Page images

śpite of immediate medical advice, and the unremitted selfdevotion of his wife, who never quitted his side, he expired in ten days. Suffice it to say, that Chilvers died as he had lived a philanthropist, and a philosopher.

After the melancholy ceremonies of the funeral, which I took upon myself to direct, I accompanied my wife to the cottage, where we meant to reside for some little time, to offer our consolations to his relict, now a second time a widow. I have never been more forcibly impressed with the vanity of human learning, and the vain glory of philosophy, than in the instance of this uneducated female, who, from an innate principle, or instinct of religion, although utterly ignorant of all theological points, possessed a mastery over her mind, and a consolation under afflictions, which the most profound adept in the schools of worldly wisdom would in vain attempt to rival. Conscious that the death of her husband was a dispensation of Providence, under which it was perhaps guilty to repine, she set resolutely about the suppression of her grief, beginning by carefully locking up and concealing all those articles of his dress and daily use which, by recalling him suddenly and forcibly to her recollection, might upset her pious resolutions; so that upon our arrival, we found her in a frame of mind much more calm and resigned than we had anticipated. Though Chilvers never killed a bird, or caught a fish in his life, he had a favourite spaniel, called Juno, almost as inseparable a companion as his old white hat; the partaker of his morning rambles, and the invariable residuary of his crusts at tea-time. This faithful animal his widow could not resolve to dismiss; but with this exception, she imagined she had so disposed of every personal memorial, as to be secure from too frequent a renewal of her griefs by the sight of external objects. She was, however, mistaken. We were all seated in the parlour, myself and my wife endeavouring to divert the widow's thoughts from the past, by directing them to the future management of her little girl, and flattering ourselves that we had infused into her mind a more than usual serenity, when our attention

was aroused by a barking and laughing without-the
door was thrown open, and in scampered Juno with the
old white hat tied under her head, while little Fanny
followed, shouting behind, delighted with the success
of her frolic!-0 Fanny! Fanny! cried the agonised
mother; why did they suffer- she could not utter a
word more; but overcome by her feelings, rushed out
of the room, and locked herself into her own chamber.
The child, it seems, had seized the old white hat in the
first confusion of her father's death, and concealed it in
a closet of the nursery, whence she had now withdrawn
it to fasten upon Juno's head, quite unconscious of the
distress she was preparing. Young as she was, I
endeavoured to impress upon her mind the loss of her
papa, for so she always called him, and the necessity of
refraining from all mention of his name, or allusion to
his death, in the presence of her mother. She appeared
to understand, and promised to obey my directions.
Fortified and composed by the consolations she never
failed to draw from her solitary religious exercises, the
widow shortly returned to the parlour, and a tranquillity,
though somewhat embarrassed, was again established in
our little circle; when Fauny, ready to burst with the
possession of what she considered a mystery, kept
hovering about her mother; and, at last, taking her
hand, and looking up in her face with an affectionate
importance, she lisped out hesitatingly, “ I know some-
thing. Papa's dead, but I mustn't tell you, because
it's a great secret, and you'll be angry if I do.” The
poor widow hid her face in her handkerchief with one
hand, and with the other covered the child's mouth, as
if to silence her; but as the little urchin seemed dis-
posed to expostulate, I took her by the hand, led her
out of the room, and directed the maid to put her to bed.

On re-entering the parlour, I once more found the mother in a state of comparative serenity, and calculated on passing the evening without further outrage to her feelings. The child was asleep-the old white hat was. locked up, and it was settled that after tea I was to , read a sermon, which I had selected for the purpose; as the best adapted to pour balm and peace into her wounded bosom. The equipage was ready set out, when my attention was called to Juno, who, instead of basking leisurely before the fire, as was her wont, kept searching round the room, smelling to every individual, and occasionally planting herself close to the door, with an earnest air, as if expecting the arrival of some one else. After waiting some time, she betook herself to the rug, with an appearance of disappointment, whence she presently started with a short bark, and expression of alacrity towards the door. It was Patty entering with the urn. Juno, however, who had no eyes except for her poor master, whom she was never to see more, returned grumbling to the rug. Exactly the same eager excitement, and surly disappointment occurred, when the maid returned with the toast; but the dog, instead of contenting herself with the rug upon this occasion, stood before her mistress, looked wistfully in her face, and whined, as if inquiring for her master. I exchanged glances with my wife, and saw at once that we mutually understood what was passing in Juno's mind, as well as her mistress's. Poor widowed sufferer! I saw her nostrils dilating, the muscles of her mouth working, and her eyes filling, though by a resolute effort at selfcommand, she was striving to suppress and swallow down the rising emotion. She might, perhaps, have succeeded, but Juno, after again listening some time at the door, while a dead silence reigned in the chamber, finally placed herself before her mistress, and set up the most dismal and affecting howl I ever heard. My heart sunk within me, as if a cold hand had been dragging it down, and I felt my eyes suffused. My wife had turned towards the window to hide her emotion, for I perceived that she was weeping; and notwithstanding the intensity of my feelings, so rapid and inconsistent are our thoughts, that I found a moment for inentally condemning the absurd fashion of reticules, as she had no handkerchief, and was wiping her eyes with the petticoat of Fanny's doll, which had been left in the window-seat. But who shall describe the agony of the widow-The gush of passion overpowered all the barriers of resolution and religion,- the woman predominated over the Christian, and her emotions flowed more vehemently from the control to which they have been subjected. Convulsive and hysterical sobs for some time choked her utterance, and when she was able to articulate, as if anxious to excuse the violence of her grief by the virtues of its object, she turned towards me, and exclaimed, “ Was’nt he a kind creature-every body loved him, and even Juno, you see, cannot forget him. O! sir, you don't know half the kind, generous, and charitable things he did in private.” Her feelings again overpowered her; she sank her head upon Juno's, who, by this time, had leaped into her lap, and I shall never forget her woestricken look when she raised it, and sobbed out(Psha! where is my handkerchief-my tears are blotting the paper ;) when she sobbed out

Gentle reader, forgive me; my heart and my eyes are both too full; I cannot write a word more.

London Magazine.

LEGENDS OF SHETLAND. The appearances assumed by the malevolent Neptune of the Shetlanders, named the Shoopiltee, bear a complete of near resemblance to that of a horse. Of mermen and merwomen, many strange stories are told. Beneath the depths of the ocean, an atmosphere exists adapted to the respiring organs of certain beings, resembling, in form, the human race, who are possessed of surpassing beauty, of limited supernatural powers, and liable to the incident of death. They dwell in a wide territory of the globe, far below the region of fishes, over which the sea, like the cloudy canopy of our sky, loftily rolls, and they possess habitations constructed of the pearly and coralline productions of the ocean. Having lungs not adapted to a watery medium, but to the nature of atmospheric air, it would be impossible for them to pass through the volnne of waters that intervenes between the submarine and supra-marine world, if it were not for the extraordinary power that they inherit, of entering the skin of some animal capable of existing in the sea, which they are enabled to occupy by a sort of demoniacal possession. One shape that they put on is that of an animal human above the waist, yet terminating below in the tail and fins of a fish, but the most favourite form is of the larger seal or Haaf-fish; for, in possessing an amphibious nature, they are enabled not only to exist in the ocean, but to land on some rock, where they frequently lighten themselves of their sea-dress, resume their proper shape, and with much curiosity examine the nature of the upper world belonging to the human race. Unfortunately, however, each merman or merwoman possesses but one skin, enabling the individual to ascend the seas, and if, on visiting the abode of man, the garb should be lost, the hapless being must unavoidably become an inhabitant of our earth.

I effected a landing, not without considerable difficulty, on one of the low rocks that form a part of the Skerries, seven or eight miles north-west of Papa Stour. This is a dangerous reef for vessels,—the sea around being agitated by opposite tides, while in the winter it is so-washed over with the waves as to be scarcely visible. From the shelving crags of these Skerries, numerous large seals sought their safety in the ocean, while others, less timorous, drew near the boat, and gazed at us with attention; but these might have been the disguised submarine inhabitants of ocean's depths, philosophers, perhaps, in their own world, availing themselves of the opportunity of examining the geognosy of our portion of the earth's crust, and the external characters and habits of the Homo Sapiens of supra-marine systematic writers.-The Ve Skerries are, according to popular belief, the particular retreat of the fair sons and daughters of the sea, where they are defended by a raging surf, that continually beats around them, from the obtrusive gaze and interference of mortals; here they release

« PreviousContinue »