Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Next
The Mysteries of Udolpho

The Mysteries of Udolpho

Ann Radcliffe

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1

  • > Home is the resort Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where, Supportin_nd supported, polish'd friends And dear relations mingle into bliss.
  • >
  • > Thomson
  • On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, i_he year 1584, the chateau of Monsieur St. Aubert. From its windows were see_he pastoral landscapes of Guienne and Gascony stretching along the river, ga_ith luxuriant woods and vine, and plantations of olives. To the south, th_iew was bounded by the majestic Pyrenees, whose summits, veiled in clouds, o_xhibiting awful forms, seen, and lost again, as the partial vapours rolle_long, were sometimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, an_ometimes frowned with forests of gloomy pine, that swept downward to thei_ase. These tremendous precipices were contrasted by the soft green of th_astures and woods that hung upon their skirts; among whose flocks, and herds, and simple cottages, the eye, after having scaled the cliffs above, delighte_o repose. To the north, and to the east, the plains of Guienne and Languedo_ere lost in the mist of distance; on the west, Gascony was bounded by th_aters of Biscay.
  • M. St. Aubert loved to wander, with his wife and daughter, on the margin o_he Garonne, and to listen to the music that floated on its waves. He ha_nown life in other forms than those of pastoral simplicity, having mingled i_he gay and in the busy scenes of the world; but the flattering portrait o_ankind, which his heart had delineated in early youth, his experience had to_orrowfully corrected. Yet, amidst the changing visions of life, hi_rinciples remained unshaken, his benevolence unchilled; and he retired fro_he multitude 'more in PITY than in anger,' to scenes of simple nature, to th_ure delights of literature, and to the exercise of domestic virtues.
  • He was a descendant from the younger branch of an illustrious family, and i_as designed, that the deficiency of his patrimonial wealth should be supplie_ither by a splendid alliance in marriage, or by success in the intrigues o_ublic affairs. But St. Aubert had too nice a sense of honour to fulfil th_atter hope, and too small a portion of ambition to sacrifice what he calle_appiness, to the attainment of wealth. After the death of his father h_arried a very amiable woman, his equal in birth, and not his superior i_ortune. The late Monsieur St. Aubert's liberality, or extravagance, had s_uch involved his affairs, that his son found it necessary to dispose of _art of the family domain, and, some years after his marriage, he sold it t_onsieur Quesnel, the brother of his wife, and retired to a small estate i_ascony, where conjugal felicity, and parental duties, divided his attentio_ith the treasures of knowledge and the illuminations of genius.
  • To this spot he had been attached from his infancy. He had often mad_xcursions to it when a boy, and the impressions of delight given to his min_y the homely kindness of the grey-headed peasant, to whom it was intrusted, and whose fruit and cream never failed, had not been obliterated by succeedin_ircumstances. The green pastures along which he had so often bounded in th_xultation of health, and youthful freedom—the woods, under whose refreshin_hade he had first indulged that pensive melancholy, which afterwards made _trong feature of his character—the wild walks of the mountains, the river, o_hose waves he had floated, and the distant plains, which seemed boundless a_is early hopes—were never after remembered by St. Aubert but with enthusias_nd regret. At length he disengaged himself from the world, and retire_ither, to realize the wishes of many years.
  • The building, as it then stood, was merely a summer cottage, rendere_nteresting to a stranger by its neat simplicity, or the beauty of th_urrounding scene; and considerable additions were necessary to make it _omfortable family residence. St. Aubert felt a kind of affection for ever_art of the fabric, which he remembered in his youth, and would not suffer _tone of it to be removed, so that the new building, adapted to the style o_he old one, formed with it only a simple and elegant residence. The taste o_adame St. Aubert was conspicuous in its internal finishing, where the sam_haste simplicity was observable in the furniture, and in the few ornaments o_he apartments, that characterized the manners of its inhabitants.
  • The library occupied the west side of the chateau, and was enriched by _ollection of the best books in the ancient and modern languages. This roo_pened upon a grove, which stood on the brow of a gentle declivity, that fel_owards the river, and the tall trees gave it a melancholy and pleasing shade; while from the windows the eye caught, beneath the spreading branches, the ga_nd luxuriant landscape stretching to the west, and overlooked on the left b_he bold precipices of the Pyrenees. Adjoining the library was a green- house, stored with scarce and beautiful plants; for one of the amusements of St.
  • Aubert was the study of botany, and among the neighbouring mountains, whic_fforded a luxurious feast to the mind of the naturalist, he often passed th_ay in the pursuit of his favourite science. He was sometimes accompanied i_hese little excursions by Madame St. Aubert, and frequently by his daughter; when, with a small osier basket to receive plants, and another filled wit_old refreshments, such as the cabin of the shepherd did not afford, the_andered away among the most romantic and magnificent scenes, nor suffered th_harms of Nature's lowly children to abstract them from the observance of he_tupendous works. When weary of sauntering among cliffs that seemed scarcel_ccessible but to the steps of the enthusiast, and where no track appeared o_he vegetation, but what the foot of the izard had left; they would seek on_f those green recesses, which so beautifully adorn the bosom of thes_ountains, where, under the shade of the lofty larch, or cedar, they enjoye_heir simple repast, made sweeter by the waters of the cool stream, that crep_long the turf, and by the breath of wild flowers and aromatic plants, tha_ringed the rocks, and inlaid the grass.
  • Adjoining the eastern side of the green-house, looking towards the plains o_anguedoc, was a room, which Emily called hers, and which contained her books, her drawings, her musical instruments, with some favourite birds and plants.
  • Here she usually exercised herself in elegant arts, cultivated only becaus_hey were congenial to her taste, and in which native genius, assisted by th_nstructions of Monsieur and Madame St. Aubert, made her an early proficient.
  • The windows of this room were particularly pleasant; they descended to th_loor, and, opening upon the little lawn that surrounded the house, the ey_as led between groves of almond, palm-trees, flowering-ash, and myrtle, t_he distant landscape, where the Garonne wandered.
  • The peasants of this gay climate were often seen on an evening, when the day'_abour was done, dancing in groups on the margin of the river. Their sprightl_elodies, debonnaire steps, the fanciful figure of their dances, with th_asteful and capricious manner in which the girls adjusted their simple dress, gave a character to the scene entirely French.
  • The front of the chateau, which, having a southern aspect, opened upon th_randeur of the mountains, was occupied on the ground floor by a rustic hall, and two excellent sitting rooms. The first floor, for the cottage had n_econd story, was laid out in bed-chambers, except one apartment that opene_o a balcony, and which was generally used for a breakfast-room.
  • In the surrounding ground, St. Aubert had made very tasteful improvements; yet, such was his attachment to objects he had remembered from his boyis_ays, that he had in some instances sacrificed taste to sentiment. There wer_wo old larches that shaded the building, and interrupted the prospect; St.
  • Aubert had sometimes declared that he believed he should have been weak enoug_o have wept at their fall. In addition to these larches he planted a littl_rove of beech, pine, and mountain-ash. On a lofty terrace, formed by th_welling bank of the river, rose a plantation of orange, lemon, and palm- trees, whose fruit, in the coolness of evening, breathed delicious fragrance.
  • With these were mingled a few trees of other species. Here, under the ampl_hade of a plane-tree, that spread its majestic canopy towards the river, St.
  • Aubert loved to sit in the fine evenings of summer, with his wife an_hildren, watching, beneath its foliage, the setting sun, the mild splendou_f its light fading from the distant landscape, till the shadows of twiligh_elted its various features into one tint of sober grey. Here, too, he love_o read, and to converse with Madame St. Aubert; or to play with his children, resigning himself to the influence of those sweet affections, which are eve_ttendant on simplicity and nature. He has often said, while tears of pleasur_rembled in his eyes, that these were moments infinitely more delightful tha_ny passed amid the brilliant and tumultuous scenes that are courted by th_orld. His heart was occupied; it had, what can be so rarely said, no wish fo_ happiness beyond what it experienced. The consciousness of acting righ_iffused a serenity over his manners, which nothing else could impart to a ma_f moral perceptions like his, and which refined his sense of ever_urrounding blessing.
  • The deepest shade of twilight did not send him from his favourite plane-tree.
  • He loved the soothing hour, when the last tints of light die away; when th_tars, one by one, tremble through aether, and are reflected on the dar_irror of the waters; that hour, which, of all others, inspires the mind wit_ensive tenderness, and often elevates it to sublime contemplation. When th_oon shed her soft rays among the foliage, he still lingered, and his pastora_upper of cream and fruits was often spread beneath it. Then, on the stillnes_f night, came the song of the nightingale, breathing sweetness, and awakenin_elancholy.
  • The first interruptions to the happiness he had known since his retirement, were occasioned by the death of his two sons. He lost them at that age whe_nfantine simplicity is so fascinating; and though, in consideration of Madam_t. Aubert's distress, he restrained the expression of his own, an_ndeavoured to bear it, as he meant, with philosophy, he had, in truth, n_hilosophy that could render him calm to such losses. One daughter was now hi_nly surviving child; and, while he watched the unfolding of her infan_haracter, with anxious fondness, he endeavoured, with unremitting effort, t_ounteract those traits in her disposition, which might hereafter lead he_rom happiness. She had discovered in her early years uncommon delicacy o_ind, warm affections, and ready benevolence; but with these was observable _egree of susceptibility too exquisite to admit of lasting peace. As sh_dvanced in youth, this sensibility gave a pensive tone to her spirits, and _oftness to her manner, which added grace to beauty, and rendered her a ver_nteresting object to persons of a congenial disposition. But St. Aubert ha_oo much good sense to prefer a charm to a virtue; and had penetration enoug_o see, that this charm was too dangerous to its possessor to be allowed th_haracter of a blessing. He endeavoured, therefore, to strengthen her mind; t_nure her to habits of self- command; to teach her to reject the first impuls_f her feelings, and to look, with cool examination, upon the disappointment_e sometimes threw in her way. While he instructed her to resist firs_mpressions, and to acquire that steady dignity of mind, that can alon_ounterbalance the passions, and bear us, as far as is compatible with ou_ature, above the reach of circumstances, he taught himself a lesson o_ortitude; for he was often obliged to witness, with seeming indifference, th_ears and struggles which his caution occasioned her.
  • In person, Emily resembled her mother; having the same elegant symmetry o_orm, the same delicacy of features, and the same blue eyes, full of tende_weetness. But, lovely as was her person, it was the varied expression of he_ountenance, as conversation awakened the nicer emotions of her mind, tha_hrew such a captivating grace around her:
  • Those tend'rer tints, that shun the careless eye, And, in the world'_ontagious circle, die.
  • St. Aubert cultivated her understanding with the most scrupulous care. He gav_er a general view of the sciences, and an exact acquaintance with every par_f elegant literature. He taught her Latin and English, chiefly that she migh_nderstand the sublimity of their best poets. She discovered in her earl_ears a taste for works of genius; and it was St. Aubert's principle, as wel_s his inclination, to promote every innocent means of happiness. 'A well- informed mind,' he would say, 'is the best security against the contagion o_olly and of vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and read_o plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it wit_deas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the worl_ithout, will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the worl_ithin. Thought, and cultivation, are necessary equally to the happiness of _ountry and a city life; in the first they prevent the uneasy sensations o_ndolence, and afford a sublime pleasure in the taste they create for th_eautiful, and the grand; in the latter, they make dissipation less an objec_f necessity, and consequently of interest.'
  • It was one of Emily's earliest pleasures to ramble among the scenes of nature; nor was it in the soft and glowing landscape that she most delighted; sh_oved more the wild wood-walks, that skirted the mountain; and still more th_ountain's stupendous recesses, where the silence and grandeur of solitud_mpressed a sacred awe upon her heart, and lifted her thoughts to the GOD O_EAVEN AND EARTH. In scenes like these she would often linger along, wrapt i_ melancholy charm, till the last gleam of day faded from the west; till th_onely sound of a sheep-bell, or the distant bark of a watch-dog, were al_hat broke on the stillness of the evening. Then, the gloom of the woods; th_rembling of their leaves, at intervals, in the breeze; the bat, flitting o_he twilight; the cottage-lights, now seen, and now lost—were circumstance_hat awakened her mind into effort, and led to enthusiasm and poetry.
  • Her favourite walk was to a little fishing-house, belonging to St. Aubert, i_ woody glen, on the margin of a rivulet that descended from the Pyrenees, and, after foaming among their rocks, wound its silent way beneath the shade_t reflected. Above the woods, that screened this glen, rose the lofty summit_f the Pyrenees, which often burst boldly on the eye through the glades below.
  • Sometimes the shattered face of a rock only was seen, crowned with wil_hrubs; or a shepherd's cabin seated on a cliff, overshadowed by dark cypress, or waving ash. Emerging from the deep recesses of the woods, the glade opene_o the distant landscape, where the rich pastures and vine-covered slopes o_ascony gradually declined to the plains; and there, on the winding shores o_he Garonne, groves, and hamlets, and villas—their outlines softened b_istance, melted from the eye into one rich harmonious tint.
  • This, too, was the favourite retreat of St. Aubert, to which he frequentl_ithdrew from the fervour of noon, with his wife, his daughter, and his books; or came at the sweet evening hour to welcome the silent dusk, or to listen fo_he music of the nightingale. Sometimes, too, he brought music of his own, an_wakened every fairy echo with the tender accents of his oboe; and often hav_he tones of Emily's voice drawn sweetness from the waves, over which the_rembled.
  • It was in one of these excursions to this spot, that she observed th_ollowing lines written with a pencil on a part of the wainscot:
  • **SONNET**
  • Go, pencil! faithful to thy master's sighs! Go—tell the Goddess of the fair_cene, When next her light steps wind these wood-walks green, Whence all hi_ears, his tender sorrows, rise; Ah! paint her form, her soul-illumin'd eyes, The sweet expression of her pensive face, The light'ning smile, the animate_race— The portrait well the lover's voice supplies; Speaks all his heart mus_eel, his tongue would say: Yet ah! not all his heart must sadly feel! How of_he flow'ret's silken leaves conceal The drug that steals the vital spar_way! And who that gazes on that angel-smile, Would fear its charm, or thin_t could beguile!
  • These lines were not inscribed to any person; Emily therefore could not appl_hem to herself, though she was undoubtedly the nymph of these shades. Havin_lanced round the little circle of her acquaintance without being detained b_ suspicion as to whom they could be addressed, she was compelled to rest i_ncertainty; an uncertainty which would have been more painful to an idle min_han it was to hers. She had no leisure to suffer this circumstance, triflin_t first, to swell into importance by frequent remembrance. The little vanit_t had excited (for the incertitude which forbade her to presume upon havin_nspired the sonnet, forbade her also to disbelieve it) passed away, and th_ncident was dismissed from her thoughts amid her books, her studies, and th_xercise of social charities.
  • Soon after this period, her anxiety was awakened by the indisposition of he_ather, who was attacked with a fever; which, though not thought to be of _angerous kind, gave a severe shock to his constitution. Madame St. Aubert an_mily attended him with unremitting care; but his recovery was very slow, and, as he advanced towards health, Madame seemed to decline.
  • The first scene he visited, after he was well enough to take the air, was hi_avourite fishing-house. A basket of provisions was sent thither, with books, and Emily's lute; for fishing-tackle he had no use, for he never could fin_musement in torturing or destroying.
  • After employing himself, for about an hour, in botanizing, dinner was served.
  • It was a repast, to which gratitude, for being again permitted to visit thi_pot, gave sweetness; and family happiness once more smiled beneath thes_hades. Monsieur St. Aubert conversed with unusual cheerfulness; every objec_elighted his senses. The refreshing pleasure from the first view of nature, after the pain of illness, and the confinement of a sick-chamber, is above th_onceptions, as well as the descriptions, of those in health. The green wood_nd pastures; the flowery turf; the blue concave of the heavens; the balm_ir; the murmur of the limpid stream; and even the hum of every little insec_f the shade, seem to revivify the soul, and make mere existence bliss.
  • Madame St. Aubert, reanimated by the cheerfulness and recovery of her husband, was no longer sensible of the indisposition which had lately oppressed her; and, as she sauntered along the wood-walks of this romantic glen, an_onversed with him, and with her daughter, she often looked at the_lternately with a degree of tenderness, that filled her eyes with tears. St.
  • Aubert observed this more than once, and gently reproved her for the emotion; but she could only smile, clasp his hand, and that of Emily, and weep th_ore. He felt the tender enthusiasm stealing upon himself in a degree tha_ecame almost painful; his features assumed a serious air, and he could no_orbear secretly sighing—'Perhaps I shall some time look back to thes_oments, as to the summit of my happiness, with hopeless regret. But let m_ot misuse them by useless anticipation; let me hope I shall not live to mour_he loss of those who are dearer to me than life.'
  • To relieve, or perhaps to indulge, the pensive temper of his mind, he bad_mily fetch the lute she knew how to touch with such sweet pathos. As she dre_ear the fishing-house, she was surprised to hear the tones of the instrument, which were awakened by the hand of taste, and uttered a plaintive air, whos_xquisite melody engaged all her attention. She listened in profound silence, afraid to move from the spot, lest the sound of her steps should occasion he_o lose a note of the music, or should disturb the musician. Every thin_ithout the building was still, and no person appeared. She continued t_isten, till timidity succeeded to surprise and delight; a timidity, increase_y a remembrance of the pencilled lines she had formerly seen, and sh_esitated whether to proceed, or to return.
  • While she paused, the music ceased; and, after a momentary hesitation, she re- collected courage to advance to the fishing-house, which she entered wit_altering steps, and found unoccupied! Her lute lay on the table; every thin_eemed undisturbed, and she began to believe it was another instrument she ha_eard, till she remembered, that, when she followed M. and Madame St. Auber_rom this spot, her lute was left on a window seat. She felt alarmed, yet kne_ot wherefore; the melancholy gloom of evening, and the profound stillness o_he place, interrupted only by the light trembling of leaves, heightened he_anciful apprehensions, and she was desirous of quitting the building, bu_erceived herself grow faint, and sat down. As she tried to recover herself, the pencilled lines on the wainscot met her eye; she started, as if she ha_een a stranger; but, endeavouring to conquer the tremor of her spirits, rose, and went to the window. To the lines before noticed she now perceived tha_thers were added, in which her name appeared.
  • Though no longer suffered to doubt that they were addressed to herself, sh_as as ignorant, as before, by whom they could be written. While she mused, she thought she heard the sound of a step without the building, and agai_larmed, she caught up her lute, and hurried away. Monsieur and Madame St.
  • Aubert she found in a little path that wound along the sides of the glen.
  • Having reached a green summit, shadowed by palm-trees, and overlooking th_allies and plains of Gascony, they seated themselves on the turf; and whil_heir eyes wandered over the glorious scene, and they inhaled the sweet breat_f flowers and herbs that enriched the grass, Emily played and sung several o_heir favourite airs, with the delicacy of expression in which she so muc_xcelled.
  • Music and conversation detained them in this enchanting spot, till the sun'_ast light slept upon the plains; till the white sails that glided beneath th_ountains, where the Garonne wandered, became dim, and the gloom of evenin_tole over the landscape. It was a melancholy but not unpleasing gloom. St.
  • Aubert and his family rose, and left the place with regret; alas! Madame St.
  • Aubert knew not that she left it for ever.
  • When they reached the fishing-house she missed her bracelet, and recollecte_hat she had taken it from her arm after dinner, and had left it on the tabl_hen she went to walk. After a long search, in which Emily was very active, she was compelled to resign herself to the loss of it. What made this bracele_aluable to her was a miniature of her daughter to which it was attached, esteemed a striking resemblance, and which had been painted only a few month_efore. When Emily was convinced that the bracelet was really gone, sh_lushed, and became thoughtful. That some stranger had been in the fishing- house, during her absence, her lute, and the additional lines of a pencil, ha_lready informed her: from the purport of these lines it was not unreasonabl_o believe, that the poet, the musician, and the thief were the same person.
  • But though the music she had heard, the written lines she had seen, and th_isappearance of the picture, formed a combination of circumstances ver_emarkable, she was irresistibly restrained from mentioning them; secretl_etermining, however, never again to visit the fishing-house without Monsieu_r Madame St. Aubert.
  • They returned pensively to the chateau, Emily musing on the incident which ha_ust occurred; St. Aubert reflecting, with placid gratitude, on the blessing_e possessed; and Madame St. Aubert somewhat disturbed, and perplexed, by th_oss of her daughter's picture. As they drew near the house, they observed a_nusual bustle about it; the sound of voices was distinctly heard, servant_nd horses were seen passing between the trees, and, at length, the wheels o_ carriage rolled along. Having come within view of the front of the chateau, a landau, with smoking horses, appeared on the little lawn before it. St.
  • Aubert perceived the liveries of his brother-in-law, and in the parlour h_ound Monsieur and Madame Quesnel already entered. They had left Paris som_ays before, and were on the way to their estate, only ten leagues distan_rom La Vallee, and which Monsieur Quesnel had purchased several years befor_f St. Aubert. This gentleman was the only brother of Madame St. Aubert; bu_he ties of relationship having never been strengthened by congeniality o_haracter, the intercourse between them had not been frequent. M. Quesnel ha_ived altogether in the world; his aim had been consequence; splendour was th_bject of his taste; and his address and knowledge of character had carrie_im forward to the attainment of almost all that he had courted. By a man o_uch a disposition, it is not surprising that the virtues of St. Aubert shoul_e overlooked; or that his pure taste, simplicity, and moderated wishes, wer_onsidered as marks of a weak intellect, and of confined views. The marriag_f his sister with St. Aubert had been mortifying to his ambition, for he ha_esigned that the matrimonial connection she formed should assist him t_ttain the consequence which he so much desired; and some offers were made he_y persons whose rank and fortune flattered his warmest hope. But his sister, who was then addressed also by St. Aubert, perceived, or thought sh_erceived, that happiness and splendour were not the same, and she did no_esitate to forego the last for the attainment of the former. Whether Monsieu_uesnel thought them the same, or not, he would readily have sacrificed hi_ister's peace to the gratification of his own ambition; and, on her marriag_ith St. Aubert, expressed in private his contempt of her spiritless conduct, and of the connection which it permitted. Madame St. Aubert, though sh_oncealed this insult from her husband, felt, perhaps, for the first time, resentment lighted in her heart; and, though a regard for her own dignity, united with considerations of prudence, restrained her expression of thi_esentment, there was ever after a mild reserve in her manner towards M.
  • Quesnel, which he both understood and felt.
  • In his own marriage he did not follow his sister's example. His lady was a_talian, and an heiress by birth; and, by nature and education, was a vain an_rivolous woman.
  • They now determined to pass the night with St. Aubert; and as the chateau wa_ot large enough to accommodate their servants, the latter were dismissed t_he neighbouring village. When the first compliments were over, and th_rrangements for the night made M. Quesnel began the display of hi_ntelligence and his connections; while St. Aubert, who had been long enoug_n retirement to find these topics recommended by their novelty, listened, with a degree of patience and attention, which his guest mistook for th_umility of wonder. The latter, indeed, described the few festivities whic_he turbulence of that period permitted to the court of Henry the Third, wit_ minuteness, that somewhat recompensed for his ostentation; but, when he cam_o speak of the character of the Duke de Joyeuse, of a secret treaty, which h_new to be negotiating with the Porte, and of the light in which Henry o_avarre was received, M. St. Aubert recollected enough of his forme_xperience to be assured, that his guest could be only of an inferior class o_oliticians; and that, from the importance of the subjects upon which h_ommitted himself, he could not be of the rank to which he pretended t_elong. The opinions delivered by M. Quesnel, were such as St. Aubert forebor_o reply to, for he knew that his guest had neither humanity to feel, no_iscernment to perceive, what is just.
  • Madame Quesnel, meanwhile, was expressing to Madame St. Aubert he_stonishment, that she could bear to pass her life in this remote corner o_he world, as she called it, and describing, from a wish, probably, o_xciting envy, the splendour of the balls, banquets, and processions which ha_ust been given by the court, in honour of the nuptials of the Duke de Joyeus_ith Margaretta of Lorrain, the sister of the Queen. She described with equa_inuteness the magnificence she had seen, and that from which she had bee_xcluded; while Emily's vivid fancy, as she listened with the ardent curiosit_f youth, heightened the scenes she heard of; and Madame St. Aubert, lookin_n her family, felt, as a tear stole to her eye, that though splendour ma_race happiness, virtue only can bestow it.
  • 'It is now twelve years, St. Aubert,' said M. Quesnel, 'since I purchased you_amily estate.'—'Somewhere thereabout,' replied St. Aubert, suppressing _igh. 'It is near five years since I have been there,' resumed Quesnel; 'fo_aris and its neighbourhood is the only place in the world to live in, and _m so immersed in politics, and have so many affairs of moment on my hands, that I find it difficult to steal away even for a month or two.' St. Auber_emaining silent, M. Quesnel proceeded: 'I have sometimes wondered how you, who have lived in the capital, and have been accustomed to company, can exis_lsewhere;—especially in so remote a country as this, where you can neithe_ear nor see any thing, and can in short be scarcely conscious of life.'
  • 'I live for my family and myself,' said St. Aubert; 'I am now contented t_now only happiness;—formerly I knew life.'
  • 'I mean to expend thirty or forty thousand livres on improvements,' said M.
  • Quesnel, without seeming to notice the words of St. Aubert; 'for I design, next summer, to bring here my friends, the Duke de Durefort and the Marqui_amont, to pass a month or two with me.' To St. Aubert's enquiry, as to thes_ntended improvements, he replied, that he should take down the whole eas_ing of the chateau, and raise upon the site a set of stables. 'Then I shal_uild,' said he, 'a SALLE A MANGER, a SALON, a SALLE AU COMMUNE, and a numbe_f rooms for servants; for at present there is not accommodation for a thir_art of my own people.'
  • 'It accommodated our father's household,' said St. Aubert, grieved that th_ld mansion was to be thus improved, 'and that was not a small one.'
  • 'Our notions are somewhat enlarged since those days,' said M. Quesnel;—'wha_as then thought a decent style of living would not now be endured.' Even th_alm St. Aubert blushed at these words, but his anger soon yielded t_ontempt. 'The ground about the chateau is encumbered with trees; I mean t_ut some of them down.'
  • 'Cut down the trees too!' said St. Aubert.
  • 'Certainly. Why should I not? they interrupt my prospects. There is a chesnu_hich spreads its branches before the whole south side of the chateau, an_hich is so ancient that they tell me the hollow of its trunk will hold _ozen men. Your enthusiasm will scarcely contend that there can be either use, or beauty, in such a sapless old tree as this.'
  • 'Good God!' exclaimed St. Aubert, 'you surely will not destroy that nobl_hesnut, which has flourished for centuries, the glory of the estate! It wa_n its maturity when the present mansion was built. How often, in my youth, have I climbed among its broad branches, and sat embowered amidst a world o_eaves, while the heavy shower has pattered above, and not a rain drop reache_e! How often I have sat with a book in my hand, sometimes reading, an_ometimes looking out between the branches upon the wide landscape, and th_etting sun, till twilight came, and brought the birds home to their littl_ests among the leaves! How often—but pardon me,' added St. Aubert, recollecting that he was speaking to a man who could neither comprehend, no_llow his feelings, 'I am talking of times and feelings as old-fashioned a_he taste that would spare that venerable tree.'
  • 'It will certainly come down,' said M. Quesnel; 'I believe I shall plant som_ombardy poplars among the clumps of chesnut, that I shall leave of th_venue; Madame Quesnel is partial to the poplar, and tells me how much i_dorns a villa of her uncle, not far from Venice.'
  • 'On the banks of the Brenta, indeed,' continued St. Aubert, 'where its spir_orm is intermingled with the pine, and the cypress, and where it plays ove_ight and elegant porticos and colonnades, it, unquestionably, adorns th_cene; but among the giants of the forest, and near a heavy gothic mansion—'
  • 'Well, my good sir,' said M. Quesnel, 'I will not dispute with you. You mus_eturn to Paris before our ideas can at all agree. But A- PROPOS of Venice, _ave some thoughts of going thither, next summer; events may call me to tak_ossession of that same villa, too, which they tell me is the most charmin_hat can be imagined. In that case I shall leave the improvements I mention t_nother year, and I may, perhaps, be tempted to stay some time in Italy.'
  • Emily was somewhat surprised to hear him talk of being tempted to remai_broad, after he had mentioned his presence to be so necessary at Paris, tha_t was with difficulty he could steal away for a month or two; but St. Auber_nderstood the self-importance of the man too well to wonder at this trait; and the possibility, that these projected improvements might be deferred, gav_im a hope, that they might never take place.
  • Before they separated for the night, M. Quesnel desired to speak with St.
  • Aubert alone, and they retired to another room, where they remained _onsiderable time. The subject of this conversation was not known; but, whatever it might be, St. Aubert, when he returned to the supper-room, seeme_uch disturbed, and a shade of sorrow sometimes fell upon his features tha_larmed Madame St. Aubert. When they were alone she was tempted to enquire th_ccasion of it, but the delicacy of mind, which had ever appeared in hi_onduct, restrained her: she considered that, if St. Aubert wished her to b_cquainted with the subject of his concern, he would not wait on he_nquiries.
  • On the following day, before M. Quesnel departed, he had a second conferenc_ith St. Aubert.
  • The guests, after dining at the chateau, set out in the cool of the day fo_pourville, whither they gave him and Madame St. Aubert a pressing invitation, prompted rather by the vanity of displaying their splendour, than by a wish t_ake their friends happy.
  • Emily returned, with delight, to the liberty which their presence ha_estrained, to her books, her walks, and the rational conversation of M. an_adame St. Aubert, who seemed to rejoice, no less, that they were delivere_rom the shackles, which arrogance and frivolity had imposed.
  • Madame St. Aubert excused herself from sharing their usual evening walk, complaining that she was not quite well, and St. Aubert and Emily went ou_ogether.
  • They chose a walk towards the mountains, intending to visit some ol_ensioners of St. Aubert, which, from his very moderate income, he contrive_o support, though it is probable M. Quesnel, with his very large one, coul_ot have afforded this.
  • After distributing to his pensioners their weekly stipends, listenin_atiently to the complaints of some, redressing the grievances of others, an_oftening the discontents of all, by the look of sympathy, and the smile o_enevolence, St. Aubert returned home through the woods,
  • where At fall of eve the fairy-people throng, In various games and revelry t_ass The summer night, as village stories tell.[[1]](footnotes.xml#footnote_1)
  • 'The evening gloom of woods was always delightful to me,' said St. Aubert, whose mind now experienced the sweet calm, which results from th_onsciousness of having done a beneficent action, and which disposes it t_eceive pleasure from every surrounding object. 'I remember that in my yout_his gloom used to call forth to my fancy a thousand fairy visions, an_omantic images; and, I own, I am not yet wholly insensible of that hig_nthusiasm, which wakes the poet's dream: I can linger, with solemn steps, under the deep shades, send forward a transforming eye into the distan_bscurity, and listen with thrilling delight to the mystic murmuring of th_oods.' 'O my dear father,' said Emily, while a sudden tear started to he_ye, 'how exactly you describe what I have felt so often, and which I though_obody had ever felt but myself! But hark! here comes the sweeping sound ove_he wood-tops;—now it dies away;—how solemn the stillness that succeeds! No_he breeze swells again. It is like the voice of some supernatural being—th_oice of the spirit of the woods, that watches over them by night. Ah! wha_ight is yonder? But it is gone. And now it gleams again, near the root o_hat large chestnut: look, sir!' 'Are you such an admirer of nature,' said St.
  • Aubert, 'and so little acquainted with her appearances as not to know that fo_he glow- worm? But come,' added he gaily, 'step a little further, and w_hall see fairies, perhaps; they are often companions. The glow-worm lends hi_ight, and they in return charm him with music, and the dance. Do you se_othing tripping yonder?' Emily laughed. 'Well, my dear sir,' said she, 'sinc_ou allow of this alliance, I may venture to own I have anticipated you; an_lmost dare venture to repeat some verses I made one evening in these ver_oods.' 'Nay,' replied St. Aubert, 'dismiss the ALMOST, and venture quite; le_s hear what vagaries fancy has been playing in your mind. If she has give_ou one of her spells, you need not envy those of the fairies.' 'If it i_trong enough to enchant your judgment, sir,' said Emily, 'while I disclos_er images, I need NOT envy them. The lines go in a sort of tripping measure, which I thought might suit the subject well enough, but I fear they are to_rregular.'
  • **THE GLOW-WORM** How pleasant is the green-wood's deep-matted shade On a mid-summer's eve, whe_he fresh rain is o'er; When the yellow beams slope, and sparkle thro' th_lade, And swiftly in the thin air the light swallows soar! But sweeter, sweeter still, when the sun sinks to rest, And twilight comes on, with th_airies so gay Tripping through the forest-walk, where flow'rs, unprest, Bo_ot their tall heads beneath their frolic play. To music's softest sounds the_ance away the hour, Till moon-light steals down among the trembling leaves, And checquers all the ground, and guides them to the bow'r, The long haunte_ow'r, where the nightingale grieves. Then no more they dance, till her sa_ong is done, But, silent as the night, to her mourning attend; And often a_er dying notes their pity have won, They vow all her sacred haunts fro_ortals to defend. When, down among the mountains, sinks the ev'ning star, An_he changing moon forsakes this shadowy sphere, How cheerless would they be, tho' they fairies are, If I, with my pale light, came not near! Yet cheerles_ho' they'd be, they're ungrateful to my love! For, often when the traveller'_enighted on his way, And I glimmer in his path, and would guide him thro' th_rove, They bind me in their magic spells to lead him far astray; And in th_ire to leave him, till the stars are all burnt out, While, in strange-lookin_hapes, they frisk about the ground, And, afar in the woods, they raise _ismal shout, Till I shrink into my cell again for terror of the sound! But, see where all the tiny elves come dancing in a ring, With the merry, merr_ipe, and the tabor, and the horn, And the timbrel so clear, and the lute wit_ulcet string; Then round about the oak they go till peeping of the morn. Dow_onder glade two lovers steal, to shun the fairy-queen, Who frowns upon thei_lighted vows, and jealous is of me, That yester-eve I lighted them, along th_ewy green, To seek the purple flow'r, whose juice from all her spells ca_ree. And now, to punish me, she keeps afar her jocund band, With the merry, merry pipe, and the tabor, and the lute; If I creep near yonder oak she wil_ave her fairy wand, And to me the dance will cease, and the music all b_ute. O! had I but that purple flow'r whose leaves her charms can foil, An_new like fays to draw the juice, and throw it on the wind, I'd be her slav_o longer, nor the traveller beguile, And help all faithful lovers, nor fea_he fairy kind! But soon the VAPOUR OF THE WOODS will wander afar, And th_ickle moon will fade, and the stars disappear, Then, cheerless will they be, tho' they fairies are, If I, with my pale light, come not near! Whatever St.
  • Aubert might think of the stanzas, he would not deny his daughter the pleasur_f believing that he approved them; and, having given his commendation, h_unk into a reverie, and they walked on in silence. A faint erroneous ra_lanc'd from th' imperfect surfaces of things, Flung half an image on th_training eye; While waving woods, and villages, and streams, And rocks, an_ountain-tops, that long retain The ascending gleam, are all one swimmin_cene, Uncertain if beheld.* *Thomson. St. Aubert continued silent till h_eached the chateau, where his wife had retired to her chamber. The languo_nd dejection, that had lately oppressed her, and which the exertion calle_orth by the arrival of her guests had suspended, now returned with increase_ffect. On the following day, symptoms of fever appeared, and St. Aubert, having sent for medical advice, learned, that her disorder was a fever of th_ame nature as that, from which he had lately recovered. She had, indeed, taken the infection, during her attendance upon him, and, her constitutio_eing too weak to throw out the disease immediately, it had lurked in he_eins, and occasioned the heavy languor of which she had complained. St.
  • Aubert, whose anxiety for his wife overcame every other consideration, detained the physician in his house. He remembered the feelings and th_eflections that had called a momentary gloom upon his mind, on the day whe_e had last visited the fishing-house, in company with Madame St. Aubert, an_e now admitted a presentiment, that this illness would be a fatal one. But h_ffectually concealed this from her, and from his daughter, whom h_ndeavoured to re-animate with hopes that her constant assiduities would no_e unavailing. The physician, when asked by St. Aubert for his opinion of th_isorder, replied, that the event of it depended upon circumstances which h_ould not ascertain. Madame St. Aubert seemed to have formed a more decide_ne; but her eyes only gave hints of this. She frequently fixed them upon he_nxious friends with an expression of pity, and of tenderness, as if sh_nticipated the sorrow that awaited them, and that seemed to say, it was fo_heir sakes only, for their sufferings, that she regretted life. On th_eventh day, the disorder was at its crisis. The physician assumed a grave_anner, which she observed, and took occasion, when her family had onc_uitted the chamber, to tell him, that she perceived her death wa_pproaching. 'Do not attempt to deceive me,' said she, 'I feel that I canno_ong survive. I am prepared for the event, I have long, I hope, been preparin_or it. Since I have not long to live, do not suffer a mistaken compassion t_nduce you to flatter my family with false hopes. If you do, their afflictio_ill only be the heavier when it arrives: I will endeavour to teach the_esignation by my example.' The physician was affected; he promised to obe_er, and told St. Aubert, somewhat abruptly, that there was nothing to expect.
  • The latter was not philosopher enough to restrain his feelings when h_eceived this information; but a consideration of the increased afflictio_hich the observance of his grief would occasion his wife, enabled him, afte_ome time, to command himself in her presence. Emily was at first overwhelme_ith the intelligence; then, deluded by the strength of her wishes, a hop_prung up in her mind that her mother would yet recover, and to this sh_ertinaciously adhered almost to the last hour. The progress of this disorde_as marked, on the side of Madame St. Aubert, by patient suffering, an_ubjected wishes. The composure, with which she awaited her death, could b_erived only from the retrospect of a life governed, as far as human frailt_ermits, by a consciousness of being always in the presence of the Deity, an_y the hope of a higher world. But her piety could not entirely subdue th_rief of parting from those whom she so dearly loved. During these her las_ours, she conversed much with St. Aubert and Emily, on the prospect o_uturity, and on other religious topics. The resignation she expressed, wit_he firm hope of meeting in a future world the friends she left in this, an_he effort which sometimes appeared to conceal her sorrow at this temporar_eparation, frequently affected St. Aubert so much as to oblige him to leav_he room. Having indulged his tears awhile, he would dry them and return t_he chamber with a countenance composed by an endeavour which did but increas_is grief. Never had Emily felt the importance of the lessons, which ha_aught her to restrain her sensibility, so much as in these moments, and neve_ad she practised them with a triumph so complete. But when the last was over, she sunk at once under the pressure of her sorrow, and then perceived that i_as hope, as well as fortitude, which had hitherto supported her. St. Auber_as for a time too devoid of comfort himself to bestow any on his daughter.