« PoprzedniaDalej »
less, breathless, her hands clasped together with convulsive energy, and her eyes almost starting from their sockets, in the stare of indescribable horror with which they were rivetted on the suspended token. At last a shriek (such a one as my ears never before heard, the recollection of which still curdles the blood in my veins) burst from her lips, and brought her daughter and husband, even the unfortunate man himself, to the spot where she stood absorbed in that fatal contemplation. She looked up towards her husband, (on whose brow cold drops of agony were thickly gathering, whose white lips quivered with the workings of a tortured spirit)—she gazed up in his face with such a look as I shall never forget. It was one horrid calmness, more fearful to behold than the wildest expressions of passionate agony, and grasping his fettered hand firmly in one of her's, and with the other pointing to the perforated gold piece, as it lay on the mangled bosom of the dead youth, she said in a slow steady voice, "Look there! Who is that, Richard?" His eyes rivetted themselves with a ghastly stare on the object to which she pointed, then wandered wildly over the lifeless form before him; but the tremulous agitation of his frame ceased, the convulsive workings of the muscles of his face changed into rigid fixedness, and he stood like one petrified in the very burst of despair. Once more she repeated, in the same calm deliberate tone, " Who is that, Richard?" and suddenly leaning forward, dashed aside from the face of the corpse the dark locks that had
hitherto concealed it. "There, there!" she shrieked-
THE LOST FRIEND.
Oh, known the earliest, and esteemed the most,
In my younger days I visited the capital of Ireland, in company with a friend, whom I shall call Walsingham -a youth of rare talents, superior acquirements, and generous disposition. We had been associates from infancy; our parents had been on terms of friendship prior to our birth; the same preceptors had superintended our education; and, to crown all, a similarity of pursuit, in riper years, served to bind us more closely together. For my own part, I cherished for Walsingham a regard nothing short of fraternal-a regard which I calculated on his one day claiming as his right, in consequence of an alliance eagerly sought for by him, and anticipated
with pleasure by all concerned; and, on his side, it seemed the study of his life to prove the sincerity and strength of his affection for me and mine.
Our motives for visiting Ireland, at the period I allude to, were simply those of curiosity. Both had a passion for roaming, in order to gratify which, we had penetrated into the most retired fastnesses of the Scottish Highlands -had visited the barren rocks of Zetland and Orkney→→ and, latterly, nearly the whole of the Hebrides, from one of which (Islay) we ran across in a fishing skiff to the Irish shore, and after a due examination of the wonders of the Giant's Causeway, proceeded on to Dublin, with the intention of concluding our protracted excursion by a survey of that metropolis.
Though we carried introductions to several families in Dublin, and, in consequence, had many pressing invitations to throw ourselves on private hospitality, we uniformly declined civilities that threatened to curtail our liberty. We had entered on the excursion, not for the purpose of hunting out good cheer and frivolous amusement, but to store our minds with information regarding the districts we traversed; therefore, any engagements militating against this pursuit were studiously avoided. True it is, that now and then an evening was devoted to a lively party; but the day was invariably spent in rambling round, or in examining objects worthy of observation within the metropolis. It was the indulgence of these prying, inquisitive habits, which eventually
occasioned the misfortune I lament, and for ever inter-at rupted my search after knowledge.
One day, on our way to the outskirts of the city, it chanced that we had to pass near to a church, remarkable, as we had been previously told, for the extensive vaults beneath it-most of which were appropriated for the reception of some of the noblest families in the realm. The doors of the edifice stood open, inviting us to enter; and a short consultation with the sexton, whom we encountered in the porch, induced us to accept the invitation. The entrance into the vaults was at that moment unobstructed, the remains of a person of note being to be laid within them on the ensuing day; and, for a trifling gratuity, the porter of these dreary mansions agreed to let us behold them. Constitutionally gloomy, and looking upon everything in nature with the eye of a moralist and a poet, Walsingham expressed delight at his acquiescence; but the triumph of the grave was to me always a painful sight, and I followed unwillingly, and with a faltering step.
As we had been led to expect, we found the vaults capacious, and, from their branching off into various compartments, more like the catacombs of a great city, than places reserved for the interment of a few families. A cold, damp air, sluggish and perceptibly unwholesome, saluted us on our entrance; and, sunk far below the surface of the ground, and remote from noisy streets, no sound disturbed the silence of the vaults, save ever and