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most gloomy, strikes the imagination with most horror, and is most repulsive to enter; yet has a visit to such an abode much utility in it, and it serves as a wholesome lesson to pride and incredulity; for who can enter the maniac's cell without offering fervent thanks to his Maker, for preserving in him the intellectual ray, that spark whose loss makes total darkness upon earth, and levels us with the brute creation ? Who can quit such a mansion without having his heart and mind filled with religious awe, with salutary humility, with subdued ambition and pride, with charity, with pity, and above all, with gratitude ?
Having never been backward or scrupulous in visiting scenes of human distress, I was applied to, a short time ago, to accompany a friend in a visit to a relation of his who was confined at some distance from London in a private madhouse. My acquaintance felt much aversion to this task, as he considered it; and it was with view of rendering it less melancholy, that I was pitched upon as a companion. We found the unfortunate object of our inquiries in a lucid interval; and I was convinced that more frequent and kinder visits, a strict and frequent observance of the progress of returning reason, a fostering of the intellectual ray, an innocent diverting of the imagination, every possible diminution of the idea of madness, discipline, or confinement, would tend as much to the cure as regimen, retirement, and coercion, particularly when administered by those who may have an interest in detaining the sufferer.
On this occasion I studiously avoided every inquisitive look, all searching and prying expression, and above all, every thing like suspicion, drawing back, or gloom of countenance. I addressed the deranged person with the cheerfulness of an old acquaintance, and with the urbanity and confidence due to one possessing his mental faculties in undisturbed integrity. I also advised my companion to do the same; and I perceived the good effect of such conduct. A look of pity, though well meant, is a dagger to a diseased mind or body. Pity, like wit, should be wisely and dexterously, delicately and moderately used ; else do both oftener wound than please, oftener injure than bring relief.
The case of the deranged person in question was by no means desperate ; it was the effect of fever, and he recovered from it. But there was within the same walls a female, whose lovely form, interesting appearance, and sad story harrow up my heart. I shall give it as briefly as possible ; for even now my bosom
swells with an indescribable pang, the blood mounts up to my head, my mind is all indignation, and the sorrowful remembrance shakes my nerves to a degree of womanish weakness.
Passing an apartment next to that of the person whom we visited, I saw a young person, whose fine dark hair overshadowed a bosom of snow, fly across the room, and then hide herself in a corner, covering her dejected eyes with her lily hands. “ Poor Ellen !” exclaimed the keeper: “ that girl is to be pitied.” At this moment we heard her say, in a low, incoherent manner : “ A man! a man!-Fie for shame! Out of doors with
! A disgrace to your family! For shame !-A man! vile-base--a murderer !” Here she paused, drew a deep sigh, and then repeated—“ a murderer of woman's peace.” I listened again, horror-struck ; when, throwing herself on her knees, she whispered, “ spirits of gentleness and peace ! ye who inhabit the mansions where spring ever flourishes, where the sun's ray scorches not, and the cold, cold wind bites not, protect my tender babe, for she died in her innocence.” I could bear the scene no longer; yet curiosity led me to inquire her history.
She was the seventh daughter of a poor lieutenant, who had retired on a small pension for his wounds. She lived in the neighbourhood of a very rich man, who for four successive years had watched her growing beauties and attractions, and after using every artifice which the worst of minds could invent, and the basest heart could practise, succeeded at last in ruining her under a solemn promise of marriage. Time rolled on, and with it various pretexts and excuses for delay. At length her situation betrayed her shame; her distracted father cast her from beneath his roof; and her infernal seducer at once denied his promise, and refused her an asylum. The fruit of this guilty flame, a lovely daughter, was taken from her by the desire of its monster-father, and was put in the Foundling Hospital, whilst the distracted mother was told that it had died.
Here her reason left her, nor has she ever regained one lucid moment since. Fixed and deep-rooted melancholy has seized
upon her mind ; it was now too late for her proud father to be reconciled: nor could the seducer of her innocence make reparation even if he were inclined. The former is no more. The latter still struts like prosperous vice, and holds a high place in society ; yet murder is white to this ! Let us dismiss the subject. Execrable villain ! Alas, poor Ellen ! often has thy faded form, thy woe-worn countenance, flitted, in a monient of solituted and reflection, before the fancy of.
THE HERMIT IN THE COUNTRY.
M: DONOUGH. “I do not think the widow has one franc in the world,” said the little boy of the inn where I put up at Calais, to his mother, heaving at the same time a deep sigh.
6 What makes you think so, Henry ?” asked his kind mother. Why,” said the
“ because I saw the postman, nasty fellow ! take back a letter which she had not the money to pay for. And she had no breakfast to-day, and no dinner yesterday, for she says
that she's not well, and she is best in bed, and that fasting does her good; though I know it don't. Yesterday she took a dry biscuit with her to the sea-side, and read for two hours ; that's a poor dinner, you know,” concluded the little fellow, with much feeling and animation. “ Take these three francs to her," replied the mother ; “ and tell her that I want her to taste some soup which I have made for her, merely to know how she likes it.” Here the little boy kissed his mother with much warmth : 6 Give her the franc too which the strange gentleman gave me for pocket-money,” said he ; " and sell the ring we bought at the fair, for her.” “ Thou art a dear child !” exclaimed I. “ Every one loves the widow," replied he, "except the nasty postman and the lodging, house man, who seized all her clothes for rent; and you'd love her too if
knew her.” I was going to enquire further, when the child flew off with the four francs, but soon returned weeping “ What's the matter, Henry ?” said his mother ; “ Matter enough,” replied the child ; “the widow won't take the money, but she
says that you may send the soup. She took me in her arms, and embraced me, and her tears fell upon my head. I could kill the postman, that I could; for who knows whether the letter may not contain money ?”—“There,” said the mother, “ there, take these two francs, and get the letter and take it to her.”
66 And Henry my dear, come back, and let us know if it does contain any money, and I will give thee a franc for thyself,” added I.
He returned a second time more dejected than the first. The letter, whatever were its contents, had greatly increased the widow's affliction.
“ Prithee,” said I, “give me this lady's history, and do me the honour to present me to her.” “ The first I certainly will do," answered she; “the second depends upon her permission; for adversity has made her proud, and I would not wound her feelings for all the world.” « Nor I neither; they ought to be respected ; but now to her history."
I detest prolixity myself; and I shall therefore not impose the burden thereof upon my reader. The amount of the lady's. story is, in a few words, as follows. She is the widow of as brave a man as ever drew a sword. She had married from mutual love and early attachment, at the time that he was still a midshipman. Great and many were the services which he rendered his country at that period, and with that rank only. Great were his struggles to support his blooming bride on a trifling younger child's portion soon exhausted, and on ill-paid prize-money, always condemned before it was received. He had, during the brief period of a life dedicated to love and to his country, gone through every peril and suffering, which a hard service could produce. He had seen the infant blossom of nuptial promise wither prematurely, and fade away like the blighted hopes of his fortune ; at last the effects of a fatal climate undermined his health and strength, and he fell childless.
Thus left he the partner of his heart, and her who alone had soothed him in all the many disappointments of life, and of his profession ; leaving, moreover, some claims of which honour required the fulfilment; and accordingly his widow allotted ten pounds per annum, for life, towards them, out of the poor pension of a Lieutenant's widow. Poverty, and the frowns of prosperous proud ones, made home painful to her; and she fled for an asylum to France. Her situation I have already described ; it needs no high colouring : I took the sketch from nature, and it must speak for itself.
I was introduced to the lady, and found her well-bred, accomplished, virtuous, reserved. Her person was elegant; and on her features were impressed the strong lines of noble fortitude, sinking, without giving way, bent but not abject, proud but not rebellious ; she was dressed in black a colour which she had never quitted since the loss of her lamented husband. It was with difficulty that I obtained an interview with her ; but the naming a captain of the navy, a relation of mine, served as a passport. She complained not of poverty, nor of the injustice of the world, nor of the neglect of her family, nor even of the
oppression which she had met with ; but merely delicately deplored the uncertainty in which strangers were placed abroad, and mentioned the delay of agents, and her anxiety for the arrival of the post: all this she did with a firm, smiling, and almost triumphant countenance, superior to all debasement, and worthy of a better fate; but when she was forced to name her late husband, and her unprotected state, she spoke in a subdued tone, and showed all the softness of her suffering sex. I made my
visit short, for it was painful to both of us.
“ And have the strong arm, and the stouter heart, fought and bled to leave thee thus ?” cried I to myself, as I quitted her ; “ Had thy faithful mate, who has been rocked by the billows, and cradled on the desolate precipice, no other inheritance to leave thee than this scanty pittance ? Has the widow of him who has been twenty years the servant and the champion of his country, who has been wounded and shipwrecked, who has passed half his days betwixt the wide heavens and the boundless deep, often without the hopes of hailing land and friends again, and who at last has fallen a victim to unhealthy climates,--has she no other retreat in the declining autumn of life, than a foreign country and an insufficient income? Why are not the widows and orphans of our brave seamen and soldiers considered as the wives and children of the State ? How could the rich merchant and the powerful capitalist have slept safely on their downy pillows, without the valiant intrepid husbands and fathers of these objects of passive pity? Are there no resources in the State to ameliorate their lot? No retrenchments from the gorgeous banquets of the great ? No generous hearts or hands to be intrusted ? No feeling bosoms alive to claims like these ? Must foreigners and foes either insult them by humiliating pity ; or oppress them by unfeeling impositions ? - Forbid it, humanity!"
How I acted, or what I did on this occasion, I leave the reader to interpret as his heart dictates. I blushed then to think-I still regret, how little were my means ; but I still more deplore the fate of numerous unfortunates in similar situations with the Lieutenant's widow, who, incumbered often with numerous children unprovided for, pine in the garb of gentility, and water a scanty meal with the sad tears of dark and bitter remembrance ; comparing the present with the past, and scarcely daring to draw a perspective of the future. These we find in numbers on the coasts of Belgium and France, eagerly and