Page images
PDF
EPUB

did such a young laddy as you get a golden guinea ? Edward told her that he had more of them in his pocket, and that he should esteem it as a particular favour if she would accept the guinea, as a mark of his gratitude for her kindness to him when he was in distress. The woman's eyes filled fast with tears ; she received the guinea, and sobbed out some inarticuate sounds, and Edward walked onwards to give vent to the feelings which rose in his bosom.

While the flood was still swelling in his eyes, he cast his view around upon the country, and for a while lost every other sensation in that of delight; the vallies, teeming with fertility, were in the highest state of cultivation; the hills, for the most part, were clothed with wood to their very summits; save that, here and there, a rude mountain reared its bare head, indignantly refusing the gay, but adventitious or-nament of vegetation, as but ill according with the dignity of such rugged and majestic grandeur. Nature had showered her blessings on this favoured land, this garden of Eden, this terrestrial paradise ; but art had contrived, by the happy disposition of lawn, of park, of plantation, and of bower, by the judicious choice of spots adapted for the erection of the mansions of elegance, of hospitality and of splendor, and the meaner, but more useful buildings, consecrated to domestic æconomy, to show, that in the strife all beauteous nature feared to be out-done.

And to crown all, to complete the perfection of this enchanting tract of country, the windings of the river Tay, whose tributary streams enriched and adorned the whole extent of this delicious vale, presented such a picture, as raised in Edward's mind sensations and emotions, to be felt, not to be described, to be imagined, not to be expressed. He stood on the summit of a verdant hill :

“ Heav'ns! what a godly prospect spreads around,
Of hills, and dales, and lawns, and woods, and spires,
And gilded streams, and splendid towns, where all
The stretching prospect into smoke decays."

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER III,

An accoucheur's barbaritythe country grows more wild-the Duke

of Athol depopulates Dunkeld scenery at Dunkeld the pass of Killacrankey, its sublimity Blair Atholthe Laird Robertson's domains-interview with a highland peasant a little poem.

A

T Perth, Edward went to an inn, where he met with a

gentleman in deep mourning. After the first salutations were over, the stranger eyed him with looks of apparent concern, and said-You seem, young gentleman, to be labouring under some very heavy affliction : I, by no means, wish to intrude upon the privacy of your feelings, for I well know, that sorrow is sacred; but I will, with your permission, relate to you a tale, for the authenticity of which I can vouch, in order to shew

you,
that

you do not mourn alone among the children of men ; that others, also, have drank deeply of the cup of affliction, as well as yourself.

Edward bowed and said, that the gentleman would do him a great kindness by relating the story. The stranger, directing his finely expressive countenance, and his dark eloquent eyes towards Edward, thus began.

The chief actors in the drama, which I am going to present to you, are a father and his son, both now living, and in great repute, as male accoucheurs, in one of the greatest cities in Scotland. The veteran introducer of other people's chil. dren into the world had a daughter, whose youth, wisdom, beauty, and virtue were the common topic of admiration to all her acquaintance. On a lovely autumnal evening this young lady, while sitting in her room, perusing the pages of Petrarca, heard the following dialogue between a poor man and her father.—Sir, my wife is in the pangs and anguish of travail ; her case is extremely dangerous, her midwife declares that she can do no more for her; and I beseech you

to come and endeavour to relieve her.--Doctor Where is the fee, honest friend? I shall not stir unless I have three guineas put into my hands first.--Sir, replied the poor fellow, I have no money, but I will go and sell my house-hold fur

[ocr errors]

niture, and all that I have, to save my poor dear wife; I would willingly die to relieve her, she has been so good a mother to our children, and so kind and affectionate a partner to me; do, for God's sake, come, Sir; a moment's delay, perhaps, may be fatal ; only consider, Sir, the agony in which the poor creature is, and have some compassion on her, for the love of God.

I will not stir a single inch, answered the obstetrician, 'till I have my money-give me my fee first, and, then, I will

go. In vain the poor man, nearly distracted, and agonizing with grief, at the dread of losing her who was most dear unto his soul, and had been the faithful companion of his youth, knelt, wept, prayed, and implored assistance, at the feet of this humane midwife, who stood unmoved, and heard, without remorse, and marked without a single sigh of sympathy or of compassion, the tears and the misery, the groans and the anguish, of a suffering and an afflicted fellow-creature.

The husband, finding all intreaties of no avail to move the flinty heart of this flower of obstetrical chivalry, rose from the earth, and, drooping in the bitterness of despair, left the place, and went on his way sorrowing. Upon the young lady this discourse had not been lost; she slipped out of the house by a postern door, met the poor man, and put three guineas into his hand, bidding him say to her father, that he had gotten the money from a friend. Saying this, she instantly returned to her room, lest she should be discovered by any one of the family, and her good intention, in consequence, be frustrated. The man's heart was swelling full of gratitude for such unexpected kindness; but his benefactress was already departed, and no time was to be lost on account of the urgency

of his wife's situation. He, therefore, again sought an audience of the doctor, to whom he shewed the three guineas. The accoucheur, without further questioning, took the pelf, and im mediately shot it into the drawer of his bureau. He, then, went to the patient's house, and delivered the woman, whose case was, by no means, so dangerous and alarming, as the ignorance of the midwife, and the fears of the husband had represented it to be:

Not long after the occurrence of this transaction a young gentleman of France, of a good family wooed with success this amiable girl. The youth was generally reputed to join to a clear head and a sound understanding an intimate acquaintance with the recondite depths of science, and the splendours of erudition; and, what is far above all price or count of value, he was known to possess a pure and an unadulterated heart, an integrity unwarped and unblenched. By the joint concurrence of all parties between this happy pair passed

" A contract of eternal bond of love,
Confirm'd by mutual joinder of their hands,
Attested by the holy close of lips,
Strengthened by inter-changement of their rings;
And all the ceremony of this compact
Sealed in the function of the sacred church.”

“ She what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approved
His pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
He led her, blushing like the morn; all heaven,
And happy constellations on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the earth
Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill :
Joyous the birds; fresh gales, and gentle airs
Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose, flung odours, from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, 'uill the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening star

On his hill-top, to light the bridal lamp." But this bliss was too great, too exquisite to last. Innocence and integrity alone are, too often, but a weak shield of defence against the assaults of envy and of malice; the spoils of virtue are, too often, borne in triumph on guilt's victorious

This young gentleman dared to practise with skill, and with success in that art, in which the veteran accoucheur could bear no rival near his throne. Wherefore, by his own endeavours, and by the infamous exertions of his sycophants and followers, this aged inquisitor, stabbed, assassin like, the reputation of the husband of his own daughter, blasted his fair fame, and eventually deprived him of the means of existence.

car.

[ocr errors]

so it

gave im

And all this mischief was brought about by the unwearied malignity, and the assidious villainy of a vulgar, coarse, heavy, ignorant old man. Would it readily be believed, that, in this age of civilized society, affected shakes of the head, significant shrugs of the shoulder, half phrases, ambiguous givings out, and doubtful expressions of—to be sure, he is very young, and married my daughter ; but I could tell if I would how-or-I wish that very handsome person of his, and very insinuating address, may not have given cause to Miss L. to sigh-would it be believed, that such frigid iniquity could destroy the professional character of an honest man, and actually starve him ? Yet was ;

for the inhabitants the city of plicit credit to the suggestions of this accoucheur, and, by withdrawing their confidence and patronage from his son in law, placed the young gentleman in a situation where industry was unavailing, ingenuity impracticable, and virtue helpless. Now came ghastly poverty upon this defenceless youth, and upon the partner of his heart, the darling of his soul, on the eve of becoming a mother. They were literally in want of bread. All their former acquaintance shunned them ; some through fear of offending the old man, and others, because they made it a rule never to know any one that was poor.

In this extremity of distress the young lady sent to implore her father's aid, to enable her to provide the necessary requisites for her approaching situation, to support her in that hour when the pains and the anguish of travail should come upon her. But in vain was the cry of calamity sent forth ; all assistance was denied by the father and by every member of the family, not excepting her brother, who was, also, an obstetrical quixote, and rolled down the full tide of affluence and of prosperity. Now, no ray of hope was left ; the gates

of

mercy were shut upon this daughter of affliction. She, poor helpless victim, amidst the very dregs of penury, and in all the bitterness of unrelieved agony, without aid, and without attendance, save that of the presence of her sorrowing and distracted husband, who hung over the beloved of his soul in speechless wo, produced a little innocent, which was born but to breathe, to

« PreviousContinue »