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would confer an obligation upon me by making use of both. “ For myself, said he, it is too late; my daughter will thank you.". I next took his directions about my journey; and promised to return with all possible expedition. “ Do so, he replied faintly; or I shall not live to see her.” He grasped my hand ; and I departed.
All this I remember, as if it had happened yesterday. I remember the very reflections which occurred to me in the carriage as the moral of the scene which I had beheld, and the account which I had heard; reflections, which have subsequently returned to my mind with even greater force on many similar occasions. What a contrast, thought 1, with a momentary feeling of indignation. Here is one man, who has contributed to the amusement of the metropolis, rich, happy, caressed, admired: here is another, who has contributed to the defence of the country, perishing almost of starvation. For raising her glory, for securing her independence, for dying by inches in her service, this is his reward. A singer gains nearly as much in a single night, as the wretched stipend of a retired officer for a whole year. Unfortunately for himself, it has not been his fate to fall with honour on the field of battle. But is his life sacrificed the less ? Bankrupt in fortune and in hope, disheartened by calamities, broken down by fatigues, would he not have found a quick and violent death a mercy and a happiness in comparison with the lingering tortures, which he is doomed to bear. Is it not better to be slain at once, lamented by the brave and good, admired by the present age and by posterity ; than to rot piece-meal and unpitied? Occupied almost entirely by these thoughts, I reached the daughter of my friend after a journey of some hours.
She was a lovely girl about fourteen years of age, buoyant with young life and health, and just budding into exquisite beauty. As I merely told her, in the first instance, that her father was anxious to see her, I had an opportunity of watching her natural character and her acquired habits of thinking, unrestrained by the excess of grief. She spoke with the fondest affection of her father; but it was evident that she had no knowledge of the real state of his finances.
Even at that early age she had imbibed, in common with her young companions, a complete carelessness of money, high-born notions of rank, and the necessary etiquette to be observed towards the various gradations of society; with somewhat of contemptuous pity for the vulgar and the needy. All this was merely the fault of her education ; and considering the manner in which her mind had been trained almost from her birth, how could her ideas and sentiments have been different? Yet although volatile and lively, she was still mild, gentle and amiable; she had a heart to feel distress, and a disposition to relieve it. Nature had been lavish in her favours both
person and mind; but some artificial pride had been superinduced, and her youthful soul had been impregnated with wrong notions both of herself and others from the imprudence of her parent and her instructors.
With me the age of the vehement passions has been long over. I beheld that light and elegant form, and the face beåming with loveliness and animation, without any stronger emotions than genuine admiration and unmixed compassion. Yet the heart, which has once felt, can never grow quite callous; it cannot altogether forget the pains and pleasures, the raptures and agonies of youth. I can still say with the poet,
Old as I am, for ladies' love unfit,
The pow'r of beauty I remember yet. It is indeed a strange error to imagine, that there is nothing beyond the fiery sensations of romantic love which can endear the society of women. They have other, and, it may be, as irresistible attractions for those, in whom the hey-day of youth is past, and the wild fervour of the passions has subsided into calmer and more rational attachments.
Yet, even if thirty years of bitter experience could have been taken from my own life, the daughter of Lieutenant M. was still too young, too playful, too much a child, to inspire violent love in all its feverish excitement, in all its madness of transport or of anguish. She appeared to me, as I regarded her, as an innocent and spotless victim, pampered, adorned, and garlanded for the sacrifice. Who indeed could gaze upon her without reflecting upon her unhappy situation ? Here was a girl-alas ! how soon to be an orphan-for whom nature had done much; for whom, as far as immediate fascination was concerned, education was doing more. Every frivolous, but seductive, accomplishment was daily added to her own graces. The time was divided between the dancing-master-the music-master-the singing-master--and the masters in modern languages. All that she was taught conspired, if not to injure or relax her principles, at least to lull them to sleep; if not to spoil or vitiate her mind, at least to soften and enervate it. She knew, too, that she was descended of what is called a good family: she felt, that the blood of nobles was in her veins : and she already looked down with the requisite contempt upon the daughter of a tradesman: yet in a few days she would be absolutely friendless, absolutely pennyless. Her father had done all for the best ; but how was he mistaken! He had given her a taste for elegant amusements, for expensive pleasures, for polished idleness; and now he was about to leave her destitute and alone. She might adorn an aristocratic assembly; but how was she to struggle in honest poverty with a licentious world? She might inflame the desires, and pique the vanity, of a dishonourable lover: but how was she to resist his temptations, or gain a scanty independence for herself? How was she to submit to active and continual exertions? how was she to submit to privations and degradations, to contumely and contempt? The parent could not act more madly, who should array his child in some light, thin, gossamer, and splendid dress, adapted only to the abodes of pleasure, and the purposes of festivity; and then expose her tender limbs and uncovered head, houseless and shelterless, to the frost and snows of the coldest and bleakest night in winter. I thought on these things; and vowed inwardly, that, as long as I had life, the daughter of my friend should never be desolate and unprotected. But this, I fear, is no solitary instance; thousands of orphans have been reduced from similar causes to want, and
worse than want;-have drunk to the very dregs the bitter cup of misery and shame. But it is time to return to my narrative after this long digression.
As we hurried back to London, I informed the poor girl hy degrees of the melancholy state of her father's health; and even hinted at his pecuniary embarrassments. An unconcerned observer might have found a deep interest in the transition from playfulness to grief, from hope to anguish. He would have seen the sunshine of her youthful features darkened by degrees, until they were all overclouded with sorrow; and a flood of tears burst as from her heart. How inimitable an actress is nature ! I have seen the most admired performers on our own and foreign theatres ; but how were they excelled by the changes of gesture and countenance in a simple girl of fourteen! When she had heard the worst, she almost fainted in my arms. Poverty was new and strange ; she had read of it in novels and romances ; and wept delicious drops over the imaginary privations of a sentimental heroine; but she could form no conception of penury, as it exists in its dreadful and hideous reality. She thought only, that the life of him, who was dearest to her upon earth, was in imminent and immediate danger. Her gay questions were turned into anxious exclamations: and her whole soul was concentrated into one impatient desire to be clasped in her father's arms, and hear him speak to her and bless her once more.
Yet even this mournful pleasure was denied her on her arrival. Lieutenant M. was delirious. Who could exhibit to his child at once the wreck of manhood, and the dethronement of reason? He did not recognise me on my entrance into his chamber. A hectic flush was on his cheek ; his eye was fixed on vacancy; and his words were wild and incoherent. Yet his thoughts were manifestly brooding, even in this temporary derangement, upon the circumstances which had most agitated and afflicted him. The expressions, which broke from him at intervals, all turned upon the late disasters of his life. Some of his exclamations, as he lay extended on the bed of fever and
death, have left an indelible impression upon my mind.. “ My daughter,” he cried—“ my poor orphan daughter ! why do you not bring me my daughter ?”-and again, “ No ;-not to prison—any where but to prison. The East Indies, or the West-or the Cape of Good Hope I am indifferent about climate--are there no regiments going ?no vacancies !--must I stay at home and starve ?-must my daughter starve ?—where is my daughter? Or he seemed to think of his wife's miniature; “ Oh, Julia-forgive me-can you forgive me?-yes! there were some diamonds round the picture-you must not ask for them I had scarcely eaten any thing for two days. Ay-and my sword too-what shall a stroller play Harlequin with it? I wore it at Salamanca. What! my sword gone too! Earth and hell—" You will not expect me to repeat what followed. Yet my poor friend may be forgiven, if in the paroxysms of delirium he vented execrations upon the world, and even murmured at the dispensations of Providence. Unhappy man! he was maddened by calamities. His quick and interrupted sentences spoke a mind harrowed by care, stung, changed, imbittered by an uninterrupted series of afflictions. What wonder, then, if he poured his maledictions upon mankind, at one time in expressions of violent rage, at another, of cutting and sarcastic irony. At length the height of the fever subsided; and exhausted by his exertions, he fell into a confused and troubled slumber. The same horrid dreams seemed in general to haunt his sleep, which had disturbed him in his delirium: but towards the end of it some sweeter and happier vision succeeded from what cause it is impossible to conjecture-and for a moment a faint but placid smile played around his lips, and illumined his wan and haggard countenance. Towards morning he awoke, calm and sensible; but rapidly declining to the grave. The physician gave me no hopes, that he could live throughout the day.
It was, then, that I ventured to introduce his daughter. But who shall describe their meeting? I can only recall it to my own imagination. I can only see her tender and delicate form thrown wildly upon the bed, and encircled in the trembling arms of her wretched father. I can only see