Obrazy na stronie

Fearful that the household would he alarmed, the robhers hastily picked up their booty and decamped, but not before Clifford had had the humanity to lift my uncle on to the bed, and in which he afterwards continued for a fortnight, when he died from effusion of blood on the brain. Mary—poor Mary Clifford, survived him but a few weeks, and, by her dying directions, was laid in the same grave as her father, the victims of a guilty but repentant wretch.

• • * # •

tt is neaily eight and forty hours since I tasted food, and famine already bows me to the earth that shall soon close over me. Fearful and many have been my struggles with the fiend that has hourly whispered me to rob, as my only resort. I have sought for employment, but, characterless and garbed in misery, a deaf ear has been turned to my supplications. Maddened by the cravings of hunger, I tried to beg, but my gaunt and frenzied looks appalled rather than won the charitable—if such there be.

Each night that I hare crept to my lone garret, strange thoughts and visions of the past have glanced along my seared brain. Can the dead rise to blanch with dread the living? My senses, I fear, have wandered—hunger has debilitated me.

• * » • •

But I have prayed deeply—earnestly—at last. The fiend cannot persuade me. Oh! blessed Redeemer, support me—I cannot starve—rather let me shorten the lingering pangs of destitution and death—save me!

And here the M.S. terminated. The latter portion of it was hardly readable' It had been written apparently at different times, and npon any little scrap of paper that chance threw in his way, with ink of various colours, and sometimes in pencil,—in all probability scrawled out in a coffee-shop or a tap-room.

After the perusal of these Confessions, for such they seemed to be, I laid down the paper with a feeling of deep commiseration for the wretched and guilty jnan, whom there was great reason to suspect had committed suicide. So deep was the impression made on my mind, that for several days I thought of little but of the strange circumstances that had made me the depositary of a history so strange and eventful. Desirous, if possible, of gleaning some further particulars of the unfortunate Stawell, I took repeated walks in the parks and Kensington Gardens, but looked in vain to behold the object of my solicitude.

It was, I think, at the expiration of six days, that a paragraph in the papers announced the discovery of a man's corpse in the Serpentine, and which was exposed in the dead-house to be owned. I felt certain, from the brief account given of the drowned man, that it was the ill-fated object of my search. Nor was I deceived on going to view the body. Though somewhat decomposed, the pale and finely formed features, and curly long black hair, black and tattered dress, the tall and commanding figure, though wasted to nearly a skeleton, at once satisfied me of the identity of the] haplessjnan, who had thus, in the anguish of his guilty and desponding soul, and under the pangs of starvation, rushed unbidden into his Maker's presence.

It is needless to say, there existed no one>ho could or would recognise the last remains of the wretched outcast. Thejright shoulder, which had been laid bare, though evidently cut, andscaiified, still displayed that fatal brand that in death proclaimed the felon!

"He's been a bad 'un," exclaimed one of the men of the Humane Society, as, lifting the lifeless and stiffened limb, he allowed it to fall heavily upon the bench on which the body was exposed.

The few spectators who were present shrunk>om the sight as if from contamination, and even I turned from a scene that called up so many painful ideas.

The following day I learnt that in a pauper's shell the suicide was consigned to his long home—

"No words of prayer to consecrate his lowly tomb."


How few that love us have we found!
How wide the world that girds them round!
Like mountain streams we meet and part.
Each living in the other's heart,
Our course unknown, our hope to be
Yet mingled in the distant sea!

But ocean coils and heaves in vain,
Bound in the woven moonbeam's chain;
And love and hope are but the play
Of some capricious planet's ray,
To light, to lead, to rouse, to charm,
Till death shall hush in icy calm.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]


(Continuedfrom p, 230.)


After I had been about a fortnight at my uncle's house, and really began to feel myself comfortable, notwithstanding I frequently detected the domestics indulging in a sly grin at the expense of my unfortunate features,—not at all improved by my four front teeth having been knocked out by the ruffian De Gray, who I think had a spice of his sister's malady in him,—I say after I had been located about a fortnight, I received a letter from my father—the first I had ever received from him, in which with a savage gusto he dwelt upon the thrashing I had received at the " hands of an honourable man, who had rescued his unfortunate sister from my clutches." He affected not to believe that I was ignorant of the imbecile state of her mind, for I must have been certain that no woman, who had not entirely lost her senses, would receive attentions from the ugliest mortal ever created. He had taken care, he said, that my mother should be fully informed of the career of villany I had entered upon, in order that she might satisfy herself that I was not exactly the innocent young man she delighted to consider me. He had seen the full particulars of the affair in the paper, and in which he put the utmost confidence. He had shown it to my mother, and for my satisfaction he could tell me that she believed every word of it, which had had so serious an effect on her, that she took to her bed at once, and had remained seriously ill ever since. It would be useless for me to come to town thinking to see her, for he was determined I should never darken his door again. I had chosen to seek the favour of a crack-brained old fox hunter, no doubt for what I could wheedle him out of, and there I had better remain, for it was my only dependence, as I should never receive one farthing more from him, &C. &C. With this fatherly letter he also sent me a copy of a London paper, in which the account of my misfortune had appeared, and which I verily believe had been inserted by himself, as the version given in the country paper in which it first appeared kept pretty closely to the facts; but in this the whole transaction was made to bear so villanous a character, that I could not be at al surprised at the effect it had had on my mother. In it I was described as the son of a highly respectable solicitor in an, extensive practice, who had had every means thrown in my way of pushing my fortune in the world in an honourable calling, but, owing to a naturally vicious disposition, I had taken to low company, frequenting night houses, &c, and now, to crown all, had succeeded in •nducing a young lady of good family, but of unsound mind, to elope with me, not, M it appeared, with an intention of an honourable marriage, but with the

« PoprzedniaDalej »