Abbildungen der Seite
[blocks in formation]

shower fell on him too, and that when Pietro died at Rome, in the year 1669, full of age, riches, and honour, no one had greater reason to love and lament him than Andrea, his first patron, the sharer of his early sorrows, and the friend of his brighter days.



“ Show Thy pity upon all prisoners and captives.”—LITANY.

The sweet May days are bright and For some have boasted freedom found, long,

They know not heart and brain And Nature's face is fair,

In Satan's coils are wrapt aroundAnd far aloft the lark's glad song Lord, loose from Error's chain! Makes musical the air,

And some do gilded bands enfold, To every sense some fresh delight

Bound in their greed of gain, Earth's budding beauty brings,

They walk the earth, the slaves of goldAnd as I greet her smile aright,

Lord, loose from Mammon's chain! My very heart finds wings.

Some, too, there are with willing feet I kneel within the house of prayer,

Who swell the captive train, Feeling my soul set free

Whom senseenslaves and trifles cheat From dreary doubt and carking care,

Lord, loose from Follo's chain! To rise, my God, to Thee.

And some to-day must, burdened,

groan, Yet, in my heart, the mournful prayer

Bowed down by want and pain ; Wakes still a throb of pain,

O hear the grief-bound spirit's moan — "Show pity, Lord, on all who bear

Lord, loose from Sorrow's chain! This day, the prisoner's chain!"

Some cannot force their eager heart O bend on those Thy pitying eye From idols to refrain ; Whom dungeon walls restrain

They own their bondage, feel its smartFrom sight of earth, or sea, or sky

Lord, loose the earth-bound chain! Lord, loose the captive's chain!

Thou know'st all secrets-Thou can'st And some there are whom men call free, Unfettered who remain;

This trembling heart and vain, *They walk in fancied liberty,

O break its bonds, whate'er they beThou know'st they wear a chain. Lord, loose me from




A chain which oft in secret galls, And hasten, Lord, that blesséd hour

Though pleasure's cup they drain, When Thou wilt come again, Lord, look on those whom sin enthralls, In kingly majesty and power

And loose them from its chain! To loose from every chain !



On the following Monday V-departed, leaving me and my turbulent flock to ponder over the strange events that had just taken place among us.

Beverley-poor wretch !-was removed to the county lunatic asylum, where I saw him some few weeks after the time of his admission. The doctor believed his case to be one of confirmed idiocy. The change in his appearance was too revolting to say much about. He sat moping in a corner with his thin, bony hands dangling loosely from the wrists. His face, which was utterly destitute of expression, was white and shrunken; the luxuriant whiskers had disappeared ; and a white cotton night-cap was stuck on the back of his shaven head. He was soon afterwards removed to an asylum in -shire, and I heard nothing more of him for many years.

His poor wife remained for a few weeks at Upper Fishpool, slowly recovering from the effects of the fearful shock she had sustained. From her, and subsequently from other sources, I learnt enough to supply the details that are wanting to complete Beverley's narrative. His real name—

that of Beverley being assumed-she never mentioned ; and as I perceived that she purposely avoided doing so, I did not, of course, allude to the subject. His story appears to have been correct in the main. He ruined his father by his extravagance; and for two years supported himself almost entirely by a clever and systematic course of swindling at play. Ignorant of the suspicions which his uniform success had excited, he became at length less cautious in the use of the tricks upon which he depended. He was generally content to win comparatively small sums, so that, even when unfair play had been suspected, his opponents were not sufficiently exasperated to bring a charge which they could not prove. In the case, however, mentioned by Beverley himself in his story, his cupidity seems to have exceeded his prudence. His intended victim was a very young man, possessing considerable property which report had much exaggerated, and coming fresh from the seclusion of a quiet home. Beverley was heated with wine, played with impatient eagerness, and won constantly. Spooner -poor fellow !--noticed something peculiar in his adversary's way of handling the cards, not dreaming of unfairness, but laying the blame on his own ignorance and want of skill. At length his repeated losses suggested the suspicion that Beverley's incomprehensible manœuvres involved foul play. No sooner did the idea cross his mind than the


accusation burst vehemently from his lips. A violent and noisy quarrel ensued, with the termination of which the reader has already been made acquainted.

It will be remembered that Beverley's narrative broke off where he described himself as being on board a ship bound for San Francisco. The life-buoy which saved him was thrown after him from the “Henrietta " by a shipmate, in the faint hope of its being of some How long he remained in the water it is impossible to say.

We know, however, that he was eventually drifted up to a ship which was hove to, was seen from her deck by the merest chance, and picked up half-dead.

Thus he was taken to Mexico. His adventures there, however interesting, have no immediate connection with our present story. I shall therefore mention a few important particulars only.

First, then, it is believed that he never served in any army, either in Mexico or elsewhere; or, if he did, we have no record of it.

Three or four years before his return to England he married Helen Clarke, the orphan child of an English sea-captain of the better class, who had died about a year previously, leaving his daughter a small provision-sufficient, however, to live upon with very great economy. It could hardly have been this pittance which attracted Beverley;

and indeed he appears to have had some affection for his wife, notwithstanding his repeated neglect and even desertion of her.

He seems to have been obtaining a livelihood in very questionable ways at the time of his marriage. Two years after that event he was induced to join a gold-seeking expedition. The venture proved successful; and Beverley returned to his wife vastly bettered in worldly circumstances, but by no means improved either in temper or disposition by his sudden accession of wealth.

After remaining in Mexico for a year and a half, they came to England. Beverley deserted his wife almost immediately after their arrival; and they had not seen each other for more than a year

When the meeting took place on the beach at Upper Fishpool.

The above details I heard partly from Mrs. Beverley, partly from other sources at later periods.

On a settlement of Beverley's affairs it appeared that he had spent nearly all his capital, the surplus, when all debts were paid, only amounting to two or three hundred pounds; and this was placed by his wife in the hands of the authorities at the asylum to which he had been sent. Mrs. Beverley—for so I must call her-left us without giving us any notion as to where she was going, or what she inteuded to do. Nay, she even declined, somewhat abruptly, to give me any information on these points when, from anxiety on her account, I ventured to seek it. During my lifetime I remember nothing which

[blocks in formation]

seemed to me more piteous than the sight of this desolate woman as she left us in Nathan Bradley's gig, going out into the cold world alone, with no relations and no friends, her only child taken from her without a farewell, and her husband a lunatic. I never thoroughly understood the cause of her reserve and her steady rejection of sympathy, unless it were that her sensibilities were so stunned by the severity of the shock they had received, that she shrunk from opening her heart to a stranger. She was one in whom it was impossible not to take a deep interest. Her age could not be more than twenty-six or twenty-seven, though even in the short time she stayed at Upper Fishpool, grief made her look older. Her countenance was singularly expressive and handsome; and in her manners the union of refined dignity with a certain graceful simplicity, and the utter absence of self-consciousness, was very striking. In education, too, she appeared -as far as I could judge—to be superior to most women.

In short, it has always been a marvel to me that she could ever have become the wife of a man like Beverley—a man so immeasurably inferior to her in every respect.

But the reader may be inclined to ask, “What becomes of Black Peter's Conversion all this time?" I wish I could entertain the said reader with a melodramatic account of that event, seeing that all the rest of the story hangs upon it. But the truth is, the change in Peter's character took place very quietly, though not the less surely on that account. Peter was not an impulsive person, or one given to expressing his feelings noisily. He was always a man of few words, and seemed incapable of uttering a sentence which did not convey a distinct meaning. Nevertheless, a work was going on in Peter's heart, which had its first beginning (so far as we can judge) in the memorable hour spent on Martin's Reef. That hour seems to have been the turning-point of his life. The guilelessness and innocence of little May, the simple undoubting confidence she reposed in him, had made him feel that there was something infinitely lovely which he had been ignorant of something in that little child which made her as superior to him as the sunlit summit of St. Martin's Head was to the sullen cavern below, where the gloomy waters slept under a changeless shadow. It seems as though, when those little arms clasped his forehead, he had caught a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven. Though Black Peter is still Black Peter, yet, henceforth, he appears before the reader under a different aspect. We still see the same stern, abrupt, taciturn giant; but the truculent fisherman, the suspected manslayer, the staunch pillar of the “Pilot's Arms,” the determined opponent of church, school, and parson, the prompter of all devilry in general, was left, as it were, among the green waves of Fishpool Bay.

I succeeded, on one or two occasions, in so far drawing Peter out

« ZurückWeiter »