« PreviousContinue »
superior understanding. His pardon was most graciously accorded, and he became a frequent visitant at — house.
By ten thousand nameless attentions, which the delicacy of affection alone can excite, and which affection alone can appreciate at their true value, he soon found means to insinuate himself into Mary's too tender and susceptible bosom, and to take the strongest hold of her heart, long before she herself was conscious that she entertained for him any other sentiments than those of esteem and regard, as for a friend.
He used to converse with her, to read and to repeat poetry to her, to write little tender verses, hang over her with enraptured admiration, while she sang and played upon the piano, or while she traced with the pencil's magic touch the beauties of the landscape, or pourtrayed the human form divine. They often strayed together down the lone woods, that waved their dark tops on the hill, which overhung the mansion; and, often, gazed with rapture on the setting sun, when, in a lovely autumnal evening, he arrayed the clouds, which wait upon his western throne, in reflected purple and gold ; and often would they in speechless rapture view the wan moon midst driving clouds, now muffled and now bright, 'till at length, unveiling her peerless light, she rode nigh her highest noon, apparent sovereign of the sky,
“ The time unheeded sped away,
Edward's father observed, that his son no longer attended to his studies with his accustomed ardour, and soon discovered the cause of this remissness. But as both he and Mary's guardian had no objection to joining the two families in alliance, no notice was taken of Edward's conduct, but he was suffered to pursue the current of his own inclination unchecked and uncontrolled.
The golden hours on angel wings flew over him as he sate in the presence of his beloved fair one, and folded the darling of his heart unto his beating bosom; at these raptur
ed moments Edward and Mary were all the world to each other. But this ecstatic bliss was not allowed to him without long and ardent solicitation ; for Mary's innocence and virgin modesty, her virtue and the consciousness of her worth, that would be wooed and not unsought be won, not obvious not obtrusive, but retired, awed the ardor of the amorous youth, who sighed full many a long and lingering hour, before her gentle heart with obsequious majesty approved his pleaded reason.
You must not kiss me till I am married, -said Mary to him, one morning, when his passionate importunity became more than usually audacious, and the flame of young desire more dazzling, daring, fierce, keen shivering shot his nerves along. The artless innocence and simplicity, with which Mary uttered these words, only served to twine the tendrils of affection and of endearing attachment round the heartchords of Edward in bands of indissoluble love. And, at length, he convinced her, that, in this imperfect state of existence, he must have recourse to the only means, which were allowed him, of expressing the purity and the ardour of his affection; that words were, indeed, but weak and faint to express the fervour of unutterable love, which was conveyed in much more intelligible and impressive characters by the liquid language of the eyes beaming mutual joy; the sweet smile of tenderness; the balmy kisses of the rosy lip; the enraptured foldings of the close embrace, when the boundings of each bosom beat with a more tumultuous throb, and the purple light of love upon each other's cheek assumed a deeper crimson dye.
By these reasonings, and by reasonings such as these, Edward satisfied and removed the scruples of his Mary, while he gently drew her by the hand towards him, and fondly pressing his cheek to her's, strained her to his bosom with all the ardour of the most enraptured lover. Edward,-said Mary to him one day—I wish, that you would teach me the Latin language. Edward begged leave to decline the task, because the attempting to learn that dead tongue would prove tedious and irksome to her, on account of the multiplicity and confusion of the rules laid down by all the grammarians,
who for nearly two thousand years had well nigh smothered the Roman language under the immense heaps of their still accumulating rubbish, and learned lumber of the head, with all such reading as was never read. Mary, however, was peremptory, and Edward reluctantly obeyed.
Many weeks had now rolled on, and Mary's progress in the Latin tongue was very percepitily slow; at length she said-Edward, I must give up the study of the Latin ; for I am such a dunce, that I shall never be able to make any proficiency in this pursuit ; though, to tell you the truth, I have learned as much as I desire to know. And what is that! asked Edward. What !-replied Mary—I will tell you what it is; I understand that omnia vincit amor, love is triumphant over all things :- And now, a blush, celestial, rosy, red, mantled over all the aspect of her angel form, and she hid the lovely confusion of her countenance in Edward's bosom.
At this moment Edward repeated to her these lines in accents softer than the odorous gales that blow from off the spicy shore of Araby the blest.
“ Oft when the tempest lords it wide,
I skirt the roaring sea, Mary;
To mope and brood on thee, Mary.
Now hope displays her light, Mary,
While all around is glee, Mary,
And think on love and thee, Mary,
Yet these no torments bring, Mary ;
Creates no anxious thought, Mary;
Thy love can ne'er be bought, Mary.
But, oh, perchance, some polish'd youth,
Well skill'd in guile, and art, Mary,
Nay, steep'd in blackest woe, Mary,
No more my plaints shall flow, Mary.
Declares, it then would burst, Mary ;
Or I shall be acurst, Mary.”
Edward, now, looked wistfully at Mary, who caught and answered the glance of his inquiring eye, and cried out eagerly-no, never, never, Edward, will your Mary listen to the voice of love from any other created being than him, who is the sole and paramount lord of all her affections. They sealed their vows of mutual love upon each other's lips, and reluctantly separated; for, between them two, should they be taking leave as long a term as they had yet to live, the unwillingness to depart would grow.
It was the opinion of all the neighbouring families, and it was the desire of Mary's guardian and of Edward's father, that Edward and Mary should be united at the altar of Hymen, after a proper time, and in the due order of events. But Edward's romantic notions of honour began to raise a most terrible conflict in his bosom ; he loved Mary with all the impetuous ardour of his boundless affection, an affection which spurned the beggary of the love, that could be measured; but, then, she was heiress to an immense fortune, and he was only a younger son, and, consequently, according to the Gothic system of primogeniture, his elder brother was to inherit all the property of the family, and leave the minor branches of the house destitute. He, therefore, determined, altho' the resolution was to him infinitely worse than death, not to marry Mary, And, accordingly, after the sinews of his frame had been well nigh snapped asunder by the con
vulsive agony of his contending feelings of affection and of, what he deemed, honour, he, one morning, went to Mary to acquaint her with his steady and unalterable resolve.
When he entered the apartment, where she was, then perusing those little sonnets of Petrarca, which he had particularly pointed out to her as the most worthy of her notice, he gazed on her with a look expressive of the most unutterable emotions. Mary was alarmed, and in tones of the most bewitching, melting tenderness, said-My Edward, what evil has befallen you? Suffer your Mary to know it, that she might by sharing your sorrows, lighten the burden of their affiiction ; you must tell me ; for you well know that I can experience no repose or comfort, while ought disturbs you. Come, said she smiling, and kissing his forehead, -I must have those wrinkles in your brow smoothed; you must not graw your nether lip so; nor roll your eyes thus wildly round. Oh, Edward—continued she, now more alarmed and agitated at beholding the still progressively deepening anguish of his countenance, -Oh Edward, you must, indeed, tell me what evil awaits you; the worst certainty is infinitely better than this fearful, this dreadful pause of agony, and of suspense.
Mary, said Edward, grasping her hand convulsively, Mary, I am come to tell you that, which I would rather die ten thousand deaths than tell you ; but common honesty compels me to do it; Mary you must never be mine. At these words Mary's countenance grew paler than the snow drop on the waste, and in accents scarcely articulate she tremblingly asked not thine, my Edward! why not? Edward—I am not the eldest son of my father's house, Mary; and, consequently am no fit match for
who are an heiress ; and I will never submit to intrude myself into any family on sufferance, nor put it in the power of any person to say that I accepted the hand of a woman, merely for the sake of her fortune. Mary—you must positively excuse me for laughing at you, Edward : and is this the serious disaster, which has rendered you so pale and emaciated? what if you are not the elder son ; our families stand on level ground as to antiquity and rank ; and the mere circumstance of money cannot weigh as a grain of dust in the