The species of publication which has come
to be generally known by the title of _Annual_,
being a miscellany of prose and verse, equipped
with numerous engravings, and put forth every
year about Christmas, had flourished for a long
while in Germany, before it was imitated in
this country by an enterprising bookseller, a
German by birth, Mr Ackermann. The rapid
success of his work, as is the custom of the
time, gave birth to a host of rivals, and, among
others, to an Annual styled The Keepsake,
the first volume of which appeared in 1828,
and attracted much notice, chiefly in consequence
of the very uncommon splendour of
its illustrative accompaniments. The expenditure
which the spirited proprietors lavished
on this magnificent volume, is understood to
have been not less than from ten to twelve
thousand pounds sterling!

  Various gentlemen of such literary reputation
that any one might think it an honour to be
associated with them, had been announced as
contributors to this Annual, before application
was made to me to assist in it; and I accordingly
placed with much pleasure at the Editor's
disposal a few fragments, originally designed
to have been worked into the Chronicles
of the Canongate, besides a MS. Drama, the
long-neglected performance of my youthful
days---The House of Aspen.

  The Keepsake for 1828 included, however,
only three of these little prose tales---of which
the first in order was that entitled ``My Aunt
Margaret's Mirror.'' By way of _introduction_
to this, when now included in a general collection
of my lucubrations, I have only to say, that
it is a mere transcript, or at least with very little
embellishment, of a story that I remembered
being struck with in my childhood, when told
at the fireside by a lady of eminent virtues,
and no inconsiderable share of talent, one of
the ancient and honourable house of Swinton. 
She was a kind relation of my own, and met
her death in a manner so shocking, being killed
in a fit of insanity by a female attendant who
had been attached to her person for half a lifetime,
that I cannot now recall her memory,
child as I was when the catastrophe occurred,
without a painful re-awakening of perhaps the
first images of horror that the scenes of real
life stamped on my mind.

  This good spinster had in her composition a
strong vein of the superstitious, and was pleased,
among other fancies, to read alone in her
chamber by a taper fixed in a candlestick which
she had had formed out of a human skull. 
One night this strange piece of furniture acquired
suddenly the power of locomotion, and,
after performing some odd circles on her chimney-piece,
fairly leaped on the floor, and continued
to roll about the apartment. Mrs Swinton
calmly proceeded to the adjoining room
for another light, and had the satisfaction to
penetrate the mystery on the spot. Rats
abounded in the ancient building she inhabited,
and one of these had managed to ensconce
itself within her favourite _memento mori_. Though
thus endowed with a more than feminine share
of nerve, she entertained largely that belief in
supernaturals, which in those times was not
considered as sitting ungracefully on the grave
and aged of her condition; and the story of
the Magic Mirror was one for which she vouched
with particular confidence, alleging indeed
that one of her own family had been an eye-witness
of the incidents recorded in it.

   ``I tell the tale as it was told to me.''

  Stories enow of much the same cast will
present themselves to the recollection of such
of my readers as have ever dabbled in a species
of lore to which I certainly gave more hours,
at one period of my life, than I should gain any
credit by confessing.

_August_, 1831.


                    ``There are times
  When Fancy plays her gambols, in despite
  Even of our watchful senses, when in sooth
  Substance seems shadow, shadow substance seems,
  When the broad, palpable, and mark'd partition,
  'Twixt that which is and is not, seems dissolved,
  As if the mental eye gain'd power to gaze
  Beyond the limits of the existing world.
  Such hours of shadowy dreams I better love
  Than all the gross realities of life.''

  My Aunt Margaret was one of that respected
sisterhood, upon whom devolve all the trouble and
solicitude incidental to the possession of children,
excepting only that which attends their entrance
into the world. We were a large family, of very
different dispositions and constitutions. some were
dull and peevish---they were sent to Aunt Margaret
to be amused; some were rude, romping, and
boisterous---they were sent to Aunt Margaret to
be kept quiet, or rather, that their noise might be
removed out of hearing: those who were indisposed
were sent with the prospect of being nursed---
those who were stubborn, with the hope of their
being subdued by the kindness of Aunt Margaret's
discipline; in short, she had all the various duties
of a mother, without the credit and dignity of the
maternal character. The busy scene of her various
cares is now over---of the invalids and the robust,
the kind and the rough, the peevish and pleased
children, who thronged her little parlour from morning
to night, not one now remains alive but myself;
who, afflicted by early infirmity, was one of the
most delicate of her nurselings, yet, nevertheless,
have outlived them all.

  It is still my custom, and shall be so while I have
the use of my limbs, to visit my respected relation
at least three times a-week. Her abode is about
half a mile from the suburbs of the town in which
I reside; and is accessible, not only by the high-road,
from which it stands at some distance, but by
means of a greensward footpath, leading through
some pretty meadows. I have so little left to torment
me in life, that it is one of my greatest vexations
to know that several of these sequestered
fields have been devoted as sites for building. In
that which is nearest the town, wheelbarrows have
been at work for several weeks in such numbers,
that, I verily believe, its whole surface, to the
depth of at least eighteen inches, was mounted in
these monotrochs at the same moment, and in the
act of being transported from one place to another. 
Huge triangular piles of planks are also reared in
different parts of the devoted messuage; and a little
group of trees, that still grace the eastern end,
which rises in a gentle ascent, have just received
warning to quit, expressed by a daub of white
paint, and are to give place to a curious grove of

  It would, perhaps, hurt others in my situation to
reflect that this little range of pasturage once belonged
to my father, (whose family was of some
consideration in the world,) and was sold by patches
to remedy distresses in which be involved himself
in an attempt by commercial adventure to redeem
his diminished fortune. While the building scheme
was in full operation, this circumstance was often
pointed out to me by the class of friends who are
anxious that no part of your misfortunes should
escape your observation. ``Such pasture-ground!
---lying at the very town's end---in turnips and potatoes,
the parks would bring L.20 per acre, and if
leased for building---O, it was a gold mine!---And
all sold for an old song out of the ancient possessor's
bands!'' My comforters cannot bring me to
repine much on this subject. If I could be allowed
to look back on the past without interruption, I
could willingly give up the enjoyment of present
income, and the hope of future profit, to those who
have purchased what my father sold. I regret the
alteration of the ground only because it destroys
associations, and I would more willingly (I think)
see the Earl's Closes in the hands of strangers, retaining
their silvan appearance, than know them
for my own, if torn up by agriculture, or covered
with buildings. Mine are the sensations of poor

  ``The horrid slough has rased the green
      Where yet a child I stray'd;
    The axe has fell'd the hawthorn screen,
      The schoolboy's summer shade.''

  I hope, however, the threatened devastation will
not be consummated in my day. Although the
adventurous spirit of times short while since passed
gave rise to the undertaking, I have been encouraged
to think, that the subsequent changes
have so far damped the spirit of speculation, that
the rest of the woodland footpath leading to Aunt
Margaret's retreat will be left undisturbed for her
time and mine. I am interested in this, for every
step of the way, after I have passed through the
green already mentioned, has for me something of
early remembrance:---There is the stile at which I
can recollect a cross child's-maid upbraiding me
with my infirmity, as she lifted me coarsely and
carelessly over the flinty steps, which my brothers
traversed with shout and bound. I remember the
suppressed bitterness of the moment, and, conscious
of my own inferiority, the feeling of envy
with which I regarded the easy movements and
elastic steps of my more happily formed brethren. 
Alas! these goodly barks have all perished on life's
wide ocean, and only that which seemed so little
seaworthy, as the naval phrase goes, has reached
the port when the tempest is over. Then there is
the pool, where, man<oe>uvring our little navy, constructed
out of the broad water-flags, my elder
brother fell in, and was scarce saved from the
watery element to die under Nelson's banner. There
is the hazel copse also, in which my brother Henry
used to gather nuts, thinking little that he was to
die in an Indian jungle in quest of rupees.

  There is so much more of remembrance about
the little walk, that---as I stop, rest on my crutch-headed
cane, and look round with that species of
comparison between the thing I was and that which
I now am---it almost induces me to doubt my own
identity; until I found myself in face of the honeysuckle
porch of Aunt Margaret's dwelling, with
its irregularity of front, and its odd projecting latticed
windows; where the workmen seem to have
made a study that no one of them should resemble
another, in form, size, or in the old-fashioned stone
entablature and labels which adorn them. This
tenement, once the manor-house of Earl's Closes,
we still retain a slight bold upon; for, in some family
arrangements, it had been settled upon Aunt
Margaret during the term of her life. Upon this
frail tenure depends, in a great measure, the last
shadow of the family of Bothwell of Earl's Closes,
and their last slight connexion with their paternal
inheritance. The only representative will then be
an infirm old man, moving not unwillingly to the
grave, which has devoured all that were dear to
his affections.

  When I have indulged such thoughts for a minute
or two, I enter the mansion, which is said to
have been the gatehouse only of the original building,
and find one being on whom time seems to
have made little impression; for the Aunt Margaret
of to-day bears the same proportional age to
the Aunt Margaret of my early youth, that the
boy of ten years old does to the Man of (by'r
Lady!) some fifty-six years. The old lady's invariable
costume has doubtless some share in confirming
one in the opinion, that time bas stood still
with Aunt Margaret.

  The brown or chocolate-coloured silk gown, with
ruffles of the same stuff at the elbow, within which
are others of Mechlin lace---the black silk gloves,
or mitts, the white hair combed back upon a roll,
and the cap of spotless cambric, which closes around
the venerable countenance, as they were not the
costume of 1780, so neither were they that of 1826;
they are altogether a style peculiar to the individual
Aunt Margaret. There she still sits, as she
sat thirty years since, with her wheel or the stocking,
which she works by the fire in winter, and by
the window in summer. or, perhaps, venturing as
far as the porch in an unusually fine summer evening.
Her frame, like some well-constructed piece
of mechanics, still performs the operations for
which it had seemed destined; going its round
with an activity which is gradually diminished, yet
indicating no probability that it will soon come to
a period.

  The solicitude and affection which had made
Aunt Margaret the willing slave to the inflictions
of a whole nursery, have now for their object the
health and comfort of one old and infirm man; the
last remaining relative of her family, and the only
one who can still find interest in the traditional
stores which she boards; as some raiser bides the
gold which he desires that no one should enjoy
after his death.

  My conversation with Aunt Margaret generally
relates little either to the present or to the future:
for the passing day we possess as much as we require,
and we neither of us wish for more; and for
that which is to follow we have on this side of the
grave neither hopes, nor fears, nor anxiety. We
therefore naturally look back to the past; and
forget the present fallen fortunes and declined importance
of our family, in recalling the hours when
it was wealthy and prosperous.

  With this slight introduction, the reader will
know as much of Aunt Margaret and her nephew
as is necessary to comprehend the following conversation
and narrative.

  Last week, when, late in a summer evening, I
went to call on the old lady to whom my reader is
now introduced, I was received by her with all her
usual affection and benignity; while, at the same
time, she seemed abstracted and disposed to silence. 
I asked her the reason. ``They have been clearing
out the old chapel,'' she said; ``John Clayhudgeons
having, it seems, discovered that the stuff
within---being, I suppose, the remains of our ancestors---
was excellent for top-dressing the meadows.'''

  Here I started up with more alacrity than I
have displayed for some years; but sat down
while my aunt added, laying her hand upon my
sleeve, ``The chapel has been long considered as
common ground, my dear, and used for a penfold,
and what objection can we have to the man for
employing what is his own, to his own profit?
Besides, I did speak to him, and he very readily
and civilly promised, that if he found bones or
monuments, they should be carefully respected and
reinstated; and what more could I ask? So, the
first stone they found bore the name of Margaret
Bothwell, 1585, and I have caused it to be laid
carefully aside, as I think it betokens death; and
having served my namesake two hundred years, it
has just been cast up in time to do me the same
good turn. My house has been long put in order,
as far as the small earthly concerns require it, but
who shall say that their account with Heaven is
sufficiently revised!''

  ``After what you have said, aunt,'' I replied,
``perhaps I ought to take my hat and go away,
and so I should, but that there is on this occasion
a little alloy mingled with your devotion. To think
of death at all times is a duty---to suppose it nearer,
from the finding an old gravestone, is superstition;
and you, with your strong useful common sense,
which was so long the prop of a fallen family, are
the last person whom I should have suspected of
such weakness.''

  ``Neither would I deserve your suspicions, kinsman,''
answered Aunt Margaret, ``if we were
speaking of any incident occurring in the actual
business of human life. But for all this, I have a
sense of superstition about me, which I do not
wish to part with. It is a feeling which separates
me from this age, and links me with that to which
I am hastening; and even when it seems, as now,
to lead me to the brink of the grave, and bids me
gaze on it, I do not love that it should be dispelled. 
It soothes my imagination, without influencing my
reason or conduct.''

  ``I profess, my good lady,'' replied I, ``that had
any one but you made such a declaration, I should
have thought it as capricious as that of the clergyman,
who, without vindicating his false reading,
preferred, from habit's sake, his old Mumpsimus
to the modern Sumpsimus.''

  ``Well,'' answered my aunt, ``I must explain
my inconsistency in this particular, by comparing
it to another. I am, as you know, a piece of that
old-fashioned thing called a Jacobite; but I am so
in sentiment and feeling only; for a more loyal
subject never joined in prayers for the health and
wealth of George the Fourth, whom God long
preserve! But I dare say that kind-hearted sovereign
would not deem that an old woman did him
much injury, if she leaned back in her arm-chair,
just in such a twilight as this, and thought of the
high-mettled men, whose sense of duty called them
to arms against his grandfather; and how, in a
cause which they deemed that of their rightful
prince and country,

  `They fought till their hand to the broadsword was glued,
   They fought against fortune with hearts unsubdued.'

Do not come at such a moment, when my head is
fall of plaids, pibrochs, and claymores, and ask my
reason to admit what, I am afraid, it cannot deny---
I mean, that the public advantage peremptorily
demanded that these things should cease to exist. 
I cannot, indeed, refuse to allow the justice of
your reasoning; but yet, being convinced against
my will, you will gain little by your motion. You
might as well read to an infatuated lover the catalogue
of his mistress's imperfections; for, when
he has been compelled to listen to the summary,
you will only get for answer, that, `he lo'es her a'
the better.' ''

  I was not sorry to have changed the gloomy
train of Aunt Margaret's thoughts, and replied in
the same tone, ``Well, I can't help being persuaded
that our good King is the more sure of
Mrs Bothwell's loyal affection, that he has the
Stuart right of birth, as well as the Act of Succession
in his favour.''

  ``Perhaps my attachment, were it source of
consequence, might be found warmer for the union
of the rights you mention,'' said Aunt Margaret;
``but, upon my word, it would be as sincere if the
King's right were founded only on the will of the
nation, as declared at the Revolution. I am none
of your _jure divino_ folks.''

  ``And a Jacobite notwithstanding.''

  ``And a Jacobite notwithstanding; or rather, I
will give you leave to call me one of the party,
which, in Queen Anne's time, were called Whimsicals;
because they were sometimes operated upon
by feelings, sometimes by principle. After all, it
is very hard that you will not allow an old woman
to be as inconsistent in her political sentiments, as
mankind in general show themselves in all the
various courses of life; since you cannot point out
one of them, in which the passions and prejudice
of those who pursue it are not perpetually carrying
us away from the path which our reason points

  ``True, aunt; but you are a wilful wanderer,
who should be forced back into the right path.''

  ``Spare me, I entreat you,'' replied Aunt Margaret.
``You remember the Gaelic song, though
I dare say I mispronounce the words---

     'Hatil mohatil, na dowski mi.'
     'I am asleep, do not waken me.'

I tell you, kinsman, that the sort of waking dreams
which my imagination spins out, in what your
favourite Wordsworth calls `moods of my own
mind,' are worth all the rest of my more active
days. Then, instead of looking forwards, as I did
in youth, and forming for myself fairy palaces,
upon the verge of the grave, I turn my eyes backward
upon the days and manners of my better
time; and the sad, yet soothing recollections come
so close and interesting, that I almost think it
sacrilege to be wiser or more rational, or less prejudiced,
than those to whom I looked up in my
younger years.''

  ``I think I now understand what you mean,'' I
answered, ``and can comprehend why you should
occasionally prefer the twilight of illusion to the
steady light of reason.''

  ``Where there is no task,'' she rejoined, ``to be
performed, we may sit in the dark if we like it---
if we go to work, we must ring for candles.''

  ``And amidst such shadowy and doubtful light,''
continued I, ``imagination frames her enchanted
and enchanting visions, and sometimes passes them
upon the senses for reality.''

  ``Yes,'' said Aunt Margaret, who is a well-read
woman, ``to those who resemble the translator of

  `Prevailing poet, whose undoubting Mind
   Believed the magic wonders which he sung.'

It is not required for this purpose, that you
should be sensible of the painful horrors which an
actual belief in such prodigies inflicts---such a belief,
now-a-days, belongs only to fools and children. 
It is not necessary that your ears should tingle,
and your complexion change, like that of Theodore,
at the approach of the spectral huntsman. All
that is indispensable for the enjoyment of the milder
feeling of supernatural awe is, that you should be
susceptible of the slight shuddering which creeps
over you when you hear a tale of terror---that
well-vouched tale which the narrator, having first
expressed his general disbelief of all such legendary
lore, selects and produces, as having something in
it which he has been always obliged to give up as
inexplicable. Another symptom is, a momentary
hesitation to look round you, when the interest of
the narrative is at the highest; and the third, a desire
to avoid looking into a mirror, when you are
alone, in your chamber, for the evening. I mean
such are signs which indicate the crisis, when a female
imagination is in due temperature to enjoy a
ghost story. I do not pretend to describe those
which express the same disposition in a gentleman.''

  ``That last symptom, dear aunt, of shunning the
mirror, seems likely to be a rare occurrence amongst
the fair sex.''

  ``You are a novice ill toilet fashions, my dear
cousin. All women consult the looking-glass with
anxiety before they go into company; but when
they return home, the mirror has not the same charm. 
The die has been cast---the party has been successful
or unsuccessful, in the impression which she desired
to make. But, without going deeper into the
mysteries of the dressing-table, I will tell you that
I myself, like many other honest folks, do not like
to see the blank black front of a large mirror in a
room dimly lighted, and where the reflection of
the candle seems rather to lose itself in the deep
obscurity of the glass, than to be reflected back
again into the apartment. That space of inky darkness
seems to be a field for Fancy to play her revels
in. She may call up other features to meet us, instead
of the reflection of our own; or, as in the
spells of Halloween, which we learned in childhood,
some unknown form may be seen peeping
over our shoulder. In short, when I am in a ghost-seeing
humour, I make my handmaiden draw the
green curtains over the mirror, before I go into the
room, so that she may have the first shock of the
apparition, if there be any to be seen. But, to tell
you the truth, the dislike to look into a mirror in
particular times and places, has, I believe, its original
foundation from my grandmother, who was a part
concerned in the scene of which I will now tell you.''

               THE MIRROR.

                CHAPTER 1.

  You are fond (said my aunt) of sketches of the
society which has passed away. I wish I could describe
to you Sir Philip Forester, the ``chartered
libertine'' of Scottish good company, about the end
of the last century. I never saw him indeed; but
my mother's traditions were full of his wit, gallantry,
and dissipation. This gay knight flourished
about the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th
century. He was the Sir Charles Easy and the
Lovelace of his day and country: renowned for the
number of duels he had fought, and the successful
intrigues which he had carried on. The supremacy
which he had attained in the fashionable world was
absolute; and when we combine it with one or two
anecdotes, for which, ``if laws were made for every
degree,'' he ought certainly to have been hanged,
the popularity of such a person really serves to show,
either, that the present times are much more decent,
if not more virtuous, than they formerly were; or,
that high breeding then was of more difficult attainment
than that which is now so called; and, consequently,
entitled the successful professor to a proportional
degree of plenary indulgences and privileges.
No beau of this day could have borne out
so ugly a story as that of Pretty Peggy Grindstone,
the miller's daughter at Sillermills---it had well-nigh
made work for the Lord Advocate. But it
hurt Sir Philip Forester no more than the bail hurts
the hearthstone. He was as well received in society
as ever, and dined with the Duke of A------ the
day the poor girl was buried. She died of heartbreak.
But that has nothing to do with my story.

  Now, you must listen to a single word upon kith,
kin, and ally; I promise you I will not be prolix. 
But it is necessary to the authenticity of my legend,
that you should know that Sir Philip Forester, with
his handsome person, elegant accomplishments, and
fashionable manners, married the younger Miss Falconer
of King's-Copland. The elder sister of this
lady had previously become the wife of my grandfather,
Sir Geoffrey Bothwell, and brought into
our family a good fortune. Miss Jemima, or Miss
Jemmie Falconer, as she was usually called, had
also about ten thousand pounds sterling---then
thought a very handsome portion indeed.

  The two sisters were extremely different, though
each had their admirers while they remained single. 
Lady Bothwell had some touch of the old King's-Copland
blood about her. She was bold, though
not to the degree of audacity: ambitious, and desirous
to raise her house and family; and was, as
has been said, a considerable spur to my grandfather,
who was otherwise an indolent man; but
whom unless he has been slandered, his lady's influence
involved in some political matters which
had been more wisely let alone. She was a woman
of high principle, however, and masculine good
sense, as some of her letters testify, which are still
in my wainscot cabinet.

  Jemmie Falconer was the reverse of her sister
in every respect. Her understanding did not reach
above the ordinary pitch, if, indeed, she could be
said to have attained it. Her beauty, while it lasted,
consisted, in a great measure, of delicacy of
complexion and regularity of features, without any
peculiar force of expression. Even these charms
faded under the sufferings attendant on an ill-sorted
match. She was passionately attached to her husband,
by whom she was treated with a callous, yet
polite indifference; which, to one whose heart was
as tender as her judgment was weak, was more painful
perhaps than absolute ill usage. Sir Philip was
a voluptuary, that is, a completely selfish egotist:
whose disposition and character resembled the rapier
he wore, polished, keen, and brilliant, but inflexible
and unpitying. As he observed carefully
all the usual forms towards his lady, he had the art
to deprive her even of the compassion of the world;
and useless and unavailing as that may be while
actually possessed by the sufferer, it is, to a mind
like Lady Forester's, most painful to know she has
it not.

  The tattle of society did its best to place the peccant
husband above the suffering wife. Some called
her a poor spiritless thing, and declared, that, with
a little of her sister's spirit, she might have brought
to reason any Sir Philip whatsoever, were it the
termagant Falconbridge himself. But the greater
part of their acquaintance affected candour, and saw
faults on both sides; though, in fact, there only existed
the oppressor and the oppressed. The tone
of such critics was---``To be sure, no one will justify
Sir Philip Forester, but then we all know Sir
Philip, and Jemmie Falconer might have known
what she had to expect from the beginning.---What
made her set her cap at Sir Philip?---He would
never have looked at her if she had not thrown herself
at his head, with her poor ten thousand pounds. 
I am sure, if it is money he wanted, she spoiled his
market. I know where Sir Philip could have done
much better.---And then, if she _would_ have the man,
could not she try to make him more comfortable at
home, and have his friends oftener, and not plague
him with the squalling children, and take care all
was handsome and in good style about the house?
I declare I think Sir Philip would have made a
very domestic man, with a woman who knew how
to manage him.''

  Now these fair critics, in raising their profound
edifice of domestic felicity, did not recollect that
the corner-stone was wanting; and that to receive
good company with good cheer, the means of the
banquet ought to have been furnished by Sir Philip;
whose income (dilapidated as it was) was not equal
to the display of the hospitality required, and, at
the same time, to the supply of the good knight's
_menus plaisirs_. So, in spite of all that was so sanely
suggested by female friends, Sir Philip carried
his good humour every where abroad, and left at
home a solitary mansion and a pining spouse.

  At length, inconvenienced in his money affairs,
and tired even of the short time which he spent in
his own dull house, Sir Philip Forester determined
to take a trip to the continent, in the capacity of a
volunteer. It was then common for men of fashion
to do so; and our knight perhaps was of opinion
that a touch of the military character, just enough
to exalt, but not render pedantic, his qualities as a
_beau gar<c,>on_ was necessary to maintain possession
of the elevated situation which he held in the ranks
of fashion.

  Sir Philip's resolution threw his wife into agonies
of terror; by which the worthy baronet was so
much annoyed, that, contrary to his wont, he took
some trouble to soothe her apprehensions; and
once more brought her to shed tears, in which sorrow
was not altogether unmingled with pleasure. 
Lady Bothwell asked, as a favour, Sir Philip's permission
to receive her sister and her family into
her own house during his absence on the continent. 
Sir Philip readily assented to a proposition which
saved expense, silenced the foolish people who
might have talked of a deserted wife and family,
and gratified Lady Bothwell; for whom he felt some
respect, as for one who often spoke to him, always
with freedom, and sometimes with severity, without
being deterred either by his raillery, or the
_prestige_ of his reputation.

  A day or two before Sir Philip's departure, Lady
Bothwell took the liberty of asking him, in her
sister's presence, the direct question, which his
timid wife had often desired, but never ventured,
to put to him.

  ``Pray, Sir Philip, what route do you take when
you reach the continent?''

  ``I go from Leith to Helvoet by a packet with

  ``That I comprehend perfectly,'' said Lady
Bothwell dryly; ``but you do not mean to remain
long at Helvoet, I presume, and I should like to
know what is your next object?''

  ``You ask me, my dear lady,'' answered Sir
Philip, ``a question which I have not dared to ask
myself. The answer depends on the fate of war. 
I shall, of course, go to head-quarters, wherever
they may happen to be for the time; deliver my letters
of introduction; learn as much of the noble art
of war as may suffice a poor interloping amateur;
and then take a glance at the sort of thing of which
we read so much in the Gazette.''

  ``And I trust, Sir Philip,'' said Lady Bothwell,
that you will remember that you are a husband
and a father; and that though you think fit to indulge
this military fancy, you will not let it hurry
you into dangers which it is certainly unnecessary
for any save professional persons to encounter?''

  ``Lady Bothwell does me too much honour,''
replied the adventurous knight, ``in regarding
such a circumstance with the slightest interest. 
But to soothe your flattering anxiety, I trust your
ladyship will recollect, that I cannot expose to
hazard the venerable and paternal character which
you so obligingly recommend to my protection,
without putting in some peril an honest fellow,
called Philip Forester, with whom I have kept
company for thirty years, and with whom, though
some folks consider him a coxcomb, I have not the
least desire to part.''

  ``Well, Sir Philip, you are the best judge of
your own affairs; I have little right to interfere---
you are not my husband.''

  ``God forbid!''---said Sir Philip hastily; instantly
adding, however, ``God forbid that I should
deprive my friend Sir Geoffrey of so inestimable
a treasure.''

  ``But you are my sister's husband,'' replied the
lady; ``and I suppose you are aware of her present
distress of mind------''

  ``If hearing of nothing else from morning to
night can make me aware of it,'' said Sir Philip,
``I should know something of the matter.''

  ``I do not pretend to reply to your wit, Sir
Philip,'' answered Lady Bothwell; ``but you must
be sensible that all this distress is on account of
apprehensions for your personal safety.''

  ``In that case, I am surprised that Lady Bothwell,
at least, should give herself so much trouble
upon so insignificant a subject.''

  ``My sister's interest may account for my being
anxious to learn something of Sir Philip Forester's
motions; about which otherwise, I know, he would
not wish me to concern myself: I have a brother's
safety too to be anxious for.''

  ``You mean Major Falconer, your brother by
the mother's side:---What can he possibly have
to do with our present agreeable conversation?''

  ``You have had words together, Sir Philip,''
said Lady Bothwell.

  ``Naturally; we are connexions,'' replied Sir
Philip, ``and as such have always had the usual

  ``That is an evasion of the subject,'' answered
the lady. ``By words, I mean angry words, on
the subject of your usage of your wife.''

  ``If,'' replied Sir Philip Forester, ``you suppose
Major Falconer simple enough to intrude his
advice upon me, Lady Bothwell, in my domestic
matters, you are indeed warranted in believing
that I might possibly be so far displeased with the
interference, as to request him to reserve his advice
till it was asked.''

  ``And being on these terms, you are going to
join the very army in which my brother Falconer
is now serving?''

  ``No man knows the path of honour better than
Major Falconer,'' said Sir Philip. ``An aspirant
after fame, like me, cannot choose a better guide
than his footsteps.''

  Lady Bothwell rose and went to the window,
the tears gushing from her eyes.

  ``And this heartless raillery,'' she said, ``is all
the consideration that is to be given to our apprehensions
of a quarrel which may bring on the most
terrible consequences ? Good God! of what can
men's hearts be made, who can thus dally with the
agony of others?''

  Sir Philip Forester was moved; he laid aside
the mocking tone in which he had hitherto spoken.

  ``Dear Lady Bothwell,'' he said, taking her reluctant
hand, ``we are both wrong:---you are
too deeply serious; I, perhaps, too little so. The
dispute I had with Major Falconer was of no
earthly consequence. Had any thing occurred betwixt
us that ought to have been settled _par voie
du fait_, as we say in France, neither of us are persons
that are likely to postpone such a meeting. 
Permit me to say, that were it generally known
that you or my Lady Forester are apprehensive of
such a catastrophe, it might be the very means of
bringing about what would not otherwise be likely
to happen. I know your good sense, Lady Bothwell,
and that you will understand me when I say,
that really my affairs require my absence for some
months;---this Jemima cannot understand; it is a
perpetual recurrence of questions, why can you not
do this, or that, or the third thing; and, when you
have proved to her that her expedients are totally
ineffectual, you have just to begin the whole round
again. Now, do you tell her, dear Lady Bothwell
that _you_ are satisfied. She is, you must confess,
one of those persons with whom authority goes
farther than reasoning. Do but repose a little
confidence in me, and you shall see how amply I
will repay it.''

  Lady Bothwell shook her head, as one but half
satisfied. ``How difficult it is to extend confidence,
when the basis on which it ought to rest has been
so much shaken! But I will do my best to make
Jemima easy; and farther, I can only say, that for
keeping your present purpose I hold you responsible
both to God and man.''

  ``Do not fear that I will deceive you,'' said Sir
Philip; ``the safest conveyance to me will be
through the general post-office, Helvoetsluys,
where I will take care to leave orders for forwarding
my letters. As for Falconer, our only encounter
will be over a bottle of Burgundy; so make
yourself perfectly easy on his score.''

  Lady Bothwell could _not_ make herself easy; yet
she was sensible that her sister hurt her own cause
by _taking on_, as the maid-servants call it, too vehemently;
and by showing before every stranger, by
manner, and sometimes by words also, a dissatisfaction
with her husband's journey, that was sure
to come to his ears, and equally certain to displease
him. But there was no help for this domestic dissension,
which ended only with the day of separation.

  I am sorry I cannot tell, with precision, the year
in which Sir Philip Forester went over to Flanders;
but it was one of those in which the campaign
opened with extraordinary fury; and many
bloody, though indecisive, skirmishes were fought
between the French on the one side, and the Allies
on the other. In all our modern improvements,
there are none, perhaps, greater than in the accuracy
and speed with which intelligence is transmitted
from any scene of action to those in this
country whom it may concern. During Marlborough's
campaigns, the sufferings of the many
who had relations in, or along with, the army, were
greatly augmented by the suspense in which they
were detained for weeks, after they had heard of
bloody battles, in which, in all probability, those
for whom their bosoms throbbed with anxiety had
been personally engaged. Amongst those who
were most agonized by this state of uncertainty
was the---I had almost said deserted---wife of the
gay Sir Philip Forester. A single letter had informed
her of his arrival on the continent---no
others were received. One notice occurred in the
newspapers, in which Volunteer Sir Philip Forester
was mentioned as having been intrusted with a
dangerous reconnoissance, which he had executed
with the greatest courage, dexterity, and intelligence,
and received the thanks of the commanding
officer. The sense of his having acquired distinction
brought a momentary glow into the lady's
pale cheek; but it was instantly lost in ashen
whiteness at the recollection of his danger. After
this, they had no news whatever, neither from Sir
Philip, nor even from their brother Falconer. The
case of Lady Forester was not indeed different
from that of hundreds in the same situation; but
a feeble mind is necessarily an irritable one, and the
suspense which some bear with constitutional indifference
or philosophical resignation, and some
with a disposition to believe and hope the best,
was intolerable to Lady Forester, at once solitary
and sensitive, low-spirited, and devoid of strength
of mind, whether natural or acquired.

                 CHAPTER II.

  As she received no further news of Sir Philip,
whether directly or indirectly, his unfortunate lady
began now to feel a sort of consolation, even in
those careless habits which had so often given her
pain. ``He is so thoughtless,'' she repeated a hundred
times a-day to her sister, ``he never writes
when things are going on smoothly; it is his way:
had any thing happened he would have informed

  Lady Bothwell listened to her sister without attempting
to console her. Probably she might be
of opinion, that even the worst intelligence which
could be received from Flanders might not be without
some touch of consolation; and that the Dowager
Lady Forester, if so she was doomed to be called,
might have a source of happiness unknown to the
wife of the gayest and finest gentleman in Scotland. 
This conviction became stronger as they learned
from enquiries made at head-quarters, that Sir Philip
was no longer with the army; though whether
he had been taken or slain in some of those skirmishes
which were perpetually occurring, and in
which he loved to distinguish himself, or whether
he had, for some unknown reason or capricious
change of mind, voluntarily left the service, none
of his countrymen in the camp of the allies could
form even a conjecture. Meantime his creditors at
home became clamorous, entered into possession of
his property, and threatened his person, should he
be rash enough to return to Scotland. These additional
disadvantages aggravated Lady Bothwell's
displeasure against the fugitive husband; while her
sister saw nothing in any of them, save what tended
to increase her grief for the absence of him whom
her imagination now represented,---as it had before
marriage,---gallant, gay, and affectionate.

  About this period there appeared in Edinburgh
a man of singular appearance and pretensions. He
was commonly called the Paduan Doctor, from having
received his education at that famous university.
He was supposed to possess some rare receipts
in medicine, with which, it was affirmed, he
had wrought remarkable cures. But though, on
the one hand, the physicians of Edinburgh termed
him an empiric, there were many persons, and
among them some of the clergy, who, while they
admitted the truth of the cures and the force of his
remedies, alleged that Doctor Baptista Damiotti
made use of charms and unlawful arts in order to
obtain success in his practice. The resorting to
him was even solemnly preached against, as a seeking
of health from idols, and a trusting to the help
which was to come from Egypt. But the protection
which the Paduan Doctor received from some
friends of interest and consequence, enabled him to
set these imputations at defiance, and to assume,
even in the city of Edinburgh, famed as it was for
abhorrence of witches and necromancers, the dangerous
character of an expounder of futurity. It
was at length rumoured, that, for a certain gratification,
which of course was not an inconsiderable
one, Doctor Baptista Damiotti could tell the fate of
the absent, and even show his visitors the personal
form of their absent friends, and the action in which
they were engaged at the moment. This rumour
came to the ears of Lady Forester, who had reached
that pitch of mental agony in which the sufferer
will do any thing, or endure any thing, that suspense
may be converted into certainty.

  Gentle and timid in most cases, her state of mind
made her equally obstinate and reckless, and it was
with no small surprise and alarm that her sister,
Lady Bothwell, heard her express a resolution to
visit this man of art, and learn from him the fate
of her husband. Lady Bothwell remonstrated on
the improbability that such pretensions as those of
this foreigner could be founded in any thing but

  ``I care not,'' said the deserted wife, ``what degree
of ridicule I may incur; if there be any one
chance out of a hundred that I may obtain some
certainty of my husband's fate, I would not miss
that chance for whatever else the world can offer

  Lady Bothwell next urged the unlawfulness of
resorting to such sources of forbidden knowledge.

  ``Sister,'' replied the sufferer, ``he who is dying
of thirst cannot refrain from drinking even poisoned
water. She who suffers under suspense must seek
information, even were the powers which offer it
unhallowed and infernal. I go to learn my fate
alone; and this very evening will I know it: the
sun that rises to-morrow shall find me, if not more
happy, at least more resigned.''

  ``Sister,'' said Lady Bothwell, ``if you are determined
upon this wild step, you shall not go alone. 
If this man be an impostor, you may be too much
agitated by your feelings to detect his villainy. If,
which I cannot believe, there be any truth in what
he pretends, you shall not be exposed alone to a
communication of so extraordinary a nature. I will
go with you, if indeed you determine to go. But
yet reconsider your project, and renounce enquiries
which cannot be prosecuted without guilt, and
perhaps without danger.''

  Lady Forester threw herself into her sister's
arms, and, clasping her to her bosom, thanked her
a hundred times for the offer of her company;
while she declined with a melancholy gesture the
friendly advice with which it was accompanied.

  When the hour of twilight arrived,---which was
the period when the Paduan Doctor was understood
to receive the visits of those who came to consult
with him,---the two ladies left their apartments in
the Canongate of Edinburgh, having their dress arranged
like that of women of an inferior description,
and their plaids disposed around their faces as they
were worn by the same class; for, in those days of
aristocracy, the quality of the wearer was generally
indicated by the manner in which her plaid was disposed,
as well as by the fineness of its texture. It
was Lady Bothwell who had suggested this species
of disguise, partly to avoid observation as they
should go to the conjurer's house, and partly in
order to make trial of his penetration, by appearing
before him in a feigned character. Lady Forester's
servant, of tried fidelity, had been employed by her
to propitiate the Doctor by a suitable fee, and a
story intimating that a soldier's wife desired to
know the fate of her husband: a subject upon which,
in all probability, the sage was very frequently consulted.

  To the last moment, when the palace clock struck
eight, Lady Bothwell earnestly watched her sister
in hopes that she might retreat from her rash undertaking;
but as mildness, and even timidity, is
capable at times of vehement and fixed purposes,
she found Lady Forester resolutely unmoved and
determined when the moment of departure arrived. 
Ill satisfied with the expedition, but determined not
to leave her sister at such a crisis, Lady Bothwell
accompanied Lady Forester through more than one
obscure street and lane, the servant walking before,
and acting as their guide. At length he suddenly
turned into a narrow court, and knocked at an arched
door which seemed to belong to a building of
some antiquity. It opened, though no one appeared
to act as porter; and the servant stepping aside
from the entrance, motioned the ladies to enter. 
They had no sooner done so, than it shut, and excluded
their guide. The two ladies found themselves
in a small vestibule, illuminated by a dim
lamp, and having, when the door was closed, no
communication with the external light or air. The
door of an inner apartment, partly open, was at
the further side of the vestibule.

  ``We must not hesitate now, Jemima,'' said Lady
Bothwell, and walked forwards into the inner room,
where, surrounded by books, maps, philosophical
utensils, and other implements of peculiar shape
and appearance, they found the man of art.

  There was nothing very peculiar in the Italian's
appearance. He had the dark complexion and marked
features of his country, seemed about fifty years
old, and was handsomely, but plainly, dressed in a
full suit of black clothes, which was then the universal
costume of the medical profession. Large
wax-lights, in silver sconces, illuminated the apartment,
which was reasonably furnished. He rose as
the ladies entered; and, notwithstanding the inferiority
of their dress, received them with the marked
respect due to their quality, and which foreigners
are usually punctilious in rendering to those to
whom such honours are due.

  Lady Bothwell endeavoured to maintain her proposed
incognito; and, as the Doctor ushered them to
the upper end of the room, made a motion declining
his courtesy, as unfitted for their condition. 
``We are poor people, sir,'' she said; ``only my
sister's distress has brought us to consult your worship

  He smiled as he interrupted her---``I am aware,
madam, of your sister's distress, and its cause; I
am aware, also, that I am honoured with a visit
from two ladies of the highest consideration---
Lady Bothwell and Lady Forester. If I could
not distinguish them from the class of society which
their present dress would indicate, there would be
small possibility of my being able to gratify them
by giving the information which they come to

  ``I can easily understand,'' said Lady Bothwell------

  ``Pardon my boldness to interrupt you, milady,''
cried the Italian; ``your ladyship was about
to say, that you could easily understand that I had
got possession of your names by means of your domestic.
But in thinking so, you do injustice to the
fidelity of your servant, and, I may add, to the skill
of one who is also not less your humble servant---
Baptista Damiotti.''

  ``I have no intention to do either, sir,'' said
Lady Bothwell, maintaining a tone of composure,
though somewhat surprised, ``but the situation is
something new to me. If you know who we are,
you also know, sir, what brought us here.''

  ``Curiosity to know the fate of a Scottish gentleman
of rank, now, or lately, upon the continent,''
answered the seer; ``his name is Il Cavaliero Philippo
Forester; a gentleman who has the honour
to be husband to this lady, and, with your ladyship's
permission for using plain language, the misfortune
not to value as it deserves that inestimable advantage.''

  Lady Forester sighed deeply, and Lady Bothwell

  ``Since you know our object without our telling
it, the only question that remains is, whether you
have the power to relieve my sister's anxiety?''

  ``I have, madam,'' answered the Paduan scholar;
``but there is still a previous enquiry. Have
you the courage to behold with your own eyes
what the Cavaliero Philippo Forester is now doing?
or will you take it on my report?''

  ``That question my sister must answer for herself,''
said Lady Bothwell.

  ``With my own eyes will I endure to see whatever
you have power to show me,'' said Lady Forester,
with the same determined spirit which had
stimulated her since her resolution was taken upon
this subject.

  ``There may be danger in it.''

  ``If gold can compensate the risk,'' said Lady
Forester, taking out her purse.

  ``I do not such things for the purpose of gain,''
answered the foreigner. ``I dare not turn my art
to such a purpose. If I take the gold of the
wealthy, it is but to bestow it on the poor; nor do
I ever accept more than the sum I have already received
from your servant. Put up your purse, madam;
an adept needs not your gold.''

  Lady Bothwell, considering this rejection of her
sister's offer as a mere trick of an empiric, to induce
her to press a larger sum upon him, and willing
that the scene should be commenced and ended,
offered some gold in turn, observing that it was
only to enlarge the sphere of his charity.

  ``Let Lady Bothwell enlarge the sphere of her
own charity,'' said the Paduan, ``not merely in
giving of alms, in which I know she is not deficient,
but in judging the character of others; and
let her oblige Baptista Damiotti by believing him
honest, till she shall discover him to be a knave. 
Do not be surprised, madam, if I speak in answer
to your thoughts rather than your expressions, and
tell me once more whether you have courage to
look on what I am prepared to show?''

  ``I own, sir,'' said Lady Bothwell, ``that your
words strike me with some sense of fear; but whatever
my sister desires to witness, I will not shrink
from witnessing along with her.''

  ``Nay, the danger only consists in the risk of
your resolution failing you. The sight can only
last for the space of seven minutes; and should you
interrupt the vision by speaking a single word, not
only would the charm be broken, but some danger
might result to the spectators. But if you can remain
steadily silent for the seven minutes, your
curiosity will be gratified without the slightest risk;
and for this I will engage my honour.''

  Internally Lady Bothwell thought the security
was but an indifferent one; but she suppressed the
suspicion, as if she had believed that the adept,
whose dark features wore a half-formed smile, could
in reality read even her most secret reflections. A
solemn pause then ensued, until Lady Forester gathered
courage enough to reply to the physician,
as he termed himself, that she would abide with
firmness and silence the sight which he had promised
to exhibit to them. Upon this, he made them
a low obeisance, and saying he went to prepare
matters to meet their wish, left the apartment. 
The two sisters, hand in hand, as if seeking by that
close union to divert any danger which might threaten
them, sat down on two seats in immediate contact
with each other: Jemima seeking support in
the manly and habitual courage of Lady Bothwell;
and she, on the other hand, more agitated than she
had expected, endeavouring to fortify herself by
the desperate resolution which circumstances had
forced her sister to assume. The one perhaps said
to herself, that her sister never feared any thing;
and the other might reflect, that what so feeble a
minded woman as Jemima did not fear, could not
properly be a subject of apprehension to a person
of firmness and resolution like her own.

  In a few moments the thoughts of both were
diverted from their own situation, by a strain of
music so singularly sweet and solemn, that, while
it seemed calculated to avert or dispel any feeling
unconnected with its harmony, increased, at the
same time, the solemn excitation which the preceding
interview was calculated to produce. The
music was that of some instrument with which they
were unacquainted; but circumstances afterwards
led my ancestress to believe that it was that of the
harmonica, which she heard at a much later period
in life.

  When these heaven-born sounds had ceased, a
door opened in the upper end of the apartment,
and they saw Damiotti, standing at the head of two
or three steps, sign to them to advance. His dress
was so different from that which he had worn a
few minutes before, that they could hardly recognise
him; and the deadly paleness of his countenance,
and a certain stern rigidity of muscles, like
that of one whose mind is made up to some strange
and daring action, had totally changed the somewhat
sarcastic expression with which he bad previously
regarded them both, and particularly Lady
Bothwell. He was barefooted, excepting a species
of sandals in the antique fashion; his legs were
naked beneath the knees; above them he wore hose,
and a doublet of dark crimson silk close to his body;
and over that a flowing loose robe, something resembling
a surplice, of snow-white linen: his throat
and neck were uncovered, and his long, straight,
black hair was carefully combed down at full

  As the ladies approached at his bidding, he showed
no gesture of that ceremonious courtesy of which
be had been formerly lavish. On the contrary, he
made the signal of advance with an air of command;
and when, arm in arm, and with insecure steps, the
sisters approached the spot where he stood, it was
with a warning frown that be pressed his finger to
his lips, as if reiterating his condition of absolute
silence, while, stalking before them, he led the way
into the next apartment.

  This was a large room, hung with black, as if for
a funeral. At the upper end was a table, or rather
a species of altar, covered with the same lugubrious
colour, on which lay divers objects resembling the
usual implements of sorcery. These objects were
not indeed visible as they advanced into the apartment;
for the light which displayed them, being
only that of two expiring lamps, was extremely
faint. The master---to use the Italian phrase for
persons of this description---approached the upper
end of the room, with a genuflexion like that of a
Catholic to the crucifix, and at the same time crossed
himself. The ladies followed in silence, and arm
in arm. Two or three low broad steps led to a
platform in front of the altar, or what resembled
such. Here the sage took his stand, and placed
the ladies beside him, once more earnestly repeating
by signs his injunctions of silence. The Italian
then, extending his bare arm from under his linen
vestment, pointed with his forefinger to five large
flambeaux, or torches, placed on each side of the
altar. They took fire successively at the approach
of his hand, or rather of his finger, and spread a
strong light through the room. By this the visitors
could discern that, on the seeming altar, were
disposed two naked swords laid crosswise; a large
open book, which they conceived to be a copy of
the Holy Scriptures, but in a language to them
unknown; and beside this mysterious volume was
placed a human skull. But what struck the sisters
most was a very tall and broad mirror, which occupied
all the space behind the altar, and, illumined
by the lighted torches, reflected the mysterious
articles which were laid upon it.

  The master then placed himself between the two
ladies, and, pointing to the mirror, took each by the
hand, but without speaking a syllable. They gazed
intently on the polished and sable space to which
he had directed their attention. Suddenly the surface
assumed a new and singular appearance. It
no longer simply reflected the objects placed before
it, but, as if it had self-contained scenery of its own,
objects began to appear within it, at first in a disorderly,
indistinct, and miscellaneous manner, like
form arranging itself out of chaos; at length, in
distinct and defined shape and symmetry. It was
thus that, after some shifting of light and darkness
over the face of the wonderful glass, a long perspective
of arches and columns began to arrange
itself on its sides, and a vaulted roof on the upper
part of it; till, after many oscillations, the whole
vision gained a fixed and stationary appearance,
representing the interior of a foreign church. The
pillars were stately, and hung with scutcheons;
the arches were lofty and magnificent; the floor
was lettered with funeral inscriptions. But there
were no separate shrines, no images, no display of
chalice or crucifix on the altar. It was, therefore,
a Protestant church upon the continent. A clergyman
dressed in the Geneva gown and band stood
by the communion-table, and, with the Bible opened
before him, and his clerk awaiting in the background,
seemed prepared to perform some service
of the church to which he belonged.

  At length, there entered the middle aisle of the
building a numerous party, which appeared to be
a bridal one, as a lady and gentleman walked first,
hand in hand, followed by a large concourse of
persons of both sexes, gaily, nay richly, attired. 
The bride, whose features they could distinctly
see, seemed not more than sixteen years old, and
extremely beautiful. The bridegroom, for some
seconds, moved rather with his shoulder towards
them, and his face averted; but his elegance of
form and step struck the sisters at once with the
same apprehension. As he turned his face suddenly,
it was frightfully realized, and they saw, in
the gay bridegroom before them, Sir Philip Forester. 
His wife uttered an imperfect exclamation,
at the sound of which the whole scene stirred and
seemed to separate.

  ``I could compare it to nothing,'' said Lady
Bothwell, while recounting the wonderful tale,
``but to the dispersion of the reflection offered by
a deep and calm pool, when a stone is suddenly
cast into it, and the shadows become dissipated and
broken.'' The master pressed both the ladies' hands
severely, as if to remind them of their promise, and
of the danger which they incurred. The exclamation
died away on Lady Forester's tongue, without
attaining perfect utterance, and the scene in the
glass, after the fluctuation of a minute, again resumed
to the eye its former appearance of a real
scene, existing within the mirror, as if represented
in a picture, save that the figures were movable
instead of being stationary.

  The representation of Sir Philip Forester, now
distinctly visible in form and feature, was seen to
lead on towards the clergyman that beautiful girl,
who advanced at once with diffidence, and with a
species of affectionate pride. In the meantime,
and just as the clergyman had arranged the bridal
company before him, and seemed about to commence
the service, another group of persons, of
whom two or three were officers, entered the church. 
They moved, at first, forward, as though they came
to witness the bridal ceremony, but suddenly one
of the officers, whose back was towards the spectators,
detached himself from his companions, and
rushed hastily towards the marriage party, when
the whole of them turned towards him, as if attracted
by some exclamation which had accompanied
his advance. Suddenly the intruder drew his
sword; the bridegroom unsheathed his own, and
made towards him; swords were also drawn by
other individuals, both of the marriage party, and
of those who had last entered. They fell into a
sort of confusion, the clergyman, and some elder
and graver persons, labouring apparently to keep
the peace, while the hotter spirits on both sides
brandished their weapons. But now, the period
of the brief space during which the soothsayer, as
he pretended, was permitted to exhibit his art,
was arrived. The fumes again mixed together,
and dissolved gradually from observation; the
vaults and columns of the church rolled asunder,
and disappeared; and the front of the mirror reflected
nothing save the blazing torches, and the
melancholy apparatus placed on the altar or table
before it.

  The doctor led the ladies, who greatly required
his support, into the apartment from whence they
came; where wine, essences, and other means of
restoring suspended animation, bad been provided
during his absence. He motioned them to chairs,
which they occupied in silence; Lady Forester, in
particular, wringing her hands, and casting her
eyes up to heaven, but without speaking a word,
as if the spell had been still before her eyes.

  ``And what we have seen is even now acting?''
said Lady Bothwell, collecting herself with difficulty.

  ``That,' answered Baptista Damiotti, ``I cannot
justly, or with certainty, say. But it is either
now acting, or has been acted, during a short space
before this. It is the last remarkable transaction
in which the Cavalier Forester has been engaged.''

  Lady Bothwell then expressed anxiety concerning
her sister, whose altered countenance, and apparent
unconsciousness of what passed around her,
excited her apprehensions how it might be possible
to convey her home.

  ``I have prepared for that,'' answered the adept;
``I have directed the servant to bring your equipage
as near to this place as the narrowness of the
street will permit. Fear not for your sister; but
give her, when you return home, this composing
draught, and she will be better to-morrow morning.
Few,'' he added, in a melancholy tone, ``leave
this house as well in health as they entered it. 
Such being the consequence of seeking knowledge
by mysterious means, I leave you to judge the
condition of those who have the power of gratifying
such irregular curiosity. Farewell, and forget
not the potion.''

  ``I will give her nothing that comes from you,''
said Lady Bothwell; ``I have seen enough of your
art already. Perhaps you would poison us both to
conceal your own necromancy. But we are persons
who want neither the means of making our
wrongs known, nor the assistance of friends to
right them.''

  ``You have had no wrongs from me, madam,''
said the adept. ``You sought one who is little
grateful for such honour. He seeks no one, and
only gives responses to those who invite and call
upon him. After all, you have but learned a little
sooner the evil which you must still be doomed to
endure. I hear your servant's step at the door,
and will detain your ladyship and Lady Forester
no longer. The next packet from the continent
will explain what you have already partly witnessed.
Let it not, if I may advise, pass too suddenly
into your sister's hands.''

  So saying, he bid Lady Bothwell good-night. 
She went, lighted by the adept, to the vestibule,
where he hastily threw a black cloak over his
singular dress, and opening the door, intrusted
his visitors to the care of the servant. It was with
difficulty that Lady Bothwell sustained her sister
to the carriage, though it was only twenty steps
distant. When they arrived at home, Lady Forester
required medical assistance. The physician
of the family attended, and shook his head on
feeling her pulse.

  ``Here has been,'' he said, ``a violent and sudden
shock on the nerves. I must know how it has

  Lady Bothwell admitted they had visited the
conjurer, and that Lady Forester had received
some bad news respecting her husband, Sir Philip.

  ``That rascally quack would make my fortune;
were he to stay in Edinburgh,'' said the graduate;
``his is the seventh nervous case I have heard of
his making for me, and all by effect of terror.''
He next examined the composing draught which
Lady Bothwell had unconsciously brought in her
hand, tasted it, and pronounced it very germain to
the matter, and what would save an application to
the apothecary. He then paused, and looking at
Lady Bothwell very significantly, at length added,
``I suppose I must not ask your ladyship any thing
about this Italian warlock's proceedings?''

  ``Indeed, Doctor,'' answered Lady Bothwell, ``I
consider what passed as confidential ; and though
the man may be a rogue, yet, as we were fools
enough to consult him, we should, I think, be
honest enough to keep his counsel.''

  ``_May_ be a knave---come,'' said the Doctor, ``I
am glad to hear your ladyship allows such a possibility
in any thing that comes from Italy.''

  ``What comes from Italy may be as good as
what comes from Hanover, Doctor. But you and
I will remain good friends, and that it may be so,
we will say nothing of Whig and Tory.''

  ``Not I,'' said the Doctor, receiving his fee, and
taking his hat; ``a Carolus serves my purpose as
well as a Willielmus. But I should like to know
why old Lady Saint Ringan's, and all that set, go
about wasting their decayed lungs in puffing this
foreign fellow.''

  ``Ay---you had best set him down a Jesuit, as
Scrub says.'' On these terms they parted.

  The poor patient---whose nerves, from an extraordinary
state of tension, had at length become
relaxed in as extraordinary a degree---continued
to struggle with a sort of imbecility, the growth
of superstitious terror, when the shocking tidings
were brought from Holland, which fulfilled even
her worst expectations.

  They were sent by the celebrated Earl of Stair,
and contained the melancholy event of a duel betwixt
Sir Philip Forester, and his wife's half-brother,
Captain Falconer, of the Scotch-Dutch, as
they were then called, in which the latter had been
killed. The cause of quarrel rendered the incident
still more shocking. It seemed that Sir Philip had
left the army suddenly, in consequence of being
unable to pay a very considerable sum, which he
had lost to another volunteer at play. He had
changed his name, and taken up his residence at
Rotterdam, where he had insinuated himself into
the good graces of an ancient and rich burgomaster,
and, by his handsome person and graceful
manners, captivated the affections of his only child,
a very young person, of great beauty, and the
heiress of much wealth. Delighted with the specious
attractions of his proposed son-in-law, the
wealthy merchant---whose idea of the British character
was too high to admit of his taking any
precaution to acquire evidence of his condition and
circumstances---gave his consent to the marriage. 
It was about to be celebrated in the principal
church of the city, when it was interrupted by a
singular occurrence.

  Captain Falconer having been detached to Rotterdam
to bring up a part of the brigade of Scottish
auxiliaries, who were in quarters there, a person
of consideration in the town, to whom he had
been formerly known, proposed to him for amusement
to go to the high church, to see a countryman
of his own married to the daughter of a wealthy
burgomaster. Captain Falconer went accordingly,
accompanied by his Dutch acquaintance, with a
party of his friends, and two or three officers of
the Scotch brigade. His astonishment may be conceived
when he saw his own brother-in-law, a married
man, on the point of leading to the altar the
innocent and beautiful creature, upon whom he
was about to practise a base and unmanly deceit. 
He proclaimed his villainy on the spot, and the
marriage was interrupted of course. But against
the opinion of more thinking men, who considered
Sir Philip Forester as having thrown himself out
of the rank of men of honour, Captain Falconer
admitted him to the privilege of such, accepted a
challenge from him, and in the rencounter received
a mortal wound. Such are the ways of Heaven,
mysterious in our eyes. Lady Forester never recovered
the shock of this dismal intelligence.


  ``And did this tragedy,'' said I, ``take place
exactly at the time when the scene in the mirror
was exhibited?''

  ``It is hard to be obliged to maim one's story,''
answered my aunt; ``but, to speak the truth, it happened
some days sooner than the apparition was

  ``And so there remained a possibility,'' said I,
``that by some secret and speedy communication
the artist might have received early intelligence of
that incident.''

  ``The incredulous pretended so,'' replied my

  ``What became of the adept?'' demanded I.

  ``Why, a warrant came down shortly afterwards
to arrest him for high-treason, as an agent of the
Chevalier St George; and Lady Bothwell, recollecting
the hints which had escaped the Doctor, an
ardent friend of the Protestant succession, did then
call to remembrance, that this man was chiefly
_pron<e'>_ among the ancient matrons of her own political
persuasion. It certainly seemed probable that
intelligence from the continent, which could easily
have been transmitted by an active and powerful
agent, might have enabled him to prepare such a
scene of phantasmagoria as she had herself witnessed.
Yet there were so many difficulties in
assigning a natural explanation, that, to the day of
her death, she remained in great doubt on the subject,
and much disposed to cut the Gordian knot,
by admitting the existence of supernatural agency.''

  ``But, my dear aunt,'' said I, ``what became of
the man of skill?''

  ``Oh, he was too good a fortune-teller not to be
able to foresee that his own destiny would be tragical
if he waited the arrival of the man with the
silver greyhound upon his sleeve. He made, as we
say, a moonlight flitting, and was nowhere to be
seen or beard of. Some noise there was about
papers or letters found in the house, but it died
away, and Doctor Baptista Damiotti was soon as
little talked of as Galen or Hippocrates.''

  ``And Sir Philip Forester,'' said I, ``did he too
vanish for ever from the public scene?''

  ``No,'' replied my kind informer. ``He was
heard of once more, and it was upon a remarkable
occasion. It is said that we Scots, when there was
such a nation in existence, have, among our full
peck of virtues, one or two little barleycorns of
vice. In particular, it is alleged that we rarely
forgive, and never forget, any injuries received;
that we used to make an idol of our resentment, as
poor Lady Constance did of her grief; and are addicted,
as Burns says, to `nursing our wrath to
keep it warm.' Lady Bothwell was not without
this feeling; and, I believe, nothing whatever,
scarce the restoration of the Stewart line, could have
happened so delicious to her feelings as an opportunity
of being revenged on Sir Philip Forester
for the deep and double injury which had deprived
her of a sister and of a brother. But nothing of
him was heard or known till many a year had passed

  At length---it was on a Fastern's E'en (Shrove-
tide) assembly, at which the whole fashion of Edinburgh
attended, full and frequent, and when Lady
Bothwell had a seat amongst the lady patronesses,
that one of the attendants on the company whispered
into her ear, that a gentleman wished to
speak with her in private.

  ``In private? and in an assembly room?---he
must be mad---tell him to call upon me to-morrow

  ``I said so, my lady,'' answered the man, ``but
he desired me to give you this paper.''

  She undid the billet, which was curiously folded
and sealed. It only bore the words, ``_On business
of life and death_,'' written in a hand which
she had never seen before. Suddenly it occurred
to her that it might concern the safety of some of
her political friends; she therefore followed the
messenger to a small apartment where the refreshments
were prepared, and from which the general
company was excluded. She found an old man,
who at her approach rose up and bowed profoundly.
His appearance indicated a broken constitution,
and his dress, though sedulously rendered
conforming to the etiquette of a ball-room, was
worn and tarnished, and hung in folds about his
emaciated person. Lady Bothwell was about to
feel for her purse, expecting to get rid of the supplicant
at the expense of a little money, but some
fear of a mistake arrested her purpose. She therefore
gave the man leisure to explain himself.

  ``I have the honour to speak with the Lady

  ``I am Lady Bothwell; allow me to say that this
is no time or place for long explanations.---What
are your commands with me?''

  ``Your ladyship,'' said the old man, ``had once
a sister.''

  ``True; whom I loved as my own soul.''

  ``And a brother.''

  ``The bravest, the kindest, the most affectionate!''---
said Lady Bothwell.

  ``Both these beloved relatives you lost by the
fault of an unfortunate man,'' continued the stranger.

  ``By the crime of an unnatural, bloody-minded
murderer,'' said the lady.

  ``I am answered,'' replied the old man, bowing,
as if to withdraw.

  ``Stop, sir, I command you,'' said Lady Bothwell.---
``Who are you, that, at such a place and
time, come to recall these horrible recollections? I
insist upon knowing.''

  ``I am one who intends Lady Bothwell no injury;
but, on the contrary, to offer her the means
of doing a deed of Christian charity, which the
world would wonder at, and which Heaven would
reward; but I find her in no temper for such a
sacrifice as I was prepared to ask.''

  ``Speak out, sir; what is your meaning?'' said
Lady Bothwell.

  ``The wretch that has wronged you so deeply,''
rejoined the stranger, ``is now on his death-bed. 
His days have been days of misery, his nights have
been sleepless hours of anguish---yet he cannot die
without your forgiveness. His life bas been an
unremitting penance---yet he dares not part from
his burden while your curses load his soul.''

  ``Tell him,'' said Lady Bothwell sternly, ``to
ask pardon of that Being whom he bas so greatly
offended; not of an erring mortal like himself
What could my forgiveness avail him?''

  ``Much,'' answered the old man. ``It will be an
earnest of that which he may then venture to ask
from his Creator, lady, and from yours. Remember,
Lady Bothwell, you too have a death-bed to
look forward to; your soul may, all human souls
must, feel the awe of facing the judgment-seat,
with the wounds of an untented conscience, raw,
and rankling---what thought would it be then that
should whisper, `I have given no mercy, how then
shall I ask it?' ''

  ``Man, whosoever thou mayst be,'' replied Lady
Bothwell, ``urge me not so cruelly. It would be
but blasphemous hypocrisy to utter with my lips
the words which every throb of my heart protests
against. They would open the earth and give to
light the wasted form of my sister---the bloody
form of my murdered brother---Forgive him?---
Never, never!''

  ``Great God!'' cried the old man, holding up his
bands, ``is it thus the worms which thou hast
called out of dust obey the commands of their
Maker? Farewell, proud and unforgiving woman. 
Exult that thou hast added to a death in want and
pain the agonies of religious despair; but never
again mock Heaven by petitioning for the pardon
which thou hast refused to grant.''

  He was turning from her.

  ``Stop,'' she exclaimed; ``I will try; yes, I will
try to pardon him.''

  ``Gracious lady,'' said the old man, ``you will
relieve the over-burdened soul which dare not
sever itself from its sinful companion of earth without
being at peace with you. What do I know---
your forgiveness may perhaps preserve for penitence
the dregs of a wretched life.''

  ``Ha!'' said the lady, as a sudden light broke
on her, ``it is the villain himself!'' And grasping
Sir Philip Forester---for it was he, and no other---
by the collar, she raised a cry of ``Murder, murder!
seize the murderer!''

  At an exclamation so singular, in such a place,
the company thronged into the apartment, but Sir
Philip Forester was no longer there. He had forcibly
extricated himself from Lady Bothwell's hold,
and had run out of the apartment which opened
on the landing-place of the stair. There seemed
no escape in that direction, for there were several
persons coming up the steps, and others descending.
But the unfortunate man was desperate. He
threw himself over the balustrade, and alighted
safely in the lobby, though a leap of fifteen feet at
least, then dashed into the street, and was lost in
darkness. Some of the Bothwell family made pursuit,
and had they come up with the fugitive they
might have perhaps slain him; for in those days
men's blood ran warm in their veins. But the
police did not interfere; the matter most criminal
having happened long since, and in a foreign land. 
Indeed it was always thought that this extraordinary
scene originated in a hypocritical experiment,
by which Sir Philip desired to ascertain whether
he might return to his native country in safety
from the resentment of a family which he had injured
so deeply. As the result fell out so contrary
to his wishes, he is believed to have returned to
the continent, and there died in exile. So closed
the tale of the Mysterious Mirror.