Page images
[blocks in formation]



sitting among ber fractious pupils--painfully | Burschencraft, he had determined to settle down in teaching her young tormentors tasks learned in her London as “a moral Harlequin," as the little own happy schooldays; sce her bowing her head governess once nicknamed him, or, in a word, a low, to hide the starting tear, over the unheeded barrister. Little did he, that bold, reckless youth page half-open before her ; see those outward and of twenty summers—little did she, that thin, worn, visible signs of inward bitterness of soul, and ever- sad-eyed girl, think how closely their two desmore with me think kindly, tenderly, of “the tinies were interwoven from that very hour. He governess.” Think of a young girl, guileless, saw nothing in her then but his mother's governperhaps, as a child, leaving her home to meet wo. ess, and a very commonplace, every day kind of man's scorn, or man's feigned affection—to endure governess withal—and she saw nothing in that one and repulse the other, as she best may—to tall, stern-visaged intruder, but her mistress's bear day by day her painful position, over the The position was just then as mutually unruins of the young, truthful

, loving, woman's interesting as were possible for a rencontre of a like heart, and you bave, on the wbole, a very fair nature to be. But well had it been for thee, general idea of that social Tantalus, that checul ss poor Mary, if that meeting had never been; bot“white slave," the young girl who has left her ter would have been peace and poverty at home home for the first time to go out as a governess. And than a brief, feverish dream of happiness with the such was Mary Leigh. These remarks may not apply destroyer of thy peace abroad. Well bad it been to all governesses. I simply describe what any for blue, Reginald N-, if thou hadst never right-thinking man can too often see for bimself again come to seek thy sister, and find that penany day. I do not even say that Mary Leigh had sive littie governess alone amidst ber parcels of to endure the flouts of upstart mammon, or the MSS.—for she was a poetess in beart, though freezing courtesy of patrician pride-for Mrs. N-ber misery was her only muse, and her inspirawas a lady, in more senses than one, and was, at tions never knew printer's ink. Better would it bottom, really a good-bearted woman for one who have been, Reginald, if thou hadst tarried yet at had spent more than thirty years of her life in Gottingen, dreaming away thy strong powers and what is commonly called “ the best society.” Ne. manly intellect over soul-clogging crotchets ; for vertheless, there was an utter lack of all true sym- so wouldst thou have escaped bitter, dreary days, pathy with the poor little governess on the part of and bitter, sleepless nights, with none but remorse that wealthy worldling and her daughters. Mrs. as thy "grim chamberlain.” It was, after all,

, N-, was a widow with three children-two but natural that she, in course of time, should young girls and their brother-a youth who was like that young

man's visits to her school room. just then studying at a German University. Mary He had so many strange ideas—there was so much Leigh's life then in Mrs. N's family was the originality, even in his very errors and failings, so usual life of young governesses, a dreary monotony, much heart in his ordinary conversation, that she a “dry rot of the mind.” But this is almost too soon loved to listen to him—sor, though he was a commonplace.

great talker, who spoke ever wildly, often at ran

dom, with a rough voice and energetic gestures, One day, as she was sitting in ber school-room she felt that truth was on his tongue, and that the alone after a morning's weary inculcation of dry rough voice came from the heart. Well! it is but geography and the like, she was startled from her the old, old tale, that has been told over broken reveries of home and bygone happiness by a light hearts since the creation of our earth, until now. step on the stairs, and a young man entered the She soon owned to her heart a feeling of disaproom carelessly, as though he, and not she, were pointment if Reginald did not come every day to the only person who bad any business there that seek bis sisters, as he said—or their governessfine morning. A rough, plain-faced, “ sorrow-may. as their own woman's tact soon taught them was care” intruder was this same Reginald N-; the more likely. It was natural too that he, the tall, lithe as a panther, with a high, broad forehead, high-souled, truth-seeking youth, with bis strange and deep-sunk, wild, grey eyes, with an expression fancies and loneliness of beart, from lack of symof pride therein by no means pleasing, he was at pathy, should begin already to love as such nafirst sight anything but a man calculated to take a tures and such only can love—the little recluse lady's fancy. Yet he was not a man whom once who spent all her time in that school-room. In a seen you would as quickly bave forgotten—for word, they were both young-both suffering unthere was much character in that pale face, much der that heavy curse of young, true bearts, mis. nobility of heart and mind, much truthsulness, conception on the part of those around them—and and alas ! many lines that told of strong passions so the transition to love was mere matter of as yet undeveloped for good or evil. So, at least, course. Both living in a self-created world of their were Mary's first impressions. Having just re- own of mental abstractions—both loving the true turned from Gottingen, after having smoked nu. and bating the falsemas I believe all young merous pipes, discussed innumerable crotchets of hearts at first-mivd, I only say, at first, dobearded savans in skull caps and long dressing. they each selt a lack of sympathy, and, as a congowns, and fouglit a few deathless duels with the sequence, found that vacuum, abhorred by young supple rapier then inseparable from Gottingen hearts, filled in the school-room. And thus they

[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]

loved; he, as a youth loves, with purified passion | mind for ever. She would go far away from him -she, as a young girl only loves, with love at and his mother—far away she would hide from them first akin to angel love." Man,” says Bulwer, her grief and her shame; her heart might break " loves the sex, and woman the individual.” | - but it should break silently and alone. She left Reader! ask your own heart, if this be not true. the home of Reginald the next day, and sought an But why do I waste these words on these things ? asylum elsewhere, in a cheerless, small room at They loved not wisely, and they fell.

Brompton. She had fortunately been able to save out of her small pittance a little, so that she

was not yet utterly penniless. She would teach She could not endure the cold inquiring eye of music, drawing, anything so that she could only Mrs. N-, who had long suspected the motive support herself honestly, and veil her great grief of Reginald's visits to the school-room ; she, the and shame from the world. keen, quick-witted girl, actually dreaded that calm, apparentiy apathetic, mistress of hers. Re- Memory comes to remind me of a dreary winter's ginald came in one morning and met his mother - day when I was strolling along the north side of poor Mary's bete noir---the dragon of their love's the Serpentine, as the only means in my power of Hesperian garden. Then ensued hasty words - breathing a little fresh air. I was then sojourning thence suspicions on the part of the mother, and in London, whither I had come to “ seek my calm, determined defiance of them on the part of fortune,” as the saying is. I had formed an idea the son. Shortly after this scene, Mary Leigh of living by my pen and inkstand; it was, of accidentally overheard an angry dialogue between course, as futile as such crude ideas generally are. Mrs. N- and Reginald; it ran much in this I had come out that dull, windy day for a stroll, wise :

after a morning's hard work on a dry subject, in “I think, Reginald, that your unnecessary course of preparation for certain magazine pages, visits to that school-room as absurd as when I met Mary Leigh once

She was improper. No good can possibly result from alone by the waterside, with a music book in her them for either you or Miss Leigh. You seem to hand. It was painful to me to see the lines grief have taken a fancy for her society; she, I doubt had traced on her broad, once careless, brow. I not, is equally fond of yours. She probably was somewhat surprised and shocked to see that thinks, moreover, that it would be a change for she sedulously strove to avoid me for awhile, till I the better, could she be the wife of Reginald addressed her. After the usual commonplaces, I N-, instead of his mother's governess. We told her that a young lady, one of her earliest all know these governesses are artful, scheming friends, was dead. She seemed very little affected people—who knows but that this Miss Leigh”- by the news--so she must have been indeed as

Here Reginald broke in and stopped the woefully changed in mind as in mien. unwelcome sequitur of his worldly-wise mother's "My poor, little Mary,” said I quietly, “tell argument.

me what sorrow is crushing you—some there is, I Mother-Mary-Miss Leigh, I mean-is know. You have sadly changed since we last met. no common girl-no mere teacher of fractious | You once called me your “elder brother” –let me children at so much per annum ; she has a soul | be so now. You were my sister's dearest friend above this, and, in a word, as you shrewdly for her sake let me be your friend now.” surmise, I do love Miss Leigh-have loved her Still no reply. I repeated my inquiry with a long, and, perhaps, ere long, it is just possible that slight variation-asking in addition where she you may have to receive her as your daughter-in- was living, and with whom. She evidently wished law and my wife, or for ever say good bye to me.” to evade an answer, so that I could not further “Fool !” said Mrs. N--, now fairly roused press my question.

She said she was going to into passion by this cool announcement of the very give a music-lesson ; whence I inferred that she thing she most dreaded, “ fool! marry Miss Leigh, was now a daily governess—that her time was and you marry her penniless. At my death you short, and that she must keep soon or forfeit for shall have the satisfaction of knowing that you ever her engagement—"which would be a loss," said have broken my heart, and ruived your own

she with a quiet smile ofustrange bitterness, “such as prospects; for never, to the extent of my power, I can hardly afford in this tender-hearted town.” shall Reginald N--, as the husband of Mary She seemed so anxious to part from me that I Leigh, receive one shilling of mine."

unwillingly shook hands with her, and she went on "Be it so, mother,” said Reginald quietly, but her way, and I saw her no more alive. with a gleam of the old scornful spirit lighting Memory comes again to remind me of a cold up bis pale face. And so they parted; she with morning when I was sitting over my fire, alone in a sneer on her lip and tears standing in her eyes, my chambers, smoking this very meerschaum, and for, in spite of her worldliness, she loved that skimming the advertising columns of the Times. strange, wild, proud boy of hers as well as be Suddenly the colour left my face, and I dropped loved her. And poor Mary heard all this ; it was this poor old meerschaum, inflicting on it the broad enough and too much. She would never blight crack now visible on its well-seasoned bowl, as my his prospects though he had killed her peace of lege fell upon the following advertisement :

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]





То 10 REGINALD.-FROM MARY L----. | female—Her sins, which are many, are forgiten ;

Place, Brompton. for she loved much." By the time this is inserted, you will be freed from me

Strange contradiction in life as in death-social in every

sense. I wish not to be remembered, as that memory

can only be joyless. Strive to forget paradox —love's heretic—love's martyr wert thou! I am past man's pity now. Seek some woman

On the ground, just as they had fallen, lay these worthy of

you, -one wiser, purer, nobler than I. lines, with the ink but a few hours dry on the She will save you from vain regrets and empty dreams. paper, whereon she wrote, with a brain tottering Life is something better than a waking dream - dreams are

on the brink of madness, and a hand trembling for not the end and aim of true lives. You have doubted these things— believe them now and evermore. Now may God

the last time ere it became rigid in death, this last bless you, Reginald --; may He forgive us our deep sin, wail of sorrow, part of which I give, not from its and so may you one day meet in heaven the purer spirit of merits as a composition, but as a fit pendant to

Mary L

these broken memories of that young girl's broken

heart :Of course I instantly connected this advertisement with the little governess. I was startled- In the night's deep, weird silence-in my memory-haunted shocked beyond my wont-but I had yet to force sleepmyself to believe that “little sister Mary,” as I

Ost I ponder o'er my childhood—oft, in bitterness, I had learned to call her in happier days, was dead,

For the dead, pure hopes of childhood-for my girlhood's even then!

earnest truthTill I mourn, a child in spirit, o'er my passion-sullied


Oh, those days when angels hovered round my childhood's The firelight still gleams over the polished back

curtained bed, of the chair where she once sat, and which old

When God's angels smiled upon me through the faces of chair to night brings back, as in a flood, these sad,

the dead, broken memories on my heart. Indeed, I some

They-The friends of tender childhood—who are lying times cannot think that she is really dead. It

still and low;

Alas! that harmless memories should sting my spirit seems so very short a time since she sat here, in joyous, guileless innocence, smiling dreamily on the gleaming embers on this hearth. But she is

I have bowed to basest idols—I have dimmed the light gone. I must not muse too long upon all this,

divine, or it will take more than a week's sojourn in rest- I have seen it flicker wildly at Sin's soul destroying shrine. less London to bring me and memory back from I have scorned the voice of conscience--I have loved, poor, dead Mary's grave. Directly I had

whale'er betide; read that same advertisement, I rushed off, half

I do love-I'm very lonely.-Would to God that I had

died franticly, to her lodgings at Bromptou—for, al

Ere I lost young faith, young gladness--ere a mist my though in my transcript of the advertisement, I have, for obvious reasons, suppressed name and Hanging black above, around it; memories of a mother's number of the place, these were given therein. On

knee, inquiry I found that a Miss Leigh had lived there,

Of the evening prayer at gloaming—which now I dare and now lay dead upstairs. "Perhaps," said the

Throng my heart with memories solemn of a time long landlady, with tears in her eyes which she sedu

passed away, lously strove to dry with her apron, “if you were

With the memories sorrow-softened of my childhood's a friend of hers, you would like to see the poor

long-lost home, thing." I could not bear more-I gently pushed

Whither now, a pilgrim wayworn, in my dreams I nightly aside the old woman, and'ran upstairs. I pushed open a door, and there lay Mary Leigh dead, with

Father! a smile on her face, peaceful in death as a child's

I am very lonely—in doubt and dark despair,

I have wronged thee-I do wrong thee--in the midst of in sleep. I gently closed the door, and knelt down silently by the side of the dead girl. Verily I Thou dost send these solemn memories which have haanted prayed then as I had never prayed before; for

me so long, there was a leaf torn rudely out from the great

Like the unforgotten music of my mother's cradle song! Book of Life. There she lay dead on her bed, with a long tress of hair clenched tightly in her Any one can imagine this poor girl—for she was little hand. She had evidently torn up all papers but little more—sitting her last night on earth in that could leave any clue to her family, or friends, that lonely room, by her failing fire, writing these or the motive of her death. The fire had destroyed sad, strange, incoherent lines, tear-blotted, as they everything that could have told tales of sorrow - seem, with eyes red with weeping. The rest is for the grate was full of charred manuscripts. a common story—a coroner's inquest, a verdict of Worse than all, on the floor lay a bottle of lauda-“ temporary insanity," and a quiet funeral, attended num empty-at the foot of her bed lay her desk by that rough-voiced, tender-hearted old landlady open, with a Bible by its side, with the leaves and myself. “Lead us not into temptation, but turned down at the seventh chapter of St. Luke, deliver us from evil”—for here was a young girl in which occur these words, touching a Jewish of pure mind at life's outset, one whom love led

[ocr errors]


soul did see,

not pray,


sin and care,


[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

astray to misery and suicide, and whose death was bowl lazily over my head, the night is now far as dreary as her life had been sad. Dreamer ! here spent, and here am I, still sitting in my arm-chair, was one of thine own school – a dreamer gazing smoking and musing alone. If my memories have idly on sin with folded hands—a sinner weakly hitherto been sad, it is not because my life has been șinning with the best intentions--a whisperer to altogether dreary. True, I have had sorrow in my herself of "smooth things”—a self-deceiver, and— life--for, although a young man, I have seen much a suicide !

falsehood, more suffering, and have lived a longer age in sensations than many who are older ; but

if love's light was suddenly withdrawn from my After the battle of Balaklava, a dead dragoon path early in life, I am not foolish enough to supwas found with his sword still clenched in his hand. pose that this light may not just now be shining Round the dead man's neck was a hair chain, with on other lives around me. I do not wish to deem a locket appended thereto, containing a long flaxen all false because some practise falsehood, all cold tress. On that locket was engraven “MARY LEIGH.” because many are, or to judge a whole from a part. In his pocket-book was found an extract from the It will take far more than the epigrammatic worldly Times (the advertisement before referred to by me); wisdom of Rochefoucault, the sweet sadness of on the back of that advertisement was written in poor L. E. L.'s muse, the mournful scorn of Byrou, ink, and in a bold, clear hand

or the biting sarcasms of Thackeray, - far more Poor Mary's last words. May God have mercy on her,

than a cynic's well worded sneer, or the mere reand forgive me! If the finder of this, after my death, will

flection of a writer's morbid mind, to teach me cause it, with the locket round my neck, to be buried with that love is nothing better than a Platonic phanme, he will, perchance, soothe the spirit of the departed. tasy-a pleasant theory, innocent of practice


a poet's lie to comfort his heart-or that truth can And now I have told you how Mary Leigh and only be found in boarding schools and threeReginald N- lived, loved, sinned, and died. volume novels. No man ever get travelled from Let us hope, with the charity “that thinketh no the Dan to the Beersheba of society and "found evil,” that God has indeed pardoned her. Let us all barren.” On my table lies a book just sent bope that He, in His infinite mercy, has pardoned to me by my old friend Arthur Egerton, whose life the soldier who died vobly and young, whose last has been to me oftentimes a natural homily, when. prayer was for forgiveness and his country's hon-ever I would sigh, in that selfish discontent which our, and who, “after life's fitful fever, sleeps

looks on life with such a jauudiced eye, that


life well” in his grave on the plain of Balaklava. is very dreary, very loveless, very aimless, and all

those unpleasant et ceteras which discontent is al

ways giad to convert into grumblings, ready made I love a suburban Cemetery.

Often in summer to fit anything This certainly is vague; let have I sat there looking out orer the monster city, me therefore call to mind the heart-history, and with its churches looming out mistily in bold relies the actions of that true hearted man, and give you against the sky, or reflecting the last red rays of

the benefit of such recollection. the setting sun. Last summer I was whiling away a

The first time I ever saw Arthur Egerton pleasant July evening there among the tombs. I was at a certain public school, which, for obvious need hardly say that poor Mary Leigl's was the reasons, I shall here leave nameless. We two tomb sought in my wanderings, and that I looked boys were in the same "house" and form ; down mournfully on Mary's epitaph, chosen by her fellows," as the phrase is there, in the same halfold landlady

year, we were thrown together necessarily by a Her sins, which are many, are forgiven ;

lack of sympathy elsewhere, and hence I date a for she loved much.

life-long friendship. The experience of a public I am anxious to coincide in that epitaph’s benedic heart, the unheeded misery of a first half-year in

school is required to tell the utter loneliness of tion; it tells so much in so few words. My charity

one of these seminaries. To a proud, sensitive believes its application just, and Faith points to a

true-hearted boy, like Egerton, this place was a purer day beyond the tomb, where “God will wipe moral purgatory for the first six months. He had away all tears from all faces,” and where “the

on the surface few of those characteristics which wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at

win golden opinions from men ; much less from rest."

boys, who are always governed by externals in their hasty conjugation of those odd verbs “to like

and " to dislike." They disliked him. It is not CHAPTER IV. Learn to labour and to wait.---Longfellow.

worth while wasting words in an analysis of their

senuiments. Arthur had many noble qualities, as a "Tis woman alone with a purer heart, Can see all the idols of lile depart,

boy, too ; a truthfulness of nature, which was his And love the more, and smile, and bless Man in his uttermost wretchedness.

characteristic; besides the minor attributes of

-Bairy Cornwall. a quiet courage, of an ostentation-bating gene. The fire still roars away up the chimney, the rosity, and strong talent--sadly marred by his smoke-rings still Hoat away from my meerschaum- / dreamy turn of mind. Though reputed a clever



[blocks in formation]


[ocr errors]

boy by the masters, and by them placed in a good the maximum number of Alcaics or Greek Iambics form,” he was seldom at the head, and generally per hour, or any such accomplishment, he has at the end of that form—to the surprise of his done all that education can teach, or he require. master, and the joy of his form-fellows, who envied | The heart is sacrificed to the head, the useful to the clear: headed, quiet, idle boy his shrewd an. the ornamental, the right to the expedient. So it

Descartes has well observed that there was in our time; so it will ever be at all pubare two educations; the one which a boy receives lic schools till another Arnold arise to teach the from a master in school--the other he imparts to world that, as “the boy is the father of the man," himself out of doors; Arthur Egerton chose the so that same world makes a great mistake, except latter. Let no one suppose that the careless, un- in a few rare cases, if it expects fruit from that tidy, dreamy boy, who lost his exercises as soon as manhood whose boyhood produced nothing but written, and went to sleep over tedious comments thórns, or wood running to waste. To drop the of erudite M.A.'s on Greek particles, wasted his metaphorical and descend once more to the dear, time altogether. For his years, he read with an plain old Saxon of every day life; these remarks avidity and correct taste that often surprised the may cxplain Egerton's failure, his character, and master of his form, who would occasionally stum. the system which called them forth.

We parted ble upon

the soi-disant idle boy on half-holidays, one fine summer morning after a quiet stroll. He lying in the fields, poring over delightedly, inwardly was, when we next met, at Oxford, dreaming, digesting the pith of some author's mind, far wasting his fortune, talent, and energies, as I more difficult of comprehension than any dry epi-thought, as of old. The change to more congetome of dulness, for neglect of which he had pro- nial Oxford was not greater than that I saw from bably been severely punished a few days before. the boy Egerton at school to the man Egerton at In a word, he was at that time a dreamer in esse, college. Oxford had grievously altered bim in a worker in posse. His career at school was a some respects. He had lost already much of the failure, as any one who knew human nature well | freshness of his mind-much of the trusting would have readily prognosticated—and Arthur truthfulness of his nature, and had become a man Egerton was quietly“ requested to leave," which courted for his society, versatile, witty, liked by is considered tantamount to expulsion in every many, loved by none, misunderstood by all, and, thing but publicity. He was "requested to leave" in addition to these, truly the “ fastest” member for no specific breach of discipline, but for a of the “fastest" set in Oxford. Yet he was still general disregard of school etiquette. He, how. a worker, though desultory and utterly without ever, had the satisfaction of being told that his aim or system. He was, in a measure, still busied conduct had ever been marked by a high sense of on self-education, as he called the teaching of honour, however injudicious it might have been in nights spent in brilliant dissipation, wherein he other respects. And here perhaps fathers who lavished the stores of his mind on the topic of the have sons to educate will allow one who has some hour, to be succeeded by afternoons spent on the little knowledge of the scholastic system to ven- banks of the Cherwell, with a cigar in his mouth, tilate an opinion as regards the system pursued and some volume of heavy reading, or Plato's in our public schools generally. In the first place, glorious dreamings, just as it happened, in his there are many absurd customs, such as “fagging hand. The end of all this drew nigh ; broken in and the like, tolerated, nay upheld by the masters health and fortune, the clever, desultory student - which seldom fail to make a boy at first a slave, was ignominiously "plucked,” as scores of like at last a tyrant. Then there is too little personal men are "plucked ” yearly—and he returned home supervision on the part of the masters themselves to Ravenscliffe in great disgust and self-contempt. -they leave too much to the Præpostors (monitors Arthur Egerton was an orphan, and, on attaining elsewhere), and trust too much to a boy's sense of his majority, succeeded to a small entailed estate, right and wrong, which, ai public schools, is some- and a queer, quaint old Hall, coeval with the Tuwhat vague ; they allow too much freedom, and dors; his failure therefore at Oxford was not so then punish the boy they have hitherto treated as utterly irretrievable as failure would have been to a man, like a child, for some trifling breach of many of his “college chums” otherwise circumtrifling discipline. Moreover, there is at these stanced. Nevertheless he felt his position acutely places no classification of boys' patures-all are -- he now felt that he had wasted his fortune, treated alike, rewarded or punished alike, with strength, and purity of soul in a mad quest of that indiscriminate kindness or ill-timed severity, as ignis fatuus of the young, popularity; and if, as the case may be, and the result is, that the obtuse, à Father of the Church avers—"the first step sullen nature, is hardened or brutalised, the keen towards wisdom is to discriminate between things witted nature warped to sourness, or indulged to true and things false," then Arthur Egerton was the verge of conceit, and the proud, true-hearted, already becoming a better and a wiser man. yet sensitive nature galled by harsh restrictions, Ravenscliffe Hall was by situation well fitted or perverted by too great laxity.

for a locus penitentiæ ; it stood lonely, in a hollow, There likewise seems to be an opinion at public surrounded by gloomy pines, and was altogether a schools that the head is the only thing to be edu- place that Zimmerman, the apostle of solitude, cated—that, so long as the boy has" knocked off" | would have loved for its silence. In that dreary


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »