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WE purpose to follow the history of Richard Markham a little
farther, ere we return to Eliza Sydney. whose adventures, after her release from
Newgate, will, it is believed, excite the liveliest interest in the minds of the
As soon as Mr. Monroe had taken his departure, Richard made
Whittingham acquainted with his altered prospects; and they two together settled
certain economical alterations in the establishment at the Place which were
calculated to meet the limited means of its master, - who, it will be
remembered, was now of age, and, consequently invested with the control of the
little property that the villany of George Montague had left him.
Markham then proceeded, attended by Whittingham, to visit the
various apartments of the old mansion from which he had been so long absent; and
each recalled to his mind reminiscences that circumstances had made painful. In
one apartment he had been wont to sit with his revered father of an evening, and
survey the adjacent scenery and the mighty city from the windows. In another he
had pursued his studies with the dearly loved brother whom he had lost:
whichever way he turned, visions calculated to oppress his mind rose before him.
He felt like a criminal who had disgraced an honourable name; and even the very
pictures of his ancestors appeared to frown upon him from their antique and
But when he entered the room where the spirit of his father
had taken its leave of this world, his emotions almost overpowered him. He wept
aloud; and even the old butler did not now endeavour to comfort him. He had
returned, branded with shame, to a house where he had received an existence that
was full of hope and honour ; - he had come back to a dwelling in the rooms of
which were hung the portraits of many great and good men, who were his
ancestors, but amongst whom his own likeness could never take a place, for fear
that some visitor to that mansion should write the words "Freed
Convict" upon the frame.
For though conscience reproached him not for guilt, the world
would not believe his innocence.
That night he could not sleep; and he hailed the dawn of
morning as the shipwrecked mariner upon the raft beholds the signal of
assistance in the horizon. He rose, and hastened to the hill, where he seated
himself upon the bench between the two trees. There he gave free vent to his
tears; and he was relieved.
Suddenly his eye caught sight of letters carved upon the bark
of his brother's tree. He looked closer; and, to his indescribable joy, he
beheld these characters rudely hut deeply cut on the tree
Dec. 25, 1836
"Thank God! my brother lives! "
exclaimed Richard, clasping his hands together. "This is an intimation of
his remembrance of me! But - oh! why did he desert me in my need? wherefore came
he not to see me in my prison? Alas! years must yet elapse ere I clasp him to my
heart! Let me not repine - let me not reproach him without hearing his
justification! He has revisited the hill; and he chose a sacred day for what he
no doubt deemed a sacred duty! It was on the anniversary of the nativity of the
Saviour that he came back to the [-107-] scenes of
his youth! Oh, Eugene! I thank thee for this: it is an assurance that the
appointment on the 10th of July, 1843, will be punctually kept!
From the moment when his eyes rested upon the memorial of his
lost brother thus carved upon the bark of the tree, Richard's mind became
composed, and, indeed, comparatively happy. His habits, however, grew more and
more secluded and reserved; and he seldom ventured into that mighty Babylon
whose snares had proved so fatal to his happiness.
One day - it was about the middle of March, 1838 - Richard
was surprised by the arrival of a phaeton and pair at his abode; and he eagerly
watched from the window to ascertain who could have thought of paying him a
visit. In a few minutes he was delighted to see Mr. Armstrong, the political
martyr with whom he had become acquainted in Newgate, alight from the vehicle.
Richard hastened to welcome him with the most unfeigned
"You see I have found you out, my dear young
friend," said Armstrong. " I miscalculated the date of your release
from that abominable hole, and a few weeks ago was waiting for hours one day in
Giltspur Street to welcome you to freedom. At length I did what I ought to have
done at first - that is, inquired of the turnkeys whether you were to be
released that day or not: and, behold - I found that the bird had flown."
"I should have written to you," said Richard,
"for you were kind enough to give me your address; but really my mind has
been so bent upon solitude "
"From which solitude," interrupted Armstrong, smiling,
" I am come to drag you away. Will you allow me to dispose of the next ten
days for you?"
"How do you mean, my good friend?" inquired Markham.
"I mean that you shall pass that time with me at the
house of a friend at Richmond. Solitude and seclusion will never wean you from
the contemplation of your past sorrows."
"But you know that I cannot go into society again," said
"This is absurd, Markham. I will hear no apologies:
you must and shall place yourself at my disposal," returned the old gentleman,
in a kind and yet positive manner.
"But to whom do you wish to introduce me?" inquired
"To an Italian emigrant, who has only just arrived in
this country, with his family, but the honour of whose friendship I have
enjoyed for many, many years. I must tell you that I have travelled much ; and
that Italy has always been a country which has excited my warmest sympathy. It
was at Montoni, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Castelcicala that I first
met Count Alteroni; and his extremely liberal political opinions, which
completely coincide with my own, were the foundation of a staunch friendship
between us. Ten years ago he was compelled to fly from his native land; and he
sought refuge in England. His only child - a beautiful girl, of the name of
Isabella - thus obtained an English education and speaks the language with
fluency. Two years ago, he was allowed to return to Castelcicala; but a few
months back fresh political events in that state forced him once more to become
an exile. He arrived in England a month ago, and hasp taken a small but
commodious and picturesque residence at Richmond. His means are ample, but not
vast; and he therefore lives in comparative seclusion - other reasons,
moreover, inducing him to avoid the pomp and ostentation which noblemen of his rank
usually maintain. Thus, in addressing him, you must drop the formality of My
Lord; and remember also that his daughter chooses to be called simply, Miss
Isabella, or the Signora Isabella.
"And how can I venture to present myself to this
nobleman of high rank, and his wife and daughter, knowing that but a few weeks
ago I was liberated from a gaol?" demanded Richard, somewhat bitterly.
"The count has not heard of your misfortune, and is not
likely to do so," answered Armstrong. He pressed me yesterday to pass a few days with him; and I
happened to mention that I was about to visit a young friend - meaning yourself
whom I felt a deep interest. I then gave him such an account of you that he
expressed a desire to form your acquaintance. Thus, you perceive, that I am
taking no unwarranted liberty in introducing you to his house. As for the danger
which you incur of your history being known, that cannot be avoided; and it is a
point which you may as well risk how as upon any future occasion. A man of the
world must always he prepared for reverses of this kind, and I think that I am
not mistaken in you, Markham, when I express my opinion that you would know how
to vindicate your character and assert your innocence in a manner which would
disarm resentment and conquer prejudice. At least, assume as cheerful an
appearance as possible; and, believe me, you will find yourself right welcome at
the dwelling of Count Alteroni."
Reassured by remarks of this nature, and warmed by the
generous friendship displayed towards him by the Republican writer, Markham's
countenance again wore a smile; and he felt more at ease than he had done ever
since his misfortune. The presence of one who took an interest in his welfare -
the prospect of enjoying pleasant society - and the idea of change of scene,
combined to elevate his spirits and create new hopes in his breast. He began to
think that he was not altogether the solitary, deserted, and sorrow-doomed
being he had so lately considered himself.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon that the phaeton,
in which rode Markham and his friend the Republican, entered a spacious
shrubbery, through which a wide avenue led to the front-door of a very beautiful
country residence near Richmond. The dwelling was not large; but its external
appearance seemed to bear ample testimony to its interior comfort.
A domestic, in a plain and unpretending livery, appeared at
the door the moment the phaeton stopped; and the count himself met his visitors
in the hall, to welcome their arrival.
The nobleman shook hands with Armstrong in the most cordial
manner; and, when Richard was introduced to him, he received him with a courtesy
and warm affability which showed how much any friend of Armstrong's was valued
by the Italian exile.
The guests were ushered into the drawing-mom. where the
countess and her daughter, and two gentlemen who were also visitors, were seated.
But while we allow Richard time to get acquainted with the
family of the Italian noble, we must give the reader a brief description of the
new characters now introduced upon the stage.
Count Alteroni was about forty years of age. His hair and
whiskers, originally of a deep black, were tinged prematurely with grey; but his
moustachios were of the darkest jet. His complexion was of a clear olive. In
figure he was tall, well formed, and [-108-] muscular, though slight. His countenance was expressive of
great dignity - one would almost say of conscious superiority; hut this softness
of aspect and the nobility of demeanour which distinguished him, failed to
produce any unpleasant impression, inasmuch as every one who approached the
count was charmed by the affability of his manners and the condescending
kindness of his tone.
The countess was about two years younger than her husband,
and was of a complexion and cast of countenance which denoted her northern
origin. In fact, she was a German lady of high birth; but she spoke Italian,
French, and English with as much facility as her own tongue.
But what of Isabella? To say that she was beautiful were to
say nothing. Her aspect was resplendent with all those graces which innocence
lavishly diffuses over the lineaments of loveliness. She was sixteen years old;
and her dark black eyes were animated with all the fire of that impassioned age,
when even the most rugged paths of life seem adorned and strewed with flowers.
Her mouth was small; but the lips were full and pouting, and revealed, when she
smiled, a set of beautifully white and even teeth. Her hair was dark as the
raven's wing, and was invariably arranged in the most natural and simple manner.
Her brows were exquisitely pencilled; and as her large black eyes were the
mirror of her pure and guileless soul, when she glanced downwards, and those
expressive orbs were concealed by their long black fringes, it seemed as if she
were drawing a veil over her thoughts. Her complexion was that of a brunette;
but the pure, red blood shone in her vermilion lips and her rose-tinted
nostrils, and mantled her pure brow with a crimson hue when any passion was
excited. Her sylph-like figure was modelled with the most perfect symmetry. Her
waist was so delicate, and her hands and feet, so small, that it was easy to
perceive she came of patrician blood; and the swell of her bosom gave a proper
roundness to her form, without expanding into proportions that might be termed
In manners, disposition, and accomplishments, Isabel was
equally calculated to charm all her acquaintances. Having finished her education
in England, she had united all the solid morality of English manners, with the
sprightliness and vivacity of her native clime; and as she was without levity
and frivolity, she was also entirely free from any insipid and ridiculous
affectations. She was artlessness itself; her manners commanded universal
respect; and her bearing alone repressed the impertinence of the libertine's
gaze. With a disposition naturally lively, she was still attached to serious
pursuits; and her mind was well stored with all useful information, and
embellished with every feminine accomplishment.
The two gentlemen who were present in the drawing room when
Armstrong and Richard arrived, were two young beaux - members of the aristocracy;
and this was their only recommendation. It was not, however, on this account
that they had obtained a footing in the count's abode; but because they were
nearly related to a deceased English general who had taken part with the
Italians against the French, during the career of Napoleon, and had been of
essential service to the family to which the count belonged. With regard to
their exterior, suffice it to say, that they were dressed in the extreme of
fashion: one was very effeminate in appearance, having neither
whiskers nor the slightest appearance of a beard; and the other was rather
good-looking, sported an incipient moustachio, and wore an undress military
The effeminate young gentleman was introduced to Armstrong
and Markham by the name of Sir Cherry Bounce, and the moustachioed one as the
Honourable Smilax Dapper, a captain (at the age of twenty) in His Majesty's th
Regiment of Hussars.
During the hour which intervened between the arrival of the
new guests and the announcement of dinner, a conversation ensued which will
serve to throw some light upon the characters of those inmates of the hospitable
abode, whom we have as yet only partially introduced to our readers.
"You reside in a very pleasant and healthy part of
London, Mr. Markham," said the count; "I am well acquainted with the
situation of your mansion and grounds, from the description which my friend
Armstrong has given me. The house stands close by a hill, on the summit of
which there are two trees."
"Ah, indeed! " ejaculated Sir Cherry Bounce.
" The other day I wode by there for the firtht time in my life; and I
remember the houth ith veway beautifully thithuate in the neighbourwood of the
hill dethwibed by the count, and with two ath tweeth on the top."
"That is my house," said Richard. "But it is an
antiquated, gloomy-looking pile; but "
"Oh! I beg your pardon, thir; it is the thweeteth little
plaith I ever thaw. I never thaw it but that time, and wath thwuck with the
weway wemarkable appearanth of the hill and the tweeth."
"Those trees were planted many years ago by my brother
and myself," said Markham, a deep shade of melancholy suddenly overclouding his
countenance ; " and they yet remain there as the trysting-mark for a strange
"Indeed!" said the count; and as Richard saw that
Isabella was also interested in his observations, he determined to gratify the
sentiment of curiosity which he had excited.
"It is nearly seven years since that event took place. My
elder brother disputed with my father, and determined to leave home and choose
some career for himself, which he hoped might lead to fortune. He and I parted
upon that hill, beneath those trees, with the understanding that in twelve years
we were to meet again upon that same spot, and then compare our respective
fortunes and worldly positions. On the 10th of July, 1848, that appointment is
to be kept."
"And during the seven years which have already elapsed,
have you received no tidings of your brother ?" inquired Isabella.
"None direct," answered Markham. "All that I know is
that on Christmas-day, 1836, he was alive; for he went to the hill, while I was
absent from home, and carved his name upon the tree that he himself planted."
"Strike me stupid, if that isn't the most romantic thing I
ever heard of!" exclaimed Captain Dapper, caressing his moustacbio.
"You ought to wite a copy of vertheth upon the
wemarkable inthident, in Mith Ithabella'th Album," observed Sir Cherry Bounce.
"So I would, strike me! if I was half such a good poet
as you, Cherry," returned the captain.
"You wote thum veway pwetty poetry the other day upon
the Gweat Thea Therpenth, Thmilackth," said the effeminate baronet: "and I
don't know why you thouldn't do the thame by the two ath tweeth."
Yes; but-strike me ugly! Miss Isabella would not let me
insert them in her Album," observed the captain; "and that was very unkind."
"Bella says that you undertook to finish a butter fly
and spoilt it" exclaimed the count laughing.
[-109-] "And now it theemth for all the world like an
enormouth fwog," said Sir Cherry.
"Now, really, Bounce, that is too bad!" drawled the
captain, playing with his mouzstachio. "I appeal to the Signora herself,
whether the butterfly was so very - very bad?"
"Considering it to be your first attempt," said the young
lady, "it was not so very much amiss; end I must say that I preferred the
butterfly to the lines upon the Sea Serpent."
"Well, may I perish," cried the hussar, "if I think
the lines were so bad. But we will refer them to Mr. Markham ;- not that I
dispute Miss Isabella's judgment: I'd rather have my moustachios singed than do
that! But "
"The vertheth! the vertheth!" cried Sir Cherry.
am afraid that my talent does not justify such a reference to it," said Markham;
"and I should rather imagine that Miss Isabella's decision will admit of no
"My dear thir, we will have your opinion. The vertheth
were compothed in a hurway; and they may not be quite tho ekthellent and
faultleth ath they might be."
"I only devoted half an hour to them, strike me if I did!"
"Let'th thee - how do they begin?" continued the effeminate
young baronet of nineteen. "Oh! I wemember - the opening ith thimple but
the thea the therpenth wollth,
Moving ever 'thwixth the polth,
Fwightning herwinth, pwath, and tholth,
In hith pwogweth
Thwallowing up the mighty thipth,
By the thuction of hith lipth,
Onward thill the monthtwer twipth,
"Well, strike me!" interrupted the captain,
"if ever I heard poetry spouted
like that before. Please listen to me, Mr. Markham. This is the way the poem
the sea the serpent rolls
ever twixt the poles,
herrings, sprats, and soles,
In his progress rapid;-
Swallowing up the mighty ships,
By the motion of his lips,
Onward still the monster trips,
"No, that ithn't the way," cried Sir Cherry.
"Well, strike me, if I'll say another word more then,"
returned the captain of hussars, apparently very much inclined to cry.
"I am sure Miss Isabella was wrong not to have inserted
these verses in her album," said Armstrong, with a smile of good-natured satire.
"But I know that my young friend, Mr Markham, has a more refined taste with
regard to poetry than he chose just now to admit."
"Indeed!" said the beautiful Isabella; "I should be
delighted to hear Mr. Markham's sentiments upon the subject of poetry; for I
confess that I myself entertain very singular notions in that respect. It is
difficult to afford a minute definition of what poetry is; for, like the
unearthly visitants which the fears of superstition have occasionally summoned
to the world, poetry fascinates the senses, but eludes the grasp of the
beholder, and stands before him visible, powerful, and yet impalpable!"
"I1 concur with your views, Miss Isabella," said Markham,
delighted to hear, amidst the frivolity of the conversation, remarks which
exhibited sound sense and judgment. "It is impossible to set forth, in any
array of words, the subtlety and peculiarity of poetry, which soars above the powers of language and defies
the reach of description."
"Yes," said Isabella; "the painter cannot place the
rainbow or the glittering dew-drop upon his canvass; the sculptor cannot invest
his image with a soul; and it seems equally difficult to define poetry."
"We know of what we are speaking when we allude to it;
but there are no definitions which give us views of it sufficiently
"Well, strike me! If I didn't think that every thing
with rhymes, or in lines of a certain length, was poetry," observed the captain
"My daughter can explain the mystery to you," said the
countess, surveying Isabella with pride and maternal enthusiasm.
Isabella blushed deeply. She feared that she had intruded her remarks on the
company, and dreaded to be considered vain or anxious for display Mark ham
immediately perceived the nature of her thoughts, and skilfully turned the
conversation to the poetry of her native land, and thence to the leading
characteristics and features of Italian life.
Dinner was at length announced, and Richard had the felicity
of conducting the lovely daughter of the count to the dining-room, and of
occupying a seat by her side during the banquet.
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