In a few days this attenuated frame will be mingled with the dust from which it sprung, and scattered by the winds of heaven, or by the labour of future generations, as chance may dictate, will yield sustenance to the thistle which wars against the fertility of nature, or the grain which is the support of our existence,—to the nightshade with its deadly fruit, or the creeping violet with its sweet perfume. The heart which has throbbed so tumultuously with the extreme of love, and which has been riven with the excess of woe, will shortly pant no more. The mind which has been borne down by the irresistible force of passion,—which has attempted to stem the torrent, but in vain, and, since the rage of it has passed away, has been left like the once fertile valley which has been overflown, a waste of barrenness and desolation,—will shortly cease from its wearied action. In a few brief days I must appear in the presence of an offended, yet merciful Saviour, who, offering every thing, weeps at the insanity of our rejection. Let then the confessions of Henrique serve as a beacon to those who are inclined to yield to the first impulse; when, alarmed at the discovery of their errors, they will find that conviction has arrived too late, and that, like me, they will be irresistibly impelled against the struggles of reason and of conscience.
I am an Englishman by birth: my parents were called away before I was five years old; yet still I have a dreaming memory of my mother—a faint recollection of one at whose knees I used, each night, to hold up my little hands in orison, and who blessed her child as she laid him to repose.
But I lost those whose precepts might have been valuable to me in after-life, and was left to the guardianship of one who thought that, in attending to my worldly interests, he fulfilled the whole duty which was required of him. My education was not neglected, but there was no one to advise me upon points of more serious importance. Naturally of a fiery and impatient temper,—endued with a perseverance which was only increased by the obstacles which presented themselves, I encouraged any feeling to be working in my mind in preference to repose, which was hateful. To such excess did it arrive as I grew up, that difficulty and danger, even pain and remorse, were preferable to that calm sunshine of the breast which others consider so enviable. I could exist but by strong sensations: remove them, and I felt as does the habitual drunkard in the morning, until his nerves have been again stimulated by a repetition of his draughts. My pursuits were of the same tendency: constant variety and change of scene were what I coveted. I felt a desire “to be imprisoned in the viewless winds, and blown with restless violence about the pendent world.” At night I was happy; for as soon as sleep had sealed my eyes, I invariably dreamt that I had the power of aerostation, and, in my imagination, cleaved through the air with the strength of an eagle, soaring above my fellow-creatures, and looking down upon them and their ceaseless drudgery with contempt.