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“ O, lend them but a day—an hour-to wear them for thy sake"
Enough, enough, unkind one! Then I may nought obtain ?" “ When thou would’st aught which I may grant, Sir Knight, demand
again." The Knight hath mounted his steed and away—his love is changed to hate; At the nearest town he lighteth down before a goldsmith's gate : He hath bought three rings of plain red gold like those by Clara worn. “O, bitterly thy slight of me, proud Lady, shalt thou mourn." He hath mounted again his coal-black barb before the break of day; And who is he, the warrior bold, who meets him by the way? It is the brave Hernando who, the Soldan's city won, Now pants to hold within his arms his wife and new-born son. “ What news ? what news ? thou noble Knight; good friend, thy tidings
tell“ How fares my wife and infant child-say, are they safe and well ?"
Thy wife is well, and eke the boy."—" Thy speech is brief and cold; “ Clara is true ?”—“For answer look on these three rings of gold." One instant, and his vizor's closed, his lance is in the rest" Defend thee now, thou felon Knight! Foul shame be on thy crest !" One charge-one shock. The traitor's corse is from the saddle cast, Through plate, and chain, and gambeson Hernando's spear hath pass'd. He buries in his courser's flank his bloody spurs again ; Away! away!—He scales the hill-he thunders o'er the plain! “ Up, Clara, up!” her mother cries; “ Hernando comes ! I see “ The well-known blazon on his shield. 'Tis he, my child, 'tis he !" “ Oh, mother! rides he fast as one who to his true love bies? “ Canst see his face, dear mother? Looks joy from out his eyes ?” “ His helmet, child, is open, and he rideth fast enow; “ But his cheek is pale and bent as if in anger seems his brow." The tramp of armed feet is heard upon the turret stair; Forth springs to meet her Lord's embrace that Lady fond and fair. By the silken locks in which his hands have oft been fondly twined, He hath seized and dragged her from her bower with jealous fury blind. He hath bound her at his horse's heels-- nor shriek nor prayer he
beeds ;O'er rugged rock, through bush and brier, the goaded courser speeds ;Her flesh is rent by every thorn, her blood stains every stone Now, Jesu sweet, have mercy! for her cruel Lord hath none ! And lo! the sharp edge of a flint hath shorn the cord in twain; Down leaps the vengeful lord to make his victim fast again. “ What have I done ?-Before I die, my crime, Hernando, say?" " The golden rings I charged thee keep, thou false one where are they?"
“ O where, but on the hand which with my heart I gave to thee ! “ Draw off my glove- I cannot-for my strength is failing me!" O curses on my frantic rage !-my wrong'd-my murder'd wife ! “Come forth, my sword ! Then, Clara, thus shall life atone for life !" She staggered up-Love gave her strength-the sword afar she hurl'd. “ Thou know'st my innocence !- live, to prove it to the world !
Weep not for Clara-loved by thee, contented she expires ! “Live for our child—the boy whose fame shall emulate his sire's !" “ Our child !--the child my fury hath made motherless to-day ! And when he for his mother asks-O God !-what shall I say?
Say, that her name was Clara—that thy love was her pride~ “ That, blessing him and thee, she smiled, as in thy arms she died !"
MEMOIR OF LADY STEPNEY.
BY A CORRESPONDENT.
(With a Portrait.) How much, and yet how little, there is to be told of every life! How much, if we come to examine the feelings, the thoughts, all the variable material out of whose workings the character is at last formed! Yet how little of all this is public property! What comes before " the common light of day" is a general outline of facts, much the same in most instances. We come into the world—we marry, or we do not marry—and we die: this brief sentence is the history of the many. Still literature always brings with it something of present interest, and the writer is a sort of mental friend with whom we desire further acquaintance. In compliance with this universal taste, we give the following slight account of one whom it is difficult to know and not to praise :
Lady Stepney is the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Pollok, belonging to a very ancient Scotch family, and a man of remarkable attainments and profound erudition. He married Miss Palmer, a Leicestershire heiress, and died at his residence, Grittleton, Wiltshire. Though possessed himself of the most profound knowledge, he had a dread, so common in his time, of learned ladies. He used to lock up his library lest his daughters should imbibe too strong a taste for literature. But nature is too strong for art: there was the love of mental exercise inherent in the youthful minds that he sought to control; and perhaps the very prohibition was only an additional stimulus. It is a curious fact that both daughters took a decidedly opposite bent to what their father most desired to inculcate. Lady Stepney is among the ornaments of feminine literature ; and her sister, Mrs. Scottowe, was distinguished for her acquirements in those abstruser pursuits “ where female foot hath rarely trod.” When but a child she was devoted to the severest studies, and would often, when the door was locked, steal in at the window to obtain those books of scientific research from which she was otherwise debarred. Mrs. Scottowe died at an early age, in her sister's house ; and we have heard
that the journals she was in the habit of keeping in German, French, and Italian, of her researches in a favourite pursuit, are such as have rarely originated in a woman's mind.
Lady Stepney was married when a mere child; she went from the nursery to the altar, first with a son of General Manners; and after with Sir Thomas Stepney, a gentleman too well known in the great world to need more than a mention as an eulogium. He was the last male descendant of his ancient line, and might have revived in his person the earldom of Gowry, an attainted title. He quartered the arms of the Stuarts, but his old and noble lineage has now no representative.
Lady Stepney did not come before the public till within the last three or four years; she brought therefore to the aid of her talents an observation cultivated by society, and perfect knowledge of the world. Her first novel was called “ The New Road to Ruin ;' this was followed by “ The Heir Presumptive;" and there is another now on the point of publication, entitled “The Courtier's Daughter." The faculty of composition belonged to her, however, at a very early age; for, when her first letters were read to her father, he would not believe that they were written by herself: he could not reconcile their vivacity and acuteness with the idea of one whom he considered a child. The same characteristics still belong to her writings; there is the naturally quick perception which alone detects the finer shades of character, and the deep feeling which alone can enter into them.
All personal description would be superfluous with the portrait so near; but we cannot help alluding to a charming little figure of her ladyship recently modelled by Lucas; it is a perfect poem for expression. The figure is seated carelessly in a large arm-chair, the drapery falls in easy folds, while the attitude is exquisite-half pensive, half thoughtful.
Lady Stepney has both true taste and love of the fine arts. Her house is a little shrine of the picturesque and beautiful-where the light thrown on a portrait, or the fall of a silken curtain, are managed with equal skill. The centre of a large circle of friends—and all who have lived in London know what demands a London life makes on the passing hours—it is wonderful where the author of " The Courtier's Daughter” has found time to write. But it were pity indeed if the powers she displays in conversation had found no more lasting record.
Our pleasant task is now closed, and the whole may be summed up in a sentence ;-one characteristic pervades all that Lady Stepney docs; whether it be in literature, society, or ornament, there is still “ la grace plus belle que la beauté."