Vivian Grey/Volume 2/Chapter 4.7

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4421393Vivian Grey, Volume 2TravelBenjamin Disraeli



When Vivian Grey remembered his existence, he found himself in bed. The curtains of his couch were closed; but, as he stared around him, they were softly withdrawn, and a face that recalled every thing to his recollection, gazed upon him with a look of affectionate anxiety.

"My father!" exclaimed Vivian—but the finger pressed on the parental lip warned him to silence. His father knelt by his side, and softly kissed his forehead, and then the curtains were again closed.

Six weeks, unconsciously to Vivian, had elapsed since the fatal day and he was now recovering from the effects of a fever, from which, his medical attendants had supposed he never could have escaped. And what had been the past? It did, indeed, seem like a hot and feverish dream. Here was he, once more in his own quiet room, watched over by his beloved parents; and had there then ever existed such beings as the Marquess, and Mrs. Lorraine, and Cleveland, or were they only the actors in a vision? "It must be so," thought Vivian; and he jumped up in his bed, and stared wildly around him. "And yet it was a horrid dream! Murder! horrible murder!—and so real! so palpable!—I muse upon their voices, as upon familiar sounds, and I recal all the events, not as the shadowy incidents of sleep—that mysterious existence, in which the experience of a century seems caught in the breathing of a second—but as the natural, and material consequences of time and stirring life. Oh! no! it is too true!" shrieked the wretched sufferer, as his eye glanced upon a desk which was on the table, and which had been given to him by the Marquess; "it is true! it is true! Murder! murder!" He foamed at the mouth, and sunk exhausted on his pillow.

But the human mind can master many sorrows, and after a desperate relapse, and another miraculous rally, Vivian Grey rose from his bed.

"My father! I fear that I shall live!"

"Hope, rather, my beloved."

"Oh! why should I hope!" and the sufferer's head sank upon his breast.

"Do not give way, my son; all will yet be well, and we shall all yet be happy," said the father, with streaming eyes.

"Happy! oh, not in this world, my father!"

"Vivian, my dearest, your mother visited you this morning, but you were asleep. She was quite happy to find you slumbering so calmly."

"And yet ray dreams were not the dreams of joy.—Oh! my mother, you were wont to smile upon me—alas! you smiled upon your sorrow."

"Vivian, my beloved! you must indeed restrain your feelings. At your age, life cannot be the lost game you think it. A little repose, and I shall yet see my boy the honour to society which he deserves to be."

"Alas! my father, you know not what I feel! The springiness of my mind has gone. Oh! man, what a vain fool thou art! Nature has been too bountiful to thee. She has given thee the best of friends, and you value not the gift of exceeding price, until your griefs are past even friendship's cure. Oh! my father! why did I leave you!" and he seized Mr. Grey's hand with a convulsive grasp.

Time flew on, even in this house of sorrow. "My boy," said Mr. Grey to his son one day, "your mother and I have been consulting together about you; and we think, now that you have somewhat recovered your strength, it may be well for you to leave England for a short time. The novelty of travel will relieve your mind, without too much exciting it; and if you can manage by the autumn, to settle down any where within a thousand miles of England, why we will come and join you, and you know that will be very pleasant. What say you, my boy, to this little plan?"

In a few weeks after this proposition had been made, Vivian Grey was in Germany. He wandered for some months in that beautiful land of rivers, among which flows the Rhine, matchless in its loveliness; and at length, the pilgrim shook the dust off his feet at Heidelburg, in which city Vivian proposed taking up his residence. It is, in truth, a place of surpassing loveliness; where all the romantic wildness of German scenery, is blended with the soft beauty of the Italian. An immense plain, which, in its extent and luxuriance, reminds you of the most fertile tracts of Tuscany, is bordered on one side by the Bergstrasse mountains, and on the other by the range of the Vosges. Situated on the river Neckar, in a ravine of the Bergstrasse, amid mountains covered with vines, is the city of Heidelburg: its ruined castle backing the city, and still frowning from one of the most commanding heights. In the middle of the broad plain, may be distinguished the shining spires of Mannheim, Worms, and Frankenthal; and, pouring its rich stream through this luxuriant land, the beautiful and abounding Rhine receives the tribute of the Neckar. The range of the Vosges forms the extreme distance.

To the little world, of the little city, of which he was now an habitant, Vivian Grey did not appear a broken-hearted man. He lived neither as a recluse, nor a misanthrope. He became extremely addicted to field sports, especially to hunting the wild boar; for he feared nothing so much as thought, and dreaded nothing so much as the solitude of his own chamber. He was an early riser, to escape from hideous dreams; and at break of dawn, he wandered among the wild passes of the Bergstrasse; or climbing a lofty ridge, was a watcher for the rising sun; and in the evening he sailed upon the star-lit Neckar.

I fear me much, that Vivian Grey is a lost man; but, I am sure that every sweet and gentle spirit, who has read this sad story of his fortunes, will breathe a holy prayer this night, for his restoration to society and to himself.