Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

that day.

over

the stump-was very tired, so throwing myself on pened, however, one night when the old farmer my bed, I fell asleep in my dressing-gown and was away from home, that Roland was sitting in slippers, and awoke the next morning to find the farmer's kitchen without a light with Rachel Roland at my bedside. A glance told him how I at his side when, hearing a sound outside, he went had spent the night; the candle burnt out, the to the window to listen, and had hardly sat down books scattered over the floor, the dressing-gown again, when in stalked an athletic young man and slippers left me no chance of asserting I had with a gun under his arm, as Roland and Rachel slept well. I told the whole truth, not even could see by the moonlight streaming in through omitting the pedigree incident. Roland said the open door. It was her brother George, who nothing, but I think looked sadder than ever all had, as was his custom, been out on some poaching

expedition with some disreputable characters in We went out shooting; a right merry party, the village as lawless as himself

, and now returned save Roland, we were—all, save myself, being from the Abbey Woods to find the heir of Beaucapital shots, and returned home, comfortably tired, champ in his father's kitchen, at his sister's side. to a good dinner at seven, with some fine old ’24 “What means all this, young squire ?" asked afterwards. Leaving the wine-bibbers to their Brooke boarsely, Maskelyne said nothingtalk of “green seals" and rare vintages, wine and little could be said-ere the poacher went on in walnuts, my cousin and I strolled out across the tones of fast-increasing passion : park, cigar in mouth, and from that night began a “We may be poor folks, and you may be a fine most cordial friendship. A delightful companion gentleman come to ruin, if it is not already (when forgetting for awhile that fearful family ruined, a poor girl's peace of mind; but may" – destiny), was my poor cousin Roland. From a here he swore an oath too fearful to be written boy he had always been a lover of literature, and down—"if this night I do not hear from your at school and college had always shown himself to lips why you come. Speak—villain." be a man not only of refined mind but vigorous Maskelyne's sole reply was a scornful smile. intellect. A “noble mind” was indeed “

· Speak, Rachel,” went he on wildly, “why thrown” here by a fearful superstition, as you, comes this young squire, when father is away, to reader, may call it, if you please ; a life, which sit here through the night with you ?" might bave shed lustre on his age, was indeed She was too much ashamed to speak—she wasted when Roland returned from Oxford to could not. Beauchamp, where, leaving behind him the gene- And did I risk my life three years ago to rous emulation and glorious thirst of knowledge save you from drowning in the miller's pool of better days, he had nothing on which to fall yonder but for this—for this—for my sisterback but field sports, hum-drum country society, the living likeness of my poor dead mother to be and gloomy forebodings. I was a boy then I fear I am little more now-and, boy-like, one of "Spare me, George,” said she--when, hissing the first things I told my newly.discovered cousin. out through his teeth ove bitter word, which friend, was the history of a boyish love. Perhaps brought the blood in one red blush to the young I told the tale well, perhaps earnestness atones girl's brow, he selled her savagely to the earth. for the power of narration; at any rate he seemed, In an instant his throat was grasped by Rolandas I thought, affected by what I said. I had a fierce struggle ensued— Maskelyne was the more jarred upon a weak chord, perhaps. I had always powerful man, and Brooke was every second heard that Roland was a very Maskelyne in his getting the worst of the contest, when, by a sudnature-proud and reserved to a fault. It was den effort he shook off Roland's grasp, and rushed not so. That night as we walked across his madly out into the field, shouting when he father's park, under the old ancestral elms, I stopped : heard from his lips how, in an evil hour of un

« We shall meet again, Roland Maskelyne : guarded passion, he had sacrificed the virtue of a curses, like birds, fly home to roost; take mine village-girl of lowly birth but remarkable beauty, and remember the Abbot's." one in all respects worthy of a better fate, and This disgraceful scene had occurred, unknown had by her a son whose birth, thanks to a judi- to any but the actors of it, some three days before cious removal of the fair frail one under some pre- my arrival at Beauchamp-and Roland more than text or other to London, bad been hitherto kept a once hinted during our walk that he had little secret. Their child died, fortunately for both, and doubt but that George Brooke and he were likely nothing was known of the matter by Rachel's friends between them to work out “the Abbot's curse at that time. Rachel Brooke was the only daughter at no distant day. He pointed Brooke out to me of a small farmer in a parish adjoining Beauchamp, the next morning. The poacher passed us by with and, at the period I speak of here, was residing a steady look of determined hatred in his eye, but with her father and brother, in a lone farm-house said nothing, and in a few days I almost forgot the some two miles from the Abbey. Now Roland circumstances connected with Roland's and his was, it seems, in the babit of paying clandestine quarrel. visits to poor Rachel, whenever he thought her Alas! I had occasion too soon to bear un. father and brother were away or asleep. It hap. willing witness to the truth of my poor cousin's

[blocks in formation]

but

words, that he and George Brooke would soon tried, but acquitted, some years ago, for shooting work out “the Abbot's curse" between them. old Giles, our late head-keeper, and knows that if But little thought I, when Roland and I sat the he be again on his trial, he will assuredly be transfollowing Sunday in the squire's per under the ported. I have almost a wish to go back; marble monuments of the Maskelynes, to which no, here are the keepers. What news, Jack ?" I fear I paid far more attention than to the come- The head-keeper told us that he knew of the what heavy discourse of the good rector of Beau- poachers' whereabouts—that there were four or champ, how soon there would be a monun.ent in five of them only, so that we were evenly the churchyard to one who combined with all matched, and that we had better at once come ap that was good and noble in his ill-fated race, a with them and secure any we could. We had fascination of mind and mien peculiarly his own. not far to go before we had an opportunity of Let me not anticipate. Let me not selfishly mar testing our valour. what little interest this story may have for my Grasping his bludgeon, Roland strode manfully readers by jumping to a sad conclusion thus early. up to a group of men-stalwart fellows too for a It was the custom of my cousin and myself every midnight meleè—who had coolly halted, bent on evening to stroll out across the fields to enjoy a giving the keepers " their suppers," as they ele“quiet cigar," as smokers say; and one night, gantly phrased it, with a few oaths as expletives. while returning home rather later than usual, we Singling out one man, who seemed the most heard a gun fired—another-and then a man's athletic of the party, Roland speedily felled bim head peered at us over the fence, and was rapidly like a bullock by one heavy blow of his bludgeon. withdrawn.

and, shouting to us to come on, struck out right “Poachers,” said Roland, without removing and left more like a savage than that quiet, gen. the cigar from his lips ; " let us knock up the tlemanlike, pensive cousin of mine, whose sadness keepers, and see if we cannot secure some of I had vainly endeavoured to cheer the same eventhese' Diana's foresters.'”

ing. I, too, played my part well enough with my After a smart walk of some ten minutes we bludgeon, and was easily worsting by fist and reached the keeper's cottage, and sound him with stick, as opportunity offered, a clumsy bumpkin, two assistants preparing to start for the Abbey whose knowledge of the noble art of self-defence woods in quest of the poachers. Telling the was limited to a few furious kicks and awkward keepers to go on first and reconnoitre, Roland bits, when I received from behind a heavy blow on said to me:

my head, and fell down backwards stunned. What “ You and I, William, will follow in their rear, went on during my short insensibility I hardly and may possibly see some sport on our own ac. know even now; but when I came to myself, I count. I know the country, you don't; stick found the hot blood trickling down my neck and close to me, and”—here he stooped down and face, the keepers were gone, and the moor selected from a bundle of faggots by the moon- shining clearly down through the trees full on the light two stout bludgeons—"now I think we are pale angry faces of two men, who were pausing a match for any two of them, if they don't fire, for an instant's breathing time, ere they endea. which is improbable."

voured to crack each other's skulls. These were Although peaceably disposed, and at no time Roland Maskelyne and George Brooke; the latter fond of risking life and limb for trifles, I am by had laid his gun on the grass, and was striking no means averse to a little excitement in the way of wildly at Roland with a stick dropped by a brotherskull-cracking when the occasion is a just one; poacher in his flight. Feeling too weak to be of and so without more ado I set off with Maske- any use in a conflict like this, and beside posseslyne, with the charitable view of correcting the sing that almost instinctive love of fair play comerroneous ideas existing in the 'poachers' minds, mon to every true Briton, I contented myself by as to the extent of the squire's meum and their leaning on my elbow and encouraging Roland as tuum. By the time we reached the wood, the loudly as I was able, to finish it quickly. My keepers had got into the middle of some brush cousin was a splendid single-stick player; and, at wood, where they ambushed, awaiting the arrival this Brooke, though a wiry active fellow enough, of the marauders. Giving a very low whistle, stood little chance with one who, like Maskelyne, which was immediately answered by our party, had learned the use of his weapon from the lifeRoland and I proceeded onwards till we heard a guardsmen of Angelo's fencing rooms; so it was crackling of dead branches, and a man rushed past easy to see that the confict must speedily end. us, followed by a lurcher.

With a dexterous twist of his wrist, Roland sent “It is George Brooke's dog," said Maskelyne; the poacher's cudgel Aying some dozen feet into “I would for his sister Rachel's sake that he were the air, and rushed on to secure his man, when miles away this night. If I meet him hand to Brooke, divining bis intention, leapt lightly back, hand, I cannot shrink from an encounter; for if and recovering his gun which lay loaded on the I do, he will think I fear him, and that no man grass, deliberately cocked and presented it at bis could ever say of a Maskelyne ; if we take him, antagonist's breast. it will only be through' bloodshed-possibly loss “Stand back, young squire," said the poacher of life-for George is a desperate fellow; was hoarsely through his set teeth ; " let me go in

[blocks in formation]

peace home to ing sister whom you have ruined, I briefly told the father his son's request; a or by Him that made us, your heart's blood will flush of proud displeasure for a moment passed sprinkle this grass to night."

over the old mau's brow; but he said, “Do as And for a moment Roland did stand back; he Roland desires.” thought, perhaps, how just a cause of anger might I ran to the stable, vaulted upon a horse, and now be influencing Brooke against the seducer of rode him, without waiting for saddle or bridle, his sister, and for her sake a momentary feeling with a halter, to Rachel. She returned with me of hesitation came over Roland's fiery heart. - she knew the truth already too well — George Alas! it was but for a moment.

had been home, and told her all ere be finally fled. “Brooke," said he sternly, “I said I would Timidly, with her face suffused with blushes, stop this poaching two years ago I will keep my crept poor Rachel, like a guilty thing, after me to word.”

Roland's bedside, where, overcome by her grief, Grasping his bludgeon once more, just as I was forgetting the presence of all save him she loved, rising to stop him, Roland rushed in to grapple and he dying before ber, slie sank down sobbing with the poacher, and succeeded so far as to be bitterly at the foot of the bed.

That proud, able to avert the gun's muzzle from his breast, stern, melancholy Roland Maskelyne had not been when the keepers' voices were heard in the dis- so to her; she remembered a time when the tance, and Brooke, wrenching the gun from cheek, now paling at the approach of death, had Roland's grasp, fired it, and through the smoke I flushed as he told to her his passionate, sinful saw the poacher bounding by me like a deer, and love—when the eye, so sad or stern in its glances my cousin lying bleeding on the grass. At this on others, beamed with love on her,--the poor moment the moon shone out through a passing little village girl, now breaking her heart at a cloud; and, as I knelt down at his side, and saw dying man's bedside. What cared she for the the ghastly pallor of his face I knew his hours stern wonderment in the looks of the haughty old were numbered.

squire ? for the deprecating glances of the good " William," said he very faintly, "I am a dying surgeon ? Love heeded them not; she was, to all man, shout for the keepers—the Abbot's curse is intents and purposes, alone with him she loved here !"

and he was fast nearing his eternal home. ... Staunching the blood, which was dripping After a while she became calmer, rose from her slowly from bis side, with a handkerchief, I shouted knees, and glanced wistfully round the room. long and loudly, till the old trees re-echoed back “Father," said Roland, "I have something on my words. The keepers soon returned after a my mind—let me speak to this poor girl alone." bootless pursuit; we carried the dying man home Without a word of remonstrance or inquiry we across the fields he might never inherit to the all withdrew. I heard from Rachel's lips, after Abbey. It was indeed a sight to soften the the funeral, what then occurred : hardest heart, when we stopped at his father's “Rachel, I was your destroyer--I sent for you door. Hearing our heavy footsteps, the old squire to entreat your forgiveness ere I go hence into the and his guests threw up the windows of the dining presence of my Maker. We have both sinned room, and saw the bitter truth at a glance. grievously. Kneel down, and pray to God to

I will not dwell on the events of pardon us, in this sad, parting hour!" that night; my memory of them is too painful, She obeyed. There was a long pause; his even now that the grass is growing on my poor mind seemed wandering, and he well-nigh too excousin's 's grave.

hausted to speak. After a while he continued,

“Doubtless, you know all; but I forgive him Morning dawned on the old man, the surgeon, who wounded me, for I die by your brother's hand. and myself standing at poor Roland's bed-side. I shall exact a promise, when we two have said our From the first the geon expressed no hope of last farewell, from my father, that he will not seek his patient's recovery; we knew that in a few to punish George, and that he will protect you for hours all must be over, and the dying man knew my sake. And now, good bye, my own dear girl! this too, and prepared to meet his end with Chris- Forgive me, think kindly of me when I am gone, tian fortitude. The rector came soon after day- though I have been your ruin, for the sake of the break, and administered the sacrament to him— love I bore you, and for the sake of our dead and greatly comforted us by saying (for we had all | little one, whom I hope soon to meet in retired from the room by Roland's request during heaven!" that interview) that my cousin's state of mind She knelt down once more, and wound her arms was all that could be wished. As I approached | round her first-last-only love. Their lips met the bedside once more, Roland leant his head in one long, parting kiss ; a murmured “God bless forward and murmured some few indistinct words. you, Roland, as Rachel does !” and the poor girl I bent my head over him, and he whispered- parted from him for ever in this world.

“Go for Rachel Brooke ; I wish to see her ere Well-nigh overcome by emotion, weak with loss I die. I have wronged her, I would make some of blood, Roland had still a sacred duty, as he atonement. Tell my father it is my wish. He will deemed it, to perform. Mastering his feelings, he not refuse."

called his father to his bedside, and taking his

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

hand in his own, after desiring that his dying of Beauchamp, in a voice tremulous with bardly blessing might be transmitted to his brother and suppressed emotion, there was not a dry eye sister, he passed on to that which was nearest to among all that rustic concourse of honest hearts his heart in his last moments. ..

from far and near in the old churchyard. And I "Father, I implore you by the love you profess own I shuddered (in superstitious awe, as a reader for me to grant me these favours—these requests may think), when my eyes fell upon two saplings of your dying son; firstly, that you will never in which Roland himself bad planted in my presence any way, directly or indirectly, seek to punish some time before, in his own words, "to overGeorge Brooke for the share he had in last night's shadow my grave when the curse is fulfilled !" tragedy; secondly, that you will ever think kindly By the old man's desire I remained with him a in Christian charity, for my sake, of poor Rachel — week after his son's funeral. I told him the (I cannot tell you her history now as regards me, history of Rachel Brooke as regarded his son, cousin William here will, when I am dead) -and omitting nothing, and had, ere that week expired, that you will settle, in my behalf, on her for life, the satisfaction of being the bearer of a kindly such an annuity as will enable her to live respect note from Mr. Maskelyne to her, and have since ably wberever she may wish.”

heard that very shortly after my departure a For a while the father combated his son's handsome annuity was settled upon Rachel Brooke merciful intentions towards the poacher, till, seeing for her life. George escaped, and has never been delay pained Roland, he yielded, gave the required seen since. His gang is broken up, and the promises on the sacred word of a Maskelyne, and Abbey Woods since that fatal night, seem to have in a few minutes heard his son say solemnly,

few temptations for the Beauchamp villagers. “Father! I thank you, I die happy! Forgive

Once again, when the grass was growing green me, if I have been wayward, and have clouded on my cousin's grave, did I pay a visit to Beauonr house with a life-long sorrow. My presenti champ Abbey. Old recollections made that so ments are fulfilled! I pray God that he will painful to me that I have never repeated it. I avert the Abbot's curse from the next generation remember one night strolling through the churchof our family, but I dare not hope it." The voice yard when all the village seemed asleep; as I grew gradually weaker, and we knew that Death passed near the massive cross which marked had come for him at last. Clasping my hand in I was startled, but quickly shaking off that feeling

Roland's resting-place, I heard a sound of sobs. his

, with a prayer for God’s forgiveness of his sins, I strode to the grave, and there, with her face he spoke these last, strange words,

bent down to the turf, knelt poor Rachel. In an“Scoff nevermore at the Abbot's curse!" And swer to my questions she told me that since his death the noble spirit of Roland Maskelyne so passed she had never omitted a nightly visit to her dead away.

lover's grave—and there, I doubt not, she will some Let me draw a veil over the few days preceding morning be found lying broken-hearted on the his funeral. Such sorrow should be sacred, and daisies which fold the tomb of him she loved so well. any delineations of mine of sorrow like ours then, And now, dear reader, shall I confess it? wbenever could but be painful to you now.

I hear men scoffing at narrations of this kind as I saw the coffin of him I had known so short a “old women's tales," I feel a choking sensation in time, yet loved so well, borne to the grave of the my throat, for my mind wanders back to the cross Maskelynes, and I know that while the beautiful that tells at once the grave of my lost cousin ritual of our church was being read by the Rector ! Maskelyne, and the ABBOT'S CURSE.

THE COTTON TRAD E.

A PARALLEL instance of rapid advancement cannot somewhat, but very slightly, interfered with by perbaps be found in history to that between the America, and some few Continental manufacturers. rise and present position of the cotton manufacture The first mention of cotton spinning in England in Great Britain. Weaving is among the earliest is to be found in a paper dated 1641, when it was authenticated facts ; Eastern countries still retain said to have been located, even at that period, at much of their original superiority, and it is difficult Manchester ; but it was nearly a century afterwards even in this day to equal, or even rival some of the before it became of the slightest importance, and finest muslins of India ; certain it is that among it was not until about ninety-five years since that the higher ranks in that part of the globe their cloth wholly composed of cotton—a mixture of own productions of that peculiar description are wool having been generally added — was an article still preferred to our own. In other countries, of commerce. From about the year 1700 to 1760 however, the taste for English goods has become the only manufacturers were weavers located in so rooted, that they have a monopoly, though it is the various districts, who wove the thread during

[blocks in formation]

Its con

the day which their wives and children spun in and Italy, so that even to our rivals do we supply the evenings and leisure hours ; but at this period the necessary materials upon which they work. the raw material was sent to the operatives by The real importance of the cotton manufacture agents from Manchester, who subsequently col. and its consumption of other articles, are not reprelected the manufactured article. Mechanical sented by the foregoing statistics. genius had long been directed to its machinery. In sumption of flour is very large, and to this fact we 1733, 1738, and 1753, patents were taken out for owe the origin of the Anti-Corn-Law League, and increasing the production by machinery; but the the subsequent triumph of Free-trade. Some first grand step was in 1767, when the spinning- few years since, in a single establishment in jenny appeared. Two years afterwards Sir Glasgow, the duty alone upon the flour used, Richard Arkwright projected bis invention, which, amounted to little short of £1,000 per annum, sixteen years subsequently, was declared by law and as the coarser description of goods required to be void, but which had already created a new the larger quantity of this necessary ingredient to trade. Just before 1800 the power loom came into their manufacture, so of course was the total general use, by which the cotton trade greatly ex. profit upon the whole working of the factory tended, and from that period to the present time, diminished. The Corn Laws then were discovered scarcely a week has elapsed, certainly not a new really to cripple trade, by enhancing the price of mill has been erected, without some improvement goods, while they crippled the power of purchasing ; or other having been brought into operation. Be- hence the fundamental reason of the agitation for tween the years 1701 and 1705, the average yearly this repeal. An extended cultivation of wheat in importation of cotton was 1,170,911 lbs.; between Bengal, and other parts of India, which upon its 1705 and 1720, it was 2,173,287 lbs., or had not arrival liere is taken for the cotton mills on doubled itself in the fifth part of the century ; account of its peculiar glutinous quality, has also but even up to 1775, when three quarters of the resulted from this branch of business. There can centennial period had elapsed, it was on the aver

be

very little doubt but, that had it not been for age of the years previous years, but 4,764,589 lbs. the slow, uncertain, and expensive method of However, when weaving by machinery became in transit for goods between Liverpool and Mantroduced, so did the importation of the raw cotton chester, the former being the importing and exincrease ; showing, what it is very necessary to porting place of business, the system or the bear in mind at the present moment, that the principle of railways would not have been developed supply can be made to equal the demand. From so extensively as it now exists. The first com1775 to 1780, the average was 6,766,613 lbs.; frommercial line in England was between these two 1781 to 1785, it was 10,941,934 lbs. ; but in these, towns, and was projected upon a supposition that the two last were exceptional years, since in 1784, goods would be conveyed regularly at ten miles it was 11,482,083 lbs., and in 1785, when Ark. per hour. After a sufficient portion of the line wright's patent was thrown open to all who chose was laid, a competitive trial was made of locoto avail themselves of it, it had reached as motives, in ord to test the correctness of the high as 18,400,384 lbs. From this particular calculation. The result was so far beyond what point, we start; in 1800 the consumption was was expected, that Mr. Stephenson, the Engineer 56,010,732 lbs. ; in 1810, it was 132,488,935 lbs. ; reported to the Directors, “I trust I shall not be in 1831, it was 280,080,000 lbs. ; and again in, digressing from the subject, when I add that in 1841, it was 487,992,355 lbs.; in 1851, it was contemplating a speed of thirty miles an hour 757,379,749 lbs. To show the importance of the with passengers, and from fifteen to twenty miles trade more particularly ; the importation was, in

an hour with a load of merchandise, at a cost of

almost nothing, comparatively speaking, I can 1775

4,764,589 lbs.

scarcely set a limit to the advantages which this 1857 1,023,886,528

country has a right to expect from this improved Increase in 82 years

mode of intercourse, and even should no further 1,019,121,939

improvements be made,ếand I doubt not, but Upward of one thousand of millions of pounds of many and important ones will follow—there has cotton in one year ! it seems almost incredible been sufficient to show that locomotive engines that such a quantity can by any possibility be are capable of producing and maintaining a speed consumed, yet stocks in the warehouses, and in beyond any other means at present known.” the manufacturers' hands were low, and bear but This bears date nine months before the line was a small proportion to the whole receipt at the opened in 1830. commencement of 1857. Still, after making a Another important trade is co-existent with the most liberal allowance for waste, l} oz. per Ib., manufacture of cotton—that of printing the cloth. there remains a net quantity of yarn applicable to The number of bands employed in this branch bears the production of goods of no less than a considerable proportion to those engaged in the 912,000,000 lbs. It has been noted above that conversion of the raw material, and upon this also other countries compete with us in foreign depend many minor branches. To the revocation of markets in goods, but part of this net product of the Edict of Nantes we owe the introduction of yarn goes to Germany, Russia, Holland, Belgium, this art, like many others, into England. The

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »