« PredošláPokračovať »
position. Upon Aubrey's intrigues much stress had been laid. He had the happy art, it was thought, of managing the most difficult, and understood better than any one the price of each individual. Well he knew what was best liked by all : he knew on which to bestow a ribbon, a title, a pension, or an office; and on this occasion he had assured them Cleveland would bear no share in the night's debate, taking care to let both friends and antagonists know, that he had acquired an influence over him, just at the moment he had become an object of importance.
This had encouraged the adherents of the ministerial system, and they looked forward with zealous expectation to the result of this evening's deliberation. Every member was at his post, and on one side the ardour was increased, whilst on the other it was equally diminished by the absence of Cleveland. The triumph of the party who were in possession of power, promised now indeed to be complete.
The debate commenced, and Lord Delaware, who was seated in the gallery, felt his alarm and anxiety increase as the evening went on.
As the arguments on both sides occupied much time, the business was protracted to a late hour; and during the whole of that time, each moment he watched with feverish uneasiness.
If the door opened, if a stir was made, he felt his heart throb with redoubled quickness. Every instant was an age: he was full of apprehension : he scarcely listened whilst the adherents of the Winterton party poured forth such lavish praise on their own deeds, and on their own unrivalled sagacity as statesmen.
They drew a most flattering picture of the prosperity of the country, which they naturally attributed to the enlarged views they entertained for the welfare of all mankind: and they spoke of the fortitude with which they had adhered to their plans, regardless of the clamour of the mob, which they described as a deluded set, who listened to the advice and followed the guidance of a few turbulent spirits, who unfortunately had gained admittance to that honourable assembly. They lavished, in the most unsparing manner, their epithets of abuse, and were in the full career of triumph. In vain did young Walsingham attempt to stem the tide--it appeared resistless; and Vivian, who had often on occasions where eloquence and judgment were required, shewn zeal and strength, seemed incapable of answering the joyful shouts of his opponents.
Every one foresaw the event of the evening; the party was proud with its promised victory. The independent men heard nothing which could induce them to alter the opinion which they generally entertained in favour of those in power; and to crown all, Aubrey rose, as if unable to conceal the triumph. His unblushing effrontery, his proud and haughty mien spoke defiance to his former friends, and promised a pledge of the sincerity of his late and unexpected change.
Lord Delaware's agitation increased as he heard this man in tones of exultation call upon any one to deny the soundness of his principles, or throw one imputation upon him; he even dared excuse his abandonment of his former views, and attempted to justify himself, by declaring that it was the fallacy of his former policy which he had at length discovered, that induced his change. He proceeded in a style of daring impudence, and was regardless alike of the ties of friendship and of decency.
But what was the astonishment of every individual in the house, when Henry Cleveland, pale as death, apparently worn with excessive fatigue, and almost incapable of finding his way to his seat, entered. The whole assembly was for a moment silent, the crowd was great; and either, as it appeared, from design or from inadvertence, or from his incapability of using exertion, he sunk into a place upon what are usually termed the ministerial benches.
The opposition was thunderstruck, for this they were at any rate unprepared—his change was to this nothing; but that he should now with boldness come forth to show his vile apostacy, was beyond anything on which they had calculated.
But what appeared to surprise them, seemed to affect even the bold Charles Aubrey: he stuttered, he faltered, made innumerable mistakes, seemed to lose the thread of his argument, and then ushered into the world a variety of unmeaning phrases. The flow of words that had lately been so glibly poured forth, was checked : his friends seemed suspicious of something they could not quite understand. It was said, the nose of the Attorney-General looked black, the Solicitor-General blue; the first Lord of the Admiralty did not know if his wig was on his head, or his head on his wig; certainly all were appalled, and at last Aubrey drew his speech to a conclusion, without having for the last few minutes rendered himself intelligible.
Cleveland stood up, and all was silent : mute expectation was upon the countenance of every one : curiosity seemed worked to its highest pitch: a pin might have been heard had it dropped, and even Lord Delaware perceived an indescribable emotion steal upon him : the sentence of life or death could not have produced upon him a feeling of greater awe, yet he gazed on the cool and collected countenance of Cleveland, who seemed in a few short minutes to have shaken off his fatigue. He saw his brow was serene, and he felt convinced within himself he still had every reason to be proud of his friend. The perfect command of himself, the air of serenity and imposing grandeur produced an effect upon every one; and whilst no one was fully prepared for the ensuing scene, every one felt that there was something superior attached to the man who was before them.
(To be continued.)
LILLA OF LAUTERBRUNNEN.
I had been fortunate enough to reach the cataract at the only time the shades of the mountains admit of this beautiful phenomenon; and despite the objects that had attracted me thither, all was for a moment forgotten in the grandeur which had so suddenly presented itself. It seemed, however, as if the mind of the maiden was alike with mine, lost in admiration; for she gently put aside the caresses of her little companion, remained for some moments with her beautiful eyes fixed on the Staubbach, and then, in a tone of wild melancholy, broke out into the following:
Pride of the mountain streams,
Now, and for ever! She twined her slender fingers in the flaxen locks of the boy as she ceased, drew him towards her, pressed his lips to her own, then, apparently moved by some internal feeling, cast a look of sadness on the earth, rich as it was in all the glorious perfume of morning, and commenced again:
Flowerets of humble birth,
Bloom, and for ever!
Now, and for ever! There was a touch of sorrow in the melody, that made me feel she was unhappy. She was so! She had no longer spirits to admire the magnificent scenes by which she was surrounded; her head rested on her hand, and I saw the tears trickle down her cheek. Affected as I was by this appearance in one so young and lovely, I did not dare advance, nor offer what my heart prompted, lest, as a stranger, I might alarm, or tempt her to withdraw from her retreat. But the boy, accustomed probably to behold her thus, came kindly towards her; his little face expressing all the sympathy that might be expected in a child of that age, as he said:
Why do you weep, sister Lilla ? You are always sad; now, do not cry, and I will fetch you some of the fresh flowers that grow upon yonder rock!”
“No, no, Thomasin, you are too wild,” exclaimed Lilla, starting hastily to her feet; but Thomasin regarded not her admonition; already were his little limbs upon the rock, by the side of which I had taken up my station, and on whose top, reared as it was to a frightful height, grew the shrubs he seemed so zealous to obtain. How did I tremble to see the little urchin mount, step by step, with an eagerness that marked him careless of danger. But it would be impossible to pourtray the distress visible in the face of Lilla, as she stood with clasped hands, fearfully watching the prowess of her brother: she saw me not-heard me not; although, actuated by the same feeling of terror, I had advanced and endeavoured to offer something like consolation. Her eyes and her senses were alike fixed on the little adventurer.
“He will fall!" she again shrieked; as she beheld the boy stretched out towards the object of his desires; "My only hope. He too must die!”
The fears of Lilla were, indeed, verified. In reaching beyond the compass of his little arm, he lost his footing and fell fell from a height too fearful to contemplate. Fortunately, however, the green turf was beneath him; and although senseless and without motion, I hoped, as I took him from the arms of Lilla, and bore him towards the water, that life might be found to be not wholly extinct. A short time justified my wishes. The blood at length returned to the lips of the sufferer, he opened his eyes, but was unconscious of all around him.
“He lives, sweet Lilla,” I exclaimed, as I looked on the interesting being before me: she did not answer, but her eyes met mine, as she continued alternately kissing and bathing the arm that bung listlessly, either dislocated or broken.
“Where do you live? I will carry him to your home. We must have assistance.”
" "I will shew you," was the reply, as she suffered me to raise and bear the young Thomasin from the spot.
But although Lilla seemed thus careless of any acknowledgment for the service I was performing; for once, and only once, during the precarious way did she utter any thing like apprehension for my fatigue; the expression of her countenance amply repaid the taciturnity. It was an expression impossible to be misconstrued, or even disregarded, and from that moment I swore to devote myself to her. But what was my astonishment when we at length reached the cottage, sequestered as it was, amidst the most lonely and romantic of the mountain passes, to find no inmate therein. Lilla was its only occupant; and as I laid the innocent Thomasin on the couch, and beheld his sister performing the cares which ought naturally to have fallen to the hands of another, I could not help demanding
“Have you then no friend, no domestic, to assist in this sad task ?”
“None,” she said, with a kind of desperate firmness, “all are taken from Lilla; death has deprived me of all; I have no friend, no counsellor, but the good Curé of Lauterbrunnen, and he is too distant to admit of my leaving the dear child, for the purpose of seeking him.”
“I will go then, there or any anywhere else that may be pleasant to you.” She looked wistfully in
face. "Go then, and say that the poor Lilla is indeed solitary.”
" Not so, fair girl. Look and hope for better things.” She shook her
head mournfully-waved her hand for my departure, and fearful of intruding, anxious likewise for the suffering boy, I was immediately on my way towards the village of Lauterbrunnen,
I found the good Curé as I expected, immersed in his professional duties, but he left them on the first mention of the business, about which I had sought him.
My poor children,” he exclaimed, “ you are indeed unfortunate.”
As we journeyed together towards the dwelling of Lilla, I spoke of myself, my abode at Lauterbrunnen, and the sensations by which I had been attracted towards the Staubbach. He smiled when informed of the Lauterbrunnens having attributed the voices of his young proteges to supernatural agency.
“She has the melody of an angel; but, notwithstanding her misfortunes, Lilla is a true woman.
“I would have it so,” said I, passionately; “I would not have it otherwise; no, not for all the wealth fortune has showered upon me; and that is not contemptible.”
“ Young man,” said the Curé, with a sternness I might have expected, “ if you come hither to disturb the innocence, or sap the morals of one so isolated as Lilla, I charge you to forbear. The inhabitants of Switzerland, though simple in their manner, are full of integrity, and confiding in each other. Neither is the poor girl so desolate as may be imagined. She is of a good family, and is not without friends, but that she will not be pursuaded to leave the grave of an idolized mother.”
“Think me not so base," I replied with fervour; "true, I am a soldier, and the greater part of my life has been spent in the midst of warfare, and bloodshed; but I never yet robbed innocence of its own, nor gave grief to the confiding heart. Fear me not, therefore, kind sir.”
“I take you at your word,” he retorted, “and as you act towards these helpless ones, so may you prosper in this world and in the next.”
I pressed the hand of the worthy pastor irresistibly; and I believe he was pleased with my frankness; for ere we had reached the cottage, he had informed me of every particular res