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Some feelings are to mortals given,
SIR W. SCOTT.
Grace DARLING, the heroine of the following pages, was born amongst a group of small islands, distinguished by the name of the Fern Islands, situate in that part of the German ocean which bounds the north-east of Northumberland. These islands, though hallowed by the residence of the holy St. Cuthbert, and known as the place of his death, have been but rarely visited by the tourist, owing probably to their dangerous approach from the shore, and the tremendous storms by which the whole of the northern coast is so frequently visited.
On the north-east point of the largest of these islands is a light house, first used in 1822, which has proved highly serviceable as a warning for vessels to avoid this dangerous
coast. The present and only inhabitants of the island, is the family of William Darling, whose office it is to attend this friendly beacon; and here, amidst contending elements have been passed the early years of his heroic daughter, to which may be greatly owing the fearless courage and intrepidity of character which she has on various occasions displayed.
For several successive ages the ancestors of William Darling have been the only inhabitants of the Longstone Island; hence, it has almost become their hereditary office to tend upon the beacon lights; this duty was formerly much more arduous than at present, coal fires being kept perpetually burning during the long and lonely hours from twilight till the dawn of morning, but the present erection possesses those modern improvements which renders it of greater utility, and considerably lessens the labour of those employed in its attendance.
William Darling, the father of our heroine, married at an early age the daughter of a farmer, residing a few iniles distant from the Fern Islands, in the vicinity of Bambrough. The object of his choice was an amiable, kindhearted woman, willingly resigning the society of the friends with whom her girlish years had been spent, to pass her future life upon a barren island with the man she loved. The first years of Mrs. Darling's residence in the light house were somewhat solitary, yet she never wearied or felt the hours dull and lonely; united to the man who was in possession of her heart, her only desire was to contribute to his happiness, and her affection caused the days to pass unheeded, which otherwise might have seemed long or monotonous. Her husband possessed a mind of no ordinary kind; and with a taste for literature, he was led to devote every hour of leisure to the perusal of books, and the nature of his studies was such as tended to give a depth and intelligence to his natural strength of character.
Ere the lapse of many years from the time of their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Darling beheld themselves surrounded by a blooming family, each alternate year introducing an increase to their number and the 24th day of November, 1816, was that which witnessed the birth of Grace, an event which created the usual degree of joy in the breast of Mr. Darling-affection for his family being a strongly developed trait in his character.
On the morning subsequent to that on which our heroine was born, a small yacht arrived at the island, containing two gentlemen, with their attendants. These gentlemen were, the Marquis of Land Mr. S—; the former of whom has since occupied a conspicuous position as a statesman and diplomatist, whilst the other has become eminent for his acquirements in the fine arts and in natural history. From the intelligence and urbanity of character which distinguished Mr. Darling, he proved at all times avaluable guide to strangers
visiting the islands, imparting every information respecting the history and natural productions of the place. On the present occasion, after conducting the Marquis and his friend over the various islands, they accompanied Mr. Darling to the light-house, there to partake of refreshment previous to embarking in their little vessel. Whilst partaking of this repast, the Marquis complimented Mr. Darling upon the healthy and spirited appearance of his children, whom he had beheld scrambling amidst the rocks with all the fearless courage and agility possessed by the young chamois. These compliments gratifying the paternal pride of Mr. Darling so as to throw off all restraint, he brought out the young stranger, whom he presented to his noble visitors. Our heroine, even at this very early period of her life, possessed an appearance so interesting as to call for th many flattering compliments and happy presages of the future, after which the unconscious infant was restored to its natural resting-place-a mother's bosom. The Marquis and Mr. S. left the island—the former to embark on that sea of politics, in which he has taken so active a part, and the latter to pursue his more retired and intellectual career amidst the privacy of domestic life.
Time passed over on the little sea-girt island, with a pace as rapid as in the gay and busy world. The gentle baby grew a-pace, from infancy to girlhood; and at Bambrough church was presented, at the baptismal font, where she received the name of her maternal grandmother, Grace Horsley. Of Grace her father might have justly said, in the words of Bloomfield, the peasant-poet,
“ She was my darling — was my fav’rite child ;
And sprouted as they liked" — since, from the earliest period of her childhood, she became his especial favourite, as also the pet and plaything of all the other part of the family, for the addition of twin-brothers to their number, ere Grace had attained her second year, did not lessen the fondness with which she was regarded. Fortunately for Grace, her natural disposition was so amiable, her temper so docile, that an indulgence which would have injured the most of children, only tended to develope more fully the fine and tender sensibilities of her nature.
Mr. Darling was somewhat of a disciplinarian in his family, the elder part of which had been brought up in a rigid style of training; and, after passing the first years of childhood, were sent from home to receive a suitable education at a small town on the neighbouring coast, previous to their being placed in their various pursuits, by which they were to support themselves, and in honest, useful industry, pursue their humble course of life. This they have done in a manner reflecting the highest credit upon their parents' zealous care. In consequence of the gentle temper and winning ways of the little