« VorigeDoorgaan »
ceive the attention of the young stranger. Fired by representations such as these, and racked with cureless jealousy, I returned to England in disguise, and found the report of my relation the theme of common conversation in the county. It was on the evening of a fine summer's day that I reached the hamlet of G. and with a trembling hand and palpitating heart knocked at myown door. The servant informed me that Matilda had walked towards the Abbey. I immediately took the same rout: the sun had set ; and the grey tinting of evening had wrapt every object in uniform repose ; the moon however was rising, and in a short time silvered parts of the ruin and its neighbouring trees. I placed myself in the shadow of one of the buttresses, and had not waited long ere Matilda--my beautiful Matilda, appeared, leaning on the arm of the stranger. You may conceive the extreme agitation of my soul at a spectacle like this; unhappily, revenge was, at the instant, the predominating emotion, and rushing forward with my sword, I called upon the villain, as I then thought him, to defend himself. Shocked by the suddenness of the attack, and the wild impetuosity of my manner, Matilda fell insensible on the earth, and only recovered recollection at the moment when my sword had pierced the bosom of the stran. ger, through whose guard I had broken in the first fury of the assault. With shrieks of agony and despair she sprang towards the murdered youth, and falling on his body, exclaimed, “My brother, my dear, dear brother !”
Had all nature fallen in dissolution around me, my astonishment and horror could not have been greater than what I felt from these words. The very marrow froze in my bones, and I stood fixed to the ground an image of despair and guilt. Meantime the life-blood of the unhappy Walsingham ebbed fast away, and he expired at my feet, and in the arms of his beloved sister, who, at this event, perhaps fortunately for us both, relapsed into a state of insensibility. My own emotions, on recovering from the stupor into which I had been thrown, were those I believe of frenzy ; nor can I now dwell upon them with safety, nor without a partial direliction of intellect. Suffice it to say, that I had suffici. ent presence of mind left to apply for assistance at the nearest cottage, and that the hapless victims of my folly were at length conveyed to the habitation of Matilda. Another dreadfulsceneawaited her, the recognition of her husband as the murderer of her brother ; this, through the attention of my friends, for I myself was incapable of acting with rationality, was for some time postponed ; it came at length, however, through the agonies of my remorse and contrition, to her knowledge, and two months have scarce elapsed since I placed her by the side of her poor brother, who at the fatal moment of our encounter, had not been many months returned from the Indies, and was in person a perfect stranger
Beneath that marble slab they rest, my Courtenay, and ere this, I believe, and through the medium of my own lawless hand, I should have partaken of their grave, had not my beloved sister, my amiable and gentle Caroline, stepped in like an angel, between her brother and destruction.
“ Singular as it may appear, the greatest satisfaction I now receive, is from frequent visits to the tomb of Matilda and her brother, there, over the relics of those I have injured, to implore the mercy of an of
to your friend.
fended Deity ; such, however, are the agonies I suffer from the recollection of my crime, that even this resource would be denied me, were it not for the intervention of the powers of music ; partial I have ever been to this enchanting art, and I am indebted to it for the mitigation and repression of feelings that would otherwise exhaust my shattered frame. You have witnessed the severe struggles of remorse which at times agi. tate this afflicted heart ; you have likewise seen the soothing and salutary effects of harmony. My Caroline's voice and harp have thus repeatedly lulled to repose the fever of a wounded spirit, the workings nearly of despair.' A state of mind friendly to devotion, and no longer at war with itself, is usually the effect of her sweet and pathetic strains; it is then I think myself forgiven ; it is then I seem to hear the gentle accents of Matilda, in concert with the heavenly tones ; they whisper of eternal peace, and sensations of unutterable pleasure steal through every nerve.
" When such is the result, when peace and piety are the offspring of the act, you will not wonder at my visits to this melancholy ruin; soon as the shades of evening have spread their friendly covert, twice aweek we hasten hither from our cottage ; a scene similar to what you have been a spectator of to-night, takes place, and we retire to rest in the little rooms, which we have rendered habitable in the dormitory. In the morning, very early, we quit the house of penitence and prayer ; and such is the dread which the occasional glimmerings of lights, and the sounds of distant music have given birth to in the country, that none but our servant, who is faithful to the secret, dare approach near the place: we have consequently hitherto, save by yourself, remained un. discovered, and even unsuspected.
6. Such, my friend, is the history of my crimes and sufferings, and such the causes of the phenomena you have beheld to-night-but see, Courtenay, my lovely Caroline, she to whom, under heaven, I am indebted for any portion of tranquillity I yet enjoy, is approaching to meet us. I can discern her by the whiteness of her robes gliding down yon
distant aisle." Caroline had become apprehensive for her brother, and had stolen from the dormitory with the view of checking a conversation which she was afraid would prove too affecting for his spirits. Edward beheld her, as she drew near, rather as a being from the regions of the blest, the messenger of peace and virtue, than as partaking of the fraila ties of humanity. If the beauties of her person had before interested him in her favour, her conduct toward the unhappy Clifford had given him the fullest conviction of the purity and goodness of her heart, of the strength and energy of her mind ; and from this moment he determined, if possible, to secure an interest in a bosom so fraught with all that could exalt and decorate the lot of life.
He was now compelled, however, though greatly reluctant, to take leave of his friends for the night, and hasten to remove the extreme alarm into which his servants had been thrown by his unexpected detention. They had approached, as near as their fears would permit them, to the Abbey, for to enter its precincts was a deed they thought too daring for man, and had there exerted all their strength, though in vain, in repeatedly calling him by his name. It was therefore with a joy little short of madness they again beheld their master, who, as
soon as these symptoms of rapture had subsided, had great difficulty in repressing their curiosity, which was on full stretch for information from another world.
It may here, perhaps, be necessary to add, that time, and the soothing attentions of his beloved sister, restored at length to perfect peace, and to the almost certain hope of pardon from the Deity, the hitherto agitated mind of Clifford..I can also add, that time saw the union of Caroline and Edward, and that with them, at the hospitable mansion of the Courtenays, Clifford passed the remainder of his days.
THE LAMENT OF TASSO.
By LORD BYRON.
But it revives-Oh! would it were my lot!