Mary Jane Mackenzie.

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

. (page 6 of 11)
Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) → online text (page 6 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

turned to his duties, his books, and liis
solitary fireside.



Mrs. Mowbray, on her arrival at home,
felt eager to disclose her conjectures and
discoveries to her husband; to point out
the superior eligibility of a union between
Mr. Maitland and Geraldine ; to prove that
it would be little short of madness to sanc-
tion the one which had been projected with
Montague ; and that, in fact, it was now
impracticable and impossible.

Mr. Mowbray listened to all this with the
utmost calmness, simply recommending
his lady to reserve her manoeuvring skill
till Montague's return, and informing her
that letters had been received from him the
preceding day.

She eagerly opened one addressed to her-
self, and read its contents with more per-
plexity than surprise. It ran thus : —


^^ To Mrs, Mowh^ay,

** This will be a letter of confessions, my
dear mother, inspired not by the genius of
candour, but by the very spirit of selfishness.

*' I appeal to you, in the forlorn hope
that your powers of invention, your match-
less fertility in expedients, will assist in ex-
tricating me from the difficulties in which
I have unhappily involved myself.

" I am at this moment in the island of
.Chios, inhaling the softest air beneath a'
cloudless sky ; surrounded by all that is en-
chanting in nature, and yet I am the most
miserable fellow breathing, 'f

<« But let me be methodical if I can,
The last letter you received from me was
written at Athens, and notwithstanding my
mournful musings over the fallen state of
Greece, I was enjoying positive happiness;
my memory was busy in tracing the glories
of the past ; my imagination pictured their
revival in days to come ; my heart was full
of love and Geraldine. The excitement,
the delicious excitement produced by no-


velty, by the contemplation of such scenes,
in such a land, was in itself enjoyment.
But, alas ! for me, thanks to my fate -or my
follies, if I catch a glimpse of happiness,
the coy fugitive vanishes again in a moment.

*' In my visit to Cape Colonna, I met
with an Englishman quite after my own
heart : he was taking a sketch of the beau-
tiful ruins of the temple of Minerva, when I
first saw him, T heard that he was an
artist by profession, and, dreading to be
overwhelmed by connoisseurship and tech-
nical jargon, felt little inclination to culti-
vate his acquaintance j but circumstances
threw us together 5 I found him all genius,
enthusiasm, and feeling:; and in one short
hour my prejudices vanished : the following
day we were friends and fellow-travellers.

He was preparing to revisit the district of
Troas, with which he was well acquainted ;
to ascend Mount Gargarus, and afterwards
to pass a few wrecks in examining the
Greek Islands. Happy to avail myself of


his experience, it was quickly decided that
we should form one party.

** On our return to Athens, to my
infinite surprise he introduced me to his
daughter, a young girl not quite seventeen,
who had accompanied him into Greece.
Would to heaven he had left her with some
* aged crone !' some careful grandmother,
or maiden aunt in England !

" I found, that, being employed by a
nobleman of distinguished taste and liber-
ality, and likely to remain three years in
these classical regions, he could not endure
so long a separation from his only child ;
the young lady therefore travelled with
him wherever it w^as practicable for a lady
to travel, and often ventured, w^here few
ladies would trust themselves.

The sight of her, however, excited an
emotion of surprise rather than pleasure in
my mind ; she was as unlike Geraldine as
possible : neither tall, nor graceful, nor
beautiful. With Dr. Clarke's terrific ac-


count fresh in my memory, I could only
speculate upon what was to be done with her
on mount Ida. She had not m the least the
air of those heroines who contrive to ford
rivers, climb precipices, and cross deserts
without fear or fatigue. To my great re-
lief, I found that she was to accompany us
only to Koum-kale, and remain there during
our wanderings over this far-famed spot.

" The fortnight preceding our visit
thither, I passed chiefly with Mr. Courtland
(my new friend), and his daughter Matilda.
Oh ! that she had luckily possessed some
frightful name that could not have been
hitched into a rhyme, and I should have
been safe.

*' Our acquaintance quickly grew into
intimacy ; her manner towards her father
was so exquisitely attentive and affectionate,
that it could not be witnessed without in-
terest and admiration. I re-examined the
features over which I had so carelessly
glanced, and found her dark eyes and dim-
pled mouth so expressive of sweetness, th<^t


it was no longer possible to consider her an

. " I visited several of the most interesting
scenes in the neighbourhood of Athens, in
her society ; discovered that her taste had
been highly cultivated, and that she in-
herited a large portion of her father's en-

** Do not, however, fancy that my feel-
ings towards her in any degree resembled
love. As I sat by her drawing desk, con-
templating the beautiful designs that grew
beneath her touch, I recalled the face and
figure of my own dear Geraldine, and
thought them as matchless as ever ; still
there was something inexpressibly fasci-
nating about this little dark-eyed girl j and
in an evil hour I yielded to my poetical
impulses, and wrote a few stanzas, partly
inspired by the bright eyes of Matilda, and
partly by the soft sky of Attica.

*« Alas ! the lady herself was a poet ; and
my unlucky stanzas produced an answer
so playful and delicate, that I was again


" Our little voyage, in the most delicious
weather imaginable, assisted to keep me
in a rhyming vein. It was totally impos-
sible to express in plain humble prose the
rapturous feelings excited by the rising and
setting of the sun in the ^gean Sea.

" Refer to the grave, learned Dr. Clarke's
rich description of it, and you will easily
believe, that no hand which had ever swept
a tuneful lyre could be still at such a mo-

" As 1 contemplated these scenes witli
Matilda by my side, her image was so
blended with them, that it was impossible
in weaving my idle lay not to intermingle
her name.

<« I will not enter into a detail of the de-
lights or difficulties which we experienced
in our journey through the Troad. You
will easily imagine, that 1 did not tread
without emotion the plain immortalised by
the deeds of heroes, and the strains of

" On our return, we were warmly wel-
comed by Matilda 5 and amidst the tender


fears she had felt for her father's safety, I
perceived that some apprehensions for mine
had mingled. She shuddered at the history
of our perilous ascent to the summit of
Gargarus ; and, like Desdemona, * gave me
for my pains a world of sighs.'

*' I could not but be gratefid ; and we
got on insensibly to poetic effusions again ;
certainly there was not an atom of love in
all this, as far as I was concerned ; it was
only idle, unmeaning, unjustifiable gallantry.
Unfortunately, Matilda mistook it for ge-
nuine feeling and pure love, and, I am afraid
in the scenes that followed, sympathy and
compassion often betrayed me into a
warmth of manner, and tenderness of ex-
pression, but too well calculated to foster
such an idea.

" Mr. Courtland was precisely one of
those persons, of whom it might be said,
that the sword was too keen for the scab-
'bard j his was 'a soul of fire,' but not 'a frame
of iron.' He had suffered great fatigue in
our exploring expedition, and it threw him


into a hectic fever, which, though it did not
at first wear a very formidable aspect, gra-
dually wasted his strength; and subdued his

<« Nothing could exceed Matilda's ten-
derness, or quiet her fears ; her eyes were
often fixed upon her father with an expres-
sion of terror, anguish, and affection, that
awakened my liveliest sympathy, and 1
sought only how to soothe her present suf-
ferings, and prepare her for the trying
event which I too plainly foresaw.

'< In the hope that the delicious temper-
ature of Chios might be beneficial to Mr.
Courtland's health, we came hither; but
even the balmy gales of this paradise of
modern Greece produced but little effect
on his languid frame. He declined daily,
and ten days ago died in his daughter's arms.

*« I was too much occupied and affected
by the harrowing scene which I witnessed
between Matilda and her father, to feel, till
this event had taken place, all the perplexi-
ties of my own situation. Mr. Courtland


tUed, 1 believe, in the full persuasion, that
Matilda would one day become my wife.
By a codicil to his will, he left the arrange-
ment of his affairs in my hands ; and, except
a female servant, who has lived with Ma-
tilda, from her infancy, she has no protec-
tor here, but myself. She is to be placed
under the care of a distant relative, in
England : of whom she knows so little,
that not a single idea of home can be
connected with such a residence.

** lean see that her chief, indeed, her only
consolation, arises from the conviction of
my attachment : from false confidence, in
all that my words and looks have occasion-
ally expressed : and what a moment would
this be, to reveal the truth, to confess that
I have been influenced by vanity, by mo-
mentary impulse, by pity, by compassion,
by every thing but the real unaffected
love which she is cherishing for me : her
heart, half broken already, would sink un-
der the shock of this discovery, and yet I
have none to offer in return for hers ; for I



leel that mine is more Geraldine^s than
ever : it is hers alone, and hers irretrieva-
bly : it will be cruelty to forsake Matilda,
and misery to give up Geraldine.

" Assist me, 1 intreat you, by your expe-
rience and counsel : you Can never quiet
my self-upbraidings ; I curse my folly, fifty
times a day j but if you can point out any
way, by which I may escape the guilt of
breaking Matilda's heart, or the misery of
breaking my own, for pity's sake reveal it*

" I shall embark for England, as soon a^
Mr. Courtland's affairs are arranged, and
Matilda sufficiently well to encounter th(3
fatigue of the voyage.

" I conjure you to let me find a letter
from you at Falmouth*

** What a tale will this be for my father !
What precious food for his sarcastic spirit !
I suppose he will be rather puzzled to de^
termine in which of his two general classes
to place his hopeful son,

'* Your affectionate,

*' Montague."



IViRS. Mowbray, in silent thoughtfalness,
folded up tins letter, and passed some hours
in deliberating upon the counsel it was
tnost expedient to offer after such an

She foresaw that when its contents were
communicated to Geraldine, she would
renounce all idea of a union with Monta-
gue. The only remaining subject of per-
plexity, therefore, was his entanglement
with Matilda. That he should marry such
^ person, decidedly a mere nobody, the
daughter of an artist, was not to be
thought of far a moment ; but the affair re-
quired delicate management, and she re-
joiced that, during his voyage, she should
have leisure to ruminate over the business,
and digest her plans.


A few days after the receipt of the
letter, with well feigned reluctance she
communicated its contents to Geraldine.
Approaching her with very unusual gra-
vity —

" I have a most painful task to perform,
my dear Geraldine/' said she. " After
the trials you have lately sustained, I
would willingly spare your heart the pang
which the perusal of this letter must occa-
sion : but to deceive you would be cruel,
— unjustifiable. For your sake 1 must sa-
crifice my fondest hopes and wishes. You
know how anxiously 1 have endeavoured
to promote your union with Montague ;
it had indeed been long the favourite wish
of my heart; judge, then, the grief I must
endure, in acknowledging that there could
be no longer the slightest hope of happi-
ness in such a union. The affection, the
interest, the maternal tenderness I feel for
you, will not permit me to conceal that no
dependence can be placed on him ; it
grieves me to afflict you, but read and


Geraldine, alarmed by this exordium,
extended her trembling hand for the letter ;
and with deep emotion hurried through its
pages. It was, indeed, decisive ; principle,
prudence, and delicacy combined to deter-
mine her on an unequivocal and absolute
renunciation of Montague ; his professions
of unabated and 'ardent attachment to her-
self, though they awakened her tenderness,
had no power over her judgment ; and she
immediately declared her resolution to
Mrs. Mowbray.

** To plead for him, my love," observed
that lady, ** would be unkind to you ; and
unavailing as it respects himself. If I con-
trive to relieve him from the misery of
marrying a woman, whom he cannot love,
it is more than he deserves : and, indeed,
with all the matchless powers, for which he
gives me credit, I know not how it is to be

Geraldine could offer no counsel on such
a point ; but she felt herself called upon
by this communication, to explain her sen-
H 3


timents to Montague; and the following |

letter from her, awaited him on his arrival
at Falmouth.

" To Montague Mo^whrai^, Esq,

" My dear Montague ;

" As our correspondence has been sus-
pended, during the last few months, the
sight of my hand-waiting will, perhaps, oc-
casion you some surprise.

** I once indeed indulged the hope, that
this correspondence would have been re-
new^ed under very different, and far hap-
pier auspices : but the hope has vanished,
and the day I trust will come, when I shall
cease to lament that it was delusive,

'* You have too much candour to regret,
that I have been made acquainted with the
peculiar circumstances in which you are at
present placed : nor can you wonder, that
I should intreat you to dismiss for ever
from your mind, all idea of a renewal of
our engagement.



" I would not for the world, add a single
reproach to those you are now enduring.
You were privileged to use as you pleased,
the freedom which I restored. To me,
you owe no apology, for you have com-
mitted no offence ; nor should I have
deemed it necessary to be thus explicit,
had not your letter contained some allu-
sions, which convinced me that you had
not abandoned the idea, of our ultimate re-

" Let me earnestly intreat you, not for a
moment, to allow such a hope to interfere
with any arrangements which a sense of
justice, feeling, and honour, may induce you
to make. It would be cruel, self-condemned
as you are, to add to your misery by a sin-
gle word of unkindness ; and you may feel
assured that neither complaint nor censure
will ever escape me.

" But whilst I entirely exonerate you

with respect to myself, I cannot disguise

the deep and unaffected sympathy which

I feel for Miss Courtland. The anguish

H 4


Avhich the heart endures, when it first
awakens from its dream of love and confi-
dence, she will too soon experience. That
beam of joy which could pierce even afflic-
tion's darkest cloud, will become increas-
ingly dim ; and heavy indeed will be the
gloom by which she is encompassed.

" Before you set sail for England a detail
of the very painful trials which I have lately
sustained, most probably reached you. I
will not now dwell upon them ; for I am
unwilling to rekindle that sincere and affec-
tionate sympathy, which I am persuaded
you immediately felt for me.

" One circumstance in these trials, assists
in reconciling me to our separation. Had
I inherited the brilliant fortune to which I
once looked forward ; with what reluctance
should I have relinquished the hope of
bestowing it upon you. Perhaps in such a
case I might have found it impossible, to
resist the pleadings of my heart: let me
therefore be thankful that I am spared thi>


** In the humble and obscure station
which I am probably destined to fill, I
shall sometimes look back to the past, as
to a deceitful dream : but if* regret occa-
sionally mingles in these retrospections, it
will be checked by the recollection, that
my lot, whether splendid or lowly, is not
regulated by the caprice of chance, but by
the hand of unerring wisdom.

" Forgiv*e me, Montague, if, in the last
letter which I shall ever address to you,
I feel inclined to be serious ; if in lament-
ing the heart-aches you feel and inflict,
I venture to suggest that there is but one
corrective sufficiently powerful to regulate
the impetuosity of your feelings. Formed
as you are to enjoy and communicate hap-
piness, how is it that you are constantly
inflicting and enduring so much positive
wretchedness? You will say, perhaps, that
some strange fatality is at work : but the
fatality is of your own creation.

" When I look to the detached parts of
your character, how much that is attractive
H 5


does it appear to possess. The sobriety of
Christian principle can alone give to it, as
a whole, the harmony and proportion in
which it is unfortunately deficient : any
guide, less active and authoritative, will be
insufficient. Has a nice sense of honour,
which is often considered as a substitute^
prevented your being betrayed into con-
duct which you acknowledge to be inde-
fensible ? — Unfortunately it serves only
to quicken the keenness of your self-

** Do not, I conjure you, be offended
either by my candour or my seriousness.
It is on ' the gem only that we are dis-
turbed to see the dust; the pebble may
be soiled and we do not heed it.'

" It is painful to me to urge one point on
which I am anxious to be clearly under-
stood : — let me entreat you, my dear Mon-
tague, to consider the decision expressed
in this letter as final and absolute.

" Though my heart can never be entirely
estranged from yours, though the senti'


ments which have grown with my growth,
can never be exchanged for the coldness
of indifference, yet my resolution is un-

" Do not, therefore, afflict me by remon-
strances, which will be at once distressing
and fruitless.

" Let me bid you farewell, with the
hope that resentment, on your part, will
not destroy the tie of friendship by which
we may still be united: that you will
accept my warmest wishes for your hap-
piness, and the assurance that I shall be

" Your sincerely attached friend,

" Geraldine.'*

This letter was inclosed in one of a very
different character from Mrs. xVIowbray.

" To Montague Moxvbrai/, Esq.
" My dear Montague ;
" If 1 understood the art of manoeuvring
as well as Ulysses, or possessed the patience
H 6


of Job himself, you would exhaust the one
and baffle the other.

** I have considered and re-considered
your most provoking history, and can only
come to the homely conclusion, that we
must make the best of a bad business.

*' As to your father, not a word of
advice does he deign to give ; he is in one
of his invulnerable, impenetrable moods :
all silence and solemnity.

** Of course, Geraldine makes her part-
ing courtesy to you; and, I am sorry to
say, that it will be a far more graceful and
proper one than your parting bow to poor
Miss Courtland ; but„ whether graceful or
not, it must be made. It would be too
cruel, in addition to the misery she has
already endured, to inflict upon her the
incurable evil of marriage, with a man
whose heart is not only indifferent, but
pre-occupied ; and who, notwithstanding
her dark eyes and dimpled mouthy would
wish her at Jericho before the honey-moon
was over.


" Though I liave not, in general, much
sympathy with love-lorn maidens, I really
feel some pity for this poor girl ; and have
too much charity not to preserve her from
so deplorable a lot. You must gi'adually
prepare her mind for the cruel truth. As
to a broken heart ; the term, it must be
confessed, has a territic sound, but it means
no more, in the vocabulary of lovers, than
^fee^faw,fiii7f in the vocabulary of children.
Hearts may ache, but they do not break in
these days, at least, not for love. Perhaps,
upon re-consideration, it may be better to
reveal the truth at once ; the pang will be
sharper, but then it will be more quickly
over. You must be governed, however, by
the actual state of her health and spirits.
I wish, with all my heart, she may be one
of those tender young ladies who declare
* love to be a want of their souls :' and if
we may judge from the facility with which
she yielded her heart, on the very first
attack, this is likely enough to be the case.
Really you may say with Caesar * I came^ I


saw, I conquered.' However, I am not
without hope that she will soon find con-
solation in playing the part of Amaryllis,
to some other Corydon.

« The best advice I can give you, is to
lay aside, for the present, all thoughts of
love and marriage j ten years hence, you
may perhaps have learned to resist the ar-
tillery of bright eyes and soft smiles 5 and
in the interim, you had better exchange the
worship of the Muses for the study of the
law J shut yourself up in chambers, and tiy
if an acquaintance with

Horse-pleas, traverses, demurrers,
Jeofails, imparlances, and errours —
Averments, bars, and protestandoes

will have as charming an effect upon your
mind as it had upon ' Lord Glenthorn's :*
possibly, it may discipline your imagination^
and help to counteract your unfortunate
talent for writing sonnets and ensnaring
hearts. Adieu.

" Sincerely yours,

<* Georgiana Mowbray*'*



About the time when Montague's arrival
in England might be calculated upon, these
letters were ibrwarded ; and, as Geraldine
was desirous of avoiding an immediate in-
terview with him, she accepted an invitation
to Wentworth Hall.

Of Mr. Maitland she had seen little since
their return to Woodlands. He had called
but once there to oifer his compliments and
enquiries ; and even when they met at the
vicarage, their interviews had been brief
and hurried.

He professed to be intent upon the study
of Hebrew, in which he had just discovered
that he was lamentably deficient.

By Mr. FuUarton, Geraldine had been
received as an adopted daughter 5 and his


kind assurances of protection, and solicitude
to promote and secure her happiness, ex-
cited in her heart a glow of grateful af-
fection, little inferior to that of filial love.
Without entering into a minute explanation,
she acquainted him with her final separation
from Montague, and her proposed visit at
Wentworth Hall.

Mr. Wentworth welcomed her with more
than his usual hospitality ; and drawing her
aside a few days after her arrival, enquired
whether there was any truth in the report
that the match between Montague and her-
self was broken off. Upon Geraldine's an-
swering in the affirmative :

*' You may tell him, then, my dear, from
me,'' said he, *' that I don't care if I never
see him again. If he belonged to me I
should be ashamed of him. Pray, what
does my friend Mowbray say to it all ? I
had a better opinion of him than to believe
that he would sanction such paltry pitiful
doings. I have this to say, my dear," con-
tinued he, after a short pause, " that if you



were inclined to like either of my boys, I
would give my consent as heartily as if you
were mistress of the best estate in the king-

Geraldine immediately exculpated Mon-
tague, from the charge of being influenced
by mercenary motives, and endeavoured to
explain, that the separation originated with

" If you did not know your own mind,
my dear, that is another thing," said Mr.
Wentworth ; *' but it is an ugly business al-
together ; I don't like the look of it."

Geraldine knew not how to make the
truth intelligible to him ; and she conti-
nued silent and embarrassed.

*« I don*t wish to hear your secrets, my
dear," said he -, " but if Montague likes you,
and you like him ; what is the meaning of
these ons and ofFs — these marriages, and no

Geraldine stammered out something
about the impossibility of explanation.

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) → online text (page 6 of 11)