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"Benhampton is but a name to me," she with the sorrow of ages—“ Thy will be said ; "and yet I seem to see it plainly, too done." -when you speak of it."
" Thy will be done!" Only four words; He sighed, and relapsed, apparently, into and yet what a history is theirs ! Alas ! what unconsciousness. How like death he looked scars they cover! What tears they conseand lay! How faint and far between was crate ! What broken hearts, and darkened the coming of each feeble respiration! The lives, and ruined homes they grow over wife hung over him, daring neither to speak and sanctify, like sweet flowers over graves ! nor stir. The boy stood by, weeping silently. Can resignation, humility, fortitude, go farther And still the rain dripped, dripped, dripped than this? What heroic phrase of all the from the eaves outside the window, like olden time, what golden saying of patriot, minute drops from a clepsydra, pitilessly philosopher, or poet, breathes such high telling off the last moments of a life con- courage? What more has heaven to ask, or demned.
man to give ? He presently spoke again. "You remember?" he whispered.
CHAPTER 1.-ST. HILDEGARDE THE MARTYR. “I remember, Reginald.”
“In the chapel--at Benhampton-under FAR east of Temple Bar, beyond St. the north window.”
Paul's, beyond the Mansion House, beyond "Yes, dearest, yes."
the Bank, beyond the uttermost landmark He pressed her hand. His strength was entered in Belgravian charts, stands, and has ebbing fast, and his voice became each mo- stood for nearly a thousand years,
the ancient ment less articulate.
church of St. Hildegarde the Martyr, Buried “Tell me-once more," he faltered. “Do deep in the heart of that intricate quarter you forgive ?”
where streets are narrowest, traffic densest, “Forgive! Oh, my dear love, what have population scantiest, this tiny building is only I to forgive ? Nothing—nothing—nothing !" remarkable in so far as it is one of the
He looked at her, and a strange light, as smallest churches in one of the smallest of a smile in which the lips had no part, parishes of the City of London. Other came upon his face like a glory.
fame or interest it has none. It is neither "God bless you !" he said, brokenly. curious, nor beautiful, nor historical. It is ** God bless you—wife and child !"
enriched by no stately monuments, by no The light faded; the breath died away; the wealth of sculptured stone, carved oak, or clasped fingers fell apart.
painted glass. It is simply very small and What next? He must surely move, look up, very old-a church without a congregation in speak again! There was no change within a parish without inhabitants. So hidden is it the last few seconds ? Nothing was gone- in a network of byways, that one might pass nothing was hushed? It could not be that his daily within a dozen yards of St. Hildegarde heart had ceased from beating ! Was it the the Martyr without so much as suspecting dusk only, or had a cold grey tint stolen sud- its existence. Huge warehouses hem it in denly upon his features like a veil? Gracious on every side. Round and about it from heaven! was this the end? Was this death? dawn till dusk a sluggish, thunderous tide of
Seized by a nameless terror, the child heavy traffic ebbs and flows. One window, broke all at once into a passion of sobs. crusted with the grime of centuries, looks
“ Take me away !” he cried. "Oh, take upon a narrow thoroughfare leading dockme away!”
wards; the rest stare blankly into a court But his mother, instead of taking him surrounded by stores and counting-houses, away, drew his head to her bosom, kissed where in summer no sunbeam ever penetrates, him, wept over him, clung to him. He was and in winter the gas burns all day long. her all, now. In the whole wide world she Through this court, by means of a passage had nothing to love, nothing to hope for, tunnelled under the warehouses, the church nothing to rejoice in, to serve, to suffer for, of St. Hildegarde is approached from the but this one fragile, fatherless boy.
busy world without. A quaint, out-of-theShe knelt down beside the bed, still hold-way nook ; populous by day; a desert when ing him fast locked within her arms, and business hours are past—now vibrating to prayed aloud-a poor, broken, artless sup- the rush and roll of wheels, traversed by plication, which he, in his childish way, re- innumerable feet, and echoing to the discords peated sentence by sentence. Then came of many voices-now wrapped in a Sabbaththose words, whose very cadence echoes like stiilness ; every door locked, every window shuttered up, every clerk and porter like bronze against the sky. Here and there, gone. Entering it thus on a summer's even- making the darkness darker as it were by ing, when the sky is yet full of light, and the contrast, a faint gleam stole along the walls, far-away parks are at their gayest, and the rested on altar rail and pulpit, and glanced river close by is all alive with steamers, the upon the pipes of the tiny organ standing solitude of the place has in it something both back in an obscure corner by the vestry strange and solemn. It is as if one had come door. upon a city of the dead.
Unsightly and insignificant without, the On such a summer evening, in the pleasant church of St. Hildegarde was no less unmonth of June, in the year of our Lord 1860, lovely within. It measured, perhaps, a hunone of the church windows being partly open dred feet in length by about forty in width; and the church door standing ajar, the little and, excepting only a certain unmistakable court, then at its stillest, was filled with an look of age, resembled nothing so nearly as a irregular sound of chanting--a sound as of plain, ill-lighted lecture-hall or corn-exchange hymns begun, broken off, repeated ; re- in a provincial town. The bare stone walls, sponses continuously sung, and canticles unskilfully daubed with bands of rough from both services indiscriminately succeed colour, were blotched with mildew, and hung ing each other. This lasted for perlaps three- in places with common illuminated cards. quarters of an hour. Then came a pause ; Rows of rush-bottomed prie-dieu chairs filled then a pattering and scrambling, as of little the body of the church. The ceiling just feet heavily shod; and then the door was above the communion-table was painted blue, dragged suddenly open, and an impatient and stuck over with little stars of cut paper, flock of school children came trooping out. most of which had fallen away, while the They were about a score in number. Some rest, half detached, hung fluttering overhead. of the boys wore quaint little grey coats A gilt heart and a few wreaths and crosses of turned up with dirty yellow, and muffin caps immortelles were suspended over the altar; of the same ; but both boys and girls, for the and in an antique-looking piscina close by lay most part, were dressed in their home clothes, a scrap of crochet work, on which stood a and looked untidy enough. Crowding toge- small glass jug crusted with dregs of sacrather for a moment on the threshold, they mental wine. A dismal place to be alone in paused and looked back.
towards dusk. Dismal for its silence-dismal “At half-past ten, then, on Sunday morn- for its solitude-dismal, above all, for the ing,” said a voice within.
poverty that betrayed itself in every shabby “Yes, sir ; half-past ten, sir," replied some fitting and tawdry decoration. six or eight shrill voices.
The young man who had just locked him“Not one minute later, remember.” self in there, however, with the gathering No, sir. Oh, no, sir !"
shadows was used to the little church, and And with this, being finally dismissed, they indifferent to its dreariness. For him it was broke loose into the court, laughing, halloo- neither silent nor solitary—for him it echoed ing, flinging caps into the air, chasing each to noble sounds, and was peopled with the other into corners, and vanishing presently spirits of Handel and Beethoven and Mozart. under the dark arch leading to the world of He was a musician-very young, very poor, streets beyond.
very much in love with his art, and paroWhen the last straggler had disappeared, chial organist, with a salary of twenty-five and the last shout had died away, a young pounds a-year. man came to the threshold ; stood there for Considering that he lived at Islington, a a moment, bareheaded, with the cavernous good three miles from St. Hildegarde the gloom of the doorway behind him and the Martyr; that his rector was an Oxford man, evening light upon his face; drank in a deep with High-Church proclivities; and that, bebreath of cool air ; cast a wistful glance sides the orthodox three services on Sunday, towards the glowing patch of sky over the he had to play an early service every mornhousetops; and then, half-reluctantly, turned ing, and an extra eleven o'clock service on back into the church.
saints' days and fast days, it must be admitted He shut the door and locked it from the that this young man was not overpaid with inside, waking a desolate echo through the twenty-five pounds a-year. He was not disempty nave. Within, all was twilight ; except satisfied, however. He was even contented. where twilight deepened into profound Granted that the salary was light, he was shadow. The topmost leaves of a solitary none the less willing that the duty should be tree close outside the east window showed heavy. He looked upon it as "good prac
tice," and upon himself as a particularly for- with her boy in a tiny cottage in a tiny fish. tunate fellow in being able to command it. ing village on the coast of the Isle of AngleAnd so he was, perhaps, l'argent apart. sea; and so proud that, although she might Musical talent is not at a premium, and have made acquaintances when she first came young organists are plentiful in the market. to St. Owen's, she did not know a soul in the When the situation fell vacant some eighteen neighbourhood. Politely, but firmly, the months before, Temple Debenham, then just widow declined to visit. She lived for her returned from the famous collegiate academy child alone. To watch over him, to amuse of Zollenstrasse-am-Main, and armed with a him, to work for him, to educate him, was double first-class certificate countersigned by her one absorbing occupation. the Grand Duke himself, carried off the prize only companion, she his only playfellow. from more than thirty competitors. It was with him she toiled through the arid wastes quite a triumph, as far as it went; and the of the Eton Latin Grammar; for him did salary, translated into florins, sounded suffi- battle with Euclid and Lemprière, and purciently imposing when written about to fel- sued with fainting steps the steep and difficult low-students on the other side of the Channel. ways of the Gradus ad Parnassum. By-andWhat wonder, then, that a clever, ambitious, by, as the boy's vocation became more disinexperienced young fellow, who had never tinctly manifest, his mother fell into a very owned a spare thaler in his life, and who be wilderness of hopes, doubts, and perplexities. lieved in his fellow-creatures as implicitly as That he, her child, should be gifted with a he believed in himself, should mistake this special gift . . . . she could scarcely believe very small victory for a brilliant omen, and it. She scarcely dared think of it. It made fancy himself on the high road to fame and her heart beat, and not wholly with joy. fortune with twenty-five pounds a year? There was fear in it, and anxiety, and perhaps
Twenty-five pounds a year! Pshaw! it a little-a very little-disappointment. It was not the pay that he valued ; it was the may be that Mrs. Debenham was not altoposition. Was it nothing to hold a responsi- gether fitted by previous training to take the ble situation in a London church? Was it loftiest view of an artistic career. It may be nothing to step at once into a ready-made that, poor as she was, she had dreamt some connection? Was it nothing to be able to dream of how her son might win his way to write “Organist of St. Hildegarde the Martyr" an university education, and so, ultimately, to after one's name? Fancy it in print, on the the Church. For, of course, he was to be title-page of that prize cantata that gained clever; that was only to be expected. He such glory at Zollenstrasse the summer be- was to be very clever, and to achieve distincfore last!
tion in some way ; but that he should be a I have already said that Temple Deben- genius, a heaven-born genius, was another ham had been a disciple of the famous Grand matter. Mrs. Debenham had not been accusDucal Academy, and as his early history is tomed to geniuses, and was disposed to be comprised in half-a-dozen sentences, it may somewhat afraid of them. Was not a musias well be told, and dismissed at once. He cian a sort of gifted madman?
Could a was the only son of a widow, and a musician painter by any possibility be a gentleman ? born. Like baby Mozart, he spelt out har- Might a gentleman, without loss of dignity, monies upon every instrument that came write poetry, unless in Greek or Latin? Was within his reach before he had arrived at it quite certain that Shakespeare and Handel words of three syllables, and scrawled cro- and Sir Joshua Reynolds paid their rent and chets and quavers long enough ere his little went to church like other people? These hands had mastered the mysteries of pot- were grave questions, and cost Mrs. Debenhooks and hangers. The gift grew with his ham many a tear and many a wakeful hour; growth and strengthened with his strength, but she was neither experienced enough, nor It developed itself without culture, without clever enough, to solve them. opportunity, and in the face of a thousand In the meanwhile, the boy's talent waxed difficulties. At length his vocation became daily. He loved his mother's little old quaso manifest that the widow began to cast vering piano as other lads love the playground about for some means of providing him with or the cricket-match. To compose was as a sound musical education.
natural to him as to breathe, and to write It chanced, however, that Mrs. Debenham what he composed was as easy as to play it. was both poor and proud-so poor that, be- For him, as for all true musicians, sign and cause food and lodging might there be had at sound were one; and melody sprang from his less cost than in most other places, she lived pen as readily as from his fingers. At first he
was not conscious of his gift. It came to him who failed to become thorough master of his spontaneously, like song to a young bird, and profession had only himself to thank for his he revelled in it with no thought beyond the shortcomings. gladness of the moment. But this could not But Temple Debenham did mean work. go on for ever; and his mother, who watched It was the one thing he had been hungering the rapid growing of his wings, trembled to after at St. Owen's; and he flung himself into think how he must some day discover his it with all the energy of a strong will and a strength, and soar away into regions whither resolute nature. He went under masters for she would have no power to follow. And so the organ, the violin, and the piano. He
With time came the sense of power, joined the choral classes. He familiarised and with the sense of power the dawn of pur- himself with the compass and resources of pose. Before he was twelve years of age, he every instrument in the orchestra. He dehad determined to become a musician; and veloped an insatiable curiosity for all the proshe, reluctantly, trenililingly, but with some founder secrets of the art; and, not content thing of pride and wonder as well as of re- with acquiring harmony upon the Zollenluctance and trembling, had yielded to his strasse system only, went back for himself to wish.
the earlier sources of the science-to the Then it came to pass that Mrs. Debenham, works of Martini, Tartini, Albrechtsberger, while making such inquiry as was practicable Pepusch, and other half-forgotten authors in so remote a spot as St. Owen's, chanced whose dusty volumes were rarely disturbed to catch some far away echo of the fame of upon the shelves of the Academic Library. the great Academy at Zollenstrasse-am-Main. And the boy's indomitable industry flourished Here was an institution where an industrious and bore fruit. At the end of his third student might make his prizes almost cover year he took two medals; at the end of the the cost of his college terms; where he would fourth, a prize of two hundred florins, which get not only a thorough professional training, was equivalent to about sixteen pounds of but a good general education; and where, as English money, and more than paid the fees an out-student, he might enjoy all these ad- of his fifth year. In the course of the fifth, , vantages without leaving the shelter of his he carried off the second gold medal ; and mother's roof. And at Zollenstrasse, too, one in the sixth, a three-years' scholarship. By might live even more cheaply than at St. the time the scholarship had expired, he Owen's. At Zollenstrasse, it was confidently was senior student of music; and for the reported, a shilling would go farther than last two years of his college life held the eighteenpence in Wales. At Zollenstrasse rank of sub-professor of counterpoint, and one might buy excellent wine for about seven- second violin in the Grand Duke's private pence the bottle ; meat for something like band. threepence halfpenny a pound; fish, fruit, When at length Temple Debenham had vegetables, milk, on almost nominal terms; spent eleven years at Zollenstrasse, he sudand grapes in the vintage season at some denly announced his determination to go such price as might have been asked by the pro- back to England. His friends and colleagues prietors of the Bottle Imp. To this land of pro- were aghast. The professors remonstrated; mise, then, after much calculation of ways and his fellow-students remonstrated ; his mother means, and many hesitations, did the widow remonstrated. It was impossible that he repair at last; and there resided with her son could mean it. The thing was simply suicidal. for a period extending over some eleven years, His plain and obvious course was to throw during which time the youth grew and pros- his fortunes in with those of the Academy, pered, became a capital German scholar, and settle at Zollenstrasse for life. Would acquired something more than a smattering he not be a full professor ere long, with apartof the classics, and went in for everything ments in the college and eight hundred florins that the Academy had to offer in the way of a year? Were not the professors allowed to musical advantages. Now it happened that take pupils, and would it not be easy for him music was the strong point, par excellence, at to get as much teaching as he pleased in the Zollenstrasse-am-Main. There were classes season? Then, too, the Duke's kapellmeister and masters for counterpoint; for orchestra- was getting almost past his work, and Debention; for singing; for every instrument under | ham was thought so well of up at the school the sun, including, doubtless, the sackbut and that he might fairly throw in the possibility of shawm, had one been minded to learn them. that succession among his other prospects. A man, in short, who really meant work might And what a possibility! A thousand florins do anything at Zollenstrasse, and the student per annum, a “ Von” before one's name, and
in one's button-hole the green ribbon of the acquiesce at once, opposed her son's deterorder of the Golden Pigtail
mination no longer. So he resigned his subBut the young man was to be tempted by professorship and his seat in the grand ducal none of these considerations. He had weighed orchestra, packed up his music and his the matter quite fully, and, having made up medals, received his double first-class certifihis mind, could by no means be brought to cate with all its seals, formulas, and flourishes, change it. He was twenty-four years of age, and bade a long farewell to the little capital and old enough, he conceived, to judge what which had been his home for nearly twelve was best for himself. He was not disposed years. to wed the Academy for better or for worse. Thus armed, he exchanged Zollenstrasse He must have a wider berth—more breathing for London, and with his mother, took a space-some footing in that field where the modest lodging overlooking a nursery-ground, race was really to the swift and the battle to somewhere near Canonbury, at Islington. the strong, and a man might give and take And now, in accordance with that curious such blows as fell to his share. Zollenstrasse law by which a novice pretty surely wins at was well enough in its way. Zollenstrasse the first throw, Temple Debenham began had given him his education, and he was with a success. Before he had been three attached to the place to a certain extent and weeks in London, the advertising columns of in a certain way; but he was not going to the Times announced that an organist was reidentify himself with it for ever and aye. The quired for the parish church of St. Hildegarde idea of remaining a mere German professor the Martyr. He at once entered himself for all the days of his life was intolerable to him. the competition, and, thanks to his fine playHe was weary already of the etiquette, the ing and his “double first-class” certificate, gossip, the aesthetic teas, and the thousand might almost be said to have walked over the and one petty jealousies and interests of a course. tenth-rate German capital.
not It was his first prize in the great lottery of in the least ambitious of becoming the next London life; but, as time went on, it seemed grand ducal kapellmeister, and he did not care destined also to be his last. We have already one kreutzer for the order of the Golden seen how sanguine were his hopes, and how, Pigtail.
in the first flush of his first success, he overSo Temple Debenham's advisers threw rated not only his position, but his prospects. their remonstrances away, and ended by This, however, was before he had found out taking offence at his obstinacy. If he would that the regular congregation of St. Hildebe deaf to counsel and blind to his own in-garde's consisted of some fourteen persons, terests, it was at least no fault of theirs. They exclusive of the pew-opener and the clerk. had done what they could to save him from Eighteen months had gone by since then, ' a fatal error, and if, after all, he chose to ruin and his enthusiasm had had time to cool. himself, he must do so. Even his mother The parish had brought him no connection, (who, to do her justice, cared no more than and his efforts to make himself known as a himself for the order of the Golden Pigtail) composer had all ended in disappointment. was by no means convinced of the wisdom of There, for instance, was the cantata—what her son's resolve. She reminded him that pains he had lavished on that neatly-written he was giving up certainty for uncertainty, score, and with what a beating heart he had substance for shadow; that it was possible to left it at the door of a certain committee-room live in Germany for at least two-thirds less at Exeter Hall! But publishers are coy, and expense than in England; that he was already choral societies difficult, and the opus magnus, somebody in Zollenstrasse, but that he would again and again rejected, was still unknown find himself nobody in London ; and a great to fame. He had written a symphony since deal more to the same effect. But all was in then, and was at work now upon an opera. vain.
His zeal, poor fellow, was yet unabated; his “ It is of no use, mother,” he said ; “Zol- confidence in his own genius unimpaired. lenstrasse is not the place for me. I am Thorough master of his subject, skilled in all made for something better. I may not suc- the resources of his art, rich in ideas, in ceed in getting that something better ; but, at honest ambition, in hope, how should he not all events, I mean to try. So, please don't be conscious of the power that was in him? let us talk any more about it.”
That he should feel bitter mortification when Now, when Temple Debenham said he that ill-starred packet came back from the meant to do a thing he invariably did it; and honorary secretary of this and that society the widow, knowing that she might as well was only natural. He may even have swal