The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne HTML version

Chapter VII
LOUISA, Baroness Malcolm, was the descendant of an ancient and honourable
house in Switzerland. Her father, the Marquis de St. Claire, inherited all those
brave qualities, and that stern virtue, which had so eminently distinguished his
ancestors. Early in life he lost a wife whom he tenderly loved, and he seemed to
derive his sole consolation from the education of the dear children she had left
behind. His son, whom he had brought up to the arms himself so honourably
bore, fell before he reached his nineteenth year, in the service of his country; an
elder daughter died in infancy; Louisa was his sole surviving child. His chateau
was situated in one of those delightful vallies of the Swiss cantons, in which the
beautiful and the sublime are so happily united; where the magnificent features of
the scenery are contrasted, and their effect heightened by the blooming
luxuriance of woods and pasturage, by the gentle winding of the stream, and the
peaceful aspect of the cottage. The Marquis was now retired from the service, for
grey age had overtaken him. His residence was the resort of foreigners of
distinction, who, attracted by the united talents of the soldier and the philosopher,
under his roof partook of the hospitality so characteristic of his country. Among
the visitors of this description was the late Baron Malcolm, brother to the present
Chief, who then travelled through Switzerland. The beauty of Louisa, embellished
by the elegance of a mind highly cultivated, touched his heart, and he solicited
her hand in marriage. The manly sense of the Baron, and the excellencies of his
disposition, had not passed unobserved, or unapproved by the Marquis; while the
graces of his person, and of his mind, had anticipated for him, in the heart of
Louisa, a pre-eminence over every other suitor. The Marquis had but one
objection to the marriage; this was likewise the objection of Louisa: neither the
one nor the other could endure the idea of the distance which was to separate
them. Louisa was to the Marquis the last prop of his declining years; the Marquis
was to Louisa the father and the friend to whom her heart had hitherto been
solely devoted, and from whom it could not now be torn but with an anguish
equal to its attachment. This remained an insurmountable obstacle, till it was
removed by the tenderness of the Baron, who entreated the Marquis to quit
Switzerland, and reside with his daughter in Scotland. The attachment of the
Marquis to his natal land, and the pride of hereditary dominion, was too powerful
to suffer him to acquiesce in the proposal without much struggle of contending
feelings. The desire of securing the happiness of his child, by a union with a
character so excellent as the Baron's, and of seeing her settled before death
should deprive her of the protection of a father, at length subdued every other
consideration, and he resigned the hand of his daughter to the Baron Malcolm.
The Marquis adjusted his affairs, and consigning his estates to the care of trusty
agents, bade a last adieu to his beloved country; that country which, during sixty
years, had been the principal scene of his happiness, and of his regrets. The
course of years had not obliterated from his heart the early affections of his
youth: he took a sad farewell of that grave which enclosed the reliques of his
wife, from which it was not his least effort to depart, and whither he ordered that