Those days were bright and pleasant days,

When I did fill the lover's part:
I dreamed your heart was all my own;

I knew that you had all my heart.

I wish that we again were young;

I wish that we again were true : I know not if the sin be mine,

Or if the fault be hid in you :

But cloud, and change, and evil tongues,

Have crept between our thoughts at last ; And doubt and fear alone are here,

Whilst joy has vanished with the past.

Yet — though we may no more be young,

I would that we again were true;
Ah! dream that bounteous Autumn still

Hath sweets—some sweets — for me and you.

The violet with the Spring is gone;

The red rose with the Summer hours : But still the orange yields its gold,

And once again—its bridal flowers !



In one of the northern counties of England stands an ancient almshouse, which in my early days I remember to have been told was once a religious establishment. It has still its lofty refectory and cloisters surrounding a broad sunny court; in the centre of which plays a fountain, now almost concealed by the thick growth of the lime-trees and hollies which overshadow it. Above the cloisters are the nun-like cells of the recipients of the charity, confined to the widow and the orphan; they who have no home or kindred, and it may be, interest, beyond this place. It has a chapel, small it is true, but beautiful as a miniature cathedral : it had been used no less for a place of worship than as a mausoleum for countless generations by the family by whom it had been endowed. Here the coloured effigy of the founder, with its quaint inscription, mingled with the choice productions of the Italian chisel, telling of promising Youth that had faded in the far sunny land, of some who had perished by the sword, and others who, rich in years and honours, had been gathered, like the full ear in the harvest. But there was one death-memorial, neither elaborate or beautiful, that I have gazed upon with a thousand times more interest than all the rest, as I have seen it, lit up by the rays of the sun that gleamed upon it through the rainbow hues of the chancel window. It is a small, rudely chiselled sarcophagus of marble, in shape a heart, fixed, and forming part of the step by which alone the officiating minister can reach the aitar. There is no date upon its smoothly worn surface, and the cipher is almost illegible. In childhood, though in the habit of constantly seeing it, I returned again and again to look upon it; and dreamy youth, fostered in the old mansion of Hazlehurst, awoke in my heart a mournful interest in this lonely tomb, seemingly so relentlessly disposed, as if to humiliate the poor dust it enclosed. There was no legend attached to it, as far as I could hear, beyond it having arrived from a foreign land, and of rich funds that accrued to the institution on its being placed in the chapel there, by which more than two hundred of the sick and poor were comforted and sustained.

My skill in deciphering the quaint caligraphy in which the closely written records of St. Olave's were preserved had often been called into requisition, and, looking carefully through the MS. last winter, I was attracted by a cipher similar to the one which had for so many years kept its place and interest in my memory. The following brief notes were the result of my search, and threw all the light that I could glean from the dark pages, the partly destroyed leaves of a closely-written diary :


* “I have returned from the mausoleum of Hazlehurst to-day - I have read over the records of those who have gone before

me, in order to feel my own identity, and to know if this shattered frame indeed contains the spirit that once, strong and hopeful, owned a fairer dwelling. Oh, Death, how lovely seemest thou to my longing heart ! — the Angel Death, the deliverer !

“The costly monument here tells of my mother, who died of a malignant disorder ; of a sister, who, young, beautiful, beloved, soon followed her to the grave; and another !—So it is. None read beyond the surface of the stone; and well it is we cannot pierce the grave's deep secrets, and hear the plaints of broken hearts and the smothered cry of anguish hushed there

— the names anathematised that sound before men so fair : and well that it is so; for who but the Infinite can read aright the unseen life within, with its sins, its grief, and its untold aspirations after the good and true ?

“I am an old man now, and the world's judgment is as nothing to me; and if it were, there is a sterner voice within more fearful, because I know its truth.

“My earliest recollections were of the old manor house of Hazlehurst, where my mother retired with me and my young sister on the death of my father, which took place before the latter saw the light. Grief for her loss in my mother's heart only gave way to a blind idolatry to the child that was to work her woe. I was the last male heir of our ancient house, and everything in childhood seemed to unite to foster the selfishness and ungoverned passions of my nature. My gentle sister,

else, were but victims; and yet I believed I loved them — even as I was beloved.

“My mother was ambitious for me, urging me in my career at college to overcome my love of ease and indulgence, and add a lustre to a name of which she had reason then to be jealously proud. And to college I went; but there was an attraction in our little village of Hazlehurst that kept my thoughts lingering there, and drew me from all nobler ambitions.

“Mabel Grey was the motherless daughter of our curate; we grew up together playmates and companions, and in those days I hardly know if my sister Millicent or Mabel were the

circumstances soon taught me how deep was the slumber in which I had hitherto lain. I knew she loved me—she had said so a thousand times, with a smile upon her lip, in her frank and winning way, when I had urged her, poor child ! Her blue eye never fell beneath my gaze—her hand never trembled in my clasp ; it was love—but not such as we were dooined to know in after years.

Our little circle was first broken by the arrival of my cousin, a fellow-student at college, Stephen Gower. He was a youth who had little interest in our country pursuits—his hours were devoted to abstruse speculations. Nothing seemed too deep or too insignificant for his theme; now dwelling on the glory of the heavens, or on the weed and wild flower at our feet. Perhaps, in the very contrast to myself I was led to seek him more intimately, and as much in curiosity as in any other feeling. It was not until I saw how Mabel's ear hung on his words, as, with the eloquence of genius, he drew from the rich vein within, that I began to feel my own inferiority, and envy was engendered, that, like the serpent's egg, was in time to become a deadly foe to my peace. New desires and ambitions sprang up in my soul, although he possessed but the advantages I had hitherto despised.

“My mother made him a welcome guest, for she had seen, in fear and regret, my growing love for Mabel. He had long outstripped me in the race in all things—how should it be otherwise ? I had despised him who, forsaking the social enjoyments of youth, gave himself up to the black-lettered book and the midnight lamp, as if all minds had not in their mould the faint attribute that blends into one entire whole.

One sees in the deep forest shade but a pleasant shelter from the noontide heat, or the exchange of the mighty trunks for gold; another knows nothing beyond the thousand voices that seem to whisper among the leaves, or the spirit tones from the blossoms at his feet, and he will tell you of Him who careth even for the flowers of the field, and listens for the heart whisper that their gentle beauty calls forth. Yet all of these are necessary.

“A long summer had been passed together, full of hap

« VorigeDoorgaan »