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balance ; it matters not which of the parties possess the wealth so that there be enough to administer to the purposes
of convenience and benevolence.
Mary, replied Edward in a piercing tone, that vibrated through all the inmost recesses of her soul, Mary, altho' you smile and treat this as a matter of no moment; yet
I am most impressively in earnest, and I, now, solemnly, tell you, that I would rather mount the scaffold of death, this instant, and bathe the edge of the executioner's axe with the crimson currents of my life, than suffer myself to rest under the shadow of the imputation of having married a woman of fortune, when I myself had none. Mary—but Edward, if I understand you right, the only objection on your part is my fortune? Edward -certainly, there can be no other objection. Mary-Then I will instantly remove that objection by giving it to you ; and you, as a man of fortune, shall take me a portionless and pennyless orphan for your bride. Edward—Have mercy upon me, Mary, and do not by the irresistable tenderness and dignity of your affection plunge me still deeper in the abyss of agony. This playful sophistry cannot calm the agitation of my heart; it must amount exactly to the same thing whether I receive your fortune before or after marriage. It cannot be; I feel it to be my duty to sacrifice my life, and, what is infinitely dearer to me than life, your affection, to my honour ; and it shall never be said of Edward, that he swerved from his duty, either to save himself from any danger, or to procure himself any gratification. Mary—I will most readily resign my fortune in favour of my nearest relation, and, thus, shall remove your objection. Edward—no, no ; that would be infinitely worse than any thing, which could befall me ; without wealth but little can be done towards alleviating the weight of human misery, which every where presses upon our attention ; retain your fortune, and employ it in acts of benevolence and of charity; and leave me to my fate. Mary-and what is to become of me when you are gone ? Oh Edward; you, on whom I lean for support and aid ; you, whose words of truth, breathed from the lips of love, have exalted my heart, and entarged my understanding ? Oh Edward, is there no alternative;
no ray of hope ; is all forever gone? Oh Edward, I little thought that it would come to this.
Mary's sensations were too acute, too full of agony, for her tongue to give utterance to the feelings of her heart : she wept in all the bitterness of unmingled anguish. Edward would have spoken peace unto her soul, but his tongue, for a while, refused to express the emotions that laboured in his besom. At length, he took Mary in his arms, and folded her to his beating heart, and mingling his tears, and blending his sighs with her sighs and tears, he faltered out these words :Mary, the imperious dictates of honour compel me to act this cruel, this dreadful part; many years must elapse before I can, by plunging into public business, raise myself to that level in the scale of society, as to wealth, to render me a proper match for you. I, therefore, wish you to wean your affections from me, and to take for your partner one,
be unto you an Edward, and more also. Farewell, Mary; it will be for our mutual peace, that we do not meet again, at least, 'til time and the hour shall either have calmed the anguish of our hearts, or made them cease to beat, Fare thee well, my girl, and may thy gentle spirit find that rest and repose, which thine Edward would willingly die to give thee, but which the doom of his destiny has forbidden him to accomplish.
Mary could not articulate a single syllable ; her soul was full; Edward, yet once again, clasped her to his throbbing heart, and with many a vow and lock'd embrace, he tore himself away, leaving her the victim of a sorrow too mighty for utterance,
When Edward was gone, Mary looked around, and there was none to comfort her; every little spot of ground, every inanimate object, which Edward had seen or touched, only served to awaken the recollection of former happiness in order to wrap the present hour in the darkness of a tenfold night of wo. The unwearied agony of her sensations preyed upon her frame; the canker-worm of anguish was gnawing at her heart's core, and eating away all her hopes of happiness; her charms were faded by the keen blasts of sorrow, yet the soft tinge of beauty still played on her cheek. She nourished and augmented her despair by continually musing on Edward,
by dwelling on his fond attachment to her, by recollecting all his words and all his looks of love; by playing the little, plaintive airs, which had delighted him ; by reading the books which he had recommended, and with which he was pleased; and, by too fondly wandering o'er the past, she sapped the foundations of her existence, and dried up all the springs and all the fountains of her life.
Her guardian, observing that she was not well, and utterly ignorant of the cause, for neither Mary nor Edward ever revealed the circumstance of their separation to any creature breathing, sent for a physician from the neighbouring town; the physician came, and prescribed, and Mary grew worse; upon which two more doctors were called in, and the patient soon perished under the conjoined forces of these sagacious men, who were writing prescriptions for the body, when the mind was afflicted.
“ Pleas'd round the fair three dawdling doctors stand,
And all receive, though none deserve the fee." Edward had gone to Bath to see his father, immediately after his last agonizing interview with Mary. As his whole frame drooped, and his countenance was pale and haggard, his father, who never once suspected the cause of his malady, in great alarm, sent for a physician, and an apothecary, who prescribed and sent medicines in great abundance, but in vain ; for Edward could not be prevailed upon to obey the dictates of men, who, in practising physic, left out of all their calculations the existence of mind. After a while, however, Mary's guardian informed Edward's father of the illness of his fair ward, and the conclusion, immediately drawn, was, that Edward's malady was occasioned by the knowledge of her indisposition ; and, accordingly, every attempt was made to dissipate Edward's melancholy, by diversion and company, which Bath, so fertile in every species of amusement, could afford.
While his was still at Bath drooping over the anguish of his heart, in that he had been compelled to wring the soul of her who was dearer to him than the ruddy drops, which formed the crimson currents of his life, there came a letter VOL. II.
from Mary's guardian to Edward's father announcing the death of his ward ; and the same post, also brought a letter to Edward ; it was from Mary, and ran thus. My dearest Edward,
The hour of thy Mary is now come; the hour which is to bring her that repose, which she has never known since that fatal moment, when thy too lofty and too romantic spirit sacrificed our mutual happiness upon the shrine of imaginary hon
I do not write to impute any blame to you, Edward ; you acted from the impulse of what you deemed your duty, and even while you pronounced the dreadful sentence of seperation, the tenderness of my affection for you was augment, ed, and my own pangs were forgotten in the admiration of the motive, which prompted you to take so fatal a step.
I die, Edward, but without any reluctance, save that I could have wished to live 'til I had reached the
age of twenty-one, in order to have bequeathed to you that fortune, which was the cause of all our misery, and which must now fall to my next of kindred, as the lawful heir. Life had no charms for me from the moment that I ceased to live for
from that evil and inauspicious moment every prospect was darkened, and not even a wish was left to gild the gloom of my existence.
Pardon me my weakness, Edward ; I do not wish to give you pain, or to wound the feelings of your too susceptible and tender heart; all that I desire is, that, now and then, in the intervals of study, and in the remissions from those public duties and employments, which you must one day fill, you will recall Mary to your recollection, and drop the mingled tear of affection and of compassion over the memory of her, who sealed her love for you with her life, and who loved you even in death. Edward, beloved of my heart, let not the lofținess of thy spirit droop; give all thine exertions, and all thy talents to thy country; she needs their aid ; all that I request for myself from thee, is an occasional sigh of pity and of love, in those moments, when my Edward retires to commune with his own heart in solitude, and to be still.
I am too much exhausted to write more, Edward ; my sight grows dim; my hand falters, and my heart but faintly
vibrates to the pulse of life. Farewell, my Edward, and may thy life be a life of public utility and of public honour, and when the vault of all thine ancestors shall receive thy bones, may the voice of thy country's praise, and the silent throbbings of thy country's gratitude, erect a monument of never-dying fame over all the lustre of thy words and actions. While yet the life beats in my bosom, I am thine most affectionately,