תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

AN OLD MAN'S STORY.

It is now something more than fifty versity Magazine ; politics I don't years since I was an undergraduate of trouble myself much with, though I Trinity College. I know not why it knew enough at the last election to is that I look back with peculiar fond- make me give an honest Protestant ness to the days that I passed under vote for Mr. Shaw and Mr. Lefroy,) and the fostering wing of Alma Mater, and as to general literature, why I know in the retrospect of three score years nothing of it unless from the literary and ten, my mind pauses with peculiar annuals, and God knows, to judge from regret on the time during which I that specimen, I have no loss in not shared in the frolics, the fun, the stu- increasing my acquaintance, so as I dies, and some of the honours, too, must have paper in the Magazine I that attend a College life. Excuse, must take the only romantic adventure gentle reader, an old man's vanity for of my life, and if I can just put down mentioning the honours, but I could upon paper what I saw and heard, withnot help just telling you that I was a out either addition or subtraction, I may premium man, and if you will at any make out a story as good as most of time come and pay me a visit in my those I see in Magazines ; at least little study, where I can assure you of I will set my reader's sagacity at work, a welcome, you will see the little oak and he will wonder at the whole thing bracket, with a neat glass door hung as much as I do myself, that is, if he up against the wall, and half a dozen be possessed of much curiosity, or if he gilded volumes religiously preserved be given to the solving of mysteries, as the memento of my youthful profi- and have a desire for finding out hidden ciency; the bracket was made by my things. only brother, who went to sea just as I It was a lovely evening in the May had taken my degree, and having a of the year 17__ I had strolled out very mechanical turn, left this specimen after my tutor's evening lecture, to enof his handy work as a keepsake to me, joy the pleasures of a solitary walk and and my mother insisted that my College wandered out of the smoke and noise Premiums should be placed in it, and of the city, to inhale the fresh sea that it should be hung up in the parlour breeze along the shore at Clontarf. I in full view of every visitor, to show was insensibly led on to prolong my off the talents of her two sons. I have excursion until I found myself at the never since turned it from its use. My distance of about three miles from mother has long since paid the debt of College. I was heated by my walk, nature, and my brother, poor fellow, and seating myself upon a rock, Í was shot in the

battle of Trafalgar, and amused myself by watching the little so I keep the little book-case and its waves breaking at my feet, and dashing contents as a memento of old times, up the shells and pebbles upon the and now, as I sit in my own chair, strand. The last rays of the setting which I have placed so as to have a full sun were throwing their gold and purview of them: the tears come into my ple tints upon the hills of Killiney and old eyes when I let my mind follow up Howth, and there was a stillness in the the associations they excite; but I will air, broken only by the murmuring not write much if I weep ; so, reader, plash of the waves upon the shores, or if you will just wait until I wipe my the song of the curlew or sea-mew, as spectacles that are dimmed by the tears they skimmed the edge of the water. that have fallen involuntarily, I will I leaned my head upon my hand, and turn my eyes away from the bracket, looked across the blue expanse that and will give you an account of what was spread out before me- I felt someoccurred to myself when I was young. thing of the poetry of nature in the An old man has no imagination to draw enchantment of the hour, and taking on, and I wish, just for " auld lang out my pocket-book and pencil, I atsyne,” to write something for the Uni- tempted to embody my feelings in ver

í ses—but alas, I could only get as far wandered back to the lovely stranger. as the first rhyme--I could not for the Wherever I went I felt as if I ex. life of me make a second, and after pected to meet her-even at church having scribbled over an entire page the next Sunday, my eyes wandered of my pocket-book with ‘sto dove sou about as if in search of her, and often φλοισβοιο θαλασσης and λευσσων επι οινοπα was my pulse futtered by imagining TOYTov. I gave up the vain attempt, that I saw her. In short, I was in love believing that in these two simple for the first and last time of my life.phrases of my favourite bard, there Some strange impression rested on my was more genuine poetry than I could soul that she was made for me. It was infuse into a thousand couplets. perhaps a madness ; but if all the feel

But my meditations were soon inter- ings of our hearts, and actions of our rupted in a way that I confess was not lives, that are tinged with insanity were very disagreeable. The sound of a removed, how small would be the sum light step upon the sand near me at- of the remainder. Philosophers, I am tracted my attention, and upon looking told, say madness is but a thing of deup I beheld a lovely female hurriedly gree-perhaps, philosophers for once passing along. She was alone-as I are right; and I must admit it was a was partly concealed by the rock be higher degree of it to feel thus, for one hind which I sat, she did not perceive whom I had seen but for a few minutes, me until she was close to me, and I had and of whose name and character I a full view of her countenance. Light was ignorant. But there was a someflaxen ringlets hung upon her neck, thing in the single glance she gave and the blue of her eyes was like the towards me that spoke a language of softest tint of the sky. She blushed its own. To my heart it told that her upon perceiving me, but immediately destiny and mine were linked togeturned away her head and quickened ther. Is there no other way for spiher step-' rose and almost instinc- rits to hold communication with spirits tively followed her. I could not tell than through the dull and shackling why ; but she was going my way, and medium of verbal intercourse. If I the closing shades of evening reminded was mad, my madness was the reasonme it was time to return home. ing of the heart.

As she walked before me I gazed in It will be believed that I frequently admiration on her sylph-like form—and made Clontarf the direction of my ercertainly she equalled all of female cursions ; and it so happened that I loveliness that my dreams of beauty ever never went without meeting her somehad pourtrayed. I felt from the first times alone, generally with an elderly instant I had seen her, sensations such lady, whom I concluded to be her mo as I had never known before, and such ther, and whenever we met there was as I could neither account for or de- an agitation in her manner which confine ; and I was disappoiqted and vinced me that there was a something vexed when, after a short time, she of reciprocity in our feelings, but yet turned off the road, and went into a I dared not to attempt an expression cottage which appeared to be her of my sentiments. I was too much home. I stood for some minutes gaz- awed by the dignity of purity with ing after her, and then with a sigh left which she was invested, in my mind, the place, and walked back to College. to presume to offend her delicacy by a

Now, reader, 1 said that mine was a rude obtrusion on her notice ; and thus romantic adventure, and to be sure I loved-I longed to pour into her ear there was nothing very romantic in all the avowal of my soul. She, too, as I this : nothing but what probably has afterwards discovered, sympathized often happened to most young men- with my desires ; and yet we metthat they have seen a pretty girl taking we parted without even a sign of reher evening walk, felt their heart to cognition being interchanged. We beat quicker at the sight of her beau- guessed-we knew each other's feelties, followed her home, and then gone ings, and yet were silent in each other's away and thought no more of her.- presence, bound down by the fictiThis last part of the story is not true, tious trammels which society imposed. however, in my casemfor some days Accident, at length, brought us togeafter I could think of nothing else : ther. One evening I watched her in I would take up my books, but my mind one of her solitary walks, and followed

.

her as if bound by some spell. A crowd claration of my love. She received it of drunken people were returning from as intelligence which was not new to a funeral, and their riotous conduct her-she had long since discovered it; showed that they were not likely to but she calmly yet resolutely rejected treat an unprotected female with much the proffer of my affections. I pressed respect. She was evidently alarmed my suit with all the vehemence of love.

- I advanced and offered her my pro- She burst into tears—she told me to tection. She leaned upon my arm, banish her from my thoughts—that her and I accompanied her home. We hand never could be mine ; and adjufound her mother walking in the little ring me solemnly, as I loved her, never garden in front of the cottage. Hav more to ask from her a return of more ing paid my respects to the old lady, than friendship. I could not underI was about to withdraw, when she in- stand this—she denied not that she vited me to take tea with them. I rea- loved me, and even if she had, her dily acceded to her invitation, and faultering tongue and the gaze of affecscarcely could I believe that I was not tion in which her whole soul seemed, in a delightful dream, when I found as it were, to hang upon my looks, myself seated beside that being who would have belied her words ; and yet had so long been the phantom of my she told me that she could not, she waking and my sleeping thoughts. dare not, bestow on me her hand. I

I soon became a constant visitor at asked her why—but she would not anthe cottage-I was a favourite with swer ; and the look of agony that her the mother--with the daughter I flat- countenance assumed, the wildness of tered myself I was more.

Those were her glaring eyes, and the throbbing days of entrancement such as I have that seemed almost to burst the swelnever known since on earth—but, alas! ling veins of her forehead prevented they have passed away. I imagined I me ever again repeating the question. had found a companion for life, and Reader, you shall know all, or almost now I am a solitary old man, and I all, that I know—every thing, indeed, have performed life's weary pilgrimage that can throw light upon a matter alone, and when in a few short years which to me is still a mystery. Through at most, I shall have reached its close, the intervention of one to whom I I do not think there will be one to shed have already alluded, I learned somea tear upon my grave, unless, perhaps, thing of Eliza's previous history. She my old housekeeper : and even her had been some years before betrothed grief will, I think, be lessened by what to a gentleman whose name I did not I have left her in my will. But I must then know; but, for causes which rego on with my story—and first, my mained secret, the match was broken reader will, perhaps, wish to know the off without any sufficient reason being name of this lady whom I have told given on either side, but that it was them of. Her Christian name was done with their mutual consent. She Eliza, but as to her surname I cannot looked pale and dejected for a time, satisfy their curiosity. Some of her but soon recovered her usual health family are still residing in the neigh- and spirits. This much I was informed bourhood of the Cove of Cork, and I by a near relative of her's, who gave would not wish to hurt their feelings me every encouragement in my adby reviving the recollection of circum- dresses ; but there still was a somestances, which long since have been thing untold, which she knew herself forgotten ; and there is, I believe, but rather by conjecture than certainty ; one person living who will recognize and this mysterious secret I never could this narrative; and should these pages discover. Before I bring my narration meet her eye, she will forgive me if I to a conclusion, my readers will probabring back the remembrance of what bly have formed a guess, how true or may give her pain, while at the same not I cannot pretend to say. I can time, she will appreciate the motives only state the facts from which I have which induce me to make no allusion formed my own. Were I prone to to the scenes in which she herself took superstition the solution would be easy. a part.

One day I had walked out from ColWeeks passed on, and my passion lege to her abode. There was at one acquired intensity by time. I soon side of the cottage a little conservatory ventured to make to Eliza an open de- which opened on the garden, arranged

by Eliza's judicious taste, and in this I believed to be a book upon magic. delightful retreat she and I had been I had seen volumes exactly its counin the habit of spending hours together terpart in the library of the College, reading from the selected volumes which which, I was told, were on magic ; but lay scattered on a table in the centre. then why her alarm at my appearance ? I cannot tell why it was that, instead I laughed at magic: I knew it was noof going into the house by the front thing but juggling-then why her terdoor I came to the entrance of the con ror on my discovering her study ? The servatory. The door was open, and whole scene was unaccountable—what Eliza was reading inside, but whatever followed was still more so. was the subject of her studies it engag That night I sat up late, meditating ed her attention so earnestly that she on the events of the day. The college did not perceive my approach. Her clock, with its deep-toned strokes, had eye was lit up with a fire whose brilli- just tolled twelve ; the fire was expiancy startled me, and her whole fea- ring in my gráte, and I had just raked tures wore a most peculiar expression up the dying embers and drawn my -of deep, intense, and perhaps painful chair closer to the fire, when a loud thought." The volume lay open upon knock came to the door. I rose and her knee; it was large, and at the opened it ; a man entered closely mufhead of each page there were illumin- fed in a cloak, and without saying a ated letters. I felt very curious to dis- word, threw off his cloak and exposed cover what engaged her so deeply. I to my view features strongly marked, went softly up to her; she turned a most probably by crime-he had a dagpage, and I saw on the other side a ger suspended from his belt. I was number of curious figures resembling alarmed, and moved towards the firehieroglyphics, but which struck me as place, as the poker was the only implepresenting an appearance the most sin- ment of defence that was at hand. gular I had ever seen. “ How long," He advanced into the middle of the said I, “ Eliza, have you devoted your- room-I cannot exactly remember self to the study of hieroglyphics p"— what followed; but I have an indistinct She started from her reverie at the recollection of his standing opposite to sound of my voice, and hastily closing me and grinning, and the candles burnthe volume screamed with terror--the ing blue ; but this fancy was most problood left her countenance—her lips bably caused by fright, for I have no became of an ashy hue. She stared at recollection at all of his departure ; me for a few seconds, then with ano- but I found myself shortly after readther wild and piercing scream, sunking a document which he had left upon senseless on the floor.

the table-and, gracious heavens ! its Her mother and sister, for she had a contents were still more startling : it sister some years younger than herself was a solemn charge to me never again -rushed into the apartment--they found to speak to Eliza! It had no siguiaher in my arms. I bore her to the ture ; but the writer told me that she open door, and, after some time, she was another's by ties which neither hesslowly recovered. Her sister attempt- ven nor hell could break. I trembled as ed to disengage the volume from her 'I read. I paced the narrow limits of hand, but she held it with a tenacious my chamber. I read the words again grasp; and as soon as she had recovered and again, almost distrusting the evistrength, she flew from our inquiries, dence of my senses. I threw myself and begging to be left alone, she shut at length upon my bed, and sunk into herself up in her own room. We were a profound but unrefreshing sleep and all unhappy, and watched in alarm least what a recollection I had of the whole a return of the fainting fit might sur- transaction in the morning! I would prise her when alone; but in a few mi- have believed that I had fallen asleep nutes she returned to us pale but calm over the fire, and that it was all a - I asked no questions, her eye never dream ; but then the document remet mine, she appeared to dread en- mained as evidence of the reality of countering my glance. I shortly took the scene. I examined it anew by the my leave, and returned to my apart- daylight-the band was cramped, and ments perplexed and grieved. I do it had the appearance of being a long not see why I should disguise the fact time written. It might, perhaps, be a -the volume I had seen in ber hand mere trick of some of my fellow-stu

dents, who had discovered my intimacy of yesterday are but indistinctly rewith Eliza, and wished to enjoy a laugh corded in my failing memory, fifty at my expense. I easily persuaded years have taken nothing from the vimyself of this, particularly as at the vidness with which every thing contime at which this mysterious visit was nected with Eliza, is present to my paid, no person could have gone out of mind. college. Well pleased with this ex The town of Youghal is situated at planation, I grew ashamed of my weak- the mouth of the Blackwater,--the only ness the preceding night, and deter- mode of passing to the other side was mined to think no more of my noctur- by a ferry-boat which plyed constantly, nal visitor, whether he were a devil or and conveyed passengers across at a a college-man, but pay my visit, which moderate charge ; at times, however, latterly had become a daily one, at the the passage was very rough, particucottage.

larly during the prevalence of a northBut, alas, this visit was destined to westerly wind, which had full command encrease still further my consternation. of the entrance of the bay, and if a When I arrived at the well-known'spot strong ebb tide was met by a southI found all the windows with the shut- wester, the surf ran so high as to renters closed. With a beating heart I der the ferry unsafe. It was about knocked at the door ; it was opened by nine o'clock on Sunday evening, in the a stranger, who told me that the family end of August, that I arrived at the had gone away not to return, and an Waterford side of the ferry, after havswered my enquiries as to the place of ing passed the day with a clergyman their abode by slapping the door in my who lived about six miles in the inteface.

rior. The evening had turned out And thus had vanished all my hopes wet, and the rain was accompanied by and dreams of future happiness. They a fresh gale, which had been gradually were gone like the morning mists, and increasing as I rode along, and by the I knew not why. All my earthly antici- time I reached the water's side, it was pations were laid prostrate, and yet I blowing pretty hard. The boats were could not see the hand that struck the tossing very much, and the white waves cruel blow. In a state of mind border- could be seen raising their foamy crests ing on distraction I spent the next three distinctly through the gathering gloom 6 weeks in endeavouring to discover of the evening. I hailed the ferrymen some clue by which I might unravel but was not a little annoyed at being this mystery, but all my efforts were told, that to pass over was impossible. unavailing the cottage continued shut What was I to do? To return to my up, and apparently uninhabited-whe- friend's house at such an hour of the ther it really was so or not, I could not night was almost out of the question. tell. I knocked several times at the I enquired if there was any accomdoor, but never received an answer, modation near, the ferryman told me and I left the metropolis at the com- that I might sit by his fire until mornmencement of the long vacation, satis- ing, but that as for the animal, he had fied that whatever was the place of no place to put her. There was a genEliza's concealment, she was at least tleman's house at a little distance who far away from Clontarf.

would give me a hearty welcome, and I had been accustomed frequently lodging for the night. “But then” added to spend my vacations with an uncle in my informant in a lower tone, “he may the town of Youghal, and this summer well be glad to see the face of a traI had promised to pay my southern re- veller, for in troth it's not many that latives a visit. It was during the two would like to go to him.” “ Why so," months that I spent in Youghal, that enquired I. * Why," replied he,an incident occurred, which to me has " there's more than what's good going ever been perfectly unaccountable. 1 on there, if he is’nt greatly belied,”am now old enough to have almost for “ What do you mean ?" said I impagotten the impressions of my youth, tiently. “Why, they say he has things and even the scenes of my first love about him that a’nt just of the right mnight by this time have passed from sort,” he answered with an air of mysmy memory, but the events which I tery,—“though troth it's myself that an endi avouring to relate, I never shouldn't speak agin him, for he's a can forget, and though the occurrences mighty nice gintleman, and very chaVOL. I.

4 R

« הקודםהמשך »