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richer tints of the velvet moss, there overhung by the tall feathery fern, and every where adorned by those innumerable creeping plants which love the shelter of woods and groves. At a distance from any high road, and accessible only through by-lanes and meadows, the spot seemed destined for the secret meetings of lovers, whose wooing need fear no other listeners than a blind horse and patient donky sometimes put in to graze, and no louder interruption than the cawing of rooks, or the twitter of the larks that rose from the corn-field which skirted one side of the wood. Hither I used to walk from Oxford, and wait the arrival of my Fiordelisa. If she lingered, I paced impatiently about, and fancied myself jealous and miserable; then when at length I saw her approaching, I hurried towards her, uttered a thousand tender reproaches, and believed that every hope and happiness of life hung upon her smiles. How eloquently I talked ! how approvingly she listened! At length, after I had lingered at Oxford during great part of the long vacation, my father summoned me to his country-seat, and insisted upon my allowing myself a short relaxation from study. ,I wrote some most pathetic verses upon my separation from my charmer, and tore myself away, convinced that I should be dreadfully out of spirits till my return to Oxford—I was not quite sure that I should not be seriously ill. Affairs, however, took a more favourable turn. My sporting propensities returned with original ardour ; a morning's success with my dogs, made me cheerful in the evening with the ladies, and, what with walking and talking, I was too tired to complain to my pillow of Fiordelisa's absence. A handsome widow, too, universally courted and admired, condescended to dance and talk with me, to choose my arm when we walked, to sing my favourite songs and to, wear my favourite colours. A youth of twenty is in great danger from the regard of women older than himself; their notice flatters, their easy manners dissipate the timidity which girlish bashfulness might increase, and their maturer age permits a degree of encouragement which is denied to younger coquettes. Mrs. G.'s bright eyes, her spirited conversation, her musical talents, her smiles peculiarly bewitching because she smiled on me, soon convinced me that although my heart was irrevocably my Fiordelisa's, yet it would be only an act of common civility to give up my time and attention to my present kind companion. I wrote to my absent fair one, and was as much in love as ever upon paper. Fiordelisa answered my letter, thank God, for, if she had never written, I might have continued to nurse a fancied attachment, and she might now be my wife.
Nonsense, which breathes itself in gentle murmurs from the lips of a beautiful woman, is easily mistaken for sense ; but, alas! put it on paper, and the delusion flies; give it a local habitation, and all its folly becomes visible. My charmer's letter, defective in both orthography and syntax, was inexpressibly silly, much too fond, too full of commonplace quotation, and, alas ! it contained a copy of verses on my departure, and a request that I would print them at the end of my intended volume. Heavens ! how indignant I felt at the idea of annexing such trash to my own superior productions; and yet too soon I remembered that it was in a great measure owing to the praises Fiordelisa had bestowed on my poetry that I had been induced to resolve on its pub-,
lication. I rushed to my writing-desk, tore my neat manuscript from its concealment, and with the unpitying resolution of a Brutus or a Manlius, consigned my undeserving offspring to the flames. I watched the devouring element. In a few moments all was reduced to ashes. I swore over the mouldering remains “that I would henceforth be rhyme-proof till my last breath ;" and as no muse or nymph appeared to crush my "infant-aith," I have persevered in my resolution. I then sat down to ruminate upon my engagement with Martha Anne-her poetical name had expired, Fiordelisa was no more. Engaged to her I was by a thousand tender vows, and her heart, I felt well assured, was firmly, irrevocably mine. I had promised that as soon as I came of age I would endeavour to procure my father's consent to our union; and how often had I talked of the “ leaden pinions” upon which the intervening months would move! Now, however, I began to discover that a pretty simpleton could not long retain my affections ; I remembered that
“ L'anima perchè sola è riamante,
Sola è degna d'amor, degna d'amante. I became suddenly alive to all the discomforts of an ill-assorted union,
It may be remembered that Mr. Edgeworth in his Memoirs tells us that he attached himself inconsiderately, and like me discovered his delusion ; that he opened his mind to his affianced, offered her his hand if she chose to accept it, married her, and made her a bad husband. The honour of such a proceeding is universally allowed; nothing can be more honourable than to make a woman miserable for ever as your wife, instead of miserable for a few months by your inconstancy. To consign a woman to neglect and tears rather than be pointed at as an inconstant, may be honourable, but it is not humane ; it is saying, I will be kind only to be cruel, I will purchase the approbation of the world by the sacrifice of my own happiness and that of my unfortunate wife.
I mused for half an hour on the awkwardness of my situation, and then, claiming the "high privilege of youthful time," put aside every uncomfortable reflection, hurried into the drawing-room to talk and Airt, and play chess, and sing duets with Mrs. G., and determined to leave
fate to fortune. She proved a kinder mistress than I either expected or deserved. In my next letter to Martha Anne, I called her by her real name, and announced my resolution not to publish my poems. When I returned to Oxford, she had just eloped with a youth of eighteen; and I am ashamed to say that my pride was much hurt by her dereliction. A fortnight or three weeks elapsed before I was properly grateful for my escape.
I now took to study, and resolved never to be in love in term-time. To make up, however, for so severe a deprivation, I generally lost my heart four times every long vacation, and twice every shorter one. My father heard of my approaching marriage in every direction, but was comforted when he found that no two people assigned me to the same bride. I proved the truth of Addison's assertion, that “there is no end of affection taken in at the eyes only,” and, unwarned by former escapes, continued to dress every pretty woman I met, in a thousand imaginary perfections. I was only saved by fortunate chances, from offering my hand to three simpletons, and as many viragoes; and as I
was heir to a handsome property, I should most likely have been accepted : once I was rescued by a regiment entering the town where the lovely Eliza lived, who speedily transferred her smiles to a diminutive red-haired coxcomb clothed in scarlet and gold. To this feminine weakness I am, however, greatly obliged, as it thus saved me from one imprudent engagement. The fair little Fanny, so delicate in feature and attire, was kind enough to eat a partridge which nearly sent me from table, and at every mouthful I found the pain in my left side diminish. Thick ancles cured me twice, ebony-tipped nails once; sometimes some fortunate interruption (duly cursed at the time) prevented my crossing the fatal Rubicon; and as I now recall the character, temper, and acquirements of these short-lived empresses of my affections, and then cast my eyes upon her who sits beside me, while all her excellencies of heart and head rush to my remembrance, I feel tempted to ask my heart how I have deserved so valuable a prize. Happily for the peace of my various charmers, my character as a flirt was so well known, that devotions and gallantries, which from another man would have almost warranted the purchase of wedding-clothes, from me spoke the language of common-place admiration and politeness.
One of my escapes from matrimony was almost miraculous. I was seated next the charming Matilda in one of the stage-boxes at Coventgarden Theatre. She turned to look at the performance, and I to look at her profile. She was most becomingly dressed. The purity of her skin, which braved the closest inspection, the classical correctness of her features, the rich, easy wave of her shining tresses, the deepened tints on her cheek, the gaze of admiration from the pit, the uplifted glasses in the opposite boxes, altogether operated powerfully on my passion and my pride : I longed to call so lovely a creature my own; and without a moment's reflection I uttered the feelings of my heart, and poured into her ear the open and full confession of eternal attachment. A merciful chance prevented her hearing me; a castle was just blowing up on the stage: when quiet was restored, she turned to ask if I had spoken ; I made some remark on the performance, and deferred my declaration to a more convenient season. The next morning I met her at a panorama of Gibraltar. She asked aloud at what distance was the opposite coast of Asia; I blushed deeply for her then, and firmly resolved never to blush for her as my wife.
At this time I was studying the law at Lincoln's-Inn, and I found a London atmosphere much less favourable to love than the breezes of the country. Society and circumstances also are all unfriendly to the growth of town attachments. How much more natural and favourable to love are scenes of rural beauty; the winding lane with thick and tangled hedgerows ; the friendly skreen of grove and coppice; the delicious quiet of a summer evening; the country ramble, when lagging love drops behind the other walkers—bright skies, soft gales, sweet flowers, pleasant sounds ; do they not insinuate love into the breasts of the cold, cherish liking into affection, and raise affection to enthusiasm ?
Either from the anti-amatory effects of London smoke, from my own advanced years and increased experience (for I was now turned of three and twenty) or from the occupation of my mind and time by my legal pursuits, I became by degrees less precipitate in my attachments, and
more fastidious with regard to female beauty. Six months passed away without my penning in my brain one intended love-letter, or squeezing one beauty's hand so fiercely as to give her pain, or sighing so loudly as to make her start, or pressing to my lips in the solitude of my own room one faded flower which had fallen from a lady's bosom. I began to think all danger was over for life, but, alas ! I had speedily occasion to exclaim,
“ Intermissa, Venus, diu
Thy glance hath little of mortality,
Smile on, sweet child! while innocence is thine,
ABSENTEEISM,-NO, II. The fate of O'Neil, O'Rourke, and of O'Connor, who, to his own eternal disgrace,* had been lured over to the English court, was not calculated to encourage others, or to bring absenteeship into fashion. Even those, who from long sufferings, harassed spirits, and subdued energies, were desirous of peace and forgiveness at the expense of independence, were still afraid, from experienced treachery, "to come in," as the phrase was ; and were unwilling to absent themselves from the fearful security of their woods and mountains, to which they were romantically attached.
Lord Deputy Mountjoy, in a curious letter to the English council, observes that “all the Irish that are now obstinate, are so only out of their diffidence to be safe in forgiveness. They have the ancient swelling of liberty of their countrymen to work on, and they fear to be rooted out, and have their old faults punished upon particular discontents."
The plunder of Shane O'Neil, who, attainted, and driven beyond the pale of law and of humanity, died a miserable death, did not satisfy those who had benefited by his ruin. There was something too terrible to be endured in the name of these fierce toparchs of the North, who were still crowned in their stone chair, " with heaven for their canopy and earth for their footstool;" and when the young and gallant Hugh O'Neil, the last of his race, worthy of their illustrious descent, started up to claim his inheritance, his death or his absenteeship (a political decease) were the alternatives proposed to themselves by those who had so largely profited by the confiscation of the immense property of his family. "In an Irish parliament,” says Morrison, “O'Neil put up his petition, that by virtue of the letters patent granted to his grandfather, his father, and their heirs, he might there (in parliament) have the place of Earl of Tyrone, and be admitted to his inheritance, the title and place there granted him.” The inheritance, however, was “ reserved for the Queen's pleasure;" for the obtaining whereof, Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy, upon O'Neil's promise of a great rent to be reserved to the crown, gave him letters of recommendation into England, where he well knew how to humour the court; as in the year 1587 he got the queen's letters patent for the carldom of Tyrone without any reservation of the rent he had promised.”
Whatever was O'Neil's secret for humouring the court,” great efforts were made to fix him there as a permanent absentee ; and the queen (who at the same time had the young and unfortunate Earl of Desmond shut up in the Towert) gave O'Neil a troop of horse, a pen
O'Connor Sligo resided some time in the court of Elizabeth, where he was flattered up to his bent, though not into permanent absenteeship. He returned to Ireland in 1596, after obtaining a grant to secure him in the possession of his own property ; in gratitude for which "he was extremely active in her (the Queen's) favour, and gained
back, partly by menace and partly by cunning, many of the revolted clans." The celebrated O'Donnel of Tirconnel, hearing of O'Connor's desertion from the common cause, marched with an army to bring him to obedience: and, in spite of the assistance of Sir Conyers Clifford and Lord Mayo, he ravaged and destroyed O'Connor's country.
+ This youth was the only son of the Earl of Desmond, already mentioned. He had been detained a prisoner in the Tower from his infancy as a pledge for his