Text: Robert Morris, “The Banker's Daughter,” the Dollar Newspaper (Philadelphia), vol. I, no. 24, July 5, 1843, p. 1, cols. 1-7:


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And for which the Second Premium of Sixty Dollars was paid.


“Her form was fresher than the morning rose

When the dew wets the caves, unstained and pure

As is the lily on the mountain snow” — THOMPSON.

HOW strange sometimes is the struggle between love and pride. How the weak human heart, believing itself generous and disinterested, is influenced by considerations of a mercenary, or at least a worldly character! How often do we deceive ourselves as to motive, and cling to the delusion that we are acting for the benefit of others, in a spirit of benevolence and justice, when, in truth, the real springs of the conduct may be traced to selfishness or vanity! Even our best affections are sometimes modified by those unworthy feelings, and the beings of our love are made victims even when we would rather cut off a right hand than darken our souls by such guilt. The subtle selfishness of our nature is calculated to mislead and betray — to picture as virtue much that is kindred with vice — and to describe as judicious and proper acts that are deeply imbued with mean submission to the artifice and falsehood of fashion and society. These are truths which few who think and inquire will deny. All must admit them when holding converse with reason and conscience. And yet how few — how very few are honest enough, or have nerve enough to act under their influence.

Ah! world — world — what a hollow thing thou art! How shadowed with guile are thy many paths! How treacherous the smile that plays upon the lips of thy creatures! How jealous the thoughts that agitate the minds of the myriads engaged in the many struggles for thy prizes of wealth, and honor, and power!

Mark yonder figure! Turn the eye of mind for a moment upon the portrait of an aristocrat — an American aristocrat — the son of Paul Montgomery, a worthy brewer, who died worth half a million, and left a single heir. The father toiled early and late for the larger portion of his life. He was honest, upright and kind-hearted — a good husband, a good citizen, and a too indulgent parent. But Hamilton was his first-born and his only son, and although at first the worthy brewer exercised some degree of caution and care in the education of his child, his love for him soon knew no bounds, and the youth was gratified in every wish. He was early taught to consider himself as affluent in expectancy, and his weak mother, as is too often the case in similar circumstances, ridiculed the idea of making such a son, with such expectations, either a mechanic, a merchant, or a professional man. His education was, heretofore, measurably neglected, and, although naturally gifted in mind, the heir of the rich brewer was taught to dress, to talk, and to act like a gentleman, as the character is so sadly misunderstood by the many. And a gentleman he became! He kept his horse and gig — dressed as a fashionable of the first water — paid the highest prices for his clothes — sought the most aristocratic circles — looked down with indifference, if not contempt upon the world below him in point of money, and, withal, derived from his old father somewhat of a disposition to accumulate. The earliest lesson of his life was to beware of poverty. It was described as the source of all wretchedness and crime — as calculated to place man on a level with the brute, and to topple him ­[column 2:] at a blow from the upper world of abundance and honor, to the lower circles of penury and disgrace. Thus educated and fostered, with the old brewer constantly instilling lessons of accumulation, the son, despite his disposition to glitter in the world of fashion, kept a vigilant eye to the money world, selfishness having become a leading principle in his nature — a principle which not only induced the desire to hold himself above the multitude, but to retain the means by which he should be able to keep there. Such was the position of Hamilton Montgomery, at the age of twenty-five. Although gay and dashing, he was not dissipated. His idol from an early hour of boyhood was self. He had been spoiled at the onset of thoughtful existence, and nothing but the dread of poverty, which the father had instilled into his mind in his hour of comparative childhood, as the most frightful of calamities, kept him within the limits of a generous economy, and induced him to cling with a sort of instinctive tenacity to the wealth which was bequeathed him on the decease of his sire. It was under such circumstances and with a character so formed that the aristocrat was united with the financier, — that the brewer’s son, although born to the fortune and educated to the position of a gentleman, as understood by his parents, became imbued with all the pride of the mere worldling, and felt that his wealth constituted his character, and that, without wealth, life to him would indeed be black.

Such, we repeat, was Hamilton Montgomery, at twenty-five, when his father died. Such was he five years later, when he led to the altar a lady, who, life himself, mingled much in fashionable life, and who, with a delicate constitution and a devoted spirit, lived for her husband rather than herself. Such was he fifteen yeas after, when, with a greatly increased fortune, he was a widower, with an only daughter. He was now at the heard of the leading moneyed institutions of his native city, honored and respected by the community, and, if not loved, not hated for his hear was rather kindly disposed than otherwise, and, lest for the passion for wealth which seemed to increase with every hour of his existence, as well as the vain desire to be looked up to as a superior man — a superiority of form rather than substance — he would have been a worth citizen. Pride, however, was his besetting sin. It even darkened his heart when the memory of his good father came rushing upon his mind, or when the name and the calling of that father were casually introduced in the conversation of the “upper circles.” The leading banker seemed anxious to forget the honest brewer, or at least to pass over his early life and earnest struggles for fortune, with a cool and ungrateful brevity. His livered servants and his gilded carriage — his splendid city mansion and his elegant country house — his “Wister parties,” and his “musical soirees” — all bespoke a lofty air, high pretension, and an ambitious taste. To associate them with the son of a brewer would not harmonize. The pride of his nature, or rather the derision of his vain heart, revolted, and the haughty banker turned away with disdain from all such memories or reminiscences.

His daughter, too, the pride of his heart, the hope of his name — the bright, the young, the beautiful! What visions of glory clustered round her path. A beauty — and an heiress. What a crowd of suitors would contend for so rich a prize! The elite of society — the sons of the affluent — the magnates of the land! And as the lovely face of his child would pass before his mental vision, the heart of the Banker would melt, and his better nature whisper. “No — no — none of these shall have her. She is dearer to me than life itself — nothing, nothing but her happiness shall part us.”

Little did that father know his own nature. Little did he imagine that the pride of that nature was stronger than its love — that the applause of the world was dearer to him than the approval of his own conscience or the peace of his child. Had a friend suggested such an idea, the Banker would have settled it with scorn. He would have regarded it not only as unjust, but insulting — as an impeachment of his feelings and his principles, altogether unwarranted and unauthorized. But, few know themselves. Few possess the nerve to read the secret promptings of their own acts — to analyze, in a spirit of truth and sincerity, the mysteries of their own nature. All are more or less deceived — and cheat themselves willingly as they hug some vice or delusion to their souls. All shun calm self-investigation, and, while lamenting the errors of society and the prejudices of mankind, are more or less darkened and defaced in character by the curse which has followed man like a shadow since the fall.

The mother of Alice Montgomery died while her daughter was yet a mere girl — before she had passed her fifteenth year. The loss was deplorable, and, in many respects, irreparable. Who can supply the place of a mother — that devoted and self-sacrificing parent, whose very existence seems bound up in the lives and fortunes of her children — whose love for the beings of her tenderness and care seems a feeling “less of earth than Heaven” — who will watch night after night by the couch of the restless invalid, and cling even to the criminal and abandoned when the rest of the world join in venting reproaches? Who can supply the place of a mother?

And yet the loss to Alice was not so serious as it might have been. An aunt — her mother’s sister — had resided in the family for years, at the earnest solicitation of the Banker, she consented to remain there after the decease of Mrs. Montgomery, and to devote herself wholly to the care of Alice. And faithfully did she discharge the trust confided to her. Grave and serious in her general character and deportment, she was nevertheless fully alive to the impulses and the disposition of youth, and thus, while cautious in imposing upon her niece every proper restraint, she frequently mingled in her girlish sports, assisted her amusements, and administered to her happiness. Her father, on te other hand, was lavish of his means in affording her all the facilities for acquiring a superior education. Masters were obtained for her in every department suited to her age and expectations.

Thus pass, on airy wings, the budding girlhood of Alice Montgomery. At the age of seventeen, she was but bursting into womanhood. Her form was tall and commanding — her eye large and blue — her complexion clear and glowing — her lips “rosy and full” — her manners somewhat subdued or restrained, with a slight tinge of thought or melancholy upon her countenance, either the lingering shadow of the dark cloud of sorrow which crushed her spirit when her mother died, or the outward symbol of the soul within.

Seventeen — a beauty — and an heiress! What a picture! And yet Alice knew little of her own position in the world, of the temptations that lurked in the path before her — of the sunshine and shadow of human destiny — of her own feelings and her own heart. Her father had treasured her up as a rare jewel, unwilling, it would seem, to permit her to mingle with the crowd of giddy triflers with whom it was his delight to revel in early life — apprehensive that some stealthy disease might summon her to an early grave, and yet more apprehensive of the blight and mildew of immorality which he felt were often to be met with in the upper circles — or rather ­[column 3:] among classes, place by wealth in some degree beyond the ordinary responsibilities of society, and rendered more careless as to the rigid proprieties of life. Thus, then, the world of Alice was limited to a narrow circle, and even over that circle her good aunt and her proud father threw an air of rigidity which sometimes chilled as well as restrained. Her spirit was in some sense repressed — her thoughts and impulses were checked — her feelings were directed into narrow and cold channels. She loved her father with an unbounded affection. His every wish was law to her, and, partaking folly of her gentle mother’s disposition, she was all obedience and yielding sweetness. But she was seventeen — an artless and confiding creature — with a head overflowing with rich and deep affections — a gay and varied world around her, and yet measurably prevented from mingling with the beings of her own age, and the scenes likely to interest her mind and engage her attention.

Alas! how frequently do parents mistake. How forgetful are they that time changes the heart as it does the seasons — that Youth will not forever linger by the side of Age — that the gentler, the fonder, the more confiding the disposition the greater the desire for a kindred soul — a sympathetic spirit — for the realization of that first bright dream of “early youth,” which never comes again.

The mansion of Mr. Montgomery was in one of the principle streets of Philadelphia, immediately adjoining the banking-house with which he was connected. Some changes have since taken place in the vicinity. A splendid garden was attached to the Bank, and another to the dwelling of its principal officer, and these were divided by but a small palisade, which in mid-summer was wholly covered with evergreens. Shrubbery of the rarest and most beautiful kinds, with arbors, graperies, and rich collections of flowers, served to impart an Eden-like aspect to the spot. Many a stranger turned and gazed wistfully into the cultivated enclosure, and envied the wealth that could provide such a paradise in the heart of a large and thickly populated city. And when, too — in her girlish beauty, the bounding form of Alice passed like a fairy shape among the bowers, the scene might well call up a dream of old romance, and make the gazer for the moment forgetful of the money-changers above and the busy and bustling world around. When, however, Alice attained the form, if not the air and aspect of womanhood, her cautious father deemed it prudent to have her shut out from the observation of the passing crowds, and thus, and inner encasement was provided for the iron fence-work, and she was permitted to ramble on as ever, unmolested and unseen save by the old watchman and the select few of her father’s intimates and friends.

But how difficult a thing is it to hide the light of beauty! How vain and worthless are all ordinary precautions sometimes shown to be! Upon how slight a thread does destiny sometimes hang! Nations and individuals are alike influenced by trifles — by events which in themselves and to the superficial view of man are utterly insignificant.

But we must return a little. On the decease of Mrs. Montgomery, the afflicted husband, who really loved his wife with as much tenderness as could be expected from one of his selfish and worldly nature, was inconsolable. He not only caused a cast of her cold, pale features to be taken, but an artist was immediately engaged to picture the lineaments of the lifeless lady upon canvass. A young man, whose studio was in the immediate vicinity, was chosen for the task, and he discharged the sad duty in the most faithful manner. The eyes alone he left unfinished, and these, he said, turning to the weeping Alice, could readily be painted from hers. In color, expression, and beauty, they were as like her mother’s as possible. “I will be responsible,” he added, “for this portion of my task.” The father consented, and after the last solemnities were over, the yong Alice, accompanied by her aunt, visited the studio of the artist, day after day, until the eyes of her dear mother looked out from the “quickened canvass,” as if the soul of the departed had been revivified once more in the world of time.

Never did artist toil more earnestly — never did his gifted mind follow and embody so willingly the aspirations of his heart — never did he gaze with more interest into the blue eyes of girlhood — never did purer thoughts agitate a human bosom while contemplating a living embodiment of purity and beauty. His efforts throughout were pleasurable. He felt that he was achieving a conquest of art — the lights and shades come to him, as it were — his pencil moved with a spirit impulse. There was inspiration somewhere, and he felt that he work would prove triumphant. Alice, too — young and guileless as she was — with her eye unpractised, and her feelings fresh, and free, gradually became interested in the portrait, and returned again and again to the studio of the artist, at first to serve as a model, and then to gaze for hours and dissolve in tears before the image of her lifeless parent. How sweetly fell upon her soul the comments of the artist!

“Look,” said he one day, and he pointed to a window of his studio which, until then, had escaped the notice of Alice — “from this” — approaching the window — “I have a view of your beautiful garden, and here” — exhibiting some unfinished sketches — “I have more than once attempted to group the mother and the daughter with some of the surrounding objects.”

Alice gazed, surprised as well as pleased. Her own slight figure was prominent in more than one sketch, and as, turning her eyes upon the artist’s, she saw his face beaming with delight and pleasure, she felt a slight blush mantle her features, and, without knowing, caring, or asking herself why, she took the extended hand of her aunt, and big the young man good afternoon.

The next day the portrait was sent home, and the visits of the Banker’s daughter to the studio were discontinued.

Louis Rudolph was twenty-two years of age at the time at which we have presented him to the notice of the reader. He was eminently gifted in his profession, but, as yet, his genius needed culture and grace; and the dream of his soul was to visit the old world, and there, in the galleries adorned by the works of the masters, chasten, subdue and refine the erratic impulses of his own mind. This vision had haunted him for years, and, with the purpose of realizing it, he had toiled like a slave at his art; had descended to the meanest branches of his profession; had lived on a mere pittance, and worn more than one coat till it was threadbare. Fame, thus far in his brief but promising career, had been his god. He was in some sense a monomaniac. “The phantom of a name” — the glory of a reputation, had entranced and engrossed his whole sole. Scoffing at and scorning the ordinary pleasures of life and the amusements of his years, he had confined himself to his studio; had labored early and late, and had sucseeded [[succeeded]] in accumulating sufficient to bear his expenses to Europe, and “keep the wolf from his door,” should he find it pleasurable to remain there, for two yeas. Mingling little in society of any kind, and feeling himself unsuited in a great measure to the companionship of the gentler sex, his thoughts seldom wandered in the channel of the affections. He had not ­[column 4:] permitted the fair shapes which occasionally passed before him, and, for a moment, kindled a glow of admiration, to steal him from his profession. The artist, indeed, did not possess the attractive external attributes of masculine beauty. True, he was well formed, with dark and kindling eyes, a broad, manly forehead, and expressive mouth, fine teeth, and an abundance of black and flowing hair. But, the latter was seldom disposed with taste, and his features wore a thoughtful and somewhat melancholy expression, while his cheeks were pale and almost bloodless. Constant study and close confinement were the immediate causes, together with the earnest desire, which raged like a fever in his heart, to win a name — to obtain a place of honor among the artists of the world. Despite all this, however, Rudolph was often won from his brush, his canvass, and his colors, to gaze from his window into the Banker’s garden. The sweet breath of the flowers refreshed his fainting spirit and cooled his fevered brow. Sometimes, too — must we confess it — he held his breath and gazed with eager eyes upon the fairy form which was so often to be seen wandering, like Eve before the fall, among the walks and bowers of that richly cultivated scene. Alice was very beautiful to the eye of the painter. And so innocent — and coy — and natural and graceful! Her form, too! — how perfect! How, in her unconscious artlessness, did she steal into the soul of her silent worshipper, until, sleeping or waking, he found her image shrined in the “inner depths” of his heart, and he lavished upon himself bitter reproaches for so gross a folly — so mad an infatuation.

“To me,” he argued, “she can never be more than she is now — a being to gaze upon at a distance, and to worship — a model for the loveliest embodiment of beauty. A young heiress — the only daughter of a rich Banker — the object of a thousand suitors! Alas, poor painter, what a fool has this bright creature made thee!

Thus musing, Rudolph would close his eyes in madness and rebuke, endeavor to collect his thoughts, and return to his task. But, how often would the voice of Alice hasten him to the window again, and there, trembling with excitement and inwardly cursing his delusion, how would he waste the precious hours, either watching the blue-eyed girl as she sat in some attitude of careless grace, or straining his gaze upon her retreating form in some distant part of the garden!

Condemn not this folly too rashly, gentle reader. The youth was fond — the main was pure and fair. And what would you have done! The more precious the prize, the more honer [[honor]] in obtaining it. The brighter the beauty, the higher her condition in life, the more exciting the struggle for the conquest. And although when the thought of his infatuation first flashed upon the mind of the artist he trembled and grew pale at the hopeless madness of such a passion, each day thereafter seemed to lessen the distance between them, or at least to render it possible for him to attain a distinction which should take from his name and character all lowliness and obscurity. Once or twice, he fancied that the maiden had observed him — and that her glance was half of recognition and half of girlish coquetry. But, why should she hesitate! He had gazed upon her for hours, while completing her mother’s portrait — had conversed with her frequently — had complimented her readily. But, then, he was the mere artist — and she the confiding girl. The thought of love — its infatuation and its madness had not bewildered his understanding. The spell of the young enchantress was all unknown to him. More than a year had passed away; and, in that brief period, the bud of beauty had burst into loveliness — the girl, the mere child, had vanished, and the almost perfect woman stood before him. Her eye was larger, fuller, bluer — the flower of her soul was unfolding. He saw it in her look, in her step, in her every movement. He felt awed and irresolute. He gazed, he wondered, he worshipped.

It was an afternoon in May. The day was bright and lovely. The air was soft and warm; and while the spirit appeared to mount , as if its inward wings had become more ethereal, the physical tenement grew languid and inactive. Thought and Fancy triumphed for the time, over corporeal man; and as the artist threw by his pencil and gave himself up to one of those dreams, half joy, half sadness, in which he now not unfrequently indulged, he was roused from his reverie by footsteps on the stairway. A few seconds, and the Banker and his daughter stood before him — the former, cold and formal as animated mechanism — the latter, radiant with youth and beauty, and an evident beam of pleasure brightening her features.

The compliments of the day were exchanged. “We come,” said Mr. Montgomery, “to thank you, in the first place, for the very general satisfaction your portrait has given to the friends of Mrs. Montgomery. The likeness is pronounced admirable — the painting excellent. In the second, to obtain a match [[matching]] picture in the portrait of my daughter.”

The artist bowed, stammered, and made a most awkward attempt to express his readiness to proceed with the work.

Scarcely regarding his appearance, the Banker proceeded to inquire as to the terms, and ascertain all necessary particulars. The arrangement was speedily completed, and the next day was assigned for the first sitting.

Imagine, gentle reader, the agitation, the transport of the artist. The wildest fancies passed rapidly through his brain. He should be able to gaze for hours upon the face of the young beauty — to study every expression of her countenance — perhaps to penetrate her thoughts, and to excite in her breast one emotion of tenderness and sympathy. His dreams that night were full of romance — lovely shapes flitted into the world of his excited imagination — he saw his name written in letters of light upon the scroll of fame — he heard nations refer to his works with praise — he occupied a high place among the children of Genius — and the fond hope of his inner heart lost its aspect of infatuation and presumption. But, morning dawned, and the “rosy fancies of his dream” faded away. His room was arranged with unusual neatness and even some attention was paid to his toilet.

Alice came with her aunt, and remained for more than an hour. The first sitting was over, and the artist gathered nerve. He had progressed but little. His faculties seemed paralyzed at first, and he glanced at the features of the fair subject more like an agitated girl than a cool and thoughtful artist. But, gradually, the excitement abated. His hand became steady — and his eye less tremulous. He even obtained some command of his tongue. By the third sitting; he was comparatively self-possessed; but still the work progressed slowly. How anxiously he waited for her coming! How rapidly the moments passed while she remained! How she had improved! What a wonderful change in a single year! Such were his thoughts.

Alice, too, grew less reserved. Gradually, the timidity of the girl wore away, and her soul was mirrored in her eyes. She knew little of the arts of the world, and her frank and confiding nature was readily won upon by the gifted mind of the artist. Rudolph conversed eloquently and with ease. His heart was all impulse and enthusiasm, and his intellect sparkled ­[column 5:] with true genius. He was well read, and thus, was capable of mingling with his conversation historical facts and classical allusions, well calculated to interest and captivate an ingenuous mind. He occasionally stopped mid-way in his task, and pointed out to her the choice passages of his favorite authors. The attention of Alice was caught — her feelings were enlisted — and as she gazed into the dark and fiery eyes of the animated artist, she felt that there was a charm in his society which she had never experienced in that of another. She felt — but we will not attempt to delineate the progress of her heart — her doubts, her fears, her hopes and her misgivings — the tremulous delight — the mysterious agitation — the exquisite susceptibility — as if a new world had been discovered within the sunny realms of that innocent bosom, a world whose sunshine was brighter than any other, and whose shadows darkened the whole soul.

The portrait was at last finished. The likeness was perfect — the painting splendid. All parties were pleased. Even the Banker warmed with admiration and compliment as he contemplated it. The artist parted with it with reluctance; but not before he had made a copy. But, then, the dream of happiness seemed over. He had more than once ventured to hope that Alice looked upon him with an eye of kindness and compassion. He believed that she had penetrated his secret, and pitied him. But more he scarcely ventured.

And yet, how few lovers had the world given birth to, who were without hope — who did not, in some moment of rapture or delusion, fancy the possibility of a return of their passion! Certain we are, that the artist did not wholly despair.

The window of his studio, as we have already said, overlooked the Banker’s garden. There might the poor artist be found four-fifths of each day. Alice frequented her favorite haunts as before, but Rudolph fancied not so often. He also imagined that he detected more restraint in her manner, and less of the careless, thoughtless girl. And, more than once, too, when their eyes accidentally met, the blood mounted to her temples, and her recognition, although courteous and kind, was less cordial than before.

Month after month passed away in this manner; the passion of the artist growing wilder and deeper every hour. He cursed himself at one moment for the folly of indulging so hopeless a passion; at another, a thrill of joy would pass through his heart at the mere possibility of a reciprocal feeling in the bosom of Alice. But his suspense, at last, became insupportable. Better, he thought, [[to]] know and suffer the worst. Summoning all his courage, he called his master genius to his aid, and addressed a long letter to the Banker’s daughter. He pictured his condition and prospects with fidelity, and admitted the presumption of his aspirations. But, Love, he argued, knew no distinctions but those growing out of virtue and vice, and he should feel himself less than a man, to abandon all hope of obtaining such a prize without an effort. He knew her father’s character and position in society. He felt that by contrast, and in a worldly acceptation, his position was an inferior one. In an intellectual point of view, he believed it fully equal. With the common faith of artists, he looked upon his profession as distinguished in a peculiar manner, by the beautiful and the truthful — by the lofty in mind and the aspiring in spirit. These sentiments he would not attempt to conceal. No — he cherished them with confidence — he was proud of them. His passion for Alice, he pictured with eloquence, tenderness, and power. It was his first — it would prove his last — his only love. It was the burning dream of the spring time of life, and was deep and all-absorbing. Without some hope, he must perish a victim to its consuming fire. But, with a solitary ray — with one kind word to cheer him on — how happily would his life glide away! He knew — he felt that the heart of Alice was, as yet, her own. He had watched her too closely — had read her soul too minutely, to err upon a point so vital to his own peace of mind. But, her father! He respected him, and he honored Alice the more that she loved him with all the strength of her pure, young heart. And yet he trembled at the verdict of that father in his own case, even should Alice be willing to pity and not to shun him. He, would not — he could not advise. He was too deeply interested. He would doubt the decision of his own judgment in a case of such delicacy. In any result, he would pray for the happiness of Alice.

The letter completed, he pondered the subject long and well, and finally confided it to the hands of a servant with whom he had made some interest. It speedily reached the hand of Alice, who read it with feeling which are in vain endeavored to define. Before she had concluded, her whole frame trembled, and her temples seemed on fire. A thrill of pleasure — in vain she attempted to shut out the conviction — agitated her young heart. A thrill so electric, so sweet and exquisite, that she could remember nothing like it in all her former history. Did she love the artist? The blood mounted to her face as the question forced itself upon her! Again — again, she endeavored to avoid it, but still it would return, and with more force than ever.

Alas! sweet Alice. Why attempt to conceal a truth so evident! Why so agitated! Why so delighted! Why read that long and closely written letter again and again, as if puzzled to make out its meaning! Why examine the superscrption with such care! Why ponder so long upon the signature!

But, love had not all to do with the feelings of Alice. She knew her father’s pride of character, and she trembled for his decision. Love him deeply as she did, she feared him also. His manner, even to her, was sometimes cold, reserved, and haughty. She had more than once shrunk abashed from his presence, she scarcely knew why. But, the Banker had many cares connected with his position, and, sometimes, when his child appeared before him all smiles and sunshine, his visions were of stocks, and fold, and the chances of trade. Obedience — implicit obedience to his will had been taught to Alice from her early childhood. And, whatever the penalty, she held it a sacred duty to submit the artist’s letter to his notice. Her obligations as a daughter, she held superior to all other considerations. As soon, then, as her father rose from his dinner, Alice placed the letter in his hands, and, with a hurried step, withdrew.

Had a thunderbolt fallen at the feet of Mr. Montgomery, he could not have been more surprised. His first impulse was to tear the letter to fragments — his second was to summon his daughter to his presence, and vent his indignation upon his innocent child. And then, dark phantoms of revenge passed through and disturbed his mind. A beggarly artist! Such as adventurer to aspire to the hand of an heiress — of his child. And, for a few moments, the man of the world was convulsed with rage. But, Alice could never have favored the hopes of this swindler — this mere vagabond! And as the thought of the possibility of such a circumstance flashed upon the mind of the Banker, he stared from his seat as if a serpent had stung him. Perceiving that he had lost his self-possession, he looked hurriedly round the room, and, ­[column 6:] seeing that he was still alone, he took the letter from the floor on which he had dashed it, and remembering the necessity of policy and caution, again turned his eyes and his mind upon its contents. It was written with plausibility. The hand was neat and elegant — the language choice and chaste — and the appeals such as were well calculated to touch the heart of an unsophisticated girl. He called up the person of the artist to his mental vision, and endeavored to remember his manner and the impression that had been made upon him while the portrait of his deceased wife was in progress. But the Banker could arrive at no conclusion. He had bestowed little or no conclusion. He had bestowed little or no attention upon Rudolph, and could scarcely remember his personal appearance.

A little longer, and he fancied himself calm. He summoned his daughter to his prescence. She came. Her step was timid — her cheeks were bloodless — and, as she turned her eyes upon her stern parent, he saw that they were suffused with tears. Nay, more; the form of his departed wife, as she had won his proud heart in her early brightness and beauty, seemed standing before him.

“Alice, my child,” he said, and his voice grew thick with emotion.

In an instant, the poor girl was at his feet, her whole frame convulsed; but no word came from her lips.

The Banker was unmanned. Had she uttered volumes, the truth could not have been made more manifest to him. He saw that his daughter loved — but that she was prepared to sacrifice herself to the will of her father. He raised her from her knees — he kissed her throbbing temples, and whispered a few words of affection and of consolation into her ears.

“You will soon forget him, Alice. He is unworthy of you. Such a marriage would kill your father. This foolish passion aside, and you shall have every thing your heart can wish. I will order some splendid jewelry for you tomorrow. And, on Thursday, Alice, we will start for Saratoga.”

“A few big tears rolled down the cheeks of the heiress — her lips trembled with emotion — but no word of reproach did she utter.

But who may describe the agony of that poor young creature, when she sought her chamber that night! The glory and the gloom had brightened and darkened the sky of her being, in almost the same hour. She had but felt that she was loved again, only to be torn from all the hopes and joys connected with a reciprocal passion. The sunshine and the storm had burst upon her, and the flower of her first affections was crushed even in its happiest moment of existence. She knelt by the bed-side, and prayed earnestly and long. She asked for counsel and assistance from above — for strength to nerve her in the path of duty. She was young, she knew, and inexperienced. Her father loved her fondly, tenderly — and hence, she believed that it became her to yield to his will and his wishes, even at the risk of embittered the whole period of her after existence. Poor Alice! How little did she know her own nature! How little the priceless affection, the enduring fidelity which formed the very soul and essence of that noble nature!

The next day, the artist’s letter was returned to him, under an envelope, in the handwriting of Alice, and with this brief explanatory note: “Miss Montgomery will never forget the kindness of Mr. Rudolph, but, at the request of her father, she returns him his friendly and complimentary letter.”

* * * * * *

A fortnight from the date of the foregoing, and Alice was at Saratoga, accompanied by her father.

The artist was on his way to Italy.

We must now pass over nearly a year in the history of the lovers. Rudolph was still abroad, assiduously engaged in the study of his profession. He had made rapid progress, and was deemed one of the most promising of his young countrymen! The fame of his later efforts had been wafted across the Atlantic, and the journals of his native city frequently alluded to his career as likely to reflect honor on the fine arts of his country. His triumph-piece was the head of a Madonna. It was one of the most life-like and beautiful specimens of modern art, and had won plaudits from many of the best connoisseurs of the old world. They little knew that the artist had but painted the spirit of his dreams — the idol of his heart — the soul-speaking features of Alice Montgomery. There was one fault attributed to him. An expression somewhat similar stole into the faces of all his female portraits. He was told of it again and again, but in vain. The eyes of Alice looked out from beneath every brow. He felt this defect as a great weakness; but, he could not correct it.

But, what of Alice herself! She was seventeen years of age, when under a sense of duty to her only surviving parent, she endeavored to tear the image of the artist from her soul. “A lovelier being never beautified the family of man. As gentle as a dove — as confiding as a child — as pure and blameless in her life as Eve before the fall — how cruel to crush and blight so true a nature — to break so gentle a spirit. She seemed formed to enjoy and to impart happiness. She was all emotion and sensibility. She was, perhaps, too susceptible. Her feelings were too fine for the ordinary vicissitudes of life — for the shocks and conflicts to which the multitude are subjected. Her mother dead — her father cold, proud, and absorbed in the monetary affairs of his position, her soul seemed to spring, as if by some secret sympathy, to the unbounded devotion of the artist. But the rash and cruel conduct of her father, struck like a death-blow to the inner depths of her soul. Her smile lost its brightness — her step its elasticity — her voice its lark-like tone of joy. The rose gradually faded from her cheek, and thought, like a dim and mysterious shadow, seemed to weigh upon her spirit. At times she would rouse herself — especially when she saw the eye of her father glancing toward her, half in anger and half in inquiry. But, the effort was forced and artificial, and the gayety thus assumed passed like the dew before the morning sun.

In vain her father accompanied her to scenes of festivity and pleasure. For a little season their novelty had a charm, but it speedily wore away, and the reaction produced by such excitement was evidently injurious to her constitution and general spirits. The name of the artist never passed her lips except at her hours of prayer, and then she confessed to her God that she could not forget the one image still so fresh in the mirror of her heart, whose name had never been sullied with dishonor, and whose only crimes were poverty and affection for her. Thus time stole slowly on; Alice evidently growing more feeble. The ablest medical aid was called, and her malady, as is ever the case when the spirit faints and sinks within the frame — when a nameless grief is eating out existence — was pronounced to be of pulmonary character. Alice smiled. The Banker, blind to the reality, or closing his eyes to the truth, watched his daughter fading away, daily and hourly, until her fate was decided — until her case was pronounced hopeless, and beyond the reach of medical skill. Again she smiled, as the solemn decision was pronounced, and, turning ­[column 7:] to her father, she pressed his hand with affection, and assured him that death had no terrors for her. She would soon, she said, be with her mother in Heaven.

The Banker hid his face with his hands, and wept like a child. He, now, for the first time, realized the truth in all its frightful reality. Consumption was a disease unknown before in his family, and he had scouted the idea from the first. Time, he madly believed, would, sooner or later, pass the image of the artist’s love into forgetfulness, and restore his child. Alas, how little did he know the heart of that noble girl! How little did he understand the gentle sensibility of her nature — the truth and fidelity of her character! A self-martyr, as she was, in some sense, to her duties as a daughter, many a pang shot through her heart lest Rudolph should have misunderstood her conduct. How coldly — how cruelly had she dismissed him! What an agony of bitter disappointment must have rushed upon him when he found his letter returned, and with such studied formality! How, day after day, must he have stood by the window of his studio and gazed, in the vain hope of seeing her once more, and of exchanging those looks which had been so mute, so coy, and yet so eloquent! A thousand wild and improbable fancies crowded into the mind of the perishing girl. What might he not do! What a wretch might he not become! Thus she tortured herself — thus existence waned away, until, as life and its hopes lost every charm, she looked forward, with the true faith of a blessed religion, to a better and brighter world, and to a reunion there with her angel-mother, — nay, of a reunion, at some future hour of bliss, with the object of her first fond dream of love!

The month of June, 1833, was one of the most delightful in the memory of man. Many of the flowers were in full bloom, and the weather was clear, fresh and balmy, without being too sultry or oppressive. Alice, it had been said, would not survive the month. She would perish, it was thought, with the early roses. She was then pale and feeble, but still very beautiful. Her eyes seemed brighter than in her richest moments of health and cheerfulness. She had ever exhibited an elegant taste in dress, and this woman-trait seemed to linger with her to the last. Her room was furnished with every luxury that wealth could command; and the season enabled her father to embellish it with a choice collection of plants and flowers. Alice had been scarcely able to turn her head upon her pillow for some days. She lacked the physical strength. Her mind was never clearer. She knew that her end was approaching, and spoke as calmly thereof as if about to enter upon a pleasant journey.

The evening of the day, to which we desire to direct the attention of the reader, was very beautiful. Some heavy clouds hung over the city in the afternoon — the rain fell in torrents for a short time — the thunder rolled, and the lightning flashed. A little longer, and all was brightness and beauty. The sun shone out in the west — a rainbow spanned the eastern heavens, and the air was fresh and fragrant. The stars came out a the sun went down, and looked lovelier than their wont.

All was still and calm in the chamber of Alice. The window was raised, and the flowers from the garden below poured rich fragrance into the room. A man of God, with whom the dying beauty had mingled her weak voice in prayer during her illness, sat by her side. Her father and nurse occupied seats within a few feet of each other. All were calm, as if in expectation of some visiter. Even the languishing sufferer seemed to hold her breath in anxious suspense.

And list! A step is heard — a strange step to every ear but that of the sensitive invalid. She had not heard it for more than a year, and never before upon that stairway. And, yet, her trembling heart fluttered as if about to burst through the prison of her feeble frame. A faint smile passed over her features, and her eyes, already supernaturally bright, kindled with an intenser light.

The door opens. The form of a young man appears. It is! — it is! The Artist springs forward, clasps and kisses the hand of the Banker’s Daughter. A few low words, and the glory of a seraph-vision seems resting upon the features of the dying beauty. The clergyman whispers to the father. Alas, the pride of that formal future! Can it be, that even such a moment, and in such a scene, the visions of the world, with its empty pride, can have influence and preval! But no. He relents. His heart for the time, is human. He takes the hand of his child and places it in that of her lover. The ceremony is performed. The nuptial benediction is pronounced.

In Heaven — in Heaven! “ are the last words of the dying bride; and, with a radiant look of hope and love, she smiles upon her husband, as her soul parts from the beautiful clay and wings its flight to the mansions of eternal bliss!



This story was the winner of the second prize in the competition sponsored by the Dollar Newspaper (Philadelphia). Edgar Allan Poe won the first prize for his tale “The Gold-Bug.” The winner of the third prize was “Marrying for Money,” by F. E. F.

Robert Morris was the editor of the Phiadelphia Inquirer.


[S:0 - DN, 1843 (microfilm)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Other - The Banker's Daughter (by Robert Morris, 1843)