« AnteriorContinuar »
left the army in the last peace! I curious studies. They would have had done enough that I should not been whims, and I should have forbidbave feared having anything wrong den them, in any one else ; but in her said of me; and I feel that, however they are real and sound, and will bring campaigning may suit a bachelor, forth good fruit hereafter. Tell me there is no place for an honest mar- amply of all that are with you. Henried man but his own dear bome, with ry writes to me himself constantly ; its fireside, and the wife and children but, for the others, I must trust to of his heart around it. And, whilst you. Tell me of Mary-tell me of I am plodding on in our marches, in Eveline tell me of yourself, -and in these deep roads, and behold the fa- the order in which I have placed them, mily groups crowding to their doors much, more, most. To no love, into see us pass, and the little faces of deed, but that for you, can my affecthe young ones turned up to ask ex- tion for Eveline be second Blessed planations of their mother, or the lad is the man who has such a daughter climbing up to his father's shoulders as she is, when her mother is such as to have a better view,-my heart has you. Only once let me get back to yearned for Arlescot, and for those you, and it shall be my fault if we who are there gathered together, and ever are thus separated again.” I have scarcely kept from weeping. And yet I have, now and then, reasons The next letter is dated five or six for thanks and gratitude to Heaven. years later, and is from Eveline's broWhen-and it happens not seldom- ther, Sir Henry, who was then at Paris. the people are plundered, and put to Poor Sir John had never again seen sufferings of which I cannot and will that family, for whom his love was so not speak, my heart has swelled with strong and so tender : he was killed at joy that such things do not take place Minden. Sir Henry, then about onein our island. My own dear Marga- and-twenty, had been on the continent ret, I think of you, and Eveline, and a great deal since, while Lady MeyMary ; and my heart blesses the Al- nell and her daughters had lived chiefmighty that such things are far from ly at Arlescot. The remainder, as you. Yet I dreamed last night that regards that date, the letter itself will Arlescot was pillaged and on fire, and speak :that you were under the large firs in
« Paris, June, 1764. front of the entrance, when a soldier " DEAREST EVELINE,—The tone came up, who was drunk as well as of my few last letters will, I think, to brutal, and who was about to dis- one so clear-sighted, prevent any great charge his pistol at you, when Eve- surprise being called forth by the conline, who till then had been trembling, tents of this. You will readily guess gained sudden courage for the mo- that I allude to my approaching marment, and convulsively snatched bold riage with Mademoiselle de Villebois; of the piece, wbich turned the muzzle and hearty and fervent, I am confident, towards the man himself, and the will be your wishes, that that marshock causing the discharge, the ball riage may be to me the source of the struck him, and he fell.
degree of happiness which a happy “I should not tell you foolish marriage alone can produce. dreams, were it not that this serves Of course, once the matter was to show how much you all live in my finally determined upon, my heart mind. And, besides, this dream turned to you. And now, Eveline, spoke truth of Eveline : it is just as I must speak more at large concerning she would have acted, delicate as she yourself than I have ever yet done to is, if you had been in danger.-Pray yourself—for I am certain, when you write me long accounts of yourself, have read the grounds on which I and all of you; and above all, let me found the entreaty I am about to hear how Eveline gets on in all her make, that you will grant it.
“ What I wish, then, is that, as second only tò that which the nature long as you remain a Meynell, you of things must, in every man, make should make one of your brother's fa- the first :-or probably it is in characmily.-You know that brother is more ter they differ rather than in degree. really attached to you than is any one “Let me hear from you, dear Ereelse in the world ;-he knows you bet- line, to tell me that you will add to ter-and therefore he cannot be other- the happiness of our home-till you wise. I am quite well aware of all leave us to make another home less that is said about the annoyance and happy only because there will not be danger of a third person being resident such a third as at Arlescot. H. M. in a bridal house, especially when that " Henri m'a confié le sujet sur leperson is of the bridegroom's kin in- quel il vous écrivait : je me l'ai fait stead of the bride's. But this, to be montrer sa lettre. Tout ce qu'il dit true, requires that one of the three est vrai, hormis les louanges exaggeshould have qualities which I hope rés dont il m'accable. Je vous prie none of us possess. It argues, in par- de croire, ma deja-chère seur, que ticular, littleness of mind on the part mon âme partage son desir que vous of one of the female members of the fassiez le tiers de cet heureux trio trio :—what your's is I need not tell dont il parle arec une tendresse si you—what Adelaïde's is, lover as I aimable et si vraie. A. de V." am, I know.
“ It would surprise you, indeed, if My readers will now begin to see you were to be aware of the extent to pretty clearly the sense in which Erewhich she is proud of you already, line had received the title of the Seand of the impatience she feels at not cond Best. Her father bad preferred being yet able to love you as I do. only the wife of many and affectionate Strong and fervent as my passion is years—her brother had given but for Adelaïde, I cannot be blind to the slight superiority to the object of bis extreme advantage which your society young yet perfect love. The next would be to her. She is a year letter, however, speaks stronger still. younger than you—and, brilliant as It is from the young lady Meynell, are her talents, and expanded as I am about a year after her marriage, to a convinced her mind will more and young lady with whom she bad formed more rapidly become,-still she has an early intimacy. In the preceding not had your advantages to cultivate letter I have left the little postcript in her natural gifts to the most sound and the original- but this is long enough productive effect. She has exactly to need translation. that character of feeling which, so far from being envious at this, will ad- “So you have returned from Italy mire, with all her warinth of disposi- after your bridal tour of a year-and tion, the merit itself, and be grateful, lo! you express surprise, first, at my with all its generous tenderness, for being married ; secondly, at my baving the benefits it will produce in her. married an Englishman; and above Yes, Eveline, she is worthy eren of all, at my having consented to live in being your sister-and if I think that, England. you may be quite sure that there is no “ As for the first cause of wonder, fear that any discordancy should arise you forget, ma chère, that time adthrough her means.
vances, and that I was only a month “As for the paltry and unintelligi- younger at the period of my marriage ble jealousy which I have heard some- than you were at your's. With retimes arises on a sister's part at the gard to my marrying an Englishman, brother's love for his wife exceeding you don't know what an Englishman that for her, I will not insult you by Sir Henry is. He has all the polish speaking on the subject. You know of our most cultivated Parisians, with. full well that my affection for you is out any of their frivolity of manner, or
frequent littleness of mind. His de- sauve et constante ;-mais même ici on licacy of manners, indeed, arises from abuse de cet mot, à force de s'en his own mind, instead of from the servir.” mimicry of others—which, in truth, [I could not resist leaving this in prevents the word delicacy being ap- the original-for it shows to an Engplicable in its strict sense. Besides, lishmuan bow thoroughly Lady Meynell he has a strength of character, and a felt what Comfort is in its highest sig, reality of purpose, which the differ- nification, and yet how utterly her ence of position between an English language was incapable to express gentleman and one of our petits-mai- what she understood so well. To tres de Cour, must, in the mass of in- resume.] stances, necessitate*. Do not think « The dull, dismal, comfortless life I am folle d'amour, thus to speak. at a château in a distant province in No ;-every month I live with my hus- France, can give you no conception of band, my love for him, if it cannot how we live in the country here. well increase in mere degree, becomes Here, at Arlescot, is an admirable of a more intensely tender, as well as house, of various dates, though all old of a far nobler, character.
- but not like your father's château “ As to my living in England, I in Champagne. Here everything is certainly consented at first from its excellent and even luxurious; and the being the country of the man whom I society of our neighbors, and our Lonmarried because I loved him. You don friends who come down for weeks know that I am of the religion of this together, is delightful. country-indeed, if it had not been for « But, for nearly all the summer the difference of customs which, to months, we were by choice alone. some extent, distinguishes the Pro- That is, there were no visiters-but testants at Paris, Sir Henry and I ne- our family circle is completed by a ver could have known each other be- sister of Sir Henry's whom he has fore our marriage sufficiently for our prevailed upon to live with us. Oh! affection to become what it did. It Clara, such a woman I never met !is true, then, I resigned my country such talents !-such knowledge!-such for my husband.-My parents were exquisite tact !-for it is that which dead; but they had not been so long springs from delicate feelings, not the enough for the aunt, with whom I factitious tinsel of the world ;-such lived, at all to supply their place in matchless kindness of manner !-for my affections. It therefore cost me its source is an incomparable heart. but little to resign that Paris you all I never shall cease to think of the prize so much, for the sake of one bursting affection with which she rewhom I both esteemed and loved be- ceived her brother, on his arrival-still yond the power of words to speak. less shall I forget the numberless, and
“ But now, I would not go back to nameless, and indescribable offices of France, save, for an occasional visit, the truest and most considerate friendon any account-except it were his liness, by which she contrived to set wish-and of that there is little fear. me at my ease among strangers of You can have no idea of what a coun- whose habits of living I could know try-life is in England. The dull, dis- nothing in a foreign land, of every mal, comfortless-vous ne connaissez custom of which I was of necessity pas même le terme-vous n'avez pas ignorant. Nay, from what I did see, le mot pour le rendre,-je dirai que le I am confident that there are a thoucomfort embrace, dans son meilleur sand delicate kindnesses which I nesens, tout ce qui fait passer la vie ver saw at all. journaliere avec une jouissance la plus “ Figure to yourself, Clara, if you
* It is to be remembered that the date of this is in the last ten years of Louis XV.'s reignthe most frivolous and contemptible era of French society.
can,--which I doubt exceedingly,--a an exquisite charm till bed-time, that, young person, not even now above even in my bridal year, I have never one-and-twenty, with a face of ex- once wished her away. It is true, treme intellectual beauty — without indeed, that she takes care that we some share of which no mere physical often shall be alone ;-but this is never regularity of feature deserves the name done as though it were contrired, but of beauty at all,-and which, as in the seems as if it naturally sprang from case of Eveline, can fully compensate her being engaged in her own pursuits. for that far lower quality being in- "I have used the phrase her charicomplete. Her features certainly are ty. And well I may ! It is indeed not regular :—but the combination du no common alms-giving. She knows bon sens et de l'âme I never saw the history of the wants, the struggles, equally combined in any face before, and the merits of every family in the and I had no conception of what that village. Oh! how I bless her for barcombination could produce, till now. ing shown me, by her practice-scarceHer countenance, in repose, bas a ly at all by direct precept - what mixture of strong mind and placid heavenly effects a dame de paroisse thought with a general benevolent may produce in this country, if she meaning, and unbounded goodness of know the proper means, and is willing heart. But to see it brighten with the to exert herself ever so little. I trust, arousing of her intellect on some sub- if she should form a connection such ject in which she takes warm interest, as alone she would form-and I doubt, -or kindle with intense affection, or from certain indications, whether she sosten with sweet tenderness, towards ever will-that my watching and stuthose on whom her feelings are really dying her admirable conduct on this fixed,--this, indeed, must excite any point may in some degree soften ber one with admiration who has either loss to the poor. That it will fully head or heart sufficient to deserve to supply it I never can hope-for they class among huinan beings.
have known kind Mistress Eveline' “ Helas ! and it is I who am writ- from her childhood upwards. They ing thus !-I whom you recollect so have seen her goodness from its earli. giddy a girl! Yes, but it is impossi- est bud of promise to its present full ble to live a year with such persons bearing of fruit. as Henry and his sister, without im- "Ob! how my admiration and love bibing higher thoughts and stronger of my noble and affectionate husband, and more amiable feelings. Of him I and of his incomparable sister urge need not say more. But I could not me on to warmth of expression. You have believed it possible that any one will scarcely believe this letter to have could replace him during the few and been written by your light-hearted short absences he has been compelled giddy play-fellow Adelaide. The to make, as she has done. I never giddiness is gone, but the lightness of met a woman who had such informa- beart is not-or rather it is raised to a tion without having the very slightest sensation of happiness of a degree of tinge of a précieuse :-she never pro- delicate and exquisite enjoyment such duces anything, all comes so naturally, as I did not then know existed. And so much of course, that it would seem this I owe to both my husband and almost to be affected that she should his sister ;-for, if my love for him be withhold it. In our evenings, when an affection far superior to any of Henry and I returned from wandering which I had conceived the existence, along the sweet gardens together, and -so is my friendship for her, which pausing on the banks of the stream, ranks second only to that, a feeling and silently enjoying the mere con- such as I had no idea that Friendship sciousness of being together,—we used ever could be." to find Eveline just come in from some errand of her charity in the village This speaks well for more women and the hours have passed with such than one. Here is a girl, bred in Pa
ris-if not, from the peculiarity of her lection,-both personal, and of what I position arising from religion, in its have heard my father say, sometimes worst-namely, its courtly-circles, to me, and now and then to others, certainly in its worst times ;-a beau- when my early age prevented his ty-nor that only, but distinguished thinking of my presence, concerning for her liveliness, I might say brillian- my Aunt Eveline. Nothing I have cy, in society-here is one thus cir- heard said of that beloved being ever cumstanced unconsciously becoming of escaped my memory. I could not strong and finely fervent feelings, and apply all of it then-but the words of sound and reliable judgment, from have remained in my remembrance, her union with a man of sense and of and their meaning is clear to me now. virtue-and from continued intercourse " You say that, of course, she will with such a woman as Eveline Mey- come and live with us; and that, therenell. The progress of this heighten- fore, you should like to know her ing of character was, as I have said, character thorougbly. I do not wonimperceptible to her in its progress- der that you should desire to be enbut such changes can never long con- lightened on some few points of that tinue to exist unknown to those who character, notwithstanding your strong have undergone them.
admiration of the whole. If you had A fourth letter, dated nearly eight- seen more of Aunt Eveline than chance een years afterwards, written by the circumstances have allowed you to do, daughter of this Lady Meynell, who you would need no information at all. herself died when this young person I have seen this often, and longed to was only about nine years old, will speak to you about her,—as you now complete the portrait of kind Mistress own you wished to do to me. Thus Eveline. The writer herself seems has fastidious nicety restrained us both to have profited by the rare qualities from conversing on a subject upon of all those among whom she was which we both desired to come to a bred. The letter is addressed to her thorough understanding. As it is, I betrothed :
will give you all that I know concern
ing her. “ You remind me that the period is “ You first ask how it is she has pearly approaching at which a year never married—with all her talents will be completed since my poor father and information, and with her very died. I know well that it is only the peculiar but still admirable beauty, strong impulse of your fondness for and her warm and affectionate chame that can have led you to hint at racter of heart ? I think I know-for this-for, to do you justice, you do no I remember what my father thought more than hint-for you, of all the on the subject-and he was likely to world, must feel that, neither as to be right. I recollect hearing him say, retrospect nor prospect, can I need that he thought her ideas were pitchreminding. The loss of such a fa- ed so high, as to what men ought to ther as mine must leave painful sen- be, that she had never seen one who sations of sorrow long after the early had in the slightest degree touched violence of grief has passed away her feelings; while, on the other hand, and I feel it would be affectation, and most men found out, in any duration not delicacy, to deny that the hope of of intercourse with her, that she was being united to one between whom and far beyond them in both power and myself such attachment exists, and cultivation of mind, and therefore has so long existed, as our's, produces shrank back, all of them in fear, and to me a full assurance of a life of many in irritation and annoyance. happiness.
· Poor Eveline !' I recollect bis add“ But the particular object of this ing, how little does she believe she letter, dearest Edward, is to give you ever annoyed or irritated anybody !all the information within my recol- how totally her conduct has ever been
48 ATHENEUM, VOL. 2, 3d series.