Imágenes de páginas

obliged to make most of her own clothes, and she wished to get on with her trousseau before Alphonse's return, as he would not like to see her sewing so diligently.

The three weeks had flown by, and the fourth week of his absence had almost passed, before Agatha became at all anxious about him. Not having heard from him herself, she determined to call on Madame de Florennes to ask if she had had any letter from her son. But she did not find the old lady, who had never liked her, in the most amiable of humours. She reproached Agatha with want of confidence in Alphonse, and with selfishness in wishing to deprive him of the pleasures he must be enjoying, because it was impossible for her to share them. She said that she, at least, was not so unreasonable as to expect her poor son to sit all day scribbling letters to her; no doubt he had numerous engagements, and that when he returned home there would be plenty of time in the long winter evenings for him to tell all his adventures.

Thus rebuked, Agatha tried to reconcile herself to his prolonged absence; but, as November wore on, her uneasiness became almost uncontrollable, and at length she wrote to his sister to express her fears about him: she was convinced that he had been either killed during some railway accident or while out hunting, or that he had been drowned by the upsetting of some boat. Hortense wrote back that she was also very anxious about Alphonse, but she did not think he could be dead, or the baronet with whom he went to England would have written to some of the family. That, unfortunately, she had lost that gentleman's address, and she did not know any one in England through whom she could write Alphonse, and she feared to annoy him by making inquiries through the Belgian minister.

-as no

December came, and no Alphonse! And not a line from him! Agatha now decidedly looked upon him as one numbered with the deadlonger an inhabitant of this earth-and she was astonished to see his frivolous mother quite occupied in choosing and arranging her dresses for the winter parties and fêtes. Agatha did not venture to allude to what was breaking her own heart-the dreadful fear that Alphonse was no more-for Madame de Florennes only said, on remarking his long stay in England, that she hoped when he did return he would not forget to bring the real Irish poplin for a dress which he had promised to buy for her.

"And he has died, perhaps, among heretics," groaned poor Agatha, "with no kind priest near to give him extreme unction. I will speak to Monsieur le Curé to have masses said for the repose of his soul. It is the last, last thing I can ever do for my dearest Alphonse, and I will for these masses if I should starve to make up the money."


The very first evening the curé presented himself at her cousins' house, Agatha came down with pale cheeks and tearful eyes to make her pious request, and great was her surprise to hear from the reverend gentleman that Mr. de Florennes was certainly still above ground, as he had only, within the last few days, drawn for a tolerably large sum of money on his banker in Brussels. M. le Curé added, that there could be no doubt about this, for he had heard it from the head clerk of the bank himself, who had read the letter requesting the money to be remitted to England. In her joy at finding the loved and mourned one still alive,

she hastened to write Hortense the good news, and to give the authority of the banker's clerk.

Hortense wrote back that the same post had also brought her a letter from her mother, mentioning Alphonse's application for money, and her anger at the unjustifiable and inconveniently large sum for which he had drawn.

Agatha was quite distressed at the contents of Hortense's letter, and much incensed at Madame de Florennes for grudging her son anything. She was full of sorrow for Alphonse, who, she now felt sure, had been detained in England by debt, or, at least, want of means. She had often heard that everything was frightfully expensive in England, and Alphonse could not be expected to be as careful of his money as if he were a day labourer. How much she wished that she could touch her own little capital, that she might send the half of it, or the whole of it, over to her dear Alphonse; but she had no power over it; she could only draw the interest of it, and the little of that which was left for the current year would be nothing to him.

Agatha's mind was now again restored to cheerfulness; her betrothed was still alive; she had accounted, satisfactorily to herself, for his prolonged stay in a foreign country, and he would now come soon. The money he had no doubt reluctantly drawn for would pay all his expenses, and he would speedily return-yes, yes, he would come with— "l'ange de Noël.”

Madame de Florennes, meanwhile, was furious at her son for his "heartless extravagances."

"What right," she thought, "has he to throw away so much money, when he is going to marry a girl little better than a pauper? It is too bad! He too, who might have chosen among the wealthiest of the land! And if he had not thought fit to sell himself, as he called it, by marrying where there was money, he might, at least, have selected some girl whose family had influence at court, and so obtained a lucrative situation under government. He would have acted much more wisely if he had taken Vanderhoven's rich cousin, even though she had, according to him, the face of a Calmuk and the figure of a Hottentot. I wonder what the face, or the figure either, of a woman signifies to a man after he has been six months married. Her gold would have bought him plenty of pleasures and luxuries. Hortense was very much to blame to have that German friend of hers so much with him in the solitude of the country. She ought to have known that the girl's affected simplicity would make a great impression on a young man so blasé as Alphonse was."

Such were the different reveries of the mother and the betrothed wife!



HARK to the midnight bell!

Life's sands run out, the Old Year dying lies, Faint beats his heart, he breathes a last farewell; 'Tis o'er-death seals his eyes.

The solemn hour of night;

The Year is in eternity, and walks

With Time's pale ghosts, yet still in fancy's sight
His restless phantom stalks.

And now, with quivering hand,

He points to scenes he witnessed--scenes that thrill The heart with countless feelings, memory's land Before us spreading still.

A youthful, lovely face

Beams on us-Denmark's flower-the good, the fair; She comes! she comes! led on by Love and Grace, While welcomes rend the air.

A royal altar shines,

And pomp is blazing like a sunset sky;
Hymen for two young brows his chaplet twines-
"Bless them!" two nations cry.

Behold the statue rise,

To him Worth crowns with light, and love endears!
Thought on his brow, truth, mildness, in his eyes;
gaze through memory's tears.

Hail Rosenau's sweet bowers!

A heart is there to love and sorrow given,
Yet starry hope illumes her darkest hours-
He waits for her in Heaven.

Why doth the sleeper wake?

No thunder sounds, no tempest bends the tree,
But valleys labour, hills, deep-seated, shake,
Throbs run from sea to sea.

And many rise in dread,

To feel that quick convulsion 'neath the sod,
Nature's strange palsy-now her pangs have fled;
We bless a guarding God.

O Year! the reaper, Death,

Hath gathered in his harvest far and wide;
We wept our tears, we wove our laurel-wreath,
For Lyndhurst and for Clyde.

Too envious, greedy tomb!

How hast thou quenched sweet beauty's lustrous eye! How hast thou blasted childhood's happy bloom!— For these bright lost we sigh.

But Death, in Western lands,

Hath busiest laboured, passion urging there,
Like dread simooms, war's ruthless, bloody bands,
As hell its realms laid bare.

And Poland's valleys, too,

Have seen their late pure streams all crimson run;
There rent, defiant, Freedom's standard flew,
Blood-dripping in the sun.

But rest, eventful year,

Rife too with blessings!-Plenty crowned her horn, Our hills and vales-a sight all hearts to cheerLaughed with rich-waving corn.

Ay, sleep, thou buried year!

Thou burning, anxious, quivering spark of Time,
Go out! go out!-the first young dawn is near,
The sun ascends sublime.

Ye hours that lie before!

On which the future's shroud rests cold and


Will the dark clouds that hang the nations o'er
Disperse and melt away?

Or will their thunders burst?

And war's red lightnings o'er wide Europe flash?
Ah! come what may, old England braves the worst,.
While waves around her dash.

Yet do we breathe our prayer

O Thou enthroned above all earthly powers!
Give us, this year, thy love, thy tender care,
Wide scattering Mercy's flowers.

Guide with thy mighty hand!

Chase far the demon, wasting, hideous War;
Let Peace, with placid beam, light every land,
And Love's soft-shining star.

Bless us, this coming year!

From earthquake and from storm defend our isle;
May Health our valleys walk, Want dry her tear,
And Joy's bright angel smile.



EVER since the birth of her Wilhelmina, Queen Sophie Dorothee had cherished the notion of that Double-Marriage project of which we hear so much in Mr. Carlyle's last history. Wilhelmina, Princess of Prussia, was to pair off with Frederick, future Prince of Wales, and her brother Fritz (Frederick the Great that should be) was to wed the other (not Great) Frederick's sister, Amelia. Sophie Dorothee, the mother of Fritz and Wilhelmina, the concoctor of this happy-family compact, found a willing respondent in the mother of Amelia and Frederick. Mr. Carlyle tells how, on a visit to Hanover, she proposed the pet project to "Princess Caroline, -Queen Caroline of England who was to be, and who in due course was; an excellent accomplished Brandenburgh-Anspach Lady, familiar from of old in the Prussian Court," and how readily "Caroline, cousin dear," fell in with the proposal, on her children's behalf, and how it was settled, accordingly, between these high contracting parties, that the marriage of Prussia to England should be a double one, Fred of Hanover and England to Wilhelmina, Fritz of Prussia to Amelia; and how children and parents lived thenceforth in the constant understanding that such, in due course of years, was to be the case. Which double-shotted project, however, most vexatiously and repeatedly missed fire.

This Brandenburg-Anspach Princess it is of whom Mr. Carlyle bears record, that, while George II. was "always a rather foolish little Prince," "his Wife Caroline was Wisdom's self in a manner"-and of whose youthful attractions he gives the following characteristic account: "Kaiser Karl, soon after the time of going to Spain, had decided that a Wife would be necessary. He applied to Caroline of Anspach . . . that time an orphaned Brandenburgh-Anspach Princess, very beautiful, graceful, gifted, and altogether unprovided for; living at Berlin, under the guardianship of Friedrich the first King,"-"brilliant though unportioned; with the rough cub Friedrich Wilhelm much following her about, and passionately loyal to her, as the Beast was to Beauty; whom she did not mind, except as a cub loyal to her; being five years older than he. Indigent bright Caroline, a young lady of aquiline features and spirit, was applied for to be Queen of Spain; wooer a handsome man, who might even be Kaiser by-and-by. Indigent bright Caroline at once answered, No. She was never very orthodox in Protestant theology; but could not think of taking-up Papistry for lucre's and ambition's sake: be that always remembered on Caroline's behalf."*

At the time of her marriage with our George the Second-for that dapper little Hanoverian succeeded where Kaiser Karl failed-Caroline is said to have been "very handsome." She had the small-pox not long afterwards, but, according to Walpole, was little marked by it, and retained a most pleasing countenance. "It was full of majesty or mildness as she pleased, and her penetrating eyes expressed whatever she had a

* Carlyle's History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, vol. i. pp. 527, 528, 546-47.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »