Who that was not, and had not been twenty times, on
the very brink of wresting him from the useless tyranny
of his obdurate creditors! Who that had not waited
from day to day, with purse-strings open, ready to
pour forth the unmistakeable tokens of friendship!
How many were only restrained from doing good-from
giving vent to the fountains of their hospitality-through
fear of being contaminated with that scandal rumour
had thrown around his decline! Over his death
hath sprung to life that curious fabric of living generosity,
so ready to bespread a grave with unneeded bounties,—so
emblematic of how many false mourners hath the dead.
But Graspum would have all such expressions shrink
beneath his glowing goodness. With honied words
he tells the tale of his own honesty: his business
intercourse with the deceased was in character most
generous. Many a good turn did Marston receive
at his hands; long had he been his faithful and unwearied
friend. Fierce are the words with which he would
execrate the tyrant creditors; yea, he would heap
condign punishment on their obdurate heads. Time
after time did he tell them the fallen man was penniless;
how strange, then, that they tortured him to death
within prison walls. He would sweep away such
vengeance, bury it with his curses, and make obsolete
such laws as give one man power to gratify his passion
on another. His burning, surging anger can find
no relief; nor can he tolerate such antiquated debtor
laws: to him they are the very essence of barbarism,
tainting that enlightened civilisation so long implanted
by the State, so well maintained by the people.
It is on those ennobling virtues of state, he says,
the cherished doctrines of our democracy are founded.
Graspum is, indeed, a well-developed type of our modern
democracy, the flimsy fabric of which is well represented
in the gasconade of the above outpouring philanthropy.
And now, as again the crimson clouds of evening soften
into golden hues-as the sun, like a fiery chariot,
sinks beneath the western landscape, and still night
spreads her shadowy mantle down the distant hills,
and over the broad lagoon to the north-two sable figures
may be seen patting, sodding, and bespreading with
fresh-plucked flowers the new grave. As the rippling
brook gives out its silvery music, and earth seems
drinking of the misty dew, that, like a bridal veil,
spreads over its verdant hillocks, they whisper their
requiem of regret, and mould the grave so carefully.
“It’s mas’r’s last,”
says one, smoothing the cone with his hands.
“We will plant the tree now,” returns
the other, bringing forward a young clustering pine,
which he places at the head of the grave, and on which
he cuts the significant epitaph-"Good master lies here!”
Duncan and Harry have paid their last tribute.
“He is at peace with this world,” says
the latter, as, at the gate, he turns to take a last
look over the paling.