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He had got a bad cough during the severe cold of a New York winter, and it was increased by his rushing sometimes from the warm air of an overheated room into the biting chilliness of the street, exposed to the keen blasts of an icy wind, if not to drenching rain or blinding snow. Whenever Malvina fell into one of her unreasonable and unbearable fits of bad humour, he would snatch up his hat and take refuge out of doors, walking rapidly up and down the streets until his anger had subsided, and he felt fatigued, almost exhausted by the bodily exercise he had taken and the conflict in his own mind; then he would return and order candles in the library to seek peace there. But in vain! This solitude was always invaded by his domestic torment, who generally pursued him there with her scolding tongue and cross looks. She always wore a vinegar aspect, except when she was amused, reading some coarse publication not fit for a lady's eye, or hearing some gossipping tale of scandal, then her sour countenance would relax from its sullen rigidity.
The cold and the cough, thus neglected and increased, soon assumed a more serious appearance, and Edward became the victim of that disease so prevalent in the northern portion of the United States of America, which never permits its prey to escape. A galloping consumption was fast carrying him to the grave. After a time he was confined to bed, and condemned to the society of her for whom he had no longer any sentiment but that of unqualified aversion.
At length he made a point of being removed to his father's house, to be attended by his mother and sisters.
"Oh! let me die," he exclaimed, "among those who love me, among the dear friends of my happy childhood."
So strongly had this desire taken possession of his mind, that the physicians insisted on its being gratified, and Malvina was obliged to agree to his removal "home," as he called it. But she refused to accompany him, and, leaving him with the utmost indifference, she quitted New York for her mother's house, at some distance in the country.
For a time after he was installed in his own former apartment, and saw around him day and night the dear, sympathising faces he had known from his earliest years, he revived wonderfully, and hopes were even entertained that he might eventually recover. But it was not to be: his sand of life had nearly run out, and it was thought necessary to let his wife know that he was sinking fast.
She hated sick-rooms, she said, and all the stupid fuss made about people who either were or pretended to be ill. She did not see what good she could do; there were plenty of women to look after him, and to stuff him with arrowroot, panado, and chicken June-VOL. CXLIV. NO. DLXXXII.
broth. Why should she worry herself by going among people she disliked?
However, when Edward became worse, even her stolid mother perceived the propriety of her daughter's going to him, and urged it on her. She persisted that she did not know why it was necessary for her to be "in at the death;" but she went at last, though with a very bad grace.
One day Edward had been sleeping long and tranquilly, when he suddenly awoke with a start. His wife was standing by his bedside, gazing on his pallid face, and he heard her say to the sick
"He's dying, isn't he? Well, when he kicks the bucket I shan't put on a widow's cap; I'm not going to hide my beautiful hair under any such ugly thing."
"Hush, hush, ma'am!" said the sick nurse, in a low voice, "you will waken him, and sleep is the best medicine for him." "Sleep! why, he does nothing but sleep," she screamed, in her sharpest tone.
"Take that woman away!" he shouted, with convulsive energy. "Never let me see her more-she has been my bane, my destroyer! Heaven would be hell if I were to meet her there, and hell without
His emaciated frame shook with strong agitation, while a dreadful fit of coughing arrested all further words.
Malvina was almost forced by the nurse to leave the room, but it was some time before the poor invalid became again calm, and still longer before his sorrowing mother and sisters could persuade him that such sentiments ill befitted a dying sinner. They were at length able to soothe him into more Christian feelings, and he consented to take leave of his wife mildly, even kindly, and to forgive her freely, as he hoped for forgiveness himself at the throne of grace.
Edward Courteney sleeps in the family burying-ground in a churchyard at Brooklyn, and Malvina, a childless widow, has returned to the mother whose fatal folly was the original cause of so much misery, and for which well-deserved punishment has fallen upon her. Their lives are embittered by mutual recrimination, whenever Mrs. Selfe dares to speak, which is not very often, for her daughter rules her with a rod of iron, and has even been known to strike her in some of her fits of causeless fury! She has no qualms of conscience on account of her conduct to poor Edward Courteney; no fear of retribution hereafter, if indeed she believes in the immortality of the soul and in the doctrine of rewards and punishments in another world. The early death of her victim has had no salutary effect upon her-in fact, no effect at all-for her Satanic temper grows worse and worse.
Her mother, who had always been accustomed to a proper establishment of servants, found herself, soon after her daughter's return to New Forest, entirely without domestics. Malvina turned off all whom she found there, treating them with the utmost contumely; and when new ones were obtained-no easy task in the United States, where "helps," as they dub themselves, are exceedingly independent, and generally think they are doing their employers a favour by giving little work for large wages-she either dismissed them summarily, or they dismissed themselves, so that she and her mother are sometimes left to perform the household drudgery themselves, or to put up with some leper, or other diseased object, or some convict discharged from gaol at the expiration of the period of punishment.
Malvina's principal occupation and only pastime is to make mischief in the neighbourhood, where she is consequently hated and avoided, and where she goes by the name of "The female fiend!"
Reader! Malvina is no creation of a morbid imagination. She is a living being; a being whom Providence, in its inscrutable ways, permits to exist, and whose existence is a bane to all who unfortunately come within the sphere of her influence, and can be affected by her frightful temper, her odious malevolence, and her habitual disregard of truth.
It is to be hoped that there are not many such demons in this mortal world!
BY NICHOLAS MICHELL.
SLEEP, mighty city, sleep!
Sleep, weary city, sleep!
Let Commerce rest upon his oar,
Rich merchant, on thy bed, Forget awhile thy ships, thy gain; Poor starving child of want and pain, Bask in kind fancy's golden beams, Possess the world in dreams!
Ye haunts of pleasure, now
Shut up your doors, and, on the stage, Where actors mirror'd back the age, And dance and music blent their thrall, Let stillness, darkness fall.
Scholar, with study worn,
Close now thy book, put out thy light, Nor longer tire thy brain, thy sight; Give nature rest, if thou wouldst save Thy young life from the grave.
Go, drunkard, stagger home,
And gain in sleep lost reason's power; Virtue, enjoy rest's balmy hour; Imprison'd wretch, thy sighs give o'er, Free, free in dreams once more!
Poor needle-toiler, pause! Stay thy lean fingers, drop thy thread, Creep, heart-sick, weary, to thy bed, Let visions of green fields arise, And charm thine aching eyes!
St. Paul's great clock strikes one; And as the solemn-booming sound Lingers, as loth to die around, It seems a voice that calm imparts To million anxious hearts.
Then sleep, great city, sleep! The stars above thee coldly gleam, And, still as they, thou now dost seem No more life's monster, but a thing Hushed 'neath an angel's wing.
It was regretted by Mr. Hallam, in a letter which lies before us, that, in the education of our youth, so little attention was given to Italian literature. Most of those who leave our schools and colleges know little of the poets and historians of Italy beyond the names of some of the more prominent; and of many of its historical characters they have the same dim knowledge.
LUCREZIA BORGIA is certainly an exception. Of few names has it been the fate-"virum volitare per ora"-so constantly as hers. She has been made pre-eminently synonymous with all that is profligate; and yet, like Mary of Scotland and Joanna of Naples, she has had some warm and believing-and, we think, more successful-defenders. The truth of history requires that her life should be fairly chronicled. Even the frequenters of the Opera may wish to learn something reliable of one who is so often brought before them in the musical record of her guilt, where (following Victor Hugo's drama), time and place and probability are alike disregarded.
Tommasi,† in a life of her more iniquitous brother (l'ammirazione insieme e il terrore del suo secolo), suggests against her obscurely some diabolical inuendos, but with no better authority than the Roman gossip of the day; and, amongst historians, repeating each other with scant investigation,-Guicciardini, for instance, takes her guilt as so little to be questioned or discussed that he dismisses her in a parenthesis as "coperta di molte infamie."
Her ablest defence is in Mr. Roscoe's "Leo X.," where there is a special "Dissertation" on her character. No judgment from the bench was ever more carefully pronounced. We see the influence of his early legal studies in the clearness with which he shows how much of what is insinuated or presumed (and he brings it strongly before us) is incompatible with what we know; how easily the motives of her Neapolitan traducers may be traced; and what improbabilities a belief in the charges brought against her would involve. Mr. Gilbert does not carry the case a step further. Indeed, he sums up her defence by quoting Mr. Roscoe's con
Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara. A Biography, illustrated by rare and unpublished Documents. By William Gilbert, Author of "Shirley Hall Asylum," &c. Two Vols. London: Hurst and Blackett. 1869.
We do not recollect upon what authority this is considered as a pseudonym of Gregorio Leti. The Life is in two volumes, and there were to have been published, in a third volume, the "autentici documenti" upon which the work was founded; but these seem to have been suppressed.