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bility, should the evening be fresh, I shall return in the close carriage with my aunt."
Poor Lady Margaret! She could not have hit upon a more unavailable excuse, her previous assertions of indifference to night air and its effects having not yet escaped Sir Willoughby's retentive memory, and he now recalled them to her, in confutation of her present declaration. My eyes meeting hers at the moment, we both smiled at the fruitlessness of her attempt. It was clear that if no lucky chance intervened in the interim, she was doomed to return as she went, and with Damocles' sword pending in the shape of this anticipation, she was driven from the door.
The bays getting impatient, obliged me to expedite the movements of Miss Meredith, who, in terror, partly natural and partly assumed, was going through a variety of manæuvres and hesitations, to Guy's amusement and my annoyance, though of course I made no outward demonstration of my inward feeling. .
“ You need be under no alarm, Miss Meredith,” said Guy; "the horses are only a little fresh, and I can bear testimony to the fact of Vernon's being a first-rate whip.”.
"Oh! I am sure he is,” returned Miss Meredith, in no wise reassured, however ; “but hadn't we better have both the grooms, in case the horses should be restive?"
“Confound her impudence !" was my mental rejoinder; but I only said, with all the mildness I could muster, “I don't think we shall require extra aid, Miss Meredith, but if the grooms inspire you with more confidence, by all means let them come.”
Perhaps a gleam of my smothered indignation was manifest to Ethel and to Guy, for they both looked excessively entertained.
“Would you prefer driving with Guy in the pony-carriage, and letting me take your place, Constance ?” asked Ethel, who, in her usual good-natured concern for other people's comfort, in the present instance seemed to lose sight of poor Guy's, and his blank looks at this unexpected proposition amused me in my turn. Although Constance Meredith decidedly refused the offered exchange, I consider that Ethel really merited the reproaches that doubtless she received when we had taken our departure.
The bays stepped out pleasantly enough, and we bowled along at a famous pace, overtaking and passing Sir Willoughby and Lady Margaret. The latter looked, I fancied, mischievously inclined, judging from the laughing expression in her eyes, and, on remarking this casually to my companion, she answered, coldly,
“I do not see what Margaret can find to laugh at in Sir Willoughby Gresham. It is a bad habit that she has.” " I suppose you never do such a thing, Miss Meredith ?"
"No, I never amuse myself at other people's expense,” she replied, rather sententiously ; "and I do not see the use of making enemies!”
"I should not imagine that Lady Margaret made many, either,” I observed, carelessly ; "and certainly Sir Willoughby does not appear to be in any way repelled.” "Margaret is a decided flirt,” said Miss Meredith, whose wonted good humour seemed turned to gall by this observation of mine. “I don't believe Sir Willoughby cares for her as you seem to imagine.”
“Don't you ?" I asked. “Well, I must say, then, that appearances are at variance with the reality in that case. But, then, to be sure, all young ladies are flirts, are they not, Miss Meredith ? And breaking hearts is a favourite ambition of theirs !".
"I do not think that Sir Willoughby's heart is in any danger of the kind,” returned Miss Meredith, snappishly, “and Margaret is labouring under a mistake if she thinks otherwise."
At this juncture one of the bays saw fit to shy, startled probably by the apparition of the old lady in a white apron who came out from the lodge to open the gates, and which little occurrence set light to the train of Miss Meredith’s alarms.
“Gracious goodness, Mr. Vernon! they are going to kick or run away! Shall I call to the woman to stop them ?»*
This second betrayal of Miss Meredith's utter want of confidence in my powers considerably amused me; the old woman to whom she looked for assistance being, I should have opined, on the shady side of seventy.
“Suppose we take her up behind us, Miss Meredith ?” I said, suggestively. “She might sit bodkin between the grooms, and would be at hand if wanted.”
“Oh! pray don't laugh, Mr. Vernon, I am so terrified. Do look at the horrid creature pricking his ears !"
“ I can assure you, Miss Meredith, that is not symptomatic of danger; laying his ears back would be the more natural deinonstration of mischief, if he contemplated any."
“ Then look at the other horse, Mr. Vernon ; his ears are quite flat to his head, and his eyes are so savage-looking !"
How Miss Meredith arrived at this conclusion I am at a loss to understand, seeing that blinkers are not transparent. I endeavoured to quell the current of her fears, but my efforts were unsuccessful.
“But why will they toss their heads in that dreadful way?" she asked, as the bays, appreciating more fully than she did the exhilarating fresh air, trotted out with the free, dancing action of well-bred horses, in whose frames symmetry and strength were equally balanced.
“We are going down such a hill, Mr. Vernon, and I am sure they will run away, and we shall be thrown out, and perhaps killed. Oh! I wish I had not come !"
A glance into my mind at that moment would have shown her how devoutly I concurred in the sentiment, for I deeply repented having wilfully undertaken so heavy a responsibility as the charge of Miss Mere dith proved to be. I contemplated, likewise, the possibility of an attempt on her part to jump out—a feat women are wonderfully prone to perform when terrified by the equine race--and which fatal expedient was the only danger to be apprehended under the present circumstances.
Preserve me from the infliction of a silly woman's society! A stupid one is a bore, and an ill-tempered one is a burden; but a silly woman is more insufferable than either, from this fact, that her mind possessing ng substratum of intelligence to which you can appeal, there is no tangible point of resistance, and after the fashion of a pony with no mouth, who
bores against your hand, regardless of bit or bridle. She is unconquerable, because unassailable.
Finding that all arguments I could advance were thrown away upon my nervous companion, I resigned myself to the unhappy fate forced upon me, keeping, however, a sharp look-out on her movements, so as to intercept any suicidal measure of springing from the carriage, and consoling myself with the resolve that upon other hands than mine should devolve the honour of driving her home. As Ethel had observed, “ Long drives, like long lives, must have an end," and with a feeling of intense relief and satisfaction I hailed the termination of ours.
On nearing the inn where the carriages were to remain we overtook Bob, who, by taking a shorter cut, inaccessible to all larger equipages than his own little trap, had contrived to arrive as soon as the other carriages. We came up in the middle of a fierce dispute between him and the pony, the latter lowering his rebellious little head, and setting at nought all Bob's equally determined endeavours to make him enter the gate, and to which mode of ingress the pony, from some private reasons of his own, evinced a strong objection.
"Let me get out, and I will walk on to the inn," urged little Miss Grey, deeming non-resistance the wiser course to pursue.
“No; certainly not!" objected Bob.“ I'm not going to be beaten by a thing no bigger than a cat. Sit still, pray!”.
And a violent struggle recommenced between the disputants, the pony backing and swerving to the right and to the left, preferring any course to the middle one of entrance.
In the midst of the contest Lady Aylmer's carriage drove up, and a formidable-looking bonnet was protruded from the window.
"Mr. Mordaunt, what are you doing to my poor little pony ?" asked a voice, the stern tones of which sent the colour in erimson tides to poor little Miss Grey's cheeks.
“ No harm, Miss Marston," returned the unabashed Bob ; “ only persuading him to walk in the way he should go.”
“ There, Mr. Mordaunt!" ejaculated Miss Grey, as the carriage passed on, “ I told you she would be so angry."
"Well, never mind! She can't prevent our returning in her ponycarriage, at all events," returned Bob, who seemed only concerned on the question of the possible transfer of his companion and himself to other and perhaps separate conveyances. “Now, sir, will you ?” And in answer to a sharp cut, bestowed on his fat little sides, the refractory pony darted through the gate, impetuously tearing up to the door, in open defiance of all precedence. “Don't mind, Miss Marston,” said Bob, encouragingly, as he triumphantly landed his little companion ; " and remember! you're pledged to go back with me. I'll make it all straight with the old lady, I promise you."
AT THE TOWER WINDOW WITH SIR WALTER RALEIGH.
A VEXED QUESTION.
BY FRANCIS JACO X.
The introductory discourse with which M. Guizot, some fifty years since, ushered in his first course of lectures on Modern History, opened with the familiar but always instructive story of a “statesman equally celebrated for his character and misfortunes, Sir Walter Raleigh," who, while confined in the Tower, employed himself in finishing the second part of that History of the World of which he had already published the first. A quarrel arose in one of the courts of the prison (so the story runs); he looked on attentively at the contest, which did not pass off without bloodshedding,—and when he retired from the window, Sir Walter's imagination was strongly impressed by the scene that had passed under his eyes. Next day a friend came to visit him, and related what had occurred. But great was his surprise when this friend, who had been present at, and even engaged in the occurrence of the preceding day, proved to him that this event, in its results as well as in its particulars, was precisely the contrary of what he had believed he saw. Other accounts bring in a variety of independent eye-witnesses, each with a version discrepant from and irreconcilable with the rest. At any rate, the sequel of the affair was, that Raleigh, when left alone, took up his manuscript and threw it in the fire; convinced that as he had been so completely deceived with respect to the details of an incident he had actually witnessed, he could know nothing whatever of those he had just described with his pen.
Are we better informed or more fortunate than Sir Walter Raleigh? is M. Guizot's inferential query. And his judgment is, that the most confident historian would hesitate to answer this question directly in the affirmative. For history relates a long series of events, and depicts a vast number of characters; and yet how great the difficulty of thoroughly understanding a single character or a solitary event! It is from an infinity of details, where everything is obscure, and nothing isolated, that history is bomposed, and man, proud of what he knows, because he forgets to think of how much he is ignorant, believes that he has acquired a full knowledge of history when he has read what some few have told him, who had no better means of understanding the times in which they lived, than we possess of justly estimating our own.*
On that memorable Opera night, in 1814, when the Prince Regent and the Allied Sovereigns appeared together in state at His Majesty's Theatre —the Princess of Wales being there also—a certain Dowager Countess, of party-giving popularity in the great world, had invited a throng of favoured guests to meet Field-Marshal Blucher at her house when the opera should be over. Among the guests was Mrs. Opie, who, being an early arrival, heard from one new comer after another, as they came
* Discours préliminaire de M. Guizot, Dec. 11, 1812.
dropping in from the Opera House, before the entertainments there had closed, contradictory versions of “what was deemed surprising intelligence"-namely, that the Princess of Wales being seated opposite to the Royal box, the Prince had bowed to her-30 one set of eye-witnesses affirmed; whereas it was maintained by another set, equally confident in a very natural reliance on ocular demonstration-on their own particular, personal, ocular experience of only an hour ago—that the Prince had bowed, not to the Princess, but to the pit. Her ladyship the hostess, with a view to resolve this vexed question, made a point of asking every new comer, the moment he or she entered the room, “ Did the Prince bow to the Princess, or to the pit ?” And there were as many who declared that he bowed to the pit, as that he bowed to the Princess: whereupon a discussion of unusual interest was set a-going in that distinguished assembly, as to the philosophic vaļue of testimony, oral, ocular, and traditional.
The circumstance itself was of slight moment, even Mrs. Opie can allow; but she claims some importance for it from the consideration that although not of consequence enough to be mentioned in the pages of History, it would certainly be referred to in those of Biography, and in the memoirs of the day; and among so many conflicting testimonies, how, she asks, was the biographer to know which was the accurate account? “One of the company suggested that he must take that side of the question on which the greatest number of persons agreed ; another, that he must write by the evidence of those whom he thought most worthy of credit. However, in one point, every one was of the same opinion, namely, that the writers of History and Biography were much to be pitied, and that poor Sir Walter Raleigh made a wise resolve in determining to burn the history he was writing, when, of a circumstance which he saw happen under the window of his prison in the Tower, he heard the next day several different and even contradictory accounts, and not one of them the true one."*
In his sceptical disquisitions on the Study of History, Lord Boling. broke illustrates his position, in one signal instance, by the discrepancies observable in two leading Grecian historians, in their narrative memoirs of Cyrus the Great. “Herodotus flourished, I think, little more than half a century, and Xenophon little more than a whole century, after the death of Cyrus; and yet how various and repugnant are the relations made by these two historians, of the birth, life, and death of this prince ! If most histories had come down from these ages to ours, the uncertainty and inutility of them all would be but the more manifest. We should find that Acusilaus rejected the traditions of Hesiod, that Hellanicus contradicted Acusilaus, that Ephorus accused Hellanicus, that Timæus accused Ephorus, and all posterior writers Timæus.”+
Another noble lord, of the same school as accomplished St. John-if not in politics, at least in politeness, and pyrrhonism-avows his disposition to extend his pyrrhonism, not unfrequently either, to historical facts themselves, at least to most of the circumstances with which they are related; “ and every day's experience confirms me," he assures his son, “ in this historical incredulity. Do we ever hear the same fact related
* Reminiscences of Mrs. Opie, ch. i.