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In fine, to form a complete lady, she should possess the most perfect simplicity of heart and manners; dignity without pride, affability without meanness, and simple elegance without affectation.
The _WANDERINGS_ of the IMAGINATION.
_BY MRS. GOOCH._
(Continued from page 387.)
The pleasures of a fashionable life may not be unaptly compared to the delirium of the brain in a high fever. ‘Tis in vain we in imagination visit aerial scenes fraught with all that fancy can bestow to give delight: ’tis in vain we visit gorgeous palaces, and partake of sumptuous banquets, while seated in the magic circle of Wit and Beauty, we enjoy the radiant smiles of the happy, and the compliments of the facetious and the learned: we even in the height of our frenzy still feel there is a chasm in our pleasures, and a vacuum in our pursuits and enjoyments; and when awake to reflection, we most sensibly feel that all has been deception–the malady still rages, and the fever still remains.
But I revert to my first idea, and maintain that happiness is to be found; and that I witnessed it in the family I have mentioned: they were uniformly and completely happy in each other; and the casualties of fate appeared not to terrify by their approach an individual belonging to it.
Had that happiness they amply possest been sufficient to satisfy them, without searching farther into the world for an addition to it, one of its branches had not, by creating her own misery, cast a bleak veil over her fate, and impeded that heart-felt satisfaction which from her alone knew interruption.
Nancy, the youngest daughter, was by nature more susceptible than the rest. She had seen a young sailor in the neighbourhood, and against the advice of all her true friends, contented to marry him, when he should return from a foreign embarkation. She bore his departure with seeming composure; but a few letters she received from him baffled all that parental love could endeavour to save her, and on the first report of the fleet’s intended return, she packed up a few necessaries, took the little money she was, through the indulgence of her parents, become mistress of, and unknown to all, set forward on her disconsolate journey to Portsmouth, to wait his return.
For some weeks she waited in vain; at length the ship to which he belonged arrived in the harbour. She eagerly discovered the means by which she could go on board; and fancy pictured to her ravished senses his delight on thus proving her unabated love. Alas, poor Nancy! the ship indeed returned, but her William had been long consigned to a watery grave. In silent grief she bore the dismal tidings, and returned to her desolate abode. For three days she pined in speechless agony, and on the fourth her account was made.
This melancholy incident gave rise to my endeavouring to express it in the following stanzas:
On the waves of foaming ocean, Blue-eyed NANCY heav’d a sigh; View’d with trembling limbs their motion, As dark they roll’d beneath a troubled sky.
Threat’ning clouds in thick succession, Darted forth their livid store; Thunder awful, past expression, Resounded long and deep adown the ravag’d sh.o.r.e!
On the sea’s terrific border, NANCY roam’d in deep dismay, And in looks of wild disorder, Wail’d to the dreary waste, all heedless of her way!
Horrid cliffs that way surrounded, Beaten by the dashing surge, Which in dreadful tumults sounded To Fancy’s startled ear, her WILLIAM’s funeral dirge!
O’er the vast of Heaven’s covering, Dark portentous horrors spread; O’er the earth tremendous hovering, Those horrors fill’d her aching heart with dread!
To the tempest’s howl she listen’d, O’er the dashing waves she hung; Rais’d to Heav’n the eye that glisten’d, With the full tear which poignant grief had sprung.
Then exclaim’d, “Ah! troubled ocean, “Tell me where beneath the wave, “Tell me where, with love’s devotion, “I may seek my lost, my lovely WILLIAM’s grave?
“Well ye know that I have lost him, “Well ye know he’s in the deep, “Well ye know your waves have cross’d him, “Well ye know he’s rock’d in Death’s eternal sleep.”
She spoke and paus’d; then reasonless and wild Again she call’d on th; unconscious deep To answer to her plaint:–when, lo, the cliff Gave way!–and falling with the love-lorn maid, Poor NANCY ceas’d to murmur and to weep!
It was in one of those fine autumnal evenings, when the Sun, while sinking beneath the last cloud of departing day, tinged the blue mountains with a paly light, that chance directed my footsteps from _Chepstow_, to the all-charming and romantic retirement of _Piercefield_. The deputed guardian of its woods indulged my request, and left me to myself.
As I wandered alone and pensive over the beauteous scene, no noise but the soft moaning of the leaves, gently agitated by the summer breeze, or the distant voice of the nightingale, interrupted my meditations, while I silently and sadly lamented the fate of its late unfortunate, and hospitable possessor. Was it from hence (thought I) that our first parents were precipitated into the abyss of woe, and will _Man_ be never resigned to his lot? Will he prefer to that path which Nature pointed out for him to follow, the tongue of envy—the voice of detraction—the ruin of his fortune—the injury of his health—the wreck of his peace—and sacrifice to a vision, the pure, true unadulterated joys of rural and domestic felicity? Vain and transitory are all sublunary desires; and the objects of whatever kind our fantastic imagination greedily pursues, soon cloy in the possession.
There is no substantial delight but that which we derive from conscious rect.i.tude; and the vicissitudes of the world, like the turbulence of the ocean, if they do not plunge the incautious into actual perdition, will, by annihilating their senses, leave in them a blank, that no future period will fill up.
The gloom that was beginning to dim the horizon, insensibly enveloped my ideas, and the solitude of the woods heightened it. It was the hour when the sky-lark chaunted its evening hymn to its Creator, as it soared beyond the confines of sight. The lofty pines waved their high heads to the wind, and now and then a few straggling leaves, that had loitered beyond their time, rustled through the thick branches, while gently falling towards the ground.
On a sudden, the voice of distant music caught my ear. I listened, and distinguished the sweet sounds of the plaintive harp. My heart responsively echoed the mournful melody, and I approached the spot from whence it issued. The Harper, whom I recollected to have seen before, was blind, and infirm, and his name was Llewyllin. He was sitting at the foot of a tree, and his dog, who sat watchfully by him, retained his station, seeming sensible of the attractions his master possessed, instead of being impressed with fear, or alarm, at the approach of a stranger.
A very lovely girl, more interesting than beautiful, stood leaning against the tree in a pensive att.i.tude; she observed me, and, as if recovering from the reverie I had interrupted, with a soft, but dejected smile, requested her father (for such I found him to be) would repeat the variations of Pleyell’s German Hymn. The slow, and solemn measure, raised my soul to Heaven, while my uplifted eyes invoked the pardon of human frailties, and the rapturous enthusiasm invigorated my mind.
The Harper arose, his dog trotted on before, and I accepted the proffered arm of the lovely Julia. Our conversation was on trifling subjects, and the increasing darkness added an awful solemnity to the stillness of the scene, as the bat flitted round us, and the solitary owl poured forth her wailing plaints to the full-rising Orb of Night.
From the high eminence we espied the beautiful little town of _Chepstow_; its various lamps reflected on the smooth surface of the _Severn_, while the distant dashing of oars proclaimed our re-union with the world, from which the peaceful groves of _Piercefield_ had just before seemed to separate us.
Julia and I, whose tastes already appeared to be formed for each other, delighted ourselves with the majestic scenery above and below us. We retraced to our memories _The Sorrows of Werter_, while we gazed on his favourite constellation, and compared its superiority over the luminous bodies that surrounded it. But alas! these chearing prospects gladdened not the heart of our companion; his day was set in everlasting night, and I sighed while I surveyed the marks of placed resignation that beamed on his benign countenance.
I accepted Julia’s invitation, and accompanied her home. She inhabited, with her father, a small neat cottage, which she had adorned with the elegant ornaments of rustic simplicity: she touched the harp with less skill than did her father, but the gracefulness of her att.i.tude while seated at it, was all her own. She had a winning sweetness of manners, and a captivating gentleness of disposition, which alike charmed and secured the hearts of those who beheld her. With pious diligence she discharged the duties of filial care; and as she watched over him with affectionate zeal, she prevented the desires of her father.
We parted at an early hour, more refreshed than fatigued by the excessive long walk we had taken; our minds had expanded in the interview, and it was the beginning of an acquaintance that seemed to promise an exquisite source of mental enjoyment, both to Julia and myself.
Till the present moment, the intercourse of female friendship had been unknown to Julia. The inhabitants of Chepstow, where they had lived five years, were either too lofty, or too low, to afford gratification to a susceptible mind. Yet, although her knowledge of the world extended no farther than what she could collect from the books of a small circulating library, with which she beguiled the heavy hours of her father, she had acquired from these, and the polished understanding with which Nature had endowed her, those requisites which alone were necessary to render her a most desirable and interesting companion.
We met every day, and our friendship was established in less time than custom allows to a common acquaintance. Julia, whose notions were above the prejudices of the vulgar, would artlessly reveal to me her ideas as they arose, but left me to conjecture on the subject of her heart, which, from her frequent sighs, and some very distant hints, I could perceive had not been hitherto insensible.
We went frequently to Piercefield, where, after placing Mr. Llewyllin on a convenient seat, we would wander from him just far enough to hear the distant sounds of the harp, which, as they died away, marked the length of our progression.
Julia, in one of those walks, took occasion to enquire of me, if I had ever seen _Swansea?_ I answered her in the negative, and she added with a sigh, that her father would describe it to me better than she could.
The evening dews were beginning to fall, and we joined him in our walk towards home.
We were no sooner arrived there, than I repeated to him Julia’s question, which he answered, by giving me his narrative.
(To be continued.)
First in the grape the wine’s red hue, Next in the bottle, glows: But last, and most, and longest too, O Cotta, in thy nose.
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