« EelmineJätka »
mixed motives, that it was impossible to say how they would act on any specified occasion.
Lady Frances, whom I mention first as being the eldest, was exceedingly anxious to be at the head of the immense property possessed by Sir Anthony Lambert, Had Sir Anthony no son, she would not have made the least objection to have married him, with the hope of soon breaking his heart; but as there was a son in the way, and as she thought him much less disagreeable than his father, and at the same time more approachable, his fiery passions frequently leaving him without guard against a designing foe; she, in consequence, directed all her attacks against him, and was daily acquiring more influence over him, while she pretended nothing but friendship and esteem; but this under-plot was to be kept altogether out of the sight of Lord and Lady VSir Anthony, and Augusta, and was managed with so much art, that it was only suspected by the last. In the mean time, Lady Frances kept up her public character, of thoughtless levity and indiscretion, with surprising success: and although she rendered herself very disagreeable in the eyes of Sir Anthony, by her French manners and contempt of forms, yet it by no means appeared that he had any definite idea of what might be the consequence of her artifices. At the same time, poor Robert was under the influence of many painfully contending feelings. He had a sincere regard for Augusta. Her coldness excited very unpleasant sensations in his breast, and often put him out of humour with himself, filling him with vindictive and jealous emotions respecting Frederick Falconer, to whom he persisted in attributing all his want of success with Augusta. In the mean time, being dissatisfied with himself, he was irritated against his father, whose manner was always ungracious towards him ; he was suspicious of Mr. Day, and, in short, uneasy with every one but Lady Frances, whose secret blandishments and well-timed flatteries were ever ready to restore his self-complacency when he der the inf nce of
an irritable feelings. Thus we have entered into the most secret views of Lady Frances and Robert. Lady Augusta Clifton only remains to be spoken of; and we shall perhaps find more difficulty in describing her state of mind, than that
of any other of the party, because two opposite and very violent feelings were raging within her breast: the one of these was a strong and deeply rooted affection for Frederick, the other was ambition. Whenever she thought of giving up Robert, she regretted the loss of all those elegant and splendid circumstances which she might secure to herself by a marriage with him; and when she thought of accepting Mr. Lambert, then Frederick Falconer appeared before her in that perfection of person, of mind, and of general character, which raised him in her estimation so far above every other young man whom she had ever known. Thus this unhappy young lady, being destitute of correct religious principles, was continually halting between two opinions: while her conduct, in consequence, was variable and inconsistent, and, as far as Robert was concerned, unjust.
While things were this state, Robert, unable to bear suspense any longer, and being urged on by his father, made an explicit declaration of his regard, together with a formal tender of his hand to the young lady.
It was now become necessary for her to decide in her choice between the man she loved, on the one hand, and the house, estate, and equipage, which were almost equally dear to her, on the other: but it is believed that her regard for Frederick would have obtained a complete triumph, had she not foreseen that there was one at hand ready to seize upon the worldly advantages which she was about to reject; and the prospect of living in the same parish, in a character inferior to this person, was an idea so humiliating, that love itself, she felt, could not make it palatable: therefore, when Mr. Lambert made his formal profession, she gave him, it is true, a denial, but such a one as no man but the fiery and hot-brained Robert would have received as such, particularly from one so young and so lovely as Augusta.
Robert's passions, however, took fire. He fancied that Augusta despised him, and herein he was not far from the truth. He flew to pour his sorrows into the ear of Lady Frances; and my readers will not be surprised to hear that the end of this indiscreet and ill-placed confidence was a runaway marriage-the two young people having made their escape to a place where being speedily united for life, they had nothing left to do but to repent at leisure.
Although events of this kind will sometimes happen in real life, there being no kind of sin and folly into which the natural man is not liable to fall; yet these are scenes on which my pen by no means delights to descant. I shall, therefore, satisfy myself with describing the effect of this mad scheme upon the friends which Mr. Lambert had left behind him at Clifton Castle and Lambert-Hall.
Lord and Lady V-were highly offended, and evidently deeply disappointed. Sir Anthony was almost furious, and, in his anger, he solemnly renounced his son, and declared that he should never be one penny the better for him. Few persons, however, believed this declaration of the angry father's, and every one trusted that time would bring about that reconciliation which all Robert's friends so ardently desired. Mr. Day was greatly afflicted by Robert's imprudence, and the more so, because he had an exceedingly bad opinion of Lady Frances.
My reader will probably be anxious to know what the feelings of Augusta were on this occasion. I think I may say that they were, on the whole, pleasurable, though she also joined in the general censures of the young people, and used every means in her power to soothe and console Sir Anthony.
Sir Anthony had refused to receive any letter from his son after his marriage; and, in order to prevent the necessity of any further communication, he informed his steward that he wished Robert to receive an annual income to the full amount of the interest of his mother Lady Ann Lambert's fortune, which had been about fifteen thousand pounds, declaring his determination never to add a shilling more.
On this occasion, Mr. Day pleaded earnestly for his pupil; but finding that all he said did but increase the irritation of Sir Anthony, he thought it best to let the matter rest for the present. He also thought it advisable to write to Robert; which he did, pointing out to him, in a truly paternal way, that line of conduct which he should now adopt, to render himself again acceptable to his father. “You have done wrong, my dear pupil,” said Mr. Day; "you ought not to have deceived your
sand a year.
father. But I feel persuaded, that, if you and your lady will now submit yourselves to circumstances, and will settle quietly down in some retired situation, on the thousand a year which you can command from the interest of your mother's fortune and Lady Frances's property, you may still enjoy all the comforts, and some of the elegancies, of life; you may moreover render yourself beloved and respected; and may, in the long run, recover the affection of
your father.” But Robert Lambert had married a woman who was by no means disposed to yield to untoward circumstances, or to sit down quietly in a country place, on a thou
She maintained, that the best measure which she and her husband could adopt in the present state of things was to go to Paris: and she wrought so effectually on Mr. Lambert's mind, that to Paris they went; and thus persevered in a kind of conduct which tended to keep up the irritation of Sir Anthony, who, with a true old-fashioned English spirit, hated France, and all things appertaining to it.
While these various events were successively taking place, in rapid succession, Frederick Falconer was travelling in the north; whence he was recalled by his uncle, and received with a very marked cordiality at Lambert-Hall: where he no sooner appeared, than he was invited to Clifton Castle, and had frequent opportunities afforded him of conversing with Lady_ Augusta.
“My dear Frederick," said Mr. Day, on a certain occasion, to his pupil, “ you ought to consider well what our good friends at Clifton Castle are about, and what you are about yourself. There are several enquiries which I think you should seriously make, before you yield your heart to the fascinations of Lady Augusta. In the first place, would Lord and Lady V. consent to her marriage with a man in your humble condition in life? and, if you could obtain their consent, is Lady Augusta a fit character to become the wife of a man of moderate fortune? And, finally, is she a pious woman? You must not trust yourself, Frederick, with a partner who is not so. The greater her attractions, the greater will be your danger, if she wants those principles which are especially requisite in the help-meet of a minister of Christ.”
“I have reason to think,” replied Frederick, “that Lady Augusta has a lively sense of religion."
“Indeed!” said Mr. Day: “if it is so, I am not aware of the fact.
But you, probably, have some grounds whereon to build your opinion?"
“Only from some little things which have dropped from her own lips,” returned Frederick, “and from ob.serving a little elegant pocket Testament lying on her table, when I, one day, dropped in by accident.'
“Far be it from me, my dear Frederick," said Mr. Day, “to pass a harsh judgment on any one; but still I think it very possible for a young lady to have an elegant pocket Testament, and also to utter some pleasing religious sentiments, when it suits her purpose so to do, without her having, after all, the slightest feeling of genuine piety: True religion shews itself in actions, not in words; and I cannot believe that Lady Augusta Clifton could have trifled with Robert Lambert in the way she did, had she possessed the fear of God. However, my dear Frederick, inasmuch as we poor human creatures are infinitely short-sighted, and liable to be deceived in various ways, not knowing what tends to our real good, and what to the contrary; my advice is, that you
should place the whole concern of your future life in the hands of God, seeking the divine help to enable you to sit loose to the possessions of the world, and holding yourself in readiness to renounce every thing which you cannot retain consistently with your obligations as a minister and a Christian. And, at present,” he added, “I advise you not to commit yourself by any strong professions of regard for Lady Augusta; and, on this account, avoid being alone with her. In a few days, your vacation will be at an end; you will then return for the last time to college; your examination and ordination will take place in February; and you will perhaps think it best not to come among us during the Christmas vacation. In the mean time, I shall be a careful observer of Lady Augusta's conduct, and I may, moreover, be able to form some idea of what the views of her parents may be respecting her."
Frederick Falconer approved of Mr. Day's advice, and was so anxious to adhere precisely to it, that he refrained from going to Clifton Castle till the morning previous to