The Mysteries of Udolpho HTML version

Chapter I.1
home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where,
Supporting and supported, polish'd friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss.*
On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, in the year
1584, the chateau of Monsieur St. Aubert. From its windows were seen the pastoral
landscapes of Guienne and Gascony stretching along the river, gay with luxuriant woods
and vine, and plantations of olives. To the south, the view was bounded by the majestic
Pyrenees, whose summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, seen, and lost
again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were sometimes barren, and gleamed through
the blue tinge of air, and sometimes frowned with forests of gloomy pine, that swept
downward to their base. These tremendous precipices were contrasted by the soft green
of the pastures and woods that hung upon their skirts; among whose flocks, and herds,
and simple cottages, the eye, after having scaled the cliffs above, delighted to repose. To
the north, and to the east, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were lost in the mist of
distance; on the west, Gascony was bounded by the waters of Biscay.
M. St. Aubert loved to wander, with his wife and daughter, on the margin of the Garonne,
and to listen to the music that floated on its waves. He had known life in other forms than
those of pastoral simplicity, having mingled in the gay and in the busy scenes of the
world; but the flattering portrait of mankind, which his heart had delineated in early
youth, his experience had too sorrowfully corrected. Yet, amidst the changing visions of
life, his principles remained unshaken, his benevolence unchilled; and he retired from the
multitude 'more in PITY than in anger,' to scenes of simple nature, to the pure delights of
literature, and to the exercise of domestic virtues.
He was a descendant from the younger branch of an illustrious family, and it was
designed, that the deficiency of his patrimonial wealth should be supplied either by a
splendid alliance in marriage, or by success in the intrigues of public affairs. But St.
Aubert had too nice a sense of honour to fulfil the latter hope, and too small a portion of
ambition to sacrifice what he called happiness, to the attainment of wealth. After the
death of his father he married a very amiable woman, his equal in birth, and not his
superior in fortune. The late Monsieur St. Aubert's liberality, or extravagance, had so
much involved his affairs, that his son found it necessary to dispose of a part of the
family domain, and, some years after his marriage, he sold it to Monsieur Quesnel, the
brother of his wife, and retired to a small estate in Gascony, where conjugal felicity, and
parental duties, divided his attention with the treasures of knowledge and the
illuminations of genius.