Charles Mackay.

The twin soul; or, The strange experiences of Mr. Rameses. A psychological and realistic romance (Volume 1) online

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with alpenstocks, as if there were a Mont Blanc or a
Matterhorn and countless glaciers in Inverness-shire and
Ross-shire, where such conveniences for clambering into
or over dangerous crags and crevasses would be useful.
And others, again, who would not on any account have
made such fools of themselves in Piccadilly or Pall Mall,
had donned the convenient knickerbocker suit, while they
had rendered their lower Umbs ridiculous by wearing a red
stocking on one stalwart calf and a» green one on the other.


One man, with a bundle of alpenstocks in one hand and a
brace of fishing-rods in the other, had attired himself in a com-
plete suit of pea-green ; a pea-green hat, a pea-green feather,
a pea-green coat and nether garments, pea-green hose, and,
to be quite in keeping, pea-green boots. His appearance, of
which he was evidently proud, procured him among the
passengers the sobriquet of " the pea-green snob." He was
a tall, handsome fellow, the observed of all observers ; and
doubtless mistook the mock admiration extorted by his
fantastic garb, for real admiration excited by his good
looks and comely proportions.

The succession of some of the grandest scenery in the
world, that stretched in ever-varying magnificence all the
way from Glasgow to Inverness, through the Estuary of
the Clyde, the Kyles of Bute, Loch Fyne, the Crinan Canal,
to the lovely rock-bound shores of the Island of Mull,
within sight of lona, Staffa, and the Treshnish Isles, by
Kerrera to Oban, and from beautiful Oban to still wilder
sublimities — to Ballahulish and Bannavie, and thence
through the chain of glorious lakes, prosaically called the
Caledonian Canal — has attracted the admiration of milhons
of travellers during the last half-century. The fairy region


has often been described, but never yet had justice done to
it by pen or pencil, and never will have ; for words are
weak, and art is tame, when the grander aspects of Nature
have to be pourtrayed. The whole land is grand and
beautiful, and as full of memories and traditions as it is
of physical loveliness.

" For over all the hazy realm is spread
A halo of sad memories of the dead,
Of mournful love tales ; of old tragedies
Filling the heart with pity and the eyes
With tears at bare remembrance ; and old songs
Of love's endurance, love's despair, love's WTongs,
And triumph o'er all obstacles at last,
And all the grief and passion of the past.

There is no district of the same extent in any part of
the known world, with which so many historical and
legendary incidents of romantic and never-failing interest are
associated; and, as Dr. Johnson says of one of the most re-
markable islands of the many that gem the Atlantic on the
western shores of Scotland, the heart is cold and dead, the
imagination torpid and insensible, that can pass among them,
and can behold them, unmoved by the tenderest human

" It will always be a matter of regret," said Mr. De Vera,

*' that Sir Walter Scott, when he made the circuit of Scotland
VOL. I. 14


in the steamboat of the Fishery Commissioners, did not sail
up the Caledonian Canal, through the grand scenery of
Loch Ness. What noble materials for a romance he might
have found in the ruins of Urquhart Castle, on a projecting
crag of the lovely lake ! "

" I forget the legends, if any, connected with it," replied
Lady Stoney-Stratford, "and should be pleased to be
reminded of them."

" In the first place," said Mr. De Vere, " the vaults of
the castle are supposed to contain — deep buried in the
earth — two great iron coffers, the same in size and in
appearance, with not a mark or vestige to distinguish the
one from the other, which have been concealed therein for
centuries. They have been saved from the desecrating
shovels of the ' Dry-as-dusts ' of antiquarianism, and from the
still more desecrating touch of the seeker for hidden gold,
by the legend that one contains the ' Plague,' and the other
an enormous amount of treasure in gold and silver and pre-
cious stones, and that if any mistake were made, and the
wrong coffer were opened, so devastating a plague would
overspread all Scotland — and even England — that the whole
island would be depopulated."


" A fruitful idea for the genius of the ' great Wizard ' to
operate upon," said Lady Stoney-Stratford ; " and more espe-
cially," she added, "if what was supposed to be the right
coffer should have been found to contain, when opened,
nothing but stones and rubble, or sand from the shores
of the lake ! "

" Yes, indeed," replied Mr. De Vere ; and a splendid
homily on the old story of the vanity of human wishes he
would have made upon it. But of more value, and more
novelty in his experienced hands, would have been the
fact that Castle Urquhart was originally built and utilized
by a colony of Knights Templars, or Knights of St. John of
Jerusalem. The relations existing between these chivalrous
soldiers of the Cross and the wild and lawless, but pic-
turesque Highlanders, would have afforded him scope for
a romance of more interest even than ' Rob Roy,' or the
* Talisman,' or any other of his matchless fictions."

The young ladies of the party, who, however, confessed
to a better acquaintance with the writings of " Ouida," and
Miss Braddon, and Marie Corelli, greater and purer than
either of them, than with those of Sir Walter Scott, of
which they knew something, though not very much — as they



considered him to be no longer fashionable — agreed in Mr.
De Vere's and their mother's opinion ; and Lady Gwendo-
line even thought it an " awful pity " that Sir Walter had
not penetrated the wilds of this " charming " region. How
" dreadfully " dull it must have been for the Templars, who
had a " sweetly beautiful " place of their own in " dear old
London," somewhere in Fleet Street, in the very centre of
fashionable society. " Poor creatures ! But I suppose they
hunted and fished, and stalked the deer on the mountains
to amuse themselves ? "

" Or chanted Latin hymns in the cloisters of the castle,"
said Lady Maud ; "or made war against the wild cattle-
stealers, that were the only inhabitants ; or perhaps endea-
voured to convert them to Christianity ! They must have
had plenty of society."

Mr. De Vere suddenly, if not impatiently, left the ladies
to their prattle, and sought Mr. Rameses, who was seated
alone at the further end of the steamer, drinking in with
delight the manifold beauties of the gorgeous panorama of
lake and mountain, watching the progress of a storm that
was evidently impending. It burst at last, while they stood
together, protected from the rain in the lee of the funnel,


and enjoying the grandeur of the scene too intensely to
seek shelter in the cabin below, whither the remainder of
the company had made all haste to retire.

' ' For lo ! the g^sty rain with fitful whirl
Beats in their faces, and the lightning flash,
Illumines Heaven with glare blue venomous,
And drags behind it, in its fiery car,
The obedient thunder. Lifting up its voice.
It speaks to all the hills, which answer back."

" It is a Strange and powerful fascination that the light-
ning has over my imagination," said Mr. Rameses ; " and
with what an eloquent voice the thunder seems to discourse
to my soul, and hint, rather than proclaim, the profoundest
secrets of mighty Mother Nature. The old Asiatic belief,
that is prevalent even in Europe, that thunder is the voice
of God speaking in wrath to the wicked, and calling upon
them to repent of the evil of their ways, does not appear to
me to be superstitious, or to express anything else than the
solemn truth. God is always speaking to the wicked, if not
by the thunder of His heavens, by the still small voice of
conscience, heard alike in the wildest commotions of the
elements and in the quietest repose of the mind. I have
often thought, though perhaps I may be wrong, that those
who feel a coward fear in a thunderstorm, are self-con-


demned by the very fact of the abjectness of their

terror ! "

" I share your love of the storm," replied Mr. De Vere ;
" but not the reasoning which you build upon it ; and
while thoroughly agreeing with the great poet, that our
philosophy is weak and limited, even in its wildest and
widest flights, I hesitate to confound the merely personal
cowardice of the weak and timid with the consciousness of

"The question is not to be discussed," replied Mr.
Rameses, " though I strongly incline to the belief that more
can be said for it than is likely to find favour in a mecha-
nical and prosaic age ; but what an instructive volume might
be written, or perhaps has already been written, on the
latent truths concealed in what a world of wiseacres con-
siders to be the delusions of the vulgar ! And what a
hold many ideas which ultra-realists maintain to be super-
stitions have acquired over the mind and habits of some of
the very wisest of mankind ! Signs, portents and auguries
are veritable powers in the government of the world, and
have been so from the earliest ages of history and tradition.
Rainbows and comets have been pressed into the service ;


even the stars in their eternal subUmity have been degraded
into fortune-telling diagrams and puzzles, and made to
answer the purpose of riddles and conundrums. The idea
of the voice of God speaking to the wicked in thunder, is a
far nobler, and may be a truer, conception of the might and
majesty of the Creator, than nine-tenths of the idle fancies
that have hitherto led men astray, and filled them with false
hopes or groundless terrors."

It was while indulging in such semi-philosophical dis-
course as this, that the two travellers and their less philoso-
phical companions arrived at Inverness, where they were to
pass the next day — unprepared for the gloomy monotony of
a Scottish Sunday, but resolved, nevertheless, to make it a
day of rest, as its Jewish name of the Sabbath proclaimed
that it should be.



A SOMEWHAT close though not intimate relationship had
gradually established itself between the lovely and enthu-
siastic Laura de Vere, and the dreamy, calm, and philoso-
phical Mr. Rameses. They were often thrown together
while exploring the beautiful scenery of the Bens and glens,
the streams and rivers, of the Highlands. They had many
sympathies with each other, and they indulged in the same
unfashionable and unpopular antipathies ; and these very
antipathies became links of sympathy. Miss De Vere had
been strongly urged by the ladies of the Pierrepoint family
to join them in fishing for trout and salmon in the lovely
waters of the Spey, or in the broad expanse of Loch Awe,
or Loch Etive, but she had a great repugnance to the sport,
which she deemed to be cruel. So had Mr. Rameses. Both
of them looked with the same repugnance upon the
slaughter of grouse on the moors, and of ptarmigan on the
crests of the mountains, and Miss De Vere was uncourtly


enough to think that the Prince of Wales condescended 10
act the part of a poulterer's provider, or assistant, when he
shot helpless doves by scores at a time in the preserves of
Hurlingham, and looked upon the easy slaughter as an
amusement. Mr. Rameses and the gentle Laura had
nothing but animadversions to bestow upon what Mr.
Rameses called the mahcious patience and perseverance of
the deer-stalking in which Mr. Fitzgerald and Lord Stoney-
Stratford took such delight. The two had many other anti-
pathies and dislikes in common, but in minor matters they
differed but slightly — or agreed to differ — without pre-
liminary consultation. Miss De Vere was of a practical,
Mr. Rameses of a theoretical, tendency of mind ; the one
looked upon the world as it was, the other looked upon it
as he imagined it ought to be ; the one reUed upon ex-
perience as a sure staff and support, the other upon hope
as a guiding star.

And yet, with all their divergencies, each had a
powerful attraction for the other, and were irresistibly
drawn into companionship among the solitary wilds of
the beautiful and romantic country in which their lot was
temporarily cast. The scenery almost seemed to realise, in the


mind of Mr. Rameses, his favourite idea of the twin-soul ;
one, yet divided; twin-forces, functions and intelligences
working together, though they knew not how or wherefore,
to the same ends. The twin-souls, about the vision of which
he so dearly loved to speculate and to dream, were like two
rivers that flowed into the same ocean; two eyes that
looked with delight upon the same object ; two hands that
were engaged in the same labour ; two feet that travelled on
the same road ; two lips that breathed the same word ; the
two breasts of a young mother that yielded the same
nourishment to a beautiful infant ; two nostrils partaking of
the same odour, and two ears listening to the same divine

Lady Stoney-Stratford noticed with disappointment, not
to say displeasure, the growth and progress of a companion-
ship that interfered more or less with the realisation of a
project that she had formed in her own mind. Ever since
the ill-omened marriage of Lady Gwendohne with Mr.
Fitzgerald — for ill-omened, if not degrading to the house of
Pierrepoint, she could not choose but consider it, in spite of
her lord's personal and pecuniary reasons for looking favour-
ably upon the alliance — she had cherished the hope that


either Lady Maud or Lady Ethel would, with a little
dexterous management on hei part, win a place in the
affections of the noble and wealthy Indian Nabob, and be
led triumphantly to the altar, to share in the magnificent in-
come of ;£i 50,000 per annum ; a sum that would almost
purchase the fee-simple of the Pierrepoint estates. The
young ladies themselves were not so simple as not to sus-
pect, and indeed to know, that such was the worthy
woman's design in their interest, though each of them —
though not caring very greatly about the matter — would
have been better pleased if she, and not her sister, had
been considered the magnet that was certain to attract to
herself the as yet undecided fancy of the milUonaire.

Had Lady Stoney-Stratford known all, and had she been
in the confidence of her youngest daughter, she would have
concentrated her anxieties upon Lady Ethel. But she
knew nothing, and suspected nothing, of a possible
mesalliance^ more fearful than that which had been already
consummated between the proud Lady Geraldine and therich
proprietor of the Methuselah pills. And it was well for her
peace of mind that she did not, for her temporary ignorance
was real bliss while it lasted. Lady Maud was the


youngling of the flock, the only one among them that had
a particle of romance in her composition. She was
musical, literary, and unmercenary, unworldly, and scorned
to turn up her pretty little nose at the idea of love in a
cottage, which she thought was rather a good thing than a
bad one — with all the greater cogency, perhaps, because her
flowery destiny had never brought her within sight of it.

In the very worldly mind of Lady Stoney-Stratford, the
doubt whether either of her daughters would consent to
marry a good man, who, however good he might be, was
not a Christian, was a source of constantly-recurring anxiety.
In fact, the doubt, and the many difficulties that sprung
from it, filled her otherwise tranquil existence with a trouble
that she did not even confide to her husband, from the
fear and almost the certainty that he would not sympathise
with it. All his desire was to add barn to barn, acre to
acre, field to field, domain to domain, that he might be the
greatest landed proprietor in the county. For this darling
object he had consented to waive his objections to an
alliance with "Methuselah," as he delighted with grim
jocosity to call his son-in-law j and for this object he would
have waived his objections, were they thrice as great as


they were, to an alliance with so great and wealthy a
potentate as Mr. Rameses. And when his lady on rare
occasions poured her doubts and fears into his inattentive
ear, he gave the question the go-by with the easiest possible
nonchalance, or with a passing suggestion that the faith of
the Oriental magnifico might not sit very heavily on his
conscience, and that if he made his home in England, as it
seemed most probable he would do, he would conform to
the ways of the country, and go to church on Sundays as
regularly as other professing — but possibly not more real
Christians than he was — were in the habit of doing. Lady
Stoney-Stratford was partly of the same opinion, not
understanding the deep earnestness of character, and the
firmly-rooted faith of the Eastern philosopher, who had
studied for himself the doctrines of all the ancient and
modern religions that had hitherto found acceptance in the
world. If Mr. Rameses would but conform outwardly to
the faith of the English people, she did not consider his
inward conformity to be of much or of any importance.
And she thought that Lady Ethel would not be harder to
please in this respect than she herself was, though she was
not quite so sure of the sentiments of Lady Maui.


It happened one day that Lord Stoney-Stratford was
confined to the house by an attack of his ancient enemy
the gout, and was thereby unable to accompany Mr. Fitz-
gerald and Sir Henry de Glastonbury on a deer-stalking
expedition in the forests of Monaliadh, or the Grey
Mountains. The young ladies of the household had also
been imprisoned in their rooms by a temporary tyrant quite
as imperious as the gout — the tyrant Fashion, and its
prime minister the Toilette — absolute ruler of the female
world. Mr. Rameses found himself in consequence,
though quite accidentally, alone for a full hour in the
company of Lord and Lady Stoney-Stratford. The con-
versation was artfully, but delicately and diplomatically, led
by Lady Stoney-Stratford to the subject of Christianity in
India, and to the possibiUty of its extension among the
Hindoo and Mahometan population. Neither Mr.
Rameses nor Lord Stoney-Stratford had any great hopes
that it would make any sensible progress for many
generations, if it ever made any at all. " What can you
expect?" said Mr. Rameses; "the religion of Mahomet,
though that of the minority in India, appeals strongly to
the passions of a pleasure-loving people, and promises the


joys of a carnal and lascivious heaven to a carnal-minded
and lascivious race, as the rewards of a short struggle with
the cares and anxieties of a world that is but a dark and
tearful world at the best. Brahminism and Buddhism, that
were established long anterior to Christianity, have a firm
hold upon the affections and prejudices of the people, and
more than that, teach a doctrine near akin to, if not the
same, as Christianism in all its essential points."

"How so?" said Lady Stoney-Stratford, to whom the
statement seem.ed as new as it was startling.

" They both teach adoration and love of the Supreme
Being, and the paramount duty of loving your neighbour as
yourself. They also teach the immortality of the soul."

" But not the equality and brotherhood of all mankind,"
interrupted Lord Stoney-Stratford, " or the return of
benefits for injuries, which lies at the very foundation of
the Christian dogma."

" Do Christians themselves believe it ? " answered Mr.
Rameses. " Do they ever act, have they ever acted, on
that divine principle ? If they have done so, whence
arise war and slavery, and the persecutions and mar-
tyrdoms of heretics ? Whence come the insurrections and


the revolutions — the robberies — the spoliations — the mur-
ders and the assassinations — that have disgraced humanity
from the creation of the world downwards ? Does a rich
Christian renounce his riches for equitable distribution
among the poor ? Do Christians hold all the good things
of the world in common ? Does the devoutest Christian
turn his second cheek to the smiter, after the first has
received the insulting blow ? "

" I grant Christianity has not yet reached that high ideal,"
said the lady, " but it is travelling towards it, and will reach
it in God's appointed time."

" Meanwhile," said Lord Stoney-Stratford, " it has re-
nounced idolatry, and believes but in one God, the
creator, the preserver, and the redeemer. It worships neither
images, nor even the heavenly bodies, as some nations do
and have done. The worship of the sun and the stars is
not even yet extinct in India."

" Pardon me," replied Mr. Rameses, " it is extinct, if the
word can be applied to that which never existed."

" Never existed," ejaculated Lord Stoney-Stratford, with
great surprise. " Not even among the disciples of
Zoroaster ? "


" Not even among the disciples of Zoroaster — or the
Parsees, my ancestors," repUed Mr. Rameses, with unusual
animation. " The Zoroastians never worshipped, never
adored the Sun — never acknowledged him as God — but
recognised him only as the sublime and beneficent manifes-
tation of God's power and glory — the source of life and beauty
— the upholder of the planetary system — which, but for his
mighty and sustaining power, would be hurled into chaos.
There needs no holy books — no Vedas — no Korans — no
Bible of the Jews — no Evangel of the Christians — to prove
to the world that, without the light and heat of the Sun, all
life in the world would be impossible ; and the Zoroastians
in acknowledging the fact, and being grateful for it, did
not become idolators, and accept the shadow of the Divinity
— which the Sun is — for the Divinity himself."

Lady Stoney-Stratford winced, as if in sore perplexity, and
more than half inclined to rehnquish all further controversy.
Mr. Rameses — seeing her pain — came to the rescue. " I
would not be misunderstood, my lady," he said, " or cause
you even a moment's anxiety on my account. All things
considered, I claim to be as good and true a Christian, in
heart, as the Pope — or the Archbishop of Canterbury — or

VOL. 1. 15


as any martyr that ever went to the stake to seal his faith
with his blood. I acknowledge God, and worship him. I
obey his laws as far as I am able, and love my fellow-man
and my neighbour as myself."

'' I have nothing more to argue about," said Lord Stoney-
Stratford. " Nor I," added his wife. " The heart and the
conscience are the guides, and, if they are satisfied, what
right have we to make objections if the life be blameless ?"

Here the subject dropped, and would not have been
renewed, even if the young ladies, having finished their
devotions at the shrine of the great goddess. Fashion, had
not entered at the moment, and rendered all further dis-
cussion inexpedient and improper.

Lady Stoney-Stratford afterwards made her daughters
acquainted with the discourse that had been held with the
Oriental philosopher, and both the young ladies agreed that
Mr. Rameses could never expect that a Christian girl would
marry him.

Lady Stoney-Stratford was convinced after this that her
dream of an alliance of the Parsee with one of her daughters
was at an end — and resigned herself to the inevitable, like
a wise woman as she was.


Next day, ^Ir. Rameses, as if to prove to himself that his
heart was in the right, and that he held his wealth in trust
for the benefit of his suffering fellow creatures — signed
cheques of large amount towards the support of every
hospital in London. He did not even let his secretary
know what he had done ; and, moreover, imposed it as a
command upon the several secretaries of the institutions
which he had benefited, that his contributions should be
only acknowledged in their archives as the benefactions
of an anonymous donor. " This," he thought to himself,
" may not be Christianity, nor love to God, but it may be
love to man."




Mr. Rameses, with Mr. Melville, and Mr. De Vere and
his fair daughter, were by no means sorry to leave the
solitude of the Highland hills — for to them it appeared
more than solitary for want of the congenial studies and
occupations to which they were accustomed. The society

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Online LibraryCharles MackayThe twin soul; or, The strange experiences of Mr. Rameses. A psychological and realistic romance (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 13)