« PoprzedniaDalej »
of themselves. But the gamester boldly takes his position alone ; he stands apart; he disposes of the future ; the present ; his repose; his honour. Deplore his error if you will, ye plodding labourers or professions ; but do not compare yourselves with him in your secret pride, to glorify yourself at his expense. Be satisfied that his fatal example consoles you for your inoffensive nullity."
“Good heavens !" I replied, “ on what vain sophistry have you fed your heart, or how very weak is my intellect. What ! the gamester not a contemptible being ? Oh, Leoni, gifted with
such energies as yours, why have you not employed them ? why have you not quelled them in the interests of your fellow se“ Because," replied he in a bitter and ironical tone,
" I took an erroneous view of life ; because my self-love was a bad counsellor. Instead of mounting the boards of a sumptuous theatre, I chose the platform of an itinerant show-box; instead of employing myself in declaiming specious moralities and meeting heroes on the stage of the world, I have amused myself in giving full play to the vigour of my muscles in exhi. biting feats of strength, and in risking my neck by dancing on a tight rope; nor is this comparison quite in point. The mountebank has his vanity, like the tragedian and the philan. thropic orators. The gamester has no such engagement; he is neither admired, nor applauded, nor envied. His triumphs are so short and so hazardous, that they are not worth talking about. On the contrary, society condemns him, the vulgar despise him, particularly on those days when he has lost. His charlatanism consists in keeping a bold countenance, and in falling decently before a group of spectators, too much engaged to cast a glance upon him. If, during the brief interval of his success, he takes any pleasure in satisfying the vulgar vanities of luxury, it is a very short tribute he pays to human weak
He must soon sacrifice without pity, the puerile enjoyments of a moment to the pressing activity of his soul, to that burning fever which will not let him live a whole day of the life of other men. He has no time for the pleasures of vanity. He has something else to do. Has he not got to rack, his heart; confuse his brain; drink his blood; pinch his flesh; lose his gold; stake his life ; new-fashion it ; get rid of it; twist it; tear it to pieces ; risk it entire ; win it back, piece by piece ; put it in his purse; throw it on the table. Ask the mailor if he can live on land ; ask the bird if it can be happy,
without its wings; or the heart of man, if it can dispense with emotions ?
" As for me," continued he, with a more gloomy air, and with a quivering voice,“ after having supported this life of anguish and convulsion for a length of time, with that chivalrous heroism which formed the basis of my character, I allowed myself to be corrupted at last; that is, my mind be-, coming gradually accustomed to this perpetual conflict I lost the stoical strength with which I was accustomed to brave reverses,-bear with the privations of a horrible distress, patiently recommence the edifice of my fortunes, sometimes with a single shilling, wait, hope, move prudently and step by step, sacrifice an entire month to repairing the losses of a day such was my life for a length of time. But at last wearied with endurance, I began to seek beyond the precincts of my will and my virtue, (for it must be owned the gamester has his virtue,) the means of regaining more quickly the sums I had lost. I borrowed, and from that hour I was lost.
“ At first one suffers severely at being placed in an indelicate situation; and then, as with everything else, one grows careless, then callous : I did as all gamesters and prodigals do. I became noxious and dangerous to my friends, I accumulated upon their heads those evils which I had long sustained without flinching upon my own, I became culpable, I risked my honour, then the existence and the honour of my neighbours. The most horrible future in gambling is, that it gives you none of those lessons which are not to recur again. It is always ready, always soliciting your attention. That exhaustless gold is always before your eyes, it follows you, invites you, it says to you, hope ; and sometimes it keeps its promises; it gives you boldness, re-establishes your credit, it seems still to retard the day of dishonour, but dishonour is consummated on that day when honour is voluntarily risked.”
Here Leoni bent his head, and fell into a gloomy silence. The confession which he seemed to have meditated, expired upon his lips. I saw by his shame and sorrow that it was useless to expose the fallacies of the sophistry in favour of his irregularities ; his conscience was already busy with it.
“ Listen,” said he, as soon as we were reconciled, “tomorrow I shall close the house to all our intimate friends. I am going to Milan to recover a large debt. In the meantime take care of yourself, re-establish your health, call in all our tradesmen's bills, and make arrangements for our imme,
diate departure. In eight days or fifteen at farthest, I shall return, pay our debts, and retire to whatever retreat you shall think proper." I believed him implicitly, and I consented with cheerful
He set out and the house was closed. I did not wait for my complete recovery to busy myself in setting everything in order, and to check the accounts of our tradesmen. pected Leoni would have written to me from Milan, as indeed he promised. He was more than eight days without letting me hear from him. At length he wrote that he was sure of getting a much larger sum than we required; but that his absence would be prolonged to twenty days.
I was resigned. I waited twenty days. A fresh letter announced to me that he would be obliged to wait for his receipts until the end of the month. I became discouraged. Alone, in the immense palace, where I was obliged to hide to escape from the insolent visits of Leoni's companions, consumed by uneasiness, sick and weak, abandoned to the gloomiest reflections and to all the remorse which the sting of misfortune is sure to awaken. But I was not at the end of my sufferings.
(To be Continued.)
I would I were the slight fern growing
Beneath my Highland Mary's tread;
Its shadow o'er her gentle lead :
Where my sweet Mary loves to rest,
And place me on her snowy breast !
A silver star, whose soft dim light
And watch my Mary all the night:
I were the lute her breath has fanned-
As loath to leave her fairy hand.
Froni Scotland to some darker sky,
To happiness and Mary nigh;
Upon its deep transparent blue
And dream my Mary watches 100 !
But I have that within which passeth show.
MR. PARKINSON, a London merchant, had for some years been doing business to considerable advantage, when a sudden check was put to his prosperity by the unexpected failure of a house for which he had endorsed to a very large amount. There was no alternative but to surrender everything to his creditors ; and this he did literally and conscientiously. He brought down his mind to his circumstances; and as, at that juncture, the precarious state of the times did not authorize any hope of success if be recommenced business (as he might have done) upon borrowed capital, he gladly availed himself of a vacant clerkship in one of the principal bankers in the city.
His salary, however, would have been scarcely adequate to the support of his family, had he not added something to his little stipend, by employing his leisure hours in keeping the books of a merchant. He removed with his wife and children to a small house in the suburbs; and they would, with all his exertions, have been obliged to live in the constant exercise of the most painful economy, had it not been for the aid they derived from his sister. Since the death of her parents, this young lady had resided at Uxbridge with her maternal aunt, Mrs. Warner, a quakeress, who left her a legacy of two thousand pounds.
After the demise of her aunt, Miss Parkinson took private lodgings; but on hearing of her brother's misfortunes, she wrote to know if it would be agreeable to him and to his family, for her to remove to London, and to live with them-supposing that the sum she would pay for her accomodation, might, in their present difficulties, prove a welcome addition to their income. This proposal was joyfully acceded to, as Fanny was much beloved by every member of her brother's family, and had kept up a continual interest with them by frequent letters, and by an annual visit of a few weeks to London.
At this period, Fanny Parkinson had just completed her twenty-third year. She had a beautiful face, a fine and graceful figure, and a highly cultivated mind. With warm feelings and deep sensibility, she possessed much energy of character-a qua. lification which, when called forth by circumstances, is often found to be as useful in a woman as in a man. Affectionate, generous, and totally devoid of all selfish considerations, Fanny had nothing so much at heart as the comfort and happiness of her brother's family; and to become an inmate of their house was as gratifying to her as it was to them. She furnished her own apartment, and shared it with little Louisa, the youngest of her three nieces, a lovely child about ten years old. She insisted on paying the quarterly bills of her nephew Frederick Parkinson, and volunteered to complete the education of his sisters, who were delighted to receive their daily lessons from an instructress so kind, so sensible, and so competent. Exclusive of these arrangements, she bestowed on them many little presents, which were always well-timed and judiciously selected; though, to enable her to purchase these gifts, she was obliged, with her limited income of eighty pounds, to deny her. self many gratifications, and indeed conveniences, to which she had hitherto been accustomed, and the want of which she now passed over with a cheerfulness and delicacy which was duly appreciated by the objects of her kindness.
In this manner the family had been living about a twelvemonth, when Mr. Parkinson was suddenly attacked by a violent and dangerous illness, which was soon accompanied by delirium ; and in a few days it brought him to the brink of the grave.
His disease baffled the skill of an excellent physician ; and the unremitting cares of his wife and sister could only effect a slight alleviation of his sufferings. He expired on the fifth day, without recovering his senses, and totally unconscious of the presence of the heart-struck mourners that were weeping round his bed.
When Mr. Parkinson's last breath had departed, his wife was conveyed from the room in a fainting-fit. Fanny endeavoured to repress her own feelings, till she had rendered the necessary assistance to Mrs. Parkinson, and till she had somewhat calmed the agony of the children. She then retired to her own apartment, and gave vent to a burst of grief, such as can only be felt by those in whose minds and hearts there is a union of sense and sensibility. With the weak and frivolous, sorrow is rarely either acute or lasting.
The immortal soul of Mr. Parkinson had departed from its earthly tenement, and it was now necessary to think of the painful details that belonged to the disposal of his inanimate corpse. As soon as Fanny could command sufficient courage to allow her mind to dwell on this subject, she went down to