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perverts your reason. Believe me," he said, starting up, “this is nothing but delusion, and you are yet to be mine." '_ Vol. ii, pp. 105, 108.
This secret meeting was interrupted by the intrusion of Mr. Prior, but his presence only led to a fuller explanation. Mr. Bannatyne saw, from the conduct of both father and daughter, that the whole was a delusion, a mutual and fatal deception of both father and daughter-the melancholy fantasy of voluntary misery, which was destroying the happiness of this worthy family. The interview amicably closed, and Mr. Bannatyne frequently afterwards visited the family: his intimacy with Rebecca only increased the more he saw her, and he took great pains to inculcate upon her the notion which he certainly entertained, that the belief of the uncle and niece in their insanity was altogether a delusion, In the meantime there came to live in the village a stranger: he appeared to be somehow known to Mr. Prior of the Holme; and besides this, it was reported in the village that he was a longheaded and a travelled man; for he had been “far abroad, at Seringapatam, and the Cove of Cork, and such like remarkable places-had seen the burning hills all the way in Mesopotamia, and elephants carrying castles on their backs over the great mountains of Amsterdam !"
The truth was that this strange gentleman turned out to be Dr. Heywood, a physician, who had practised abroad, and had made choice on his return, of this hilly and romantic parish for its salubrity. It happened that the Doctor, by his inquiries, made the very important discovery, that not every one, but only a majority of the ancestors of Mr. Prior had been afflicted with insanity, and that it never manifested itself in the females of the family, except in one instance. Upon being further urged by Mr. Bannatyne, Dr. Heywood, in a formal manner, went before the family, and stated his reasons for disbelieving in their insanity; with such force, that the persons present who were most convinced by his reasoning, were Mr. Prior and his daughter. The scene of discussion terminated by an address from the father, to the following effect:
'My dear children, as I may now call you," he said, “ Providence has at length, in an unexpected way, relieved all our hearts of a heavy burden, and shown us clearly what his will is. I know well your thoughts now, for I have long witnessed your ill-smothered feelings. You have had, in. deed, a weary and a sad probation; but Heaven, at last, puts a happy end to it, I trust,- for it calls you, at last, to be man and wife. Stand up, my sweet Rebecca; come forward, Mr. Bannatyne, while I join your
hands; and may Heaven above make you abundantly happy; for the dark clouds of sorrow and dread have now been dispelled, and the sun of joy will yet arise, to prevent the extinction of my ancient house.” – Vol. ii, p. 206.
The party were soon afterwards united.
Although it is the immemorial practice of story-tellers, as well as of comic dramatists, to respect matrimony as the bourne in which all their labours are to terminate; yet, such unfortunately is not the case in the present instance. The promise of an heir, which Rebecca was now in circumstances to make, induced Mr. Bannatyne to consult their friend, Dr. Heywood, as to the propriety of procuring additional company for Rebecca, in the shape of female attendants. The concurrence of the Doctor decided the question, and a lady named Chapman was appointed to fill the office. This woman conducted herself in a way which pleased every party, until the delicate period of Rebecca's accouchement, when the conduct of Mrs. Chapman was such as to arouse her to suspicions which were very unfavourable to the quiet of her mind. She thought she saw in this person the evidence of a persuasion on her part that there was something wrong; and the horrid thought came into Rebecca's mind that she had betrayed to Mrs. Chapman some symptoms of the dreaded malady. The narrator now explains, that, if Mrs. Chapman was a person of "strong sense,” she was also a woman of strong passions; and a week had not elapsed from the day of her arrival at Lawford House, before her eye was fascinated, and even her feelings absorbed, by the handsome and unsuspecting minister of Hillington, Nor was this guilty admiration unknown to herself, as such a thing might have been, for a time, to a more simple, or, in plain terms, a more modest woman; but, though fully aware of all the danger, and all the wickedness of indulging a sentiment of this sort for a married man and a minister of religion, with that recklessness of consequences which has ever been the characteristic of the most abandoned of her sex, she at once gave herself up to the influence of her vicious passion; and, without any precise design or planned purpose, found her only pleasure in fishing for the admiration and striving, to seduce the affections of the youthful minister.
Most unfortunately Rebecca happened by accident to be an unseen listener of Mrs. Chapman's, when this lady expressed her belief to another lady that Rebecca was occasionally affected by her malady, a piece of information which she unhappily believed herself. From this moment a decided change took place in Rebecca's conduct, and the worst effect of it was to fill the mind of her husband with alarm and distress. Mrs. Chapman knew how to profit by these, to her, favourable circumstances; and, ultimately, the husband was persuaded, chiefly through her arts, that his wife was affected with the malady which had so long terrified them in imagination. Mrs. Chapman even contrived to prevent the husband from going to the apartment of the wife, under the pretence that the visit would be injurious to her. Either from this conduct of her husband, and from what she knew of the conduct of Mrs. Chapman, poor Rebecca was ultimately deprived of her reason. Intelligence of this melancholy fact was sent to Mr. Prior and Dr. Heywood, who had been some time absent from Lawford, both of whom returned at the crisis which we have just described. The Doctor seemed to be of opinion that the insanity of Mrs. Bannatyne was merely temporary, and was produced principally by the circumstances in which she had been placed. He also accidentally obtained a clue to the treachery of Mrs. Chapman, and he laid before the family his conviction that this woman, so trusted and so popular, had been practising on the mind of her unbappy lady, for the purpose of sending her ultimately to the grave, with the presumptuous hope of one day sitting in her chair at the head of Mr. Bannatyne's table. Just at the period that he imparted this intelligence to the astonished family, he told them that if they would go up stairs they might then have an opportunity of ascertaining the truth, since Mrs. Chapman was holding one of her private conversations with Rebecca. The party stole up and overheard the following strange dialogue between the two ladies.
*" To leave me again, did you say?” said Rebecca, her voice rising as she seemed to meditate upon the widow's words; you cannot mean so, Mrs. Chapman! Not, surely, without seeing me and his child.
« I heard no wish of the kind expressed," said the widow: “truly, madam, I pity you deeply. She who has outlived the affections of a husband that she loves has little inducement to prolong a neglected existence."
"“What a change has come over the spirit of my life!" said Rebecca, resuming her plaintive tone: "even this very morning I rose unusually refreshed, for my dreams were of Lewis and my lovely baby, and the thoughts that used to hang like a heaviness on my heart seemed to have vanished before some unusual sunshine. But now all is gone again, and I am weary, weary of my life. Neglected ?-lost the affections of my husband?—was not that the word you said, Mrs. Chapman?"
“Yes, madam, that was the word; and before I should be so used, I would would do some rashness—I am a strong passioned woman, but Why don't
it all?" "“I would slip out of this room when the gloaming came down, and end my life and my wrongs at the bottom of that linn there on the height among
""What frightful temptation is this coming over me?" said Rebecca, with a shudder, “ Woman, what is this you hint at? I see something horrid in your face."
• The widow merely looked at her and shook her head.
""Surely, Mrs. Chapman, you are not advising me to take away the life that God hath given me! And have I not a baby-a lovely baby, and my Lewis will not come and see him or me? Neglect! pity! what words are these that I have been hearing of late? and from you?
Your pity, woman! that art eating my bread, and ought to comfort me under my trials. What is this? Can this be called insanity? Am I a maniac because I love my husband? Woman, you are imposing upon me: answer me one question—did Mr. Bannatyne really say he would not see me?"
""Not exactly, madam; but I told him—that --"
*"Wretch! there is guilt in your face! your tongue falters, and your eye quails at my questions. What thought is this breaks upon me? Now
I remember the horrible insinuations you uttered to that ignorant creature, Mrs. Dryburgh, while I lay on my sick couch. Now I see it all! You have made me contemptible in the eyes of my beloved husband! You have persuaded me against my own convictions almost into madness itself. When I think of all that I can now recollect, a crowd of horrible suspicions rises into
my brain, that I can hardly attribute to humanity. Out, vile woman! that speaks to me of the drowning pool of the lady's linn, and has put evil and alienation between me and my husband!"Vol. ii. pp. 292 -295.
The whole was now cleared up-Bannatyne rushed into his wife's arms, she gave the most undoubted proofs that her insanity was temporary, and the result chiefly of the arts of Mrs. Chapman; the whole party seemed as if emancipated from some oppressive thraldom, and the day was one of the happiest, and was celebrated as such, that ever was spent at the mansion of Lawford.
Of these volumes in general we feel disposed to speak in unmeasured terms of approbation. The tale to which we have just directed the reader's attention, is a most beautiful specimen of elegant and nervous style, and will stand a comparison with some of the best compositions of modern times. We trust that no untoward circumstance will interfere to prevent Mr. Picken from fulfilling his purpose, of giving successions of such volumes as these.
The second work on our list, is called " Character, or the Jew and Gentile.” It is a well written production, and does credit to the authoress. There is, however, nothing in the work to justify the title, which is so peculiar as to lead us to expect that the contents of the volumes would explain the selection of the title. The termination of the narrative is also out of keeping with the general tenor of the novel, and gives us a surprize which is far from being natural, and is therefore disagreeable. The story may be shortly told: Ralph Beaucaire (the nephew of an old ill-tempered uncle, named Peter Coverly) has just become the father of a son and heir after some years of marriage, to the great delight of his uncle, who intends settling his property on the new-born. Mrs. Beaucaire is a silly, vain woman, who could be made something of, but her husband is too indolent to take the necessary trouble. Agnes Lennox is a young widow of a fine independent mind, whom Mr. Beaucaire wishes to see married to his friend Trevor. This object he succeeds in accomplishing; they reside in London, and are patterns of conjugal happiness. Beaucaire's uncle buys an estate from a lady of the name of Melburn, whose husband, a ruined profligate, after squandering her property, is obliged to retire to America, where she supports her children by her anonymous writings; before this lady's departure a female takes refuge in her house, and begs her protection: she calls herself Hagar, but will give no further explanation. Hagar accompanies the family to America. The son and heir of the Beaucaires becomes spoilt from the over indulgence of his mother, and the severity of his father: he proceeds to London, where he runs a course of riot and dissipation. He there meets with a young Jewess, the heiress of the rich Baron Mezrack, who has refused several splendid offers; he falls in love with her, and finds that she returns his passion. She, however, requests that their attachment might be kept a secret from her relatives; this the lover promised, and retired into the country to his father's seat. At this place he meets with a young lady who soon displaces the fair Jewess from his heart. He quarrels with his father, who immediately after their separating commits suicide, leaving scarcely any property. Young Beaucaire is thrown into prison, where he is attended by Hagar; he receives a visit from his chief creditor, an old Jew, the grandfather of the heiress, who, on beholding Hagar, recognises his long lost daughter, who acknowledges that Beaucaire is her son, and that he had been sold when an infant by her seducer, to the childless Lady Beaucaire. When the heiress hears this news she tells her father of her love, who can now have no objec. tion, as the ci-devant Beaucaire has Jewish blood in his veins. She returns to England and he renews his attentions, though his heart is devoted to another, who is soon to become the bride of his friend young Trevor. The evening before the marriage le writes a challenge to Trevor, and a billet to the Jewess, but in his hurry misdirects them; next morning he was true to his appointment, but when he addresses as he thinks his adversary, he in fact finds that it is the Jewess who stands before him burning for revenge; they stand; she fires, and he falls weltering in his blood : she then discharges her other pistol, and Esther is a suicide!
The brief tale of Conrad Blessington does not deserve that we should delay upon it long. The object is a moral one, and the point of it is developed with considerable skill. The plot is founded on the following facts:
Conrad and Emily Blessington are the children of a lady who comes to reside in a small village, and after a few weeks dies of a brain fever, without being able to tell to whom the children are to be sent. The rector of the village can find in the mother's papers no clue by which he can discover their father, and under these circumstances he adopts the boy, and a friend of his, a Mr. Yorke, takes the little girl under his protection. Years roll on, and Conrad becomes a young man and wishes to enter the army; in this preference he is seconded by a Major Taylor, the friend of Mr. Yorke; ultimately he receives a commission, and sets out to join his regiment abroad, but not before exchanging vows of eternal constancy with Agnes, the daughter of his protector. During his absence Mr. Yorke's son, who was jealous of Conrad's being beloved by Agnes, intercepts his letters, and makes it be believed that he has forgotten his friends. Whilst abroad Conrad meets his father, who acknowledges him, and leaves bim a large property.