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Liber Amoris, or, The New Pygmalion by William Hazlitt

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her mine; for nothing else CAN atone for what I've gone through for
her. I hope your next letter will not reverse all, and then I shall be
happy till I see her,--one of the blest when I do see her, if she looks
like my own beautiful love. I may perhaps write a line when I come to
my right wits.--Farewel at present, and thank you a thousand times for
what you have done for your poor friend.

P. S.--I like what M---- said about her sister, much. There are good
people in the world: I begin to see it, and believe it.

LETTER THE LAST

Dear P----, To-morrow is the decisive day that makes me or mars me. I
will let you know the result by a line added to this. Yet what
signifies it, since either way I have little hope there, "whence alone
my hope cometh!" You must know I am strangely in the dumps at this
present writing. My reception with her is doubtful, and my fate is then
certain. The hearing of your happiness has, I own, made me thoughtful.
It is just what I proposed to her to do--to have crossed the Alps with
me, to sail on sunny seas, to bask in Italian skies, to have visited
Vevai and the rocks of Meillerie, and to have repeated to her on the
spot the story of Julia and St. Preux, and to have shewn her all that my
heart had stored up for her--but on my forehead alone is
written--REJECTED! Yet I too could have adored as fervently, and loved
as tenderly as others, had I been permitted. You are going abroad, you
say, happy in making happy. Where shall I be? In the grave, I hope, or
else in her arms. To me, alas! there is no sweetness out of her sight,
and that sweetness has turned to bitterness, I fear; that gentleness to
sullen scorn! Still I hope for the best. If she will but HAVE me,
I'll make her LOVE me: and I think her not giving a positive answer
looks like it, and also shews that there is no one else. Her holding
out to the last also, I think, proves that she was never to have been
gained but with honour. She's a strange, almost an inscrutable girl:
but if I once win her consent, I shall kill her with kindness.--Will you
let me have a sight of SOMEBODY before you go? I should be most
proud. I was in hopes to have got away by the Steam-boat to-morrow, but
owing to the business not coming on till then, I cannot; and may not be
in town for another week, unless I come by the Mail, which I am strongly
tempted to do. In the latter case I shall be there, and visible on
Saturday evening. Will you look in and see, about eight o'clock? I
wish much to see you and her and J. H. and my little boy once more; and
then, if she is not what she once was to me, I care not if I die that
instant. I will conclude here till to-morrow, as I am getting into my
old melancholy.--

It is all over, and I am my own man, and yours ever--

PART III

ADDRESSED TO J. S. K.----

My dear K----, It is all over, and I know my fate. I told you I would
send you word, if anything decisive happened; but an impenetrable
mystery hung over the affair till lately. It is at last (by the merest
accident in the world) dissipated; and I keep my promise, both for your
satisfaction, and for the ease of my own mind.

You remember the morning when I said "I will go and repose my sorrows at
the foot of Ben Lomond"--and when from Dumbarton Bridge its
giant-shadow, clad in air and sunshine, appeared in view. We had a
pleasant day's walk. We passed Smollett's monument on the road (somehow
these poets touch one in reflection more than most military
heroes)--talked of old times; you repeated Logan's beautiful verses to
the cuckoo,* which I wanted to compare with Wordsworth's, but my courage
failed me; you then told me some passages of an early attachment which
was suddenly broken off; we considered together which was the most to be
pitied, a disappointment in love where the attachment was mutual or one
where there has been no return, and we both agreed, I think, that the
former was best to be endured, and that to have the consciousness of it
a companion for life was the least evil of the two, as there was a
secret sweetness that took off the bitterness and the sting of regret,
and "the memory of what once had been" atoned, in some measure, and at
intervals, for what "never more could be." In the other case, there was
nothing to look back to with tender satisfaction, no redeeming trait,
not even a possibility of turning it to good. It left behind it not
cherished sighs, but stifled pangs. The galling sense of it did not
bring moisture into the eyes, but dried up the heart ever after. One
had been my fate, the other had been yours!

[*--"Sweet bird, thy bower is ever green, Thy sky is ever clear; Thou
hast no sorrow in thy song, No winter in thy year."

So they begin. It was the month of May; the cuckoo sang shrouded in
some woody copse; the showers fell between whiles; my friend repeated
the lines with native enthusiasm in a clear manly voice, still resonant
of youth and hope. Mr. Wordsworth will excuse me, if in these
circumstances I declined entering the field with his profounder
metaphysical strain, and kept my preference to myself.]

You startled me every now and then from my reverie by the robust voice,
in which you asked the country people (by no means prodigal of their
answers)--"If there was any trout fishing in those streams?"--and our
dinner at Luss set us up for the rest of our day's march. The sky now
became overcast; but this, I think, added to the effect of the scene.
The road to Tarbet is superb. It is on the very verge of the
lake--hard, level, rocky, with low stone bridges constantly flung across
it, and fringed with birch trees, just then budding into spring, behind
which, as through a slight veil, you saw the huge shadowy form of Ben
Lomond. It lifts its enormous but graceful bulk direct from the edge of
the water without any projecting lowlands, and has in this respect much
the advantage of Skiddaw. Loch Lomond comes upon you by degrees as you
advance, unfolding and then withdrawing its conscious beauties like an
accomplished coquet. You are struck with the point of a rock, the arch
of a bridge, the Highland huts (like the first rude habitations of men)
dug out of the soil, built of turf, and covered with brown heather, a
sheep-cote, some straggling cattle feeding half-way down a precipice;
but as you advance farther on, the view expands into the perfection of
lake scenery. It is nothing (or your eye is caught by nothing) but
water, earth, and sky. Ben Lomond waves to the right, in its simple
majesty, cloud-capt or bare, and descending to a point at the head of
the lake, shews the Trossacs beyond, tumbling about their blue ridges
like woods waving; to the left is the Cobler, whose top is like a castle
shattered in pieces and nodding to its ruin; and at your side rise the
shapes of round pastoral hills, green, fleeced with herds, and retiring
into mountainous bays and upland valleys, where solitude and peace might
make their lasting home, if peace were to be found in solitude! That it
was not always so, I was a sufficient proof; for there was one image
that alone haunted me in the midst of all this sublimity and beauty, and
turned it to a mockery and a dream!

The snow on the mountain would not let us ascend; and being weary of
waiting and of being visited by the guide every two hours to let us know
that the weather would not do, we returned, you homewards, and I to
London--

"Italiam, Italiam!"

You know the anxious expectations with which I set out:--now hear the
result--

As the vessel sailed up the Thames, the air thickened with the
consciousness of being near her, and I "heaved her name pantingly
forth." As I approached the house, I could not help thinking of the
lines--

"How near am I to a happiness, That earth exceeds not! Not another like
it. The treasures of the deep are not so precious As are the conceal'd
comforts of a man Lock'd up in woman's love. I scent the air Of
blessings when I come but near the house. What a delicious breath true
love sends forth! The violet-beds not sweeter. Now for a welcome Able
to draw men's envies upon man: A kiss now that will hang upon my lip, As
sweet as morning dew upon a rose, And full as long!"

I saw her, but I saw at the first glance that there was something amiss.
It was with much difficulty and after several pressing intreaties that
she was prevailed on to come up into the room; and when she did, she
stood at the door, cold, distant, averse; and when at length she was
persuaded by my repeated remonstrances to come and take my hand, and I
offered to touch her lips, she turned her head and shrunk from my
embraces, as if quite alienated or mortally offended. I asked what it
could mean? What had I done in her absence to have incurred her
displeasure? Why had she not written to me? I could get only short,
sullen, disconnected answers, as if there was something labouring in her
mind which she either could not or would not impart. I hardly knew how
to bear this first reception after so long an absence, and so different
from the one my sentiments towards her merited; but I thought it
possible it might be prudery (as I had returned without having actually
accomplished what I went about) or that she had taken offence at
something in my letters. She saw how much I was hurt. I asked her, "If
she was altered since I went away?"--"No." "If there was any one else
who had been so fortunate as to gain her favourable opinion?"--"No,
there was no one else." "What was it then? Was it any thing in my
letters? Or had I displeased her by letting Mr. P---- know she wrote to
me?"--"No, not at all; but she did not apprehend my last letter required
any answer, or she would have replied to it." All this appeared to me
very unsatisfactory and evasive; but I could get no more from her, and
was obliged to let her go with a heavy, foreboding heart. I however
found that C---- was gone, and no one else had been there, of whom I had
cause to be jealous.--"Should I see her on the morrow?"--"She believed
so, but she could not promise." The next morning she did not appear
with the breakfast as usual. At this I grew somewhat uneasy. The
little Buonaparte, however, was placed in its old position on the
mantelpiece, which I considered as a sort of recognition of old times.
I saw her once or twice casually; nothing particular happened till the
next day, which was Sunday. I took occasion to go into the parlour for
the newspaper, which she gave me with a gracious smile, and seemed
tolerably frank and cordial. This of course acted as a spell upon me.
I walked out with my little boy, intending to go and dine out at one or
two places, but I found that I still contrived to bend my steps towards
her, and I went back to take tea at home. While we were out, I talked
to William about Sarah, saying that she too was unhappy, and asking him
to make it up with her. He said, if she was unhappy, he would not bear
her malice any more. When she came up with the tea-things, I said to
her, "William has something to say to you--I believe he wants to be
friends." On which he said in his abrupt, hearty manner, "Sarah, I'm
sorry if I've ever said anything to vex you"--so they shook hands, and
she said, smiling affably--"THEN I'll think no more of it!" I
added--"I see you've brought me back my little Buonaparte"--She answered
with tremulous softness--"I told you I'd keep it safe for you!"--as if
her pride and pleasure in doing so had been equal, and she had, as it
were, thought of nothing during my absence but how to greet me with this
proof of her fidelity on my return. I cannot describe her manner. Her
words are few and simple; but you can have no idea of the exquisite,
unstudied, irresistible graces with which she accompanies them, unless
you can suppose a Greek statue to smile, move, and speak. Those lines
in Tibullus seem to have been written on purpose for her--

Quicquid agit quoquo vestigil vertit, Componit furtim, subsequiturque
decor.

Or what do you think of those in a modern play, which might actually
have been composed with an eye to this little trifler-

--"See with what a waving air she goes Along the corridor. How like a
fawn! Yet statelier. No sound (however soft) Nor gentlest echo telleth
when she treads, But every motion of her shape doth seem Hallowed by
silence. So did Hebe grow Among the gods a paragon! Away, I'm grown The
very fool of Love!"

The truth is, I never saw anything like her, nor I never shall again.
How then do I console myself for the loss of her? Shall I tell you, but
you will not mention it again? I am foolish enough to believe that she
and I, in spite of every thing, shall be sitting together over a
sea-coal fire, a comfortable good old couple, twenty years hence! But
to my narrative.--

I was delighted with the alteration in her manner, and said, referring
to the bust--"You know it is not mine, but yours; I gave it you; nay, I
have given you all--my heart, and whatever I possess, is yours! She
seemed good-humouredly to decline this carte blanche offer, and waved,
like a thing of enchantment, out of the room. False calm!--Deceitful
smiles!--Short interval of peace, followed by lasting woe! I sought an
interview with her that same evening. I could not get her to come any
farther than the door. "She was busy--she could hear what I had to say
there." Why do you seem to avoid me as you do? Not one five minutes'
conversation, for the sake of old acquaintance? Well, then, for the
sake of THE LITTLE IMAGE!" The appeal seemed to have lost its
efficacy; the charm was broken; she remained immoveable. "Well, then I
must come to you, if you will not run away." I went and sat down in a
chair near the door, and took her hand, and talked to her for three
quarters of an hour; and she listened patiently, thoughtfully, and
seemed a good deal affected by what I said. I told her how much I had
felt, how much I had suffered for her in my absence, and how much I had
been hurt by her sudden silence, for which I knew not how to account. I
could have done nothing to offend her while I was away; and my letters
were, I hoped, tender and respectful. I had had but one thought ever
present with me; her image never quitted my side, alone or in company,
to delight or distract me. Without her I could have no peace, nor ever
should again, unless she would behave to me as she had done formerly.
There was no abatement of my regard to her; why was she so changed? I
said to her, "Ah! Sarah, when I think that it is only a year ago that
you were everything to me I could wish, and that now you seem lost to me
for ever, the month of May (the name of which ought to be a signal for
joy and hope) strikes chill to my heart.--How different is this meeting
from that delicious parting, when you seemed never weary of repeating
the proofs of your regard and tenderness, and it was with difficulty we
tore ourselves asunder at last! I am ten thousand times fonder of you
than I was then, and ten thousand times more unhappy!" "You have no
reason to be so; my feelings towards you are the same as they ever
were." I told her "She was my all of hope or comfort: my passion for
her grew stronger every time I saw her." She answered, "She was sorry
for it; for THAT she never could return." I said something about
looking ill: she said in her pretty, mincing, emphatic way, "I despise
looks!" So, thought I, it is not that; and she says there's no one
else: it must be some strange air she gives herself, in consequence of
the approaching change in my circumstances. She has been probably
advised not to give up till all is fairly over, and then she will be my
own sweet girl again. All this time she was standing just outside the
door, my hand in hers (would that they could have grown together!) she
was dressed in a loose morning-gown, her hair curled beautifully; she
stood with her profile to me, and looked down the whole time. No
expression was ever more soft or perfect. Her whole attitude, her whole
form, was dignity and bewitching grace. I said to her, "You look like a
queen, my love, adorned with your own graces!" I grew idolatrous, and
would have kneeled to her. She made a movement, as if she was
displeased. I tried to draw her towards me. She wouldn't. I then got
up, and offered to kiss her at parting. I found she obstinately
refused. This stung me to the quick. It was the first time in her life
she had ever done so. There must be some new bar between us to produce
these continued denials; and she had not even esteem enough left to tell
me so. I followed her half-way down-stairs, but to no purpose, and
returned into my room, confirmed in my most dreadful surmises. I could
bear it no longer. I gave way to all the fury of disappointed hope and
jealous passion. I was made the dupe of trick and cunning, killed with
cold, sullen scorn; and, after all the agony I had suffered, could
obtain no explanation why I was subjected to it. I was still to be
tantalized, tortured, made the cruel sport of one, for whom I would have
sacrificed all. I tore the locket which contained her hair (and which I
used to wear continually in my bosom, as the precious token of her dear
regard) from my neck, and trampled it in pieces. I then dashed the
little Buonaparte on the ground, and stamped upon it, as one of her
instruments of mockery. I could not stay in the room; I could not leave
it; my rage, my despair were uncontroulable. I shrieked curses on her
name, and on her false love; and the scream I uttered (so pitiful and so
piercing was it, that the sound of it terrified me) instantly brought
the whole house, father, mother, lodgers and all, into the room. They
thought I was destroying her and myself. I had gone into the bedroom,
merely to hide away from myself, and as I came out of it, raging-mad
with the new sense of present shame and lasting misery, Mrs. F----
said, "She's in there! He has got her in there!" thinking the cries had
proceeded from her, and that I had been offering her violence. "Oh!
no," I said, "She's in no danger from me; I am not the person;" and
tried to burst from this scene of degradation. The mother endeavoured
to stop me, and said, "For God's sake, don't go out, Mr. -----! for
God's sake, don't!" Her father, who was not, I believe, in the secret,
and was therefore justly scandalised at such outrageous conduct, said
angrily, "Let him go! Why should he stay?" I however sprang down
stairs, and as they called out to me, "What is it?--What has she done to
you?" I answered, "She has murdered me!--She has destroyed me for
ever!--She has doomed my soul to perdition!" I rushed out of the house,
thinking to quit it forever; but I was no sooner in the street, than the
desolation and the darkness became greater, more intolerable; and the
eddying violence of my passion drove me back to the source, from whence
it sprung. This unexpected explosion, with the conjectures to which it
would give rise, could not be very agreeable to the precieuse or her
family; and when I went back, the father was waiting at the door, as if
anticipating this sudden turn of my feelings, with no friendly aspect.
I said, "I have to beg pardon, Sir; but my mad fit is over, and I wish
to say a few words to you in private." He seemed to hesitate, but some
uneasy forebodings on his own account, probably, prevailed over his
resentment; or, perhaps (as philosophers have a desire to know the cause
of thunder) it was a natural curiosity to know what circumstances of
provocation had given rise to such an extraordinary scene of confusion.
When we reached my room, I requested him to be seated. I said, "It is
true, Sir, I have lost my peace of mind for ever, but at present I am
quite calm and collected, and I wish to explain to you why I have
behaved in so extravagant a way, and to ask for your advice and
intercession." He appeared satisfied, and I went on. I had no chance
either of exculpating myself, or of probing the question to the bottom,
but by stating the naked truth, and therefore I said at once, "Sarah
told me, Sir (and I never shall forget the way in which she told me,
fixing her dove's eyes upon me, and looking a thousand tender reproaches
for the loss of that good opinion, which she held dearer than all the
world) she told me, Sir, that as you one day passed the door, which
stood a-jar, you saw her in an attitude which a good deal startled you;
I mean sitting in my lap, with her arms round my neck, and mine twined
round her in the fondest manner. What I wished to ask was, whether this
was actually the case, or whether it was a mere invention of her own, to
enhance the sense of my obligations to her; for I begin to doubt
everything?"--"Indeed, it was so; and very much surprised and hurt I was
to see it." "Well then, Sir, I can only say, that as you saw her
sitting then, so she had been sitting for the last year and a half,
almost every day of her life, by the hour together; and you may judge
yourself, knowing what a nice modest-looking girl she is, whether, after
having been admitted to such intimacy with so sweet a creature, and for
so long a time, it is not enough to make any one frantic to be received
by her as I have been since my return, without any provocation given or
cause assigned for it." The old man answered very seriously, and, as I
think, sincerely, "What you now tell me, Sir, mortifies and shocks me as
much as it can do yourself. I had no idea such a thing was possible. I
was much pained at what I saw; but I thought it an accident, and that it
would never happen again."--"It was a constant habit; it has happened a
hundred times since, and a thousand before. I lived on her caresses as
my daily food, nor can I live without them." So I told him the whole
story, "what conjurations, and what mighty magic I won his daughter
with," to be anything but MINE FOR LIFE. Nothing could well exceed
his astonishment and apparent mortification. "What I had said," he
owned, "had left a weight upon his mind that he should not easily get
rid of." I told him, "For myself, I never could recover the blow I had
received. I thought, however, for her own sake, she ought to alter her
present behaviour. Her marked neglect and dislike, so far from
justifying, left her former intimacies without excuse; for nothing could
reconcile them to propriety, or even a pretence to common decency, but
either love, or friendship so strong and pure that it could put on the
guise of love. She was certainly a singular girl. Did she think it
right and becoming to be free with strangers, and strange to old
friends?" I frankly declared, "I did not see how it was in human nature
for any one who was not rendered callous to such familiarities by
bestowing them indiscriminately on every one, to grant the extreme and
continued indulgences she had done to me, without either liking the man
at first, or coming to like him in the end, in spite of herself. When
my addresses had nothing, and could have nothing honourable in them, she
gave them every encouragement; when I wished to make them honourable,
she treated them with the utmost contempt. The terms we had been all
along on were such as if she had been to be my bride next day. It was
only when I wished her actually to become so, to ensure her own
character and my happiness, that she shrunk back with precipitation and
panic-fear. There seemed to me something wrong in all this; a want both
of common propriety, and I might say, of natural feeling; yet, with all
her faults, I loved her, and ever should, beyond any other human being.
I had drank in the poison of her sweetness too long ever to be cured of
it; and though I might find it to be poison in the end, it was still in
my veins. My only ambition was to be permitted to live with her, and to
die in her arms. Be she what she would, treat me how she would, I felt
that my soul was wedded to hers; and were she a mere lost creature, I
would try to snatch her from perdition, and marry her to-morrow if she
would have me. That was the question--"Would she have me, or would she
not?" He said he could not tell; but should not attempt to put any
constraint upon her inclinations, one way or other. I acquiesced, and
added, that "I had brought all this upon myself, by acting contrary to
the suggestions of my friend, Mr. -----, who had desired me to take no
notice whether she came near me or kept away, whether she smiled or
frowned, was kind or contemptuous--all you have to do, is to wait
patiently for a month till you are your own man, as you will be in all
probability; then make her an offer of your hand, and if she refuses,
there's an end of the matter." Mr. L. said, "Well, Sir, and I don't
think you can follow a better advice!" I took this as at least a sort
of negative encouragement, and so we parted.

TO THE SAME

(In continuation)

My dear Friend, The next day I felt almost as sailors must do after a
violent storm over-night, that has subsided towards daybreak. The
morning was a dull and stupid calm, and I found she was unwell, in
consequence of what had happened. In the evening I grew more uneasy,
and determined on going into the country for a week or two. I gathered
up the fragments of the locket of her hair, and the little bronze
statue, which were strewed about the floor, kissed them, folded them up
in a sheet of paper, and sent them to her, with these lines written in
pencil on the outside--"Pieces of a broken heart, to be kept in
remembrance of the unhappy. Farewell." No notice was taken; nor did I
expect any. The following morning I requested Betsey to pack up my box
for me, as I should go out of town the next day, and at the same time
wrote a note to her sister to say, I should take it as a favour if she
would please to accept of the enclosed copies of the Vicar of
Wakefield, The Man of Feeling and Nature and Art, in lieu of three
volumes of my own writings, which I had given her on different
occasions, in the course of our acquaintance. I was piqued, in fact,
that she should have these to shew as proofs of my weakness, and as if I
thought the way to win her was by plaguing her with my own performances.

She sent me word back that the books I had sent were of no use to her,
and that I should have those I wished for in the afternoon; but that she
could not before, as she had lent them to her sister, Mrs. M-----. I
said, "very well;" but observed (laughing) to Betsey, "It's a bad rule
to give and take; so, if Sarah won't have these books, you must; they
are very pretty ones, I assure you." She curtsied and took them,
according to the family custom. In the afternoon, when I came back to
tea, I found the little girl on her knees, busy in packing up my things,
and a large paper parcel on the table, which I could not at first tell
what to make of. On opening it, however, I soon found what it was. It
contained a number of volumes which I had given her at different times
(among others, a little Prayer-Book, bound in crimson velvet, with green
silk linings; she kissed it twenty times when she received it, and said
it was the prettiest present in the world, and that she would shew it to
her aunt, who would be proud of it)--and all these she had returned
together. Her name in the title-page was cut out of them all. I
doubted at the instant whether she had done this before or after I had
sent for them back, and I have doubted of it since; but there is no
occasion to suppose her UGLY ALL OVER WITH HYPOCRISY. Poor little
thing! She has enough to answer for, as it is. I asked Betsey if she
could carry a message for me, and she said "YES." "Will you tell your
sister, then, that I did not want all these books; and give my love to
her, and say that I shall be obliged if she will still keep these that I
have sent back, and tell her that it is only those of my own writing
that I think unworthy of her." What do you think the little imp made
answer? She raised herself on the other side of the table where she
stood, as if inspired by the genius of the place, and said--"AND THOSE
ARE THE ONES THAT SHE PRIZES THE MOST!" If there were ever words spoken
that could revive the dead, those were the words. Let me kiss them, and
forget that my ears have heard aught else! I said, "Are you sure of
that?" and she said, "Yes, quite sure." I told her, "If I could be, I
should be very different from what I was." And I became so that
instant, for these casual words carried assurance to my heart of her
esteem--that once implied, I had proofs enough of her fondness. Oh! how
I felt at that moment! Restored to love, hope, and joy, by a breath
which I had caught by the merest accident, and which I might have pined
in absence and mute despair for want of hearing! I did not know how to
contain myself; I was childish, wanton, drunk with pleasure. I gave
Betsey a twenty-shilling note which I happened to have in my hand, and
on her asking "What's this for, Sir?" I said, "It's for you. Don't you
think it worth that to be made happy? You once made me very wretched by
some words I heard you drop, and now you have made me as happy; and all
I wish you is, when you grow up, that you may find some one to love you
as well as I do your sister, and that you may love better than she does
me!" I continued in this state of delirium or dotage all that day and
the next, talked incessantly, laughed at every thing, and was so
extravagant, nobody could tell what was the matter with me. I murmured
her name; I blest her; I folded her to my heart in delicious fondness; I
called her by my own name; I worshipped her: I was mad for her. I told
P---- I should laugh in her face, if ever she pretended not to like me
again. Her mother came in and said, she hoped I should excuse Sarah's
coming up. "Oh, Ma'am," I said, "I have no wish to see her; I feel her
at my heart; she does not hate me after all, and I wish for nothing.
Let her come when she will, she is to me welcomer than light, than life;
but let it be in her own sweet time, and at her own dear pleasure."
Betsey also told me she was "so glad to get the books back." I,
however, sobered and wavered (by degrees) from seeing nothing of her,
day after day; and in less than a week I was devoted to the Infernal
Gods. I could hold out no longer than the Monday evening following. I
sent a message to her; she returned an ambiguous answer; but she came
up. Pity me, my friend, for the shame of this recital. Pity me for the
pain of having ever had to make it! If the spirits of mortal creatures,
purified by faith and hope, can (according to the highest assurances)
ever, during thousands of years of smooth-rolling eternity and balmy,
sainted repose, forget the pain, the toil, the anguish, the
helplessness, and the despair they have suffered here, in this frail
being, then may I forget that withering hour, and her, that fair, pale
form that entered, my inhuman betrayer, and my only earthly love! She
said, "Did you wish to speak to me, Sir?" I said, "Yes, may I not speak
to you? I wanted to see you and be friends." I rose up, offered her an
arm-chair which stood facing, bowed on it, and knelt to her adoring.
She said (going) "If that's all, I have nothing to say." I replied,
"Why do you treat me thus? What have I done to become thus hateful to
you?" ANSWER, "I always told you I had no affection for you." You
may suppose this was a blow, after the imaginary honey-moon in which I
had passed the preceding week. I was stunned by it; my heart sunk
within me. I contrived to say, "Nay, my dear girl, not always neither;
for did you not once (if I might presume to look back to those happy,
happy times), when you were sitting on my knee as usual, embracing and
embraced, and I asked if you could not love me at last, did you not make
answer, in the softest tones that ever man heard, 'I COULD EASILY SAY
SO, WHETHER I DID OR NOT; YOU SHOULD JUDGE BY MY ACTIONS!' Was I to
blame in taking you at your word, when every hope I had depended on your
sincerity? And did you not say since I came back, 'YOUR FEELINGS TO ME
WERE THE SAME AS EVER?' Why then is your behaviour so different?" S.
"Is it nothing, your exposing me to the whole house in the way you did
the other evening?" H. "Nay, that was the consequence of your cruel
reception of me, not the cause of it. I had better have gone away last
year, as I proposed to do, unless you would give some pledge of your
fidelity; but it was your own offer that I should remain. 'Why should I
go?' you said, 'Why could we not go on the same as we had done, and say
nothing about the word FOREVER?'" S. "And how did you behave when
you returned?" H. "That was all forgiven when we last parted, and your
last words were, 'I should find you the same as ever' when I came home?
Did you not that very day enchant and madden me over again by the purest
kisses and embraces, and did I not go from you (as I said) adoring,
confiding, with every assurance of mutual esteem and friendship?" S.
"Yes, and in your absence I found that you had told my aunt what had
passed between us." H. "It was to induce her to extort your real
sentiments from you, that you might no longer make a secret of your true
regard for me, which your actions (but not your words) confessed." S.
"I own I have been guilty of improprieties, which you have gone and
repeated, not only in the house, but out of it; so that it has come to
my ears from various quarters, as if I was a light character. And I am
determined in future to be guided by the advice of my relations, and
particularly of my aunt, whom I consider as my best friend, and keep
every lodger at a proper distance." You will find hereafter that her
favourite lodger, whom she visits daily, had left the house; so that she
might easily make and keep this vow of extraordinary self-denial.
Precious little dissembler! Yet her aunt, her best friend, says, "No,
Sir, no; Sarah's no hypocrite!" which I was fool enough to believe; and
yet my great and unpardonable offence is to have entertained passing
doubts on this delicate point. I said, Whatever errors I had committed,
arose from my anxiety to have everything explained to her honour: my
conduct shewed that I had that at heart, and that I built on the purity
of her character as on a rock. My esteem for her amounted to adoration.
"She did not want adoration." It was only when any thing happened to
imply that I had been mistaken, that I committed any extravagance,
because I could not bear to think her short of perfection. "She was far
from perfection," she replied, with an air and manner (oh, my God!) as
near it as possible. "How could she accuse me of a want of regard to
her? It was but the other day, Sarah," I said to her, "when that little
circumstance of the books happened, and I fancied the expressions your
sister dropped proved the sincerity of all your kindness to me--you
don't know how my heart melted within me at the thought, that after all,
I might be dear to you. New hopes sprung up in my heart, and I felt as
Adam must have done when his Eve was created for him!" "She had heard
enough of that sort of conversation," (moving towards the door). This,
I own, was the unkindest cut of all. I had, in that case, no hopes
whatever. I felt that I had expended words in vain, and that the
conversation below stairs (which I told you of when I saw you) had
spoiled her taste for mine. If the allusion had been classical I should
have been to blame; but it was scriptural, it was a sort of religious
courtship, and Miss L. is religious!

At once he took his Muse and dipt her Right in the middle of the
Scripture.

It would not do--the lady could make neither head nor tail of it. This
is a poor attempt at levity. Alas! I am sad enough. "Would she go and
leave me so? If it was only my own behaviour, I still did not doubt of
success. I knew the sincerity of my love, and she would be convinced of
it in time. If that was all, I did not care: but tell me true, is there
not a new attachment that is the real cause of your estrangement? Tell
me, my sweet friend, and before you tell me, give me your hand (nay,
both hands) that I may have something to support me under the dreadful
conviction." She let me take her hands in mine, saying, "She supposed
there could be no objection to that,"--as if she acted on the
suggestions of others, instead of following her own will--but still
avoided giving me any answer. I conjured her to tell me the worst, and
kill me on the spot. Any thing was better than my present state. I
said, "Is it Mr. C-----?" She smiled, and said with gay indifference,
"Mr. C----- was here a very short time." "Well, then, was it Mr.
-----?" She hesitated, and then replied faintly, "No." This was a mere
trick to mislead; one of the profoundnesses of Satan, in which she is an
adept. "But," she added hastily, "she could make no more confidences."
"Then," said I, "you have something to communicate." "No; but she had
once mentioned a thing of the sort, which I had hinted to her mother,
though it signified little." All this while I was in tortures. Every
word, every half-denial, stabbed me. "Had she any tie?" "No, I have no
tie!" "You are not going to be married soon?" "I don't intend ever to
marry at all!" "Can't you be friends with me as of old?" "She could
give no promises." "Would she make her own terms?" "She would make
none."--"I was sadly afraid the LITTLE IMAGE was dethroned from her
heart, as I had dashed it to the ground the other night."--"She was
neither desperate nor violent." I did not answer--"But deliberate and
deadly,"--though I might; and so she vanished in this running fight of
question and answer, in spite of my vain efforts to detain her. The
cockatrice, I said, mocks me: so she has always done. The thought was a
dagger to me. My head reeled, my heart recoiled within me. I was stung
with scorpions; my flesh crawled; I was choked with rage; her scorn
scorched me like flames; her air (her heavenly air) withdrawn from me,
stifled me, and left me gasping for breath and being. It was a fable.
She started up in her own likeness, a serpent in place of a woman. She
had fascinated, she had stung me, and had returned to her proper shape,
gliding from me after inflicting the mortal wound, and instilling deadly
poison into every pore; but her form lost none of its original
brightness by the change of character, but was all glittering,
beauteous, voluptuous grace. Seed of the serpent or of the woman, she
was divine! I felt that she was a witch, and had bewitched me. Fate
had enclosed me round about. _I_ was transformed too, no longer human
(any more than she, to whom I had knit myself) my feelings were marble;
my blood was of molten lead; my thoughts on fire. I was taken out of
myself, wrapt into another sphere, far from the light of day, of hope,
of love. I had no natural affection left; she had slain me, but no
other thing had power over me. Her arms embraced another; but her
mock-embrace, the phantom of her love, still bound me, and I had not a
wish to escape. So I felt then, and so perhaps shall feel till I grow
old and die, nor have any desire that my years should last longer than
they are linked in the chain of those amorous folds, or than her
enchantments steep my soul in oblivion of all other things! I started
to find myself alone--for ever alone, without a creature to love me. I
looked round the room for help; I saw the tables, the chairs, the places
where she stood or sat, empty, deserted, dead. I could not stay where I
was; I had no one to go to but to the parent-mischief, the preternatural
hag, that had "drugged this posset" of her daughter's charms and
falsehood for me, and I went down and (such was my weakness and
helplessness) sat with her for an hour, and talked with her of her
daughter, and the sweet days we had passed together, and said I thought
her a good girl, and believed that if there was no rival, she still had
a regard for me at the bottom of her heart; and how I liked her all the
better for her coy, maiden airs: and I received the assurance over and
over that there was no one else; and that Sarah (they all knew) never
staid five minutes with any other lodger, while with me she would stay
by the hour together, in spite of all her father could say to her (what
were her motives, was best known to herself!) and while we were talking
of her, she came bounding into the room, smiling with smothered delight
at the consummation of my folly and her own art; and I asked her mother
whether she thought she looked as if she hated me, and I took her
wrinkled, withered, cadaverous, clammy hand at parting, and kissed it.
Faugh!--

I will make an end of this story; there is something in it discordant to
honest ears. I left the house the next day, and returned to Scotland in
a state so near to phrenzy, that I take it the shades sometimes ran into
one another. R---- met me the day after I arrived, and will tell you
the way I was in. I was like a person in a high fever; only mine was in
the mind instead of the body. It had the same irritating, uncomfortable
effect on the bye-standers. I was incapable of any application, and
don't know what I should have done, had it not been for the kindness of
-----. I came to see you, to "bestow some of my tediousness upon you,"
but you were gone from home. Everything went on well as to the law
business; and as it approached to a conclusion, I wrote to my good
friend P---- to go to M----, who had married her sister, and ask him if
it would be worth my while to make her a formal offer, as soon as I was
free, as, with the least encouragement, I was ready to throw myself at
her feet; and to know, in case of refusal, whether I might go back there
and be treated as an old friend. Not a word of answer could be got from
her on either point, notwithstanding every importunity and intreaty; but
it was the opinion of M---- that I might go and try my fortune. I did
so with joy, with something like confidence. I thought her giving no
positive answer implied a chance, at least, of the reversion of her
favour, in case I behaved well. All was false, hollow, insidious. The
first night after I got home, I slept on down. In Scotland, the flint
had been my pillow. But now I slept under the same roof with her. What
softness, what balmy repose in the very thought! I saw her that same
day and shook hands with her, and told her how glad I was to see her;
and she was kind and comfortable, though still cold and distant. Her
manner was altered from what it was the last time. She still absented
herself from the room, but was mild and affable when she did come. She
was pale, dejected, evidently uneasy about something, and had been ill.
I thought it was perhaps her reluctance to yield to my wishes, her pity
for what I suffered; and that in the struggle between both, she did not
know what to do. How I worshipped her at these moments! We had a long
interview the third day, and I thought all was doing well. I found her
sitting at work in the window-seat of the front parlour; and on my
asking if I might come in, she made no objection. I sat down by her;
she let me take her hand; I talked to her of indifferent things, and of
old times. I asked her if she would put some new frills on my
shirts?---"With the greatest pleasure." If she could get THE LITTLE
IMAGE mended? "It was broken in three pieces, and the sword was gone,
but she would try." I then asked her to make up a plaid silk which I
had given her in the winter, and which she said would make a pretty
summer gown. I so longed to see her in it!--"She had little time to
spare, but perhaps might!" Think what I felt, talking peaceably,
kindly, tenderly with my love,--not passionately, not violently. I
tried to take pattern by her patient meekness, as I thought it, and to
subdue my desires to her will. I then sued to her, but respectfully, to
be admitted to her friendship--she must know I was as true a friend as
ever woman had--or if there was a bar to our intimacy from a dearer
attachment, to let me know it frankly, as I shewed her all my heart.
She drew out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes "of tears which sacred
pity had engendered there." Was it so or not? I cannot tell. But so
she stood (while I pleaded my cause to her with all the earnestness, and
fondness in the world) with the tears trickling from her eye-lashes, her
head stooping, her attitude fixed, with the finest expression that ever
was seen of mixed regret, pity, and stubborn resolution; but without
speaking a word, without altering a feature. It was like a petrifaction
of a human face in the softest moment of passion. "Ah!" I said, "how
you look! I have prayed again and again while I was away from you, in
the agony of my spirit, that I might but live to see you look so again,
and then breathe my last!" I intreated her to give me some explanation.
In vain! At length she said she must go, and disappeared like a
spirit. That week she did all the little trifling favours I had asked
of her. The frills were put on, and she sent up to know if I wanted any
more done. She got the Buonaparte mended. This was like healing old
wounds indeed! How? As follows, for thereby hangs the conclusion of my
tale. Listen.

I had sent a message one evening to speak to her about some special
affairs of the house, and received no answer. I waited an hour
expecting her, and then went out in great vexation at my disappointment.
I complained to her mother a day or two after, saying I thought it so
unlike Sarah's usual propriety of behaviour, that she must mean it as a
mark of disrespect. Mrs. L---- said, "La! Sir, you're always fancying
things. Why, she was dressing to go out, and she was only going to get
the little image you're both so fond of mended; and it's to be done this
evening. She has been to two or three places to see about it, before
she could get anyone to undertake it." My heart, my poor fond heart,
almost melted within me at this news. I answered, "Ah! Madam, that's
always the way with the dear creature. I am finding fault with her and
thinking the hardest things of her; and at that very time she's doing
something to shew the most delicate attention, and that she has no
greater satisfaction than in gratifying my wishes!" On this we had some
farther talk, and I took nearly the whole of the lodgings at a hundred
guineas a year, that (as I said) she might have a little leisure to sit
at her needle of an evening, or to read if she chose, or to walk out
when it was fine. She was not in good health, and it would do her good
to be less confined. I would be the drudge and she should no longer be
the slave. I asked nothing in return. To see her happy, to make her
so, was to be so myself.--This was agreed to. I went over to Blackheath
that evening, delighted as I could be after all I had suffered, and lay
the whole of the next morning on the heath under the open sky, dreaming
of my earthly Goddess. This was Sunday. That evening I returned, for I
could hardly bear to be for a moment out of the house where she was, and
the next morning she tapped at the door--it was opened--it was she--she
hesitated and then came forward: she had got the little image in her
hand, I took it, and blest her from my heart. She said "They had been
obliged to put some new pieces to it." I said "I didn't care how it was
done, so that I had it restored to me safe, and by her." I thanked her
and begged to shake hands with her. She did so, and as I held the only
hand in the world that I never wished to let go, I looked up in her
face, and said "Have pity on me, have pity on me, and save me if you
can!" Not a word of answer, but she looked full in my eyes, as much as
to say, "Well, I'll think of it; and if I can, I will save you!" We
talked about the expense of repairing the figure. "Was the man
waiting?"--"No, she had fetched it on Saturday evening." I said I'd
give her the money in the course of the day, and then shook hands with
her again in token of reconciliation; and she went waving out of the
room, but at the door turned round and looked full at me, as she did the
first time she beguiled me of my heart. This was the last.--

All that day I longed to go down stairs to ask her and her mother to set
out with me for Scotland on Wednesday, and on Saturday I would make her
my wife. Something withheld me. In the evening, however, I could not
rest without seeing her, and I said to her younger sister, "Betsey, if
Sarah will come up now, I'll pay her what she laid out for me the other
day."--"My sister's gone out, Sir," was the answer. What again! thought
I, That's somewhat sudden. I told P---- her sitting in the window-seat
of the front parlour boded me no good. It was not in her old character.
She did not use to know there were doors or windows in the house--and
now she goes out three times in a week. It is to meet some one, I'll
lay my life on't. "Where is she gone?"--"To my grandmother's, Sir."
"Where does your grandmother live now?"--"At Somers' Town." I
immediately set out to Somers' Town. I passed one or two streets, and
at last turned up King Street, thinking it most likely she would return
that way home. I passed a house in King Street where I had once lived,
and had not proceeded many paces, ruminating on chance and change and
old times, when I saw her coming towards me. I felt a strange pang at
the sight, but I thought her alone. Some people before me moved on, and
I saw another person with her. THE MURDER WAS OUT. It was a tall,
rather well-looking young man, but I did not at first recollect him. We
passed at the crossing of the street without speaking. Will you believe
it, after all that had past between us for two years, after what had
passed in the last half-year, after what had passed that very morning,
she went by me without even changing countenance, without expressing the
slightest emotion, without betraying either shame or pity or remorse or
any other feeling that any other human being but herself must have shewn
in the same situation. She had no time to prepare for acting a part, to
suppress her feelings--the truth is, she has not one natural feeling in
her bosom to suppress. I turned and looked--they also turned and looked
and as if by mutual consent, we both retrod our steps and passed again,
in the same way. I went home. I was stifled. I could not stay in the
house, walked into the street and met them coming towards home. As soon
as he had left her at the door (I fancy she had prevailed with him to
accompany her, dreading some violence) I returned, went up stairs, and
requested an interview. Tell her, I said, I'm in excellent temper and
good spirits, but I must see her! She came smiling, and I said, "Come
in, my dear girl, and sit down, and tell me all about it, how it is and
who it is."--" What," she said, "do you mean Mr. C----?" "Oh," said I,
"Then it is he! Ah! you rogue, I always suspected there was something
between you, but you know you denied it lustily: why did you not tell me
all about it at the time, instead of letting me suffer as I have done?
But, however, no reproaches. I only wish it may all end happily and
honourably for you, and I am satisfied. But," I said, "you know you
used to tell me, you despised looks."--"She didn't think Mr. C---- was
so particularly handsome." "No, but he's very well to pass, and a
well-grown youth into the bargain." Pshaw! let me put an end to the
fulsome detail. I found he had lived over the way, that he had been
lured thence, no doubt, almost a year before, that they had first spoken
in the street, and that he had never once hinted at marriage, and had
gone away, because (as he said) they were too much together, and that it
was better for her to meet him occasionally out of doors. "There could
be no harm in them walking together." "No, but you may go some where
afterwards."--" One must trust to one's principle for that." Consummate
hypocrite! * * * * * * I told her Mr. M----, who had married her
sister, did not wish to leave the house. I, who would have married her,
did not wish to leave it. I told her I hoped I should not live to see
her come to shame, after all my love of her; but put her on her guard as
well as I could, and said, after the lengths she had permitted herself
with me, I could not help being alarmed at the influence of one over
her, whom she could hardly herself suppose to have a tenth part of my
esteem for her!! She made no answer to this, but thanked me coldly for
my good advice, and rose to go. I begged her to sit a few minutes, that
I might try to recollect if there was anything else I wished to say to
her, perhaps for the last time; and then, not finding anything, I bade
her good night, and asked for a farewell kiss. Do you know she refused;
so little does she understand what is due to friendship, or love, or
honour! We parted friends, however, and I felt deep grief, but no
enmity against her. I thought C---- had pressed his suit after I went,
and had prevailed. There was no harm in that--a little fickleness or
so, a little over-pretension to unalterable attachment--but that was
all. She liked him better than me--it was my hard hap, but I must bear
it. I went out to roam the desert streets, when, turning a corner, whom
should I meet but her very lover? I went up to him and asked for a few
minutes' conversation on a subject that was highly interesting to me and
I believed not indifferent to him: and in the course of four hours'
talk, it came out that for three months previous to my quitting London
for Scotland, she had been playing the same game with him as with
me--that he breakfasted first, and enjoyed an hour of her society, and
then I took my turn, so that we never jostled; and this explained why,
when he came back sometimes and passed my door, as she was sitting in my
lap, she coloured violently, thinking if her lover looked in, what a
denouement there would be. He could not help again and again
expressing his astonishment at finding that our intimacy had continued
unimpaired up to so late a period after he came, and when they were on
the most intimate footing. She used to deny positively to him that
there was anything between us, just as she used to assure me with
impenetrable effrontery that "Mr. C---- was nothing to her, but merely a
lodger." All this while she kept up the farce of her romantic
attachment to her old lover, vowed that she never could alter in that
respect, let me go to Scotland on the solemn and repeated assurance that
there was no new flame, that there was no bar between us but this
shadowy love--I leave her on this understanding, she becomes more fond
or more intimate with her new lover; he quitting the house (whether
tired out or not, I can't say)--in revenge she ceases to write to me,
keeps me in wretched suspense, treats me like something loathsome to her
when I return to enquire the cause, denies it with scorn and impudence,
destroys me and shews no pity, no desire to soothe or shorten the pangs
she has occasioned by her wantonness and hypocrisy, and wishes to linger
the affair on to the last moment, going out to keep an appointment with
another while she pretends to be obliging me in the tenderest point
(which C---- himself said was too much). . . .What do you think of all
this? Shall I tell you my opinion? But I must try to do it in another
letter.

TO THE SAME

(In conclusion)

I did not sleep a wink all that night; nor did I know till the next day
the full meaning of what had happened to me. With the morning's light,
conviction glared in upon me that I had not only lost her for ever--but
every feeling I had ever had towards her--respect, tenderness, pity--all
but my fatal passion, was gone. The whole was a mockery, a frightful
illusion. I had embraced the false Florimel instead of the true; or was
like the man in the Arabian Nights who had married a GOUL. How
different was the idea I once had of her? Was this she,

--"Who had been beguiled--she who was made
Within a gentle bosom to be laid--
To bless and to be blessed--to be heart-bare
To one who found his bettered likeness there--
To think for ever with him, like a bride--
To haunt his eye, like taste personified--
To double his delight, to share his sorrow,
And like a morning beam, wake to him every morrow?

I saw her pale, cold form glide silent by me, dead to shame as to pity.
Still I seemed to clasp this piece of witchcraft to my bosom; this
lifeless image, which was all that was left of my love, was the only
thing to which my sad heart clung. Were she dead, should I not wish to
gaze once more upon her pallid features? She is dead to me; but what
she once was to me, can never die! The agony, the conflict of hope and
fear, of adoration and jealousy is over; or it would, ere long, have
ended with my life. I am no more lifted now to Heaven, and then plunged
in the abyss; but I seem to have been thrown from the top of a
precipice, and to lie groveling, stunned, and stupefied. I am
melancholy, lonesome, and weaker than a child. The worst is, I have no
prospect of any alteration for the better: she has cut off all
possibility of a reconcilement at any future period. Were she even to
return to her former pretended fondness and endearments, I could have no
pleasure, no confidence in them. I can scarce make out the
contradiction to myself. I strive to think she always was what I now
know she is; but I have great difficulty in it, and can hardly believe
but she still IS what she so long SEEMED. Poor thing! I am afraid
she is little better off herself; nor do I see what is to become of her,
unless she throws off the mask at once, and RUNS A-MUCK at infamy.
She is exposed and laid bare to all those whose opinion she set a value
upon. Yet she held her head very high, and must feel (if she feels any
thing) proportionably mortified.--A more complete experiment on
character was never made. If I had not met her lover immediately after
I parted with her, it would have been nothing. I might have supposed
she had changed her mind in my absence, and had given him the preference
as soon as she felt it, and even shewn her delicacy in declining any
farther intimacy with me. But it comes out that she had gone on in the
most forward and familiar way with both at once--(she could not change
her mind in passing from one room to another)--told both the same
barefaced and unblushing falsehoods, like the commonest creature;
received presents from me to the very last, and wished to keep up the
game still longer, either to gratify her humour, her avarice, or her
vanity in playing with my passion, or to have me as a dernier resort,
in case of accidents. Again, it would have been nothing, if she had not
come up with her demure, well-composed, wheedling looks that morning,
and then met me in the evening in a situation, which (she believed)
might kill me on the spot, with no more feeling than a common courtesan
shews, who BILKS a customer, and passes him, leering up at her bully,
the moment after. If there had been the frailty of passion, it would
have been excusable; but it is evident she is a practised, callous jilt,
a regular lodging-house decoy, played off by her mother upon the
lodgers, one after another, applying them to her different purposes,
laughing at them in turns, and herself the probable dupe and victim of
some favourite gallant in the end. I know all this; but what do I gain
by it, unless I could find some one with her shape and air, to supply
the place of the lovely apparition? That a professed wanton should come
and sit on a man's knee, and put her arms round his neck, and caress
him, and seem fond of him, means nothing, proves nothing, no one
concludes anything from it; but that a pretty, reserved, modest,
delicate-looking girl should do this, from the first hour to the last of
your being in the house, without intending anything by it, is new, and,
I think, worth explaining. It was, I confess, out of my calculation,
and may be out of that of others. Her unmoved indifference and
self-possession all the while, shew that it is her constant practice.
Her look even, if closely examined, bears this interpretation. It is
that of studied hypocrisy or startled guilt, rather than of refined
sensibility or conscious innocence. "She defied anyone to read her
thoughts?" she once told me. "Do they then require concealing?" I
imprudently asked her. The command over herself is surprising. She
never once betrays herself by any momentary forgetfulness, by any
appearance of triumph or superiority to the person who is her dupe, by
any levity of manner in the plenitude of her success; it is one
faultless, undeviating, consistent, consummate piece of acting. Were
she a saint on earth, she could not seem more like one. Her
hypocritical high-flown pretensions, indeed, make her the worse: but
still the ascendancy of her will, her determined perseverance in what
she undertakes to do, has something admirable in it, approaching to the
heroic. She is certainly an extraordinary girl! Her retired manner,
and invariable propriety of behaviour made me think it next to
impossible she could grant the same favours indiscriminately to every
one that she did to me. Yet this now appears to be the fact. She must
have done the very same with C----, invited him into the house to carry
on a closer intrigue with her, and then commenced the double game with
both together. She always "despised looks." This was a favourite
phrase with her, and one of the hooks which she baited for me. Nothing
could win her but a man's behaviour and sentiments. Besides, she could
never like another--she was a martyr to disappointed affection--and
friendship was all she could even extend to any other man. All the
time, she was making signals, playing off her pretty person, and having
occasional interviews in the street with this very man, whom she could
only have taken so sudden and violent a liking to him from his looks,
his personal appearance, and what she probably conjectured of his
circumstances. Her sister had married a counsellor--the Miss F----'s,
who kept the house before, had done so too--and so would she. "There
was a precedent for it." Yet if she was so desperately enamoured of
this new acquaintance, if he had displaced THE LITTLE IMAGE from her
breast, if he was become her SECOND "unalterable attachment" (which I
would have given my life to have been) why continue the same
unwarrantable familiarities with me to the last, and promise that they
should be renewed on my return (if I had not unfortunately stumbled upon
the truth to her aunt) and yet keep up the same refined cant about her
old attachment all the time, as if it was that which stood in the way of
my pretensions, and not her faithlessness to it? "If one swerves from
one, one shall swerve from another"--was her excuse for not returning my
regard. Yet that which I thought a prophecy, was I suspect a history.
She had swerved twice from her avowed engagements, first to me, and then
from me to another. If she made a fool of me, what did she make of her
lover? I fancy he has put that question to himself. I said nothing to
him about the amount of the presents; which is another damning
circumstance, that might have opened my eyes long before; but they were
shut by my fond affection, which "turned all to favour and to
prettiness." She cannot be supposed to have kept up an appearance of
old regard to me, from a fear of hurting my feelings by her desertion;
for she not only shewed herself indifferent to, but evidently triumphed
in my sufferings, and heaped every kind of insult and indignity upon
them. I must have incurred her contempt and resentment by my mistaken
delicacy at different times; and her manner, when I have hinted at
becoming a reformed man in this respect, convinces me of it. "She hated
it!" She always hated whatever she liked most. She "hated Mr. C----'s
red slippers," when he first came! One more count finishes the
indictment. She not only discovered the most hardened indifference to
the feelings of others; she has not shewn the least regard to her own
character, or shame when she was detected. When found out, she seemed
to say, "Well, what if I am? I have played the game as long as I could;
and if I could keep it up no longer, it was not for want of good will!"
Her colouring once or twice is the only sign of grace she has exhibited.
Such is the creature on whom I had thrown away my heart and soul-one
who was incapable of feeling the commonest emotions of human nature, as
they regarded herself or any one else. "She had no feelings with
respect to herself," she often said. She in fact knows what she is, and
recoils from the good opinion or sympathy of others, which she feels to
be founded on a deception; so that my overweening opinion of her must
have appeared like irony, or direct insult. My seeing her in the street
has gone a good way to satisfy me. Her manner there explains her manner
in-doors to be conscious and overdone; and besides, she looks but
indifferently. She is diminutive in stature, and her measured step and
timid air do not suit these public airings. I am afraid she will soon
grow common to my imagination, as well as worthless in herself. Her
image seems fast "going into the wastes of time," like a weed that the
wave bears farther and farther from me. Alas! thou poor hapless weed,
when I entirely lose sight of thee, and for ever, no flower will ever
bloom on earth to glad my heart again!

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