Page images

dom amongst them, if they would preserve the life of his adored Marcelia.

Deluded by this fallacious hope, he had the inanimate body conducted from room to room, and followed it with childish eagerness; he gazed upon her, kissed her cheeks and hands, inquired how long she would remain in this sad trance, on what her thoughts in this heavy sleep were fixed, or whether she dreamed of him? Then would he burst out into the most violent execrations on his mother, sister, and himself; threatening that Francisco .he would tear piecemeal, and scatter his limbs for vultures to devour ; and then again he would be calm as infancy, fearful to disturb her slumbers.

At this period a message was brought to Pescara, that two strangers were arrived, who offered, upon peril of their lives, to restore the dead Marcelia to animation. They were admitted, and all withdrew.


It was Francisco and Eugenia. Eugenia shuddered at the sight of death, and implored her brother to stay his vengeance here, and pursue his cruel purpose no further : but he was deaf to all entreaty; and with a cool deliberate cruelty, at which humanity must shudder, he painted the cheeks, lips, and hands of Marcelia, and infused into her mouth a deadly poison, which gave a sort of warmth to the frame, and left a moisture on the lips ; then calling the Duke, bade him behold the wonders of his hand.

The poor ensnared Sforza eagerly kissed the ruddy lips, from which breath seemed to issue, imbibing the poison ; and when the delusion could be no longer carried on, the vindictive Francisco threw off his disguise, discovered himself, recounted all his villanies, and gloried in his infamy; presenting his sister as the cause which had instigated him to his revenge, Sforza shuddered at the sight of Eugenia, and his conscience smote him with the injury he had done her ; but there was no time now for repentance or atonement; the deadly poison ran through his veins : shivering with cold, or raging with fever, he was scarcely able to speak with plainness : he, however, sentenced the vile Francisco to death, who was immediately removed from his sight. He then implored the forgiveness of Eugenia, and throwing himself on the body of the murdered Marcelia, in agony expired.

The gifts of heaven are all as blessings meant,
If sinful man avert not the decree.
Beware, idolaters !-ye impious,
Beware! Love not the creature as ye should
The great Creator worship and adore.
'Tis sin beyond remission, and draws down
Almighty vengeance; ye lovers, husbands,
Parents, children, friends, with moderation
Love, though still with fervor-so shall ye live,
Approved of heaven, and blessed within yourselves,
Bidding defiance to the storins of fate.

[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

YOUNG Mirabel, the only son of a rich oid citizen of Paris, was just returned from his travels through Italy, Germany, and Flanders; where he had seen all that was to be seen, learned all that was to be learned, and now came home a finished rake and a complete fine gentleman. He was extremely handsome, and there was much fascination in his wildness, such playfulness in his eccentricity, that he became an object of universal admiration as well as censure. The companion of his travels was Captain Duretete; a light, flimsy, good-humoured coxcomb, who had received a solid education, such as might render him fit for the pulpit or a court of law, but which by no means qualified him for the army. Learning to a contracted mind is but an incumbrance : where it does not expand, it will lie upon

the surface like a leaden weight, pressing down those lighter and more pleasing qualities of the dispositions which flow from the heart rather than the intellect. It was thus with Captain Duretete : shut up with grave


men, their manners became his, not so much from inclination as from habit. He could reason mechanically on the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle ; he had their doctrines by heart, but their principles were equally above his practice or comprehension : he had consequently, laid in a store of what was useless to him, and had neglected all those pleasing elegances of manner, su reyuisite as a passport through life. When, therefore, thrown suddenly upon the gay world, all was new and strange : his knowledge of books he found of much less value than his knowledge of dancing would have been; and whilst the old men praised

him for his erudition, young men laughed at him for his pedantry, and women, made a jest of him for his bashfulness and want of gallantry. He might almost be said to resemble an elephant in a drawing room, ashamed of his own uncouthness, conscious that he did possess a value; yet that value was nominal, as no one he associated with either understood or prized it. Mirabel, the sprightly, animated, elegant Mirabel, was the model be attempted to copy: but the attempt sat as uneasy upon him as upon the ass who strove to play the gambols of the lapdog ; so that Mirabel used frequently to say,

« This fellow went abroad like an ox, and is returned like an ass; I shall never be able to make any thing of him.”

No two characters could be more opposite than those of Mirabel and Duretete, yet they were sworn friends and inseparable co.npanions. Duretete was too proud of the honour of Monsieur Mirabel's friendship to be jealous of his more shining qualities; and his stupidity, folly, bashfulness, or what was still worse, his assumed impudence, were as foils to Mirabel, who kept him in his train as a sort of whetstone to his wit; which shone the more brilliant from the gawky admiration of his friend. Yet Duretete's heart was good, and Mirabel, who, in spite of the apparent levity of his character, possessed a solid understanding, separated the good from the bad: he therefore valued Duretete for those qualities which were really valuable; and blamed his preceptors rather than himself for those qualities which habit and education had rendered ridiculous. In vain Mirabel strove to initiate him into the manners of the age, and rouse him to something like self possession; bid him look thus, or thus, or speak thus, and thus. Poor Duretete would sigh, draw out his

[graphic][ocr errors]

pocket glass, and ruefully examining his rueful phisjognomy, swear the thing was impossible.

Previous to his going abroad, Mirabel had formed an attachment to Ma'amselle Oriana, the orphan daughter of a gentleman of fortvne, and his father's ward : they had sworn fidelity to each other, and exchanged contracts; but absence had produced a very different effect on the minds of each. Oriana, passing her life in a sort of pleasing retirement, con

« PreviousContinue »