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A sweetness that survived her living days,
As odorous scents outlast the censer's blaze.
“Or, if a trouble dimmed their golden joy,
'Twas outward dross, and not infused alloy :
Their home knew but affection's looks and speech-
A little Heaven, above dissension's reach.
But 'midst her kindred there was strife and gall;
Save one congenial sister, they were all
Such foils to her bright intellect and grace,
As if she had engrossed the virtue of her race.
Her nature strove the unnatural feuds to heal,
Her wisdom made the weak to her appeal ;
And, though the wounds she cured were soon unclosed,
Unwearied still her kindness interposed.
“Oft on those errands though she went in vain,
And home, a blank without her, gave him pain,
He bore her absence for its pious end.-
But public grief his spirit came to bend ;
For war laid waste his native land once more,
And German honour bled at every pore.
Oh! were he there, he thought, to rally back
One broken band, or perish in the wrack !
Nor think that Constance sought to move and melt
His purpose : like herself she spoke and felt :-
"Your fame is mine, and I will bear all woe
Except its loss !—but with you let me go,
To arm you for, to embrace you from, the fight;
Harm will not reach me—hazards will delight !'
He knew those hazards better; one campaign
In England he conjured her to remain,
And she expressed assent, although her heart
In secret had resolved they should not part.
“How oft the wisest on misfortune's shelves Are wrecked by errors most unlike themselves ! That little fault, that fraud of love's romance, That plan’s concealment, wrought their whole mischance. He knew it not preparing to embark, But felt extinct his comfort's latest spark, (254)
When, 'nidst those numbered days, she made repair
Again to kindred worthless of her care.
'Tis true she said the tidings she would write
Would make her absence on his heart sit light;
But, haplessly, revealed not yet her plan,
And left him in his home a lonely man.
“Thus damped in thoughts, he mused upon the past :
'Twas long since he had heard from Udolph last,
And deep misgivings on his spirit fell
That all with Udolph's household was not well.
'Twas that too-true prophetic mood of fear
That augurs griefs inevitably near,
Yet makes them not less startling to the mind
When come. Least looked-for then of humankind,
His Udolph ('twas, he thought at first, his sprite),
With mournful joy that morn surprised his sight.
How changed was Udolph! Scarce Theodric durst
Inquire his tidings,-he revealed the worst.
• At first,' he said, ' as Julia bade me tell,
She bore her fate high-mindedly and well,
Resolved from common eyes her grief to hide,
And from the world's compassion saved our pride;
But still her health gave way to secret woe,
And long she pined—for broken hearts die slow !
Her reason went, but came returning, like
The warning of her death-hour-soon to strike ;
And all for which she now, poor sufferer ! sighs,
Is once to see Theodric ere she dies.
Why should I come to tell you this caprice ?
Forgive me! for my mind has lost its peace.
I blame myself, and ne'er shall cease to blame,
That my insane ambition for the name
Of brother to Theodric, founded all
Those high-built hopes that crushed her by their fall.
I made her slight her mother's counsel sage,
But now my parents droop with grief and age :
And, though my sister's eyes mean no rebuke,
They overwhelm me with their dying look.
The journey's long, but you are full of ruth ;
And she who shares your heart, and knows its truth,
Has faith in your affection, far above
The fear of a poor dying object's love.' —
• She has, my Udolph,' he replied, “'tis true;
And oft we talk of Julia-oft of you.'
Their converse came abruptly to a close ;
For scarce could each his troubled looks compose,
When visitants, to Constance near akin,
(In all but traits of soul), were ushered in.
They brought not her, nor ’midst their kindred band
The sister who alone, like her, was bland;
But said--and smiled to see it gave him pain--
That Constance would a fortnight yet remain.
Vexed by their tidings, and the haughty view
They cast on Udolph as the youth withdrew,
Theodric blamed his Constance's intent.-
The demons went, and left him as they went
To read, when they were gone beyond recall,
A note from her loved hand explaining all.
She said, that with their house she only stayed
That parting peace might with them all be made;
But prayed for love to share his foreign life,
And shun all future chance of kindred strife.
He wrote with speed, his soul's consent to say:
The letter missed her on her homeward way.
In six hours Constance was within his arms :
Moved, flushed, unlike her wonted calm of charms,
And breathless—with uplifted hands outspread-
Burst into tears upon his neck, and said, -
* I knew that those who brought your message laughed,
With poison of their own to point the shaft;
And this my one kind sister thought, yet loath
Confessed she feared 'twas true you had been wroth.
But here you are, and smile on me: my pain
Is gone, and Constance is herself again.'
His ecstasy, it may be guessed, was much :
Yet pain's extreme and pleasure's seemed to touch.
What pride ! enibracing beauty's perfect mould ;
What terror ! lest his few rash words mistold,
Had agonized her pulse to fever's heat :
But calmed again so soon it healthful beat,
And such sweet tones were in her voice's sound,
Composed herself, she breathed composure round.
“Fair being! with what sympathetic grace She heard, bewailed, and pleaded Julia's case ; Implored he would her dying wish attend,
And go,' she said, “to-morrow with your friend ;
I'll wait for your return on England's shore,
And then we'll cross the deep, and part no more.'
“ To-morrow both his soul's compassion drew
To Julia's call, and Constance urged anew
That not to heed her now would be to bind
A load of pain for life upon his mind.
He went with Udolph-from his Constance went-
Stifling, alas ! a dark presentiment
Some ailment lurked, even whilst she smiled, to mock
His fears of harm from yester-morning's shock.
Meanwhile a faithful page he singled out,
To watch at home, and follow straight his route,
If aught of threatened change her health should show.
-- With Udolph then he reached the house of woe.
“That winter's eve, how darkly Nature's brow
Scowled on the scenes it lights so lovely now!
The tempest, raging o'er the realnis of ice,
Shook fragments from the rifted precipice;
And, whilst their falling echoed to the wind,
The wolf's long howl in dismal discord joined.
While white yon water's foam was raised in clouds
That whirled like spirits wailing in their shrouds :
Without was Nature's elemental din-
And beauty died, and friendship wept, within !
“Sweet Julia, though her fate was finished half,
Still knew him-smiled on him with feeble laugh-
And blessed hin, till she drew her latest sigh !
But, lo! while Udolph's bursts of agony,
And age's tremulous wailings, round him rose,
What accents pierced hin deeper yet than those !
'Twas tidings, by his English messenger,
Of Constance-brief and terrible they were.
She still was living when the page set out
From home, but whether now was left in doubt.
Poor Julia ! saw he then thy death's relief-
Stunned into stupor more than wrung with grief ?
It was not strange ; for in the human breast
Two master-passions cannot co-exist,
And that alarm which now usurped his brain
Shut out not only peace, but other pain.
'Twas fancying Constance underneath the shroud
That covered Julia made him first weep loud,
And tear himself away from them that wept.
Fast hurrying homeward, night nor day he slept,
Till, launched at sea, he dreamt that his soul's saint
Clung to him on a bridge of ice, pale, faint,
O'er cataracts of blood. Awake, he blest
The shore ; nor hope left utterly his breast,
Till reaching home, terrific omen! there
The straw-laid street preluded his despair-
The servant's look—the table that revealed
His letter sent to Constance last, still sealed-
Though speech and hearing left him, told too clear
That he had now to suffer—not to fear.
He felt as if he ne'er should cease to feel
A wretch live-broken on misfortune's wheel;
Her death's cause—he might make his peace with Heaven,
Absolved from guilt, but never self-forgiven.
“ The ocean has its ebbings-so has grief ;
'Twas vent to anguish, if 'twas not relief,
To lay his brow even on her death-cold cheek.
Then first he heard her one kind sister speak :
She bade him, in the name of Heaven, forbear
With self-reproach to deepen his despair:
“''Twas blame,' she said, 'I shudder to relate, But none of yours, that caused our darling's fate;