The resolution, thus suddenly aroused within me, heaved a load from off my heart. I felt a confidence in it from the very place where it was formed. It seemed as though my mother’s spirit whispered it to me from her grave. “I will henceforth,” said I, “endeavor to be all that she fondly imagined me. I will endeavor to act as if she were witness of my actions. I will endeavor to acquit myself in such manner, that when I revisit her grave there may, at least, be no compunctious bitterness in my tears.”
I bowed down and kissed the turf in solemn attestation of my vow. I plucked some primroses that were growing there and laid them next my heart. I left the church-yard with my spirits once more lifted up, and set out a third time for London, in the character of an author.
* * * * *
Here my companion made a pause, and I waited in anxious suspense; hoping to have a whole volume of literary life unfolded to me. He seemed, however, to have sunk into a fit of pensive musing; and when after some time I gently roused him by a question or two as to his literary career. “No,” said he smiling, “over that part of my story I wish to leave a cloud. Let the mysteries of the craft rest sacred for me. Let those who have never adventured into the republic of letters, still look upon it as a fairy land. Let them suppose the author the very being they picture him from his works; I am not the man to mar their illusion. I am not the man to hint, while one is admiring the silken web of Persia, that it has been spun from the entrails of a miserable worm.”
“Well,” said I, “if you will tell me nothing of your literary history, let me know at least if you have had any farther intelligence from Doubting Castle.”
“Willingly,” replied he, “though I have but little to communicate.”
A long time elapsed, said Buckthorne, without my receiving any accounts of my cousin and his estate. Indeed, I felt so much soreness on the subject, that I wished, if possible, to shut it from my thoughts. At length chance took me into that part of the country, and I could not refrain from making some inquiries.
I learnt that my cousin had grown up ignorant, self-willed, and clownish. His ignorance and clownishness had prevented his mingling with the neighboring gentry. In spite of his great fortune he had been unsuccessful in an attempt to gain the hand of the daughter of the parson, and had at length shrunk into the limits of such society as a mere man of wealth can gather in a country neighborhood.
He kept horses and hounds and a roaring table, at which were collected the loose livers of the country round, and the shabby gentlemen of a village in the vicinity. When he could get no other company he would smoke and drink with his own servants, who in their turns fleeced and despised him. Still, with all this apparent prodigality, he had a leaven of the old man in him, which showed that he was his true-born son. He lived far within his income, was vulgar in his expenses, and penurious on many points on which a gentleman would be extravagant. His house servants were obliged occasionally to work on the estate, and part of the pleasure grounds were ploughed up and devoted to husbandry.