Unknown.

The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

. (page 53 of 75)
Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 53 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


degree of credit which they attached to the
witnesses on the respective sides, and left the
issue entirely in their hands.

The jury retired to consider their verdict,
and from the duration of their absence it was
to be inferred that they had some difficulty in
making up their minds. In the meantime,
a breathless anxiety appeared to pervade the
court; the very barristers, in spite of their
professional coldness, exhibited signs of im-
patience, and when the jury returned, the
voice of the crier, in his then unnecessary duty



of enjoining silence, was the only interruption
to the stillness which prevailed. "We find
for the DEFENDANT" were the words of the
foreman, and no sooner were they pronounced
than a suppressed murmur of satisfaction ran
through the crowd, which was, of course, in-
stantly checked by the judge, though he could
not help exclaiming, "I entirely agree with
you, gentlemen."

To gratify Clara's desire to express personally
her thanks to her generous advocate, Mr.
Elphinstone invited him to dinner, during
which the young barrister was frequently ral-
lied on the unusual gravity of his manner.
When the ladies had retired, the elder Mr.
Elphinstone pleaded an engagement at an
evening consultation, and left his son and Mr.
Worthington together.

"By the way, Arthur," said the former, "my
mother, the girls, and Miss Stanley are off to
the cottage at Dorking next month : you must
go down with me for a week in the long vaca-
tion."

"Impossible, my good fellow!" was the
answer; " you forget that I must go the circuit,
and I have been retained in more causes than,
I fear, I shall make myself master of in the
interim."

"Nonsense, man!" rejoined the other; "you
may con your briefs at the cottage, if you like.
There is the library at your service; you know
I do not trouble it much, and the girls are
always out of doors from morning to night.
Come, you may as well spend a few of my re-
maining days of freedom with me, for I sup-
pose you have heard that I am about to commit
matrimony?"

"I have," said Worthington, "and hope
you may live long to enjoy the happiness
which the virtues, beauty, and accomplish-
ments of your destined bride cannot fail to
confer."

"I thank you, Arthur; but pray, what
makes you so well acquainted with the young
lady's beauty and accomplishments ? Have you
ever seen her?" inquired young Elphinstone.

"Have I not dined with her?" said Worth-
ington.

"Where and when?" asked his companion.

"Why, to-day at this table," responded the
other.

" You talk in riddles; pray speak out, and
tell me whom you mean."

"Miss Stanley, to be sure."

"Clara Stanley!" exclaimed Harry in sur-
prise; "what caused you to think I was going
to marry her?"

"The simple fact of your having been con-



FOOL AND WISE.



273



stently almost in her company, and showing
her every possible attention, both at home and
abroad. I am not singular in drawing the
conclusion; all the world have set it down as a
match."

"Then, my dear fellow," replied Harry,
" I pray you take this as an example that what
all the world says is not necessarily true. I
was a doomed man long before I had the plea-
sure of knowing Miss Stanley, and, being per-
fectly aware of it, she has treated me with a
degree of frankness which possibly has favoured
the misconception into which you and 'all the
world' have fallen. I thought you knew I
was engaged to Charlotte Percy."

"No, I did not; but now that I do know
it," responded Worthington, seizing the claret-
jug, "1 beg to drink to your happiness and
speedy union."

" I am much obliged to you, Arthur," said
the other, with a smile of peculiar significance,
"for I am convinced of your sincerity; and,
now that I have let you into a secret, which
I thought everybody knew, perhaps you will
withdraw your plea, and go down to Dorking
with us."

"But what will my clients say?" was the
inquiry.

"Say?" replied Harry, "why, that you are
labouring in your vocation, and have only
moved your cause from one court into another,
resembling it in one point at least, since the
presiding divinity of each is represented as
being blind."

Worthington appeared not to understand the
innuendo, but proposed their joining the ladies
in the drawing-room, where his vivacity and
glee formed a striking contrast to the gravity
of his demeanour at the dinner table; a change
which, though contributing in no trifling degree
to the amusement of the evening, was perfectly
inexplicable to every one but Harry, who kept
his own counsel.

About three weeks afterwards, as young El-
phinstone, with his two sisters and Clara, was
walking in the grounds at Dorking, they ob-
served a horseman approaching in the direction
of the cottage.

"The man of briefs, "exclaimed Harry, "and
mounted on a real horse, as I live!"

" Is there anything very wonderful in that ?"
inquired one of his sisters. "I suppose you
think no one can mount a horse but yourself,
Mr. Harry."

"No," he replied; "I am quite aware that
it is possible for any man, with the assistance
of a groom and a joint-stool, to get upon the
back of a horse, but it is not every person who

VOL. IV.



can keep there. Have a care, sir," he con-
tinued, as he perceived Worthington, who
had diverged from the road, riding up to a
fence, by way of a short cut; "have a care,
Arthur; remember you are retained in 'Dobbs
versus Jenkins,' and have no right to break
your neck without the plaintiff's permission."

"Never fear," said his friend, as he cleared
the fence; "I could ride almost before I could
walk, and, though a little out of practice, am
not to be brought up by a gooseberry bush."

While he was speaking he rode up to the
wicket, which opened from the meadow into the
lawn, and, giving his horse to a servant, joined
the party, from every individual of which he
was welcomed, and not the least cordially by
her whose form, from the first day in which he
had seen her at her father's table, had never
been absent from his mind.

It would be somewhat antiquated to speak
of love with reference to rural life, and there-
fore I will not shock the taste of my reader
by quoting Shenstone on this occasion; the old
poets, however, had a pretty notion of things
in general, and when celebrating the influence
of romantic scenery in disposing the heart to
the tender passion, they drew as largely, I
doubt not, upon their experience as on their-
imagination. For my own part, had I for-
sworn matrimony, I would confine myself to-
the metropolis, and plunge fearlessly into so-
ciety, under the conviction that a man may
carry his heart, like his purse, in safety through
a crowd, and yet be robbed of it in a retired,
lane, a shady copse, or a lonely common.

Arthur Worthington, however, had not taken
the vow of celibacy, and was well content to>
lose his own heart, provided he could obtain
another in exchange. I know not the parti -
cular spot, or the precise terms, in which he
made a declaration of the sentiments with
which Clara Stanley had inspired him; I only
know that he sustained his reputation as an
eloquent pleader, and gained a verdict from
one whose gratitude and admiration he had
previously excited by the generous and disin-
terested manner in which he had undertaken
her cause, at a time when he believed her to be
the betrothed of another.



FOOL AND WISE.

Endow the fool with sun and moon,

Being his, he holds them mean and low,
But to the wise a litt'e boon
Is gre.it, because the giver's so.

COVENTRY PATMORK.
91



274



THE MINISTER'S WIG.



FAREWELL TO NANCY.

BY ROBERT BURNS. 1

Ae fond kiss and then we sever ;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep iu heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
Who shall say that fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerf u' twinkle lights me ;
Dark despair around benights me.

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy :
But to see her, was to love her ;
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest !
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest !
Thine be ilka joy and treasure.
Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure !
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever !
Deep in heart-wrung tears I pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.



SHE WAS A PHANTOM OF DELIGHT.

BY W. WORDSWORTH.

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

I saw her upon nearer view,

A spirit, yet a woman too !

Her household motions light and free,

And steps of virgin liberty;

A countenance in which did meet

Sweet records, promises as sweet;



A creature not too bright or good

For human nature's daily food;

For transient sorrows, simple wiles,

Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eyes serene

The very pulse of the machine;

A being breathing thoughtful breath,

A traveller betwixt life and death;

The reason firm, the temperate will,

Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill

A perfect woman, nobly planned,

To warn, to comfort, and command;

And yet a spirit still and bright

With something of an angel light.



1 Sir Walter Scott-said that the four lines beginning
" Had we never loved sae kindly," ''contains the essence
nf a thousand love-tales " Byron used the itanza as
the metto to his Bridt f Abydot.



THE MINISTER'S WIG.

BY JOHN GALT.

By an agreement with the session (said Mr.
Birkwhistle) I was invited to preach the ac-
tion sermon at Kilmartin, and my new wig
coming home from Glasgow by the Saltcoats
carrier on the Thursday afore, I took it un
opened on the Saturday evening in the box to
the manse, where I was to bide during the
preachings with the widow. It happened,
however, that in going in the stage-fly from
my own parish to Kilmartin, a dreadful shower
came on, and the box, with my new wig there-
intil, being on the outside tap of the coach,
the wind blew and the rain fell, and by the
help and colleaguery of the twa, the seams of
the box were invaded, and the wig, when 1
took it out on the Saturday night, was just a
clash o' weet.

At that time o' night, there wasna a barber
to be had for love or money within three miles
o' the manse; indeed, I dinna think, for that
matter, there was a creature o' the sort within
the bounds and jurisdictions of the parish, so
that I could make no better o't than to borrow
the dredge- box out of the kitchen, and dress
the wig with my own hands.

Although Mr. Keckle had been buried but
the week before, the mistress, as a' ministers'
wives of the right gospel and evangelical kind
should be, was in a wholesome state of com-
posity; and seeing what I was ettling at, said
to me, the minister had a blockhead whereon
he was wont to dress and fribble his wig, and
that, although it was a sair heart to her to see
ony other man's wig upon the same, I was
welcome to use my freedoms therewith. Ac-
cordingly, the blockhead on the end of a stick,
like the shank of a carpet besom, was brought



THE MINISTER'S WIG.



275



intil the room; and the same being stuck into
the finger-hole of a buffet-stool, I set myself
to dress and fribble with my new wig, and
Mrs. Keckle the while sat beside me, and we
had some very edifying conversation indeed.

During our discoursing, as I was not a deacon
at the dressing of wigs, I was obligated now
and then to contemplate and consider the effect
of my fribbling at a distance, and to give
Mrs. Keckle the dredge-box to shake the flour
on where it was seen to be wanting. But all
this was done in great sincerity of heart between
her and me; although, to be sure, it was none
of the most zealous kind of religion on my
part, to be fribbling with my hands and comb
at the wig, and saying at the same time with
my tongue orthodox texts out of the Scriptures.
Nor, in like manner, was it just what could
be hoped for, that Mrs. Keckle, when I spoke
to her on the everlasting joys of an eternal
salvation, where friends meet to part no more,
saying, "A bit pluff with the box thereon the
left curls" (in the way of a parenthesis 1 ), that
she wouldna feel a great deal; but for ail that,
we did our part well, and she Avas long after
heard to say, that she had never been more
edified in her life than when she helped me to
dress my wig on that occasion.

But all is vanity and vexation of spirit in
this world of sin and misery. When the wig
was dressed, and as white and beautiful to the
eye of man as a cauliflower, I took it from off
its stance on the blockhead, which was a great
shortsightedness of me to do, and I prinned it
to the curtain of the bed, in the room wherein
I was instructed by Mrs. Keckle to sleep.
Little did either me or that worthy woman
dream of the mischief that was then brewing
and hatching, against the great care and occu-
pation wherewith we had in a manner regener-
ated the periwig into its primitive style of per-
fectncss.

But you must understand that Mrs. Keckle
had a black cat that was not past the pranks [
of kittenhood, though in outwardly show a
most douce and well-comported beast; and I
what would ye think baudrons was doing all i
the time that the mistress and me were so i
eydent about the wig ? She was sitting on a
chair, watching every pluff that I gave, and
meditating, with the device of an evil spirit,
how to spoil all the bravery that I was so in-
dustriously endeavouring to restore into its
proper pedigree and formalities. I have long
had a notion that black cats are no overly
canny, and the conduct of Mrs. Keckle's was
an evidential kithing to the effect that there
is nothing of uncharitableness in that notion



of mine; howsomever, no to enlarge on such
points of philosophical controversy, the wig
being put in order, I carried it to the bed-room,
and, as I was saying, prinned it to the bed-
curtains, and then went down stairs again to
the parlour to make exercise, and to taste Mrs.
Keckle's mutton ham, by way of a relish to a
tumbler of toddy, having declined any sort of
methodical supper.

' Considering the melancholious necessity that
had occasioned my coming to the Kil martin
Manse, I was beholden to enlarge a little after
supper with Mrs. Keckle, by which the tumbler
of toddy was exhausted before I had made an
end of my exhortation, which the mistress
seeing, she said that if I would make another
cheerer she would partake in a glass with me.
It's no my habit to go such lengths at ony
time, the more especially on a Saturday night;
but she was so pressing that I could not but
gratify her; so I made the second tumbler,
and weel I wat it was baith nappy and good;
for in brewing I had an e'e to pleasing Mrs.
Keckle, and knowing that the leddies like it
strong and sweet, I wasna sparing either of
the spirit bottle or the sugar bowl. But I
trow both the widow and me had to rue the
consequences that befell us in that night; for
when I went up again intil the bed-room, I
was Avhat ye would call a thought off the nail,
by the which my sleep wasna just what it
should have been, and dreams and visions of
all sorts came hovering about my pillow, and
at times I felt, as it were, the bed whirling
round.

In this condition, with a bit dover now and
then, I lay till the hour of midnight, at the
which season I had a strange dream wherein
I thought my wig was kindled by twa candles
of a deadly yellow light, and then I beheld, as
it were, an imp of darkness dancing at my
bed-side, whereat I turned myself round and
covered my head with the clothes, just in,
an eerie mood, between sleeping and waking.
I had not, however, lain long in that posture,
when I felt, as I thought, a hand clamming
softly over the bed-clothes like a temptation,
and it was past the compass of my power to
think what it could be. By and by, I heard
a dreadful thud on the floor, and something
moving in the darkness; so I raised my head
in a courageous manner to see and question
who was there. But judge what I suffered
when I beheld, by the dim glimmer of the
starlight of the window, that the curtains of
the bed were awfully shaken, and every now
and then what I thought a woman with a
mutch keeking in upon me. The little gudo



276



SONNET.



was surely bus)' that night, for I thought the
apparition was the widow, and that I saw
duty himself, at every other keek she gave,
looking at me o'er her shoulder with his fiery
een. In short, the sight and vision grew to
such a head upon me, that I started up, and
cried with a loud voice, "O, Mistress Keckle,
Mistress Keckle, what's brought you here?"
The sound of my terrification gart the whole
house dirl, and the widow herself, with her twa
servan' lasses, with candles in their hands, came
in their flannen coaties to see what was the
matter, thinking I had gane by myself, or
was taken with some sore dead-ill. But when
the lights entered the room, I was cured of
my passion of amazement, and huddling intil
the bed aneath the clothes, I expounded to the
women what had disturbed me, and what an
apparition I had seen not hinting, however,
that I thought it was Mrs. Keckle. While I
was thus speaking, one of the maidens gied
a shrjll skirling laugh, crying, "Och lion,
the poor wig!" and sure enough nothing could
be more humiliating than the sight it was;
for the black cat, instigated, as I think, by
Diabolus himself to an endeavour to pull it
down, had with her claws combed out both
the curls and the pouther; so that it was
hinging as lank and feckless as a tap of lint,
just as if neither the mistress nor me had laid
a hand upon it. And thus it was brought to
light and testimony, that what I had seen and
heard was but the devil of a black cat louping
and jumping to bring down my new wig for a
playock to herself, in the which most singular
exploits she utterly ruined it; for upon an ex-
amine next day, the whole faculty of the curls
was destroyed, and great detriment done to
the substance thereof. The Steamboat.



THEY ALL ARE GONE.

They all are gone into a world of light,
And I alone sit lingering here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
Like stars upon some gloomy grove ;
Or those faint beams in which the hill is drest
After the sun's remove.

I see them walking in an air of glory,
"Whose light doth trample on my days ;
My days which are at best but dull and hoary,
Mare glimmerings an4 decays.



O holy hope and high humility,

High as the heavens above 1

Thesa are your walks and you have show'd them me

To kindle my cold love.

Dear, beauteous Death, the jewel of the just,
Shining nowhere but in the dark,
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust ;
Could man outlook that mark !

He that hath found some fledged bird's nest, may know

At first sight if the bird be flown,

But what fair field or grove he sings in now,

That is to him unknown.

And yet as angels, in some brighter dreams,

Call to the soul when man doth sleep,

So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themea,

And into g'ory peep.

If a star were confined into a tomb,

Her captive flame must needs burn there ;

But wheu the hand that lock'd her up give room,

She'd shine through all the sphere.

O Father of eternal life, and all
Created glories under Thee !
Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall
Into true liberty.

Either disperse these mists which blot and fill
My perspective, still, as they pass.
Or else remove me hence unto that hill,
Where I shall need no glass.

HENRY VAUCHAN (1650).



SONNET

ON HEARING A THKUSH SING IN A MORNING

WALK IN JANUARY. 1
BY ROBERT BURNS.

Sing on, sweet thrush, upon the leafless bough ;

Sing on, weet bird, I listen to thy strain :

See aged winter, 'mid his surly reign,
At thy blithe carol clears his furrow'd brow.

So in lone poverty's dominion drear,
Sits meek content with light unanxious heart,
Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,

Nor asks if they bring aught to hope or fear.

I thank thee, Author of this opening day !

Thou whose bright sun now gilds yon orient skies !

Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys,
What wealth could never give nor take away !

Yet come, thou child of poverty and care ;
The mite high Heaven bestowed, that mite with the*
I'll share.



i Written 25th January, 1793, the birthday of the
poet, aged 34.



IN PERIL.



277



IN PERIL.

BY H. D. INGLIS.

There needs no extraordinary incident to
impress upon the traveller a recollection of
Gibraltar. Even if Spain were a country de-
void of interest, a journey across the Peninsula
would be repaid by the first view of this cele-
brated spot. For my own part, if 1 had never
seea Emily Waring, or rescued her lover from
his great peril, or been present at the trial of
the unhappy Donovan, this majestic object
would, nevertheless, be distinguished among
the many scenes upon which I have looked
with wonder and delight, as that one which is
the most vividly pictured upon my memory.

But, with my recollections of Gibraltar, some
passages of human life are mixed ; and when,
a. year ago, I visited this spot for the second
time, the glorious scene that burst upon me
as I sailed through the Straits the Barbary
mountains on one hand, the Bay of Algesiras
and the Sierra of Granada on the other the
placid waters of the Mediterranean spreading
towards the east, and the gigantic rock guard-
ing its entrance, were lost in the recollection
of mingled sorrow and joy that annihilated ten
years, and placed me again beside Emily
Waring, and showed me but I will not anti-
cipate.

In the year 1821, in the month of June, I
sailed from England with the Levant Packet,
in the intention of spending a few weeks in
Cadiz and Gibraltar, and of then proceeding to
Corfu. I think it was the loth of June when
I stepped upon the mole of Gibraltar ; and the
same evening I presented my letters to Sir

G D , then governor; and to Colonel

Waring, of the Royal Engineers, to whose
family, indeed, I am distantly related. Sir

G- D invited me to a ball to be given

at the Government House the following even-
ing ; and Colonel Waring, as fine an old man
as ever served the king, shaking me heartily
by the hand, and discovering a family likeness,
told me I had arrived at a most fortunate time,
for that his daughter Emily would next week

be united to Captain L , of the Royal

Navy.

"He's a noble fellow," said the Colonel,
" else he should not have my girl : dine with
us to morrow, and you'll meet him, and stay
and sup with us : you must see Emily : and
take care you don't fall in love with her."

The injunction was necessary: for never do
female charms appear so seductive, as when we



know that they all but belong to another: and
Emily Waring was the only truly lovely girl
I have ever beheld. I will not attempt any
description of her countenance; the most cap-
tivating is the most indescribable; and of her
figure I will only say, that to an almost infan-
tine lightness, were added those gracious con-
tours that belong to maturer years. Captain

L I found all that the Colonel had

depicted him.

Next evening, I went to the ball at the
Government House ; and while Emily Waring
was dancing with her betrothed, I chanced to
observe the eyes of a gentleman intently fixed
upon the pair; he was evidently deeply inter-
ested : and in the expression of a very handsome
countenance, it was not difficult to discover
that the most deadly jealousy was mingled with
the most intense admiration.

" Who is that gentleman?" said I to a friend
whom I had accidentally discovered among the
officers of the garrison.

"His name," said he, in a whisper, "is
Donovan ; you have of course remarked that
his eyes constantly pursue the Colonel's daugh-
ter and her partner; there are some curious
facts, and rather unpleasant suspicions, con-
nected with the history of this Donovan. I
need scarcely tell you what are his feelings to-
wards Miss Waring and Captain L ; that

he loves the one, and hates the other ; and yet,
you will be surprised to be told, that Donovan

and Captain L are apparently the best

friends in the world. Three years ago Donovan



Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 53 of 75)