming and sounding virtue, merely renounced my own happiness to leave her to the chances of being permanently rendered unhappy, and abandoned to want, shame, destitution, by another!"
These disagreeable and regretful thoughts were, in turn, but weakly combated by the occasional self-congratulation that belongs to a just or generous act, and were varied by a thousand conjectures—now of anxiety, now of anger—as to the silence of Lucilla. Sometimes he thought—-but the thought only glanced partially across him, and was not distinctly acknowledged—that she might seek an interview with him ere he departed; and in this hope he did not retire to rest till the dawn broke over the ruins of the mighty and breathless city. He then flung himself on a sofa without undressing, but could not sleep, save in short and broken intervals.
The next day, he put off his departure till noon, still in the hope of hearing from Lucilla, but in vain. He could not flatter himself with the hope that Lucilla did not know the exact time for his journey—he had expressly stated it. Sometimes he conceived the notion of seeking her again; but he knew too well the weakness of his generous resolution; and, though infirm of thought, was yet virtuous enough in act not to hazard it to certain defeat. At length in a momentary desperation, and muttering reproaches on Lucilla for her fickleness and inability to appreciate the magnanimity of his conduct, he threw himself into his carriage, and bade adieu to Rome.
As every grove that the traveller passes on that road was guarded once by a nymph, so now it is hallowed by a memory. In vain the air, heavy with death, creeps over the wood, the rivulet, and the shattered tower;—the mind will not recur to the risk of its ignoble tenement; it flies back; it is with the Past! A subtle and speechless rapture fills and exalts the spirit. There—far to the West—spreads that purple sea, haunted by a million reminiscences of glory; there the mountains, with their sharp and snowy crests, rise into the bosom of the heavens; on that plain, the pilgrim yet hails the traditional tomb of the Curiatii and those immortal Twins who left to their brother the glory of conquest, and the shame by which it was succeeded: around the Lake of Nemi yet bloom the sacred groves by which Diana raised Hippolytus again into life. Poetry, Fable, History, watch over the land: it is a sepulchre; Death is within and around it; Decay writes defeature upon every stone; but the Past sits by the tomb as a mourning angel; a soul breathes through the desolation; a voice calls amidst the silence. Every age that bath passed away bath left a ghost behind it; and the beautiful land seems like that imagined clime beneath the earth in which man, glorious though it be, may not breathe and live—but which is populous with holy phantoms and illustrious shades.
On, on sped Godolphin. Night broke over him as he traversed the Pontine Marshes. There, the malaria broods over its rankest venom: solitude hath lost the soul that belonged to it: all life, save the deadly fertility of corruption, seems to have rotted away: the spirit falls stricken into gloom; a nightmare weighs upon the breast of Nature; and over the wrecks of Time, Silence sits motionless in the arms of Death.
He arrived at Terracina, and retired to rest. His sleep was filled with fearful dreams; he woke, late at noon, languid and dejected. As his servant, who had lived with him some years, attended him in rising, Godolphin observed on his countenance that expression common to persons of his class when they have something which they wish to communicate, and are watching their opportunity.
"Well, Malden!" said he, "you look important this morning: what has happened?"
"E—hem! Did not you observe, sir, a carriage behind us as we crossed the marshes? Sometimes you might just see it at a distance, in the moonlight."
"How the deuce should I, being within the carriage, see behind me? No; I know nothing of the carriage: what of it?"
"A person arrived in it, sir, a little after you—would not retire to bed—and waits you in your sitting-room."
"A person! what person!"
"A lady, sir,—a young lady;" said the servant, suppressing a smile.
"Good heavens!" ejaculated Godolphin: "leave me." The valet obeyed.
Godolphin, not for a moment doubting that it was Lucilla who had thus followed him, was struck to the heart by this proof of her resolute and reckless attachment. In any other woman, so bold a measure would, it is true, have revolted his fastidious and somewhat English taste. But in Lucilla, all that might have seemed immodest arose, in reality, from that pure and spotless ignorance which, of all species of modesty, is the most enchanting, the most dangerous to its possessor. The daughter of loneliness and seclusion—estranged wholly from all familiar or female intercourse—rather bewildered than in any way enlightened by the few books of poetry, or the lighter letters, she had by accident read—the sense of impropriety was in her so vague a sentiment, that every impulse of her wild and impassioned character effaced and swept it away. Ignorant of what is due to the reserve of the sex, and even of the opinions of the world—lax as the Italian world is on matters of love—she only saw occasion to glory in her tenderness, her devotion, to one so elevated in her fancy as the English stranger. Nor did there—however unconsciously to herself—mingle a single more derogatory or less pure emotion with her fanatical worship.
For my own part, I think that few men understand the real nature of a girl's love. Arising so vividly as it does from the imagination, nothing that the mind of the libertine would impute to it ever (or at least in most rare in stances) sullies its weakness or debases its folly. I do not say the love is better for being thus solely the creature of imagination: I say only, so it is in ninety-nine out of a hundred instances of girlish infatuation. In later life, it is different: in the experienced woman, forwardness is always depravity.
With trembling steps and palpitating heart, Godolphin sought the apartment in which he expected to find Lucilla. There, in one corner of the room, her face covered with her mantle, he beheld her: he hastened to that spot; he threw himself on his knees before her; with a timid hand he removed the covering from her face; and through tears, and paleness, and agitation, his heart was touched to the quick by its soft and loving expression.
"Wilt thou forgive me?" she faltered; "it was thine own letter that brought me hither. Now leave me, if thou canst!"
"Never, never!" cried Godolphin, clasping her to his heart. "It is fated, and I resist no more. Love, tend, cherish thee, I will to my last hour. I will be all to thee that human ties can afford—father, brother, lover—all but——" He paused; "all but husband," whispered his conscience, but he silenced its voice.
"I may go with thee!" said Lucilla, in wild ecstasy: that was her only thought.
As, when the notion of escape occurs to the insane, their insanity appears to cease; courage, prudence, caution, invention (faculties which they knew not in sounder health), flash upon and support them as by an inspiration; so, a new genius had seemed breathed into Lucilla by the idea of rejoining Godolphin. She imagined—not without justice—that, could she throw in the way of her return home an obstacle of that worldly nature which he seemed to dread she should encounter, his chief reason for resisting her attachment would be removed. Encouraged by this thought, and more than ever transported by her love since he had expressed a congenial sentiment: excited into emulation by the generous tone of his letter, and softened into yet deeper weakness by its tenderness;—she had resolved upon the bold step she adopted. A vetturino lived near the gate of St. Sebastian: she had sought him; and at sight of the money which Godolphin had sent her, the vetturino willingly agreed to transport her to whatever point on the road to Naples she might desire—nay, even to keep pace with the more rapid method of travelling which Godolphin pursued. Early on the morning of his departure, she had sought her station within sight of Godolphin's palazzo; and ten minutes after his departure the vetturino bore her, delighted but trembling, on the same road.
The Italians are ordinarily good-natured, especially when they are paid for it; and courteous to females, especially if they have any suspicion of the influence of the belle passion. The vetturino's foresight had supplied the deficiencies of her inexperience: he had reminded her of the necessity of procuring her passport; and he undertook that all other difficulties should solely devolve on him. And thus Lucilla was now under the same roof with one for whom, indeed, she was unaware of the sacrifice she made, but whom, despite of all that clouded and separated their after-lot, she loved to the last, with a love as reckless and strong as then—a love passing the love of woman, and defying the common ordinances of time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On the blue waters that break with a deep and far voice along the rocks of that delicious shore, above which the mountain that rises behind Terracina scatters to the air the odours of the citron and the orange—on that sounding and immemorial sea the stars, like the hopes of a brighter world upon the darkness and unrest of life, shone down with a solemn but tender light. On that shore stood Lucilla and he—the wandering stranger—in whom she had hoarded the peace and the hopes of earth. Hers was the first and purple flush of the love which has attained its object; that sweet and quiet fulness of content—that heavenly, all-subduing and subdued delight, with which the heart slumbers in the excess of its own rapture. Care—the forethought of change—even the shadowy and vague mournfulness of passion—are felt not in those voluptuous but tranquil moments. Like the waters that rolled, deep and eloquent, before her, every feeling within was but the mirror of an all-gentle and cloudless heaven. Her head half-declined upon the breast of her young lover, she caught the beating of his heart, and in it heard all the sounds of what was now become to her the world.
And still and solitary deepened around them the mystic and lovely night. How divine was that sense and consciousness of solitude! how, as it thrilled within them, they clung closer to each other! Theirs as yet was that blissful and unsated time when the touch of their hands, clasped together, was in itself a happiness of emotion too deep for words. And ever, as his eyes sought hers, the tears which the sensitiveness of her frame, in the very luxury of her overflowing heart, called forth, glittered in the tranquil stars a moment and were kissed away. "Do not look up to heaven, my love," whispered Godolphin, "lest thou shouldst think of any world but this!"
Poor Lucilla! will any one who idly glances over this page sympathise one moment with the springs of thy brief joys and thy bitter sorrow? The page on which, in stamping a record of thee, I would fain retain thy memory from oblivion; that page is an emblem of thyself;—a short existence; confounded with the herd to which it has no resemblance, and then, amidst the rush and tumult of the world, forgotten and cast away for ever!
RETURN TO LADY ERPINGHAM.—LADY ERPINGHAM FALLS ILL.—LORD ERPINGHAM RESOLVES TO GO ABROAD.—PLUTARCH UPON MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.—PARTY AT ERPINGHAM HOUSE.—SAVILLE ON SOCIETY AND THE TASTE FOR THE LITTLE.—DAVID MANDEVILLE.—WOMEN, THEIR INFLUENCE AND EDUCATION.—THE NECESSITY OF AN OBJECT.—RELIGION.
As, after a long dream, we rise to the occupations of life, even so, with an awakening and more active feeling, I return from characters removed from the ordinary world—like Volktman(1) and his daughter—to the brilliant heroine of my narrative.
There is a certain tone about London society which enfeebles the mind without exciting it; and this state of temperament, more than all others, engenders satiety. In classes that border upon the highest this effect is less evident; for in them—there is some object to contend for. Fashion gives them an inducement. They struggle to emulate the toga of their superiors. It is an ambition of trifle, it is true; but it is still ambition. It frets, it irritates, but it keeps them alive. The great are the true victims of ennui. The more firmly seated their rank, the more established their position, the more their life stagnates into insipidity. Constance was at the height of her wishes. No one was so courted, so adored. One after one, she had humbled and subdued all those who, before her marriage, had trampled on her pride—or, who after it, had resisted her pretensions: a look from her had become a triumph, and a smile conferred a rank on its receiver. But this empire palled upon her: of too large a mind to be satisfied with petty pleasures and unreal distinctions, she still felt the Something of life was wanting. She was not blessed or cursed (as it may be) with children, and she had no companion in her husband. There might be times in which she regretted her choice, dazzling as it had proved;—but she complained not of sorrow, but monotony.
Political intrigue could not fill up the vacuum of which Constance daily complained; and of private intrigue, the then purity of her nature was incapable. When people have really nothing to do, they generally fall ill upon it; and at length, the rich colour grew faint upon Lady Erpingham's cheek; her form wasted; the physicians hinted at consumption, and recommended a warmer clime. Lord Erpingham seized at the proposition; he was fond of Italy; he was bored with England.
Very stupid people often become very musical: it is a sort of pretension to intellect that suits their capacities. Plutarch says somewhere that the best musical instruments are made from the jaw-bones of asses. Plutarch never made a more sensible observation. Lord Erpingham had of late taken greatly to operas: he talked of writing one himself; and not being a performer, he consoled himself by becoming a patron. Italy, therefore, presented to him manifold captivations—he thought of fiddling, but he talked only of his wife's health. Amidst the regrets of the London world, they made their arrangements, and prepared to set out at the end of the season for the land of Paganini and Julius Caesar.
Two nights before their departure, Lady Erpingham gave a farewell party to her more intimate acquaintance. Saville, who always contrived to be well with every one who was worth the trouble it cost him, was of course among the guests. Years had somewhat scathed him since he last appeared on our stage. Women had ceased to possess much attraction for his jaded eyes: gaming and speculation had gradually spread over the tastes once directed to other pursuits. His vivacity had deserted him in great measure, as years and infirmity began to stagnate and knot up the current of his veins; but conversation still possessed for and derived from him its wonted attraction. The sparkling jeu d'esprit had only sobered down into the quiet sarcasm; and if his wit rippled less freshly to the breeze of the present moment, it was coloured more richly by the glittering sands which rolled down from the experience that over shadowed the current. For the wisdom of the worldly is like the mountains that, sterile without, conceal within them unprofitable ore: only the filings and particles escape to the daylight and sparkle in the wave; the rest wastes idly within. The Pactolus takes but the sand-drifts from the hoards lost to use in the Tmolus.
"And how," said Saville, seating himself by Lady Erpingham, "how shall we bear London when you are gone? When society—the everlasting draught—had begun to pall upon us, you threw your pearl into the cup; and now we are grown so luxurious, that we shall never bear the wine without the pearl."
"But the pearl gave no taste to the wine: it only dissolved itself—idly, and in vain."
"Ah, my dear Lady Erpingham, the dullest of us, having once seen the pearl, could at least imagine that we were able to appreciate the subtleties of its influence. Where, in this little world of tedious realities, can we find anything even to imagine about, when you abandon us?"
"Nay! do you conceive that I am so ignorant of the framework of society as to suppose that I shall not be easily replaced? King succeeds king, without reference to the merits of either: so, in London, idol follows idol, though one be of jewels and the other of brass. Perhaps, when I return, I shall find you kneeling to the dull Lady A——, or worshipping the hideous Lady Z——."
"'Le temps assez souvent a rendu legitime Ce qui sembloit d'abord ne se pouvoir sans crime;"'
answered Saville with a mock heroic air. "The fact is, that we are an indolent people; the person who succeeds the most with us has but to push the most. You know how Mrs. ——, in spite of her red arms, her red gown, her city pronunciation, and her city connexions, managed—by dint of perseverance alone—to become a dispenser of consequence to the very countesses whom she at first could scarcely coax into a courtesy. The person who can stand ridicule and rudeness has only to desire to become the fashion—she or he must be so sooner or later."
"Of the immutability of one thing among all the changes I may witness on my return, at least I am certain no one still will dare to think for himself. The great want of each individual is, the want of an opinion! For instance, who judges of a picture from his own knowledge of painting? Who does not wait to hear what Mr. ——, or Lord —— (one of the six or seven privileged connoisseurs), says of it? Nay, not only the fate of a single picture, but of a whole school of painting, depends upon the caprice of some one of the self-elected dictators. The King, or the Duke of ——, has but to love the Dutch school and ridicule the Italian, and behold a Raphael will not sell, and a Teniers rises into infinite value! Dutch representations of candlesticks and boors are sought after with the most rapturous delight; the most disagreeable objects of nature become the most worshipped treasures of art; and we emulate each other in testifying our exaltation of taste by contending for the pictured vulgarities by which taste itself is the most essentially degraded. In fact, too, the meaner the object, the more certain it is with us of becoming the rage. In the theatre, we run after the farce; in painting, we worship the Dutch school; in——"
"Literature?" said Saville.
"No!—our literature still breathes of something noble; but why? Because books do not always depend upon a clique. A book, in order to succeed, does not require the opinion of Mr. Saville or Lady Erpingham so much as a picture or a ballet."
"I am not sure of that," answered Saville, as he withdrew presently afterwards to a card-table, to share in the premeditated plunder of a young banker, who was proud of the honour of being ruined by persons of rank.
In another part of the rooms Constance found a certain old philosopher, whom I will call David Mandeville. There was something about this man that always charmed those who had sense enough to be discontented with the ordinary inhabitants of the Microcosm,—Society. The expression of his countenance was different from that of others: there was a breathing goodness in his face—an expansion of mind on his forehead. You perceived at once that he did not live among triflers, nor agitate himself with trifles. Serenity beamed from his look—but it was the serenity of thought. Constance sat down by him.
"Are you not sorry," said Mandeville, "to leave England? You, who have made yourself the centre of a circle which, for the varieties of its fascination, has never perhaps been equalled in this country? Wealth—rank—even wit—others might assemble round them: but none ever before convened into one splendid galaxy all who were eminent in art, famous in letters, wise in politics, and even (for who but you were ever above rivalship?) attractive in beauty. I should have thought it easier for us to fly from the Armida, than for the Armida to renounce the scene of her enchantment—the scene in which De Stael bowed to the charms of her conversation, and Byron celebrated those of her person."
We may conceive the spell Constance had cast around her, when even philosophy (and Mandeville of all philosophers) had learned to flatter; but his flattery was sincerity.
"Alas!" said Constance, sighing, "even if your compliment were altogether true, you have mentioned nothing that should cause me regret. Vanity is one source of happiness, but it does not suffice to recompense us for the absence of all others. In leaving England, I leave the scene of everlasting weariness. I am the victim of a feeling of sameness, and I look with hope to the prospect of change."
"Poor thing!" said the old philosopher, gazing mournfully on a creature who, so resplendent with advantages, yet felt the crumpled rose-leaf more than the luxury of the couch. "Wherever you go the same polished society will present to you the same monotony. All courts are alike: men have change in action; but to women of your rank all scenes are alike. You must not look without for an object—you must create one within. To be happy we must render ourselves independent of others."
"Like all philosophers, you advise the impossible," said Constance.
"How so? Have not the generality of your sex their peculiar object? One has the welfare of her children; another the interest of her husband; a third makes a passion of economy; a fourth of extravagance; a fifth of fashion; a sixth of solitude. Your friend yonder is always employed in nursing her own health: hypochondria supplies her with an object; she is really happy because she fancies herself ill. Every one you name has an object in life that drives away ennui, save yourself."
"I have one too," said Constance, smiling, "but it does not fill up all the spaces of time. The intervals between the acts are longer than the acts themselves."
"Is your object religion?" asked Mandeville, simply. Constance was startled: the question was novel. "I fear not," said she, after a moment's hesitation, and with a downcast face.
"As I thought," returned Mandeville. "Now listen. The reason why you feel weariness more than those around you, is solely because your mind is more expansive. Small minds easily find objects: trifles amuse them; but a high soul covets things beyond its daily reach; trifles occupy its aim mechanically; the thought still wanders restless. This is the case with you. Your intellect preys upon itself. You would have been happier if your rank had been less;" Constance winced—(she thought of Godolphin); "for then you would have been ambitious, and aspired to the very rank that now palls upon you." Mandeville continued—
"You women are at once debarred from public life and yet influence it. You are the prisoners, and yet the despots of society. Have you talents? it is criminal to indulge them in public; and thus, as talent cannot be stifled, it is misdirected in private; you seek ascendency over your own limited circle; and what should have been genius degenerates into cunning. Brought up from your cradles to dissembling your most beautiful emotions—your finest principles are always tinctured with artifice. As your talents, being stripped of their wings are driven to creep along the earth, and imbibe its mire and clay; so are your affections perpetually checked and tortured into conventional paths, and a spontaneous feeling is punished as a deliberate crime. You are untaught the broad and sound principles of life; all that you know of morals are its decencies and forms. Thus you are incapable of estimating the public virtues and the public deficiencies of a brother or a son; and one reason why we have no Brutus, is because you have no Portia. Turkey has its seraglio for the person; but custom in Europe has also a seraglio for the mind."
Constance smiled at the philosopher's passion; but she was a woman, and she was moved by it.
"Perhaps," said she, "in the progress of events, the state of the women may be improved as well as that of the men."
"Doubtless, at some future stage of the world. And believe me, Lady Erpingham, politician and schemer as you are, that no legislative reform alone will improve mankind: it is the social state which requires reformation."
"But you asked me some minutes since," said Constance, after a pause, "if the object of my pursuit was religion. I disappointed but not surprised you by my answer."
"Yes: you grieved me, because, in your case, religion could alone fill the dreary vacuum of your time. For, with your enlarged and cultivated mind, you would not view the grandest of earthly questions in a narrow and sectarian light. You would not think religion consisted in a sanctified demeanour, in an ostentatious almsgiving, in a harsh judgment of all without the pale of your opinions. You would behold in it a benign and harmonious system of morality, which takes from ceremony enough not to render it tedious but impressive. The school of the Bayles and Voltaires is annihilated. Men begin now to feel that to philosophise is not to sneer. In Doubt, we are stopped short at every outlet beyond the Sensual. In Belief lies the secret of all our valuable exertion. Two sentiments are enough to preserve even the idlest temper from stagnation—a desire and a hope. What then can we say of the desire to be useful, and the hope to be immortal?"
This was language Constance had not often heard before, nor was it frequent on the lips of him who now uttered it. But an interest in the fate and happiness of one in whom he saw so much to admire, had made Mandeville anxious that she should entertain some principle which he could also esteem. And there was a fervour, a sincerity, in his voice and manner, that thrilled to the very heart of Lady Erpingham. She pressed his hand in silence. She thought afterwards over his words; but worldly life is not easily accessible to any lasting impressions save those of vanity and love. Religion has two sources; the habit of early years, or the process of after thought. But to Constance had not been fated the advantage of the first; and how can deep thought of another world be a favourite employment with the scheming woman of this?
This is the only time that Mandeville appears in this work: a type of the rarity of the intervention of religious wisdom on the scenes of real life.
"By the way," said Saville, as, in departing, he encountered Constance by the door, and made his final adieus; "by the way; you will perhaps meet, somewhere in Italy, my old young friend, Percy Godolphin. He has not been pleased to prate of his whereabout to me; but I hear that he has been seen lately at Naples."
Constance coloured, and her heart beat violently; but she answered indifferently, and turned away.
The next morning they set off for Italy. But within one week from that day, what a change awaited Constance!
(1) After all, an astrologer,—nay, a cabalist—is not so monstrous a prodigy in the nineteenth century! In the year 1801, Lackingtou published a quarto, entitled Magus: a Complete System of Occult Philosophy; treating of Alchemy, the Cabalistic Art, Natural and Celestial Magic, &c.—and a very impudent publication it is too. That Raphael should put forth astrological manuals is not a proof of his belief in the science he professes; but that it should answer to Raphael to put them forth, shows a tendency to belief in his purchasers.
AMBITION VINDICATED.—THE HOME OF GODOLPHIN AND LUCILLA.—LUCILLA'S MIND.—THE EFFECT OF HAPPY LOVE ON FEMALE TALENT.—THE EVE OF FAREWELL. LUCILLA ALONE.—TEST OF A WOMAN'S AFFECTION.
0 much-abused and highly-slandered passion!—passion rather of the soul than the heart: hateful to the pseudo-moralist, but viewed with favouring, though not undiscriminating eyes by the true philosopher: bright-winged and august ambition! It is well for fools to revile thee, because thou art liable, like other utilities, to abuse! The wind uproots the oak—but for every oak it uproots it scatters a thousand acorns. Ixion embraced the cloud, but from the embrace sprang a hero. Thou, too, hast thy fits of violence and storm; but without thee, life would stagnate:—-thou, too, embracest thy clouds; but even thy clouds have the demigods for their offspring!
It was the great and prevailing misfortune of Godolphin's life, that he had early taught himself to be superior to exertion. His talents, therefore, only preyed on himself; and instead of the vigorous and daring actor of the world, he was alternately the indolent sensualist or the solitary dreamer. He did not view the stir of the great Babel as a man with a wholesome mind should do; and thus from his infirmities we draw a moral. The moral is not the worse, in that it opposes the trite moralities of those who would take from action its motive: the men of genius, who are not also men of ambition, are either humourists, or visionaries, or hypochondriacs.
By the side of one of the Italian lakes, Godolphin and Lucilla fixed their abode; and here the young idealist for some time imagined himself happy. Never until now so fond of nature as of cities, he gave himself up to the enchantment of the Eden around him. He spent the long sunny hours of noon on the smooth lake, or among the sheltering trees by which it was encircled. The scenes he had witnessed in the world became to him the food of quiet meditation, and for the first time in his life, thought did not weary him with its sameness.
When his steps turned homeward, the anxious form of Lucilla waited for him: her eye brightened at his approach, her spirit escaped restraint and bounded into joy: and Godolphin, touched by her delight, became eager to witness it: he felt the magnet of a Home. Yet as the first enthusiasm of passion died away, he could not but be sensible that Lucilla was scarcely a companion. Her fancy was indeed lively, and her capacity acute; but experience had set a confined limit to her ideas. She had nothing save love, and a fitful temperament, upon which she could draw for conversation. Those whose education debars them from deriving instruction from things, have in general the power to extract amusement from persons:—they can talk of the ridiculous Mrs. So-and-so, or the absurd Mr. Blank. But our lovers saw no society: and thus their commune was thrown entirely on their internal resources.
There was always that in the peculiar mind of Godolphin which was inclined towards ideas too refined and subtle even for persons of cultivated intellect. If Constance could scarcely comprehend the tone of his character, we may believe that to Lucilla he was wholly a mystery. This, perhaps, enhanced her love, but the consciousness of it disappointed his. He felt that what he considered the noblest faculties he possessed were unappreciated. He was sometimes angry with Lucilla that she loved only those qualities in his character which he shared with the rest of mankind. His speculative and Hamlet-like temper—(let us here take Goethe's view of Hamlet, and combine a certain weakness with finer traits of the royal dreamer)—perpetually deserted the solid world, and flew to aerial creations. He could not appreciate the present. Had Godolphin loved Lucilla as he once thought that he should love her, the beauties of her character would have blinded him to its defects; but its passion had been too sudden to be thoroughly grounded. It had arisen from the knowledge of her affection—-not grown step by step from the natural bias of his own. Between the interval of liking and possession, love (to be durable) should pass through many stages. The doubt, the fear, the first pressure of the hand, the first kiss, each should be an epoch for remembrance to cling to. In moments of after coolness or anger, the mind should fly from the sated present to the million tender and freshening associations of the past. With these associations the affection renews its youth. How vast a store of melting reflections, how countless an accumulation of the spells that preserve constancy, does that love forfeit, in which the memory only commences with possession!