Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

rolling in thy chariot through that de heeded no one ; but in a low and solate gate where thou now sit'st like almost inaudible tone sang, from an outcast and a beggar. My curse be time to time, snatches of old songs upon the cause of thy downcome.” concerning the ancient glory of her And he turned away, and walked out lover's house; and the following verof sight.

ses, if they did not relate to her own From listening to the old men's story, certainly alluded to the young discourse, I now turned to look upon Lord Cheyne, whose return from the lady, with an increase of curio- abroad was expected that evening. sity not unmixed with sorrow. She

MY GALLANT ROLAND CHEYNE.
The sun upon a summer morn,

The dark cloud when it snows,
The woods all in their fragrant leaves,

The green grass as it grows,
Are fair to see yet fairer far

Seems ocean's simmering brine,
Through which comes sailing thy good ship,

My gallant Roland Cheyne.
I saw the gloomy ocean laugh,

As suns laugh in April ;
I saw thy canvas catch the breeze

With more of sigh than smile.
And, Oh! my heart leap'd like to burst

My silken laces nine,
As I lost sight of thy good ship,

My gallant Roland Cheyne.
All by the salt sea-wave I sat-

And as its snowy foam
Sang at my foot, I sigh'l, and said,

when wilt thou come home?
Erown are the giddy dames of France ;

And swarthy those of Spain ;
Old England's maids are lily while

Fieturn, my Roland Cheyne.
As the lady concluded her song, the company of bats and vermin
the village mob, preceded by music, when he comes to his inheritance.
or raiber by the discordani din oí And what will he gain by it? Man
many ill-iumed instrumenis, ap- curses him, and the devil won't thank
proached the gate ; and their rage bim: old cloven-foot will give him
at finuing it shut in the hour of fes- brimstone graiis. May the next jail-
tivity was expressed in the gross and delivery of elons dance a minuet
graphic language of vulgar indigna- over his sordid grave, with iheir go-
tion. I have no hope of translating vernment braceleis on.”

66 Whisht, their exclamations into the language Amos !” said ove of bis companions ; of decency or decorum, and I shall - I have heard old Mause Robertson, preler copying the words of the more who came from the north with his moderate. “ Ab!” said one, “the lady, say, that it was not the greed miserly old lord has been here-he os gold which iurned old Lord Roloves us all as the devil loves chris- land into a hermit, but that there is tening water-I wish he would take a prophecy in his house which says advantage of the torch-light and he is to be ihe last of his name ; and these tempting boughs, and hang more than all-she told one, whose himself, that the amusements of the word I can trust in all matters not day might be suitably completed. connected with drink, that the fate For these ten long years he has kept of the Cheynes had been revealed by his hall in darkness, and all to hoard a spirit or a vision—or some other up the dirty window rate and the out-of-the-world, long-nosed sort of paltry taxes, and give his grandson thing. And this is what has made

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

him let' his beard and nails grow, lawn before the house. The roses, and his gardens go to waste, and his and flowering shrubs, and fruit-trees, house, and all it contains, to destruc- had run to waste, and encumbered tion. They say too that a spirit the paths in every direction-the haunts the house, I have myself vines, in unpruned luxuriance, found seen lights, and heard queer noises their way from the enclosure of the and I should not like to be one of hot-houses, and shot along the them who ventured into it in the hol- ground, or hung their branches from low hour of night, unless I had first the mouldering walls or the neighdrank a pint of good brandy. bouring trees. The house itself

While this passed, a crowd of the though of solid stone, had suffered peasants placed their shoulders to much from neglect and time-temthe gate, and gave it a rude push or pests had stripped the roof in many two, which made the rusty and de- places, and lightning had struck a cayed bolts quiver and creak. “ More kind of dome or observatory, which beef, my boys," cried one, “ and rose above the centre of the building, we'll upset the old rusty encum- and shattered it so that the stars brance-confound all houses, say I, shone visibly through the rents in that have iron at either doors or win- walls and roof. At many places the dows. Here, Jack, lay your seven- rain and the snow had found easy acteen-stone carcass against it-and, cess; while the want of fires, in a Tom, you're as good as one of Bra- climate so moist and inhospitable as mah's pump-levers give us a push." this, had combined with other casuAnd they planted themselves for a alties to ensure its ruin. concluding exertion, when the sound I found the front door unfastened; of the house having a spiritual te- and by the help of the moon, which nant fell among them like a mill- streamed unclouded through the stone. They made a full pause: hall windows, I proceeded from room one stood, and shook his head, and to room. It is true that the moon, said, “ It wont do, lads; the bolts though full, and in her summer are as tough as gibbet-irons.” An- beauty, yields but a dubious light other said, “ Curse the old buckle- for one scrupulous in the search and ment—let the young spendthrift open examination of curiosities—yet I it himself, we have been working could see that the apartments had for him all day—the ale was not so been once splendid, and that their strong that we should break our splendour was now eclipsed and in backs to open iron gates for him." ruin. The walls were covered with And a third swore, As for spirits, portraits of the days of Vandyke and that's all my eye-a man's more like his masters; and many of them, I to have his pocket picked than meet afterwards learned, were from the with a ghost. By the Jumping Ju- hands of the first names in art-but niper, I think I do see a light in yon they were rotting, and falling from little low window-the cat's eye, or their frames. The old tapestries, the devil's candle, as my old gran- representing feasting, and hunting, dame says no matter, it's all one to and tournaments, and love-meetings, Ben Bowen.” And he walked away and wrought by the hands of the from the gate, whistling to keep his ladies of the house of Cheyne, were courage up, and show his unconcern lying about the floors like leaves in - and with him the rest of the mul- November; and the books-many of titude marched, and left me alone. them the works of the worthies of

I felt an uncontrollable spirit of the Reformation, and printed by the curiosity come upon me-I had heard first Protestant printers-had dropt enough of the romantic story of the from the shelves. Their boards of Cheynes, to make me desire more; oak, with clasps of silver, were and I suddenly resolved to explore pierced by a thousand worms; and the ancient mansion which I saw be their margins, bearing notes and fore me at the end of the avenue, memorandums from the hands of shining ruinous and gray amid the princes and poets, were soiled and summer moonlight. I sought out a torn. An owl had roosted, and low part of the wall which enclosed brought forth its young among the the mansion and the gardens, and I treasures of controversial divinity. soon found myself standing on the In the state chamber the damasked

a

[ocr errors]

« If

hangings had dropt from the bridal- this house. It was the dwelling of the bed; the bed, with its pillows of down, wise and the noble, and commands and its holland sheets and its fringings my regard, though I have taken an of gold, seemed as a dung-hill for unseasonable hour to express it.” swine to wallow in—wherever I went The old man for he could not be I found havoc and ruin.

much younger than ninety, laughed I stood in the marriage chamber, loud, and said, « Lord Cheyne ? and said in my own mind,“ What is What is there of lord about me more the waste which time brings, compared than about the meanest spirit which to the folly of man. To dice an inhe- swells the drunken shout in the vilritance away; to cast it to bruizers lage. I am Roland Cheyne ; I have and bullies—to horse-race away all thrown lord away—it is unworthy to that wisdom, or prudence, or osten- be borne by the noble and the brave tation, has gathered—to throw gold-it has been squandered on knaves into the pandar's hand and the harlot’s and sycophants--on kneelers at the lap—and to scatter treasure in pur- throne-on the lickers of the palace chasing freedom for the contemptible dust-on those whose sisters are slaves of foreign shores—all these are handsome, whose wives are fair, but the dispensations of ripe thought, and whose daughters are beautiful. and judicious choice, compared to There's a leprosy in the name; and that of the house of Cheyne. To the gallant house of Cheyne has begive to the wind and the rain, to the gun to sink since it was dishonoured bats and the owls, the sacred trea- by the title.” sures of learning and genius—the We stood for some moments silent, very images of the family—a family looking upon one another. At last I of poets and heroes—the books which ventured to say, you

despise reflected their minds and tastes, and the title which was given to the the place where they meditated by Cheynes for their bravery and denight, and made mankind happy by votion to their country, why should day-nay, the very bridal chamber you allow the images of your race, and the bridal bed, for which the and their books, and all that they so inost illiterate and savage always feel worthily loved, to go to waste and dea reverence-all, all, must be sur- cay

y?” He stept a step or two away, rendered up to ruin and desolation; and then turned and said, “If I tell and all, too, by the noble owner him- you that a much more noble monu, self-a name once foremost among ment goes to dust and worms un, the witty and the brave-he has con- pitied and unregarded, you will tell spired against his own fame, and me it is the lot of man to die, permitted an evil spirit to guide his and that he can never rise to glory understanding."

if he goes not to the darksome grave. I am not certain that I spoke the If I say, that, extinguishing the fires, concluding words audibly; but they of my house, dismissing an idle train were suddenly answered by a human of obsequious servants, and living figure, who, unobserved by me, bad myself, by the labour of my own glided into the chamber through a hand, as a man ought to live who secret door, and now stood full before scorns to be fed by a slave, I have me amid the silent moon-light. He enabled my wealth to flow, back, wore a loose dark gown and girdle, again to the poor and the needy, was bare-headed and bare-footed; from whom it is wrung by our nobles and his beard, thick and gray, de- and our gentry—what will your anscended upon his breast. "Who art swer be? Will you not tell me of thou," he said, “ who comest to the right the strong intellect has to question a Cheyne in his own cham- rule over the weak-of the blessings ber? Am I answerable to thee for which luxury diffuses over many what is done and undone? I scorn thy ranks of men and that the figured scorn, and I hate thy pity. Away.” goblet, out of which a lord drailis, “ Lord Cheyne,” I said, “ I am a the pleasant poison of the grape, has stranger here--but there is rejoicing brought money and fame to the hand in the village for the coming of Lord that fashioned it. All this, , and Roland ; and emboldened by the ge- much more, you will be ready to neral license which the hour of glad- tell me: to all which I answer, that ness gives, I have ventured to enter God never made the one half of mankind with bridles in their lips, are yet the light of day to a period and saddles on their backs—and the of thick darkness, lived unheeded other half, booted and spurred, to and unrewarded—the dew of good ride them. Society is like a bottle fortune fell not on the muse's fleece of medicine, and requires to be the shower descended upon those shaken up well; but the rich and who had slain their thousands and the titled compare it to a net, of their tens of thousands. Look round which they are the corks, to keep it the earth, and see how titles—how afloat ; while the base and the sordid the nick-names of lords and dukes, are the lead weights which keep it abound and multiply-every seven at the bottom.”

years give a seven-fold accession to “I know full well,” I answered, these sounding appellations yet true “that the noble and the far-descend- worthy men, those who labour for ed degenerate into the mean and the their country's welfare, are scarcer contemptible, and that the low and than ever. Virtue is on every tongue, the bumble rise, by the force of yet in no one's heart-and external genius or cunning, to rank and in- decorum, and the outward graces of fluence. I see the descendants of prudence, are taught with scientific the greatest names in England seek- minuteness and care. Our ancestors ing parish allowance, and the children heeded not the theory-they conof our ancient princes begging their tented themselves with the practice. bread. In the wheel of fortune Delicacy, and devotion, and modesty, there are black spokes as well as are words the meaning of which you white; and as it runs round we may learn in the dictionary– they must take our chance which of them are the watch-words of procuresses, is uppermost. To-day I see a new adulteresses, and demireps. London lord issuing out like a new butterfly is a city of Bible Associations and from a nest of brokers and money- kept mistresses of boxing lords, lenders, stock-jobbers and loan-con- coach-driving earls and dukes, who tractors, and all that swarm of rep- wander among men's daughters, like tiles which infest a wealthy and a the fiend of old, seeking whom they luxurious nation; and to-morrow I may devour. The way of thriving is see a wise and a benevolent being—a quaintly described by a judicious diman of genius and liberality, suc- vine: ceeded in his titles by a creature in A beauteous sister, or convenient wife, whom God's image is debased—the Are prizes in the lottery of life." companion of squanderers and drunk- All this," I said, “ is truth it. ards—who inflicts disgrace on all self; yet I can barely accept the sins who share his blood—and who car- and follies of the land, as a reason ries infamy among our sons, and for the destruction which has been eternal infamy among our daughters. allowed to come upon your inheritAnd yet how shall it be otherwise ? ance. Nothing of less force than a so it has ever been-bloodshed, vio- voice from heaven would have inlence, and wrong, by the brutal fluenced me unworthy as I am to hand, ruled the earth for a time— be named among the Cheynes—in and now the base and the worthless permitting hall and bower to sink to sit in high places, and work the like dust, while I stood and mocked the wickedness under the pretence of follies and vices of men among the law."

mouldering walls.” His face dark“ Aye!" said Lord Cheyne, “ I see ened—but not with anger; and he you have a fair notion of the world, suddenly snatched my hand, wbile and of the worth and the wisdom his own trembled like an aspen leafwhich rule it. The honest and the he led me towards a window, which frank-hearted refuse to stoop to carry be opened; and, stepping out on a the filthy burthea of obeisance and balcony of stone, stood silent for servility through the Political Slough some seconds looking upon the sky of Despond ; and the base in heart, like one who acknowledged the inand the mean in spirit, defraud the fluence of the siars, and could innoble-minded of their inheritance. terpret ibeir meaning. He spoke in See how fortune has shared her gold, a low and almost inaudible tone. and showered her honours. The great “ You have said that a voice from and illustrious men, whose names heaven alone would have command

ed you to let hall and bower sink-hearse-the horses became as black What would you have done had the as night, the torch-bearers inverted divine purpose been revealed to you their torches; and, instead of shouts in a vision? I know you will talk of joy, raised a deep and melancholy of distempered fancy, and feverish cry. The plumes which surmounted dreams, and strong feelings, and a the hearse were shaken as with a thousand other cobweb fancies with strong wind, and four dark figures which man seeks to cover his own took out the body of a youth, and fears, and screen himself from the bore it up these very steps, towards belief of such supernatural horror. my door. Stay, I command you,'' Common fame may have told you I said, “I must know on whose er. truly, that our family had an ancient rand you come.' The shroud dropped warning of the duration of their aside, and I beheld the face of my greatness and their name; but you grandson-mine own beloved Roland cannot have heard of the vision -pale as death, with the last gasp which was revealed to me, and on his lip—the four bearers looked which for the space of many minutes up to me and smiled. I remember was as visible before me as these nothing farther till the morning, when,' trees are now amid the moon-light. stiff with cold, and my face cut by

“ It is now ten years from this the fall, I awakened in the arms of very night-my, grandson, my own my servants, who had borne me into favourite Roland-the last of many this chamber. Three years my Rosons, had departed for a foreign land: land was to remain abroad-my fears the crowds of the vain and the beau- extended them to six, to seven, and tiful who came to bid him farewell to eight-evil advisers beset the had all gone away-I stood on this youth-he murmured—he remonvery spot, and hearkened to the strated—he upbraided-he scorned sound of their homeward wheels-it me; and need I add, he forgot himmight be about twelve o'clock, and self-my name was loaded with rethe moon and all the stars were in proach—he resolved to return; and the sky, and I could see to a far when I revealed his destiny, he andistance. Suddenly I heard as if a swered me with mockery, and said I' thousand people shouted their wel wished to defraud him of his inheritcomes, and I saw a thick stream of ance. He is now coming, and the torches moving rapidly along. The vision will be fulfilled." iron gates at the head of the avenue He had hardly ceased speaking, there you may see them half-hid when a female form-even the lady among the boughs of the grove- whom I had heard singing at the were opened as if a thousand men gate, came out of the thickest part had flung them against the walls, of the grove ;-and with a slow and and down towards my house a chariot a disordered step approached the enand six horses came at full gallop; trance of the house. She seated here. and the torch-bearers-1 could see self on a stone, where lately a statue their faces, and many of them I had stood ; and throwing her long knew-seemed rather to move in the locks half over her face, sat so moair than run along the ground. The tionless and pale that she seemed the light filled all the lawn. I wondered work of a statuary rather than of what it might mean. I heard my heaven. Old Lord Roland looked servants in the rooms laughing, and upon her earnestly for some time, making merry below. I saw the and then muttered to himself, “Aye! keeper of the gate—a bold and the betrayed comes first, and then watchful veteran, whose bosom bore comes the betrayer -- it needed no the mark of a deep wound received seer's tale and no midnigbt vision in my de ence—seated at his post, to tell of the fall of my house. and all seemed unconscious of the Broken vows-innocence deceived, presence of any strange visitor. I and virtue and beauty cast from their looked upon the chariot and the proud station, and trampled under horses-it was shining with gold and fuoi-these were the visible and gross silver-the horses were shod in the omens which told of the downfal of same metal and even as I looked, the Cheynes. Fair and unhappy it changed suddenly into a mourning lady, I would go and comfort thee if

[ocr errors]

a

« ZurückWeiter »