Part 3 out of 11
levellers! Marry! His superior! Who is he? On what proud eminence can
he be found? On some Welsh mountain, or the pike of Teneriffe?
Certainly not in any of the nether regions! What! Was not he the ass
that brayed to Balaam? And is he not now Mufti to the mules? He will if
he please! And if he please he will let it alone! Dispute his
prerogative who dare! He derives from Adam; what time the world was all
hail fellow well met! The savage, the wild man o' the woods is his true
liberty boy; and the orang outang his first cousin. A Lord is a merry
andrew, a Duke a jack pudding, and a King a tom fool: his name is man!
Then, as to property, 'tis a tragic farce; 'tis his sovereign pleasure
to eat nectarines, grow them who will. Another Alexander, he; the world
is all his own! Ay, and he will govern it as he best knows how! He will
legislate, dictate, dogmatize; for who so infallible? What! Cannot
Goliah crack a walnut?
As for arguments, it is but ask and have: a peck at a bidding, and a
good double handful over. I own I thought I knew something; but no, I
must to my horn book. Then, for a simile, it is sacrilege; and must be
kicked out of the high court of logic! Sarcasm too is an ignoramus, and
cannot solve a problem: Wit a pert puppy, who can only flash and
bounce. The heavy walls of wisdom are not to be battered down by such
popguns and pellets. He will waste you wind enough to set up twenty
millers, in proving an apple is not an egg-shell; and that _homo_ is
Greek for a goose. Dun Scotus was a school boy to him. I confess, he
has more than once dumbfounded me by his subtleties.--Pshaw!--It is a
mortal murder of words and time to bestow them on him.
My sister is in correspondence with my new divinity. I thought proper
to bestow a few gentle lashes on her, for a letter which she wrote to
me, and which I mentioned in my first from Paris, insinuating her own
superiority, and giving me to understand how fortunate it would be for
the world should I but prove as consummate a paragon as herself. She
richly deserved it, and yet I now wish I had forborne; for, if she have
her sex's love of vengeance in her, she may injure me in the tenderest
part. Never was woman so devoted to woman as Anna St. Ives is to
Louisa. I should suspect any other of her sex of extravagant
affectation; but her it is impossible to suspect: her manner is so
peculiarly her own: and it comes with such unsought for energy, that
there is no resisting conviction.
I have two or three times been inclined to write and ask Louisa's
pardon. But, no; that pride forbids. She dare not openly profess
herself my enemy? She may insinuate, and countermine; but I have a
tolerably strong dependance on my own power over Anna. She is not
blind. She is the first to feel and to acknowledge superior merit; and
I think I have no reason to fear repulse from any woman, whose hand I
can bring myself to ask.
One of Anna's greatest perfections, with me, is the ready esteem which
she entertained for me, and her not being insensible to those qualities
which I flatter myself I possess. Never yet did woman treat me with
affected disdain, who did not at last repent of her coquetry.
'Tis true that Anna has sometimes piqued me, by appearing to value me
more for my sister's sake even than for my own. I have been ready to
say dissimulation was inseparable from woman. And yet her manner is as
unlike hypocrisy as possible, I never yet could brook scorn, or
neglect. I know no sensation more delicious than that of inflicting
punishment for insult or for injury; 'tis in our nature.
That youngster of whom I have prated so much, his name is Frank Henley,
denies this, and says that what the world calls nature is habit. He
added, with some degree of sarcasm as I thought, that it was as
natural, or in his sense as habitual, for some men to pardon, and to
seek the good even of those by whom they were wronged, as it was for
others to resent and endeavour to revenge. But, as I have said, he
continually makes pretensions to an offensive superiority. You may
think I do not fail to humble the youth, whenever opportunity offers.
But no! Humble him, indeed! Shew him boiling ice! Stew a whale in an
oyster-shell! Make mount Caucasus into a bag pudding! But do not
imagine he may be moved! The legitimate son of Cato's eldest bastard,
he! A petrified Possidonius, in high preservation!
There is another thing which astonishes me more than all I have
mentioned. Curse me, Fairfax, if I do not believe that [God confound
the fellow!] he has the impudence to be in love with Anna St. Ives! Nay
that he braves me, defies me, and, in the insufferable frothy
fermentation of his vanity, persuades himself that he looks down upon
I must finish, for I cannot think of his intolerable insolence with
common patience; and I know not what right I have to tease you,
concerning my paltry disputes with a plebeian pedant, and my still more
paltry jealousies. But let him beware! If he really have the arrogance
to place himself in my way, I will presently trample him into his
original nonentity. I only forbear because he has had the cunning to
make himself so great a favourite.
This must be horribly stupid stuff to you, Fairfax: therefore pay me in
my own coin; be as dull as you sometimes know how, and bid me complain
if I dare.
_Louisa Clifton to Coke Clifton_
I write, dear brother, in answer to your last, that I may not by any
neglect of mine contribute to the mistake in which you are at present.
Your letter shews that you suppose your sister to be vain,
presumptuous, and rude; and, such being your feelings, I am far from
blaming you for having expressed them.
Still, brother, I must be sincere, and I would by no means have it
understood that I think you have chosen the best manner of expressing
them; for it is not the manner which, if I have such faults, would be
most likely to produce reformation. But your intention has been to
humble me; and, desiring to be sarcastic, you have not failed in
producing your intended effect. I am sincerely glad of it: had you
shewn that desire without the power, I should have been as sincerely
sorry. But where there is mind there is the material from which every
thing is to be hoped.
I suppose I shall again incur chastisement, for rising thus as you call
it to the sublime. But I will write my thoughts without fear, and I
hope will patiently listen should they deserve reproach. If I have
sinned, it is in most fervently wishing to find my brother one of the
brightest and the best of men; and I have received more pleasure from
the powers he has displayed, in reproving me, than I could have done by
any dull expression of kindness; in which, though there might have been
words, there would neither have been feeling, sentiment, nor soul.
The concluding sentence of your letter warns me not to defame you with
my friend. I must speak without disguise, brother. You feel that, had
you received such a letter, revenge would have been the first emotion
of your mind. I hope its duration would have been short. I will most
readily and warmly repeat all the good of my brother that I know: but I
will neither conceal what ought to be said, nor say what I do not know.
I take it for granted that he would not have me guilty of duplicity.
Adieu, dear brother; and believe me to be most affectionately your
_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_
_Paris, Hotel d'Espagne, Rue Guenegaude,_
_Fauxbourg St. Germain_
How severe, Oliver, are the lessons of truth! But to learn them from
her lips, and to be excited to the practice of them by her example, are
blessings which to enjoy and not to profit by would shew a degenerate
I have just risen from a conversation which has made a deep impression
on my mind. It was during breakfast. I know not whether reflecting on
it will appease, or increase, the sensations which the behaviour of
this brother of Louisa hourly exacerbates. But I will calm that
irritability which would dwell on him, and nothing else, that I may
repeat what has just happened.
The interesting part of what passed began by Mr. Clifton's affirming,
with Pope, that men had and would have, to the end of time, each a
ruling passion. This I denied, if by ruling passion were meant the
indulgence of any irregular appetite, or the fostering of any erroneous
system. I was asked, with a sneer, for my recipe to subdue the
passions; if it were not too long to be remembered. I replied it was
equally brief and efficacious. It was the force of reason; or, if the
word should please better, of truth.
And in what year of the world was the discovery of truth to be made?
In that very year when, instead of being persecuted for speaking their
thoughts, the free discussion of every opinion, true or false, should
not only be permitted, but receive encouragement and applause.
As usual, the appeal was made to Anna: and, as usual, her decision was
in my favour. Nothing, said she, is more fatal, to the progress of
virtue, than the supposition that error is invincible. Had I persuaded
myself I never could have learned French, Italian, or music, why learn
them I never could. For how can that be finished which is never begun?
But, though all the world were to laugh at me, I should laugh at all
the world, were it to tell me it is more difficult to prevent the
beginning, growth, and excess of any passion, than it is to learn to
play excellently on the piano forte.
Is that really your opinion, madam? said Clifton.
Do you include all the passions?
What! The passion of love?
Yes. Love is as certainly to be conquered as any of them; and there is
no mistake which has done more mischief than that of supposing it
irresistible. Young people, and we poor girls in particular, having
once been thoroughly persuaded of the truth of such an axiom, think it
in vain to struggle, where there are no hopes of victory. We are
conquered not because we are weak, but because we are cowards. We seem
to be convinced that we have fallen in love by enchantment, and are
under the absolute dominion of a necromancer. It is truly the dwarf
leading the giant captive. Is it not--[Oliver! She fixed her eyes upon
me, as she spoke!]--Is it not, Frank?
I was confounded. I paused for a moment. A deep and heavy sigh
involuntarily burst from me. I endeavoured to be firm, but I stammered
I am convinced he is jealous of me. Nay he fears me; though he scorns
me too much to think so meanly of himself. Yet he fears me. And what is
worse, Oliver, I fear him! I blush for my own debility. But let me not
endeavour to conceal my weakness. No: it must be encountered, and
cured. His quick and audacious eye was searching me, while I struggled
to think, and rid myself of confusion; and he discovered more than gave
him pleasure.--She continued.
I know of no prejudice more pernicious to the moral conduct of youth
than that of this unconquerable passion of love. Any and all of our
passions are unconquerable, whenever we shall be weak enough to think
them so. Does not the gamester plead the unconquerableness of his
passion? The drunkard, the man of anger, the revengeful, the envious,
the covetous, the jealous, have they not all the same plea? With the
selfish and the feeble passion succeeds to passion as different habits
give birth to each, and the last passion proves more unconquerable than
its predecessor. How frequently do we see people in the very fever of
this unconquerable passion of love, which disappears for the rest of
their lives, after a few weeks possession of the object whom they had
so passionately loved! How often do they as passionately hate; while
the violence of their hatred and of their love is perhaps equally
Sir Arthur I observed was happy to join in this new doctrine; which
however is true, Oliver. I am not certain that he too had not his
apprehensions, concerning me: at least his approbation of the principle
This was not all. After a short silence, she added, and again fixed her
eyes on me--Next to the task of subduing our own passions, I know none
more noble than that of aiding to subdue the passions of others. To
restore a languishing body is held to be a precious art; but to give
health to the mind, to restore declining genius to its true rank, is an
art infinitely more inestimable.
She rose, and I withdrew; her words vibrating in my ear, where they
vibrate still. Perceivest thou not their import?--Oliver, she has
formed a project fatal to my hopes! Nay, I could almost fear, fatal to
herself! Yet what, who can harm her? Does the savage, the monster
exist, that could look upon her and do her injury? No! She is safe! She
is immaculate! Beaming in beauty, supreme in virtue, the resplendent
aegis of truth shields her from attaint!
Yes, Oliver, her answers were to him; but the intent, the soul of them
was directed to me. It was a warning spirit, that cried, beware of
indulging an unjustifiable passion! Awake, at the call of virtue, and
obey! Behold here a sickly mind, and aid me in its recovery!--To me her
language was pointed, clear, and incapable of other interpretation.
But is there not peril in her plan? Recover a mind so perverted?
Strong, I own, nay uncommon in its powers; for such the mind of Clifton
is: but its strength is its disease.
And is it so certain that for me to love her is error, is weakness, is
vice? No. Or, if it be, I have not yet discovered why. Oliver, she
shall hear me! Let her shew me my mistake, if mistaken I be, and I will
desist: but justice demands it, and she shall hear me.
We are going to remove, at his repeated instances, to the hotel where
he resides. He leads Sir Arthur as he pleases; but it grieved me to see
her yield so readily. Now that I have discovered her intentions, I no
longer wonder. Omnipotent as the power of truth and virtue is, I yet
cannot approve the design. The enterprises of virtue itself may have
their romance--I know not--This to me at least is fatal--Could I--? I
must conclude!--Lose her?--For ever!--For ever!--I must conclude--
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_
The assiduity of Clifton, my dear Louisa, is so great that we already
seem to be acquaintance of seven years standing. This is evidently his
intention. His temper is eager, impatient of delay, quick in resolving,
and, if I do not mistake, sometimes precipitate. But his intellectual
powers are of a very high order. His wit is keen, his invention strong,
his language flowing and elegant, and his ideas and figures remarkable,
sometimes for their humour, and at others for their splendour. His
prejudices are many of them deep; nor are they few; but he speaks them
frankly, defends them boldly, and courts rather than shuns discussion.
What then may not be hoped from a mind like his? Ought such a mind to
be neglected? No!--No!--Eternally no!--I have already given a strong
hint of this to Frank.
I am persuaded that, since you saw him, he is greatly improved in
person. The regularity of his features, his florid complexion, tall
stature, and the facility and grace of all his motions, are with him no
He has attached himself exceedingly to us, and has induced Sir Arthur
to take apartments in the _Hotel de l'Universite_, where he resides
himself, and where the accommodations are much better, the situation
more agreeable, and the rooms more spacious.
A little incident happened, when we removed, which was characteristic
of the manners of the people, and drew forth a pleasing trait of the
acuteness of Clifton, and of his turn of thinking.
One of the men who helped us with our luggage, after being paid
according to agreement, asked, as is very customary with these people,
for _quelque chose pour boire_; which Sir Arthur, not being very expert
in the French idiom, understood literally. He accordingly ordered a
bottle of the light common wine, and being thirsty poured some into a
tumbler and drank himself first, then poured out some more, and offered
The man took the glass as Sir Arthur held it out to him; and, with some
surprise and evident sense of insult in his countenance, said to Sir
Arthur--_a moi, monsieur_? To which Sir Arthur, perfectly at a loss to
comprehend his meaning, made no answer; and the man; without tasting
the liquor, set the glass down on a bench in the yard.
Clifton, well acquainted with the manners of the people, and knowing
the man imagined Sir Arthur meant to insult him, by giving him the same
glass out of which he had drunken, with great alacrity took it up the
moment the man had set it down, and said--_Non, mon ami, c'est a
moi_--and drank off the wine. He then called for another tumbler, and
filling it gave it to the man.
The French are a people of active and lively feelings; and the poor
fellow, after receiving the glass from Clifton, took up the other empty
tumbler, poured the wine back into it, said in his own language forgive
me, sir; I see I am in the wrong; and immediately drank out of the
tumbler which he had before refused.
Each country you perceive, Louisa, has its own ideas of delicacy. The
French think it very strange to see two people drink out of the same
vessel. Not however that I suppose every porter in Paris would refuse
wine, if offered, for the same reason. Neither would they all with the
same sensibility be so ready to retract.
The good humour as well as the good sense of Clifton's reproof pleased
me highly; and we must all acknowledge him our superior, in the art of
easily conforming to the customs of foreigners, and in readily
pardoning even their absurdities. For foreigners, Louisa, have their
absurdities, as well as ourselves.
But I have not yet done. I have another anecdote to relate of Clifton,
from which I augur still more.
I had observed our Thomas in conversation with a man, who from his
dress and talking to Thomas I knew must be an Englishman; and the care
which it becomes me to take, that such well-meaning but simple people
should not be deceived, led me to inquire who he was. Thomas began to
stammer; not with guilt, but with a desire of telling a story which he
knew not how to tell so well as he wished. At last we understood from
him it was a young English lad, who had neither money, meat, nor work,
and who was in danger of starving, because he could find no means of
returning to his own country. Poor Thomas finding himself among a kind
of heathens, as he calls the French, pitied his case very sincerely,
and had supplied him with food for some days, promising that he would
soon take an opportunity of speaking to me, whom he is pleased to call
the best young lady in the world; and I assure you, Louisa, I am proud
of his good word.
Your brother heard this account, and immediately said--[For indeed I
wished to know what his feelings were, and therefore did not offer to
interrupt him.] 'Desire him to come up. Let me question him. If he be
really what he says, he ought to be relieved: but he is very likely
some idle fellow, who being English makes a trade of watching for
English families, and living upon this tale.' So far said I to myself,
Clifton, all is right. I therefore let him proceed. The lad came up,
for he was not twenty, and your brother began his interrogations.
You are an English lad, you say?
Where do you come from?
What is your trade?
A buckle plater.
And did you serve out your apprenticeship?
My master and I quarrelled, he struck me, I beat him, and was obliged
to run away.
Where did you run to?
I went to London. I have an aunt there, a poor woman, who chairs for
gentlefolks, and I went to her.
How came you here?
She got me a place, with a young gentleman who was going on his
travels. I had been among horses before I was bound 'prentice, and he
hired me as his groom.
But how came you to leave him?
He is a very passionate gentleman. He has got a French footman, who
stands and shrugs, and lets him give him thumps, and kicks; and one
morning, because one boot was brighter than t'other, he was going to
horsewhip me. So I told him to keep his hands off, or I would knock him
Why you are quite a fighting fellow.
No, sir; I never fought with any body in my life, if they did not first
meddle with me.
So you quarrelled with your master, beat him, ran away from your
apprenticeship, got a place, came into a foreign country, and then,
because your master did not happen to please you, threatened to knock
The poor fellow was quite confounded, and I was half out of breath from
an apprehension that Clifton had taken the wrong side of the question.
But I was soon relieved--This tale is too artless to be false, said he,
turning to me.--You cannot conceive, Louisa, the infinite pleasure
which these few words gave me--I still continued silent, and watching,
not the lad, but your brother.
So you never meddle with any body who does not meddle with you?
No, sir, I would scorn it.
But you will not be horsewhipped?
No, sir, I won't; starve or not starve.
I need not ask you if you are honest, sober, and industrious; for I
know you will say you are.
Why should I not, sir?
You have nobody to give you a character, have you?
My master is still in Paris; but to be sure he will give me a bad one.
Can you tell me his address--where he lives?
I can't tell it in French, but here it is.
Can you write and read?
And how long have you been out of place?
Above seven weeks.
Why did not you return to England, when you received your wages?
I had no money. I owed a fellow servant a guinea and a half, which I
had borrowed to buy shirts and stockings.
And those you have made away with?
Not all. I was obliged to take some of them to Mount Pity.
_Mont Piete_, you mean.
[Footnote 1: The general receptacle for pledges. Among other monopolies
and trades, government in France used to be the common pawnbroker.]
Belike yes, sir.
Well, here's something for you, for the present; and come to me
The lad went away, with more in his countenance than he knew how to put
into speech; and I asked Clifton what he meant by desiring him to come
again. I intend, madam, said he, to make some inquiries of his master;
and if they please me to hire him; for I want a servant, and if I am
not deceived he will make a good one.
Think, Louisa, whether I were not pleased with this proof of
discernment. By this accident, I learned more of Clifton's character in
ten minutes than perhaps I might have done in ten months. He saw, for I
wished him to see, that he had acted exactly as I could have desired.
He appears indeed to be a favourite with servants, which certainly is
no bad omen. He is Laura's delight. He is a free gentleman, a generous
gentleman, [I suppose he gives her money] a merry gentleman, and has
the handsomest person, the finest eye, and the best manner of dressing
his hair she ever beheld!--She quite overflows in his praise.
In a few days we are to go to the country seat of the Marquis of
Villebrun, where we intend to stay about a fortnight. Your brother has
introduced us to all his friends, among whom is the marquis; and, as we
are intimate with our ambassador, we have more invitations than we can
accept, and acquaintance than we can cultivate. Frank is to go with us.
And now, Louisa, with anxiety I own, my mind is far from satisfied. I
have not thought sufficiently to convince myself, yet act as though I
had. It is little less than open war between your brother and Frank.
The supposition of a duty, too serious to be trifled with, has induced
me to favour rather than repulse the too eager advances of Clifton;
though this supposed duty has been but half examined.
The desire to retrieve mind cannot but be right; yet the mode may be
At this moment my heart bitterly reproaches me, for not proceeding on
more certain principles. The merit of Frank is great, almost beyond the
power of expression. I need not tell my Louisa which way affection,
were it encouraged, would incline: but I will not be its slave. Nor can
I reproach myself for erring on that side; but for acting, in
resistance to inclination, with too little reserve. No arguments I
believe can shew me that I have a right to sport with the feelings of
my father, and my friends; though those feelings are founded in
prejudice. But my inquiries shall be more minute; and my resolves will
then be more permanent and self-complacent.
Adieu, my best and dearest friend. Write often: reprove me for all that
I do amiss--Would my mind were more accordant with itself! But I will
take it roundly to task.
A. W. ST. IVES
_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_
_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_
This brief memorandum of my actual existence, dear Fairfax, will be
delivered to you by the Chevalier de Villeroi; a worthy gentleman, to
whom I have given letters to my friends, and who will meet you at
I have not a moment to waste; therefore can only say that I am laying
close siege; that my lines of circumvallation do not proceed quite so
rapidly as my desires; but that I have just blown up the main bastion;
or, in other words, have prevailed on Sir Arthur to send this hornet,
this Frank Henley, back to England. The fellow's aspiring insolence is
not to be endured. His merit is said to be uncommon. 'Tis certain he
strains after the sublime; and in fact is too deep a thinker, nay I
suspect too deep a plotter, not to be dangerous. Adieu.
I am in a rage! Curse the fellow! He has countermined me; blown up my
works! I might easily have foreseen it, had I not been a stupid booby.
I could beat my thick scull against the wall! I have neither time nor
patience to tell you what I mean; except that here he is, and here he
will remain, in my despite.
_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_
_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_
It is as I told thee, Oliver. He fears me. He treats me, as he thinks,
with the neglect and contempt due to an unqualified intruder: but he
mistakes his own motives, and acts with insidious jealousy; nay
descends to artifice. His alarmed spirit never rests; he is ever on the
watch, lest at entering a room, descending a staircase, stepping into
her carriage, or on any other occasion, I should touch her hand. He has
endeavoured to exclude me from all their parties; and, though often
successfully, has several times been foiled.
But his greatest disappointment was this very morning. Sir Arthur sent
for me, last night, to inform me I must return to Wenbourne-Hill, with
some necessary orders, which he did not choose to trust to the usual
mode of conveyance. I immediately suspected, and I think I did not do
him injustice, that my rival was the contriver of this sudden necessity
of my return.
I received Sir Arthur's orders, but was determined immediately to
Clifton was present. She was surprised; and, I doubt not, had the same
suspicions as myself; for, after telling me I must not think of going,
she obliged Clifton himself to be the intercessor, with Sir Arthur,
that I should stay. His reluctance, feigned assent, and chagrin were
Her words and manner to me were kind; nay I could almost think they
were somewhat more. She seemed to feel the injustice aimed at me; and
to feel it with as much resentment as a spirit so benignant could know.
What!--Can he not be satisfied with half excluding me from her society;
with endeavouring to sink me as low in her estimation as in his own;
and with exercising all that arrogance which he supposes becoming the
character of a gentleman?
Oliver, I am determined in my plan: my appeal shall be to her justice.
If it prove to be ill-founded, why then I must acquiesce. I am angry at
my own delay, at my own want of courage; but I shall find a time, and
that quickly. At least, if condemned I must be, I will be heard; but
equity I think is on my side--Yes--I will be heard.
_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_
_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_
Aid me if thou canst, Oliver, to think, or rather to unravel my own
entangled thoughts. Do not suffer me to continue in a state of
delusion, if thou perceivest it to be such. Be explicit; tell me if
thou dost but so much as forebode: for at moments I myself despond;
though at others I am wasted to the heaven of heavens, to certainty,
and bliss unutterable. If I deceive myself?--Well!--And if I do, what
is to follow?--Rashness?--Cowardice?--What! Basely abandon duty,
virtue, and energy?--No!
Looks, words, appearances, daily events are all so contradictory, that
the warfare of hope and fear increases, and becomes violent, almost to
distraction! Clifton is openly countenanced by Sir Arthur, treated
kindly by her, and is incessant in every kind of assiduity. His
qualities are neither mean, insignificant, nor common. No: they are
brilliant, and rare. With a person as near perfection as his mind will
permit it to be, a knowledge of languages, a taste for the fine arts,
much bravery, high notions of honour, a more than common share of wit,
keen and ungovernable feelings, an impatience of contradiction, and an
obstinacy in error, he is a compound of jarring elements, that augur
tempests and peril. Vain, haughty, and self-willed, his family, his
fortune, his accomplishments and himself are the pictures that
fascinate his eye. It is attracted, for a moment, by the superior
powers of another; but all his passions and propensities forebode that
he is not to be held, even by that link of adamant.
And is she to be dazzled then by this glare? Can her attention be
caught by person, attracted by wit? And does she not shrink from that
haughty pride which so continually turns to contemplate itself; from
those passions which are so eager to be gratified; and from those
mistakes which it will be so almost impossible to eradicate? Even were
I to lose her, must I see her thus devoted?--The thought is--I cannot
tell what! Too painful for any word short of extravagance.
Impressed by feelings like these, the other day I sat down and threw a
few ideas into verse. The mind, surcharged with passion, is eager by
every means to disburthen itself. It is always prompt to hope that the
expression of it's feelings, if any way adequate, cannot but produce
the effect it wishes; and I wrote the following song, or love-elegy, or
what thou wilt.
Rash hope avaunt! Be still my flutt'ring heart;
Nor breathe a sorrow, nor a sigh impart;
Appease each bursting throb, each pang reprove;
To suffer dare--But do not dare to love!
Down, down, these swelling thoughts! Nor dream that worth
Can pass the haughty bounds of wealth and birth.
Yes, kindred feelings, truth, and virtue prove:
Yes, dare deserve--But do not dare to love!
To noble tasks and dang'rous heights aspire;
Bid all the great and good thy wishes fire,
The mighty dead thy rival efforts move,
And dare to die--But do not dare to love!
Thou knowest her supreme excellence in music; the taste, feeling, and
expression with which she plays; and the enchanting sweetness and
energy with which she sings. Having written my verses, I took them,
when she was busied elsewhere, to the piano-forte; and made some
unsuccessful attempts to please myself with an air to them. Sir Arthur
came in, and I left my stanzas on the desk of the instrument; very
inadvertently I assure thee, though I was afterward far from sorry that
they had been forgotten.
I have frequently indulged myself in sitting in an antichamber, to
listen to her playing and singing. I have thought that she is most
impassioned when alone, and perhaps all musicians are so. The next day,
happening to listen in the manner I have mentioned, I heard her singing
an air which was new to me, and remarked that she once or twice
stopped, to consider and make alterations.
I listened again and found she had been setting my verses!
By my soul, Oliver, I have no conception of rapture superior to what I
experienced at that moment! She had collected all her feelings, all her
invention, had composed a most beautiful air, and sung it with an
effect that must have been heard to be supposed possible. The force
with which she uttered every thought to the climax of daring, and the
compassion which she infused into the conclusion 'But do not dare to
love'--produced the most affecting contrast I ever heard.
This indeed was heaven, Oliver! But a heaven that ominously vanished,
at the entrance of Clifton. I followed him, and saw her shut the book,
and wipe the tear from her eye. Her flow of spirits is unfailing, but
the tone of her mind was raised too high suddenly to sink into
trifling. She looked at me two or three times. I know not for my part
what aspect I wore; but I could observe that the haughty Clifton felt
the gaiety of his heart in some sort disturbed, and was not pleased to
catch me listening, with such mute attention, to the ravishing music
she had made.
Once again prithee tell me, Oliver, what am I to think? It was
impossible she should have sung as she did, had not the ideas affected
her more than I could have hoped, nay as much as they did myself. She
knew the writing. Why did she sigh? Why feel indignant? Why express
every sentiment that had passed through my mind with increasing
force?--What could she think?--Did she not approve?--She sung as if she
admired!--The world shall not persuade me that her looks were not the
true expressions of her heart; and she looked--! Recollect her, and the
temper of mind she was in, and imagine how!--Remember--_She could love
me if I would let her!_
I was displeased with the verses when I had written them: they were
very inadequate to what I wished. I discovered in some of the lines a
barren repetition of the preceding thought, and meant to have corrected
them. But I would not now alter a word for worlds! She has deigned to
set and sing them; and what was before but of little worth is now
Yet am I far from satisfied with myself. My present state of mind is
disgraceful; for it cannot but be disgraceful to be kept in doubt by my
own cowardice. And if I am deceiving myself--Can it be possible,
Oliver?--But if I am, my present error is indeed alarming. The
difficulty of retreating momentarily increases, and every step in
advance will be miles in return.
Clifton will suffer no impediment from the cowardice of which I
complain; for I much mistake if he has been accustomed to refusal; or
if he can scarcely think, when he deigns to sue, denial possible.
I find myself every day determining to put an end to this suspense, and
every day delaying. The impulse however is too great to be long
resisted; and my excuse to myself continually is that I have not yet
found the proper moment.
If, Oliver, this history of my heart be troublesome to thee, it is thy
duty to tell me so. But indeed thou tellest me the contrary; and I
know not why at this instant I should do thee the injustice to doubt
thy sincerity. Forgive me. It is a friendly fear, and not intended to
do thee wrong. But I wish thee to judge of me and my actions; and even
to let thy father judge, if thou shouldest at any time hesitate, and
fear I am committing error. Do this, and continue thy usual kindness in
communicating thy thoughts.
P.S. The day after tomorrow, we are to set off for the Chateau de
Villebrun; on a party of pleasure, as it is called. Thus men run from
place to place, without knowing of what they are in search. They feel
vacuity; a want of something to make them happy; but what that
something is they have not yet discovered.
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_
I fear, my dear Louisa, I am at present hurried forward a little too
fast to act with all the caution which I could wish. My mind is not
coherent, not at peace with itself. Ideas rush in multitudes, and more
than half obscure my understanding.
I find that, since we left Wenbourne-Hill, Frank has grown upon my
thoughts very strangely. Indeed till then I was but partially
acquainted with his true character, the energy of which is very
uncommon. But, though his virtues are become more conspicuous, the
impediments that forbid any thought of union are not lessened.
My chief difficulty is, I do not yet know how to give full effect to my
arguments, so as to produce such conviction as he shall be unable to
resist. Let me do but this, and I have no doubt of his perfect
acquiescence, and resignation. But, should I fail, the warfare of the
passions will be prolonged; and, for a time, a youth whose worth is
above my praise rendered unhappy. A sense of injustice, committed by
the person of whom, perhaps, he thought too highly to suppose it
possible that either error or passion should render her so culpable,
may prey upon his peace, and destroy the felicity of one to whom reason
and recollection tell me I cannot wish too much good.
I am convinced I have been guilty of another mistake. I have on various
occasions been desirous of expressing approbation, mingled with esteem
and friendship. He has extorted it from me. He has obliged me to feel
thus. And why, have I constantly asked myself, should I repress or
conceal sensations that are the dues of merit? No: they ought not to
have been repressed, or concealed, but they ought to have been rendered
intelligible, incapable of misconstruction, and not liable to a meaning
which they were never intended to convey. For, if ever they were more
than I suppose, I have indeed been guilty.
Yes, my Louisa, let me discharge my conscience. Let no accusation of
deceit rest with me. I can endure any thing but self-reproach. I avow,
therefore, Frank Henley is, in my estimation, the most deserving man I
have ever known. A man that I could love infinitely. A man whose
virtues I do and must ever love. A man in whose company my heart
assures me I could have enjoyed years of happiness. If the casuists in
such cases should tell me this is what they mean by love, why then I am
But if the being able, without a murmur, nay cheerfully, to marry
another, or see him properly married, if the possession of the power
and the resolution to do what is right, and if an unshaken will to
exert this power prove the contrary, why then I am not in love.
When I may, without trespassing on any duty, and with the full
approbation of my own heart, yield up its entire affections, the man to
whom they shall be devoted shall then find how much I can love.
My passions must be, ought to be, and therefore shall be, under my
control; and, being conscious of the purity of my own intentions, I
have never thought that the emanations of mind ought to be shackled by
the dread of their being misinterpreted. It is not only cowardly, but
in my opinion pernicious.
Yet, with respect to Frank, I fear this principle has led me into an
error. Among other escapes of this kind, there is one which has lately
befallen me, and for which I doubt I am reprehensible.
Frank has written a song, in which his feelings and situation are very
strongly expressed. He left it on my music desk, by accident; for his
character is too open, too determined, to submit to artifice. The words
pleased me, I may say affected me, so very much that I was tempted to
endeavour to adapt an air to them; which, when it was written, I
several times repeated, and accompanied myself on the piano-forte. Your
brother came in just as I had ended; and, from a hint which he
purposely gave, I suspect that Frank had been listening in the
The behaviour of Frank afterward confirmed the supposition. He followed
your brother, and sat down while we conversed. His whole soul seemed
absorbed; but not, as I have sometimes seen it, in melancholy.
Satisfaction, pleasure, I know not whether rapture would be too strong
a word for the expressions which were discoverable in his countenance.
My own mind had the moment before been impassioned; and the same
sensations thrilling as it were through my veins might mislead me, and
induce me to suppose things that had no existence. Still I do not think
I was mistaken. And if not, what have I done? Have I not thoughtlessly
betrayed him into a belief that I mean to favour a passion which I
should think it criminal to encourage?
I know not why I delay so long to explain my sentiments. It is the weak
fear of not doing justice to my cause; of not convincing, and of making
him unhappy, for whom I would sacrifice my life, every thing but
principle, to make him the very reverse.
However this must and shall soon be ended. I do not pretend to fix a
day, but it shall not be a very distant one. I will arrange my
thoughts, collect my whole force, and make an essay which I am
convinced cannot fail, unless by my fault. The task is perhaps the most
severe I have ever yet undertaken. I will remember this, and I hope my
exertions will be adequate.
Adieu, my dear Louisa: and, when you come to this place, imagine me for
a moment in your arms.
A. W. ST. IVES
_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_
_Chateau de Villebrun_
Never was fellow so pestered with malverse accidents as I am; and all
of my own contriving! I am the prince of Numskulls! The journey to the
Chateau was a project of my own; and whom should I meet here but the
Count de Beaunoir! The very same with whom I was prevented from
fighting, by this insolent son of a steward! They knew each other
instantly; and the whole story was told in the presence of Anna. My
foolish pride would never before let me mention to her that a fellow,
like him, could oblige me to put up the sword I had drawn in anger. Nor
can I now tell why I did not run him through, the instant he dared to
I cut a cursed ridiculous figure! But the youth is running up a long
score, which I foresee he will shortly be obliged to discharge. Damn
him! I cannot think of him with common patience! I know not why I ever
mention his name!
I have raised another nest of wasps about my ears. The French fops,
here, all buzz and swarm around her; each making love to her, with all
the shrugs, grimaces, and ready made raptures of which he is master;
and to which I am obliged patiently to listen, or shew myself an ass.
These fellows submit to every kind of monopoly, except of woman; and to
pretend an exclusive right to her is, in their opinion, only worthy of
a barbarian. But the most forward and tormenting of them all is my
quondam friend, the Count; who is half a lunatic, but of so diverting a
kind that, ere a man has time to be angry, he either cuts a caper,
utters an absurdity, or acts some mad antic or other, that sets gravity
Not that any man, who had the smallest pretensions to common sense,
could be jealous, either of him or any one of these apes. And yet
jealous I am! My dotage, Fairfax, is come very suddenly upon me; and
neither you, nor any one of the spirited fellows, whose company I used
to delight in, can despise me half so much as I despise myself--A
plebeian!--A--! I could drink gall, eat my elbows, renounce all my
gods, and turn Turk!--Ay, laugh if you will; what care I?--I have
taken a turn into the park, in search of a little cool air and common
All the world is met here, on purpose to be merry; and merry they are
determined to be. The occasion is a marriage, in the true French style,
between my very good friend, the Marquis de Villebrun, an old fellow
upwards of sixty, and a young creature of fifteen; a child, a chit,
just taken out of a convent; in which, but for this or some such
preposterous match, she might have remained, till time should have
bestowed wrinkles and ugliness as bountifully upon her as it has done
upon her Narcissus, the bridegroom. The women flock busily round her,
in their very good-natured way, purposely to form her. The men too are
very willing to lend their aid; and, under such tuition, she cannot but
improve apace. Why are not you here, Fairfax? I have had twenty
temptations to take her under my pupillage; but that I dare not risk
the loss of this divinity.
The purpose of our meeting however is, as I said, to be joyous. It is
teeming time therefore with every brain, that has either wit, folly, or
fancy enough to contribute to the general festivity. And various are
their inventions, and stratagems, to excite surprise, attract visitors,
and keep up the holiday farce of the scene. Musicians, painters,
artists, jugglers, sages, all whose fame, no matter of what motley
kind, has reached the public ear, and whom praise or pay can bring
together, are assembled. Poets are invited to read their productions;
and as reading well is no mean art, and writing well still much more
difficult, you may think what kind of an exhibition your every day
poetasters make. Yet, like a modern play, they are certain of
Last night we had a _Fete Champetre_, which, it must be granted, was a
most accurate picture of nature, and the manners of rustics! The
simplicity of the shepherd life could not but be excellently
represented, by the ribbands, jewels, gauze, tiffany, and fringe, with
which we were bedaubed; and the ragouts, fricassees, spices, sauces,
wines, and _liqueurs_, with which we were regaled! Not to mention being
served upon plate, by an army of footmen! But then, it was in the open
air; and that was prodigiously pastoral!
When we were sufficiently tired of eating and drinking, we all got up
to dance; and the mild splendour of the moon was utterly eclipsed, by
the glittering dazzle of some hundreds of lamps; red, green, yellow,
and blue; the rainbow burlesqued; all mingled, in fantastic wreaths and
forms, and suspended among the foliage; that the trees might be as fine
as ourselves! The invention, disposition, and effect, however, were
highly applauded. And, since the evil was small and the mirth great,
what could a man do, but shake his ears, kick his heels, cut capers,
laugh, sing, shout, squall, and be as mad as the best?
To-morrow night we are to have fireworks; which will be no less rural.
I was in a splenetic humour, and indulged myself in an exclamation
against such an abominable waste of gunpowder; for which I got reproved
by my angelic monitress, who told me that, of all its uses and abuses,
this was the most innocent.
I suppose our stay here will not be less than a fortnight. But I have
left orders for all letters to be sent after me; so that your heroic
epistles will come safe and soon to hand.
_Which is all at this present writing from your very humble servant to
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_Chateau de Villebrun_
In compliance with the very warm entreaties of our kind French friends,
we have been hurried away from the metropolis sooner than was intended.
We are at present in the country, at the Chateau de Villebrun; where,
if we are not merry, it is not for the want of laughing. Our feet and
our tongues are never still. We dance, talk, sing, ride, sail, or
rather paddle about in a small but romantic lake; in short we are never
out of exercise.
Clifton is as active as the best, and is very expert in all feats of
agility. With the French he seems to dance for the honour of his
nation; and, with me, from a desire to prove that the man who makes
pretensions to me, which he now does openly enough, is capable of every
You know, Louisa, how much I despise the affectation of reserve; but he
is so enterprising a youth that I am sometimes obliged, though very
unwillingly, to exert a little mild authority.
The French, old or young, ugly or handsome, all are lovers; and are as
liberal of their amorous sighs, and addresses, as if each were an
Adonis. Clifton is well acquainted with foreign manners, or I can
perceive their gallantry to me would make him half mad. As it is, he
has been little less than rude, to one or two of the most forward of my
I speak in the plural, as if we were rather in town than at a country
seat; and so we appear to be. The French nobility do not seem to have
any taste for solitude. Their love of variety induces them to change
the scene; but the same tumult of guests and visitors, coming and
going, is every where their delight. Whatever can attract company they
seek with avidity. I am dear to them, because I am an English beauty,
as they tell me, and all the world is desirous of paying its court to
Clifton has equal or perhaps greater merits of the same kind. And I
assure you, Louisa, the women here can pay their court more artfully
and almost as openly as the men.
Frank is idolized by them, because he reads Shakespeare. You would
wonder to hear the praises they bestow upon him, and which indeed he
richly deserves, though not one in ten of them understands a word he
says. _C'est beau! C'est magnifique! C'est superbe! C'est sublime!_
Such is their continual round of good-natured superlatives, which they
apply on all occasions, with a sincere desire To make others as happy
as they endeavour to persuade themselves to be. Frank treats their
gallantry with a kind of silent contempt, otherwise he would be a much
Perhaps you will be surprised to find me still guilty of
procrastination, and to hear me describing French manners, instead of
the mode in which I addressed a youth whom I have accused myself of
having, in a certain sense, misled, and kept in suspense. I can only
answer that my intentions have been frustrated; chiefly indeed by this
country excursion, though in part by other accidents. My mind has not
indulged itself in indolence; it could not; it is too deeply
interested. But, the more I have thought, the more have I been
confirmed in my former opinion. This is the hour of trial: this is the
time to prove I have some real claims to that superiority which I have
been so ready to flatter myself I possess. Were there nothing to
regret, nay were there not something to suffer, where would be the
merit of victory?--But, on the other hand, how much is there to
gain!--A mind of the first order to be retrieved!--A Clifton!--A
brother of Louisa!
This appears to be a serious crisis. Again I must repeat how much I am
afraid of being hurried forward too fast. An error at this moment might
be fatal. Clifton is so much alarmed by the particular respect which
the Count de Beaunoir [A pleasant kind of madman, who is a visitant
here.] pays me, that he has this instant been with me, confessed a
passion for me, in all the strong and perhaps extravagant language
which custom has seemed to authorise, and has entreated, with a degree
of warmth and earnestness that could scarcely be resisted, my
permission to mention the matter immediately to Sir Arthur.
It became me to speak without disguise. I told him I was far from
insensible of his merits; that a union with the brother of my Louisa,
if propriety, duty, and affection should happen to combine, would be
the first wish of my heart; that I should consider any affectation and
coyness as criminal; but that I was not entirely free from doubt; and,
before I could agree to the proposal being made to Sir Arthur, I
thought it necessary we should mutually compare our thoughts, and
scrutinize as it were each other to the very soul; that we might not
act rashly, in the most serious of all the private events of life.--You
know my heart, Louisa; at least as well as I myself know it; and I am
fearful of being precipitate.
He seemed rather disappointed, and was impatient to begin the
conversation I wished for immediately.
I told him I was unprepared; my thoughts were not sufficiently
collected; and that the hurry in which we at present exist would
scarcely allow me time to perform so necessary a duty. But, that I
might avoid the least suspicion of coquetry, if it were his desire, I
would shut myself up for a day from company, and examine whether there
were any real impediments; that I would ask myself what my hopes and
expectations were; and that I requested, or indeed expected that he
should do the same. I added however that, if he pleased, it would be
much more agreeable to me to defer this serious task, at least till we
should return to Paris.
He repeated my words, if it would be much more agreeable to me,
impatient and uneasy though he owned he was, he must submit.
I answered I required no submission, except to reason; to which I hoped
both he and I should always be subject.
Love, he replied, was so disdainful of restraint that it would not
acknowledge the control of reason itself. However, by representing to
him how particular our mutual absence from the company would seem,
unless we could condescend to tell some falsehood, which I would not I
said suppose possible to either of us, I prevailed on him to subscribe
to this short delay.
His passions and feelings are strong. One minute he seemed affected by
the approbation which, as far as I could with truth, I did not scruple
to bestow on his many superior gifts; and the next to conceive some
chagrin that I should for a moment hesitate. The noblest natures,
Louisa, are the most subject to pride, can the least endure neglect,
and are aptest to construe whatever is not directly affirmative in
their favour into injustice.
With respect to the Count de Beaunoir, he has been more passionate, in
expressing how much he admires me, than my reserve to him can have
authorised; except so far as he follows the manners of his country, and
the impulse of his peculiar character. I suppose he means little;
though he has said much. Not that I am certain. He may be more in
earnest than I desire; but I hope he is not; because, if I am to be
your sister as well as your friend, I should be sorry that any thing
should excite a shadow of doubt in the mind of Clifton.
The Count is one of the Provencal nobility; a whimsical creature, with
an imagination amazingly rapid, but extravagant. Your brother calls him
Count Shatter-brain; and I tell him that he forgets he has some claim
to the title himself. The Count has read the old Provencal poets, and
romance writers, till he has made himself a kind of Don Quixote; except
that he has none of the Don's delightful systematic gravity. The Count
on the contrary amuses by his want of system, and his quick, changeable
incongruity. He is in raptures one moment with what he laughs at the
next. Were it not for the mad follies of jealousy, against which we
cannot be too guarded, the manner in which he addresses, or in his own
language adores me, would be pleasant. If I wished to pass my life in
laughing, I would certainly marry the Count.
I am called to dinner. Adieu.
Ever and ever yours,
A. W. ST. IVES
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_Chateau de Villebrun_
My alarms, Louisa, increase; and with them my anxious wishes for an
eclaircissement with Frank. Clifton has too strongly imbibed high but
false notions of honour and revenge. His quick, apt, and versatile
talents are indubitable. He wants nothing but the power to curb and
regulate his passions, to render him all that his generous and
excellent sister could desire. But at present his sensibility is too
great. He scarcely can brook the slightest tokens of disapprobation. He
is rather too firmly persuaded that he deserves applause, and
admiration; and that reproof he scarcely can deserve: or, if he did, to
submit to it he imagines would be dishonourable.
Frank and he behave more than usually cool to each other: I know not
why, unless it has been occasioned by an incident which happened
yesterday. Clifton has bought an English hunter, from one of his
countrymen at Paris, which he was exhibiting to his French friends,
whose horsemanship is very different from ours, and who were surprised
to see him ride so fearlessly over gates and other impediments. They
continued their airing in the park of Villebrun, and turned round to a
kind of haha, which was both deep and wide, and about half full of
water, by the side of which they saw a party of ladies standing, and me
among the rest. Frank was with us.
One of the gentlemen asked whether the horse could leap over the haha:
to which Clifton made no answer, but immediately clapped spurs to his
hunter, and over he flew. The whole company, gentlemen and ladies,
broke out into exclamations of surprise; and Clifton turned his horse's
head round, and regained his former place.
While they were wondering, Frank Henley happened to make if a matter of
doubt whether a man or a horse could leap the farthest; and Clifton,
continually in the habit of contending with Frank, said it was
ridiculous to start such an argument, unless he would first shew that
he himself could make the same leap. Frank, piqued in his turn, retired
a few yards; and, without pulling off his coat or deigning to leap, he
made a short run and a hop and sprung over.
You may imagine that the kind and good folks, who love to be
astonished, and still more to tell the greatness of their astonishment,
were manifold in their interjections. Frank, in order to rejoin the
company, was obliged a second time to cross the haha; which he did with
the same safety and truly amazing agility as he had done before.
Clifton, indulging his wrong habits, though I have no doubt admiring
Frank as much as the rest, told him in a kind of sarcastic banter that,
though he could not prove the equality of mankind, he had at least
proved himself equal to a horse. To which Frank replied he was
mistaken; for that he had shewn himself equal to the horse and his
This answer I fear dwells upon the mind of Clifton; and I scarcely
myself can tell whether it were or were not worthy of Frank. How can
Clifton be wilfully blind to such courage, rectitude of heart,
understanding and genius?
The stern unrelenting fortitude of Frank, in the cause of justice, and
some symptoms of violence in the impetuous Clifton, have inspired me
with apprehensions; and have induced me to behave with more reserve and
coldness to Frank than I ever before assumed.
Yet, Louisa, my heart is wrung to see the effect it produces. He has a
mind of such discriminating power, such magnanimity, that an injury to
it is a deep, a double sin; and every look, every action testify that
he thinks himself injured, by the distance with which I behave. Oh
that he himself might be impelled to begin the subject with which my
mind is labouring!
This is wrong; I am ashamed of my own cowardice. Yet would there not be
something terrifying in a formal appointment, to tell him what it seems
must be told?--Yes, Louisa, must--And is there not danger he should
think me severe; nay unjust?--Would it were over!--I hope he will not
think so of me!--It must be done!--Must!--Must!--
Indeed, Louisa, I could be a very woman--But I will not!--No, no!--It
is passed--I have put my handkerchief to my eyes and it is gone--I have
repressed an obstinate heaving of the heart--
Let her blame me, if I deserve it, but my Louisa must see me as I
am--Yet I will conquer--Be sure I will--But I must not sing his song
A. W. ST. IVES
_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_.
_Chateau de Villebrun_
Oh, my friend, my heart is torn! I am on the rack! My thoughts are all
tumult! My passions rebel! I seem to have yielded up the best
prerogative of man, reason; and to have admitted revolt, anarchy, and
Her manner is changed! Wholly! She is become cold, reserved; has marked
me out for neglect; smiles on me no more; not a sigh escapes her. And
why? What have I done? I am unconscious. Have I been too presuming?
Perhaps so. But why did her looks never till now speak her meaning as
intelligibly as they do at present? I could not then have mistaken
them. Why, till now, has she seemed to regard me with that sweet
amenity which was so flattering to hope?
Perhaps, in the distraction of my thoughts, I am unjust to her. And
shall I, pretending as I do to love so pure, shall I become her
accuser? What if she meant no more than that commerce of grateful
kindness, which knits together human society, and renders it
Yet this sudden change! So evidently intentional! The smiles too which
she bestows on the brother of Louisa, and the haughty airs of triumph
which he assumes, what can these be? Confident in himself, ardent in
his desires, unchecked by those fears which are the offspring of true
delicacy, his passions violent, and his pride almost insufferable, he
thinks he loves. But he is ignorant of the alarms, the tremors, the
'fitful fevers' of love.
I cannot endure my present torture. I must seek a desperate end to it,
by explanation. Why do I delay? Coward that I am! What worse can happen
than despair? And is not despair itself preferable to that worst of
fiends, suspense? What do I mean by despair? Would I, being rejected,
desert my duty, sink into self, and poorly linger in wretchedness; or
basely put an end to existence? Violently end that which ought to be
devoted to the good of others?--How did so infernal a thought enter my
mind?--Can I be so very lost a thing?--No!--Despair is something
confused, something horrid: I know not what. It may intrude upon me, at
black and dismal intervals; but it shall not overwhelm me. I will shake
it off. I will meet my destiny.
The clouds are gathering; the storm approaches; I hear the distant
thunder rolling; this way it drives; it points at me; it must suddenly
burst! Be it so. Grant me but the spirit of a man, and I yet shall
brave its fury. If I am a poor braggart, a half believer in virtue, or
virtuous only in words, the feeble victim then must justly perish.
I cannot endure my torments! Cannot, because there is a way to end
them. It shall be done.
I blush to read, blush to recollect the rhapsodies of my own perturbed
mind! Madman! 'Tis continually thus. Day after day I proceed,
reasoning, reproving, doubting, wishing, believing and despairing,
Once again, where is this strange impossibility?--In what does it
consist?--Are we not both human beings?--What law of Nature has placed
her beyond my hopes?--What is rank? Does it imply superiority of mind?
Or is there any other superiority?--Am I not a man?--And who is more?
Have the titled earned their dignities by any proofs of exalted virtue?
Were not these dignities things of accident, in which the owners had no
share, and of which they are generally unworthy? And shall hope be thus
cowed and killed, without my daring to exert the first and most
unalienable of the rights of man, freedom of thought? Shall I not
examine what these high distinctions truly are, of which the bearers
are so vain?
This Clifton--! Thou knowest not how he treats me. And can she approve,
can she second his injustice?--Surely not!--Yet does she not dedicate
her smiles to him, her conversation, her time? Does she not shun me,
discountenance me, and reprove me, by her silence and her averted eyes?
Once again it must and shall have an end!--I have repeated this too
often; but my next shall shew thee I am at length determined.
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_Chateau de Villebrun_
An affair has just happened in this country which is the universal
topic of conversation. The daughter of a noble and wealthy family has
fallen in love with a man of uncommon learning, science, and genius,
but a musician. In consequence of his great skill and reputation, he
was employed to teach her music; and she it appears was too sensible,
at least for the decorum of our present manners, of his worth.
The ability to discover his merit implies merit in herself, and the
musician and lady were equally enamoured of each other. A plan for
elopement consequently was laid, and put in execution; but not
effectually, for, before the lovers had passed the confines of the
kingdom, they were pursued and overtaken.
The musician knew his own personal danger, and by a stratagem
fortunately escaped from his bonds, and attained a place of safety. The
lady was brought back; and, from the severity of the French laws and
the supposed atrocity of the crime, it is generally affirmed that the
musician, notwithstanding his talents and fame, had he been secured,
would have been executed.
I have mentioned this adventure, my dear Louisa, not so much for its
own sake as for what relates to myself. It was natural that I should
feel compassion for mistakes, if mistakes they be, which have so great
an affinity to virtue; and that I should plead for the lovers, and
against the barbarity of laws so unjust and inhuman. For it is certain
that, had not the musician been put to death, his least punishment
would have been perpetual imprisonment.
In a former letter I mentioned the increasing alarms of Sir Arthur; and
this was a fit opportunity for him to shew how very serious and great
those alarms are. He opposed me, while I argued in behalf of the
lovers, with what might in him be called violence; affirmed it was a
crime for which no merit or genius could compensate; highly applauded
those wholesome laws that prevented such crimes, and preserved the
honour of noble families from attaint; lamented the want of similar
laws in England; and spoke of the conduct of the young lady with a
degree of bitterness which from him was unusual. In fine, the spirit of
his whole discourse was evidently to warn me, and explicitly to declare
what his opinions on this subject are.
Had I before wanted conviction, he fully convinced me, on this
occasion, of the impossibility of any union between me and Frank
Henley; at least without sacrificing the felicity of my father and my
family, and from being generally and sincerely beloved by them,
rendering myself the object of eternal reproach, and almost of hatred.
Previous to this conversation, I was uneasy at the state of my own
mind, and particularly at what I suppose to be the state of Mr.
Henley's; and this uneasiness is at present very much increased.
Once again, Louisa, it must immediately have an end. I can support it
no longer. I must be firm. My half-staggering resolution is now
fixed. I cannot, must not doubt. My father and family must not be
sacrificed to speculative probabilities. Frank is the most deserving
of mankind; and that it should be a duty to reject the most deserving
of mankind, as the friend of my life, my better self, my husband, is
strange; but I am nevertheless convinced that a duty it is. Yes; the
conflicts of doubt are over. I must and will persevere.
Poor Frank! To be guilty of injustice to a nature so noble, to wring a
heart so generous, and to neglect desert so unequalled, is indeed a
killing thought! But the stern the unrelenting dictates of necessity
must be obeyed. The neglect the injustice and the cruelty are the
world's, not mine: my heart disavows them, revolts at them, detests
Heaven bless my Louisa, and give her superior prudence to guard and
preserve her from these too strong susceptibilities! May the angel of
fortitude never forsake her, as she seems half inclined to do her poor.
A. W. ST. IVES
END OF VOLUME II
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_Chateau de Villebrun_
At last, my dear Louisa, the charm is broken: the spell of silence is
dissolved. Incapable any longer of restraint, passion has burst its
bounds, and strong though the contest was, victory has declared for
My change of behaviour has produced this effect. Not that I applaud
myself: on the contrary, I am far from pleased with my own want of
fortitude. I have even assumed an austerity which I did not feel.
I do not mean to say that all appearances, relative to myself, were
false. No. I was uneasy; desirous to speak, desirous that he should
speak, and could accomplish neither. I accused myself of having given
hopes that were seductive, and wished to retract. In short, I have not
been altogether so consistent as I ought to be; as my letters to you,
my friend, will witness.
Various little incidents preceded and indeed helped to produce this
swell and overflow of the heart, and the eclaircissement that followed.
In the morning at breakfast, Frank took the cakes I usually eat to hand
to me; and Clifton, whose watchful spirit is ever alert, caught up a
plate of bread and butter, to offer me at the same instant. His looks
shewed he expected the preference. I was sorry for it, and paused for a
moment. At last the principle of not encouraging Frank prevailed, and I
took some bread and butter from Clifton. It was a repetition of
slights, which Frank had lately met with, and he felt it; yet he bowed
with a tolerable grace, and put down his plate.
He soon after quitted the room, but returned unperceived by me. The
young marchioness had breakfasted, and retired to her toilet; where
some of the gentlemen were attending her. She had left a snuff-box of
considerable value with me, which I had forgotten to return; and, with
that kind of sportive cheerfulness which I rather encourage than
repress, I called--'Here! Where are all my esquires? I want a
Clifton heard me, and Frank was unexpectedly at my elbow. Had I known
it, I should not have spoken so thoughtlessly. Frank came forward and
bowed. Clifton called--'Here am I, ready, fair lady, to execute your
I was a second time embarrassed. After a short hesitation, I
said--'No--I have changed my mind.'
Frank retired; but Clifton advanced, with his usual gaiety,
answering,--'Nay, nay! I have not earned half a crown yet this morning,
and I must not be cheated of my fare.' I would still have refused, but
I perceived Clifton began to look serious, and I said to him--'Well,
well, good man, here then, take this snuff-box to the marchioness, she
may want it: but do not blunder, and break it; for if you do I shall
dismiss you my service. Recollect the picture in the lid, set with
It was fated to be a day of mortification to Frank. His complaisance
had induced him to comply with the request of the marchioness, that he
would read one of the mad scenes in Lear, though he knew she had not
the least acquaintance with the English language. But she wanted
amusement, and was pleased to mark the progress of the passions; which
I never saw so distinctly and highly expressed as in his countenance,
when he reads Shakespeare.
I happened to come into her apartment, for the French are delightfully
easy of access, and the reading was instantly interrupted. I was the
very person she wanted to see. How should we spend the evening? The
country was horribly dull! There had been no new visitors these two
days! Should we have a dance? I gave my assent, and away she ran to
tell every body.
I followed; Frank came after me, and with some reluctance, foreboding a
repulse, asked whether he should have the pleasure to dance with me.
His manner and the foregone circumstances made me guess his question
before he spoke. My answer was--'I have just made a promise to myself
that I will dance with Mr. Clifton.' It was true: the thought had
passed through my mind.
Mr. Clifton, madam!
I have not seen Mr. Clifton? Right--But I said I had made the promise
Poor Frank could contain no longer! I see, madam, said he, I am
despised; and I deserve contempt; I crouch to it, I invite it, and have
obtained a full portion of it--Yet why?--What have I done?--Why is this
sudden change?--The false glitter that deceives mankind then is
irresistible!--But surely, madam, justice is as much my due as if my
name were Clifton. Spurn me, trample on me, when I sully myself by vice
and infamy! But till then I should once have hoped to have escaped
being humbled in the dust, by one whom I regarded as the most
benignant, as well as the most deserving and equitable of earthly
This is indeed a heavy charge: and I am afraid much of it is too true.
Here is company coming. I am sorry I cannot answer it immediately.
I can suffer any thing rather than exist under my present tortures.
Will you favour me so far, madam, as to grant me half an hour's
Willingly. It is what I wish. Come to my apartment after dinner.
Clifton came up, and I have no doubt read in our countenances that
something more than common had passed. Indeed I perceived it, or
thought so; but his imagination took another turn, in consequence of my
informing him, that I had been just telling Frank I had promised myself
to be his (Clifton's) partner. He thanked me, his countenance shewed it
as well as his words, for my kindness. He was coming, he said, to
petition, the instant he had heard of the dance. But still he looked at
Frank, as if he thought it strange that I should condescend to account
to him for my thoughts and promises.
Dinner time came, and we sat down to table. But the mind is sometimes
too busy to attend to the appetites. I and Frank ate but little. He
rose first from table, that he might not seem to follow me. His
delicacy never slumbers. I took the first opportunity to retire. Frank
was presently with me, and our dialogue began. The struggle of the
feelings ordained that I should be the first speaker.
I have been thinking very seriously, Frank, of what you said to me this
Would to heaven you could forget it, madam!
I was unjust! A madman! A vain fool! An idiot!--Pardon this rude
vehemence, but I cannot forgive myself for having been so ready to
accuse one whom--! I cannot speak my feelings!--I have deserted
myself!--I am no longer the creature of reason, but the child of
passion!--My mind is all tumult, all incongruity!
You wrong yourself. The error has been mutual, or rather I have been
much the most to blame. I am very sensible of, and indeed very sorry
for my mistake--Indeed I am--I perceived you indulging hopes that
cannot be realized, and--
Never!--I can see you think yourself despised; but you do yourself
My mind is so disturbed, by the abrupt and absurd folly with which I
accused you, unheard, this morning, that it is less now in a state to
do my cause justice than at any other time--Still I will be a man--Your
word, madam, was--Cannot!--
Permit me to ask, is it person--?
No--certainly not. Person would with me be always a distant
consideration. [You, Louisa, know how very far from exceptionable the
person of Frank is, if that were any part of the question.]
You are no flatterer, madam, and you have thought proper occasionally
to express your approbation of my morals and mind.
Yet my expressions have never equalled my feelings!--Never!
Then, madam, where is the impossibility? In what does it consist? The
world may think meanly of me, for the want of what I myself hold in
contempt: but surely you cannot join in the world's injustice?
I cannot think meanly of you.
I have no titles. I am what pride calls nobody: the son of a man who
came pennyless into the service of your family; in which to my infinite
grief he has grown rich. I would rather starve than acquire opulence by
the efforts of cunning, flattery, and avarice; and if I blush for any
thing, relative to family, it is for that. I am either above or below
the wish of being what is insolently called well born.
You confound, or rather you do not separate, two things which are very
distinct; that which I think of you, and that which the world would
think of me, were I to encourage hopes which you would have me indulge.
Your actions, madam, shew how much and how properly you disregard the
But I do not disregard the effects which that opinion may have, upon
the happiness of my father, my family, myself, and my husband, if ever
I should marry.
If truth and justice require it, madam, even all these ought to be
Did I know a man, upon the face of the earth, who had a still deeper
sense of your high qualities and virtues than I have, who understood
them more intimately, would study them, emulate them more, and profit
better by them, I have confidence enough in myself to say I would
resign you without repining. But, when I think on the union between
mind and mind--the aggregate--! I want language, madam--!
I understand you.
When I reflect on the wondrous happiness we might enjoy, while mutually
exerting ourselves in the general cause of virtue, I confess the
thought of renouncing so much bliss, or rather such a duty to myself
and the world, is excruciating torture.
Your idea of living for the cause of virtue delights me; it is in full
concord with my own. But whether that great cause would best be
promoted by our union, or not, is a question which we are incapable of
determining: though I think probabilities are for the negative. Facts
and observation have given me reason to believe that the too easy
gratification of our desires is pernicious to mind; and that it
acquires vigour and elasticity from opposition.
And would you then upon principle, madam, marry a man whom you must
No, not despise. If indeed I were all I could wish to be, I am
persuaded I should despise no one. I should endeavour to instruct the
ignorant, and reform the erroneous. However, I will tell you what sort
of a man I should wish to marry. First he must be a person of whom no
prejudice, no mistake of any kind, should induce the world, that is,
the persons nearest and most connected with me in the world, to think
meanly--Shall I be cited by the thoughtless, the simple, and the
perverse, in justification of their own improper conduct?--You cannot
wish it, Frank!--Nor is this the most alarming fear--My friends!--My
relations!--My father!--To incur a father's reproach for having
dishonoured his family were fearful: but to meet, to merit, to live
under his curse!--God of heaven forbid!
Must we then never dare to counteract mistake? Must mind, though
enlightened by truth, submit to be the eternal slave of error?--What is
there that is thus dreadful, madam, in the curse of prejudice? Have not
the greatest and the wisest of mankind been cursed by ignorance?
It is not the curse itself that is terrible, but the torture of the
person's mind by whom it is uttered!--Nor is it the torture of a
minute, or a day, but of years!--His child, his beloved child, on whom
his hopes and heart were fixed, to whom he looked for all the bliss of
filial obedience, all the energies of virtue, and all the effusions of
affection, to see himself deserted by her, unfeelingly deserted,
plunged in sorrows unutterable, eternally dishonoured, the index and
the bye-word of scandal, scoffed at for the fault of her whom his fond
and fatherly reveries had painted faultless, whispered out of society
because of the shame of her in whom he gloried, and I this child!
Were the conflict what your imagination has figured it, madam, your
terrors would be just--But I have thought deeply on it, and know that
your very virtues misguide you. It would not be torture, nor would it
be eternal--On the contrary, madam, I, poor as I am in the esteem of an
arrogant world, I proudly affirm it would be the less and not the
You mistake!--Indeed, Frank, you mistake!--The fear of poverty, the
sneers of the world, ignominy itself, were the pain inflicted but
confined to me, I would despise. But to stretch my father upon the
rack, and with him every creature that loves me, even you yourself!--It
must not be!--It must not be!
I too fatally perceive, madam, your mind is subjected by these phantoms
No, no--not phantoms; real existences; the palpable beings of
reason!--Beside what influence have I in the world, except over my
friends and family? And shall I renounce this little influence, this
only power of doing good, in order to gratify my own passions, by
making myself the outcast of that family and of that world to whom it
is my ambition to live an example?--My family and the world are
prejudiced and unjust: I know it. But where is the remedy? Can we work
miracles? Will their prejudices vanish at our bidding?--I have already
mortally offended the most powerful of my relations, Lord Fitz-Allen,
by refusing a foolish peer of his recommendation. He is my maternal
uncle; proud, prejudiced, and unforgiving. Previous to this refusal I
was the only person in our family whom he condescended to notice. He
prophesied, in the spleen of passion, I should soon bring shame on my
family; and I as boldly retorted I would never dishonour the name of
St. Ives--I spoke in their own idiom, and meant to be so
understood--Recollect all this!--Be firm, be just to yourself and
me!--Indeed indeed, Frank, it is not my heart that refuses you; it is
my understanding; it is principle; it is a determination not to do that
which my reason cannot justify--Join with me, Frank--Resolve--Give me
your hand--Let us disdain to set mankind an example which would indeed
be a virtuous and a good one, were all the conditions understood; but
which, under the appearances it would assume, would be criminal in the
My hand and heart, madam, are everlastingly yours: and it is because
this heart yearns to set the world an example, higher infinitely than
that which you propose, that thus I plead!--This opportunity is my
first and last--I read my doom--Bear with me therefore while I declare
my sensations and my thoughts.--The passion I feel is as unlike what is
usually meant by love as day to night, grace to deformity, or truth to
falsehood. It is not your fine form, madam, supremely beautiful though
you are, which I love. At least I love it only as an excellent part of
a divine whole. It is your other, your better, your more heavenly self,
to which I have dared to aspire. I claim relationship to your mind; and
again declare I think my claims have a right, which none of the false
distinctions of men can supersede. Think then, madam, again I conjure
you, think ere you decide.--If the union of two people whose pure love,
founded on an unerring conviction of mutual worth, might promise the
reality of that heaven of which the world delights to dream; whose
souls, both burning with the same ardour to attain and to diffuse
excellence, would mingle and act with incessant energy, who, having
risen superior to the mistakes of mankind, would disseminate the same
spirit of truth, the same internal peace, the same happiness, the same
virtues which they themselves possess among thousands; who would
admire, animate, emulate each other; whose wishes, efforts, and
principles would all combine to one great end, the general good; who,
being desirous only to dispense blessings, could not fail to enjoy; if
a union like this be not strictly conformable to the laws of eternal
truth, or if there be any arguments, any perils, any terrors which
ought to annul such a union, I confess that the arguments, the perils,
the terrors, and eternal truth itself are equally unknown to me.
We paused for a moment. The beauty, force, and grandeur of the picture
he had drawn staggered me. Yet it was but a repetition of what had
frequently presented itself to my mind, in colours almost as vivid as
those with which he painted. I had but one answer, and replied--
The world!--My family!--My father!--I cannot encounter the malediction
of a father!--What! Behold him in an agony of cursing his
child?--Imagination shudders and shrinks from the guilty picture with
horror!--I cannot!--I cannot!--It must not be!--To foresee this misery
so clearly as I do, and yet to seek it, would surely be detestable
Again we paused--He perceived my terrors were too violent to cede to
any efforts of supposed reason. His countenance changed; the energy of
argument disappeared, and was succeeded by all the tenderness of
passion. The decisive moment, the moment of trial was come. His
features softened into that form which never yet failed to melt the
heart, and he thus continued.
To the scorn of vice, the scoffs of ignorance, the usurpations of the
presuming, and the contumelies of the proud, I have patiently
submitted: but to find my great and as I thought infallible support
wrested from me; to perceive that divine essence which I imagined too
much a part of myself to do me wrong, overlooking me; rejecting me;
dead to those sensations which I thought mutually pervaded and filled
our hearts; to hear her, whom of all beings on earth I thought myself
most akin to, disclaim me; positively, persisting, un--
Unjustly?--Was that the word, Frank?--Surely not unjustly!--Oh, surely
And could those heavenly those heart-winning condescensions on which I
founded my hopes be all illusory?--Could they?--Did I dream that your
soul held willing intercourse with mine, beaming divine intelligence
upon me? Was it all a vision when I thought I heard you pronounce the
ecstatic sentence--_You could love me if I would let you?_
No; it was real. I revoke nothing that I have said or done. Do not,
Frank, for the love of truth and justice do not think me insensible of
your excellence, dead to your virtues, or blind to mind and merit which
I never yet saw equalled!--Think not it is pride, or base insensibility
of your worth! Where is the day in which that worth has not increased
upon me?--Unjust to you?--Oh!--No, no, no!--My heart bleeds at the
thought!--No!--It is my love of you, my love of your virtues, your
principles, and these alone are lovely, which has rendered me thus
inflexible. If any thing could make you dearer to me than you are, it
must be weakness; it must be something which neither you nor I ought to
approve. All the good, or rather all the opportunities of doing good
which mortal or immortal being can enjoy do I wish you! Oh that I had
prayers potent enough to draw down blessings on you!--Love
you?--Yes!--The very idea bursts into passion. [The tears, Louisa, were
streaming down my cheeks.] Why should you doubt of all the affection
which virtue can bestow? Do you not deserve it?--Oh yes!--Love you in
the manner you could wish I must not, dare not, ought not: but, as I
ought, I love you infinitely! Ay, dear, dear Frank, as I ought,
Louisa!--Blame me if thou wilt--But I kissed him!--The chastity of my
thoughts defied misconstruction, and the purity of the will sanctified
the extravagance of the act. A daring enthusiasm seized me. I beheld
his passions struggling to attain the very pinnacle of excellence. I
wished to confirm the noble emulation, to convince him how different
the pure love of mind might be from the meaner love of passion, and I
kissed him! I find my affections, my sensibilities, peculiarly liable
to these strong sallies. Perhaps all minds of a certain texture are
subject to such rapid and almost resistless emotions; and whether they
ought to be encouraged or counteracted I have not yet discovered. But
the circumstance, unexpected and strange as it was, suffered no wrong
interpretation in the dignified soul of Frank. With all the ardour of
affection, but chastened by every token of delicacy, he clasped me in
his arms, returned my kiss, then sunk down on one knee, and
exclaimed--Now let me die!--
After a moment's pause, I answered--No, Frank! Live! Live to be a
blessing to the world, and an honour to the human race!
I took a turn to the window, and after having calmed the too much of
feeling which I had suffered to grow upon me, I continued the
I hope, Frank, we now understand each other; and that, as this is the
first, so it will be the last contention of the passions in which we
shall indulge ourselves.
Madam, though _I still think, nay feel a certainty of conviction, that
you act from mistaken principles_, yet you support what you are
persuaded is truth with such high such self-denying virtue, that not to
applaud, not to imitate you would be contemptible. You have and ought
to have a will of your own. You practise what you believe to be the
severest precepts of duty, with more than human fortitude. You resolve,
in this particular, not to offend the prejudices of your family, and
the world. I submit. To indulge sensibility but a little were to be
heart-broken! But no personal grief can authorise me in deserting the
post I am placed in; nor palliate the crime of neglecting its duties.
_To the end of time I shall persist in thinking you mine by right_; but
I will never trouble you more with an assertion of that
right--Never!--Unless some new and unexpected claim should spring up,
of which I see no probability.
He bowed and was retiring.
Stay, Frank, I have something more to say to you--I have a requisition
to make which after what has passed would to common minds appear
unfeeling and almost capricious cruelty; but I have no fear that yours
should be liable to this mistake. Recollect but who and what you are,
remember what are the best purposes of existence, and the noblest
efforts of mind, and then refuse me if you can--I have formed a
project, and call upon you for aid--Cannot you guess?
Mr. Clifton, madam--?
I fear it is a dangerous one; and, whether my fears originate in
selfishness or in penetration, they must be spoken. Yes, madam, I must
warn you that the passions of Mr. Clifton are, in my opinion, much more
alarming than the resentment of your father.
But they are alarming only to myself. And ought danger to deter me?
Not if the good you design be practicable.
And what is impracticable, where the will is resolved?
Perhaps nothing--But the effort must be great, must be uncommon.
Has he not a mind worthy of such an effort? Would not his powers highly
honour truth and virtue?
Will not you give me your assistance?
I would, madam, most willingly, would he but permit me. But I am his
antipathy; a something noxious; an evil augury.
You have been particular in your attentions to me.
And must those attentions cease, madam?
They must be moderated; they must be cool, dispassionate, and then they
will not alarm.--I cannot possibly be deceived in supposing it a duty,
an indispensable duty to restore the mind of Clifton to its true
station. If I fail, the fault must be my own. I am but young, yet many
men have addressed me with the commonplace language of admiration,
love, and I know not what; or rather they knew not what; and, except
yourself, Frank, I have not met with one from whom half so much might
be hoped as from Clifton. He is the brother of my bosom friend. Surely,
Frank, it is a worthy task--Join with me!--There is but one thing I
fear. Clifton is haughty and intemperate. Are you a duellist, Frank?
Then you would not fight a duel?
Never, madam, no provocation, not the brand of cowardice itself, shall
ever induce roe to be guilty of such a crime.
Frank!--Oh excellent, noble youth!
Here, Louisa, our conversation abruptly ended. The company had risen
from table, and we heard them in the corridor. I requested him to
retire, and he instantly obeyed.
Oh! Louisa, with what sensations did he leave my mind glowing!--His
conviction equals certainty, _that I act from mistaken principles!--_To
the end of time he shall persist in thinking me his by right!_--Can the
power of language afford words more strong, more positive, more
pointed?--How unjust have I been to my cause!--For surely I cannot be
in an error!--'Tis afflicting, 'tis painful, nay it is almost
terrifying to remember!--_Persist to the end of time?_--Why did I not
think more deeply?--I had a dark kind of dread that I should fail!--It
cannot be the fault of my cause!--Wrong him!--Guilty of injustice to
him!--Surely, surely, I hope not!--What! Become an example to the
feeble and the foolish, for having indulged my passions and neglected
my duties?--I?--His mind had formed a favourite plan, and could I
expect it should be instantly relinquished?--I cannot conceive torment
equal to the idea of doing him wrong! Him?--Again and again I hope not!
I hope not! I hope not!
Then the kiss, Louisa? Did I or did I not do right, in shewing him how
truly I admire and love his virtues? Was I or was I not guilty of any
crime, when, in the very acme of the passions, I so totally disregarded
the customs of the world? Or rather, for that is the true question,
could it produce any other effect than that which I intended? I am
persuaded it could not. Nor, blame me who will, do I repent. And yet,
my friend, if you should think it wrong, I confess I should then feel a
pang which I should be glad not to deserve. But be sincere. Though I
need not warn you. No false pity can or ought to induce you to desert
the cause of truth.
Adieu--My mind is not so much at its ease as I hoped, from this
conversation; but at all times, and in all tempers, believe me to be,
ever and ever,
Your own dear
A. W. ST. IVES
_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_
_Chateau de Villebrun_
All is over!--My hopes are at an end!--I am awakened from a dream, in
which pain and pleasure were mingled to such excess as to render its
Nor is this all. This trial, severe as it was, did not suffice. To the
destruction of hope has been added the assault of insolence,
accompanied with a portion of obloquy which heart scarcely can
sustain--Oh, this Clifton!--But--Patience!
Yet let me do her justice. Mistaken though I am sure she is, the
motives of her conduct are so pure that even mistake itself is lovely
in her; and assumes all the energy, all the dignity of virtue. Oh what
a soul is hers! Her own passions, the passions of others, when she acts
and speaks, are all in subjection to principle. Yes, Oliver, of one
thing at least she has convinced me: she has taught me, or rather made
me feel, how poor a thing it is to be the slave of desire.
Not that I do not still adore her!--Ay, more than ever adore! But from
henceforth my adoration shall be worthy of herself, and not degrading
to me. From her I have learned what true love is; and the lesson is
engraven on my heart. She can consider personal gratification with
apathy, yet burn with a martyr's zeal for the promotion of universal
And shall I not rise equal to the bright example which she has set me?
Shall I admire yet not imitate?
Did she despise me? Did she reject me for my own sake?--No!--All the
affection which mind can feel for mind she has avowed for me! And shall
I grieve because another may be more happy?--And why more?--In
what?--Is not the union of souls the first the most permanent of all
alliances? That union is mine! No power can shake it. She openly
acknowledges it; and has done, daily, hourly, in every word, in every
action. Whither then would my wishes wander?
Oliver, I am a man, and subject to the shakes and agues of his fragile
nature!--Yet it is a poor, a wretched plea; a foolish, and a false
plea. Man is weak because he is willing to be weak. He crouches to the
whip, and like a coward pities while he lashes himself.
His wilful phrensy he calls irresistible, and weeps for the torments
which he himself inflicts.
But once again this Clifton!--Read and tell me how I ought to act--I
have received a blow from him, Oliver!--Yes, have tamely submitted to
receive a blow!--
What intolerable prejudices are these! Why does my heart rebel so
sternly, at what virtue so positively approves?
I had just left her; had that instant been rejected by her for his
sake; had been summoned to aid her, in weeding out error from his mind.
She shewed me it was a noble task, and communicated to me her own
divine ardour. Yes, Oliver; I came from her, with a warmed and animated
heart; participating all her zeal. The most rigid, the most painful of
all abstinence was demanded from me; but should I shrink from a duty
because I pity or because I love myself? No. Such pusillanimity were
death to virtue. I left her, while my thoughts glowed with the ardour
of emulating her heroism; and burned to do him all the good which she