of damaged affections! I now resume the order of narration.
I wrote to Aubrey, thanking him for his intercession, but
concealing, till we met, the measure I had adopted. I wrote
also to my uncle, assuring him that I would take an early op-
portunity of hastening to Devereux Court, and conversing
with him on the subject of his letter. And after an interval
of some weeks, I received the two following answers from my
correspondents; the latter arrived several days after the
former : â
FROM AUBREY DEVEREUX.
1 am glad to understand from your letter, unexplanatorj' as it is, that
you have followed my advice. I will shortly write to you more at large ;
at present I am on the eve of my departure for the North of England,
and have merely time to assure you of my affection.
P. S. Gerald is in London ; have you seen him ? Oh, this world !
this world ! how it clings to us, despite our education, our wishes, our
conscience, our knowledge of the Dread Hereafter I
LETTER FROM SIR WILLIAM DEVEREUX.
My dear Nephew, â Thank thee for thy letter, and the new plays
thou sentest me down, and that droll new paper, the " Spectator : " it is
a pretty shallow thing enough, â though it is not so racy as Rochester
or little Sid would have made it ; but I thank thee for it, because it
shows thou wast not angry with thine old uncle for opposing thee on thy
love whimsies (in which most young men are dreadfully obstinate), since
thou didst provide so kindly for his amusement. Well, but, Morton, I
hope thou hast got that crotchet clear out of thy mind, and prithee now
don't talk of it when thou comest down to see me. I hate conversations
on marriage more than a boy does flogging, â ods fish, I do. So you
must humour me on that point 1
Aubrey has left me again, and I am quite alone, â not that I was
much better off when he was here, for he was wont, of late, to shun uiy
poor room like a " lazar house," and when I spoke to his mother about it,
she muttered something about " example " and " corrupting." 'Sdeath,
Morton, is your old uncle, who loves all living things, down to poor
Ponto the dog, the sort of man whose example corrupts youth ? As for
thy mother, she grows more solitary every day ; and 1 don't know how
it is, but I am not so fond of strange faces as I used to be. 'T is a new
thing for me to be avoided and alone. Why, I remember even little Sid,
who had as much vemon as most men, once said it was impossible to â
Fie now â see if I was not going to preach a sermon from a text in
favour of myself ! But come, Morton, come, I long for your face again :
it is not so soft as Aubrey's, nor so regular as Gerald's ; but it is twice
as kind as either. Come, before it is too late : I feel myself going ; and,
to tell thee a secret, the doctors tell me I may not last many months
longer. Come, and laugh once more at the old knight's stories. Come,
and show him that there is still some one not too good to love him.
Come, and I will tell thee a famous thing of old Rowley, which I am
too ill and too sad to tell thee now.
Need I say that, upon receiving this letter, I resolved,
"without any delay, to set out for Devereux Court? I sum-
moned Desmarais to me; he answered not my call: he was
from home, â an unfrequent occurrence with the necessitarian
valet. I waited his return, which was not for some hours, in
order to give him sundry orders for my departure. The ex-
quisite Desmarais hemmed thrice, â "Will Monsieur be so
very kind as to excuse my accompanying him?" said he, with
his usual air and tone of obsequious respect.
"And why?" The valet explained. A relation of his was
in England only for a few days: the philosopher was most
anxious to enjoy his society, a pleasure which fate might not
again allow him.
Though I had grown accustomed to the man's services, and
did not like to lose him even for a time, yet I could not refuse
his request; and I therefore ordered another of my servants
to supply his place. This change, however, determined me
to adopt a plan which I had before meditated; namely, the
conveying of my own person to Devereux Court on horseback,
and sending my servant with my luggage in my post-chaise.
The equestrian mode of travelling is, indeed to this day, the
one most pleasing to me ; and the reader will find me pursu-
ing it many years afterwards, and to the same spot.
I might as well observe here that I had never intrusted
Desmarais â no, nor one of my own servants â with the se-
cret of my marriage with, or my visits to, Isora. I am a
very fastidious person on those matters ; and of all confidants,
even in the most trifling affairs, I do most eschew those by
whom we have the miserable honour of being served.
In order, then, to avoid having my horse brought me to
Isora's house by any of these menial spies, I took the steed
which I had selected for my journey, and rode to Isora's with
the intention of spending the evening there, and thence com-
mencing my excursion with the morning light.
love; parting; a death-bed. â after all human nature
IS A beautiful fabric; and even its imperfections
ARE not odious TO HIM WHO HAS STUDIED THE SCIENCE
OF ITS ARCHITECTURE, AND FORMED A REVERENT ESTIMATE
OF ITS CREATOR.
It is a noticeable thing how much fear increases love. I
mean â for the aphorism requires explanation â how much
we love in proportion to our fear of losing (or even to our fear
of injury done to) the beloved object. 'T is an instance of
the reaction of the feelings : the love produces the fear, and
the fear reproduces the love. This is one reason, among
many, why women love so much more tenderly and anxiously
than we do ; and it is also one reason among many why fre-
quent absences are, in all stages of love, the most keen ex-
citers of the passion. I never breathed, away from Isora,
without trembling for her safety. I trembled lest this Bar-
nard, if so I should still continue to call her persecutor,
should again discover and again molest her. Whenever (and
that was almost daily) I rode to the quiet and remote dwell-
ing I had procured her, my heart beat so vehemently, and
my agitation was so intense, that on arriving at the gate I
have frequently been unable, for several minutes, to demand
admittance. There was, therefore, in the mysterious danger
which ever seemed to hang over Isora, a perpetual irritation
to a love otherwise but little inclined to slumber; and this
constant excitement took away froin the torpor into which
domestic affection too often languishes, and increased my
passion even while it diminished my happiness.
On my arrival now at Isora's, I found her already stationed
at the window, watching for my coming. How her dark
eyes lit into lustre when they saw me ! How the rich blood
mantled up under the soft cheek which feeling had refined
of late into a paler hue than it was wont, when I first gazed
upon it, to wear! Then how sprang forth her light step to
meet me! How trembled her low voice to welcome me!
How spoke, from every gesture of her graceful form, the anx-
ious, joyful, all-animating gladness of her heart ! It is a mel-
ancholy pleasure to the dry, harsh afterthoughts of later life,
to think one has been thus loved; and one marvels, when one
considers what one is now, how it could have ever been!
That love of ours was never made for after years ! It could
never have flowed into the common and cold channel of ordi-
nary affairs! It could never have been mingled with the
petty cares and the low objects with which the loves of all
who live long together in this sordid and most earthly earth
are sooner or later blended! We could not have spared to
others an atom of the great wealth of our affection. We were
misers of every coin in that boundless treasury. It would
have pierced me to the soul to have seen Isora smile upon an-
other. I know not even, had we had children, if I should
not have been jealous of my child! Was this selfish love?
yes, it was, intensely, wholly selfish ; but it was a love made
so only by its excess ; nothing selfish on a smaller scale pol-
luted it. There was not on earth that which the one would
not have forfeited at the lightest desire of the other. So
utterly were happiness and Isora entwined together that I
could form no idea of the one with which the other was not
connected. Was this love made for the many and miry roads
through which man must travel? Was it made for age, or,
worse than age, for those cool, ambitious, scheming years that
we call mature, in which all the luxuriance and verdure of
things are pared into tame shapes that mimic life, but a life
that is estranged from Nature, in which art is the only beauty
and regularity the only grace? No, in my heart of hearts, I
feel that our love was not meant for the stages of life through
which I have already passed; it would have made us misera-
ble to see it fritter itself away, and to remember what it once
was. Better as it is ! better to mourn over the green bough
than to look upon the sapless stem. You who now glance
over these pages, are you a mother? If so, answer me one
question: Would you not rather that the child whom you
have cherished with your soul's care, whom you have nur-
tured at your bosom, whose young joys your eyes have spar-
kled to behold, whose lightest grief you have wept to witness
as you would have wept not for your own ; over whose pure
and unvexed sleep you have watched and prayed, and, as it
lay before you thus still and unconscious of your vigil, have
shaped out, oh, such bright hopes for its future lot, â would
you not rather that while thus young and innocent, not a care
tasted, not a crime incurred, it went down at once into the
dark grave? Would you not rather suffer this grief, bitter
though it be, than watch the predestined victim grow and
ripen, and wind itself more and more around your heart, and
when it is of full and mature age, and you yourself are stricken
by years, and can form no new ties to replace the old that
are severed, when woes have already bowed the darling of
your hope, whom woe never was to touch, when sins have
already darkened the bright, seraph, unclouded heart which
sin never was to dim, â behold it sink day by day altered,
diseased, decayed, into the tomb which its childhood had in
vain escaped? Answer me: would not the earlier fate be far
gentler than the last? And if you have kno-^n and wept
over that early tomb, if you have seen the infant flower fade
away from the green soil of your affections ; if you have missed
the bounding step, and the laughing eye, and the winning
mirth which made this sterile world a perpetual holiday, â
Mother of the Lost, if you have known, and you still pine for
these, answer me yet again ! Is it not a comfort, even while
you mourn, to think of all that that breast, now so silent,
has escaped? The cream, the sparkle, the elixir of life, it
had already quaffed : is it not sweet to think it shunned the
wormwood and the dregs? Answer me, even though the an-
swer be in tears ! Mourner, your child was to you what my
early and only love was to me; and could you pierce down,
down through a thousand fathom of ebbing thought, to the
far depths of my heart, you would there behold a sorrow and
a consolation that have something in unison with your own !
When the light of the next morning broke into our room,
Isora was still sleeping. Have you ever observed that the
young, seen asleep and by the morning light, seem much
younger even than they are? partly because the air and the
light sleep of dawn bring a fresher bloom to the cheek, and
partly, because the careless negligence and the graceful pos-
tures exclusively appropriated to youth, are forbidden by cus-
tom and formality through the day, and developing themselves
unconsciously in sleep, they strike the eye like the ease and
freedom of childhood itself. There, as I looked upon Isora's
tranquil and most youthful beauty, over which circled and
breathed an ineffable innocence, â even as the finer and subt-
ler air, which was imagined by those dreamy bards who kin-
dled the soft creations of naiad and of nymph, to float around
a goddess, â I could not believe that aught evil awaited one for
whom infancy itself seemed to linger, â linger as if no elder
shape and less delicate hue were meet to be the garment of so
much guilelessness and tenderness of heart. I felt, indeed,
while I bent over her, and her regular and quiet breath came
upon my cheek, that feeling which is exactly the reverse to
a presentiment of ill. I felt as if, secure in her own purity,
she had nothing to dread, so that even the pang of parting
was lost in the confidence which stole over me as I then
I rose gently, went to the next room, and dressed myself; I
heard my horse neighing beneath, as the servant walked him
lazily to and fro. I re-entered the bed-chamber in order to
take leave of Isora; she was already up. "What!" said I,
" it is but three minutes since I left you asleep, and I stole
away as time does when with you."
"Ah!" said Isora, smiling and blushing too, "but for my
part, I think there is an instinct to know, even if all the
senses were shut up, whether the one we love is with us or
not. The moment you left me, I felt it at once, even in sleep,
and I woke. But you will not, no, you will not leave me
I think I see Isora now, as she stood by the window which
she had opened, with a woman's minute anxiety, to survey
even the aspect of the clouds, and beseech caution against the
treachery of the skies. I think I see her now, as she stood
the moment after I had torn myself from her embrace, and
had looked back, as I reached the door, for one parting glance,
â her eyes all tenderness, her lips parted, and quivering with
the attempt to smile, the long, glossy ringlets (through whose
raven hue the inirpureum lumen broke like an imprisoned
sunbeam) straying in dishevelled beauty over her transparent
neck; the throat bent in mute despondency; the head droop-
ing; the arms half extended, and dropping gradually as my
steps departed; the sunken, absorbed expression of face,
form, and gesture, so steeped in the very bitterness of dejec-
tion, â all are before me now, sorrowful, and lovely in sorrow,
as they were beheld years ago, by the gray, cold, comfortless
light of morning!
"God bless you, â my own, own love," I said; and as my
look lingered, I added, with a full but an assured heart; "and
He will ! " I tarried no more : I flung myself on my horse,
and rode on as if I were speeding to, and not from, my bride.
The noon was far advanced, as, the day after I left Isora, I
found myself entering the park in which Devereux Court is
situated. 1 did not enter by one of the lodges, but through
a private gate. My horse was thoroughly jaded; for the dis-
tance I had come was great, and I had ridden rapidly ; and as
I came into the park, I dismounted, and, throwing the rein
over my arm, proceeded slowly on foot. I was passing through
a thick, long plantation, which belted the park and m which
several walks and rides had been cut, when a man crossed the
same road which I took, at a little distance before me. He
was looking on the ground, and appeared wrapt in such ear-
nest meditation that he neither saw nor heard me. But I
had seen enough of him, in that brief space of time, to feel
convinced that it was Montreuil whom I beheld. What
brought him hither, him, whom I believed in London, im-
mersed with Gerald in political schemes, and for whom these
woods were not only interdicted ground, but to whom they
must have also been but a tame field of interest, after his
audiences with ministers and nobles? I did not, however,
pause to consider on his apparition; I rather quickened my
pace towards the house, in the expectation of there ascertain-
ing the cause of his visit.
The great gates of the outer court were open as usual : I
rode unheedingly through them, and was soon at the door of
the hall. The porter, who unfolded to my summons the pon-
derous door, uttered, when he saw me, an exclamation that
seemed to my ear to have in it more of sorrow than welcome.
" How is your master? " I asked.
The man shook his head, but did not hasten to answer;
and, impressed with a vague alarm, I hurried on without re-
peating the question. On the staircase I met old Nicholls,
my uncle's valet; I stopped and questioned him. My uncle
had been seized on the preceding day with gout in the stom-
ach; medical aid had been procured, but it was feared inef-
fectually, and the physicians had declared, about an hour
before I arrived, that he could not, in human probability,
outlive the night. Stifling the rising at my heart, I waited
to hear no more; I flew up the stairs; I was at the door of
my uncle's chamber; I stopped there, and listened; all was
still; I opened the door gently; I stole in, and, creeping to
the bedside, knelt down and covered my face with my hands;
for I required a pause for self-possession, before I had cour-
age to look up. When I raised my eyes, I saw my mother on
the opposite side ; she sat on a chair with a draught of medi-
cine in one hand, and a watch in the other. She caught my
eye, but did not speak; she gave me a sign of recognition,
and looked down again upon the watch. My uncle's back
was turned to me, and he lay so still that, for some moments,
I thought he was asleep ; at last, however, he moved restlessly.
"It is past noon! " said he to my mother, "is it not?"
"It is three minutes and six seconds after four," replied
my mother, looking closer at the watch.
My uncle sighed. " They have sent an express for the dear
boy. Madam?" said he.
"Exactly at half-past nine last evening," answered my
mother, glancing at me.
"He could scarcely be here by this time," said my uncle,
and he moved again in the bed. "Pish, how the pillow frets
one ! "
"Is it too high?" said my mother.
"No," said my uncle, faintly, "no â no â the discomfort is
not in the pillow, after all: 'tis a fine day; is it not?"
"Very! " said my mother; "I wish you could go out."
My uncle did not answer : there was a pause. " Ods fish,
Madam, are those carriage wheels?"
" No, Sir William â but â "
"There are sounds in my ear; my senses grow dim," said
my uncle, unheeding her: "would that I might live another
day; I should not like to die without seeing him. 'Sdeath,
Madam, I do hear something behind! â Sobs, as I live! â
Who sobs for the old knight?" and my uncle turned round,
and saw me.
" My dear â dear uncle ! " I said, and could say no more.
"Ah, Morton," cried the kind old man, putting his hand
affectionately upon mine. " Beshrew me, but I think I have
conquered the grim enemy now that you are come. But
what's this, my boy? â tears â tears, âwhy, little Sid â no,
nor Rochester either, would ever have believed this if I had
sworn it! Cheer up, cheer up."
But, seeing that I wept and sobbed tbe more, my uncle, after
a pause, continued in the somewhat figurative strain whicli
the reader has observed he sometimes adopted, and which
perhaps his dramatic studies had taught him.
^'Xay, Morton, what do you grieve for? â that Age should
throw off its fardel of aches and pains, and no longer groan
along its weary road, meeting cold looks and unwilling wel-
comes, as both host and comrade grow weary of the same face,
and the spendthrift heart has no longer quip or smile where-
with to pay the reckoning? No, no : let the poor pedler shuffie
off his dull pack, and fall asleep. But I am glad you are
come: I would sooner have one of your kind looks at your
uncle's stale saws or jests than all the long faces about me,
saving only the presence of your mother; " and with his char-
acteristic gallantry, my uncle turned courteously to her.
" Dear Sir William ! " said she, " it is time you should take
your draught ; and then would it not be better that you should
see the chaplain? he waits without."
"Ods fish," said my uncle, turning again to me, "'tis
the way with them all: when the body is past hope comes
the physician, and when the soul is past mending comes the
priest. No, Madam, no, 't is too late for either. â Thank ye,
^Morton, thank ye " (as I started up â took the draught from
my mother's hand, and besought him to drink it), " 't is of no
use ; but if it pleases thee, I must, " â and he drank the
My mother rose, and walked towards the door: it was ajar;
and, as my eye followed her figure, I perceived, through the
opening, the black garb of the chaplain.
"Not yet," said she, quietly; "wait." And then gliding
away, seated herself by the window in silence, and told her
My uncle continued : " They have been at me, ^lorton, as if
I had been a pagan; and I believe, in their hearts, they are
not a little scandalized that I don't try to win the next world
by trembling like an ague. Faith now, I never could believe
that Heaven was so partial to cowards ; nor can I think, Mor-
ton, that Salvation is like a soldier's muster-roll, and that we
may play the devil between hours, so that, at the last mo-
ment, we whip in, and answer to our names. Ods fish, Mor-
ton, I could tell thee a tale of that; but 'tis a long one, and
we have not time now. Well, well, for my part, I deem
reverently and gratefully of God, and do not believe He will
be very wroth with our past enjoyment of life, if we have
taken care tliat others should enjoy it too; nor do I think,
with thy good mother, and Aubrey, dear child ! that an idle
word has the same weight in the Almighty's scales as a
"Blessed, blessed, are they," I cried through my tears, "on
whose souls there is as little stain as there is on yours ! "
"Faith, Morton, that's kindly said; and thou knowest not
how strangely it sounds, after their exhortations to repent-
ance. I know I have had my faults, and walked on to our
common goal in a very irregular line; but I never wronged
the living nor slandered the dead, nor ever shut my heart to
the poor, â 'twere a burning sin if I had, â and I have loved
all men and all things, and I never bore ill-will to a creature.
Poor Ponto, Morton, thou wilt take care of poor Ponto, when
I'm dead, â nay, nay, don't grieve so. Go, my child, go:
compose thyself while I see the priest, for 't will please thy
poor mother; and though she thinks harshly of me now, I
should not like her to do so to-ynorroiu ! Go, my dear boy,
I went from the room, and waited by the door, till the
office of the priest was over. My mother then came out, and
said Sir William had composed himself to sleep. While she
was yet speaking, Gerald surprised me by his appearance. I
learned that he had been in the house for the last three days,
and when I heard this, I involuntarily accounted for the ap-
pearance of Montreuil. I saluted him distantly, and he re-
turned my greeting with the like pride. He seemed, however,
though in a less degree, to share in my emotions; and my
heart softened to him for it. Nevertheless we stood apart,
and met not as brothers should have met by the death-bed of
a mutual benefactor.
"Will you wait without?" said my mother.
"No," answered I, "I will watch over him." So I stole in,
with a light step, and seated myself by my uncle's bed-side.
He was asleep, and his sleep was as hushed and quiet as an
infant's. I looked upon his face, and saw a change had come
over it, and was increasing sensibly: but there was neither
harshness nor darkness in the change, awful as it was. The
soul, so long nurtured on benevolence, could not, in parting,
leave a rude stamp on the kindly clay which had seconded its
impulses so well.
The evening had just set in, when my uncle woke; he
turned very gently, and smiled when he saw me.
"It is late," said he, and I observed with a wrung heart,
that his voice was fainter.
"No, Sir, not very," said I.
"Late enough, my child; the warm sun has gone down;
and 'tis a good time to close one's eyes, when all without
looks gray and chill : methinks it is easier to wish thee fare-
well, Morton, when I see thy face indistinctly. I am glad I
shall not die in the daytime. Give me thy hand, my child,
and tell me that thou art not angry with thine old uncle for
thwarting thee in that love business. I have heard tales of
the girl, too, which made me glad, for thy sake, that it is all
off, though I might not tell thee of them before. 'T is very