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AUTHOR OF "A MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE,"
ROUTLEDGE, WARNE, AND ROUTLEDGE,
NEW YORK: 56, WALKER STREET.
26+9. t. 552.
Slight withal may be the things which bring
A tone of music-summer's eve or spring
A flower- the wind-the ocean, which shall wound,
Ir is needless to attempt any description of Richmond. Every one must be acquainted with that celebrated resort of Sunday cockneys, that long established colony of old maids and widows. Every one has skimmed along the lovely silver Thames which glides below the town, or has wandered in the meadows on its banks, listening to the distant chimes of the Twickenham bells, and watching in pleasing reverie the reflections of the gay pleasure-boats, as they swim past, or rest under the welcome shade of the drooping willows. Every one, in short, has felt the
soothing influence of
"That landscape, which to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy. -able to drive
All sadness but despair."
In one of the houses at the outskirts of the town, situated between the bridge and the meadows, whose little gardens overhang the barge track at the edge of the river, lived in 1798 Miss Trevelyan. She was one of that description of stigmatised persons yclept old maids, mentioned as congregating to the place; that is to say, she was several years above forty, and had apparently no thoughts of changing her state of single blessedness. But in other respects she was a most unworthy member of the then existing community of Richmond; for she never played at cards, never
gave or went to dinner-parties, never made or received visits. Once, indeed, a carriage, with the decoration of a coronet on the panels, and a smart turn-out of four knowinglooking horses, was seen waiting at her door, and great was the sensation it occasioned, and many the surmises to which it gave rise. But to whom it belonged was not ascertained, for her servants, the usual medium of information on such matters, and who consisted of a cross old cook and a deaf fat footman, were as reserved and exclusive as herself, and associated with no one.
On the first arrival of Miss Trevelyan at Richmond, several advances of civility had been made towards her, but they had met with no return on her part. Some settled that she was fine, and others that she was serious; but all agreed she was queer. By degrees, however, as new topics of conversation arose, and new inhabitants arrived, she ceased in some degree to be the general subject of discussion, although, whenever she was seen wandering in the meadows with her dog (her only and constant companion), many an invective was levelled against her on account of her supposed impertinent airs, or puritanical pride, and for so provokingly occupying a house which might have added a member or two to the society of the place, perhaps even of the male sex, an article in which Richmond was at that time sadly deficient.
One fine evening in the beginning of August, Miss Trevelyan had taken her station on a bench in her little garden, under a catalpa-tree in full blossom. It was one of those delicious evenings which follow an intensely hot day, and when mere existence is enjoyment; she sat for some time in the vague sort of reverie which that sensation produces. The soft air was perfumed with jasmine and honeysuckles; the summer flies buzzed around, and all nature seemed in life. On a sudden, distant sounds of music struck on her ear. She looked over the low parapet wall of her little garden towards Twickenham, and beheld one of those aquatic shows which seem rather to belong to bright Venice, with her songs, her splashing oars, and gay romance of life, than to the cold, dull climate and habits of England. Two or three gilt barges, decorated with flags
of every colour, and followed by an innumerable train of boats, came sparkling down the stream, while figures decked in all the tints of the rainbow, were seen dancing gaily on the decks. The music grew more distinct and loud at each stroke of the rowers, and now the dazzling flotilla passed close below Miss Trevelyan's garden; then, gliding gently on, pursued its gay career through the arches of the bridge, which soon concealed it from the sight, while the notes of the various instruments, the splashing of the many oars, and the merry voices of the collected crowd again grew gradually fainter on the ear.
The sun had now sunk below the horizon, and the trees, outlined against the bright amber sky, partook of the sombre tint of twilight. The distant hum of mirth before long died entirely away; and as every boat and every pedestrian had followed the gay procession, the river, fields, and paths seemed on a sudden entirely deserted. Trevelyan still leaned against the parapet wall, lost in thought, until almost unconsciously to herself tears stole down her cheeks.
The scene which she had just beheld portrayed to her mind the history of her own existence. Thus gaily had life first accosted her: - thus had it quickly passed her by, and thus had it now left her, an isolated being.
She had entered the world one of a large family. Her father, the younger brother of the earl of Launceston, had been brave and fortunate, had risen high in his profession, and derived an ample income from his various military appointments. Her mother had died when Miss Trevelyan had scarcely attained her sixteenth year; and the same hereditary complaint, which consigned her to the grave, prematurely carried off several of her children; one brother, however, still remained to Miss Trevelyan, but with him she was scarcely acquainted, as he was more than ten years younger than herself, when quite a lad had entered the army, and very soon after followed his regiment to India. Thus almost every individual with whom she had begun life, with whom she had gambolled in childhood, and shared the pleasures of youth, had disappeared one by one, and she alone had remained to watch over the