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apprehension, or so sublime a solitary fact. The only incidents that can be compared with those of Brown are the scene under the cliffs in the “ Antiquary," and that between the two ladies and the panthers in the "Pioneers.” As a specimen of Brown's style, we shall give one of the scenes from Arthur Mervyn.
Mervyn and Welbeck (his patron), it must be owned, stand somewhat in the same relation to each other as Caleb Williams and Falkland; but the character of the patrons differ, and they are animated altogether by different impulses. Falkland is the more original, and certainly the best ; but some of the scenes painted by the disciple would not disgrace his master. There is an energy of language about them, a terrible expectation raised; and the incidents, if they tend somewhat towards the improbable, are soul-stirring and eloquently described. There are few things in romance which produce so extreme an interest in the reader, as the interview between Welbeck and Mervyn, during the period of the plague. Mervyn is wandering about under the influence of that frightful disease, when he arrives at the steps of Welbeck's door, and there he sinks with fatigue. The dread of the horrors of the hospital, added to the idea of Welbeck's dwelling being abandoned, tempts him to seek shelter in his enemy's house. He enters accordingly, and occupies the bed-chamber of Welbeck. Mervyn is at this time in possession of a a large treasure (in bank notes), which he hoards with the intention of giving it to the proprietor, who is an orphan girl, wheresoever he can find her. This treasure the desperate Welbeck had long sought for in vain. Accident had given it to Mervyn, who (dying, as he supposes, of the plague, and in a desolate house) resolves to enclose it in a paper, and address it to some well-known and benevolent man. At this moment, Welbeck himself, who was supposed to be dead, is discovered. This is the account of the meeting
“Welbeck's countenance and gesture displayed emotions too vehement for speech. The glances that he fixed upon me were unsteadfast and wild. He walked along the floor, stopping at each moment, and darting looks of eagerness upon me.
A conflict of passions kept him mute. At length, advancing to the bed, on the side of which I was now sitting, he addressed me
" • What is this ?-Are you here?-In defiance of pestilence, are you actuated by some demon to haunt me like the ghost of my offences, and cover me with shame?—What have I to do with that dauntless, yet guileless front-with that foolishly confiding and obsequious, yet erect and unconquerable spirit?--Are there no means of evading your pursuit ?–Must I dip my hands a second time in blood, and dig for you a grave by the side of Watson ?
“ These words were listened to with calmness. I suspected and
pitied the man, but I did not fear him. His words and his looks were indicative less of cruelty than madness. I looked at him with an air compassionate and wistful. I spoke with mildness and composure.
"'Mr. Welbeck, you are unfortunate and criminal.—Would to God I could restore you to happiness and virtue! But though my desire be strong, I have no power to change your habits, or rescue you from misery
“I believed you to be dead. I rejoice to find myself mistaken. While you live, there is room to hope that your errors will be cured ; and the turmoils and inquietudes that have hitherto beset your guilty progress, will vanish by your reverting into better paths.
“From me you have nothing to fear. If your welfare will be promoted by my silence on the subject of your history, my silence shall be inviolate.
“Death is the inevitable and universal lot. When or how it comes, is of little moment. To stand when so many thousands are falling around me, is not to be expected.- I have acted a humble and obscure part in the world, and my career has been short; but I murmur not at the decree that makes it so. ** * The pestilence is now upon me.
The chances of recovery are too slender to deserve my confidence. I came hither to die unmolested, and at peace. All I ask of you is to consult your own safety by immediate flight; and not to disappoint my hopes of concealment, by disclosing my condition to the agents of the hospital.'
“Welbeck listened with the deepest attention : the wildness of his air disappeared, and gave place to perplexity and apprehension.
"" You are sick,' said he, in a tremulous tone, in which terror was mingled with affection ; you know this, and expect not to recover. Nor mother, nor sister, nor friend, will be near to administer food, or medicine, or comfort;-yet you can talk calmly, can be thus considerate of others-of me, whose guilt has been so deep, and who bas merited so little at your
hands! "Wretched coward !—Thus miserable as I am, and expect to be, I cling to life. To comply with your heroic counsel, and to fly—to leave you thus desolate and helpless, is the strongest impulse. Fain would I resist it, but cannot.””
He hurries to the door, but there hesitates.
" Whither should I Ay ?—The wide world contains no asylum for me. I lived but on one condition. I came hither to find what would save me from ruin- from death. I find it not. It has vanished. Some audacious and fortunate hand has snatched it from its place, and now my ruin is complete. My last hope is extinct !
“Yes, Mervyn, I will stay with you !- I will hold your headI will put water to your lips- I will watch night and day by your side. When you die, I will carry you by night to the neighbouring field—will bury you, and water your grave with those tears that are due to your incomparable worth and untimely destiny. Then I will lay myself in your bed, and wait for the same oblivion."
VOL. IX. PART II.
He accordingly remains, and relates the story of his escape from the river. He had plunged into the water for the purpose of suicide; but when there, was unable to adhere to his resolution, and being a good swimmer, attained the shore.) Besides this, he speaks also of other events, and among the rest, of the treasure which had escaped his search. It had been placed by Lodi, the former owner, in a book; and that book and its contents had been discovered by Mervyn, who now speaks
“Cannot you conjecture in what way this volume has disappeared ?'
“No,' he answered, with a sigh.-Why, of all his volumes, this only should have vanished, was an inexplicable enigma.
“Perhaps,' said I, it is less important to know how it was removed, than by whom it is now possessed.
“Unquestionably :—and yet, unless that knowledge enables me to regain the possession, it will be useless.'
« Useless then it will be ; for the present possessor will never return it to you.
«« Indeed!' replied he in a tone of dejection ; your conjecture is most probable. Such a prize is of too much value to be given up.'
""What I have said flows not from conjecture, but from knowledge. I know that it will never be restored to you.'
“ At these words Welbeck looked at me with anxiety and doubt.
«« You know that it will not !—Have you any knowledge of the book ?-Can you tell me what has become of it?'
“Yes.-After our separation on the river, I returned to this house. I found this volume, and secured it. You rightly suspected its contents—the money was there.'
“Welbeck started as if he had trodden on a mine of gold. His first emotion was rapturous, but was immediately chastised by some degree of doubt.—What has become of it? Have you it? Is it entire? Have
you “ It is unimpaired. I have it, and shall hold it as a sacred trust for the rightful proprietor.'
“The tone with which this declaration was accompanied, shook the new-born confidence of Welbeck.—The rightful proprietor! true; but I am he. To me only it belongs; and to me you are, doubtless, willing to restore it.'
* Mr. Welbeck, it is not my desire to give you perplexity or anguish- to sport with your passions. On the supposition of your death, I deemed it no infraction of justice to take this manuscript. Accident unfolded its contents. I could not hesitate to choose my path. The natural and legal successor of Vincentio Lodi is his sister.
To her, therefore, this property belongs, and to her only will I give it.'
“ • Presumptuous boy! and this is your sage decision. I tell you that I am the owner, and to me you shall render it! Who is this girl ? -childish and ignorant !-unable to consult and act for herself on the most trivial occasion. Am I not, by the appointment of her dying
it with you?
brother, her protector and guardian? Her age produces a legal incapacity of property. Do you imagine that so obvious an expedient as that of procuring my legal appointment as her guardian, was overlooked by me
If it were neglected, still my title to provide her subsistence and enjoyment is unquestionable.
"* Did I not rescue her from poverty, and prostitution, and infamy? Have I not supplied all her wants with incessant solicitude ? Whatever her condition required has been plenteously supplied. This dwelling and its furniture was hers, as far as a rigid jurisprudence would permit. To prescribe her expenses, and govern her family, was the province of her guardian.
«« You have heard the tale of my anguish and despair. Whence did they flow but from the frustration of schemes projected for her benefit, as they were executed with her money, and by means which the authority of her guardian fully justified? Why have I encountered this contagious atmosphere, and explored my way, like a thief, to this recess, but with a view to rescue her from poverty, and restore to her her own ?'”
The arguments of Welbeck are of no avail. Mervyn still keeps possession of the money, and the passions of his enemy are roused. He has sufficient command over himself, however, to forbear from violence; and his countenance gradually sinks from anger into sadness. Mervyn is lying on his sick bed watching the paroxysms of Welbeck, who mutters
“Yes; it must come-my last humiliations must cover me—my last confession must be made! To die, and leave behind me this train of enormous perils must not be!
“Oh Clemenza! Oh Mervyn! ye have not merited that I should leave you a legacy of persecution and death. Your safety must be purchased at whatever price my malignant destiny will set upon it. The cord of the executioner, the note of everlasting infamy, is better than to leave you beset by the consequences of my guilt. It must not be !'
“ Saying this, Welbeck cast fearful glances at the windows and door. He examined every avenue, and listened. Thrice he repeated this scrutiny. Having, as it seemed, ascertained that no one lurked within audience, he approached the bed. He put his mouth close to my face. He attempted to speak, but once more examined the apartment with suspicious glances.
“ He drew closer; and at length, in a tone scarcely articulate, and suffocated with emotion, he spoke- Excellent but fatally obstinate youth! know at least the cause of my importunity—know at least the depth of my infatuation and the enormity of my guilt !
« « The bills-surrender them to me, and save yourself from persecution and disgrace. Save the woman, whom you wish to benefit, from the blackest imputations—from hazard to her life and her famefrom languishing in dungeons-from expiring on the gallows !-
• The bills-Oh save me from the bitterness of death !-Let the evils to which my miserable life has given birth terminate here, and in myself!- Surrender them to me, for—-'
“There he stopped. His utterance was choked by terror. Rapid glances were again darted at the windows and door. The silence was uninterrupted except by distant sounds, produced by some moving carriage. Once more he summoned resolution, and spoke
“Surrender them to me, for—they are forged!'
He is proceeding with his disclosure, when noises are heard in the street, and afterwards on the stairs of the house. Welbeck hurries to the door, and Mervyn (in order to save Welbeck from the penalties of forgery) seizes the notes, which were under his pillow, lights them, and throws them blazing on the floor.
“The sudden illumination was perceived by Welbeck. The cause of it appeared to suggest itself as soon. He turned, and marking the paper where it lay, leaped to the spot and extinguished the fire with his foot. His interposition was too late: only enough of them remained to inform him of the nature of the sacrifice.
“Welbeck now stood with limbs trembling, features aghast, and eyes glaring upon me. For a time he was without speech. The storm was gathering in silence, and at length burst upon me. In a tone menacing and loud, he exclaimed 666 Wretch! what have
done ?' “I have done justly. These notes were false. You were desirous of destroying them, that they might not betray the innocent.
I applauded your purpose, and have saved you from the danger of temptation by destroying them myself.'
« Maniac!-miscreant!-to be fooled by so gross an artifice !The notes were genuine! The tale of their forgery was false, and meant only to wrest them from you !-Execrable and perverse idiot! your deed has sealed my perdition :-it has sealed your own. You shall
pay for it by your own blood! I will slay you by inches! I will stretch you as you have stretched me-on the rack !'”
Welbeck rushes upon him, and is in the act of overpowering him, when noises are heard at the door, and Mervyn is rescued from his
grasp We have been compelled to break the interest of the narrative, in order to accommodate it to the space which we could spare; but, even broken and disjointed as it is, the reader will probably agree with us, that it betrays marks of no ordinary hand.-Brown was not without his faults. He was defective, generally speaking, in the construction of his plots. His story turns too entirely on one character, and the events are sometimes improbable; but he has redeeming points,-a stern masculine eloquence, and apparent sincerity of purpose, a plain