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the happiness of knowing her. This inscription was upon
a marble shield supported by two Cupids, who bent their
heads over the edge, with marble tears larger than gray
pease, and something of the .same color, upon their cheeks.
These were the only tears which her death occasioned, and
the only Cupids with whom she had ever any concern.



A LOVE STORY. 177



CHAPTER III.

A SCE^E WHICH WILL PUT SO3IE OF THOSE READERS WHO HAVB
BEEN MOST IMPATIENT WITH THE AUTHOR, IN THE BEST HUMOB
WITH HIM.

There is no argument of more antiqnity and elegancy than is the mat-
ter of Love ; for it seems to be as old as the world, and to bear date from
the first time that man and woman was: therefore in this, as in the finest
metal, the freshest wits have in all ages shown their best workmanship.

EGBERT WILMOT.



Leonard had resided three years at Oxford, one
of his college-friends invited him to pass the long vacation
at his father's house, which happened to be within an easy
ride of Salisbury. One morning, therefore, he rode to that
city, rung at Miss Trewbody's door, and having sent in his
name, was admitted into the parlor, where there was no one
to receive him. while Miss Trewbody adjusted her head-
dress at the toilette, before she made her appearance. Her
feelings while she was thus employed were not of the
pleasantest kind toward this unexpected guest ; and she was
prepared to accost him with a reproof for his extravagance
in undertaking so long a journey, and with some mortifying
questions concerning the business which brought him there.
But this amiable intention was put to flight, when Leonard,
as soon as she entered the room, informed her, that having
accepted an invitation into that neighborhood, from his friend
and fellow-collegian, the son of Sir Lambert Bowles, he'had
taken the earliest opportunity of coming to pay his respects
to her, and acknowledging his obligations, as bound alike
by duty and inclination. The name of Sir Lambert Bowle3
acted upon Miss Trewbody like a charm ; and its mollify-
ing effect was not a little aided by the tone of her nephew's
address, and the sight of a fine youth in the first bloom of
manhood, whose appearance and manners were such, that
8 L



178 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

she could not be surprised at the introduction he had ob-
tained into one of the first families in the county. The
scowl, therefore, which she brought into the room upon her
brow, passed instantly away, and was succeeded by so
gracious an aspect, that Leonard, if he had not divined the
cause, might have mistaken this gleam of sunshine for fair
weather.

A cause which Miss Trewbody could not possibly suspect
had rendered her nephew's address thus conciliatory. Had
he expected to see no other person in that house, the visit
would have been performed as an irksome obligation, and
iris manner would have appeared as cold and formal as the
reception which he anticipated. But Leonard had not for-
gotten the playmate and companion with whom the happy
years of his childhood had been passed. Young as he was
at their separation, his character had taken its stamp dur-
ing those peaceful years, and the impression which it then
received was indelible. Hitherto hope had never been to
him so delightful as memory. His thoughts wandered back
into the past more frequently than they took flight into the
future ; and the favorite form which his imagination called
up was that of the sweet child, who in winter partook his
bench in the chimney-corner, and in summer sat with him
in the porch, and strung the fallen blossoms of jessamine
upon stalks of grass. The snowdrop and the crocus re-
minded him of their little garden, the primrose of their
sunny orchard-bank, and the bluebells and the cowslip of
the fields, wherein they were allowed to run wild, and
gather them in the merry month of May. Such as she
then was he saw her frequently in sleep, with her blue
eyes, and rosy cheeks, and flaxen curls: and in his day-
dreams he sometimes pictured her to himself such as he
supposed she now might be, and dressed up the image with
all the magic of ideal beauty. His heart, therefore, was at
his lips when he inquired for his cousin. It was not with-



A LOVE STORY. 179

out something like fear, and an apprehension of disappoint-
ment, that he awaited her appearance ; and he was secretly
condemning himself for the romantic folly which he had
encouraged, when the door opened, and a creature came in,
less radiant, indeed, but more winning than his fancy
had created, for the loveliness of earth and reality waa
about her.

' Margaret," said Miss Trewbody, " do you remember
your cousin Leonard?"

Before she could answer, Leonard had taken her hand.
" 'T is a long while, Margaret, since we parted ! ten
years! But I have not forgotten the parting nor the
blessed days of our childhood."

She stood trembling like an aspen leaf, and looked wist-
fully in his face for a moment, then hung down her head,
without power to utter a word in reply. But he felt her
tears fall fast upon his hand, and felt also that she returned
its pressure.

Leonard had some difficulty to command himself, so as to
bear a part in conversation with his aunt, and keep his eyes
and his thoughts from wandering. He accepted, however,
her invitation to stay and dine with her with undissembled
satisfaction, and the pleasure was not a little heightened
when she left the room to give some necessary orders in
consequence. Margaret still sate trembling and in silence.
He took her hand, pressed it to his lips, and said in a low
earnest voice, " Dear, dear Margaret ! " She raised her
eyes, and fixing them upon him with one of those looks,
the perfect remembrance of which can never be effaced from
the heart to which they have been addressed, replied in a
lower but not less earnest tone, " Dear Leonard ! " and from
that moment their lot was sealed for time and for eternity.



180 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

CHAPTER IV.

MORE CONCERNING LOVE AND THE DREAM OP LIFE.

Happy the bonds that hold ye;
Sure they be sweeter far than liberty,
There is no blessedness but in such bondage ;
Happy that happy chain; such links are heavei ly.

BEAUMONT ANE FLETCHER.

I WILL not describe the subsequent interviews between
Leonard and his cousin, short and broken, but precious as
they were; nor that parting one, in which hands were
plighted with the sure and certain knowledge that hearts
had been interchanged. Remembrance will enable some of
my readers to portray the scene, and then perhaps a sigh
may be heaved for the days that are gone : Hope will pic-
ture it to others and with them the sigh will be for the
days that are to come.

There was not that indefinite deferment of hope in this
case at which the heart sickens. Leonard had been bred
up in poverty from his childhood ; a parsimonious allowance,
grudgingly bestowed, had contributed to keep him frugal at
college, by calling forth a pardonable if not a commendable
sense of pride in aid of a worthier principle. He knew
that he could rely upon himself for frugality, industry, and
a cheerful as well as a contenteti mind. He had seen the
miserable state of bondage in which Margaret existed with
her aunt, and his resolution was made to deliver her from
tha : bondage as soon as he could obtain the smallest bene-
fice on which it was possible for them to subsist. They
agreed to live rigorously within their means, however poor,
and put their trust in Providence. They could not be de-
ceived in each other, for they had grown up together ; and
they knew that they were not deceived in themselves.
Their love had the freshness of youth, but prudence and



A LOVE STORY. 181

forethought were not wanting; the resolution which they
had taken brought with it peace of mind, and no misgiving
was felt in either heart when they prayed for a blessing
upon their purpose. In reality it had already brought a
blessing with it; and this they felt; for love, when it de-
serves that n^ime, produces in us what may be called a
regeneration of its own a second birth dimly, but yet
in some degree, resembling that which is effected by Divine
Love when its redeeming work is accomplished in the soul.

Leonard returned to Oxford happier than all this world's
wealth or this world's honors could have made him. He
had now a definite and attainable hope an object in life
which gave to life . itself a value. For Margaret, the world
no longer seemed to her like the same earth which she had
till then inhabited. Hitherto she had felt herself a forlorn
and solitary creature, without a friend; and the sweet
sounds and pleasant objects of nature, had imparted as little
cheerfulness to her as to the debtor who sees green fields in
sunshine from his prison, and hears the lark singing at lib-
erty. Her heart was open now to all the exhilarating and
all the softening influences of birds, fields, flowers, vernal
suns, and melodious streams. She was subject to the same
daily and hourly exercise of meekness, patience, and hu-
mility; but the trial was no longer painful; with love in
her heart, and hope and sunshine in her prospect, she found
even a pleasure in contrasting her present condition with
that which was in store for her.

In these our days every young lady holds the pen of a
ready writer, and words flow from it as fast as it can indent
its zigzag lines, according to the reformed system of writing,
which said system improves handwritings by making
them all alike and all illegible. At that time women wrote
better and spelt worse ; but letter-writing was not one of
their accomplishments. It had not yet become one of the
general pleasures and luxuries of life, perhaps the greatest



182 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

gratification which the progress of civilization has given
us. There was then no mail-coach to waft a sigh across the
country at the rate of eight miles an hour. Letters came
slowly and with long intervals between ; but when they
came, the happiness which they imparted to Leonard and
Margaret lasted during the interval, however long. To
Leonard it was as an exhilarant and a cordial which rejoiced
and strengthened him. He trod the earth with a lighter and
more elated movement on the day when he received a letter
from Margaret, as if he felt himself invested with an impor-
tance which he had never possessed till the happiness of an-
other human being was inseparably associated with his own.

So proud a thing it was for him to wear

Love's golden chain,
With which it is best freedom to be bound.*

Happy, indeed, if there be happiness on earth, as that
same sweet poet says, is he

Who love enjoys, and placed hath his mind
Where fairest virtues fairest beauties grace,

Then in himself such store of worth doth find
That he deserves to find so good a place.*

This was Leonard's case ; and when he kissed the paper
which her hand had pressed, it was with a consciousness of
the strength and sincerity of his affection, which at once re-
joiced and fortified his heart. To Margaret his letters were
like summer dew upon the herb that thirsts for such refresh-
ment. Whenever they arrived, a headache became the
cause or pretext for retiring earlier than usual to her cham-
ber, that she might weep and dream over the precious lines.

True gentle love is like the summer dew,

Which falls around when all is still and hush ;

And falls unseen until its bright 'drops strew

With odors, herb and flower, and bank and bush.

* Drummond.



A LOVE STORY. 183

O love ! when womanhood is in the flush,
And man's a young and an unspotted thing,

His first-breathed word, and her half-conscious hlusb,
Are fair as light in heaven, or flowers in spring*



CHAPTER V.

AS EARLY BEREAVEMENT. TRUE LOVE ITS OWN COMFORTER. A
LONELY FATHER AND AN ONLY CHILD.

Read ye that run the awful truth,

With which I charge my page;
A worm is in the bud of youth,

And at the root of age.

COWPER.

LEONARD was not more than eight-and-twenty when he
obtained a living, a few miles from Doncaster. He took
his bride with him to the vicarage. The house was as hum-
ble as the benefice, which was worth less than 50 a year ;
but it was soon made the neatest cottage in the country
round, and upon a happier d\*elling the sun never shone.
A few acres of good glebe were attached to it ; and the gar-
den was large enough to afford healthful and pleasurable
employment to its owners. The course of true love never
ran more smoothly ; but its course was short.

O how this spring of love resembleth

The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,

And by and by a cloud takes all away ! t

Little more than five years from the time of their mar-
riage had elapsed, before a head-stone in the adjacent
churchyard told where the remains of Margaret Bacon had
been deposited, in the thirtieth year of her age.

* Allan Cunningham. t Shakespeare.



184 EGBERT SOUTHEY.

i
When the stupor and the agony of that bereavement had

passed away, the very intensity of Leonard's affection be-
came a source of consolation. Margaret had been to him a
purely ideal object during the years of his youth ; death
had again rendered her such. Imagination had beautified
and idolized her then ; faith sanctified and glorified her now.
She had been to him on earth all that he had fancied, all
that he had hoped, all that he had desired. She would
again be so in heaven. And this second union nothing
could impede, nothing could interrupt, nothing could dis-
solve. He had only to keep himself worthy of it by cher-
ishing her memory, hallowing his heart to it while he per-
formed a parent's duty to their child ; and so doing to await
his own summons, which must one day come, which every
day was brought nearer, and which any day might bring.

'T is the only discipline we are born for ;
All studies else are but as circular lines,
And death the centre where they must all meet.*

The same feeling which from his childhood had refined
Leonard's heart, keeping it* pure and undefiled, had also
corroborated the natural strength of his chafacter, and made
him firm of purpose. It was a saying of Bishop Andrewes,
that " good husbandry is good divinity " ; " the truth where-
of," says Fuller, " no wise man will deny." Frugality he
had always practised as a needful virtue, and found that, in
an especial manner, it brings with it its own reward. He
now resolved upon scrupulously setting apart a fourth of his
small income to make a provision for his child, in case of
her surviving him, as in the natural course of things might
be expected. If she should be removed before him for
this was an event the possibility of which he always bore in
mind he had resolved, that whatever should have been
accumulated with this intent, should be disposed of to some

* Massinger.



A LOVE STORY. 185

other pious purpose, for such, within the limits to which
his poor means extended, he properly considered this.
And having entered on this prudential course with a calm
reliance upon Providence, in case his hour should come be-
fore that purpose could be accomplished, he was without
any earthly hope or fear, those alone excepted from
which no parent can be free.

The child had been christened Deborah, after her maternal
grandmother, for whom Leonard ever gratefully retained a
most affectionate and reverential remembrance. She was
a healthy, happy creature in body and in mind ; at first

one of those little prating girls
Of whom fond parents tell such tedious stories ; *

afterwards, as she grew up, a favorite with the village
schoolmistress, and with the whole parish ; docile, good-
natured, lively and yet considerate, always gay as a lark and
busy as a bee. One of the pensive pleasures in which
Leonard indulged was to gaze on her unperceived, and
trace the likeness to her mother.

O Christ !

How that which was the life's life of our being,
Can pass away, and we recall it thus ! t

That resemblance which was strong in childhood lessened
as the child grew up ; for Margaret's countenance had ac-
quired a cast of meek melancholy during those years in
which the bread of bitterness had been her portion ; and,
when hope came to her, it was that " hope deferred,' which
takes from the cheek its bloom, even when the heart, instead
of being made sick, is sustained by it. But no unhappy
circumstances depressed the constitutional buoyancy of her
daughter's spirits. Deborah brought into the world the

* Dryden. t Isaac Comnenus.




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to him by all his dearest
He had been known bv it on




A LOVE STORY. 187

his mother's knees, and in the humble cottage of that aunt
who had been to him a second mother ; and by the wife of
his bosom, his first, last, and only love. Margaret had
never spoken to him, never thought of him, by any other
name. From the hour of her death, no human voice ever
addressed him by it again. He never heard himself so
called, except in dreams. It existed only in the dead let-
ter ; he signed it mechanically in the course of business,
but it had ceased to be a living name.

Men willingly prefix a handle to their names, and tack
on to them any two or more honorary letters of the alphabe:
as a tail ; they drop their surnames for a dignity, and
change them for an estate or a title. They are pleased
to be Doctor'd and Professor'd ; to be Captain'd, Major'd,
Colouel'd, General' d, or Admiral'd; to be Sir John'd, my-
Lorded, or your-Grace'd. " You and I," says Cranmer in
his Answer to Gardiner's book upon Transubstantiation
"you and I were delivered from our surnames when we
were consecrated Bishops ; sithence which time we have so
commonly been used of all men to be called Bishops, you of
Winchester, and I of Canterbury, that the most part of the
people know not that your name is Gardiner, and mine
Cranmer. And I pray God, that we being called to the
name of Lords, have not forgotten our own baser estates,
that once we were simple squires ! " But the emotion with
which the most successful suitor of Fortune hears himself
first addressed by a new and honorable title, conferred upon
him for his public deserts, touches his heart less (if that
heart be sound at the core), than when after long absence,
some one who is privileged so to use it, accosts him by his
Christian name, that household name which he has never
heard but from his nearest relations, and his old Familiar
friends. By this it is that we are known to all around us
in childhood ; it is used only by our parents and our nearest
kin when that stage is passed ; and, as they drop off, it dies
as to its oral uses with them.



188 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

It is because we are remembered more naturally in our
family and paternal circles by our baptismal than our he-
reditary names, and remember ourselves more naturally by
them, that the Roman Catholic, renouncing, upon a princi-
ple of perverted piety, all natural ties when he enters a
convent, and voluntarily dies to the world, assumes a new
one. This is one manifestation of that intense selfishness
which the law of monastic life inculcates, and affects to
sanctify. Alas, there need no motives of erroneous relig-
ion to wean us from the ties of blood and of affection ! They
are weakened and dissolved by fatal circumstances, and the
ways of the world, too frequently and too soon.

" Our men of rank," said my friend one day when he was
speaking upon this subject, " are not the only persons who
go by different appellations in different parts of their lives.
We all moult our names in the natural course of life. I
was Dan in my father's house, and should still be so with
my uncle William and Mr. Guy, if they were still living.
Upon my removal to Doncaster, my master and mistress
called me Daniel, and my acquaintance Dove. In Holland
I was Mynheer Duif. Now I am the Doctor, and not
among my patients only ; friends, acquaintance, and stran-
gers, address me by this appellation ; even my wife calls
me by no other name; and I shall never be anything but
the Doctor again, till I am registered at my burial by the
Bame name as at my christening."

CHAPTER VII.

THE DOCTOB IS INTRODUCED, BY THE SMALL-POX, TO HIS FUTURB
WIFE.

Long-waiting love doth entrance find
Into the slow-believing mind.

SYDNEY GODOLPHIN.

WHEN Deborah was about nineteen, the small-pox broke
out in Doncaster, and soon spread over the surrounding



A LOVE STORY. 189

country, occasioning everywhere a great mortality. At
that time inoculation had very rarely been practised in
the provinces ; and the prejudice against it was so strong,
that Mr. Bacon, though convinced in his own mind that the
practice was not only lawful, but advisable, refrained from
having his daughter inoculated till the disease appeared in
his own parish. He had been induced to defer it during
her childhood, partly because he was unwilling to offend the
prejudices of his parishioners, which he hoped to overcome
by persuasion and reasoning when time and opportunity
might favor ; still more, because he thought it unjustifiable
to introduce such a disease into his own house, with immi-
nent risk of communicating it to others, which were other-
wise in no danger, in which the same preparations would
not be made, and where, consequently, the danger would be
greater. But when the malady had shown itself in the par-
ish, then he felt that his duty as a parent required him to
take the best apparent means for the preservation of his
child ; and that as a pastor also it became him now in his
own family to set an example to his parishioners.

Deborah, who had the most perfect reliance upon her
father's judgment, and lived in entire accordance with his
will in all things, readily consented ; and seemed to regard
the beneficial consequences of the experiment to others with
hope, rather than to look with apprehension to it for herself.
Mr Bacon therefore went to Doncaster and called upon
Mr. Dove. " I do not," said he, " ask whether you would
advise me to have my daughter inoculated ; where so great
a risk is to be incurred, in the case of an only child, you
might hesitate to advise it. But if you see nothing in her
present state of health, or in her constitutional tendencies,
which would render it more than ordinarily dangerous, it is
her own wish and mine, after due consideration on my part,
that she should be committed to your care, putting our
trust in Providence."



190 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

Hitherto there had been no acquaintance between Mr.
Bacon and the Doctor, farther than that they knew each
other by sight and by good report. This circumstance led
to a growing intimacy. During the course of his attend-
ance, the Doctor fell in friendship with the father, and the
father with him.

" Did he fall in love with his patient? "

" No, ladies."

You have already heard that he once fell in love, and
how it happened. And you have also been informed that
he caught love once, though I have not told you how,
because it would have led me into too melancholy a tale.
In this case he neither fell in love, nor caught it, nor ran
into it, nor walked into it ; nor was he overtaken in it, as a
boon companion in liquor, or a runaway in his flight. Yet
there was love between the parties at last, and it was love for
love, to the heart's content of both. How this came to pass
will be related at the proper time and in the proper place.

For here let me set before the judicious reader certain
pertinent remarks by the pious and well-known author of a
popular treatise upon the Right Use of Reason, a trea-
tise which has been much read to little purpose. That au-
thor observes, that " those writers and speakers whose chief
business is to amuse or delight, to allure, terrify, or persuade
mankind, do not confine themselves to any natural order, but
in a cryptical or hidden method, adapt everything to their
designed ends. Sometimes they omit those things which
might injure their design, or grow tedious to their hearers,



Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 56 of 66)