|Chapter Title||AN INTRODUCTION AND RETROSPECT.|
|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||The Maxwells of Bremgarten|
THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. CHAPTER I. AN INTRODUCTION AND RETROSPECT. EARLY in the year 18--, but we will not be particular as to dates, a large vessel, crowded with happy passengers, entered the magnifi- cent harbor of Sydney, New South Wales. The morning was bright and clear; the sun shone in cloudless glory; and the weary voyagers, after an absence from their native land of seven tedious months, gazed with de- light on the beautiful shores which on either hand sloped to the water's edge, clothed with rich verdure, and smiling under the influence of the summer's morning. To describe the exquisite scenery of this noble harbor, or to take even a passing notice of the pleasant cottages, the elegant villas, or the fairy-like gardens that adorn its shores, would be at work of magnitude to Washington Irving himself. The homely sounds of the dogs and cocks, the shouts of bullock-drivers, and the laughter of the merry children as they played beneath the wide spreading branches of ancient trees, were heard by the newly arrived wanderers with thrills of delight as the ship was being brought up to her anchor- age under the skilful management of her pilot. The town of Sydney now appeared stretched out before them looking peacefully down upon the quiet waters, the abode of princely wealth, and the storehouse of plenty unaccompanied by abject and squalid poverty. In this vessel there were many respectable families, but that of Bernard Maxwell will for the present alone engage our attention. The head of this family, which consisted of five individuals, had passed his fortieth year, and was one of those numerous stalwart sons of Britain who, arriving almost daily in Aus- tralia, were so acceptable and so necessary to that young and rapidly advancing colony. In the persons of an amiable and dearly loved wife and three young children he had given, as Lord Bacon says, "hostages to for- tune." Mrs. Maxwell seemed to be in every way well suited for the toilsome life on which she was about to enter. She was possessed of comeliness but not beauty; a robust, but not masculine figure; a coun- tenance more expressive of thoughtfulness than gaiety; and at firmness of purpose which sufficiently betrayed itself whenever an occa- sion arose for its display. To add to these qualities she possessed a highly cultivated taste, with a mind adorned by the countless accomplishments which shine forth with such peculiar lustre in the femninie portion of the human world. Their children were well looking, and well made--full of vigorous health and buoyant hopes. The eldest, Griselda, had reached her fifteenth year. Her face, although not strictly beautiful, was sufficiently fair to charm the eye of the most indifferent spectator. Beneath a brow of delicate whiteness, a pair of large blue eyes looked out confidingly upon the great world. With an intelligent, as well as innocent face, of which her parents might well be proud, and a figure faultless in shape and proportion, Griselda united a voice of winning softness; indeed her mild manner was the greatest charm she possesed; and though her appearance was in every respect highly prepossessing, yet her mental qualities, just then beginning to make themselves appa- rent, promised to enhance its value in the highest degree. To be the perfect model of her mother, of whom she was enthusiastically fond, was Griselda's greatest ambition, for in that model she beheld a rational piety, the most perfect singleness of heart, undeviating truth, and a keen perception of the good and beautiful, wherever such were to be found. Of her two brothers, Eugene and Charles, it is not necessary now to say much. We will content ourselves with informing the
reader that they were twins, and exactl three years younger than their sister. The former was a bold and somewhat careless youth, endowed with a high spirit and many noble qualities; the latter resembled his sister in settled quietness of manner, and an aparent timidity of disposition. The children, some- times with their parents, and frequently by themselves, walked about the streets of Syd- ney, examining the various articles exhibited for sale in the shop windows, and every other object of curiosity that presented itself, while their father employed himself in procuring information for his guidance to the scene of his future home. The parents of Griselda were natives of the Emerald Isle—that pretty spot concerning which some ecstatic poet says : There needs but self conquest To conquer thy fate; Believe is thy fortune And rise up elate. A little voice whispers To will is to be First flower of the nations— First gem of the sea. They were both born in Dublin, the beautiful city of whose gay streets and delightful suburbs countless recollections arise in our mind like stars of refined gold. In the midst of the varied scenery on the river Liffey, and amongst the parks, meadows, and woods ad- joining its banks, the minds of Elizabeth Maxwell and her daughter were first opened to nature's primitive loveliness ; and the influence thus early engendered was never forgotten by either. The father of Elizabeth was a mer- chant of long standing in Dublin, named Barton, who had reared a large family of sons and daughters in a highly creditable manner. Of these, Elizabeth was the youngest, but though young in years, it was generally re- marked that she appeared to be more prudent and sensible than her elder sisters. However this mnay be, we have it on good authority that her acquaintance and subsequent marriage with Bernard Maxwell were attended by a romantic circumstance, which we may as well narrate for the amusement of our readers. It was a gala day at the once busy but now totally neglected harbor of Howth. The naval enthusiasm of the British nation had just been raised to the highest pitch by the news of the great victory of Trafalgar, though the national sorrow was simultaneously poured forth for the hero whose brilliant life was suddenly extinguished in the hour of triumph. There was a grand regatta at Howth, and the elite of the Irish metropolis had driven out in carriages and cars to take part in the rejoicings. Crowds of fashionably dressed ladies, escorted by polite and well- looking beaux, promenaded on the quay. Military music was not wanting to heighten the pleasure of the gay company. Handsome yachts and well-manned row-boats, in some of which many of the fair sex enjoyed them- selves, darted to and fro on the water; and to add to the interest of the scene, a beautiful frigate lay peacefully at anchor at some dis- tance from the shore, an object of admiration to numerous visitors. A fesh breeze swept over the crest of the adjacent picturesque hill of Howth, and then flew over the water towards the little island called, for what reason we know not, Ireland's Eye. About two hours after midday, after most of the cups had been sailed for and won, the guns of the frigate suddenly opened fire, and it soon became known that she was salut- ing his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant, who was now seated in the frigate's state barge, half way between the vessel and the land, the crew sitting like so many statues with their oars pointed perpendicularly to the sky. When the last gun was fired, the oars dropped with one accord into the water, and his Ex- cellency soon found himself alongside the ship. At the same moment a boat rowed by four amateurs, in which three ladies and an elderly gentleman were seated, pulled with considerable velocity under the stern of the frigate, and this was met with equal velocity by it returning yacht which had just shot athwart the frigate's bow. The crews of both vessels seemed to have lost their presence of mind ; a confusion arose, and several voices were heard shouting together. A collision took place ; the three ladies in the boat screamed, and rose to their feet, and in so doing, one of them unfortunately fell into the water. The agony of the old gentleman who was evidently the father of the young lady so unpleasantly submerged, was very great ; and he was on the point of plunging in after her when a loud voice from the deck of the yacht bade him stop, and another heavy splash in the water announced that that duty was being performed by somebody else. The lady remained under water for a considerable time; the brave champion dived after her like a creature to whom the sea was but a plaything, and in a few seconds brought her to the surface; in another moment she was pressed in her father's arms. As an open boat was not the most agreeable place for it lady suffering from the effects of such an accident, she was immediately taken on board the yacht, where there was a comfortable cabin. The captain of the frigate, who wit- nessed the whole affair, was kind enough to send an invitation to the lady and her friends to come on board, and occupy his own cabin, but this her father thought proper to decline with thanks. After being assured of the safety of his daughter, he sought out her gal- lant preserver, tendered him his best thanks, announced himself as Mr. Barton, a well- known merchant, and gave Mr. Bernard Maxwell, the handsome young gentleman who had displayed such well timed aquatic abili- tics, a cordial invitation to his suburban villa, near the charming village of Lucan--an invi- tation, which to say the truth, young Max- well had often wished for, and was not slow to accept. We will not enter into a history of their courtship, which lasted for various reasons fully two years--a pleasant time doubtless to them, as it is to all under similar circum-
stances. But the happy day came at length, mad the honeymoon quickly passed away in travelling, and the cares as well as the solid comforts of holy wedlock commenced in due course. Maxwell retained his situation in the bank, and resided in a pretty cottage near his father-in-law's residence. Here his three children were born, and all his leisure hours were employed in opening their minds to study, and in laying the foundations of a solid education. But after the lapse of a series of years he found that the closeness of his application to the duties of his office, together with unlimited indulgence in other mental labors, began gradually to undermine his health. A partial disarrangement of his nervous system took place, and acting under the advice of a few friends, with the consent of his amiable wife, he determined to try his fortune in the still undeveloped land of Aus- tralia, to seek the restoration of his health, and to find, perhaps, an independence for his declining years. The parting between Elizabeth Maxwell and her parents and sisters was like what such partings usually are. There were pale faces and weeping eyes. Numerous cousins and more distant relatives hung about, beg- ging from time to time for a shake of the hand, or the still more consolatory favor of a kiss. They stood on the North Wall, on the banks of the Liffey, possibly for the last time; it was a cold but clear evening, and the bell of the steamer that was to convey them to Liverpool, the port of embarkation, rang sharply out upon the frosty air. Mr. Barton embraced his daughter and her chil- dren, and pressing the hand of his son-in- law he presented him with a considerable sum of money, and without waiting for thanks re- treated precipitately into the midst of a crowd of idle gazers. At the last sad mo- ment a youth of manly proportions and pleasing countenance advanced hastily up to the young Griselda: taking her proffered hand, he pressed his lips to hers, scarcely meeting with anything like resistance. As eves-dropping is not generally considered a very creditable occupation, we must not pre- sume to listen to the whispered words of part- ing that ensued ; they were spoken amid. tears and sighs; and the young Edwin hur- ried from the spot ! The steamer's bell rang for the last time, and the passengers hurried on board. The bow of the vessel was pushed out into the river—the paddle wheels revolved—the last adieus were spoken—and the friends on shore returned sorrowfully home. (To be continued).