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“ My mother! what, have they met since ?"
“ Yes; your mother went out to India on speculation, passing off as a single girl, and was very well married there, I was going to say ; however, she committed a very splendid bigamy."
Good heavens ! how totally destitute of principle !" “ Your father asserts that your mother was a free-thinker, Japhet; her father had made her one; without religion a woman has no stay. Your father was in the up country during the time that your mother arrived, and was married to one of the council at Calcutta. Your father says that they met at a ball at Government House. She was still a very handsome woman, and much admired. When your father recognised her, and was told that she was lately married to the honourable Mr. - he was quite electrified, and would have quitted the room ; but she had perceived him, and walking up to him with the greatest coolness, claimed him as an old acquaintance in England, and afterwards they often met, but she never adverted to what had passed between them, until the time for his departure to England on leave, and she then sent for him, and begged that he would make some inquiries after you, Japhet. He did so, and you know the result. On his return to India he found that your mother had been carried off by the prevailing pestilence. At that period your father was not rich, but he was then appointed to the chief command in the Carnatic, and reaped a golden harvest in return for his success and bravery. It appears, as far as I could obtain it from him, that as long as your mother was alive, he felt no interest about you, but her death, and the subsequent wealth which poured upon him, has now induced him to find out an heir, to whom it may be bequeathed.
“ Such, Japhet, are the outlines of your father's history; and I must point out that he has no feelings of affection for you at present. The conduct of your mother is ever before him, and if it were not that he wishes an heir, I should almost say that his feelings are those of dislike. You may create an interest in his heart, it is true; and he may be gratified by your personal appearance; but you will have a very difficult task, as you will have to submit to his caprices and fancies, and I am afraid that, to a high spirit like yours, they will be almost unbearable.”
“ Really, sir, I begin to feel that the fondest anticipations are seldom realized, and almost to wish that I had not been sought for by my father. I was happy and contented, and now I do not see any chance of having to congratulate myself on the change."
“ On one or two points I also wish to question you. It appears that you have entered into the sect denominated Quakers. Tell me candidly, do you subscribe heartily and sincerely to their doctrines ? And I was going to add, is it your intention to remain with them? I perceive much difficulty in all this."
“ The tenets of the sect I certainly do believe to be more in accordance with the Christian religion than any other; and I have no hesitation in asserting, from my knowledge of those who belong to that sect, that they, generally speaking, lead better lives. There are some points connected with their worship, which, at first, I considered ridiculous: the feeling has, however, worn off. As to their quaint manner of speaking, that has been grossly exaggerated. Their dress is a part of their religion.”
« Why so, Japhet?"
“ I can reply to you in the words of Susannah Temple, when I made the same interrogatory. You think the peculiarity of our dress is an outward form which is not required. It was put on to separate us from others, and as a proof that we had discarded vanity. I am aware that it is not a proof of our sincerity; but still the discarding of the dress is a proof of insincerity. We consider, that to admire the person is vain, and our creed is humility. It is therefore an outward and visible sign, that we would act up to those tenets which we profess. It is not all who wear the dress who are Quakers in heart or conduct; but we know that when it is put aside, that the tenets of our persuasion are at the same time renounced, therefore do we consider it essential. I do not mean to say but that the heart may be as pure, and the faith continue as steadfast without such signs outwardly, but it is a part of our creed, and we must not choose, but either reject all or none.""
“ Very well argued by the little Quakeress; and now, Japhet, I should like to put another question to you. Are you very much attached to this young puritan?"
“ I will not deny but that I am. I love her sincerely."
“ Does your love carry you so far, that you would for her sake continue a Quaker, and marry her ?”
“ I have asked myself that question at least a hundred times during the last twenty-four hours, and I cannot decide. If she would dress as others do, and allow me to do the same, I would marry her tomorrow; whether I shall ever make up my mind to adhere to the persuasion, and live and die a Quaker for her sake, is quite another matter—but I am afraid not~I am too worldly-minded. The fact is, I am in a very awkward position 'with respect to her. I have never acknowledged my affection, or asked for a return, but she knows that I love her, and I know that she loves me.”
“ Like all vain boys, you flatter yourself.”
“I leave you to judge, sir," replied I, repeating to him our parting tête-à-tête, and how I had returned, and found her in tears.
“All that certainly is very corroborative evidence; but tell me, Japhet, do you think she loves you well enough to abandon all for your sake ?"
“ No, nor never will, sir, she is too high-principled, too highminded. She might suffer greatly, but she never would swerve from what she thought was right.'
“ She must be a fine character, Japhet, but you will be in a dilemma: indeed, it appears to me, that your troubles are now commencing instead of ending, and that you would have been much happier where you were, than you will be by being again brought out into the world. Your prospect is not over cheerful. You have an awkward father to deal with; you will be under a strong check, I've a notion, and I am afraid you will find that, notwithstanding you will be once more received into society, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
“ I am afraid you are right, sir," replied I, “ but at all events, it will be something gained to be acknowledged to the world by a father of good family, whatever else I may have to submit to. I have been the sport of fortune all my life, and probably she has not yet done playing with me; but it is late, and I will now wish you good night.”
“Good night, Japhet ; if I have any intelligence I will let you know. Lady de Clare's address is No. 13, Park Street. You will, of course, go there as soon as you can.”
“ I will, sir, after I have written my letters to my friends at Reading.”
I returned home to reflect upon what Mr. Masterton had told me, and I must say that I was not very well pleased with his various information. His account of my mother, although she was no more, distressed me, and from the character which he gave of my father, I felt convinced that my happiness would not be at all increased by my having finally attained the long-desired object of my wishes. Strange to say, I had no sooner discovered my father, but I wished that he had never turned up; and when I compared the peaceful and happy state of existence which I had lately passed with the prospects of what I had in future to submit to, I bitterly repented that the advertisement had been seen by Timothy; still, on one point I was peculiarly anxious, without hardly daring to anatomize my feelings; it was relative to Cecilia de Clare, and what Mr. Masterton had mentioned in the course of our conversation. The next morning I wrote to Timothy and to Mr. Cophagus, giving them a short detail of what I had been informed of by Mr. Masterton, and expressing a wish, which I then really did feel, that I had never been summoned away from them.
(To be continued.)
THE DEVIL'S DYKE. It is a common, and significant practice, to hitch the name-the venerabile nomen—of his Satanic Majesty, to every thing extraordinary in a particular sense. Especially is it applied to external objects of irregular fashion, or Titanean dimensions: thus, we have the Devil's Dyke, the Devil's Bridge, the Devil's Punch Bowl, the Devil's Cavern, the Devil's this, the Devil's that. As if with a wish of im. pressing the mind with the idea of something imposing—something out of the way, we place the ominous ownership upon the shoulders of that mysterious and unmentionable personage, confident—the perhaps unjust affiliation once completed—that for ever after a proper influence will be exercised over prepossession and imagination. The devil, indeed, is dragged into connexion with all the eccentricities, stray things, and odds and ends in the world ; he is a capital resource, upon whom you can always count: set any thing afloat under his illustrious sanction, and you are at least certain of its receiving a respectful reception. He has held for so long a time so extensive a dominion in this world of sin and wickedness, that, under shelter of his name, nothing fails of being elevated into dignity. You can never be at a loss for an attribute, while one so available and advantageous exists. Men entertain a deprecating and involuntary reverence for what they fear, therefore get that for which you are interested under a protection so influential, and you cannot do better.
We have often wondered -the above general reason apart—why so fearful an addition was annexed to the celebrated Dyke in the vicinity of Brighton. Conceiving that there must have been something particular in its origin, we have always looked upon the matter with a certain degree of interest, and felt dissatisfied with attributing it merely to the popular habit. A place so remarkable in itself, thought we, may have been the scene of some particular traditionary elucidations, and in some future time it may be our gratifying fate to unravel the matter. How we eventually succeeded in obtaining a partial developement of that of which we were in search, it does not matter; suffice it to say, that at the time of impartment, it was satisfactory to our own minds, and will probably prove equally so to those of our readers.
Somewhere about the year 1709, there lived an old woman named Mabel Dodd, in a crazy wood and earth hut, on the western side of the Devil's Dyke. Her tenement was in such an extremely ruinous condition, and stood in so exposed and bleak a situation, that when the November gales blew from seaward, with more than usual violence, it might have been felt to rock to its very foundation. Over the parting and rusty thatch, that waved and rustled above the weatherbeaten and decaying roof, the wind nightly wailed and whistled in most dreary continuance. The walls, composed of sods, and shattered bricks, plastered with clay, held together so loosely, that they every minute threatened to fall to the ground; a mouldering door, blackened, and splitting through age, slung by rusty hinges, creiked and clattered to the blast, admitting light to the interior, through/ numberless interstices; and the rents in the roof, and the gaps in the outside, let in the driving rain so plentifully, that in winter the floor was nothing but a splashing puddle. Altogether it was such a habitation as the most self-mortifying anchorite never could have imagined, and standing in a most lone and desolate situation, out of sight of any human place of abode, though the view on every side was extensive, and melancholy enough, on the brink of a wild, spreading, and shrubless ravine, an object on which the tempest might expend its fury in winter, and the stroke of the midnight lightning might descend in summer : it looked the very picture of desolation. Its habitant, herself, was an object of fear and aversion to the whole neighbouring country. From her haggard, and repulsive appearance, and the uncouth and secluded life she led, she was popularly suspected of holding intercourse with things of a dark and unearthly nature, and, through a natural malevolence of disposition, inflicting deadly evils on those who crossed or offended her. Certain it is, that the whole district around her habitation was as scrupulously avoided as if the plague had remained within it, and nothing but bare necessity could tempt one to pass across it, especially after night had fallen. What could have led to this dark and mysterious seclusion, except a natural dislike of human fellowship, no one knew. She had tenanted the hut on the Dyke for many years, and her appearance had been as abrupt and unaccountable as her whole course of life. She rarely spoke to a soul; her subsistence was picked up in a way no one could divine, and set down by the country people as half crazy, or perhaps wholly so, her mode of life became familiar, she ceased to be the object of attention, and was seldom mentioned but as the wild woman of the Dyke,
For the better understanding of what is to follow, it is necessary to mention, that at about the distance of thirty miles, resided an old miser, who, lord of small manor, had contrived to scrape together a considerable quantity of wealth, and inhabited an old, rambling, manorial building, which though once, in its time, a place of much grandeur, had, for want of repair, fallen gradually into the extreme of ruin. Its gloomy walls, their crumbling battlements, lichened by the accumulated damps of centuries, into the hue of the autumnal leaf, looked down upon unweeded courts, cloistered avenues, and lengthening groves of venerable trees. The latter being of majestic growth, and standing closely together, even in the ardency of the noon-day summer sun, cast a sepulchral species of shade upon every thing that greeted the eye. Moss-grown, gabled gateways, their filigreed defences falling from their straining hinges, were deepened into solemnity: corniced parapets, vandyked roofs, antique chimneys, and unglazed oriels, seeming each a feature in some dark, spell-bound, and abandoned building, reared their ghost-like shapes in the sylvan twi'light that streamed around them, and caught fresh melancholy from its softness. Silence held always here undisputed dominion, the bark of the surly watch-dog alone excepted: within were bars, bolts, and security, without the silence of the desert: the red sun sank behind the distant masses of wood, but no eye beheld its departing glories ; the yellow moon rose solitarily over the far steeps of a remote, hilly district, but no foot wandered along the murmuring stream that gleamed beneath its pensive radiance. In short, to quote the lines of Pope
Oct. 1835.-VOL. XIV.-NO. LIV.