« PreviousContinue »
have little to add this letter was given to me by my Rosalie, that I might present it to you when an opportunity occurred." Mortimer hastily seized the letter, and, wild with the violence of contending emotions, rushed from the offended parent of his victim. He had not been long absent, when the report of a pistol was heard. Guided by the sound, De Voisin hastened to the spot, and discovered Mortimer stretched dead upon the ground, with the fatal writing in his hand.
I was but a boy when these circumstance occurred, but the remembrance is indelibly imprinted on my memory. The story was told to me by an old Welch herdsman, who was well acquainted with the parties. But years have rolled on, and the memory of Rosalie is fading from the minds of the villagers. You may sometimes meet with an old cottager, who knew her when she was young, and who still speaks of her with fondness. But these instances are rare, and in a short time she will be entirely forgotten.
When last I was in the neighbourhood of Carrick Southey, I paid a visit to the cottage of Rosalie. It was overgrown with nightshade, and afforded a melancholy epitome of despair. I paused-an utter stillness reigned around, save where the raven screamed his death-song. I entered the room where she had once lived. I saw the harp which
was once hers, and it was mouldering in silent decay. The spider had woven his web among the chords, and the whole scene spoke of gloomy desertion. The sun was sinking, was sinking, as I turned my steps to the spot where the guilty Mortimer reposed. It was in a little nook at the extremity of the cottage garden, unnoticed by epitaph or elegy. A wild rose was blooming on the sod, and a few withered leaves of a hanging cypress were strewed upon his grave. Never had I thought of the perfect wretchedness of vice till I looked on the narrow spot that enclosed the remains of the seducer of Rosalie De Voisin.
THE FALL OF THE LEAF.
"The summer days are over,
THE most melancholy period of the year is hastening to its final consummation. The old age of the seasons is at hand, and every gale that sweeps the atmosphere is laden with destruction. The summer sun, that we admired in our morning and evening rambles, now gradually veils himself in mist, and withdraws from our gaze, to set in other worlds. If we venture into the fields, we are no longer welcomed by the sweet choristers of spring, the humming bee, and chirping grasshopper: they have all gone to sleep away the frosts of winter, and wake to a more genial period. The wind speaks no longer of health and animation; the spirit of gloom sits heavily on its wings, and its voice, as it whistles over the stubble, "breathes the language of days that are past, pleasant yet mournful to the soul."
The mind of man appears in some degree to take its tone of action from the revolving seasons. In spring, it is sanguine and replete with joyous anticipations; in summer, it becomes more calm, in the conscious possession of happiness; in autumn, it flags with the flagging season, is filled with mistrust, sullenness, and fog; and in winter, lingers out the day in a sort of moody, meditative spirit. It is in this intimate connexion of mind with the vicissitudes of the year, that the generality of our disorders originate. On insanity in particular the gloom of autumn has a most pernicious tendency; the newspapers too are usually filled at this period with melancholy instances of suicide; and the deaths obtain an alarming majority over the births and marriages. I know one person of deserved literary reputation, who, to use his own language, dozes away winter in a state of actual torpor, and wakes at the approach of spring to the reality of life and sun-shine. Nor is he a solitary instance of such peculiar sensitiveness; for the generality of men appear to possess two minds, the respective concomitants of summer and winter. The one, in connexion with its season, is amiable, healthy, and sanguine; the other, morose, inactive, and thoughtful. Many people will prove themselves enviable acquaintances amid the corresponding cheerfulness of summer, who in winter will disgust
us with their moody fretfulness; many an invalid in the plenitude of temporary health, will forget in the one season that he ever ailed in the other; and I have heard of a physician who passes the summer in ridiculing the nervous peculiarities of his patients; and the winter in standing every morning before breakfast in the shape and likeness of a tea-pot.
But with all these natural disadvantages, autumn is not devoid of interest. If it be the most melancholy period of the year, it is also the season that from external causes disposes the mind most strongly to reflection. The daily fall of the leaf, the desolate sterility of the fields, and the absence of all that constitutes the cheerfulness of scenery, impress themselves on the reflecting mind, with an indescribable sympathy of feeling. We connect the falling honours of the year with our own relative situation, and, by observing the vicissitudes of the season, are induced to dwell with thoughtful attention on the vicissitudes of our own life. Rousseau affirms, that the sight of a withering autumnal rose first awoke him to a sense of his own mortality; and history tells us, that when Pelopidas paid a visit to the here of Mantinea, he found him seated in his garden, watching with intense interest, a solitary yellow leaf that hung lingering on a decayed poplar. "If any