« PreviousContinue »
shudder did pass through her heart, when, some weeks afterwards, she saw a letter put into her father's hands, the direction of which was in his well-known writing. The letter was sealed with black; it had a broad black edge; it contained the intelligence of the death of Sir Douglas Græme, and the succession of his son ;-of the bequest of Aberfoy to Jeanie's father, in token of forgiveness; and something else it contained—a folded sheet, addressed, not to the master of the regained Aberfoy, but to the bewildered, trembling girl, who, pressed to his bosom, wept the first tears of joy she had ever shed.
Oh! how beautiful Jeanie Græme looked, her meek eyes sparkling, her pale cheek flushing, over the contents of that letter! It ran as follows :
“ Dear and lovely Jeanie, “ It grieved me to leave all unexplained and wretched the day I parted from you. I came with the intention of announcing my departure for Scotland, but the sentence passed upon me, under the mystery and misrepresentation of which I was the object, rendered any other reason for leaving you unnecessary. Dearest, if your failing eyes could have distinguished objects that evening at the theatre, you would have recognized, in the face that bent anxiously over you, the altered features of her who brought you to us the day I first beheld your gentle countenance the dark eyes of my mother! Since that day I have had no dream of love that was not clothed in your image, nor ever shall, Jeanie, though I were to live a long life, and never, never see you more. My poor father had been amused by my childish predilection; had wondered at the tenacity of the impression made on a boy's mind by your beauty, nor dreamed that it grew with my growth and strengthened with my years. After my return from the continent, I came to Bath to realize the visions I had formed. I saw you, Jeanie; you were even more perfect in your quiet and contented womanhood than when, pale and mournful, you looked on me and breathed your lost brothers' name at Castle Græme. After that happy hour in the garden (forgive me for having seemed to forget it) I wrote to my father for his consent to marry you. My mother herself brought his reply; and I confess, though I expected disinclination to the marriage, I never dreamed of the passionate violence with which he forbade it, and commanded me to return instantly to Scotland. Jeanie, my father had idolized me; he was an old, a very old man. My mother impressed upon me that I might have his life to answer for, if by any act of open disobedience I braved his grief and anger. I was colder to you; you felt it; and it seemed as if serpents were gnawing at my heart : still I could not leave the spot where you were ; my mother's entreaties and reproaches were alike vain; I could not quit Bath. She resolved not to quit it without me, and at length she tempted me by a promise of interceding with my father : (you are aware of her power over him.) She only stipulated that I should return without any further declaration to you. I wished her to see you ; and knowing that poor Aunt Nanny was to take you to the theatre, (for your very steps were watched by him you believed unfaithful,) I persuaded her to go: forgive me that evening's pain ! The next morning a letter arrived informing her that my father was ill : we travelled night and day; and his first exclamation on seeing me, was, 'Good lad-good lad – I knew ye wouldn't break yere father's heart by marrying wi', Aberfoy's daughter. Promise me — promise me--for I believe I'm going. Jeanie, he was my father, my dying father-I promised him that unless he consented I would never ask you to become mine; but I added, that no temptation should ever induce me to marry another, and the stock of the Græmes would be a leafless and a blighted tree. Whether it was the approach of death, or the pleading of my mother, I know not; but he softened latterly; his first step' was to will Aberfoy to your father, and then he spoke your name. I'd like to see her, Douglas,' (these were almost his last words ;) 'but no matter, ye'll bring her here after I'm gone.' Jeanie, I would have given half my life to have seen him bless you; but it cannot be; God's will be done! Write to me and tell me whether your father will come to Aberfoy immediately, and if I can make any arrangements for him there; or whether I shall come to Bath, and bring you both up to the Castle. Bid him think kindly of me, and kindly too of my mother, for indeed she has a strong regard for him, and for yourself, and her cough alarms me. Sometimes a dread comes over me that I am too happy, and that we shall not make one family long; but I will not sadden you, sweet Jeanie. Love me love herand say to your father that the saddest looks she ever gave were those she cast from the hill to the deserted house at Aberfoy; and the saddest tones her sweet voice ever breathed, were those in which she spoke his name.
“Yours for ever, truly and lovingly,
“ DOUGLAS GRÆME.” Jeanie read the letter aloud to her father, and many were the ejaculations of thankfulness which burst from his lips; and many a kiss did he bestow on the fair forehead of his patient child : but as she read to the close, he ceased to speak; and when Jeanie pronounced the last words, and looked up in his face, she saw that a deep-red flush had come over it, and he turned from her to the window with a long and heavy sigh.
C. E. N.
THE MOST UNFORTUNATE OF WOMEN. [WE have just received the following letter with its inclosure. The insertion of them (as may be inferred from the date of the elegant epistle) puts us to very considerable inconvenience; nevertheless, we comply with the fair writer's request; for—to say nothing of her appeal to our gallantry-a cousin in the Middlesex Militia, and an uncle in the Surrey Yeomanry, are fearful odds against one poor editor. At the same time, with the greatest deference, we beg to assure Miss Niobe Sadgrove that the information upon which she has proceeded is incorrect. We are credibly informed that Captain Chamier's “ most unfortunate person in the world” is not a lady ; consequently it is not intended either to purloin Miss Niobe's true memoirs, or to impose upon the public by any fictitious account of her.
With respect to Miss Niobe herself, although we will admit her to be a very unhappy lady, we cannot consider her as being pre-eminently unfortunate, or, indeed, unfortunate at all; except—and we say so with awful recollection of the uncle and the cousin-except in a propensity to exhibit more frequently than it may be prudent“ a proper spirit;" and in the possession of a temper which, however “ feminine" and “gentle" it may be, seems not exactly calculated to promote her own happiness. To these two causes-always making our respectful bow to her uncle and her cousin--we humbly think her “misfortunes” may be chiefly attributed
Considering the difference of the style of her letter from that of her memoir, we are not certain that Miss Sadgrove intended the former document for publication. The first is written in a free, easy, familiar, natural manner. The memoir (somewhat in the fashion of the good old Minerva-Library novel) is a specimen of very fine writing indeed. However, rather than fall short of the lady's reqaest, we insert both; and, hoping she may make out her case to the public to her own satisfaction, we leave her to speak for herself.-Ed.] To the Editor of the New Monthly Magazine.
London, 30th October, 1833. Sir,-I am aware that a publication whose objects are to instruct, to inform, and to amuse, ought not to be selected as an arena for the settlement of private disputes, nor as a medium for personal complaint and reclamation. But, Sir, there are exceptions to these excellent rules ; and it is with the sanction of such an exception as appears to me to apply to my particular case, that (without the slightest hesitation or the smallest ceremony, yet still with the reserve and moderation becoming a lady) I request, nay, insist on, the right of addressing the public through your pages.
I am informed and you, Sir, from your connexion with a certain Mr. C-16-r--(for, with a sentiment of delicacy which, I trust, will never abandon me, I refrain from naming him distinctly)-you, Sir, must know that my information is correct;-I am informed, I say, that some Captain Chamier or other is preparing for publication, Memoirs of the most Unfortunate of Women. Now, Sir, it happens that I am the most unfortunate of women; it is I who claim “ the proud pre-eminence of woe;" so that one of two things is positive: either the Captain intends to publish my memoirs, which he has no right to do-and, to express myself as gently as I can, he shan't; or, not being memoirs of me, his book will be that which a sense of decorum prevents my characterizing as it deserves; but which, in the mildest language I can select; I shall qualify as a most impudent imposition, and a gross and shameful fraud, upon the public. This then, Mr. Editor, is the ground on which I demand the use of your pages. That you will not refuse it, your well-known attention to the fair. sex assures me. To say more upon the subject would be unnecessary : to hold out anything which could be miscoustrued into a threat, unfeminine : yet pray, pray reflect that I have a cousin who is a Captain in the Middlesex Militia, and an uncle high in rank in the Surrey Yeomanry.
Without further preface I enclose you a few notices of my life. They will enable the public to judge between me and the Captain's lady as to. whose is the legitimate claim to the sad distinction of being the most unfortunate of women. However, be their decision what it may, I am resolved to take precedence of my impertinent rival: I shall expect, therefore, to find my papers printed in your very next Number-meaning thereby the Number which is announced for appearance on the day after to-morrow. I would not, for all the world, do so unlady-like a thing as
to put you to inconvenience; so (as I may be rather late in my demand) I leave it entirely to your choice, either to omit some of the sense, or of the nonsense, you had intended for publication, in order to make room for me : or to delay the appearance of your work for two or three days, or, indeed, for as much longer as may be perfectly agreeable to yourself.
I remain, Mr. Editor,
Your Friend (or otherwise) according to your compliance (or otherwise) with my request,
Niobe SADGROVE. P.S.-My uncle arrived in town last night, and my cousin is expected to-morrow.
It is usual, I believe, for persons who condescend to favour the public with any account of themselves, to state in what year they were born. This is a stupid practice, which can answer no purpose but that of gratifying an unwarrantable curiosity. It shall be no rule for me. Suffice it to declare that I have just entered my nine-and-twentieth year, though the desolating effects of sorrow and misfortune, upon a form and features too exquisitely susceptible of rude impressions, might mislead a careless beholder into the belief that I am nearer to thirty. My person, too, being somewhat above the middle size, and seemingly of vigorous construction, would, to some perhaps, appear better calculated than in reality it is to have resisted the shocks it has suffered, and to which, alas ! it soon must fall à victim. Of my temper it is not for me to speak. Gentleness is the natural attribute of woman; but to maintain the dignity of a lady, that gentleness should be supported by what is commonly called “ a proper spirit," and in that, I trust, I am not deficient. I am unmarried ; nor is it my intention ever to enter into that state of doubtful happiness termed matrimony,-unless, indeed, with a partner who, from the few paces of the path of life which grief has spared me, would pluck the thorns, and scatter flowers in their stead. So much for my present condition. Now to turn the eye of retrospection to the past.
I was unfortunate in my birth. I do not mean that I stand in that interesting predicament which leaves one in any doubt concerning the author of one's being, to express which so many softening circumlocutions have been invented : I do not mean that my mother had any need to describe herself by so delicate a periphrasis (for which we are indebted, I believe, to a French artist) as that of " the mother of the daughter of Mr. Sadgrove *;"_10; my misfortune consists in having been defrauded, as it were, of that rank in life for which-if I know myself—Nature clearly intended me. My mother, whose mind, like my own, was enthusiastically romantic,-open, consequently, to all the more tender influences of all the more refined passions,—was the daughter of a citizen, reputed wealthy, and was one of many children. Her father was not exactly what is termed a merchant: Fate had placed him to preside over one of those repositories which administer to the demands made by the necessities of man upon the innocent and fleecy tribet. He was one of those beings without a soul, who, in the establishment of their children, look solely to what, in their vulgar jargon, they term their welfare and an advantageous settlement. Not so my sainted mother. Plutus was not the god of her idolatry; over her heart Cupid reigned supreme. At one of those entertainments which almost realize the tales of enchantment in the “ Arabian Nights”—a ball given by the Pewterers' Company—there sat beside her a young Scotch nobleman. It was Lord Gotnorhino. He was handsome, fascinating, and a cornet of dragoons. To behold each other was to love. They danced together. At parting, he pressed her hand; and, in accents soft and gentle as the southern breeze, whispered an assignation for the morrow at the corner of Aldermanbury. The lovers met. Few were the words of the enthusiastic and enterprising Gotnorhino. His Lordship instantly proposed to wed her, frankly avowing that, except for his pay, his obligations to the blind goddess who rules our destinies were but small; yet, with what noble disinterestedness did he offer to share his rank and title with her, provided her father would bestow upon her ten thousand pounds, to guard her fragile form from the ills of poverty-reckless, himself, of all! To her sire himself did my mother refer the noble youth. My trembling hand almost refuses its office whilst I trace the withering reply of the stern and obdurate parent:-“ Never, my Lord, with my consent!" exclaimed he; “ never!” adding, in an idiom which gave terrific force to his refusal—“And I tell your Lordship what: if that 'ere girl of mine takes and marries a beggarly Scotch lord, what hasn't got a guinea to bless himself with, she never sees a brass farden of my money.”
* A French painter a few years ago exhibited a head of a Roman female, which. he politely described as La mére des fils de Brutus. • t So much do we admire fire writing, that we care little whether it be intelligible or not. Fine writing is a rare commodity, and the main object is to get
My mother, regardless of consequences, would have rushed with her noble suitor, borne on the wings of love, to the world's end; but he, disinterested to the last, for her happiness sacrificed his own, and (to drown in oblivion the bitterness of disappointed love) shortly afterwards married the daughter of the wealthy Alderman Wicks.
The early blossoms of love having been thus rudely wrenched from her bosom by the iron hand of paternal tyranny, the lacerated heart of my mother became for ever callous to the touch of Cupid's shafts. Who then shall wonder that, in apathetic obedience to the will of her sire, she submitted to be led to the hymeneal altar by Jeremiah Sadgrove, her father's favourite clerk- his partner not long after! Of that cruel union I am the sole offspring. Thus was I, by the stern decree of sordid avarice, forbade to burst upon the world a noble's daughter, and doomed to take my station as a tradesman's. Thus am 1—“ me miserable!! who should have been the Honourable Miss Gotnorhino, nought, nought, alas! but the humble Niobe Sadgrove. O! ye whom But, no: as I cannot hope for sympathy, so will I seek none. Singular is my misfortune; few, few can sympathize with ills they cannot know: for me alone a disappointment so bitter and irremediable was reserved; in the solitude of my own bosom, therefore, shall my lamentations live.
My parents dwelt in Aldermanbury. In the opinion of an unthinking world, they lived happily together. Ah! how little can we judge of others' happiness! They passed their lives, indeed, in ease, and comfort,
it. Our fair correspondent leaves'us in doubt as to whether her grandfather was a woollen-draper or a mere dealer in fleecy hosiery, Indeed, we take some credit to ourselves for guessing that he was either. -ED.