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LONDON [Vol. II]
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RETURN TO ENGLAND.
was on a beautiful morning, in the first week of March, that a large war-steamer
passed Gravesend, and pursued its rapid way towards Woolwich.
She was a splendid vessel, rigged as a frigate, and
carrying twelve carronades. Her hull was entirely black, save in respect to the
gilding of her figure-head and of her stern-windows; but her interior was fitted
up in a style of costly magnificence. Large mirrors, chaste carving, rich
carpets, and soft ottomans gave to the chief cabin the air of a princely
On the deck every thing denoted the nicest order and
discipline. The sailors performed their duties with that alacrity and skill
which ever characterise men-of-war's men who are commanded by experienced
officers; and two marines, with shouldered firelocks, paced the quarter-deck
with measured steps.
The white sails were all neatly furled; for the gallant
vessel was now progressing by the aid of that grand power which has achieved
such marvellous changes on the face of the earth. The tall chimney sent forth a
volume of black smoke; and the bosom of the mighty river was agitated into high
and foam-crested billows by the play of the vast paddle-wheels.
From the summit of the main-meat floated the royal
standard of Castelcicala.
And on the deck, in the uniform of a general officer,
and with a star upon his breast, stood the Marquis of Estella, conversing with
[-278-] At a short distance
was Morcar — in plain, private clothes.
Richard was now returning to his native shore-occupying
in the world a far more exalted position than, in his wildest imaginings, he
could ever have hoped to attain. He had left England as an obscure
individual — a subordinate in a chivalrous expedition — under
the authority of others: — he came back with a star upon his
breast-having achieved for himself a renown which placed him amongst the
greatest warriors of the age! Unmarked by title, unknown to fame, was he when he
had bade adieu to the white cliffs of Albion a few months previously: — as
the Regent of a country liberated by himself — as a Marquis who had
acquired nobility by his own great deeds, did he now welcome his native clime
Tears of joy stood in his eyes — emotions of
ineffable bliss arose in his bosom, as he thought of what he had been, and what
he now was.
But vanity was not the feeling thus gratified: at the
same time, to assert that our hero was not proud of the glorious elevation which
he had reached by his own merits, would be to deny him the possession of that
laudable ambition which is an honour to those who entertain it. There is,
however, a vast distinction between vanity and a proper pride: the former is a
weakness — the latter the element of moral strength.
Yes: Richard was proud — but not unduly
so — of the honours which were now associated with his name; — proud,
because he had dashed aside every barrier that had once seemed insuperable
between the Princess and himself.
And, oh! he was happy, too — supremely
happy; for he knew that when he landed at Woolwich he should behold her whom we
have before declared to be the only joy of his heart — the charming
and well-beloved Isabella!
The gallant steamer pursued its way: Erith is
passed; — and soon Woolwich is in sight.
And now the cannon roars from the English arsenal: the
volumes of white smoke sweep over the bosom of the Thames; — the
artillery salutes the royal standard of Castelcicala.
The troops are drawn up in front of the barracks to do
honour to their heroic fellow-countryman, who retains his almost sovereign rank
until the moment when he shall resign it into the hands of that Prince on whose
brow he has come to piece a diadem.
It is low water; and the Castelcicalan steamer drops her
anchor at some little distance from the wharf. Then, under a salute from the
cannon of the gallant vessel, the Marquis of Estella descends into a barge which
has been sent from the arsenal to waft him ashore.
But while he is still at a distance from the wharf his
quick eye discerns well-known forms standing near the spot where he is to land.
There are the Grand-Duke Alberto and the Grand-Duchess, attended by the
commandant of Woolwich and his staff; and leaning on her father's arm, is also
the Princess Isabella.
The Grand-Duke is in plain clothes: he has come as it
were incognito, and as a friend, to receive him to whom he is indebted for that
throne which awaits him; and he is moreover anxious that all the honours
proffered on this occasion shall be acknowledged by him who still bears the rank
of Regent of Castelcicala.
The barge touches the steps: Richard leaps ashore. He
hurries up the stairs-he stands upon the wharf; and, while the guard of honour
of British soldiers presents arms, he is affectionately embraced by the
"Welcome — welcome, noble youth!"
exclaimed Alberto, straining him to his breast, as if he were a dearly beloved
"I thank heaven, that you, most gracious sovereign,
are pleased with my humble exertions in favour of Castelcicalan freedom,"
replied Markham, whose heart was so full that he could with difficulty give
utterance to those words.
"Humble exertions do you call them!" cried the
Grand-Duke. "At all events they have deserved the highest reward which it
is in my power to offer."
And, as he thus spoke, Alberto placed the hand of our
hero in that of the beauteous Isabella, while the Grand-Duchess said in a voice
tremulous with joyful emotion, "Yes, dear Richard — you are now
Markham thanked the parents of his beloved with a rapid
but expressive glance of the deepest gratitude; and he and Isabella exchanged
looks of ineffable tenderness, as they pressed each other's hand in deep
silence-for their hearts were too full to allow their lips to utter a syllable.
But those looks — how eloquent were they!
They spoke of hopes long entertained — often dim and
overclouded — but never completely abandoned — and now
realized at last!
To appreciate duly the sweets of life, we should have
frequently tasted its bitters; for it is by the influence of contrast, that the
extent of either can be fully understood. Those who have been prosperous in
their loves, — who have met with no objections at the hands of
parents, and who have not been compelled to wrestle against adverse
circumstances, — are incapable of understanding the amount of that
bliss which was now experienced by Richard and Isabella. It was indeed a
reward — an adequate recompense for all the fears they had
entertained, the sighs they had heaved, and the tears they had shed on account
of each other!
And we ourselves, reader, pen these lines with heartfelt
pleasure; for there are times — and the present occasion is
one — when we have almost fancied that our hero and heroine were
real, living characters, whom we had seen often and known well; — and
we are vain enough to hope that this feeling has not been confined to our own
breast. Yes — we can picture to ourselves, with all its enthusiasm,
that delightful scene when the handsome young man, — handsomer than
ever in the uniform which denoted his high rank, — exchanged those
glances of ineffable tenderness and devoted love with the charming Italian
maiden, — more charming than ever with the light of bliss that shone
in her eyes, made her sweet bosom heave, and brought to her cheeks a carnation
glow beneath the faint tint of bistre which denoted her southern origin
without marring the transparency of her pure complexion.
And now, the first delights of this meeting over Richard
presented his aide-de-camp to the illustrious family; then, beckoning
Morcar towards him, he took the gipsy by the hand, saying, "It is to this
faithful friend that Castelcicala is indebted for the first step in that
glorious career which was finally crowned with triumph beneath the walls of
[-279-] "And I, as the
sovereign of Castelcicala," returned the Grand-Duke, shaking Morcar warmly
by the hand, "shall find means to testify my gratitude."
"Your Serene Highness will pardon me," said
Morcar, in a firm but deferential manner, "if I decline any reward for the
humble share I enjoyed in those successes of which his lordship ere now spoke.
No: — the poor Zingaree has only done his duty towards a master whom
he loved — and loves," continued Morcar, looking at Richard and
dashing away a tear at the same time; "and it only remains for him to
return to his family — and to his roving life. The sole favour I
have to ask at the hands of those whom I have now the honour to address, is that
when they hear — as they often may — the name of Gipsy
vilified and abused, they will declare their belief that there are a few
"But is It possible that I can do nothing to serve
you!" exclaimed the Duke, struck by the extreme modesty and propriety of
the Zingaree's words and manner. "Consider how I may ameliorate your
"I require nothing, your Highness," answered
Morcar, in the same respectful but firm tone as before, — "nothing
save the favour which I have demanded at your hands. No recompense could
outweigh with me the advantage which I have received from the contemplation of a
character as good as he is great — as noble by nature as he now is
by name," continued the gipsy, once more looking affectionately towards
Markham; — " and, from the moral influence of his society and
example, I shall return to my people a new man-a better man!"
Having thus spoken, Morcar wrung the hand of our hero
with a fraternal warmth, and was about to hurry away, — leaving all
his bearers deeply affected at the words which he had uttered, — when
Isabella stepped forward, caught him gently by the arm, and said in her sweet
musical voice, now so tremulously clear, — "But you have a
wife, Morcar; and you must tell her that the Princess Isabella is her friend!
Nor will you refuse to present her with this small token of that regard which I
Thus speaking, the Princess unfastened a gold chain from
her neck, and forced it upon Morcar.
"Yes, lady," said the gipsy, "Eva shall
accept that gift from you; and she shall pray morning and might for your
happiness. Nay, more," he added, sinking his voice almost to a whisper,
"she shall hold up to her son the example of him who is destined, lady, to
make you the happiest woman upon earth."
With these words, Morcar hurried away — hastened
down the steps, leapt into a wherry, and directed the rowers to push the boat
instantly from the wharf.
When it was some yards distant, Morcar turned his head
towards the group upon the quay, and waved his hand in token of adieu; — and
every member of that group returned his salutation with gestures that expressed
the kindest feelings towards him.
The party now proceeded to the residence of the
commandant, where a splendid dejeuner was served up. Richard sate next to
his Isabella, and was supremely happy.
"Oh! how rejoiced shall I feel," he whispered
to her, "when we can escape from all the ceremony which accompanies rank
and power, and indulge uninterruptedly in that discourse which is so dear to
hearts that love like ours! For I have so much to tell you, beloved one; and now
that all the perils of war and strife are past, I can look with calmness upon
that series of events of which I was only enabled to send you such slight and
rapid accounts. But, believe me, Isabella — I would much rather have
come back to my native shores unattended by all that ostentation and formal
observance which have accompanied my return: nevertheless, the high office with
which I was invested, and the respect due to your father by the one who came to
announce with befitting ceremony that a throne awaited him, demanded the
presence of that state and required that public demonstration. You must not,
however, imagine, dearest one, that a sudden elevation has made me vain."
"I have too high an opinion of your character,
Richard," answered Isabella, "to entertain such an idea for a single
moment. I know that you are not unduly proud; but I, Richard, am proud — proud
"And yet, dear girl," whispered our hero, all
I have done has been but through the prompting of your image; and so did I write
to you in the evening after that dreadful battle which decided the fate of
"Ah! Richard, you know not the deep suspense which
we experienced, and the moments of indescribable alarm which I felt,
during the intervals between the letters announcing your several
successes," said the Princess. "But all fear has now vanished — and
happiness has taken its place. When we glance at the past, it will only be to
rejoice at those events which have prepared so much joy for the future. Do you
not remember how often I bade you hope, when you were desponding! Oh! heaven has
indeed rewarded you, by placing you in so proud a position, for all the
misfortunes which you have endured."
"Rank and honours were nothing in my
estimation," answered Richard, "had they not removed the obstacles
which separated me from you!"
A domestic now entered and stated that the carriages
were in readiness; and the illustrious party having taken leave of the
commandant and officers of the garrison, proceeded to the mansion at Richmond.
Alberto and Richard Markham were then closeted for some
time together. Our hero presented his Highness with the official despatches from
the Ministers announcing his proclamation as Grand Duke, and inviting him to
return to Castelcicala to take possession of the throne.
"Your Serene Highness will not deem me
presumptuous," said Richard, when these documents had been perused,
"in accepting the executive sway immediately after the battle of Montoni.
My object was to ensure the tranquillity of the country, and to lay the
foundation of that liberal system of government which I knew to be congenial to
the sentiments of your Highness. I appointed a Ministry formed of men who had
shown their devotion to the Constitutional cause, and who were worthy of the
confidence thus reposed in them. With respect to the late sovereign, Angelo
III., I learnt a few hours ere my departure, that he had taken refuge in
Austria; but in reference to the Grand-Duchess Eliza I have obtained no
[-280-] "I cordially
approve of every step you have taken, my dear Richard," replied the
Grand-Duke: "your conduct has been beyond all praise. I expressed that
opinion in the letter which I wrote to you, and wherein I informed you that I
should wait in England until you came in person to announce to me the desire of
the Castelcicalans that I should become their sovereign. I have, as I told you
in my communication, only just recovered from a severe illness; but my duty to
my country requires that I should return thither as soon as possible. In four
days I shall embark on board the ship that brought you to England."
"So soon, my lord?" cried Markham, somewhat
"I should leave England to-morrow, had I not one
solemn but joyful task to accomplish," answered the Duke with a smile.
"Fear not, dear Richard, that I shall delay your happiness any longer; for
if you yourself do not consider the haste indelicate, I purpose to bestow
Isabella upon you the day after to-morrow."
"Oh! my lord — what happiness! — and
what deep gratitude do I owe you! "exclaimed Richard, falling upon his
knees, and pressing the sovereign's hand to his lips.
"Rise, Richard — rise," said the
Grand-Duke: "you owe me no gratitude — for you forget how
deeply I am your debtor! You have delivered my native land from an odious
tyranny — although it be of my own relative of whom I am compelled
to speak thus severely; and you have given me a throne. In return I bestow upon
you the dearest of all my earthly treasures — my daughter!"
"And the study of my life shall be her
happiness," replied our hero. "But I have one great and signal favour
to implore of your Highness; and I tremble to ask it-lest you should receive my
"What is there that you should hesitate to ask or
that I could refuse to grant?" exclaimed the Grand-Duke. "Speak,
Richard: — the favour — if favour it be-is already
"Your Highness must be informed," continued
Richard, thus encouraged, "that I have various duties to accomplish, which
demand my presence for some time in England. I have an old friend and his
daughter dependant upon me: I must settle them in a comfortable manner, to
ensure their happiness. There is also a young female named Katherine
Wilmot, — whose history I will relate to your Highness at a more
convenient period, — but to whom I have been in some measure left
guardian. By letter's which I received a few days before my departure, I learnt
that she is residing at my house, with my old friend and his daughter. It will
be my duty to arrange plans for the welfare of Katherine. This I should wish to
do in concert with Isabella. Lastly, my lord, I have the hope of meeting my
brother — should he be still alive," added Richard, with a
sigh. "Your Highness is aware of our singular appointment for the 10th of
The Grand-Duke reflected profoundly for some minutes;
and Richard awaited his answer with intense anxiety.
"You shall have your will, noble-hearted young
man!" at length cried Alberto: "I was wrong to hesitate even for a
moment; but you will pardon me when you remember that in granting your request,
I consent to a long — long separation from my daughter."
"But when the time for the appointment with my
brother shall have passed," said Richard "Isabella and myself will
hasten to Montoni; and then, God grant that you may be parted from your daughter
no more in this life."
"Would it be impossible for you to effect a species
of compromise with me in this way?" returned Alberto, with a smile.
"Provide for those who are dependant on you; and when that duty is
accomplished, pass at Montoni the interval until the period of the appointment
with your brother shall demand your return to London."
"I would submit to your Highness this fact,"
answered Richard, — "that I live in constant hope of the
reappearance of my brother ere the stated time; and should he seek me in the
interval — should he be poor or unhappy — should he
require my aid — or consolation — if I were far
away — "
"I understand you," interrupted the
Grand-Duke. "Be it as you say. Provided Isabella will consent," he
added, smiling, "you shall remain in England until the autumn of
"Much as the Princess will grieve to separate from
her parents — "
"You think she will be content to stay in this
country with you," again interrupted the Duke, laughing. "I see that
you have already planned every thing in your own way; and both the Grand.
Duchess and myself are too much pleased with you — too willing to
testify our regard for you — and too anxious to make reparation for
the past," added his Serene Highness significantly, "to oppose your
projects in the slightest degree. It shall be all as you desire."
"Your Highnesses will then render me completely
happy," exclaimed Richard, again pressing the Duke's hand to his lips.
Alberto then rang the bell, and commanded the domestic
who answered the summons to request the presence of the Grand-Duchess and the
Those illustrious ladies soon made their
appearance — Isabella's heart fluttering with a kind of joyful
suspense, for she full well divined at least one topic that had been
discussed during the private interview of her father and her lover.
The two latter rose as the ladies entered the room, the
Grand-Duke took his daughter's hand, and said, "Isabella, our duty towards
our native land requires that your mother and myself should return thither with
the least possible delay. But before we depart, we must ensure the happiness of
you, beloved child, and of him who is in every way worthy of your affections.
Thus an imperious necessity demands that the ceremony of your union should be
speedily accomplished. I have fixed the day after tomorrow for your
bridal: — but you, dearest Isabel, will remain in England with your
noble husband. He himself will explain to you — even if he have not
already done so — the motives of this arrangement. May God bless
you, my beloved children! And, oh!" continued the Grand-Duke, drawing
himself up to his full height, while a glow of honourable pride animated his
countenance, "if there be one cause rather than another which makes me
rejoice in my sovereign rank, it is that I am enabled to place this excellent
young man in a position so exalted-on an eminence so lofty — that
none acquainted with his former history shall ever think of associating his name
with the misfortunes that [-281-] are past. And
that he may give even a title to his bride and accompany her to the altar with
that proper independence which should belong to the character of the husband, it
is my will to create him PRINCE OF MONTONI; and here is the decree which I have
already prepared to that effect, and to which I have affixed my royal
With these words the Grand-Duke took from the table a
paper which he presented to our hero, who received it on his bended knee.
He then rose: Alberto placed the hand of Isabella in
his; and the young lovers flew into each other's arms.
The parents exchanged glances of unfeigned affection as
they witnessed the happiness of their charming daughter and of him whom she
loved so faithfully and so well.
Dinner was shortly announced; and around the able were
smiling faces gathered that evening.
At nine o'clock Richard took his departure alone in the
Grand-Duke's carriage; for he had transferred hi own aides-de-camp to the
service of their sovereign.
But when he bade farewell to Isabella on this occasion,
it was with the certainty of seeing each other again in a short time; and they
inwardly thanked heaven that their meeting was no longer clandestine, and that
their attachment was at length sanctioned by the parents of the charming
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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