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her at Naples; is there kissed by her in public; crowned by her hand, and proclaimed by her beautiful lips the prince of poets ; and as the lady is married, he, as a matter of ordinary gallantry, of course wishes to push his advantages further. But here (and almost for the only time) he is altogether checked in his advances, and made to see that the sovereign power of beauty is even paramount to that of free penciling' in the genteel world. By way of episode, a story is introduced of a young woman who dies of love for the poet, (having met him at several balls in London.) He consoles her
by marrying her on her death-bed. In Volume III., the Free Pencil recovers his first love, whom he left behind in the shawl-room at Mrs Rothschild's Ball, and who has been pining and waiting for him ever since. The constancy of the beautiful young creature is rewarded, and she becomes the wife of the highly-gifted young man.
Such briefly is the plot of a tale, purporting to be drawn from English life and manners ; and wondering readers may judge how like the portrait is to the original ; how faithfully the habits of our society are here depicted ; how Magazine writers are the rulers of fashion in England; how maids, wives, and widows, are never tired of running away with them. But who can appreciate the powers of description adorning this likely story; or the high-toned benevolence and morality with which the author invests his hero? These points can only be judged of by a perusal of the book itself. Then, indeed, will new beauties arise to the reader's perception. As, in St Peter's, you do not at first
, appreciate the beautiful details, so it is with Mr Willis's masterpiece. But let us, for present recreation, make one or two brief extracts
A Lady arriving at a tea-party.—Quietly, but with a step as elastic as the nod of a water-lily, Lady Mildred glided into the room, and the high tones and unharmonized voices of the different groups suddenly ceased, and were succeeded by a low and sustained murmur of admiration. A white dress of faultless freshness of fold, a snowy turban, from which hung on either temple a cluster of crimson camelias still wet with the night.dew; long raven curls of undisturbed grace falling on shoulders of that undescribable and dewy coolness which follows a morning bath (!) giving the skin the texture and the opaque whiteness of i he lily; lips and skin redolent of the repose and purity, and the downcast but wakeful eye so expressive of recent solitude, and so peculiar to one who has not spoken since she slept-these were attractions which, in contrast with the paled glories around, elevated Lady Mildred at once into the predominant star of the night.'
What a discovery regarding the qualities of the morning bath-how naïvely does the nobleman of nature’ recommend the use of that rare cosmetic! Here follows a description of the triumphs of a' Free Penciller:'
VOL. LXXXII. NO, CLXVI.
- We are in one of the most fashionable houses in May Fair .... On the heels of Ernest, and named with the next breath of the menial's lips, came the bearer of a title laden with the emblazoned honours of descents Had he entered a ball of statuary, he could not have been less regarded. All eyes were on the pale forehead and calm lips that had entered before him; and the blood of the warrior who made the name, and of the statesmen and nobles who had borne it, and the accumulated honour and renown of centuries of unsullied distinctions—all these concentrated glories in the midst of the most polished and discriminating circle on earth, paled before the lamp of yesterday, burning in the eye of genius. Where is distinction felt? In secret, amidst splendour ? No! In the street and the vulgar gaze? No! In the bosom of love? She only remembers it. Where, then, is the intoxicating cup of homage—the delirious draught for which brain, soul, and nerve are tasked, tortured, and spent—where is it lifted to the lips ? The answer brings me back. Eyes sbining from amid jewels, voices softened with gentle breeding, smiles awakening beneath costly lamps—an atmosphere of perfume, splendour, and courtesy—these form the poet's Hebe, and the hero's Ganymede. These pour for ambition the draught that slakes his fever -these hold the cup to lips, drinking eagerly, that would turn away, in solitude, from the ambrosia of the gods.
• Clay's walk through the sumptuous rooms was like a Roman triumph. He was borne on from lip to lip—those before him anticipating his greeting, and those he left still sending their bright and kind words after him.'
We shall next notice a wonderful history of foreign life, containing the development of a most wonderful idiosyncrasy. It is that of an author-our · Free Penciller!' His life is but a sleeping and forgetting—the new soul that rises in him has had elsewhere its setting, and cometh again from afar. He has not only a Pythagorean belief, but sometimes a consciousness of his previous existence, or existences—nay, he has not only a consciousness of having lived formerly, but often believes that he is living somewhere else, as well as at the place where at the present moment he may be. In a word, he is often conscious
. of being two gentlemen at once ;-a miraculous égarement of the intellect described in the following manner :
• Walking in a crowded street, for example, in perfect health, with every faculty gaily alive, I suddenly lose the sense of neighbourhood. I see-I hear—but I feel as if I bad become invisible where I stand, and was, at the same time, present and visible elsewhere. I know every thing that passes around me, but I seem disconnected, and (magnetically speaking) unlinked from the human beings near. If spoken to at such a moment, I answer with difficulty. The person who speaks seems addressing me from a world to which I no longer belong. At the same time, I have an irresistible inner consciousness of being present in another scene of every-day life—where there are streets, and houses, and people-where I am looked on without surprise as a fam
liar object-where I have cares, fears, objects to attain-a different scene altogether, and a different life from the scene and life of which I was a moment before conscious. I have a dull ache at the back of my eyes for the minute or two that this trance lasts, and then slowly and reluctantly my absent soul seems creeping back, the magnetic links of conscious neighbourhood, one by one, re-attach, and I resume my ordinary life, but with an irrepressible feeling of sadness. It is in vain that I try to fix these shadows as they recede. I have struggled a thousand times in vain to particularise and note down what I saw in the strange city to which I was translated. The memory glides from my grasp with preternatural evasiveness.'
This awakening to a sense of previous existence is thus further detailed. The death of a lady in a foreign land,' says Mr Willis, "leaves me at liberty to narrate the circumstances which • follow.' Death has unsealed his lips ; and he may now tell, that in a previous state of existence he was in love with the beautiful Margaret, Baroness R- when he was not the presentó free penciller,' but Rodolph Isenberg, a young artist of Vienna. Travelling in Styria, Rodolph was taken to a soirée at Gratz, in the house of a certain lady of conscquence
• there,' by“ a very courteous and well-bred person, a gentleman
of Gratz,' with whom Mr Willis had made acquaintance in the coupé of a diligence. No sooner was he at the soirée than he found himself on the balcony talking to a very quiet young • lady,' with whom he discoursed away for half-an-hour very
unreservedly,' before he discovered that a third person, "a tall • lady of very stately presence, and with the remains of remark
able beauty,' was earnestly listening to their conversation, . with her hand upon her side, in an attitude of repressed emotion.' On this, the conversation • languished ;' and the other lady, his companion, rose, and took his arm to walk through the rooms. But he had not escaped the notice of the elder lady.
• Later in the evening,' says he, my friend came in search of me to the supper room. 6 Mon ami!” he said, “a great honour has fallen out of the sky for you. I am sent to bring you to the beau-reste of the handsomest woman of Styria—Margaret, Baroness R—, whose château I pointed out to you in the gold light of yesterday's sunset. She wishes to know you—why, I cannot wholly divine-for it is the first sign of ordinary feeling that she has given in twenty years. But she seems agitated, and sits alone in the Countess's boudoir. Allons-y !” As we made our way through the crowd, he hastily sketched me an outline of the lady's history : “ At seventeen, taken from a convent for a forced marriage with the baron whose name she bears; at eighteen a widow, and, for the first time, in love-the subject of her passion a young artist of Vienna on his way to Italy. The artist died at her château-they were to have been married-she has ever since worn weeds for him. And the remainder you must imagine-for here we are!" The Baroness
leaned with her elbow upon a small table of or-moulu, and her position was so taken that I seated myself necessarily in a strong light, while her features were in shadow. Still the light was sufficient to show me the expression of her countenance. She was a woman apparently about forty-five, of noble physiognomy, and a peculiar fulness of the eyelids -something like to which I thought I remembered to have seen in a portrait of a young girl, many years before. The resemblance troubled me somewhat. “ You will pardon me this freedom,” said the Baroness, with forced composure, “ when I tell you that--a friend—whom I have mourned twenty-five years—seems present to me when you speak.' I was silent, for I knew not what to say. The Baroness shaded her eyes with her hand, and sat silent for a few moments, gazing at me. “You are not like him in a single feature," she resumed, “ yet the expression of your face, strangely, very strangely, is the same. He was darker-slighter." “Of my age ? ” I enquired, to break my own silence. For there was something in her voice which gave me the sensation of a voice heard in a dream. “ O God! that voice! that voice!" she exclaimed wildly, burying her face in her hands, and giving way to a passionate burst of tears. “ Rodolph,” she resumed, recovering herself with a strong effort, “ Rodolph died with the promise on his lips that death should not divide us. And I have seen him! Not in dreams-not in reverie. Not at times when my fancy could delude me. I have seen him suddenly before me in the street-in Vienna-here-at home at noonday—for minutes together, gazing on me. It is more in latter years that I have been visited by him; and a hope has latterly sprung into being in my heartI know not how—that in person, palpable and breathing, I should again hold converse with him--fold him living to my bosom. Pardon me! You will think me mad !” I might well pardon her; for as she talked, a vague sense of familiarity with her voice, a memory, powerful, though indistinct, of having before dwelt on those majestic features, an impulse of tearful passionateness to rush to her embrace, wellnigh overpowered me. She turned to me again. “ You are an artist ? ” she said, enquiringly. « No; though intended for one, I believe, by nature.”
“ And you were born in the year
?" “ I was !” With a scream she added the day of my birth, and, waiting an instant for my assent, dropped to the floor, and clung convulsively and weeping to my knees. “ Rodolph! Rodolph!" she murmured faintly, as her long grey tresses fell over her shoulders, and her head dropped insensible upon her breast. Her
had been heard, and several persons entered the room. I rushed out of doors. I had need to be in darkness and alone.
• It was an hour after midnight when I re-entered my hotel. А chasseur stood sentry at the door of my apartment with a letter in his band. He called me by name, gave me his missive, and disappeared. It was from the baroness, and ran thus :
• " You did not retire from me to sleep. This letter will find you waking. And I must write, for my heart and brain are overflowing.
«« Shall I write to you as a stranger ?—you whom I have strained so often to my bosom-yon whom I have loved and still love with the utmost idolatry of mortal passion--you who have once given me the
soul that, like a gem long lost, is found again, but in a newer casket ! Mine still-for did we not swear to love for ever!
«« But I am taking counsel of my own heart only. You may still be unconvinced. You may think that a few singular coincidences bave driven me mad. You may think that though born in the same hour that my Rodolph died, possessing the same voice, the same countenance, the same gifts-though by irresistible consciousness I know you to be him my lost lover returned in another body to life—you may still think the evidence incomplete—you may, perhaps, even now, be smiling in pity at my delusion. Indulge me one moment.
• « The Rodolph Isenberg whom I lost possessed a faculty of mind, which, if you are be, answers with the voice of an angel to my appeal. In that soul resided, and wherever it be, must now reside, the singular power.
•[The reader must be content with my omission of this fragment of the letter. It contained a secret never before clothed in language-a secret that will die with me, unless betrayed by what indeed it may learl to-madness! As I saw it in writing-defined accurately and inevitably in the words of another-I felt as if the innermost chamber of my soul was suddenly laid open to the day—I abandoned doubt-1 answered to the name by which she called me- I believed in the previous existence of which my whole life, no less than these extraordinary circumstances, had furnished me with repeated evidence. But to resume the letter.]
"" And now that we know each other again—now that I can call you by name, as in the past, and be sure that your inmost consciousness must reply- -a new terror seizes me! Your soul comes back, youthfully and newly clad, while mine, though of unfading freshness and youthfulness within, shows to your eye the same outer garment, grown dull with mourning, and faded with the wear of time. Am I grown distasteful? Is it with the sight only of this new body that you
me ? Ro. dolph !-spirit that was my devoted and passionate admirer ! soul that was sworn to me for ever!—Am I-the same Margaret, refound and recognised-grown repulsive? O God! what a bitter answer would this be to my prayers for your return to me!
* I will trust in Him whose benign goodness smiles upon fidelity in love. I will prepare a fitter meeting for two who parted as lovers. You shall not see me again in the house of a stranger, and in a mourning attire. When this letter is written, I will depart at once for the scene of our love. I hear my horses already in the court-yard, and while you read this I am speeding swiftly home. The bridal dress you were secretly shown the day before death came between us is still freshly kept. The room where we sat-tbe bowers by the stream—the walks where we projected our sweet promise of a future--they shall all be made ready. They shall be as they were ! And I-O Rodolph! I shall be the same. My heart is not grown old, Rodolph I Believe me, I am unchanged in soul! And I will strive to be I will strive to look—God help me to look anid be—as of yore!'
6" Farewell now! I leave horses and servants to wait on you till I send to bring you to me. Alas, for any delay! but we will pass this life