Venetia
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Venetia

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Venetia, by Benjamin DisraeliThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: VenetiaAuthor: Benjamin DisraeliRelease Date: April 2, 2004 [eBook #11869]Language: English***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK VENETIA***E-text prepared by the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading TeamVENETIABY THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD, K.G.1905'Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child?' 'The child of love, though born in bitterness And nurtured in convulsion.'TOLORD LYNDHURST.In happier hours, when I first mentioned to you the idea of this Work, it was my intention, while inscribing it with yourname, to have entered into some details as to the principles which had guided me in its composition, and the feelingswith which I had attempted to shadow forth, though as 'in in a glass darkly,' two of the most renowned and refined spiritsthat have adorned these our latter days. But now I will only express a hope that the time may come when, in these pages,you may find some relaxation from the cares, and some distraction from the sorrows, of existence, and that you will thenreceive this dedication as a record of my respect and my affection.This Work was first published in the year 1837.BOOK I.CHAPTER I.Some ten years before ...

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Venetia, by
Benjamin Disraeli
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Venetia
Author: Benjamin Disraeli
Release Date: April 2, 2004 [eBook #11869]
Language: English
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK VENETIA***
E-text prepared by the Project Gutenberg Online
Distributed Proofreading Team
VENETIABY THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD, K.G.
1905
'Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child?'
'The child of love, though born in bitterness
And nurtured in convulsion.'TO
LORD LYNDHURST.
In happier hours, when I first mentioned to you the
idea of this Work, it was my intention, while
inscribing it with your name, to have entered into
some details as to the principles which had guided
me in its composition, and the feelings with which I
had attempted to shadow forth, though as 'in in a
glass darkly,' two of the most renowned and
refined spirits that have adorned these our latter
days. But now I will only express a hope that the
time may come when, in these pages, you may
find some relaxation from the cares, and some
distraction from the sorrows, of existence, and that
you will then receive this dedication as a record of
my respect and my affection.
This Work was first published in the year 1837.BOOK I.CHAPTER I.
Some ten years before the revolt of our American
colonies, there was situate in one of our midland
counties, on the borders of an extensive forest, an
ancient hall that belonged to the Herberts, but
which, though ever well preserved, had not until
that period been visited by any member of the
family, since the exile of the Stuarts. It was an
edifice of considerable size, built of grey stone,
much covered with ivy, and placed upon the last
gentle elevation of a long ridge of hills, in the
centre of a crescent of woods, that far overtopped
its clusters of tall chimneys and turreted gables.
Although the principal chambers were on the first
story, you could nevertheless step forth from their
windows on a broad terrace, whence you
descended into the gardens by a double flight of
stone steps, exactly in the middle of its length.
These gardens were of some extent, and filled with
evergreen shrubberies of remarkable overgrowth,
while occasionally turfy vistas, cut in the distant
woods, came sloping down to the south, as if they
opened to receive the sunbeam that greeted the
genial aspect of the mansion, The ground-floor was
principally occupied by the hall itself, which was of
great dimensions, hung round with many a family
portrait and rural picture, furnished with long oaken
seats covered with scarlet cushions, and
ornamented with a parti-coloured floor of alternate
diamonds of black and white marble. From thecentre of the roof of the mansion, which was
always covered with pigeons, rose the clock-tower
of the chapel, surmounted by a vane; and before
the mansion itself was a large plot of grass, with a
fountain in the centre, surrounded by a hedge of
honeysuckle.
This plot of grass was separated from an extensive
park, that opened in front of the hall, by tall iron
gates, on each of the pillars of which was a lion
rampant supporting the escutcheon of the family.
The deer wandered in this enclosed and well-
wooded demesne, and about a mile from the
mansion, in a direct line with the iron gates, was an
old-fashioned lodge, which marked the limit of the
park, and from which you emerged into a fine
avenue of limes bounded on both sides by fields.
At the termination of this avenue was a strong but
simple gate, and a woodman's cottage; and then
spread before you a vast landscape of open, wild
lands, which seemed on one side interminable,
while on the other the eye rested on the dark
heights of the neighbouring forest.
This picturesque and secluded abode was the
residence of Lady Annabel Herbert and her
daughter, the young and beautiful Venetia, a child,
at the time when our history commences, of very
tender age. It was nearly seven years since Lady
Annabel and her infant daughter had sought the
retired shades of Cherbury, which they had never
since quitted. They lived alone and for each other;
the mother educated her child, and the child
interested her mother by her affectionatedisposition, the development of a mind of no
ordinary promise, and a sort of captivating grace
and charming playfulness of temper, which were
extremely delightful. Lady Annabel was still young
and lovely. That she was wealthy her
establishment clearly denoted, and she was a
daughter of one of the haughtiest houses in the
kingdom. It was strange then that, with all the
brilliant accidents of birth, and beauty, and fortune,
she should still, as it were in the morning of her life,
have withdrawn to this secluded mansion, in a
county where she was personally unknown, distant
from the metropolis, estranged from all her own
relatives and connexions, and without resource of
even a single neighbour, for the only place of
importance in her vicinity was uninhabited. The
general impression of the villagers was that Lady
Annabel was a widow; and yet there were some
speculators who would shrewdly remark, that her
ladyship had never worn weeds, although her
husband could not have been long dead when she
first arrived at Cherbury. On the whole, however,
these good people were not very inquisitive; and it
was fortunate for them, for there was little chance
and slight means of gratifying their curiosity. The
whole of the establishment had been formed at
Cherbury, with the exception of her ladyship's
waiting-woman, Mistress Pauncefort, and she was
by far too great a personage to condescend to
reply to any question which was not made to her
by Lady Annabel herself.
The beauty of the young Venetia was not the
hereditary gift of her beautiful mother. It was notfrom Lady Annabel that Venetia Herbert had
derived those seraphic locks that fell over her
shoulders and down her neck in golden streams,
nor that clear grey eye even, whose childish glance
might perplex the gaze of manhood, nor that little
aquiline nose, that gave a haughty expression to a
countenance that had never yet dreamed of pride,
nor that radiant complexion, that dazzled with its
brilliancy, like some winged minister of Raffael or
Correggio. The peasants that passed the lady and
her daughter in their walks, and who blessed her
as they passed, for all her grace and goodness,
often marvelled why so fair a mother and so fair a
child should be so dissimilar, that one indeed might
be compared to a starry night, and the other to a
sunny day.CHAPTER II.
It was a bright and soft spring morning: the dewy
vistas of Cherbury sparkled in the sun, the cooing
of the pigeons sounded around, the peacocks
strutted about the terrace and spread their tails
with infinite enjoyment and conscious pride, and
Lady Annabel came forth with her little daughter, to
breathe the renovating odours of the season. The
air was scented with the violet, tufts of daffodils
were scattered all about, and though the snowdrop
had vanished, and the primroses were fast
disappearing, their wild and shaggy leaves still
looked picturesque and glad.
'Mamma,' said the little Venetia, 'is this spring?'
'This is spring, my child,' replied Lady Annabel,
'beautiful spring!
The year is young and happy, like my little girl.'
'If Venetia be like the spring, mamma is like the
summer!' replied the child; and the mother smiled.
'And is not the summer young and happy?'
resumed Venetia.
'It is not quite so young as the spring,' said Lady
Annabel, looking down with fondness on her little
companion, 'and, I fear, not quite so happy.'
'But it is as beautiful,' said Venetia.