Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

was Chloe. It happened that both of them were at a play on a carnival evening, when it is the fashion there,* as well as in most countries of Europe, both for men and women,

to appear in masks and disguises. It was in that memorable night in the year 1679, when the playhouse by some unhappy accident was set on fire. Philander, in the first hurry of the disaster, immediately ran where his treasure was, burst open the door of the box, snatched the lady up in his arms, and with unspeakable resolution and good fortune carried her off safe. He was no sooner out of the crowd but he set her down, and grasping her in his arms with all the raptures of a deserving lover, “ How happy am I,” says he, “ in an opportunity to tell you I love you more than all things, and of showing you the sincerity of my passion at the very first declaration of it." “My dear, dear Philander," says the lady, pulling off her mask, “this is not the time for art; you are much dearer to me than the life you have preserved, and the joy of my present deliverance does not transport me so much as the passion which occasioned it.” Who can tell the grief, the astonishment, the terror, that appeared in the face of Philander when he saw the person he spoke to was Clarinda! After a short pause, “ Madam," says he, with the looks of a dead man, we are both mistaken;" and immediately flew away, without hearing the distressed Clarinda, who had just strength enough to cry out, “Cruel Philander ! why did you not leave me in the theatre ?" Crowds of people immediately gathered about her, and after having brought

[ocr errors]

* In Denmark. Philander, Chloe, &c. sound very absurd as Danish people, but this application of ancient names to modern persons was the taste of the age. Romeo, however, was an innovation still more fantastical. Steele, I suppose, in despair for some fresh name, had it suggested to him by the theatrical ground of this most affecting story.

get out.

her to herself, conveyed her to the house of the good old unhappy Romeo. Philander was now pressing against a whole tide of people at the doors of the theatre, and striving to enter with more earnestness, than any there endeavored to

He did it at last, and with much difficulty forced his way to the box where his beloved Chloe stood, expecting her fate, amidst this scene of terror and distraction. She revived at the sight of Philander, who fell about her neck with a tenderness not to be expressed, and amidst a thousand sobs and sighs told her his love and his dreadful mistake. The stage was now in flames, and the whole house full of smoke; the entrance was quite barred up with heaps of people who had fallen upon one another as they endeavored to get out. Swords were drawn, shrieks heard on all sides, and in short there was no possibility of an escape for Philander himself, had he been capable of making it without his Chloe. But his mind was above such a thought, and wholly employed in weeping, condoling, and comforting. He catches her in his arms—the fire surrounds them, while .

I cannot go

on

Were I an infidel, misfortunes like this would convince me that there must be an hereafter ; for who can believe that so much virtue could meet with so great distress without a following reward ? For my part, I am so old-fashioned as firmly to believe, that all who perish in such generous enterprises are relieved from the further exercise of life; and Providence, which sees their virtue consummate and mani. fest, takes them to an immediate reward, in a being more suitable to the grandeur of their spirits.

THE WEDDING DAY.

A

GENTLEMAN who had courted a most agreeable

young woman and won her heart, obtained also the consent of her father, to whom she was an only child. The old man had a fancy that they should be married in the same church where he himself was, in a village in Westmoreland, and made them set out while he was laid up with the gout in London. The bridegroom took only his man, the bride her maid: they had the most agreeable journey imaginable to the place of marriage, from whence the bridegroom writ the following letter to his wife's father :

March 18, 1672. “SIR,—After a very pleasant journey hither, we are preparing for the happy hour in which I am to be your son. I assure you that the bride carries it, in the eye of the vicar who married you, much beyond her mother; though, he says, your open sleeves, pantaloons, and shoulder-knot, made a much better show than the finical dress I am in. However, I am contented to be the second fine man this village ever saw, and shall make it very merry before night, because I shall write myself from thence

46 Your most dutiful son,

6 T. D. “ The bride gives her duty, and is as handsome as an angel.-I am the happiest man breathing."

The villagers were assembling about the church, and the happy couple took a walk in a private garden. The bridegroom's man knew his master would leave the place on a sudden after the wedding, and seeing him draw his pistols the night before, took this opportunity to go into his chamber

“ Will,”

and charge them. Upon their return from the garden, they went into that room; and after a little fond raillery on the subject of their courtship, the lover took up a pistol, which he knew he had unloaded the night before, and, presenting it to her, said, with the most graceful air, whilst she looked pleased at his agreeable flattery: “Now, madam, repent of all these cruelties you have been guilty of to me; consider, before you die, how often you have made a poor wretch freeze under your casement; you shall die, you tyrant, you shall die, with all those instruments of death and destruction about you, with that enchanting smile, those killing ringlets of your hair.” “Give fire!" said she, laughing He did so, and shot her dead. Who can speak his condition ? but he bore it so patiently as to call upon

his man. The

poor

wretch entered, and his master locked the door upon him. said he,“ did you charge these pistols ?" He answered “ Yes.'' Upon which he shot him dead with that remaining. After this, amidst a thousand broken sobs, piercing groans, and distracted motions, he writ the following letter to the father of his dead mistress :

“SIR,—I, who two hours ago, told you truly I was the happiest man alive, am now the most miserable. Your daughter lies dead at my feet, killed by my hand, through a mistake of my man's charging my pistols unknown to me. Him have I murdered for it. Such is my wedding-day. I will immediately follow my wife to her grave; but before I throw myself on my sword, I command my distraction so far as to explain my story to you. I fear my heart will not keep together until I have stabbed it. Poor, good old man ! Remember he that killed your laughter, died for it. In the article of death, I give you my thanks, and pray for you, though I dare not for myself. If it be possible, do not curse

me."

THE SHIPWRECK.

[ocr errors]

A

YOUNG gentleman and lady, of ancient and honorable

houses in Cornwall, had from their childhood entertained for each other a generous and noble passion, which had been long opposed by their friends, by reason of the inequality of their fortunes; but their constancy to each other, and obedience to those on whom they depended, wrought so much upon their relations, that these celebrated lovers were at length joined in marriage. Soon after their nuptials, the bridegroom was obliged to go into a foreign country to take care of a considerable fortune that had been left him by a relation, and came very opportunely to improve their moderate circumstances. They received the congratulations of all the country on the occasion; and I remember it was a common sentence in every one's mouth, “ You see how faithful love is rewarded.”

He took this agreeable voyage, and sent home, every post, fresh accounts of his success in his affairs abroad; but at last, though he designed to return with the next ship, he lamented, in his letters, that “business would detain him some time longer from home," because he would give himself the pleasure of an unexpected arrival.

The young lady, after the heat of the day, walked every evening on the sea-shore, near which she lived, with a familiar friend, her husband's kinswoman; and diverted herself with what objects they met there, or upon discourses of the future methods of life, in the happy change in their circumstances. They stood one evening on the shore together in a perfect tranquillity, observing the setting of the sun, the calm face of the deep, and the silent heaving of the waves which gently rolled towards them, and broke at their feet;

« AnteriorContinuar »