When Captain Carrington anchored with his convoy in Funchal roads, immediate application was made by the parties for the ceremony to be performed on board of his ship. It is true that, as Mr Ferguson had arrived, it might have taken place on shore; but it was considered advisable, to avoid interruption and insult, that the parties should be under the sanctuary of a British man-of-war. On the fourth day after the Boadicea's arrival the ceremony was performed on board of her by Mr Ferguson; and the passengers of the Bombay, residing at the house of Mr —-, who was an intimate friend of the bridegroom, received and accepted the invitation to the marriage-dinner. The feast was splendid, and after the Portuguese custom. The first course was boiled: it consisted of boiled beef, boiled mutton, boiled hams, boiled tongues, boiled bacon, boiled fowls, boiled turkeys, boiled sausages, boiled cabbages, boiled potatoes, and boiled carrots. Duplicates of each were ranged in opposition, until the table groaned with its superincumbent weight. All were cut up, placed in one dish, and handed round to the guests. When they drank wine, every glass was filled, and every body who filled his glass was expected to drink the health of every guest separately and by name before he emptied it. The first course was removed, and the second made its appearance all roasted. Roast beef, roast veal, roast mutton, roast lamb, roast joints of pork, roasted turkeys, roasted fowls, roasted sausages, roasted every thing; the centre dish being a side of a large hog, rolled up like an enormous fillet of veal. This too was done ample justice to by the Portuguese part of the company, at least, and all was cleared away for the dessert, consisting of oranges, melons, pine-apples, guavas, citrons, bananas, peaches, strawberries, apples, pears, and indeed of almost every fruit which can be found in the whole world, all of which appear to naturalise themselves at Madeira. It was now supposed by the uninitiated that the dinner was over; but not so; the dessert was cleared away, and on came an husteron proteron medley of pies and puddings, in all their varieties, smoking hot, boiled and baked, custards and sweetmeats, cheese and olives, fruits of all kinds preserved, and a hundred other things, from which the gods preserve us! At last the feast was really over; the Portuguese picked their teeth with their forks, and the wine was circulated briskly. On such an occasion as the marriage of her daughter, the old lady had resolved to take a pipe of Madeira, which was, at the very least, fifty years old, very fine in flavour, but, from having been so long in the wood, little inferior in strength to genuine Cogniac. The consequence was, that many of the gentlemen became noisy before the dinner was over; and their mirth was increased to positive uproar upon a message being sent by the bishop, ordering upon pain of excommunication, that the ceremony should proceed no further. The ladies retired to the withdrawing room; the gentlemen soon followed; but the effects of the wine were so apparent upon most of them, that Captain Drawlock summoned Newton to his assistance, and was in a state of extreme anxiety until his "responsibilities" were safe at home. Shortly afterwards, Captain Carrington and those who were the least affected, by persuasion or force, removed the others from the house; and the bridal party were left to themselves, to deliberate whether they should or should not obey the preposterous demands of the reverend bishop.
Captain Carrington was excessively fond of a joke, and never lost the opportunity when it occurred; now it happened, that in the party invited there was a merchant of the name of Sullivan, who, upon his last visit to England, had returned with a very pretty, and at the same time, a very coquettish young lady as his wife. It happened, in the casualties of a large dinner party, that the old colonel (Ellice was his name, if I have not mentioned it before) was seated next to her, and, as usual, was remarkably attentive. Mr Sullivan, like many other gentlemen, was very inattentive to his wife, and, unlike most Irishmen, was very jealous of her. The very marked attention of the colonel had not escaped his notice; neither did his fidgeting upon this occasion escape the notice of those about him, who were aware of his disposition. The poor colonel was one of those upon whose brain the wine had taken the most effect, and it was not until after sundry falls, and being again placed upon his legs, that he had been conveyed home, between Captain Carrington and Mr —-, the merchant at whose house the party from the Bombay Castle were residing. The ensuing morning he did not make his appearance at breakfast; and the gentlemen residing on the island, commenting upon the events of the evening before, declared in a joking way that they should not be surprised at Mr Sullivan sending him a challenge in the course of the morning; that was, if he was up so soon, as he had quitted the house in a greater state of inebriety than even the colonel. It was upon this hint that Captain Carrington proposed to have some amusement; and having arranged with one of the junior partners of the house, he went into the room of the colonel, whom he found still in bed.
"Well, colonel, how do you find yourself?" said Captain Carrington, when he had roused him.
"Oh! very bad indeed: my head is ready to split: never felt such a sensation in my head before, except when I was struck with a spent ball at the battle of—"
"I am very sorry for your headache, colonel, but more sorry that the wine should have played you such a trick last night."
"Trick indeed!" replied the colonel; "I was completely overcome: I do not recollect a word that passed after I had quitted the dinner table."
"Are you serious? Do you not recollect the scene with Mrs Sullivan?"
"Mrs Sullivan! My dear sir, what scene? I certainly paid every attention due to a very pretty woman; but I recollect no further."
"Not the scene in the drawing-room?"
"God bless me!—No—I do not even recollect ever going into the drawing-room! Pray tell me what I said or did: I hope nothing improper."
"Why that depends very much whether a lady likes it or not: but in the presence of so many people—"
"Merciful powers! Captain Carrington, pray let me know at once what folly it was that I committed."
"Why, really, I am almost ashamed to enter into particulars: suffice to say, that you used most unwarrantable freedom towards her."
"Is it possible?" cried the colonel.—"Now, Captain Carrington, are you not joking?"
"Ask this gentleman; he was present."
The assertion of the captain was immediately corroborated, and the colonel was quite aghast.
"Excuse me, gentlemen, I will run immediately—that abominable wine; I must go and make a most ample apology. I am bound to do it, as a gentleman, as an officer, and as a man of honour."
Captain Carrington and his confederate quitted the room, satisfied with the success of their plot. The colonel rose, and soon afterwards made his appearance. He swallowed a cup of coffee, and then proceeded on his visit, to make the amende honorable.
When Mr Sullivan awoke from the lethargy produced from the stupefying effects of the wine, he tried to recollect the circumstances of the preceding evening; but he could trace no further than to the end of the dinner, after which his senses had been overpowered. All that he could call to memory was, that somebody had paid great attention to his wife, and that what had passed afterwards was unknown. This occasioned him to rise in a very jealous humour; and he had not been up more than an hour, when the colonel sent up his card, requesting, as a particular favour that the lady would admit him.
The card and messenger were taken by the servant to Mr Sullivan, whose jealousy was again roused by the circumstance; and wishing to know if the person who had now called was the same who had been so attentive to his wife on the preceding evening, and the motives of the call, he requested that the colonel might be shown in, without acquainting his wife, whom he had not yet seen, with his arrival. The colonel, who intended to have made an apology to the lady without the presence of a third person, least of all of her husband, ascended the stairs, adjusting his hair and cravat, and prepared with all the penitent assurance and complimentary excuses of a too ardent lover. The fact was, that, although the colonel had expressed to Captain Carrington his regret and distress at the circumstance, yet, as an old Adonis, he was rather proud of this instance of juvenile indiscretion. When therefore he entered the room, and perceived, instead of the lady. Mr Sullivan raised up to his utmost height, and looking any thing but good humoured, he naturally started back, and stammered out something which was unintelligible. His behaviour did not allay the suspicions of Mr Sullivan, who requested, in a haughty tone, to be informed of the reason why he had been honoured with a visit. The colonel became more confused, and totally losing his presence of mind, replied:—
"I called, sir,—on Mrs Sullivan,—to offer an apology for my conduct last night; but as I perceive that she is not visible, I will take a more favourable opportunity."
"Any apology you may have to offer to my wife, sir," replied Mr Sullivan, "may be confided to me. May I inquire the circumstances which have occurred to render an apology necessary?" and Mr Sullivan walked to the door and closed it.
"Why, really, Mr Sullivan, you must be aware that circumstances may occur," replied the colonel, more confused: "the fact is, that I consider it my duty, as a gentleman and a man of honour, to express my regrets to your fair lady."
"My fair lady! for what, sir, may I ask?"
"Why, sir," stammered the colonel, "to state the truth, for, as a gentleman, and a man of honour, I ought not to be ashamed to acknowledge my error—for—the very improper behaviour which I was guilty of last night."
"Improper behaviour, sir!—damnation! with my wife?" roared Mr Sullivan, in his rage. "What behaviour, sir? and when, sir?"
"Really, sir, I was too much affected with the wine to know any thing which passed. I did hope to have addressed the lady in person on the subject, and I came here with that intention."
"I dare say you did, sir?"
"But," continued the colonel, "as it appears I am not to have that honour, I consider that I have done my duty in requesting that you will convey my sentiments of regret for what has passed;—and, now, sir, I wish you a good morning."
"Good morning," retorted the husband, with a sneer; "and observe, sir, I will not trouble you to call again, William, show this gentleman outside the door."
The colonel, who was descending the stairs, turned round to Mr Sullivan at the latter part of his speech, and then, as if thinking better of it, he resumed his descent, and the door was immediately closed upon him.
Mr Sullivan, as soon as he was satisfied that the colonel was shut out, immediately repaired to his wife's dressing-room, where he found her reading.
"Madam," said he, fixing his eyes sternly on her, "I have been informed of what took place last night."
"I'm sure I do not know what that was," replied the lady, coolly, "except that you were very tipsy."
"Granted, madam: you took advantage of it; and your conduct—"
"My conduct, Mr Sullivan!" replied his wife, kindling with anger.
"Yes, Mrs Sullivan, your conduct. A married woman, madam, who allows gentlemen—"
"Gentlemen, Mr Sullivan! I allow no gentlemen but yourself. Are you sure that you are quite sober?"
"Yes, madam, I am; but this affected coolness will not avail you: deny, if you can, that Colonel Ellice did not last night—"
"Well, then, I do deny it. Neither Colonel Ellice nor any other man ever did—"
"Did what, madam?" interrupted the husband, in a rage.
"I was going to observe, if you had not interrupted me, that no one was wanting in proper respect towards me," replied the lady, who grew more cool as her husband increased in choler. "Pray, Mr Sullivan, may I inquire who is the author of this slander?"
"The author, madam! look at me—to your confusion look at me!"
"Well, I'm looking."
"'Twas, madam—the colonel himself."
"The colonel himself!"
"Yes, madam, the colonel himself, who called this morning to see you, and renew the intimacy, I presume; but, by mistake, was shown up to me, and then made an apology for his conduct."
"It's excessively strange! first the colonel is rude, without my knowledge, and then apologises to you! Mr Sullivan, I'm afraid that your head is not right this morning."
"Indeed, madam, I only wish that your heart was as sound," replied the husband with a sneer; "but, madam, I am not quite blind. An honest woman—a virtuous woman, Mrs Sullivan, would have immediately acquainted her husband with what had passed—not have concealed it; still less have had the effrontery to deny it, when acknowledged by her paramour."
"Paramour!" cried the lady, with an hysterical laugh; "Mr Sullivan! when I select a paramour, it shall be a handsome young man—not an old, yellow-faced—"
"Pshaw, madam! there's no accounting for taste; when once a woman deviates from the right path—"
"Right path! if ever I deviated from the right path, as you call it, it was when I married such a wretch as you! Yes, sir! continued the lady, bursting into tears, I tell it you now—my life has been a torment to me ever since I married (sobbing)—always suspected for nothing (sob, sob)—jealous, detestable temper (sob)—go to my friends (sob)— hereafter may repent (sob)—then know what you've lost" (sob, sob, sob).
"And, madam," replied Mr Sullivan, "so may you also know what you have lost, before a few hours have passed away; then, madam, the time may come when the veil of folly will be rent from your eyes, and your conduct appear in all its deformity. Farewell, madam—perhaps for ever!"
The lady made no reply; Mr Sullivan quitted the room, and, repairing to his counting-house, wrote a challenge to the colonel, and confided the delivery of it to one of his friends, who unwillingly accepted the office of second.
VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.
He's truly valiant, that can wisely suffer The worst that man can breathe, and make his wrongs His outsides; to wear them, like his raiment, carelessly, And ne'er prefer his injuries to his heart, To bring it into danger. SHAKESPEARE.
The colonel, in the meantime, had returned to the house where he was residing, when he was immediately accosted by Captain Carrington, and the other gentlemen who had been let into the secret of the plot. During his walk home the colonel had been ruminating on his dismissal, and had not quite made up his mind whether he ought or ought not to resent the conduct of Mr Sullivan. Naturally more inclined for peace than war, by the time that he arrived home he had resolved to pocket the affront, when Captain Carrington called him on one side, and obtained from him a recapitulation of what had passed; which probably never would have been given if the colonel had not considered the communication as confidential. This, however, did not suit the intentions of Captain Carrington, who felt inclined for more mischief; and when the colonel had concluded his narrative, he replied, "Upon my word, colonel, as you observe, this conduct on the part of Mr Sullivan, is not exactly what can be permitted by us military men. I hardly know bow to advise; indeed I would not take the responsibility; however, I will consult with Mr S—- and Mr G—-, and if you will leave your honour in our hands, depend upon it we will do you strict justice:" and Captain Carrington quitted the colonel, who would have expostulated, and, walking up to the other gentlemen, entered into a recapitulation of the circumstances. A wink of his eye, as his back was turned to the colonel, fully expressed to the others the tenor of the advice which they were to offer.
"Well, gentlemen, what is your opinion?" said the captain, as he concluded his narrative.
"I think," replied Mr S—-, with a serious face, "there can be but one—our gallant friend has been most grossly insulted. I think," continued he, addressing the colonel, who had quitted the sofa, in his anxiety to know the issue of their debate, "that I should most decidedly ask him what he meant."
"Or rather demand an apology," observed Mr G—-.
"Which Mr Sullivan as a man of honour is bound to offer, and the colonel as a gentleman and an officer has a right to insist upon. Do you not think so, Captain Carrington?" said Mr S—-.
"Why, I always have been more inclined to be a peacemaker than otherwise, if I can," replied Captain Carrington. "If our gallant friend the colonel is not sure that Mr Sullivan did use the words, 'I won't trouble you to call again,'—are you positive as to the exact words, colonel?"
"Why, to the best of my recollection," replied the colonel, "I rather think those were the words.—I may be mistaken:—it was certainly—most certainly—something to that effect."
"Were they, 'requesting you to call again?'" said Captain Carrington.
"No, no,—that they certainly were not."
"Well, they could be but one or the other.—Then, gentlemen, the case is clear—the words were uttered," said Mr S—-, "Now, Captain Carrington, what would you advise?"
"I really am vexed to say, that I do not see how our friend, Colonel Ellice, can do otherwise than demand an apology, or a meeting."
"Could not I treat him with contempt, Captain Carrington?" demanded the colonel.
"Why, not exactly," replied Mr S—-. "Sullivan is of good family; the Sullivans of Bally cum Poop. He was some time in the 48th regiment, and was obliged to retire from it for challenging his colonel."
"Well, gentlemen," replied the colonel, "I suppose I must leave my honour in your hands, although it does appear to me that our time is very short for such arrangements. We sail early to-morrow morning; Captain Carrington; at daylight, I think you said, and it will be too late to-night."
"My dear colonel, I will risk a rebuke from the Admiralty," replied the captain, "rather than not allow you to heal your wounded honour. I will stay till the day after to-morrow, should it be requisite for the arrangement of this business."
"Thank you: many thanks," replied the colonel, with an expression of disappointment. "Then I had better prepare the letter?"
"Carta por senhor commandante," interrupted a Portuguese, presenting a letter to the colonel; "O senhor embaixo; queir risposta."
The colonel opened the letter, which contained Mr Sullivan's challenge,—pistols—to-morrow morn, at daylight—one mile on the road to Machico.
The colonel's countenance changed two or three shades less yellow as he read the contents: recovering himself with a giggle, he handed the letter to Captain Carrington. "You see, captain, the gentleman has saved me the trouble—He, he, he! these little affairs are common to gentlemen of our profession—He, he! and since the gentleman wishes it, why, I presume—He, he! that we must not disappoint him."
"Since you are both of one mind, I think there will be some business done," observed Mr S—-. "I perceive that he is in earnest by the place named for the meeting. We generally settle our affairs of honour in the Loo-fields; but I suppose he is afraid of interruption.—They want an answer, colonel."
"Oh! he shall have one," replied the colonel, tittering with excitement; "he shall have one. What hour does he say?"
"Oh! we will arrange all that. Come, colonel," said Captain Carrington, taking him familiarly by the arm, and leading him away.
The answer was despatched, and they sat down to dinner. Many were the friendly and encouraging glasses of wine drank with the colonel, who recovered his confidence, and was then most assiduous in his attentions to the ladies to prove his perfect indifference. He retired at an early hour nevertheless.
In the mean time Mr Sullivan had received the answer, and had retired to his counting-house, to arrange his affairs in case of accident. He had not seen his wife since the fracas. And now we will leave them both for awhile, and make a few remarks upon duelling.
Most people lament, many abuse the custom as barbarous; but barbarous it is not, or it would not be necessary in a state of high civilisation. It is true that by the practice we offend laws human and divine; but at the same time, it must be acknowledged, that neither law nor religion can keep society in such good order, or so restrain crime. The man who would defy the penalty of the law, and the commandments of his God against seduction, will, however pause in his career when he finds that there are brothers to avenge an injured sister. And why so?—because in this world we live as it were in a tavern, careless of what the bill is which we run up, but dreading the day of reckoning, which the pistol of our adversary may bring at once. Thus duelling may be considered as a necessary evil, arising out of our wickedness; a crime in itself rare in occurrence, but which prevents others of equal magnitude from occurring every day; and until the world is reformed, nothing can prevent it. Men will ever be governed by the estimation of the world: and until the whole world decide against duelling—until it has become the usage to offer the other cheek upon the first having been smitten, then, and not till then, will the practice be discontinued. When a man refuses to fight a duel, he is stigmatised as a coward, his company is shunned; and, unless he is a wretch without feeling, his life becomes a burden. Men have refused from purely conscientious motives, and have subsequently found themselves so miserable from the neglect and contumely of the world, that they have backslided, and have fought to recover their place in society. There have been some few, very few, who, having refused from conscientious motives, have adhered to these resolutions, because they feared God and not man. There was more courage in their refusal than if they had run the gauntlet of a hundred duels; a moral courage, which is most rare, preferring the contempt of man to the wrath of God. It is, however, the most trying situation on this side of the grave. To refuse to fight a duel, is in fact to obey the stern injunction, "leave all, and follow me."
For my part, I never have and never will fight a duel, if I can help it. I have a double motive for my refusal; in the first place, I am afraid to offend the Deity; and in the next, I am afraid of being shot. I have therefore made up my mind never to meet a man except upon what I consider fair terms; for when a man stakes his life, the gambling becomes rather serious, and an equal value should be laid down by each party. If, then, a man is not so big—not of equal consequence in the consideration of his fellow mites—not married, with five small children, as I am—not having so much to lose—why it is clear that I risk more than he does; the stake is not equal, and I therefore shall not meet him. If, on the contrary, he presents a broader target,—if he is my superior in rank, more patriarchal at home, or has so many hundreds per annum more, why then the disadvantages will be on his side; and I trust I am too much of a gentleman, even if he offers to waive all these considerations, to permit him to fight. It would be swindling the man out of his life.
The best advice I can offer to my friends under these unpleasant circumstances is, first to try if they cannot persuade their adversaries to make an apology: and if he will not, why then let them make one themselves; for although the making an apology creates a very uneasy sensation, and goes very much against the stomach, yet, depend upon it, a well-directed bullet creates a much more uneasy feeling, and, what is worse, goes directly into it.
We left Mrs Sullivan sobbing in her anger, when her husband bounded out of the room in his heroics. At the time that he made the threat she was in no humour to regard it; but as her anger gradually subsided, so did her alarm increase. Notwithstanding that she was a coquette, she was as warmly attached to her husband as he was to her; if she trifled, it was only for her amusement, and to attract that meed of admiration to which she had been accustomed previous to her marriage, and which no woman can renounce on her first entry into that state. Men cannot easily pardon jealousy in their wives; but women are more lenient towards their husbands. Love, hand-in-hand with confidence, is the more endearing; yet, when confidence happens to be out of the way, Love will sometimes associate with Jealousy; still, as this disagreeable companion proves that Love is present, and as his presence is what a woman and all a woman asks, she suffers Jealousy, nay, sometimes even becomes partial to him for the sake of Love.
Now that Mrs Sullivan had been most unjustly accused, the reader must know, and moreover, that she had great reason to feel irritated. When her tears had subsided, for some time she continued in her chair, awaiting with predetermined dignity the appearance and apology of Mr Sullivan. After some time had elapsed, she wondered why he did not come. Dinner was announced, and she certainly expected to meet him then, and she waited for some minutes to see if he would not take this opportunity of coming up to her;—but no. She then presumed that he was still in the sulks, and had sat down to table without her, and therefore, as he would not come—why, she went; but he was not at the table. Every minute she expected him:—Had he been told?—Where was he?—He was in the counting-house, was the reply. Mrs Sullivan swallowed a few mouthfuls, and then returned up stairs. Tea was made— announced to Mr Sullivan, yet he came not. It remained on the table; the cup poured out for him was cold. The urn had been sent down, with strict injunctions to keep the water boiling, and all was cleared away. Mrs Sullivan fidgeted and ruminated, and became uneasy. He never had been at variance for so many hours since their marriage, and all for nothing! At last the clock struck ten, and she rang the bell.—"Where was Mr Sullivan?"—"In the counting-house."—"Tell him that I wish to speak with him." Mr Sullivan had not answered him, and the door was locked inside. This intelligence created a little irritation, and checked the tide of affection. "Before all the servants—so inconsiderate—it was quite insulting!" With a heavy heart, Mrs Sullivan lighted the chamber candle, and went up stairs to bed. Once she turned down the stairs two or three steps, intending to go to the counting-house door; but her pride restrained her, and she re-ascended. In an hour Mrs Sullivan was in bed, expecting her husband every minute, listening at the slightest sound for his footstep; but two o'clock came and he was still away. She could bear up against her suspense and agitation no longer; she rose, threw on her robe de nuit, and descended the stairs. All the family had long retired, and every thing was still: her light foot made no noise as she tripped along. As she neared the door, she perceived the light gleaming through the key-hole. Whether to peep or to speak first—he might be fast asleep. Curiosity prevailed—she looked through the key-hole, and perceived her husband very busy writing. After he had finished his letter he threw down the pen, pressed his forehead with both hands, and groaned deeply. Mrs Sullivan could refrain no longer. "William! William!" cried she, in a soft imploring voice: but she was not answered. Again and again did she repeat his name, until an answer, evidently wrung from him by impatience, was returned—"It is too late now."
"Too late, dear William! Yes, it is very late, it's almost three o'clock. Let me in William,—pray do!"
"Leave me alone: it's the last favour I probably shall ever request of you."
"The last favour! Oh, William! you frighten me so:—dear William—do— do let me in. I'm so cold, I shall die:—only for one moment, and I'll bless you. Pray do, William!"
It was not until after repeated and repeated entreaties of this kind, that Mr Sullivan, worn out by importunity, at last opened the door.
"Mary, I am very busy; I have opened the door to tell you so, and to request that you will not interrupt me. Now oblige me by going to bed."
But getting in was every thing; and a young and pretty wife, in dishabille and in tears, imploring, entreating, conjuring, promising, coaxing, and fondling, is not quite so easy to be detached when once she has gained access. In less than half an hour Mr Sullivan was obliged to confess that her conduct had been the occasion of a meeting being agreed for upon that morning, and that he was arranging his affairs in case of a melancholy termination.
"You now, Mary, must see the consequences of your conduct. By your imprudence, your husband's life is risked, probably sacrificed; but this is no time to be at variance. I forgive you, Mary,—from my soul, I do, as I hope for pardon myself."
Mrs Sullivan burst into a paroxysm of tears; and it was some time before she could answer. "William," cried she energetically, "as you well say, this is no time to be at variance, neither is it a time for falsehood. What I stated to you this morning was true:—if not, may I never hope for pardon! and may Heaven never be opened to me! You have been deceived, grossly deceived; for what purpose, I know not; but so it is. Do not therefore be rash. Send for all who were present, and examine them; and if I have told you a falsehood, put me away from you, to the shame and seclusion I shall so well deserve."
"It is too late, Mary; I have challenged him, and he has accepted it. I fain would believe you; but he told me so himself."
"Then he told a lie! a base cowardly lie! which sinks him beneath the notice of a gentleman. Let me go with you and confront him. Only let him dare to say it to my face: 'tis all I ask, William, that I may clear my fame with you. Come to bed—nay, nay, don't refuse me;" and poor Mrs Sullivan again burst into tears.
We must leave the couple to pass the remaining hours in misery, which, however, reclaimed them both from faults. Mrs Sullivan never coquetted more, and her husband was, after this, never jealous but on trifles.
The colonel was just as busy on his side, in preparing for the chances of the morrow: these chances however were never tried; for Captain Carrington and his confederates had made their arrangements. Mr Sullivan was already dressed, his wife clinging to him in frantic despair, when a letter was left at his door, the purport of which was that Colonel Ellice had discovered that his companions had been joking with him, when they had asserted that during his state of inebriety, he had offered any rudeness to Mrs Sullivan. As therefore no offence had been committed, Colonel Ellice took it for granted that Mr Sullivan would be satisfied with the explanation.
Mrs Sullivan, who devoured the writing over her husband's shoulder, sunk down on her knees in gratitude, and was raised to her husband's arms, who, as he embraced her, acknowledged his injustice.
The same party who wrote this epistle also framed another in imitation of Mr Sullivan's hand-writing, in which Mr Sullivan acquainted the Colonel, that having been informed by a mutual friend that he had been in error relative to Colonel Ellice's behaviour of the night before, he begged to withdraw the challenge, and apologise for having suspected the colonel of incivility, etcetera. That having been informed that Colonel Ellice embarked at an early hour, he regretted that he would not be able to pay his respects to him, and assure him, etcetera.
The receipt of this letter, just as the colonel had finished a cup of coffee, preparatory to starting, made him, as a single man, quite as happy as the married couple; he hastened to put the letter into the hands of Captain Carrington, little thinking that he was handing it over to the writer.
"You observe, Captain Carrington, he won't come to the scratch. Perhaps as well for him that he does not," said the colonel, chuckling in his glee.
The breakfast was early; the colonel talked big, and explained the whole affair to the ladies, quite unconscious that every one in the company knew that the hoax had been played upon him. Before noon, every one had re-embarked on board of their respective ships, and their lofty sails were expanded to a light and favouring breeze.
VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.
Isabel. Any where to avoid matrimony: the thought of a husband is terrible to me.
Inis. But if you might choose for yourself, I fancy matrimony would be no such frightful thing to you.
The Boadicea, with the Indiamen, proceeded on to their destination, Captain Carrington taking every opportunity which light winds and smooth water afforded him, of paying his respects to the ladies on board of the Bombay Castle, or of inviting them on board of the frigate. The fact was, that he had fallen most desperately in love with Isabel Revel, and paid her the most marked attention; but, although a pleasant, light-hearted companion, and a young man of good family and prospects, Isabel Revel had not fallen in love with him: she liked his company, but nothing more.
In a month the squadron had arrived at the island of St. Helena, to which Captain Carrington had been ordered to convey them: his directions were then to cruise in a certain latitude, and ultimately to proceed on to the East Indies, if he did not fall in with the vessels he expected. It was, therefore, but parting to meet again; but during the short time that they refitted and completed their water at St. Helena, Captain Carrington proposed, and was politely refused by Isabel Revel. Impatient as a boy who has been denied his plaything, he ordered his stores immediately on board, and the next day quitted the island. It may appear strange that a young lady, obviously sent out on speculation, should have refused so advantageous an offer; for the speculation commences with the voyage. Some ladies are selected at Madeira. Since the Cape has been in our possession, several have been induced to stay in that colony; and very often ships arrive with only the refuse of their cargo; for the intended market in the East. But Isabel Revel had consented to embark on the score of filial duty, not to obtain a husband unless she liked the gentleman who proposed; and Captain Carrington did not happen to come up to her fanciful ideas of the person to be chosen for life. Captain Carrington did not impart the intelligence of his ill success to any one but Newton, who was employed to carry his farewell message. His secret was faithfully kept by both. Isabel Revel was not one of those young ladies who would make use of such an unworthy advantage to heighten her consequence in the eyes of others. But there was another reason, not exactly known to Isabel herself at the time, which prevented her from listening to the proposals of Captain Carrington. Had she questioned her own heart, she would have discovered that she was prepossessed in favour of one, who as unconsciously had become attached to her. He knew his own feelings, but had checked them in the bud, aware that he had nothing to offer but himself. This person was Newton Forster. His intimacy with Captain Carrington, the attention shown him by Captain Drawlock, (who trusted him to work the chronometers!!) his own excellent character and handsome person, had raised him to more importance than his situation as a junior officer would have warranted; and his behaviour was such as to have secured him the good-will of every one on board of the ship. Newton's unassuming frank manner, added to a large stock of general information, occasioned his society to be courted, even by those who would otherwise have been inclined to keep at a distance one in his subordinate rank.
When they arrived at St. Helena, the first-mate, for a wonder, no longer made any difficulty of going on shore for an hour or two, if he knew that Newton would be the commanding officer during his absence; nay, so high did he stand in the opinion of his captain, that nut only was he permitted to take charge of the chronometers, but, if called away for a time below, Captain Drawlock would hand over to Newton's charge any one of the unmarried responsibilities, who might happen to be leaning on his arm.
The Indiamen being now left to protect themselves, the senior officer, Commodore Bottlecock, issued most elaborate memoranda, as to the order of sailing, exercise of the men at the great guns and small arms, and every other point which could tend to their security by due preparation. Nevertheless, the ladies continued to appear on deck. Mrs Ferguson sat in her majesty; the young ladies tittered, and were reprimanded; the young gentlemen were facetious, and were rebuked; the old colonel talked of his adventure at Madeira, and compared every thing to the spent ball at the battle of —-. Dr Plausible had become a most assiduous attendant upon Miss Tavistock, ever since he had satisfactorily ascertained that she had property of her own; every body had become intimate; every one was becoming tired, when the bearings and distance at noon placed them about two hundred miles from Point de Galle, the southernmost extremity of Ceylon. The wind was fresh and fair, and they congratulated each other upon a speedy termination to their tedious voyage.
Dinner was announced by the old tune of "Oh! the roast beef of old England;" and during a long voyage the announcement of dinner is a very great relief every way. As had been the invariable rule throughout the whole of the voyage, Miss Charlotte and Miss Laura Revel were placed on the one side of Captain Drawlock, Miss Tavistock and Isabel Revel on the other. They were flanked on the other side by Mrs and Mr Ferguson, who thus separated them from any undue collision with the gentlemen passengers or officers of the ship. The colonel was placed next to Mrs Ferguson, the young writer next to her husband; then the two cadets, supported by the doctor and purser, the remainder of the table being filled up with the officers of the ship, with the first-mate at the foot. Such was the order of Captain Drawlock's dinner—sailing; as strictly adhered to as the memoranda of Commodore Bottlecock: the only communication permitted with the young ladies under his charge (unless married men) being to "request the honour of drinking a glass of wine with them."
All this may appear very absurd; but a little reflection will convince the reader to the contrary. There is a serious responsibility on a captain of an Indiaman, who takes charge of perhaps a dozen young women, who are to be cooped up for months in the same ship with as many young men. Love, powerful every where, has on the waters even more potent sway, hereditary I presume, from his mother's nativity. Idleness is the friend of love; and passengers have little or nothing to do to while away the tedium of a voyage. In another point, he has great advantage, from the limited number of the fair sex. In a ball or in general society, a man may see hundreds of women, admire many, yet fall in love with none. Numbers increase the difficulty of choice, and he remains delighted, but not enslaved. But on board of a ship, the continued presence of one whom he admires by comparison out of the few,—one who, perhaps, if on shore, would in a short time be eclipsed by another, but who here shines without competition,—gives her an advantage which, assisted by idleness and opportunity, magnifies her attractions, and sharpens the arrow of all-conquering Love. Captain Drawlock perhaps knew this from experience; he knew also that the friends of one party, if not of both, might be displeased by any contract formed when under his surveillance, and that his character and the character of his ship (for ships now-a-days have characters, and very much depend upon them for their well doing) might suffer in consequence. Strict as he might therefore appear, he was only doing his duty.
Grace being requested from Mr Ferguson, he indulged the company with one quite as long as usual; rather too long considering that the ship was very unsteady, and the ladies had to cling to the table for support. But Mr Ferguson was not a sailor, or he would have known that it is the custom to reduce the grace in proportion with the canvass. When the royals are set, we submit to a homily; under double-reefed topsails, a blessing; but under storm stay-sails, an ejaculation is considered as orthodox.
"Mrs Ferguson, will you permit me to send you a little mulligatawney? said Captain Drawlock. If you prefer it, there is sheep's-head broth at the other end of the table."
"Then I will take a little of the broth, if you please, Captain Drawlock."
"Mr Mathews, Mrs Ferguson will take some broth. I am sorry, Mrs Ferguson, that our table is so ill-supplied; but a long voyage and bad weather has been very fatal to our hen-coops."
"Indeed, Captain Drawlock, you need not apologise." Nor was there any occasion, for the table was loaded.
"Perhaps Miss Laura Revel will permit me to send her a slice of this mutton?" said the obsequious colonel.
"No, I thank you; I have eaten nothing but mutton lately. I think I shall be a sheep myself soon," added the young lady, tittering.
"That would be very much against your inclination, I should think, Miss Laura," observed Mrs Ferguson, tartly.
"La! why so? how do you know, Mrs Ferguson?"
"Because a sheep never changes its name until after it is dead. I shrewdly suspect you would like to change yours before."—(This was a hard hit.)
"As you have yours, Mrs Ferguson," quietly answered Isabel, in support of her sister.
"Very fair on both sides," said the colonel, bowing to the ladies, who sat together. "Pray Miss Laura, don't talk of being a sheep, we are all ready to devour you as it is."
"La! you don't say so?" replied the young lady, much pleased.
"Colonel Ellice," interrupted Captain Drawlock, with a serious air, "several of the company will thank you to carve that joint, when you have finished paying your compliments. Miss Tavistock, the honour of a glass of wine. We have not had the pleasure of your company on deck to-day."
"No, Captain Drawlock. I did intend to come, but my health is in such a delicate state, that by the advice of Dr Plausible I remained below."
"Miss Tavistock will you allow me to send you some mutton?"
"If you please, colonel; a very small slice."
"Mr Forster, what have you in that dish before you?"
"A chicken, Captain Drawlock."
"Miss Isabel Revel, will you take some chicken?"
"No, I thank you, Captain Drawlock," replied Isabel.
"Did you say yes or no?" inquired Newton, who had caught her eye.
"I'll change my mind," said Isabel, smiling.
Now, I know it for a fact, although I shall not give up my authority, that Isabel Revel never wanted any chicken until she perceiveth that Newton was to help her. So, if Love occasionally takes away the appetite, let us do him justice—he sometimes creates one.
"Miss Tavistock, allow me to send you a little of this Turkey," said Dr Plausible; "it is easy of digestion."
"If you please, doctor," replied Miss Tavistock, cramming the last mouthful of mutton into her mouth, and sending away her plate to be changed.
"Will you not take a little ham with it, Miss Tavistock?" said Captain Drawlock.
"If you please, sir."
"The honour of a glass of wine, Miss Tavistock," said the colonel.
"With pleasure, sir."
"Miss Charlotte Revel, you have really eaten nothing," said Captain Drawlock.
"That proves you have not paid me the least attention," replied the young lady. "Had you honoured me with a single glance during dinner, you could not but have observed that I have been dining very heartily."
"I really am quite shocked, Miss Charlotte, and bow to your reproof. Will you take a glass of wine with me in reconciliation?"
"I consider a glass of Madeira a very poor bribe, sir."
"Well, then, Miss Charlotte, it shall be champagne," replied Captain Drawlock, in his gallantry. "Steward, champagne." A fortunate hit for the company, as champagne was in general only produced upon what sailors call 'clean shirt days,' viz. Sundays and Thursdays.
"We are highly indebted to Miss Revel," observed the colonel, bowing to her; "and I think we ought to drink her health in a bumper."
Agreed to, nem con.
Champagne, thou darling of my heart! To stupefy oneself with other wines, is brutal; but to raise oneself to the seventh heaven with thee, is quite ethereal. The soul appears to spurn the body, and take a transient flight without its dull associate—the—the—broke down, by Jupiter! All I meant to say was, that champagne is very pretty tipple; and so thought the dinner party, who were proportionally enlivened.
"Is this orthodox, Mr Ferguson?" inquired the colonel, holding up his glass.
"So far orthodox, that it is very good; and what is orthodox is good," replied the divine, with good-humour.
"The Asia has made the signal for 'a strange sail—suspicious,'" said the second-mate to Captain Drawlock, putting his head into the cabin.
"Very well, Mr Jones, keep a glass upon the commodore."
"Mrs Ferguson, will you take some of this tart? Damascene, I believe," said the first-mate.
"If you please, Mr Mathews.—Did not Mr Jones say suspicious?—What does that imply?"
"Imply, madam; why that he don't like the cut of her jib!"
"And pray what does that mean?"
"Mean, madam; why, that for all he knows to the contrary, she may be a French frigate."
"A French frigate! a French frigate! O dear! O dear!" cried two or three ladies at a breath.
"Mr Mathews," said Captain Drawlock, "I am really surprised at your indiscretion. You have alarmed the ladies. A suspicious sail, Mrs Ferguson, merely implies—in fact, that they do not know what she is."
"Is that all it means?" replied Mrs Ferguson, with an incredulous look.
"Nothing more, madam; nothing more, I assure you."
"Commodore has made a signal that strange vessel is a man-of-war bearing down," said the second-mate, again entering the cabin.
"Very well, Mr Jones," said Captain Drawlock, with assumed indifference, but at the same time fidgeting on his chair.
The first-mate and Newton immediately quitted the cabin.
"Miss Tavistock, will you take a little of this pudding?"
"If you please, sir, a very little."
"A man-of-war! I'll go and have a look at her," said the colonel; who rose up, bowed to the ladies, and left the cuddy.
"Most probably one of our cruisers," observed Captain Drawlock.
"The commodore has made the signal to prepare for action, sir," said the second-mate.
"Very well, Mr Jones," said Captain Drawlock, who could now restrain himself no longer. "You must excuse me, ladies, for a moment or two, but our commodore is so very prudent a man, and I am under his orders. In a short time I hope to return to the pleasure of your society."
Captain Drawlock's departure was followed by that of all the male party, with the exception of Doctor Plausible and Mr Ferguson, both of whom however were anxious to go upon deck, and ascertain how matters stood.
"Mr Ferguson, where are you going?" said his wife, sharply. "Pray, sir, do us the favour to remain. Your profession, if I mistake not, is one of peace."
"Oh! Doctor Plausible, I feel very unwell," cried Miss Tavistock.
"I will stay with you, my dear madam," replied the doctor.
A gun from the commodore's ship, which was close to windward of them, burst upon their ears, rattling the cabin windows, and making every wine-glass on the table to dance with the concussion.
"Oh! oh! oh!" screamed Miss Tavistock, throwing herself back in her chair, and expanding her arms and fingers.
Doctor Plausible flew to the lady's assistance.
"The extreme fineness of her organic structure—a little water, if you please, Miss Charlotte Revel."
A tumbler of water was poured out, and Doctor Plausible, dipping the tip of his fore-finger into it, passed it lightly over the lady's brows. "She will be better directly."
But the lady did not think proper to come to so soon as the doctor prophesied, and Mrs Ferguson, snatching up the tumbler, dashed the contents with violence in Miss Tavistock's face; at which Miss Tavistock not only revived, but jumped up from her chair, blowing and spluttering.
"Are you better now, Miss Tavistock?" said Mrs Ferguson, soothingly, at the same time glancing her eyes at the other ladies, who could not restrain their mirth.
"Oh! Doctor Plausible, that shock has so affected my nerves, I feel that I shall faint again, I do indeed—I'm going—"
"Lean upon me, Miss Tavistock, and permit me to conduct you to your cabin," replied the doctor; "the extreme delicacy of your constitution," continued he whispering as they left the cuddy, "is not equal to the boisterous remedies of Mrs Ferguson."
As they went out, Newton Forster came in.
"You must not be alarmed, ladies, when I state that I am commissioned by Captain Drawlock to inform you that the stranger's manoeuvres are so doubtful, that we think she is an enemy. He has desired me to request you will accept my convoy to the lower-deck, where you will be safe from accident, in the event of our coming to an engagement. Mr Ferguson, the captain intrusts the ladies to your charge, and requests that you will not leave them upon any consideration. Now, Mrs Ferguson, will you permit me to escort you to a place of security?"
At this intelligence Laura Revel stared, Charlotte burst into tears, and Isabel turned pale. Mrs Ferguson took the arm of Newton without saying a word, when the other was offered and accepted by Isabel. Mr Ferguson, with the two other sisters, brought up the rear. The ladies had to pass the quarter-deck, and when they saw the preparations, the guns cast loose, the shot lying on the deck, and all the various apparatus for destruction, their fears increased. When they had been conducted to their place of safety, Newton was about to return on deck, when he was seized by Miss Charlotte and Laura Revel, who entreated him not to leave them.
"Do stay with us, Mr Forster; pray don't go," cried they both.
"I must indeed, ladies; you are perfectly safe here."
"For God's sake, don't you go away, Mr Forster!" cried Laura, falling on her knees. "I shall die of fright.—You shan't go!" screamed Laura, as the two sisters clung on to the skirts of his jacket, and effectually prevented his escape, unless, like the patriarch, he had left his garment behind.
Newton cast an appealing glance at Isabel, who immediately interfered,—"Charlotte, for shame! you are preventing Mr Forster from going to his duty. My dear Laura, do not be so foolish; Mr Forster can be of no service to us: but he will be on deck. Let go, Laura."
Newton was released. "I am much obliged to you, Miss Isabel," said Newton, with his foot on the ladder; "but I have no time now to express my thanks—not to be on deck—"
"I know it, Mr Forster: go up, I beseech you, do not wait a moment;" and Newton sprung up the ladder; but not before he had exchanged with Isabel a glance, which, had he been deficient in courage, would have nerved him for the approaching combat. We must leave the ladies with Mr Ferguson (who had no pleasant office), while we follow Newton on deck. The stranger had borne down with studding-sails, until within three miles of the India-men, when she rounded to. She then kept away a little, to close nearer, evidently examining the force opposed to her. The Indiamen had formed the line of battle in close order, the private signal between English men-of-war and East India ships flying at their mast-heads.
"Extremely strange, that she does not answer the private signal," said the colonel to the second-mate.
"Not at all, if she don't know how."
"You are convinced, then, that she is a French frigate?"
"No, not positive; but I'll bet you ten to one she is:—bet off, if either of us are killed, of course!"
"Thanky; I never bet," answered the colonel, turning away.
"What do you think of her, Mr Mathews?" said Captain Drawlock to the first-mate, who had his eye on the ship.
"She is English built and English rigged, sir, that I'll swear; look at her lower yard-arms, the squaring of her topsails. She may be French now, but the oak in her timbers grew in old England."
"I agree with you," said Newton: look at the rake of her stern; she's English all over.
"Then why don't she answer the private signal?" said Captain Drawlock.
"She's right in the wind's eye of us, sir, and our flags are blowing end on from her."
"There goes up her bunting, sir," cried the first-mate.
"English, as I said. The commodore is answering, sir. Up with the ensign there abaft. All's right, tell the ladies."
"I will; I'll go and inform them," said the colonel; who immediately descended to impart the joyful intelligence.
The frigate bore down, and hove to. The commodore of the India squadron went on board, when he found that she was cruising for some large Dutch store-ships and vessels armed en flute, which were supposed to have sailed from Java. In a quarter of an hour, she again made sail, and parted company, leaving the Indiamen to secure their guns, and pursue their course.
There are two parties, whose proceedings we had overlooked; we refer to Miss Tavistock and Dr Plausible. The latter handed the lady to her cabin, eased her down upon her couch, and, taking her hand gently, retained it in his own, while with his other he continued to watch her pulse.
"Do not alarm yourself, my dear Miss Tavistock; your sensibility is immense. I will not leave you. I cannot think what could have induced you to trust yourself on such a voyage of danger and excitement."
"Oh! Dr Plausible, where my affections are centred, there is nothing, weak creature that I am, but my soul would carry me through:—indeed I am all soul.—I have a dear friend in India."
"He is most happy," observed the doctor, with a sigh.
"He, Dr Plausible! you quite shock me!—Do you imagine for a moment that I would go out to follow any gentleman? No, indeed, I am not going out on speculation, as some young ladies:—I have enough of my own, thank God! I keep my carriage and corresponding establishment, I assure you."—(The very thing that Dr Plausible required.)
"Indeed! my dear Miss Tavistock, is it then really a female friend?"
"Yes! the friend of my childhood. I have ventured this tedious, dangerous voyage, once more to fold her in my arms."
"Disinterested affection! a heart like yours, Miss, were indeed a treasure to be won. What a happy man would your husband be!"
"Husband! Oh, Dr Plausible don't mention it: I feel convinced,— positively convinced, that my constitution is not strong enough to bear matrimony."
The doctor's answer was too prolix for insertion; it was a curious compound dissertation upon love and physic, united. There was devoted attention, extreme gentle treatment, study of pathology, advantage of medical attendance always at hand, careful nursing, extreme solicitude, fragility of constitution restored, propriety of enlarging the circle of her innocent affections, ending at last in devoted love, and a proposal—to share her carriage and establishment.
Miss Tavistock assumed another faint—the shock was so great; but the doctor knelt by her, and kissed her hand, with well-affected rapture. At last, she murmured out a low assent, and fell back, as if exhausted with the effort. The doctor removed his lips from her hand to her mouth, to seal the contract; and, as she yielded to his wishes, almost regretted that he had not adhered to his previous less assuming gallantry.
VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER NINETEEN.
'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark, Bay deep-mouth'd welcome as we draw near home; 'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark Our coming—and look brighter when we come. BYRON.
Edward Forster returned home with his little protegee, his mind relieved from the weight which had oppressed it: he knew that the word of his brother was his bond, and that under a rough exterior he concealed a generous and sympathising heart. It was in the early part of the autumn that he again took possession of the cottage; and as he once more seated himself in his old arm-chair, he mentally exclaimed, "Here then am I again at anchor for a short time, until summoned to another world." His prophecy was correct; during the severe winter that followed, his wound opened again, and his constitution, worn out, gave way to repeated suffering. He had not been confined to his bed more than a fortnight when he felt that his end was approaching. He had long been prepared: nothing remained to be done but to write a letter to his brother, which he confided to Robinson, the fisherman, with directions that it should be put into the post-office immediately after his death; and a strict charge to watch over the little girl, until she should be sent for by his brother.
This last necessary act had been completed when Robinson, who was standing by the side of the bed, with the letter in his hand, informed him that the family at the Hall had returned from the Continent on the evening before, with their only son, who was now restored to health. This intelligence induced Forster to alter his plans; and trusting to the former friendship of Lord Aveleyn, he despatched Robinson to the Hall, stating his own condition, and requesting that his lordship would come to the cottage. Lord Aveleyn immediately obeyed the summons, and perceiving at the first glance that Forster's situation debarred all chance of recovery, took upon himself with willingness the charge of the letter, and promised to receive Amber into his house until it was convenient that she should be removed. It was dark when Lord Aveleyn, with melancholy foreboding, took his last farewell; for, ere the sun had risen again, the spirit of Edward Forster had regained its liberty, and soared to the empyrean, while the deserted Amber wept and prayed.
Edward Forster had not concealed from her the precarious tenure of his existence, and since their return from London had made her fully acquainted with all the particulars connected with her own history. The last few weeks, every interval of suffering had been devoted by him to enforce those principles which he ever had inculcated, and to prepare for the event which had now taken place.
Amber was kneeling by the side of the bed; she had been there so long, that she was not aware that it was broad day. Her face laid upon her hands, was completely hid by her luxuriant hair, which had escaped from the confinement of the comb, when the door of the chamber of death was softly opened. Amber, who either did not hear the noise, or thought it was the daughter of Robinson, who lived as servant in the cottage, raised not her head. The steps continued to approach, then the sound ceased, and Amber felt the arms of some one encircling her waist to raise her from her kneeling posture. She lifted up her head, and dividing the hair from her forehead, that she might see who it was, perceived that it was young Aveleyn who was hanging over her.
"My poor little girl!" said he in a tone of commiseration.
"Oh! William Aveleyn," cried Amber, bursting into a paroxysm of tears, as she was folded in his arms.
The sorrow of youth is sympathetic, and William Aveleyn, although seventeen years old, and fast advancing to manhood, did not disdain to mingle his tears with those of his former playmate. It was some time before he could persuade Amber, who clung to him in her grief, to any degree of serenity.
"Amber, dear, you must come to us at the Hall; this is no place for you now."
"And why not, William? Why should I leave so soon? I'm not afraid of being here, or lying by his side alone: I've seen other people die. I saw Mrs Beazeley die—I saw poor Faithful die; and now, they all are dead," said Amber, bursting into tears, and burying her face in William Aveleyn's bosom. "I knew that he was to die," said she, raising her head after a time—"he told me so; but, to think that I shall never hear him speak again—that very soon I shall never see him more—I must cry, William."
"But your father is happy, Amber."
"He is happy, I know; but he was not my father, William. I have no father—no friend on earth I know of. He told me all before he died; Faithful brought me from the sea."
This intelligence roused the curiosity of William Aveleyn, who interrogated Amber, and obtained from her the whole of the particulars communicated by Edward Forster; and, as she answered to his many questions, she grew more composed.
The narrative had scarcely been finished, when Lord Aveleyn, who had been summoned by Robinson, drove to the door, accompanied by Lady Aveleyn, who thought that her presence and persuasions would more readily induce Amber to heave the cottage. Convinced by her of the propriety of the proposal, Amber was put into the carriage without resistance, and conveyed to the Hall, where every thing that kindness and sympathy could suggest was resorted to, to assuage her grief. There we must leave her, and repair to the metropolis.
"Scratton," said Mr John Forster to his clerk, who had answered the bell, "recollect I cannot see any one to-day."
"You have several appointments, sir," replied the clerk.
"Then send, and put them all off."
"Yes, sir; and if any one calls, I am to say that you are not at home?"
"No, I am at home; why tell a lie? but I cannot see any body."
The clerk shut the door; John Forster put on his spectacles to reperuse the letter which lay before him. It was the one from Edward, inclosed in a frank by Lord Aveleyn, with a few lines, announcing his brother's death, and stating that Amber was at the Hall, where they should be glad that she should remain until it was convenient to send for her. Edward's letter repeated his thanks to his brother for his kind promise, and took a last and affectionate farewell. John Forster struggled for a time with his feelings; but the more he attempted to repress them, the more violent they became. He was alone, and he gave them vent. The legal documents before him, arising from the bitterness of strife, were thus unusually moistened with a tribute to a brother's memory. But in a few moments the old lawyer was himself again; all traces of emotion had disappeared, and no one who had seen him then would ever have imagined that John Forster could have been thus moved. The next day he was not as usual to be found at his chambers: the fact was, that he had set off immediately after breakfast, upon what is generally termed "house hunting." The apartments which he occupied in his chambers were not sufficient for the intended increase of his establishment; and when he had given his promise to Edward, he was fully aware of the expense which would be entailed by receiving Amber, and had made up his mind to incur it. He therefore fixed upon a convenient house in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, which would not detach him far from his chambers. Having arranged for a lease of twelve years, John Forster returned to his chambers.
"Scratton," said he, "look out for a man-servant, a cook, housemaid, and a steady woman, as housekeeper—good characters, and undeniable reference. The housekeeper must be a somewhat superior person, as she will have to take charge of a young miss, and I do not want her spoiled by keeping company with the general description of servants. Do you understand?"
Scratton did; and in less than a month, as every thing is to be obtained for money in the city of London, the house was furnished by a city upholsterer in a plain way, and all the servants installed in their respective situations.
Mr John Forster took possession of his new house, and tried for a week if all worked well. Ascertaining that the furniture was complete, the under-servants well behaved, and the housekeeper a mild and very intelligent personage, fit to be intrusted with the charge of a little girl, he then wrote to Lord Aveleyn, reiterating the thanks conveyed in his former letter, and requesting that Amber might be delivered into the charge of the bearer. With this letter Mr Scratton was despatched, and, in due time, arrived at the Hall. Amber wept bitterly at the idea of parting with those who had been so kind to her, and passing into the hands of one who was a stranger. Having exacted a promise from William Aveleyn that he would call as he passed through on his way to Cambridge, she bade her kind friends farewell, entered the chaise in company with Mr Scratton, and was hurried off to London.
Mr Scratton was one of those personages who never spoke except on business; and, having no business to transact with a girl of twelve years old, he never spoke at all except when necessity rendered it imperative. Amber was therefore left to her own reflections. What they all were I cannot tell; but one certainly was, that travelling in a chaise for two days with Mr Scratton was not very agreeable. Most happy was she when they drove up to the door of Mr John Forster's new habitation. The old gentleman, who had calculated the hour of her arrival after the receipt of a letter from her companion, was there to receive her. Amber, who had been prepossessed in his favour by Edward Forster, who had told her that in his brother she would find a protector and indulgent parent, ran up to him when she entered the room, and burst into tears as the injunctions of Edward Forster returned to her memory. John Forster took her in his arms, and kissed her. "My little girl," said he, "what my brother was, such will I be to you. Consider me as your father; for his memory, and I hope soon, for your own sake, I shall rejoice to be so."
After an hour, by which time Amber had recovered her serenity, and become almost cheerful, she was consigned to the charge of Mrs Smith the housekeeper, and John Forster hastened back to his chambers and his clients, to make up for so much lost time.
It was not long before the old gentleman discovered that the trouble and expense which he had incurred to please his brother was the occasion of pleasure and gratification. He no longer felt isolated in the world: in short, he had a home, where a beaming eye met his return, and an affectionate heart ministered to his wishes; where his well-known rap at the door was a source of delight, and his departure one of regret.
In a few months Amber had entwined herself round the old man's heart; the best masters were procured for her, and all the affection of a doting parent upon an only child was bestowed by him who, when the proposition was made, had declared that "it was bad enough to maintain children of one's own begetting."
Bless my soul! how poor authors are obliged to gallop about. Now I must be off again to India, and get on board of the Bombay Castle.
END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER ONE.
A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself, Who, with her head, nimble in threats, approach'd The opening of his mouth. SHAKESPEARE.
The Bombay Castle arrived at Madras without further adventure. A few hours after she had anchored, all the passengers, receiving kind messages from, or escorted on shore by their relatives or consignees, had landed; all, with the exception of the three Miss Revels, whose anxiety to land was increased by the departure of the others, and the unpleasant situation in which they were placed, by remaining a clog upon Captain Drawlock, who would not quit his ship until he had surrendered up his charge. By inquiry of the dubashes, Captain Drawlock found out that an old Colonel Revel was residing at his Bungalo, about two miles distant from the fort, and supposing him not to be aware of the arrival of his grand-nieces, he despatched Newton Forster to acquaint him with the circumstance. It was late in the afternoon when Newton arrived at the residence of the colonel, when he perceived immediately that every thing was on the establishment of an old Indian nabob. A double set of palanquin-bearers were stretched under the verandas; syces were fanning the horses with their chowries; tailors and various craftsmen were at work in the shade, while a herd of consumers, butlers, and other Indian domestics, were loitering about, or very busy doing nothing.
It will be necessary, before Newton is introduced to the colonel, that the colonel should be introduced to the reader. He was a man of nearly sixty years of age, forty-five of which, with the exception of occasional furlough, had been passed in the country. Having held several lucrative situations for many years, and, although not parsimonious, being very prudent in money concerns, he had amassed a very large fortune. More than once he had returned to England on leave, and with the full intention of remaining there, if he could be comfortable; but a few months in his native country only made him more anxious to return to India. His habits, his tastes were all eastern; the close hospitality, the cold winter of England, the loss of consequence, naturally resulting when a man mixes in the crowd of London, all disgusted him, and he invariably returned to India long before his furlough had expired. He was a bachelor from choice. When young he had been very cruelly treated by the object of his admiration, who deserted him for a few lacks of rupees, which offered themselves with an old man as their appendage. This had raised his bile against the sex in general, whom he considered as mercenary and treacherous. His parties were numerous and expensive: but women were never to be seen in his house; and his confirmed dislike to them was the occasion of his seldom visiting, except with those who were like himself, in a state of happy singleness. In other points, he was a liberal, worthy man, and a perfect gentleman, but extremely choleric in his disposition.
Newton addressed himself to one of the butlers, requesting to be announced. The man led the way to a spacious hall, coated and floored with chunam, when Newton perceived the colonel, who presented rather a singular spectacle. "Burra Saib; Saib," said the Indian; and immediately retired.
The colonel was a tall gaunt man, with high cheek-bones, bushy eyebrows, and white hair. He was seated on a solitary chair in the centre of the hall; his dress consisting of a pair of white nankeen trousers and a white shirt, the sleeves of the latter tucked up to his shoulders, and exposing sinewey arms, covered with hair. By his side lay a basket of mangoes, and before his chair a large tub of water. As Newton entered, he had an opportunity of witnessing the most approved method of eating this exquisite fruit. The colonel had then one as large as a cassowary's egg, held in both hands, and applied to his mouth, while he held his head over the tub of water, to catch the superabundant juice which flowed over his face, hands, and arms, and covered them with a yellow stain. The contents of the mango were soon exhausted; the stone and pulp were dropped into the tub of water, and the colonel's hand was extended to the basket for a repetition of his luxurious feast, when Newton was announced. Newton was sorry to interrupt him, and would have made an apology, had he not observed that the colonel, whose back was towards him, continued his pleasing avocation: the fact was, that the colonel was so intent upon his occupation, that he had neither heard the announcement, nor could he perceive Newton, who thus had an opportunity of witnessing the demolition of at least two dozen more mangoes without the colonel having turned his eyes in that direction, or being aware that he was not alone. But something at length attracted the attention of Newton, and induced him to come forward, and put an end to the colonel's repast. The colonel had just taken another mango out of the basket, when Newton perceived a small snake wind itself over the rim, and curl up one of the feet of the colonel's chair, in such a position that the very next time that the colonel reached out his hand, he must have come in contact with the reptile. Newton hardly knew how to act; the slightest movement of the old gentleman might be fatal to him; he therefore walked up softly, and was about to strike the animal on the head with his stick, when the colonel, as he leant over the tub, half rose from the chair. In an instant, Newton snatched it from under him, and jerked it, with the snake, to the corner of the hall. The colonel, whose centre of gravity had not been sufficiently forward to enable him to keep his feet, fell backward, when Newton and he both rolled on the floor together; and also both recovered their legs at the same time.
"You'll excuse me, sir," said Newton.
"I'll be damned if I do, sir!" interrupted the colonel, in a rage; "who the devil are you?—and how dare you presume to play off such impertinent jokes upon a stranger?—Where did you come from, sir?—How did you get in, sir?"
"Is that a joke, sir?" replied Newton, calmly pointing to the snake, which was still hissing in its wrath at the corner of the room where the chair lay. Newton then briefly explained the circumstances.
"Sir, I beg your pardon a thousand times, and am very much your debtor. It is the most venomous snake that we have in the country. I trust you will accept my apology for a moment's irritation; and, at the same time, my sincere thanks." The colonel then summoned the servants, who provided themselves with bamboos, and soon despatched the object which had occasioned the misunderstanding. The colonel then apologised to Newton, while he repaired to the bath, and in a few minutes returned, having undergone the necessary ablution after a mango feast. His dress was changed, and he offered the appearance of an upright gentlemanlike, hard-featured man, who had apparently gone through a great deal of service without his stamina having been much impaired.
"I beg your pardon, my dear sir, for detaining you. May I request the pleasure of your name, and the occasion of your providential visit."
"I have a letter for you, sir," replied Newton, who had been intrusted with the one which Mr Revel had given to his daughters on their embarkation.
"Oh! a letter of introduction. It is now quite superfluous; you have already introduced yourself."
"No sir, it is not a letter of recommendation in my behalf; but to announce the arrival of your three grand-nieces—daughters of the Honourable Mr Revel—in the Bombay Castle, the ship to which I belong."
"What?" roared the colonel, "my three grand-nieces! daughters of Mr Revel!"
"So I have understood from them, sir."
The colonel tore open the letter, in which Mr Revel very coolly informed him that not having received any answer to his former epistles on the subject, he presumed that they had miscarried, and had therefore been induced in consequence of the difficulties which he laboured under to send his daughters out to his kind protection. The colonel, as soon as he had finished the perusal of the letter, tore it into pieces again and again, every renewed action showing an increase of excitement. He then threw the fragments on the floor, stamping upon them in an ecstasy of rage.
"The damned scoundrel!—the villain!—the rascal!—Do you know, sir, that when I was last in England, this fellow swindled me out of a thousand pounds? Yes, sir, a thousand pounds, by God! promised to pay me in three weeks; and when I was coming back, and asked for my money, he laughed at me, and ordered his servant not to let me in. And now he has sent out his three daughters to me—pawned them off upon me, laughing I suppose in his sleeve, as he did when he cheated me before. I'll not receive them, by God! they may find their way back again how they can;" and the colonel paced the room up and down, throwing his arms about in his fury.
Newton waited some time before he ventured to make any observation; indeed he was so astonished at such unheard-of proceeding, and so shocked at the unfortunate situation of Isabel, that he hardly knew what to say.
"Am I then to inform the young ladies that you will not receive them?"
"You don't know me, sir.—When did I ever receive a woman into my house? They are all alike, sir.—Plotted with their father, I'll answer for, with the hopes of getting husbands. Tell them, sir, that I'll see them damned first—swindling scoundrel!—first cheats me out of a thousand pounds, and then tries to cheat me into providing for his family!"
Newton paused a little, to allow the colonel's wrath to subside, and then observed—"I never was so much distressed as to be the bearer of your message. The young ladies are certainly no parties to their father's dishonesty, and are in a situation much to be pitied. In a foreign country, thousands of miles from their friends, without means of subsistence, or of paying their passage home. What is to become of them?"
"I don't care."
"That your indignation is just, Colonel Revel, I admit;—but allowing that you will not receive them, how are they to return home? Captain Drawlock, I am sure, would give them a passage; but we proceed to China. Poor girls!" continued Newton, with a sigh. "I should like to make a remark, Colonel Revel, if it were not considered too great a liberty in a stranger."
"You have already taken a liberty, which in all probability has saved my life. I shall be happy to listen to any remark that you may wish to offer."
"It was, sir, that reprehensible as their father's conduct may be, common humanity, and a regard for your own character, will hardly warrant their being left thus destitute. They at least are your relations, and have neither offended nor deceived you; on the contrary, are, with you, joint victims of their father's deception."
"You appear to take a great interest in these young ladies," observed the colonel, sharply.
"If I had never seen them, sir, their present unfortunate dilemma would be sufficient. Knowing them intimately as I do, I must say, that this intelligence will be to one; at least, a death-blow. I would to God that I were able to assist and to protect her!"
"Very handsome then I presume?" replied the colonel, with a sneer.
"She certainly is, sir; but it was not admiration of her beauty which occasioned the remark. If you knew her, sir, you would be as sorry to part with her, as you now appear to be to receive her."
The colonel continued to pace the room, but with less violence than before. Newton observed this, and therefore was silent, hoping that reflection would induce him to alter his resolution. In a few minutes, apparently forgetting the presence of Newton, the colonel commenced talking to himself aloud, muttering out the following detached phrases:
"Must take them in by God! Couldn't show my face—nowhere—damned scoundrel! Keep them here till next ship—till they are as yellow as gamboge, then send them home—revenge in that."
Thus did the old gentleman mutter loud enough for Newton to overhear. A few minutes more were spent in perambulation, when he threw himself into the chair.
"I think, my young acquaintance, you appear to be interested for these relations of mine; or at least for one of them."
"I certainly am, sir; and so is every one who is acquainted with her."
"Well, I am glad to hear that there is one good out of the three. I have been put in a passion—no wonder; and I have said more than should be repeated. Were it known that these girls had been sent out to me in this way, the laugh would be raised against me, as it is known that I am not very partial to women; and it would also be of serious injury to them and their prospects. I have determined upon receiving them, for the best of all possible reasons—I can't help myself. You will therefore add to the obligations of this day, by saying nothing about what has been made known to you."
"Most certainly, sir; I will pledge you my honour, if it is requested."
"When I say not mention it, I mean to other parties; but to the girls, I must request you to state the facts. I will not have them come here, pawing and fondling, and wheedling me as an old bachelor, with a few lacks of rupees to be coaxed out of. It would make me sick; I detest women and their ways. Now if they are informed of the real state of the case, that they are here only on sufferance; that I neither wished nor want them; and that I have been imposed upon by their scoundrel of a father, I may keep them at the other end of the bungalo, and not be annoyed with their company; until, upon plea of bad health, or some other excuse, I can pay their passage back again."
"Could you not state these facts yourself, sir?"
"No, I never meddle with women; besides, it is better that they should know it before they come here. If you will promise me what I now request, why I will consent to give them house-room; if not, they may stay where they are. It will be but a few days laugh at me, or abuse of me, I care little which."
"Well, sir, unpleasant as this intelligence must be, their present suspense is still more so. You will allow me to disclose it in as delicate a manner as possible."
"You may be as refined as you please, provided that you tell the exact truth, which I am convinced that you will, by your countenance."
"Then I will take my leave, sir," replied Newton.
"Fare you well, my dear sir; recollect that my house is your home; and although not fond of the society of women, I shall be delighted with yours. The young ladies may be brought on shore to the hotel, and I will send a carriage for them. Good-bye.—What is your name?"
"Good-bye then, Mr Forster, for the present;" and the colonel quitted the room.
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER TWO.
Then there were sighs, the deeper for suppression, And stolen glances, sweeter for the theft, And burning blushes, though for no transgression. Tremblings when met, and restlessness when left. All these are little preludes to possession, Of which young passion cannot be bereft, And merely tend to show how greatly love is Embarrassed, at first starting, with a novice. BYRON.
It was in no very happy frame of mind that Newton quitted the colonel's house to execute his mission to the Miss Revels. That the two eldest, provided they were admitted, would not much take to heart, either the conduct of their father, or the coolness of their relation, he was pretty well assured; but he was too well acquainted with Isabel's character, not to know that she would deeply feel the humiliating situation in which she was placed, and that it would prey upon her generous and sensitive mind. As, however, there was no remedy, he almost congratulated himself that, as the colonel's message was to be delivered, the commission had been placed in his trust.
Captain Drawlock, tired of waiting, had escorted the young ladies on shore to the hotel, anxiously expecting the arrival of Newton, who was conducted there by a messenger despatched to intercept him.
"Well, Mr Forster, is it all right?" said Captain Drawlock, on his appearance.
"The colonel's carriage will be here for the ladies in less than half an hour," replied Newton, evasively.
"Then, Miss Revels, as I am extremely busy, I shall wish you good morning, and will have the pleasure of paying my respects before I sail. Allow me to offer you my best thanks for your company during our voyage, and to assure you how much your presence has contributed to enliven it. Forster, you will of course remain with the Miss Revels, and see them safe in the carriage;" and Captain Drawlock, who appeared to consider his responsibility over with the voyage, shook hands with them and quitted the hotel.
"Mr Forster," said Isabel, as soon as Captain Drawlock was out of hearing, "I am sure by your countenance that there has been something unpleasant. Is it not so?"
"I am sorry to answer in the affirmative, and more sorry to be forced to impart the cause." Newton then entered into a detail of what had passed at the colonel's house. Isabel listened to it with attention, her sisters with impatience. Miss Charlotte, with an air of consternation, inquired whether the colonel had refused to receive them: on being informed to the contrary, she appeared to be satisfied. Laura simpered, and observed, "How very odd of papa!" and then seemed to think no more about it. Isabel made no observation; she remained on her chair, apparently in deep and painful thought.
A few minutes after the communication the colonel's carriage made its appearance, and Newton proposed that they should quit the hotel. Charlotte and Laura were all ready and impatient, but Isabel remained seated by the table.
"Come, Isabel," cried Charlotte.
"I cannot go, my dear Charlotte," replied Isabel; "but do not let me prevent you or Laura from deciding for yourselves."
"Not go!" cried the two sisters at once. Isabel was firm; and Newton, who did not think himself authorised to interfere, was a silent witness to the continued persuasions and expostulations of the two elder, and the refusal of the younger sister. Nearly half an hour thus passed away when Charlotte and Laura decided that they would go, and send back the carriage for Isabel, who by that time would have come to her senses. The heartless, unthinking girls tripped gaily down to the carriage, and drove off. Newton, who had escorted them, retraced his steps, with a beating heart, to the room where he had left Isabel.
She was in tears.
"Do I intrude, Miss Revel?" said Newton, who could not repress his emotion at the sight.
"Oh, no! I expected and wished that you would return, Mr Forster. Do you think that you could find Captain Drawlock? I should feel much obliged if you would take that trouble for me."
"I will immediately go in search of him, if you wish it. Believe me, Miss Revel, I feel most sincerely for your situation; and, if it were not considered an impertinent question, I should ask you what may be your present intentions?"
"Acquainted as you are with all the circumstances, Mr Forster, the question is not impertinent, but kind. God knows that I require an adviser. I would, if possible, conceal the facts from Captain Drawlock. It is not for a daughter to publish a father's errors; but you know all, and I can therefore have no scruple in consulting with you: I do not see why I should. My resolution is, at best a hasty one; but it is, never to enter the house of my relation, under such humiliating circumstances—that is decided: but how to act, or what to do, is where I require advice. I am in a cruel situation. What a helpless creature is a woman! Were I a man, I could have worked my passage home; or have honestly obtained my bread in this place; but a woman—a young and unprotected woman—in a distant clime, and without a friend—"
"Do not say that you are without a friend; one who has at least the will, if not the power to serve you," replied Newton.
"No—not without a friend; but what avails a friend whose assistance I could not accept? It is to Captain Drawlock, therefore, that I must apply, and, painful as it may be, throw myself upon his generosity; for that reason I wished to see him. He may advise some means by which I may obtain a passage home. I will return in any capacity, as a nurse to children, as an attendant—any thing that is creditable. I would watch over the couch of fever, pestilence, and plague, for months, rather than appear to be a party to my father's duplicity. Oh! Mr Forster, what must you think of the daughters, after what you have heard of the parent's conduct?"—and Isabel burst into tears.
Newton could contain himself no longer. "My dear Miss Revel, let me persuade you to compose yourself," said he, taking her hand, which was not withdrawn; "if you feel on this occasion, so do I most deeply;—most deeply, because I can only lament, and dare not offer to assist you. The means of returning to your own country, I can easily procure from Captain Drawlock; but would you accept it from me? I know—I cannot expect that you would; and that, under such circumstances, it would be insulting in me to offer it. Think, then, what pain I must feel to witness your distress, and yet dare not offer to assist one for whom— oh! my God—" ended Newton, checking his feelings.
"I feel the kindness and the delicacy of your conduct, Mr Forster; and I will candidly acknowledge, that, could I accept it, there is no one to whom I would more cheerfully be under an obligation; but the world will not permit it."
"What shall I do, Miss Revel?—shall I go for Captain Drawlock?"
"Stay a little while, I wish to reflect. What would you advise? as a friend, tell me candidly, Mr Forster."
"I am indeed proud that you allow me that title. It is all that I ever dare hope for;—but Isabel—I beg your pardon, Miss Revel, I should have said—"
"Nay, nay, I am not displeased. Why not Isabel? We have known one another long enough, and deserted as I feel a kind word now."—Isabel covered her face with her hand. Newton, who was standing by her, was overcome by the intensity of his feelings; gradually they approached nearer, until by, I suppose, the same principle which holds the universe together, the attraction of cohesion, Newton's arm encircled the waist of Isabel, and she sobbed upon his shoulder. It was with difficulty that Newton refrained from pouring out his soul, and expressing the ardent love which he had so long felt for her; but it was taking advantage of her situation. He had nothing to offer but himself and beggary. He did refrain. The words were not spoken; yet Isabel divined his thoughts, appreciated his forbearance, and loved him more for his resolution.
"Isabel," said Newton, at length, with a sigh, "I never valued or wished for wealth till now. Till this hour I never felt the misery of being poor."
"I believe you, Mr Forster; and I am grateful, as I know that it is for my sake that you feel it; but," continued she, recovering herself, "crying will do no good. I asked you for your advice, and you have only given me your arm."
"I am afraid it is all I shall ever have to offer," replied Newton. "But, Isabel, allow me to ask you one question:—are you resolved never to enter your relation's house?"
"Not on the humiliating terms which he has proposed. Let the colonel come here for me and take me home with him, and then I will remain there until I can return to England; if not, I will submit to any privation, to any honest humiliation, rather than enter under his roof. But indeed, Mr Forster, it is necessary that Captain Drawlock should be summoned. We are here alone: it is not correct: you must feel that it is not."
"I do feel that it is not; but, Isabel, I was this morning of some trifling service to the colonel, and may have some little weight with him. Will you allow me to return to him and try what I can do? It will not be dark for these two hours, and I will soon be back."
Isabel assented. Newton hastened to the colonel, who had already been much surprised when he had been informed by his domestics (for he had not seen them) that only two ladies had arrived. The old gentleman was now cool. The explanation and strong persuasions of Newton, coupled with the spirited, behaviour of Isabel, whose determination was made known to him, and which was so different from the general estimate he had formed of the sex, at last prevailed. The colonel ordered his carriage, and, in company with Newton, drove to the hotel, made a sort of apology—a wonderful effort on his part, and requested his grand-niece to accept of his hospitality. In a few minutes Isabel and the colonel were out of sight, and Newton was left to his own reflections.
A few days afterwards Newton accepted the colonel's invitation to dine, when he found that affairs were going on better than he expected. The old gentleman had been severely quizzed by those who were intimate with him, at the addition to his establishment, and had winced not a little under the lash; but, on the whole, he appeared more reconciled than would have been expected. Newton, however, observed that, when speaking of the three sisters, he invariably designated them as "my grand-niece, and the two other young women."
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER THREE.
Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone, And plunder piled from kingdoms not their own, Degenerate trade! thy minions could despise Thy heart-born anguish of a thousand cries: Could lock, with impious hands, their teeming store, While famish'd nations died along the shore; Could mock the groans of fellow men, and bear The curse of kingdoms, peopled with despair; Could stamp disgrace on man's polluted name, And barter with their gold eternal shame. CAMPBELL.
Gold!—gold! for thee, what will man not attempt? for thee, to what degradation will he not submit?—for thee, what will he not risk in this world, or prospectively in the next;—Industry is rewarded by thee; enterprise is supported by thee; crime is cherished, and heaven itself is bartered for thee, thou powerful auxiliary of the devil! One tempter was sufficient for the fall of man; but thou wert added, that he ne'er might rise again.
Survey the empire of India; calculate the millions of acres, the billions with which it is peopled, and then pause while you ask yourself the question—how is it that a company of merchants claim it as their own? By what means did it come into their possession?
Honestly, they will reply. Honestly! you went there as suppliants; you were received with kindness and hospitality, and your request was granted, by which you obtained a footing on the soil. Now you are lords of countless acres, masters of millions, who live or perish as you will; receivers of enormous tribute.—Why, how is this?
Honestly, again you say; by treaty, by surrender, by taking from those who would have destroyed us, the means of doing injury. Honestly! say it again, that heaven may register, and hell may chuckle at your barefaced, impudent assertion.
No! by every breach of faith which could disgrace an infidel; by every act of cruelty which could disgrace our nature; by extortion, by rapine, by injustice, by mockery of all laws or human or divine. The thirst for gold, and a golden country, led you on; and in these scorching regions you have raised the devil on his throne, and worshipped him in his proud pre-eminence as Mammon.
Let us think. Is not the thirst for gold a temptation to which our natures are doomed to be subjected—part of the ordeal which we have to pass? or why is it that there never is sufficient?
It appears to be ordained by Providence that this metal, obtained from the earth to feed the avarice of man, should again return to it. If all the precious ore which for a series of ages has been raised from the dark mine were now in tangible existence, how trifling would be its value! how inadequate as a medium of exchange for the other productions of nature, or of art! If all the diamonds and other precious stones which have been collected from the decomposed rocks (for hard as they once were, like all sublunary matter, they too yield to Time), why, if all were remaining on the earth, the frolic gambols of the May-day sweep would shake about those gems, which now are to be found in profusion only where rank and beauty pay homage to the thrones of kings.—Arts and manufactures consume a large proportion of the treasures of the mine, and as the objects fall into decay, so does the metal return to the earth again. But it is in eastern climes, where it is collected, that it soonest disappears. Where the despot reigns, and the knowledge of an individual's wealth is sufficient warranty to seal his doom, it is to the care of the silent earth alone that the possessor will commit his treasures; he trusts not to relation or to friend, for gold is too powerful for human ties. It is but on his death-bed that he imparts the secret of his deposit to those he leaves behind him; often called away before he has time to make it known, reserving the fond secret till too late; still clinging to life, and all that makes life dear to him. Often does the communication, made from the couch of death, in half-articulated words, prove so imperfect, that the knowledge of its existence is of no avail unto his intended heirs; and thus it is, that millions return again to the earth from which they have been gathered with such toil. What avarice has dug up, avarice buries again; perhaps in future ages to be regained by labour, when, from the chemical powers of eternal and mysterious Nature, they have again been filtered through the indurated earth, and reassumed the form and the appearance of the metal which has lain in darkness since the creation of the world.
Is not this part of the grand principle of the universe? the eternal cycle of reproduction and decay, pervading all and every thing, blindly contributed to by the folly and the wickedness of man? "So far shalt thou go, but no further," was the fiat; and, arrived at the prescribed limit, we must commence again. At this moment intellect has seized upon the seven-league boots of the fable, which fitted every body who drew them on, and strides over the universe. How soon, as on the decay of the Roman empire, may all the piles of learning which human endeavours would rear as a tower of Babel to scale the heavens, disappear, leaving but fragments to future generations, as proofs of pre-existent knowledge! Whether we refer to nature or to art, to knowledge or to power, to accumulation or destruction, bounds have been prescribed which man can never pass, guarded as they are by the same unerring and unseen Power, which threw the planets from his hand, to roll in their appointed orbits. All appears confused below, but all is clear in heaven.
I have somewhere heard it said, that where heaven may be, those who reach it will behold the mechanism of the universe in its perfection. Those stars now studding the firmament in such apparent confusion, will there appear in all their regularity, as worlds revolving in their several orbits, round suns that gladden them with light and heat, all in harmony, all in beauty, rejoicing as they roll their destined course in obedience to the Almighty fiat; one vast, stupendous, and, to the limits of our present senses, incomprehensible mechanism, perfect in all its parts, most wonderful in the whole. Nor do I doubt it: it is but reasonable to suppose it. He that hath made this world and all upon it, can have no limits to His power.