Mary Jane Mackenzie.

Geraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) online

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that day, was either laughed at as an ab-
surdity, or combated as a prejudice. It
required no small degree of civil courage
to endure patiently the sly sarcasm, the


gay jest, the contemptuous sneer, by which
she was alternately assailed. It was a sort
of light artillery perpetually annoying her
path, though not sufficiently formidable to
arrest her progress ; and the species of war-
fare in which she was thus compelled to
engage, was peculiarly trying to a temper
naturally gentle and yielding.

Mr. FuUarton jdid not desert his charge
in the hour of trial. To shield her in some
degree from the petty persecution to which
she was exposed, he proposed that her
Sundays should be passed with him at
the vicarage ; and though Mrs. Mowbray
laughed, and prophesied that it would pro-
duce the same effect as the cave of Tro-
phonius, she coidd not formally oppose the

No arrangement could have been more
consonant with the wishes, nor more con-
ducive to the reUgious improvement of
Geraldine \ and she soon learned to look
forward to these weekly visits, as a child
to a happy holiday.

c 2


Mr. Fullarton and Mi\ Maitland du
vided between them the labours of the day
at church ; and then' style of preaching, at
once clear, sound, and faithful, addressed
itself equally to the understanding, the
conscience, and heart of the hearer.
The Christian religion, as they defined it,
appeared in all its fair and beautiful pro-
portions ; its peculiar doctrines were ear-
nestly insisted upon ; nor were its dis-
tinguishing duties forgotten. Faith was
the root, and trunk, and stem of the tree ;
but holy practice and pure morality the
foliage, and fruit, that evinced its health
and vigour.

Mr. Fullarton's domestic establishment
was superintended by a widow lady, in the
decline of life, who had experienced
enough of its reverses, to make a home at
the vicarage an acceptable asylum.

Mrs. Herbert's delicate health had con-
fined her intercourse with the neighbouring
families to occasional morning calls ; so
that Geraldine knew httle more of her


character than might be guessed from very
gentle manners, and a prepossessing coun-
tenance. It was reserved for more inti-
mate intercourse, to unfold the mingled
sweetness and energy of that mind which
displayed the full beauty of piety. She had
survived husband, children, and friends ;
exchanged wealth for dependence, and
health for infiimity; yet the past seemed
to furnish her only with motives for sub-
mission ; the present, only with a theme for

A beautiful writer of the present day
has called the life of Sir PhiHp Sydney
• poetry put into action j' the life of Mrs.
Herbert might be termed ' religion put into
action.' She neither lectured nor reproved,
nor did she declaim against the idle follies
of the world ; but Geraldine could not con-
template her serene and cheerful manner,
her active benevolence, her ready sym-
pathy with the feeUngs of the young and
the complaints of the old, her superiority
to selfish gratifications, her submission to
c 3


positive evils, without feeling the full value
of those principles which were at once her
refuge and her guide ; the ' cloud,' to
shelter her from the noon-day heat, the
* pillar of fire,' guiding her to the * pra-
mised land/

Mr. FuUarton perceived with delight
that every day passed at the vicarage
strengthened the convictions of Geraldine ;
but he knew that the religion which de-
pends upon time, place, and circumstance,
is of little value; and that the fervor of
newly awakened feeling might melt away
as frost-work in the morning beam. He
was therefore anxious to enlist her under-
standing, as well as her affections, in the
cause of Christianity ; and in the course of
reading he recommended, which was at
once argumentative and experimental, ker
attention was directed alternately Jto the
historical evidences of her religion, to its
sublime morality, and beautiful adaptation,
to the wants of frail and fallen man.

Geraldine appeared to live in a new


world, in a purer and more ethereal region,
whence petty anxieties and sordid and self-
ish cares were banished. There was no
room for them in hearts full of love to
God, and good will to man.

The peaceful days thus passed were often
closed by an evening stroll, prolonged
during the still and delicious hour of sum-
mer twilight. She remembered her long
rambles with Montague at the same hour^
and her thoughts naturally travelled to
the distant land he was now traversing.

Mr. Maitland, who was usually of the
party, seemed to understand her musings,
and their intercourse gradually became
interesting and confidential ; he had many
claims upon her confidence besides those
arising from the quiet excellence of his
own character ; he was Montague's friend,
counsellor, and advocate, and often spoke
with great interest, and in an encouraging
tone, of the promising points of his cha-

To this language Geraldine loved to
€ 4


listen 5 for it harmonised with her own
hopes and wishes: but as Mr. Maitland
watched the revival and developement of
religious principle in her mind, he became
increasingly anxious that Montague should
indeed be worthy of her. He saw the
unaffected humility of a Christian gradu-
ally blending with tile graces and attrac-
tive loveliness of the woman; and he began
to think of her as of a prize, precious as
it was matchless*



Gteraldine, under the existing circum-
stances had decHned engaging in a corre-
spondence with Montague, but she had
been secretly longing for tidings of him,
when a packet arrived, containing, among
other letters, the following one addressed
to Mr. Maitland.

" To tlie Rev, Charles Maitland.

** Oh, for some fairy messenger, some
light Ariel, to do love's bidding ; that you
might send me with the speed of thought,
news of my own sweet Geraldine ; I would
give half I shall ever be worth, to borrow
a magic glass, in which I might gaze at
her for a moment, as Surry did on her
lovely namesake : but, alas ! no friendly
c 5


wizard appears ; 1 am at the mercy of the
winds and waves, which care as little for
the murmurs of a lover, as for the threats of
a monarch.

" I think 1 can hear you exclaim against
the inconsistency of human nature in gene-
ral, and of mine in particular : do so as long
as you choose, and I will echo word for word.
I will acknowledge all you please, if you
will believe, and teach Geraldine to be-
lieve, that she is dearer to me than ever.

" At parting all the train of possibilities
which might prevent our meeting again,
weighed so heavily upon my heart, that
even the prospect of visiting * Fair Greece,*
that * land of lost Gods and godlike men,*
could no longer inspire me. I would gladly
have exchanged the sight and sound of dash-
ing waves for the dullest cabin in Hamp-
shire ; nor did my regret and reluctance
vanish for many a weary day.

*« I believe the sight of * Calypso's Isles,'
first rekindled my enthusiasm. It is well,
you will say, that no fair goddess is to be

found there now to lure me with her smiles
and witchery ; but the hour of danger is
passed. 1 should look with an eye of ini
difference on the peerless goddess, and her
lovely train : their thrilling glances would
be harmless ; there would be no necessity
for my escaping, as Telemachus did, by a
desperate leap.

" I spare you the detail of my Voyage,
nor will I say a word about sparkling waves
and soft moon-beams. It costs me some*
thing to sacrifice my magnificent descrip-
tions ; but what care you for the • rosy
fingers of Aurora,' or Dian's chaste and
silver light. Every little point and island
that we approached were full of interest.
I think, even you, man of marble as you
are, who know nothing of love but the
name, could not have passed Leucadia
without emotion. To a lover, it was
haunted, holy ground ; the shade of Sap-
pho seemed still to linger there, and the
tones of her immortal lyre to float delici-
ously on the evening breeze. Perhaps tli^
c 6


barren Ithaca, which forms part of the view,
would have been to you equally attractive ;
and whilst I communed with the spirit of
the brilliant Sappho, you would have in-
voked the shade of Penelope, or calmly
turned your eyes towards the spot where
the cottage of Eumaeus and the tomb of
the faithful dog once stood.

" My impatience to descry the shores
of Greece increased as we drew near them.
I had resolved that the first spot I exa-
mined should be the ' primal city of the
land ;' and I cannot define the emotions
which filled my heart, as I approached it.
I forgot the lapse of ages and the revolutions
of empires ; and felt as if I were about to
hold converse with the mighty spirits who
once dwelt there.

" The fii'st aspect of a foreign country
usually excites in the mind of its visitant, a
feeling of eager and lively curiosity. The
eye is arrested by new sights, the ear by
strange sounds ; the mind itself is rather
distracted than exercised j but here we are


conscious of a higher and more solemn feel-
ing. We look with indifference upon those
around us ; they seem to be intruders upon
the hallowed scene ; our business is wdth a
mightier and more illustrious race.

" I was entering the Piraeus ; my eyes
fixed on the tomb of Themistocles ; and
w^hat cared I for men of these degenerate

" It is impossible to view the solitude of
the Piraeus without emotion : where, ac-
cording to Pliny, a thousand vessels once
floated, not a single one is now to be seen ;
all is loneliness and desolation. The
temple of Venus, the superb arsenals
have disappeared ; nothing but rocks and
ruins meet the eye; and yet this loneli-
ness and desertion pleased me better.
than cheerful voices and busy sounds would
have done ; they seemed to harmonise with
the ruined and fallen state of the city I was
about to visit.

" The sound of the waves dashing against
the tomb of Themistocles, is all that inter-


rupts the deep silence. I mused, and mo*
ralised as gravely as you could have done,
as I passed the road leading from the Pi-
raeus, to this august and celebrated city,
once the haunt of gods and heroes. Dull
and cold must that heart be, which can ap-
proach it without pity and veneration ; its
glory has passed away ; its sun for ever set ;
but a strange and melancholy lustre still
beams over the fallen temple and broken
column ; and the enchained captive, sit*
ting in sackcloth, and ashes, is a more dear
and sacred object, than when, in the day of
her pomp and power, she appeared as
queen and mistress among the nations.

" Genius has wept amidst the ruins of
Greece, in these her days of darkness. An
immortal bard has once more tuned his
his harp in the land of the muses, and its
echoes have awakened the sympathy of a
thousand hearts !

" You would not thank me for a minute
detail of the ruins of Athens, even if I were
in a humour to give it to you ; they have


been so amply described, that you know all
which a mere description can teach.

** The beautiful colour of these ruins, as-
tonishes the eye accustomed to the dingy
hue of our edifices, but the tint of time in
this brilliant climate, is rich and embellish-
ing. I wander around them day after day,
and my eye is not satisfied with seeing.

" Independently of those associations,
which it is superfluous to dwell upon ; the
simplicity, correctness, and harmony of
their proportions, and the delicacy and ex-
quisite finishing of each part excites the
highest admiration. Alas! the hand of the
spoiler has ravaged them, it has anticipated
the triumphs of time, and the fierce bar-
barian and tasteless antiquary have con-
spired to pillage this peerless city, even of
the sad relics of her glory.

" You would have quarrelled with my ve-
hemence and enthusiasm ten times a-day
if you had been my companion in this
journey ; but there are scenes, and spots
in this land, which would have kindled


the latent spark, even in your heart;-—
you, who pique yourself upon excelling in
the art of ruling your own spirit.

" Who, that contemplates the Parthenon,
does not share the indignation expressed by
men of feeling and genius? No fabled fairy-
palace was ever half so beautiful ; and soon,
not one stone will remain upon another.
We may curse the desolating spirit of war,
which spared not the * thrice-consecrated
shrine ;' but what shall we say to those
lovers of the arts, who come calmly in the
spirit of peace and selfishness, with pickaxe
and hammer, to deface and destroy.

" This very morning I examined the Cita-
del. From the spot where I stood, my eye
commanded a boundless view, comprehend-
ing a thousand objects consecrated by his-
tory and poetry. I gazed with rapture on
mountains, islands, ruins, seas, the very
names of which are dear and inspiring.
Alas ! on tliis very spot, once crowned with
so many beautiful temples, which had so
often echoed the footsteps of the hero, or


tJie choral hymn of the virgin priestess,
amidst the ruins of the monuments of Pe-
ricles, and the works of Phidias, now rises
the paltry habitation of the Disdar Aga, or
Turkish governor, who knows no more of
the names which make our hearts throb,
and glow, and burn within us, than a Hot-
tentot, or Esquimaux.

" Oh ! it is heart-breaking, to look at this
beautiful land, and reflect that it is peopled
only by tyrants and slaves. If I had half
your eloquence, Maitland, I would play the
part of Peter the hermit, and preach a
crusade for the dehverance of the Greeks 5
and 1 would be your standard-bearer on the
occasion, and win trophies to lay at GeraL
dine's feet. Ah ! at that dear name other
feelings resume their place. Turk and
Greek are forgotten, and I can think only
of our separation.

** Write quickly, and tell me what she
does, and how she looks ^ whether my ab-
sence has faded the roses of her cheeks, or


or if she is cruel enough to be calm and

" I have already written two dutiful epis-
tles to my father and mother, this morning.
Absence has a magical effect upon the
home we leave behind ; like the wand of
an enchanter, it invests it with a thousand
charms unfelt before. Though in the love-
liest land beneath the sun, I sometimes feel
all the horrors of an exile.

Adieu, dear Maitland. Sentiment is all
wasted upon you, or I would conclude my
letter with a well-turned period about my
untravelled heart, &c. &c. but you will be
contented with the plain assurance, that
I am

" Faithfully yours,

" Montague Mowbray.*'

" P. S. The Athenian women are not at
all handsome. I should never be obliged
to say, —

Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh, give me back my heart !


" Assure my sweet Geraldine, that if I
had ten hearts, they would be hers. Plato,
Sophocles, and Aristotle knew something
of taste, and beauty, as well as of divine?'
philosophy, and chose foreign fair ones for
their favourites.'*



It was during an evening walk from the
Vicarage, to Woodlands, that Mr. Maitland
read this letter to Geraldine.

The summer sun was shining brightly ;
the little brook, over which they passed,
caught its slanting rays, and sparkled, and
danced in the beam. The reapers were
binding up the yellow sheaves, and their
song and laugh floated joyously on the

Geraldine's heart bounded lightly within
her bosom, and the tear of extasy trembled
in her eye. Whether the brightness and
beauty of Nature heightened these emo-


tions or whether they would have been the

Had chili November's surly blast,
Made fields and forests bare.

let lovers and metaphysicians determine.

When Mr. Maitland closed the letter,
she looked aromid, and nothing met her
eye but sights of bliss ; she was enjoying
one of those rare and precious moments
in w^hich the heart appears suddenly en-
dued with anew capacity for happiness;
and had joyless winter reigned, her fancy
would have thrown its rainbow hue over
every surrounding object.

She entered the drawing-room at Wood-
lands with the light step that indicates a
buoyant heart, with an exhilaration of
spirits which seem.ed to bid defiance to

As she approached the tea-table, she
heard Mrs. Mowbray exclaim : —

" Most extraordinary ! it is quite in-


" I think it neither the one nor the
other," said Mr. Mowbray ; "are not
estates bought and sold every day ?"

** Oh, you profess never to be surprised
at any thing," replied Mrs. Mowbray : " I
would not be like you for the world ; sur-
prise has the same effect upon the mind,
that an electric shock has upon the body ;
it produces a sort of delightful excitation
which you never feel."

" I am glad, for your sake, to hear that
it is so dehghtful, my dear," said Mr.
Mow^bray : ** you wdll excuse my preferring
the steady pulse of health to the ebb and
flow of fever."

*' There never is any ebb and flow in
your mind," returned his lady ; *' it resem-
bles those seas in which there are no tides ;
it is deep, and calm, and still ; but give me
the sparkle, the dash, the sound, the . de-
licious variety that may be found in those
that change with the changing moon."

*< In these tideless seas," said Mr. Mow*


bray, " you are not annoyed, at any rate,
with sound and fury signifying nothing."

" No, you are not annoyed with sound,
but you are stupified with quiet : however,
to return to the subject of my sui'prise, I
appeal to you, Geraldine ; is it not sur-
prising, — incredible, that your father
should part with his pretty little darling
estate in Devonshire ?''

" Part with it !" exclaimed Geraldine,
turning pale.

'' I think he must be out of his senses/'
continued Mrs. Mowbray ; *' but it cer-
tainly is advertised in this paper, which,
by-the-by, is nearly a fortnight old. I re-
ferred to it for an advertisement that I
wished to see, and my eye was caught by
this, which I most assuredly did 7iot wish
to see."

She handed the paper to Geraldine, who
examined it in silent dismay, a tear slowly
stealing down her cheek.

The estate in question had been the
home of her infancy, where she had sported


away the careless hours of childhood, and
been greeted a thousand times with the
smile of maternal love. It had been her
mother's favourite residence, and Mr. Beres-
ford, on leaving England, had given strict
orders that it might be kept in perfect
order, and expressed an intention of resid-
ing there nearly half the year. What
strange revolution of feeling, what new
combination of circumstances, could in-
duce him thus to part with it ?

Vague and indefinable apprehensions
filled the heart of Geraldine. Her father's
silence had before occasionally excited
them ; but separated as they were by sea
and land, she could always find relief for
her fears in the uncertain conveyance of
foreign letters, and all the probable and
possible accidents that might befal them.
At this moment the veil seemed suddenly
removed ; the mystery of his silence re-
vealed. His feelings must have undergone
a complete change ; the omission which she
had attributed to accident was probably


the result of indifference, if not of alieiv
ation. Grief, and a degree of irritation
which she could not controul, struggled in
her bosom ; and, unable to listen quietly to
a discussion of the subject, she abruptly
left the tea-table.

<« Poor Geraldinel" exclaimed Mrs.
Mowbray ; " she is amazingly shocked, I
see, at this news ; and, to be sure, it is a
most provoking, unaccountable circum-
stance ; what can it all mean ?"

" It means," said Mr. Mowbray, "that
Mr. Beresford is no longer disconsolate."

'' Disconsolate 1 — no, I dare say he has
half a dozen mistresses."

". Half a dozen would be easily dis-
missed," observed Mr. Mowbray ; " one
might be formidable,"

" But still, if he had as many as Ma-
homet, what have they to do v,ith his
estate ?" said Mrs. Mowbrav.

*' Nothing in the world, but to squander




** I declare, it makes me quite nervous to
think of it," continued his lady.

** When a man of fifty plays the fool, "said
Mr. Mowbray, ** he generally does it effec-

** Happily, it is not in the power of a
mistress to ruin him completely, even if
she amuses herself with dissolving pearls,**'
observed Mrs. Mowbray ; ** for he cannot
get rid of the Yorkshire estate ; but, to tell
you the truth, I always hoped that pretty
compact little West Grove, would be part
of Geraldine's dowry."

*« I am afraid a daughter-in-law, whose
virtues were her only dowry, would be
rather unwelcome to you," said Mr»

** Oh! I should never recover the shock
of receiving one of those pretty Pamelas,
rich only in beauty and virtue. They are
sure to have a dozen children, * lovely like
themselves ;' and how, upon earth, are
they to be provided for ? However, there
is no fear of such a catastrophe in the


present case ; Geraldine can never belong
to such a class.'*

<« You have not heard lately from Mr.
Beresford, 1 think/* said Mr, Mowbray.

" Not for an age," replied she. " I
shall write immediately to enquire into all
these mysteries.'*

*« And do you expect him to reveal the
truth, and proclaim himself a fool ?" asked
Mr. Mowbray.

" I don't expect that he will reveal the
truth ; but 1 hope to discover it."

" Writing is of little use in these cases,"
obser\'ed Mr. Mowbray ; ** you will pro-
bably irritate without influencing him."

" I think his mind a very manageable
one," said Mrs. Mowbray ; " it is like a
musical instrument that yields sweet sounds,
or discord, according to the skill of the
person who plays on it."

** All depends, then, upon the hands
into which he happens to fall," said Mr.

•• Entirely," replied she : ** there is no-
!r> ^


thing positive about him ; his qualifications
are all of the negative kind ; he is not tail
— he is not short — he is not handsome — he
is not ugly — he is not learned — he is not
ignorant — he is not liberal — he is not
parsimonious; in short, he has just that
mediocrity which prudent men think sa
safe, and men of genius so wearisome."

<« Even the leaden mantle of mediocrity
did not weigh him down in his wife's time^'"
said Mr. Mowbray,

« No ; she contrived to give dignity and
importance — nay, even a sort of lustre, to
his character. Mr. Beresford's benevo-
lence was so extensive ; Mr. Beresford's
advice so judicious ; Mr. Beresford's fa-
mily so well regulated : like the automaton
chess-player, his moves were surprisingly
skilful and masterly ; but he was 'but an
automaton, after all."

*« And now," said Mr. Mowbray, " he
is playing another game."

" And a very different one, I am afraid,"


added his lady; *« but I must enter the lists
against these captivating Signoras.''

" If you propose personally to throw-
down your gauntlet, you had better take
Geraldine with you as your page."

*« Do you really think a journey to Italy
expedient ?" enquired Mrs. Mowbray, look-
ing with some surprise at her husband.

" You have done mischief enough by
recommending this continental tour to vour
brother,*' said Mr. Mowbray ; " you had
better, like Penelope, unweave the web you
have woven, if possible ; but I am afraid it
will be past your skill. If you could esti-
mate so well the calibre of his mind, why
expose him to the influence of foreign
temptation ?*'

"It is mortifying to be compelled to
acknowledge one's errors ; but I really
wished to get him out of the way of the
gentle ladies, who united the most tender
compassion for poor Mr. Beresford's feel-
ings, to the most heartfelt admiration of
his estate."

jj 3


** That he might escape an ambuscadej
you exposed hhn to the dangers of a siege/*

** Well, the most skilful generals blun-
der now and then,'^ said Mrs. Mowbray,

*' If this error be retrieved at all," re-
turned Ml. Mowbray, *< it must be by a
coup de main. Parley and negociation will
be unavailing."

** What would I not give to be at Flo-
rence at this moment," exclaimed Mrs.
Mowbray ; " when shall we set off?"

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Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) → online text (page 2 of 11)