Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

not my frame been well knit together, I should have fallen a sacrifice to this infer_1 nal system of abomination ;, as did about this time, or a little after, an amiable, mild, gentlemanly, promising boy. He was the only. child of a gentleman of large property, who was member of parliament for Essex.. He was tender, delicate, and had been brought up softly. I knew him well, and he was often wont to say to me, that the la. borious employments he was obliged to undergo, and the cruel treatment he was compelled to endure, would be the death of him; and so it was; in a little less thanfive months he was sent to the house appointed for all the living; he was offered up as a sacrifice upon the bloody shrine of the temple of monastic dulness, and inquisitorial barbarity. Farewell, dear youth! thy gentle virtues , deserved a happier fate. Surely if thy mother had but been apprised of a thousandth part of the cruelty inflicted on the helpless babes who are immured within this dungeon, she would have prevented thy going thither; or if that were

[graphic]

not in her power, she would with Constance have exclaimed,

• And now will canker sorrow eat my bud, • And chase the native beauty from his cheek; • And he will look as hollow as a ghost; • As dim and meagre as an ague's fit; • And so he'll die ; and rising so again, · When I shall meet him in the court of Heaven, • I shall not know him; therefore, never, never • Must I behold my lovely darling more.'

And full soon she might have said,

• Grief fills the room up of mine absent child, • Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me ; • Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, • Remembers me of all his gracious ports ; • Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form ; • Then have I reason to be fond of grief; • For since the birth of Cain, the first male child, • To him that did but yesterday suspire, • There was not such a gracious creature born.'

The physicians, God bless them! shook their heads, and very gravely declared that the young gentleman died of a concussion of the brain; and there was an end of the matter: the vacancy at college was soon filand no remorse was felt by the masters, who, by not preventing, had encouraged, or by the boys who had actually perpetrated, this deed of death. It should seem that I was more unfortunate than the generality of those who are so wretched as to become links in this catenation of diabolism ; for I was so unlucky as to incur the implacable and unremitting enmity of one of the præfects, because I, without intending it, and very innocently on my part, was suspected of having watched him in one of his nocturnal depredations on the cash belonging to the college as a body. The fact was this : I had crept into the antichapel cloisters, in order to take a nap, one evening, when this fellow entering the said cloister, but for a different purpose, heard me snore, and, without more ado, seized me by the hair, dragged me out into the quadrangle, and under a lamp examined my face. After much opprobrious language, and threatening that he would do my business for me, not only, if I ever watched him again, but if ever I dared to tell any one what I had seen to night, (now, in good truth I had seen nothing,) he beat me most unmercifully, and for so great a length of time, that I really thought he meant to murder me on the spot. When he had ceased, I began to reflect on what the rascal had said, and my curiosity was not a little roused by the alarm, which he had expressed, lest I should discover some secret which I was unacquainted with. I, therefore, was determined, be the consequences what they might, to follow and watch him more particularly, as I had been so brutally used without a cause. Accordingly I crawled into the cloister, found the chapel door a little a-jar, entered very softly, groped my way along the antichapel, found the door of the chapel itself unlocked, and entered with

led up;

great palpitation of heart; for now I began to suspect on what errand this worthy præpositor was going, and I well knew that if he should discover me to be watching him, he would certainly put an end to my existence. Nevertheless I proceeded, and felt my way up the whole length of the chapel, till coming to the door-way leading up to the organloft and some apartments above, I descriel a faint glimmering of light. It was the dark lantern of my tyrant. I now crept up the stairs more cautiously than ever, fearing even to breathe; he more than once turned round, but his lantern prevented him from seeing me, though I could discern him. At length he arrived at his place of destination; it was a room, in which stood a large chest, containing a great quantity of money belonging to the college. This chest he opened, and, to his great mortification, saw in it an amazing number of bank-notes, with none of which he chose to meddle; at last, after much searching, he discovered a few loose guineas, which he secured, locked the chest, and departed. I followed. We had not proceeded far down the steps, before all was dark, in a moment he had shaded his lantern, and, in a low hollow voice, uttered a dreadful execration that he heard some one breathe. I was now in the extremest trepidation; if I moved forward, I should inevitably rush against him, and so meet my fate; if I attempted to retreat, the noise would certainly attract his notice, and he would pursue after me, and thus I should

« ForrigeFortsæt »