< previous chapter <  |  THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON  |  > next chapter >




SINCE the period when Markham had made so great a sacrifice of his pecuniary resources, in order to effect the liberation of Count Alteroni from a debtor's prison, be had devoted himself to literary pursuits. He aspired to the honours of authorship, and composed a tragedy.
    All young authors, while yet nibbling the grass at the foot of Parnassus (and how many never reach any higher!) attempt either poetry or the drama. They invariably fix upon the most difficult tasks; and yet they did not begin learning Greek with Euripides, nor enter upon their initiation into the mysteries of the Latin tongue with Juvenal.
    There is also another fault into which they invariably fall ;- and that is an extraordinary tendency to those meretricious ornaments which they seem to mistake for fine writing. Truth and nature may be regarded as a noble flock, furnishing the richest fleece to mankind; but when a series of good writers have exhausted their fleece in weaving the fabrics of genius, their successors are tempted to have recourse to swine for a supply of materials; and we know, besides, that in this attempt, as in the rude dramas called " Moralities" in the middle ages, there is great cry and little wool. It is also liable to the objection that no skill in the workmanship, or adjustment in the machinery, can give it the beauty and perfection of the raw material which nature has appropriated to the purpose of clothing her favoured offspring.
    Too many writers of the present day, instead of attempting to rival their predecessors in endeavouring to fabricate the genuine fleece derived from this flock of truth and nature, into new and exquisite forms, are engaged in shearing the swine, in this labour they can obtain, at best, nothing more than erroneous principles of science, worthless paradoxes, unnatural fictions, tinsel poetry and prose, and un-numbered crudities.
    Richard Markham was not exempted from these faults. He wrote a tragedy - abounding in beauties, and abounding in faults.
    The most delicious sweets, used in undue proportions with our food and drink, soon become in a high degree offensive and disgusting. Markham heaped figure upon figure - crammed his speeches with metaphors - and travelled many thousands of miles out of his way in search of a similitude, when he had a much better and more simple one close at hand. Nevertheless, his tragedy contained proofs of a brilliant talent, and, with much judicious pruning, every element of triumphant success.
    Having obtained the address of the private residence of the manager of one of the principal metropolitan theatres, Richard sent his tragedy to the great man. He, however, withheld his real name, for he had determined to commence his literary career under a feigned one; so that, in case he should prove unsuccessful, his failure might not become known to his friends the Monroes, or reach the ears of his well-beloved Isabella. For the same reason he did not give his proper address in the letter which accompanied the drama; but requested that a reply might be sent to Edward Preston, to the care of Mr. Dyson (his solicitor).
    He did not mention to a single soul - not even to Monroe or the faithful Whittingham - the circumstance of his authorship. He reflected that if he succeeded, it would then be time to communicate his happiness; but, that if he failed, it would be useless to wound others by imparting to them his disappointments. He had ceased to be sanguine about any thing in this world; for he had met with too many misfortunes to anticipate much success in life; and his only ambition was to obtain an honourable livelihood.
    Scarcely a week had elapsed after Markham had sent his drama to the manager, when he received a letter from this gentleman. The contents were laconic enough, but explicit. The manager "had perused the tragedy with feelings of extreme satisfaction;" - he congratulated the writer upon " the skill which he had made his combinations to produce stage effect ;" - he suggested "a few alterations and considerable abbreviations;" and concluded by stating that "he should be most happy to introduce so promising an author to the public." A postscript appointed a time for an interview at the manager's own private residence.
    At eleven o'clock the next morning Markham was ushered into the presence of the manager.
    The great man was seated in his study, dressed in a magnificent Turkish dressing-gown, with a French skull-cap upon his head, and red morocco slippers upon his feet. He was a man of middle [-269-] age - gentlemanly and affable in manner - and possessed of considerable literary abilities.
    "Sit down, sir - pray, sit down," said the manager, when Markham was introduced. " I have perused your tragedy with great attention, and am pleased with it. I am, moreover, perfectly willing to undertake the risk of bringing it out, although tragedy is at a terrible discount now-a-days. But, first and foremost, we must make arrangements about terms. What price do you put upon your manuscript?"
    "I have formed no idea upon that subject," replied Markham." I would rather leave myself entirely in your hands."
    "Nay - you must know the hope you have entertained in this respect?" said the manager.
    "To tell you the candid truth, this is my first essay," returned Markham; "and I am totally unacquainted with the ordinary value of such labour."
    "If this be your first essay, sir," said the manager, surveying Markham with some astonishment, "I can only assure you that it is a most promising one. But once again - name your price."
    "The manner in which you speak to me shows that if I trust to your generosity, I shall not do wrong."
    "Well, Mr. Preston," cried the manager, pleased at this compliment, " I shall use you in an equally liberal manner. You must be informed that you will have certain pecuniary privileges, in respect to any provincial theatres at which your piece may be performed should it prove successful and you will also have the benefit of the publication of the work in a volume. What, then, should you say if I were to give you fifty guineas for the play, and five guineas a-night for every time of its performance, after the first fortnight?"
    "I should esteem your offer a very liberal one," answered Richard, overjoyed at the proposal.
    "In that case the bargain is concluded at once, and without any more words," said the manager; then, taking a well-filled canvass bag from his desk, he counted down fifty guineas in notes, gold, and silver.
    Markham gave a receipt, and they exchanged undertakings specifying the conditions proposed by the manager.
    "When do you propose to bring out the piece?" inquired Richard, when this business was concluded.
    " In about six weeks," said the manager. " Shall you have any objection to attend the rehearsals, and see that the gentlemen and ladies of the company fully appreciate the spirit of the parts that will be assigned to them?"
    "I shall not have the least objection," answered Markham; " but I am afraid that my experience  —"
    "Well, well," said the manager, smiling, "I will not press you. Leave it all to me - I will see justice done to your design, which I think I understand pretty well. If I want you I will let you know; and if you do not hear from me, you will see by the advertisements in the newspapers for what night the first representation will be announced."
    Markham expressed his gratitude to the manager for the kindness with which he had received him, and then took his leave, his heart elated with hope, and his mind relieved from much anxiety respecting the future.
    When he left the manager's residence he repaired to-an adjacent tavern to procure some refreshment; and there, while engaged in the discussion of a sandwich and a glass of sherry, he cast his eyes over The Times newspaper.
    A particular advertisement arrested his attention.
    A gentleman - a widower - required a daily tutor for his two young sons whom he was desirous of having instructed in Latin, history, drawing, arithmetic, &c. The boys were respectively nine arid eleven years old. The advertiser stated that any individual who could himself teach the various branches of education specified, would be preferred to a plurality of masters, each proficient only in one particular study. Personal application was to be made between certain hours.
    The residence of the advertiser was in Kentish Town; and this vicinity to Markham's own abode induced him to think seriously of offering his services. He did not feel disposed to pursue his literary labours until after the representation of his drama, as he was as yet unaware of the reception it might experience at the hands of the public ;-and he was also by no means inclined to remain idle. The occupation of daily tutor in a respectable family appeared congenial to his tastes; and he resolved to proceed forthwith to the residence of Mr. Gregory, in Kentish Town.
    Arrived at the house, he was admitted into the presence of a gentleman of about fifty, with a serious arid melancholy countenance, prepossessing manners, and a peculiar suavity of voice that gave encouragement to the applicant.
    Markham told him in a few words that he was once possessed of considerable property, the greater portion of which he bad lost through the unfortunate speculations of his guardian, and that he was new anxious to turn the excellent education which he had received to some advantage.
    Mr. Gregory had only lately arrived in London with his family, from a very distant part of the country, where he had a house and small estate; but the recent death of a beloved wife had rendered the scenes of their wedded happiness disagreeable to him ;- and this was the cause of his removal and his settlement in London. He lived in a very retired manner, and had. previously known nothing of Markham - not even his name. He was therefore totally ignorant of Richard's trial and condemnation for forgery. The young man felt the greatest possible inclination to reveal the entire facts to Mr. Gregory, whose amiable manners gave him confidence; but he restrained himself - for it struck him that others were dependent upon him - that he ought not to stand in his own light - and that his innocence of the crime imputed to him, and the consciousness of those upright and honourable intentions which on all occasions filled his breast, were a sufficient extenuation for this silence.
    Mr. Gregory, who was himself a highly-educated man, soon saw that Markham was competent to teach his children all that it was desirable for them to acquire; and he agreed to engage the applicant as his sons' tutor. Richard offered to give him a reference to his solicitor; but Mr. Gregory declined to take it, saying, "Your appearance, Mr. Markham, is sufficient."
    On the following day Richard entered upon his new avocation. He was engaged to attend at Mr. Gregory's house from ten till three every day. The employment was a pleasant one; and the pecuniary terms were liberal in the extreme.
    Gustavus and Lionel Gregory were two intelligent and handsome youths; and they soon became greatly attached to their tutor.
    [-270-] From the mere fact of having never been accustomed to tuition, Richard took the greater pains to explain all difficult subjects to them; and so well did he adapt his plan of instruction to their juvenile capacities, that in the short space of a month, Mr Gregory was himself perfectly astonished at the advance which his sons had made in their studies. He then determined that the advantages of the tutors abilities should be extended to his daughter, in respect to drawing; and Miss Mary-Anne Gregory was accordingly added to the number of Markham's pupils.
    Mary-Anne was, at the time of which we are writing, sixteen years of age. Delicate in constitution, and of a sweet and amiable disposition, she was an object of peculiar interest to all who knew her. Her long flaxen hair, soft blue eyes, pale countenance, and vermilion lips, gave her the appearance of a wax figure; and her light and airy form, flitting ever hither and thither in obedience to the innocent gaiety rind vivacity of her disposition, seemed that of some fairy whose destinies belonged not to the common lot of mortals.
    Although she was sixteen, she was considered but a mere girl; and she romped with her brothers, and with the young female friends who occasionally visited her, with all the joyousness and glee of a child of ten years old.
    The animation of her countenance was on those occasions radiant and brilliant in the extreme :- a spectator could have snatched her to his arms and embraced her fondly, - not with a single gross desire - not with the shadow of an unhallowed motive; but, in the same way as a man, who, being a parent himself, is attached to children, suddenly seizes upon a lovely little boy or girl of two or three years old, and covers its cheeks with kisses.
    Mary. Anne was by no means beautiful - not even pretty; and yet there was something altogether unearthly in the whole character and expression of her countenance. It was a face of angelic interest - indicative of a mental amiability and serenity truly divine.
    Without possessing the ingredients of physical beauty - without regularity of feature or classical formation of head, - there was still about her an abstract loveliness, apart from shape and features, which was of itself positive and distinct, and seemed an emanation of mental qualities, infantine joyousness, and winning manners. It produced a sort of atmosphere of light around her - enveloping her as with a halo of innocence.
    Her face was as pale - as colourless as the finest Parian marble, but also, like the surface of that beautiful material, spotless and devoid of blemish. Her pure forehead was streaked with small azure veins: her lips were thin, and of the brightest vermilion; and these hues placed in contrast with that delicate complexion, gave a sentiment and expression to her countenance altogether peculiar to itself.
    Her eyes, of a light and yet too positive a blue to be mistaken for grey, were fringed with long dark lashes, which imparted to them - ever gay and sparkling as they were - a magic eloquence as powerful as that of the most faultless beauty. And, again, in strange contrast with those dark lashes was her flaxen hair, the whole of which fell in ringlets and its waves over her shoulders and her back, no portion of it being collected in a knot behind.
    Then her form - it was so slight as to appear almost etherealised, and yet there was no mistaking the symmetry of its proportions.
    Thus - without being actually beautiful - Mary-Anne was a creature of light and joy who was calculated to interest, fascinate, and win, in a manner which produced feelings of admiration and of love. Her appearance therefore produced upon the mind an impression that she was beautiful - very beautiful; and yet, if any one had paused to analyse her features, she would have been found to possess no real elements of physical loveliness. She was charming - fascinating - bewitching - interesting;  therefore lovely in one sense, and loveable in all respects!
    Mary-Anne was a very difficult pupil to teach. In the midst of the most serious study, that charming and volatile creature would start from her chair, run to her piano, and commence a lively air, which she would leave also unfinished, and then narrate some sprightly anecdote, or utter some artless sally, which would create a general laugh.
    The seriousness of the tutor would ho disturbed in spite of himself: and even her father, if present, could not find it in his heart to scold.
    The drawing would at length be resumed; and for half an hour, the application of Mary-Anne would be intense. Then away would be flung the pencil; and a new freak must be accomplished before the study would be resumed.
    Richard could not help liking this volatile, but artless and innocent creature,- as a man likes his daughter or his sister; and she, on her part, appeared to become greatly attached to her tutor.
    Although Mr. Gregory followed no profession, being a man of considerable independent property, he was nevertheless much from home, passing his time either at the library of the British Museum or at his Club. Richard and Mary-Anne were thus much together, - too much for the peace of that innocent and fascinating girl!
    She speedily conceived a violent passion for her tutor, which he, however, neither perceived nor returned.
    She was herself unaware of the nature of her own feelings towards him ;- she knew as much of love and its sensations as a beauteous savage girl, in some far-off isle, knows of Christianity ;- and hers was an attachment which could only be revealed to herself by some accident, which might excite her jealousy or awaken her grief.
    One morning, before the usual lessons of the day commenced, Mr. Gregory entered the study, and, addressing himself to Markham, said, "We meet now give the young people a holiday for a short time. Proper relaxation is as necessary to their bodily welfare as education to their mental well-being. We will suspend their studies for a month, if you be agreeable, Mr. Markham. I shall, however, be always pleased to see you as often as you choose to call during that interval; and every Sunday, at all events, we shall expect the pleasure of your company to dinner as usual."
    "What!" cried Mary-Anne; "is Mr. Markham to discontinue his daily visits for a whole month?"
    "Certainly, my dear," said her father. "Mr. Markham requires a holiday as well as you."
    "I want no holiday," exclaimed Mary Anne, pouting her lip, in a manner that was quite charming, and which might remind the reader of the petite moue that Esmeralda was accustomed to make in Victor Hugo's admirable novel Notre Dame de Paris.
    "But you always take a holiday, my dear," returned her father with a smile; "and therefore you fancy that others do not require a temporary relaxation. Gustavus and Lionel want a holiday; and Mr. Markham cannot be always poring over book, and drawings."
    [-271-] "Well, I wish Mr. Markham to take take trouble to come every morning and give me my drawing lesson," said the young lady, with a little air of decision and firmness, which was quite comic in its way; "and if he will not," she added, " then I will never learn to draw any more - and that is decided."
    Mr. Gregory surveyed his daughter with an air of astonishment.
    Probably he half penetrated the secret - for her passion could not be called her secret, because she was totally unconscious of the nature of her feelings, and sought to conceal nothing.
    Had she been aware of the real sentiment which she experienced, she would have at once revealed it; for she was guileless and unsuspicious - ignorant of all deceit - devoid of all hypocrisy - and endowed with as much simplicity and artlessness as a child of six years old.
    "Mr. Markham must have a holiday, my dear," said Mr. Gregory, at length, with a peculiar emphasis; "and I beg that no further objection may be offered."
    Mary-Anne instantly burst into tears, exclaiming, in a voice almost choked with sobs, "Mr. Markham may have his holiday, if he likes; but I will not learn any thing more of him when the studies begin again."
    And she retired in a pet to another apartment.
    Markham was himself astonished at this singular behaviour on the part of his interesting pupil.
    He was, however, far from suspecting the real cause, and took his leave with a promise to return to dinner on the following Sunday, until which time there was then an interval of five days.
    Three days after the one on which the above conversation took place, Markham was about to issue from his dwelling to proceed into town for the purpose of calling upon the manager, as he had that morning seen his drama advertised for early representation, - when Whittingham informed hint that a young lady desired to spoak to him in the drawing- room.
    The Idea of Isabella instantly flashed through the mind of Richard:- but would she call upon him, alone and unattended? No - for Isabella was modesty and prudence personified.
    Then, who could it be?
    Markham asked this question of his butler.
    "A remarkable sweet creatur," said Whittingham.; "and come quite spontaneous like. Beautiful flaxy hair - blue eyes - pale complexion —"
    "Impossible! you do not say that, Whittingham?" cried Markham, on whom a light now broke.
    "Do I look like a man that speaks evasiously, Master Richard?" demanded the butler, shifting his inseparable companion - the white napkin - from beneath one arm to the other.
    Markham repaired to the drawing-room :- his suspicions were verified ;- the moment he entered the apartment, he beheld Miss Gregory seated upon the sofa.
    "Well, Mr. Markham," she said, extending to him her hand, and smiling so sweetly with her vermilion lips, which disclosed a set of teeth not quite even, but as white as ivory, that Richard could not find it in his heart to be angry with her; "I was resolved not to pass the day without seeing you; and as you would not come to me, I was compelled to come to you."
    "But, Miss Gregory," said Markham, "are you not aware that you have taken a most imprudent step, and that the world would highly censure your conduct?"
    "Why?" demanded Mary-Anne, in astonishment.
    "Because ladies, no matter whether single or married, never call upon single gentlemen; and society has laid down certain rules in this respect, which —"
    "My dear Mr. Markham, you are not giving me a lesson now, remember, in my father's study," interrupted Mary-Anne, laughing heartily. "I know nothing about the rules of society in this respect, or that respect, or any other respect. All I know is, that I cried all night long after you left us the other day; and I have been very miserable until this morning, when I suddenly recollected that I knew your address, and could come and call on you."
    "If your father were to know that you came hither," said Richard, "he would never forgive you, nor ever see me again."
    "Well, then, all we have to do is not to tell my father any thing about the matter," said Mary-An., with considerable ingenuousness. "But how cross you look; and I - I thought," she added, ready to cry, "that you would be as pleased to see me as I am to see you."
    "Yes, Miss Gregory - I am pleased to see you - I am always pleased to see you," answered Markham, by way of soothing the poor girl; "but you must allow me to assure you that this step is the most imprudent - the most thoughtless in the world. I really tremble for the consequences - should your father happen to hear of it."
    "I tell you over and over again," persisted Miss Gregory, "that my papa shall never know any thing at all about the matter. Now, then, pray don't be cross; but tell me that you are glad to see me. Speak, Mr. Markham - are you glad to see me?"
    "How shall I ever be able to convince this artless young creature of the impropriety of her conduct?" murmured Richard within himself. "To argue with her too long and too forcibly upon the subject would be to instruct her innocent mind in the evils and vices of society, and to imbue her with ideas which are as yet like a foreign and a strange tongue to her! Innocence, then, is not a pearl of invaluable price to its possessor, in this world,- since it can so readily prepare the path which might lead to ruin!"
    "You do not answer me - you are thoughtful - you will not speak to me," said Mary Ann, rising from the sofa, with tears in her eyes, and preparing - or rather affecting an intention to depart.
    Markham still gave her no reply.
    He was grieved - deeply grieved to wound her feelings; but he thought that it would be better to allow her to return home at once, with sentiments of pique and wounded pride which would prevent a repetition of the same step, than to initiate her into those social mysteries which would only give an  impulse to her lively imagination that would probably prove morally injurious to her.
    But Mary Anne was incapable of harbouring resentment; and she burst into an agony of grief.
    "Oh! how unkind you are, Mr. Markham," she exclaimed, "after all my endeavours to please you! I thought that you would have experienced as much joy to see me, as I felt when I saw you enter the room. Since the day that I lost my dear mother - upwards of nine years ago - I have never loved any one so much as I love you - no, not even my father; for I feel that at this moment I could dare even his anger, if you were to shelter me! I have long thought that I had no friend but God, to whom I could communicate my little secrets; and now I feel as if I could bestow all my confidence upon you. Since the [-272-] death of my mother I have never sought my couch without resigning my soul into the hands of God, and without demanding of him an insight into truth and virtue. But now I would rather entrust my safety to you; and I would rather learn all I should know from your lips than from those of another! You ought, therefore, to treat me with more kindness and consideration than you have done up to this moment ;- you should bestow upon me an additional share of your attention and notice, - because I am anxious to please you - I would do any thing to save you pain - I would lay down my life to ensure a prolongation of yours!"
    Mary-Anne had never spoken so seriously, nor in so impassioned a manner, in her life before. She was even astonished herself at the very ideas which she was now expressing for the first time, and which seemed to flow from some inward fountain whose springs she could not check.
    Markham was astounded.
    He suddenly comprehended the true situation of the innocent and artless girl in respect to himself.
    A pang shot through his heart when he considered the impossibility of her happiness ever being ensured by his means; and he thought within himself, "Alas! poor child, she does not rightly comprehend the state of her own mind!"
    But, how could this love of hers be stifled? how could that passion be suppressed?
    All the remedies yet essayed to quench and annihilate love, have changed into poisons ;- even violent and unexpected lessons will not always make the heart reflect.
    The more the slave bends, the heavier becomes the yoke: the more a man employs an unjust force, the more will injustice become necessary to his views. No one should attempt to exercise tyranny upon proud souls; for he will readily learn that it is not easy to triumph over and trample on a noble love. Error succeeds error - outrage follows upon outrage - and bitterness increases like a torrent whose embankments have given way. Who can define the termination of these ravages? Will not the tender and affectionate woman, whose love man may endeavour to stifle by coldness or neglect, perish in the ruin? She will succumb to tears and to devouring cares - even while the love which she cherishes still preserves all its vigour, and loses nothing of its ardour through intense suffering!
    Markham knew not how to reply to that affectionate girl, whose spirit he dared not break by his unkindness, - whose passion he could not return, because his heart was devoted to another ,- and whose mind he was afraid to enlighten with regard to those social duties which originated in reasons and motives totally unknown to her.
    "Mr. Markham," said Mary-Anne, wiping away her tears, "tell me that you are not angry with me for calling: and, as you say it is not right, I will never come again."
    "Angry with you, Miss Gregory, I cannot be," exclaimed Markham. "But I ought to tell you that you must not give way to that feeling of - of - preference towards me —"
    "Oh! I suppose that the rules of society also prevent a single lady from liking a single gentleman?" interrupted Mary-Anne pettishly.
    "No rules can control volition, Miss Gregory," said Richard, cruelly embarrassed how to explain himself to the young lady; "but if you tell me that you prefer me to your father —"
    "And so I do," exclaimed Mary-Anne quickly.
    "Than you are wrong," returned Markham.
    "Wrong, indeed! and yet you have just told me that no rules can control volition."
    "True; but we must endeavour to conquer those feelings. You say that you like me? - suppose that we were never to meet again; would you not then learn to forget that you ever knew such a being?"
    "Impossible! never - never!" cried Mary-Anne enthusiastically. "I am always thinking of you!"
    "But the time must come, some day or another - whether now, or a year, or ten years hence - when we must cease to meet. I may be married - or you yourself may marry —"
    "Married!" ejaculated Mary-Anne: "do you think of marrying, then, Mr. Markham?"
    "I am certainly attached to a young lady," replied Richard; "but there are circumstances which —" 
    "You are attached to a young lady? Is she beautiful - very beautiful ?"
    "Very beautiful," answered Richard.
    Mary-Anne remained silent for some moments: she appeared to reflect profoundly.
    A sudden glow of animation flushed her cheek:- was it a light that dawned in upon her soul?
    Richard sincerely hoped so.
    "Mr Markham," said Mary-Anne, rising from her seat, and speaking in a tone so serious that Richard could scarcely believe he was now listening to the once volatile, sprightly, thoughtless, and playful creature he had known,- "Mr. Markham, I have to apologise most sincerely for the trouble I have given you, and the intrusion of which I have been guilty. A veil has suddenly fallen from my eyes; and I now comprehend the impropriety of my conduct. Ah! I see what you mean by the laws of society. But God - and you also, Mr. Markham. well know the innocence of my motives in calling this morning upon you; and if my friendship for you has betrayed me into error, I beseech you to forget that such a scene has ever taken place."
    She shook hands with Richard with her usual cordiality and warmth, and then took her departure - no longer skipping like the young fawn, but with steady and measured pace.
    And still that young girl did not dream that love had influenced her conduct ;- she continued to believe that the sentiment she experienced was one of friendship. The idea of Richard's marriage with another had only enlightened her in respect to those laws which, as social and sympathetic beings, we have conventionally enacted.
    On the ensuing Sunday Markham dined, according to engagement, with Mr. Gregory.
    Mary-Anne was present; and striking was the change which had taken place in her!
    Her manners were no longer gay, joyous, confiding, and full of animation. As sickness chases from the cheek the flush of hoyden health, so had a new sentiment banished that sprightliness of disposition and that liveliness of temperament which so lately had characterised this child of nature.
    Love, then, is omnipotent, if he can effect such changes as these! Alas! Love can work much for our unhappiness, but little for our felicity :- he may make the gladsome companion melancholy and serious; but he seldom covers the countenance of the morose one with smiles!
    Mary-Anne endeavoured to seem as reserved as possible with Richard; and yet, from time to time, when she thought he did not notice her, she fixed her eyes upon him with an expression of such heart-devoted tenderness, that it seemed as if she were pouring forth her entire soul to the divinity whom she worshipped.

    In the grotesque and colossal sculptures, and the mountainous architectural piles of the East we seem to behold the products of an imagination struggling with conceptions too vast for its compass, and hence endeavouring to make some approximation to the reality by heaping up the irregular and huge invisible forms; and thus did the tortured and embarrassed mind of this poor girl, unacquainted with the precise nature of the sentiment it cherished, maintain a conflict with the feelings which oppressed it and offer up an idolatry of its own invention to the object of its unbounded veneration.
    Mr. Gregory could not but perceive this change in his daughter's behaviour, and he was more or less at a loss to conceive the cause.
    He had entertained for a few days previously a faint suspicion that Mary-Anne had peradventure formed an attachment, which would thus account for her altered demeanour; for since her call upon Markham, had her manners changed. But the good-hearted father was still loth to believe that his daughter's young heart had been smitten - and for the simple reason because he did not wish it to be so.
    Although he respected Markham, he was like all parents who, possessing fortunes themselves, are anxious that the suitors for their daughters' hands should also be enabled to produces modicum of this world's lucre.
    He was therefore unwilling to admit in his own mind the conviction that his suspicion was well-founded: he fancied that change of scene or amusement would probably operate favourably upon his daughter's mind, and bring her spirits back to their proper tone; and in this resolution was he confirmed, when in the course of that Sunday evening,~ he saw the confirmation of his suspicion. He could; no longer doubt :-a thousand little incidents proved? to him, the attachment of his daughter to Richard Markham; and his quick glance convinced him - that she was not loved by her tutor in return.
    That night Mr. Gregory lay awake, pondering upon the best course to pursue. At one moment he thought of communicating to Markham the state of his daughter's heart (for he could not suppose that Richard was aware of the passion of which he was' the object), and permitting the young couple to look upon each other as destined to be one day united: - at another moment, he imagined that it would be better to allow things to take their chance for a [-274-] short time and thereby ascertain whether the attachment gained ground on the part of his daughter, and whether it would become mutual (for he was entirely ignorant of Markham's love for another); and at length he resolved upon dispensing with the services of Richard, and trusting to time to eradicate the seeds of the unfortunate passion from the heart of Mary-Anne.
    This plan Mr. Gregory put into execution in the course of a few days - indeed, the very next time that Richard called at his house.
    "Mr. Markham," said the father, "I deeply regret that certain circumstances, which it is not necessary for me to explain to you, compel me to dispense with your farther attendance upon my children."
    "I hope," said Markham, "that I have given you no cause —"
    "Not at all - not in the least," interrupted Mr. Gregory, shaking Richard cordially by the hand: then, in a serious tone, he added, "my daughter's health requires rest - repose - and quiet. I shall see no visitors for some time."
    Markham was satisfied. Mr. Gregory had heard nothing prejudicial to his character; but he had evidently penetrated into the state of Mary-Anne's feelings. Richard was delighted to be thus dismissed from a house where his presence was only calculated to destroy the more profoundly the peace of one of its inmates :- indeed, he himself had already entertained serious ideas of severing his connexion with that family.
    "If I can at any time be of service to you, Mr. Markham, in any way, you may command me," said Mr. Gregory, when the former rose to depart; "and do not think that I am merely uttering a cold ceremonial phrase, when I desire you to make use of me as a friend, should you ever require one."
    Richard thanked Mr. Gregory for his kindness, and took leave of him, he also bade adieu to Gustavus and Lionel, both of whom were deeply affected at the idea of losing the visits of their tutor :- but Mary-Anne had been purposely sent to pass a few days with some friends in the country.

< previous chapter <  |  THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON  |  > next chapter >