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Chapter 11

AFTER these events, it was long before we were able to attain any degree of
composure. A moral tempest had wrecked our richly freighted vessel, and we,
remnants of the diminished crew, were aghast at the losses and changes
which we had undergone. Idris passionately loved her brother, and could ill
brook an absence whose duration was uncertain; his society was dear and
necessary to me--I had followed up my chosen literary occupations with
delight under his tutorship and assistance; his mild philosophy, unerring
reason, and enthusiastic friendship were the best ingredient, the exalted
spirit of our circle; even the children bitterly regretted the loss of
their kind playfellow. Deeper grief oppressed Perdita. In spite of
resentment, by day and night she figured to herself the toils and dangers
of the wanderers. Raymond absent, struggling with difficulties, lost to the
power and rank of the Protectorate, exposed to the perils of war, became an
object of anxious interest; not that she felt any inclination to recall
him, if recall must imply a return to their former union. Such return she
felt to be impossible; and while she believed it to be thus, and with
anguish regretted that so it should be, she continued angry and impatient
with him, who occasioned her misery. These perplexities and regrets caused
her to bathe her pillow with nightly tears, and to reduce her in person and
in mind to the shadow of what she had been. She sought solitude, and
avoided us when in gaiety and unrestrained affection we met in a family
circle. Lonely musings, interminable wanderings, and solemn music were her
only pastimes. She neglected even her child; shutting her heart against all
tenderness, she grew reserved towards me, her first and fast friend.

I could not see her thus lost, without exerting myself to remedy the evil
--remediless I knew, if I could not in the end bring her to reconcile
herself to Raymond. Before he went I used every argument, every persuasion
to induce her to stop his journey. She answered the one with a gush of
tears--telling me that to be persuaded--life and the goods of life were
a cheap exchange. It was not will that she wanted, but the capacity; again
and again she declared, it were as easy to enchain the sea, to put reins on
the wind's viewless courses, as for her to take truth for falsehood, deceit
for honesty, heartless communion for sincere, confiding love. She answered
my reasonings more briefly, declaring with disdain, that the reason was
hers; and, until I could persuade her that the past could be unacted, that
maturity could go back to the cradle, and that all that was could become as
though it had never been, it was useless to assure her that no real change
had taken place in her fate. And thus with stern pride she suffered him to
go, though her very heart-strings cracked at the fulfilling of the act,
which rent from her all that made life valuable.

To change the scene for her, and even for ourselves, all unhinged by the
cloud that had come over us, I persuaded my two remaining companions that
it were better that we should absent ourselves for a time from Windsor. We
visited the north of England, my native Ulswater, and lingered in scenes
dear from a thousand associations. We lengthened our tour into Scotland,
that we might see Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond; thence we crossed to
Ireland, and passed several weeks in the neighbourhood of Killarney. The
change of scene operated to a great degree as I expected; after a year's
absence, Perdita returned in gentler and more docile mood to Windsor. The
first sight of this place for a time unhinged her. Here every spot was
distinct with associations now grown bitter. The forest glades, the ferny
dells, and lawny uplands, the cultivated and cheerful country spread around
the silver pathway of ancient Thames, all earth, air, and wave, took up one
choral voice, inspired by memory, instinct with plaintive regret.

But my essay towards bringing her to a saner view of her own situation, did
not end here. Perdita was still to a great degree uneducated. When first
she left her peasant life, and resided with the elegant and cultivated
Evadne, the only accomplishment she brought to any perfection was that of
painting, for which she had a taste almost amounting to genius. This had
occupied her in her lonely cottage, when she quitted her Greek friend's
protection. Her pallet and easel were now thrown aside; did she try to
paint, thronging recollections made her hand tremble, her eyes fill with
tears. With this occupation she gave up almost every other; and her mind
preyed upon itself almost to madness.

For my own part, since Adrian had first withdrawn me from my selvatic
wilderness to his own paradise of order and beauty, I had been wedded to
literature. I felt convinced that however it might have been in former
times, in the present stage of the world, no man's faculties could be
developed, no man's moral principle be enlarged and liberal, without an
extensive acquaintance with books. To me they stood in the place of an
active career, of ambition, and those palpable excitements necessary to the
multitude. The collation of philosophical opinions, the study of historical
facts, the acquirement of languages, were at once my recreation, and the
serious aim of my life. I turned author myself. My productions however were
sufficiently unpretending; they were confined to the biography of favourite
historical characters, especially those whom I believed to have been
traduced, or about whom clung obscurity and doubt.

As my authorship increased, I acquired new sympathies and pleasures. I
found another and a valuable link to enchain me to my fellow-creatures; my
point of sight was extended, and the inclinations and capacities of all
human beings became deeply interesting to me. Kings have been called the
fathers of their people. Suddenly I became as it were the father of all
mankind. Posterity became my heirs. My thoughts were gems to enrich the
treasure house of man's intellectual possessions; each sentiment was a
precious gift I bestowed on them. Let not these aspirations be attributed
to vanity. They were not expressed in words, nor even reduced to form in my
own mind; but they filled my soul, exalting my thoughts, raising a glow of
enthusiasm, and led me out of the obscure path in which I before walked,
into the bright noon-enlightened highway of mankind, making me, citizen of
the world, a candidate for immortal honors, an eager aspirant to the praise
and sympathy of my fellow men.

No one certainly ever enjoyed the pleasures of composition more intensely
than I. If I left the woods, the solemn music of the waving branches, and
the majestic temple of nature, I sought the vast halls of the Castle, and
looked over wide, fertile England, spread beneath our regal mount, and
listened the while to inspiring strains of music. At such times solemn
harmonies or spirit-stirring airs gave wings to my lagging thoughts,
permitting them, methought, to penetrate the last veil of nature and her
God, and to display the highest beauty in visible expression to the
understandings of men. As the music went on, my ideas seemed to quit their
mortal dwelling house; they shook their pinions and began a flight, sailing
on the placid current of thought, filling the creation with new glory, and
rousing sublime imagery that else had slept voiceless. Then I would hasten
to my desk, weave the new-found web of mind in firm texture and brilliant
colours, leaving the fashioning of the material to a calmer moment.

But this account, which might as properly belong to a former period of my
life as to the present moment, leads me far afield. It was the pleasure I
took in literature, the discipline of mind I found arise from it, that made
me eager to lead Perdita to the same pursuits. I began with light hand and
gentle allurement; first exciting her curiosity, and then satisfying it in
such a way as might occasion her, at the same time that she half forgot her
sorrows in occupation, to find in the hours that succeeded a reaction of
benevolence and toleration.

Intellectual activity, though not directed towards books, had always been
my sister's characteristic. It had been displayed early in life, leading
her out to solitary musing among her native mountains, causing her to form
innumerous combinations from common objects, giving strength to her
perceptions, and swiftness to their arrangement. Love had come, as the rod
of the master-prophet, to swallow up every minor propensity. Love had
doubled all her excellencies, and placed a diadem on her genius. Was she to
cease to love? Take the colours and odour from the rose, change the sweet
nutriment of mother's milk to gall and poison; as easily might you wean
Perdita from love. She grieved for the loss of Raymond with an anguish,
that exiled all smile from her lips, and trenched sad lines on her brow of
beauty. But each day seemed to change the nature of her suffering, and
every succeeding hour forced her to alter (if so I may style it) the
fashion of her soul's mourning garb. For a time music was able to satisfy
the cravings of her mental hunger, and her melancholy thoughts renewed
themselves in each change of key, and varied with every alteration in the
strain. My schooling first impelled her towards books; and, if music had
been the food of sorrow, the productions of the wise became its
medicine. The acquisition of unknown languages was too tedious an
occupation, for one who referred every expression to the universe within,
and read not, as many do, for the mere sake of filling up time; but who was
still questioning herself and her author, moulding every idea in a thousand
ways, ardently desirous for the discovery of truth in every sentence. She
sought to improve her understanding; mechanically her heart and
dispositions became soft and gentle under this benign discipline. After
awhile she discovered, that amidst all her newly acquired knowledge, her
own character, which formerly she fancied that she thoroughly understood,
became the first in rank among the terrae incognitae, the pathless wilds of
a country that had no chart. Erringly and strangely she began the task of
self-examination with self-condemnation. And then again she became aware of
her own excellencies, and began to balance with juster scales the shades of
good and evil. I, who longed beyond words, to restore her to the happiness
it was still in her power to enjoy, watched with anxiety the result of
these internal proceedings.

But man is a strange animal. We cannot calculate on his forces like that of
an engine; and, though an impulse draw with a forty-horse power at what
appears willing to yield to one, yet in contempt of calculation the
movement is not effected. Neither grief, philosophy, nor love could make
Perdita think with mildness of the dereliction of Raymond. She now took
pleasure in my society; towards Idris she felt and displayed a full and
affectionate sense of her worth--she restored to her child in abundant
measure her tenderness and care. But I could discover, amidst all her
repinings, deep resentment towards Raymond, and an unfading sense of
injury, that plucked from me my hope, when I appeared nearest to its
fulfilment. Among other painful restrictions, she has occasioned it to
become a law among us, never to mention Raymond's name before her. She
refused to read any communications from Greece, desiring me only to mention
when any arrived, and whether the wanderers were well. It was curious that
even little Clara observed this law towards her mother. This lovely child
was nearly eight years of age. Formerly she had been a light-hearted
infant, fanciful, but gay and childish. After the departure of her father,
thought became impressed on her young brow. Children, unadepts in language,
seldom find words to express their thoughts, nor could we tell in what
manner the late events had impressed themselves on her mind. But certainly
she had made deep observations while she noted in silence the changes that
passed around her. She never mentioned her father to Perdita, she appeared
half afraid when she spoke of him to me, and though I tried to draw her out
on the subject, and to dispel the gloom that hung about her ideas
concerning him, I could not succeed. Yet each foreign post-day she watched
for the arrival of letters--knew the post mark, and watched me as I read.
I found her often poring over the article of Greek intelligence in the
newspaper.

There is no more painful sight than that of untimely care in children, and
it was particularly observable in one whose disposition had heretofore been
mirthful. Yet there was so much sweetness and docility about Clara, that
your admiration was excited; and if the moods of mind are calculated to
paint the cheek with beauty, and endow motions with grace, surely her
contemplations must have been celestial; since every lineament was moulded
into loveliness, and her motions were more harmonious than the elegant
boundings of the fawns of her native forest. I sometimes expostulated with
Perdita on the subject of her reserve; but she rejected my counsels, while
her daughter's sensibility excited in her a tenderness still more
passionate.

After the lapse of more than a year, Adrian returned from Greece.

When our exiles had first arrived, a truce was in existence between the
Turks and Greeks; a truce that was as sleep to the mortal frame, signal of
renewed activity on waking. With the numerous soldiers of Asia, with all of
warlike stores, ships, and military engines, that wealth and power could
command, the Turks at once resolved to crush an enemy, which creeping on by
degrees, had from their stronghold in the Morea, acquired Thrace and
Macedonia, and had led their armies even to the gates of Constantinople,
while their extensive commercial relations gave every European nation an
interest in their success. Greece prepared for a vigorous resistance; it
rose to a man; and the women, sacrificing their costly ornaments, accoutred
their sons for the war, and bade them conquer or die with the spirit of the
Spartan mother. The talents and courage of Raymond were highly esteemed
among the Greeks. Born at Athens, that city claimed him for her own, and by
giving him the command of her peculiar division in the army, the
commander-in-chief only possessed superior power. He was numbered among her
citizens, his name was added to the list of Grecian heroes. His judgment,
activity, and consummate bravery, justified their choice. The Earl of
Windsor became a volunteer under his friend.

"It is well," said Adrian, "to prate of war in these pleasant shades, and
with much ill-spent oil make a show of joy, because many thousand of our
fellow-creatures leave with pain this sweet air and natal earth. I shall
not be suspected of being averse to the Greek cause; I know and feel its
necessity; it is beyond every other a good cause. I have defended it with
my sword, and was willing that my spirit should be breathed out in its
defence; freedom is of more worth than life, and the Greeks do well to
defend their privilege unto death. But let us not deceive ourselves. The
Turks are men; each fibre, each limb is as feeling as our own, and every
spasm, be it mental or bodily, is as truly felt in a Turk's heart or brain,
as in a Greek's. The last action at which I was present was the taking of
----. The Turks resisted to the last, the garrison perished on the
ramparts, and we entered by assault. Every breathing creature within the
walls was massacred. Think you, amidst the shrieks of violated innocence
and helpless infancy, I did not feel in every nerve the cry of a fellow
being? They were men and women, the sufferers, before they were Mahometans,
and when they rise turbanless from the grave, in what except their good or
evil actions will they be the better or worse than we? Two soldiers
contended for a girl, whose rich dress and extreme beauty excited the
brutal appetites of these wretches, who, perhaps good men among their
families, were changed by the fury of the moment into incarnated evils. An
old man, with a silver beard, decrepid and bald, he might be her
grandfather, interposed to save her; the battle axe of one of them clove
his skull. I rushed to her defence, but rage made them blind and deaf; they
did not distinguish my Christian garb or heed my words--words were blunt
weapons then, for while war cried "havoc," and murder gave fit echo, how
could I--

Turn back the tide of ills, relieving wrong
With mild accost of soothing eloquence?

One of the fellows, enraged at my interference, struck me with his bayonet
in the side, and I fell senseless.

"This wound will probably shorten my life, having shattered a frame, weak
of itself. But I am content to die. I have learnt in Greece that one man,
more or less, is of small import, while human bodies remain to fill up the
thinned ranks of the soldiery; and that the identity of an individual may
be overlooked, so that the muster roll contain its full numbers. All this
has a different effect upon Raymond. He is able to contemplate the ideal of
war, while I am sensible only to its realities. He is a soldier, a general.
He can influence the blood-thirsty war-dogs, while I resist their
propensities vainly. The cause is simple. Burke has said that, 'in all
bodies those who would lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow.'
--I cannot follow; for I do not sympathize in their dreams of massacre and
glory--to follow and to lead in such a career, is the natural bent of
Raymond's mind. He is always successful, and bids fair, at the same time
that he acquires high name and station for himself, to secure liberty,
probably extended empire, to the Greeks."

Perdita's mind was not softened by this account. He, she thought, can be
great and happy without me. Would that I also had a career! Would that I
could freight some untried bark with all my hopes, energies, and desires,
and launch it forth into the ocean of life--bound for some attainable
point, with ambition or pleasure at the helm! But adverse winds detain me
on shore; like Ulysses, I sit at the water's edge and weep. But my
nerveless hands can neither fell the trees, nor smooth the planks. Under
the influence of these melancholy thoughts, she became more than ever in
love with sorrow. Yet Adrian's presence did some good; he at once broke
through the law of silence observed concerning Raymond. At first she
started from the unaccustomed sound; soon she got used to it and to love
it, and she listened with avidity to the account of his achievements. Clara
got rid also of her restraint; Adrian and she had been old playfellows; and
now, as they walked or rode together, he yielded to her earnest entreaty,
and repeated, for the hundredth time, some tale of her father's bravery,
munificence, or justice.

Each vessel in the mean time brought exhilarating tidings from Greece. The
presence of a friend in its armies and councils made us enter into the
details with enthusiasm; and a short letter now and then from Raymond told
us how he was engrossed by the interests of his adopted country. The Greeks
were strongly attached to their commercial pursuits, and would have been
satisfied with their present acquisitions, had not the Turks roused them by
invasion. The patriots were victorious; a spirit of conquest was instilled;
and already they looked on Constantinople as their own. Raymond rose
perpetually in their estimation; but one man held a superior command to him
in their armies. He was conspicuous for his conduct and choice of position
in a battle fought in the plains of Thrace, on the banks of the Hebrus,
which was to decide the fate of Islam. The Mahometans were defeated, and
driven entirely from the country west of this river. The battle was
sanguinary, the loss of the Turks apparently irreparable; the Greeks, in
losing one man, forgot the nameless crowd strewed upon the bloody field,
and they ceased to value themselves on a victory, which cost them--
Raymond.

At the battle of Makri he had led the charge of cavalry, and pursued the
fugitives even to the banks of the Hebrus. His favourite horse was found
grazing by the margin of the tranquil river. It became a question whether
he had fallen among the unrecognized; but no broken ornament or stained
trapping betrayed his fate. It was suspected that the Turks, finding
themselves possessed of so illustrious a captive, resolved to satisfy their
cruelty rather than their avarice, and fearful of the interference of
England, had come to the determination of concealing for ever the
cold-blooded murder of the soldier they most hated and feared in the
squadrons of their enemy.

Raymond was not forgotten in England. His abdication of the Protectorate
had caused an unexampled sensation; and, when his magnificent and manly
system was contrasted with the narrow views of succeeding politicians, the
period of his elevation was referred to with sorrow. The perpetual
recurrence of his name, joined to most honourable testimonials, in the
Greek gazettes, kept up the interest he had excited. He seemed the
favourite child of fortune, and his untimely loss eclipsed the world, and
shewed forth the remnant of mankind with diminished lustre. They clung with
eagerness to the hope held out that he might yet be alive. Their minister
at Constantinople was urged to make the necessary perquisitions, and should
his existence be ascertained, to demand his release. It was to be hoped
that their efforts would succeed, and that though now a prisoner, the sport
of cruelty and the mark of hate, he would be rescued from danger and
restored to the happiness, power, and honour which he deserved.

The effect of this intelligence upon my sister was striking. She never for
a moment credited the story of his death; she resolved instantly to go to
Greece. Reasoning and persuasion were thrown away upon her; she would
endure no hindrance, no delay. It may be advanced for a truth, that, if
argument or entreaty can turn any one from a desperate purpose, whose
motive and end depends on the strength of the affections only, then it is
right so to turn them, since their docility shews, that neither the motive
nor the end were of sufficient force to bear them through the obstacles
attendant on their undertaking. If, on the contrary, they are proof against
expostulation, this very steadiness is an omen of success; and it becomes
the duty of those who love them, to assist in smoothing the obstructions in
their path. Such sentiments actuated our little circle. Finding Perdita
immoveable, we consulted as to the best means of furthering her purpose.
She could not go alone to a country where she had no friends, where she
might arrive only to hear the dreadful news, which must overwhelm her with
grief and remorse. Adrian, whose health had always been weak, now suffered
considerable aggravation of suffering from the effects of his wound. Idris
could not endure to leave him in this state; nor was it right either to
quit or take with us a young family for a journey of this description. I
resolved at length to accompany Perdita. The separation from my Idris was
painful--but necessity reconciled us to it in some degree: necessity and
the hope of saving Raymond, and restoring him again to happiness and
Perdita. No delay was to ensue. Two days after we came to our
determination, we set out for Portsmouth, and embarked. The season was May,
the weather stormless; we were promised a prosperous voyage. Cherishing the
most fervent hopes, embarked on the waste ocean, we saw with delight the
receding shore of Britain, and on the wings of desire outspeeded our well
filled sails towards the South. The light curling waves bore us onward, and
old ocean smiled at the freight of love and hope committed to his charge;
it stroked gently its tempestuous plains, and the path was smoothed for us.
Day and night the wind right aft, gave steady impulse to our keel--nor
did rough gale, or treacherous sand, or destructive rock interpose an
obstacle between my sister and the land which was to restore her to her
first beloved,

Her dear heart's confessor--a heart within that heart.

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