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Miriam Monfort A Novel   By: (1816-1877)

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[Transcriber's note: Part III contains two chapters labeled Chapter VI.]





"Fancy, with fact, is just one fact the more."

"Let this old woe step on the stage again, Act itself o'er anew for men to judge; Not by the very sense and sight indeed, Which take at best imperfect cognizance. Since, how heart moves brain, and how both move hand, What mortal ever in entirety saw? Yet helping us to all we seem to hear, For, how else know we save by worth of word?"

BROWNING, " The Ring and the Book "



This book is dedicated to the memory of one most dear, who saw it grow to completion with pleasure and approbation, during the last happy summer of a life since darkened by misfortune. Peace be his!


"Not one friend have we here, not one true heart; We've nothing but ourselves."

"There's a dark spirit walking in our house, And swiftly will the destiny close on us. It drove me hither from my calm asylum; It lures me forward in a seraph's shape I see it near, I see it nearer floating It draws, it pulls me with a godlike power, And, lo, the abyss! and thither am I moving; I have no power within me but to move."

"He is the only one we have to fear, he and his father."

COLERIDGE'S Translation of Schiller's "Wallenstein"





My father, Reginald Monfort, was an English gentleman of good family, who, on his marriage with a Jewish lady of wealth and refinement, emigrated to America, rather than subject her and himself to the commentaries of his own fastidious relatives, and the incivilities of a clique to which by allegiance of birth and breeding he unfortunately belonged.

Her own family had not been less averse to this union than the aristocratic house of Monfort, and, had she not been the mistress of her own acts and fortune, would, no doubt, have absolutely prevented it. As it was, a wild wail went up from the synagogue at the loss of one of its brightest ornaments, and the name of "Miriam Harz" was consigned to silence forever.

Orphaned and independent, this obloquy and oblivion made little difference to its object, especially when the broad Atlantic was placed, as it soon was, between her and her people, and new ties and duties arose in a strange land to bind and interest her feelings.

During her six years of married life, I have every reason to believe that she was, as it is termed, "perfectly happy," although a mysterious disease of the nervous centres, that baffled medical skill either to cure or to name, early laid its grasp upon her, and brought her by slow degrees to the grave, when her only child had just completed her fifth year.

My father, the younger son of a nobleman who traced his lineage from Simon de Montfort, had been married in his own estate and among his peers before he met my mother. Poor himself (his commission in the army constituting his sole livelihood), he had espoused the young and beautiful widow of a brother officer, who, in dying, had committed his wife and her orphan child to his care and good offices, on a battle field in Spain, and with her hand he had received but little of this world's lucre. The very pension, to which she would have been entitled living singly, was cut off by her second marriage, and with habits of luxury and indolence, such as too often appertain to the high born, and cling fatally to the physically delicate, the burden of her expenses was more than her husband could well sustain.

Her parents and his own were dead, and there were no relatives on either side who could be called upon for aid, without a sacrifice of pride, which my father would have died rather than have made. He was nearly reduced to desperation by the circumstances of the case, when, fortunately perhaps for both, she suddenly sickened, drooped, and died, in his absence, during her brief sojourn at a watering place, and all considerations were lost sight of at the time, in view of this unexpected and stunning blow for Reginald Monfort was devoted, in his chivalric way, to his beautiful and fragile wife, as it was, indeed, his nature to be to every thing that was his own... Continue reading book >>

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