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“ Niece Hester, what is this? I insist upon knowing."
“I think Captain Kerleton meant to play off a little joke with me, Aunt Copp,” I answered. “Lucy, it seems, offended him this morning ; but they will make it all right again.”
“Bat, by Heaven, it is no joke, Miss Hester !” interrupted the captain, springing up. “ I mean it as real earnest.”
“ Then allow me, Captain Kerleton, to assure you that I shall never treat it but as a joke, now and always,” I impressively whispered. “And pray
let neither of us recur to it again even in thought.” “ Then you won't have me? You mean to insinuate that?" he reiterated, aloud, pulling a face as long as my arm.
" I would not have you, Captain Kerleton, if you were worth your weight in gold. So let the joke pass away: and we had better say nothing about it to Lucy.”
“ Highty-tighty," cried Aunt Copp, recovering from her petrification, and coming forward, “ but you can't do these things, captain. Shake off one sister, at pleasure, and take up with another! I see what it is : you have been getting-up your temper, because Lucy crossed you this morning. So now you must get it down again. We were just going out to take a walk, and the best thing you can do is to go with us. Why, you would be as bad as a sailor.” .“ A sailor ?” sullenly repeated the captain.
“ Yes, sir, a sailor. They have sweethearts by the dozen, in each port, "and that's well known. Many's the wrangle I have had with my boy about that: he vowing, by all that was blue, that he had not, and I knowing he had. Don't tell me. But can't have two in a house, captain. So sit yourself down there, and get cool, while we put our things on.”
He went out with Aunt Copp and Lucy. I remained at home, and was truly uncomfortable, deliberating whether I ought not to tell Lucy what had taken place. For, if the thing was not a joke (as I kept trying to persuade myself, though the more I tried, the more incomprehensible a joke it grew), was a man capable of these violent changes and fits of temper one to whom we ought to entrust Lucy?
“You have not been far,” I said, when they came in.
“Captain Kerleton was in his sulks, and would not talk, so I steered Lucy back again,” cried Aunt Copp.
“I think his feelings were hurt, when I said I could not go out with him this morning,” unsuspiciously remarked Lucy.
“Feelings be keelhauled!" ejaculated Aunt Copp, in irritation. “It's temper, not feelings. Take care you don't give way to it when he is your husband, Lucy. Put it down at first, and you'll keep it down. Nothing I should like better than to have the curing of his flights and his sulks. I'd tame him in a week."
The next day dawned, and we all rose as usual, little thinking what it was to bring forth. For how many a one has a day risen in bright happiness, to close in sorrow, dark as the darkest night! It was not strictly sorrow, however, that came to us, rather mortification.
Lucy went out to spend the day with some friends, who had invited her for a farewell visit, previous to her marriage ; and after dinner I and Aunt Copp were seated at work, when the latter spoke :
Some years pre
“Well, I think I must have made a kaleidoscope of my spectacles, for he is ever changing ; now it is him, now it isn't! Hester, is that the captain, or not?"
I followed the direction of Aunt Copp's eyes, which were fixed on a gentleman who was advancing up the opposite road. “Yes-no-yes,” was my contradictory reply. “I declare, Aunt Copp, I am not sure. One minute it looks like him, and the next it does not. If it is the captain, he has discarded his regimentals.” It was not Captain Kerleton, but one who bore a striking resemblance to him.
“I know!” exclaimed Aunt Copp, with awakened interest. “ It is his brother. I wrote for him."
You, Aunt Copp!" “Yes, to come to the wedding. But I told him to wait for a second letter. He is come too soon."
Phoeby brought in a card, “ Major Kerleton,” and ushered in the major after it, à cordial-mannered man. He proceeded to tell us his business, and I thought Aunt Copp would have fallen through her chair with vexation ; for it was she who had been the means of introducing the captain to Seaford, and—worse still—to Lucy.
All that we had observed as strange in the captain's conduct was now accounted for. Captain Kerleton was a lunatic. viously, when in India, he had met with an accident, which caused concussion of the brain, and had never entirely recovered his intellects. At that time the captain was engaged to a young lady, to whom he was much attached, but the match was then broken off, and this seemed to have left some impression on his mind which it had been unable to get rid of. He came home, and had since lived with his brother, and years had brought so much improvement to him that he would pass muster in society, without suspicion, as he had done with us : the only point on which his intellects were still completely at sea, was a propensity to make offers of marriage. “I have had no end of trouble with him on this score,” said the major to us; “for if he has made a fool of one lady, in the last eight years, he has of fifty. Of course, when I am on the spot, I whisper a word, and matters are soon rectified ; but, once or twice, when he has taken advantage of my absence from home, to start off, as he did this time, there has been more difficulty to get them straight. It is five years ago this summer," continued the major, lowering his voice, “ that he found his way into Yorkshire. I was taken ill -seriously ill-on my journey, and was absent longer than I had ever been. By George ! when I came back, and proceeded to hunt up Richard, I found him a married man."
“ A married man!" uttered Aunt Copp.
“He had gammoned some young lady into marrying him: a very nice sort of girl she was, too; of respectable family. But they were poor, thought they had got a catch in Dick, and hurried on the match.”
“ Mercy on us !” ejaculated Aunt Copp. “Is she alive ?" “ To be sure she is. She
Why then the captain's a married man now !" screamed aunt, unceremoniously interrupting Major Kerleton.
“ Neither more nor less,” returned the major. " When his young wife, poor thing, found out Dick's infirmity, she refused to remain with
him—and quite right of her, too, I think. She has lived since then on the Continent, with a married sister; Dick-or, at least, I, for him, allowing her a yearly income.”
“ But what å wicked man he must be, to attempt to marry my niece when he has got a wife living !" remonstrated Aunt Copp.
“ Not wicked,” interposed the major. Upon this point Richard is insane; the doctors say incurably so. He would marry twenty wives, if he could get the opportunity, and never know that he was doing wrong."
“ A regular Bluebeard. He ought to be tried for bigamy," grunted Aunt Copp:
“ But it has been a blessed escape for Lucy: “ It has indeed. Not but that I am sincerely grieved he should ever have been brought in contact with your niece, for this exposé cannot be a pleasant one for her. He left home, it seems, the very day I did, and must have lost no time.”
" He ought to be confined,” said Aunt Copp, rubbing her nose in mortification.
" He is so sane on other points, that to confine him would be scarcely justifiable,” explained the major. “ But I shall learn a lesson by this last vagary,
and if I have to leave him again, will take care to place a watch over him."
“ Other points,” repeated aunt; “ I don't know about that. He seems to have unlimited command of money."
“ Not unlimited. His fortune is a large one, and he has command over a portion of it.”
“ Perhaps you'll walk this road, sir," said aunt, leading the way upstairs to our spare room. The major followed her, no doubt wonderingly, and I followed him. “ There!” she said, exhibiting the curious lot of presents Lucy had received, “perhaps you can tell me what is to be done with all these, Major Kerleton. The captain sent them here, and we could not stop him.”
Major Kerleton laughed heartily. “ Poor Dick!” he said, “this is another of his tricks. He gives away all before him.”
“ He has supplied the parish here,” was Aunt Copp’s rejoinder. 66 What is to be done with these?"
“Whatever you please. If there are any worth keeping, pray retain them. The rest dispose of, any way-throw them away if they are no better worth.”
“Several of the articles are of value. The watch and chain especially, and some rings. But, sir,” and Aunt Copp drew herself up to her full height, “my niece will not allow herself to keep them, or anything
“ I hope and trust she will," warmly returned the major. “I shall pray Miss Lucy to accept them from me.. Ah, my dear ladies,” he continued, taking a hand of each of us, “ I only wish it was in my power to make any reparation to her for the annoyance which my unfortunate brother has brought upon her and you, but there is none that can be made.”
“Not any,” responded Aunt Copp, with stony rigidity. sooner he is out of Seaford, the more agreeable for all parties.'
So thought Major Kerleton. He took the poor madman back to London with him, and thus ended Lucy's romance.
Prosings by Monkshood
ABOUT THE ESSAYISTS AND REVIEWERS.
VII.-CHARLES LAMB. A WINSOME creature was Lamb, “ the frolic and the gentle.” His it was to enjoy, in the words of Landor, *
The love of friends, without a single foc;
Unequalled lot below! He was, and is, all the dearer for his whims and humours. “I am made up of queer points,” he says in one of his inimitable letters, " and I want so many answering needles”—his purpose being to declare his disrelish for your totus teres atque rotundus man of the world, and his quick sympathy with people who had some crook in their composition, some screw loose in their psychological framework, who were in a “fix,” political or religious, or under a cloud, often of their own compelling. “Common natures do not suffice me. Good people, as they are called, won't serve; I want individuals.” Individuality was fairly enough represented in his list of friends, which included some queer specimens of eccentric humanity-for he ever stood with open arms to welcome those who elsewhere were reckoned, and treated as, birds of ill omenthough, such was their variety, that, to the welcome he accorded them, it could hardly be said, “birds of a feather flocked together." Mingle, mingle as you may, was the order of the day—or the night rather, at those cheery homely Noctes of his, the unconstraint and glee of which remind us of Pliny the Younger's words: “ You may sup, it is true, with more elegance in many places; but nowhere with more gaiety, mirth, and honest freedom.”+ Lamb's great “ failing," it has been said, connects him, 6 unfortunately for mankind,” with the poet race. It is one which mankind (predisposed nil humani alienum à se putare) is not
* Who once only met Elia face to face; but that once sufficed to produce this earnest tribute:
“Once, and once only, have I seen thy face,
Elia! once only has thy tripping tongue
I'd spring to earlier at the gate of heaven.” † Pliny's Epistles: To Sept. Clarus (book i.).
extreme to mark with brand or ban—when conjoined, as in his case who wrote, with trembling hand, the Confessions of a Drunkard, with qualities so engaging, so rare, in many respects so noble. It is a case in which, if we must withhold our admiring reverence, we cannot withhold our instinctive love ; “for we cannot choose but love all human capacities in themselves attractivethemselves heavenly gifts; and yet we cannot look without pity and censure upon sin; and self-indulgence in the poet, whether in the grossest form of sensuality, or in the lesser one of intemperance, is not to be excused and smiled away, because passion is strong, or sensation vivid.” But this man, constitutionally sensitive and irritable, and habitually a sufferer from self-incurred ills,—his biographer has affectingly told us how, when the dismal emergencies which chequered his life arose, he, this nervous, shattered wreck, “ so slight of frame that he looked only fit for the most placid fortune," nerved himself with heroic resolve, heroic action, and more-heroic endurance, to meet and master calamity, and behaved with “as much promptitude and vigour as if he had never penned a stanza nor taken a glass too much, or was strung with herculean sinews." It
well be asked, if the annals of self-sacrifice can show anything in human action and endurance more lovely than the self-devotion of his character exhibits, in the watch and ward he kept over his sister—the Mary Lamb of his home and heart, the cousin Bridget of his Essays. “L'humoriste Lamb,” says M. Philarète Chasles, “ veillait avec une solicitude adorable sur Brigitte [sic] sa soeur, pauvre folle qui avait frappé sa mère d'un coup de couteau et l'avait tuée dans son délire.” Nothing can be more touching than that little incident of Charles Lloyd meeting them, the brother and sister, slowly pacing together a little footpath in Hoxton fields, both weeping bitterly, and “taking their solemn way to the accustomed Asylum.”+ The coming event cast its Shadow before—its dark, drear, dreadful cloud; and well might they fear, well might they weep, as they entered into that cloud.
They sat sad together,
As temper life's worst bitterness. I If Charles Lamb broke more than one or two apostolic precepts, there was one he obeyed to the letter: Let brotherly love continue.
* "L'Angleterre au XIX° siècle."
+ For “Miss Lamb experienced, and full well understood premonitory symptoms of the attack, in restlessness, low fever, and the inability to sleep; and, as gently as possible, prepared her brother for the duty he must soon perform; and thus, unless he could stave off the terrible separation till Sunday, obliged him to ask leave of absence from the office as if for a day's pleasure, bitter mockery!"_Final Memorials, chap. ix.
† Shelley : “ The Cenci,” Act III. Sc. 1.