Page images
PDF
EPUB

sion, and an exclamation of, “ Heaven preserve me! I'm naked : get out of the room, you impudent fellows :” at which Scroggins fled hastily, and Bob slowly, still looking behind, as Orpheus did upon Eurydice, and finding the door, as Ophelia describes Hamlet to have found it,

" without his eyes ; For out o' doors he went without their helps, And, to the last, bended their light on her."

When the room was thus cleared of intruders, Dorothea fell' again to weeping, while Sukey, whose first gush of tears was all she could spare on this occasion, assisted her mistress to dress, and, during the operation, enforced every topic of comfort which her brain could devise. She possessed all that commonplace consolation which is so usually bestowed at such times as these: she begged of Dorothea not to fret: it was God's will: all was for the best :

her husband was gone to a happier place: crying would not bring him back again : all his troubles were over: God's will be done: and it was our duty to bear whatever he chose to send. All these things were very true, but Doro thea could not feel their force: she had lost her husband, and that loss she could not but bewail. Not, indeed, that she cherished for him any exuberant or powerful affection ; but then, there was the habit of the thing: and besides it was but decent to cry: all good wives do as much' at first, whatever they do afterwards. Tears stand upon the threshold of a woman's

eyes,

like dew-drops upon an aspen leaf, to be shook off by the lightest breath of accident. Dorothea's flowed copiously, and were accompanied also with those clamorous' expressions of sorrow which have a strong tendency to render sorrow ludicrous.

Grief loves to provide itself with aliment; and in its wildest excess any

thing will serve. Circumstances and objects which, in moments of content and happiness are viewed with indif. ference and remembered without emotion, no sooner become connected, in our imaginations, with persons who are absent or dead, than they swell into magnitude, and call forth the most endearing feelings of affection, regret, pity,', or other syinpathies of nature. Shakespeare, who well knew the human heart, has finely touched upon this quality in the following pathetic speech of Constance after the loss of her Arthur:

our

" Grief fills the room up of

my

absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats bis words,
Remembers me of all bis gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form :"

And, as every mode of illustrating this writer has been employed by his numerous and zealous commentators, I may

be permitted to bear my testimony to that keen and intuitive perception of nature which he possessed on all occasions, and to enforce the beauty of the above passages, by informing the reader that the natural ebullition of Dorothea's grief was strikingly similar to that of Constance. When Sukey handed her garters to her, the sight of them drew forth fresh effusions of woe, while she observed that her poor dear husband bought them for her as a new year's gift; but now, he'd never buy her any thing more ; and when she put on her gown she heaved a profound sigh, upon the wings of which, sailed forth the confession that it was Ezekiel's favo. rite, but he would never admire her in it again. The next thing which excited these tender emotions in her mind was her defunct husband's breeches, which lay on one corner of the bed, and which she now held up by the knee-string, and filled them out in imagination. When

9

she had indulged her sorrow some time, she extracted the money that was in their pockets, and looking at Ezekiel, whose lifeless visage peeped above the bed-clothes, she forgot for a moment that he was dead, and huddled the shillings and sixpences into her own pocket, even as she had been sometimes wont to do while he slept; and if he afterwards exclaimed against his loss, she abused him for a drunkard, and told him he had spent it over night at the ale-house.

From this momentary forgetfulness, however, she was soon roused by the entrance of Scroggins,with Mr.A pozem, the apothecary of the village, who, having examined the body of Ezekiel, addressed himself to Mrs. Plaintive with much deliberate solemnity as follows:

“ This poor man, Madam, has died in consequence of an attack of the sangui. neous or serous apoplexy. Whether it be the sanguineous, or whether it be the

« PreviousContinue »