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YOUNG Melmoth went down in the summer to his father's seat in Westmoreland, where, being of an active disposition, and having no companions but a German flute, and the works of a few favourite authors, he frequently amused himself with the sports of the field. He was one day so warmly engaged in pursuit of the wild fowl which abound in the lakes of that romantic country, that he wandered on till he had gained the banks of Winandermere. The solemn colouring of that magnicent scene, the last gleam of sunshine fading away on the hill tops; the deep serene of the waters, and the long shadows of the mountains thrown across them, till they nearly touched the hithermost shore; all this concurring with the reflection of his being at such a distance from home, filled him with sensations that he had never before felt. As he looked round, amidst his terror and uncertainty, he espied a small farm-house peeping forth from a grove of old trees: after a short deliberation, he resolved to follow a path that seemed to lead thither, and passing through several lonely dells, shaded with beeches, and overrun with wild-flowers, he arrived at a wicket that opened into a shrub bery; the opposite plants intermingling their branches, cast a gloom very pleasingly to the imagination; and a rivulet which ran murmuring over pebbles, or broke into cascades, now glittered through the leaves at a distance, and now meandered close by the walk. Melmoth had not advanced far in this retreat, when the shrubs suddenly opening on one side, discovered a little stream dashing down a rough green bank in an irregular winding manner, and finely diversified by the clouds of turf and stems of brush-wood that resisted its current. A seat on the opposite side of the walk seemed to invite him to sit down and contemplate the beauties of the scene; so he accepted its offer, and resting the butt-end of his gun on the ground, and raising his hand to its muzzle, he leaned forward to examine the water-fall. He had not continued long in this posture, when he heard the sound of a harpsichord, accompanied by a female voice. The air was simple and pathetic in the highest degree, and though he could not distinguish the words, the melancholy cadence with which they were uttered, concurring with the beauty of the scene, had a strange effect upon him, for his constitution was naturally warm, and his feelings were always awake to music. The sound presently ceasing, broke the chain of romantic ideas which they had inspired. He laid down his gun, and taking up his flute, an instrument on which he excelled, he raised it to his mouth, but the idea of alarming the stranger checked his hand, and he returned it into his pocket. He immediately rose up, and stealing along the walk, presently entered on a circular grass-plot, planted
round with evergreens, in the centre of which stood a small stone temple. A myrtle had spread its branches over the front of the building, and a jessamine, which had been taught to wind up the fluted columns of the portico, hung down in festoons on each side. On the frieze was this inscription," Dedicated to Sensibility." As this seemed to be the place from whence the sounds, which still vibrated in his ear, had proceeded, Melmoth hesitated whether he should not return, but concluding from the silence, that the person to whom he was indebted for them, had retired, with a trembling hand he opened the door. The walls on the inside were stuccoed, and in a niche was placed a marble urn, in which grew a sensitive plant, a beautiful emblem of the divinity of the place, contracting its leaves at the slightest touch, and shrinking from the softest breath of air. On the urn were these words from Sterne : "Eternal Fountain of our feelings! 'tis here I trace thee." A harpsichord stood open on one side, and a book lay upon it. Melmoth took it up. It was the third volume of Emma Corbett," and open at that part in which the dying Emma, on her return from America, where she had left the remains of a husband and a brother she adored, meets her aged father at the door, supported by his servants, and going to attend the funeral of a brother's widow, who had died distracted. The passage affected Melmoth, and it seemed to have affected somebody else, for he thought he saw a tear upon the page; and he concluded the reader had thrown down the book in a fit of enthusiasm, and struck off the beautiful combination of sounds he had just heard. He had scarcely replaced the book, when a young lady passed by the window with a basket of fruit in her hand. She was dressed in a plain white muslin night-gown, with a bonnet of the same, and there was an elegance in her form which struck him. She presently came back, and stooping down to bind the broken stalk of a carnation that grew in a border before the window, gave him an opportunity of examining her. Her face was beautiful, but rather formed to please than to dazzle; her features had such a softness and such a delicacy in them, that they were lost at a distance; and there was a sweetness mingled with melan. choly in her look, that moved him exceedingly. Her complexion was not striking; but a pleasing expression is superior to the finest in the world. Melmoth had never known what it was to be in love, nor did he even know then, but he thought he saw something in her countenance which made him wish to be acquainted with her.
The god of love is a gentle deity; his chains are so light that the victim is a captive when he least suspects it; and his arrows are so finely pointed, that the wound is deepest when it is felt the least. As soon as she was out of sight, he left the apartment, and turning down a dark walk on the other side, soon came to a little rocky cavity, overshadowed by the brown foliage of an oak, which grew at its entrance. A seat had been hewn out of the rock on either side, and a spring, which gushed from a corner of the roof at the further end, trickled down with a soft lulling sound, and running directly across the floor, entered the rock on the opposite side. Melmoth sat down to indulge his reflections, when a robin, which had been drawn thither by the sound of his feet, hopped confidently in, but when it saw him,
it flew immediately out again. "And will you fly from me, gentle bird?" said he, bending down and stretching out his hand; "though I am not the fair being you took me for, I would not hurt you, indeed I would not; I would cherish you for her sake." As he said these words he rose up, and continued his ramble till he arrived at an opening in the wood, that presented him with a distant view of the lake and its islands, the colours of which were melted into each other by the soft light of the evening. He had hardly fixed his eyes on the prospect, when his dog, which had been ranging the gardens, rushed across the walk in pursuit of some game that it had just started: "Come hither sirrah!" said Melmoth angrily: "violate nothing here, on pain of your master's displeasure; these are hallowed grounds." The singularity of the speech, and the warmth with which it was uttered, attracted the notice of an elderly gentleman, who was sitting on a bench at a small distance, and whom a sudden turn in the walk had prevented him from seeing. From his dress he appeared to be a clergyman. He immediately rose up as Melmoth now saw it was too late to retire, he walked up to him with a respectful air, and acquainted him with his name, and the particulars of his case, assuring him that nothing but the greatest necessity could have urged him to trespass on his grounds. "You are welcome, sir," said the stranger, with a smile equally benevolent and polite. "I have always heard your family mentioned with esteem, and I shall consider your company not as an intrusion but as an honour." Melmoth returned a bow for this compliment, and taking a brace of birds from his net, he begged his acceptance of them as a small mark of his sense of the obligation. The old gentleman would have declined the present, but Melmoth would not submit to a refusal, and they proceeded along the walk. "You have a sweet spot here, sir," said Melmoth. "Yes, sir," replied the other; " I take great delight in it; but it has received no ornaments from my taste; it owes all its beauties to my daughter, who, poor girl, since her mother's death, has been my only companion in this solitude." The walk now brought them to a small meadow, planted with fruit-trees, and divided by the rivulet which Melmoth had seen before. The steeple of the village church rose on one side, and at the upper end stood an old brick house, the front of which was almost vegetable from the overgrowth of the vine which covered it. "This is my dwelling, sir,” said the old gentleman; it has not much elegance in its appearance, but ." "It has more," interrupted Melmoth; "the venerable air of an old house affects me much more deeply than the elegance of a modern one. It seems to breathe something of that generous spirit of hospitality which characterized our ancestors; at least I have always connected that idea with it."
They were now arrived at the door, and Melmoth was shown into a room fitted up with a great degree of taste. The walls were hung with several flower-pieces cut in paper, and with drawings of different views which the country around afforded. The windows looked into the orchard. It was the hour of twilight's soberest grey: the bat was taking its circles in the air, and now and then the owl hooted and flapped its wings against the casement. "You live very retired here, sir,'
said Melmoth. "Yes, sir," said Mr Hartop, for that was his name ; "but my time is spent so agreeably, in the discharge of my duties to my parish, and in cultivating my daughter's mind, that I do not feel the least regret at my seclusion from the world." The door now opened, and his daughter made her appearance. "Julia, my dear," said her father," this gentleman intends to honour us with his company tonight." Melmoth rose at her entrance, and she received him with a modest look of welcome, which she always gave to her father's friends. They both sat down, and a silence ensued. Melmoth knew not what to do; when he looked up, his eyes met Julia, and he cast them down again. He was soon relieved from his distress by the appearance of supper, the elegant simplicity of which charmed him. It was succeeded by a desert. The flavour of the fruit was exquisite; Melmoth had never tasted any so fine they were gathered by the hand of Julia. When the clock struck ten, all the servants entered. The master of the family informed his guest that it was the hour of prayer, and on bended knees he poured forth the effusions of a grateful heart, with all the honest fervour of devotion.
Melmoth went to bed early, but he could not sleep for Julia he could not chase her image from his mind. His adventure had something so romantic in it, that he almost doubted its reality; but a few hours before, he did not know that such a being existed, and now his whole existence was interwoven with hers.
As soon as it was light he went down into the garden. The shrubs and flowers, refreshed with the dew, breathed a fragrance exquisitely pleasing, and the lark soared in the air, and warbled its trembling thrilling notes of ecstacy.
Melmoth followed the course of the rivulet in its mazes through the grove, till he descended into a hollow dingle, where it widened its stream and slept upon its rushes. The trees which overhung it reflected so deep a shade, that the light was no stronger than that of a bright moonshine; and all was rudeness, silence, and solitude. Melmoth sat down on a bank, and played a lively air upon his flute. It was a piece which himself had composed, and his fancy had already drawn a little circle of fairies round him to the sound, when he was roused by the rustling of the leaves. He started up, and looking round, was saluted by Mr Hartop and his daughter; they had been taking their morning walk, and accident had pointed it in the very same direction with his. They apologized for their interruption, and intreated him to finish the tune. He took up his flute, and touched a few notes of the voluntary he had heard the night before. Julia blushed. Mr Hartop observed her confusion, and leading Melmoth to an opening, began to point out to him the beauties of the prospect. It was a little home scene in the pastoral style. In a valley below ran a small river with a mill turning in its stream, and a green hill rose on the opposite side, partly covered with furze, and seamed with a winding sheep-walk. In the woodlands on the right and left, the birds were singing sweetly in concert, and the pauses of harmony were supplied by the murmurs of the watermill, and the tinkling of the wether's bell. Melmoth stood listening to these mingled sounds with such a look of pleasure, that he communi..