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THE STORY

OF

MY WARDSHIP.

BY MARY CATHERINE JACKSON.

“Looks of familiar love, that never more,
Never on earth our aching eyes shall meet,
Past words of welcome to our household door
And vanish'd smiles, and sounds of parted feet-
Spring ! ’midst the murmur of thy flowering trees,
Why, why revivest thou these?”

MRS. HEMANS.

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LONDON:
RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

1856.

24a.w.2.

LONDON:

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.

THE STORY

OF

MYWARDSHIP.

CHAPTER I.

“Ce qu'on a dit de la grâce divine, qui tout à coup transforme les cæurs, peut, humainement parlant, s'appliquer à la puissance de la mélodie ; et parmi les pressentiments de la vie à venir, ceux qui naissent de la musique ne sont point à dédaigner.”

MADAME DE STAEL.

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LUTHER, speaking of music, remarked, God has provided such enjoyment for his creatures here below, what must be the far higher joys, prepared for them in heaven ?”

I thought so, as I listened for the first time to the exquisite music of Bellini, performed by those whom Nature and Art had so thoroughly qualified for the task.

Whether the sweet strains woke in me

VOL. II.

B

high and holy aspirations, or the baser feelings of mere sensuous gratification, I did not pause to inquire, I was not then much versed in mental analysis, nor did I care to probe my feelings to the core.

I was half wild as Grisi poured forth in a full stream those rich, soul-thrilling notes, and threw into her part all the concentrated passion of her most passionate nature. At times I could scarcely draw my breath, so enthralled seemed every sense and feeling by the magical effect of her incomparable voice and artistic acting. All the fire, and the fondness, the sadness and sorrow of my

heart seemed to wake to life as I listened, and I sat as one entranced, till some commonplace remark from my companion, recalled me to the scene around.

The curtain dropped, and the audience fell to looking about them. I sat back, surveying the tiers of beauties upon beauties, lovely women of whom any country might be proud, and the magnificent specimens of the sterner sex, those “gentlemen” whom no land but England can produce, and I could not help drawing a favourable contrast between them and the foreign notabilities I saw scattered amongst them.

In a box not far removed from ours, and on the same tier, sat Charles Compton; it made me quite happy to see him there, one friend in that vast assemblage of faces.

He had been sitting absorbed in the music, he seemed only to breathe and live under the spell it cast around him, and his face was a perfect study with its dilated nostril, its parted lip, and fixed eye, as I saw it in profile.

Our box was crowded with visitors ; several elderly gentlemen, whom I wished away, and a number of ultra-dandies looked in, whom I could also have dispensed with ; but Lady Ravensden had something amusing to say to each, and one or two she introduced to me. I found that beyond a few. very insipid remarks, they had nothing to say, and was internally wishing that I could act like Diogenes, and tell them not to stand between me and the sunshine.

Presently my guardian walked in, and placed himself by me, speaking in an under tone. “ You're looking very well, to-night, Isola,"

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