« ForrigeFortsæt »
external eye, all is tranquil,—that this King, at the very threshold of his public career, at the very moment when he was binding about his brows the golden circle of sovereignty, when Europe watched him with interest, and the kings of the earth with envy, no one of the vulgar titles to happiness being wanting-youth, health, a throne the most splendid on this planet, general popularity amongst a nation of freemen, and the hope which belongs to powers as yet almost untried, that, even under these most flattering auspices, he should be called upon to make a sacrifice the most bitter of all to which human life is liable! He made it: and he might have then said to his people For you, and to my public duties, I have made a sacrifice, which none of you would have made for me.' In years long ago, I have heard a woman of rank recurring to the circumstances of Lady Sarah's first appearance at Court after the King's marriage. It was either a presentation, or it occurred at a ball; and, if I recollect rightly, after that lady's own marriage with Sir Charles Bunbury. Many eyes were upon both parties at that moment, - females eyes especially, — and the speaker did not disguise the excessive interest with which she herself observed them. The lady was not agitated, but the King was. He seemed anxious, sensibly trembled, changed color, and at last shivered, as Lady S. B. drew near. But, to quote the one single eloquent sentiment, which I remember after a lapse of thirty years, in Monk Lewis's Romantic Tales'In this world all things pass away; blessed be Heaven, and the bitter pangs by which sometimes it is pleased to recall its wanderers, even our passions pass away!' And thus it happened that this storm also was laid asleep and forgotten, together with so many others of its kind, that have been, and that shall be again, so long as man is man, and woman woman. Meantime, in justification of a pas
sion so profound, one would be glad to think highly of the lady who inspired it; and, therefore, I heartily hope that the insults offered to her memory in the scandalous memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun, are mere calumnies, and records rather of his presumptuous wishes, than of any actual successes. That book, I am aware, is generally treated as a forgery; but internal evidence, drawn from the tone and quality of the revelations there made, will not allow me to think it such. There is an abandon and carelessness in parts which mark its sincerity. Its authenticity I cannot doubt. But that proves nothing for the truth of the particular stories which it contains. *
* A book of scandalous and defamatory stories, especially when the writer has had the baseness to betray the confidence reposed in his honor by women, and to boast of favors alleged to have been granted him, it is always fair to consider as ipso facto a tissue of falsehoods; and on the following argument, that these are exposures which, even if true, none but the basest of men would have made. Being, therefore, on the hypothesis most favorable to himself, the basest of men, the author is selfdenounced as vile enough to have forged the stories, and cannot complain if he should be roundly accused of doing that which he has taken pains to prove himself capable of doing. This way of arguing might be applied with fatal effect to the Duc de Lauzun's Memoirs, supposing them written with a view to publication. But, by possibility, that was not the case. The Duc de L. terminated his profligate life, as is well known, on the scaffold, during the storms of the French Revolution; and nothing in his whole career won him so much credit, as the way in which he closed it; for he went to his death with a romantic carelessness, and even gaiety of demeanor. His Memoirs were not published by himself; the publication was posthumous; and by whom authorized, or for what purpose, is not exactly known. Probably the manuscript fell into mercenary hands, and was published merely on a speculation of pecuniary gain. From some passages, however, I cannot but infer that the writer did not mean to bring it before the public, but wrote it rather as a series of private memoranda, to aid his own recollection of circumstances and dates. The Duc de Lauzun's account of his intrigue with Lady Sarah goes so far as to allege, that he rode down in disguise, from London to Sir Charles B.'s country-seat, agreeably to a previous assignation, and that he was admitted, by that Lady's confidential
Soon after this we left Eton for Ireland. Our first destination being Dublin, of course we went by Holyhead. The route at that time, except that it went round by Conway, was pretty much the same as at present. One stage after leaving Shrewsbury it entered North Wales; a stage farther brought us to the celebrated vale of Llangollen; and on reaching the approach to this about sunset on a beautiful evening of June, I first found myself amongst mountains; a feature in natural scenery for which, from my earliest days, I might almost say that I had hungered and thirsted. In no one expectation of my life have I been less disappointed than in this; and I may add, that no one enjoyment has less decayed or palled upon my continued experience. A mountainous region, with but few towns, and those of a simple pastoral character, and a slender population; behold my conditions of a pleasant permanent dwelling-place! The mountains of Wales range at about the same elevation as those of Northern England; three thousand and a few odd hundreds of feet being the extreme limit which they reach. Generally speaking, their forms are less picturesque individually, and they are less happily grouped, than their English brethren. I have since also been made sensible by Mr. Wordsworth of one grievous defect in the structure of the Welch valleys; too generally they take the basin shape. Of this, however, I was not aware at the time of first seeing Wales; although the striking effect from the opposite form of the Cumberland and Westmoreland valleys, which almost universally present a flat area at the base of the surrounding hills, level, to use Mr. Wordsworth's expression, as the floor of
attendant, through a back staircase, at a time when Sir Charles, (a sportsman, as all the world knows, but a man of the highest breeding,) was himself at home, and occupied in the duties of hospitality.
a temple,' would, at any rate, have arrested my eye, from its impressive beauty. No faults, however, at that early age, struck me or disturbed my pleasure, except that after one whole day's travelling, (for so long it cost us between Llangollen and Holyhead,) the want of water struck me upon review as very remarkable. From Conway to Bangor we were in sight of the sea, but fresh water we had seen hardly any; no lake, no stream much beyond a brook. This is certainly a conspicuous defect in North Wales, considered as a region of fine scenery. The few lakes I have since become acquainted with, as that near Bala, near Beddkelert, and beyond Machynleth, are not attractive either in their forms or in their accompaniments : the Bala lake being meagre and insipid: the others as it were unfinished, and unaccomplished with their furniture.
At the Head, (to call it by its common colloquial name,) we were detained a few days in those unsteaming times by foul winds. Our time, however, thanks to the hospitality of a certain Captain Skinner on that station, did not hang heavy on our hands, though we were imprisoned, as it were, on a dull rock; for Holyhead itself is a little island of rock, and a dependency of Anglesea; which, again, is a little dependency of North Wales. The packets on this station were lucrative commands; and they were given (perhaps, are given?) to post-captains in the navy. Captain S. was celebrated for his convivial talents, and did the honors of the place in a hospitable style, daily asking us to dine with him.
This answered one purpose, at least, of especial convenience to us all at that moment: it kept us from any necessity of meeting together during the day, except under circumstances where we escaped the necessity of any familiar communication with each other. Why that should
have become desirable, needs explanation: Upon the last day of our journey, Lord W's tutor, who had accompanied us thus far on our road, suddenly took offence at something we had said, done, or omitted, and never spoke one syllable to either of us again. Being both of us amiably disposed, and incapable of having seriously meditated either word or deed likely to wound any person's feelings, we were much hurt at the time, and often retraced the little incidents upon the road, to discover, if possible, what it was that had been open to any misconstruction. But it remained to both of us a lasting mystery. This tutor was an Irishman; and, I believe, of considerable pretensions as a scholar; but, being reserved and haughty, or else presuming in us a knowledge of our offence, which we really had not, he gave us no opening for any expla nation. To the last moment, however, he manifested a conscientious regard to the duties of his charge. He accompanied us in our boat, on a dark and gusty night, to the packet, which lay a little out at sea. He saw us on board; and then, standing up for one moment, he said, 'Is all right on deck?' 'All right, Sir,' sang out the ship's steward. 'Have you, Lord W., got your boat-cloak with you?' 'Yes, Sir.' Then, pull away, boatmen.' We listened for a time to the measured beat of his retreating oars, marvelling more and more at the atrocious nature of our crime, which could avail even to intercept his last adieus. I, for my part, never saw him again; nor, as I have reason to think, Lord W. Neither did we ever unravel the mystery.
As if to irritate our curiosity still more, Lord W. showed me a torn fragment of paper in his tutor's hand-writing, which, together with others, had been thrown (as he believed) purposely in his way. If he was right in that belief, it appeared that he had missed the particular fragment