Part 6 out of 9
faces. Besides it's a poor country church--there's nothing to be seen
after you do go."
"I assure you Lady Juliana will be excessively annoyed if you go," said
Lady Emily, as Mary rose to leave the room.
"Surely my mother cannot be displeased at my attending church!" said
Mary in astonishment.
"Yes, she can, and most certainly will. She never goes herself now,
since she had a quarrel with Dr. Barlow, the clergyman; and she can't
bear any of the family to attend him."
"And you have my sanction for staying away, Miss Mary," added the
"Is he a man of bad character?" asked Mary, as she stood irresolute
whether to proceed.
"Quite the reverse. He is a very good man; but he was scandalised at
Lady Juliana's bringing her dogs to church one day, and wrote her what
she conceived a most insolent letter about it. But here come your
lady-mamma and the culprits in question."
"Your Ladyship is just come in time to settle a dispute here," said the
Doctor, anxious to turn her attention from a hot muffin, which had just
been brought in, and which he meditated appropriating to himself: "I
have said all I can--(Was you looking at the toast, Lady Emily?)--I must
now leave it to your Ladyship to convince this young lady of the folly
of going to church."
The Doctor gained his point. The muffin was upon his own plate, while
Lady Juliana directed her angry look towards her daughter.
"Who talks of going to church?" demanded she.
Mary gently expressed her wish to be permitted to attend divine service.
"I won't permit it. I don't approve of girls going about by themselves.
It is vastly improper, and I won't hear of it."
"It is the only place I shall ask to go to," said Mary timidly; "but I
have always been accustomed to attend church, and---"
"That is a sufficient reason for my choosing that you should not attend
it here. I won't suffer a Methodist in the house."
"I assure you the Methodists are gaining ground very fast," said the
Doctor, with his mouth full. 'Pon my soul, I think it's very alarming!"
"Pray, what is so alarming in the apprehension? asked Lady Emily.
"What is so alarming! 'Pon my honour, Lady Emily, I'm astonished to hear
you ask such a question!"--muttering to himself, "zealots--fanatics--
enthusiasts--bedlamites! I'm sure everybody knows what Methodists are!"
"There has been quite enough said upon the subject," said Lady Juliana.
"There are plenty of sermons in the house, Miss Mary," continued the
Doctor, who, like many other people, thought he was always doing a
meritorious action when he could dissuade anybody from going to church.
"I saw a volume somewhere not long ago; and at any rate there's the
Spectator, if you want Sunday's reading--some of the papers there are as
good as any sermon you'll get from Dr. Barlow."
Mary, with fear and hesitation, made another attempt to overcome her
mother's prejudice, but in vain.
"I desire I may hear no more about it!" cried she, raising her voice.
"The clergyman is a most improper person. I won't suffer any of my
family to attend his church; and therefore, once for all, I won't hear
another syllable on the subject."
This was said in a tone and manner not to be disputed, and Mary felt her
resolution give way before the displeasure of her mother. A contest of
duties was new to her, and she could not all at once resolve upon
fulfilling one duty at the expense of another. "Besides," thought she,
"my mother thinks she is in the right. Perhaps, by degrees, I may bring
her to think otherwise; and it is surely safer to try to conciliate than
to determine to oppose."
But another Sabbath came, and Mary found she had made no progress in
obtaining the desired permission. She therefore began seriously to
commune with her own heart as to the course she ought to pursue.
The commandment of "Honour thy father and thy mother" had been deeply
imprinted on her mind, and few possessed higher notions of filial
reverence; but there was another precept which also came to her
recollection. "Whosoever loveth father and mother more than me cannot be
my disciple." "But I may honour and obey my parent without loving her
more than my Saviour," argued she with herself, in hopes of lulling her
conscience by this reflection. "But again," thought she, "the Scripture
saith, 'He that keepeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me.'" Then
she felt the necessity of owning that if she obeyed the commands of her
mother, when in opposition to the will of her God, she gave one of the
Scripture proofs of either loving or fearing her parent upon earth more
than her Father which is in heaven. But Mary, eager to reconcile
impossibilities--viz. the will of an ungodly parent with the holy
commands of her Maker--thought now of another argument to calm her
conscience. "The Scripture," said she, "says nothing positive about
attending public worship; and, as Lady Emily says, I may say my prayers
just as well at home." But the passages of Scripture were too deeply
imprinted on her mind to admit of this subterfuge. "Forsake not the
assembling of yourselves together." "Where two or three are gathered
together in my name, there will I be in the midst of them," etc. etc. But
alas! two or three never were gathered together at Beech Park, except
upon parties of pleasure, games of hazard, or purposes of conviviality.
The result of Mary's deliberations was a firm determination to do what
she deemed her duty, however painful. And she went in search of Lady
Emily, hoping to prevail upon her to use her influence with Lady Juliana
to grant the desired permission; or, should she fail in obtaining it, she
trusted her resolution would continue strong enough to enable her have
her mother's displeasure in this act of conscientious disobedience. She
met her cousin, with her bonnet on, prepared to go out.
"Dear Lady Emily," said she, "let me entreat of you to use your
influence with my mother to persuade her to allow me to go to church."
"In the first place," answered her cousin, "you may know that I have no
influence;--in the second, that Lady Juliana is never to be persuaded
into any thing;--in the third, I really can't suppose you are serious in
thinking it a matter of such vast moment whether or not you go to
"Indeed I do," answered Mary earnestly. "I have been taught to consider
it as such; and----"
"Pshaw! nonsense! these are some of your stiff-necked Presbyterian
notions. I shall really begin to suspect you are a Methodist and yet you
are not at all like one."
"Pray, tell me," said Mary, with a smile, "what are your ideas of
"Oh! thank heaven, I know little about them!--almost as little as Dr.
Redgill, who, I verily believe, could scarcely tell the difference
betwixt a Catholic and a Methodist, except that the one dances and
t'other prays. But I am rather inclined to believe it is a sort of a
scowling, black-browed, hard-favoured creature, with its greasy hair
combed straight upon its flat forehead, and that twirls its thumbs, and
turns up its eyes, and speaks through its nose and, in short, is
everything that you are not, except in this matter--of going to church.
So, to avert all these evil signs from falling upon you, I shall make a
point of your keeping company with me for the rest of the day."
Again Mary became serious, as she renewed her entreaties to her
cousin to intercede with Lady Juliana that she might be allowed to
attend _any_ church.
"Not for kingdoms!" exclaimed she. "Her Ladyship is in one of her most
detestable humours to-day; not that I should mind that, if it was
anything of real consequence that I had to compass for you. A ball, for
instance--I should certainly stand by you there but I am really not so
fond of mischief as to enrage her for nothing!"
"Then I fear I must go to church without it," said Mary in a melancholy
"If you are to go at all, it must certainly be without it. And here is
the carriage--get your bonnet, and come along with me. You shall at
least have a sight of the church."
Mary went to put on her pelisse; and, descending to join her cousin in
the drawing-room, she found her engaged in an argument with Dr. Redgill.
How it had commenced did not appear; but the Doctor's voice was raised
as if to bring it to a decided termination.
"The French, madam, in spite of your prejudices, are a very superior
nation to us. Their skill and knowledge are both infinitely higher.
Every man in France is a first-rate cook--in fact, they are a nation of
cooks; and one of our late travellers assures us that they have
discovered three hundred methods of dressing eggs, for one thing."
"That is just two hundred and ninety-nine ways more than enough," said
Lady Emily "give me a plain boiled egg, and I desire no other variety of
the produce of a hen till it takes the form of a chicken."
Dr. Redgill lowered his eyebrows and drew up his chin, but disdained
to waste more arguments upon so tasteless a being. "To talk sense to a
woman is like feeding chickens upon turtle soup," thought he to
As for Lady Juliana, she exulted in the wise and judicious manner in
which she had exercised her authority, and felt her consequence greatly
increased by a public display of it--power being an attributes he was
very seldom invested with now. Indeed, to do her Ladyship justice, she
was most feelingly alive to the duty due to parents, though that such a
commandment existed seemed quite unknown to her till she became a
mother. But she made ample amends for former deficiencies now; as to
hear her expatiate on the subject, one would have deemed it the only
duty necessary to be practised, either by Christian or heathen, and
that, like charity, it comprehended every virtue, and was a covering for
every sin. But there are many more sensible people than her Ladyship who
entertain the same sentiments, and, by way of variety, reverse the time
and place of their duties. When they are children, they make many
judicious reflections on the duties of parents; when they become
parents, they then acquire a wonderful insight into the duties of
children. In the same manner husbands and wives are completely alive to
the duties incumbent upon each other, and the most ignorant servant is
fully instructed in the duty of a master. But we shall leave Lady
Juliana to pass over the duties of parents, and ponder upon those of
children, while we follow Lady Emily and Mary in their airing.
The road lay by the side of a river; and though Mary's taste had been
formed upon the wild romantic scenery of the Highlands, she yet looked
with pleasure on the tamer beauties of an English landscape. And though
accustomed to admire even "rocks where the snowflake reposes;" she had
also taste, though of a less enthusiastic kind, for the "gay landscapes
and gardens of roses," which, in this more genial clime, bloomed even
under winter's sway. The carriage drove smoothly along, and the sound of
the church bell fell at intervals on the ear, "in cadence sweet, now
dying all away;" and, at the holy sound, Mary's heart flew back to the
peaceful vale and primitive kirk of Lochmarlie, where all her happy
Sabbath had been spent. The view now opened upon the village church,
beautifully situated on the slope of a green hill. Parties of straggling
villagers in their holiday suits were descried in all directions, some
already assembled in the churchyard, others traversing the neat
footpaths that led through the meadows. But to Mary's eyes the
well-dressed English rustic, trudging along the smooth path, was a far
less picturesque object than the barefooted Highland girl, bounding over
trackless heath-covered hills; and the well-preserved glossy blue coat
seemed a poor substitute for the varied drapery of the graceful plaid.
So much do early associations tincture all our future ideas.
They had now reached the church, and as Mary adhered to her resolution
of attending divine worship, Lady Emily declared her intention of
accompanying her, that she might come in for her share of Lady Juliana's
displeasure; but in spite of her levity, the reverend aspect, and meek,
yet fervent piety of Dr. Barlow, impressed her with better feelings; and
she joined in the service with outward decorum if not with inward
devotion. The music consisted of an organ, simply but well played; and
to Mary, unaccustomed to any sacred sounds save those twanged through
the nose of a Highland _precentor,_ it seemed the music of the spheres.
Far different sounds than those of peace and praise awaited her return.
Lady Juliana, apprised of this open act of rebellion, was in all the
paroxysms incident to a little mind on discovering the impotence of its
power. She rejected all attempts at reconciliation; raved about
ingratitude and disobedience; declared her determination of sending Mary
back to her vulgar Scotch relations one moment--the next protested
she should never see those odious Methodists again; then she was to take
her to France, and shut her up in a convent, etc., till, after uttering
all the incoherences usual with ladies in a passion, she at last
succeeded in raving herself into a fit of hysterics.
Poor Mary was deeply affected at this (to her) tremendous display of
passion. She who had always been used to the mild placidity of Mrs.
Douglas, and who had seen her face sometimes clouded with sorrow, but
never deformed by anger-what a spectacle! To behold a parent subject to
the degrading influence of an ungovernable temper! Her very soul
sickened at the sight; and while she wept over her mother's weakness,
she prayed that the Power which stayed the ocean's wave would mercifully
vouchsafe to still the wilder tempests of human passion.
"Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain,
Which, with pain purchased, doth inherit pain."
IN addition to her mother's implacable wrath and unceasing animadversion
Mary found she was looked upon as a sort of alarming character by the
whole family. Lord Courtland seemed afraid of being drawn into a
religious controversy every time he addressed her. Dr. Redgill retreated
at her approach and eyed her askance, as much as to say, "'Pon my
honour, a young lady that can fly in her mother's face about such a
trifle as going to church is not very safe company." And Adelaide
shunned her more than ever, as if afraid of coming in contact with a
professed Methodist. Lady Emily, however, remained staunch to her; and
though she had her own private misgivings as to her cousin's creed, she
yet stoutly defended her from the charge of Methodism, and maintained
that, in many respects, Mary was no better than her neighbours.
"Well, Mary," cried she, as she entered her room one day with an air of
exultation, "here is an opportunity for you to redeem your character.
There," throwing down a card, "is an invitation for you to a fancy ball."
Mary's heart bounded at the mention of a ball. She had never been at
one, and it was pictured in her imagination in all the glowing colours
with which youth and inexperience deck untried pleasures.
"Oh, how charming!" exclaimed she, with sparkling eyes, "how my aunts
Becky and Bella will love to hear an account of a ball! And a fancy
ball!--what is that?"
Lady Emily explained to her the nature of the entertainment, and Mary
was in still greater raptures.
"It will be a perfect scene of enchantment, I have no doubt," continued
her cousin, "for Lady M. understands giving balls, which is what every
one does not; for there are dull balls as well as dull every things else
in the world. But come, I have left Lady Juliana and Adelaide in grand
debate as to their dresses. We must also hold a cabinet council upon
ours. Shall I summon the inimitable Slash to preside?"
"The mention of her mother recalled Mary's thoughts from the festive
scene to which they had already flown.
"But are you _quite_ sure," said she, "that I shall have my mother's
consent to go?"
"Quite the contrary," answered her cousin coolly. "She won't hear of
your going. But what signifies that? You could go to church in spite of
her, and surely you can't think her consent of much consequence to a
Poor Mary's countenance fell, as the bright vision of her imagination
melted into air.
"Without my mother's permission," said she, "I shall certainly not think
of, or even wish--" with a sigh--"to go to the ball, and if she has
already refused it that is enough."
Lady Emily regarded her with astonishment. "Pray, is it only on Sundays
you make a point of disobeying your mother?"
"It is only when I conceive a higher duty is required of me," answered
"Why, I confess I used to think that to honour one's father and mother
_was _a duty, till you showed me the contrary. I have to thank you for
ridding me of that vulgar prejudice. And now, after setting me such a
noble example of independence, you seem to have got a new light on the
"My obedience and disobedience both proceed from the same source,"
answered Mary. "My first duty, I have been taught, is to worship my
Maker--my next to obey my mother. My own gratification never can come in
competition with either."
"Well, I really can't enter into a religious controversy with you; but
it seems to me the sin, if it is one, is precisely the same, whether you
play the naughty girl in going to one place or another. I can see no
"To me it appears very different," said Mary; "and therefore I should be
inexcusable were I to choose the evil, believing it to be such."
"Say what you will," cried her cousin pettishly, "you never will convince
me there can be any harm in disobeying such a mother as yours--so
"The Bible makes no exceptions," interrupted Mary gently; "it is not
because of the reasonableness of our parents' commands that we are
required to obey them, but because it is the will of God."
"You certainly are a Methodist--there's no denying it. I have fought
some hard battles for you, but I see I must give you up. The thing won't
conceal." This was said with such an air of vexation that Mary burst
into a fit of laughter.
"And yet you are the oddest compound," continued her cousin, "so gay
and comical, and so little given to be shocked and scandalised at the
wicked ways of others; or to find fault and lecture; or, in short, to do
any of the insufferable things that your good people are so addicted to.
I really don't know what to think of you."
"Think of me as a creature with too many faults of her own to presume to
meddle with those of others," replied Mary, smiling at her cousin's
"Well, if all good people were like you, I do believe I should become a
saint myself. If you are right, I must be wrong; but fifty years hence
we shall settle that matter with spectacles on nose over our family
Bibles. In the meantime the business of the ball-room is much more
pressing. We really must decide upon something. Will you choose your own
style, or shall I leave it to Madame Trieur to do us up exactly alike?"
"You have only to choose for yourself, my dear cousin," answered Mary.
"You know I have no interest in it--at least not till I have received
my mother's permission."
"I have told you already there is no chance of obtaining it. I had a
_brouillerie_ with her on the subject before I came to you."
"Then I entreat you will not say another word. It is a thing of so
little consequence, that I am quite vexed to think that my mother should
have been disturbed about it. Dear Lady Emily, if you love me, promise
that you will not say another syllable on the subject."
"And this is all the thanks I get for my trouble and vexation,"
exclaimed Lady Emily, angrily; "but the truth is, I believe you think it
would be a sin to go to a ball; and as for dancing--oh, shocking! That
would be absolute ---. I really can't say the bad word you good people
are so fond of using."
"I understand your meaning," answered Mary, laughing; "but, indeed, I
have no such apprehensions. On the contrary, I am very fond of dancing;
so fond, that I have often taken Aunt Nicky for my partner in a
Strathspey rather than sit still--and, to confess my weakness, I should
like very much to go to a ball."
"Then you must and shall go to this one. It is really a pity that you
should have enraged Lady Juliana so much by that unfortunate
church-going; but for that, I think she might have been managed; and even
now, I should not despair, if you would, like a good girl, beg pardon
for what is past, and promise never to do so any more."
"Impossible!" replied Mary. "You surely cannot be serious in
supposing I would barter a positive duty for a trifling amusement?"
"Oh, hang duties! they are odious things. And as for your amiable,
dutiful, virtuous Goody Two-Shoes characters, I detest them. They never
would go down with me, even in the nursery, with all he attractions of a
gold watch and coach and six. They were ever my abhorrence, as every
species of canting and hypocrisy still is---"
Then struck with a sense of her own violence and impetuosity, contrasted
with her cousin's meek unreproving manner, Lady Emily threw her arms
round her, begging pardon, and assuring her she did not mean her.
"If you had," said Mary, returning her embrace, "you would only have told
me what I am in some respects. Dull and childish, I know I am; for I am
not the same creature I was at Lochmarlie"--and a tear trembled in her
eye as she spoke--"and troublesome, I am sure, you have found me."
"No, no!" eagerly interrupted Lady Emily; "you are the reverse of
all that. You are the picture of my Edward, and everything that is
excellent and engaging; and I see by that smile you will go to the
ball--there's a darling!"
Mary shook her head.
"I'll tell you what we can do," cried her persevering patroness; "we
can go as masks, and Lady Juliana shall know nothing about it. That will
save the scandal of an open revolt or a tiresome dispute. Half the
company will be masked; so, if you keep your own secret, nobody will
find it out. Come, what characters shall we choose?"
"That of Janus, I think, would be the most suitable for me," said Mary.
Then, in a serious tone, she added, "I can neither disobey nor deceive
my mother. Therefore, once for all, my dear cousin, let me entreat of
you to be silent on a subject on which my mind is made up. I am
perfectly sensible of your kindness, but any further discussion will be
very painful to me."
Lady Emily was now too indignant to stoop to remonstrance. She quitted
her cousin in great anger, and poor Mary felt as if she had lost her only
"Alas!" sighed she, "how difficult it is to do right, when even the
virtues of others throw obstacles in our way! And how easy our duties
would be could we kindly aid one another in the performance of them!"
But such is human nature. The real evils of life, of which we so loudly
complain, are few in number, compared to the daily, hourly pangs we
inflict on one another.
Lady Emily's resentment, though violent, was short-lived; and in the
certainty that either the mother would relent or the daughter rebel, she
ordered a dress for Mary; but the night of the ball arrived, and both
remained unshaken in their resolution. With a few words Adelaide might
have obtained the desired permission for her sister; but she chose to
remain neuter, coldly declaring she never interfered in quarrels.
Mary beheld the splendid dresses and gay countenances of the party for
the ball with feelings free from envy, though perhaps not wholly unmixed
with regret. She gazed with the purest admiration on the extreme beauty
of her sister, heightened as it was by the fantastic elegance of her
dress, and contrasted with her own pale visage and mourning habiliments.
"Indeed," thought she, as she turned from the mirror, with rather a
mournful smile, "my Aunt Nicky was in the right: I certainly am a poor
As she looked again at her sister she observed that her earrings were
not so handsome as those she had received from Mrs. Macshake; and she
instantly brought them, and requested Adelaide would wear them for that
Adelaide took them with her usual coolness--remarked how very
magnificent they were--wished some old woman would take it into her head
to make her such a present; and, as she clasped them in her ears,
regarded herself with increased complacency. The hour of departure
arrived; Lord Courtland and Lady Juliana were at length ready, and Mary
found herself left to a _tete-a-tete_ with Dr. Redgill; and,
strange as it may seem, neither in a sullen nor melancholy mood. But
after a single sigh, as the carriage drove off, she sat down with a
cheerful countenance to play backgammon with the Doctor.
The following day she heard of nothing but the ball and its delights;
for both her mother and her cousin sought (though from different
motives) to heighten her regret at not having been there. But Mary
listened to the details of all she had missed with perfect fortitude,
and only rejoiced to hear they had all been so happy.
"Day follows night. The clouds return again
After the falling of the latter rain;
But to the aged blind shall ne'er return
Grateful vicissitude: She still must mourn
The sun, and moon, and every starry light,
Eclipsed to her, and lost in everlasting night."
AMONGST the numerous letters and parcels with which Mary had been
entrusted by the whole county of-----, there was one she had received
from the hands of Lady Maclaughlan, with a strict injunction to be the
bearer of it herself; and, as even Lady Maclaughlan's wishes now wore an
almost sacred character in Mary's estimation, she was very desirous of
fulfilling this her parting charge. But, in the thraldom in which she
was kept, she knew not how that was to be accomplished. She could not
venture to wait upon the lady to whom it was addressed without her
mother's permission; and she was aware that to ask was upon every
occasion only to be refused. In his dilemma she had recourse to Lady
Emily; and, showing her the letter, craved her advice and assistance.
"Mrs. Lennox, Rose Hall," said her cousin, reading the superscription.
"Oh! I don't think Lady Juliana will care a straw about your going
there. She is merely an unfortunate blind old lady, whom everybody
thinks it a bore to visit--myself, I'm afraid, amongst the number. We
ought all to have called upon her ages ago, so I shall go with you now."
Permission for Mary to accompany her was easily obtained; for Lady
Juliana considered a visit to Mrs. Lennox as an act of penance rather
than of pleasure; and Adelaide protested the very mention of her name
gave her the vapours. There certainly was nothing that promised much
gratification in what Mary had heard; and yet she already felt
interested in this unfortunate blind lady whom everybody thought it
a bore to visit, and she sought to gain some more information respecting
her. But Lady Emily, though possessed of warm feelings and kindly
affections, was little given to frequent the house of mourning, or
sympathise with the wounded spirit; and she yawned as she declared she
was very sorry for poor Mrs. Lennox, and would have made a point of
seeing her oftener, could she have done her any good.
"But what can I possibly say to her," continued she, "after losing
her husband, and having I don't know how many sons killed in battle, and
her only daughter dying of a consumption, and herself going blind in
consequence of her grief for all these misfortunes--what can I possibly
do for her, or say to her? Were I in her situation, I'm sure I should
hate the sight and sound of any human being, and should give myself up
entirely to despair."
"That would be but a pagan sacrifice," said Mary.
"What would you do in such desperate circumstances?" demanded Lady
"I would hope," answered Mary, meekly.
"But in poor Mrs. Lennox's case that would be to hope though hope were
lost; for what can she hope for now? She has still something to fear,
however, as I believe she has still one son remaining, who is in the
brunt of every battle; of course she has nothing to expect but accounts
of his death."
"But she may hope that heaven will preserve him, and--"
"That you will marry him. That would do excellently well, for he is as
brave as a real Highlander, though he has the misfortune to be only half
a one. His father, General Lennox, was a true Scot to the very tip of
his tongue, and as proud and fiery as any chieftain need be. _His_
death, certainly was an improvement in the family. But there is Rose
Hall, with its pretty shrubberies and nice parterres, what
do you say to becoming its mistress?"
"If I am to lay snares," answered Mary, laughing, "it must be for nobler
objects than hedgerow elms and hillocks green."
"Oh, it must be for black crags and naked hills! Your country really
does vastly well to rave about! Lofty mountains and deep glens, and blue
lakes and roaring rivers, are mighty fine-sounding things; but I suspect
cornfields and barnyards are quit as comfortable neighbours; so take my
advice and marry Charles Lennox."
Mary only answered by singing, "My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is
not here," etc., as the carriage drew up.
"This is the property of Mrs. Lennox," said Lady Emily, in answer to
some remark of her companion's; "she is the last of some ancient stock;
and you see the family taste has been treated with all due respect."
Rose Hall was indeed perfectly English: it was a description of place of
which there are none in Scotland; for it wore the appearance of
antiquity, without the too usual accompaniments of devastation or decay;
neither did any incongruities betray vicissitude of fortune or change of
owner; but the taste of the primitive possessor seemed to have been
respected through ages by his descendants; and the ponds remained as
round, and the hedges as square, and the grass walks as straight, as the
day they had been planned. The same old-fashioned respectability was
also apparent in the interior of the mansion. The broad heavy oaken
staircase shone in all the lustre of bees' wax; and the spacious
sitting-room into which they were ushered had its due allowance of
Vandyke portraits, massive chairs, and china jars, standing much in the
same positions they had been placed in a hundred years before.
To the delicate mind the unfortunate are always objects of respect. As
the ancients held sacred those places which had been blasted by
lightning, so the feeling heart considers the afflicted as having been
touched by the hand of God Himself. Such were the sensations with which
Mary found herself in the presence of the venerable Mrs.
Lennox--venerable rather through affliction than age; for sorrow, more
than time, had dimmed the beauty of former days, though enough still
remained to excite interest and engage affection in the mournful yet
gentle expression of her countenance, and the speaking silence of her
darkened eyes. On hearing the names of her visitors, she arose, and,
guided by a little girl, who had been sitting at her feet, advanced to
meet them, and welcomed them with a kindness and simplicity of manner
that reminded Mary of the home she had left and the maternal tenderness
of her beloved aunt. She delivered her credentials, which Mrs. Lennox
received with visible surprise; but laid the letter aside without any
Lady Emily began some self-accusing apologies for the length of time
that had intervened since her last visit, but Mrs Lennox gently
"Do not blame yourself, my dear Lady Emily," said she; "for what is so
natural at your age. And do not suppose I am so unreasonable as to
expect that the young and the gay should seek for pleasure in the
company of an old blind Woman. At your time of life I would not have
courted distress anymore than you."
"At every time of life," said Lady Emily, "I am sure you must have been a
very different being from what I am, or ever shall be."
"Ah! you little know what changes adversity makes in the character,"
said Mrs. Lennox mournfully; "and may you never know--unless it is for
"I doubt much if I shall ever be good on any terms," answered Lady Emily
in a half melancholy tone; "I don't think I have the elements of
goodness in my composition, but here is my cousin, who is fit to stand
proxy for all the virtues."
Mrs. Lennox involuntarily turned her mild but sightless eyes towards
Mary, then heaved a sigh and shook her head, as she was reminded of her
deprivation. Mary was too much affected to speak; but the hand that was
extended to her she pressed with fervour to her lips, while her eyes
overflowed with tears. The language of sympathy is soon understood. Mrs.
Lennox seemed to feel the tribute of pity and respect that flowed from
Mary's warm heart, and from that moment they felt towards each other
that indefinite attraction which, however it may be ridiculed, certainly
does sometimes influence our affections.
"That is a picture of your son, Colonel Lennox, is it not?" asked Lady
Emily, "I mean the one that hangs below the lady in the satin gown with
the bird on her hand."
Mrs. Lennox answered in the affirmative; then added, with a sigh, "And
when I _could_ look on that face, I forgot all I had lost; but I was too
fond, too proud a mother. Look at it, my dear," taking Mary's hand, and
leading her to the well-known spot, while her features brightened with
an expression which showed maternal vanity was not yet extinct in the
mourner's heart. "He was only eighteen," continued she, "when that was
done; and many a hot sun has burned on that fair brow; and many a
fearful sight has met these sweet eyes since then; and sadly that face
may be changed; but I shall never see it more!"
"Indeed," said Lady Emily, affecting to be gay, while a tear stood in
her eye, "it is a very dangerous face to look on; and I should be afraid
to trust myself with it, were not my heart already pledged. As for my
cousin there, there is no fear of her falling a sacrifice to hazel eyes
and chestnut hair, her imagination is all on the side of sandy locks and
frosty gray eyes; and I should doubt if Cupid himself would have any
chance with her, unless he appeared in tartan plaid and Highland
"Then my Charles would have some," said Mrs. Lennox, with a faint smile;
"for he has lately been promoted to the command of a Highland regiment."
"Indeed!" said Lady Emily, "that is very gratifying, and you have
reason to be proud of Colonel Lennox; he has distinguished himself upon
"Ah! the days of my pride are now past," replied Mrs. Lennox, with a
sigh; "'tis only the more honour, the greater danger, and I am weary of
such bloody honours. See there!" pointing to another part of the room,
where hung a group of five lovely children, "three of these cherub heads
were laid low in battle; the fourth, my Louisa, died of a broken heart
for the loss of her brothers. Oh! what can human power or earthly
honours do to cheer the mother who has wept o'er her children's graves?
But there _is_ a Power," raising her darkened eyes to heaven, "that can
sustain even a mother's heart; and here," laying her hand upon an open
Bible, "is the balm He has graciously vouchsafed to pour into the
wounded spirit. My comfort is not that my boys died nobly, but that they
Lady Emily and Mary were both silent from different causes. The former
was at a loss what to say--the latter felt too much affected to trust
her voice with the words of sympathy that hovered on her lips.
"I ought to beg your pardon, my dears," said Mrs. Lennox, after a pause,
for talking in this serious manner to you who cannot be supposed to
enter into sorrows to which you are strangers. But you must excuse me,
though my heart does sometimes run over."
"Oh, do not suppose," said Mary, making an effort to conquer her
feelings, "that we are so heartless as to refuse to take a part in the
afflictions of others; surely none can be so selfish; and might I be
allowed to come often--very often--" She stopped and blushed; for she
felt that her feelings were carrying her farther than she was warranted
Mrs. Lennox kindly pressed her hand. "Ah! God hath, indeed, sent some
into the world, whose province it is to refresh the afflicted, and
lighten the eyes of the disconsolate. Such, I am sure, you would be to
me; for I feel my heart revive at the sound of your voice; it reminds me
of my heart's darling, my Louisa! and the remembrance of her, though
sad, is still sweet. Come to me, then, when you will, and God's
blessing, and the blessing of the blind and desolate, will reward you."
Lady Emily turned away, and it was not till they had been some time
in the carriage that Mary was able to express the interest this visit
had excited, and her anxious desire to be permitted to renew it.
"It is really an extraordinary kind of delight, Mary, that you take in
being made miserable," said her cousin, wiping her eyes; "for my part,
it makes me quite wretched to witness suffering that I can't relieve;
and how can you or I possibly do poor Mrs. Lennox any good? We can't
bring back her sons."
"No; but we can bestow our sympathy, and that, I have been taught, is
always a consolation to the afflicted."
"I don't quite understand the nature of that mysterious feeling called
sympathy. When I go to visit Mrs. Lennox, she always sets me a-crying,
and I try to set her a-laughing. Is that what you call sympathy?"
Mary smiled, and shook her head.
"Then I suppose it is sympathy to blow one's nose--and--and read the
Bible. Is that it? or what is it?"
Mary declared she could not define it; and Lady Emily insisted she could
not comprehend it.
"You will some day or other," said Mary; "for none, I believe, have ever
passed through life without feeling, or at least requiring its support;
and it is well, perhaps, that we should know betimes how to receive as
well as how to bestow it."
"I don't see the necessity at all. I know I should hate mortally to be
what you call sympathised with; indeed, it appears to me the height of
selfishness in anybody to like it. If I am wretched, it would be no
comfort to me to make everybody else wretched; and were I in Mrs.
Lennox's place, I would have more spirit than to speak about my
"But Mrs. Lennox does not appear to be what you call a spirited
creature. She seems all sweetness, and--"
"Oh, sweet enough, certainly!--But hers is a sort of Eolian harp, that
lulls me to sleep. I tire to death of people who have only two or three
notes in their character. By-the-bye, Mary, you have a tolerable compass
yourself, when you choose, though I don't think you have science enough
for a _bravura; there_ I certainly have the advantage of you, as I
flatter myself my mind is a full band in itself. My kettledrums and
trumpets I keep for Lady Juliana, and I am quite in the humour for
giving her a flourish today. I really require something of an
exhilarating nature after Mrs. Lennox's dead march."
An unusual bustle seemed to pervade Beech Park as the carriage stopped,
and augured well for its mistress's intention of being more than usually
vivacious. It was found to be occasioned by the arrival of her brother
Lord Lindore's servants and horses, with the interesting intelligence
that his Lordship would immediately follow; and Lady Emily, wild with
delight, forgot everything in the prospect of embracing her brother.
"How does it happen," said Mary, when her cousin's transports had a
little subsided, "that you, who are in such ecstasies at the idea of
seeing your brother, have scarcely mentioned his name to me?"
"Why, to tell you the truth, I fear I was beginning to forget there was
such a person in the world. I have not seen him since I was ten years
old. At that time he went to college, and from thence to the Continent.
So all I remember of him is that he was very handsome and very
good-humoured; and all that have heard of him is, that wherever he goes
he is the 'glass of fashion and the mould of form'--not that he is much
of a Hamlet, I've a notion, in other respects. So pray put off that
Ophelia phiz, and don't look as if you were of ladies most deject and
wretched, when everybody else is gay and happy. Come, give your last
sigh to the Lennox, and your first smile to _Lindore."_
"That is sympathy," said Mary.
"Quelle fureur, dit-il, quei aveugle caprice
Quand Ie diner est pret."
"I HOPE your Lordship has no thoughts of waiting dinner for Lord
Lindore?" asked Dr. Redgill, with a face of alarm, as seven o'clock
struck, and neither dinner nor Lord Lindore appeared.
"I have no thoughts upon the subject," answered Lord Courtland, as
he turned over some new caricatures with as much _nonchalance_ as if it
had been mid-day.
"That's enough, my Lord; but I suspect Mr. Marshall, in his
officiousness, takes the liberty of thinking for you, and that we shall
have no dinner without orders," rising to pull the bell.
"We ought undoubtedly to wait for Frederick," said Lady Juliana; "it is
of no consequence when we sit down to table."
A violent yell from the sleeping Beauty on the rug sounded like a
summary judgment on her mistress.
"What is the meaning of this?" cried her Ladyship, flying to the
offended fair one, in all the transports of pity and indignation; "how
can you, Dr. Redgill, presume to treat my dog in such a manner?"
"Me treat your Ladyship's dog!" exclaimed the Doctor in well-feigned
astonishment--"Pon my honour!--I'm quite at a loss!--I'm absolutely
"Yes! I saw you plainly give her a kick, and--"
"Me kick Beauty!--after that!--'Pon my soul, I should just as soon have
thought of kicking my own grandmother. I did give her a _leettle_--a
very _leettle_ shove, just with the point of my toe, as I was going to
pull the bell; but it couldn't have hurt a fly. I assure you it would be
one of the last action of my life to treat Beauty ill--Beauty!--poor
Beauty!"--affecting to pat and soothe, by way of covering his
transgression. But neither Beauty nor her mistress were to be taken in
by the Doctor's cajolerie. The one felt, and the other saw the indignity
he had committed; and his caresses and protestations were all in vain.
The fact was, the Doctor's indignation was so raised by Lady Juliana's
remark, made in all the plenitude of a late luncheon, that, had it been
herself instead of her favourite, he could scarcely have refrained from
this testimony of his detestation and contempt. But much as he despised
her, he felt the necessity of propitiating her at this moment, when
dinner itself depended upon her decision; for Lord Courtland was
perfectly neutral, Lady Emily as not present, and a servant waited to
"I really believe it's hunger that's vexing her poor brute!" continued
he, with an air of us feigned sympathy; "she knows the dinner hour as
well as any of us. Indeed, the instinct of dogs in that respect is
wonderful. Providence has really--ahem!--indeed it's no joke to tamper
with dogs, when they've got the notion of dinner in their heads. A
friend of mine had a very fine animal--just such another as poor Beauty
there--she had always been accustomed, like Beauty, to attend the family
to dinner at a particular hour; but one day, by some accident, instead of
sitting down at five, she was kept waiting till half-past six; the
consequence was, the disappointment, operating upon an empty
stomach, brought on an attack of the hydrophobia, and the poor thing was
obliged to be shot the following morning. I think your Lordship
said--Dinner," in a loud voice to the servant; and Lady Juliana, though
still sullen, did not dissent.
For an hour the Doctor's soul was in a paradise still more substantial
than a Turk's; for it was lapt in the richest of soups and _ragouts_,
and, secure of their existence, it smiled at ladies of quality, and
deified their lap-dogs.
Dinner passed away, and supper succeeded, and breakfast; dinner and
supper revolved, and still no Lord Lindore appeared. But this excited no
alarm in the family. It was Lord Courtland's way, and it was Lady
Juliana's way, and it was all their ways, not to keep to their appointed
time, and they therefore experienced none of the vulgar consternation
incident to common minds when the expected guest fails to appear. Lady
Emily indeed wondered, and was provoked, and impatient; but she was not
alarmed; and Mary amused herself with contrasting in her own mind the
difference of her aunts' feelings in similar circumstances.
"Dear Aunt Grizzy would certainly have been in tears these two days,
fancying the thousand deaths Lord Lindore must have died; and Aunt Jacky
would have been inveighing from morning till night against the
irregularities of young men. And Aunt Nicky would have been lamenting
that the black cock had been roasted yesterday, or that there would be
no fish for to-morrow." And the result of Mary's comparison was, that
her aunts' feelings, however troublesome, were better than no feelings
at all. "They are, to be sure, something like brambles," thought she;
"they fasten upon one in every possible way, but still they are better
than the faded exotics of fashionable life."
At last, on the third day, when dinner was nearly over, and Dr. Redgill
was about to remark for the third time, "I think it's as well we didn't
wait for Lord Lindore," the door opened, and, without warning or bustle,
Lord Lindore walked calmly into the room.
Lady Emily, uttering an exclamation of joy, threw herself into his arms.
Lord Courtland was roused to something like animation, as he cordially
shook hands with his son; Lady Juliana flew into raptures at the beauty
of his Italian greyhound; Adelaide, at the first glance, decided that
her cousin was worthy of falling in love with her; Mary thought on the
happiness of the family reunion; and Dr. Redgill offered up a silent
thanksgiving that this _fracas_ had not happened ten minutes sooner,
otherwise the woodcocks would have been as cold as death. Chairs were
placed by the officious attendants in every possible direction; and the
discarded first course was threatening to displace the third. But Lord
Lindore seemed quite insensible to all these attentions; he stood
surveying the company with a _nonchalance_ that had nothing of rudeness
in it, but seemed merely the result of high-bred ease. His eye, for a
moment, rested upon Adelaide. He then slightly bowed and smiled, as in
recognition of their juvenile acquaintance.
"I really can't recommend either the turtle soup or the venison to your
Lordship to-day," said Dr. Redgill, who experienced certain uneasy
sensations at the idea of beholding them resume their stations,
something resembling those which Macbeth testified at sight of Banquo's
ghost, or Hamlet on contemplating Yorick's skull--"after travelling,
there is nothing like a light dinner; allow me to recommend this
_prretty, leettle cuisse de poulet en papillote;_ and here are some
fascinating _beignets d'abricots_--quite foreign."
"If there is any roast beef or boiled mutton to be had, pray let me have
it," said Lord Lindore, waving off the zealous _maitre d'hotel,_
as he kept placing dish after dish before him.
"Roast beef, or boiled mutton!" ejaculated the Doctor, with a sort of
internal convulsion; "he is certainly mad."
"How did you contrive to arrive without being heard by me, Frederick?"
asked Lady Emily; "my ears have been wide open these two days and three
nights watching your approach?"
"I walked from Newberry House," answered he, carelessly. "I met Lord
Newberry two days ago, as I was coming here, and he persuaded me to
alter my course and accompany him home."
"Vastly flattering to your friends here," said Lady Emily in a tone of
"What! you walked all the way from Newberry," exclaimed the Earl, "and
the ground covered with snow. How could you do so foolish a thing?"
"Simply because, as the children say, I liked it," replied Lord Lindore,
with a smile.
"That's just of a piece with his liking to eat boiled mutton," muttered
the Doctor to Mary; "and yet, to look at him, one would really not
expect such gross stupidity."
There certainly was nothing in Lord Lindore's appearance that denoted
either coarseness of taste or imbecility of mind. On the contrary, he
was an elegant-looking young man, rather slightly formed, and of the
middle size, possessing that ease and grace in all his movements which a
perfect proportion alone can bestow. There was nothing foreign or
_recherche_ either in his dress or deportment; both were plain,
even to simplicity; yet an almost imperceptible air of _hauteur_ was
mingled with the good-humoured indifference of his manner. He spoke
little, and seemed rather to endure than to be gratified by attentions;
his own were chiefly directed to his dog, as he was more intent on
feeding it than on answering the questions that were put to him. There
never was anything to be called conversation at the dinner-table at
Beech Park; and the general practice was in no danger of being departed
from on the present occasion. The Earl hated to converse--it was a bore;
and he now merely exchanged a few desultory sentences with his son, as he
ate his olives and drank his claret. Lady Juliana, indeed, spoke even
more than her usual quantity of nonsense, but nobody listened to it.
Lady Emily was somewhat perplexed in her notions about her brother. He
was handsome and elegant, and appeared good-humoured and gentle; yet
something was wanting to fill up the measure of her expectations, and a
latent feeling of disappointment lurked in her heart. Adelaide was
indignant that he had not instantly paid her the most marked attention,
and revenged herself by her silence. In short, Lord Lindore's arrival
seemed to have added little or nothing to the general stock of pleasure;
and the effervescence of joy--the rapture of _sensation_, like some
subtle essence, had escaped almost as soon as it was perceived.
"How stupid everybody always is at a dinner table!" exclaimed Lady Emily,
rising abruptly with an air of chagrin. "I believe it is the fumes of the
meat that dulls one's senses, and renders them so detestable. I long to
see you in the drawing-room Frederick. I've a notion you are more of a
carpet knight than a knight of the round table; so pray," in a whisper
as she passed, "leave papa to be snored asleep by Dr. Redgill, and do
you follow us--here is metal more attractive," pointing to the sisters,
as they quitted the room; and she followed without waiting for her
"Io dubito, Signor M. Pietro che il mio Cortegiano non sara
stato altro che fatica mia, e fastidio degli amici."
LORD LINDORE was in no haste to avail himself of his sister's
invitation; and when he did, it was evident his was a "mind not to be
changed by place;" for he entered more with the air of one who was tired
of the company he had left, than expecting pleasure from the society he
"Do come and entertain us, Lindore," cried Lady Emily, as he entered,
"for we are all heartily sick of one another. A snow-storm and a lack of
company are things hard to be borne; it is only the expectancy of your
arrival that has kept us alive these two days, and now pray don't let us
die away of the reality."
"You have certainly taken a most effectual method of sealing my lips,"
said her brother with a smile.
"By telling me that I am expected to be vastly entertaining, since every
word I utter can only serve to dispel the illusion, and prove that I am
gifted with no such miraculous power."
"I don't think it requires any miraculous power, either to entertain or
be entertained. For my part, I flatter myself I can entertain any man,
woman, or child in the kingdom, when I choose; and as for being
entertained, that is still an easier matter. I seldom meet with anybody
who is not entertaining, either from their folly, or their affectation,
or their stupidity, or their vanity; or, in short, something of the
ridiculous, that renders them not merely supportable, but positively
"How extremely happy you must be," said Lord Lindore.
"Happy! No--I don't know that my feelings precisely amount to happiness
neither; for at the very time I'm most diverted I'm sometimes disgusted
too, and often provoked. My spirit gets chafed, and---"
"You long to box the ears of all your acquaintances," said her brother,
laughing. "Well, no matter--there is nothing so enviable as a facility
of being amused, and even the excitement of anger is perhaps preferable
to the stagnation of indifference."
"Oh, thank heaven! I know nothing about indifference; I leave that to
Lord Lindore turned his eyes with more animation than he had yet evinced
towards his cousin, who sat reading, apparently paying no attention to
what was going on. He regarded her for a considerable time with an
expression of admiration; but Adelaide, though she was conscious of his
gaze, calmly pursued her studies. "Come, you positively must do
something to signalise yourself. I assure you it is expected of you that
you should be the soul of the company. Here is Adelaide waltzes like an
angel, when she can get a partner to her liking."
"But I waltz like a mere mortal," said Lord
Lindore, seating himself at a table, and turning over the leaves of a
"And I am engaged to play billiards with my uncle," said Adelaide,
rising with a blush of indignation.
"Shall we have some music, then? Can you bear to listen to our croakings
after the warbling of your Italian nightingales?" asked Lady Emily.
"I should like very much to hear you sing," answered her brother, with
an air of the most perfect indifference.
"Come then, Mary, do you be the one to 'untwist the chains that tie the
hidden soul of harmony.' Give us your Scotch Exile, pray? It is
tolerably appropriate to the occasion, though an English one would have
been still more so; but, as you say, there is nothing in this country to
make a song about."
Mary would rather have declined, but she saw a refusal would displease
her cousin; and she was not accustomed to consult her own inclination in
such frivolous matters. She therefore seated herself at the harp, and
sang the following verses;--
The weary wanderer may roam
To seek for bliss in change of scene;
Yet still the loved idea of home,
And of the days he there has seen,
Pursue him with a fond regret,
Like rays from suns that long have set.
"Tis not the sculptor's magic art,
"Tis not th' heroic deeds of yore,
That fill and gratify the heart.
No! 'tis affection's tender lore--
The thought of friends, and love's first sigh,
When youth, and hope, and health were nigh.
What though on classic ground we tread,
What though we breathe a genial air--
Can these restore the bliss that's fled?
Is not remembrance ever there?
Can any soil protect from grief,
Or any air breathe soft relief?
No! the sick soul, that wounded flies
From all its early thoughts held dear,
Will more some gleam of memory prize,
That draws the long-lost treasure near;
And warmly presses to its breast
The very thought that mars its rest.
Some mossy stone, some torrent rude,
Some moor unknown to worldly ken,
Some weeping birches, fragrant wood,
Or some wild roebuck's fern-clad glen;--
Yes! these his aching heart delight,
These bring his country to his sight.
Ere the song was ended Lord Lindore had sauntered away to the
billiard-room, singing, "Oh! Jiove Omnipotente!" and seemingly quite
unconscious that any attentions were due from him in return. But there,
even Adelaide's charms failed to attract, in spite of the variety of
graceful movements practised before him--the beauty of the extended arm,
the majestic step, and the exclamations of the enchanting voice Lord
Lindore kept his station by the fire, in a musing attitude, from which
he was only roused occasionally by the caresses of his dog. At supper it
was still worse. He placed himself by Mary, and when he spoke, it was
only of Scotland.
"Well--what do you think of Lindore?" demanded Lady Emily of her aunt
and cousins, as they were about to separate for the night. "Is he not
"Perfectly so!" replied Lady Juliana, with all the self-importance of a
fool. "I assure you I think very highly of him. He is a vastly charming,
clever young man-perfectly beautiful, and excessively amiable; and his
attention to his dog is quite delightful--it is so uncommon to see men
at all kind to their dogs. I assure you I have known many who were
absolutely cruel to them--beat them, and starved them, and did a
thousand shocking things; and----"
"Pray, Adelaide, what is your opinion of my brother"
"Oh! I--I--have no doubt he is extremely amiable," replied Adelaide,
with a gentle yawn. "As mamma says, his attentions to his dog prove it."
"And you, Mary, are your remarks to be equally judicious and polite?"
Mary, in all the sincerity of her heart, said she thought him by much
the handsomest and most elegant-looking man she had ever seen. And there
"Yes; I know all that. But--however, no matter--I only wish he may have
sense enough to fall in love with you, Mary. How happy I should be to
see you Lady Lindore!--_En attendant_--you must take care of your heart;
for I hear he is _un peu volage_--and, moreover, that he admires none
but _les dames Mariees._ As for Adelaide, there is no fear of
her. She will never cast such a pearl away upon one who is merely, no
doubt, extremely amiable," retorting Adelaide's ironical tone.
"Then you may feel equally secure upon my account," said Mary, "as I
assure you I am still less danger of losing mine, after the warning you
This off-hand sketch of her brother's character, which Lady Emily had
thoughtlessly given, produced the most opposite effects on the minds of
he sisters. With Adelaide it increased his consequence and enhanced his
value. It would be no vulgar conquest to fix and reform one who was
notorious for his inconstancy and libertine principles; and from that
moment she resolved to use all the influence of her charms to captivate
and secure the heart of her cousin. In Mary's well-regulated mind other
feelings arose. Although she was not one of the outrageous virtuous, who
storm and rail at the very mention of vice, and deem it contamination to
hold any intercourse with the vicious, she yet possessed proper ideas
for the distinction to be drawn; and the hope of finding a friend and
brother in her cousin now gave way to the feeling that in future she
could only consider him as an common acquaintance.
"On sera ridicule et je n'oserai rire!"
IN honour of her brother's return Lady Emily resolved to celebrate it
with a ball; and always prompt in following up her plans, she fell to
work immediately with her visiting list.
"Certainly," said she, as she scanned it over, "there never was any
family so afflicted in their acquaintances as we are. At least one-half
of the names here belong to the most insufferable people on the face of
the earth. The Claremonts, and the Edgefields, and the Bouveries, and the
Sedleys, and a few more, are very well; but can anything in human form
be more insupportable than the rest; for instance, that wretch Lady
"Does her merit lie only in her name then?" asked Mary.
"You shall judge for yourself when I have given you a slight sketch of
her character. Lady Placid, in the opinion of all sensible persons in
general, and myself in particular, is a vain, weak, conceited, vulgar
egotist. In her own eyes she is a clever, well-informed, elegant,
amiable woman; and though I have spared no pains to let her know how
detestable I think her, it is all in vain; she remains as firmly
entrenched in her own good opinion as folly and conceit can make her;
and I have the despair of seeing all my buffetings fall blunted to the
ground. She reminds me of some odious fairy or genii I have read of, who
possessed such a power in their person that every hostile weapon
levelled against them was immediately turned into some agreeable
present. Stones became balls of silk--arrows, flowers--swords, feathers,
etc. Even so it is with Lady Placid. The grossest insult that could be
offered she would construe into an elegant compliment; the very crimes
of others she seems to consider as so much incense offered up at the
shrine of her own immaculate virtue. I'm certain she thinks she deserves
to be canonised for having kept out of Doctors' Commons. Never is any
affair of that sort alluded to that she does not cast such a triumphant
look towards her husband, as much as to say, 'Here am I, the paragon of
faithful wives and virtuous matrons!' Were I in his place, I should
certainly throw a plate at her head. And here, you may take this passing
remark--How much more odious people are who have radical faults, than
those who commit, I do not say positive crimes, but occasional
weaknesses. Even a noble nature may fall into a great error; but what is
that to the ever-enduring pride, envy, malice, and conceit of a little
mind? Yes, I would at any time rather be the fallen than the one, so
exult over the fall of another. Then, as a mother, she is, if possible,
still more meritorious a woman (this is the way she talks): A woman has
nobly performed her part to her country, and for posterity, when she has
brought a family of fine healthy children into the world. 'I can't agree
with you,' I reply 'I think many mothers have brought children into the
world who would have been much better out of it. A mother's merit must
depend solely upon how she brings up her children (hers are the most
spoiled brats in Christendom). 'There I perfectly agree with you, Lady
Emily. As you observe, it is not every mother who does her duty by her
children. Indeed, I may say to you, it is not everyone that will make
the sacrifices for their family I have done; but thank God! I am richly
repaid. My children are everything I could wish them to be!' Everything
of hers, as a matter of course, must be superior to every other
person's, and even what she is obliged to share in common with others
acquires some miraculous charm in operating upon her. Thus it is
impossible for anyone to imagine the delight she takes in bathing; and
as for the sun, no mortal can conceive the effect it has upon her. If
she was to have the plague she would assure you it was owing to some
peculiar virtue in her blood; and if she was to be put in the pillory
she would ascribe it entirely to her great merit. If her coachman were
to make her a declaration of love she would impute it to the boundless
influence of her charms; that every man who sees her does not declare
his passion is entirely owing to the well-known severity of her morals
and the dignity of her deportment. If she is amongst the first invited
to my ball, that will be my eagerness to secure her: if the very last,
it will be a mark of my friendship, and the easy footing we are upon. If
not invited at all, then it will be jealousy. In short, the united
strength of worlds would not shake that woman's good opinion of herself;
and the intolerable part of it is there are so many fools in this one
that she actually passes with the multitude for being a charming
sweet-tempered woman--always the same--always pleased and contented.
Contented! just as like contentment as the light emitted by putridity
resembles the divine halo! But too much of her. Let her have a card,
"Then comes Mrs. Wiseacre, that renowned law-giver, who lavishes her
advice on all who will receive it, without hope of fee or reward, except
that of being thought wiser than anybody else. But, like many more
deserving characters, she meets with nothing but ingratitude in return;
and the wise sentences that are for ever hovering around her pursed up
mouth have only served to render her insupportable. This is her mode of
proceeding--' If I might presume to advise, Lady Emily;' or, 'If my
opinion could be supposed to have any weight;' or 'If my experience goes
for anything;' or, 'I'm an old woman now, but I think I know something
of the world;' or, 'If a friendly hint of mine would be of any service:
--then when very desperate, it is, 'However averse I am to obtrude my
advice, yet as I consider it my duty, I must for once;' or, 'It
certainly is no affair of mine, at the same time I must just observe,'
etc. etc. I don't say that she insists, however, upon your swallowing
all the advice she crams you with; for, provided she has the luxury of
giving it, it can make little difference how it is taken; because
whatever befals you, be it good or bad, it is equally a matter of
exultation to her. Thus she has the satisfaction of saying, 'If poor
Mrs. Dabble had but followed my advice, and not have taken these pills
of Dr. Doolittle's, she would have been alive to-day, depend upon it;'
or, 'If Sir Thomas Speckle had but taken advantage of a friendly hint I
threw out some time ago, about the purchase of the Drawrent estate, he
might have been a man worth ten thousand a year at this moment;' or, 'If
Lady Dull hadn't been so infatuated as to neglect the caution I gave her
about Bob Squander, her daughter might have been married to Nabob Gull.'
"But there is a strange contradiction about Mrs. Wiseacre, for though it
appears that all her friends' misfortunes proceed from neglecting her
advice, it is no less apparent, by her account, that her own are all
occasioned by following the advice of others. She is for ever doing
foolish things, and laying the blame upon her neighbours. Thus, 'Had it
not been for my friend Mrs. Jobbs there, I never would have parted with
my house for an old song as I did;' or, 'It was entirely owing to Miss
Glue's obstinacy that I was robbed of my diamond necklace, or, 'I have
to thank my friend Colonel Crack for getting my carriage smashed to
pieces.' In short, she has the most comfortable repository of stupid
friends to have recourse to, of anybody I ever knew. Now what I have to
warn you against, Mary, is the sin of ever listening to any of her
advices. She will preach to you about the pinning of your gown and the
curling of your hair till you would think it impossible not to do exactly
what she wants you to do. She will inquire with the greatest solicitude
what shoemaker you employ, and will shake her head most significantly
when she hears it is any other than her own. But if ever I detect you
paying the smallest attention to any of her recommendations, positively
I shall have done with you."
Mary laughingly promised to turn a deaf ear to all Mrs. Wiseacre's
wisdom; and her cousin proceeded:
"Then here follows a swarm as, thick as idle motes in sunny ray,' and
much of the same importance, methinks, in the scale of being. Married
ladies only celebrated for their good dinners, or their pretty
equipages, or their fine jewels. How I should scorn to be talked of as
the appendage to any soups or pearls! Then there are the daughters of
these ladies--Misses, who are mere misses, and nothing more. Oh! the
insipidity of a mere Miss! a soft simpering thing with pink cheeks, and
pretty hair, and fashionable clothes _sans_ eyes for anything but
lovers_-sans_ ears for anything but flattery--_sans_ taste for anything
but balls_--sans_ brains for anything at all! Then there are ladies who
are neither married nor young, and who strive with all their might to
talk most delightfully, that the charms of their conversation may efface
the marks of the crows' feet; but 'all these I passen by, and nameless
numbers moe.' And now comes the Hon. Mrs. Downe Wright, a person of
considerable shrewdness and penetration--vulgar, but unaffected. There
is no politeness, no gentleness in her heart; but she possesses some
warmth, much honesty, and great hospitality. She has acquired the
character of being--oh, odious thing!--a clever woman! There are two
descriptions of clever women, observe; the one is endowed with corporeal
cleverness--the other with mental; and I don't know which of the two is
the greater nuisance to society; the one torments you with her
management--the other with her smart sayings; the one is for ever
rattling her bunch of keys in your ears--the other electrifies you with
the shock of her wit; and both talk _so_ much and _so _loud, and are
such egotists, that I rather think a clever woman is even a greater term
of reproach than a good creature. But to return to that clever woman Mrs.
Downe Wright: she is a widow, left with the management of an only son--a
commonplace, weak young man. No one, I believe, is more sensible of his
mental deficiencies than his mother; but she knows that a man of fortune
is, in the eyes of the many, a man of consequence; and she therefore
wisely talks of it as his chief characteristic. To keep him in good
company, and get him well married, is all her aim; and this, she thinks,
will not be difficult, as he is very handsome-possesses an estate of ten
thousand a year--and succeeds to some Scotch Lord Something's
title--there's for you, Mary! She once had views of Adelaide, but
Adelaide met the advances with so much scorn that Mrs. Downe Wright
declared she was thankful she had shown the cloven foot in time, for
that she never would have done for a wife to her William. Now you are
the very thing to suit, for you have no cloven feet to show."
"Or at least you are not so quick-sighted as Mrs. Downe Wright. You
have not spied them yet, it seems," said Mary, with a smile.
"Oh, as to that, if you had them, I should defy you, or anyone, to hide
them from me. When I reflect upon the characters of most of my
acquaintances, I sometimes think nature has formed my optics only to see
"That must be a still more painful faculty of vision than even the
second-sight," said Mary; "but I should think it depended very much upon
yourself to counteract it."
"Impossible! my perceptions are so peculiarly alive to all that is
obnoxious to them that I could as soon preach my eyes into blindness, or
my ears into deafness, as put down my feelings with chopping logic. If
people _will_ be affected and ridiculous, why must I live in a state of
warfare with myself on account of the feelings they rouse within me?"
"If people _will_ be irritable," said Mary, laughing, "why must others
sacrifice their feelings to gratify them?"
"Because mine are natural feelings, and theirs are artificial. A very
saint must sicken at sight of affectation, you'll allow. Vulgarity, even
innate vulgarity, is bearable--stupidity itself is pardonable--but
affectation is never to be endured or forgiven."
"It admits of palliation, at least," answered Mary. "I dare say there are
many people who would have been pleasing and natural in their manners
had not their parents and teachers interfered. There are many, I
believe, who have not courage to show themselves such as they are--some
who are naturally affected and many, very many, who have been taught
affectation as a necessary branch of education."
"Yes--as my governesses would have taught me; but, thank heaven! I got
the better of them. _Fascinating_ was what they wanted to make me; but
whenever the word was mentioned, I used to knit my brows, and frown upon
them in such a sort. The frown, like now, sticks by me; but no matter--a
frowning brow is better than a false heart, and I defy anyone to say
that I am fascinating."
"There certainly must be some fascination about you, otherwise I should
never have sat so long listening to you," said Mary, as she rose from
the table at which she had been assisting to dash off the at-homes.
"But you must listen to me a little longer," cried her cousin, seizing
her hand to detain her. "I have not got half through my detestables yet;
but to humour you, I shall let them go for the present. And now, that
you mayn't suppose I am utterly insensible to excellence, you must
suffer me to show you that I can and do appreciate worth when I can find
it. I confess my talent lies fully as much in discovering the ridiculous
as the amiable; and I am equally ready to acknowledge it is a fault, and
no mark of superior wit or understanding; since it is much easier to hit
off the glaring caricature line of deformity than the finer and more
exquisite touches of beauty, especially for one who reads as he
run---the sign-posts are sure to catch the eye. But now for my
favourite--no matter for her name--it would frighten you if were you to
hear it. In the first place, she is, as some of your old divines say,
_hugely religious;_ 'but then she keeps her piety in its proper place,
and where it ought to be--in her very soul. It is never a
stumbling-block in other people's way, or interfering with other
people's affairs. Her object is to _be,_ not to _seem, _religious; and
there is neither hypocrisy nor austerity necessary for that. She is
forbearing, without meanness--gentle, without insipidity--sincere,
without rudeness. She practises all the virtues herself, and seems quite
unconscious that others don't do the same. She is, if I may trust the
expression of her eye, almost as much alive to the ridiculous as I am;
but she is only diverted where I am provoked. She never bestows false
praise even upon her friends; but a simple approval from her is of more
value than the finest panegyric from another. She never finds occasion
to censure or condemn the conduct of anyone, however flagrant it may be
in the eyes of others; because she seems to think virtue is better
expressed by her own actions than by her neighbour's vices. She cares
not for admiration, but is anxious to do good and give pleasure. To sum
up the whole, she could listen with patience to Lady Placid; she could
bear to be advised by Mrs. Wiseacre; she could stand the scrutiny of
Mrs. Downe Wright; and, hardest task of all" (throwing her arms around
Mary's neck), "she can bear with all my ill-humour and impertinence."
"Have I then no fears for thee, my _mother?_
Can I forget thy cares, from helpless years--
Thy tenderness for me? an eye still beamed
THE arrival of Lord Lindore brought a influx of visitors to Beech Park;
and in the unceasing round of amusement that went on Mary found herself
completely overlooked. She therefore gladly took advantage of her
insignificance to pay frequent visits to Mrs. Lennox, and easily
prevailed with Lady Juliana to allow her to spend a week there
occasionally. In this way the acquaintance soon ripened into the warmest
affection on both sides. The day seemed doubly dark to Mrs. Lennox that
was not brightened by Mary's presence; and Mary felt all the drooping
energies of her heart revive in the delight of administering to the
happiness of another.
Mrs. Lennox was one of those gentle amiable beings, who engage our
affections far more powerfully than many possessed of higher attributes.
Her understanding was not strong--neither had it been highly cultivated,
according to the ideas of the present time; but she had a benevolence of
heart and a guileless simplicity of thought that shamed the pride of wit
and pomp of learning. Bereft of all external enjoyments, and destitute
of great mental resources, it was retrospection and futurity that gilded
the dark evening of her days, and shed their light on the dreary
realities of life. She loved to recall the remembrance of her
children--to tell of their infant beauties, their growing virtues--and
to retrace scenes of past felicity which memory loves to treasure in the
"Oh! none but a mother can tell," she would exclaim, "the bitterness of
those tears which fall from a mother's eyes. All other sorrows seem
natural, but--God forgive me!--surely it is not natural that the old
should weep for the young. Oh! when I saw myself surrounded by my
children, little did I think that death was so soon to seal their eyes!
Sorrow mine! and yet me thinks I would rather have suffered all than
have stood in the world a lonely being. Yes, my children revered His
power and believed in His name, and, thanks to His mercy, I feel assured
they are now angels in heaven! Here," taking some papers from a
writing-box, "my Louisa speaks to me even from the tomb! These are the
words she wrote but a few hours before her death. Read them to me; for
it is not every voice I can bear to hear uttering her last thoughts."
Mary read as follows:--
FOR EVER GONE.
For ever gone! oh, chilling sound!
That tolls the knell of hope and joy!
Potent with torturing pang to wound,
But not in mercy to destroy.
For ever gone! what words of grief--
Replete with wild mysterious woe!
The Christian kneels to seek relief--
A Saviour died---It is not so.
For a brief space we sojourn here,
And life's rough path we journey o'er;
Thus was it with the friend so dear,
That is not lost, but sped before.
For ever gone! oh, madness wild
Dwells in that drear and Atheist doom!
But death of horror is despoiled,
When Heaven shines forth beyond the tomb.
For ever gone! oh, dreadful fate!
Go visit nature--gather thence
The symbols of man's happier state,
Which speak to every mortal sense.
The leafless spray, the withered flower,
Alike with man owns death's embrace;
But bustling forth, in summer hour,
Prepare anew to run life's race.
And shall it be, that man alone
Dies, never more to rise again?
Of all creation, highest one,
Created but to live in vain?
For ever gone! oh, dire despair!--
Look to the heavens, the earth, the sea--
Go, read a Saviour's promise there--
Go, heir of Immortality!
From such communings as these the selfish would have turned with
indifference; but Mary's generous heart was ever open to the
overflowings of the wounded spirit. She had never been accustomed to
lavish the best feelings of her nature on frivolous pursuits or
fictitious distresses, but had early been taught to consecrate them to
the best, the most ennobling purposes of humanity--even to the
comforting of the weary soul, the binding of the bruised heart. Yet Mary
was no rigid moralist. She loved amusement as the amusement of an
imperfect existence, though her good sense and still better principles
taught her to reject it as the _business_ of an immortal being.
Several weeks passed away, during which Mary had been an almost constant
inmate at Rose Hall; but the day of Lady Emily's _fete _arrived,
and with something of hope and expectation fluttering at her heart, she
anticipated her _debut_ in the ball-room. She repaired to the
breakfast-table of her venerable friend with even more than usual
hilarity; but, upon entering the apartment, her gaiety fled; for she was
struck with the emotion visible on the countenance of Mrs. Lennox. Her
meek but tearful eyes were raised to heaven, and her hands were crossed
on her bosom, as if to subdue the agitation of her heart. Her faithful
attendant stood by her with an open letter in her hand.
Mary flew towards her; and as her light step and soft accents met
her ear, she extended her arms towards her.
"Mary, my child, where are you?" exclaimed she, as she pressed her with
convulsive eagerness to her heart. "My son!--my Charles!--to-morrow I
shall see him. See him! oh, God help me! I shall never see him more!"
And she wept in all the agony of contending emotions, suddenly and
"But you will hear him--you will hold him to your heart--you will be
conscious that he is beside you," said Mary.
"Yes, thank God! I shall once more hear the voice of a living child! Oh,
how often do those voices ring in my heart, that are all hushed in the
grave! I am used to it now; but to think of his returning to this
wilderness! When last he left it he had father, brothers, sisters--and
to find all gone!"
"Indeed it will be a sad return," said the old housekeeper, as she wiped
her eyes; "for the Colonel doated on his sister, and she on him, and his
brothers too! Dearly they all loved one another. How in this very room
have I seen them chase each other up and down in their pretty plays,
with their papa's cap and sword, and say they would be soldiers!"
Mary motioned the good woman to be silent; then turning to Mrs Lennox,
she sought to sooth her into composure, and turned, as she always did,
he bright side of the picture to view, by dwelling on the joy her son
would experience in seeing her. Mrs. Lennox shook her head mournfully.
"Alas! he cannot joy in seeing me, such as I am. I have too long
concealed from him my dreary doom; he knows not that these poor eyes are
sealed in darkness! Oh, he will seek to read a mother's fondness there,
and he will find all cold and silent."
"But he will also find you resigned--even contented," said Mary, while
her tears dropped on the hand she held to her lips.
"Yes; God knows I do not repine at His will. It is not for myself these
tears fall, but my son. How will he bear to behold the mother he so
loved and honoured, now blind, bereft, and helpless?" And the wounds of
her heart seemed to bleed afresh at the excitement of even its happiest
emotions--the return of a long absent, much-loved son.
Mary exerted all the powers of her understanding, all the tenderness of
her heart, to dispel the mournful images that pressed on the mind of her
friend; but she found it was not so much her _arguments _as her
_presence_ that produced that effect; and to leave her in her present
situation seemed impossible. In the agitation of her spirits she had
wholly forgotten the occasion that called for Mary's absence, and she
implored her to remain with her till the arrival of her son with an
earnestness that was irresistible.
The thoughts of her cousin's displeasure, should she absent herself upon
such an occasion, caused Mary to hesitate; yet her feelings would not
allow her to name the cause.
"How unfeeling it would sound to talk of balls at such a time," thought
she; "what a painful contrast must it present! Surely Lady Emily will
not blame me, and no one will miss me----" And, in the ardour of her
feelings, she promised to remain. Yet she sighed as she sent off her
excuse, and thought of the pleasures she had renounced. But the
sacrifice made, the regrets were soon past; and she devoted herself
entirely to soothing the agitated spirits of her venerable friend.
It is perhaps the simplest and most obvious truth, skilfully
administered, that, in the season of affliction, produces the most
salutary effects upon our mind. Mary was certainly no logician, and all
that she could say might have been said by another; but there is
something in the voice and manner that carries an irresistible influence
along with it--something that tells us our sorrows are felt and
understood, not coldly seen and heard. Mary's well-directed exertions
were repaid with success; she read, talked, played, and sang, not in her
gayest manner, but in that subdued strain which harmonised with the
feelings, while it won upon the attention, and she had at length the
satisfaction of seeing the object of her solicitude restored to her
usual state of calm confiding acquiescence.
"God bless you, my dear Mary!" said she, as they were about to separate
for the night. "He only can repay you for the good you have done me this
"Ah!" thought Mary, as she tenderly embraced her, "such a blessing is
worth a dozen balls?"
At that moment the sound of a carriage was heard, and an unusual bustle
took place below; but scarcely had they time to notice it ere the door
flew open, and Mrs. Lennox found herself locked in the arms of her son.
For some minutes the tide of feeling was too strong for utterance, and
"My mother!" "My son!" were the only words that either could articulate.
At length, raising his head, Colonel Lennox fixed his eyes on his
mother's face with a gaze of deep and fearful inquiry; but no returning
glance spoke there. With that mournful vacuity, peculiar to the blind,
which is a thousand times more touching than all the varied expression
of the living orb, she continued to regard the vacant space which
imagination had filled with the image she sought in vain to behold.
At this confirmation of his worst fears a shade of the deepest
anguish overspread the visage of her son. He raised his eyes, as in
agony, to heaven--then threw himself on his mother's bosom; and as Mary
hurried from the apartment she heard the sob which burst from his manly
heart, as he exclaimed, "My dear mother! do I indeed find you
"There is more complacency in the negligence of some men, than in what
is called the good breeding of others; and the little absences of the
heart are often more interesting and engaging than the punctilious
attention of a thousand professed sacrificers to the graces."--MACKENZIE.
POWERFUL emotions are the certain levellers of ordinary feelings. When
Mary met Colonel Lennox in the breakfast-room the following morning, he
accosted her not with the ceremony of a stranger but with the frankness
of a heart careless of common forms, and spoke of his mother with
indications of sensibility which he vainly strove to repress. Mary knew
that she had sought to conceal her real situation from him; but it
seemed a vague suspicion of the truth had, crossed his mind, and having
with difficulty obtained a short leave of absence he had hastened to
have either his hopes or fears realised.
"And now that I know the worst," said he, "I know it only to deplore it.
Far from alleviating, presence seems rather to aggravate my poor
mother's misfortune. Oh! it is heartrending to see the strivings of
these longing eyes to look upon the face of those she loves!"
"Ah!" thought Mary, "were they to behold that face now, how changed
would it appear!" as she contrasted it with the portrait that hung
immediately over the head of the original. The one in all the brightness
of youth--the radiant eyes, the rounded cheek, the fair open brow, spoke
only of hope, and health, and joy. Those eyes were now dimmed by sorrow;
the cheek was wasted with toil; the brow was clouded by cares. Yet, "as
it is the best part of beauty which a picture cannot express," 
so there is something superior to the mere charms of form and colour; and
an air of high-toned feeling, of mingled vivacity and sensibility, gave
a grandeur to the form and an expression to the countenance which more
than atoned for the want of youth's more brilliant attributes.
 Lord Bacon.
At least, so thought Mary; but her comparisons were interrupted by the
entrance of Mrs. Lennox. Her son flew towards her, and taking her arm
from that of her attendant, led her to her seat, and sought to render
her those little offices which her helplessness required.
"My dear Charles," said she, with a smile, as he tried to adjust her
cushions, "your hands have not been used to this work. Your arm is my
best support, but a gentler hand must smooth my pillow. Mary, my love,
where are--? Give me your hand." Then placing it in that of her son--
"Many a tear has this hand wiped from your mother's eyes!"
Mary, blushing deeply, hastily withdrew it. She felt it as a sort of
appeal to Colonel Lennox's feelings; and a sense of wounded delicacy
made her shrink from being thus recommended to his gratitude. But
Colonel Lennox seemed too much absorbed in his own painful reflections
to attach such a meaning to his mother's words; and though they excited
him to regard Mary for a moment with peculiar interest, yet, in a little
while, he relapsed into the mournful reverie from which he had been
Colonel Lennox was evidently not a show-off character. He seemed
superior to the mere vulgar aim of making himself agreeable--an aim
which has much oftener its source in vanity than in benevolence. Yet the
exerted himself to meet his mother's cheerfulness; though as often as he
looked at her, or raised his eyes to the youthful group that hung before
them, his changing hue and quivering lip betrayed the anguish he strove
Breakfast ended, Mary rose to prepare for her departure, in spite of the
solicitations of her friend that she should remain till the following
"Surely, my dear Mary," said she in an imploring accent, "you will not
refuse to bestow one day of happiness upon me?--and it is _such _a
happiness to see my Charles and you together. I little thought that ever
I should have been so blessed. Ah! I begin to think God has yet some
good in store for my last days! Do not then leave me just when I am
beginning to taste of joy!"--And she clung to her with that pathetic
look which Mary had ever found irresistble.
But upon this occasion she steeled her heart against all supplication.
It was the first time she had ever turned from the entreaty of old age
or infirmity; and those only who have lived in the habitual practice of
administering to the happiness of others can conceive how much it costs
the generous heart to resist even the weaknesses of those it loves. But
Mary felt she had already sacrificed too much to affection, and she
feared the reproaches and ridicule that awaited her return to Beech
Park. She therefore gently, though steadily, adhered to her resolution,
only softening it by a promise of returning soon.
"What an angel goes there!" exclaimed Mrs. Lennox to her son, as Mary
left the room to prepare for her departure. "Ah! Charles, could I but
hope to see her yours!"
Colonel Lennox smiled--"That must be when I am an angel myself then. A
poor weather-beaten soldier like me must be satisfied with something
"But is she not a lovely creature?" asked his mother, with some
"Angels, you know, are always fair," replied Colonel Lennox laughingly,
trying to parry this attack upon his heart.
"Ah! Charles, that is not being serious. But young people now are
different from what they were in my day. There is no such thing as
falling in love now, you are all so cautious."
And the good old lady's thoughts reverted to the time when the gay and
gallant Captain Lennox had fallen desperately in love with her, as she
danced a minuet in a blue satin sacque and Bologna hat at a county ball.
"You forget, my dear mother, what a knack I had in falling in love ten
years ago. Since then, I confess I have got rather out of the way of it;
but a little, a very little practice, I am sure, will make me as expert
as ever;--and then I promise you shall have no cause to complain of my
Mrs. Lennox sighed and shook her head. She had long cherished the hope
that if ever her son came home it would be to fall in love with and
marry her beloved Mary; and she had dwelt upon this favourite scheme
till it had taken entire possession of her mind. In the simplicity of
her heart she also imagined that it would greatly help to accelerate the
event were she to suggest the idea to her son, as she had no doubt but
that the object of her affections must necessarily become the idol of
his. So little did she know of human nature that the very means she used
to accomplish her purpose were the most effectual she could have
contrived to defeat it. Such is man, that his pride revolts from all
attempts to influence his affections. The weak and the undiscerning,
indeed, are often led to "choose love by another's eyes;" but the lofty
and independent spirit loves to create for itself those feelings which
lose half their charms when their source is not in the depths of their
It was with no slight mortification that Mrs. Lennox saw Mary depart
without having made the desired impression on the heart of her son; or,
what was still more to be feared, of his having secured himself a place
in her favour. But again and again she made Mary repeat her promise of
returning soon, and spending some days with her. "And then," thought
she, "things will all come right. When they live together, and see each
other constantly, they cannot possibly avoid loving each other, and all
will be as it should be. God grant I may live to see it!"
And hope softened the pang of disappointment.
"Qui vous a pu plonger dans cette humeur chagrine,
A-t-on par quelque edit reforme la cuisine?"
MARY'S inexperienced mind expected to find, on her return to Beech Park,
some vestige of the pleasures of the preceding night--some shadows, at
least, of gaiety, to show what happiness she had sacrificed what delight
her friends had enjoyed; but for the first time she beheld the hideous
aspect of departed pleasure. Drooping evergreens, dying lamps, dim
transparencies, and faded flowers, met her view as she crossed the hall;
while the public rooms were covered with dust from the chalked floors,
and wax from the droppings of the candles. Everything, in short, looked
tawdry and forlorn. Nothing was in its place--nothing looked as it used
to do--and she stood amazed at the disagreeable metamorphose an things
Hearing some one approach, she turned and beheld Dr. Redgill enter.
"So--it's only you, Miss Mary!" exclaimed he in a tone of chagrin. "I
was in hopes it was some of the women-servants. 'Pon my soul, it's
disgraceful to think that in this house there is not a woman stirring
yet! I have sent five messages by my man to let Mrs. Brown know that I
have been waiting for my breakfast these two hours; but this confounded
ball has turned everything upside down! You are come to a pretty scene,"
continued he, looking round with a mixture of fury and contempt,--"a
very pretty scene! 'Pon my honour, I blush to see myself standing here!
Just look at these rags!" kicking a festoon of artificial roses that had
fallen to the ground. "Can anything be more despicable?--and to think
that rational creatures in possession of their senses should take
pleasure in the sight of such trumpery! 'Pon my soul, I--I--declare it
confounds me! I really used to think Lady Emily (for this is all her
doing) had some sense--but such a display of folly as this!"
"Pshaw!" said Mary, "it is not fair in us to stand here analysing the
dregs of gaiety after the essence is gone. I daresay this was a very
brilliant scene last night."
"Brilliant scene, indeed!" repeated the Doctor in a most; wrathful
accent: "I really am amazed--I--yes--brilliant enough--if you mean that
there was a glare of light enough to blind the devil. I thought my eyes
would have been put out the short time I stayed; indeed, I don't think
this one has recovered it yet," advancing a fierce blood-shot eye almost
close to Mary's. "Don't you think it looks a _leettle_ inflamed, Miss
Mary gave it as her opinion that it did.
"Well, that's all I've got by this business; but I never was consulted
about it. I thought it my duty, however, to give a _leettle_ hint to the
Earl, when the thing was proposed. 'My Lord,' says I, 'your house is
your own; you have a right to do what you please with it; burn it; pull
it down; make a purgatory of it; but, for God's sake, don't give a ball
in it!' The ball was given, and you see the consequences. A ball! and
what's a ball, that a whole family should be thrown into disorder for
"I daresay, to those who are engaged in it, it is a very delightful
amusement at the time."
"Delightful fiddlestick! 'Pon my soul, I'm surprised at you, Miss Mary!
I thought your staying away was a pretty strong proof of your good
sense; but I--hem! Delightful amusement, indeed! to see human creatures
twirling one another about all night like so many monkeys--making
perfect mountebanks of themselves. Really, I look upon dancing as a most
degrading and a most immoral practice. 'Pon my soul, I--_I_ couldn't
have the face to waltz, I know; and it's all on account of this
delightful amusement--" with a convulsive shake of his chin--"that things
are in this state--myself kept waiting for my breakfast two hours and a
half beyond my natural time: not that I mind myself at all--that's
neither here nor there--and if I was the only sufferer, I'm sure I
should be the very last to complain--but I own it vexes--it distresses
me. 'Pon my honour, can't stand seeing a whole family going to
The Doctor's agitation was so great that Mary really pitied him.
"It is rather hard that you cannot get any breakfast since you had no
enjoyment in the ball," said she. "I daresay, were I to apply to Mrs.
Brown, she would trust me with her keys; and I shall be happy too
officiate for her in making your tea."
"Thank you, Miss Mary," replied the Doctor coldly. "I'm very much obliged
to you. It is really a very polite offer on your part; but--hem!--you
might have observed that I never take tea to breakfast. I keep that for
the evening; most people, I know, do the reverse, but they're in the
wrong. Coffee is too nutritive for the evening. The French themselves
are in an error there. That woman, that Mrs. Brown knows what I like; in
fact, she's the only woman I ever met with who could make coffee--coffee
that I thought drinkable. She knows that--and she knows that I like it
to a moment--and yet---"
Here the Doctor blew his nose, and Mary thought she perceived a tear
twinkle in his eye. Finding she was incapable of administering
consolation, she was about to quit the room, when the Doctor, recovering
himself, called after her.
"If you happen to be going the way of Mrs. Brown's room, Miss Mary, I
would take it very kind if you could just contrive to let her know what
time of day it is; and that I have not tasted a mouthful of anything
since last night at twelve o'clock, when I took a _leettle_ morsel of
supper in my own room."
Mary took advantage of the deep sigh that followed to make her escape;
and as she crossed the vestibule she descried the Doctor's man, hurrying
along with a coffee pot, which she had no doubt would pour consolation
into his master's soul.
As Mary was aware of her mother's dislike to introduce her into
company, she flattered herself she had for once done something to merit
her approbation by having absented herself on this occasion. But Mary
was a novice in the ways of temper, and had yet to learn that to study
to please, and to succeed, are very different things. Lady Juliana had
been decidedly averse to her appearing at the ball, but she was equally
disposed to take offence at her having stayed away; besides, she had not
been pleased herself, and her glass told her she looked jaded and ill.
She was therefore, as her maid expressed it, in a most particular bad
temper; and Mary had to endure reproaches, of which she could only make
out that although she ought not to have been present she was much to
blame in having been absent. Lady Emily's indignation was in a different
style. There was a heat and energy in her anger that never failed to
overwhelm her victim at once. But it was more tolerable than the
tedious, fretful ill humour of the other; and after she had fairly
exhausted herself in invectives, and ridicule, and insolence, and drawn
tears from her cousin's eyes by the bitterness of her language, she
heartily embraced her, vowed she liked her better than anybody in the
world, and that she was a fool for minding anything she said to
"I assure you," said she, "I was only tormenting you a little, and you
must own you deserve that; but you can't suppose I meant half what I
said; that is a _betise_ I can't conceive you guilty of. You see I
am much more charitable in my conclusions than you. You have no scruple
in thinking me a wretch, though I am too good-natured to set you down
for a fool. Come, brighten up, and I'll tell you all about the ball. How
I hate it, were it only for having made your nose red! But really the
thing in itself was detestable. Job himself must have gone mad at the
provocations I met with. In the first place, I had set my heart upon
introducing you with eclat, and instead of which you preferred
psalm-singing with Mrs. Lennox, or sentiment with her son--I don't know
which. In the next place there was a dinner in Bath, that kept away some
of the best men; then, after waiting an hour and a half for Frederick to
begin the ball with Lady Charlotte M---, I went myself to his room, and
found him lounging by the fire with a volume of Rousseau in his hand,
not dressed, and quite surprised that I should think his presence at all
necessary; and when he did make his entre, conceive my feelings
at seeing him single out Lady Placid as his partner! I certainly would
rather have seen him waltzing with a hyena! I don't believe he knew or
cared whom he danced with--unless, perhaps, it had been Adelaide, but she
was engaged; and, by-the-bye, there certainly is some sort of a liaison
there; how it will end I don't know; it depends upon on themselves, for
I'm sure the course of their love may run smooth if they choose--I know
nothing to interrupt it. Perhaps, indeed, it may become stagnate from
that very circumstance; for you know, or perhaps you don't know, 'there
is no spirit under heaven that works with such delusion.'"
Mary would have felt rather uneasy at his intelligence, had she believed
it possible for her sister to be in love; but she had ever appeared to
her so insensible to every tender emotion and generous affection, that
she could not suppose even love itself as capable of making any
impression on her heart. When, however, she saw them together, she began
to waver in her opinion. Adelaide, silent and disdainful to others, was
now gay and enchanting to Lord Lindore, and looked as if she triumphed
in the victory she had already won. It was not so easy to ascertain the
nature of Lord Lindore's feelings towards his cousin, and time only
"Les douleurs muettes et stupides sont hors d'usage; on pleure, on
recite, on repete, on est si touchee de la mort de son mari, qu'on
n'en oublie pas la moindre circonstance."
"PRAY put on your Lennox face this morning, Mary," said Lady Emily one
day to her cousin, "for I want you to go and pay a funeral visit with me
to a distant relation, but unhappily a near neighbour of ours, who has
lately lost her husband. Lady Juliana and Adelaide ought to go, but they
won't, so you and I must celebrate, as we best can, the obsequies of the
Honourable Mr. Sufton."
Mary readily assented; and when they were seated in the carriage, her
"Since I am going to put you in the way of a trap, I think it but fair
to warn you of it. All traps are odious things, and I make it my
business to expose them wherever I find them. I own it chafes my spirit
to see even sensible people taken in by the clumsy machinery of such a
woman as Lady Matilda Sufton. So here she is in her true colours. Lady
Matilda is descended from the ancient and illustrious family of
Altamont. To have a fair character is, in her eyes, much more important
than to deserve it. She has prepared speeches for every occasion, and
she expects they are all to be believed--in short, she is a _show_
woman; the world is her theatre, and from it she looks for the plaudits
due to her virtue; for with her the reality and the semblance are
synonymous. She has a grave and imposing air, which keeps the timid at a
distance; and she delivers the most common truths as if they were the
most profound aphorisms. To degrade herself is her greatest fear; for,
to use her own expression, there is nothing so degrading as associating
with our inferiors--that is, our inferiors in rank and wealth--for with
her all other gradations are incomprehensible. With the lower orders of
society she is totally unacquainted; she knows they are meanly clothed
and coarsely fed, consequently they are mean. She is proud, both from
nature and principle; for she thinks it is the duty of every woman of
family to be proud, and that humility is only a virtue in the
_canaille._ Proper pride she calls it, though I rather think it ought
to be pride _proper,_ as I imagine it is a distinction that was unknown
before the introduction of heraldry. The only true knowledge, according
to her creed, is the knowledge of the world, by which she means a
knowledge of the most courtly etiquette, the manners and habits of the