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Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXVII, No. 3, September 1850 online

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him, and let him know by my indifference how little value I place either
on his society or his opinion.”

And Lucia re-entered the drawing-room with a stately step, and received
the salutation of her visiter with the utmost hauteur of manner.

“I have called, Miss Laurence, to apologize for my apparent incivility
in not keeping the engagement formed with you last evening,” said
Gadsby, with evident embarrassment.

“It was not necessary, Mr. Gadsby, to take so much trouble for that
which is of so little consequence,” answered Lucia, coldly.

“Pardon me, Miss Laurence, nothing but—but imperative business—”

“Pray do not exhaust your invention, sir, for excuses.”

Gadsby’s face crimsoned.

“Let me hope nothing serious prevented your accompanying the party, Miss
Laurence,” he at length said.

“To be more honest than you, I had no inclination to go, and therefore
did not.”

“But last evening—”

“O, last evening I arranged the excursion merely for my friends, not
feeling, of course, obliged to go with them,” was the answer.

“Then I certainly cannot regret so much the cause which prevented my
joining them, since the only attraction would have been wanting.”

This implied compliment was noticed only by a haughty bow.

“Cold, unyielding beauty!” thought Gadsby, carelessly turning over the
leaves of an annual.

“False, idle flatterer!” thought Lucia, pulling her bouquet to pieces.

“Those are beautiful flowers, Miss Laurence—what have they done to
merit such treatment at your fair hands!” said Mr. Gadsby, glad of the
opportunity to say something, for he felt himself completely embarrassed
by her repulsive manners. “You treat them with as little favor as you do
your admirers, and throw them from you with as little mercy. Fair,
beautiful flowers!” he added, gathering up the leaves of a rose from the
rich carpet, “fit emblems they are in their fragility of woman’s
short-lived faith and truth.”

“A lesson upon faith and truth from Mr. Gadsby is a paradox well worth
listening to!” retorted Lucia, with a sarcastic smile.

“Why so—do you then believe me destitute of them?”

“I have never deemed the subject worthy of reflection; yet, if I mistake
not, the world does not burthen you with such attributes.”

“And the world is probably right, Miss Laurence,” answered Gadsby,
piqued and angry. He arose, and walked several times across the room,
then again pausing before her, he said in a softened tone, “And yet,
although our acquaintance has been but brief, I trust I have given you
no reason to pass such severe censure upon me.”

A quick retort rose to the lips of Lucia, but as she raised her eyes,
they met those of Gadsby fixed upon her with an expression such as she
could not well define, so strangely were reproach and tenderness
blended. She was embarrassed, a deep blush mantled her face, and the
words were unspoken.

“She is not, then, utterly heartless—that blush belies it!” thought
Gadsby. “Say, Miss Laurence, may I not hope for a more lenient judgment
from you than the world accords?” he said, again addressing her.

“What ails me? Why do I tremble thus? Am I really to be the dupe of this
deceiver. No! let me be true to myself!” mentally exclaimed Lucia; and
then, with a look which instantly chilled the warm impulse in the heart
of Gadsby, she said,

“My opinion can be of very little consequence to Mr. Gadsby.”

“True, Miss Laurence. I wish you good morning,” and proudly bowing
himself out of the room, Gadsby took leave.

“Fool that I am to blush before him, who of all men has the least power
over me. It is well I know him, or even I might be deceived by such
looks as he just now cast upon me!” cried Lucia, as the door closed
after her visiter.


CHAPTER V.

It was some weeks after this ere Mr. Gadsby so far mastered his pride as
to call again upon the disdainful Miss Laurence. To his great regret he
was then informed that she was ill, very ill; and for many days his
inquiries were all met by the same painful answer. There is nothing
sooner breaks down the barrier of feigned indifference than the illness
of one whom we are schooling ourselves to avoid; and thus, in the heart
of Gadsby, coldness, distrust, disdain, yielded at once to the most
painful solicitude and deep tenderness. This sudden revulsion quite
overcame even the caution of this redoubtable coquet, so captious of any
appearance of surrendering the long boasted freedom of his heart; and
careless of what “the lookers on in Venice” might say, he called daily
to make inquiries, and sent to the fair invalid the most beautiful
flowers as delicate memorials of his sympathy, however he might once
have named them as fit emblems of the frailty of woman’s vows.

One morning early Clarence Walton entered the office of Gadsby.

“Good morning. Have you heard from Miss Laurence to-day, Walton?” was
the first inquiry.

“I am sorry to say she is not so well.”

“Is it possible! Who told you—are you sure?” said Mr. Gadsby, turning
quite pale.

“Yes; I am told she is better of the old complaint, but her friends
think now that she has a confirmed heart disease!” answered Walton,
gravely.

“Good God! you don’t say so! Is it incurable—is there no hope?”
exclaimed Gadsby, starting from his seat.

“Heart complaints are very dangerous in all cases, I believe,” replied
Walton, turning his head to conceal a smile, “yet I hope Miss Laurence
is not incurable; indeed, I feel quite confident that if she would but
call in a physician I could recommend, she might soon be restored.”

“And wont she? Have you spoken to her friends? Where is he to be
found—for not a moment should be lost; it is your duty to insist upon
it!” cried Gadsby, catching the arm of his friend, who seemed
provokingly indifferent.

“If she will only consent to see him, I shall gladly name him to
you—but why are you so much interested? To be sure, common kindness
dictates sympathy for the illness of one so young and beautiful; but why
you should take her sickness so much at heart, quite astonishes me,”
said Walton.

“Then, Walton, let me tell you that it is because I love her; yes, love
her more than my life!” replied Gadsby. “I know she despises me, for I
have appeared to her in a false light, for which I may thank my own
folly, and in giving my heart to her, I have sealed my own
wretchedness.”

Walton respected the feelings of his friend at this candid avowal, and
checking the well-merited jest which rose to his lips, said,

“In so hasty a decision, and one so fatal to your happiness, I think you
do both Miss Laurence and yourself injustice; if you really love her,
pursue the game boldly—I think you need not despair.”

Grateful for his forbearance on a point to which he was aware he was a
fair subject for ridicule, and somewhat encouraged by the words and
manner of Walton, Gadsby frankly continued,

“If her life is spared, I will show her that I am not what she has
thought me. Yes, I will study to win her love. O, my friend, should I
succeed—should I gain that rich treasure of beauty and intelligence, my
whole life shall be devoted to her happiness!”

What think you now, dear reader, of our invincible coquet?

Let us now change the scene to the sick room of Lucia.

“Look, my darling! see what beautiful flowers have been sent you this
morning!” said Mrs. Laurence, as Charlotte Atwood entered the room,
bearing in her hands two large and splendid bouquets.

“How beautiful!” cried Lucia, a faint color tinging her pale cheek.

“Yes, they are beautiful,” said her friend Charlotte; “really, Lucia, to
be so tenderly remembered in sickness, compensates for a great deal of
suffering. But you are favored; now I dare say poor I might look in vain
for any such fragrant tokens of kindness.”

“You carry them always with you, dear Charlotte; your heart is a perfect
garden of all fair and beautiful flowers,” said Mrs. Laurence, smiling
gratefully at the affectionate girl, who had shared with her so
faithfully the cares and anxieties of her child’s sick bed.

“Do you know who sent them?” asked Lucia, as she bent her head to inhale
their sweetness.

“That I shall not tell you,” answered Charlotte, catching the flowers
from her hand. “They are offerings from your captive knights, fair
princess; now choose the one you like best, and then I will tell you;
but be as wary as Portia’s lovers in your choice, for I have determined
in my mind that on whichever your selection falls, the fortunate donor
shall also be the fortunate suitor for your hand—come, choose!”

The bouquets were both beautiful. One was composed of the rarest and
most brilliant green-house flowers arranged with exquisite taste; the
other simply of the modest little Forget-me-not, rose-buds, and sweet
mignonette.

“In the words of Bassanio, then, I will say,

Outward shows be least themselves,
The world is still deceived with ornament;

and thus I make my choice,“ answered Lucia, smiling, and blushing as she
took the forget-me-not, and pressed them to her bosom.

“O happy, happy Mr. Gadsby!” cried Charlotte, laughing and clapping her
hands.

“Are these from him, then!” exclaimed Lucia, as she cast the beautiful
flowers from her. “Then pardon me, Charlotte, if I make a new choice;
Mr. Gadsby is too officious—pray bring me no more flowers from him!”

“You are really ungenerous, Lucia,” said Mrs. Laurence; “no one has been
so attentive in their inquiries since you have been ill as Mr. Gadsby. I
believe not a day has passed without his calling; they have not been
merely formal inquiries either—his countenance betrays a real
interest.”

Lucia colored, and a gentle sigh heaved her bosom—but she said, coldly,

“It is not difficult, dear mother, for Mr. Gadsby to feign an interest
for any lady upon whom he chooses to inflict his attentions.”

“Now, Lucia, I take a bold, defensive ground for Mr. Gadsby,” exclaimed
Charlotte. “You have abused the poor man unmercifully since you first
knew him, nor given him credit for one honest feeling. Well, there is
one comfort, you do not think worse of him than he does of you.”

“Then there is no love lost!” said Lucia, rather hastily.

“No, I am sure of that!” replied Charlotte, laughing. “There is none
lost, it is true, but treasured in your very hearts, hidden away as fire
beneath the snowy surface of Hecla, and which will one day suddenly
burst its frigid bonds—now mark my words!”

“You talk in enigmas, Charlotte, and I am too weary to solve them,” said
Lucia.

“Pardon me, dearest, I forgot you were sitting up so long—you must lie
down;” and as Charlotte turned to arrange the pillows for the fair
invalid, in an opposite mirror she saw Lucia take up the discarded
flowers, and—_press them to her lips_.


CHAPTER VI.

For the first time for many weeks, Lucia once more left her chamber, and
was able to receive the congratulatory visits of her friends. It was not
long ere Mr. Gadsby took advantage of her convalescence to express in
person his own pleasure at her recovered health.

She had never looked more lovely in his eyes than when he thus met her.
If, at the moment when he first looked upon her, her paleness pained
him, the bright color which instantly mantled her cheek, and the
agitation of her manner, sent a thrill of happiness to his heart. He
took her small, attenuated hand, and pressed it tenderly, as, in an
agitated voice, he told the happiness it gave him to see her again; and
as Lucia raised her eyes to reply, she saw his fine countenance beaming
with an expression which deepened her bloom and increased her
embarrassment.

“You have been very kind, Mr. Gadsby, during my illness,” she said, at
length, averting her face, “and I have to thank you for the many
beautiful flowers with which you have cheered my sick chamber.”

These kind words from her—from the proud Lucia, rendered Gadsby almost
beside himself with joy.

“Do not thank me for so trifling a favor, when, if I could, I would so
gladly have poured out my life’s blood to have saved you a moment’s
pain! O, my dear Miss Laurence—”

Now spare me, kind reader; I was never good at a love scene. Only just
fancy as pretty a declaration of love as you ever listened to, or poured
from your own throbbing heart, and you will have the result of Mr.
Gadsby’s interview with the fair Lucia, the self-styled “champion of her
sex”—yet proving herself a recreant, after all her boasting; for I have
been told, confidentially, that, so far from spurning this
“hollow-breasted Frank Gadsby” from her feet, when Miss Atwood rather
abruptly entered the drawing-room, she actually found her with her
beautiful head resting on his shoulder, while his manly arm was thrown
around her delicate waist—you must remember she was an invalid, and
required support!

There is a snug little house not a stone’s throw from the residence of
Mr. Laurence. It is furnished with perfect neatness and taste, and
there, loving and beloved, our two coquettes have settled themselves
down, in the practice of those domestic virtues and kindly affections
which contribute so largely to the happiness of life. Frank Gadsby is
now respected as an able lawyer, and bids fair to attain to great
eminence in his profession; and never did Lucia, even in the most
brilliant assembly, receiving the homage of so many eyes and hearts,
look more lovely than now, as in her neat morning dress, with her
beautiful hair in “braided tramels ’bout her daintie ears,” and

“Household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty,”

she goes about dispensing order in her cherished home.

* * * * *




THE GENIUS OF BYRON.


BY REV. J. N. DANFORTH.


Twenty-five years ago it was announced, in an Edinburgh Journal, by Sir
Walter Scott: “That mighty genius, which walked among men as something
superior to ordinary mortality, and whose powers were beheld with
wonder, and something approaching to terror, as if we knew not whether
they were of good or of evil, is laid as soundly to rest as the poor
peasant, whose ideas never went beyond his daily task. The voice of just
blame, and that of malignant censure, are at once silenced; and we feel
almost as if the great luminary of heaven had suddenly disappeared from
the sky, at the very moment when every telescope was leveled for the
examination of the spots which dimmed its brightness.” Thus did the
great “Wizard of the North” open his beautiful tribute to the memory of
the Noble Enchanter of the South, within whose fascinated circle had
been drawn the beauty, fashion, genius and literature of England. It was
as if the light of one star answered to that of another, or as if the
music of the one responded to the dying strains of the other—each in
his exalted sphere, when the “Great Unknown” thus uttered his voluntary
eulogy on a kindred genius, not to say imperial rival, of the first
magnitude, if the magnanimous spirit of the former could so conceive of
any cotemporary. The first fervor of admiring enthusiasm of the genius
of Byron having been cooled by the lapse of time, we are enabled to form
a more judicious estimate of it, and of the treasures it poured forth
with such lavish profusion. It is not now the image of the young lord we
see in the brilliant saloon, surrounded by gay admirers, with a face of
classic beauty, expressive eyes, an exquisite mouth and chin, hands
aristocratically small and delicately white, while over his head strayed
those luxuriant, dark-brown curls, that seem to constitute the mystery
of finishing beauty about the immortal brow of man and womankind, and
quite to defy the art of the sculptor. It is not such an one we see—a
living, moving form, like our own; but we think of the ghastly image of
death, we revert to the form mouldering in its subterranean bed,
relapsing into as common dust as that of the poorest beggar. But the
MIND remains—that which has stamped its burning thoughts on the poetic
page; it survives, imperishable, in another, an etherial sphere. It has
sought congenial companionship in one of the two states of perpetual
being, as inevitably demonstrated by reason as taught by revelation.
Byron himself might scorn to aspire after celestial purity and glory,
but he could draw with a dark and flagrant pencil the terrors of remorse
and retribution. He believed in the future existence of the soul,
whatever words of ominous meaning might at times be inserted to complete
a line or to indulge a whim of fancy. “Of the immortality of the soul,”
said he, “it appears to me there can be but little doubt, if we attend
for a moment to the action of mind; it is in perpetual activity. I used
to doubt it, but reflection has taught me better. It acts also so very
independent of the body—in dreams, for instance. . . I have often been
inclined to materialism in philosophy, but could never bear its
introduction into Christianity, which appears to me essentially founded
on the soul. For this reason Priestly’s materialism always struck me as
deadly. Believe the resurrection of the _body_, if you will, but not
without the _soul_.” Thus there were times when the “divinity stirred
within him,” and the soul asserted its regal prerogatives, and
vindicated its own expectations of the future. Nay, the sentiment must
have been habitual, for how often is it naturally implied in the ardor
of composition, as in those beautiful lines:

“Remember me! Oh, pass not thou my grave,
Without one thought whose relics there recline.
The only pang my bosom dare not brave,
Would be to find forgetfulness in thine.”

But our chief concern is with the _Poet_ Byron, not with the Philosopher
or the Peer. It has been said that in reviewing the lives of the most
illustrious poets—the class of intellect in which the characteristic
features of genius are most strongly marked—we shall find that, from
Homer to Byron, they have been restless and solitary spirits, with minds
wrapped up, like silk-worms, in their own tasks, either strangers or
rebels to domestic ties, and bearing about with them a deposit for
posterity in their souls, to the jealous watching and enriching of which
most all other thoughts and considerations have been sacrificed. In
accordance with this theory, Pope said: “One misfortune of extraordinary
geniuses is, that their very friends are more apt to admire than to love
them.” True, they have often “dwelt apart,” have been so engaged in
cultivating the imaginative faculty, as to become less sensible to the
objects of real life, and have substituted the sensibilities of the
imagination for those of the heart. Thus Dante is accused of wandering
away from his wife and children to nurse his dream of Beatrice, Petrarch
to have banished his daughter from his roof, while he luxuriated in
poetic and impassioned ideals, Alfieri always kept away from his mother,
and Sterne preferred, in the somewhat uncouth language of Byron,
“whining over a dead ass to relieving a living mother.” But did not
Milton love his daughter with an intense tenderness? Than Cowper who a
more filial and devoted son to the memory of his mother? A fond father
as well as faithful son was Campbell. Burns, too, delighted in his
“fruitful vine,” and “tender olive plants.” In Wordsworth the beauty and
purity of domestic life shone forth to the end. Southey had a home of
love and peace. Scott was a model of a husband and father. Nothing can
exceed the exquisite tenderness of some passages in his diary at the
death of his wife. Goldsmith was neither husband nor father, yet his
fine poetry never alienated his heart from the softer scenes and
sympathies of life. It seemed rather to augment their claims, and the
clear current from the fountain of the imagination is seen to flow right
through the channel of the heart, sparkling with beauty and murmuring
natural music in the enchanted ear. Even the voluptuous Moore is said to
have repaired his fame and prolonged his days by settling down into the
sobrieties of domestic life.

To return to Byron. He might be said to be unfortunate in his cradle.
His young days were brought under sinister influences and associations.
The youth that is deprived of a healthy maternal guardianship, is to be
pitied. Such was Byron’s lot. Alternately indulged and abused, petted
and irritated, his temper was formed in a bad mould. Never could he
forget the feeling of horror and humiliation that came over him when his
mother, in one of her fits of passion, called him a “lame brat.”

Now, as men of genius, being by a law of genius itself susceptible of
strong impressions, are in the habit of reproducing those impressions in
their works, a man of a sensitive poetic temperament, like Byron, and
one so highly, so dangerously endowed with intellect, and a vigorous
power of expression, would give to all these thoughts and associations a
local habitation, a living permanence in poetry, romance, and even in
history, so far as it could be turned to such a purpose. In his Deformed
Transformed, Bertha says: “Out, hunchback!” Poor Arnold replies: “I was
born so, mother!” If, then, we find the traits of misanthropy, scorn,
hate, revenge, and others of the serpent brood, so often obtruding
themselves in his poetry as to compel us to believe they were combined
with the very texture of his thoughts and the action of his imagination,
imparting to it a sombre and menacing aspect, we must refer much of this
melancholy idiosyncracy to his early education. He was always grieving
over the malformation of his foot. Far more lamentable was the
malformation of his mental habits. But this, unlike the other, could be
corrected. He should have exerted himself to achieve so noble a victory.
Instead of this he resigned himself to the strength of the downward
current, and was finally dashed among the rocks, where other stranded
wrecks uttered their warning voice in vain. There did he take up the
affecting lamentation:

“The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree
I planted—they have torn me, and I bleed.
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.”

Goethe said of him, that he was inspired with the _genius of Pain_. The
joyous, cheerful spirit that pervades the works of men who, like Scott
and Southey, were educated under auspicious influences, and by a healthy
process grew up to manhood with an habitual regard to the sacred
sanctions annexed to their physical and moral being, contrasts strongly
with the morbid, gloomy, and often bitter and sarcastic temper of that
poetry, which seems to flow as if from some poisoned fountain of
Helicon. Sometimes, indeed, he forgets his fancied wrongs and real woes,
as when walking amid the ruins of imperial Rome, and kindred
contiguities, he throws himself back into the very bosom of classic
antiquity, and pours out the purest strains of eloquence, enriched with
the glowing sunlight of poetry. For a time the shadow of the evil spirit
appears to depart from him, and the true glory of his genius shines
forth without a cloud, while the sentiments that rise in his soul ascend
to a pitch of moral sublimity beyond which the ambition of the human
imagination could not desire to go. In the fourth canto of Childe Harold
his power of conception and expression culminated, and the publication
of that poem called forth a judgment of the Lord Chief Justice of the
Bench of Literature, Francis Jeffrey, which almost deserves a coequal
immortality with the poem itself, and it is impossible to account for
this splendid piece of criticism being left out of the recent collection
of the elegant Critic and Essayist, except on the supposition that the
most accomplished judges of other men’s works are some times incompetent
to fix the right estimate of their own. Genius does not always
accurately weigh its own productions, since Milton preferred his
Paradise Regained to his Paradise Lost, and Byron himself was
inveterately attached to a poem, or rather a translation, to restrain
him from publishing which cost the strongest efforts of his most


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Online LibraryVariousGraham's Magazine, Vol. XXXVII, No. 3, September 1850 → online text (page 12 of 16)